My Bensew Cousins Come to the US: The Children of Breine Mansbach Bensew

Breine Mansbach, my great-grandmother’s first cousin, was the oldest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach and the only one who did not immigrate to the United States with her siblings and her parents. But all but one of her children did immigrate, and this post and the two that follow will tell their story.

As I wrote back on January 19, 2018, Breine was born on September 27, 1844 in Maden, Germany. She married Jakob Bensew on February 3, 1870, in Maden, and then moved with him to Melsungen. When I first wrote about Breine, I thought that she and her husband Jakob had had six children—five sons and one daughter: William (1872), Julius (1875), Siegmund (1877), Heinemann (1879), Max (1882), and Frieda (1886). Since then I have discovered two more children whom I had not located back in January, Lester (1873) and Roschen (1870).1

Siegmund was born on July 20, 1877, and died before his fifth birthday on January 24, 1882 in Malsfeld, Germany, where the family was then living.

Siegmund Bensew birth, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4408, 1877. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Siegmund Bensew death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4484. Year Range: 1882. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The other seven children all survived to adulthood and all but Roschen immigrated to and settled in the US, though Roschen also may have traveled to the US before marrying and having a family back in Germany, as we will see below.

The first Bensew sibling to arrive was William, the oldest son, traveling as Willi Bensew on the SS EMS from Bremen and arriving in New York on August 15, 1885. On the manifest his age is fourteen, but if his US records are accurate, he was born in either February or November 1872 so would have been around thirteen in August 1885. (Birth records for 1872 for Melsungen, Germany were not available online.)1

Roschen, Lester, and Julius seem to have traveled together to the US with a departure from Hamburg on May 15, 1890.

Bensew siblings, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1741 Month: Direkt Band 067 (2 Apr 1890 – 28 Jun 1890) Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

The manifest lists three Bensews traveling together, all from Melsungen, Germany, a 20-year old woman named Rosa, a 16 year old boy named Lasser, and a 14 year old girl named “Juls.” Both Lasser and Juls are identified as “Kaufmann” or merchant. I would think that Lasser was Lester, as Lester was born October 23, 18732 and would have been 16 in May 1890. And I also think that “Juls” was Julius, who would have been 14 in May 1890 as he was born on September 13, 1875;3 since Juls is identified as a Kaufmann—a male noun—I think the gender identification as weiblich (female) was a scrivener’s error. As for Rosa, Roschen was born on January 20, 1870,4 so would have been twenty in May 1890, the age given for Rosa on the manifest. So perhaps that was their big sister Roschen bringing them to America, but I have no later records for her in the US. And Roschen definitely married and raised her children in Germany, as we will see.

Thus, the three oldest Bensew brothers, William, Lester, and Julius, all left home as young teenagers. In America they changed the spelling of their name to Bensev—presumably to preserve the German pronunciation of their name. Otherwise, they would have been called Ben-SOO.

In 1890, William was already living in Denver.5 By 1894, he was joined by his younger brother Julius, and both were clerks for the M. Hyman Cigar Company,6 as they were in 1898 as well. They were living at 615 24th Street with their aunt Amelia Mansbach and her husband Henry Langer.

Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1898 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1898 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

In 1900, William was still in Denver, living with the Langers and working as a cigar salesman.

Henry Langer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240117 1900 United States Federal Census

But Julius had left Denver and was living in Reading, Pennsylvania, working as a salesman.7

As for Lester, he was living in Philadelphia in 1896,8 working as a salesman. But after Julius left Denver for Pennsylvania, Lester left Pennsylvania for Denver. He came for a visit in 1899, and in 1902 he was living with his brother William and the Langer family and working as a manager for M. Hyman Cigar Company with his brother William, who was the secretary of the company.

Denver Rocky Mountain News, January 1, 1899, p. 6

It was also around this time that two more of the Bensew brothers arrived in the United States.  I could not find a ship manifest for Heinemann Bensew, who was born March 14, 1879, in Malsfeld,9 but according to his naturalization records, he arrived on September 30, 1902.10  The youngest brother Max, who was born on May 24, 1882,11 arrived on May 13, 1903. He was headed for Philadelphia to his uncle, J. Mansbach, i.e. Julius Mansbach, at 915 North 6th Street in Philadelphia:

Max Bensew, ship manifest, line 21, Year: 1903; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0355; Line: 1; Page Number: 85 New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Frieda Bensew, who was born February 21, 1886, in Melsungen,12 followed her older brothers to America four years later; she arrived on November 25, 1907.  On the manifest she listed that she, like Max, was going to her uncle, Julius Mansbach, in Philadelphia.13 In January, 1908, she visited her brother William in Denver.

Denver Post, January 7, 1908, p. 5

But in 1910, she was living in Chicago, where three of her five brothers were also living. Julius, Heinemann (listed as Hein here) and Max were living together in a boarding house in Chicago, and all three were working as clerks for Standard Oil:

Julius, Max and Heine Bensev 1910 US census,Census Place: Chicago Ward 23, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_266; Page: 2A;Enumeration District: 0982; FHL microfilm: 1374279 1910 United States Federal Census

Frieda was working as a stenographer for a publishing house and living a mile and half north of her brothers as a roomer with a widow, Sophie Rosenthal, and her adult daughter in 1910.12

Their oldest brother William was still in Denver in 1910. He had married Jessie Fannie Holzman on June 28, 1904, in Denver, in “one of the most elaborate of the numerous June wedding[s]” in Denver that year, as detailed in this wonderful article:

Denver Post July 2, 1905, p. 15

As noted in the article, prior to the wedding, Jessie had been living with David Kline and his wife Frances (Sands) Kline and is listed as their niece on the 1900 census.13 According to the article, Jessie’s father was Joseph Holzman; Joseph Holzman was a German immigrant who married Theresa Sands in Denver in 1877. Jessie was born in Denver on November 6, 1883, and her mother Theresa died when Jessie was eight years old in 1891. I assume that Frances Sands Kline must have been Theresa Sands Holzman’s sister since Jessie was Frances’ niece.14

William and Jessie had a daughter, Theodora, born on December 10, 1905,15 in Colorado. When M. Hyman retired in 1907, he transferred his cigar business to William and a partner, B. F. Meyer. In 1910, William and his family were living in Denver, and William continued to work as a cigar salesman.16

Denver Post, March 10, 1907, p. 2

Lester Bensev was also still in Colorado in 1910, but he had moved from Denver to Colorado Springs where he was the proprietor of a cigar store.17

Thus, by 1910, six of the seven children of Breine Mansbach and Jakob Bensew were living in the United States, four in Chicago and two in Colorado. Their parents were still living in Germany, as was their sister Roschen. Roschen married Joseph Stern, son of Jacob Stern and Esther Koppel, on April 10, 1899, in Kassel, Germany:

Marriage record of Roschen Bensew and Jozef Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4611, 1899, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On May 8, 1900, Roschen gave birth to her first child, Alfred Stern, in Kassel. 18 According to US records, Roschen and Joseph had a second son Edwin on January 6, 1905.19 Some family trees have three other children born to Roschen and Joseph Stern, but I have not yet been able to verify that information. The names Alice Stern, Frieda Stern, and Herbert Stern are too common for me to be able to know with certainty whether I am looking at the right person unless I can link them to Roschen and Joseph or some other member of the family, and so far I have not be able to do so. Thus, I will only write about Alfred and Edwin, both of whom ended up in the US, but not until after Hitler came to power.





  1. Willi Bensew, ship manifest, Year: 1885; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 489; Line: 1; List Number: 1017. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. William Bensev, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240117, 1900 United States Federal Census. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  2. Lester Bensev, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 68; Volume #: Roll 0068 – Certificates: 59167-60066, 09 Jul 1908-24 Jul 1908. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  3. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 521019057. 
  4. Roschen Bensew marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4611. 1899. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  5. Denver, Colorado City Directory, 1890. 
  6.  Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1894, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Julius Bensev, 1900 US census, Census Place: Reading Ward 3, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0053; FHL microfilm: 1241378, 1900 United States Federal Census 
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1896, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  9. Heinemann Bensew birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4410. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  10. Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), B-524 to B-550 Gustov Joseph > image 983 of 6652; citing NARA microfilm publication M1285 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). The birth date on the naturalization record is March 22, 1879, whereas the German birth record says March 14, 1879. 
  11. Max Bensew birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4413. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  12. Frieda Bensev, 1910 US census, Census Place: Chicago Ward 25, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_269; Page: 2B;Enumeration District: 1094; FHL microfilm: 1374282, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13. Kline household, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240117, 1900 United States Federal Census 
  14. Joseph Holzman and Theresa Sands marriage record, and David Kline and Frances Sands marriage record, Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). “Colorado State Census, 1885,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 April 2016), Arapahoe > Denver > Population > image 184 of 598; citing NARA microfilm publication M158 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Sands family, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Helena, Lewis and Clark, Montana Territory; Roll: M593_827; Page: 186B; Family History Library Film: 552326, 1870 United States Federal Census. Web: Gallatin County, Montana, Death Index, 1856-2014.  
  15. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  16. William Bensev household, 1910 US census, Census Place: Denver Ward 8, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T624_115; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1374128, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  17. Lester Bensev, 1910 US census, Census Place: Colorado Springs Ward 2, El Paso, Colorado; Roll: T624_118; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0037; FHL microfilm: 1374131, Enumeration District: 0037, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  18. Alfred Stern birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 910_5143, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  19. Edwin Stern, naturalization record, The National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Washington, DC; Naturalization Records, Colorado, 1876-1990; ARC Title: Naturalization Records Created by the U.S. District Court in Colorado, 1877-1952; NAI Number: M1192; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Colorado, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1868-1990. Edwin Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 232, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 

18 thoughts on “My Bensew Cousins Come to the US: The Children of Breine Mansbach Bensew

  1. I love how in the older newspaper articles note visitors in the towns news. Can you imagine if there was a photo to be found for the wedding of William and Jessie? I wish I could have been a guest at this wedding. When I read these descriptions I just want to be transported back and experience their joy ~ such detail with the bible noted instead of the traditional bouquet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do love these news articles also—I can’t imagine doing family history without them because they add the depth and color that I can’t get from census records and death certificates alone. Thanks, Sharon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read with some relief that most of the remaining family members from the Kassel area emigrated quite early to the US. Even Alfred and Edwin found a safe haven in America just in time to escape the holocaust.
    How quickly names are being changed, especially those with awkward spelling upon arrival in America! German immigrant have been eager to change their names sometimes to hide their origin, sometimes because the spelling caused a lot of trouble.
    Another interesting read, Amy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fortunately I now know enough German to understand why they changed the spelling from Bensew to Bensev—otherwise, it would have seemed such a strange alteration. Any idea what it means?

      It’s a shame that so many immigrants did change their names—to hide that they were German in the aftermath of WW1 and WW2 or to hide that they were Jewish. It sure makes the job of a family historian more difficult!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Bensew Daughters, Roschen and Frieda: Who Was Mrs. Hon? | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  4. Pingback: The Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part I: 1885-1912 | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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