Cousin Jane’s Parents

In my last post I shared the photograph of my second cousin, once removed, Jane Schlesinger Bruner—the woman my father called the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen when he met her the first time when he was a young boy.

Today I received this photograph of Jane’s parents—Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger.

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

I have already written about Sidney and Nan in my earlier posts, but just to recap here. Sidney was the fourth child and third son of Jacob Schlesinger and Brendina Katzenstein, my great-grandmother’s older sister.  He was born in Philadelphia in 1880 and lived his whole life there.  He was a successful furniture salesman.

In 1911, Sidney married Anna Levis, who was known as Nan. Nan was born in Philadelphia in 1886 to William Levis and Caroline Bopp; her father died when she was eleven years old. She had been working as a stenographer in a bolt factory before marrying Sidney.  Sidney and Nan’s daughter Jane was born in 1913.  She was their only child and the only grandchild of Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger.

Sidney died in 1935 when he was 54.  Nan survived him by forty years, dying at age 89 in 1975.  As I wrote earlier, she was the first member of my father’s family to meet my mother after my parents were engaged.

I am once again so grateful to Jane’s granddaughter for sharing this photograph and allowing me to see the faces behind the stories.

 

My Father Wasn’t Wrong

In a prior post, I told the story of my father’s first impression of his second cousin Jane Schlesinger whom he met her for the first time when he was a young boy.  He thought Jane was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and told her so.  Jane, who was thirteen years older than my father, must have been quite charmed by this little boy, who was quite adorable himself.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

When I heard the story and wrote the post, I wished that I had a photograph of my cousin Jane.  Now, like manna from heaven, I do.  I’ve been in touch with one of Jane’s grandchildren, and she sent me these two photographs of Jane and her husband Marvin.

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner

jane-schlesinger-and-martin-bruner-2-edit

Jane (Schlesinger) and Marvin Bruner

My father was not wrong.  She was indeed a stunning woman.

 

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-from-celena-adler-watermarked

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.

relationship-john-baer-to-me

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.

amalia-hamberg-and-jacob-baer-from-celena-adler-watermarked

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.

Sliding Doors

Back in April, I wrote about the family of Rosalie Schoenthal, my great-grandfather’s sister, the one who stayed in Germany to marry Willy Heymann.  Most of what I knew of their fate I learned from the memoir written by Ernest Lion, the man who married Rosalie and Willy’s granddaughter, Liesel Mosbach.  Liesel, her sister, her parents, and her aunt, were all victims of the Holocaust. Ernest Lion memorialized them all in his heartbreaking memoir, The Fountain at the Crossroad.

As I mentioned in a subsequent post written for Yom Hashoah in May, I was so moved by Ernest’s story that I tracked down his son Tom to ask about getting it published so that it could be more widely read.  Since then, I have been working with Tom to edit and format the memoir for publication.  (We’ve run into a few obstacles, but that’s a story for another day.)  I am hoping that sometime soon the book will be available for distribution. When it is, I will post the relevant information on the blog.

But none of this would be possible without the help of another of my cousins by marriage, Sharon.  Sharon is married to the great-grandson of Simon Schoenthal, who was also my great-grandfather’s brother as well as Rosalie Schoenthal Heymann’s brother.  And Sharon, who writes the blog The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, has a great deal of knowledge not only about writing, but also about getting your writing published.  Sharon and her husband were the ones who shared with me the remarkable memoir written by Hettie Schoenthal Stein.  So when I decided to try and get Ernest Lion’s book into a publishable format, I turned to Sharon for help.

Sharon spent hours through email and Skype instructing me on how to turn a typed manuscript into a format that is not only more readable, but also professional looking.  She has been incredibly patient with me, as all this was new to me, and the old brain isn’t quite as flexible as it once was.  I cannot possibly express how grateful I am to her for her help.

One of the last things we worked on was inserting photographs into the memoir, and as she was doing this, Sharon was struck by the resemblance she saw between Liesel Mosbach Lion, Ernest’s first wife and our mutual cousin, and Sharon’s mother-in-law, Blanche Stein Lippincott.  She sent me a photograph of Blanche and her family that I had not previously seen.

ezzie-blanche-parvin-1940

Blanche Stein Lippincott and her family 1940 Courtesy of the Lippincott family

And here is a photograph of Liesel Mosbach and Ernest Lion that I obtained from Ernest’s son to put into his book:

wedding-ernest-liesel-dec-18-1940-600-dpi

Liesel Mosbach and Ernest Lion Courtesy of the Lion Family

 

The resemblance is striking.  Blanche and Liesel were second cousins, but from these two photographs, they could have been sisters.

jpg-blanche-to-liesel

 

But what different lives and fates they had, and the expressions on their faces in these two photographs reflect those differences. While Blanche looks healthy and happy, Liesel looks drawn and sad, even on her wedding day.

Blanche was born in 1912 in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up living on the American frontier in the 1910s and 1920s.  Her mother Hattie and her aunt Gertrude had ventured out west after growing up in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.  They did later return to the East, as I’ve written, and Blanche spent the rest of her life living in New Jersey.  She married in 1937 and raised two children with her husband Ezra.  Blanche lived a long and happy life, making it to almost 101 years old before dying in 2013.  Her mother Hettie had made it to 103.

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

In contrast, Liesel lived a short and tragic life.  She was born in 1921 in Germany, where her father Julius Mosbach owned a fruit and vegetable stand. The family was probably living a comfortable enough life until Hitler came to power.  When Liesel married Ernest Lion on December 18, 1939, conditions for Jews were terrible in Germany, and the young couple had no idea what the future would bring.

There would, in fact, be no future. As a result of the Nazi oppression and the loss of his business, Julius Mosbach suffered a nervous breakdown; in 1941, he was sent to an institution where instead of being treated, he was murdered by the Nazis. In 1942, Liesel’s mother, sister, and aunt, and Ernest’s father were all deported and eventually killed in a Nazi concentration camp.  In 1943, Liesel and Ernest were deported to Auschwitz, where Liesel was killed.  Ernest survived and eventually escaped; he became the voice for the whole family.

Thus, Blanche and Liesel, second cousins who looked like sisters, had far different lives and fates.  I can’t help but think, what if Rosalie and Willie had come to the US like almost all of Rosalie’s siblings? What if Liesel and her sister Grete had grown up in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the United States?

As the president of our synagogue reminded us on Rosh Hashanah, we cannot control where we are born, when we are born, or to whom we are born.  Some of us are blessed with good luck in all of those things while others are not.  We should never take that for granted.

Double Cousins…Everywhere!

The best part of my discoveries of the Goldfarb and Hecht families is that I have found more new cousins, three of whom are my double cousins—Sue, Debrah, and Lisa. They are descendants of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht. Sue’s daughter Lisa shared this wonderful wedding photograph of Julius and Ida.

julius-ida-goldfarb-wedding-from-lisa-wartur

Wedding photograph of Julius Goldfarb, my grandmother’s first cousin, and Ida Hecht, my grandmother’s niece. Courtesy of the Goldfarb/Hecht family

 

Julius was the son of Sarah Goldfarb, my great-grandmother’s sister; Ida was the daughter of Tillie Hecht, my grandmother’s half-sister.   So I am related to both of them.

Julius and Ida had four daughters, Sylvia, Gertrude, Ethel and Evelyn. Sue, Sylvia’s daughter, shared with me this precious photograph of her grandmother Ida holding her as a baby:

ida-hecht-goldfarb-and-her-granddaughter-sue-1938

Ida Hecht Goldfarb and granddaughter Sue

And Debrah shared this photograph of her grandparents, Julius and Ida, with her mother Evelyn:

 

Julius, Evelyn, and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb

Julius, Evelyn, and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb

One thing I wanted to define is how, if at all, Julius and Ida were related to each other, aside from being husband and wife.  Hecht/Goldfarb family lore says Julius and Ida were “distant cousins.”

Julius was the son of Sarah Goldfarb.  Sarah’s sister Bessie Brotman was the stepmother of Ida’s mother, Toba, as Bessie married Toba’s father Joseph after his Toba’s mother died.  Although that makes things complicated, it does not alone create any genetic connection between Julius and Ida since Bessie (and thus Sarah) had no blood relationship with Toba.

relationship-bessie-brod-to-tillie-brotman

But if Brotman family lore is correct and Bessie and her husband Joseph Brotman were first cousins, then Joseph Brotman and Bessie’s sister Sarah were also first cousins. Sarah’s son Julius married Ida, who was the granddaughter of Sarah’s first cousin Joseph, making Julius and Ida second cousins, once removed.

relationship-of-julius-goldfarb-to-ida-hecht-better

That is, assuming that Joseph and Sarah were first cousins as Brotman family lore reports, Ida and Julius were in fact “distant cousins,” as Hecht/Goldfarb family lore indicates.  So maybe together the Brotman family lore and the Hecht/Goldfarb family lore validate each other.

Sue and Debrah, who are granddaughters of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, thus are both the great-granddaughters of Sarah Brotman Goldfarb, making them my third cousins on my great-grandmother Bessie’s side, and the great-great-granddaughters of Joseph Brotman, making them also my second cousins, once removed, on my great-grandfather Joseph’s side. (Lisa is one more step removed on both sides.) Renee is my second cousin; her mother Jean Hecht was my mother’s first cousin; her grandmother Toba was my grandmother Gussie’s half-sister. And then I’ve also found a cousin Jan, whose grandfather was Harry Hecht, Toba’s son, and my mother’s first cousin.

inset-from-harry-hecht-photo

Harry Hecht and his wife and children 1945 Courtesy of the family

And, of course, if my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman were in fact first cousins, the relationships get even more convoluted. But I think I will skip that calculation.  At least for now.  Maybe some brave soul out there wants to try and figure it out?

With all this shared DNA, I was very curious to see if there were any family resemblances among the various members of the Goldfarb, Hecht, and Brotman families.  My newly found double cousins Debrah, Sue, and Lisa shared some family photos with me, including this one of Toba/ Taube/Tillie Brotman Hecht:

toba-tillie-brotman-hecht

Toba/Taube/Tillie Brotman Hecht Courtesy of the Goldfarb/Hecht family

Here is a photograph of her brother Max Brotman that I’d earlier received from his family:

Max Brotman

Max Brotman, courtesy of the family

Do you see a resemblance? Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs of Toba’s other full siblings, Abraham and David, to help with the comparison.

But here are photographs of Toba’s half-siblings, Hyman, Tillie (Ressler), Sam, and my grandmother Gussie:

Hyman Brotman

Hyman Brotman

Tilly Brotman

Tilly Brotman Ressler

Sam Brotman

Sam Brotman

Gussie Brotman

Gussie Brotman Goldschlager

I can see some similarities—in particular in the shape of the noses.  But it appears that Max and Toba do not have faces that are as round as those of their half-siblings.  Perhaps the shape of their faces was a genetic trait they inherited from their mother Chaye, not their father Joseph Brotman.

Here is one other photograph of the extended Goldfarb and Hecht family.

goldfarb-hecht-family-gathering

Goldfarb Hecht family gathering for Chanukah

Standing on the far left is Julius Goldfarb.  Seated at the head of the table is Ida Hecht Goldfarb.  On the right side of the table starting at the front are two of Ida’s sister, Etta and Jean Hecht.  Also in the photograph are Julius and Ida’s four daughters as well as their spouses and a few of the grandchildren and other cousins.

It’s sad to think that in 1917 Julius and Ida were close enough to my grandmother that they came to visit when my aunt was born, as did Ida’s mother, my grandmother’s sister Toba Hecht, but somehow the families all lost touch, and my mother only has a few  memories of some of the Goldfarbs from her childhood.

On the other hand, I feel very fortunate that now, almost a century after my aunt was born, I know who the Goldfarbs and Hechts were and I am in touch with a number of these “new”  cousins of mine.

 

More Manna: The Family of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff

In my last post I shared some of the wonderful photographs I received from my cousin Steve of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  This post will focus on the children of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff, Steve’s grandparents.

Their first child Gerald was born in 1916, in Chicago, where Sidney and Esther lived in the early years of their marriage. Their daughter Betty was born three years later in 1919. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman during those years.

Gerald Oestreicher

Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1917

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1922

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1923

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1930

By 1930 Sidney’s father Gustav had retired and moved with Sarah to Atlantic City, and Sidney returned with Esther, Gerald, and Betty to Pittsburgh to help run the family store, The People’s Store.  Sidney and Esther had their third child Elaine in Pittsburgh in 1931.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

This photograph below, probably taken in Pittsburgh in the late 1930s, includes the whole family–from left to right, Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald.

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

After The People’s Store went bankrupt during the Depression, Sidney had a hard time finding work.  Steve told me that Gerald would sell apples on the street after school to earn money.  Steve also shared this story about his grandmother Esther:

Grandma, Esther Oestreicher, was a homemaker to her three children, but also a very good pinochle player.  Twice a week she would sit down at night with friends and earn a living. 

Once a week or month, there was a raffle at the local theater after the matinee movie.  On one occasion as Gerald and Esther were walking to the theater, she repeatedly announced to neighbors sitting on their stoups, “My son and I are going to the movie where I will win the raffle today.”  This terribly embarrassed my Dad, who said he wanted to tuck his head under his shirt.  Sure enough after the movie ended, Esther won the raffle.  On the way home passing many of those same neighbors on their stoup, she waved the money at them joyfully yelling, ” I told you I would win the raffle.”

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Gerald played saxophone in high school.  In 1937 and 1938, Gerald was a student at Northeastern University in Boston, where he continued to play the saxophone in the university band.

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

IMG_1966

On October 1, 1941, Gerald enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. Here is his draft registration card and his Army identification card. (Note that his name change to Striker is dated December 5, 1945, while he was in the service.)

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

IMG_6973

Steve shared with me the following story about his father’s decision to enlist.  Gerald could see that war was coming, and without consulting with his parents, he decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps.  He had hammerhead toes so his choice of which service to join was limited.  As told by Steve, Gerald had to break the news to his parents the night before he had to report for duty:

The Oestreicher family dinner that night started with nothing out of the ordinary.  Sidney at the head of the table, Esther next to him, Jerry next to his mother on one side, and sister Elaine on the other.  Sister Betty on the other side of her father.  A roast and potatoes in the middle.

Towards the middle of the meal the war was brought up.  There had been little talk from Jerry about it.  My Dad told me his mother at one time looked up,and then straight at him, and dropped her fork on her plate.  “My God, you’ve enlisted.” Jerry responded.  Esther’s eyes teared.  Sidney said,  “When do you leave?”  Jerry announced early tomorrow morning.Sidney became very angry.  Jerry announced he needed to pack and get some sleep.  Sidney offered to take him to the train station, but Jerry insisted no, “I want to say our goodbyes here”. There was a lot of crying by everyone but Sidney.  Jerry announced they should say their goodbye’s that night.  Shortly later Jerry then went to bed.  He left without saying goodbye in the morning.

The next morning Jerry arrived alone at the train station around 6am.  Waiting for him was Sidney, with a sack of food, and advise “stay alive for your mother”.

They waved to each other as the train departed

As you can see from his service record posted below, he had a distinguished record of service during the war.  He attended Officer Candidate School in Aberdeen, Maryland, and a Naval Mine Warfare training center in Yorktown, Virginia.

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

In February, 1944, he shipped out, arriving in North Africa by March 10, 1944, when he wrote the following note to his father Sidney:

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

What a sweet and reassuring note! Can you imagine thinking that fighting in a war could be an experience one could “thoroughly enjoy”? I certainly can’t.

After some time in North Africa, Gerald was shipped out again, this time to Asia.  While at sea, he wrote the following undated long letter to his family. Please read it, especially the last two pages.  It is truly a look into the heart and mind of a young man about to face combat.

Gerald Striker letter home from WW2 p 1

“Somewhere at Sea”

Dear Folks,

It has been sometime since I last wrote a letter of any length to you, and will attempt to do justice to this one.

While I was in Africa I had my first taste of what will be in store for me during the duration.  I can honestly say that it is not too bad.  Militarily there is nothing I may write, however I can tell you that living conditions were most primitive. We slept on the ground and lived out of cans.  And speaking of cans—even the toilet paper was rationed out to us.  We get plenty of cigarettes, but candy is very scarce.

I had the opportunity to visit Oran, North Africa, and found the living conditions most interesting.  I was surprised how much of my high school French held me in good stead.  I also picked up a little Arabic.  My knowledge of the foreign rate of currency exchange

Gerald Striker letter home p2

has been added to my general knowledge.  Among the strange things that I saw were rest stations located in the middle of streets, natives without shoes, and automobiles drawn by horses, and I saw the Kasbah which was built in 1501.  I drank champagne at $2.00 per bottle until it poured out of my ears—cognac at dinner time—and ice cream in the afternoon!

Since I left the states I have been to Italy which I found not as beautiful as the travel booklets make one believe—perhaps that is due to friendly and enemy bombings.  The natives fight for American products.  I could have bought a horse for 2 cases of soap! Of course I had no need of a horse, but it does give you an idea as to what the natives are like in this part of the world.

While on ship I gained back the weight

Gerald Striker letter home p3

I lost while in Africa,  I have felt very well at all times and can not complain of anything.  I had my head shaved and after 5 weeks time I finally have grown about 3/4 of an inch back.  I did notice that on top it is getting “a la Sidny.” Also, it is getting slightly gray.

I suppose by the time I get to my destination there will be plenty of mail for me.  If there is—I’m going to ration myself several letters every day.

I think I did tell you that I got my promotion to “first”while in Africa.

I have an insurance premium due in May or June, so just draw the amount out of my account.  I could use some Bond Street tobacco—so you can send me some when you again see Harold Powell.  We can’t get that kind, and I’d rather not smoke a piple than smoke the stuff they sell us here.

Gerald Striker p4

There is so much more I would like to say—but somehow I do not wish to reveal everything.

No, you did not raise your boy to be a soldier nor did he wish to be a soldier.  But we can not control all factors.

I am not a soldier.  I am merely a chap who is doing as directed, and to some extent doing what I believe in.  The German boys too are doing what they believe in.  It is a game of life—death really has no part. The dead can not play.

Yes, I am going in there fighting—I’m fighting for you and folks like you, I’m fighting for myself, my friends—and I’m fighting for what I know is right!

Thanks to you my life has been almost complete.  I can face the worst of it and still smile for I know there is happiness ahead.

And so I’m saying “I’ll be seeing you”—and it won’t be long.

Just remember—if I can feel that you are all good soldiers at home, I can be the best one abroad.  Well I guess

Gerald Striker p5

there is little else I can think of to write at this time.

I hope you are all well and brave.  Also, if at any time you do not hear from me for even a months time do not get alarmed as the mails may be late or I am in such a position that writing is impossible or of little value.

My love to all,

Jerry

You can see in this letter that Gerald was still struggling with his parents’ reaction to his enlistment, and despite his brave words, his statement that his “life has been almost complete” seems to suggest that he did worry about being killed in the war.

As his service record indicates, after leaving Africa Gerald served as an ordnance officer in the China Burma India theater of the war and received several commendations for his service.  Here are a few photographs of Gerald while serving in World War II.  Steve told me that his father considered his time in the service the best and most exciting time of his life.

IMG_6974 IMG_6978 IMG_6981

Steve also shared this story of his father’s return home from the war:

Four plus years after leaving the U.S, Jerry sailed into New York.  He did not tell anyone when  he would return.  He got to his parents’ apartment and entered a phone booth to call his mother Esther with the intention of announcing he would be home “shortly”. But his little sister Elaine arbitrarily came bounding down the stairs.  But he said she was not his little sister, but a grown young woman.  Then Elaine also spotted him.  Yelling Jerry! Jerry!  she leaped at him.  They both went upstairs to see their mother.

Shortly after the war, Gerald was invited by his Uncle Frank to the Scaroon Manor resort in upstate New York.  There he met a woman who was singing at the resort, Faye Karol, whose real name was Faye Krakower. Her career as a singer was described in my earlier post.  According to Steve, his father Gerald proposed to Faye six days later, and they were married in November, 1946.

Here are some pictures of Faye.

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye and their son moved to California in 1948 where Gerald worked as a salesman for a number of different clothing lines and other businesses.

Meanwhile, Gerald’s younger sister Betty had married Julius Jacob in 1942.  I wrote about Betty and Julius here.

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

This is Betty and Gerald’s little sister, Elaine, the one who stayed and lived with Maxine Schulherr Stein in PIttsburgh and started me on the journey that led to all these amazing photographs.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

Although Steve shared many more photos of the family, I will end with this one of my cousin Sidney Oestreicher, later in life, with his three adult children, my cousins Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine
Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

There are a few more posts to come based on the materials Steve shared with me including the letters written by his uncle Frank Striker during his service in World War I and some letters that were written to Frank by various family members.

 

 

Like Manna from Heaven

Last Monday I posted about my third cousin, Betty Oestreicher Jacob, who passed away on July 19, 2016.  Betty and I were related through our mutual great-great-grandparents, Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  Her great-grandmother Hannah Schoenthal and my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal were sister and brother.  Betty’s grandparents were Sarah Stern, Hannah’s daughter, and Gustav Oestreicher.  Her parents were Sidney (Oestreicher) Striker and Esther Siff

At the time I posted about Betty’s passing, I had only one photograph of Betty and none of her grandparents, parents, or siblings.  But within hours of publishing my post, I received a comment on the blog and then emails from Betty’s nephew, Steve, the son of her brother Gerald.  And Steve generously shared with me numerous photos of all those people and then some. Now I can place faces to the names of the people I have researched and written about.  And what gorgeous photos these are.

In this post, I will share some photographs of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  In a later post, I will share the photos of Sidney’s children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.  All are courtesy of Steve Striker, who so generously spent his time scanning and emailing these to me and answering my many questions.

First, here are some photographs of Sarah Stern Oestreicher, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin.  I’ve written about Sarah’s life here.

Sarah Stern as a child edited

Sarah Stern as a young child in Germany, probably before her mother married Solomon Stern in 1874. Sarah was born in 1865, so this picture was probably taken between 1870 and 1872.

The photograph below of Sarah was taken in Pittsburgh.  She emigrated to the US by herself around 1884 when she was nineteen years old.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

I assume the photograph below was taken sometime later than the one above, but I am not sure. Does Sarah look older or younger in this photograph? The hairstyle in the one above seems more “contemporary,” but Sarah’s face seems softer and somewhat younger than in the one immediately below.

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

 

A while back I had posted the next photograph, which I’d received from my cousin Maxine Stein, and she and I had wondered whether the woman on the left was Sarah Stern, her grandmother’s sister.  Now I am quite certain that it is in fact Sarah.  What do you think? Is the woman on the far left of the photograph the same woman as the one in the photo directly above?

 

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the right and Edith Stern Good on the right

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the left and Edith Stern Good on the right

Sarah married Gustav Oestreicher, the man she met while he was staying at her mother’s boarding house in Pittsburgh in about 1890. Gustav, an immigrant from Austria, was working as an artist and photographer in 1900.

Gustav Oestreicher

Gustav Oestreicher

What a dashing man he was!

Here are Sarah and Gustav’s three children, Sidney (1891), Francis (Frank) (1893), and Helen (1895).  You can see that the children inherited their father’s piercing light-colored eyes.  I would guess that these were taken in the late 1890s, perhaps 1898 or 1899, from the ages of the children.  They were also probably taken at the same time as the photos above of Gustav and Sarah, as all five photos were mounted together in a frame.  Perhaps Gustav himself took these photos.

Sidney Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher

Frank Oestreicher as a boy

Helen Oestreicher

This photo of Gustav and Sarah was taken in 1915, when their children were already grown.  By this time Gustav was no longer working as an artist, but was a merchant in Pittsburgh.
Gustav and Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher store in Pittsburgh:

Oestreicher store

Here’s a photo of Gustav and Sarah and their three children in about 1910, I’d guess, given the ages of the children. Unfortunately, Sidney’s head was cut off either in the photo itself or in the scan.

Rear: Frank, Helen, Gerald (with head cut off) Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Rear: Frank, Helen, Sidney (with head cut off)
Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher (later Striker) married Esther Siff on November 16, 1915, in Chicago. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman, and as his daughter Betty told me, he met Esther at a dance in Chicago while there on business.  Esther’s father was also a traveling salesman. (I have more pictures of Sidney and Esther, but will share them in my next post.)

Sidney and Esther 1915

The second son, Francis, better known as Frank, served his country in World War I. (Sidney was exempt as he had a wife and young child.)  The postcard below shows Frank’s dates of service:

Frank postcard with military service dates

He was gone for just over a year—from June 25, 1918, when he left for camp, until July 17, 1919, when he arrived home.  He had gone overseas on September 24, 1918.  As I wrote about here, Frank served in the Meuse Argonne Offensive, one of the most important if not the most important battle in World War I. He was a member of Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train in the American Expeditionary Forces.

According to Richard Rubin’s book, The Last of the Doughboys:The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), p.220, a water tank train was actually a caravan of white trucks used to carry water to the front.  According to his honorable discharge papers, Frank served as a private, which Rubin’s book suggests meant he was likely an assistant driver of one of the trucks.

I found this photograph online depicting Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train.  I wonder if Frank is in the photograph:

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train, H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I Photographs http://bentley.umich.edu/legacy-support/ww1/military-life.php

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train,
H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur
Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I
Photographs
http://bentley.umich.edu/legacy-support/ww1/military-life.php

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

As you can see below, he was awarded a Victory medal for his service. (Steve has also sent me some of the letters Frank wrote home during World War I; I will post those separately once I have a chance to review and transcribe them.)

Frank Striker WW1

Francis Oestreicher, later known as Frank Striker

Frank Striker WW1 medal

Frank Striker’s Victory Medal for service in World War I

Gustav and Sarah’s third child was their daughter Helen. Here she is in 1917 when she was 22 years old.

Helen Oestreicher 1917

Helen Oestreicher 1917

As I wrote earlier, Helen married Robert Steel Kann in 1920, but he died a year later at age 26.  Sometime before 1929, she married Aaron Mitchell Siegel, known as Mickie, and they had a daughter Betty.

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

I was tickled to see this item in Steve’s collection:

invitation to Henry Schoenthal 50th anniv party

As you can see, it is an invitation to the 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1922 for Henry Schoenthal and Helen Lilienfeld, about whom I’ve written extensively.  Henry Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle, was Sarah Stern Oestreicher’s uncle, brother of her mother Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

Steve sent me this photo labeled Aunt Helen by his uncle Frank, and I wonder whether this is Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, who would have been Frank’s great-aunt.  Frank received a long letter from his great-aunt Helen and great-uncle Henry while he was serving in Europe; the tone and content of that letter suggest that Helen and Henry Schoenthal had a very close relationship with the Oestreicher family. (I will post the letter in a separate post.)

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

Frank returned to Pittsburgh after the war and worked as a salesman in the family dry goods store. After the family store went bankrupt in 1933, the Oestreicher family began its migration west to California. Although neither Steve nor his cousin Ron was sure of who first went to California or why, the 1940 census indicates that by 1935 at least Helen and her family and Gustav and Sarah had settled there.  I was not able to locate Frank on the 1930 or the 1940 census,nor do I have any address for him between 1920 and 1942, but his World War II draft registration indicates that by then he was definitely living in California along with his parents and his sister Helen.  Sidney and his family did not move west until the 1940s.

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher family in Los Angeles in 1936.

Oestreicher family edited 1936

I found this letter written by Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank in 1933 to be very touching in its religious tone and its affection for her son.  Perhaps it was written around the time that family members were planning to move to California.  From the text of the letter, it appears that Frank had just visited, perhaps before he was leaving to move out west or his parents were.

IMG_9375

IMG_9376

Letter from Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank, dated January 11, 1933

My dear Francis!

Always remember that The present is under God’s guidance, the future in His keeping. God is guiding, directing, controlling and suplying His children with all good.  His Love and [?] is with you always. Thanking you for all your kindness and the pleasure of having you with us will be the the most pleasant memmories to us.

With my love I remain your devoted Mother. January 11—1933

Here is a photo of Frank in 1940.

Frank Striker 3

One of Steve’s favorite stories about Frank is that he offered to take photographs at Steve’s bar mitzvah, only to discover there was no film left in the camera.  There is only this one photo taken by Frank that day.

IMG_1979

Although Steve has many photographs with Frank with women throughout the years, Frank never married. He died in Los Angeles on April 23, 1990, at the age of 96.  His sister Helen died in 1989 when she was 94.

I am so grateful to my cousin Steve for sharing these amazing photographs with me and allowing me to post them on my blog. There is just nothing better than a photograph to help bring to life the people whose lives I’ve researched.

More photos and stories about the Oestreicher family in my next post.

 

 

Ray, Arizona: Home of Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal

Some of you may remember that about six months ago I wrote about Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal, two of the daughters of Simon Schoenthal, brother of my great-grandfather Isidore.  Gertrude had married Jacob Miller in 1898 and moved to Arizona. Jacob and his brothers were merchants in the Tucson area. Gertrude’s younger sister Hettie followed her out there around 1906, where she met her husband Henry Stein and eventually settled as well.

Eventually both the Millers and the Steins moved to the small mining town of Ray, Arizona, where they lived for several years before returning to Atlantic City, where most of the members Schoenthal family were still living.   Hettie and her son Walter Stein wrote wonderfully descriptive memoirs of their rough and tumble pioneer life in Ray, Arizona.  I quoted extensively from their writings in this blog post.

A week ago I was Skyping with Sharon Lippincott, who is married to Ezra Lippincott, grandson of Hettie Schoenthal, and Sharon and Ezra were excited to share with me a photograph that their daughter-in-law had found somewhere on the internet.  It is a panoramic view of Ray, Arizona, taken in the time that Hettie and her sister Gertrude were living there.  In fact, you can see the Miller Brothers store in the photo if you zoom in to the right side of the picture.  Just click, and then click again to zoom in to the photograph to see it more clearly.

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet

Here’s a closeup of the section showing the Miller store:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (2)

Both Hettie and Walter described their first house in Ray.  Walter wrote:

Our first house was placed on the side of a hill with one door. The back of the house was against the hill. To reach the house you walked up steps that also took care of other householders on the hill. I cannot remember the location of the outhouse. I do remember to bathe, water was heated on the stove and then poured into a galvanized tub that had been placed on the floor.

Hettie’s description is similar:

I will tell you a little about the house. It was up on a hill, just four rooms no bath or toilet. It was terrible. I did not think I could live there, but we did. Your grandfather and a helper built a room and we bought a tub. The pipes had to be on top of the ground. Well, the sun was so hot we had to draw the water and let it stand for hours before bathing.

Can you locate the house in the photograph above?  The houses are all to the far right in the panoramic photograph, and I have a guess as to which one was the home of Hettie Schoenthal and Henry Stein and their children.  Which one do you think it was?  (Look first before looking at my guess at the bottom of this post.)

 

In my head I am humming the Final Jeopardy theme song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my guess:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (3)

See the house in the left foreground with the huge cactus in front?  I think that’s it.  It’s built into the hill, and there is a staircase behind that leads to the other houses.  It looks like the outhouse was right in front of the house.

What do you think?

My thanks to Ezra and Sharon Lippincott and their daughter-in-law Carrie for sharing the photograph with me.