One More Chapter in the 1870s: Ernst Nusbaum and Family

The 1870s were a pretty tough decade for my Nusbaum relatives.  There were business and financial troubles as well as numerous deaths of children and others.  So I admit that it is not with great enthusiasm that I return to the 1870s, but at least this is the last branch of the family to cover during that decade.  I’ve covered my three-times great-grandparents, John Nusbaum and Jeannette Dreyfuss, and their children, as well as the families of  Jeanette’s two sisters, Mathilde and Caroline, and also those of John’s sister Mathilde and the surviving families of John’s brothers Maxwell and Leopold.  That leaves only the 1870s story of John’s brother Ernst and his wife Clarissa and their children.

Ernst was the closest sibling in age to John, just two years younger, and he was apparently the only sibling who settled in Philadelphia perhaps as early as 1851  and stayed there for the rest of his life.  He had married Clarissa Arnold, a Pennsylvania native born in 1830 who was fourteen years younger than Ernst.  Ernst and Clarissa seemed to have been quite comfortable in the 1850s and 1860s.  By 1861, they had six children.  Ernst was in the men’s clothing business in a firm called Arnold, Nusbaum, and Nirdlinger.  (I assume the Arnold was one of his wife’s relatives.) By 1870, Ernst and Clarissa’s children were almost all teenagers or almost teenagers: Arthur was 19, Myer 18, Fannie 14, Edgar 12, Henrietta 10, and Frank was nine years old.  They were still living at 625 North 6th Street, the same home they had been in since at least 1861.  They also still had two servants living with them.

But in 1870, Ernst’s firm went bankrupt, as seen in this December 5, 1870, article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bankrptcy of Adler Nusbaum Dec 5 1870 phil inq p 3

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 5, 1870, p. 3


Three years later Ernst is listed in the notions business at 518 Arch Street in the 1873 directory.  Interestingly, his son Arthur and his wife Clarissa seem to have had a ladies’ furnishings business at the same address called Clares & Arthurs.  Arthur was still living at home, and the family had moved to 1000 North 6th Street by 1873.   Was this a move necessitated by the economic downturn?  Did Clarissa want to start working out of the house because they needed more money or was it just that her youngest child was twelve years old and the others well into their teens or twenties so she had the time and interest in doing so?

I do not know, but the following year, it appears that Clares & Arthurs no longer existed.  Ernst is listed without a business address, Clarissa has no listing, and Arthur is listed as a clerk. The next year, 1875, has Ernst living at 2103 Green Street without any occupation listed and Arthur listed as residing at the same address and working as a salesman at 730 Chestnut Street.  His younger brother Myer is also listed at the 2103 Green Street residential address.  In 1876, Myer is listed as working as a bookkeeper, but Arthur and Ernst simply have the residential address.  Same in 1877 and 1878 for Ernst and Myer, but Arthur is not listed at all. So had Ernst retired?  Or had he simply stopped working due to the recession? And where was Arthur?

Well, in 1879, when the recession was starting to end, Ernst is once again listed with an occupation—in the cloaks business.  Myer is still listed as a bookkeeper, and now Edgar, his younger brother, is listed as a salesman.  All three are still listed as residing at 2103 Green Street in the 1879 Philadelphia directory.

And where was Arthur?  I cannot find him in the directory listings for 1877 through 1879.  He had married Henrietta Hilbronner in 1876, and they had had a daughter Florence born in 1877 and a son Sydney born in 1879.  According to the 1880 census, they were all living with Henrietta’s parents on North Seventh Street.  Henrietta’s father Morris was a clothing merchant with his own business, and Arthur was working as a clothing cutter, presumably for his father-in-law.

The other children of Ernst and Clarissa were also getting married in the late 1870s.  Fannie Nusbaum married Jacob L. Hano on February 28, 1877, and they also had two children born by 1880: Louis F. Hano, born in Youngstown, Ohio, on November 30, 1877, and Ernst Nusbaum Hano, born May 16, 1880, also in Youngstown, Ohio.  Jacob Hano was born in Philadelphia in 1850 and had lived his whole life there.  In 1874 he’d been working as a salesman in Philadelphia, residing at 2026 Green Street, right across the street from Fannie and her family.  He had attended Crittenden’s Philadelphia Commercial College.  Perhaps he moved Fannie to Youngstown after they married because he believed that there were better business opportunities there.  Unfortunately, however, like others in the family and the country, he faced financial problems and declared bankruptcy in May, 1878.

jacob hano bankruptcy cleveland plain dealer may 15 1878 p 4

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 15, 1878, p. 4

He and the family remained in Youngstown, however, and he is listed on the 1880 census living there with Fannie, their two young sons, and his brother Benjamin as well as a servant.  He listed his occupation as a clothier, and his brother was working as a clerk in a department store. Thus, Jacob must have rebounded from his bankruptcy and started a new business.  They did not remain long in Youngstown, however, as we shall see.

Description: Postcard of Youngstown Sheet & Tu...

Description: Postcard of Youngstown Sheet & Tube (early 20th century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myer Nusbaum, Ernst and Clarissa’s third child, also married and had two children in the 1870s.  He married Rosalie Aub, and their first child Corinne was born on May 19, 1878.  Her brother Jacob was born the next year on June 24, 1879.  As noted above, Myer was working as a bookkeeper throughout the 1870s and was still employed as a bookkeeper in 1880 according to the census of that year.

Although the 1900 census indicates that Edgar Nusbaum married Viola Baritt in 1879 when he was 21 and she was eighteen, on the 1880 census he is still listed as living at home with his parents at 2105 Green Street and single.  My guess is that they did not marry until 1880, and their first  and only child Selina was born a year later on November 16, 1881.   As noted above, Edgar was listed as a salesman in the 1879 directory, and the same occupation is given in the 1880 Philadelphia directory, although the 1880 US census lists his occupation as a clerk.

Ernst and Clarissa’s youngest two children, Henrietta and Frank, were also still at home in 1880 at 2103 Green Street, depicted below.  Henrietta was 20 and Frank 19.  Frank was working as a clerk like his brother Edgar.  Their father Ernst listed his occupation as a manufacturer.  So perhaps the slowdown of the 1870s had eased, and Ernst and his sons were all then once again gainfully employed.


And now we can move on to the next decade. The 1880s may not have presented the same economic challenges as the 1870s, but as we will see, it presented other challenges and other changes for the extended Nusbaum family.



The Long Depression, Part 2: Moving Back Home or Moving Away

In the early 1870s Moses and Caroline (Dreyfuss) Wiler were living at 905 Franklin Avenue, just a few houses down from Caroline’s sister, Mathilde (Dreyfuss Nusbaum) Pollock and just three blocks away from their third sister, Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum and her husband John, my three-times great-grandparents.  Ernst Nusbaum and his wife Clarissa were living down the block from his brother John. The area is known as the Poplar neighborhood in North Philadelphia. Plotting all their addresses on the map made me smile.  They must have all been so close, not only geographically but emotionally, to live so close to their siblings.  Imagine all the first cousins (some double first cousins) growing up within a short walk of each other.

map of nusbaum wiler simon homes 1870s

But as I wrote in my last post, things were not quite so idyllic in the 1870s.  The Panic of 1873 and the depression that followed had an impact on the family.  Like Mathilde and Moses Pollock, Caroline and Moses Wiler also must have felt some of that impact.  In 1873 Moses Wiler was listed in the directory without an occupation.  His partnership with his brother-in-law Moses Pollock had ended.  In 1875 he was still listed without an occupation, and they had moved from Franklin Avenue to 920 North 7th Street, still within two blocks of Caroline’s sisters.

Caroline and Moses Wiler’s son Simon also seems to have been affected by the Long Depression.  He had been part of the Simon and Pollock cloak and dry goods partnership of the late 1860s and early 1870s with his father and uncle.  After that business ended, Simon had a separate listing in the 1875 directory as a salesman, living at 701 North 6th Street, again in the same neighborhood as his extended family, just a few blocks south.  Simon was 32 and not married and presumably was doing well enough to afford his own place.  By 1877, however, he had moved back home with his parents at 920 North 7th Street.

In 1879, Moses Wiler was in the dry goods business, and his son Simon was a salesman, both living at 902 North 7th Street, as they were in 1880.  According to the 1880 census, Simon was a paper salesman, and Moses, who was 63, was a retired merchant.  Perhaps Moses had retired as early as 1873 when his listing no longer included an occupation.  Maybe he had done well enough to cope with the economic depression that occurred in 1873.

Poplar Street houses

House on Poplar Street, perhaps like those lived in by the extended Nusbaum-Dreyfuss family in the 1870s

By 1880, the three daughters of Caroline and Moses Wiler were no longer living with their parents.  Eliza Wiler had married Leman Simon in 1863, and in 1870 they had two children living with them, Joseph, who was five, and Flora, who was three. Sadly, in 1869, they had had a baby who was still born.   In 1870 they were living at 718 Coates Street, an address that appears not to exist anymore but was located where Fairmount Avenue is now located between the Delaware River and Old York Avenue.  Leman was in business with his brother Samuel, as he was in 1871. That business must have then ended.  According to the 1872 directory, Leman was then in the cloak business with his father Sampson Simon, who was living at the same address on Coates Street.  In 1874, Leman and Eliza had another child, Nellie, born on November 18 of that year.

By 1876, Leman was listed as a salesman, living at 920 North 7th Street with his in-laws, Moses and Caroline Wiler.  Like Simon Wiler, Leman must have been feeling the effects of that Long Depression to have moved in with his in-laws after having his own home.   The next time Leman showed up in my search, he and Eliza were living in Pittsburgh, and Leman was working in the liquor business, like his cousin Albert Nusbaum.  Although I cannot find Leman on an 1877, 1878, or 1879 directory in any city, Leman and Eliza had another child, Leon, who was born in Pittsburgh on June 13, 1878, so the family must have relocated to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia by then.

Leman and Eliza also had a daughter Minnie, who was apparently born in 1877.  I say “apparently” because I cannot find a birth record for her, and there are only two census reports that include her, the 1880 and 1900 census reports.  The first says she was 2, meaning she was born either in 1877 or 1878; the latter says she was born in December, 1877.  But if she was born in December, 1877, then Eliza could not have given birth to Leon in June, 1878, just six months later.  I do have an official record for Leon’s birthdate with Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon named as his parents, so either Minnie was born sometime before September, 1877 or she is not Eliza’s child.

There are no other records I can find to determine Minnie’s precise birthdate; her death certificate also only specified her age, not an exact date of birth, and it also is consistent with a birth year of either 1877 or 1878.  Minnie died on August 5, 1904, at age 26 (more on that in a later post), meaning she was born on or before August 5, 1878, but not any earlier than August 6, 1877.  Somehow it seems quite unlikely that Caroline gave birth in August 1877, got almost immediately pregnant, and then had another child ten months after Minnie, but….stranger things have happened.  Or perhaps Minnie was adopted. Since I cannot find a birth record for a Minnie Simon in Pennsylvania for either 1877 or 1878, that certainly is a possibility.

In any event, in 1880, Eliza (Wiler) and Leman Simon were living far from their families in Pittsburgh with their five children, Joseph, Flora, Nellie, Minnie, and Leon.  Leman was in the liquor sales business, and perhaps life was a little easier out in the western part of Pennsylvania than it was in Philadelphia.

Eliza’s younger sister Fanny Wiler married Max Michaelis on July 12, 1874, in Philadelphia.  I am still working on Fanny’s story, and there are a lot of holes so that will wait for a later post.

The youngest child of Caroline (Dreyfuss) and Moses Wiler was Clara Wiler, born in 1850.  In 1871, she married Daniel Meyers, a German born clothing merchant operating in the 1870s under the firm name D. Meyers and Company.  He and Clara were living at 718 Fairmount Street, and their family grew quickly in the 1870s.  First, their daughter Bertha was born on December 4, 1972.  Less than two years later, their son Leon was born on June 12, 1874, followed the next year by Samuel on December 15, 1875.  A fourth child, Harry, was born January 15, 1878, and Isadore on September 25, 1879.  Five children in seven years.  Wow.

And they were not yet done.  But that would bring us into the 1880s, and I am not there yet.   But Daniel’s firm must have been weathering the storm of the 1870s depression better than most, including many in the extended family.  In 1880, he was supporting five children plus his wife Clara and himself in their house on Fairmount Street.

Thus, the Wiler family like the Pollock family had its ups and downs during the 1870s.  There were marriages and babies, but also some economic struggles for at least some of the members of the family.  Adult children had to move back home, and some had to leave town to find new opportunities for making a living.

The Long Depression:  The Family of Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock

If the 1860s were mostly a decade of good things—weddings, babies, prosperity, and little impact from the Civil War, the 1870s were in contrast a more difficult decade for the extended Nusbaum-Dreyfuss-Dinkelspiel-Simon clan, both personally and economically.  This post will focus on the family of Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock, and the next will focus on the family of Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler, my two three-times great grand aunts, sisters of Jeanette Dreyfuss.  The posts that follow will focus on the family of my three times great-grandparents John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum and the families of John’s siblings Ernst Nusbaum, Leopold Nusbaum, and Mathilde (Nusbaum) Dinkelspiel during the 1870s.

First, the Pollocks. Mathilde (Dreyfuss Nusbaum) and Moses Pollock had relocated from Harrisburg to Philadelphia in the mid-1860s. Moses was engaged in the retail dry goods business. In June 1870 when the census was taken, the Pollocks had a very full house.  Mathilde’s daughter Flora and her new husband Samuel were living with them along with their new baby Meyer. Samuel was working on the wholesale side of clothing sales. In addition, Mathilde’s son Albert Nusbaum, now 19 and working as a clerk in a dry goods store (presumably his stepfather’s business), was living with them as well as Mathilde and Moses’ children, Emanuel (14) and Miriam (11), who were both in school.  In addition, there were three domestic servants living with them.  Moses must have been doing quite well.

It’s a good thing they had those servants because there were also three young children living with them, Annie (5), Alice (4), and Wilhelmina Jastrow (seven months old) plus another young woman, Augusta Wolfsohn, who was 22 years old.  Annie and Alice were born in Hesse-Darmstadt, but their baby sister Wilhelmina had been born in Pennsylvania in September, 1869.  Who were they? Where were their parents? Augusta was born in Prussia and does not appear to be the mother of the three young girls.  Who was she?  None of these girls was living with the Pollocks as of the 1880 census.

Fortunately, this was a mystery that did not take long to solve.  A little research on, and I was able to find a happy ending to the story.  The Jastrow girls had parents, Marcus and Bertha (Wolfsohn) Jastrow.  By the second enumeration of the 1870 census in Philadelphia, they and their aunt Augusta Wolfsohn were all under the same roof as their parents and other siblings.  I don’t know why they were with the Pollocks during the earlier enumeration, but I assume that they were very recent immigrants who did not have enough room to accommodate everyone, and Moses and Mathilde were kind enough to take in the three youngest children and their aunt.

But fate was not kind to Moses and Mathilde despite their kindness to the Jastrows.  In September 1870, they had a third child together (a fifth for Mathilde), Rosia, but Rosia did not live long.  On February 26, 1871, she died, only five months old, from diarrhea.  Mathilde was 45 years old when Rosia was born, making me doubt my skepticism about the parentage of Lottie Nusbaum. Perhaps women just kept having babies into the mid to late 40s back then with more frequency than I would have thought.

Rosia Pollock death certificate 1871

Rosia Pollock death certificate 1871

What makes this late birth seem even stranger is that Mathilde had become a grandmother just nine months before Rosia was born when her grandson Meyer was born in January, 1870. Meyer and his parents Flora and Samuel Simon were living with the Pollocks in June of 1870 when Mathilde was pregnant with Rosia.  It is hard to imagine being pregnant and a grandmother, but times were different then.

Flora (Nusbaum) and Samuel Simon were still living with Flora’s family at 911 Franklin Street in 1871, but seem to have moved to their own place in 1872, and I say “seemed to” because their address was 909 Franklin Street, so right next door to Mathilde and Moses Pollock. Then in 1873, they are back at 911 Franklin.   Samuel was in business with his brother Leman in 1871, but seems to be on his own after that. He has no occupation listed in 1873 in the directory. Perhaps Flora and Simon could no longer afford to have their own place and returned to the Pollock residence.

According to the 1871 and 1872 Philadelphia directories, Moses Pollock had gone into business with his brother-in-law Moses Wiler, husband of Caroline Dreyfuss, Mathilde’s sister.  By 1873 it also appears that Moses Pollock and Moses Wiler were no longer in business together.  Moses Wiler is listed in the directories for 1873 and 1875 without an occupation, and Moses Pollock is listed in one as a salesman and another as a clerk.

What was going on around them? Why had these two family business partnerships ended?  It’s always important to keep the historical and socioeconomic context in mind when doing family research, and perhaps the most important development both in the US and worldwide in the 1870s was the so-called “Long Depression.”  The period after the Civil War brought widespread economic growth with railroad construction, technological developments, and expansion of exports to European markets.  However, in a way not dissimilar to more recent economic crashes, the economy tumbled in 1873 when banks and investment firms did not realize the profits they had expected from investing in the railroads and could no longer cover the loans they had made in the frenzy of the post-Civil War boom.[1]  In addition, an economic crisis abroad resulted in decreased demand for American exports.

The credit crisis led to panic with many investors withdrawing their money from the banks, thus worsening the precarious position of the banks.  Although the government intervened to try and stop the crisis, the overall confidence in the economy was gone, jobs dried up, people stopped buying, and railroad construction came to a halt.  There was also evidence of a great deal of corruption that was uncovered during this time.  The effects of this crisis were felt across the United States for at least five years with widespread unemployment, poverty, and social unrest.


It could very well have been this economic downturn that caused Moses Pollock and Moses Wiler to end this business partnership and also caused Leman and Samuel Simon to end their business partnership.

Moses Pollock continued to have some inconsistency in his occupation for the rest of the decade. In 1876 Mathilde and Moses Pollock are listed in business together selling “gentlemen’s furnishings” at 107 North 9th Street and were still living at 911 Franklin Street.  By 1878, they had moved to 934 North 8th Street, where they remained for many years.  Moses is listed as a salesman in the 1878, 1879, and 1880 Philadelphia directories, and according to the 1880 census he was working in a cloak store.  In 1880 he and Mathilde still had Albert Nusbaum, now 28, as well as Emanuel (24) and Miriam (21) living with them at home as well as one servant.  Albert had been working as a liquor salesman since 1873 when he was 21.  Emanuel had been in dry goods sales since 1877 when he was 21. Miriam and her mother Mathilde were “keeping house.”

Mathilde’s other daughter, Flora (Nusbaum) Simon and her husband Samuel meanwhile had had a second child.  Their daughter Minnie was born in 1873 or 1874 (documents vary).  Flora and Samuel seem to have moved out of the Pollock household sometime shortly thereafter and out of Philadelphia altogether by the end of the decade and perhaps even earlier.  It’s hard to know for sure because Samuel Simon was not an uncommon name.

There are three Samuel Simons listed in the 1874 Philadelphia directory: one was a laborer, one a restaurant worker, and a third was working in the ladies’ furnishings business.  None of the addresses line up with other members of the family, so I cannot tell which, if any of these Samuel Simons were married to Flora.  The ladies’ furnishings Samuel seems like the most likely, given the family’s pre-existing businesses, but I cannot be sure.  In 1875, there are two Samuel Simons, a laborer and a gardener.  Neither one seems likely to be Flora’s Samuel.

In 1876, there is only one Samuel Simon listed, a superintendent, and in 1877 again only one, a furrier.  In 1878 there was only Samuel the laborer, but in 1879 there were three Samuels: the laborer, the gardener, and a third selling produce.  My best hunch is that Samuel and Flora (Nusbaum) Simon had left Philadelphia by 1875.  According to the 1880 census, they were then living in Elkton, Maryland, about 50 miles from Philadelphia and 60 miles from Baltimore.  Samuel was working at a hotel there.  Again, my assumption is that the economic slowdown had contributed to this move away from their families in Philadelphia.

As will be evident as I examine each of the families, the Pollock line was not the only one that felt the impact of the Long Depression of the 1870s.



[1] I am greatly oversimplifying the causes and the effects of the Long Depression that began in 1873.  For more information, see