One Mystery Laid to Rest: Baby Rose Schoenthal

One of the most frustrating brick walls I’ve encountered is the mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal.  I have written several blog posts about Baby Rose, and I have never had any success in finding this child. I stopped looking because I was troubled by the possibility that if I did find her or a descendant, I might be stirring up trouble for some unknowing person.

Some background for those who may not remember the story. On the 1930 census, my grandmother’s first cousin Jacob Schoenthal and his wife Florence are listed with a 15 month old daughter named Rose, living in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

But that there is not one whit of evidence to support the existence of that child aside from that census entry. I have searched for birth records, death records, marriage records. Nothing. I found Jacob’s will—no mention of a daughter. There was no daughter buried with Jacob and Florence. She would have been only eleven in 1940, but she does not appear on the 1940 census.

I had decided that either (1) she never existed or (2) she’d been given up for adoption or (3) she had been a foster child returned to her own parents.

Then in March 2017,  a Schoenthal cousin found me through the blog.  Barbara wrote that she was the granddaughter of Estella Schoenthal, who was my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin and Jacob Schoenthal’s sister. Barbara and I are third cousins.

We exchanged information, and she filled me in on the names and dates of the descendants of Estella Schoenthal and Leon Klein. But perhaps most importantly, she gave me closure on that nagging question: Did Estella’s brother Jacob Schoenthal and his wife Florence Truempy have a daughter named Rose born in 1928 or 1929?

Barbara asked her mother, who said without hesitation that Jacob and Florence never had children. Could she be wrong? Of course.  Barbara’s mother might not have been born in 1930 and she definitely was not yet married to Barbara’s father in 1930, and so it’s entirely possible that IF Jacob and Florence had a child who was given up for adoption or only lived with them for a brief period, Barbara’s mother would never have known.

But I have chosen to believe that Barbara’s mother is right. I have chosen to believe that Baby Rose never existed. It never made sense to me that she’d been given up for adoption because she was already 15 months old (if she existed) in 1930, and there’s no reason to think her parents would have given her up at that point: they were mature adults and married, living comfortably, and had plenty of family around for support.

Also, the child’s name was Rose Maxine or Maime (it’s hard to read). Jacob’s mother’s name was Rose Mansbach Schoenthal. She had died in May, 1929, four months after the supposed birth of the child Rose in February, 1929. It seemed very unlikely that Jacob would have named a child for his mother before she died.

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

I also didn’t buy that “Rose” had been a foster child. It seems quite an unlikely coincidence that a foster child would have the same name and middle initial as the mother of the man acting as her foster father.

So with the statement by Barbara’s mother that Jacob and Florence never had children, I am willing to close the door on the mystery of Baby Rose M Schoenthal. I think the census enumerator made a mistake. My working theory? That the enumerator was told that a Rose M had lived in the household until fifteen months before, and somehow the enumerator recorded that as meaning a fifteen month old child named Rose M was currently living in the household.

In addition to helping me with that mystery, Barbara also provided me with this handsome photograph of Sidney Schoenthal, her great-uncle and my grandmother’s first cousin.

Sidney Schoenthal

I see a resemblance to my grandmother (first photo below) and to my father (second photo below)—what do you think?

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Sr. 1923

Florence and John Cohen, Jr., 1951

I am very grateful to Barbara for helping me get closure on Baby Rose. And for sharing this photograph of my cousin Sidney Schoenthal.

44 thoughts on “One Mystery Laid to Rest: Baby Rose Schoenthal

      • I think so. Since there were absolutely no other records of stories in the family. In my family the youngest daughter of a sister with many children was given to a sister without children to raise as her own. (She had married a first cousin.). But my grandmother was very much aware and told me this story of her first cousin. So I think someone would have known if they fostered a family child.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think so also—that someone would have known. The only thing that will continue to befuddle me is how specific her age was on the census—1 and 3/12. You rarely see that kind of specificity! But I am resigned to accepting that some things we can never know for sure. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Intersting, Amy! I’m still dubious but your conclusion IS reasonable.

    Here’s my silly question; your cousin, Sidney, appears to be wearing a shirt collar which is a solid column, perhaps similar to a priests collar, but it’s tall and overlaps his tie’s knot. Have you ever seen this sort of male fashion before?? It just caught my eye!!

    Take care, Sue Baum

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue, I would be dubious also if I hadn’t spent hours and hours searching for this child. And even so, a part of me will always wonder….

      I am no expert on men’s fashion (or women’s fashion), but I could find out. There are people who a real experts at this!


  2. Someone somewhere within your family elders would have heard about Baby Rose if she had
    been born. I now think it was a misunderstanding with the enumerator too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy, Yes I see the resemblance between Sidney, Eva and John. My, my there are some very pretty women and handsome men in your line!

    I’m glad you got closure on Baby Rose. There is an investment of time, thought and emotion to these ancestor searches. Even if the results are not what we expect at least your questions received answers that are believable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you—I think so too! My Schoenthal relatives were quite good looking.

      Yes, I can’t say I am happy with the result on Baby Rose, but I also had to let it go. Thanks, Emily!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know how hard it is to let it go. You always wonder. But I think you may be right about a mix up caused by the death of Jacob’s mother Rose.
    Such a nice photo of Sidney. It’s wonderful to hear your cousins are finding you through Brotmanblog.


  5. Hi Amy~ the pictures are wonderful, Sidney was so handsome. I love Eva and John’s picture and well I adore wedding photos. On the mystery of Rose Maxine – I don’t know, I am not leaning towards a census worker error. To many details, first & middle name, age 1 3/12 months? That’s pretty specific. A question for me is what was Rose (Jacobs Moms) middle name? Was it Maxine as well? If not, I am thinking more along the lines of an early death. Both birth and death records could have had misspelled last name, not probable for both but possible. I would love to get my hands on the birth index records for all the S’s for 1929 looking for a Rose Maxine. I know NY has birth index does NJ? Worth s shot 🙂 On the ancestry record Schoenthal was misspelled Sconthental. (the murder mystery I’m working on had misspelled name) I say keep the flame and research going, I don’t think this story is over 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sharon. I hired a NJ researcher to go to Trenton and search the birth and death files (NJ has almost nothing online). I trust that she did a very thorough job as she described what she did. There is nothing there. For me, I do think the story is over. But I am happy for anyone else to try!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Jacob’s mother was Rose Mansbach Schoenthal. Mansbach was her maiden name. I’ve searched all the Mansbachs also to see if they had a child born in the time period.


  6. I do recall this story, Amy. It’s sad to think that someone listed may never have existed…especially if she did. It’s so odd. I have to say though that I have a couple possible reasons why someone would give up a child to another family to raise. We think this happened to my great grandma, Bertha Servatius Geier. She was born in 1874, the same year locusts swept through parts of Indiana. If she’d been born as say, child number 8, or 9, or 10, her family may not have been able to care for another child in light of that hardship which wiped out crops for many families. They may have known the Servatius family, William and Cordelia, who were wealthy but childless. It would be a perfect match. Wm. and Cordelia, in fact, raised our Bertha. Other common catastrophic events that may have split families were fires. It may be worth a look into natural or other disasters in a given area, since people were so dependent upon the land. Just a thought. Me? I’m pulling for you to find baby Rose.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, they lived in Atlantic City, so they were not land dependent. Jacob was a cigar salesman and had lots of family in the city. They were all fairly comfortable—hotel owners and managers. The Depression probably did affect them, but still–where did the child go by 1940? It will nag at me, but I’ve looked everywhere I can think to look. Some mysteries just stay mysteries.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  8. I’m so glad you feel closure on this mystery. I do think that your father looks like his mother! What lovely photos. I almost never read other reader’s comments, but this time I did because I was curious to see if your readers were satisfied with your current theory. You got an interesting mix. But my hands down favorite was seeing comments from your dad! I love that he reads and comments. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amy–Have you ever found anything further about Margaret Swem Schoenthal? I have been linking her siblings to her parents on Find-a-Grave and would love to acknowledge her as well. If you are on Facebook, would you send me a Friend Request and perhaps we can chat about this. I don’t check my email very often since it is mostly junk anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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