How Newspaper Articles Helped Solve the Mysteries of Howard Sigmund’s Sons-in-Law

When my cousin Howard Sigmund and his wife Leslie had a second child, Nancy Lee Sigmund, on February 12, 1922,1 he was the first of the children of William and Adelaide Sigmund to have more than one child.  Nancy Sigmund was born over ten years after the birth of her older sister, Audrey, who was born in 1910.

In 1930 Howard was still in the women’s clothing business in DC, like his brother’s Abe and Goldsmith.2 His daughter Audrey Sigmund married Leonard Casillo sometime between August and October, 1938. Oddly, despite numerous social news items posted about Audrey in the Washington DC newspapers, I could not find a wedding article, just a story referring to her as “Audrey Sigmund” in August 1938 and then a story referring to her as “Mrs. Leonard Casillo, formerly Audrey Sigmund,” in October 1938.

Washington DC Evening Star, October 23, 1938, p. 54

Leonard was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on December 10, 1910,3 to Pasquale and Jennie Casillo, who were born in Italy and immigrated to the US in 1898. In 1930 Leonard was living with his parents, sister, and uncle in Bridgeport where his father was working as the manager of a grocery store.4

I wondered how Audrey, a Jewish girl from Washington, DC, had met an Italian boy from Bridgeport, Connecticut, until I found an article about Georgetown University’s 1938 graduation ceremonies that included this list of dental school graduates:

Washington DC Evening Star, June 14, 1938, p. 5

Leonard, the son of two Italian immigrants, had graduated from dental school  at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in June 1938.

After marrying, Audrey and Leonard settled in Bridgeport and had a child. I was a bit perplexed by the 1940 census, which shows Leonard living with his parents, sister, and uncle in Bridgeport, but not with Audrey or their child.

Leonard Casillo 1940 US census, Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00531; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 9-61, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But Leonard’s World War II draft registration, which is dated October 16, 1940, six months after the census enumeration, lists Audrey as his wife at the same address and as the person who will always know Leonard’s address. So perhaps Audrey had taken the baby to visit her family when the enumeration was done.

Leonard Casillo, World War II draft registration, Page 1 – Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations 16 Oct 1940, Draft Registration Cards for Connecticut, 1940 – 1947, Roll: 44002_05_00009

Meanwhile, back in DC in the 1940s, Howard Sigmund was still the owner of a women’s clothing store and was living with his wife Leslie and younger daughter Nancy.5

Nancy married Julian Savage on May 31, 1948, in Washington.

Washington DC Evening Star, June 1, 1948, p. 24

Learning about Julian led me down quite a rabbit hole. Julian was born in Washington, DC, on February 25, 1919;6 his parents appeared from the census records and other documents to be Samuel and Lena Savage, immigrants from either Lithuania, Russia, Germany, or Poland, depending on the record.7 But were Samuel and Lena Julian’s birth parents?

Although Julian was born in 1919 according to his military records, he did not appear on the 1920 census with Samuel, Lena, and their much older children, Rosa (born in 1900) and Benjamin (born in 1905). Since Lena would have been 43 in 1919 when Julian was born, I started to wonder whether Julian was adopted or just a later-in-life (for those days) baby.8

I found this legal notice from 1943 that also made me wonder:

Washington DC Evening Star, January 27, 1943, p. 35

Was Julian Savage born Julian Margolius? If so, who were his biological parents? I figured I’d never know. But in searching for information about Julian Savage in newspapers, I noticed that the best man at his wedding was Bernard Margolius. In addition, Bernard’s obituary listed Julian Savage as his brother.9 Searching for Bernard’s parents, I learned of Wolf Margolius and Jennie Cohen, Russian immigrants, who had five children: Edna, Emanuel, Albert, Bernard, and finally Julian.

Wolf Margolius and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_209; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 142
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

And where were they living in 1920? In Washington, DC, at 501 Massachusetts Avenue. And who lived at 503 Massachusetts Avenue in 1920? Samuel and Lena Savage and their two children, Rosa and Benjamin.10

So how did Julian end up living with the Savages in 1930? His birth mother Jennie Cohen Margolius died on July 31, 1922, when Julian was only three.11 The other Margolius children were older when their mother died; Bernard, the second youngest, was nine and in school, and the other children were teenagers or beyond. My guess is that Wolf Margolius could not care for the youngest boy and so entrusted him with his friends and neighbors, the Savages. And so Julian Margolius became Julian Savage, the son of Samuel and Lena. But obviously he remained very close to his biological brother, Bernard Margolius, naming him as the best man at his wedding.

In 1940, Julian was the only child left in the Savage household.12 He graduated from Benjamin Franklin University with a degree in accounting and was a CPA by 1940 when he was 21, the youngest CPA in the country at that time. He enlisted in the US Army on March 6, 1941, and achieved the rank of major, serving four years overseas during World War II. When he came home, he attended George Washington University in 1948, hoping to become a lawyer, but he could not afford to continue at school so he “read for the law” by working in an attorney’s office and then passed the Virginia bar. Julian and Nancy had two children.13

Julian became an early investor and developer of Holiday Inn hotels in the Washington, DC, area, and beyond, starting in 1959 and eventually building fifty different hotels, as detailed in a 1968 article from the Washington Evening Star14 and in his obituary.

Howard Sigmund lived to see his daughters living comfortably with their respective husbands. He died at the age of 92 in Washington, DC, in July, 1982.15 He was survived by his daughters, their husbands, and grandchildren. His wife Lesley had predeceased him in April 1977 when she was 89.16

Audrey and Leonard Casillo remained in Bridgeport for the rest of their lives. Audrey died on June 5, 1983,17 when she was 73, just a year after her father Howard died; her husband Leonard outlived her by ten years. He was 83 when he died in Newtown, Connecticut, on November 19, 1983.18 They were survived by their children and grandchildren.

Julian Savage died at the age of 92 on February 17, 2012.19 His wife Nancy Sigmund Savage died almost seven years later on December 15, 2018. They were survived by their children and grandchildren.20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1.  Name: Nancy L Savage, Birth Date: 12 Feb 1922, Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  2. Howard Sigmund 1930 US census, Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0191; FHL microfilm: 2340032, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. SSN: 040326854, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Peter (Pasquale) Casillo and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0035; FHL microfilm: 2339990,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  5. Howard Sigmund, 1940 US census, Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: m-t0627-00571; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 1-533, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Julian Savage, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 201, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  7. See, e.g., Julian Savage, 1940 US census, Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: m-t0627-00567; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 1-413, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. Samuel Savage and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_209; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 142, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  9. See wedding article above. See obituary at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=bernard-margolius&pid=144450864 
  10. Samuel Savage and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_209; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 142, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F7BW-QCZ : accessed 13 November 2019), Wolf Margolius in entry for Jennie Margolius, 31 Jul 1922, District of Columbia, United States; citing reference ID 767, District Records Center, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 2,115,943. 
  12. Samuel Savage and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: m-t0627-00567; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 1-413, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. “Man Behind the Sign at 30 Holiday Inns,” Washington DC Evening Star, October 5, 1972, p. 68 
  14. “Man Behind the Sign at 30 Holiday Inns,” Washington DC Evening Star, October 5, 1972, p. 68 
  15. Social Security Number: 579-05-1276, Death Date: Jul 1982, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16. Social Security Number: 577-30-6420, Death Date: Apr 1977,
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  17. State File #: 13133, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012. 
  18. SSN: 040326854, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?fhid=2167&n=julian-savage&pid=156038507 
  20. https://www.lastingtributesfuneralcare.com/obituaries/Nancy-Savage/#!/Obituary 

23 thoughts on “How Newspaper Articles Helped Solve the Mysteries of Howard Sigmund’s Sons-in-Law

  1. We have several instances in our family where either a relative raised a relative’s or neighbor’s child. My grandmother once told me that informal adoptions were common to keep children out of ‘homes’ which to her meant orphanages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes a lot of sense. His biological father had his hands full—working and raising four children, including two teenagers. Next door the Savages had almost grown children and two adult parents. I do wonder if such arrangements were ever formalized through legal adoption or whether they were just informal, as you mentioned. His surname was changed, and he never changed it back so it’s hard to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Samuel and Lena Savage, immigrants from either Lithuania, Russia, Germany, or Poland, depending on the record.” This sentence made me think about the shifting political landscape of Eastern Europe in the 1920s. Today it may appear odd that someone could come from so many different countries.
    My passport says that I was born in Dietfurt, Germany. But the town is now part of Poland. Where do I come from? From Germany or from Poland? It is the same problem with the territorial uncertainty that the census people appeared to have had with Samuel and Lena Savage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it happened all the time. My great-grandparents sometimes put Austria (for the A-H Empire), sometimes Poland, sometimes Russia. They were from a town in what is now eastern Poland near the Russian border.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Although one of the first things I learned when I began researching on the internet in 2000 was to pay attention to the formation of counties and states in the US, I am still learning to pinpoint where a place was at a certain time in history. In European research, this is indispensable as it is only by knowing where to find the records that you can find them. “Lithuania, Russia, Germany, or Poland, depending on the record” was well-worded.

    Liked by 1 person

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

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