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

By the time she turned sixteen on April 13, 1945, Inge Goldschmidt had been to three concentration camps and beaten by Nazi youth in Kassel and by guards at the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Oederan. She had been separated from her brother, who was sent to the US in October 1938, and then from her parents in 1944 when she was sent from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz. She had no idea whether her parents were alive and assumed that they were not.1

The day after her sixteenth birthday, she and the others imprisoned at the Oederan camp were transported in cattle wagons away from the Eastern front where Russia was making headway into Germany. They stopped at many camps, and finally on April 21, 1945, Inge and the others were dropped off at Theriesenstadt, the place where she had last seen her parents, Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt. She had not seen them in close to a year and did not expect to find them alive. They also assumed she had been killed at Auschwitz.

Someone recognized Inge as she entered Theriesenstadt, and when she told Inge that her parents were still alive and still at Theriesenstadt, Inge passed out. Inge was dangerously sick with typhoid, weighing only sixty pounds. Her mother didn’t recognize her when she saw her. Slowly Inge was nursed back to health and joyfully reunited with her parents.

The war ended, and the Russians took over Theriesenstadt. Even though they were no longer at war, the people had nowhere to go and no way to get anywhere because of the destruction of the train lines and roads by Allied bombing during the war. Inge and her parents stayed at Theriesenstadt until July 1945 when they then returned to Cologne, where they were provided with an apartment.

Transit card from Terezin, Elfriede Goldschmidt, 1945. Courtesy of the family

You can see from their eyes and expressions in this photograph taken after the war some of the effects of their experiences during the Holocaust.

Elfriede, Rudolf, and Inge Goldschmidt c. 1945 Courtesy of the family

Inge joined a youth group of other Jewish survivors; most did not have any family members who survived, and her parents helped many of them, becoming like surrogate parents to her friends. Here is a photograph of her with some of her friends in post-war Cologne.

Inge Goldschmidt and friends in Cologne, c. 1947-1948. Courtesy of the family

These two photographs of Inge taken in post-war Cologne show some of the rubble caused by the bombing of Cologne.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1947-1948, Cologne. Courtesy of the family

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1949 Courtesy of the family

Inge’s brother Gunther sent her this photograph for her nineteenth birthday in April, 1948.

Gunther Goldschmidt, 1948. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede and Rudolf desperately wanted to get to the US and be reunited with their son Gunther, but because Cologne was in the British Sector, they could not get permission to do so. So for three and a half years they waited until Gunther was able to get his parents out, and then once they arrived in the US, Elfriede and Rudolph were able to get Inge out. Apparently children could get visas for parents and vice versa, but siblings could not get them for siblings.

Rudolf and Elfriede Goldschmidt in Bremen, leaving for the US, 1949. Courtesy of the family

Finally in July 1949, the family was reunited. Inge was now twenty years old. Her parents were working at a hotel in the Catskills and had no money.

Rudolf and Elfriede Goldschmidt in the Catskills (Fleishmans) in the summer of 1949. Courtesy of the family

Inge got a job in a factory in New York, and in the fall her parents joined her in New York also where they all lived in a furnished room together. Gunther was in school in Boston; although he came and lived with his family for some period of time, he remained closest to his foster family, never fully recovering from the long separation from his parents and sister. But this photograph captures Gunther and Inge in a joyful moment together.

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt c. 1950-1951 Courtesy of the family

Inge married Ernst Oppenheimer on October 14, 1950.2 Ernst was born in Augsburg, Germany, on October 17, 1919, to David Oppenheimer and Maria Kraus.3 Ernst had been sent to Dachau Concentration Camp in November 1938  after Kristallnacht, and after he was released, he was immediately sent to England, where he was in the Kushner displaced person camp until he left for the US in March, 1940. He then served in the US Army, where he was stationed at Fort Knox. He also worked on the Manhattan Project.4 Ernst and Inge had two children. Inge, who had been forced to end her formal education at age ten, passed her GED test and went to college and received not only her bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree. She became a teacher and a librarian and worked in the New York City schools for many years.

Ernst Oppenheimer and Inge Goldschmidt, 1950 Courtesy of the family

I also learned from Gunther Goldschmidt’s daughter Lisa more about his life after World War II. He married Barbara Cohen on May 16, 1959. They had three children and had moved to southern California by 1962, eventually settling in Encino. Gunther started his own advertising business there and was very successful; more importantly, Lisa described him as a devoted father.He remained close to his foster family for the rest of his life.1

Gunther and Inge’s father Rudolf Goldschmidt died on February 25, 1960, in New York; he was 73 years old.5

Tragically Gunther died from a heart attack when he was only 47; he died on November 30, 1972, in San Francisco, and was survived by his wife and young children.6

Inge and Gunther’s mother Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt made the surprising decision to return to Germany when she grew older. She wanted to live in a Jewish home for the elderly there and not burden her daughter. She died there on May 20, 1986; she was 85 years old.7

Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, who gave this interview in 1996, died twenty years later on January 24, 2016, at the age of 86.8 She was survived by her children and grandchildren, her husband Ernst having died on July 2, 2010,9 when he was ninety years old.

We should all be forever grateful to Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer and those like her who shared their stories and allowed us all to understand not only the cruel side of human nature, but also the strength and resilience of human nature. Inge’s will to survive as a young teenager under the worst of circumstances was remarkable, and her ability to move forward—to marry and have children, to go back and receive a college education and to pursue a career as a teacher and librarian—is an inspiration and a lesson in hope for all of us.


  1. The information in this post, except where otherwise noted, is from the Shoah Foundation interview with Inge Oppenheimer. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. The photographs are all courtesy of Marsha Eidlin.
  2. Ernst Oppenheimer, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1950
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Ingeborg Goldschmidt, License Number: 26365, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Email from Marsha Eidlin, daughter of Ernst and Inge Oppenheimer, August 31, 2021. 
  3.  Ernst Oppenheimer, Declaration Age: 24, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1919, Birth Place: Rugsburg, Bavaria, Germany, Declaration Date: 13 Jan 1944
    Declaration Place: Jackson, Mississippi, USA, Court District: U.S. District Court for the Jackson Division of the Southern District of Mississippi, Petition Number: 400, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, Georgia; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Mississippi, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1907-2008. Name: Max Oscar Oppenheimer
    [brother of Ernst Oppenheimer], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 19 Apr 1915
    Birth Place: Schrobenhaus, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 16 Oct 2006
    Father: David Oppenheimer, Mother: Maria Kraus, SSN: 092147186, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  4. Email from Marsha Eidlin, daughter of Ernst and Inge Oppenheimer, August 31, 2021. 
  5. Rudo Goldschmidt, Age: 73, Birth Date: abt 1887, Death Date: 25 Feb 1960
    Death Place: Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 4206, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  6. Gunther Goldschmidt, Social Security #: 488207584, Gender: Male
    Birth Date: 17 Jul 1925, Death Date: 30 Nov 1972, Death Place: San Francisco, Place: San Francisco; Date: 30 Nov 1972; Social Security: 488207584, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  7. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  8. New York Times obituary at https://archive.nytimes.com/query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage-9C04EFD71F3AF932A05752C0A9609D8B63.html; Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/214436745/inge-oppenheimer : accessed 12 September 2021), memorial page for Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer (unknown–24 Jan 2016), Find a Grave Memorial ID 214436745, citing Beth-El Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Lauren A. Hubberman Cohen (contributor 49135178) Burial Details Unknown. 
  9. Ernest Oppenheimer, Social Security Number: 094-14-0365, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1919, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Last Benefit: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 2 Jul 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

  1. Email from Lisa Goldschmidt, September 25, 2021. Gunther Goldschmidt, Spouse: Barbara Anne Cohen, Marriage Date: 2 Sep 1958, Recorded county: Clark, Page: F01, Ancestry.com. Nevada, U.S., Marriage Index, 1956-2005 

Baruch Blumenfeld: Where and When Did He Die, Part II

The mystery of where and when Baruch Blumenfeld died led me down several rabbit holes to answer several questions. Did Baruch Blumenfeld move to New York and leave his wife Emma and his daughters and his grandchildren behind? Was the 1920 census accurate in reporting that he had immigrated to the US in 1869 and become a US citizen in 1875? If so, how did he marry Emma in 1872 and father two children between 1872 and 1875? And did he really die in New York City in 1923?

I turned to several Facebook groups for further help to confirm that this was the correct Baruch. First, I asked on Tracing the Tribe for help finding more information about the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York. My fellow Blumenfeld cousin Tova Levi suggested that I try and find a connection to the family with whom Baruch was living in 1920. That led me to search for Getta and Emma Neuberger and their place of origin, including locating their extended family in New York and searching for naturalization records that might reveal where they came from in Germany.

Baruch Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 14, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1212; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 1047 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

After hours of searching and getting help from the New York City genealogy group, the German genealogy group, and the GerSIG group, including from Sandy Hahn Lanman and Matt Luders, I concluded that the Neuberger family came from Thalmassig in Bavaria, not anywhere near Hesse where Baruch had lived, and that thus it was unlikely that my Baruch would have known them before coming to the US.

Steph Mayer, one of the members of the German Genealogy group, also was very helpful. She made several suggestions, including sending me a link to the entry for Baruch Blumenfeld on genealogy.net, an important Germany genealogy website. Steph recommended that I email the contact person, Hartwig Faber, to see if he had any additional information.

And so I did, and Hartwig helped solve one part of this mystery. He noted that on the 1900 marriage record for Baruch’s daughter Charlotte, Baruch is described as living at an unknown distance. That is, by 1900 Baruch’s whereabouts were no longer known by his family.

Marriage record of Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld and Hermann Hammel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6510
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is the transcription and translation of that part of the record:

Tochter des in unbekannter Ferne weilenden Kaufmanns Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld und der nochlebenden Ehefrau Emma geb. Docter wohnhaft in Neustadt.

Daughter of the merchant Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld, living in unknown distance, and the still living wife Emma, née Docter, living in Neustadt.

That record supports the possibility that Baruch did immigrate to the US and did die in New York in 1923.

But I can’t still cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any ship manifest even when I search without limiting by dates or with wildcards on the name.

I also have had no luck finding any naturalization papers for him. I’ve gone through indexed and unindexed records on Ancestry and FamilySearch, and the only citizenship record that came close was a declaration of intention dated October 8, 1873 by a Baruch Blum. In that era declarations carried no identifying information other than the name and country of origin, so that doesn’t help very much. And I remain skeptical that Baruch would have been in the US at that time, given that he married Emma in 1872 and had a baby later that year and a second three years later.

I also cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any census record in the US except the 1920 census. If he really immigrated to the US in 1869, he should have appeared on the 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 US census enumerations.

I did find a German-born Benny Blumenfeld living as a boarder in New York in 1915 on the New York State census of that year. He was 72, so born in or close to 1843. He had no occupation. Could that be Baruch? Maybe. It says he’s been in the US for 32 years or since 1883. That would make a lot more sense than 1869, the year given on the 1920 census. There’s even a young man listed below, also a boarder in the same household, who was a butcher. Do you think this could be my Baruch?

Benny Blumenfeld 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 10; Assembly District: 10; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 38, District: A·D· 10 E·D· 10, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

But there is no one else with a similar name and age that I could locate on the 1900 or 1910 US census. My working hypothesis at this point is that Baruch Blumenfeld took on an assumed name when he immigrated and then changed it back years later.

When I received the copy of the actual death certificate for the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923, I was even more certain that he was the same person as my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

The first page of that certificate first of all made it clear that his mother’s surname was Strauss, not Lhauss. Secondly, his age is given as 80 years and eight months. Since he died in September, 1923, that means he was born in January, 1843. My Baruch was born on January 29, 1843. This definitely supports the conclusion that this was my Baruch Blumenfeld.

One other interesting bit of information is included on first page of the certificate. It reports that he had been living in the US and in New York for 42 years or since 1881. That would make a lot more sense than the year given on the 1920 census—1869. By 1881 both of Baruch’s daughters were born, and he very well might have left Germany around that time.

I was feeling pretty excited that I had enough information to confirm that this was my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld—until I looked at the reverse side of the certificate.

It indicated that Mary Farley, a sister of the deceased, had hired the undertaker to take care of Baruch’s burial. Mary Farley? A sister? There were many Mary Farleys living in the US 1923—too many to count. If I limited my search to New York City, I found 32 registered to vote in New York in 1924.1 I also searched for a Mary Farley born in Germany living in or near New York who might be the woman named on the death certificate. I only found one woman with that name born in Germany; she lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was married to a native-born American named John Farley. Her maiden name was Richardt, not Blumenfeld.

UPDATE!! Thank you so much to Lisa K of the GerSIG group on Facebook for pointing out that this is NOT the reverse of the death certificate for Baruch Blumenfeld, but for someone named James Graham. So Mary Farley must have been HIS sister. I’ve now ordered a correct version of the reverse of Baruch’s death certificate.

I very much doubt any one of the many possible Mary Farleys was Baruch’s sister. Friend, neighbor, whatever—she likely said she was the sister so she could arrange the burial for him.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923 was the same man born in Momberg, Germany, on January 29, 1843, to Abraham Blumenfeld II and Giedel Strauss? Please share you thoughts in the comments.

I am so very grateful to the genealogy village for all the help I’ve received to try and learn what happened to my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

Baruch Blumenfeld: Where and When Did He Die?

Searching for information about the death of my great-grandmother’s second cousin Baruch Blumenfeld led me down several rabbit holes. And I am still digging!

The first thirty years of his life were easy to uncover. Baruch Blumenfeld was the second child born to Abraham Blumenfeld II and Giedel Strauss. He was born on January 29, 1843, in Neustadt, Germany.

Baruch Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 628, p. 13

On February 20, 1872, he married Emma Docter, daughter of Joseph Docter and Zerline Wallach. Emma was born on February 9, 1848, in Gilserberg, Germany; her father was a veterinarian. Baruch was a merchant.

Emma Docter birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 359, p. 8

Marriage record for Baruch Blumenfeld and Emma Docter, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 629, S. 19

Baruch and Emma had two daughters. Antonie was born in Momberg on December 25, 1872, and Charlotte Jeanette was born three years later on June 28, 1875, also in Momberg.

Antonie Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628, S. 29

Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6458, Year Range: 1875, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Antonie married Sussel Siegfried Engelbert on November 5, 1894, in Neustadt. He was born on January 3, 1867, in Kassel, Germany, to Jacob Engelbert and Julie Oppenheim. Siegfried was a merchant.

Antonie Blumenfeld and Siegfried Engelbert marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6504, Year Range: 1894
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

I am very grateful to Antonie’s great-granddaughter Marsha who shared the wonderful photographs of Antonie and her family included in this post. This is a photograph of Antonie and Siegfried on the occasion of their engagement.

Antonie Blumenfeld and Siegfried Engelbert engagement, c. 1894

Antonie and Sussel had three children. Margot Engelbert was born on November 15, 1895, in Kassel.

Margot Engelbert birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 910_5120, Year Range: 1895, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Joseph Julius Engelbert was born on October 18, 1897, in Kassel.

Siegfried Engelbert birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 910_5129, Year Range: 1897, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Elfriede Caroline Engelbert was born on June 3, 1900, in Kassel.

Elfriede Engelbert birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 910_5143, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Here are two photographs of the Engelbert children, generously shared by Baruch’s great-great-granddaughter Marsha.

Elfriede Engelbert, c. 1901

Julius, Margot, and Elfriede Engelbert, c. 1902

On January 24, 1900, Antonie’s sister Charlotte married Hermann Hammel, son of Abraham Hammel and Karoline Kahn. Hermann was born in Roedelheim bei Frankfurt on November 5, 1867. He was previously married to Thekla Kass, who had died on July 21, 1898,  one week after giving birth to their daughter Caecelia, who then died when she was less than a month old on August 5, 1898.1 Charlotte and Hermann had one daughter together, Klara, born on February 17, 1901, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld and Hermann Hammel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6510
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Thus, by February, 1901, Baruch and Emma (Docter) Blumenfeld had four grandchildren.

Emma died on December 2, 1917; she was 69 years old. She’d been very fortunate to live to see those four grandchildren grow up or at least reach their teenage years.

Emma Docter Blumenfeld death record, Emma Blumenfeld, Maiden Name: Docter
Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 69, Birth Date: abt 1848, Death Date: 2 Dez 1917 (2 Dec 1917)
Death Place: Kassel, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Kassel I
Father: Joseph Docter, Mother: Juline Docter, Certificate Number: 1512, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5555, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Now we get to the mystery. Emma’s death record describes her as a widow, which would mean that Baruch had predeceased her. But I could not find a death record for Baruch in Germany nor has anyone else.

Several Ancestry trees and other secondary sources reported that Baruch died in New York City on September 22, 1923. When I first saw that, I was skeptical. Was this a mistake? Had someone attached a death record for the wrong Baruch Blumenfeld and then been copied by other tree owners?  I started to search for a source to prove where Baruch died.

Although I didn’t yet have the actual death certificate for the Baruch Blumenfeld who died on September 22, 1923, in New York, I found transcription on FamilySearch:2

Name    Baruch Blummenfeld

Sex         Male

Age        80

Residence Place Manhattan, New York, New York

Address 1505 E 83 St.

Burial Date         24 Sep 1923

Burial Place        Manhattan, New York, New York

Death Date         22 Sep 1923

Death Place        Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States

Death Place (Original)     Manhattan, New York, New York, United States

Birth Year (Estimated)     1843

Birthplace            Germany

Marital Status    Widowed

Occupation         Butcher

Race      White

Father’s Name   Abraham

Father’s Sex        Male

Father’s Birthplace           Germany

Mother’s Name Jette Lhauss

Mother’s Sex      Female

Mother’s Birthplace         Germany

Certificate Number          cn 23689

Cemetery            Union Fields

Note      Lenox Hill Hospital

In many ways this fit my Baruch Blumenfeld. He was a widower in 1923 and 80 years old. He came from a long line of butchers. His father’s name was Abraham. His mother’s name wasn’t Jette Lhauss, but it was Giedel Strauss, and that’s close enough to assume this was a transcription error by the indexer at FamilySearch.

But then…

I found a Baruch Blumenfeld on the 1920 US census living at the address given on this death certificate—1505 East 83rd Street in New York. He was single and living as a boarder with Getter [sic: actually Getta] and Emma Neuberger, who were also German born. But according to the census record, this Baruch had come to the US in 1869 and had become a naturalized US citizen in 1875.

Baruch Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 14, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1212; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 1047
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

My Baruch married Emma Docter in 1872 and had two daughters between then and 1875 in Neustadt, Germany. How could he have been living in the United States and getting naturalized there? Was he living in New York and traveling to Germany to father those children? Or could the Baruch Blumenfeld living in New York be a different man who just happened to be born the same year and have a father the same name as my cousin Baruch?

More to come…including the actual death certificate.


  1.  Thekla Kass, Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 24, Birth Date: 6 Jul 1871
    Marriage Date: 23 Dez 1895 (23 Dec 1895), Marriage Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main
    Father: Michael Kass, Mother: Esther Kass, Spouse: Hermann Hammel, Certificate Number: 46, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930. Thekla Hammel, Maiden Name: Kass
    Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 27, Birth Date: abt 1871, Death Date: 21 Jul 1898
    Death Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
    Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main, Father: Michael Kass
    Mother: Ester Kass, Certificate Number: 76, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958. Cäcilie Hammel, Age: 0
    Birth Date: abt 1898, Death Date: 5 Aug 1898, Death Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main
    Father: Hermann Hammel, Mother: Thekla Hammel, Certificate Number: 83,
    Personenstandsregister Sterberegister, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958. 
  2. “New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W1H-FP1 : 3 June 2020), Baruch Blummenfeld, 1923. 

Photographs of My Hecht Cousins

Thanks to one grandson and three great-granddaughters of my great-aunt Taube “Tillie” Brotman Hecht, I have some photographs to share of Taube and Jacob’s children and grandchildren.

Harry Hecht’s granddaughter Jan shared these two photographs of Harry, Sophie, and their three children. The first is from Helene Hecht’s Sweet Sixteen celebration in 1944, and the second is from her sister’s Claire’s Sweet Sixteen in 1945:

Harry Hecht, Helene Hecht, Ed Hecht, Sophie Slotnick Hecht, and Claire Hecht 1944. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

Helene Hecht, Harry Hecht, Claire Hecht, Sophie Slotnick Hecht, Ed Hecht 1945.
Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

Taube Brotman Hecht’s grandson Jerry shared these photographs of four of the Hecht sisters with him, probably taken in the 1940s:

Ruth Hecht Oshinsky, Joan Tushinsky, Etta Hecht Schwartz, Jerry Oshinsky, and Shirley Hecht Tushinsky Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Shirley Hecht Tushinsky, Jerold Oshinsky, Etta Hecht Schwartz, Joan Tushinsky, Ruth Hecht Oshinsky c. 1947 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Ida Hecht Goldfarb’s granddaughters Sue and Debrah shared this photograph of the Hecht sisters and their families at a Hanukkah celebration in the 1950s:

Seated left to right: Joan Tushinsky, Sylvia Goldfarb Leyner Horowitz, Neil Horowitz, Shirley Hecht Tushinsky, Evelyn Goldfarb Block, Susan Leyner, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Renee Gross, Jean Hecht Gross, Etta Hecht Schwartz. Standing left to right: Julius Goldfarb, Sam Oshinsky, Louis Tushinsky, Sam Block, Ethel Goldfarb Rothman, Louis Gross, Gertrude Goldfarb Levy, Herbert Rothman, Stan Rappaport, Ben Levy, Ruth Hecht Oshinsky c. 1955 Courtesy of Debrah Block-Krol and Sue Leyner Wartur

And Sue shared this photograph of the Hecht family at her wedding in 1959:

Etta Hecht Schwartz, Jean Hecht Gross, Louis Gross, Shirley Hecht Tushinsky, Louis Tushinsky, Joan Tushinsky. Standing are Sam Oshinsky, Ruth Hecht Oshinsky, Jerold Oshinsky. 1959. Courtesy of Sue Leyner Wartur

Jerry shared this undated photograph of Ruth Hecht Oshinsky, Joan Tushinsky, and Shirley Hecht Tushinsky:

Ruth Hecht Oshinsky, Joan Tushinsky, Shirley Hecht Tushinsky. Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

By the late 1950s, the family began to suffer losses of these Hecht siblings. Both of the Hecht brothers died in 1959. Harry Hecht died on February 11, 1959; he was 66 years old.1 His wife Sophie and their three children survived him. Sophie died sixteen years later on June 8, 1975; she was 81.2 There would be seven grandchildren to survive them.

Courtesy of Jan Huttner

Courtesy of Jan Huttner

David Hecht died ten months after his older brother Harry. He was 63 when he died on December 7, 1959.3

Sue shared this Hecht family photograph taken in 1961, the last photograph I have of all the Hecht sisters and their families:

Rear, left to right: Evelyn Goldfarb Block, Jerry Oshinsky, Renee Gross Rappaport, Stan Rappaport, Joan Tushinsky, Lou Tushinsky, Shirley Hecht Tushinsky, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Lou Gross, Sylvia Goldfarb Horowitz, Susan Leyner. Middle row, left to right: Ruth Hecht Oshinsky, Jean Hecht Gross, Etta Hecht Schwartz. Front row, Toby and Jennifer Rappaport

Ida Hecht Goldfarb was the first Hecht sister to pass away. She died seven years after her brothers Harry and David on March 7, 1966, at the age of 71; she was survived by her husband Julius and their four daughters and nine grandchildren. Julius died two years later on November 20, 1968; he was 81.

Etta Hecht Schwartz was 77 when she died on February 4, 1976;4 her husband Nathan Schwartz had predeceased her in November 1965 when he was 72.5

Shirley Hecht Tushinsky died on December 20, 1980, when she was 77;6 her husband Louis Tushinsky had predeceased her. He’d died on December 6, 1977, when he also was 77.7They were survived by their daughter Joan.

Ruth Hecht Oshinsky and her husband Samuel Oshinsky both died in 1991.  Ruth was 86 when she died on February 7, 1991,8 and Samuel was 79 when he died on July 4, 1991.9 They were survived by their son Jerold and his family.

Jean Hecht Gross outlived all her siblings as well as her husband Louis Gross, who died on July 26, 1992, when he was 96.10 Jean was just a few months shy of her 101st birthday when she died on February 3, 2001.11 She was survived by her daughter Renee and her family.

The Hecht siblings—Harry, Ida, David, Etta, Jean, Shirley, Ruth, and Evelyn— were my mother’s (half) first cousins, yet as far as I know, she never knew them. Their children, Taube and Jacob’s grandchildren, are my (half) second cousins—including my cousin Jerry. Jan, Sue, and Debrah are my half second cousins, once removed.11 I am so grateful to them all for helping me tell the story of these two families, the Hechts and the Goldfarbs.


  1. Harry Sidney Hecht, Record Type: Military Service, Birth Date: 24 May 1892
    Military Date: 9 May 1919, Residence Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: 11 Feb 1959, Ancestry.com. U.S., Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940 
  2.  Sophie Hecht, Social Security Number: 140-18-4807
    Birth Date: 25 Apr 1894, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New Jersey
    Last Residence: 07306, Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: Jun 1975,
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. David Hecht, Age: 63, Birth Date: abt 1896, Death Date: 7 Dec 1959
    Death Place: Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 24385,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  4.  Etta Schwartz, Death Date: 4 Feb 1976, Death Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Year Range: 1976; Surname Range: O-Z; Title: New Jersey, Death Indexes, 1904-2000, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1901-2017 
  5.  Nathan Schwartz, Social Security Number: 132-09-5377, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1893
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Nov 1965, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Shirley Tushinsky, Social Security Number: 063-52-2110, Birth Date: 3 May 1903
    Issue Year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11239, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File; Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/64008057/shirley-tushinsky : accessed 22 June 2021), memorial page for Shirley Tushinsky (3 May 1903–20 Dec 1980), Find a Grave Memorial ID 64008057, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Erice Wilcox (contributor 47002678) . 
  7.  Louis Tushinsky, Social Security Number: 102-09-9667, Birth Date: 15 May 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11239, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/64008131/louis-tushinsky : accessed 22 June 2021), memorial page for Louis Tushinsky (3 May 1901–6 Dec 1977), Find a Grave Memorial ID 64008131, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Erice Wilcox (contributor 47002678) . 
  8. Ruth Oshinsky, Age at Death: 86, Birth Date: 2 Jun 1904, Death Date: 7 Feb 1991
    Death Place: Palm Beach, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998 
  9. Samuel H Oshinsky, Age at Death: 79, Birth Date: 25 Jan 1912, Death Date: 4 Jul 1991, Death Place: Palm Beach, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998 
  10.  Louis Gross, Social Security Number: 080-28-8420, Birth Date: 22 Oct 1895
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11374, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 26 Jul 1992, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/88019160/louis-gross : accessed 22 June 2021), memorial page for Louis Gross (1896–26 Jul 1992), Find a Grave Memorial ID 88019160, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by DMC (contributor 47184694) . 
  11. Sue and Debrah are also my third cousins through Ida Hecht’s husband Julius Goldfarb, my grandmother’s first cousin, and so my double cousins, as I discussed in earlier posts

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Family: Some Tragic Times

When the 1930 census was taken, the Hecht family was divided between Brooklyn and Jersey City. Taube and Jacob were living with David, Ruth, and Evelyn in Jersey City. Jacob was not working, but the three adult children were all employed. Ida Hecht and her husband Julius Goldfarb and their four daughters were also in Jersey City as were Jean Hecht and her husband Louis Gross and their daughter and Etta Hecht and her husband Nathan Schwartz. Brooklyn was home to Harry Hecht, his wife Sophie Slotnick, and their children and to Shirley Hecht and her husband Louis Tushinsky.

Unfortunately, 1930 did not end well for the Hecht family. Jacob Hecht died on October 21, 1930; he was 67 years old.1 The family remembers him not only as a fine tailor who sewed beautiful clothing for his daughters but also as a “bucher,” a learner or student.2

The next major lifecycle event for the family was Evelyn Hecht’s marriage to Samuel Oshinsky in 1938.3 Samuel was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 25, 1912, to Harry and Dora Oshinsky. He grew up in Brooklyn, and his father was an operator in a coat factory just as Evelyn’s father Jacob had been.4 In 1930 Samuel was working as a shipping clerk in a wholesale house.5

Here are two sweet photographs of Samuel and Evelyn, courtesy of their son Jerry.

Evelyn Hecht and Samuel Oshinsky. c. 1938 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Samuel Oshinsky and Evelyn Hecht, c. 1938. Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

After marrying, Evelyn and Samuel moved into the same building where her mother Taube was living with David and Ruth (formerly Rose) in Jersey City. According to the 1940 census, Samuel was working as a bartender in a tavern, Evelyn was a clerk in a pencil factory, and Evelyn’s sister Ruth was an assistant in a doctor’s office. David was not employed.  On his World War II draft registration, Sam Oshinsky reported that he was self-employed.6  There was no World War II draft registration for David.

Hecht and Oshinsky, 1940 US census, Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Harry Hecht and his family were also living in Jersey City in 1940, and like his brother-in-law Samuel Oshinsky, Harry was working as a bartender in a tavern.7 Were they working in the same tavern? Could it have been my great-uncle Hyman Brotman’s bar in Jersey City? Harry’s World War II registration reports that he worked at Sherman’s Bar in Jersey City. My great-uncle Hyman was known as Herman in business. His wife’s name was Sophie. I have a hunch that both Harry and Samuel were working for Hyman; he was, after all, Harry and Evelyn’s uncle, their mother Taube’s half-brother. And Harry had been working for him in 1925 in Jersey City.  But I can’t prove that’s where they were working.

Harry Hecht, 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 New Jersey; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1986, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Harry’s granddaughter Jan shared this adorable photograph of her mother Helene, Harry and Sophie’s oldest child.

Helene Hecht, 1933. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

Etta Hecht and her husband Nathan Schwartz were also living in Jersey City in 1940, and Nathan was working as a salesman. But by 1942 when Nathan registered for the World War II draft, he was living in Brooklyn and working for the Drake School in New York City.8

Jean Hecht and Louis Gross had also left Jersey City for New York by 1940. They and their daughter were living on West 74th Street in Manhattan, and Louis was the owner of a liquor store at 206 West End Avenue in Manhattan, according to his World War II draft registration.9

Shirley Hecht and Louis Tushinsky and their daughter were also in New York in 1940, though in Brooklyn. Louis described his occupation on the 1940 census as a chauffeur for a taxi company.  On his World War II draft registration he reported that he had his own business.10

Evelyn Hecht and Samuel Oshinsky’s son Jerold was born in the early 1940s, giving Taube her tenth and last-born grandchild. Here is a photograph of Evelyn, Sam, and Jerold:

Sam Oshinsky, Jerry Oshinsky, Evelyn Hecht Oshinsky c. 1943 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Overall, by 1942, the family of my great-aunt Taube Brotman Hecht was doing fairly well. Taube had ten grandchildren, and her children were all living fairly close by—some in Jersey City, and no one further than New York City.

And then tragedy struck. On August 12, 1943, Taube’s daughter Evelyn Hecht Oshinsky died after a long illness, according to an obituary in the Jersey Journal; the family reports that she had leukemia. She was only 35 years old and left behind her husband Samuel and a very young child, their son Jerold.11

As often happened when a father was left with a young motherless child, Samuel turned to Evelyn’s sister Ruth, and in January 1944, Ruth and Samuel applied for a marriage license. They were married soon thereafter.12 Ruth became Jerold’s adoptive mother and, according to Jerold, raised him with as much love and devotion as if she’d given birth to him herself. In his memoir he wrote, “She devoted her life to mine, and I think that whatever value system I have today came from the unconditional love of my father Sam and my mother Ruth, the only mother I knew…”13

But that was not the end of the family’s heartbreak. In February 1944, after a snowstorm that left the sidewalks and roads slippery, Taube fell and broke her leg after falling in Jersey City.

Jersey Journal, February 12, 1944, p. 6

That in itself was not tragic. But that fall ultimately led to Taube’s death five months later on July 23, 1944. According to her death certificate, her death was caused by osteomyelitis “following injuries received in accidental fall on sidewalk.” The Mayo Clinic defined osteomyelitis as follows: “Osteomyelitis is an infection in a bone. Infections can reach a bone by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue. Infections can also begin in the bone itself if an injury exposes the bone to germs.”

Tillie Hecht death certificate, 1944 NJ Death Certificates, Microfilm 921 (Trenton, NJ: State Archives)

Taube “Tillie” Brotman Hecht was “about 71” at the time of her death, according to the informant on her death certificate, her son Harry. She had lived a challenging but, I hope, fulfilling life. She had arrived in the US from Tarnobrzeg in today’s Poland, possibly alone and as at most a young teenager. She married Jacob Hecht in 1891 and gave birth to and raised eight children to adulthood. She never became a US citizen and was never wealthy. She and Jacob raised those children on the earnings of a tailor in a sweatshop in New York City. They moved at least every few years if not more often between 1892 and 1925 or so when they moved to Jersey City.

Taube lost her husband Jacob in 1930 not many years after the move to Jersey City, and then in 1943, she lost her youngest child Evelyn, who was only 35 years old. And then less than a year after losing Evelyn, she herself succumbed from an illness caused by an unfortunate accident.

Taube was the lost sister of my grandmother Gussie Brotman for so many years of my research, discovered only by the serendipity of seeing the name “Mrs. Taube Hecht” in my aunt’s baby book from 1917. I am so glad that I found her and that I could tell her story.


  1. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/131974364/jacob-hecht : accessed 16 June 2021), memorial page for Jacob Hecht (1863–21 Oct 1930), Find a Grave Memorial ID 131974364, citing Union Field Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) . 
  2. Email from Sue Wartur, September 28, 2016. 
  3.  Evelyn Hecht, Marriage Date: 1938, Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA
    Spouse: Samuel H Oshinsky, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1938; Surname Range: A – Z; Reel Number: 36, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Samuel H Oshinsky, Birth Date: 25 Jan 1912, Birth Place: Brookyn, New York, Death Date: 4 Jul 1991, Claim Date: 4 Feb 1974, Father: Harry Oshinsky, Mother:
    Dora Unk, SSN: 152206742, Citizenship or Alien Status: U.S. citizen, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Oshinsky family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 19, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1174; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 1159, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census.  . 
  5. Samuel Oshinsky, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0355; FHL microfilm: 2341268, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6. Samuel Oshinsky, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 494, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  7. Harry Hecht, World War II draft registration, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 62A; Enumeration District: 24-50, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. Schwartz, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02402; Page: 61A; Enumeration District: 24-58, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census; Nat L. Schwartz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  9. Gross, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02636; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 31-572, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census; Louis Gross, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  10. Tushinsky, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02586; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 24-1544, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census;  Louis Tushinsky, 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 
  11. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/130163022/evelyn-oshinsky : accessed 16 June 2021), memorial page for Evelyn Oshinsky (unknown–1943), Find a Grave Memorial ID 130163022, citing Union Field Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) ; “Mrs. Evelyn Oshinsky,” Jersey Journal, August 13, 1943, p. 10. Unpublished memoir of Jerold Oshinsky, Part I, p. 3 (2012). 
  12.  Ruth Hecht, Marriage Date: 1944, Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA
    Spouse: Samuel Oshinsky, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1944; Surname Range: A – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016; Jersey Journal, January 27, 1944, p. 19. 
  13. Unpublished memoir of Jerold Oshinsky, Part I, p. 3 (2012) 

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Family Expands in the 1920s: Weddings and Grandchildren

My cousin Harry Hecht served valiantly in World War I and returned home safely. In 1920, he was back from the war and living at home in New York City with his parents Jacob and Taube (Tillie) Hecht and his seven siblings at 10 East 4th Street, revealing yet another move for the Hecht family.

The 1920 census reports that Jacob was 57, Taube was 47, and both now said they were born in Poland, a reflection of post-World War I boundary changes. Jacob said he immigrated to the US in 1887, and Taube said she arrived in 1885. Jacob was still an operator in a cloak factory; according to family lore, Jacob was a very talented tailor and clothing maker and made beautiful clothing for his daughters.1 He and Taube were still not US citizens.

Harry was a department store salesman; when he completed his Jewish Servicemen Questionnaire after his service, he wrote that he was working at Gimbels.2 David was a clerk for the War Department, and three of the sisters were working as stenographers: Etta, “Augusta” (Gussie), and Sadie.  The two youngest children, Rebecca (Rose, later Ruth) and Eva, were in school. The siblings now ranged from eleven year old Eva up to 27 year old Harry.

Hecht family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 226 Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

So Taube and Jacob still had a very large household in 1920. Fortunately by this time most of their children were working and Jacob no longer had to provide for them all on his earnings as a cloakmaker in a sweatshop.

In December 1924 Etta Hecht, the second oldest daughter and fourth child, married Nathan Louis Schwartz. 3 Nathan was born on May 27, 1893, in Romania, the son of Joseph and Esther Schwartz. They immigrated to the US in 1901 and settled in New York. Nathan was an artist; his World War I draft registration listed his occupation as “Jappanar.” From what I can find, it means that he created works that were varnished like works of Japanese art. His draft registration, however, says he was taking courses in medicine at Columbia as well.4

A Japanned tea tray. Elliott Brown from Birmingham, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

By 1925, the family had once again relocated, this time to Jersey City, New Jersey, where Taube and Jacob’s oldest daughter Ida was living. Ida and Julius now had four daughters, Sylvia (1915), Gertrude (1917), Ethel (1923), and Evelyn (1925). Perhaps the lure of all those grandchildren was too much for Jacob and Taube, so they left New York and moved to New Jersey. Family lore5 is that Julius and Ida bought a house for Ida’s parents.

The 1925 Jersey City directory shows that Jacob was working as a tailor and Jean (formerly Gussie) and Shirley (formerly Sadie) were stenographers; they were living at 306 4th Street in Jersey City, presumably also with Taube and the younger children.

Hechts in 1925 Jersey City directory, Title : Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory, 1925 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Harry was also living in Jersey City, but at a different address, 364 Newark Street; most interesting to me is that he was working for my great-uncle and his first cousin, Herman Brotman. Herman is also listed in that 1925 Jersey City directory, and his place of business was at the same address Harry gave for his residence, 364 Newark Street.6

Two years later Harry married Sophie Slotnick in New York on May 9, in 1927.7 Sophie was born on April 25, 1894,8 in Russia, to Chaim Hersh Zolonitsky and Hadassah Hodes Levin. She arrived the US on August 21, 1911, as Shifre Zlotnitsky and said she was meeting her brother Alter (later Arthur) in New York.9 In 1915, she was living in New York with her sister Rose,10 and in 1920 she was living in Victoria, Texas with her brother Ed.11 But after Ed married in 1925, she returned to New York and in 1927, married Harry Hecht.

Here is a photograph of Harry and Sophie, courtesy of their granddaughter Jan:

Harry Hecht and Sophie Slotnick. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

Sophie and Harry had their first child Helene on October 4, 1928, in Brooklyn.12 They would have two more children in the next several years. In 1930 they were living in Brooklyn, and Harry was the proprietor of a store.13

Harry Hecht and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 1357; FHL microfilm: 2341257, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Jean Hecht also married around this time. She married Louis Gross, and the 1930 census indicates that they had been married two years at the time of enumeration so presumably in 1928.14 Louis was born Lieb on October 22, 1895, in Bojanow in what is now Poland to Herz (Harris in the US) Gross  and Chave (Eva in the US) Zuckerbrod.15  Louis and his mother and siblings immigrated to the US in 1906.16 Like Jean’s father Jacob, Louis’ father was a tailor. When he registered for the draft in 1917, Louis was working as a clerk for the Hy Grade Wine Company.17 In 1920, he was working in a candy store and living with his family in the Bronx.18

After Louis and Jean married, they settled in Jersey City, and in 1930, Louis was the owner of a luncheonette. They had one daughter who was born in 1930.

Gross family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 38B; Enumeration District: 0076; FHL microfilm: 2341087, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Shirley Hecht was the third Hecht child to marry before 1930. According to the 1930 census, she’d been married to Louis Tuchinsky (later spelled Tushinsky) for a year when the census was enumerated.19 He was born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine) on May 4, 1900, and had immigrated when he was ten with his parents Jacob and Rose Tuchinsky.20 In 1920 Louis had been working as a spinner in a cotton and silk business and living with his parents on the Lower East Side.21

After they married, Shirley and Louis were living in Brooklyn. Louis was an operator in a shirt factory, and Shirley was doing clerical work in an office. Shirley and Louis had one daughter born in the 1930s.

Louis and Shirley Tushinsky 1930 census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0211; FHL microfilm: 2341254, District: 0211, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Thus, by 1930, four of the children of Jacob and Taube Hecht were married: Harry, Ida, Jean, and Shirley. Harry and Shirley were living in Brooklyn, and Ida and Jean were living in Jersey City where Jacob and Taube also continued to live. Still at home living with their parents were David (34), Rose (24), and Eva (22), now called Evelyn. Jacob and Taube were still not US citizens, and Jacob was no longer employed. David was working as a real estate broker, and Rose and Evelyn were stenographers.

Jacob and Tillie Hecht 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1353; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; Image: 602.0; FHL microfilm: 2341088

I decided to track all the places Jacob and Taube had lived since they married. Between 1892 and 1930 they lived in at least nine places.

Finally Jacob and Taube seemed to have settled in one place, Jersey City, and Jacob was no longer responsible for supporting all those children. In fact, now it appears that their children were supporting them.

But unfortunately Jacob did not get to enjoy that luxury for very long.

 

 


  1. Email from Sue Wartur, September 28, 2016. 
  2. Harry S Hecht, Legal Residence: New York City, New York, Birth Date: 24 May 1892, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (B) Casualties (Boxes 6-9); Box #: 6; Folder #: 6; Box Info: (Box 6) H-Hez, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921 
  3. Etta Hecht, Maiden Name: Hecht, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: Dec 1924
    Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA, Spouse: N S, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1920-1929; Surname Range: H – K, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M8-21J?cc=1999177&wc=MDSY-XZ9%3A326209701%2C329738001 : 7 November 2018), New York Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1918 vol 308, no 76051-76300 image 446 of 662; Citing multiple County Clerk offices of New York. Schwartz family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 226, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Nathan Schwartz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  5. See note 1. 
  6. Herman Brotman, Title: Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory, 1925, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Harry S Hecht, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 9 May 1927
    Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Sophie Slotnick, License Number: 7376, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  8. Sophie Hecht, Social Security Number: 140-18-4807, Birth Date: 25 Apr 1894
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New Jersey, Last Residence: 07306, Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: Jun 1975, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Shifre Zlotnitsky, ship manifest, Year: 1911; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 21; Page Number: 170, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/75777178/haddasa-hodes-zolotnitzky : accessed 08 June 2021), memorial page for Haddasa Hodes Zolotnitzky (unknown–23 Nov 1924), Find a Grave Memorial ID 75777178, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 
  10. Sophie Zlotnick, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 16; Assembly District: 08; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 135, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  11. Sophie Zlotnick, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Justice Precinct 4, Victoria, Texas; Roll: T625_1847; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 154, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Helene Huttner, Social Security Number: 149-16-9540, Birth Date: 4 Oct 1928
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New Jersey, Last Residence: 80904, Colorado Springs, El Paso, Colorado, USA, Last Benefit: 33446, Delray Beach, Palm Beach, Florida, USA, Death Date: 27 Nov 2007, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Harry Hecht and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 1357; FHL microfilm: 2341257, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  14. Louis and Jean Gross, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 38B; Enumeration District: 0076; FHL microfilm: 2341087,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  15. Louis (Lieb) Gross, Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 170, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944; Gross family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 1661; FHL microfilm: 1375025, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  16. Ship manifest, Year: 1906; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 27; Page Number: 93, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  17. Louis Gross, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: Bronx, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  18. Gross family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 4, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1136; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 249,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  19. Dochinsky [Tushinsky], 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0211; FHL microfilm: 2341254,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  20. Louis Tushinsky, 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, Name Range: Schur, Samuel-Urban, George, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Tuchinsky, 1920 census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1186; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 116, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  21. Tuchinsky, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1186; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 116,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Son Harry: A Son of Immigrants and a World War I Hero

In 1910, the family of Jacob and Taube (Tillie) Hecht was living in Brooklyn, as we saw. But by 1913, they had returned to Manhattan. Their oldest daughter Ida married Julius Goldfarb on November 20, 1913. Both she and Julius were living at the same address, 131 Avenue C, in Manhattan, according to their marriage certificate.

Marriage certificate of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:243Y-5QW : 10 February 2018), Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, 20 Nov 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,807.

But no, they weren’t living together before they married. Their families lived in the same building. The 1915 New York State census shows that the family of Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb and the family of Taube (Brotman) and Jacob Hecht were all living at that same address. As I’ve mentioned before, also living at that address were my great-uncle Hyman/Herman Brotman, Taube’s half-brother, and his family.

Goldfarb, Hyman Brotman and family, and Jacob Hecht, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85
Description District: A·D· 06 E·D· 18, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

The 1915 NYS census reported that Jacob was 50, Taube (Tillie) 40, that both were born in Austria, had been in the US for 30 years, and were still not citizens of the United States. Jacob was working as a tailor. They still had seven children living at home with them. Their oldest child Harry was 23 and a salesman at a department store. David (19), Etta (16), Gussie (14), Sadie (12), Rosie (9), and Eva (7) were all in school.

I am very grateful to my cousin Jerry for sharing this photograph of Taube and Jacob and all eight of their children, taken probably around 1915.

Standing rear: Julius Goldfarb, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Harry Hecht, David Hecht, Etta Hecht. Standing front: Sadie (Shirley) Hecht, Taube “Tillie” Hecht, Eva (Evelyn) Hecht, Jacob Hecht, Ruth Hecht, Gussie (Jean) Hecht. c. 1915 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Meanwhile, Ida and Julius had moved to Jersey City, and I’ve told their story here, here, and here, so will not repeat it again, except to note that Taube and Jacob became grandparents when Ida gave birth to her first daughter Sylvia on May 7, 1915, in Jersey City. Ida had had her second child, Gertrude, on June 28, 1917, in Jersey City, giving Taube and Jacob their second grandchild.

By that time, the US had entered World War I, and both of Taube and Jacob’s sons registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. They were living at 306 East 11th Street in Manhattan, showing that the Hecht family had moved yet again.

Harry was working as a salesman at B. Altman’s department store. He described himself as tall and slender with brown hair and brown eyes.

Harry Hecht, World War I draft registration, New York; Registration County: New York
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

David was a student and employed by City College of New York. He also described himself as tall, slight, with brown hair and brown eyes. David claimed an exemption from service for physical reasons not specified. David did end up working as a clerk for the War Department.

David Hecht, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harry, however, was drafted into the US Army on September 28, 1917. He was sent to Camp Upton for basic training and  assigned to Company K of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion of the 77th Division. He was promoted to a bugler in December, 1917,1 and shipped out to Europe with his company on April 16, 1918.2

His granddaughter Jan shared this photograph of Harry in uniform.

Harry Hecht, c. 1918. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

A detailed journal of the wartime activities of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion written by Henry W. Smith can be found here. It provides an almost day by day description of the training and experiences and the course of the battles these soldiers fought in France.

Harry spent a year serving overseas in France in some of the most important and most deadly battles of World War I. He served in the Baccarat Sector, where this video was filmed and shows the arrival of the 77th Division.3

He also served in the Vesle Sector and fought in the third Oise Aisne offensive in the late summer of 1918, one of the most important battles of the war as the Allied forces began to force the Germans to retreat. Here is a film of the Oise Aisne offensive.

Harry was gassed during the Oise Aisne offensive on September 5, 1918, and evacuated to the 305th Field Hospital. But he returned to the battlefield and fought in the Meuse Argonne offensive in the fall of 1918.4

As described on the National Archives website:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.

Fortunately, Harry was not among those killed in this horrific battle. He was promoted to the rank of private first class in November, 1918, and received a regimental citation for his outstanding service. The citation specified that, “For extraordinary heroism in the Bois de la Naza, Argonne Forest, when the battalion was held up by heavy machine gun fire from Oct. 1 to 5, 1918, P.F.C. Hecht continuously delivered messages to 3 Bat. Hdqtrs. and also maintained liaison with Cos. M & L 305 Inf who were on our right at that time, being subjected at all times to machine gun and shell fire.”5

Harry was discharged from the Army on May 9, 1919,6 and returned home, an American hero: a son of Jewish immigrants, a boy whose father worked in a sweatshop sewing coats to provide for his wife and eight children, and my mother’s first cousin. I am proud to call him my cousin as well.

 


  1. Harry Sidney Hecht, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919; Harry Hecht, Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (B) Casualties (Boxes 6-9); Box #: 6; Folder #: 6; Box Info: (Box 6) H-Hez, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921 
  2.  Harry Sidney Hecht, Departure Date: 16 Apr 1918, Departure Place: New York, New York, Address: 306 E 11th St, Residence Place: New York, New York
    Father: Jacob Hecht, Ship: Cedric, Rank: Bugl, Service Number: #1698294
    Notes: Company “K” 305th Infantry NA, 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: 404, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  3. See note 1, above. 
  4. See note 1, above. 
  5. See note 1, above. 
  6. See note 1, above. 

The Growing Family of Taube Brotman and Jacob Hecht: An Exercise in Deciphering Census Records

Although the evidence of Taube Brotman’s life before 1892 is very limited, beginning with her son Harry’s birth certificate, we have evidence of her life after arriving in the US, probably in 1887.

Harry Hecht birth certificate

The birth record for Harry indicates that he was born at 33 East Houston Street in New York City on May 24, 1892, that his parents were Jacob Hecht and Toba Brotman and that they were living at that same address. Jacob was 25 and working as a cloaks operator, that is, in a sweatshop, and Toba was 20, suggesting a birth year of 1872. Both reported that they were born in Austria. Harry was Toba’s first child.

Where it says there are now seven children living, you might be puzzled. But this birth certificate was not filed until 1906, fourteen years after Harry’s birth, for reasons that are not clear. As we will see, Jacob and Taube Hecht were not very conscientious about filing records with the city. But by 1906, Jacob and Taube did in fact have seven children.

The 1900 census is the next source of information about Taube’s early years in the US.  It is rich with information, but also filled with errors and almost illegible cross outs. First, it gives Taube’s name as Mitilda—probably because she was already using Tillie at that time. They were living at 64 Broome Street in New York City, about a block away from Taube’s father, my great-grandfather, Joseph Brotman, and his family (including my grandmother Gussie, Taube’s sister) at 81 Ridge Street.

 

According to the census, Taube had been married to Jacob Hecht (spelled Hect here) for nine years at the time of enumeration, meaning they were likely married in about 1891. Unfortunately, I cannot find a marriage record for them. Jacob was working as a tailor, probably meaning he was still a cloak maker in a sweatshop on the Lower East Side.

Contrary to Harry’s birth record, the 1900 census reported that Jacob and Taube were both born in Russia, not Austria. Of course, neither is strictly accurate since Taube was born in Galicia, a province of the Austrian-Hungary Empire that bordered what was then Russia (now Ukraine). According to the census, Jacob had been in the US for twelve years, yet it says he immigrated in what looks like 1880? Or 1887? And the census says that Taube had been here for fifteen years, but then says she immigrated in 1875, written over 1885. Oy, that poor enumerator… he must have had a really hard time understanding whoever was giving him the information.

By 1900, Jacob and Taube had four children, all living with them: Harry was eight, born in 1892; “Annie” (actually Ida) was seven, born in May 1893; David was four, and although the year is crossed out, he likely was born in 1896, and Yette (later Etta) was seven months old and born in October 1889. Obviously that should be 1899 or Yette would have been eleven years old, not seven months old. As I discussed here, I have been unable to find birth records for three of those four children, only the later-filed certificate for Harry shown above.

Hecht family 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1094; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094

Five years later, the Hecht family had moved to 22 Mangin Street, about a half mile from where they’d been living in 1900, according to the 1905 New York State census. This enumerator seems to have had an easier time recording the family information. Taube is now listed as Tillie, as she was known in the US. Her age is reported as 35, meaning she was born in 1870; Jacob was 42, and now both once again report their birthplace as Austria. Jacob had been in the US for 17 years, Taube for 20. Neither was yet a citizen of the United States. Jacob was still making cloaks.

Hecht family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 14; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905

They now had six children, two daughters having been born since 1900: Harry was 13, Ida 11, David 9, Etta 6, and the two most recent additions were Gussie (later Jean), who was five, and Sadie {later Shirley), who was two. Also living with them was another Sadie, listed as Jacob’s mother. She was 65 and had been in the US for 12 years. I find it rather odd that Taube and Jacob would have named a child Sadie if Jacob’s mother was Sadie and still living. And I cannot find any other record for the older Sadie Hecht, so I am wondering whether this was an enumeration error.

By 1910, the family had moved again and grown again. They now were living at 48 Boerum Street in Brooklyn. Jacob was still working as an operator in a coat shop and had filed his papers to become a citizen. On this census, both he and Taube (Tillie) gave “Aust Polish” as their birthplace. Jacob was 48, Taube 38. He had immigrated in 1886, she in 1884, according to the census record. And they’d been married for nineteen years, or in 1891, consistent with what was reported on the 1900 census.

Hecht family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977 Description Enumeration District: 0329 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

There were now eight children. Harry, now eighteen, was working as a bookkeeper in a department store. Ida was seventeen and a “button holer” operator. David was 14, Etta 11, Gussie 9, and Sadie was six. The two new additions were Rose (later Ruth), four years old, and Eva (later Evelyn), who was two. Eva is the only other Hecht child for whom I have a birth record:

Eva Hecht birth certificate

Eva was born on January 30, 1908, at 38 Montrose Avenue in Brooklyn, where the family was then residing, so they had moved again between 1908 and 1910 when they were living on Boerum Street. Note the errors on this record: Jacob is identifed as Joseph, and Taube’s birth name is listed as Rothman, not Brotman. Taube’s age is given as 37 here, meaning a birth year of 1872. Both Taube and Jacob reported that they were born in Austria.

With Eva’s birth, the Hecht family was complete. There were eight children ranging from Harry born in 1892 to Eva born sixteen years later in 1908. The next decade would see most of those children join the work force and one marry and have children of her own.

The Mystery of Taube Brotman Hecht, My Great-Aunt

My next project is to write about my great-aunt Taube1 Brotman Hecht and her family.  I wrote about the Hecht family back in 2016 when I discovered Taube at the same time I discovered my Goldfarb family in my aunt’s baby book and grandparents’ address book.  It was a long and twisting path to figure out that “Mrs. Taube Hecht” in that baby book was my grandmother’s half-sister, Taube Brotman.

My aunt’s 1917 baby book. Taube Hecht is the last guest listed.

Those earlier posts in 2016 focused on my research methodology and the path I followed to figure out that Taube Hecht was my grandmother’s sister. Now I want to go back and tell her story and the story of her children and grandchildren in a more complete way. If you are interested in learning how I found Taube and how I determined that she was my great-aunt, you can read the earlier posts here, here, and here.

Let me now start with what I do and don’t know about Taube’s early life. As with all my Brod and Brotman relatives, I have no European records, but need to rely on American records.

Taube was born sometime between 1870 and 1875 according to various census records. The 1900 US census says she was born in March 1875.2 The 1905 NYS census says she was born in 1870.3 According to the 1910 US census, she was then 38, giving her a birth year of 1872.4  She reported that she was 40 on the 1915 NYS census, meaning she was born in 1875.5 In 1920 her age was reported as 47,6 and in 1930 she was 58, meaning a birth year of 1872 or 1873.7  In 1940 she shaved some years off her age, reporting that was 60, thus born in 1880.8 And her death record in 1944 says she was “about 71.”9 All in all, I’d say Taube was born sometime in the 1870s.

Her father was my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman, as stated on her death record; her mother was not named, but I know from records from her brothers David and Max that their mother was Chaye Fortgang, Joseph Brotman’s first wife. Taube’s US records all say she was born in Austria or Poland,9 and I have nothing more specific than that. Presumably like the rest of her family she was born in or near Tarnobrzeg in what is now Poland, then Galicia and part of the Austria-Hungary Empire.

According to family lore as discussed here, Taube left for the US when she was ten years old. I found ship manifests listing a young girl named Taube Brodt sailing from Hamburg on the Moravia to New York in July 1887. Both the Hamburg manifest and the New York manifest report that Taube was eleven. According to both manifests, she was coming from “Tarnowschek.” And on the Hamburg manifest she is grouped with a woman named Eva Singer and her baby, Ascher Singer.

Taube Brodt 1887 NY ship manifest
Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 509; Line: 1; List Number: 911

Taube Brodt ship manifest 1887
Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1736
Description
Month : Direkt Band 059 (3 Jul 1887 – 29 Dez 1887)

I can’t be positive this is my Taube. The spelling of the name Brodt was also used by other family members (along with Brod, Brodmann, Broadman, Brothman, and so on).  The age is close to what the various birth years for Taube would suggest if a bit younger, but also close to family lore. And Tarnowschek certainly sounds like Tarnobrzeg.

But who were Eva and Ascher Singer? And why was Taube with them? I have spent more hours than I care to count trying to find Eva and Ascher after they got to America. I’ve had no luck. I have gone down more rabbit holes, hit more dead ends, and searched in more ways and more places than was probably justified. Especially since I have nothing to show for my efforts. I found an Ascher Singer who was the right age, but he was from Bukovina, Romania. That was as close as I came. And who knows? Even if I found the Singers, it probably wouldn’t reveal anything about Taube.

Why would Taube have left Europe in 1887? By that time her mother had died, and my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman had married his second wife, my great-grandmother Bessie Brod. They’d already had two children together by 1887. But Joseph Brotman and Taube’s full brothers Abraham, David, and Max were still in Europe in 1887. Joseph immigrated to the US  in 188910 as did his oldest sons Abraham and David. Max came in 1890.11

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 079; Page: 1373; Microfilm No.: S_13156, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

So if Taube came in 1887, she left her whole family back in Europe. What did she do when she got here especially if she was only eleven? Even if we take a birth year of 1872, she would only have been fifteen when she arrived in 1887.  Where did she go?

Family lore says she stayed with her two older brothers, but then she had to have arrived after 1889 when Abraham and David immigrated, not in 1887. And if she did come after Abraham and David,  she was already a teenager, maybe even seventeen, certainly not ten. And why can’t I find her on another manifest?

Family lore also says her brothers sent her to St Louis to learn English. I can’t find any evidence of that.  There were several people with the surname Brod listed in the 1889 St. Louis directory, but I’ve no idea whether they were relatives. And why would her brothers, who lived in NYC when they immigrated, send their sister all the way to St. Louis? It doesn’t make sense to me. But sadly, without the 1890 census, I cannot find Taube in St. Louis, New York, or anywhere else in the US.

So Taube’s arrival and early years in America remain a mystery. Fortunately from about 1891 on, there is better evidence of her life. And I will start there next time.

Taube Brotman Hecht


  1. Taube was also known as Toba, her name in Hebrew, and Tillie, a later Americanization of her name. Because my grandmother also had a full sister whose Americanized name was Tillie, I will refer to Taube as Taube to prevent confusion. 
  2. Hecht family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Hecht family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 14; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 
  4. Hecht family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. Hecht family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  6. Hecht family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 226,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Hecht family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 2341088, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. Hecht family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. See census citations above. 
  10. Yossel Brod, ship manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 36; List Number: 244, Description
    Ship or Roll Number: Aurania, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Morske Brodmann, Year: 1890; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 25; List Number: 804, Ship or Roll Number: City of Chicago, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 

The Legacy of Meier Katzenstein

Today I want to share some photographs and other documents that were shared with me by a cousin named Miles who found my blog and then generously sent me a large collection of photographs.

Miles is my fifth cousin through our shared four times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann. Miles is descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. Miles’ lineage is from Jacob Falcke to Meyer Goldschmidt to Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein to Meier Katzenstein to Sophia Katzenstein Lustig to his mother Nancy  to Miles.

I wrote about Meier and his family back on October 23, 2020 here. I will just summarize that blog post briefly in order to provide context for the photographs Miles shared with me. For more details and sources, please refer back to my original post.

Meier Katzenstein was the youngest child and only son of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Callman Katzenstein. He was born in 1860 in Eschwege, Germany, and was also the only child of Amalie and Juda to leave Germany and immigrate to the US. He immigrated in 1888, and three years later he married Emma Bacharach, also a German immigrant. They lived in New York City where their only child Sophia was born in 1892. Meier was in the business of manufacturing fancy linens.

Here are some photographs of Meier and Emma. You can see from Meier’s photographs how accurately he was described on his US passport application: “five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face.”

The first photograph was taken in Eschwege so presumably before Meier immigrated.

Meier Katzenstein in Eschwege
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier Katzenstein
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier and Emma (Bacharach) Katzenstein. Courtesy of Miles Mark

And these are some adorable photographs of Sophia Katzenstein as a girl alone and with her parents, including some taken in Germany, showing that Meier and Emma did return to visit their families back in Germany.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma and Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein in Germany Courtesy of Mark Miles

Sophia was not only a beautiful little girl; she grew up to be a beautiful woman. In 1914 she married Elias Lustig, who was a very successful hat manufacturer. Here are some photographs of Sophia as a young woman and one of Elias.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias and Sophia had two children. Their first child was David Miles Lustig, known as Miles. He was born in 1916. His grandfather Meier had died just six months before, and I assume that Miles was named for his grandfather.

Elias and Sophia’s second child Nancy was born five years later in 1921. Here are some delightful photographs of the two children of Elias and Sophia, grandchildren of Meier and Emma:

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles and Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia and Elias divorced sometime thereafter, and in 1936 Sophia married her second husband, Saul Baron. Here are two photographs of Sophia and Saul:

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died in 1941, and thus neither Meier nor Emma lived to endure the tragedy that befell their only grandson, David Miles Lustig. Miles was a 1939 graduate of Princeton University, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He enlisted in the US Army on January 17, 1941, almost a year before the US entered World War II. Here are two photographs of Miles in uniform looking so proud to be serving his country.

L David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Miles was assigned to the 44th Bomber Squadron, 20th Bomber Command. Here he is with some of the men in his squadron:

David Miles Lustig, right Courtesy of Miles Mark

Tragically, while flying over China in December, 1944, the plane in which Miles’s crew was flying was shot down and crashed. Miles landed in a river and drowned, but the rest of the men on his plane survived and recorded what had happened, as described in these documents shared with me by David Miles Lustig’s namesake, my fifth cousin Miles.

The first is a letter written to the family by the members of the crew on the plane that day. It’s interesting that they called him Dave, not Miles.

45th Bomb Squad

APO 631, NY

Jan 24

Dear Mr. Lustig and Family,

Several of the boys have received letters asking about Dave so we hope you get a little bit of comfort from as much as we can tell. (The events related in this letter concern 1st Lt. David Miles Lustig, 0-416239.)

We know it must have been a terrible blow to you and you have our deepest sympathy. If there is anything we can do, please don’t hesitate to ask any favor. We all thought an awful lot of your son.

Their plane was shot down returning from a combat mission and all the crew members were forced to bail out. Dave landed in the water and was drowned. The rest of the crew remained several days in the vicinity conducting a search until he was found.

You might like to know that just before he jumped from the plane he took his navigators’ log and carried with him so he could tell the rest of the crew their location on the ground. The paper was picked up later and returned by natives and that’s how we happened to know about it. So even in the emergency, his primary consideration was to his duty to the rest of the men.

It’s as hard to write about it is to think about and I think that is as much as we are allowed to tell at this time. I’m sure that at a later date, any of his friends will be glad to give you any information you desire.

Now we can only tell you how terribly sorry we are that it had to happen.

Sincerely,

[signatures of the crew]

The second is a compilation of memories and details from various members of the flight crew. You can read it by clicking on the link below. It is too long for me to transcribe and too important to be merely paraphrased.

article on shooting down of plane David Miles Lustig

Sophia died just six years after the tragic loss of her son Miles; she was 58 when she died on November 9, 1950. She was survived by her remaining child, Nancy, and two grandsons. Nancy had married Mitchell Mark in 1943; they had two sons, Mitchell II., and Miles, the namesake of Nancy’s brother and the cousin who has shared all these photographs and documents with me. Nancy later divorced Mitchell Mark and married Saul Waldman in 1956.

The death of David Miles Lustig was not the only tragedy this family faced. In 1969, Nancy’s older son Mitchell was killed in a horrific accident when his car was crushed by an eighteen-wheeler. Mitchell II was only 25 years old. Nancy donated an ambulance to Israel in his memory. He was survived by his wife Linda and young son, also named Mitchell.

Nancy Lustig Waldman died on June 8, 2004. She was 83 years old. She was survived by her son Miles and by his children as well as her grandson Mitchell III.

I am so grateful to my fifth cousin Miles for sharing his family’s stories—both the triumphs and the tragedies—and for sharing all these beautiful photographs. He carries on the rich legacy of all his namesakes—his three-times great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt for whom his great-grandfather Meier Katzenstein was named and his uncle David Miles Lustig who was named for his grandfather Meier Katzenstein. That’s a chain going back to at least 1784 when Meyer was born to our mutual 4-times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann.