Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Two Youngest Children Irvin and Harold

We have already traced the stories of the six oldest children of Dora Blumenfeld Livngston and her husband Meyer Livingston, the six who were born in Germany and who came to the US with Dora in 1882 when they were young children. This last post about Dora will discuss her two youngest children, the two who were born in the US, Irvin and Harold.

Irvin Livingston, the seventh of the eight children of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, was still a practicing lawyer in 1930, living with his wife Helen and their three children in Glencoe, New Trier, Illinois.1

Their daughter Julie married Gustav Freund (“GF”) Baer in Chicago on July 18, 1939.2 Gustav was born in Chicago on July 27, 1916, to Walter Baer and Hennie Freund. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1938.3 In 1940, they were living in Chicago where Gustav was working as a manager for Universal Wheel & Abrasive Corporation.4 Julie and Gustav had two children.

In 1940 Irvin was still practicing law and living in Chicago with Helen and their two sons. Robert was also a lawyer by that time.5 He married Gertrude Abercrombie later that year on August 29, 1940, in Chicago.6 Gertrude was the daughter of two opera singers, Thomas Abercrombie and Jane “Lulu” Janes. She was born in Austin, Texas, on February 17, 1909.7 Gertrude was already a recognized artist by the time she married Robert. She won first prize at the 1935 Chicago Art Institute Show and had a one-woman show there in 1944.

UPDATE: Thank you to Janice Webster Brown for calling to my attention this essay written by Dina Livingston, Robert and Gertrude’s daughter, about her mother’s art and how she used symbols to reveal her feelings about her marriage to Robert and other relationships.

But her marriage to Robert Livingston did not last. In 1948 she married Francis Sandiford, Jr. Robert also remarried, although I’ve yet to learn when or where or even the full name of his second wife, only that her first name is Virginia.8

Irvin and Helen’s youngest son Irvin, Jr., was a student at the University of California Berkeley when he registered for the draft on February 14, 1942.

Irvin I Livingston, Jr., World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1071, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

On July 19, 1947 he married Jean Louise Swarts in Chicago. Jean, the daughter of Charles Eugene Swarts and Louise Friedman, was born in Chicago on January 23, 1923,9 and like her husband Irvin, grew up in Glencoe, New Trier Illinois. Irvin, Jr., and Jean had two children.

Sadly, Irvin, Sr., did not live to see his five grandchildren grow up. He died suddenly on July 10, 1949, at the age of 65,10 just three months after the death of his brother Alfred. Irvin was the fifth sibling to die. He was survived by his wife Helen, his three children, and his remaining siblings: Herman, Gussie, and Harold.

His son Robert also was not blessed with longevity. He was only 52 when he died on August 1, 1967, in New York City. Robert had been a lawyer like his father and had been general counsel and then president of Walter E. Heller & Company, at that time the fourth largest commercial financing company in the US. He was survived by his mother and siblings as well as his wife Virginia and daughter.11

Robert’s mother Helen outlived him fifteen years; she was 91 when she died in June 1982.12 Her younger son Irvin, Jr., died on May 6, 1995, in California; he was 74.13 His sister Julie was blessed with her mother’s longevity; she was 93 when she died on October 25, 2012.14

The youngest child of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston was her son Harold Livingston. He was one of the two siblings still in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1930, along with his brother Herman. He was living with his wife Marion and son Ralph and continued to own the family department store at that time.15 In 1938, he had switched businesses and was now the owner of The House of Flowers in Bloomington. He is also listed there in 1940 with Marion listed as his wife, but by 1941, there is no listing for Harold in the Bloomington directory.16

The 1940 census record for Harold is rather confusing. It shows Harold as the owner of the flower shop living at the same address in Bloomington, but lists his wife as Lucille and son as Harold. At first I thought this was a different Harold Livingston, but given that he was the flower shop owner, I think the census record is just wrong.

Harold Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00841; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 57-13, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

In any event, Harold did not stay in Bloomington much longer. By the time he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, he had relocated to Chicago and was self-employed.

Harold H Livingston, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

By 1944 his marriage had ended and Marion had remarried.17 Harold died in Chicago on July 2, 1950; he was 62.18 He was survived by his son Ralph and his two remaining siblings, Gussie and Herman. Ralph married in 195719 and had two sons. He died February 23, 2008, in California, at age 79.20

As we saw, Herman died a year after Harold in 1951, and Gussie, the last remaining sibling, died in 1957. Not one of the siblings made it to eighty years old, though most lived into their seventies. They are survived today by their many descendants.

Thus ends the story of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, born in 1847 in Momberg, Germany, the fourth child of Abraham Blumenfeld II and Gidel Straus, the mother of eight children, a woman who uprooted herself from her homeland, sailing with six of her eight children to America, and who lived to see all eight reach adulthood and attain prosperity in her new country. Dora left Germany in 1882 and by doing so changed the fate of her children and their descendants.

Next we turn to her younger brother Moses Blumenfeld IIA and his story.


  1. Irvin Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 2207; FHL microfilm: 2340238, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Livingston-Baer,” Hyde Park Herald, August 24, 1939, p. 2 
  3. Gustav Freund Baer, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 27 Jul 1916, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 2 Jun 2001, Father: Walter S Baer, Mother:
    Hennie Freund, SSN: 322186356, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Gustav Baer, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: University of Michigan; Year: 1938, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  4. Gustav and Julie Baer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 103-240, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Irvin Livingston, Sr., and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00783; Page: 63B; Enumeration District: 16-311, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Robert I. Livingston, Marriage Date: 29 Aug 1940, Spouse: Gertrude Abercrombic
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL,Marriage license: {4DDD0318-39EE-48C2-81D8-0E8A8EB63F37}, File Number: 1651842,Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages),Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk,Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  7. Gertrude Abercrombie, Birth Date: 17 Feb 1909, Gender: Female, Birth Place: Austin, Travis, Texas, USA, Father: Thomas Abercrombie, Mother: Lula M James
    Mother Residence: Chicago, Illinois, Ancestry.com. Texas, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1903-1932 
  8. “R. Livingston Services To Be Held Here,” Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 03 Aug 1967, Thu • Page 60 
  9. “Wedding July 19, ” Chicago Daily News, June 25, 1947, p. 26. Jean S. Livingston
    Maiden Name: Swarts, Gender: Female, Death Age: 86, Birth Date: 23 Jan 1923, Birth Place: Chicago, Marriage Date: 19 Jul 1947, Residence Place: Danville, Death Date: 10 Jul 2009, Death Place: Danville, Calif, Father: Charles E. Swarts, Mother:Louise Swarts
    Spouse: Irvin Livingston, Mercer Island Reporter; Publication Place: California, USA; URL: http://obituaries.blackpress.ca/obits.new.php?cmpRegion=&paper=201&paperSelect=0&submit=&name=&skip=630, Ancestry.com. U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-Current 
  10. Death notice, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 11 Jul 1949, Mon • Page 46. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/195693240/irvin-i-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Irvin I. Livingston (1884–1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 195693240, citing Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Jim Craig (contributor 46551563) . 
  11. See Note 8. 
  12.  Helen Livingston, Social Security Number: 357-38-5531, Birth Date: 1 Aug 1890
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60022, Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1982, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Irvin I Livingston Jr, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 3 Apr 1921, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 6 May 1995, Father: Irvin I Livingston,
    Mother: Helen Baer, SSN: 322166988, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14.  Julie L Baer, Social Security Number: 334-38-8021, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1919, Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: Illinois, Death Date: 25 Oct 2012, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Harold Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  16. Harold H Livingston, Bloomington City Directories, 1938, 1940, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  17. Marion K. Livingston, Marriage Date: 19 Jun 1944, Spouse: Murray S. Mahler
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {DDB7A346-6764-42A1-AAF7-F746F4DB826F}, File Number: 1818237, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960. 
  18. Harold Livingston, Death Date: 2 Jul 1950, Death Location: Cook County, IL, File Number: 6048068, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths)
    Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk,
    Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  19. Ralph Livingston, Marriage Date: 1 Apr 1957, Spouse: Joan M. Aubineau, Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {DE63F65C-99FC-44CB-AC2C-F9A71E20936A}, File Number: 2436286, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  20. Ralph H Livingston, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 17 Nov 1928, Death Date: 23 Feb 2008, SSN: 351202225, Enlistment Branch: A, Enlistment Date: 16 Jun 1951, Discharge Date: 27 Jan 1953, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Children Herman, Alfred and Gussie

I hope all my US readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!

Here is the penultimate chapter in the story of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston. Thanks for reading! I am grateful to you all for doing so and for all the help and support I’ve gotten from my readers. You help to give me hope and light in this darkest time of the year.


By 1930, almost all of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s seven surviving children had left Bloomington. The three oldest children were no longer there. Rosalie had moved to Chicago to be near her son Morton after losing her husband Albert in 1924, Maurice had died and his widow and children had moved away, and Sigmund and his family had moved to Chicago.

Herman Livingston, the fourth child, was one of the two children of Dora and Meyer still living in Bloomington as of 1930. He was still a department store owner and living with his wife Dorothy.1 By 1940 Herman was retired, and he and Dorothy were still in Bloomington.2 They lived there the rest of their lives, but also spent time in Florida. After suffering a heart attack in Florida, Herman was on his way back to Bloomington, but was taken to the hospital in Chicago where he died on February 17, 1951. He was 76. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, who died two years later.3

Alfred Livingston and his wife Eva and their daughter Miriam/Marion were living in Chicago in 1930 where Alfred had become the secretary of a musical instrument manufacturing company.4 In 1940 he was working as a representative of a wholesale gift company.5

On April 22, 1937 Alfred and Eva’s daughter Miriam married Robert Gruen in New York City.6 Robert was a native of New York, born there on April 2, 1913, to Toby Gruen and Ethel Janowitz.7 Robert was a graduate of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, majoring in painting and decorating.8

In 1940 Miriam and Robert were living in New York City and Robert was a junior executive in the motion pictures industry.9 However, on his World War II draft registration filed on October 16, 1940, he described himself as self-employed. On a 1946 temporary immigration card to Brazil, Robert described himself as a “desenhista-industrial,” or an industrial designer. Miriam and Robert had two children born in the 1940s.

Robert Gruen, World War II draft, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Digital GS Number: 004548695, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Miriam’s father Alfred did not live long after the births of his grandchildren. He died on April 1, 1949, in Chicago.10 He was seventy years old. His obituary reported that he was “preceded in death by his parents and three children.”11 I don’t know whether the newspaper was in error and that should have read siblings, as he was preceded in death by his siblings, but by four of them: Rosalie, Maurice, and Sigmund, and also by his brother Irvin, as we will see. I have not seen any records indicating that Alfred and Eva lost three children. In 1910, three years after they’d married in 1907, Eva reported that she had had no children, living or dead. In 1920, Marion (Miriam) is the only child listed on the census. It’s possible that Eva had had three other children who had died between 1910 and 1920, but I think it’s more likely that Alfred’s obituary is wrong since I cannot find any other birth or death records for a child of Robert and Eva.

Eva Siegel Livingston died six years after her husband Alfred on April 11, 1954; she was 71. She died in Los Angeles and was survived by her daughter Miriam Livingston Gruen.12 Miriam died on November 22, 1978, at age 66 after a long illness, according to her obituary. Her obituary described her as someone “who helped turn many of East Hampton (NY)’s old homes into historic landmarks.”13 She was survived by her husband Robert Gruen, who died 21 years later in 1999,14 and their two children.

Gussie Livingston Salzenstein had lost her husband Solomon Salzenstein in 1924, but by 1930 she had remarried. Her second husband was Sam Wertheimer, whose first wife had died. Sam was born in 1871 in Buffalo, New York, to Henry and Regina Wertheimer. Sam grew up in Buffalo, but by 1898 he had relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where he married his first wife Cora Becker.15 Cora died in 1924,16 just as Gussie’s husband Solomon had, and by 1930 Gussie and Sam had married and were living in Omaha with Gussie’s son James Salzenstein and Sam’s son, Sam, Jr. Sam was in the cattle feed business.17

James Salzenstein was still living in Omaha in 1936, working as a clerk,18 but by 1939 he had relocated to Los Angeles. That year on July 10, 1939, he married Gertrude Goodman in Chicago.19 Gertrude was born there on February 11, 1917, to Milton E. Goodman and Jessie Reinach.20 According to an article announcing their marriage, James was at that time living in Los Angeles.21 James and Gertrude settled in LA where James was working as a merchandising trainer for Sear Roebuck in 1940.22 James enlisted in the US Army on December 21, 1942, and served until October 14, 1945.23 He and Gertrude had three children.

James Salzenstein, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1584, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

James and his family returned to the Chicago area by 1946.24 His mother Gussie was still living with her husband Sam in Omaha. Gussie died on September 12, 1957 at age 75; she was buried back in Bloomington with her first husband Solomon Salzenstein.25 She was survived by her son James and his children. James died when he was 76 on March 16, 199026 and was survived by his wife Gertrude, who lived until 201127, and their children.

Next, the two youngest children of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, Irvin and Harold, and the final chapter in the story of the Livingston family.


 


  1. Herman and Dorothy Livingston, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. Herman and Dorothy Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00841; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 57-10, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199176/herman-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Herman Livingston (29 Dec 1874–17 Feb 1951), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199176, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). “Herman Livingston,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, 18 Feb 1951, Sun • Page 12 . Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199180/dorothy-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Dorothy Ensel Livingston (4 Nov 1882–17 Nov 1953), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199180, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . “Mrs. Dorothy Bloomington,” The Pantagraph
    Bloomington, Illinois, 18 Nov 1953, Wed • Page 21 
  4. Alfred Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0177; FHL microfilm: 2340156, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  5. Alfred and Eva Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-257,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Miriam Rose Livingston, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 22 Apr 1937, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Robert Gruen, Certificate Number: 8497,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  7. Robert Gruen, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Robert Gruen
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1913, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 7 Jun 1999, Father: Toby Gruen, Mother: Ethel Janowitz
    SSN: 131105816, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8.  “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Carnegie Institute of Technology; Year: 1934, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  9. Robert and Miriam Gruen, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02644; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 31-867,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199178/alfred-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Alfred Livingston (15 Jan 1879–1 Apr 1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199178, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  11. “Alfred Livingston,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, 02 Apr 1949, Sat • Page 3 
  12. Eva S Livingston, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1882, Birth Place: Iowa
    Death Date: 11 Apr 1954, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: Seigle, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  13.  Miriam Gruen, Social Security Number: 068-22-2120, Birth Date: 22 Mar 1912
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10021, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1978, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. “Miriam L. Gruen,” Newsday (Nassau Edition)
    Hempstead, New York, 26 Nov 1978, Sun • Page 30. 
  14. Robert Gruen
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1913, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 7 Jun 1999, Father: Toby Gruen, Mother: Ethel Janowitz
    SSN: 131105816, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  15. Marriage record of Sam Wertheimer and Cora Becker, State Library and Archives, Nebraska State Historical Society; Lincoln, Nebraska; Nebraska, Marriage Records, Year Range: 1897-1899, Ancestry.com. Nebraska, U.S., Select County Marriage Records, 1855-1908 
  16. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/223889386/cora-b-wertheimer : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Cora B Wertheimer (1879–17 Feb 1924), Find a Grave Memorial ID 223889386, citing Pleasant Hill Jewish Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Mike Hughbanks (contributor 47582335) . 
  17. Sam Wertheimer and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 2341011, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  18. James Salzenstein, 1936 Omaha, Nebraska City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  19. “Gertrude F. Goodman to be a Bride Tomorrow,” Chicago Tribune
    Chicago, Illinois, 09 Jul 1939, Sun • Page 79 
  20. Gertrude Frances Goodman, Birth Date: 11 Feb 1917, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Gender: Female, Father: Milton Goodman, Mother: Jessie Reinaet [sic], FHL Film Number: 1276276, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  21. See Note 19. 
  22. James and Gertrude Salzenstein, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00401; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 60-301, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  23. James Livingston Salzenstein, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 2 May 1913
    Death Date: 16 Mar 1990, Cause of Death: Natural, SSN: 547125166, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 21 Dec 1942, Discharge Date: 14 Oct 1945
    Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  24. “S. Livingston’s $500,000 Estate Left to Family,” Chicago Tribune
    Chicago, Illinois, 28 Jun 1946, Fri • Page 30 
  25. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198642/gussie-l-wertheimer : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Gussie L Wertheimer (27 Oct 1881–12 Sep 1957), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198642, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  26. James L Salzenstein, Death Date: 16 Mar 1990, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 6005377, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  27. Gertrude G Salzenstein, [Gertrude G Goodman], Gender: Female
    Race: White, Birth Date: 11 Feb 1917, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 26 Jul 2001, Father:Milton E Goodman, Mother:Jessie B Reinach, SSN: 526266835, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

My Cousin Sigmund Livingston, The Founder of the Anti-Defamation League

Although traditional genealogy research tools gave me many of the bare bones details of the life of Sigmund Livingston, it wasn’t until I googled his name after reading his obituary that I learned that he had founded the Anti-Defamation League and was quite an exceptional person. He thus merits his own separate post.

We’ve already seen that Sigmund was a lawyer. According to a biography published on the McLean County Museum of History website, he graduated from the law school at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1894 and was second in his class. After graduating, he and William R. Bach, who had ranked first in the class, became law partners in Bloomington. Their practice was primarily devoted to civil matters.

According to the museum’s biography:1

In numerous newspaper articles, Sigmund was described as extremely intelligent and well respected. One article claimed, “he gives promise of becoming one of the ablest as well as the most prominent attorney in the state.” However, Livingston gave a personal account in his book Must Men Hate? of how, outside of dear friends, he had a “general distrust to overcome” because locals had never known of a Jewish lawyer when he was beginning his career. Livingston recalled that after a few years, he had earned their trust.

Sigmund was involved in many civic activities in Bloomington. He was active in Republican politics and a loyal supporter of the American Red Cross and of efforts to support America and its soldiers in World War I. But he is best remembered for his efforts to support Jewish Americans and to fight anti-semitism. In 1894 he became president of the Bloomington chapter of B’nai Brith, and in 1899 he was elected vice-president of the 6th district of B’nai Brith.

The museum biography described in detail the experience that Sigmund had that motivated him to become more involved in the fight against anti-semitism:

Shortly after the turn of the century, he had an experience that impacted the trajectory of the rest of his life. When he was in Chicago on business, Livingston decided to drop into a vaudeville theater to while away a couple of hours before an appointment. The show began like many others with the usual trained dog acts, jugglers, and acrobats. However, when the show turned to a couple of comedians with a “routine of bum jokes, told in dialect and at the expense of Jews,” Livingston had enough and walked out of the theater. It was this life changing event that made him decide then and there that he would try to do something about the prejudicial caricaturing of Jews.

Livingston was most disgusted with the portrayal of Jewish people in vaudeville shows and films. ….Following the show, Livingston spoke with the managers to make them aware of their cruel and inaccurate depictions of Jews. Surprisingly, the managers were willing to make a change despite them not being aware of their offense.

Believing that publicity would help to alleviate prejudice, in 1908, Livingston established the Publicity Committee of the Publicity Bureau within the B’nai B’rith, which evolved into the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) five years later. The Publicity Committee, based in Bloomington, was created to consider the problem of the defamation of Jews and named Livingston its chairman.

The website for The Pantagraph, the local Bloomington newspaper, published an article on July 11, 2010, about Sigmund and included this description of his involvement in the fight against anti-semitism and the founding and growth of the Anti-Defamation League in 1913.2

[In 1912] Livingston embarked on a lengthy tour of Europe and the Middle East, with stops in Vienna, Jerusalem, Cairo and elsewhere. In London he delivered an address titled “The Condition of the Jew in America,” and in Berlin, at an international meeting of B’nai B’rith, he spoke on the moral necessity of intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign nations “when humanity and civilization dictate.”

The Anti-Defamation League was established in Bloomington in October 1913 as an arm of the B’nai B’rith, with Livingston as its first director.

The museum biography noted that:

The organization had a fairly humble start. The ADL was established in the First National Bank building in Chicago. Livingston started out with only a $200 budget and two desks in his law office, but the ADL quickly grew into a nationwide organization. Members, led by Livingston, planned to campaign along three lines of education, vigilance, and legislation. Livingston believed that hate and fear could be overcome through education and had faith in “the essential goodness of the American people.”

As we saw, Sigmund married his wife Hilda in 1918, and their son Richard was born in 1920. In 1929, after practicing law in Bloomington for 35 years, Sigmund and his family moved to the Chicago area, where he continued to practice law. He was still practicing law there in 1940.3 Here is a photograph of Sigmund and Hilda taken around this time.

Sigmund and Hilda (Freiler) Livingston c. 1940. Courtesy of Art Zemon, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/ppl/0/d/b21ea1d3dd971e202d0.html

He also authored ten books as well as continuing his work with the ADL and his other civic activities. His best known book, entitled Must Men Hate, was published in 1944.

Sadly, Sigmund died just two years later on June 13, 1946, at age 73.4 According to his obituary, he was a “leading Chicago corporate counsel” and had been in failing health for the past year. He was survived by his wife Hilda and their son Richard, who was at that time studying at Duke University after serving four years in the Army Air Force.5

Richard Livingston graduated from Duke in 1947, and the following year on May 30, 1948, he married Miriam “Mimi” Spector in New York City. Mimi, the daughter of Samuel and Tessie Spector, had graduated from Wellesley College.6 Richard and Mimi settled in New York and had three children.

Richard’s mother Hilda died February 20, 1962, in Highland Park, Illinois.7

Richard became a successful business owner and moved from New York City to Scarsdale in 1959, where he and his family lived until 1986. He later moved to Larchmont, New York, and also had a home in Boca Raton, Florida. He was not only successful in business; he was active in civic affairs in many different organizations as well as numerous philanthropic endeavors. He died while vacationing in Turkey on October 5, 1994, when he was 74. He was survived by his wife Mimi, their children, and grandchildren.8

Sigmund Livingston was the third of the eight children of Dora and Meyer to be born, and he was the third to die, following his brother Maurice and sister Rosalie. He was born in Germany and came to the US as a young boy with his mother. He was a successful lawyer in Bloomington and Chicago. He definitely made a lasting mark on Bloomington, but also should be remembered by all Jews everywhere for his work with the Anti-Defamation League, which continues today its hard work of fighting not only anti-semitism but all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

 


  1. A version of the biography that provides citations to its sources can be found at https://mchistory.org/perch/resources/biographies/sigmund-and-hilda-livingston-2021.pdf 
  2. “Bloomington Lawyer Led Ant-Semitism Fight,” The Pantagraph, July 11, 2010, found at https://pantagraph.com/special-sections/news/history-and-events/bloomington-lawyer-led-anti-semitism-fight/article_19b023ee-8c8e-11df-badf-001cc4c03286.html 
  3. Sigmund Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 2220; FHL microfilm: 2340238,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census; 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-257, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sigmund Livingston, Birth Date: abt 1873, Death Date: 13 Jun 1946, Death Place: Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, Death Age: 73, Gender: Male, Father Name: Mayer Livingston, Mother Name: Dora Blamenfeld, Spouse Name: Hilda F., FHL Film Number: 1991309, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  5. “Sigmund Livingston Dies in Highland Park,” The Pantagraph,
    Bloomington, Illinois, 15 Jun 1946, Sat • Page 3 
  6. “Bride of Former Bloomingtonian,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois
    01 Jun 1948, Tue • Page 6 
  7. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198509/hilda-v-livingston : accessed 03 November 2021), memorial page for Hilda V Freiler Livingston (25 Apr 1891–20 Feb 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198509, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  8. “Richard M. Livingston, businessman, philanthropist,” The Daily Times
    Mamaroneck, New York, 11 Oct 1994, Tue • Page 6 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Children and Grandchildren: The Departure from Bloomington

By 1930, Dora Blumenfeld Livingston was gone, but seven of her eight children were still living as were her ten grandchildren, who ranged in age from Morton Livingston, who was thirty, to Ralph Livingston, who was two. This post and the three that follow will complete the story of those children and grandchildren, starting with Dora’s two oldest children and their families: Rosalie and Maurice.

Rosalie Livingston, widowed when her husband Albert died in 1928, moved to Chicago and was living with her son Morton in 1930.1 Morton had graduated from the University of Chicago in 1921 with a Bachelors of Philosophy, but had then returned to Bloomington until at least 1922.2 I don’t know when he moved back to Chicago, but in 1930 he was working there as a plumbing fixtures salesman.3

Morton Livingston, University of Chicago 1921 yearbook, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: University of Chicago; Year: 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

Morton married Helen Pflaum on January 14, 1932.4 She was the daughter of Abraham J. Pflaum and Harriet Ettenson and was born in Chicago on December 7, 1906.5 According to the newspaper article announcing their wedding, Morton’s mother Rosalie was living at the Chicago Beach Hotel at that time. Morton and Harriet had two children born in the 1930s. In 1940, they were all living in Chicago where Morton was now working as a salesman for an investment brokerage.6

Mrs. Morton Livingston, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 31 Jan 1932, Sun • Page 84

Rosalie was also still living at the Chicago Beach Hotel in 1940.7 She died three years later on July 19, 1943, in Chicago;8 she was 74 and was the second of Dora and Meyer’s children to die—twenty years after her brother Maurice and fifteen years after her husband Albert. She was survived by her son Morton, who died in Chicago in May 1984;9 his wife Helen had predeceased him in 1976.10 They were survived by their children.

Maurice Livingston had died in 1923, as we saw. His widow Bertha and their two daughters remained in Bloomington until at least 1930 where Bertha appears to have taken over Maurice’s role at the department store.11 On December 1, 1937, their older daughter Ruth married Stanton Robert Schiller in Chicago.12 Stanton was born in Chicago on September 4, 1912, and was the son of Morris H. Schiller and Mary Burnstein.13 In 1940 Stanton and Ruth were living in Chicago where he was a clothing salesman.14 They had two children born in the 1940s. Ruth later relocated to California where her mother and sister were living.

Ruth’s younger sister Betty married Herman Bendix, Jr. on October 30, 1938, in Los Angeles where she and her mother were then living. Betty had graduated from the University of Chicago. Herman was born in Denver on August 9, 1910, to Herman Bendix, Sr. and Clara Kohn.15 When Betty and Herman married, he was in business in Portland, Oregon, where they then settled and where in 1940 Herman was working as a traveling salesman for a ladies’ garment factory.16 By 1946 Betty and Herman had relocated to Los Angeles where her mother Bertha was still living.17 I have not been able to find any records of children born to Betty and Herman.

“Local Girl Becomes Bride in California,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois
03 Nov 1938, Thu • Page 8

Bertha died on October 7, 1957, in Los Angeles.18 She was survived by her two daughters, Ruth, who died in 1979, in Los Angeles,19 and Betty, who died in 1983, in Los Angeles.20

Thus, the families of both Rosalie and Maurice Livingston had left Bloomington, Illinois, behind by the time their children were adults. In fact, by 1940, as we will see, only two of the eight siblings were still in Bloomington.

Next, the third Livingston sibling, Sigmund.

 

 

 

 


  1. Rosalie and Morton Livingston, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 0129; FHL microfilm: 2340155, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. 1922 Bloomington directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. See Note 1. 
  4. Morton A. Livingston, Marriage Date: 14 Jan 1932, Spouse: Helen B. Pflaum, Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {78E80849-0E1C-40E8-892B-84CEBC8682FF}, File Number: 1333793, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5.  Helen P Livingston, Nationality: USA, Age: 55, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1906, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA, Arrival Date: 12 Feb 1962, Arrival Place: Miami, Florida, USA
    Airline: BWIA, Flight Number: 406, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963. “Out-of-Town Wedding,” St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press, 13 Jun 1904, p. 6; Pflaum family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 3, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_243; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0235; FHL microfilm: 1374256, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  6. Morton Livingston and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 103-245,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Rosalie Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 81B; Enumeration District: 103-238, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. Rosalie Livingston, Death Date: 19 Jul 1943, Death Location: Cook County, IL,
    File Number: 21087, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  9.  Morton Livingston, Social Security Number: 352-05-1727, Birth Date: 20 Oct 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60035, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, USA, Death Date: May 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10.  Helen Livingston, Social Security Number: 325-38-3720, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1906
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60035, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. Bertha Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census  
  12. Ruth J. Livingston, Marriage Date: 1 Dec 1937, Spouse: Stanton R. Schiller
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {2B03ABBF-478F-4796-AE43-5CD16AF78743}, File Number: 1557550, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  13. Stanton Schiller, Birth Date: 4 Sep 1912, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Ethnicity: American, Gender: Male, Race: White, Father: Morris H Schiller, Mother: Mary Burnstein, FHL Film Number: 1288265, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  14. Stanton Schiller and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 62A; Enumeration District: 103-267, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  15. Herman Bendix, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Oregon, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 8, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Bendix family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 242, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census.Clara Kohn, Age: 22, Gender: Female, Birth Year: abt 1883, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 25 Oct 1905, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Spouse Name: Herman Bendix, Spouse Age: 30, Spouse Gender: Male, FHL Film Number: 1030393,  Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  16. Herman and Betty Bendix, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon; Roll: m-t0627-03385; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 37-24A,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  17. Mrs Betty Livingston Bendix, Residence Date: 1946, Street Address: 682 S Irolo St, Residence Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Party Affiliation: Democrat, California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 
  18. Bertha August Livingston, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 29 Jan 1887, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 7 Oct 1957, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: August, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  19. Ruth Loretta Schiller, Social Security #: 386070986, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Dec 1913, Death Date: 26 Jun 1979, Death Place: Los Angeles, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  20. Betty Livingston Bendix, Social Security #: 572427551, Gender: Female
    Birth Date: 22 Jan 1916, Birth Place: Illinois, Death Date: 3 Aug 1983, Death Place: Los Angeles, Mother’s Maiden Name: August, Father’s Surname: Livingston, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston and Her Family in the 1920s: Years of Loss

After Meyer Livingston died in 1915, his widow Dora and many of his children continued to live in Bloomington, Illinois, although some relocated to Chicago. And the family continued to grow.

Rosalie, the first-born child of Meyer and Dora, was living in Bloomington with her husband Albert Livingston and their son Morton in 1920; Albert was a dry goods merchant.1 Her brother Maurice and his wife Bertha and their two daughters Ruth and Betty May were also living in Bloomington, and Maurice listed his occupation as the proprietor of a department store.2

The second oldest son, Sigmund, married Hilda Freiler in Chicago on December 18, 1918. She was the daughter of Philip Freiler and Lizzie Ehrlich and was born on April 25, 1891, in Elgin, Illinois.3

Sigmund Livingston marriage, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/ppl/0/d/b21ea1d3dd971e202d0.html Courtesy of Art Zemon

Here is a photograph of Sigmund and Hilda taken on their honeymoon.

Sigmund Livingston and Hilda Freilder on their honeymoon 1918. Courtesy of Art Zemon, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/index.html

Sigmund and Hilda settled in Bloomington, where in 1920 Sigmund continued to practice law.4 Their son Richard was born on March 8, 1920, in Bloomington.5 There will be more on Sigmund and his career in a separate post.

Herman, the next oldest sibling, and his youngest brother Harold were still single and living at home with their mother Dora in 1920. Both Herman and Harold listed department store owner on the 1920 census as well as on their World War I draft registrations.6 Harold served in the Finances and Supplies Detachment of the Surgeon General’s Office of the US Army during World War I.7

Herman Livingston, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: McLean County, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harold Livingston, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: McLean County, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Gussie, who had moved to Virginia, Illinois, with her husband Solomon Salzenstein after marrying him in 1906, had returned to Bloomington with her husband and their son James. In 1920 Solomon was working as a corn farmer.8

So in 1920 six of the eight Livingston children were still living in Bloomington. The other two, Alfred and Irvin, were in Chicago. On his 1918 registration for the draft, Alfred reported that he was the sales manager for a piano manufacturer; in 1920, he was living with his wife Eva and their daughter Miriam/Marion in Chicago, and now he described his occupation as “piano manufacturer.”9

Alfred Livingston, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Irvin was practicing law in Chicago and living with his wife Helen and their two older children in 1920.10 Their youngest child, Irvin, Jr., was born the following year.11

The 1920s brought many changes for the family, including some very sad losses. First, Maurice Livingston died on November 19, 1923, in Bloomington. He was only 52 years old, and making it even sadder, his two daughters Ruth and Betty were only ten and seven, respectively. His wife Bertha was only 37.12 The Pantagraph, the local Bloomington newspaper, published this obituary, which reported that Maurice had been in poor health for a few years, but died suddenly of a heart attack after a night at the theater with his family.

“M. Livingston Is Suddenly Taken,” The Pantagraph, November 20, 1923, p. 5

Just a year later, Gussie Livingston lost her husband Solomon Salzenstein on September 9, 1924, in Bloomington. He was only 55, and his only child James was just eleven when he lost his father. Gussie was 43.13

There was some good news in the 1920s when the two remaining single brothers married. Herman Livingston married Dorothy Ensel in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 14, 1922. Dorothy, the daughter of Gustave Ensel and Sophie Lieber, was born in Somerset, Kentucky, on November 4, 1882.14 Herman and Dorothy settled in Bloomington.

“Ensel-Livingston,” The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, March 12, 1922, p. 8

Harold, the youngest child of Dora and Meyer Livingston, married Marion Kunstadter, the daughter of Samuel Kunstadter and Theodora Hess, in May 1926 in Chicago. Marion was born on October 6, 1905, in Chicago. Harold and Marion also settled in Bloomington.15

But those two happy events were bookended by two more losses in the 1920s. On January 15, 1927, the family lost its matriarch, Dora Blumenfeld Livingston; she was 79 years old.16 She was survived by seven of her eight children and her grandchildren. Dora had successfully given birth to and raised eight children and left her homeland in Germany to settle in the middle of America with her husband Meyer and his many Livingston relatives in Bloomington, Illinois. That fateful decision meant that her children and their children were spared the horrors that many of her relatives who stayed in Germany had to endure.

Dora’s death was followed by another loss a year later. Dora’s oldest child, her daughter Rosalie, lost her husband Albert Livingston on January 7, 1928.17 He was 65 years old and was survived by Rosalie and their son Morton, who was 28.

Thus, in the span of just five years from 1923 to 1928, the family suffered four losses—Maurice, Solomon, Dora, and Albert. Fortunately, the decade ended with a birth. Harold Livingston’s wife Marion gave birth to Ralph Hirsch Livingston on November 17, 1928, in Bloomington.18 Ralph was the tenth grandchild of Dora and Meyer and the last to be born.

I found it interesting that although Dora and Meyer’s children grew up with so many siblings, one of those eight children had no children (Herman) and five had just one child (Rosalie, Sigmund, Alfred, Gussie, and Harold). Only Maurice (2) and Irvin (3) had multiple children. If not for the fact that these siblings appeared to stay connected to each other geographically and presumably otherwise, I might have thought their choices to have small families were a negative response to their own childhood experiences. And if not for the fact that the family was prosperous, I might have thought that it was an economic choice.

But perhaps it was just other forces—fertility issues, the desires of their spouses, or the demands of time. And of the times themselves.


  1. Albert Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 18, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_387; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 108, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Maurice Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 11, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 101, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198509/hilda-v-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Hilda V Freiler Livingston (25 Apr 1891–20 Feb 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198509, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). Phillip Feilen [sic], Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 8 Jul 1883, Marriage Place: Kane, Illinois, USA, Spouse Name: Lizzie Ehrlich, Spouse Gender: Female
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Marriage Index, 1860-1920. Freiler family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Elgin Ward 1, Kane, Illinois; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0092; FHL microfilm: 1240311, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sigmund and Hilda Livingston, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 19, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_387; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 109,Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  5. Richard Mayor Livingston, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 8 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Bloomington, Illinois, Death Date: 5 Oct 1994, Father: Livingston, Mother:
    Hilda V Feild, SSN: 322148741, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  6. Dora, Herman, and Harold Livingston, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 11, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 101, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7.  The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 437, Description Date Range: 14 Mar 1918-26 Jul 1918, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  8. Sol Salzenstein and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 1, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 91, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  9. Alfred Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_309; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 306,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  10. Irvin Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_309; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 305,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. Irvin P Livingston, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1921, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Gender: Male, Father: Irvin L Livingston, Mother: Helen Baer, FHL Film Number: 1309494, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  12. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198500/maurice-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Maurice Livingston (14 Jan 1871–19 Nov 1923), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198500, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  13. Sol. Salzenstein, Birth Date: 3 Dec 1868, Birth Place: Pleasant Plains, Ill
    Death Date: 9 Sep 1924, Death Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Burial Date: Sep 1924, Cemetery Name: Jewish, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Real Estate, Race: White
    Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Father Name: Jacob Salzenstein, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Lussie [sic] Salzenstein, FHL Film Number: 1493146, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  14. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199180/dorothy-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Dorothy Ensel Livingston (4 Nov 1882–17 Nov 1953), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199180, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). Ensel family, 1880 US census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Somerset, Pulaski, Kentucky; Roll: 440; Page: 94C; Enumeration District: 086, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives; Frankfort, Kentucky.
    Description: Film 7017487: All Counties, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Death Records, 1852-1965 
  15. Marion Kunstadter, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 1926, Marriage Place: Champaign, Illinois, USA, Spouse: Harold Livingston, Various Illinois County Courthouses; Marriage Records; Collection Title: Marriage Records, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1800-1940. Marian Kunstadter Livingston
    Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 6 Oct 1905, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois
    Death Date: 29 Aug 1987, Father: Samuel Kunstadter, Mother: Theodora Hess
    SSN: 341206539, Death Certificate Number: 125588, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Marriage announcement, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 23 May 1926, Sun • Page 91 
  16. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198506/dora-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Dora Blumenfeld Livingston (27 Jun 1848–15 Jan 1927), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198506, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  17. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198010/albert-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Albert Livingston (31 Jan 1862–7 Jan 1928), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198010, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  18.  Ralph H. Livingston, Social Security Number: 351-20-2225, Birth Date: 17 Nov 1928, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 94941, Mill Valley, Marin, California, USA, Death Date: 23 Feb 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Meier Blumenfeld’s Three American Children: Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss left Germany before the Nazi era and settled in Chicago, as we saw in my last post. First, the sisters Rosa and Sophie came in 1893 and moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where their uncle David Strauss was living. In 1900 Rosa was living with David and his family in Chicago, and Sophie may have returned to Germany, but returned to Chicago in 1905. Meanwhile, Hugo Blumenfeld, the only brother, arrived in 1904, and he also settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka in 1905, and they had one child, a daughter Elsa. Ignaz was a tailor. Hugo married Bertha Wolf in 1912, and they had two children. On his World War I draft registration, Hugo reported that he was working as a manufacturer with a firm called Deutsch, Blumenfeld & Strauss in Chicago.

Hugo Blumenfeld, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook,Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, Ignaz, Rosa, Elsa, and Sophie were all in one household in Chicago. Ignaz was still a tailor, and Sophie was the manager of a delicatessen. Rosa was not employed outside the home.

Herzka household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1920 Hugo Blumenfeld was working as a traveling salesman and living with his family in Chicago. Hugo had become a US citizen in 1911.1

Sophie had filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on November 21, 1917, and her petition for naturalization on January 28, 1921. She took the oath to become a US citizen on February 24, 1922. Later that year she traveled abroad, perhaps to Germany to visit her family.2

Sophie Blumenfeld, petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petitions For Naturalization, V· 96, No· 9401-9500, 1920-1921, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Rosa was a witness on Sophie’s petition, and on Rosa’s 1924 passport application, she indicated that she was a naturalized citizen of the United States, but I cannot find naturalization papers for Rosa or for Ignaz. It appears, however, that all three Blumenfeld siblings were American citizens by 1924. Rosa and Ignaz traveled to Germany to visit family in the summer of 1924.

Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Perhaps these visits from his American aunts and uncle helped convince Otto Blum, the son of Dina Blumenfeld and nephew of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo, to move to the US. We’ve seen that he arrived November 1, 1926, and reported that he was going to his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld in Chicago.

I cannot find Sophie or Rosa and her family on the 1930 census, so perhaps they were traveling then as well. In fact, Rosa appears on an August 1930 manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York. That may have been the family’s last trip back to Germany.3

Ignaz and Rosa’s daughter Elsa Herzka married Irving Blum in Chicago on September 21, 1931.4 Irving was born on January 7, 1900, in Chicago to Fred and Carrie Blum; he was working as a real estate salesman in 1930 and living with his parents and sister in Chicago.5 Elsa and Irving would have two children born in the 1930s.

With Hitler taking power in Germany, the Blumenfeld family in the US must have been very concerned about the family members remaining in Germany. Fortunately, Otto Blum’s brother Ernst Jacob Blum came with his wife Erna and two daughters on May 29, 1936, and also settled in Chicago, as already discussed. Sadly the two remaining sisters of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—Franziska and Johanna-–failed to leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust.

But there was loss on this side of the Atlantic as well. Hugo Blumenfeld died on November 7, 1937, in Chicago.6 He was only 55 and was survived by his wife Bertha and two daughters. Bertha outlived him by 28 years and was 81 when she died in April 1965.7 In addition to their daughters, Hugo and Bertha are survived by five grandchildren.

In 1940 Rosa, Ignaz, and Sophie were all living together in Chicago. Ignaz was still in business as a tailor; Rosie and Sophie were not working.8 Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka died just two years later on January 8, 1942; she was 69.9 That was also the year that both Franziska and Johanna were killed by the Nazis. Rosa’s husband Ignaz died two years later on May 5, 1944.10 They were survived by their daughter Elsa and two grandchildren.

Thus, by the end of 1942, Sophie was the only surviving child of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss. She died seven years later in December 1949; she was 75.11

Although two of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss’s children were killed in the Holocaust, three of their children—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—and all their grandchildren ended up in the US, and because of that, today there are living descendants to carry on their family line.

Next, the story of Meier’s brother Baruch and his family.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Hugo Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_315; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 403, ncestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  2. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1922; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 13; Page Number: 44, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Rosa Herzka, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 382; Page: 2890; Microfilm No.: K_1984, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  4. Elsa Herzka Marriage Date 21 Sep 1931 Spouse Irving M Blum Marriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{46572B06-0A28-41F2-9499-D268830B06C9} File Number1324805 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)Archive repository locationChicago, IL Archive repository nameCook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5. Irving Blum, Social Security Number: 345-09-1004, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60649, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1967, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Blum family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0160; FHL microfilm: 2340156,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1882, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany
    Death Date: 7 Nov 1937, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Nov 1937
    Burial Place: Chicago, Ill., Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Insurance Agent, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfeld, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany, Spouse Name: Bertha, FHL Film Number: 1953190, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  7. Obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 07 Apr 1965, Wed • Page 74 
  8. Herzka household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 103-258, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Rosa Herzka, [Rosa Blumenfield], Birth Date: 5 Sep 1872, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 1942, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Jan 1942, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt Israel, Death Age: 69, Occupation: Housewife, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Female, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfield, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Ignatz G., FHL Film Number: 1953739, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  10. Ignaz G. Herzka, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1863, Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary
    Death Date: 5 May 1944, Death Place: Chicago, Cook Co , Illinois Burial Date: 8 May 1944, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 80, Occupation: Tailor, Race: White, Marital status: W, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook Co., Ill., Father Name: Adolph Herzka, Father Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary, Mother Name: Minnie, Mother Birth Place: Hungary, Spouse Name: Rosa
    FHL Film Number: 1983247, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  11. Sophie Blumenfeld obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
    03 Dec 1949, Sat • Page 25 

Abraham Blumenfeld II’s Granddaughter Dina and Her Sons Ernst and Otto Blum

Tackling the Blumenfeld branch of my family tree will be a long process, given that the limb I am starting on—the limb based on my four-times great-uncle Moses Blumenfeld and his children—is already such a long limb. As we saw, Moses had only three children—Abraham II, Isaak, and Gelle. But Abraham II had eight children, seven of whom lived to adulthood.

And his first child Meier had nine, seven of whom lived to adulthood, as seen on this chart.

As discussed in my prior post, Meier was born on December 11, 1840 in Momberg and married Sarah Strauss, his first cousin, on January 10, 1866, in Amoeneburg. The first child of their eight children was Dina, who was born on April 20, 1867, in Momberg.

Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 6

She married Moritz Blum on November 2, 1896, in Marburg, Germany. Moritz was born in Battenfeld, Germany, on December 14, 1861, to David Blum and Roschen Herstein. He was a merchant.

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5609
Year Range: 1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Dina and Moritz had two children. Ernst Jacob Blum was born in Frankenburg, Germany, on November 10, 1897, and his brother Otto Blum was born on July 20, 1900, in Frankenburg.

Ernst Blum birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 3586
Year Range: 1897, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Otto Blum birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 3589
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Moritz Blum died when he was 61 on February 17, 1923, in Frankenburg.1

Three years later Dina and Moritz’s younger son Otto left for the United States. He arrived in the US on November 1, 1926. According to the ship manifest, he was a clerk and was heading to Chicago where his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld, Dina’s younger brother, was then living.2 Indeed the 1930 US census finds him living with Hugo and his family in Chicago where Otto was working as a clerk in a mail order factory.

Otto Blum on 1930 US census with Hugo Blumenfeld, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 27B; Enumeration District: 0260; FHL microfilm: 2340159, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, back in Germany, Otto’s older brother Ernst Jacob had married Erna Bachrach on January 25, 1925, in Marburg.3 Erna was the daughter of Solomon Bachrach and Frederike Heilbrunn and was born in Frielendorf, Germany, on May 19, 1901.4 In 1926 their first child was born in Frankenburg, and a second child was born three years later.

Unfortunately Dina did not live to see the birth of this second grandchild. She died in Frankenburg on May 21, 1928, when she was 61.

Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 3706
Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Dina also did not live to endure the Nazi persecution of the Jews that began a few years after her death. Fortunately, her son Otto was already in the United States, and in 1936, Ernst and his family also immigrated to escape the Nazis. Like his brother Otto, Ernst was headed for Chicago. He listed his uncle Ignaz Herzka as the person he was going to on the ship manifest. Ignaz Herzka was married to Rosa Blumenfeld, younger sister of Ernst’s (and Otto’s) mother Dina. Ernst reported that he was a merchant on the ship manifest.5

Ernst and his family settled in Chicago where in 1940 he was working as a salesman.6 His brother Otto is not listed in his household on the 1940 census, but by 1942 he was living at the same address as his brother Ernst, 5340 Cornell Avenue in Chicago. Otto was working for his uncle Ignaz Herzka who was a tailor. Ernst was working for a company called Hillman’s in Chicago. His 1942 petition for naturalization stated that he was working as a food clerk.

Ernst Blum, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 151, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Otto Blum, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 151, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Ernst Blum petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,  Petitions, V· 1032-1034, No· 254210-254835, 1942, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Otto served in the US Army during World War II from October 16, 1942, until June 23, 1943. He was a private in the 976th Field Artillery Battalion, fighting against his native country and against Hitler.7 It does not appear that Ernst served during the war.

After the war Otto married Mary Shields on February 11, 1949, in Chicago.8 She was born in Indiana on February 23, 1904. I do not know her father’s name, but her mother was Mary Jane (Medda) Shields. Mary had been previously married to Irving Bartlett with whom she’d had one child.9 Otto and Mary did not have children together.

Otto Blum died on October 9, 1967, in Chicago; he was 61.10 He was survived by his widow Mary, who died sixteen years later on April 6, 1983, at 79.11

Ernst Jacob Blum also survived his younger brother Otto. He died October 2, 1985 at the age of 87 in Chicago.12 His wife Erna had predeceased him; she was 70 when she died on October 11, 1971, in Chicago.13 They were survived by one of their daughters and their grandchildren.

Thus, Dina Blumenfeld Blum was fortunate that her sons left Germany in time to survive the Holocaust, and she has living descendants today because of that.

Next, Dina’s younger sisters Karoline, about whom I know very little, and Franziska and Johanna, who were not as fortunate as Dina’s family when it came to the Holocaust.


  1.  Moriz Blum, Gender: männlich (Male), Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1862
    Death Date: 17 Feb 1923, Death Place: Stadtbezirk-Frankenberg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Stadtbezirk-Frankenberg, Spouse: Dina, Certificate Number: 10, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 3701,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Otto Blum, ship manifest, Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 8; Page Number: 42, Ship or Roll Number: Deutschland,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Erna Blum, Declaration of Intention, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  4. Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 191, p. 54. 
  5.  Ernst Blum, Gender: Male, Ethnicity/ Nationality: German;Hebrew (German), Marital status: Married, Age: 38, Birth Date: abt 1898, Birth Place: Germany
    Other Birth Place: Frankenberg, Last Known Residence: Frankenberg, Germany
    Place of Origin: Germany,Departure Port: Hamburg, Germany, Arrival Date: 29 May 1936, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA, Final Destination: Chicago, Illinois
    Years in US: Permanently, Citizenship Intention: Yes, Height: 5 Feet, 10 Inches
    Hair Color: Dark Blonde, Eye Color: Brown, Complexion: Fair, Money in Possession: $50, Person in Old Country: Salomon Bachrach, Person in Old Country Relationship: Son-In-Law, Person in Old Country Residence: Frielendorf, Person in US: Ignatz Hertzka, Person in US Relationship: Uncle, Ship Name: Hamburg, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 9; Page Number: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Ernst Blum and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 103-262, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Otto Blum, Rank: PVT, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1900, Service Number: 36617489
    Service Branch: Army, Unit: Hq Battery 976th Field Artillery Battalion, Enlistment Date: 16 Oct 1942, Discharge Date: 23 Jun 1943, Death Date: 9 Oct 1967, Cemetery: Oak Woods, Cemetery Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA, National Archives at St. Louis, MO; St. Louis, MO, USA; Applications for Headstones, 1/1/1925 – 6/30/1970; NAID: NAID 596118; Record Group Number: 92; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970 
  8. Otto Blum Marriage Date 11 Feb 1949 Spouse Mary BartlettMarriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{4D14C476-31B6-41F4-AF45-4CAA7C27AE2D} File Number 2071238 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages) Archive repository location Chicago, IL Archive repository name Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  9. Mary E Fogarty, Spouse Name: Irving G Bartlett, Marriage Date: 3 Jun 1924
    Marriage County: Tippecanoe, Birth Date: 23 Feb 1903, Age: 21, Tippecanoe County, Indiana; Index to Marriage Record Jan. 1, 1921 to Dec. 31,, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: M-39; Page: 558, Ancestry.com. Indiana, U.S., Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Mary E. Shields, [Mary E. Bartlett], Gender: Female
    Registration Year: 1929, Spouse: Irving Bartlett, Child: Mary Jane Bartlett, Certificate Number: 52941, Roll Number: 022, Agency: Indiana State Dept. of Health, Volume Range: 106 – 110, Ancestry.com. Indiana, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1907-1940 
  10. Otto Blum, Death Date: 9 Oct 1967, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 672811, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  11. Obituary for Mary E. Blum, News-Press, Fort Myers, Florida
    08 Apr 1983, Fri • Page 30 
  12. Ernst Blum, Death Date: 2 Oct 1985, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 6019403, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  13. Erna Blum, Death Date: 11 Oct 1971, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 628510, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 

My Cousins Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld: What Drew Them to America?

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—left Germany as young adults and immigrated to the United States. Why did they leave when their siblings stayed behind?

Rosa was born on September 5, 1872, in Marburg.

Rosa Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 37

Her younger sister Sophie was born on May 30, 1874, in Marburg.

Sophie Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 39

Finally, Hugo, the only son of Meier and Sarah, was born on September 25, 1882, in Marburg.

Hugo Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5561, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

On June 26, 1893, when Rosa was almost 21 and Sophie was nineteen, they arrived in New York on the SS Ems, heading for Kokomo, Indiana, according to the ship manifest. Why did they leave home? And why Kokomo? Kokomo in the 1890s had a very small Jewish population; in fact, there were not enough Jews in Kokomo to establish and support a synagogue until 1942. Why would two young German Jewish women have immigrated to such a place?

Rosa and Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1893; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1, Ship or Roll Number: Ems, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot find any records for either Rosa or Sophie in Kokomo, but in 1900 Rosa was living in Chicago as a boarder with David and Helen Strauss, both of whom had immigrated from Germany. When I saw the surname “Strauss,” I wondered if David Strauss was related to Sarah Strauss, Rosa’s mother.

Rosa Blumenfeld 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 1025; FHL microfilm: 1240286
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

And so down the rabbit hole I went. And what did I find? David Strauss married Helen Heldman in 1892, and their son Herbert was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in March, 1893, just three months before Rosa and Sophie arrived in the US. Were they coming to care for the baby and help David and Helen? Was David related to their mother?1

I went back to the German records for Sarah Strauss’s parents Hirsch Strauss and Betty Loewenstein and found that indeed Sarah had a younger brother named David, born in 1852 so the right age to be the David Strauss living in Chicago with Sarah’s daughter Rosa in 1900.2 So Rosa was living with her uncle and his family in 1900, and he was obviously the reason she and Sophie had been heading to Kokomo in 1893.

But where was Sophie in 1900? I can’t be certain, but I believe she may have returned to Germany because I found her on another ship manifest coming to the US from Germany on November 2, 1905. Also, her naturalization papers indicate that she had been in the US continuously starting in 1905, not 1893.3

National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1903-1981; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Declarations V· 25-30 P 161 1917-1918
Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Meanwhile, Sophie and Rosa’s little brother Hugo arrived on April 27, 1904. His ship manifest indicates that he was coming to his sister Rosa in Chicago and that he was a clerk.

Hugo Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1904; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 102, Ship or Roll Number: Kronprinz Wilhelm
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 (last entry)

Thus, by 1905, three of Meier and Sarah’s children had settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka on January 4, 1905.4 Ignaz was born in Szerat, Hungary, on November 29, 1863, and had immigrated to the US in 1889. In 1900, he and his brother Nathan were living as boarders in Chicago and had their own tailor shop there.5

Rosa and Ignaz had an adopted daughter, Elsa, who, according to the 1910 census, was born in Hungary in 1903.6 This is consistent with what is reported on the 1920 census: that Elsa was born in Budapest, Hungary, and was adopted.7  However, Rosa’s 1924 passport application says that Elsa was born in Chicago on March 22, 1905. It also, however, says that Rosa and Ignaz married on January 4, 1904, when the Chicago marriage index says January 4, 1905.8 Later records including the 1940 US census also say that Elsa was born in Chicago, not Hungary.9  I am not sure which records are accurate with respect to either the date or place of Elsa’s birth.

In any event, in 1910, Ignaz continued to work as a tailor. Sophie was also living with Rosa, Ignaz, and their daughter Elsa in 1910; she was a saleswoman in a delicatessen.

Ignaz Herzka and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

I could not find Hugo on the 1910 census, and perhaps he had returned to Germany for a visit as he had in 1909.10 But in 1911 Hugo became a naturalized United States citizen.11 And on March 24, 1912, he married Bertha Wolf,12 who was also a German immigrant. She was born in Langenbruck, Germany, on March 19, 1884, to Rudolph Wolf and Rosa Stein.13 Hugo and Bertha had two daughters, Sylvia and Marjorie, both born in Chicago.

Thus, long before Hitler came to power, Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld had all left Germany and were living in Chicago. Their decision to come to America was a blessing for the legacy of their parents Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss.

The next post will follow their lives from 1910 on.

 


  1. Dave Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 8 Jun 1892, Marriage Place: Hamilton, Ohio, USA, Spouse: Helen Heldman, Film Number: 000344499, Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993. Herbert Dave Strauss
    Race: White, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1893, Birth Place: Indiana, USA
    Residence Date: 1917-1918, Street Address: 5833 Michigan Ave, Residence Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Draft Board: 15, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  2. David Strauss birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Amöneburg 1814-1896 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 49), p. 6. 
  3. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1905; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 30; Page Number: 12, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  4. Rose Blumenfeld, Age: 28, Gender: Female, Birth Year: abt 1877
    Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 4 Jan 1905, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Spouse Name: Ignaz Herzka, Spouse Age: 40, Spouse Gender: Male
    FHL Film Number: 1030380, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  5. Ignaz Herzka, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 1034; FHL microfilm: 1240287, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Elsa Herzka, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  7. Elsa Herzka, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  9. Rosa Herzka Blum, 1940 US census, Elsa Blum, Age: 35, Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birthplace: Illinois, Marital Status: Married, Relation to Head of House: Wife, Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Map of Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Street: E 53rd Street, Sheet Number: 1B, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-271, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Gender: männlich (Male), Ethnicity/Nationality: Deutschland (German), Marital status: verheiratet (Married), Residence Place: Chicago
    Departure Date: 8 Aug 1909, Departure Place: Hamburg, Deutschland (Germany)
    Arrival Place: Boulogne-sur-Mer; Southampton; New York, Ship Name: Blücher
    Shipping Line: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft), Ship Type: Dampfschiff, Ship Flag: Deutschland, Emigration: nein
    Accommodation: 2. Klasse, Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213; Page: 1691; Microfilm No.: K_1809, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  11.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization
    Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  12. Hugo Blumenfeld, Age: 29, Gender: Male, Birth Year: abt 1883, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 24 Mar 1912, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
    Spouse Name: Bertha Wolf, Spouse Age: 24, Spouse Gender: Female
    FHL Film Number: 1030518, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  13. Bertha Wolf Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Mar 1884
    Birth Place: Langenbrucke, Federal Republic of Germany, Father: Rudolph Wolf
    Mother: Rosa Stein, SSN: 342408956, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part II: 1913-1918

In my last post, I shared some excerpts from my cousin Frieda Bensew Loewenherz’s memoir, covering the years from her childhood in Germany, her immigration to the US in 1907, and her life in the US up through 1912. We left off with Frieda’s decision to take a new job, a decision that changed her life. Here is how she described her new workplace:

It was an importing firm, headed by an Austrian, Dr. Sokal, a brilliant man, Dr. of chemistry. . . . My work was interesting especially since a new project was to be worked out. It entailed the representation of a German firm in Cologne manufacturing accumulation plates for lead batteries and the import of them. I carried on the German correspondence, translating into English formulas, etc. and finally the contract.

But perhaps of more interest to her than her work was the man she met at her new job:

After a few weeks a new member of the firm arrived from Europe where he had been traveling and visiting his family in Leinberg and Vienna, etc. He was an engineer, Mr. Emanuel Loewenherz. Little did I think at our first meeting that I had met my destiny!

For a while their outward relationship was “strictly business,” but it seems that from the beginning their feelings were more personal than that.

In those days there was much more formality. We were both European born and reared and the rules were even more strict. Nobody could help being impressed by Mr. L’s bearings, his impeccable manners and old world politeness. And he was startlingly handsome! He was a graduate of the technical University of Berlin, widely travelled and very cultured as was his background. Before going to Europe he had been for many years with the Western Electric Co., also held important positions in New York. Little me was awed by this cosmopolitan man of the world! Now and then we had little conversations not related to business and I thought that would be as far as it would ever go….

Emanuel Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

And then things changed:

But in the spring of 1914 when I was again planning to see my parents and was given a leave of absence, Mr. L. invited me to dinner as a “”farewell party” at the Bismarck Hotel where he was at home, the owners being his friends. I was so excited I could not eat! The excellent dishes, the wines, ordered by a real connoisseur practically remained untouched by me. But we had a fine evening and I was walking on air!

My friend Clara A. and two other girls who were traveling with me had the usual send off at the station, friends, relatives, a regular delegation. “He” arrived with a great bunch of red roses and created quite a sensation. He was also the only one who did not kiss me goodbye — One of the girls whispered to me: “Frieda, red roses, that means something!” All I answered was “don’t be silly.”  I think I even meant it at that time- I was so unsophisticated! And then, on the boat, there was a special delivery letter awaiting me and a little later, a beautiful fruit basket was delivered to my cabin. I was speechless – Of course, I wrote him a warm letter of thanks, but rather formal – it was the trend of the times.

Frieda then went off and spent the summer of 1914 in Germany with her parents and was pursued by at least two other men. But her summer of family and fun was darkened by the threat of pending war. She wrote:

It was June 28, we were sitting at a table of a sidewalk cafe when suddenly [newspaper] “extras” appeared. We grabbed one — the headline said: “Austrian heir to the throne, Prince Ferdinand and wife, assassinated at Seraguro[Sarajevo]!” The shock was terrific, and we knew at once that this would mean war — there was, of course, hope it could be averted….the war clouds grew darker each day — the German press told us very little and only from their angle. Propaganda against Russia was vicious. And then came partial mobilization – and with it the spy craze, suspicion and all ugliness. The railroad, bridges, etc. were guarded by civilians pressed into service and rumors flew around day and night. On July 28 war started by Austria against Russia was declared and on August 2nd England declared war against Germany–World War I was on! Germans were a war loving people, their enthusiasm was boundless, they thought the war would be over that Christmas and, of course, they would be victorious.

My brother [Julius Bensev] and I had our own thoughts and personal concern: how to get back to America! We had return passage on the Hamburg America Line and the British blockade was tight. Our parents were worried for our sakes — we worried about them. Anxious weeks followed: We spent much time at the railroad station, to watch the mobilization. The military trains, westward and eastward bound, rolled in day and night, only about 15 minutes apart….The local women and young girls would meet the trains offering all kinds of food – this happened at every stop. Meanwhile the young men of my hometown had all left — each knowing where to report to his unit — I waved to many as they rode by, some never to return.

This month of August also brought in the first trains of wounded and prisoners of war. Of course the papers only reported the wonderful victories and, as if it were the most logical thing to do, the invasion of Belgium. There was no radio or TV in those days, and the papers brought only the German version, and only the censored.

At last we got word that it was feasible to reach Holland from where we hoped to get passage to the United States. To say goodbye to our parents was even worse this time under prevailing circumstances and they were very worried about our safety.

After several delays and obstacles, Julius and Frieda were able to board a ship from Amsterdam to New York, crowded with many others seeking to leave Europe.

It took us ten days to reach New York — it is hard to describe my emotions when I saw the statue of Liberty! There were tears of joy and I was not ashamed of mine.

After a visit with her relatives in Philadelphia, Frieda returned home to Chicago and to work and to Emanuel Loewenherz:

I did not do much work the first few days, and I must confess that I was rather excited at seeing “Mr. L” again! As he stated much much later when we had become friends that he was concerned when and how I would be able to get out of Germany. …. Our personal relationship kept growing although still rather formal. It was the trend of times and our upbringing! ….

We eventually addressed each other by our first names but with the prefix “Mr.” and “Miss”: how times have changed — I was so careful not to show my feelings and interpreted his as just being friendly. I blushed so easily in those days! During the day it was, of course, all business but when we went out which we did quite often, to dinner, plays, and concerts, I thrilled at the sight of him — but held myself in check and would not for the world reveal my feelings. I knew he was not indifferent either! His looks and attitude spoke volumes and we became better and more intimate friends.

We had a great many interesting discussions and occasional differences which added spice to our friendship. He later confessed that he led deliberately up to those to tease me and to see how well I could control myself! I had a flair for poetry and often after a particularly stimulating evening I would write a little note in verse to him. And so the years passed, filled also with anxiety about our families in Vienna and Germany.

Emanuel Loewenherz at KW Battery. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But things became more difficult for Frieda and Emanuel and many, many others when the US entered the war against Germany and Austria in the spring of 1917:

It is impossible for me to describe the conditions here, hatred of the “Huns” or as the French called the Germans “Boches”– The history books have recorded all and I will contain myself to relating personal events. As “enemy aliens” we were both under suspicion. The amateurish American Protective League did in their zeal more harm than good. My room was ransacked while I was at the U.S. Dept. being questioned about my father’s activities, etc. My “Crime” consisted of getting an occasional note from a friend in Denmark who was in touch with my parents and my answers to them relayed by her. Just a few words to know they were alive. Finally I was released and returned to the office.

Manek [Emanuel’s nickname] was even worse off, he was being shadowed and every so often when he came back to the office after a business call he would tell me about the man following him. Finally he went to see Mr. Herman Paepcke who had financed the KW (and where I went every week for the payroll). He was one of the most prominent German-Americans in Chicago, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. A very cultured, fine man with whom I had many interesting conversations. In fact he would have liked me to be his secretary but for understandable reasons I wanted to stay with KW. Mr. Paepcke arranged a meeting of a member of the Amer. Protective League with Manek at his office and things were explained in a most satisfactory way. Manek’s feelings were completely against Germany from the start of the war and the suspicions that he was a “spy” ridiculous. Mr. P. ended the interview by saying “aren’t we all Americans?” And: “Mr Loewenherz, you shall not be molested any more” –

Although I had learned about the anti-German discrimination that existed in this country during and after World War I, reading about it from the perspective of someone who experienced it directly—a young woman who had been living in the US for ten years and whose brothers had already become US citizens—was much more disturbing than reading about it in history books.

Despite those dark experiences, Frieda and Emanuel’s romance continued and deepened.

So things went on with us in a more normal way. Of course we did not speak German on the street or public places, only when we were absolutely sure that we could not be overheard. And there were things that we felt we could only express in that language. It became more and more intimate! I knew I was madly in love with him and felt that he was not indifferent. (Anything but — his looks and actions, yes, and his kisses when he took me home after an evening date expressed his feelings only too well). As he told me later he was in love with me long before I had any inkling but was not ready to declare himself. We were both mature people and our friendship was not based on Saturday night dates, we faced every day life in all its aspects together, war having a special meaning. Love can conquer all and it did!

On February 5, 1918, the fifth anniversary of their first meeting at KW, they became engaged to marry, and on May 4, 1918, they were married.

Emanuel and Frieda Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Here is Frieda’s alien registration card dated sometime after she married Emanuel as well as a permit issued to her allowing her to live and work in Chicago but with the restriction that she was prohibited from the water front zone:

Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Emanuel became a US citizen in December, 1918, and as his wife Frieda automatically also became a US citizen. The war had ended a month before, and life returned to normal for the newlyweds.

But life would again become more complicated, as we will see in the final post based on Frieda’s memoir.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.