The Children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim in Germany Before the Nazi Era

As I wrote in my last post, most of the family of Moses Katz, son of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, were still in Germany in 1930. That was also true for most of the children of Moses’ brother Meier and his wife Sprinzchen. Their sons Jake and Ike were in Oklahoma, but Aron, Regina, and Karl were in Germany. Meier Katz died on October 29, 1925; his wife Sprinzchen had predeceased him.  She died on June 14, 1917.  As I wrote about here, they are buried in the cemetery that overlooks Jesberg.

Meier Katz death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3916
Description
Year Range : 1925
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Sterberegister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Death record of Sprinz Jungheim Katz 1917
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3915

Their son Aron had married Sarah Leiser on June 2, 1907.  Sarah was born on September 2, 1878, in Niederurff, Germany, a town less than ten kilometers from Jesberg.  Aron was four years older than Sarah, born on November 28, 1874, in Jesberg. Aron and Sarah had two sons, Jakob, named for Aron’s grandfather, born on October 15, 1909, and Julius, born March 30, 1913.

In August, 1926, when he was not yet seventeen, Aron and Sarah’s son Jakob left Germany and joined his uncle Jake in Oklahoma. He settled in Stillwater and worked for his uncle there.  In the US, this younger Jakob became Jack, presumably to distinguish himself from his uncle Jake.  Jack was the only other member of Meier Katz’s family to come to the US before Hitler came to power besides Jake and Ike.

Passenger manifest for arrival of Jakob “Jack” Katz, 1926. Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3907; Line: 1; Page Number: 145
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 3907
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Jacob “Jack” Katz naturalization petition, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, compiled 1909 – 1960; ARC Number: 731194; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Oklahoma City Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, 1909-1925 (Box 1)
Source Information

Aron’s younger sister Regina, who was born February 6, 1882, married Nathan Goldenberg on March 10, 1905.  Nathan was born in Kestrich, Germany, on June 4, 1876, and he and Regina settled there after marrying.  Kestrich is about 50 kilometers from Jesberg. Regina and Nathan had three children: Bernice, born March 16, 1906; Theo, born April 27, 1914; and Albert, born November 15, 1919.

Marriage record of Regina Katz and Nathan Goldenberg, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Eheregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Finally, the youngest child of Meier and Sprinzchen to survive to adulthood was Karl Katz, born in Jesberg on May 18, 1885.  Karl married Jettchen Oppenheimer on May 18, 1919, in Frankenau, where Jettchen was born on January 10, 1889.  Frankenau is about 30 kilometers from Jesberg. Karl and Jettchen had three sons, Walter (1920), Max (1921), and Manfred (1929).  Karl and his siblings Aron and Regina were all still living in Germany in 1930.

Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1885 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3816) Jesberg 1885, p. 39

Thus, a fair number of my cousins, the descendants of my 3x-great-aunt Rahel Katzenstein, were still living in Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933. What happened to them once the Nazis were in power?

As I started to research that question, I prepared myself for the worst, knowing that some had in fact survived the Holocaust, but not knowing if any had not.  I knew from prior research that I should be prepared for that wincing pain I have experienced every time I learn that another of my relatives was among the six million killed.

Back in Jesberg: The Family of Moses Katz Before the Nazi Era

While Jake and Ike Katz, grandsons of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, were establishing their dry goods business in Oklahoma along with their uncle Abraham Katz and his children, other members of the family of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz were still back in Jesberg, Germany.  Rahel and Jacob had three children who were still living in Germany in the late 19th century: Blumchen, Moses, and Meier. This post will describe the status of the families of Blumchen and Moses up to 1930.

Jacob and Rahel’s oldest child, Blumchen, died March 15, 1909, in Meimbressen, Germany, where she had lived after marrying Heskel Grunenklee of that town. As far as I’ve been able to find, Blumchen and Heskel did not have any children.  Heskel died in 1920.

Transcription of Blumchen Katz Grunenklee’s gravestone on LAGIS,
Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs in Meimbressen (Calden), aufgenommen im Juli 1937 durch Baruch Wormser von Grebenstein 1700-1936 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 590) AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 12

Moses Katz, the second oldest child of Jacob and Rahel, had married Malchen Wetterhahn on July 3, 1869. She was from Rhina, Germany.  Moses and Malchen had six children: Rickchen, born June 28, 1869; Markus, born August 30, 1870; Lina, born September 5, 1872; Bertha, born June 22, 1878; Jacob M., born May 27, 1880; and Julia, born December 13, 1883. Moses died in 1898, and Malchen followed him four years later in 1902.

Death record of Moses Katz, Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1898 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3896)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsverlauf1898ErscheinungsortJesberg, p.32

Death record of Malchen Wetterhahn Katz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1902; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3900

Children (and Grandchildren) of Moses and Malchen (Wetterhahn) Katz

Rickchen had married Abraham Moses on August 12, 1895; Abraham Moses was from Grossropperhausen, Germany, and had been previously married and widowed. Abraham and Rickchen had three daughters: Rosa (1896 in Grossropperhausen), Amalie (1904), and Recha (1904). Amalie and Recha were twins, Amalie born before midnight on February 10 and Recha born after midnight on February 11.  They were born in Frielendorf. Rosa married Julius Katz (perhaps from the Jesberg Katz family); they had a son Guenther born on August 30, 1929, in Frielendorf, Germany.

Rickchen died on September 15, 1933, in Frielendorf.

Death record of Rickchen Katz Moses, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 166,p. 54

Markus Katz, the second oldest child of Moses and Malchen, married Minna Wallach on September 7, 1902 in Oberaula, Germany, where Minna was born in 1880.  Markus and Minna had three children: Maurice (also known as Moritz or Moses) (born in 1903, named for his grandfather), Mali (1904), and Senta (1906). They were all born in Jesberg.

Maurice came to the United States as a young man on April 4, 1925. According to his naturalization papers, he was going to his “cousin” Jack Katz in Yale, Oklahoma; this might have referred to Jacob M. Katz, his brother, who was living in Yale, Oklahoma in 1925. Maurice’s passenger manifest, however, said he was going to his “uncle,” Jake Katz, in Stillwater. (Jake, son of Maurice’s uncle Meier, was really his cousin, not his uncle.) In 1930, Maurice was living as a lodger in Oklahoma City, where he was working as a salesman in a clothing store.

Maurice (Moritz) Katz naturalization petition,
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, compiled 1909 – 1960; ARC Number: 731194; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Oklahoma City Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, 1909-1925 (Box 1)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

 

Maurice (Moritz) Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3630; Line: 1; Page Number: 72
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 3630
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

As for Maurice’s two younger sisters, Mali married Siegfried Baumann on April 17, 1930, in Jesberg.  Siegfried was born in Lauterbach, Germany, in 1893. The youngest child of Markus and Minna, Senta, married Julius Abraham of Niederurff, Germany, by 1932 when their first child was born in Niederurff.

Lina Katz was the third child of Moses and Malchen Katz; she married Hermann Katz on April 15, 1901. He was from Schweinsberg, Germany.  Hermann and Lina had three children born in Schweinsberg: Bertha (1902), Moritz (1903), and Amalie (1905). Hermann died on November 2, 1929, in Marburg, Germany.

Lina’s daughter Bertha married Siegmund Sieferheld on January 14, 1927; they would have three children. The younger daughter Amalie married Max Blum, who was also a Schweinsberg native.  Lina and all three of her children were still living in Germany as of 1930.

Marriage record of Lina Katz and Hermann Katz, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Eheregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

The fourth child of Moses and Malchen was Bertha, born in 1878. Unfortunately the only record I have for Bertha is her birth record.  I don’t know whether she died young or married or just disappeared. According to family lore, Moses and Malchen Katz had a daughter who died by drowning in the Seine River, and I did find a death record for a female named Katz who died in France in 1901, but again, I have no idea whether that is Bertha Katz. I thought that the fact that Lina and Hermann named their first daughter Bertha in 1902 supported this theory, but then I realized that Hermann’s mother was also named Bertha and their daughter was likely named for her.

Bertha Katz birth record,
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3809
Description
Year Range : 1878
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Geburtenregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Jacob M. Katz, Moses and Malchen’s youngest son, left Germany in 1908, immigrating to the United States.  Although he put Stillwater, Oklahoma, as his final destination, he listed his uncle Abraham Katz of Louisville, Kentucky, as the person to whom he was going in the United States. By 1910, he was living in Yale, Oklahoma, working as a department store manager.  By 1920 he was married to Julia Meyer, had a son, and was working as a dry goods merchant in Yale. In 1930, Jacob and his family were living in Wolf, Oklahoma, where he continued to work as a dry goods merchant.

Jacob M Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1908; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1132; Line: 1; Page Number: 104
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 1132
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Finally, Moses and Malchen’s youngest child was Julia Katz.  She followed her brother Jacob to Oklahoma, arriving in August 1912 when she was 29 years old. Finding her manifest was quite a challenge as Ancestry had her indexed as Inlchen Thatz when she in fact sailed as Junchen Katz.  But as you can see, this is the right woman as she was going to her uncle Isaac Katz in Oklahoma.

Julia (Julchen) Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1912; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1918; Line: 1; Page Number: 30
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 1918
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Seven years after arriving in the US, Julia (as she was known in the US) married Maurice Mink, a Russian immigrant who was a dry goods merchant in Cleveland, Oklahoma.  The marriage was written about in the Pawnee newspaper:

Miss Julia KATZ, one of the most popular clerks of the Katz Department Store and niece of Mr. Ike KATZ, became the bride of Mr. Maurice MINK, of Cleveland, Oklahoma, Sunday. the ceremony took place at Tulsa and following the wedding a six o’clock dinner was served at the Cutcham Hotel. The happy couple left for a two week honeymoon, after which time they will be at home to their friends at Cleveland, Oklahoma, where Mr. MINK is one of the leading business men and has a splendid home for his bride. Pawnee regrets to lose Miss Julia, but wishes her much happiness as Mrs. MINK. (Pawnee Courier-Dispatch and Times-Democrat, June 19, 1919)

In 1920 Julia and Maurice were living in Cleveland, Oklahoma, with Maurice’s two children from an earlier marriage. Their own daughter Marguerite was born that same year.  In 1930, Julia and Marguerite were living in Cleveland, and although Julia reported that she was married, Maurice is not listed as living in the household with Julia and their daughter. He is rather listed in a separate household in Cleveland, living with his two older children from the first marriage.

Thus, as of 1930, two of the children of Moses Katz and Malchen Wetterhahn (Jacob M and Julia) were in the US and one of their grandsons (Maurice) had emigrated from Germany as well.  But all the other descendants of Moses and Malchen were still in Germany.

Similarly, three of the children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungenheim were still in Jesberg, as I will describe in my next post.

 

Jake Katz: Tragedy in the Family

In my last post I started to tell the story of Jake Katz, the oldest child of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim.  Jake was my grandmother’s second cousin. He came to the US as a teenager in 1887 and within ten years had established his own clothing store in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  Working with his younger brother Ike and other members of the extended Katz family, Jake helped to establish a chain of clothing stores in a number of places in Oklahoma by 1910.

He married Sophia Salzenstein in 1901, and they had three children: Albert Jerome, Helen, and Margaret.  All that success, however, was tempered by a terrible tragedy in 1919 when Albert Jerome died during a boxing match at school.

Albert Jerome (who seems to have been known as Jerome) was a student at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, and, according to several news accounts about the incident, he had gotten into a dispute with another student.  As described in an article from the first page of the November 26, 1919, issue of the Wichita (Kansas) Beacon [see below], the other student had taunted Jerome by calling him a “pussy cat,” and Jerome had requested a “fistic bout” to settle the dispute between them.  According to the article, at the time it was “a practice of the Kemper School’s discipline to permit such bouts between cadets whose disputes cannot be arbitrated.”

The bout was scheduled and witnessed by not only other students but several staff and faculty members of the school.  The newspaper wrote, “Katz, the larger of the boxers, seemed to have the advantage in the first and second rounds. In the third round he staggered and fell on the ground.  He was dead before a physician could be brought.”

Death of Albert Jerome Katz
The Wichita Beacon, November 26, 1919, page 1

Although the initial news reports including the one from the Wichita Beacon above suggested that Jerome had suffered from a weak heart, the family later disputed this conclusion.  The St. Louis Star and Times reported on December 24, 1919 (p. 3) that Jake Katz had written a letter stating that his son had passed a rigorous physical exam before being admitted to the school and had not been sick since he was a child.  He claimed that after the fight there were bruises all over his son’s body and that he had died from injuries sustained in the boxing match.  The newspaper quoted from Jake’s letter claiming that the conduct of the school authorities was “inexcusable and even deceitful in their efforts to silence and shift the responsibility of their crime.”

Death of Albert Jerome Katz 1919
St Louis Star and Times, December 24, 1919, p. 3

The official death certificate for Jerome shows that the authorities concluded that the cause of death was acute dilatation of the heart, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a disease of the heart muscle, usually starting in your heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle). The ventricle stretches and thins (dilates) and can’t pump blood as well as a healthy heart can.”  The American Heart Association asserts that one third of those with the condition inherited it from their parents.  Disease and other causes are also listed, but physical impact from a fight is not among the listed causes.

Alfred Jerome Katz death certificate
Ancestry.com. Web: Missouri, Death Certificates, 1910-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Missouri Death Certificates. Missouri Secretary of State. http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/archives/archivesdb/deathcertificates/: accessed 24 August 2014.

In fact, the Wichita Beacon article reported that Jerome’s uncle had died from heart disease two years earlier in Kansas City. That was Sophia’s brother Sol Salzenstein, who died of “valvular insufficiency” on February 27, 1918, at age 41:

Sol Salzenstein death certificate
Ancestry.com. Web: Missouri, Death Certificates, 1910-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Missouri Death Certificates. Missouri Secretary of State. http://www.sos.mo.gov/records/archives/archivesdb/deathcertificates/: accessed 24 August 2014.

The death certificate for Albert, however, also reported that a contributing cause of his death was “fisticuff exercise,” or at least that’s what I think that says.

Although the November 26, 1919, article from the Wichita Beacon shown above had reported that Jake Katz originally wanted to establish a memorial scholarship in his son’s memory at the Kemper School, by December 25, 1919, he had no such intention, according to an article from the December 25, 1919, Mexico (Missouri) Weekly Ledger (p. 1).  According to that article, Jake said, “A better memorial would be to abolish the old and outgrown custom of dueling.”

Report on death of Albert Jerome Katz in the Mexico OK) Weekly Ledger, December 25, 1919, page 1

I couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to imagine something like this being not only allowed, but encouraged by any school today.  At least I hope that’s the case.  Even if Albert Jerome’s death was caused by heart disease, the idea that a school would condone the use of force to settle a name-calling dispute is very disturbing and obviously was extremely upsetting to the family of this young man.

A year after Albert’s death, Jake, Sophia, and their two daughters were living in Stillwater with Sophia’s mother Carrie and her sister Fannie.

Jake Katz and family 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Stillwater Ward 2, Payne, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1482; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 190; Image: 875

The family did establish a scholarship in memory of Albert Jerome, but at Oklahoma A & M in Stillwater, not at the military academy where he had died:

I find it interesting how the paper described Albert Jerome’s death—that he was killed in a boxing match, not simply that he died during a boxing match.

Around this time Jake made Sol Frisch a partner in the Stillwater store; Sol was the husband of Jake’s cousin Florence Katz, daughter of Abraham Katz.  Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life.

Ike Katz, meanwhile, was still living in Pawnee in 1920 with his wife Sophia and running the Katz store in that town.

Ike and Sophia Katz 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Pawnee, Pawnee, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1482; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 150; Image: 77

A second tragedy struck the family when Ike Katz died in 1923; he was only 46. According to the family, he left most of his estate to his brother Jake, who used it to acquire land and to expand the family business. Ike’s widow Sophia remarried by 1930 and remained in Pawnee with her second husband, Albert Cohn.

Thus, within four years Jake Katz had lost his son and his brother.  In August 1926, his sixteen year old nephew Jack Katz came to live with Jake and his family in Stillwater.  Jack was the son of Jake’s brother Aron, who was still living in Jesberg.  Jack was following in Jake’s footsteps in many ways—coming to the US as a teenager to help an uncle in his dry goods business. In 1930, Jack was living with Jake and his family and working in the Stillwater store:

Jake Katz and family 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Stillwater, Payne, Oklahoma; Roll: 1925; Page: 34A; Enumeration District: 0029; FHL microfilm: 2341659

Jake’s daughter Helen married Alfred Goldman on February 26, 1930.  Alfred was an Oklahoma native, born in 1894 to Michael Goldman, an immigrant from Lithuania, and Hortense Dreyfus, who was born in France. After they married, Alfred and Helen settled in Oklahoma City, where Alfred and his brother Sylvan were in the grocery business.  A year later Sylvan would marry Helen’s sister Margaret.

Helen Katz and Alfred Goldman marriage record
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Margaret Katz and Sylvan Goldman marriage record
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Jake and his daughters suffered another terrible loss when Sophie Salzenstein Katz died on October 17, 1930.  She was 58 years old.

Meanwhile, the Katz family back in Jesberg, Germany was facing its own crisis with the rise of Hitler and Nazism during the 1930s. Jake would play an important role in rescuing the family back home in Jesberg.

 

 

 

 

Jake Katz: Pioneer and Entrepreneur

Now it is time to return to the story of the descendants of Rahel Katzenstein, sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein. Rahel had married Jacob Katz, and they had had six children: Blumchen, Moses, Meier, Abraham, Sanchen, and Samuel. Thus far I have focused on the stories of Abraham and Samuel, both of whom came to the US as young men after the Civil War. Now I will turn to Meier Katz and his family.

As I wrote in my last post before we left for Germany, Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim had six children, five of whom survived to adulthood: Jacob, Aron, Seligmann, Regina, and Karl.  Two of those children—Jacob (“Jake”) and Seligmann (known as  “Isaac” or “Ike” in the US) came to the US as young men about twenty years after their uncles Abraham and Samuel; the other three siblings did not arrive until the 1930s after Hitler came to power.

Karl, Sprinzhchen, Regina, Jacob, Aron, Meier, and Isaac Katz

Jake, the oldest son, has taken on a legendary status in the family’s history.

Jake Katz
Photo found in Stanley Tucker Whitney Houston, Stillwater (Arcadia Publishing 2014), p. 38

According to his 1923 passport application, Jake Katz was born on September 13, 1873, in Jesberg, Germany, and arrived in the United States in August, 1887, when he was not quite fourteen years old.

Jake Katz passport application 1923
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2232; Volume #: Roll 2232 – Certificates: 273350-273849, 23 Apr 1923-24 Apr 1923

Family lore is that he came to work as a clerk in a dry goods store in Winfield, Kansas, owned by his mother’s brother, Eli Jungheim (spelled Youngheim in the US). Jake is listed in the household of Eli Youngheim in the 1895 Kansas state census:

Jake Katz, 1895 Kansas census
Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, Kansas; 1895 Kansas Territory Census; Roll: v115_31; Line: 1
Description
Township or Location : Winfield
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life, Eli Youngheim opened up a dry goods store in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1894, and hired Jake to run the store.  The family story is that there was a falling out between Jake and his uncle Eli and that Jake turned to his father’s brother, Samuel Katz, who was then in Omaha, and obtained from him financial backing to start his own store in Stillwater in 1896.

The Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life provides an overview of the early history of Stillwater:

Settlement in Stillwater, Oklahoma began during the 1889 land run. The first settlers lived in tents pitched next to the creek that gave the town its name and survived on hunted wild game. From these rustic beginnings, Stillwater quickly developed after it was named the seat of Payne County and the site of Oklahoma’s land grant college in 1890. Cotton was the main economic engine of the area, and Stillwater became a commercial and processing center for the cash crop. By the time Eli Youngheim opened a clothing store there in 1894, Stillwater had a water system, public schools, and a downtown filled with commercial buildings. Stillwater never had a formal Jewish congregation, but a small number of Jews have lived in Stillwater since the late 19th century. 

By 1899, Jake was well settled in Stillwater; he became a naturalized citizen there on May 12, 1899.

The Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life states that Jake’s younger brother Ike joined him in 1898 and helped him run the Stillwater store, which they named Katz Brothers. Ike, who was born Seligmann Katz in 1877, seems to have become Isaac or Ike in the US, arrived in the US on September 8, 1892. Here is his birth record from Jesberg as Seligmann:

Birth record of Seligmann “Ike” Katz
Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1877 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3808) Jesberg 1877, p. 71

He was still using Seligmann when he immigrated:

Ship manifest for Seligmann Katz, 1892
Year: 1892; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 597; Line: 1; Page Number: 10
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 597
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

My hunch is that Seligmann was his secular name in Germany, but that his Hebrew name was Isaac.  He seems to have adopted Isaac/Ike as his first name once in the US. According to a ship manifest for a voyage Ike took in August, 1912, he was naturalized in October 9, 1899, in Oklahoma.

Jake was still single as of the time of the 1900 census, but according to the family he married Sophia Salzenstein in 1901. Sophia was the older sister of Mayme Salzenstein, who would later marry Jake’s first cousin Lester Katz, son of Abraham Katz. As I wrote in an earlier post, Wolf Salzenstein, father of Sophia and Mayme, was a German immigrant living in Athens, Illinois, working as a livestock dealer.  His wife Caroline was born in Illinois, as were both Sophia and Mayme.

Jake and Sophia would have three children: Albert Jerome (1903), Helen (1904), and Margaret (1906). In 1910, they were living in Stillwater.

Jake Katz and family 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Stillwater Ward 2, Payne, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1269; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0199; FHL microfilm: 1375282
Description
Enumeration District : 0199
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line].

By 1910, Ike Katz also was married.  On May 26, 1909, he married Sophia Weil in New York City.  Sophia was also a German immigrant, born in Freiberg, Germany, which is not far from Jesberg.  According to the family, this was an arranged marriage. In 1910, Ike and Sophia were living in Pawnee, Oklahoma, where Ike had established a second Katz Brothers store.

Ike Katz and family 1910 census
Source Citation
Year: 1910; Census Place: Pawnee Ward 3, Pawnee, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1268; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0181; FHL microfilm: 1375281
Description
Enumeration District : 0181
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:

It was around this time that Jake contacted his uncle Abraham, who was still living in Kentucky, and asked him to move to Oklahoma to establish another Katz dry goods store.  As I described in an earlier post, Abraham sent his oldest son, Lester, to Stillwater to work with Jake and explore the prospects of a store in another town in Oklahoma. In 1910, Abraham Katz and his family moved to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and established another Katz store.

According to the family, in 1917, Ike decided to open a new Katz store in Oilton, Oklahoma.  He asked his cousin Sidney Katz to run it for him. Sidney, who had recently married his wife Eulalia, had been operating a shoe store in Fort Scott, Kansas, in partnership with his brother-in-law Morris Kohlmann, but the business had not been profitable enough, so Sidney decided to accept Ike’s invitation to run a store in Oilton.  Ike remained in Pawnee where on September 12, 1918, he registered for the World War I draft.

Isaac Katz World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Pawnee; Roll: 1852068
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA

The family business was thus thriving in the first two decades of the 20th century, but then Jake and Sophia Katz suffered a terrible loss on October 6, 1919, when Albert Jerome Katz, their son and oldest child, died four days short of his sixteenth birthday.

To be continued…

 

Before You Visit A Cemetery, Read This Post

There’s a lesson in here for anyone planning to visit a cemetery to find where their ancestors are buried.  I wish I’d had this lesson before traveling to Germany.

May 10 was our last day in the Kassel region, and we were going to see the village of Jesberg, home of the Katz and Katzenstein families.  As the Katzenstein/Katz family has been the one I have been researching most recently, these names and stories were freshest in my mind, and I was very interested in seeing what we could find and learn. Hans-Peter Klein was again going to be our guide along with Mrs. Ochs, who lives in Jesberg. We followed Hans-Peter from Kassel to Borken, where he picked up the key to the cemetery in Haarhausen where the Katzenstein and Katz family members from Jesberg were buried before the Jesberg cemetery itself was established.

As with the Obervonschutzen cemetery near Gudensberg the night before, I had no idea what to expect in Haarhausen.  I did like the horses who were grazing nearby.

This was another very big cemetery with close to 400 stones dating back to 1705. Once again, Hans-Peter came equipped with a map and pages from the LAGIS website showing the headstones and information about many members of the Katz and Katzenstein families who were buried at this cemetery.  So we were off on another treasure hunt—but with better lighting and more rested eyes than the evening before.

Haarhausen cemetery

And what treasure we found.  I have to admit that I should have been better prepared for this visit.  I should have searched the LAGIS website myself before leaving home and written down all the Katzensteins who were buried there, where they were buried, and how they were related to me.  But I failed to do that.  I am not sure I even knew about that part of the LAGIS website, or I’d forgotten about it.  It would have made my search both easier and more meaningful if I’d been better prepared.

For example, these two headstones:

I thought that these were the headstones of my three-times great-grandparents Scholum Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld because, looking quickly, they matched the pages for a Schalum and a Brendelchen.  I placed stones and even took a picture with both stones, believing these were the parents of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

But I was wrong.

In fact, having now had the chance to sit and check my tree and the LAGIS pages and the photos, I know that these were the stones of my FIVE-times great-grandparents, Schalum, son of Pinchas ha-Cohen, and his wife Brendelchen (father’s name unknown) who died in 1774 and 1776, respectively.  They were the grandparents of Scholum Katzenstein, great-grandparents of Gerson. Wow. Do I wish I had known? Yes. Does it really matter? Probably not.  I paid tribute, I visited. I just thought they were different people.

I am, however, really sorry I could not find the stone for Meir, the son of Schalum ha Cohen and Brendelchen, who is buried at Haarhausen.  He was my four-times great-grandfather, the father of Scholum Katzenstein.  There were many stones that were similar to this one depicted on the LAGIS website.  But I could not find Meir’s stone.

I did, however, find the stone for his wife, Henchen, who was my four-times great-grandmother.  But I did not realize this was who she was at the time, only when I got home and checked my resources.

Henchen, wife of Meier Katz. My 4th great-grandmother

I assume that Meir’s stone was nearby.  Henchen died in 1793, Meir in 1803.

And this stone, which I photographed but could not read clearly at the site, is in fact the stone for my three-times great-grandfather, Scholum Katzenstein.  It is labeled on the LAGIS website as the stone for Abraham Schalum, son of Meir ha-Kohen, so I didn’t realize it at the time, but again, after checking with my resources at home, I now know that that was the Hebrew name used by Scholum Katzenstein and that that was in fact his stone. Perhaps the stone for his wife was nearby, but  Hans-Peter had no sheet for a Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein, and I couldn’t find one either at the LAGIS site.

Scholem Katzenstein, my 3x great-grandfather

I did find the stone for Schalum Abraham Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, grandson of Scholum Katzenstein.  He was my first-cousin, three times removed.  His brother Meier is also buried at Haarhausen, but we did not find his stone. (You can see why I was overwhelmed with all the similar names!)

Jacob Katzenstein’s son, Schalum Katzenstein

So I learned an important lesson: be really well prepared for cemetery visits.  I feel extremely fortunate that I found the stones of my 5x great-grandparents, my 4x-great-grandmother, and my three-times great-grandfather. But I sure wish I’d known more about who was buried at Haarhausen and where they were buried before I even got to the cemetery.  Am I kicking myself? Yes. I missed some important stones because I had not done a careful enough job of preparation. It’s too late now, and I am annoyed with myself, but I also learned a very important lesson.  Do the hard work of preparation ahead of time because cemeteries are overwhelming, stones are hard to read, and time is limited.

We left the cemetery and proceeded on to Jesberg, where the Katz and Katzenstein families lived from at least the early 19th century. Today there are about 2500 people living in Jesberg, making it about four times the size of Sielen but smaller than Breuna. A castle was built in Jesberg in the 13th century, and there was a Jewish community dating from the 17th century. In 1905, the Jewish community of about 90 people made up over ten percent of the overall population of Jesberg; during the 19th century when my great-great-grandfather was born and raised, the Jewish population ranged from 55 people to 73 people, according to Alemannia-Judaica.  A synagogue was built in 1832, and there was a mikveh, a Jewish school, and eventually a cemetery.

Jesberg synagogue before World War I

In 1933 when many members of my Katz family were still living there, there were still more than fifty Jews in Jesberg.  Today there are no Jews in Jesberg.

Helping us in touring Jesberg along with Hans-Peter was Mrs. Ochs, who is another volunteer in the research of the Jewish history of the area and who works with Barbara Greve, who was out of town. Mrs. Ochs lives in Jesberg and was, like all the others, very warm, friendly, and helpful. We first drove out to the Jesberg cemetery, which did not open until about 1900 and which only has about twenty stones.

View of Jesberg from the cemetery

Jesberg cemetery

These are all the stones at the Jesberg cemetery

I knew that Meir Katz and his wife Sprinzchen Jungenheim were buried there, the parents of Jake, Aron, Ike, Regina, and Karl Katz, all of whom came to the US and settled in Oklahoma, some in the 19th century, others in the 1930s to escape the Nazis. I had spoken to Karl Katz’s son Fred before we left for Germany, and he had asked me to look for his grandparents’ graves and told me how to find them in the cemetery.

Back of the stones for Sprinzchen and Meier Katz in German

Front of stones for Sprinzchen and Meier Katz in Hebrew

There were three children of Jacob Katzenstein, brother of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein, buried in the cemetery.  These were my great-grandmother Hilda’s first cousins:

Levi Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, and his wife Jeanette

Levi  Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, and his wife Jeanette

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein:

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein:

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein

There were also a few stones where half of the stone was left blank, obviously reserved for a spouse.  What had happened to their spouses? Had they left Germany and escaped safely or had they been killed in the Holocaust? I decided I would check.

Markus Katz: He was the son of Moses Katz, as I wrote about here.  His grandmother Rahel Katzenstein was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

Markus Katz, son of Moses Katz, grandson of Rahel Katzenstein

Markus was married to Minna Wallach, also known as Nanny according to other records.  As I had feared, she was murdered in the Holocaust, explaining the blank side of this headstone.

Another stone with a blank half was for Josef Katz.  He was quite distantly related to me, a third cousin, three times removed.  According to David Baron’s research, Josef was married to Bertha Lowenstein, daughter of Simon Lowenstein and Esther Stern, and she was born in Fronhausen, Germany in 1870.  I have not yet found any information about Bertha’s death so cannot say why the other half of Josef’s gravestone is blank. Perhaps she escaped the Holocaust, though her son Siegfried did not survive, so I doubt she did either. I will keep looking.

Josef Katz, third cousin, three times removed

The third stone with a blank half was for someone named Moses Schloss.  As far as I know, he was not a relative of mine, but I still wanted to know what had happened to his wife.  According to Yad Vashem, his wife was Lisette Gans Schloss, and she died at Theriesenstadt on October 14, 1942. So it appears my hunch was right.  At least two of the three blank stones were for victims of the Holocaust.

After visiting the cemetery, we returned to Jesberg, where Mrs. Ochs showed us the former synagogue and pointed out the brook that ran behind it, feeding what was probably once a mikveh.

Former synagogue in Jesberg

Brook running behind the synagogue

Back of former synagogue

I could imagine the carefree life that my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein and his many cousins had in Jesberg, running through the quiet streets and playing in the brook.  The town is probably not that much different today in appearances, other than the cars and paved roads.

We also walked down Bahnhofstrasse, the street where Fred Katz had lived as a young boy before escaping with his parents to Oklahoma in December 1938.  Fred had told me the house number, so I was able to find the house where he had lived with his parents, Karl Katz and Jettchen Oppenheimer, his brothers Walter and Max, his uncle Aron and his wife Sarah, and their sons Jack and Julius.  More on Fred and his life in Jesberg in a later post.

Marktplatz and church in Jesberg

Bahnhofstrasse in Jesberg

House where the Katz family lived in Jesberg in the 1930s

The brook that runs through Jesberg

We then all went to lunch in a nearby town (there was no place to eat—not even a bakery—in Jesberg), and then Harvey and I said another difficult goodbye to Hans-Peter and Mrs. Ochs and to the Kassel region.

Our days in the Kassel region far exceeded my expectations.  The friends we made and the places we saw will stay with me forever.  Yes, I wish I had better prepared for the cemetery visits, but overall I have no regrets and am so thankful that I got to visit the homes of my Hamberg, Goldschmidt, Schoenthal, and Katzenstein ancestors.  I am particularly thankful to Ernst Klein, Julia Drinnenberg, Hans-Peter Klein, Barbara Greve, and Mrs. Ochs for all their hard work and dedication, and, of course, especially to Harvey for being a willing and helpful participant in the hunt for stones in so many cemeteries.

Now we were heading south to Wurzburg and then to Schopfloch, the home of the Nussbaums

 

 

 

 

Another Mikveh, A Castle, A Museum, and A Search for Stones: Trendelburg, Hofgeismar, and Gudensberg

After our eventful morning in Sielen with Julia and Hans-Peter, we all headed to Trendelburg.  At one time the cemetery there had been used by the Jewish residents of Sielen, so I hoped that perhaps I’d find a Schoenthal ancestor buried there.  But that one had even fewer stones as it had been desecrated by the Nazis.  There were no Schoenthals there.

Marker describing destruction of the cemetery by the Nazis.

All that’s left of the Trendelburg cemetery

But Trendelburg itself was an interesting place to visit.  It was here that my great-great-uncle Henry Schoenthal had taught in the Jewish school after attending the seminary in Kassel.

First, Julia showed us another old mikveh that had been discovered in a basement like the one Ernst Klein had found in Volksmarsen.  This one was discovered in 2001 when an abandoned house was undergoing renovation. The mikveh is believed to have been closed sometime in the 19th century and perhaps replaced with another.  There had been a fire in the building at some point, but the basement and the mikveh had survived.

Trendelburg mikveh

Julia explained that it was believed that the mikveh dated to the late 18th century because there are documents dated 1782-1783 in which a man named Joseph Levi asked for permission to build a pipe to his cellar from the town well.  Although a mikveh is supposed to be fed by natural water—spring, groundwater, or rain—in this case it appeared that a conduit was necessary to supply the water for the ritual bath.

The other interesting landmark in Trendelburg is the castle believed to be the inspiration for the story of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. I wrote more about the castle’s history here.

Rapunzel’s tower

OK, so I am no Rapunzel

In the castle’s restaurant with Hans-Peter

Now the castle is used as a hotel and a restaurant, and Julia, Hans-Peter, Harvey, and I went into the restaurant for coffee, and then after Hans-Peter left to teach a seminar in Kassel, Julia, Harvey, and I had lunch there.  It was lovely, and it gave us a chance to talk to Julia about her life (she is an artist) and her reasons for volunteering her time to preserve the Jewish history of these towns. Like the others, she also felt compelled to learn what had happened and to educate others about German Jewish history and the Holocaust.

While at lunch, Julia also presented me with wedding documents for a Rosa Hamberg from Breuna who married a man named Benjamin Cohn.  I did not know who she was or how she fit into my family tree, but after further help and research, Julia, Hans-Peter, and I figured it out.  More on that in a later post.

After lunch, we went with Julia to the town where she lives, Hofgeismar, to see the museum she and her colleagues have created in that town to educate others about its Jewish history.  We were really impressed by the museum.  Not only are there wonderful materials to teach about Judaism and the Holocaust, Julia and her colleagues have developed an extremely creative curriculum for high school students that has them engage in interactive ways to learn about the Jewish history of their region. For example, the students created a replica of the ark that once existed in the synagogue by using data about its measurements from old documents.  They also created a mural that depicts in detail what the Hofgeismar synagogue had looked like—again, using old plans and documents to be as accurate as possible.

Former synagogue in Hofgesmar

Mural created by students to depict the former synagogue of Hofgeismar

It was a curriculum so creative and thoughtful that we both felt that it was something that educators in the US could use effectively to teach students about Jewish history.  This is another project that deserves the support of anyone who is interested in preventing the ignorance and hatred that led to the Holocaust.  You can learn more at their website here.

After saying a grateful and emotional goodbye to Julia, we headed back to Kassel.  But our day was not over.  After a short break back in Kassel, Hans-Peter picked us up  at 5;30 for a trip to Gudensberg. I am not sure how Hans-Peter had the energy.  We were already exhausted and had had a break; he’d been in Sielen and Trendelburg with us and then had taught a class in Kassel and was now ready to drive us back out to Gudensberg, which is 25 kilometers south and another half hour drive away.

And I wasn’t even sure why we were going to Gudensberg.  As far as I knew, the only family connection I had to that village was through my great-grandfather’s brothers, Henry and Jakob Schoenthal, who had married Charlotte and Helen Lilienfeld, two sisters from Gudensberg.

So we piled into Hans-Peter’s car off for another adventure.  First we went to the cemetery in Obervorschuetz, just a few miles from Gudensberg. This is a huge cemetery—with close to 400 stones dating as far back as 1727. Hans-Peter had collected information about possible relatives of mine who were buried in this cemetery; he had photocopied the photographs of the relevant stones from the LAGIS website of Jewish gravestones. They were all members of the Mansbach family from Maden: Liebmann (1813-1874), Schoene (d. 1879), Chaja Mansbach (geb. Speier)(1787-1861), and Hannchen Mansbach (geb. Katzenstein) (1799-1840).  As I looked at the names, only the last was familiar.

But when I got home, I researched a few of the others and realized that Liebmann Mansbach was the father of Rose Mansbach, who married Simon Schoenthal, my great-grandfather’s brother. Schoene Mansbach was Liebmann’s daughter and Rose’s sister.  Chaja Speier Mansbach was Liebmann’s mother, Rose’s grandmother.  So they were all related to me, albeit only through marriage, but nevertheless all were in my family tree. Hans-Peter had noted the connections, but I guess my addled brain did not absorb it all at the time.

But Hannchen Mansbach geb. Katzenstein was in fact my blood relative.  She was the half-sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein and the daughter of Scholem Katzenstein, my three-times great-grandfather.  As I wrote about here, she had married Marum Mansbach of Maden, with whom she’d had six children, including three who came to the US: Henrietta, Abraham, and H.H (Harry), about whom I’ve written extensively.  Hannchen had died after giving birth to Harry in 1840.  It was her stone I was most interested in seeing.

So we started on a treasure hunt, trying to find these stones.  It was a real challenge—almost 400 stones, and all we had were small photographs of the stones to use to locate the actual stone and a map filled with hundreds of square that Hans-Peter had highlighted, but that was not that easy to follow.

I believe that this is the stone for Chaja Speier Mansbach:

Chaja Mansbach geb Speier (maybe)

But the others we could not find for sure.  The stones were eroded, making it very difficult to read the Hebrew inscriptions and compare them to the sheets that Hans-Peter had printed. The sun was getting lower in the sky, creating a glare on the stones and making them even harder to read. And there were so many stones (and we had all had a long day already) that I was ready to give up.

And then I spotted this stone where the name was written in German on the reverse:

Hanchen Katzenstein Mansbach headstone

And this was on the Hebrew side:

Hanchen Katzenstein Mansbach headstone Hebrew side

It took some doing, but I was able to discern that this was in fact the stone for Hannchen Katzenstein Mansbach, whose sons had served on opposite sides of the US Civil War and who had both gone on to considerable success in America as had their sister Henrietta, who married Gabriel Gump.  Hannchen was my three-times great-aunt.  The Hebrew inscription on her stones is translated as:

A virtuous woman, she was like Abigail.

She noted that her trade was good. She was modest

In her speech. Her actions were pleasant. Of the king’s daughter

Would be her interior. She was a wise woman.

Her soul rose up into the sky. She changed her whole life

On straight paths. She kept the Lord’s commandments. Henchen,

Daughter of Shelom ha-Kohen, wife of Me’ir, son of

Elieser from Maden. She went into her world

And died on Saturday, the 2nd Tammuz, and was buried on Sunday [5] 600

After the small count. Her soul is bound up in the covenant of life

With all the other just women in the Garden of Eden,

Amen. Her soul was bound in covenant.

As you can see from the photographs, we left stones on her headstone, marking our visit and honoring not only her, but all her descendants.  I was now very glad that we had gone to visit this cemetery.

But our day was not yet over. We next went to the town of Gudensberg, home of Charlotte and Helen Lilienfeld, sisters and the wives of Jakob and Henry Schoenthal, my great-great-uncles. Henry Schoenthal had married Helen in Gudensberg in 1872 after immigrating to the US.  Jakob had married Charlotte in Gudensberg in 1879; they later settled in Cologne, as I wrote about here.

The principal thing that Hans-Peter wanted us to see in Gudensberg was the former synagogue.  He and his wife had been very active in preserving and restoring the synagogue, and it was that project that inspired him to go on to do so much work in preserving the records of the former Jewish communities in the Nordhessen region.  It is quite a beautiful restoration.

Former synagogue in Gudensberg

Memorial plaque outside former synagogue

Interior of former synagogue in Gudensberg; women’s section above

Rearview of synagogue from street in Gudensberg

Today the building is used primarily as a cultural center and music school, although I understand that at times it has been used for Jewish religious celebrations.

We also saw the former Jewish school and the stolpersteine there for the man who was the last head of the school and his family.

And we saw the house of Michael Lilienfeld, brother of Charlotte and Helen, the sisters who married two of my Schoenthal great-great-uncles.

House of Michael Lilienfeld

Hans-Peter then returned us to our hotel in Kassel. It had been a long and fascinating day, and my spirits were lifted after seeing all the incredible work that both Julia Drinnenberg and Hans-Peter Klein have done and are doing to preserve the history of the Jewish communities of the four towns we’d visited that day. It was a lot to process as we ate for a second night in the Italian restaurant across from our hotel.

The next morning we were heading to Jesberg, home of the Katzensteins.

 

 

 

 

The Blessings and Curses of Old Family Stories

Family stories can often lead you astray, but perhaps more often they can give you clues or corroborate evidence you’ve already uncovered.  In the case of the descendants of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, there has been a little of all three.

What I know from the research done by Barbara Greve and David Baron is that Rahel and Jacob had six children: Blumchen, Moses, Meier, Abraham, Sanchen, and Samuel. Abraham and Samuel came to the United States in the years following the Civil War, as I’ve written.  But what about the other four siblings? What could I learn about them?

Fortunately, my cousin Marsha interviewed our mutual cousin Theo Goldenberg in January, 1993, about the family history.  Theo Goldenberg was born and raised in Jesberg; he was the grandson of Meier Katz and came to the US in the 1930s as a young man escaping Nazi Germany. Having grown up in Jesberg with his Katz and Katzenstein relatives, Theo had first-hand knowledge of the family stories and may have been one of the the best people to ask about the siblings of his grandfather Meier.

In his interview with Marsha, Theo named five of the children of Rahel and Jacob: Blumchen, Moses, Meier, Abraham, and Samuel.  He also told Marsha that there had been another daughter who drowned as a small child—presumably that would have been Sanchen, the only other daughter found by Barbara Greve or David Baron. Thus, Theo’s recollection is quite consistent with the list of names I had learned from Barbara Greve and David Baron.

Family lore, however, is that there was another son who came to the United States before Abraham and Samuel and who fought in the Civil War.  The family story is that when Abraham came to the US, he went to New Orleans to look for this brother, but never found him. He was presumed to have been killed in the Civil War.

Theo Goldenberg told Marsha that he was not aware of any other son, and although I have spent a fair amount of time searching, I have found no records that support the existence of this fifth brother (nor did Barbara Greve or David Baron, both of whom have done extensive research on the family).

At first I thought perhaps Moses was this missing brother because I found a Moses Katz who came from the Hesse region and who fought in the Civil War.  He survived the war and settled in Baltimore.  But I could find no tie to the family of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, and Marsha’s father Henry pointed out persuasively that if Moses had been in Baltimore, Abraham would have known and easily found him without traveling to New Orleans, especially since Abraham lived in Baltimore when he first came to the US.

Theo Goldenberg, moreover, told Marsha that Moses never left Germany. Although Marsha commented in her notes that this part of her interview with Theo was somewhat confusing, it appears that Theo told her that Moses had died as a young man after being kicked by a cow in the stomach.  He had, however, been married and had had several children.

David Baron also had information about Moses Katz that indicated that Moses had married Amalia Malchen Wetterhahn in Jesberg, Germany on July 3, 1869, and had had six children born in Jesberg.  I owe David a huge thank you for sending me many of the Katz records from Jesberg and also for teaching me how to find others myself.  Here is one he shared with me, a death record for Moses Katz:

Moses Katz death record, Jesberg Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1898 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3896) Jesberg 1898, p.32

My FB friend Matthias Steinke once again helped me out and translated the document, and it says nothing about the cause of death, so the “kicked in the stomach” story will have to remain family lore.  Also, Moses Katz died when he was almost sixty—so hardly a “young man.”  Maybe Theo was referring to someone else in the family.

Jesberg, the 9th July 1898
To the below signing registrar came the personally known merchant Markus Katz, residing in Jesberg, house-nr 32/2, and reported, that the merchant Moses Katz, 58 years, 6 month, 11 days, mosaic religion, residing in Jesberg, housenr. 32/2, born in Jesberg, been married to Amalie nee Wetterhan of Jesberg, son of the deceased merchant Jakob Katz and his deceased wife Rael nee Katzenstein of Jesberg, in Jesberg at the 8th July 1898 past midday at 6 o’clock is deceased. The Markus Katz declared, that he knows about the death by his own knowledge. Readed, confirmed and signed Markus Katz – the registrar (signature)

I suppose it’s possible that Moses went to the US, fought in the Civil War, returned to Jesberg after the war and married Amalia in 1869. But that seems unlikely, and wouldn’t Abraham have known that his brother had returned to Jesberg?

Perhaps it was not a brother but a cousin who fought and died in the Civil War? I don’t know.  But at this point I think the evidence does not support the story of this missing brother. However, the story has been passed down through the generations, and I’ve learned that in every family story there is usually some kernel of truth.  I just haven’t found it yet in this story.

Nor can I verify the story about Sanchen’s drowning. If Sanchen died as a young girl, that would have been more than fifty years before Theo’s birth and so perhaps not reliable as a piece of family history (and unfortunately before the earliest Jesberg records that are kept online.)  Yet such a traumatic event might very well have been reliably reported from generation to generation.

As for Blumchen, Theo told Marsha that she had stayed in Germany, married, and had not had any children.  According to David Baron, Blumchen married Heskel Grunenklee of Meimbressen, Germany, and she died on March 9, 1909.  Theo’s story is thus consistent with the research done by David Baron.

Theo had, not surprisingly, the most information about the children of Meier Katz, his grandfather, who died on October 29, 1925, when Theo was eleven.  Unfortunately, there were no insights about Meier in the interview notes.

Meier Katz death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3916
Description
Year Range : 1925
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Sterberegister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Theo’s grandmother Sprinzchen Jungheim Katz died on June 15, 1917, so Theo would have been only three years old when his grandmother died.

Death record of Sprinz Jungheim Katz 1917
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3915

Meier and Sprinzchen had six children: Jacob, Aron, Seligmann, Regina, Karl, and Sol, according to Theo. I have not seen Sol listed anywhere else, and Theo had nothing more to say about him besides his name. However, there was a Salli Katz born to Meier and Sprinzchen on June 14, 1888, who died on January 10, 1892, so I assume that this is the “Sol” referred to by Theo Goldenberg.

Salli Katz birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3819
Description
Year Range : 1888
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Geburtenregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Salli Katz death record, Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1892 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3890)
Jesberg 1892, p.2

As translated by Matthias Steinke:

Jesberg at the 10th January 1892 – To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Moses Katz, residing in Jesberg, House nr. 32 1/2 and reported, that Salli Katz, 2 years 6 month 25 days old, mosaic religion, residing in Jesberg, house nr. 28, born in Jesberg, son of the merchant Meier Katz II and his wife Sprinzchen nee Jungheim of Jesberg, in Jesberg at the ninth January of the year 1892, past midday at four o’clock is deceased. The Moses Katz declared, to know about the death by his own knowledge. Readed, confirmed and signed Moses Katz The registrar Appell

[The death record reports that Salli was two and a half years old, but based on the birth record, he was really three and a half years old.]

The other five children of Meier and Sprinzchen—Jacob, Aron, Isaac, Regina, and Karl—all survived to adulthood and all came to the United States, some as early as the 1880s, others as late as the 1930s.  But fortunately they all survived. More on that in the posts to come.  For now, here is a photograph of Meier and Sprinzchen and those five children:

Meier and Sprinzchen (Jungheim) Katz and children

What I learned from all this is that we all should be doing what Marsha did back in 1993; we should be interviewing the older generations in our family, asking questions and taking notes.  Even if some of the information leads us on a few wild goose chases, the stories we will hear will disappear if they are not recorded.  I am so grateful that Marsha had the wisdom to meet with her cousin Theo and ask him to answer her questions about the family back in 1993.  If only I had done the same with my own older relatives 24 years ago…

 

 

 

The Children of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz 1944-1989

After Abraham and Amelia Katz died, their children almost all continued to live and work in the same places in Oklahoma for most of the rest of their lives.   They were all in some way connected with the dry goods business.

Katz Department Store logo designed by Sidney Pepper, husband of Ann Levine Pepper, daughter of Henrietta Katz Levine

Rachel and Morris Kohlmann continued to live in Bristow, Oklahoma, until at least 1935, but by 1940, they were living in Oklahoma City where Morris owned a shoe store.  By April, 1942, however, when Morris registered for the World War II draft, he and Rachel were living back in Louisville, Kentucky, where they had met and where Morris now owned a business called Jewel Cleaning and Dyers. [Thank you to Janice Webster Brown of Cow Hampshire Blog for pointing out that it says Dyers, not Dryers!]

Morris Kohlmann World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Kentucky, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 7644732; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Morris died in Louisville five years later on April 10, 1947; he was 67 years old.  His death certificate states that he was a shoe salesman at the time of his death.

Morris Kohlmann death certificate
Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1964 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Birth and Death Records: Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Newport – Microfilm (before 1911). Microfilm rolls #7007125-7007131, 7011804-7011813, 7012974-7013570, 7015456-7015462. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1964). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Rachel must have returned to Oklahoma after the death of her husband. She died in Sapulpa on January 8, 1953; she was seventy years old.

Rachel Kohlmann headstone
JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Lester Katz, the oldest brother, had remained in Sapulpa where he was the owner and manager of the family department store there.

Lester Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 14

This wonderful photograph shows the five sons of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz probably sometime in the 1950s:

Ben, Sidney, Mickey, Sigmund and Lester Katz
courtesy of the Katz family

Lester died in Sapulpa on January 17, 1959; he was 73 years old.  The Sapulpa Historical Society sent me a copy of his obituary, but it does not identify the paper in which it appeared.  According to the obituary, Lester had had heart issues prior to his death.  It reported that he had died from a heart attack and had been found by his brother M.J. (Milton) lying on the floor in the family’s store.  The obituary also stated that Lester had been active in several civic organizations and that “he was perhaps as well known in this section as any local merchant.”

Lester Katz headstone
JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Lester’s wife Mayme died almost seven years later on December 2, 1965.  They were survived by their daughters.

Sidney and his brother Ben continued to run the Katz Department Store in Ada, Oklahoma, where they both lived.

Sidney Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Notice that Sidney listed Ben as the person who would always know his address, and Ben did the same on his draft registration:

Ben Katz World War II draf registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

The family described to me the special relationship between Ben and Sidney.  They worried about each other and always looked out for each other’s best interests.  When Sidney decided to retire, he tried to reduce the inventory in the store so it would cost Ben less to buy him out; Ben, worried that Sidney would not have enough to live on after selling his share, arranged for the inventory to be rebuilt so that he would have to pay Sidney more.  That is a remarkable partnership and relationship—to put family before business and before your own interests.

Here is a photograph of Ben and his wife Sadie and their three children, Henry, Bryna, and Alfred, taken in about 1933:

Sadie, Ben, Henry, Bryna, and Alfred Katz c. 1933

The Katz Department Store in Ada during the 1940s on Rodeo Day:

Ada, Oklahoma 1940s
Courtesy of the Katz family

Sidney and Ben and other unidentified people in the Ada Katz Department Store:

Katz Department Store in Ada, OK with Sidney and Ben Katz
Courtesy of the Katz Family

An advertisement for the Ada store published in the Ada Evening News on March 15, 1953:

Ada Evening News, March 15, 1953

Sidney Katz died in 1961. In another unlabeled obituary I received from the Sapulpa Historical Society, Sidney was described as “universally loved and respected on Main Street by his fellow businessmen and by the hundreds of people he knew in his long career here. He was a man of great energy.  He liked people and gave constantly and unselfishly of his time to a host of civic and community projects.”  The obituary also noted that he enjoyed golf.  Sidney was survived by his wife Eulalia, who died in 1972.

Sidney Katz, photograph from 1961 obituary

Courtesy of FindAGrave member Linda Abelli (#48304482)

Ben died just five years after his brother Sidney on March 25, 1966. He was 73 years old and was survived by his wife Sadie and their three children. His obituary appeared on the first page of the Ada Weekly News of March 25, 1966:

Courtesy of FindAGrave member Jackie (#46788388)

His wife Sadie died in 1983; she was 86. Here is a photograph of Ben and Sadie with their granddaughter Marsha.

After Ben died, his two sons Alfred and Henry took over the Ada store, which they ran until 2004 when they retired.  Following are photographs of the store in Ada:

The family lost two siblings in 1972.  In July, Blanche died in a nursing home in Sapulpa; she was 89 years old and, as far as I can tell, had never worked outside the home or married.  Six months later on December 27, 1972, Florence Katz Frisch died in Sapulpa.  Her husband Sol Frisch had died in 1943; they had been living in Stillwater, Oklahoma at that time, but sometime after Sol’s death, Florence returned to Sapulpa.  Florence had also been predeceased by her only child, Sara Jean Frisch Looney, who died on August 19, 1966, at age 44 from a brain tumor.

JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Milton Katz, who was known as Mickey, had returned to Sapulpa in 1944 after spending some time in the east in the construction business, according to a 1973 profile of him in the Sapulpa newspaper.  When he returned, he joined his brother Lester in the Sapulpa store.  Milton married Ruth Billingslea on February 24, 1951, in Benton, Arkansas. Ruth was a widow when she married Milton; she was 48, and he was 49.  Ruth was born in Oklahoma and had been living in Chickasha, the town where Milton’s sister Henrietta lived. Milton and Ruth lived in Sapulpa where, according to Ruth’s obituary in the Sapulpa Herald of Friday, July 9, 2004, she assisted Milton in the Katz Department Store

According to the 1973 article (for which I unfortunately do not have a full citation), Mickey was quite a character, especially in his youth. The article described how he had purchased rain insurance for a Sapulpa high school football game and collected when it rained .3 inches; then he had managed to get the game played anyway by having the field burnt and purchasing cleats for the players.

Milton “Mickey” Katz died in Sapulpa in April 1983 when he was 81 years old; according to his obituary (another unlabeled one I received from the Sapulpa Historical Society), he had served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, and the Kiwanis Club and as chairman of the Sapulpa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and of Sapulpa Flood Control.  His wife Ruth survived him by 21 years.  She died in 2004 when she was 101 years old.

Photo of Mickey Katz from 1973 article in Sapulpa newspaper

The last two surviving siblings, Henrietta and Sigmund, both lived long lives.  Henrietta and her husband Ben Levine had remained in Chickasha, Oklahoma.  Ben died in Chickasha on January 2, 1960 at age 71.  Henrietta remained in Chickasha, where she died 28 years later in June, 1988, at age 93; she was survived by her three children.  Ben is buried between Henrietta, his second wife, and her older sister Bertha, his first wife.

Photo by P Black-Avitts (#46910889) of FindAGrave

Sigmund was then the last living child of Abraham and Amelia Katz, but he only survived Henrietta by eight months. He died on February 24, 1989.  Sigmund and his wife Elizabeth had remained in Bristow, Oklahoma, until at least 1942.  In 1940, Sigmund was still working as a merchant, but on his World War II draft registration in 1942, he reported that he was not employed.

Sigmund Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

According to his obituary in the Sapulpa Herald of February 26, 1989, “Mr. Katz worked at the Bristow store from 1922-1941 then associated with the Oklahoma State Employment Service. He resided in Sapulpa from 1952 until 1985, when he moved to Tulsa.”   Sigmund died in Tulsa on February 24, 1989; he was 92 years old.  Elizabeth lived another three years, dying in Tulsa on April 8, 1992; she was 93.  They were survived by their two daughters.

Together, Abraham and Amelia Katz had ten children, eleven grandchildren, and a large number of great and great-great-grandchildren, a number of whom still live in Oklahoma while others are spread throughout the United States.  And I am so fortunate to have been able to find and connect with a number of them.  I am particularly grateful to my cousins Marsha and Henry for generously sharing the photographs and allowing me to share them with you.

The Children of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz: 1920-1944

In my last two posts, I wrote about Abraham Katz and the decision he made in 1910 to move his family from Louisville, Kentucky to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where business opportunities seemed more promising for him and his children. By 1920, Abraham Katz and his large family were well-established in Oklahoma.  Four of the ten children were married, one, Bertha, had died at a tragically young age, and five of the ten children were still living at home.

During the 1920s, four of the other Katz children married. Florence, who had been living at home in 1920, had married by 1921.  Her husband was Solomon Frisch, who was born in Springfield, Illinois, but grew up in Athens, Illinois, the same town where Lester Katz’s wife Mayme had grown up.   Solomon was the son of Isaac and Sophia Frisch, who were immigrants from Hungary and Germany, respectively; Isaac was a bookkeeper. In 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft, Solomon had his own store in Athens.

Solomon Frisch World War I draft registration; United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G14V-J6P?cc=1968530&wc=9FCN-RM9%3A928312901%2C928928301 : 14 May 2014), Illinois > image 785 of 2475; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Florence and Sol must have married not long after the 1920 census, as their daughter Sarah Jean was born on November 18, 1921. In 1930, they were living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Sol was working as a dry goods merchant.  Stillwater was, as mentioned in an earlier post, the town where Abraham Katz’s nephew (and Florence’s first cousin) Jake was also a dry goods merchant, and Sol was working with Jake in Stillwater in the Katz Department Store.

Benjamin Katz also married in the 1920s.  His wife, Sadie Bardine, was the daughter of two Russian immigrants, Isaac and Molly Bardine; Sadie was born in Kansas City, Missouri, where she grew up.  In 1920, she was working as a stenographer in a law office.  Sadie and Ben were married on June 12, 1924, in Kansas City.

Marriage record of Benjamin Katz and Sadie Bardine
Ancestry.com. Missouri, Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Marriage Records. Jackson County Clerk, Kansas City, Missouri.

According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life published by the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life,  “Sadie came from an Orthodox family and found it very daunting to adapt to her husband’s classical Reform Judaism and the difficulty of finding kosher meat in Sapulpa. She lived with Ben in Sapulpa from 1924 until 1926, when Ben decided that a life as a shoe clerk was not enough.”

It was at that point that Ben and Sadie moved to Ada, Oklahoma where in 1926, Ben and his brother Sidney purchased a long-established department store together in Ada, as reported in the April 15, 1926, issue of the Ada Weekly News (p. 4):

A deal will be closed today in which one of Ada’s oldest department stores changes hands and tomorrow morning, unless present plans go amiss, Simpson’s will open its doors under the banner of Katz Department Store.

Sidney and Ben Katz will be in charge of the store here, having arrived here several days ago from Bristow, where they made their home for six years. …

Although the new owners of the store establish this store here as another link to the chain of stores they operate in the Southwest, their desire is to impress the public with their public spirit in the interest and advancement of the town.  …

An extensive and commendable news article in a Bristow paper deplored the loss of Sidney Katz from its business fraternity. “Sidney Katz has been in Bristow for the past six years coming here to open the Bristow store.  During the time he has been a resident of this city, he has been one of the liveliest workers the city has had.  He has had a part in every worth while [sic] move that Bristow civic organizations have made, and members of the organizations say that his loss as a citizen will be felt.

Ben and Sidney ran the store together in Ada for many years. More on that to come.

Abraham and Amelia’s youngest daughter Henrietta also married in the 1920s.  She married her sister Bertha’s widower, Ben Levine, on June 28, 1925. In 1930, they were living with their first two children in Chickasha, Oklahoma, where Ben was (guess) a dry goods merchant.

Marriage record of Henrietta Katz and Ben Levine
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Chickasha is 134 miles from Sapulpa. According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities published by the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, in 1919, Chickasha had a Jewish population of about 125 people.  The Encyclopedia reports that, “By far the most prominent and long lasting Jewish business in Chickasha was the Dixie Store, owned by friends and distant cousins Charles I. Miller and Ben Levine. Charles and Ben had opened the store in 1919, and “Charles and Ben became icons in the Chickasha community, running a newspaper ad for their department store every day for over 50 years.”

When Sigmund Katz married Elizabeth Pattison on September 23, 1926, he was the fourth child of Abraham and Amelia to marry since 1920. His wife Elizabeth was the daughter of William Pattison and Ersula Wade.  Her father was born in Ohio, and her mother in Tennessee, where Elizabeth was also born. In 1900, when Elizabeth was four, the family was living in Florence, Alabama, where William was a lumber dealer. By 1920, however, Elizabeth’s father had died, and she and her mother were living with her grandparents in Allen, Oklahoma, where Elizabeth was working as a public school teacher.  Allen is only 19 miles from Ada, where Sigmund’s brothers Ben and Sidney were living.

Marriage record of Sigmund Katz and Elizabeth Pattison
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

In 1930, Sigmund and Elizabeth were living with their first two children in Bristow, Oklahoma, where Sigmund’s sister Rachel was also living.  And yes, Sigmund was also a dry goods merchant.

Rachel and her husband Morris Kohlmann were still living in Bristow in 1930, where Morris continued to work as a dry goods merchant; they had no children.  Lester and his wife Mayme and their children were living in Sapulpa, and Lester was also a dry goods merchant, working in the family store.  Sidney and his wife Eulalia were living in Ada, Oklahoma, where Sidney was the manager of a dry goods store with his brother Ben, as noted above; Sidney and Eulalia did not have children.

By 1930 then, Abraham and his wife (listed as Millie here) were living with only two of their nine surviving children, Blanche and Milton, their youngest child, who was then 28. Abraham, who was now 79 years old, was still working as a merchant, and Milton was working as a clerk in the family store with his father and brother Lester.. Blanche was not employed outside the home, nor was her mother.

Abraham Katz and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Sapulpa, Creek, Oklahoma; Roll: 1900; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0040; Image: 842.0; FHL microfilm: 2341634

Thus, by 1930, Abraham and his sons and sons-in-law had established quite a number of dry goods stores in various towns in Oklahoma.

Abraham J. Katz died on July 29, 1936, at age 85. According to the records of the funeral home, he died of uremic poisoning and heat prostration.

Funeral record of Abraham Katz

The Sapulpa Herald of July 30, 1936, reported his death on its first page:

According to the obituary, Abraham died at home in Sapulpa after being critically ill for two weeks. The obituary also reported that Abraham had lived in Sapulpa since August, 1910, the first time I’ve seen the date so specifically pinpointed.  The obituary also commented that “Mr. Katz has always been one of the communities [sic] most generous donors to charity.  He is well known for his philanthropies here throughout the years.  He has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for years as well as other local booster organizations.”

Abraham was survived by his wife Amelia, nine of their ten children, and eleven grandchildren.

In 1940, Amelia, who was then 80, was living in Sapulpa with two of her children: Blanche, who was 56 and not employed, and Milton, who was 38 and working as a clerk in Katz Department Store.

Amelia died in Sapulpa on June 16, 1944; she was 84 years old. The Sapulpa Herald of June 17, 1944, reported her death on its first page, describing her as a “well known local woman.”  She and Abraham were buried together at Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Photo by FindAGrave member P Black Avitts
(#46910889)

Abraham Katz, who came to the US as a teenager shortly after the Civil War and started as a dry goods merchant in a small town in Kentucky, left behind quite a legacy for his children and their descendants.  He and his family had established a series of department stores spread over a number of cities and towns in Oklahoma that would continue to support the family long after Abraham was gone, as we will see in the next post.

Abraham Katz and Family in Oklahoma: The Growing Family Business

As we saw in my last post, sometime around 1910, Abraham and Amelia moved with their ten children from Kentucky to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where Abraham had been encouraged to move by his nephew Jake Katz to expand the Katz dry goods business. Between 1910 and 1920, four of Abraham and Amelia’s children married and left home and several others went to college or served in the military during those years.

Here is a photograph of Abraham and Amelia and their children taken about ten years after the one I posted in my last post.  Using Milton, the youngest child, as my clue, I think he looks about thirteen in this photograph, meaning it was taken around 1914.  I know it was taken before 1919, for reasons revealed below.

Henry Katz, Abraham and Amelia’s grandson, identified the family members in this photograph.  They are, in the front row from left to right, Henrietta, Amelia, Abraham, Milton, and Bertha.  In the back row from left to right are Ben, Florence, Lester, Blanche, Sidney, Rachel, and Sigmund.

Rachel, the first-born of the ten children, married Morris Kohlmann on June 12, 1912 in Louisville. Morris was born in Germany and had immigrated in 1892, according to the 1900 census.  In 1900 and 1910, Morris had been living in Louisville with his parents. According to this January 1, 1917 article from the Daily Tribune and Daily Mirror of Fort Scott, Kansas, Rachel and Morris had lived in El Dorado Springs, Missouri:

In 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft, Morris reported that he and Rachel were living in Yale, Oklahoma, a small town about 45 miles west of Sapulpa where he owned a store.

Morris Kohlmann World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Payne; Roll: 1852069
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].

On the 1920 census, Rachel and Morris were living in Bristol, Oklahoma, which is about 25 miles southwest of Sapulpa.  Morris reported that he was the owner of a department store.

Rachel’s brother Lester Katz married Mayme Salzenstein just two months after Rachel married Morris—on August 12, 1912, in Chicago.  Mayme was the daughter of Wolf Salzenstein, a German immigrant, and his wife Caroline, who was born in Illinois.  Mayme was also an Illinois native, and her father was a livestock dealer in Athens, Illinois, a small town not far from Springfield, Illinois.  Mayme moved with Lester to Sapulpa, where according to his World War I draft registration, he was a self-employed merchant.  I was unable to locate Lester and Mayme on the 1920 census, but I know from other records that by 1920, they had two daughters, Mildred and Bertha Barbara.

Lester Katz, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Creek; Roll: 1851701; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

 When Abraham and Amelia’s second oldest son, Sidney Katz, registered for the World War I draft, he was living in Oilton, Oklahoma, a small town about 34 miles west of Sapulpa.  According to his draft registration, Sidney was working for Katz Department Store.  He was single at that time, but on September 1, 1918, he married Eulalia V Woolsey, who was born in Missouri but had been living with her family in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1910.  Her father owned a music store there.

Sidney Katz, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Creek; Roll: 1851701; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

Apparently the family had some continuing connection to Fort Scott, Kansas, because I found this article about Bertha Katz, the seventh of Abraham and Amelia’s children, in the Fort Scott newspaper, reporting on her marriage to Ben Levine in Sapulpa in January 1918:

Ben Levine was born in Russia and had lived in Dayton, Ohio, after immigrating with his parents in 1890, but in 1910 he was living in Mountain View, Oklahoma, with his mother and his siblings and working as the manager of a dry goods store.  In 1917 he reported on his World War I draft registration that he had his own store in Cordell, Oklahoma.

Ben Levine, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Washita; Roll: 1852244
Description
Draft Card : L
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

Tragically, Ben’s marriage ended rather soon as Bertha Katz died in December 1918, according to her headstone and the family.  She was only 28 years old.  According to the family, Bertha went to meet Ben in New York City when he was being discharged from the military.  While there, she contracted the flu and died in New York, one of the many millions of victims of the flu epidemic of that time.  What a heartbreaking loss that must have been.

Finally, the fifth Katz child who was not living with his family in 1920 was Sigmund, the second youngest son.  According to the family, Sigmund attended what was then Oklahoma A & M in Stillwater and majored in Animal Husbandry. One family legend is that he operated on a duck and mistakenly reattached his leg backwards, causing the duck to swim in circles! (This sounds like more of a family joke than true, but nevertheless part of the family lore.)

On his draft registration card dated June 1918, he reported that he was a student and was living with his family in Sapulpa. (Interestingly, his draft registration reports his birthdate as August 5, 1897, but every other record, including his World War II draft registration says he was born a year earlier—August 5, 1896.)  Sigmund enlisted in the US Army on October 1, 1918, and was discharged on December 16, 1918. He would have been 22 years old. But where was he in 1920?

Sigmund Katz, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Creek; Roll: 1851701; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

Although I could not find any Sigmund Katz on the 1920 census, I did find this record of a Sidney Katz, born in Kentucky in 1896, who was living in Louisville and working in the dry goods business.  Since I already had a correct 1920 census record for Sigmund’s older brother Sidney, I knew this was not for him.  The only thing, aside from the incorrect first name, that is inconsistent with this being Sigmund Katz is that it reports that “Sidney’s” parents were born in Russia.  Perhaps his landlady gave the information to the enumerator and assumed his parents were Russian born? What do you think?

Is this Sigmund Katz?
Year: 1920; Census Place: Louisville Ward 9, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: T625_579; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 154; Image: 459

As for the rest of the family, in 1920, Abraham was still working as a dry goods merchant in Sapulpa, and  he and his wife Amelia still had the other five of their ten children living with them: Blanche (27), Florence (25), Ben (23), Henrietta (21), and Milton (18). Henrietta went to Oklahoma A & M like Sigmund where she’d been a member of the Theta sorority. In 1920, she was working as a school teacher.

Ben served in the US Army during World War I, as shown in this photograph:

Ben Katz
Courtesy of the Katz family

In 1920, Ben was working in a shoe store.

Milton, the youngest child, had served as the manager of the high school football team and was known by everyone in Sapulpa.  He attended the University of Illinois. He then came home and worked in the family store in Sapulpa.

Abraham Katz on the 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Sapulpa, Creek, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1460; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 42; Image: 140

Thus, as of 1920, Abraham Katz and all his sons and even his sons-in-law were in the dry goods business.  Four of his children had married, but sadly one, their daughter Bertha, had died shortly after her marriage.  Five of the other children were still living at home, and Sigmund may have been living and working in Louisville, where he was born.  But in the next decade, most of those five children would also marry and move out on their own.

To be continued.