Letters to Frank: A Close Family Revealed

As I mentioned here, included with all the photographs that my cousin Steve scanned and sent to me were a number of letters.  I posted the letter written by Gerald Oestreicher to his family during World War II, and I mentioned that there were also letters written by Gerald’s uncle, Francis Oestreicher, when he was serving during World War I.  Frank was my father’s second cousin, both being the great-grandchildren of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg. Thus, he was my second cousin, once removed:

Frank Striker to me relationship chart

 

There were also some letters written to Frank, as he was known after the war.  In this post I will share the letters written to Frank. The next post will contain the letters written by Frank during World War I.  I’ve transcribed all the letters as close to their original spelling and punctuation as I could, but made some changes just for purposes of readability.  No words were deleted or changed; nothing was added, except where I’ve put my own comments in brackets.

What struck me as meaningful about these letters is what they reveal about the close connections among the Schoenthal siblings—the ten children of my great-great-grandparents Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  These three letters date from 1907 to 1939, and each one shows that this large and extended family knew and cared about each other.

The oldest letter was a letter written by Frank’s great-aunt Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, the wife of my great-great-uncle, Henry Schoenthal.  Helen wrote this letter from Washington, Pennsylvania in 1907, to Frank, grandson of her sister-in-law Hannah Schoenthal.

Letter from Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal dated December 12, 1907 from Washington, PA

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My dear Francis,

Years roll by, and children grow up to man and womenhood before we know it. And so it is with you my dear boy.  I can hardly realize that you have reached your 14th birthday, and it seems to me only a little while that dear Hilda was our representative at your Bris mihle.  With a hearty birthday kiss accompanied by the best wishes I send you many congratulations.  May our heavenly Father always protect and bless you, so that with every birthday your young life may be brighter and happier.  May the best of health and a long life free of care and worry be yours that your dear parents will have a great deal of pleasure on you.  Again I send you a little gift which help a little to swell your Bank account and which I hope will bring you the best luck in business.

Wishing you a very happy birthday with lots of fun.  I am

Lovingly

Your affectionate Aunt Helen

Uncle Henry, Hilda and Therese send their congratulations and love to everybody.

There is also a message written by Helen in German along the margin that I could not read, but with the help of my friend Matthias Steinke in transcribing and translating the old German script, I now know what it says:

My dear all! I am sending you this time only the heartiest greetings and kisses because my eyes close already automatically, because this evening I wrote already a couple of letters. In Love, your aunt, Helen 

Isn’t it interesting that in 1907 after being in the US for 35 years and clearly fluent in English,  Helen reverted to German (and German script) to write to Frank’s parents, Gustav and Sarah Stern Oestreicher? Both Sarah and Gustav were native German speakers, but both also had been in the US for a very long time. I wonder if Frank could read German or was as puzzled as I was by the German script scrawled on the margin of his birthday letter.

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

The second letter was written a little over ten years later in July, 1918 when Frank had joined the army, but before he was shipped overseas.  It is also from his great-aunt Helen, with a short addendum by his great-uncle Henry Schoenthal.

Once again, it is evident that Helen and Henry were closely connected to Frank, a child of their niece Sarah Stern, grandson of Henry’s sister Hannah.  I was touched by how much affection there was for this young man, their great-grandnephew.  The letter is also interesting because it talks about Henry and Helen’s own children, their daughter Hilda, their son Lee (born Lionel) and his wife Irma, and Henry and Helen’s granddaughter Florence, who was only thirteen when this letter was written.  Helen did not use any paragraph breaks, but I’ve added some to make the text more easily read.

Letter from Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal and Henry Schoenthal dated July 30 1918 written from NYC

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My dear Francis,

I was just thinking to write to your dear parents and ask for your address, when we were agreeably surprised on last Sunday, when your dear brother Sidney came to see us, stayed for supper and until late in the evening.  And so we are able to write to you, as Sidney was glad to give us your ad: for every soldier likes to get letters from some one, and if it is not from a sweetheart, this letter comes from your old Uncle and Aunt, who always loved you. 

I suppose your ears were ringing last Sunday, for Sidney and we talked about you a great deal, and we were glad to hear that you liked soldiers life and also the camp.  Are any boys with you from Pittsburg who you know? And how is the weather in your section?

We have terrible hot spell here since over a week, and I feel the heat very much.  But I am so thankful that we live on such nice open place near the Hudson and get all the fresh air that is going.  There is a good deal of suffering on the East side I know. 

Uncle and I are alone since the 19th of July. Irma & Lee went to the Adirondex Mountains to stay two weeks, as Lee had not been feeling well and needed a rest badly.  They choose this place so that they could be near Florence who is at a girls camp named camp Woodmere.  It is owned by Misses Goldsmith and Kuhn from Philadelphia.  They have 54 girls there and it an ideal place.  Florence is crazy about and Irma & Lee are also very much taken with the place and how beautiful it is managed.  They have all sorts of sports there.  Florence is a good swimmer and also can now [?] and take long hikes. 

We expect Irma and Lee back next Saturday and the following Saturday Hilda will arrive here and spend her vacation with us. I am looking forward to her coming with great joy, and we will try and make her stay very pleasant.  She can take many nice boat trips which she likes so much.  Sidney will come up again next week when Irma & Lee is here. 

I am making a nice lunch cloth for Helen’s engagement present, but I am taking my time making it as I have to be very careful with my eyes. [I assume Helen was Frank’s sister Helen, who married in 1920.] We also had a long letter from dear Meyer [their younger son] last week. 

Now dear Francis, be bright and cheerful and take good care of yourself.  Our good God will be with you wherever you are, and He will bring peace to every heart and all the countrys before long. 

With loads of love and a hearty and write soon to your affectionate Aunt Helen.

 My dear Francis

Your aunt has left me a little space and I gladly add a few words to tell you that we often think and speak of you.  I have no doubt that you like the life in the camp, as most of the boys do and that you will make such a fine soldier that all your friends will be proud of you.  Should the time come when you have to be on your way for “Over There” we may have a chance to bid you God’s speed in person. God be with you and bless you.

Affectionately yours,

Uncle Henry

I read this letter as an attempt by his aunt and uncle to give him their blessing before he went off to war without making him too nervous about what he was about to face.  Frank’s own letters, as we will see, reflect a similar impulse, only he is reassuring those at home that he is and will be okay.

The last letter for this post was written many years later by Frank’s father, Gustav Oestreicher.  It was written in 1939 after Gustav and Sarah had moved to California, as had their daughter Helen.  I am not certain whether Frank was living in Minneapolis or just visiting; the letter is addressed to him at a hotel, and from the content of the letter, I can infer that Frank had recently been to Chicago. I assume he was on the road in his capacity as a traveling salesman.

A little background to help identify the people named in the letter:  First, Gustav mentions the Good family.  He must be referring to Edith Stern and Leo Good and their son Bernard; Edith was Sarah Stern Oestreicher’s younger sister, thus Gustav’s sister-in-law.  In 1939, the Good family was living in Chicago.

Gustav then mentions a Lionel and his brothers and sister and another sister Hilda. At first I thought this referred to the children of Henry and Helen Schoenthal, as they had a son named Lionel, a son Meyer, and a daughter Hilda. But after reading through the letter more carefully, I realized that he was referring to Lionel Heymann, the oldest child of Rosalie Schoenthal and Willy Heymann, about whom I wrote here.  Rosalie was the youngest Schoenthal sibling, sister of Hannah Schoenthal, who was Gustave’s mother-in-law. So Rosalie was Sarah Stern’s aunt.

Here’s why I think Gustav is talking about Lionel Heymann, not Lionel Schoenthal. For one thing, Henry and Helen Schoenthal’s son Lionel was called Lee at this point, not Lionel.  And at the time this letter was written, Lionel Heymann (the photographer) was living in Chicago as were his brothers Walter and Max, so if Frank had seen the Good family, he must have been in Chicago. (I am not sure why Gustav writes that he hoped Frank might see Lionel’s “bros.& sister” since there was no sister at that time living in the US, but perhaps he was referring to Max’s wife Frieda.)

Also, Gustav mentions a sister Hilda who was still in Germany. Henry Schoenthal’s daughter Hilda was not living in Germany, but in Washington, DC, in 1939.  But Lionel Heymann had a sister Hilda who was still in Germany in 1939.  I have written about what happened to Hilda Heymann as well as her sister Helene, who married Julius Mosbach and had two daughters, Liesel and Gretel.  All were killed in the Holocaust.  That fact makes Gustav’s comment even more chilling.  I put those comments in bold below.

I do not know who the Fannie mentioned towards the end of the letter could be.

Letter from Gustav Oestreicher to his son Frank [edited for readability only]

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September 16, 1939 from Los Angeles

My dear Francis,

Although late, [I] will begin my letter extending to you my best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. [Obviously a reference to Rosh Hashanah, given the September date.] You ought to know you enjoy our good wishes at all times so hope you will pardon the expression of it at a rather late date. As usual we were happy to learn the contents of your recent letter.  It pleased us to learn you enjoyed your visit with the Good family as well as that all of them are getting along nicely.  You evidently misinformed them about our anniversary as we rec’d a very nice letter from them congratulating us for our golden wedding anniversary which will not be until next year. [Gustav and Sara were married in 1940.]

We regretted very much you could not see Lionel and his Bros. & Sister again. [You] May be aware dear Mother is very much interested in his family that are still in Germany particular so his Sister Hilda. [We]  presume the anti-semitism in Germany has somewhat diminished since the war as I noticed in the papers they are eager to get the Jewish Doctors, Engineers and other Professional Man back even promising to restore their property.  Conditions regrett to note are not very encouraging for England and France particular so since the uncertain attitude of Russia but let us hope for the best.

You need not fear about me getting into the market further. Am fairly well satisfied with my holdings. Have absolutely no intention to buy anything nor feel inclined at this time to sell any of my stocks with possible exception of Congoleum-Narin and even should I sell that, may apply it to my loan or in other words will not increase my loan if I do not reduce still more.  Have not decided whether or not I will sell same. 

Fannie is at least a weekly visitor by us.  She still has not secured a position but is hopefull some thing will be available before long.  As for ourselves have nothing of interest to offer so will leave it to dear Mother to inform you pertaining herself so will conclude for to day with love and best wishes. 

Your loving Father

As with the earlier letters from Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, this letter reveals the close connections among the many Schoenthal siblings and their children.  I’ve often wondered what the family knew about the two siblings who had stayed in Germany: Jakob Schoenthal and Rosalie Schoenthal.  From Gustav’s letter it is apparent that the family was in touch at least to some extent with those family members who had not immigrated.  They knew that the three Heymann brothers were in Chicago, and they knew that some family members were still in Germany.

Gustav’s hope that anti-Semitism was diminishing in Germany once the war started is so terribly painful to read, knowing what was going to happen not only to Hilda, her sister, and her nieces, but to six million other Jews living in Europe.

Realizing how connected the family was to each other as late as 1939 makes me wonder what happened.  Why didn’t my father even know about all his Schoenthal second cousins like Frank and his siblings? Did my grandmother Eva Schoenthal know any of these people? My guess is that because my great-grandparents moved from western Pennsylvania to Denver when my grandmother was just a small child, not even four years old, she did not grow up with the benefit of knowing all those cousins in western Pennsylvania.  Perhaps if she had, I would not have had to search to find my Oestreicher cousins.  Perhaps we would have always known about each other.

More Manna: The Family of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff

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

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

Gerald Oestreicher

Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1917

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1922

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1923

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1930

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

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

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

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

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

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

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

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

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

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

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

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

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

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

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

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

They waved to each other as the train departed

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

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

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

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

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

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

Gerald Striker letter home from WW2 p 1

“Somewhere at Sea”

Dear Folks,

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

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

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

Gerald Striker letter home p2

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

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

While on ship I gained back the weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerald Striker p5

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

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

My love to all,

Jerry

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some pictures of Faye.

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

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

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

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

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

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

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

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

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

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

 

 

Like Manna from Heaven

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

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

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

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

Sarah Stern as a child edited

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

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

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

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

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

 

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

 

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

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

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

Gustav Oestreicher

Gustav Oestreicher

What a dashing man he was!

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

Sidney Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher

Frank Oestreicher as a boy

Helen Oestreicher

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

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher store in Pittsburgh:

Oestreicher store

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

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

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

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

Sidney and Esther 1915

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

Frank postcard with military service dates

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

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

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

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

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

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

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

Frank Striker WW1

Francis Oestreicher, later known as Frank Striker

Frank Striker WW1 medal

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

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

Helen Oestreicher 1917

Helen Oestreicher 1917

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

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

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

invitation to Henry Schoenthal 50th anniv party

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

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

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

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

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

Oestreicher family edited 1936

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

IMG_9375

IMG_9376

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

My dear Francis!

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

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

Here is a photo of Frank in 1940.

Frank Striker 3

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

IMG_1979

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

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

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

 

 

Don’t Wait to Make Those Calls: My Cousin Betty

This is a post I started back in May before my trip to Colorado and Santa Fe.  I had planned to finish it when I got back, but was distracted and put it aside.  Now I must finish it.  Unfortunately, it no longer has the happy ending it originally had.

As I wrote a few months ago, my newly found third cousin Maxine Schulherr Stein, the great-granddaughter of Hannah Schoenthal Stern (my great-grandfather Isidor Schoenthal’s sister), had lost touch with her second cousins Betty and Elaine, also great-granddaughters of Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

relationship of Maxine Schulherr to Betty Oestreicher

Betty and Elaine’s grandmother Sarah Stern and her husband Gustav Oestreicher had had three children: Sidney, born in 1891; Francis (known as Frank), born in 1893; and Helen, born in 1895.  They’d all lived in the Pittsburgh area at first, but as Sarah and Gustav’s children became adults, they’d eventually left the Pittsburgh area.

Helen had moved to California by 1935 where she and her husband Aaron Siegel and their daughter Betty lived in Los Angeles.  Frank also was living in Los Angeles by 1942.  It was Sidney Oestreicher and his family whom Maxine knew best. She knew that Sidney was married to Esther Siff, and they had had three children: Gerald, Florence Betty (known as Betty), and Elaine.

But Sidney Oestreicher also had left the Pittsburgh area when he moved to New York in the 1940s.  The family had left their youngest child Elaine behind with Maxine’s family so that she could finish the school year in Pittsburgh, according to Maxine.

By the 1950s, all of the members of Sidney Oestreicher’s family had moved to California to be closer to the other members of the family.  Given the distance and the limited modes of communication back then, the family members back in Pittsburgh eventually lost touch with the California branch of the family.   When I spoke with Maxine, she asked me to help her locate the cousins she’d known as a child.

Hattie Martin Maxine Alan Henrietta Stein Alan's mother

Hattie Arnold Schulherr, Martin Schulherr, Maxine Schulherr Stein, Alan Stein, Henrietta Stein

I knew from my own research that Gerald Oestreicher (who, like his father Sidney and his uncle Frank, changed his surname to Striker) had married Faye Krakower and had had two children.  Gerald died in 2014 and Faye in 2015.   But finding Gerald’s sisters Betty and Elaine had proven to be more difficult, as is generally the case with women.

Fortunately, I found one very important clue that helped me find both Betty and Elaine for Maxine (and for me).

Betty Oestreicher engagement announcement

I thus knew that Betty had married a man named Julius H. Jacob.  And from various other records for Julius, I knew that they had lived in the NYC area for some time and that they, like the other Oestreichers/Strikers, had eventually moved to California.  But I had not been able to find their current residence.

Newly motivated by Maxine’s request, I looked again at the engagement announcement and saw that Julius was described as the brother of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Spear.  Who was that? I inferred that Julius was the brother of Mrs. Spear, not Mr. Spear, given the different surnames, and decided to see what I could find about the Spears.  I found Jacob Spear and his wife Else (presumably born with the surname Jacob) on the 1940 census, but more importantly, I found them both on several family trees on Ancestry.

Although I am generally skeptical of Ancestry trees, one of those trees belonged to a genealogy researcher whose work I trust: Jennifer Spier-Stern.  I contacted Jennifer, and after we exchanged more information and verified the connection between Julius Jacob and Elsie Jacob, Jennifer was able to put me in touch with the son of Jacob Spear and Else Jacob, John.  John is the nephew therefore of Julius Jacob, husband of my cousin Betty Oestreicher.  Not only did John know the whereabouts of his aunt Betty—he had contact information for her son Ron.  And he pointed out that the upcoming weekend would be her 97th birthday.  Now that gave me the chills!

I emailed Ron, and we exchanged several emails.  And Ron gave me the phone numbers for both his mother Betty and his aunt Elaine, who is also still living in California.  In May I had the great pleasure of speaking to two more of my third cousins, Betty Oestreicher Jacob and Elaine Oestreicher Wallace. The following information came from a combination of my conversations with Betty and Elaine and the emails and conversations I had with my cousin Ron.

Betty was remarkably lucid for a 97 year old woman, and she was delighted to answer my questions and reminisce about her family and her life.  Elaine also was warm and excited to share her stories with me.  I had hoped that one of them would have stories about their grandmother, Sarah Stern, who was the first child of Hannah Schoenthal and who had come without her family to the US when she was nineteen years old.  Unfortunately, as was so often the case, both Betty and Elaine said that their grandmother Sarah did not speak about her childhood or about the move to the United States.

I did learn, however, from Betty that Sarah met her future husband, Gustav Oestreicher, when he was staying at the boarding house in Pittsburgh run by her mother, Hannah Schoenthal, my great-grandfather’s oldest sibling.

Betty also told me that her grandmother Sarah suffered from migraines, and after they married, Gustav and she moved to Atlantic City because he thought it would be better for her health.  Sarah also converted to Christian Science, and although Betty and her family remained Jewish, Betty would often accompany her grandmother Sarah to church when she visited her in Atlantic City.

Ron shared with me a particular memory his mother Betty shared with him:

“Once, Sarah and Gustav purchased 300 ice cream cones for children at an orphanage/home for crippled children, and my mother and uncle (Jerry) got to ride along in the truck to deliver them.  Apparently, my mother was the apple of Gustav’s eye.”

I also asked Betty how her father Sidney met her mother Esther Siff, who lived in Chicago.  Betty explained that her father was a traveling salesman, working for a ladies’ lingerie company called Adelson’s.  While traveling to Chicago for work, he attended a dance where he met Esther Siff.  Sidney and Esther lived in Chicago for the early years of their marriage, and their first two children, Gerald and Betty, were born there.  By 1930, however, the family had moved back to Pittsburgh, where their youngest child Elaine was born.

betty-oestreicher-jacob-1940s-ft-devens

Betty Oestreicher Jacob. 1940s Courtesy of Ron Jacob

Betty said that her immediate family moved to New York in the 1940s for her father’s job.  She had married Julius Jacob by that time, and after spending some time in Massachusetts where Julius was stationed at Fort Devens during the war, they ended up moving to New York where Julius worked for Spear & Company.  In 1954 or so, they returned to Pittsburgh, where Julius continued to work for Spear & Company, but the company was not doing well at that point.

In 1956, the family moved to Los Angeles where Julius took a job with Broadway Department Stores.  Betty’s brother Gerald was already living there at that time as was her aunt Helen and uncle Frank.  Sidney and Esther soon followed their children to Los Angeles. Elaine arrived a few years later after her divorce from her first husband, Jerry Kruger. Sadly, Esther Siff Oestreicher/Striker died on her 68th birthday, March 11, 1961.

Thus, by the 1960s, all the members of the Oestreicher family were living in the Los Angeles area: the three children of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher, Sidney, Frank, and Helen, and all of their children, including Sidney’s three children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.

Ron shared with me his memories of his great-uncle Frank and his grandfather Sidney:

“My Uncle Frank, who I adored, was a lifelong bachelor.  He was also quite the world traveler and I was always fascinated to hear of the places he had been.  Spending a fair amount of time traveling by ship, he became quite an accomplished dancer and tennis table player.  (I believe he had trophies for both.)  When we got a ping pong table, he had fun annihilating me.  To be fair, my grandfather, Sidney, taught me how to play gin rummy (for points) and he also had the grandest smile every time he beat me.  Both men were true gentlemen, and they were loving, caring men and enjoyed spending time with us kids.  My grandfather died when he was 94 and my uncle died when he was 96.” 

Ron also sent me this picture of Faye Krakower Striker, his uncle Gerald’s wife:

faye-krakower-striker-professional-photo

 

Faye had quite an interesting life as a singer before marrying Gerald in 1946.  The following is an excerpt from the eulogy given at her funeral in 2015.

JPG Eulogy of Faye Striker

Even with all this information, I realized when I got off the phone with Betty that I still had more questions about her childhood and adolescence in Pittsburgh.  Did she know the other Schoenthal cousins? What was life like? Were they active in the Jewish community? There were many more things I wanted to discuss with her.

I had planned to call Betty and Elaine again after those initial conversations. But then I left for our trip to Colorado and New Mexico, and when I returned, I was distracted by a number of other matters, and I failed to follow up.

I recently learned that Betty’s health deteriorated while I was away, and sadly she passed away on July 19, 2016.  She had had a good long life with very few health issues, according to her son Ron.  And although I know that anyone who lives 97 years has had a remarkable journey, I am kicking myself for not making that second call.  Betty had been so excited to share her memories with me, and there were so many more questions to ask and stories to hear.

Life is unpredictable, and we can’t assume anything or take anything for granted.

May my cousin Betty rest in peace, and may her family find comfort in all their memories.

 

 

The Family of Amalia Hamberg Baer, the Administratrix

Back in May, I wrote about the sad saga of Charles Hamberg and his son Samuel Hamberg.  Charles, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s first cousin, had lost two wives—one was murdered, one died quite young.  He had then committed suicide, leaving his nine year old son Samuel an orphan.  Charles’ estate was administered by another cousin, Amalia Hamberg Baer, who at the time was living in western Pennsylvania where my great-grandfather and many other Hamberg relatives were then living.

In fact, Amalia (born Malchen) was a first cousin to Isidore Schoenthal, my great-grandfather:

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

 

She had come to the US from Breuna, Germany, in 1871, and had married Jacob Baer in 1873, according to the 1900 census. (For more on how I linked Amalia Hamberg to Jacob Baer, see my earlier post.)  Jacob was born in the Rhein Pfalz[1] region of Germany in about 1851 and had immigrated to the US in 1867, according to several census records.  From entries in the Pittsburgh city directories, he appears to have settled in the Pittsburgh area.

In 1880, Jacob and Amalia were living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh), and Jacob was working as a clerk in a shoe store.  They already had four children: Maurice Jay (1874), Hattie (1876), Josephine (1878), Amanda (1880).

Jacob and Amalia Hamberg Baer 1880 US census Year: 1880; Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1086; Family History Film: 1255086; Page: 198D; Enumeration District: 008; Image: 0402

Jacob and Amalia Hamberg Baer 1880 US census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1086; Family History Film: 1255086; Page: 198D; Enumeration District: 008; Image: 0402

 

Between 1880 and 1891, they would have five more children: Flora (1882), Tilda (1884), Elsie Victoria (1886), Alfred (1889), and Lawrence (1891). (The birth years for the daughters as reported in various records are all over the place as they kept making themselves younger as the years went on, so I am relying on the 1880 and 1900 census records when they were still probably young enough not to lie about their ages.)  During those years, Jacob was listed as a salesman in the Pittsburgh city directories.

In 1900, Jacob and Amalia were still living in Allegheny with all nine of their children.  Jacob continued to work as a salesman, as did their son Maurice (Morris here, now 26).  Hattie (24) and Josephine (Josie here, now 21) were working as stenographers.  The rest of the children were not employed.

Amalia Baer 1900 census p 1

Jacob and Amalia Hamberg Baer 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1356; Enumeration District: 0050; FHL microfilm: 1241356

Jacob and Amalia Hamberg Baer 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1356; Enumeration District: 0050; FHL microfilm: 1241356

 

In the next decade many of the children began to move on to their own lives.  In fact, even before 1900, Maurice, the oldest child, had ventured quite far from Pittsburgh.  As I will write about in a post to follow this one, Maurice moved to Attleboro, Massachusetts,[2] and established a very successful jewelry business in which four of the siblings’ families would be involved, that is, Maurice, Tilda, Elsie, and Lawrence.  This post will focus on the other five siblings—Hattie, Josephine, Flora, Amanda, and Alfred—and their parents, Amalia and Jacob.

On July 17, 1905, Hattie Baer, the second child who was then 29, married Meyer Herman, a clothing salesman living in Philadelphia who was born in Manchester, England.

Marriage record of Hattie Baer and Meyer Herman Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-21130-27078-9?cc=1589502 : accessed 12 May 2016), 004264779 > image 383 of 454; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

Marriage record of Hattie Baer and Meyer Herman
Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-21130-27078-9?cc=1589502 : accessed 12 May 2016), 004264779 > image 383 of 454; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

They settled in Philadelphia, where they had two sons, Justin Baer Herman, born in April, 1907, and Richard B. Herman, born in July, 1910.  Then tragically, Hattie died on October 15, 1910, of a perforated bowel and peritonitis.  She was only 33 years old when she died, and she left behind a three year old toddler and a two and a half month old infant son.

Hattie Baer Herman death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Hattie Baer Herman death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Five years later in 1915, Hattie’s younger sister Amanda married her brother-in-law Meyer Herman in Philadelphia and took on the responsibility for raising her two nephews, Justin and Richard, then just eight and five years old.  In 1920, Meyer was still a clothing salesman, and the family continued to live in Philadelphia.

Meyer and Amanda Baer Herman 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1623; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 591; Image: 961

Meyer and Amanda Baer Herman 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1623; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 591; Image: 961

Ten years later in 1930, Meyer had moved from being a salesman to being the owner of a clothing manufacturing business.  The two sons were also working; Justin, now 23, was a newspaper editor, and Richard, now 19, was selling real estate.  Both were still living at home with Meyer and Amanda in Philadelphia.

Herman and Amanda Baer Herman 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2104; Page: 23A; Enumeration District: 0627; Image: 902.0; FHL microfilm: 2341838

Herman and Amanda Baer Herman 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2104; Page: 23A; Enumeration District: 0627; Image: 902.0; FHL microfilm: 2341838

Meanwhile, the third child of Amalia and Jacob Baer, Josephine, had married Morris Alon Green on January 2, 1906.  Morris was a Pittsburgh native, born there on February 17, 1875, the son of Abraham Green, an immigrant from Holland, and Jeanette Bloomberg, born in Germany.  In 1900, Morris was living with his parents in Pittsburgh and working as a bookkeeper.

Marriage record of Morris Green and Josephine Baer Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-20622-18713-16?cc=1589502 : accessed 10 June 2016), 004811570 > image 334 of 449; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

Marriage record of Morris Green and Josephine Baer
Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-20622-18713-16?cc=1589502 : accessed 10 June 2016), 004811570 > image 334 of 449; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

Josephine and Morris settled in Pittsburgh where their son Alan Baer Green was born on October 30, 1906.  In 1910, the Greens were living in Pittsburgh as boarders in the household of another family, and Morris was working as a claims agent.

Morris and Josephine Baer Green on 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 8, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1301; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0379; FHL microfilm: 1375314

Morris and Josephine Baer Green on 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 8, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1301; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0379; FHL microfilm: 1375314

The next several years must have been successful ones for Morris because by 1918, he was the general agent and executive of the Crucible Steel Company and by 1920 he and Josephine and their son Alan were living in their own (rented) home with a nurse and servant residing with them.

Morris A Green, World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1909239; Draft Board: 11

Morris A Green, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1909239; Draft Board: 11

By 1925, Josephine and Morris had left western Pennsylvania for New York City, where they were living at the Hotel Alexander at 150 West 103rd Street.  Their son Alan is not listed as living with them; perhaps he was away at college as he would have been nineteen at that time.  In 1930, Alan was living with his parents in Manhattan, working in advertising.  His father Morris listed his occupation/industry as “financial.”

Morris and Josephine Baer Green and Alan Baer Green, 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1556; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 0443; Image: 762.0; FHL microfilm: 2341291

Morris and Josephine Baer Green and Alan Baer Green, 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1556; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 0443; Image: 762.0; FHL microfilm: 2341291

The fifth child of Amalia and Jacob was Flora.  In 1907, she is listed in the Pittsburgh city directory as a teacher, residing in Bellevue, a town near Pittsburgh. In 1910, when she was 28 (although listed as 24 on the 1910 census), she was still single and living with her parents and not employed outside the home.

Jacob and Amalia Schoenthal Baer and family 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1304; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0468; FHL microfilm: 1375317

Jacob and Amalia Schoenthal Baer and family 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1304; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0468; FHL microfilm: 1375317

 

In 1915, she married Julius Adler.  Julius was the son of Simon Adler, a German immigrant who in 1880 was living in Memphis, Tennessee, working in a shoe store.  Julius’ mother Elizabeth was a native of Missouri; she married Simon in 1881, and they had four children born in Memphis between 1882 and 1887, when their youngest son Julius was born.  By 1900, the family had relocated to Philadelphia.

According to his obituary, Julius graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in engineering in 1908.  In 1910, he was teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle.  But by 1915 he had returned to Philadelphia, where he married Flora Baer.  In 1917, they were living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Julius was working as a civil engineer for the state highway department.  They would have three children, Stanley, Jerrold, and Amy, born between 1917 and 1920.

Julius Adler, World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Dauphin; Roll: 1893237; Draft Board: 3

Julius Adler, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Dauphin; Roll: 1893237; Draft Board: 3

In 1920, the family had returned to Philadelphia, where Julius was now employed as a technical engineer for an oil company.  According to his obituary, during the 1920s, Julius was working as the deputy chief of the Philadelphia highway department and was involved in supervising the construction of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the bridge that spans the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia to Camden, New Jersey (originally called the Delaware River Bridge).  In 1930, Julius and Flora and their two sons continued to live in Philadelphia, Julius working as a civil engineer.

Benjamin Franklin Bridge linking Camden, NJ wi...

Benjamin Franklin Bridge linking Camden, NJ with Philadelphia, PA – Taken from the 22nd floor of Waterfront Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alfred, the second youngest child of Amalia and Jacob, was the only other child not involved with the Attleboro jewelry business.  In 1900, he was living with his family in Pittsburgh, but he is not listed with them in 1910, when he would have been 21 years old.  There is an Alfred H. Baer listed in the 1907 Pittsburgh directory, working as a clerk, but I am not sure that that is the same person.  According to his registration for the draft in World War I, Alfred was living in a sanitarium and “mentally incapacitated for work of any kind.”

Alfred Baer ww1 draft reg

Alfred Baer, World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907636; Draft Board: 17

Five years later, at age 34, Alfred died on December 13, 1923.  He was buried where his sister Hattie was buried and where later his parents, his sister Flora, and his brother Maurice would be buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia. I was unable to locate a death certificate, so I do not know the cause of death.  According to his burial record, he was residing in Stamford, Connecticut, at the time of his death.

Thus, by 1930, Amalia (Hamberg) and Jacob Baer had lost two of their children, Hattie and Alfred. Their other children were doing quite well.  Amanda and Flora had moved to Philadelphia with their husbands and children, and Josephine was living in New York City with her husband and son.  The other four children were also living away from Pittsburgh, as we will see in the next post.

Even Jacob and Amalia had left Pittsburgh by that time.  In fact, sometime between 1918 and 1922, they had moved to Atlantic City.  In 1922, they were listed in the Atlantic City directory, living at The Amsterdam in Atlantic City.  The following year on March 27, 1923, their children honored their parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner at the Esplanade Hotel in New York City.

Jacob and Amalia Baer anniversary party

 

In 1930 Jacob and Amalia, now 83 and 79 (although the 1930 census says 77), were living at 250 West 103rd Street in New York City, with Jacob listed as the head of household for what appears to be a small hotel; there are 28 guests listed as living with them.  Their daughter Josephine was living not too far away at 666 West End Avenue.

Amalia Baer, born Malchen Hamberg in Breuna, Germany, died on April 23, 1931, in New York City.  She was 80 years old.  She was buried in Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia where the two children who predeceased her, Hattie and Alfred, were buried.  A year later her husband Jacob died on September 1, 1932.  He was 85 years old, and he was buried with his wife and children in Mt. Sinai cemetery.  His death notice ran in the September 3, 1932 issue of The New York Times:

NY Times, September 3, 1932

NY Times, September 3, 1932

In my next post, I will write about the four children of Amalia and Jacob who were involved in the jewelry business in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Then in a subsequent post I will report on what later happened to the children and the grandchildren of Jacob and Amalia (Hamberg) Baer.

 

 

 

[1] Thank you to Michael Palmer and Cathy Meder-Dempsey of the German Genealogy group on Facebook for helping me decipher Jacob’s birthplace.

[2] I am not sure why Maurice is listed as living in Pittsburgh on the 1900 census as several reports indicate he had established the business in Attleboro before then.  Perhaps he was still traveling back and forth between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts at that time.

From Orphan to Pharmacist and Then?

In two recent posts I shared the sad story of Charles Hamberg and his life in Columbia, South Carolina, which ended with his suicide in 1879.  His son Samuel was only eleven when his father died.  Samuel’s mother Lena had died two years earlier.  Charles’ cousin Amalia Hamberg administered his estate, and then somehow Charles’ son Samuel came to live in western Pennsylvania where he was adopted by his second cousin, my great-grandfather’s brother, Henry Schoenthal.

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

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

 

In 1886 when Samuel was then eighteen years old, he was working as a clerk at 5 East Beau Street in Washington and living at the corner of Beau and Lincoln in that town, according to the 1886 directory for Washington, Pennsylvania.  According to that same source, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, who had arrived in Washington in 1881, was living at 203 East Beau Street that same year; looking at Google Maps, I see that 203 East Beau Street is located at the corner of Lincoln and Beau.

[Thanks to Lara of Lara’s Jewnealogy, I now know how to use Google Maps more effectively.  See her great post here.]

Thus, Samuel Hamberg was probably living with my great-grandfather.  I imagine that they lived and maybe even worked together, my great-grandfather watching over his younger second cousin.  Perhaps Samuel helped my great-grandfather learn English and adjust to American ways.

By 1889, Samuel, now 21 years old, had moved to Philadelphia.  He is listed in the directory for that year as Samuel T. Hamberg, a manager, residing at “134 E. Orthodox, FKD.”  FKD stands for Frankford, a neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia about six miles from the center of the city.  I wondered what had taken him there.

It took me a very long time to find out, but when I finally decided, after exhausting traditional genealogy sources, to Google “Samuel T. Hamberg” as a last ditch effort to learn more, I found these two entries in Google Books:

P.W. Bedford, Pharmaceutical Record and Weekly Market Review, Volume 10, April 21, 1890, p. 163, found here (list of graduates of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy).

26th Annual Report of the Alumni Association of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (1890), found here.

Class of 1890, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Alumni Association Report, p. 194

Class of 1890, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
Alumni Association Report, p. 194

Samuel T. Hamberg, the boy who had lost both his parents before his twelfth birthday, had graduated from the four-year program at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1890 when he was 22 years old. The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy was the first pharmacy school in the United States and still exists today.

Not only had Samuel graduated from this prestigious institution, but a further search into both of the above sources revealed that his middle name was Tilden,[1] that he had written his thesis on nitroglycerin, that he had played the guitar to open the commencement exercises as part of a musical ensemble (perhaps his musical adoptive brother Lionel Schoenthal with whom he’d lived in Washington had given him music lessons), and that he had been selected to be the Class Poet.  The poem he read at the school’s commencement exercises in 1890 is filled with references to professors and specific memories of the school years, but this particular verse seemed a more personal statement:

Sorrows and losses may be borne,

Be baffled and dismayed,

Feel the sharp pang of many a thorn

By our own follies made.

But hope and effort may improve

And help us to thankful be,

It surely did in this case

It helped us—in a degree.

(Samuel Tilden Hamberg, 1890, as published in the Alumni Report, cited above, p.124.)

Samuel Tilden Hamberg certainly had suffered sorrows and losses, though not by his “own follies made.”  But it seems with the love of his family in Washington, Pennsylvania, he had in fact borne those sorrows and losses and succeeded in coming through them as a grateful and successful young man.

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Samuel stayed on in Philadelphia after graduating. In the 1892 directory for Philadelphia, Samuel T. Hamberg is listed as a clerk, living now at 6933 Hagerman Avenue.  Two years later in 1894 he lists his occupation as druggist, living at 824 Somerset.  In 1895 and 1896 there are numerous advertisements listing Samuel T. Hamberg as a pharmacist in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Samuel T. Hamberg married Jane E. Tracey on November 20, 1898, at the Zion Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  At the time they married, Samuel had been residing in Camden, New Jersey, according to the marriage record.  His wife had been living in Philadelphia where she was born in December, 1869.  Jane, or Jennie as she was generally identified on most records, was the daughter of Edwin Tracey (often spelled Tracy) and Jane Irwin.  Edwin was a Philadelphia native and a shoemaker according to the 1880 census; his wife Jane was born in Ireland.  Jennie was the seventh of nine children.

Marriage record of Samuel Hamberg and Jane Tracey November 20, 1898, Zion Protestant Episcopal Church, Philadelphia Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 978

Marriage record of Samuel Hamberg and Jane Tracey November 20, 1898, Zion Protestant Episcopal Church, Philadelphia
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 978

 

In 1900, Samuel and Jennie were living in Philadelphia in the household of Jennie’s brother Albert Tracy along with Jennie’s mother Jane and her three sisters.  Samuel was working as a hospital supplies salesman.  I know this is the correct Samuel Hamberg because his birth place is given as South Carolina, his father’s as Germany, his mother’s as South Carolina.  (I found it interesting that Samuel reported the birth places of his birth parents, Charles and Lena, not those of his adoptive parents.)

Samuel Hamberg 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1472; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0748; FHL microfilm: 1241472

Samuel Hamberg 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1472; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0748; FHL microfilm: 1241472

 

On September 4, 1900, Samuel and Jennie had their first child, a son named Charles, presumably named for Samuel’s father Charles.

The family must have soon thereafter moved to Camden, New Jersey, for Samuel is listed as a salesman in the 1901 Camden directory.  Samuel and Jennie are also listed in the 1902 and 1903 Camden directories at 3010 Westfield Street; Samuel is still listed as a salesman.  A second child was born that year, Frances D. Hamberg, born in January, 1903, in New Jersey.  Samuel and Jennie were still living at the same address in 1904 and in 1905.

Then things start getting a little confusing.  In 1906 Samuel T. Hamberg is listed in the Philadelphia directory as a salesman residing at 27 North 60th Street in that city.  There is no listing for him in the Camden directory for that year.  But the following year Samuel is listed as a salesman in the Camden directory, residing at 126 Dudley Street.  Then in 1908, the listing is only in Jennie’s name—Jennie Hamberg at 126 Dudley Street.

Meanwhile in October 1907, a third child had been born to Samuel and Jennie—Edwin F. Hamberg.  Had Samuel and Jennie separated in 1906, reconciled and had a third child in 1907, and then separated again in 1908? Jennie is again listed alone at 126 Dudley in Camden in 1909, this time with an occupation, dressmaker.

But where was Samuel in 1908 and 1909? He is not listed in the Camden directory.  There are two Samuel Hambergs listed in Philadelphia in 1909, but they are father and son and listed as pawnbrokers, so neither of them seems to be the right Samuel.  There are no Samuel Hambergs listed in the directories for those years for Pittsburgh or Washington, Pennsylvania, or Baltimore.

In 1910, Samuel reappears on the 1910 census in Baltimore, Maryland, living as a boarder and working as a pharmacist in a drugstore.  I know this is my Samuel because he is Samuel T. Hamberg, born in South Carolina, father born in Germany, mother in South Carolina.  But why is he in Baltimore?  He is still listing himself as married, so maybe he went to Baltimore to find work.   Since he had been working as a salesman while living in Camden, maybe he wanted to return to being a regular pharmacist.

Samuel Hamberg 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Baltimore Ward 4, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: T624_553; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1374566

Samuel Hamberg 1910 census Line 85
Year: 1910; Census Place: Baltimore Ward 4, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: T624_553; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1374566

Jennie and the three children were still living at 126 Dudley in Camden in 1910.  According to the census, they were living with Jennie’s sister Clara Campbell and her mother Jane Tracy.  Like Samuel, Jennie still reported herself as married.  Although Jennie reported no occupation on the 1910 census, the 1910 and 1911 Camden directories list her as a dressmaker.

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

 

Samuel is listed in the 1911 Baltimore directory, but then he again disappears.  I couldn’t find him in any newspaper article or any directory after 1911 during the decade of the 1910s.

Jennie, however, continued to be listed in the Camden directories from 1910 through 1916.  In 1915, she and her children are listed on the New Jersey census, once again living with her sister Clara and her mother Jane; Samuel is not part of their household.

Jennie Tracey Hamberg died from heart disease on March 4, 1917.  She was only 47 years old, and she left behind three children.  Charles was not yet sixteen, Frances not yet fourteen, and Edwin not yet ten years old.  Like their father Samuel, they lost their mother at a young age.

Jennie Tracey Hamberg death certificate

Jennie Hamberg burial record Fernwood Cemetery, Yeardon, PA Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Jennie Hamberg burial record
Fernwood Cemetery, Yeardon, PA
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

So where was their father? I could not find him on the 1920 census or anywhere during the 1920s until I searched for “Samuel T. Hamberg” in Google.  And along with the links noted above relating to his education as a pharmacist, I found several links indicating that in 1920 Samuel was in Pittsburgh working for the state of Pennsylvania as a temporary investigator doing fair price work.  Even knowing this additional information, I could not locate Samuel on the 1920 census or in any directory in the 1920s.

Samuel Hamberg investigator 1920

Herman P. Miller, Snull’s Legislative Handbook and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania, 1920, p. 144, found here.

But Samuel T. Hamberg does reappear on the 1930 census.  He is listed as Sam T. Hamberg, 62 years old (the correct age), married at age 30 (the correct age), widowed (Jennie was dead), born in South Carolina, father born in Germany, mother in South Carolina (all correct).  Clearly this is the right person.  He was now living in Philadelphia, working as a novelty salesman, and living with his “sister” Cecelia Link. What had happened to his pharmacy career? His work as a state investigator? And who was Cecelia Link?

Samuel Hamberg 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2125; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0777; Image: 969.0; FHL microfilm: 2341859

Samuel Hamberg 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2125; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0777; Image: 969.0; FHL microfilm: 2341859

Samuel did not have any sisters except for his adoptive sister Hilda Schoenthal, the daughter of Henry Schoenthal.  Cecelia was twenty years younger than Samuel, according to the 1930 census, born in Pennsylvania, single, and working as a telephone operator.  Cecelia answered the enumerator’s questions as indicated by the H on the line where her name is. Who was she, and why was she living with Samuel?

I found a Celia Link living with her mother and two sisters (and a brother-in-law) in Pittsburgh on the 1920 census.  Celia was forty years old, single, and working as a telephone operator.  It seemed like an unlikely coincidence that there were two women with just about the same name, both born in Pennsylvania, and both working as telephone operators.  (Remember that Samuel was living in Pittsburgh in 1920.)

So I looked for more about this Celia Link.  The 1916 Pittsburgh directory had her listed as Cecelia Link working as a telephone operator, so now we had the exact same name.  The 1910 census has her again as Celia, living with her parents, working as a telephone operator, and 33 years old.  Going back yet another ten years, the 1900 census lists her as Cecilia, age 22, with a birth date of March 1878, and no occupation.

Then I found her death certificate.  Cecelia Link died of chronic myocarditis on May 6, 1934, at “abt age 48,” according to her sister, the informant.  Assuming that Cecelia was 22 in 1900, she would have been 56 in 1934.  Even in 1920, she reported to be 40, making her 54 in 1934.  She was therefore only about ten years younger than Samuel, not twenty.  Note also that she was born in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Cecilia Link death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Cecilia Link death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I assume that Samuel met Cecelia when he was working in Pittsburgh as an investigator. And that they were more than “brother and sister.”  I think Cecelia lied both about her age and her relationship to Charles.

But Cecelia died in 1934 back in Pittsburgh.  What happened to Samuel before and after her death? And where were his children?

More questions to answer.

 

 

 

 

[1] There is no earlier indication that Samuel’s middle name was Tilden.  Did he adopt this middle name himself? In 1868 when Samuel Hamberg was born in Columbia, South Carolina, Samuel Tilden was probably not a nationally known figure.  He was from New York State and a supporter of the Union during the Civil War.  After the war he was active in reforming the Democratic party.  Would Charles Hamberg have known of him and named his son for him? Unlikely.

But Samuel Tilden was the Democratic party’s nominee in the 1876 Presidential election; the results of the election were disputed when several states turned into multiple sets of return.  The Presidency was determined by a partisan commission established by Congress, and Tilden lost to Rutherford B. Hayes, even though he had won the popular vote.  I think it is more likely that Samuel Hamberg adopted Tilden’s name as his middle name sometime as a young adult after Tilden was more of a household name.  Tilden died in 1886, and the first use I’ve seen of the middle initial T by Samuel Hamberg was while he was in pharmacy school in the late 1880s.  For more on Samuel Tilden, see here and here and here.

Another Delightful Conversation: My Cousin Maxine

I love it when a cousin finds me.  Usually I am the one searching for them, hoping they will be interested and open to sharing their family histories with me.  So when a cousin finds my blog, it is a delightful experience—I know they are interested, and there is none of the awkwardness of trying to explain who I am and that I am not a scammer trying to get money from them or steal their identity.

I’ve had that great pleasure again recently when my third cousin Maxine found my blog and left a comment about her connection to me and her family.  Maxine is the daughter of Hattie Arnold and Martin Schulherr, about whom I wrote here.  Maxine’s grandparents were Jennie Stern and Max Arnold, and her great-grandmother was Hannah Schoenthal Stern.  Hannah was my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s older sister.  Thus, Maxine and I are both the great-great-granddaughters of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  We are third cousins.

Relationship Amy to Maxine Schulherr

 

Maxine was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area and has lived there all her life.  We had a wonderful phone conversation and have exchanged many emails since.  Maxine knew many of the cousins about whom I’ve written, including Lee and Meyer Schoenthal, Erna and Werner Haas, and the members of the extended Oestreicher family.  She was able to bring to life many of these people, who thus far had been mostly names and dates and occupations to me.

Her grandmother Jennie lived with Maxine and her parents for a number of years, and Maxine even shared a room with her grandmother during that time.  She knew her well, and so I was hoping that Maxine would have stories about Jennie’s youth.  Jennie came to the United States from Germany in the 1880s with her mother Hannah when she was thirteen years old, and I was interested in hearing any stories about Jennie’s life in Germany or about her experiences as a teenager settling in western Pennsylvania.  But as with so many immigrants, Jennie did not talk about the past.  Maxine said she never heard her grandmother talk about Germany or about her early days in the US.

But she did have some old photographs of Jennie with two other women whom we both assume are Jennie’s two sisters, Sarah (on the left) and Edith (on the right). (All photos in this post are courtesy of my cousin Maxine.)

jennie-stern-arnold-and-her-sisters-1

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

jennie-stern-arnold-and-sisters-2

Stern sisters

 

Maxine then told me about her grandmother Jennie’s life as an adult in Pennsylvania.  Jennie married Max Arnold, who had originally owned a dairy called Sweet Home Dairy. (Maxine was named for her grandfather Max.)  It was the first dairy to deliver milk to homes in the Pittsburgh area, according to Maxine.  Max had to close the dairy when he had trouble hiring reliable men to come and milk his cows, and he then went into the meat business, as I wrote about here.   Max eventually he retired and his son Sylvan ran the business when Maxine was a child.  Max, Jr., helped his brother Sylvan doing deliveries, but after having several accidents he moved on to other endeavors.

Sylvan closed the meat market when he enlisted in the army during World War II.  He would not have been drafted, given his age, but according to Maxine, Sylvan was looking to get away as his marriage was failing.  He and his first wife Ada divorced, and Sylvan remarried while in the service and stationed in Arkansas.  Based on Maxine’s information, I found a marriage record for Sylvan Arnold and Gladys Evans dated June 20, 1945, in Saline, Arkansas.  He and his second wife Gladys later moved to California, and the family in Pittsburgh never met her.

Here is a photo of Jennie and Max with their first child, Jerome, who was born in 1897.

jennie-stern-and-max-arnold-with-jerome-c-1897-edited

Jennie Stern Arnold, Jerome Arnold, and Max Arnold, Sr. c. 1897

 

Jennie and Max had five children, and Maxine had this wonderful picture that she believes is of those five:

hattie-arnold-unknown-jerome-max-bernice-and-sylvan-arnold

Children of Jennie Stern Arnold: Hattie, unknown, top; Jerome, possibly Max, Jr., and Bernice, center row; and Sylvan, foreground at bottom, c. 1913

Maxine’s mother Hattie is the girl in the light dress on top next to an unknown girl.  Her uncle Jerome is on the left and her aunt Bernice on the right in the middle row, and her uncle Sylvan is the boy on the ground in the front.

The little boy on the swing might be Max, Junior, but the age seems off, so I’m not sure. Since Jerome looks to be no more than sixteen here, I think this photo is probably dated no later than 1913.  In 1913, Jerome was 16, Hattie 14, Bernice 12, and Sylvan 10, and that does seem to line up with what I think are the maximum ages of the children in the photograph. I actually think they look even younger than those ages.  What do you all think? Are the children older than that?

So if the photo was taken in 1913, Max, Jr. would have been two years old.  Does the little boy on the swing look to be only two years old?  I think he looks at least three or four.  What you think?

From Maxine, I also learned more about the lives of Maxine’s mother Hattie and Hattie’s four siblings. Hattie was very proud to be one of the first women to learn to drive in Pittsburgh.  She was sixteen, and her father brought home a car that he couldn’t drive, but somehow Hattie and her brother Jerome learned to drive it.

Hattie’s sister Bernice was married twice, first to Julius Averback, whom she later divorced.  Maxine was very fond of Julius and recalled that he had taken her to the circus where he bought her a pet chameleon. Maxine told me, “The circus sold chameleons in little boxes with a string around their necks and a  safety pin at the end of the string so you could pin it on your clothes!!”  Even though he was divorced from Bernice at the time, Julius sent Maxine eighteen roses for her eighteenth birthday. Bernice’s second husband was Abe Sultanov.  Bernice did not have children with either husband.

All three of Hattie’s brothers worked in the meat business initially, but Max, Jr. later branched out into the movie theater business, living in Morgantown, West Virginia for some time before returning to the Pittsburgh area where he owned another theater in Verona and then worked in the furniture business after his brother-in-law Abe, Bernice’s second husband, made some connections for him (Abe was a manufacturer’s representative for a line of furniture).  Later on, Max, Jr. owned a drive-in theater in the Pittsburgh area known as the Maple Drive-In.

According to Maxine, her grandmother Jennie as well as Jennie’s older sister Sarah Stern Oestreicher converted to Christian Science at some point in their adult lives. Maxine recalled going to church services with her grandmother.  But Martin and Hattie remained Jewish, and Maxine was confirmed at Rodef Shalom synagogue in 1944, the same synagogue where her mother had been confirmed about thirty years earlier.

Maxine was married to Alan Stein in August, 1948.  She generously shared with me these pictures from her wedding day:

 

Hattie Martin Maxine Alan Henrietta Stein Alan's mother

Hattie Arnold Schulherr, Martin Schulherr, Maxine Schulherr Stein, Alan Stein, Henrietta Stein (Alan’s mother)

hattie-max-and-bernice

Hattie Arnold Schulherr, Max Arnold, Jr., and Bernice Arnold Averbach Sultanov

Hattie Martin Ceil RIchard Lou Ann daughter of Jerome and ELlen, Maxine, Max. Bernice and Ellen

Hattie Arnold Schulherr, Martin Schulherr, Richard Arnold (son of Max, Jr.), Cecilia Lefkowitz Arnold, Lou Ann Arnold (daughter of Jerome Arnold), Maxine Schulherr Stein, Max Arnold, Jr., Bernice Arnold Averbach Sultanov, and Ellen Schwabrow Arnold

In addition to her grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles, Maxine also knew our mutual cousins Lee and Meyer Schoenthal quite well, and she was able to answer one of my lingering questions about Lee.  When I wrote about Lee’s draft registration for World War II, I’d been puzzled by the person he’d named as the one who would always know his address, a woman named Mary Reinbold.

Lee Schoenthal 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 Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 278

Lee Schoenthal 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 Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 278

 

Maxine shared with me that Mary Reinbold was Lee’s girlfriend for many years.  They were together a long time but never married because Mary was Catholic and Lee was Jewish.  Maxine recalled that Lee and Mary regularly came to her parents’ home for Sunday dinners.  She remembers them both very fondly.  She said Lee was a successful tailor who sold made-to-order men’s suits; her father Martin owned suits he purchased from Lee.  Lee’s shop was in the basement of building on E. Beau Street in Washington, Pennsylvania.

He must have done quite well, as Maxine told me, “Lee always drove a Lasalle car which in it’s day was in the Cadillac or more expensive class.  And he belonged to a club in  Washington, called the “Arms Club” although he never went hunting.  It was a bar, some tables, slot machines, a dance floor, and other games of chance.” Maxine said that Lee always brought her mother candy that he won at the club.   Her father Martin was also a member of the club, and Maxine visited there as well.  She told me, “I liked to pull the handle on the slot machine and watch the coins come out!!  And Daddy would stand beside me and hand me the quarters.  (I never had to spend my allowance, which then was probably one dollar a week.)”  I just love the images that this anecdote evokes.

Here are some photographs Maxine shared of Lee, Meyer, Mary, her mother Hattie, and herself as a twelve year old, taken in about 1940.

lee-schoenthal-c-1940s

Lee Schoenthal, c. 1940

mary-reinbold-and-lee-schoenthal

Mary Reinbold and Lee Schoenthal, c. 1940

mary-reinbold-meyer-schoenthal-hattie-arnold-schulherr-maxine-schulherr-stein

Mary Reinbold, Meyer Schoenthal, Hattie Arnold Schulherr, and Maxine Schulherr, c. 1940

It’s just wonderful to be able to see the faces that go with the names.

Maxine also remembers Lee and Meyer’s sister Erna Haas and her son Werner, but does not remember Lee and Meyer’s other sister, Johanna, the one who survived the Gurs internment camp in France and came to the US with her husband in 1947.  Since Johanna outlived Lee and Meyer and also lived in Pittsburgh, I was surprised that Maxine had no recollection of meeting her nor any awareness of this fourth sibling.  Perhaps Johanna’s suffering during the war had made her less able to interact with the extended family.

Maxine also knew members of the Oestreicher family, that is, the family of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher.  Sarah was her grandmother Jennie’s older sister, as discussed here and here.  Maxine knew Sarah’s son Sidney and his children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine very well.  She said that Elaine had lived with her family for a while in the 1940s when Sidney and his wife Esther moved to New York and Elaine wanted to finish the school year in Pittsburgh.  But Maxine didn’t know what had happened to Elaine or the rest of the family after that and was curious to learn more about her long-lost second cousins.

I told her I would see what else I could find as I also had not yet been able to learn much about the Oestreicher family after about 1940.  With a few clues from Maxine, I was able to find those long-lost Oestreicher cousins.  I will report on what I’ve learned in a later post after I’ve had a chance to speak with my other third cousins, Betty and Elaine.

 

The Final Chapter for Jakob Schoenthal and His Descendants

As of 1947, the four surviving children and two grandchildren of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld were all settled in western Pennsylvania, living close to each other, Johanna and Erna in Pittsburgh and Lee and Meyer nearby in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Johanna and Erna had survived the Holocaust, as had Erna’s son Werner Haas and the son of their sister Henriette, Helmut Levi.

The next two decades were, however, not kind to the children of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld.  First, on February 7, 1956, Johanna’s husband Heinrich Stern died at age 79; he’d been suffering from arteriosclerosis for years, according to his death certificate, and had been residing in the Jewish Home for the Aged in Pittsburgh.  His doctor had been caring for him since 1953, so Heinrich must have been in poor health for much of his time in the US.

 

Heinrich Stern death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Heinrich Stern death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Then the following year, the oldest sibling, Lee Schoenthal, died at age 75 on May 11, 1957.  He also suffered from arteriosclerosis and died from congestive heart failure.  His doctor had been caring for him since 1949, according to the death certificate.  Lee appears to have been the backbone of the family, the one who employed and housed his younger brother Meyer for some years and who also helped his two younger sisters Johanna and Erna as well as his nephew Helmut Levi come to and settle in the US.

 

Lee Schoenthal death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lee Schoenthal death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

It was almost three years later that Meyer himself died.  He was 76 years old, and the principal cause of death was a coronary occlusion.  But looking more closely at the death certificate revealed information that might have explained why Meyer had not appeared in any city directories after 1931 and why his sisters and nephew all listed only Lee as the person they knew in the US and not Meyer. It also explains why Lee had not listed Meyer on his World War II draft registration as the person who would always know his address.

 

 

Meyer N Schoenthal death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Meyer N Schoenthal death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Meyer suffered from manic depression (more commonly referred to as bipolar disorder today), which the doctor described as a contributing factor in his death.  Meyer had been living at Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, for over two and a half years at the time of his death on January 10, 1960.  In other words, he had been hospitalized shortly after his brother Lee’s death in May 1957.  Lee must have been caring for him up to that point.

Lee and Meyer were buried next to each other in Beth Israel cemetery in Washington, Pennsylvania.

 

 

The family’s heartbreak continued two years later when young Werner Haas died from Laennec’s cirrhosis of the liver, a form of cirrhosis associated with alcoholism.  According to the death certificate, he had been suffering for months and died after 48 hours in a hepatic coma.  He was only 36 years old.

 

 

Werner Haas death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Werner Haas death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

His life had not been an easy one.  He had lost his father before he was five years old, and he had been uprooted from his home in Darmstadt, Germany, and brought to the US.  Then he had served in the US Navy as a fireman, a skilled technician, during World War II.  After the war he had been briefly married to Lillian Angeloff; at the time of his death he was married to Margaret Rusnack, who was more than ten years older than Werner and had a son from a prior marriage.  He had worked as a salesman before and after the war, but in 1950 he had changed occupations and was a driver.  In 1952 he was a construction worker, and then in 1958 and 1959 he was again a driver.  After that he does not appear in the Pittsburgh directories.

It’s hard to imagine what those years between 1953 and 1962 must have been like for the two remaining siblings.  Johanna lost a husband, two brothers, and a nephew, and Erna also lost her brothers, her brother-in-law, and her son.

Erna then lost her remaining sibling, Johanna, on February 23, 1967.  The only close relative who was left was her nephew Helmut Levi (who by that time was named Henry Lyons).  Henry and his wife Pauline continued to live at the same address in Rego Park, New York, until Henry’s death on December 18, 1986.  He was only 67 years old when he died.

 

Aufbau February 13, 1987 p. 41

Aufbau, February 13, 1987 p. 41

 

Erna Schoenthal Haas, the youngest child of Jakob and Charlotte, had outlived her parents, her husband, her siblings, her nieces and nephews, and even her son.  Despite all the terrible losses she had suffered including being widowed at a very young age, escaping from Nazi Germany, and losing her only child, she had persevered and even maintained a positive outlook, as this June 14, 1984 article from the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh reveals:

 

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23 ewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18 Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook. http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23
Jewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18
Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook.
http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

 

Notice that Erna only mentioned one brother, presumably Lee, and also explained how her family knew Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the renowned art dealer and collector.

Erna died on January 17, 1989, the only sibling to make it to eighty years old, let alone ninety.  She is buried not where her brothers or her sister or even her son is buried, but at Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery near Pittsburgh.

Writing about the lives of Jakob Schoenthal and his children provided a stark contrast to the experience I had writing about Simon Schoenthal and his children.  These two brothers, born just a year apart, had such different lives and legacies. Both died too young and also just a year apart, Jakob in 1903, Simon in 1904. But although Simon and his wife Rose had suffered heartbreak when their daughter Ida died at a young age, overall their lives and their legacy were happy ones.  Simon’s nine surviving children almost all lived very long and happy lives filled with adventures, long marriages, children, and close relationships with each other.

 

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal
Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

 

Jakob’s five children, on the other hand, were not so fortunate.  Henriette was killed in the Holocaust along with her husband.  Johanna was deported from her home to a camp in France and then somehow survived, probably hiding in France.  As far as I know, Johanna never had children.   Lee Schoenthal and Meyer Schoenthal never married or had children, and Meyer spent some part of his life struggling with mental illness.

I know of  only two grandchildren of Jakob and Charlotte Schoenthal.  Erna had one son, Werner, who died from liver disease, presumably caused by alcoholism, when he was only 36.  Henriette had a son Helmut, who married but had no children. Thus, neither of Jakob’s two grandsons had children.  There are no descendants to carry on that particular family’s line.

I can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out differently for Jakob and Charlotte and their children if they, like their siblings, had chosen to come to the US instead of staying in Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

Cousins Deported to France: The Camp at Gurs

Did you know that during the Holocaust some German Jews were deported not to the camps in the east, but to France? It was a revelation to me.

I left off my last post with a series of questions regarding the fate of my cousin Johanna Schoenthal and her husband Heinrich Stern, both of whom had been living in a hospice in southern France at the end of World War II. Why did they end up in France, and how long had they been there? How had they survived after the Nazis took over France in the spring of 1940? Who was Henry Kahnweiler,  the friend in Paris they named on their 1947 ship manifest when they left France for the US?  Had they had children?

Although I don’t have answers to all those questions, thanks to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the people and sources on JewishGen, I have been able to piece together part of the story of Johanna and Heinrich’s ordeal during World War II.

From the Mannheim Jewish Community database on JewishGen, I learned that Johanna and Heinrich Stern had resided in a town called Karlsruhe before the war.  Karlsruhe is about forty miles from Mannheim.  It is rather distant from Köln, where Johanna was born—almost 200 miles—and from Giessen, where Heinrich was born.  But perhaps more importantly, it is less than twenty miles from the French border.  I don’t know how the Sterns ended up living there or when they had moved there.

But I do know when they left.  Thanks to Peter Lande at the USHMM, I have learned about a whole new chapter in the history of the Holocaust.  Peter sent me the documents below regarding Johanna and Heinrich Stern:

 

Heinrich Stern ITS card page 1Heinrich Stern ITS card page 2

 

Johanna Stern ITS card

 

(Translation of first card: Stern, Heinrich, born 3rd August 1876 in Giessen, religion: Jewish, nationality: German – Senior councillor of the Jews in Baden, district South-Baden (source: Nathan Rosenberger, Freiburg: List of survivors of 7.500 deported from the state of Baden), without date, page 3 – ref.-nr. F-18-555 – residence: Karlsruhe, Kleinprechtstr. 41, deported from Karlsruhe at the 22 October 1940 to Gurs in Southern France, current address: Hospice de Romain Drome.

Second card: transport-list from the Gestapo, district Fürstenberg-Baden. ref-nr. VCC 155/XIII.  The third card is the same as the first, except it is for Johanna Stern, born 15th of July, 1880 in Köln. )

These cards were definitely about my cousin Johanna Schoenthal Stern and her husband Heinrich Stern.  The birth dates and places are consistent with the passenger ship manifest and the JewishGen sources I had found, and the place of last residence in Germany and the residence in France are also consistent with those sources and the notice posted by the family in Aufbau in 1946.  These cards told me what had happened to Johanna and Heinrich. They had been deported by the Gestapo from Karlsruhe on October 22, 1940, to a place called Gurs in southern France.

With these clues, I was able to find out more about the fate of the Sterns, not specifically but generally.  In October, 1940, the Nazi officials in charge of the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France as well as the Baden district of Germany decided to deport the Jews from Baden, having already deported those who had been living in Alsace and Lorraine.  This decision, known as the Wagner-Burckel Aktion for the two Nazi officials who planned and implemented it, led to the sudden deportation of approximately 7,500 Jews from the Baden region, including my cousins, the Sterns, who were living in Karlsruhe.  It would be the only deportation of German Jews to the west rather than the east of Germany during the Holocaust.

 

Railroad tracks to Gurs By Jean Michel Etchecolonea (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Railroad tracks to Gurs
By Jean Michel Etchecolonea (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Manfred Wildmann, a victim of this deportation, provided this chilling account of the deportation itself on his website Our Lives in Europe:

On October 21, 1940, late in the afternoon, my grandfather, as head of the Jewish community, was told to inform all the Jews of Philippsburg that the next day Jews were not allowed to leave their homes.  The next morning the police (it may have been the Gestapo) came to every Jewish house, to inform us that we had one hour to pack after which we would be taken away to an unknown destination.

An hour later, the police came to pick us up to march us to the central square, where a canvas covered truck was waiting for all the 21 Jews of Philippsburg, aged 10 to 80.  The truck took us to Bruchsal, 20 km away which was an assembly point for Jews from the area.  Late that afternoon, we were all marched to the railroad station.  When the train finally came, a passenger train with third class coaches, we were relieved that it was heading south and not north towards Poland.  While we didn’t know any details of what was happening in Poland, we knew that whatever it was, it wasn’t good.  All night long, the train headed south, stopping often to pick up more Jews along the way.  Early in the morning, we crossed the Rhine.  Now we knew that we were in France.

Once in France, the deportees were sent to a French detention camp in Gurs in the Basque region of southern France, near the border with Spain.  Originally built in 1939 by the French to house refugees from the Spanish Civil War, the camp had also been used by the French to detain German Jews as “enemy aliens” in 1940.  After Germany invaded France and the Vichy government was established, the camp came under Vichy control.  When the Jews from Baden arrived on nine trains in October 1940, the Vichy government decided to send them to the camp at Gurs.

According to the USHMM website, “Conditions in the Gurs camp were very primitive. It was overcrowded and there was a constant shortage of water, food, and clothing. During 1940-1941, 800 detainees died of contagious diseases, including typhoid fever and dysentery.”

 

Manfred Wildmann provided a more detailed and vivid description:

No vegetation grew in the entire Camp, and the constant rain transformed the ground into a sea of mud into which one could sink knee deep and lose one’s shoes.

The barracks of Gurs were of a special construction, with the lower parts of the walls slanting outwards.  They were constructed of rough wooden planks, covered with tar paper, with a wooden floor and a few small windows covered with plasticized chicken wire.  About eighty people were assigned to each.  The only furniture in the barracks was each person’s rolled up straw bag or mattress, suitcases and one cast iron stove in the center to provide a little heat.  Everybody lived sitting either on these straw bags or suitcases.  This is also how we ate, out of empty tin cans or any other suitable container we could find.

Another family memoir about life at Gurs can be found at The Grey Folder Project website by Toby Sonneman.

In January, 1941, the New York Times reported on conditions at Gurs, noting that there were fifty doctors providing medical treatment to over 7000 people interned in the camp, trying to “reduce an already high and still mounting mortality rate resulting from lack of food and medicine and unhygienic conditions, the physical resistance of most of the refugees already having been worn down through long suffering.”  The Times article stated that there were over 500 children in the camp and about 1200 people over seventy.   People were suffering from malnutrition, bleeding gums, heart problems, dysentery, typhoid, and lice.  There was severe overcrowding and poor heating and ventilation.  Fifteen to twenty-five people were dying every day.  “Misery and Death in French Camps, ” New York Times, January 26. 1941, p. 24.

 

New York Times, January 26, 1941, p. 25

New York Times, January 26, 1941, p. 24

 

What happened to those who survived? According to the USHMM, “1,710 were eventually released, 755 escaped, 1,940 were able to emigrate, and 2,820 men were conscripted into French labor battalions.”  The exact number of those who died of the 7,500 Jews who were deported from Baden is not known, but overall over 1000 people died at Gurs over the course of the war.  Many of those Baden deportees were transferred to other camps and some eventually to Auschwitz.  The USHMM website states, “Between August 6, 1942 and March 3, 1943, Vichy officials turned over 3,907 Jewish prisoners from Gurs to the Germans; the Germans sent the majority of them to the Drancy transit camp outside Paris in northern France. From Drancy, they were deported in six convoys to the extermination camps in occupied Poland, primarily Auschwitz.”

 

Cemetery for those who died at Gurs By Jean Michel Etchecolonea (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cemetery for those who died at Gurs
By Jean Michel Etchecolonea (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know how long Johanna and Heinrich were at Gurs or under what circumstances they were able to leave.  Perhaps they were among the 755 who escaped or the 1,710 who were released.  Maybe they were transferred to another camp.  The records that the USHMM had for them end with the cards posted above.

As for Henry Kahnweiler, the man the Sterns named as their contact person in France on the passenger manifest when they left for the US in 1947,  he was the very well-known German-born art dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, described by one source “a banker, writer, publisher, and art dealer who became the pioneering champion of Cubism.”  As described by Johanna’s sister, Erna Schoenthal Haas, in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on June 14, 1989, Kahnweiler was a friend of her brother-in-law, Heinrich Stern, from the days they had both been working at a bank in Germany.  Kahnweiler’s parents had wanted him to be a banker, but instead he’d moved to Paris in 1907, where he soon established himself as a successful art collector and dealer. He became one of the principal dealers in Cubist art and a major dealer in the works of Picasso.

Here is a portrait of Kahnweiler done by the artist Juan Gris:

Deutsch: Juan Gris: Porträt Daniel-Henry Kahnw...

Deutsch: Juan Gris: Porträt Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, 32,5 x 26 cm, Bleistift auf Papier, Museée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


During World War I, France appropriated and sold Kahnweiler’s collection because he was a German national and thus a national of an enemy state.  After spending the war in exile in Switzerland during which time he wrote several important works on Cubism and art history, Kahnweiler returned to Paris in 1920 and started over.  Here is he depicted in 1923 at his gallery in Paris:  standing, Daniel Henry Kahnweiler (r), Juan Gris (c) ; 1st row, Louise Leiris (c).

But then in the spring of 1940 when the Nazis invaded France, Kahnweiler, like thousands of other Jews living in France, went into hiding in the south of France.  This post describes in detail his ordeal and perhaps reflects the experience of many others including that of Johanna (Schoenthal) and Heinrich Stern.  I don’t know how the Sterns stayed in touch with Kahnweiler during the war, but they obviously knew his Paris address in 1947 when they departed for the US.

I imagine that the Schoenthals in the US—especially Lee, Meyer, and Erna—must have been greatly worried about their sister Johanna and her husband during the war, but by June 14, 1946, they knew that Johanna and Heinrich were alive and where they were living, as is apparent from the notice from the Aufbau regarding the deaths of Henriette and Julius Levi.  That notice indicates that Johanna and Heinrich were then living in a hospital or hospice in a town called Romans in the department of Drome in southeastern France.  I have written to the town of Romans in France to see if they have any information, but so far have not gotten any response.

 

Aufbau June 14, 1946

Aufbau June 14, 1946

It was almost exactly a year later that Johanna and Heinrich arrived in the US and settled in Pittsburgh.  I can only imagine the joy that the four surviving siblings experienced when they were finally all reunited.  A joy, however, that must have been bittersweet, tempered by the knowledge that their sister Henriette and her husband had not survived and that their sister Johanna and her husband must have suffered greatly in order to survive.

In my next post, I will write about the post-war lives of these four siblings, their spouses, and the two grandsons of Jakob and Charlotte Schoenthal, Werner Haas and Helmut Levi/Henry Lyons.

 

Fighting their Native Country in World War II: Jakob Schoenthal’s Grandsons

As I wrote last time, the two sons of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld had arrived in the US long before Hitler came to power in Germany.  They were working as tailors and living in Washington, Pennsylvania, where their uncles and aunt had lived for many years.  Then Hitler came to power, and their family back home was in danger.

In 1938, Lee and Meyer’s sister Erna arrived from Germany with her son Werner.  I have now learned more about Erna’s husband Arnold Haas.  He was born in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1893, and had served his native country during World War I.  He and Erna Schoenthal had married on February 13, 1925, and their son Werner was born on April 14, 1926.  Then Arnold died at age 38 on January 23, 1931, leaving behind his young widow Erna and his not-yet five year old son Werner.  Fortunately Erna had the good sense to leave Germany in May, 1938, and bring her son and herself to safety in the US.  In 1940, they were living in Pittsburgh.

Darmstadt register for Arnold Haas and family indicating birth, marriage, and death of Haas and birth of son Werner

Darmstadt register for Arnold Haas and family indicating birth, marriage, and death of Arnold Haas and birth of son Werner

Helmut Levi, the son of Julius and Henriette (Schoenthal) Levi, had also arrived by then and was living in New York City.  Both Helmut and Werner soon found themselves fighting their former homeland when the US entered World War II at the end of 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Werner Haas joined the US Navy on March 15, 1944, when he was 18, and served until March 6, 1946.  He spent time at the Naval Air Stations in Norfolk, Virginia, and in Corpus Christi, Texas, before being assigned to the Destroyer Escort USS Wesson in June, 1945.  According to Michael Moskow, who has done extensive research on Jewish military service during World War II, the Wesson had been struck by a kamikazi in April, 1945, two months before Werner was assigned to that vessel.

As seen in the caption on the photo below, the Wesson was “in overhaul” from May to July 1945, so it would seem likely that Werner was working on her repairs when he was first assigned to that ship.  Werner served as a fireman on the destroyer; according to this site about military careers, “The training received as a Fireman or in the related engineering skill specialties is equivalent to that received as an electrician, electrical or power plant/co-generation plant operator or supervisor, diesel mechanic, or electronics repair technician.”  From various military records it appears that Werner was assigned to the Wesson for at least a year and was then assigned to two other naval ships.

 

English: 26 June 1945: Mare Island Naval Shipy...

English: 26 June 1945: Mare Island Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, Cal. – Forward plan view of USS Wesson (DE 184) at Mare Island. She was in overhaul at the yard from 16 May to 1 July 1945. USS Blessman (APD 48) inboard of Wesson and USS Hazelwood (DD 531) is on the opposite side of the pier. (U.S. Navy photo #DE-184-4842-45) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Werner’s older cousin Helmut Levi served in the US Army, enlisting on November 28, 1942.  He served as a private and then a corporal during the course of World War II.   Although I am still looking for more information about Helmut’s service during the war, I was able with the help of Michael Moskow to find this letter that Helmut Levi (presumably the same one) wrote to Yank magazine in September, 1944:

 

Pvt Helmut Levi letter to Yank magazine, September 29, 1944, p 14

Pvt Helmut Levi letter to Yank magazine, September 29, 1944, p 14, found at http://www.unz.org/Pub/Yank-1944sep29-00014

 

 

Not surprisingly, Helmut had strong feelings about the need for Germany (and Japan) to be occupied and supervised carefully after the war.  It appears that he was stationed in Britain in September, 1944, just months after the D-Day invasion and the beginning of the Allies’ advances in France against Germany.  During that time, Helmut’s aunt and uncle, Johanna (Schoenthal) and Heinrich Stern, were living in France, hiding from the Nazis. His parents had already been killed at the Chelmno death camp.

Lee and Meyer both registered for the World War II draft, though being almost in their sixties when the war began, neither served in the military during the war.  Note that Meyer was both working for and living with Lee in April 1942.  (Lee seems to have listed his work address as his residence.)  Although Meyer listed his brother Lee as the person who would always know his address, Lee listed someone named Mary Reinbold, who as listed in the 1940 census, was then a 39 year old single woman living with her father and brothers and working as a telephone operator.

 

Lee Schoenthal 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 Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 278

Lee Schoenthal 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 Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 278

 

Meyer N Schoenthal World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Meyer N Schoenthal World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Why wouldn’t Lee have listed Meyer as his contact just as Meyer had listed him? More on that in a later post.

Once the war ended, the family apparently spent a year trying to learn what had happened to Henriette Schoenthal and Julius Levi.  My heart broke when, with Michael Moskow’s help,  I found this notice in the June 14, 1946 issue of Aufbau, the newspaper published beginning in the 1930s for German Jewish immigrants in the United States:

 

Aufbau June 14, 1946

Aufbau June 14, 1946 found at http://archive.org/stream/aufbau1219461946germ#page/n475/mode/1up

 

Translation: After a one year search in Europe, we today know that our beloved parents and siblings, Julius Levi and Henriette Levi (nee Schoenthal) from Cologne have fallen to the Nazi terror …. [followed by the names of their son and their siblings].

By the time Helmut Levi had enlisted in the US Army in November 1942, his parents had already been murdered by the Nazis.  It must have just been unbearable for him to realize that while he had been fighting to defeat Hitler and the Nazis, it had already been too late to save his parents.

This notice also indicates that as of June 14, 1946, Helmut was still in the Army; although I am not sure what “Liaison Sec” refers to, G-2 is military shorthand for military intelligence staff.  It appears that Helmut was doing some kind of intelligence work in Berlin after the war, which makes sense, given his familiarity with Germany and the German language.  Being in Berlin may have also allowed him to search more quickly for what had happened to his parents.

As for Johanna Schoenthal Stern and her husband Heinrich Stern, they arrived in the US in 1947 from France.  As I mentioned in my prior post, Johanna and Heinrich had listed a friend named Henry Kahnweiler of Paris as their contact person in France.  I was curious as to who he was and how Johanna and Heinrich were connected to him.  I wanted to know more about their story—how and when did they go to France? How did they survive the Nazi occupation of France? Had they had children who had not survived the war?

Although I don’t have all the answers, I now have at least some answers to those questions.  I will address those in my next post.