Baruch Blumenfeld: Where and When Did He Die, Part II

The mystery of where and when Baruch Blumenfeld died led me down several rabbit holes to answer several questions. Did Baruch Blumenfeld move to New York and leave his wife Emma and his daughters and his grandchildren behind? Was the 1920 census accurate in reporting that he had immigrated to the US in 1869 and become a US citizen in 1875? If so, how did he marry Emma in 1872 and father two children between 1872 and 1875? And did he really die in New York City in 1923?

I turned to several Facebook groups for further help to confirm that this was the correct Baruch. First, I asked on Tracing the Tribe for help finding more information about the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York. My fellow Blumenfeld cousin Tova Levi suggested that I try and find a connection to the family with whom Baruch was living in 1920. That led me to search for Getta and Emma Neuberger and their place of origin, including locating their extended family in New York and searching for naturalization records that might reveal where they came from in Germany.

Baruch Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 14, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1212; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 1047 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

After hours of searching and getting help from the New York City genealogy group, the German genealogy group, and the GerSIG group, including from Sandy Hahn Lanman and Matt Luders, I concluded that the Neuberger family came from Thalmassig in Bavaria, not anywhere near Hesse where Baruch had lived, and that thus it was unlikely that my Baruch would have known them before coming to the US.

Steph Mayer, one of the members of the German Genealogy group, also was very helpful. She made several suggestions, including sending me a link to the entry for Baruch Blumenfeld on genealogy.net, an important Germany genealogy website. Steph recommended that I email the contact person, Hartwig Faber, to see if he had any additional information.

And so I did, and Hartwig helped solve one part of this mystery. He noted that on the 1900 marriage record for Baruch’s daughter Charlotte, Baruch is described as living at an unknown distance. That is, by 1900 Baruch’s whereabouts were no longer known by his family.

Marriage record of Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld and Hermann Hammel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6510
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is the transcription and translation of that part of the record:

Tochter des in unbekannter Ferne weilenden Kaufmanns Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld und der nochlebenden Ehefrau Emma geb. Docter wohnhaft in Neustadt.

Daughter of the merchant Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld, living in unknown distance, and the still living wife Emma, née Docter, living in Neustadt.

That record supports the possibility that Baruch did immigrate to the US and did die in New York in 1923.

But I can’t still cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any ship manifest even when I search without limiting by dates or with wildcards on the name.

I also have had no luck finding any naturalization papers for him. I’ve gone through indexed and unindexed records on Ancestry and FamilySearch, and the only citizenship record that came close was a declaration of intention dated October 8, 1873 by a Baruch Blum. In that era declarations carried no identifying information other than the name and country of origin, so that doesn’t help very much. And I remain skeptical that Baruch would have been in the US at that time, given that he married Emma in 1872 and had a baby later that year and a second three years later.

I also cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any census record in the US except the 1920 census. If he really immigrated to the US in 1869, he should have appeared on the 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 US census enumerations.

I did find a German-born Benny Blumenfeld living as a boarder in New York in 1915 on the New York State census of that year. He was 72, so born in or close to 1843. He had no occupation. Could that be Baruch? Maybe. It says he’s been in the US for 32 years or since 1883. That would make a lot more sense than 1869, the year given on the 1920 census. There’s even a young man listed below, also a boarder in the same household, who was a butcher. Do you think this could be my Baruch?

Benny Blumenfeld 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 10; Assembly District: 10; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 38, District: A·D· 10 E·D· 10, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

But there is no one else with a similar name and age that I could locate on the 1900 or 1910 US census. My working hypothesis at this point is that Baruch Blumenfeld took on an assumed name when he immigrated and then changed it back years later.

When I received the copy of the actual death certificate for the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923, I was even more certain that he was the same person as my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

The first page of that certificate first of all made it clear that his mother’s surname was Strauss, not Lhauss. Secondly, his age is given as 80 years and eight months. Since he died in September, 1923, that means he was born in January, 1843. My Baruch was born on January 29, 1843. This definitely supports the conclusion that this was my Baruch Blumenfeld.

One other interesting bit of information is included on first page of the certificate. It reports that he had been living in the US and in New York for 42 years or since 1881. That would make a lot more sense than the year given on the 1920 census—1869. By 1881 both of Baruch’s daughters were born, and he very well might have left Germany around that time.

I was feeling pretty excited that I had enough information to confirm that this was my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld—until I looked at the reverse side of the certificate.

It indicated that Mary Farley, a sister of the deceased, had hired the undertaker to take care of Baruch’s burial. Mary Farley? A sister? There were many Mary Farleys living in the US 1923—too many to count. If I limited my search to New York City, I found 32 registered to vote in New York in 1924.1 I also searched for a Mary Farley born in Germany living in or near New York who might be the woman named on the death certificate. I only found one woman with that name born in Germany; she lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was married to a native-born American named John Farley. Her maiden name was Richardt, not Blumenfeld.

UPDATE!! Thank you so much to Lisa K of the GerSIG group on Facebook for pointing out that this is NOT the reverse of the death certificate for Baruch Blumenfeld, but for someone named James Graham. So Mary Farley must have been HIS sister. I’ve now ordered a correct version of the reverse of Baruch’s death certificate.

I very much doubt any one of the many possible Mary Farleys was Baruch’s sister. Friend, neighbor, whatever—she likely said she was the sister so she could arrange the burial for him.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923 was the same man born in Momberg, Germany, on January 29, 1843, to Abraham Blumenfeld II and Giedel Strauss? Please share you thoughts in the comments.

I am so very grateful to the genealogy village for all the help I’ve received to try and learn what happened to my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

36 thoughts on “Baruch Blumenfeld: Where and When Did He Die, Part II

  1. The birth date as calculated from the death certificate and the notation on the daughter’s marriage certificate are strong evidence. The later immigration year also supports the conclusion. I’d say it’s highly probable you have the right guy. Especially since you haven’t found any good alternates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eilene. I sure wish I could find some record of his immigration, but I’ve searched every way and every place I can think of. So I have to live with a certain degree of uncertainty, but I can accept that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When you shared the indexed information of the death certificate in the first part, I was hoping you would get an image or copy of the record as I was sure Lhauss was a transcription error and could be Strauss. Without looking at the back of the certificate, I would say you could be fairly certain that this is the right man. But Mary Farley, a sister, complicates things. Maybe someone will be able to make the connection for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree – seems very likely. These little niggling details are sent to test us, that’s for sure. I have seen on various records in my family where neighbours have informed the officials about the death, so it stands to reason if Baruch was estranged from his family and had been a good neighbour and possibly even a friend of Mary Farley, that she would take on the role of a family member and stretch the truth to that end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anything is possible. But I’ve found no marriage records for Baruch in the US so there’s no way to track down Mary as a sister-in-law. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Like

    • UPDATE!! Thank you so much to Lisa K of the GerSIG group on Facebook for pointing out that this is NOT the reverse of the death certificate for Baruch Blumenfeld, but for someone named James Graham. So Mary Farley must have been HIS sister. I’ve now ordered a correct version of the reverse of Baruch’s death certificate. 

      Like

    • Your first did go through—I just moderate all comments first. I don’t know what you mean by password, but I do know commenters have to register their email before commenting.

      Like

      • After I enter my name and password, Because I have An old WordPress account, a pop up says I have to enter my WordPress.com password. Since I haven’t used WordPress.com for a decade since I switched to WordPress.org, I don’t understand this quirk. On my phone, I am not given a choice of using Google I.d. Or any other I.d. On my tablet I am offered a choice of WordPress, Twitter or Facebook.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s annoying. So how did you post—through Facebook? Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been getting more and more comments about trouble posting lately.

        Like

  4. There are lots of reasons why people misstate names and relationships, especially when dealing with immigration and trying to disappear. You’ll never know the details why this man left his wife and children and showed up in the US, and he may have created or bought fraudulent documents to get in or arrived in Canada and then into the US by train. Mary Farley could have been his partner, a friend, or a person using a fake name to get things done. What’s truly amazing is that this is one of the very few instances of this sort of thing that you have tripped over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If and when I get the correct image of the reverse of his death certificate, I should see where he was buried. I am not sure what else that will reveal, but we will see. Thanks, Miles!

      Like

      • Hi Amy – looking at the death certificate down at the bottom if does have a box for place of burial and it says Union Fields – in Queens. Not sure either what that might reveal but it would be interesting if there was gravestone and a record of who ordered it? I believe you have the right person 🙂 You got great help with this too –

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right! I’d forgotten that was on the front of the certificate. I am not sure what additional information I can get from there, but it’s worth checking with them. Thanks, Sharon!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. No one will believe me at this point, but it did go through my mind to ask “How do you know this is the correct reverse?”, but assumed you had a replica of the death certificate, front and back. I learned to look out for that on passport images, which on Ancestry have the back before the front.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It never occurred to me that it wasn’t the correct image since I ordered it through the FHL, not through Ancestry or FamilySearch. I’ve reordered it and explained that I had received the wrong image so hopefully this time they will get it right!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Who Arranged Baruch Blumenfeld’s Burial? An Update | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  7. Wow, you had a LOT of help. I’m glad you could figure out that he did die here. Kind of funny about the reverse not really being the reverse of the death certificate! For the longest time I couldn’t figure out if my great-grandfather immigrated from Alsace or died there before the family came here. It really seemed as if he had come here. However, FINALLY, I happened upon his death record in Alsace before the family came. I believe Cathy helped me with this!

    Liked by 1 person

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