The Mystery of Falk Goldschmidt’s Wife: A Lesson in German Vital Records

Researching the marriage of the last child of the last sibling of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt took me on a wild and exciting and ultimately successful research journey, thanks to two very helpful members of the genealogy village. But let me start from the beginning.

With this post, I start the final chapter in the saga of my Goldschmidt ancestors and relatives, the story of Meyer Goldschmidt’s youngest child, Falk Goldschmidt. Falk was born on April 28, 1836, in Grebenstein, Germany.

Falk Goldschmidt, birth record, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 375, S. 43

As I wrote in an earlier post, Falk was one of only two of Meyer’s seven children to leave Germany, the other being the oldest child, Ella. On July 10, 1852, when he was sixteen, Falk arrived in New York.

Falk Goldschmidt, passenger manifest, Year: 1852; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 116; Line: 24; List Number: 912, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

He is listed on the 1860 US census, living in Baltimore with his sister Ella and working as a clerk.1 But I knew that sometime between 1860 and 1870 Falk had returned to Germany because his oldest child was born that year. But when and whom did he marry?

And that’s where the puzzle begins. I knew from the birth records of Falk’s children that their mother’s name was Babetta Carlebach. As you’ll be able to see on those records when I include them in my next post, Babetta Carlebach is the name given on the birth records for all five of their children.  But I could not find a marriage record for Falk and Babetta nor could I find a birth record for Babetta.

I did have her death record, which showed that she was born in Mannheim in about 1845 and that she was the daughter of Juda Carlebach and Caroline Dreyfus.

Portion of the death record of Babetta Carlebach Goldschmidt, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10828, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

And that was consistent with many of the other trees I found on Ancestry, though most listed her as Pauline Babetta Carlbach and had her mother with a different surname—either Jeidel or Feidel.

I then located two entries that seemed relevant to Falk and Babetta in Ancestry’s database of Mannheim Family Registers. Here’s the first one:

Julius Carlebach family, Ancestry.com. Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900.
Original data:Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

Note that in this one she is listed as the daughter of Julius, which I assumed was Juda’s secular name. I couldn’t decipher the first name, but Ancestry indexed this as an entry for Clara Carlebach, and that seemed reasonable. It says she was born on December 8, and I could see that she married Falk Goldschmidt on October 18, 1868. So was Babetta really named Clara?

But I became really confused when I found this second entry in the Mannheim Family Registers:

David Carlebach, family register, Ancestry.com. Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900. Original data:Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

The fourth family member listed is Pauline (Babetta) Carlebach, but her father is David Carlebach, not Juda. She was born July 30, 1845, so the right age for my Babetta, according to her death record.  And she also married Falk Goldschmidt on October 18, 1868.

It felt like a game of Truth or Consequences. Will the real wife of Falk Goldschmidt please stand up?

To try and get help on these two records, I posted them to the JewishGen GerSIG group on Facebook, and Michael, a member of that group, came to my rescue.  Within minutes of my post, he posted the actual marriage record of Falk and “Clara gennant Babetta” Carlebach, that is, Clara known as Babetta. And then he found Clara’s actual birth record. These images are included later in this post.

How had he found those records so quickly? And why did the Family Register for Pauline Babetta Carlebach say she was also married to Falk Goldschmidt on October 18, 1838?

The second question is one for which there is no definite answer except to say…it’s a mistake. Even though many of the trees on Ancestry label Falk’s wife as Pauline Babetta, that Babetta had different parents from Clara Babetta, the actual wife of my cousin Falk Goldschmidt.

But I still had other questions. How did Michael find those records? And what did they say in full? I couldn’t decipher the script at all, and I wanted to be sure I had all the relevant dates and names.

For those questions I turned to my friend and fellow genealogy blogger Cathy Meder- Dempsey of Opening Doors in Brick Walls. She kindly agreed to translate the records and to explain how to find them. Cathy is a wonderful teacher and had recently helped another family historian who wanted to know how to find Luxembourgian records, so I was delighted that she would not just give me a fish, but show me how to fish, as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu recommended centuries ago.

Well, I am not sure Cathy knew what a task she was taking on when she agreed not only to transcribe and translate the records that Michael had located, but also to teach me how to find them myself.

Cathy wrote me detailed instructions on how I could have found these records on my own so that the next time I would be able to do it myself. Cathy has shared those instructions on her blog today in post entitled, “Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch,” which you can find here.

I followed her instructions, and soon realized that I faced a difficult hurdle trying to read the script on the page. It’s the old German script and even Cathy, who is quite experienced with that script, said these particular records were hard to decipher. I need to work on learning that script if I am going to catch my own fish.

Cathy also located additional records for Clara Babetta Carlebach, including a second birth record and a record showing that her name was changed from Clara to Babetta.

Here are the images and Cathy’s transcriptions and translations of the birth and marriage records for Clara Babetta Carlebach Goldschmidt.

Here is one version of her birth record:

Clara Carlebach birth record, Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859, Image 458, Matrikel 1805-1870, database with images, Jüdische Gemeinde Mannheim, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS63-JSYB-8?i=457&cat=84118)

Nachts von seibenten zum achten dezember um drei viertel auf zwölf würde Clara, eheliche Tochter der Bürger und # (Handelsmannes) J. # (Juda) H. Carlebach und der Carolina gebr. Jeidels dahier. Zeugen Dr. # (Friederich) Nötling Amtschirurg, und David Carlebach, Bürger und Handelsmann dahier.
H. Traub

Ende des Jahres 1844

In the night from the 7th to 8th of December, Clara, daughter of the citizens and # (merchant) J. # (Juda) H. Carlebach and Carolina born Jeidels from here. Witness Dr. # (Friederich) Nötling official surgeon, and David Carlebach, citizen and merchant from here.
H. Traub

End of the year 1844

(Cathy indicated that # denotes annotations made in the margin, and missing words are in parentheses for all her transciptions and translations posted here.)

Here is a second version of her birth record:

Clara Carlebach birth record, Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859, Image 451, Matrikel 1805-1870, database with images, Jüdische Gemeinde Mannheim, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS63-JSYL-Z?i=450&cat=84118)

Den siebenten (#Dezember) Nachts drei viertel auf zwölf wurde (#geboren) Clara eheliche Tochter der Burger und Handelsmannes Juda Hirz Carlebach und der Carolina gebr. Jeidels dahier Zeugen: Dr. Friedrich Nötling

The seventh # (December) at three quarters to twelve was # (born) Clara, the legitimate daughter of the citizen and merchant Juda Hirz Carlebach and Carolina gebr. Jeidel’s witnesses: Dr. Friedrich Nötling

Note that on both of these records Babetta’s mother was not Caroline Dreyfus as indicated on her death record above, but Caroline Jeidels. Also, notice that Clara was born late in the evening of December 7, not on December 8 as the Mannheim Family Register (and her marriage record below) report. That makes multiple errors on German vital records for one person—and that’s so surprising since we’ve all been told that the Germans have always been impeccable record-keepers.

On the page following the second birth record, Cathy found this additional entry:

Clara Carlebach birth record, Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859, Image 451, Matrikel 1805-1870, database with images, Jüdische Gemeinde Mannheim, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS63-JSYL-Z?i=450&cat=84118)

Im Jahre ein tausend acht hundert vier und vierzig 

Amtschirurg und David Carlebach Bürger und Handelsmann

dahier. Bemerkung

Der hier gedachte Name Clara würde nach einsehende Dupplikate
der Standesbücher bei GroßH ( Großherzogthum Hessen?) Stadtamte von den Eltern Babetta
umgeändert.

Geburten deren Bekundung in das Jahr 1845 fallen
sind nicht vorgekommen.

H. Traub

Ende des Jahres 1844

In the year one thousand eight hundred forty-four (top of each page)

Official surgeon and David Carlebach citizen and merchant from here.

Remark:

The name Clara intended here, after inspecting duplicates of the registry books at the city offices of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, would be changed to Babetta by the parents.

Births whose manifestation fell in the year 1845 did not occur.

H. Traub

End of the year 1844

And here is the marriage record for Falk Goldschmidt and (Clara) Babetta Carlebach:

Marriage record of Falk Goldschmidt and Babetta Carlebach, Matrikel 1815-1870, Heiraten, Tote 1866-1868 r. S. Geburten 1864-1868 r. S. Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1869-1870 r. S. Heiraten, Tote 1866-1868 l. S. Geburten 1864-1868 l. S. Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1869-1870 l. S.
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS67-GC7W-W?cat=285995
Bottom record on image 240.

This one was particularly hard to read, and I am so grateful to Cathy for taking the time and the care to decipher as much of this as was possible. Here is her translation of the most important parts of this record:

In the year 1868, the 18th of October, in the afternoon at 3:30… The banns were read in Frankfurt/Main on the 3rd and 10th of October and published in Mannheim from the 3rd until 17th of October. 

Falk Goldschmidt, of the Jewish faith, citizen of Grebenstein born there on 28 April 1836, the single son of the deceased citizen and merchant Mayer Goldschmidt and his “remaining” wife Lea born Katzenstein, AND Clara, also called Babetta, Carlebach, of the Jewish faith, born here [Mannheim] on 8 December 1844, the single daughter of the local citizen and merchant Juda Carlebach and Caroline born Jeidels. …

So that makes it very clear that Falk married Clara Babetta on October 18, 1868, daughter of Juda and Caroline, and not her cousin Pauline Babetta.

But why did Clara’s parents change their daughter’s name to Babetta? And why did David Carlebach name his daughter Babetta as well?  My hunch was that David Carlebach, Pauline’s father, and Juda Carlebach, Clara’s father, were brothers and that they were related to and maybe the sons of a woman named Babetta Carlebach who had died sometime after Clara’s birth in December 1844 and Pauline’s birth in July 1845.

So now, equipped with the tools Cathy had given me, I went fishing. And I found—all on my own—the index that included a Babetta Carlebach’s death and then her death record. I am so proud and so grateful to Cathy!

Here it is:

Babetta Carlebach (widow of Samuel) death record, Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859, Image 484, Matrikel 1805-1870, database with images, Jüdische Gemeinde Mannheim, Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS63-JSYL-7?cat=84118)

Cathy confirmed that I’d found the right record and also told me that Babetta was the widow of Samuel Carlebach, was 72, and had died on 26 January 1845. So the older Babetta had died just a month and a half after Clara’s birth and six months before Pauline’s birth. Both must have been named in her memory.

Cathy also found a record that showed that David and Juda were brothers, but that record also revealed that their mother was not Babetta.2 So she was not the mother of David and Juda, but perhaps their grandmother or an aunt or cousin who died so close to the births of their daughters that they chose to honor her by naming a child for her.1

Thank you so much to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for her extraordinary patience and generosity in teaching me these new skills, doing additional research, and translating the documents for me.

So now I know to whom, when, and where my cousin Falk Goldschmidt was married: Clara Babetta Carlebach, daughter of Juda Carlebach and Caroline Jeidels, first cousin of Pauline Babetta Carlebach, on October 18, 1868, in Mannheim, Germany.

 

 

 

 


  1. United States Census, 1860″, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M69Z-5QX : 12 December 2017), Albert Sigman, 1860. Census Place: Baltimore Ward 13, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: M653_464; Page: 101; Family History Library Film: 803464, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  2. Familienstandsbogen, 1807-1900, Mannheim (Baden). Standesamt, Film # 008244102, Image2 143, 144, FamilySearch database with images (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSPX-5S5T-6?cat=132671

  1. I also successfully located the death record for Hirz Carlebach, the father of Juda and David Carlebach, but it did not include his parents’ names, so I can’t determine if Babetta was the grandmother of Juda and David Carlebach. 

16 thoughts on “The Mystery of Falk Goldschmidt’s Wife: A Lesson in German Vital Records

  1. Pingback: Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch – Opening Doors in Brick Walls

  2. I am so glad that you and your friend Cathy were able to solve the mystery of Babetta. As many of your ancestors were located in Germany, it is important for your research to learn the German script. Without this knowledge, I could not have read my mother’s diary she had written in Sutterlin describing the first two years of my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know—I just have trouble enough reading German without also having to decipher the script. And my eyes aren’t the greatest either. I am looking for a new project so maybe this will be one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Starting with the last first. That the women were not named for their own grandmother, but someone else. Way to make research more difficult! Cathy is amazing and such a generous member of the genealogy community. And it sounds like Michael is very generous also and experienced. Where will you go from here with your research?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cathy is amazing. She is such a good teacher!

      I’ve no idea where to go from here. I am actually sort of stressed about it. I have been trying to research a few lines but nothing so far that has grabbed me. I may just take a break for a bit? Not sure. 😦

      Like

  4. Pingback: The Children of Falk Goldschmidt and Clara Babetta Carlebach | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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