A Survivor’s Story: The Shoah Foundation Testimony of Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer

Antonie Blumenfeld and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 and thus were spared seeing that their daughter Margot and her husband Gustav Neuhaus were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and killed there in September 1942 and that their granddaughter Edith Neuhaus Kempner was killed at Auschwitz just two months later.

They were also spared knowing that their son Julius and his wife Ilse and son Werner were forced to leave Germany in 1939 to escape Hitler, but eventually survived and settled in the United States.

And they were spared knowing the terrible ordeals endured by their youngest child Elfriede and her husband Rudolf Goldschmidt and their children Gunther and Inge.

But we must remember their experiences and honor their memories. Thanks to the Shoah Foundation, we now have extensive interviews with many of the Holocaust survivors, including one with Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, my fifth cousin.

I was privileged to listen to Inge’s interview and will attempt in my own words to tell her story. I am grateful to the Shoah Foundation for allowing me to do so. Except where noted, all the information below came from Inge’s interview.1 All the photographs are courtesy of Inge’s daughter Marsha.

Inge was born to Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt on April 13, 1929, in Kassel, Germany, just four years before Hitler came to power. She had almost no memory of life in Germany before the Nazis took control. She and her family lived in Kassel until 1938 when they moved to Cologne. Her memories of life in Kassel were terrible because of the persecution and harassment they faced as Jews. She and her brother Gunther went to a Jewish school and were often beaten up on the way home by Nazi youth members. As a result of incidents like that, the school decided to close fifteen minutes before the non-Jewish schools so that children could get home safely.

Here is a photograph of Inge with her brother Gunther taken in about 1934.

Gunther and Inge Goldschmidt. c. 1934-1935. Courtesy of the family

Inge’s father Rudolf was a veteran of World War I and had suffered a serious head injury while fighting for Germany. As a result, he eventually became paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. The family was living on the pension he received for his service in the war while also being forced to endure the anti-Semitism promoted by the government. Rudolf was very well-informed and followed the news on a radio tuned to the BBC, and although he wanted to leave Germany, his disability and their limited resources made that impossible.

Here is a photograph of Rudolf in uniform during World War I.

Rudolf Goldschmidt, c. 1914-1918. Courtesy of the family

Instead the family decided to leave Kassel and move to Cologne in 1938, believing that in the larger city they would be safer and also that life would be easier because it was less hilly than Kassel and thus easier for Elfriede to push Rudolf’s wheelchair. Here are two photographs of Inge from around this time.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1938-1939. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Rudolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gunther celebrated his bar mitzvah in Cologne in the summer of 1938, and a few months later in October his parents registered him for a children’s transport out of Germany to the United States. He ended up in St. Louis living with a foster family for many years. He was only thirteen. Inge was only nine and too young for those transports, so she stayed in Cologne with her parents. The photograph below shows the family at the train station in Cologne the day Gunther left for the US.

Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Gustav Neuhas, Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, unknown man. 1938. Courtesy of the family

Although things were initially better in Cologne than they had been in Kassel, after Kristallnacht and then once the war started in September 1939, conditions worsened. Their phones were taken, then their bicycles, and they lived in constant fear of being arrested. Then when the Allies started bombing Cologne in the early 1940s, they lived in fear of the bombs and poison gas as well. They moved frequently from one apartment to another and were later rounded up with other Jews and taken to a temporary camp outside of the city. By then they were required to wear the yellow star to identify them as Jews. Inge had hers pinned instead of sewn on as required so that she could sneak out of the camp and shop for the family, removing her star to do so without revealing that she was Jewish.

The star Inge Goldschmidt wore in Germany. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt identity card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

Then in 1942 the family was deported to Theriesenstadt. Inge and her mother Elfriede were in one of the barracks together, and her father Rudolf was in a separate men’s barrack. Interestingly, he was living with other men who were disabled World War I veterans. Inge speculated that but for his service in World War I he never would have been allowed to survive at all, given his physical disability.

Inge’s memories of life in Theriesenstadt are horrendous. She was scared and hungry all the time and often very ill. Her knee became infected, and she had to have it drained in the camp hospital without receiving anesthesia. They lived with bed bugs, lice, and a lack of sanitary facilities. They had no news of what was happening in the war or outside the camp itself.

Inge lived at Theriesenstadt for two years, and then in 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz and separated from her family. She was now fifteen years old and sick with typhus. Despite being sick, she knew enough not to let on and so did not get transported with those who were ill and were instantly killed when they arrived at Auschwitz. The train to Auschwitz was a nightmare—all of them standing packed into the cars with no food and sleeping standing up with only a bucket for a toilet.

She remembered vividly her arrival at Auschwitz. They arrived at night, and it was bitterly cold. The Kapos (Jewish prisoners forced to act as guards and agents for the Nazis) were screaming at them all to move out of the train while armed Nazi guards surrounded them. Inge went with the other women into one large room where they were forced to strip and have their heads shaved. They took cold showers and were disinfected and given rags to wear. She recalled one woman going into labor and giving birth during this ordeal and remembered hearing the women around her screaming when they realized they would never see their children again.

Inge was only at Auschwitz for a few weeks, but her memories of that time and place were seared in her memory. She recalled standing for hours each day in the snow for inspection while the guards selected those who would go to the gas chambers. Once she needed to urinate so badly that she just squatted on the ground and was beaten by the guard for doing so. At one point she was so despondent that she was going to run into the electric fence and kill herself, as she’d seen others do. But a kind woman convinced her not to, and so she survived.

After a few weeks she was selected to be sent to another camp near Leipzig, Germany, called Oederan. Oederan opened in September 1944; three transports brought five hundred women from Auschwitz to work in a munitions factory in a converted thread factory. Inge worked in the munitions factory making bullets; she recounted how she and the other prisoners tried to do things to sabotage the machines, although they knew they could be killed if they were caught. While at Oederan, she saw bright lights in the distance and asked innocently if that was the sun. It was in fact the fires from the Allied bombing of Dresden, which was about 35 miles away. A guard, thinking she was being disrespectful, punched her in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth.

On April 12, 1945, the day before her 16th birthday, Inge heard that FDR had died, and she was bereft, believing that America was their one hope for survival and that FDR was a hero. But the news about the war was also starting to break through, and there were rumors that the Russians were coming to liberate them. What would she do if she survived to be liberated? What would she learn about the fate of her parents?

To be continued…


  1. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Antonie’s Children Margot Engelbert Neuhaus and Julius Engelbert

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert, daughter of Baruch Blumenfeld and Emma Docter, died in 1929, and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died three years later. They never knew what was going to happen to their family just a decade after their deaths.

Their oldest daughter Margot and her husband Gustav stayed in Goettingen after Hitler came to power in 1933. After Kristallnacht in November 1938, Gustav was forced by the Nazis to sell his cattle trading business far below its market value, a business that had been in his family since 1858 when it was started by his grandfather. Margot and Gustav were transported on March 31, 1942, to the Warsaw Ghetto, where they were killed on September 30, 1942. Here are the Pages of Testimony on file with Yad Vashem:1

Margot and Gustav’s daughter Edith also was murdered by the Nazis. After she was prohibited from attending the local high school for girls in Goettingen in 1938, she went to Hamburg and then to Berlin, where she met and married her husband Herbert Kempner in 1942. But Herbert and Edith’s marriage was short-lived because on November 29, 1942, they were both deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. I am so grateful to Dennis Aron, who shared with me the entries about Gustav, Margot, and Edith from Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch, including this photograph of Edith. 2

Tragically, Margot and Gustav and their daughter Edith have no living descendants because of the Nazis. Thus, we must all remember them instead.

The other two children of Antonie Blumenfeld and Siegfried Engelbert survived the Holocaust, but not without facing Nazi persecution.

Their son Julius Engelbert, his wife Ilse, and their nine-year-old son Werner fled to Bolivia on September 23, 1939.3 Six years later the family immigrated to the United States, arriving on December 23, 1945.4 They settled in Brooklyn, New York, and they all became US citizens in 1952. Werner Engelbert became a pharmacist after graduating from the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York in 1952.5 According to his niece Marsha, Julius saved the many wonderful photographs published in this series of posts when he fled Germany in 1939. How fortunate we all are that he did.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995

Julius Engelbert died in New York on July 25, 1965; he was 67. He was killed in a car accident driving to or from the Catskills.6 His wife Ilse survived him by twenty years, dying in February 1985 at the age of 78.7 Their son Werner died in 2019.8 He was survived by his wife and children and grandchildren.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt and her family also survived the Holocaust, but their path to survival was more complicated than that of her brother Julius and his family. I was privileged to listen to the testimony that Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, Elfriede’s daughter, gave to the Shoah Foundation in 1996,9 and her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I will share her story in my next post.


  1. Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Yad Vashem, at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306232&ind=2;  Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), pp. 190-191. 
  2. Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190.Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag Goettingen), p. 126. 
  3. Julius Engelbert, Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Miscellaneous
    Birth Date: 18 Okt 1897 (18 Oct 1897), Birth Place: Kassel, Residence Place: Kassel Kassel, Notes: Lists of judicial and official files concerning foreigners and German Jews
    Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70443285, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4. Joseph Julius Engelbert, ship manifest, Year: 1945; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 22; Page Number: 41, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Werner J Engelbert, Yearbook Date: 1952, School: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York, School Location: New York, New York, USA, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; School Name: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York; Year: 1952,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  6. Julius Engelbert, Gender: Male, Age: 67, Birth Date: abt 1898, Residence Place: Adelphi, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: 25 Jul 1965, Death Place: New York, USA, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Death Index,
    Ancestry.com. New York State, U.S., Death Index, 1957-1969. Email from Marsha Eidlin, September 25, 2021. 
  7. Ilse Engelbert, Social Security Number: 129-22-5815, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1906
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11210, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1985, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. https://jewishfunerals.com/service/werner-j-engelbert/ 
  9. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Baruch Blumenfeld’s Daughter Antonie: Life Before the Nazis

Although I have no definitive answer as to when Baruch Blumenfeld left his family in Germany, I do have information about what happened to his two daughters and their children.

As we saw, Baruch and Emma had two daughters: Antonie and Charlotte Jeanette, born in 1872 and 1875, respectively. This post and the three that follow will focus on Antonie and her descendants. I am deeply grateful to Antonie’s great-granddaughter Marsha for sharing her collection of family photos with me so that I can bring Antonie and her family to life.

Antonie married Sussel Siegfried (known as Siegfried) Engelbert in Neustadt, Germany, in 1894, and they had three children: Margot (born 1895), Joseph Julius (known as Julius) (born 1897), and Elfriede (born 1900). Siegfried owned a clothing store in Kassel, shown in this photograph.

Engelbert store, c. 1900, Kassel. Courtesy of the family.

The photograph below is of Antonie and below that are three photographs of her children, one taken in 1911 of Elfriede and Margot and an unknown little girl, the other taken in about 1920 of all three of Antonie and Siegfried Engelbert’s children, and the last a photograph of Julius Engelbert with his parents Antonie and Siegfried.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert undated. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert, unknown girl, Margot Engelbert, 1911. Courtesy of the family

Margot, Julius, and Elfriede Engelbert, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Julius, Antonie, and Siegfried Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Margot married Gustav Neuhaus on December 3, 1920. He was born on December 5, 1884, in Bremke, Germany, to Hermann Neuhaus and Bernhardine Neuhaus. He was a cattle dealer in Goettingen, Germany; his grandfather had started the business in 1858.1

Marriage record of Margot Engelbert and Gustav Neuhaus, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Margot and Gustav had one child, a daughter Edith, born on March 9, 1922.

Elfriede Caroline Engelbert married Ruben Rudolf (known as Rudolf) Goldschmidt on August 19, 1924, in Kassel, Germany. Rudolf, the son of Gabriel Goldschmidt and Jettchen Levi, was born in Spangenburg, Germany, on January 23, 1887.2

Marriage record of Elfriede Engelbert and Ruben Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1924, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a photograph of Elfriede and Rudolf taken when they were engaged in 1924.

Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt, 1924. Courtesy of the family

Marsha also shared the menu from Elfriede and Rudolf’s wedding. It must have been quite a lavish celebration.

Elfriede and Rudolf had two children, Gunther, born July 17, 1925,3 and Inge, born April 13, 1929,4 in Kassel where they resided.

Here are some photographs of Gunther and Inge as young children.

Gunther and Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, 1925. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, 1931. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede, Gunther, and Inge Goldschmidt c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Antonie lived long enough to see her three grandchildren born, but she died on May 23, 1929, a month after Inge’s birth. She was survived by her husband and her children and grandchildren.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5619, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Here is one more photograph of Antonie and Julius and a photograph of Antonie’s headstone.

Siegfried Engelbert and Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Courtesy of the family

Julius Engelbert married a few months after his mother’s death. On August 29, 1929, he married Ilse Wolf in Marburg, Germany. She was born in Marburg on March 31, 1906. Julius and Ilse had one child, Werner, born in Kassel in 1930.5

Julius Engelbert and Ilse Wolf marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5652, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Two years later Siegfried Engelbert died on July 12, 1932, in Kassel.6 He was 65 and died before the Nazi takeover of Germany the following year.  He and Antonie were spared seeing what would happen to their children.

In this photograph are Elfriede, Rudolf, and Inge with Margot and her daughter Edith taken in 1936.  No one could have predicted what was to happen to them all in the next decade.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Edith Neuhaus, Margot Neuhaus, 1936. Courtesy of the family

To be continued.

 


  1. Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem entry,  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2 and from the Neuhaus Family Tree on Ancestry found at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60044058/person/342252900990/facts. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190. 
  2. Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 782, p. 63. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  3. Gunther Goldschmidt, Social Security #: 488207584, Gender: Male
    Birth Date: 17 Jul 1925, Death Date: 30 Nov 1972, Death Place: San Francisco, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  4. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  5. Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947; Werner Jack Engelbert, Age: 22, Birth Date: 21 Jul 1930, Issue Date: 29 Jan 1952, State: New York
    Locality, Court: Eastern District of New York, District Court, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957; Microfilm Serial: M1164; Microfilm Roll: 53, Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995 
  6. LAGIS Hessen Archives, Nr 587, p. 291, Standesamt Kassel I Sterberegister 1932, Eintrags-Nr. 301-600 (StadtAKS Best. A 3.35.1 Nr. 3.1.310) Autor Stadtarchiv Kassel Erscheinungsort Kassel IErscheinungsjahr 1932 

My Great-grandfather Comes to America: The Schoenthals in Western Pennsylvania 1880-1890

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or how my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother.  I love finding stories about how couples met each other.  From a little tiny news item in a small local paper in 1887, I may have found a clue as to how my Schoenthal/Katzenstein grandparents met each other.

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

By 1880, many of the members of the family of Heinemann Schoenthal and Hendel Beerenstein had moved from Sielen, Germany, to the United States.  Their two daughters had arrived first: Fanny and her husband Simon Goldsmith and Mina and her husband Marcus Rosenberg.  They were followed by six of the children of Levi Schoenthal (Fanny and Mina’s brother) and Henrietta Hamberg: Henry, Julius, Amalie, Simon, Nathan, and Felix.

Their father Levi died in 1874; their mother Henrietta was still living in Germany in 1880. Four of the children of Levi and Henrietta were also still in Germany in 1880: Hannah, Jacob, Rosalie, and my great-grandfather Isidore.  All but Jacob would soon be in the United States.

Jacob had married Charlotte Lilienfeld in 1879 and was a merchant living in Cologne (or Koln), Germany.  Charlotte was the daughter of Meyer Lilienfeld and Hannchen Meiberg of Gudensberg, another small town in the Kassel district of Hessen, not far from Sielen.   Charlotte was the half-sister of Helen Lilienfeld, who had married Jacob’s brother Henry in 1872.   Although Jacob and Charlotte never emigrated from Germany, they had two sons who did: Lee, born in 1881, and Meyer, born in 1883. More on them in a later post.

HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 2610 Standesamt Gudensberg Heiratsnebenregister 1879, S. 10

HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 2610 Standesamt Gudensberg Heiratsnebenregister 1879, S. 10

Eine Vervielfältigung oder Verwendung dieser Seite in anderen elektronischen oder gedruckten Publikationen und deren Veröffentlichung (auch im Internet) ist nur nach vorheriger Genehmigung durch das Hessische Staatsarchivs Marburg, Friedrichsplatz 15, D-35037 Marburg, Germany gestattet.

HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 2610 Standesamt Gudensberg Heiratsnebenregister 1879, S. 10

As for the many Schoenthal family members already in the United States, as of 1880 only Henry and his wife Helen (Lilienfeld) and their two young children, Hilda (six) and Lionel (three), were still living in Washington, Pennsylvania, where Henry owned a retail variety store.  Living with them and described as their adopted son was a twelve year old boy named Samuel Hamberg, who was born in South Carolina.  I have to believe that Samuel Hamberg was somehow related to Henry’s mother’s family, the Hambergs of Breuna, but I cannot find the connection.[1]  Henry and Helen would have one more child in the 1880s, a son born in 1883 named Meyer Lilienfeld Schoenthal, named for Helen’s father.

Henry Schoenthal and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 596A; Enumeration District: 271

Henry Schoenthal and family 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 596A; Enumeration District: 271

 

Although Henry was the only Schoenthal sibling still in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1880, others were not too far away.  Amalie and her husband Elias Wolfe were now living in Allegheny (today part of Pittsburgh so from hereon I will refer to both Allegheny and Pittsburgh as Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania.  According to the entry in the census record, Elias was a “drover.”  I’d never heard this term before, but according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, a drover is “a person who moves groups of animals (such as cattle or sheep) from one place to another.”     Amalie and Elias had three children at the time of the census: Morris was 7, Florence was 5, and Lionel was 2.  A fourth child was born in June, 1880, shortly after the census, a son named Ira.   Two more were born in the 1880s: Henrietta (1883) and Herbert (1885).

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1086; Family History Film: 1255086; Page: 153C; Enumeration District: 006; Image: 0310

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and family 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1086; Family History Film: 1255086; Page: 153C; Enumeration District: 006; Image: 0310

 

As noted in my earlier post, Felix Schoenthal was also still relatively close to Washington, Pennsylvania, living with his wife  Maggie in West Newton, about 25 miles away, where Felix was working as a clerk at the paper mill.  Felix and Maggie also had two children during the 1880s: Rachel (1881) and Yetta (1884).

The other siblings had moved further east.  Julius was in Washington, DC, working as a shoemaker, as described in my last post.  His brother Nathan was also now in DC, working as a clerk in a “fancy store.”  Simon Schoenthal had also moved further east by 1880.  Although he and his family were living in Pittsburgh in 1879, by 1880 he and Rose and their five children had moved to Philadelphia.  Simon was still working as a bookbinder. In the 1880s they would have four more children: Martin (1881), Jacob (1883), Hettie (1886), and Estelle (1889).  In 1891, one more child was added to the family, Sidney.

Simon Schoenthal and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1179; Family History Film: 1255179; Page: 12D; Enumeration District: 382; Image: 0218

Simon Schoenthal and family 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1179; Family History Film: 1255179; Page: 12D; Enumeration District: 382; Image: 0218

 

But other members of the extended Schoenthal clan still lived in western Pennsylvania.  Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith’s widower Simon Goldsmith was living in Pittsburgh with their daughter Hannah and her family.  Hannah’s husband Joseph Benedict was a rag dealer, and in 1880 they had three sons: Jacob (10), Hershel (9), and Harry (3).[2]

Simon Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict families on 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1092; Family History Film: 1255092; Page: 508D; Enumeration District: 122; Image: 0683

Simon Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict families on 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1092; Family History Film: 1255092; Page: 508D; Enumeration District: 122; Image: 0683

As described in an earlier post, Mina Schoenthal Rosenberg and her husband Marcus Rosenberg and their daughter Julia were living in Elk City, Pennsylvania, in 1880.  Their daughter Hannah and her husband Herman Hirsh were living in Pittsburgh with their five children in 1880.  Their daughter Mary and her husband Joseph Podolsky and children were living in Ohio.  Mina’s other two children, Rachel and Harry, are missing from the 1880 census.

Thus, by 1880, there were still a large number of family members in western Pennsylvania; it was still home to most of the extended Schoenthal clan.  It is not surprising that when my great-grandfather Isidore arrived with his mother and sister Rosalie, they ended up in western Pennsylvania as well.

My great-grandfather Isidore, his mother Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal, and his younger sister Rosalie arrived in New York on September 3, 1881, upon the ship Rhein, which had sailed from Bremen.  Isidore was 22, Rosalie was seventeen, and Henrietta was 64 years old.  They settled in Washington, Pennsylvania, where Henry was living. Isidore worked as a clerk in Henry’s variety store.

Henrietta died just a year later in December, 1882; she was buried at Troy Hill cemetery in Pittsburgh.  Washington did not yet have a Jewish cemetery.  Although I could not find an American death certificate, Henrietta’s death was recorded back in Sielen even though she had died in the US.

Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal death record from Sielen HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 773, S. 10

Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal death record from Sielen
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 773, S. 10

Henrietta’s brother-in-law Simon Goldsmith died a few months later on March 17, 1883.  He also was buried at Troy Hill.

Rosalie Schoenthal, the youngest child of Levi and Henrietta, returned to Germany where she married William or Willie Heymann in Geldern, Germany, on December 8, 1884.  She and Willie would have four children born in Geldern: Lionel (1887, for Rosalie’s father Levi, presumably), Helen (1890), Max (1893), and Hilda (1898).  I assume that either Helen or Hilda was named for Rosalie’s mother Henrietta.  The two sons ended up immigrating to the United States; the two daughters and their families perished in the Holocaust.  But more on that in a later post.

There would be one more Schoenthal sibling who would immigrate to the US: the oldest child, Hannah.  Hannah had had a child out of wedlock in 1865, a daughter named Sarah whose father is unknown.

birth of Sarah Schoenthal, daughter of Hannah HHStAW fonds 365 No 772 p12

birth of Sarah Schoenthal, daughter of Hannah Schoenthal, in Sielen, 1865
HHStAW fonds 365 No 772 p12

[Translation: “Hannchen Schönthal (Tochter des Schuhmacher=Meister Levi Schönthal zu Sielen) uneheliche Mutter.”…..Hannchen Schönthal (daughter of the master shoemaker (cobbler) Levi Schönthal of Sielen) unmarried mother.]

Hannah later married Solomon Simon Stern in Sielen, Germany, on August 19, 1874, five months after her father Levi died.  She was 29 years old at that time.  Solomon was 57.

Marriage of Solomon Stern to Hannah Schoenthal HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 839, S. 22

Marriage of Solomon Stern to Hannah Schoenthal in Sielen
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 839, S. 22

Together they would have three children: Jennie, born June 20, 1875; Edith, born September 7, 1877; and Louis, born May 17, 1879.  Solomon Stern died February 20, 1888, and Hannah and their three children emigrated from Germany shortly thereafter.  According to later census records, Hannah and the three children all emigrated in 1888.

Solomon Stern gravestone inscription HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 842, S. 11

Solomon Stern gravestone inscription
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 842, S. 11

Hannah and her children settled in Pittsburgh, where her sister Amalie and her husband Elias Wolfe and their six children, named above, were still living.  Elias continued to work as a drover.  Hannah and Amalie’s brother Felix also was in Pittsburgh by that time, having relocated there from West Newton by 1882.  He was working as a bookkeeper.  In 1889 he opened his own store:

 Pittsburgh Daily Post, 9 Apr 1889, Tue, Page 3

Pittsburgh Daily Post, 9 Apr 1889, Tue, Page 3

Also living in Pittsburgh in the 1880s was their Schoenthal cousin, Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, and her husband Joseph and three children, Jacob, Herschel, and Harry; Joseph was selling rags and paper stock.  Joseph became entangled in a rather gruesome lawsuit involving the sale of rags to a paper mill.  The purchaser had failed to pay the purchase price, and Joseph had sued for payment.  The purchaser alleged that they were not liable for the purchase price because the rags had been infected with the smallpox virus, and several of the purchaser’s employees had taken ill, causing the shutdown of the purchaser’s mills.  Thus, the purchaser claimed it had been damaged by loss of business in an amount exceeding what it allegedly owed Joseph Benedict.

 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5 Sep 1882, Tue, Page 1

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5 Sep 1882, Tue, Page 1

This would have been a fun case for me to teach in my days as a law professor teaching Contracts.  It is similar to a famous case taught in most Contracts courses called Hadley v. Baxendale.  Was the shutdown of the paper mill a foreseeable consequence of the seller’s defective product? Here there are also issues of negligence, breach of warranty, damages, and so on.  It would have been a great exam question. Fortunately for Joseph Benedict, the court refused to set aside the judgment in his favor, and the paper mill was held liable for the purchase price of the rags.

Another Schoenthal cousin, Hannah Rosenberg Hirsh, and her husband Herman and their five children, Morris, Nathan, Carrie, Harry, and Sidney, were also living in Pittsburgh; Herman was in the varnish business, at first for the Michigan Furniture Company and then in his own business manufacturing varnish.

Hannah thus had many family members close by in Pittsburgh to provide support as she raised her three children alone in the new country.

My great-grandfather Isidore lived in Pittsburgh for some time also around 1887 through 1889, working as a floor walker in a retail store, at least according to the listings in the Pittsburgh city directories for those years.  But sometime in early 1888 he married my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein in Philadelphia.  Hilda was the daughter of Eva Goldschmidt and granddaughter of Seligmann Goldschmidt.  As discussed in an earlier post, Seligmann Goldschmidt was the brother of Simon Goldschmidt, who became Simon Goldsmith and who had married Isidore’s aunt, Fanny Schoenthal. Thus, Hilda and Isidore were already related to each by marriage. In addition, Hilda’s brother S.J. Katzenstein was a merchant, living in Washington, Pennsylvania.  I don’t know whether my great-grandparents met through S.J. in Washington, Pennsylvania, or through their mutual cousins, the Goldsmiths, or perhaps even through Isidore’s brother Simon, who lived in Philadelphia, where Hilda had been born and raised.

But I did find this important clue:

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) 11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

Was this when Isidore and Hilda met—at a gathering at the house of a man named Henry Florsheim who lived in Finleyville? And who was he?  A little research revealed that Henry Florsheim was born in 1842 in Gudensberg, Germany, the same town where Helen and Charlotte Lilienfeld were born, the wives of Henry Schoenthal and Jacob Schoenthal, respectively.

Henry (Hienemann) Florsheim birth record HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 384, S. 35

Henry (Heinemann) Florsheim birth record from Gudensberg
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 384, S. 35

In fact, according to research done by Hans-Peter Klein as reflected on his incredibly helpful website found here, Henry Florsheim’s sister married Helen Lilienfeld’s brother in Gudensberg in 1872, the same year that Helen Lilienfeld married Henry Schoenthal.  According to the 1910 census, Henry Florsheim came to the US in 1876, so the two families were already related by marriage when he arrived.  In 1880 Henry Florsheim was a merchant, living in Union Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from the city of Washington, PA.  An article in the January 31, 1887, Pittsburgh Daily Post (p.4) , reported that he was the proprietor of the Union Valley coal mines and had been presented with a gold watch by the citizens of Finleyville, a town about 16 miles from Washington and two miles from Union Township. Thus, in just a decade, Henry Florsheim had made quite a mark on his community.  Was this successful businessman the one who was responsible for bringing my great-grandparents together?  If so, thank you, Mr. Florsheim![3]

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

That was not the end of Henry Florsheim’s role in my great-grandparents’ lives.  In 1889, he hired my great-grandfather to work in his store in Finleyville; this news article suggests that they were still living in Pittsburgh before that opportunity arose.

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) 8 Nov 1889, Fri • Page 1

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
8 Nov 1889, Fri • Page 1

Isidore and Hilda’s first child, my great-uncle Lester Henry Schoenthal, was born on December 3, 1888.  I assume that, like all the Lionels and Leo and Lee, he was named for Isidore’s father Levi.  About three years later on January 20, 1892, Isidore and Hilda had a second son, Gerson Katzenstein Schoenthal, named for Hilda’s father.  Their third child, Harold, and their fourth and youngest child, my grandmother Eva, would not arrive until after the 20th century had begun.

Thus, by 1890, the Schoenthal family had deep and wide connections to western Pennsylvania.  My next post will catch up with those family members who were living elsewhere in the 1880s: Washington DC, Ohio, and Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] All I can find about Samuel’s background is that he appears to have been the son of Charles Hamberg, who was born in Germany and emigrated before 1850; in 1853, Charles married Mary E. Hanchey in New Hanover, North Carolina.  She, however, was not Samuel’s mother because she was murdered on November 18, 1866.  On the 1870 census, Charles was living with a 21 year old woman named Tenah Hamberg and two year old Samuel. Since the 1870 census did not report information about the relationships among those in a household, I don’t know for sure whether Tenah was Charles’ wife or Samuel’s mother. Charles died in 1879, and the administrix of his intestate estate was a woman named Amalia Hamberg.  I don’t know who Amalia was or how she was related to Charles.  But by 1880, twelve year old Samuel had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, to live with Henry.

[2] There were also two young boys, Jacob and Benjamin Goldsmith, living with them and a 21 years old named Jacob Basch.  They were labeled “grandsons,” but they had to be Simon’s grandsons, not Joseph and Hannah’s grandsons.  Jacob Basch was the son of Simon’s daughter Lena from his first marriage, who had married Gustav Basch.  I don’t know who the parents of Jacob and Benjamin Goldsmith were.

[3] That little article about Henry Florsheim’s party also led me to another question: who was the woman named Sarah Stern who also attended this gathering? I assumed she must have been a relative since everyone else at the Floersheim event was part of the Schoenthal or Katzenstein families, and I only knew of one Stern in the family—Solomon Stern who had married Hannah Schoenthal, the older sister of Henry, Isidore, and the other children of Levi Schoenthal.  Hannah’s first child, born before she married Solomon Stern, was named Sarah.  Was this Sarah Stern the same person, taking on her stepfather’s surname? Further investigation would support that conclusion, as I will describe in a later post.

The Schoenthals Come to America: 1866-1880

One of the things that I have found touching in researching many of the lines in my family is the way that families stayed together even after settling in the United States.  Although family members would sometimes move away as their children grew up and the job opportunities changed, brothers and sisters and cousins and others tended to all end up near each other when they first migrated.  In the case of the Schoenthal family, it’s even more striking since almost all of them ended up in a relatively small city, Washington, Pennsylvania.

Washington, PA 1897 By Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler & James B. Moyer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Washington, PA 1897
By Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler & James B. Moyer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As I mentioned in my last post, my great-great-uncle Henry Schoenthal was the first sibling of my great-grandfather Isidore to emigrate from Germany to the United States. His aunt Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith had preceded him with her husband Simon in 1845.  Henry was the second oldest child and the oldest son of Levi Schoenthal and Henrietta Hamberg, born on May 20, 1843, in Sielen.  His German name was Hienemann, named for Levi’s father, Hienemann Schoenthal, but he changed it to Henry after settling in the United States.

According to the Beers biography referred to here, “Henry Schoenthal attended the school of his native village up to his fourteenth year, at the same time learning his father’s trade [shoemaking], beginning when only ten and one-half years old, and working at the same until he was fifteen years old. For two years after this he took private literary instruction, and in the year 1859 was admitted into the Jewish Seminary in Cassel, Germany, an institution where young men were educated to become teachers in Jewish schools, and leaders of the service in the synagogue. At the end of the third year he passed an examination, and then taught school for three years in one place [Trendelburg].”[1]    His role as a teacher is also mentioned on the Alemannia-Judaica page for Trendelburg.

Despite being quite educated and having what would appear to be a good position, Henry must have decided that there were greater opportunities in America where his uncle Simon Goldsmith and his family had moved in 1845. Henry, still using the name Hienemann, sailed on the S.S. Hansa from Bremen, Germany, arriving in New York City on June 18, 1866.

Henry Schoenthal 1866 ship manifest, line 85 Year: 1866; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 267; Line: 1; List Number: 679

Henry Schoenthal 1866 ship manifest, line 85
Year: 1866; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 267; Line: 1; List Number: 679

As the Beers biography reports, Henry settled in Washington, Pennsylvania. “Selecting as his abiding place in the land of his adoption the thriving town of Washington, this county, he clerked for three years in the clothing store of [his first cousin] Jacob Goldsmith, at the sign of the “Golden Eagle,” in the room now occupied by C. A. House as a music store.”  Henry’s cousin had been well-established in Washington since at least 1854 as this August 23, 1854 article from the Washington Reporter (p. 2) reports:

Jacob Goldsmith ad 1854

On September 23, 1867, Henry’s younger brother Simon, born February 14, 1849, arrived in New York City on the S.S. D.H. Wagen, listing his occupation as a bookbinder and his destination as Pennsylvania.  Sailing with Simon was their sister Amalie, born Malchen on January 1, 1847, in Sielen. She also was headed to Pennsylvania.

Simon Schoenthal and Amalie Schoenthal 1867 ship manifest, lines 230 and 231 Year: 1867; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 286; Line: 1; List Number: 1004

Simon Schoenthal and Amalie Schoenthal 1867 ship manifest, lines 230 and 231
Year: 1867; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 286; Line: 1; List Number: 1004

The Beers biography continues, “Then in 1869, Mr. Schoenthal bought out the stationery business of Rev. James McFarland, at the “Green Tree Corner,” and has ever since conducted a prosperous and lucrative trade in books, stationery, notions, etc., at the same stand.”

Advertisement Date: Wednesday, June 7, 1871 Paper: Washington Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania) Volume: LXIII

Advertisement
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 1871 Paper: Washington Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania) Volume: LXIII

In 1870, Henry (now using Henry) and Simon were living together in Washington in what appears to be a hotel.  Henry was a book merchant, and Simon a bookbinder.

Henry and Simon Schoenthal 1870 census, lines 20 and 21 Year: 1870; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1463; Page: 150B; Image: 290; Family History Library Film: 552962

Henry and Simon Schoenthal 1870 census, lines 20 and 21
Year: 1870; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1463; Page: 150B; Image: 290; Family History Library Film: 552962

Simon book bindery 1870

Henry was also actively involved in the cultural life in Washington, bringing music to the people who lived there:

Henry Schoenthal music

 

In 1870, their sister Amalie Schoenthal was living in Pittsburgh with their uncle Simon Goldsmith, who had relocated to Pittsburgh by then.  His daughter Hannah had married Joseph Benedict, and they had a five month old baby Jacob at the time of the 1870 census.  Joseph was in the retail business (no product identified), and his father-in-law Simon was listed as a retired tailor.  Amalie’s occupation was reported as a “domestic.”  I don’t know whether that means she was working as a servant for her cousin or in the household of someone else.  I am curious as to who Eliza Brocksmith and her baby Jacob were, also listed in the household, but I’ve not yet found the connection.  Perhaps she was Joseph’s sister.

Amalie Schoenthal with Simon Goldsmith and the Benedict family 1870 census Year: 1870; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 567A; Image: 439; Family History Library Film: 552794

Amalie Schoenthal with Simon Goldsmith and the Benedict family 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 567A; Image: 439; Family History Library Film: 552794

Meanwhile, another sibling, Nathan arrived not long after the 1870 census.  Nathan, who was born August 6, 1854 in Sielen, was only sixteen years old when he sailed on the Frankfurt from Bremen to New York, arriving July 16, 1870.  He also settled in Washington, Pennsylvania, with his two older brothers.

Nathan Schoenthal 1870 ship manifest line 167 Year: 1870; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 332; Line: 1; List Number: 683

Nathan Schoenthal 1870 ship manifest line 167
Year: 1870; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 332; Line: 1; List Number: 683

In 1872, Henry returned to Germany where on May 8, 1872, he married Hewa (Helen) Lilienfeld of Gudensberg, the daughter of Meyer Lilienfeld and Malchen Engelbert.  Gudensberg is another town in the Kassel district of Hessen located about 55 km from Sielen.  I would love to know how that marriage was arranged.  Henry had been in the US for six years at that point and was 29 years old.  Had his parents made this arrangement for him?

Henry Schoenthal and Hewa Lilienfeld marriage record HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 386, S. 37

Henry Schoenthal and Hewa Lilienfeld marriage record
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 386, S. 37

Henry and his new bride returned to the United States on May 24, 1872, sailing from Bremen on the Danae.  Strangely, Helen was listed under her birth name, Lilienfeld, not Schoenthal.  There are also two entries for Amalie Mannsbach, an eighteen year old, listed in between Helen(e) and Henry.  (I assume there were not two women with that name, but an error in the manifest.  Or maybe there were two cousins with the same name and of the same age.)  Since Henry’s brother Simon married a woman named Rose Mansbach in 1872, I am wondering whether Amalie became Rose in the US and whether Henry was bringing this young woman back for his younger brother.  But right now that is just speculation.

Henry Schoenthal and Helene Lilienfeld 1872 ship manifest lines 95 to 98 Year: 1872; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 359; Line: 1; List Number: 484

Henry Schoenthal and Helene Lilienfeld 1872 ship manifest lines 95 to 98
Year: 1872; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 359; Line: 1; List Number: 484

Meanwhile, a fifth Schoenthal sibling had arrived in western Pennsylvania while Henry was in Germany, getting married.  Felix, born Seligmann Schoenthal on December 15, 1856, in Sielen, arrived on May 11, 1872, according to the passport application he filed in 1919.  Although I scanned the entire ship manifest for the ship that arrived on that date from Bremen, I could not find his name.  Felix also asserted on his passport application that he was naturalized in the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsburgh on August 17, 1878. In 1880, he was living with his wife of two years, Maggie (or Margaret), in West Newton, Pennsylvania, and working as a clerk in the paper mill.  West Newton is about 32 miles east of Washington and about 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, so he was not too far from his siblings.

Felix Schoenthal 1880 US census Year: 1880; Census Place: West Newton, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1204; Family History Film: 1255204; Page: 8C; Enumeration District: 109

Felix Schoenthal 1880 US census
Year: 1880; Census Place: West Newton, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1204; Family History Film: 1255204; Page: 8C; Enumeration District: 109

A sixth Schoenthal sibling also had arrived from Germany by 1880—Julius.  He, however, has proven to be more difficult to pin down.  I have been unable to locate a passenger manifest that includes him, and if it weren’t for the fact that the Beers biography mentioned a brother named Julius who lived in Washington, DC, I probably would not have assumed that the Julius Schoenthal that I found in DC was related to my Schoenthal family.  When I found Julius on the 1880 census, the only clue I had to support the conclusion that he was related was the fact that, like Levi Schoenthal, he was a shoemaker.

Julius Schoenthal 1880 US census Year: 1880; Census Place: Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: 121; Family History Film: 1254121; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 012; Image: 0498

Julius Schoenthal 1880 US census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: 121; Family History Film: 1254121; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 012; Image: 0498

I didn’t have a German birth record for Julius so I assumed he was born before 1846 when the Breuna birth records that are available online began. Things got even more confusing when I tried to find information about when Julius arrived in the US and what he was doing in the 1870s.  What a hodge-podge of confusing and conflicting clues.

First, the 1910 census reports that Julius arrived in 1869, but the 1900 census said he arrived in 1875.  According to the District of Columbia, Select Marriages, 1830-1921, database on Ancestry, Julius married Minnie Dahl on March 15, 1874, in DC., so I knew Julius had to have been in the US by 1874 and that the 1900 census could not be right.  Then I found an entry for a Julius Schoenthal in the U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, on Ancestry that indicated that Julius had filed a claim for a pension in 1897 as an invalid; it also indicated that Julius had served in the Signal Corps, but there were no dates of service indicated on the index card in that database.

Julius Schoenthal pension index card U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

Julius Schoenthal pension index card
U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

I was confused.  If Julius arrived in 1869 or 1875, how could he have served in the Civil War, which ended in 1865?

I decided to look for news articles, hoping I’d find something to shed light on when Julius had immigrated, and I found an article dated September 14, 1914, from the Washington Evening Star (p. 12) that added one more fact to the mix, bewildering me even further.

Julius Schoenthal news article re Germany WW I

If Julius had served in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871, how could he have served in the US Civil War?  Had he immigrated to the US, enlisted in the US Army, and then returned to Germany to serve in that country’s army against France?  I thought maybe I should order his service file from the National Archives, but  it was fairly expensive, so I decided to hold off and see what else I could find.

I turned once again to the genealogy village and the Ancestry.com Facebook group to see if there was someone who was more expert with the U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 database.  I was very fortunate to get tremendous help from a member there named Lillian.  First, she informed me that the so-called Civil War Pension Index covers more than just Civil War veterans, a fact that had not been clear to me when I read the database description.  Then Lillian pointed me to a document on Fold3, a genealogy website primarily focused on military records.  That document stated that Julius had enlisted in the US Army in 1873, eight years after the Civil War ended.

I’d seen this document earlier, but had dismissed it for a couple of reasons.  First, it said that Julius was born in Berlin.  That seemed not likely to be the right person since all of my great-grandfather’s other siblings were born in Sielen, not anywhere close to Berlin.  Secondly, it said he enlisted from Chicago.  I couldn’t imagine that my Julius would have enlisted from Chicago since no one else in the family was there, so I had dismissed this record.  Looking a second time at Lillian’s suggestion, I saw that Julius had been discharged in Washington, DC, on June 5, 1874, making it more likely that this could be my Julius.  But I was and am not 100% certain that it is.

It would make more sense, however, for Julius to have enlisted in 1873, not during the Civil War.  Maybe he had arrived in 1869 and had returned home to fight for Germany in the Franco-Prussian War.  Or maybe the 1910 census does not accurately record his arrival date and Julius had arrived after serving in the Franco-Prussian War, perhaps in 1872, and then enlisted in the US Army from Chicago.  He married Minnie Dahl, who was born in Germany, but I don’t know where he met her.  Assuming it was in Washington, that might explain why they settled there once he was discharged from the army in 1874 less than two months after they were married.

English: Pres. U.S. Grant (between 1870 and 18...

English: Pres. U.S. Grant (between 1870 and 1880) Français : Le président américain Ulysses Grant (Photo prise entre 1870 and 1880) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lillian found one more piece of evidence that may provide more answers.  On May 12, 1873, a man named Julius Schoenthal wrote a letter to then US President Ulysses S. Grant, and that letter is in the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Collection at Mississippi State University.  I have ordered a copy of the letter and hope to receive it within a week or so.  I am hoping that perhaps it will be the right Julius Schoenthal and that it will reveal something about his life before being discharged from the army and marrying Minnie Dahl.  Maybe I will find some clue, some evidence that ties him to my Schoenthals and explains some of the confusing and conflicting evidence I’ve found so far. And now I am curious enough about Julius that I broke down and ordered his pension file, but found someone who could retrieve it for me for a more reasonable price.

Assuming that Julius was in fact my great-grandfather’s brother, it would mean that by 1880 five of the seven surviving sons and one of the three daughters of Levi Schoenthal and Jette Hamberg had left Sielen, Germany, and moved to the United States.  All but Julius were living in western Pennsylvania in 1880. As the Beers biography points out, by 1880, Henry and Helen Schoenthal had had three children, “Madaline, born March 16, 1873, died in infancy; Hilda, born June 25, 1874; Lionel, born April 14, 1877.”  Amalie and her husband Elias Wolfe had had three: Maurice (1873), Florence (1875), and Lionel (Lee) (1877).  I assume the two Lionels were named for their grandfather Levi Schoenthal, who had died back in Sielen in 1874. Simon and his wife Rose had had five children in the 1870s: Ida (1873), Harry (1873), Gertrude (1875), Louis (1877—probably also named for Levi), and Maurice (1878).  Julius and his wife Minnie had four children in the 1870s: Leo (1875—also probably for Levi), Rosalia (1876), Sylvester (1878), and Moretto (1879).  Thus, in one decade the Schoenthal siblings had produced fifteen new American born children.

Levi Schoenthal death record March 1874 HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 773, S. 9

Levi Schoenthal death record March 1874
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 773, S. 9

 

In the next decade, my great-grandfather Isidore would arrive as well as his mother and two other sisters.  There would be only one Schoenthal left in Germany, at least for a while.  Almost all the descendants of Levi and Henrietta (Hamberg) Schoenthal would be born in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Text taken from page 1057 of:

Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).

Transcribed March 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.

Published March 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.