Update on the Jeweler and the Suffragette: Some Answers, Some Photos

One of the most intriguing stories I’ve researched is the story of my cousin Maurice Jay Baer (known as “MJ”) and his mysterious marriage to Bossie O’Brien Hundley, a well-known activist for women’s suffrage in Alabama. I wrote in detail about Bossie and what I knew of her relationship with MJ Baer in a post entitled “The Jeweler and the Suffragette: Star-crossed Lovers?” in July 2016.   I first learned of their relationship when I discovered the marriage license for MJ and Bossie dated June 19, 1945; they were married in Tryon, North Carolina. Sadly, MJ died less than a year later on April 25, 1946.

Maurice Jay Baer and Julia Hendley marriage license, 1945
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

I was puzzled that MJ’s family hadn’t known that he was married. Bossie was not named as one of his survivors in his obituary, and MJ was buried with his family in Philadelphia, not where Bossie was later buried in North Carolina. When I’d asked my Baer family relatives about the marriage, no one knew anything about it. In fact, the family believed that he had never married at all.  He was described as the “bachelor uncle.”

Maurice Jay Baer death notice
New York Times, April 27, 1946


It seemed that Bossie’s family, however, did know about the marriage.  MJ was named as Bossie’s husband on her death certificate, and her obituary mentioned him as her second husband.

The Birmingham News, November 16, 1966, p. 26

Bossie Baer death certificate
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I was left with so many questions. How had a Jewish man from Massachusetts met a Catholic woman from Alabama? Where did they live after their marriage? How and why did they keep the marriage a secret at least from MJ’s family? I tried to find out more, but had no luck.

Then on May 18, 2017, I received a comment on the blog from Mitchell Brown, who shared that she was Bossie’s great-granddaughter and that she had “known about MJ Baer and his connection to our family all [her] life. The family narrative is that it was the religious differences that kept them from being public about their marriage.”

I was thrilled to hear from Mitchell, and since then, Mitchell and her family have generously shared with me some photographs and some additional insights that have answered many if not all my questions about MJ and Bossie.

Two of Bossie’s granddaughters were the primary sources of that information. Elisabeth Hundley Farr Smith remembers MJ very well as she was born in 1934 and spent many summers with her grandmother Bossie in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  Melinda Farr Brown, Elisabeth’s younger sister, was born in 1942 and does not have any memories of MJ, but knew her grandmother Bossie very well.

Elisabeth wrote that “MJ was as close to a grandfather to me as one can get (and actually became my step grandfather when he and Bossie married).” From the age of six until she was in her twenties, she spent her summers in Black Mountain. Her parents would put her on the train in Philadelphia, and Bossie would meet her at the station in Black Mountain.  MJ also spent the summers there for many years, starting even before he married Bossie; however, Elisabeth recalls that he returned north each fall. Elisabeth wrote that MJ had his own room and bath in Bossie’s house. She recalls taking walks with him and their cocker spaniel Buffy every morning, listening to the radio in the evenings with her grandmother and MJ, driving to town to get a drugstore soda, and engaging in various activities on her own, like writing a newspaper to sell for ten cents. She was just a young child and so was not engaged in much of the adult conversation so had no insights into their relationship or how and when they’d met.

One other interesting note: Elisabeth mentioned that she knew MJ’s nephew Jerry and his wife Elsie. I believe this must be a reference to MJ’s sister Elsie Baer and her husband Jerome Grant. Elisabeth recalled that they lived in New York City and that she even visited them a few times with her grandmother even after MJ died.

Melinda also recalled meeting Elsie and Jerome. She described a lunch she had at their home in New York City in 1963 where Elsie spoke about the fact that no one had known about the marriage between MJ and Bossie. And when I reviewed MJ’s death certificate, I saw that Jerome had been the informant on that record; strangely enough he reported that MJ was single when he died.  Either Jerome had not known there had been a marriage or he was still covering up the secret marriage from the rest of the Baer family. Melinda said that she didn’t think anyone but Bossie’s daughter Margaret knew about the marriage until after MJ died.

Maurice Jay Baer death certificate
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

It seems that at some point after MJ’s death, the Baer family did learn of his marriage to Bossie. My cousin Mike, who is in fact MJ’s namesake, found a list of family members that was prepared when Mike’s grandfather Samuel Stone, Sr. died in 1957. Samuel Stone was married to Tilda Baer, MJ’s sister. Included on that list of family members was the name “Mrs. Maurice J. Baer, Black Mountain, NC.”

Although I have not obtained a copy of MJ’s will, I had wondered whether he had left any money to Bossie; I still do not know for sure, but Melinda told me that he had left her $1000, so I assume that MJ had also left some of his estate to his wife Bossie and probably to her daughter Margaret and both granddaughters.

As for why the marriage was kept a secret, Melinda recalls that her grandmother said that it was, at least on Bossie’s part, not because of the religious differences but rather because she did not want to be teased about their “personal life.” After all, MJ was 71 and Bossie 69 when they married in 1945.  I suppose some people might have thought it odd for two older people to marry at that point in their lives.

One of the more surprising things I learned from Bossie’s two granddaughters was how long Bossie and MJ had known each other even before they were married. Although neither Elisabeth nor Melinda knew exactly how or when Bossie and MJ met, Melinda shared with me the following page from Bossie’s unpublished book, “With the Passing Years:”

A Tribute to MJ J. Baer

One of the most ennobling influences

of my life was my friendship for twenty

years with MJ J. Baer.  This

beautiful friendship was focused on

June 19, 1945 by our marriage.

 His integrity, appreciation of the best

in art and literature, his personal

charm, fine sense of values and uniform

kindness were forces that built an

unforgettable personality.

Just eight months after our marriage he

died leaving me a beautiful memory.

Thus, Bossie had known MJ for twenty years when he died in 1946, meaning she must have met him in about 1926.  On August 14, 1926, MJ returned to New York from a trans-Atlantic trip on the S.S. Verdam. Bossie had also taken a trans-Atlantic trip that year, returning to New York on May 28, 1926, on the S.S. Rotterdam. I don’t know how long either one of them spent in Europe, but at some point their paths crossed, as seen in this photograph that Bossie’s family kindly shared with me:

1926 photo of Bossie Hundley O’Brien and MJ Baer
Courtesy of the Family of Bossie Hundley O’Brien Baer

As you can see, it is dated 1926, and three people are identified in the photograph: Bossie, Mrs. Hageman, and M.J Baer.  It looks as if they were exploring some ruins, perhaps in Greece.

Melinda reviewed a travel diary that her grandmother kept during a trip taken with MJ in 1930 during which they visited Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter. About that visit, Bossie wrote, “With Cook’s guide we visited the diamond factory of Amsterdam (not interesting), then the old Jewish Quarter and the old Synagogue dating back to the 16th century.  It was here that M.J. told the woman my father was a Christian but my mother was a Jewess!!”

I assume that Bossie was quoting MJ—that is, that he said his father was a Christian, but his mother was Jewish, not that Bossie’s were. In either case, it’s not accurate, as MJ’s father Jacob Baer was most definitely Jewish, as was his mother, Malchen (Amalie/Amelia) Hamberg. Both are buried in a Jewish cemetery, as was MJ. At any rate it is clear that all those trips taken by MJ and Bossie over the years were trips taken together and that travel was a passion they both shared. As noted in my earlier post, both traveled many times to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, although on different ships, except for one trip in 1930 when they were listed together on the ship manifest:

1930 ship manifest listing both Maurice Jay Baer and Bossie Hundley
Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4849; Line: 1; Page Number: 183

It is also interesting that traveling with MJ was his niece, Stephanie Stone of Attleboro, Massachusetts, my cousin’s Mike’s mother. Stephanie obviously knew Bossie, yet Mike had always believed that his great-uncle had never married.

The family generously shared with me the following photographs of Bossie and MJ taken during their many travels together:

Bossie O’Brien and MJ Baer in India
Courtesy of the Family of Bossie Hundley O’Brien Baer

Bossie O’Brien and MJ Baer in Venice
Courtesy of the Family of Bossie Hundley O’Brien Baer

Bossie and MJ aboard ship with monkeys
Courtesy of the Family of Bossie Hundley O’Brien Baer


Over a year and a half ago when I wrote that earlier post about the jeweler and the suffragette, I had little expectation that I would be able to learn more about this mysterious couple.  Thanks to the generosity of Bossie’s family and the magic of the internet, I now have a much fuller picture. MJ and Bossie had a long and close friendship for many years, culminating in their marriage in June 1945. Their marriage may have been cut short by MJ’s untimely death in 1946, but their relationship had obviously been an important and valued part of both of their lives for twenty years.



Meeting New Cousins

There is one more sibling of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein to research and write about—his half-brother Jakob.

But before I move on to the next step in the Katzenstein research, I have several other topics to discuss—updates and items of interest that have accumulated over the months but that were put on the back burner. So the next few posts will be about these varied topics including some interesting discoveries and meetings with cousins. Today I want to talk about two recent meetings with “new” cousins.

On August 4, my cousin Jan and her husband Richard made a trip to Provincetown to meet Harvey and me and spend the day together. We met them at the wharf where the ferry from Boston arrives, walked around Provincetown, and had a wonderful lunch overlooking Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown Harbor. We had a great time together—the conversation flowed naturally, and we all hit it off very easily.

Jan and me and a new friend in Provincetown

Jan is my second cousin, once removed. Her great-grandmother Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht was the half-sister of my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager. I had “discovered” Jan after the amazing breakthrough I had finding my grandmother’s long missing half-sister Toba through the pure serendipity of a list of names in my aunt’s baby book from 1917.

Aunt Elaine’s baby book. Note the last name in the list on the left—Mrs. Taube Hecht; that is my grandmother’s half-sister Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht and Jan’s great-grandmother.


While we were together, Jan completed a DNA testing kit, which I mailed the next day.  I am hoping that her DNA results will help me with my Brotman research since Jan is descended  from Joseph Brotman and his first wife and not from Bessie, my great-grandmother. Perhaps her results will help me identify which genes came from Joseph and not Bessie as I search for more answers to the many questions that remain about the Brotmans, for example, about the relationship between Joseph and Bessie.

Then on Tuesday, August 8, we had dinner with another “new” cousin, Mike and his wife Wendy. Mike is my fourth cousin through my Hamberg line. We are both the three-times great-grandchildren of Moses Hamberg of Breuna. Mike’s great-grandmother was Malchen Hamberg, who married Jacob Baer; Mike’s grandmother was Tilda Baer, who married Samuel Einstein/Stone, the co-founder with Maurice Baer (Tilda’s brother, Mike’s great-uncle) of Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the jewelry company now known as Swank.

Samuel Einstein/Stone, Sr., Samuel Stone, Jr. standing Sitting: Harriet, Stephanie (Mike’s mother), Tilda, and Babette (Betty) Stone Courtesy of the family


Mike and I found each other back in March, 2017, as a result of a comment left on my blog by a man named Dr. Rainer Schimpf. Dr. Schimpf wrote then:

I am so excited to read your blog! We are doing research on Samuel Einstein, born in Laupheim, Wuerttemberg. He was connected to Carl Laemmle, founder and president of Universal Pictures, who was also born in Laupheim. Could you please get in contact with me? Thank you so much!

Best, Rainer

I contacted Rainer immediately, excited by this connection to Hollywood since I’ve always been a movie fan and trivia nut. Rainer told me that he was curating an exhibit about Carl Laemmle for the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is the state museum in Stuttgart for the history of southwest Germany. Laemmle was born in Laupheim, Germany, and had immigrated to the United States in 1884. The story of his career in the United States is quite fascinating (though beyond the scope of my blog). You can read it about it here and here.

Carl Laemmle
From Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Rainer said that in the course of his research about Laemmle, he had found a newspaper article describing a party celebrating Laemmle’s fiftieth birthday in 1917; one of the guests mentioned in the article was Samuel Einstein from Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Einstein had not yet changed his surname to Stone.)

Motion Picture Weekly, January 1917

Rainer had been trying to learn more about Samuel Einstein and had learned quite a bit, including that Einstein was one of the founders of Attleboro Manufacturing, now known as Swank.  He also had learned that Samuel Einstein was “one of four Jewish boys of Laupheim, who made unique careers in the US. All four were meeting at the birthday party of Laemmle in 1917 (Leo Hirschfeld [inventor of the Tootsie Roll] and Isidor Landauer [of International Handkerchief Manufacturing] are the other two boys).” (email from Dr. Rainer Schimpf, March, 2017)

Rainer wanted to learn more about Einstein, his family, and his connection to Laupheim, Germany, and to Laemmle. I shared with Rainer what I knew, and then I searched for and contacted as many of the Baer/Stone family members as I could, and one of them, Faith, a great-granddaughter of Tilda and Samuel Stone, responded with great interest and then connected me to her cousin, Mike. Thanks to that one comment by Rainer on the blog, I now not only know more about Samuel Einstein/Stone, I also am connected to many more of my Hamberg cousins.

Together Rainer, Mike, and I were able to pull together a fuller picture of Samuel Einstein, his family of origin, and his life in Germany and in the United States.  Although I won’t go into complete detail here about the Einstein family, I will point out one interesting bit of information we learned that answered a question I’d had while researching the Baer family: how did Maurice Baer and Samuel Einstein end up as business partners?[1]

The Baers lived in Pittsburgh, and Samuel Einstein lived in Attleboro, Massachusetts. How could they have met each other? Even today, it would take almost ten hours to drive the more than 500 miles between the two cities. It would have taken days to get from one to the other back then.


Well, Rainer discovered that Samuel Einstein had three uncles who lived in Pittsburgh who had been in the US since the mid-19th century. Perhaps Samuel met Maurice Baer when he visited his relatives in Pittsburgh; maybe the Baers and Pittsburgh Einsteins were well-acquainted. If and when I have time, these are questions I’d like to pursue.

When Mike learned that I spend the summer on the Cape where he would be visiting this summer, we arranged to have dinner together. It was a lovely evening with Mike and Wendy with lots of stories and laughs and good food.  We felt an immediate connection to these warm and friendly people. Mike shared some old photographs and even showed me Maurice Baer’s walking stick. It was a lot of fun.

Harvey, me, Mike, and Wendy

It is always such a pleasure to meet new cousins—whether they are as distant as fourth or fifth cousins or as close as a second cousin.  It reinforces the idea that we are all connected in some ways to everyone else, and it inspires me to keep looking and researching and writing.

There are so many more cousins I’d like to meet in person—or as Jan said, IRL FTF. Some live nearby, and I hope to get to see them within the next several months. Others live much further away, making it harder to get together. But I’ve gone as far as Germany to meet a cousin, so eventually I hope I can meet many of those who live in the United States.


[1] Since Samuel is only related to me by his marriage to Tilda Baer, I had not previously researched his background too deeply. For the same reason, I won’t go into detail here on all that we discovered about his family.

Volkmarsen and Breuna: A Remarkable Day

On Monday morning, May 8, we picked up our rental car (a cute little Nissan Juke) and started our drive northeast from Cologne to the Kassel region where we would spend the next three days.  I must admit I had some trepidation about driving in Germany (well, about Harvey driving in Germany; I certainly wasn’t going to drive).  I’d heard about the absence of speed limits on the Autobahn, and being a nervous passenger under any circumstances, I had visions of a combination of bumper cars and roller coasters.  Add to that the fact that the signs would be in German and distances in kilometers, and I figured this would not be a relaxing experience.

But I was wrong.  Our GPS was excellent (with a delightful British accent), the signs were clear, the roads were smooth, and we somehow managed to keep up (to some extent) with the pace of the German drivers.  The only part I didn’t like was the fact that the vehicles in the right lane were going about 30 mph slower than those in the left lane, making changing lanes at times nerve-wracking (for me, not for Harvey).

We made one visit to a rest stop along the way where I ran from the car to try and get ahead of the three busloads of teenagers going on a school trip.  I was only partly successful and had to wait amid a bunch of chatty teens before paying 70 cents to use the facilities.  When I received a voucher back for 50 cents, I had to ask one of the girls what it was for.  I learned we could redeem it for items in the rest stop store, so we bought a pretzel for the road and re-entered the Autobahn.

Our destination was Volkmarsen where we were to meet Ernst Klein, who would be our guide for the towns we were visiting that day. We arrived on time, and Ernst promptly met us in front of the rathaus (town hall) in the pretty center of the village. I had only emailed a few times with Ernst beforehand, and he had told me that his English was not great, but he was wrong.  His English was excellent, and I immediately warmed to this friendly and modest man.

Ernst Klein and me

First, he showed us around Volkmarsen. I was at first not sure why I would be interested in Volkmarsen since, as far as I knew, I had no family from that town.  But Ernst pointed to a building right across from the rathaus and told us, showing us a photograph, that it had once been the store of Salomon Hamberg. I had to look him up to figure out the connection.  His father Juda Hamberg was a first cousin to my great-great-grandmother, Henrietta Hamberg, the mother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. So Salomon was Isidore’s second cousin.

Salomon Hamberg’s store in Volkmarsen


Building where Salomon Hamberg once had a store

Ernst showed us the church in Volkmarsen and pointed out that several former Jewish homes were right nearby; he commented that before the Third Reich, Jews and Christians had lived and worked together peacefully as neighbors and friends. We then walked to one of the older homes in town where Ernst wanted to show us something special that he had discovered.

Rathaus in Volkmarsen

Church in Volkmarsen

Street in Volkmarsen where some Jewish families once lived

We went into the backyard of the home and entered a door into the basement at the back of the house.  It was dark inside, and I had no idea what we were going to see.  But Ernst turned on a spotlight that lit up a corner of the basement where we could see stone steps leading down into a rectangular opening—a mikveh!  A mikveh is a ritual bathing place where  traditional Jews go for a ritual purification at particular times in their lives—e.g., for women, before marriage and after each menstrual period. Ernst said he had had the stones dated by an expert and that it was believed that this mikveh was 500 years old, meaning Jews had been in this little town as early as 1500.  There is even visible water at the bottom, showing that natural waters could fill the mikveh.

Volkmarsen mikveh

He then told us how he had discovered the mikveh.  He had been looking for some evidence of an early Jewish community in Volkmarsen in the older buildings and homes in the village, and when he saw this decorative pillar in the basement of this home, he had a hunch that the basement had once been used for something special.

Pillar in basement where mikveh was found in Volkmarsen

He asked the owner for permission to remove the brick flooring to see what was underneath, and the owner agreed, as long as Ernst promised to restore the flooring if there was nothing below it.  But there was, and further investigation indicates the possibility that the front part of the basement was used for prayer services.  There are marks on the walls that look like hand prints and Hebrew letters as well as an opening in the wall that might have housed the Torah scrolls.

Handprints on wall in Volkmarsen

Hebrew lettering ?

Possible location of ark holding Torah scrolls

We were very excited to see this space and wondered what would happen to it since the home is privately owned. Ernst described his hope that his organization could raise the funds to buy the house and convert it into a Jewish museum. I am hoping to help them accomplish this goal, and if you are interested in learning more about this fascinating project, here is more information from their website. I believe that this museum will serve a very important purpose in education and preservation of the Jewish history of the region, and I hope some of you will consider making a donation.

After a quick lunch at yet another great German bakery, we went to see the Volkmarsen cemetery.  The cemetery had been damaged by the Nazis during the war, the headstones smashed to pieces.  A memorial has been established by assembling pieces of the stones together along with a large stone commemorating those who had been buried there.

Broken stones at the Volkmarsen cemetery

Memorial made of broken stones at the Volkmarsen cemetery

In addition, Ernst saw that a memorial wall was created to include the names of Volkmarsen residents who had been killed during the Holocaust.  The empty spaces in the wall are meant to represent the holes now missing from the community, a brilliant and very powerful visual statement.

Memorial to those killed in the Holocaust from Volkmarsen

Ernst then took us to the current Jewish museum in the town, and I could see why he needs more space. He and his colleagues have created an incredible little museum packed with information and Judaica and photographs and records of Jewish history in the area.  The museum is visited by children and adults from the region and also from all parts of the world. There are copies of photographs and letters of members of the Hamberg family, including some of Rob Meyers’ mother and her family. (Rob is my fifth cousin, the one with whom we have very good mutual friends as well as mutual cousins from my father’s Cohen side, the Goldweins.)

Irmgaard Hamberg

Then we left for Breuna, the village where my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg was born. Henriette was the daughter of Moses Hamberg and Guetchen Rotenberg, both of whom had died in Breuna in the 1860s. Henriette was one of ten siblings and at least some of her siblings had stayed in Breuna and died there.   Although I have yet to delve too deeply into the Hamberg genealogy and story, I wanted to see where they’d lived and where they are buried.

On the way to Breuna, Ernst had us pull over to the side of the road so we could see the small mountain that was the inspiration for the family name.  In the early 1800s when the government ordered Jews to adopt surnames for tax-collecting purposes, many Jews picked names based on locations or places that they knew.  Moses Hamberg’s family chose the small mountain outside of Breuna that was and is known as Hamberg.

Hamberg mountain

Breuna is a small village not dissimilar from Volkmarsen or Gau-Algesheim.  There is a church, a small open square, a town hall, and then many individual houses surrounding those public buildings. Ernst showed us the former synagogue, noting its proximity to the church, and two houses that were once the homes of Hamberg family members.

Plaque on former synagogue in Breuna

Former synagogue in Breuna

Former synagogue, left, and church, right, in Breuna

Hamberg home

The weather that day was the coldest and wettest of our days in Germany, and unfortunately we were too uncomfortable to spend much time walking around.  So we headed to the cemetery.  Along the way we passed the street named for Susanne Hamberg, Rob Meyer’s aunt who was, along with her parents, killed in the Holocaust. Susanne was only thirteen years old; she was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Outside the cemetery was a sign telling the history of Breuna’s Jewish community. It includes the Hamberg family as one of the families that made up that community.

Inside the cemetery are many stones in about six or seven different rows.  It is quite a nice cemetery and very well maintained.  Many of the stones are only in Hebrew and somewhat eroded, so reading them was extremely difficult, but fortunately many stones also have German on the reverse side, revealing the secular name of the person buried in that spot. I looked at each stone, often seeing nothing that seemed relevant, and occasionally seeing a name that seemed a possible relative—a Goldschmidt or a Hamberg.

But my search was rewarded when I located these two stones:

Hebrew side of stone for Guetchen Rotenberg Hamberg

Hebrew side Moses Hamberg’s stone

On the reverse were their German names:

Guetchen Rotenberg, reverse side

Moses Hamberg stone reverse side

These were the stones for my three-times great-grandparents, Moses Hamberg and Guetchen Rotenberg, the parents of Henriette Hamberg, the grandparents of Isidore Schoenthal.  Seeing them took my breath away.  I had not expected to find stones for my own direct ancestors.  Because of my experience in Gau-Algesheim, I had kept my expectations low. Yet here were the stones for my ancestors, the grandparents of my father’s maternal grandfather.

I never knew these people and in fact knew almost nothing about them beyond their names, birth dates, and death dates.  The birth record of their daughter Hannchen revealed that Moses was a cattle merchant.  Despite this thin amount of personal information, somehow I felt a connection to these people who died almost a hundred years before I was born.

In the cemetery there were also a number of stones for other people on my Hamberg family tree:

Jettchen Gans Hamberg, wife of Seligmann Hamberg, brother of my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg.  Jettchen and Seligmann were the parents of Malchen/Amalia Hamberg who married Jacob Baer and had the children who founded and worked for the Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the large jewelry business in Attleboro Massachusetts.


Levi Mollerich, husband of Miriam Hamberg, sister of my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg.

Baruch Hamberg and his wife Sara Herzfeld.  Baruch was my second cousin, three times removed; more importantly, he and Sara were my cousin Rob Meyer’s great-grandparents.  Baruch was also related to Joel Goldwein as Baruch’s mother Breine Goldwein was the sister of Joel’s great-grandfather Markus Goldwein.

Rosa Hamberg Braunsberg.  She was Baruch Hamberg’s sister, so another second cousin, three times removed.

Fanny Herzfeld Goldwein and Markus Goldwein.  Great-grandparents of Joel Goldwein, who is my cousin through my Cohen line and Rob’s cousin through the Goldwein line.

In addition there were some stones with names that might be a part of my family and then others that I need to have translated.  But overall, visiting that cemetery on that very cold and very dreary day left me feeling uplifted and strangely happy.  My ancestors were there, and I had been there to pay tribute and to remember them.  It was a very moving experience.

We drove through Oberlistingen, the home of my Goldschmidt ancestors, and then we said goodbye to our new friend Ernst—he and I both with tears in our eyes—and drove to our hotel in Kassel.  It had been a remarkable day, beginning with a 500 year old mikveh and ending with the discovery of my 3x-great-grandparents’ gravestones.  The next day we would go to Sielen, the home of my Schoenthal ancestors.


Another Small World Story, Another Twist in the Family Tree

In my last post I described my discovery that Rose Mansbach Schoenthal was not only related to me by her marriage to Simon Schoenthal, the brother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, but that she was also related by marriage to my other great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein through her Mansbach cousins.   This post is about another discovery of a strange twist in my family tree, but this one involving two living cousins.

Last week I received a comment on an old blog post about Elizabeth Cohen, who was the sister of my other great-grandfather, Emanuel Cohen.  The man who left the comment on my blog, Joel Goldwein, is the great-grandson, through his mother’s side, of Elizabeth Cohen.  He is thus my third cousin.  I was, of course, delighted to make this connection, and I emailed Joel to learn more about him and our mutual family.

In the course of the exchange of emails, Joel shared information not only about his mother’s family, but also about his father, Manfred (Fred) Goldwein, who had escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport to England.  His father’s parents and other family members, however, were murdered by the Nazis.  Joel sent me a link to a website about his son’s bar mitzvah in Korbach, Germany, the town where his father was born and had lived until he left Germany.  I was very moved by the idea that Joel’s family had returned to this town to honor the memory of his father’s family.

I mentioned that I was going to be in Germany, not far from Korbach, because I had Hamberg ancestors from Breuna.  Joel then mentioned that his paternal great-grandparents are buried in Breuna and that he had visited the cemetery there.  He sent me a link to his photographs of the cemetery, and I looked through them in search of anyone named Hamberg.

Imagine my surprise to find this photograph:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein

Baruch Hamberg was the second cousin of my great-great-grandmother, Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal.  More importantly, he was the great-grandfather of my fifth cousin, Rob Meyer.

Some of you may remember the story of Rob.  He and I connected through JewishGen’s Family Finder tool about a year and a half ago, and we learned that not only did Rob live about a mile from where I had once lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, we also had very good mutual friends.  It was one of those true goosebump moments in my genealogy research, standing in a cemetery in Longmeadow and talking to Rob as we realized that we both had the same close friends.

Rob’s mother had, like Joel’s father, escaped from Nazi Germany, and she also, like Joel’s father, had lost most of the rest of her family in the Holocaust. I sent the headstone photograph to Rob, and I asked whether he might be related to Joel.  Rob answered, suggesting that perhaps he was related to Joel not through Baruch Hamberg, but through Baruch’s mother, Breinchen Goldwein.  A little more digging around revealed that in fact Joel was related to Breinchen: her brother Marcus Goldwein was Joel’s paternal great-grandfather.

Thus, Joel and Rob are third cousins, once removed, through Rob’s mother’s side and Joel’s father side. And although they did not know of each other at all, Joel also had a photograph of the street in Breuna named in memory of Rob’s aunt:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein


It gave me great pleasure to introduce Rob and Joel to each other, who soon discovered that not only are they third cousins through their Goldwein family line, they are also both doctors and both graduates of the same medical school.

And they are both my cousins, Rob through his mother’s Hamberg side and Joel through his mother’s Cohen side.

There truly are only six degrees of separation.

Are These Two Photographs of the Same Woman?

Sharon, one of my readers and a fellow genealogy blogger, asked in response to my last post whether I thought the woman in this photograph of Lawrence Baer and his son John Degen Baer could be John’s grandmother. Certainly the way his hand rests on her shoulder suggests that she was someone he knew well and felt comfortable with:

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

John’s paternal grandmother was Amalia Hamberg, the woman in the photo I’d posted in an earlier post. People thought that photo was taken in the 1880s or about 40 years before the one above:


Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer


Could the woman in the top photo also be Amalia? In 1924, Amalia would have been 73 years old. Her face is obviously much thinner in the later photograph, but are the mouth, nose, and eyes similar? Do you think this is the same woman in both photographs?

And if any of Amalia’s descendants can help, please let me know.

(I tried to use the pictriev tool that Cathy Meder-Dempsey blogged about, but the photo of Amalia and Jacob was too small for pictriev to detect the faces.)

More Gifts of Photographs

In my last post, I shared the wonderful photograph I received of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer from one of their descendants.  Before posting it here, I shared it with other descendants of Amalia and Jacob, and that prompted some of those descendants to share some other photographs. Thank you to the extended Baer family for allowing me to publish these photos.

First is a photograph of Lawrence Baer, Amalia and Jacob’s youngest child, born in 1891 in PIttsburgh.  Lawrence became one of the principal innovators and executives at the family-owned jewelry business, Attleboro Manufacturing.  This photograph was taken in 1924.  The little boy in the center is John Degen Baer, Lawrence’s son.  He would have been three years old in this photograph. The individual on the right is not known.

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Here is a photograph of Lawrence Baer’s first wife and John Degen Baer’s mother, Donna Degen.  This photograph was not dated, but it looks like the 1920s to me.

Donna Degen

Donna Degen

This is another picture of their son John, dated 1924:

John Baer, summer of 1924

John Baer, summer of 1924

How adorable is he!

Finally, here is a photograph of Olivia Ganong Baer, Lawrence Baer’s second wife, and Minette Brigham Baer, John Degen Baer’s first wife, with Lawrence in the background.

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

John Degen Baer grew up to be a very accomplished business leader like his father.  He died just a little over a year ago on November 3, 2015.

According to his obituary,

Baer attended both Yale and Brown Universities, graduating from the latter in 1943. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, having been attached to the Second Marine Division in the Pacific theater and int he Occupation of Japan. He resigned his commission in 1950. He was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970. Mr. Baer established a consulting company in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 1970 joined the Edwards Baking Company as Executive Vice President. He retired from Edwards in 1978. While residing on Sea Island, Georgia, he participated in the construction and management of the Island Retreat and the Island Square apartments.

Baer and his family moved to Blairsville in 1985 where he and his wife founded and managed the Truck & Gas Market. The business closed in March 1992. Baer then retired from all activity. While residing in Massachusetts, Baer served as a member of the Attleboro Zoning Board of Appeal for 12 years. He was also a Director of a local Bank and the Chamber of Commerce. For several years he served as a director of the Optical Manufacturers Association, located in New York City. While living in Oxford, Georgia, Baer was elected and served on the town Council.

Thank you again to his children for sharing these photos and allowing me to see the faces behind the names of these cousins of mine. Here’s a chart showing how we are related.


A Special Photograph

While taking a short break from research, I want to share a few photographs and records I’ve received recently, but did not have a chance to post on the blog.

You may recall the series of blog posts I did about Amalia Hamberg and her family.  Amalia, born Malchen, was my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s first cousin:

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg


She acted as the administratrix of the estate of Charles Hamberg, the cousin who lived in South Carolina whose first wife had been murdered and whose son Samuel Hamberg ended up living with Henry Schoenthal in Washington, Pennsylvania after his father died as well.  Amalia had married Jacob Baer, with whom she had nine children, many of whom ended up working for the family jewelry business founded by the oldest brother, Maurice, in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Well, one of the descendants of Amalia and Jacob Baer found my blog and connected me with his siblings, one of whom graciously shared with me this wonderful photograph of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer. Both Amalia and Jacob lived long lives.  Amalia lived from 1851 until 1931; Jacob from 1847 to 1932. Imagine all the changes they saw—starting in Germany in the middle of the 19th century and living through the Industrial Revolution, the first World War, and the Roaring Twenties.  They raised nine children in western Pennsylvania and must have seen Pittsburgh grow from a small fairly rural area to the home of steel manufacturing.  They lived to see the invention and development of cars and telephones, even airplanes.


I don’t know when this photograph was taken.  Although Amalia and Jacob may look old because of their attire and Jacob’s seemingly gray hair, their faces have no wrinkles, and the style of dress does not look 20th century to me.  I would guess that they were in their 40s, so perhaps the picture was taken in the 1890s.  What do you think?

I am so excited to have this photograph. Thank you so much to the Adler siblings who shared this with me.

The Last Chapter of the Story of Amalia Hamberg

Finally, I come to the two youngest children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer to survive to adulthood[1]: Elsie Baer Grant and Lawrence Baer.   With this post, I close the chapter on Amalia Hamberg, first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, or my first cousin, three times removed.  Her children were my second cousins, twice removed (or my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s second cousins).

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

Elsie Baer was born in Pittsburgh in 1886 and married Jerome Grant in 1913.  For almost their entire married lives they lived in New York City, where Jerome worked for Baer & Wilde, one of the family jewelry businesses based in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Elsie and Jerome had two daughters, Marjorie and Elinor.  As of 1930, they were still living in New York City, and Jerome was still working for the family jewelry business.  The same was true in 1940; both daughters were still at home.

In the next decade both daughters married. Marjorie married Richard E. Weinreich, whose family was also in the jewelry business.  Richard’s father, Sol Weinreich, had founded Marvella Pearls, a jewelry wholesale business with his brother in Philadelphia, where Richard was born in 1915.  By 1930, the family and the business had relocated to New York, and by 1940, both Richard and his father were working in the business.

Marvella pearls

I assume that Richard and Marjorie met as a result of the fact that both families were in the jewelry business in New York.  Richard and Marjorie would have one child.  Richard eventually became president of Marvella.  According to this antiques website, “Marvella was purchased by Trifari in the early 1980s and eventually became part of the Liz Claiborne group. As of 2010, jewelry is still being distributed in department stores and other retail outlets on cards bearing the Marvella name.”

Marjorie’s sister Elinor served for over a year with the Red Cross in India in the early 1940s. On December 19, 1946, she married Alan Fredrick Kline of Chicago.

Elinor Grant wedding to Alan Kline 1946 NYTimes-page-001

Alan was a graduate of Dartmouth College and had served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II.  His father Jacob was one of the founders of Kline Brothers, a department store chain that started in Lorain, Ohio, and eventually had a large number of stores in the Midwest.

Suburbanite_Economist_Sun__Oct_28__1973_ article about Kline Bros

Elinor and Alan had two children before Alan died at only 37 years old on October 1, 1950, leaving Elinor with two very young sons.  Elinor would eventually remarry.

Elsie Baer’s husband Jerome Grant died on July 29, 1964; he was 75.  According to the death notices in The New York Times, he was a Mason, a member of The Golden Circle, and a member of the Maiden Lane Outing Club.

Like her sisters Josephine, Tilda, and Amanda, Elsie Baer Grant lived a long life, dying many years after her husband in May 1983 at age 96.

Unfortunately, the daughters of Elsie and Jerome were not blessed with their mother’s longevity.  Marjorie predeceased her mother, dying in May, 1978; she was only 59.  Her sister Elinor died at age 72 on November 2, 1993.

As for Elsie’s younger brother Lawrence, the youngest of the children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, he played, as I’ve written here, a critical part in the success of the family jewelry business in Attleboro.  He not only invented the Kum-A-Part cufflinks that made the company highly successful in the 1920s; he also invented and received patents for several other jewelry products.  For example, in 1922, Lawrence received a patent (No.  US 1420232 A) for a jewelry contained, described as “a container which can be carried in the pocket or in a traveling bag or the like or placed in an article of furniture in the home, for holding buckles, brooches, buttons, and any article of jewelry.”  He also received during the 1920s and 1930s patents for a number of other inventions: necktie holders, a belt fastener, a bill holder, a shirt holder, and a display device.

Jewelry holder invented by Lawrence Baer


As noted in my earlier post, Lawrence had married Donna Degen in 1919, and they had one child, a son named John Degen Baer, born in 1921.  As of 1942 when Lawrence registered for the draft, they were still living in Attleboro and Lawrence was still working for the family jewelry business, now known as Swank, Inc.  But by 1946, Lawrence was listed with his second wife, Olivia Ganong, in the West Palm Beach, Florida, city directory.  He and Olivia lived in Florida for the rest of his life.  Lawrence died in May, 1969, in Lake Worth, Florida. He was 77 years old.

His son John remained in Attleboro even after Lawrence remarried and moved to Florida. According to his obituary, John attended Yale and Brown, graduating from Brown in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater and in the occupation of Japan.

In 1946, the Attleboro city directory lists John as serving in the United States Marine Corps and married to a woman named Minette. In 1953, he was the executive vice-president of The Bishop Company in Attleboro.  According to his obituary, John “was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970.“

In 1963, John was still listed with Minette in the Attleboro, directory, but that is the last listing I can find for him there.  Sometime in the 1960s, John relocated to Florida, living not far from where his father was also living at that time.  He also appears to have married his second wife, Jane Rollins, during this time period.

After he sold Univis in 1970 (a year after his father died), John moved again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was executive vice-president of Edwards Baking Company until 1978.  In 1985, he relocated yet again, moving to Blairsville, Georgia, where he started and managed the Truck and Gas Market until 1992, when he retired.  John Baer died on November 3, 2015.  He was 94 years old. (All this information comes from his obituary, which also includes a number of photographs of John.)


Thus ends the recounting of the lives of all of the children (and the children of the children) of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer: Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Flora, Tilda, Elsie, Alfred, and Lawrence.  I am once again amazed by the fact that two immigrants who came to the United States in the 19th century raised children who achieved such remarkable success both in business and in the arts.

Perhaps it is a lesson to us all about the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make this country.  We should be very wary of anyone who seeks to exclude immigrants from this country.  After all, most of us living in the US today are descended from immigrants.




[1] Alfred Baer, the second youngest child, had died years before.

The Legacy of Flora Baer Adler

I am back after two weeks with family members—first, a wonderful week with our grandson Nate and then a week with the extended family.  We had gorgeous weather, lots of laughs, and too much good food.  But now things are quiet, and I am returning to finish the story of the children of Amalia Hamberg.

It’s been a long break since I last posted, so I thought it would be helpful to clarify where I was when I left off. I had been discussing the many children of Amalia/Mlalchen Hamberg, who was a first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal through his mother Henriette Hamberg.

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

I have already discussed six of Amalia’s nine children, including Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Alfred and Tilda.  That leaves three more: Elsie, Lawrence, and the subject of this post, Flora.

Although Hattie Baer died at a young age as did her brother Alfred, most of the other siblings lived long lives.  As we saw in the earlier posts, Amanda lived late into her 90th year, and Josephine lived to 97. Their sister Elsie also lived to 97, and Tilda was within a few months of her 90th birthday.

Unfortunately, their sister Flora did not live as long a life.  As I wrote here, Flora  married Julius Adler, an engineer who had worked for the Philadelphia highway department, supervising the construction of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  They had three children between 1917 and 1920, Stanley, Jerrold, and Amy.  Thanks to one of the grandchildren of Flora and Julius, I now have some photographs of the family.

Wedding photograph of Flora Baer and Julius Adler, March 15, 1915 Courtesy of the Adler family

Wedding photograph of Flora Baer and Julius Adler, March 15, 1915
Courtesy of the Adler family

Flora Baer Adler and one of her children

Flora Baer Adler and one of her children


In 1940, all three children were still living at home with their parents in Philadelphia.  Julius listed his occupation as an independent civil engineer.  Their son Stanley was working as a chemical engineer for a chemical company, and their daughter Amy was a social services worker at a hospital.  Jerrold had no occupation listed; perhaps he was still in school.

Flora Baer Adler 1943

Flora Baer Adler 1943, courtesy of the Adler family


Jerrold Adler, Flora Baer Adler, and Julius Adler 1943 Courtesy of the Adler family

Jerrold Adler, Flora Baer Adler, and Julius Adler
Courtesy of the Adler family

Then tragedy struck.  On August 27, 1945, my cousin Flora died from fluoride poisoning; her death was ruled a suicide by the coroner.

FLora Baer death certificate preliminary

FLora Baer death certificate with coroner result

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Julius and the three children somehow recovered from this tragedy.  Julius married his second wife Katinka Dannenburg Olsho in 1971 when he was 84 years old.

Julius Adler, 1977 Courtesy of the Adler family

Julius Adler, 1977
Courtesy of the Adler family

When he died in 1993 at the age of 106, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a wonderful tribute to him:

… [Julius Adler] was an erudite man who could quote long passages from Kipling, recite Latin and Greek verse, and speak authoritatively on any of his varied interests, which included growing roses and playing bridge, according to his family.

“This man was unique, just an extraordinary human being,” said Mr. Adler’s son-in-law, Leonard Malamut. “In everything he did, he was top-notch. And he was a man of great dignity. He grew up at a time when decency and ethics and morality were the guiding principles of how one lived.”

Mr. Adler was born in Memphis, Tenn., and moved to Philadelphia as a child. He was a graduate of Central High School’s 109th class in 1904 and a 1908 graduate of the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, which he attended on an academic scholarship. His family believes he was the oldest living graduate from Central and Penn.

Mr. Adler’s supervision of the Ben Franklin Bridge paving took place when he was deputy chief of the city’s highway department, his son-in-law said. The bridge, when it was built, was called the Delaware River Bridge.  He also supervised the repaving of Broad Street after the construction of the Broad Street Subway.

Mr. Adler taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington. He was a member of the Engineers Club of Philadelphia, the American Society of Civil Engineering and the American Society for Testing Materials.

For 70 years, he was a member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

Mr. Adler was, as well, a devoted fan of the Phillies. “He could tell you players’ ERAs and batting averages with great accuracy until he was 100,” Malamut said. “I regret that he died in the season the Phillies are having such a great season – that he had to die before the season was over.”

Stanley, Amy, Julius, and Jerrold Adler 1960 Courtesy of the Adler family

Stanley, Amy, Julius, and Jerrold Adler 1960
Courtesy of the Adler family

Julius and Flora’s three children also all lived productive lives.  Their daughter Amy died in 2003 of a heart attack; she was 83.  According to her obituary:

She served as a hospital volunteer when she was a teenager and later studied X-ray technology and electrocardiography.  In 1942, she met Dr. Leonard Malamut when she was working at Jewish Hospital, now Albert Einstein Medical Center. The couple married in 1944.

Dr. Malamut opened a practice near Albert Einstein Medical Center in Olney after serving several years in the Army during World War II. Mrs. Malamut joined him in the office. She managed the practice, keeping the books and helping with electrocardiograms, blood work and other tests.  She enjoyed attending concerts and the theater with Dr. Malamut.

Amy’s older brother Stanley died on April 21, 2006; he was 89 years old.  According to his obituary, like his father, he was an engineer who had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.  The obituary reported:

During World War II, Stan was an aircraft inspector for the United States Navy. …. He was active in Reform Judaism, scouting, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He wrote many technical papers. His interests included amateur radio, bridge, calculus, gardening, classical music, and a more cooperative world.

Stanley Baer Adler Fold3_Page_1_Selective_Service_Registration_Cards_World_War_II_Multiple_Registrations

Stanley Baer Adler

The last surviving child of Flora Baer and Julius Adler was Jerrold, who died on March 5, 2008, when he was, like his brother Stanley, 89 years old.   He had attended the University of Pennsylvania and had served in the army during World War II.

Jerrold Adler draft registration Fold3_Page_1_Selective_Service_Registration_Cards_World_War_II_Multiple_Registrations

Jerrold Adler draft registration

Jerrold Adler, courtesy of the Adler family

Jerrold Adler, courtesy of the Adler family

He had married Doris Elaine Getz on October 6, 1946.

Wedding of Jerrold Adler and Doris Getz, October 6, 1946

Wedding of Jerrold Adler and Doris Getz, October 6, 1946

Although Flora’s life ended tragically, she left behind the legacy of three successful children.  Their lives enriched the country that Flora’s mother Amalia had moved to as a young woman back in the 19th century.  They served in our armed forces during World War II and contributed to society through their chosen careers.  Like so many of us, the grandchildren of immigrants, they justified the risks their grandparents took when immigrating to the United States.






Tilda Baer Stone and Her Children: Massachusetts Cousins

Like Amanda and Josephine, her two older sisters, Tilda Baer lived a long life (a few months shy of ninety) and outlived her husband by close to twenty years.  But she didn’t live in a big city like Philadelphia or New York; she spent her entire adult life in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where she raised her four children.

As written about here, Tilda married Samuel Einstein in about 1907, according to the 1910 census, and their first child, Stephanie, was born in June 1908 in Attleboro.  They had three additional children, Samuel, Jr. (1910), Harriet (1913), and Babette (known as Betty, 1919).  By 1927, the family name had been changed to Stone, which was the name used by all family members thereafter (until the daughters married and adopted their husbands’ surnames, that is).  Samuel was by 1930 the President of Attleboro Manufacturing, and he and Tilda remained in Attleboro for the rest of the lives, living almost all those years at 224 County Street in that town.

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 - Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 – Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Their daughter Stephanie graduated from the National Park Seminary in Washington and the Garland School of Homemaking.  She married “the boy next door” on November 14, 1936—or at least the boy down the street. Her husband was Royal Packer Baker, who was a native of Attleboro like Stephanie and whose family also had lived on County Street (#148) as of 1920.  Royal was four years older than Stephanie, and he came from a family with a long history in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Boston Herald, November 15, 1936. p. 61

Boston Herald, November 15, 1936. p. 61


Royal’s father, Harold Baker, was the owner and co-founder of Attleboro Refining Company, a gold, silver, and copper refining business.  According to the website for the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum, which is housed in what was once the Attleboro Refinery Company building:

In 1899, Harold D. Baker and his brother George W. Baker, both of Providence, Rhode Island, formed a partnership to establish the Attleboro Refining Company in Attleboro, Massachusetts. It specialized in the refining of gold, silver and copper byproducts. The refinery followed established refining methods used at that time known as a stripping process. The process dated back to the late 18th Century. Base metals such as copper and zinc were eaten by a compound-acid solution. The precious metals underwent succeeding operations where they were reduced to a certain degree of fineness.

By 1907, however, the Bakers were convinced that better methods were available that would involve lower costs. They experimented with the then-existent electrochemical equipment available and finally succeeded in adapting the ELECTROLYTIC process to jewelers’ scrap. Theirs was the first refinery in New England to do so. The process underwent continuous improvement and development where gold was finally purified to .9991/2 fine and every trace of silver or other precious metal was re-claimed in the chlorination and succeeding copperas processes.[1]

Although his older brother Harold Jr. worked at the family business from the start of his career, Royal started his career taking a different path.  He was a graduate of Dartmouth as well as the University of Virginia, according to the wedding announcement.   By 1935 he was a lawyer practicing in Attleboro.

According to the 1940 census and their wedding announcement above, like their parents Stephanie and Royal also lived on County Street in Attleboro (#170), and Royal was working as an attorney in private practice.  In 1941, their son was born.  In 1946, Royal was listed along with his father and older brother Harold Jr. as an owner of Attleboro Refining, but was still practicing law.  By 1949, however, he was the treasurer of Attleboro Refining and no longer listed himself as a lawyer in the Attleboro directory. (His brother was now the president of the company; their father had died in 1947.)

Former building of Attleboro Refining Company https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3500/4561405595_a2f6c67d9f_b.jpg

Stephanie’s younger brother Samuel Stone, Jr., graduated from Michigan State University and Babson Institute. In the 1935 Attleboro directory, he is listed as married to “Ruth M” and working as the treasurer of Quaker Silver Company, a company in North Attleboro that manufactured silver products such as flatware, bowls, and salt and pepper shakers.

Ruth M was Ruth Mills, born in Massachusetts on February 5, 1913.  Samuel, Jr. and Ruth had two daughters born in the 1930s, according to the 1940 census, which lists Samuel’s occupation as a jewelry manufacturer.  On the 1939 Attleboro directory, he is listed as the president of C H Eden Co., another jewelry company originally created by his father in 1901 that was acquired in substantial part by Charles Eden in 1903.  (Apparently, Samuel Stone, Sr. and Maurice Baer established a number of separate companies in Attleboro, all engaged in some aspect of jewelry manufacturing.)

By 1946, however, Samuel Jr’s marriage to Ruth had ended as he married his second wife, Marie Eames, on May 1, 1946.  Unfortunately, that marriage did not last either as they were divorced in 1952.

Samuel Stone Jr wedding to Marie Eames

By 1956, Samuel, Jr was listed in the Attleboro directory as the president of Swank, Inc., the successor to Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the company his father first founded with his uncle Maurice Jay Baer back in the late 1890s.

As for the two younger daughters of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone, Sr., Harriet attended the Northampton School for Girls, then Wheaton College, and received a degree from Simmons College. (Cape Cod Times, September 6, 2002, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/100B3AE9F09E0868-100B3AE9F09E0868 : accessed 13 July 2016))

In 1941 she married Lionel O’Keeffe.  He was the youngest son of Irish immigrants and was born and raised in Boston.  His father had worked in the grocery business, and in 1930 two of his brothers had been working as purchasing agents for First National Stores, a supermarket chain (later known as Finast).  Lionel was a graduate of Boston Latin High School and Dartmouth College. (Boston Herald, December 22, 1987, p. 53.)

On the 1940 census, he was living as the head of household in the house at 61 Pond Street in Jamaica Plain, the same house where he and his family had lived when he was a child.  But in 1940 he was living there without any other family members, but with a maid.  He listed his occupation as an executive of a chain store, which according to his obituary, was First National Stores.  The following year he married Harriet.

Lionel enlisted in the military on May 8, 1942, and he and Harriet had their first child five months later in September, 1942.  Lionel was discharged from the military on January 3, 1946, having served for the duration of World War II.  He and Harriet would have two more children during the 1940s.  In 1948 they were still living at 61 Pond Road in the Jamaica Pond section of Boston, the same house where Lionel’s family had lived, and Lionel was working as a buyer, according to the Boston directory for that year.  He continued to work for First National Stores for the rest of his career.

The youngest child of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone was their daughter Babette, also known as Betty.  She graduated from the Northampton School for Girls in 1937 and then graduated from Smith College, later getting a Masters in Social Work from Simmons College.  In 1944, she married John Saunders Parker, known as Jack.  He became a doctor.  They would have two children. (Boston Globe, February 21, 2013.)

Samuel Stone, Sr., the father of Stephanie, Samuel, Harriet, and Babette, died on February 4, 1957, when he was 84 years old.

Samuel Stone Sr obit February 5, 1957 Boston Traveler p 58-page-001

Boston Traveler, February 5, 1957, p. 58

samuel stone obit His wife, my cousin Tilda Baer Stone, daughter of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, died on August 2, 1974.  She and her husband Samuel are both buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Attleboro, Massachusetts, the place they called home for their entire married life and where they raised their four children, two of whom also spent almost all of  their lives in Attleboro.

As for the children of Tilda and Samuel, Stephanie’s husband Royal Baker continued to work as the treasurer of Attleboro Refining for the rest of his career.  Then on April 3, 1967, Royal died suddenly at age 62.  A year later Attleboro Refining was sold to another company.  According to the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum website, “on June 26, 1968, Handy & Harman Refining Group, Inc. purchased the Attleboro Refining Company. In November 1973, Handy & Harman left 42 Union Street for a new facility located on Townsend Road in the “new” Attleboro Industrial Park.”   Handy & Harman is still in business today engaged in the recycling of metals.

Royal P Baker death notice April 1967

Stephanie Stone Baker died on March 1, 1993; she was 84.

Her brother Samuel Stone, Jr., died at age 70 on December 28, 1980.

Samuel Stone Jr obit 12 31 1980

The third child, Harriet Stone O’Keeffe, lost her husband Lionel on December 20, 1987.  He was 76 years old.  She lived another fifteen years, dying on September 5, 2002, when she was 88.  According to her obituary, “Mrs. O’Keeffe lived in Brookline for many years and was active in volunteer work. She spent summers in Hyannisport and moved there year-round in 1973. She enjoyed gardening and bridge. She was a member of the Hyannisport Club, the Oyster Harbors Club and the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.” (Cape Cod Times, September 6, 2002, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/100B3AE9F09E0868-100B3AE9F09E0868 : accessed 13 July 2016))

The youngest sibling, Babette, died just three years ago on February 19, 2013, at age 93.  Her obituary reported that:

She loved people and was a frequent volunteer in the activities of her children and an outgoing devoted friend to so many. She was an active volunteer in the Wellesley Community including the Service League of Wellesley, the Garden Club of Wellesley and was a past president of the Smith Club of Wellesley. She devoted many hours to the support of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and loved her Investment Club and Bridge Club, as well as her activities at the Wellesley Country Club, Wianno Club, The Country Club and The Moorings and Riomar Clubs of Vero Beach, Florida. She cherished all the interactions with the people that were brought into her life by these varied interests.  (Boston Globe, February 21, 2013, located at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?pid=163199572)

I’ve not yet connected with any of the descendants of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone, but hope to be able to connect with these cousins whose roots are here in Massachusetts where I now live.  They are descendants of two people who seemed to have achieved the American dream—Samuel, a German Jewish immigrant who came to the US as a young teenager and became a highly successful jewelry manufacturer, and my cousin Tilda, the daughter of two German Jewish [2] immigrants who grew up in Pennsylvania; she raised four children, all of whom received a higher education and lived their lives in Massachusetts.








[1] There was a bitter dispute between the Baker brothers in 1918, which apparently ended in with Harold as the sole owner of the company. See “Attleboro Receivership Granted for Attleboro Refining Co. Decree Handed down by Superior Court, Wednesday,” Pawtucket Times, April 11, 1918, p. 12.

[2] It seems that at some point Tilda and Samuel and their children became members of the Universalist Church and no longer identified as Jewish.