Rosa Abraham Zechermann: A Story for Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah! Today’s post is in many ways fitting for Hanukkah, the holiday that commemorates the survival of a small number of Jews, the Maccabees, against all odds and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after their victory. It is a story thus about Jewish survival against persecution and the struggle for freedom and so in many ways is the story of Rosa Abraham Zechermann.

Back on October 31, 2017, I wrote about my search for Rosa Abraham, my third cousin, once removed, and the aunt of Fred and Martin Abrahams. Through the amazing connections I made on Facebook, I’d been able to establish that Rosa had married Isidor Zechermann and that both of them had immigrated to Santiago, Chile, to escape Nazi Germany in the 1930s. At the end of that post I mentioned that I was requesting a copy of their naturalization application and other files from the archives in Hesse, hoping to learn more about Rosa and Isidor, including when and where they had married.

I have now received the files, and unfortunately, I still do not have the answer to those last two questions, but the files I received did shed light on Rosa and Isidor and their lives before and during the Nazi era and have helped me narrow down the possible years and places where Rosa and Isidor married.

The file that was described as a naturalization file was actually Isidor and Rosa’s application for repatriation as German citizens. It was filed in 1952. From the notes at the bottom of this letter, we can see that they left Germany together as a married couple on December 13, 1938.

In his letter, Isidor wrote, “We have been living in Santiago de Chile since 1939, but we never applied for the Chilean citizenship because we could not give up the faith one day to become citizens of our German homeland again. Upon request, the local German Consulate confirmed to me that repatriation is possible, and I would be particularly grateful for fulfilling my request.”

After all that they must have experienced and lost during the Nazi era, Isidor and Rosa still considered Germany their homeland and wanted their status as German citizens restored.

The government granted their request, concluding that they were among those who were denied citizenship for political, racial, or religious reasons during the Nazi era:

 

Two years later, Rosa applied for reparations from the German government for damages she suffered during the Nazi era. I am very grateful to Irene Newhouse of the Jekkes group on Facebook for her generous help in translating Rosa’s letter and the government’s response.

Rosa wrote:

Santa Rosa 160 Dep. E.

Vitae curriculum

I had, in Frankfurt/Main, a women’s couture boutique and in the years 1932 to 31 July 1938, earned 600 Marks monthly.

I had to give up my skilled trade, as we, as Jews were victimized by the chicanery of the Nazis and the Gestapo, and the latter forced us to emigrate with threats. Relatives supported us from 1939 to 1942, until I succeeded to wring out a small independence with my needlework.

From the year 1943 to 1946, I earned about 1000 pesos a month, from 1947 to 1952, about 1500 pesos per month.

Since 1952, I’m unable to work due to gout, and am supported by my relations in the USA.

Rosa then requested compensation for her emigration expenses and the loss of her business and of her other assets.

In response the government awarded her 2,830.20 Deutsche marks as reparation for the damages she had suffered.

According to this website, in 1955 there were 4.2 marks to a US dollar, meaning that the award to Rosa was worth in 1955 about $673.  Allowing for inflation, $673 in 1955 would be worth about $6,100 today, according to this calculator. Somehow that doesn’t seem like a very generous award for someone who had been forced to emigrate and sacrifice her business and her home.

Although I did not learn exactly when Rosa married Isidor, it is clear from these papers that they were married before they left Germany and had been living together in Frankfurt at the time of their emigration from Germany.  Also, now that I know that Rosa had a business as a “Damenschneider” in Frankfurt beginning in 1932, I can assume that this is her listing in the 1932 Frankfurt directory:

That means she was married to Isidor as of 1932, probably earlier if she is listed this way in the 1932 directory. But where and when were they married?

Since Isidor’s first wife died on August 23, 1924, Isidor and Rosa must have married between then and 1932. Searching the Frankfurt directories before 1932, I found that Rosa was listed in the 1928 and 1931 directories as Rosa Abraham, not Zechermann, meaning that she must have married Isidor sometime between 1930 and 1932.

I have written to the registry in Frankfurt to see if they can find a marriage record, but it is also possible that Rosa was married in her birthplace, Niederurff. At any rate, I have narrowed down the possible range of years when they must have married.

Beginning in 1933 Isidor and Rosa are listed together, first living on Oberlindau Strasse and then beginning in 1935 at 15 Bohmerstrasse, the address given on their application for repatriation in 1952. Rosa (listed as Rosel) had her shop at 13 Bohmerstrasse. Living down the street were Jakob and Frida Zechermann, who presumably were Isidor’s relatives. Frida was named as Rosa’s representative in her request for reparations. Jakob and Isidor are both identified as “Kaufman,” or merchant. The Erdg indicates that Isidor and Rosa were living on the ground floor, and the T followed by a series of numbers was their telephone number.

1935 Frankfurt directory
Ancestry.com. Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974 [database on-line]

In 1939 there is no separate listing for Rosa, just for Isidor. I assume by that time Rosa had been forced to close her business. And in 1940, neither Isidor nor Rosa is listed, of course, as they had departed for Chile.

Although I am still hoping to find a marriage record for Isidor and Rosa, I am now more satisfied that I have been able to put together a fuller picture of the life of my cousin Rosa Abraham Zechermann. And from Simon in the Jekkes group, I learned that Rosa and Isidor were an active part of the Jewish community in Santiago.  They had struggled and they had survived to enjoy their freedom.

Thank you again to Irene Newhouse for translating Rosa’s reparations papers and also to the members of the German Genealogy group on Facebook for helping me decipher some of the abbreviations in the Frankfurt directories.

And happy Hanukkah to all!

 

 

 

From A to Z: Adventures in Chile

Once again I found myself taking quite a rollercoaster ride in my genealogy research-this one involving one of the children of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham.

As I wrote in this post, I had very little information about their oldest daughter, Rosa.  All I knew about her was her birth date and place (November 20, 1892 in Niederurff); the only other document I had was a passenger card from a 1961 flight from Santiago, Chile, to Miami, Florida. The birth date and place matched what I knew about Rosa, and the card listed her as Rosa A. Zechermann, so the middle initial could have referred to Abraham. But that wasn’t enough to know for sure whether this Rosa was in fact Rosa Abraham, even though the circumstantial evidence made it seem very likely.

Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

And who was Mr. Zechermann? And why were they in Chile? Rosa’s nephew Martin remembered that one of his father’s sisters had ended up in Chile, but that was all he remembered. He didn’t remember a husband named Zechermann or anything else. But his memory and the passenger card led me to believe that I had to search for Zechermanns in Santiago, Chile.

Unfortunately, there are no documents on Ancestry.com for Chile after 1920, and although FamilySearch does have some cemetery records up through 2015 for Chile, there were no Zechermanns listed in that database. I wasn’t able to find any other websites or databases that might help.

I turned to Facebook and specifically to the Jekkes group on Facebook. Jekke (pronounced Yekkie) is a term used to refer to German Jews or more broadly, German-speaking Jews. I thought that this group might know about Jews of German background who had settled in South America, so I asked for help at 8 am one morning. First, a woman named Hanna responded within a half hour of my post and mentioned that she had known a woman named Ilse Dahlberg who had immigrated from Frankfurt to Chile. She didn’t know if Ilse was still alive, but thought she might be worth contacting.

When I googled Ilse Dahlberg, a Geni result came up for an Ilse Dahlberg whose birth name was Zechermann! I didn’t know whether Hanna had mentioned her for that reason or whether it was just a coincidence, but obviously Zechermann is not a common name so I thought it possible if not likely that  Ilse Dahlberg was somehow related to Rosa A. Zechermann.

Geni listed Ilse with a brother named Erich Zechermann and a father named Isidor Zechermann, but Ilse’s mother’s name was Amalia Zechermann, born Dahlberg, and not Rosa Abraham. (Ilse married one of her mother’s relatives, Nathan Dahlberg, thus ended up with a married name that was the same as her mother’s birth name. Just to confuse genealogists, I am sure.)

I found an immigration card for Erich that confirmed that his mother was also Amalia Dahlberg:

Erich Zechermann, Brazil immigration card
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: “Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965”. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013.

And I found the record of Isidor Zechermann’s marriage to Mali Dahlberg in Worms in 1905:

Marriage of Isidor Zechermann to first wife

Marriage of Isidor Zechermann to Amalie Dahlberg Ancestry.com. Worms, Germany, Marriages, 1876-1923 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Personenstandsregister Eheregister, 1876-1923. Stadtarchiv Worms.

So how did Rosa fit into this picture? Had she married Isidor’s brother or some other Zechermann who also ended up in Chile?

Then I found a record of Mali Dahlberg Zechermann’s death in Frankfurt on August 23, 1924:

Amalia Dahlberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_10891

Thus, Isidor was a widower as of August 1924 and might have married Rosa Abraham sometime thereafter. But I could find no record of a second marriage for Isidor or any marriage for Rosa.

The first document I located that possibly linked Isidor Zechermann to Rosa Abraham was this passenger manifest listing Isidor and Rosa Zechermann traveling together in April 1952 on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York:

Isidor and Rosa Zechermann, 1952 passenger manifest
Year: 1952; Arrival: Idlewild Airport, Idlewild, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8139; Line: 1; Page Number: 164
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

It listed their destination address as 41-15 50th Avenue, Long Island, New York. That address did not mean anything to me, and Google identified it as an apartment building in Queens, New York.

The manifest listed Isidor’s occupation as a “rentista,” which translated to a person of independent means or a stockholder or financial expert. Rosa also had an occupation listed—“bussinesm,” which didn’t translate to anything, but I assume meant she was in business. But there was no birth name given for Rosa to link her to Rosa Abraham.

I also searched for descendants of Isidor Zechermann, hoping that one of them might be able to help. Eric Zechermann had eventually immigrated to the United States, and I was able to find the names of his children and grandchildren. One of them was on Facebook, a woman named Deborah, and I left a private message explaining who I was and asking her to get in touch.

And then I sat back and waited.

No, not really.  I kept desperately trying to figure out where to turn next.

Around 3 in the afternoon of that same day, I received a Facebook notification that a man named Simon had commented on my post in the Jekkes group. Simon lives in Santiago, and his first comment was to tell me that “most of the German Jews know and knew each other in Chile.”

And he then blew me away by telling me that not only had he known Ilse Zechermann Dahlberg, but that he remembered and knew Rosa as well and remembered her sitting in synagogue with Ilse. But Simon did not know Rosa’s birth name or what had happened to either Isidor or Rosa.  He did not believe that Isidor and Rosa had children of their own and called his mother to check.  She agreed that Rosa and Isidor did not have children, but she also did not know what had happened to Isidor and Rosa, nor did she know Rosa’s birth name. Simon gave me several suggestions for websites and people to contact in Santiago, and I followed up with his suggestions.

Later that same afternoon I also heard back from Deborah, Isidor’s great-granddaughter.  She was excited about my work and interested in what I had learned, but unfortunately she didn’t know anything about Rosa.

So that’s where I was on Rosa. I knew that there was a Rosa A. Zechermann whose birthdate and place matched those of Rosa Abraham and a Rosa Zechermann who had traveled to New York with Isidor in 1952. I was 90% certain that this had to be my cousin, the daughter of Pauline Ruehl and Hirsch Abraham. But there was that nagging 10% of doubt.

I contacted Fred and Martin Abrahams, Rosa’s nephews, to report on what I’d found and to see if I could stir up any other stories or memories. Fred had no memory of an aunt named Rosa; he wrote that he only remembered three of his father’s sisters—Meta and Recha and Adele.

Adele, I said? I hadn’t found a sibling named Adele in researching the Abraham family. I had written a long blog post about the Abraham siblings, and neither Fred nor Martin had previously mentioned an aunt named Adele despite having had several communications back and forth among us.

Fred wrote that Adele’s married name was Trier and that she had lived in Queens.  So back to Ancestry I went to look for this missing sibling, Adele Abraham Trier. And it wasn’t hard to find her. She had arrived in the US on on October 10, 1936, with her husband Alfred Trier. I knew this was the right person because her birth place was Niederurff, and they were going to Meta Abraham and Recha Abraham, the sisters of Adele Abraham.

Alfred and Adele Trier 1936 passenger manifest
Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5890; Line: 1; Page Number: 120
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-195

Other US documents revealed that Adele was born on December 21, 1903; now I knew why I hadn’t found her before. The Hesse records on Ancestry stop in 1901, and there are no birth records on the LAGIS website for Niederurff for 1903 either. If Fred hadn’t mentioned Adele, I’d never have known there was another sibling.

In 1940, Adele and Alfred Trier were living in the apartment next to Adele’s sisters Meta and Recha. I’d seen this census before, of course, but had not had any reason to see the connection between the two households.

Alfred, Adele and Paul Trier on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2643; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-809

The next records I found for Adele and Alfred related to their deaths—entries in the Social Security Death Index and on FindAGrave. Both lived long lives. Adele died in March 1993 at age 89, Alfred in 1996 at age 108! Alfred died in New Jersey, but Adele had died in Queens. They are buried at Mt. Zion cemetery in Queens.

And then I recalled that Rosa and Isidor had listed a Queens address on the 1952 manifest. I decided to see if I could find Alfred or Adele in any directories or databases for Queens. And I found this:

City: Long Is City; State: New York; Year(s): 1993 1994
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: 1993-2002 White Pages. Little Rock, AR, USA: Acxiom Corporation.

Adele Abraham and Alfred Trier had lived at 41-15 50th Avenue in Long Island, New York—-the very address that Rosa and Isidor Zechermann had listed as their destination in 1952. I was now 99% sure that Rosa Zechermann was the sister of Adele Abraham Trier as well as Meta, Recha, and Julius Abraham and that she was the aunt of Fred and Martin Abrahams. And thus she was my third cousin, once removed.

The final piece of the puzzle came from a tip from a researcher in Germany named Kari, whom Fred Abrahams had recommended. She found two files in the Arcinsys website for Hesse, one for Isidor Zechermann and one for Rosa Zechermann geb Abraham. Although the files themselves are not accessible online, the descriptions of the files made it clear that this was my cousin Rosa and that she was married to Isidor Zechermann:

The birth date and place matched, her birth name was Abraham, and she was married to a Zechermann.  And I learned that Rosa was a “modistin,” a milliner.

I contacted someone at the archives to see what was in the file. The archives responded that there were four files in the Hesse archives relating to Isidor and Rosa Zechermann, including two lengthy files relating to their claims for compensation and one nine page file that included their naturalization application.

I have requested the naturalization papers (the other two files would be very costly to obtain), but from just the label on the file, I now have confirmation that Isidor Zechermann (born February 25, 1878) was married to my cousin Rosa Abraham (born November 20, 1892).

My search for Rosa Abraham Zechermann was over. It had truly been a search from A (Abraham) to Z (Zechermann).

 

 

 

My Double/Triple? Cousins: The Children of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham

The youngest child of Gelle Katzenstein and Moses Ruelf to live to adulthood was Pauline Ruelf. Part of Pauline’s story has already been told, as she was the mother of Julius Abraham, who married Senta Katz, the great-granddaughter of Rahel Katzenstein. That is, as I described here, Pauline’s son Julius and his wife Senta Katz were half-third cousins. Julius and Senta were the parents of Fred Abrahams, whose memoirs of his family’s life and departure from Germany were also posted here.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let me back up and start with Pauline’s birth. She was born on September 25, 1869, in Rauischholzhausen:

Pauline Ruelf birth record,
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.15

On December 26, 1891, when she was 22 years old, she married Hirsch Abraham. Hirsch was born on December 4, 1858, in Niederurff, and was the son of Jakob Abraham and Roschen Frank.

Pauline Ruelf marriage to Hirsh Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 7960

Hirsch was a widower when he married Pauline; his first wife was Pauline’s older sister Johanna Ruelf, who had died on August 12, 1890, eleven days after giving birth to a daughter, whose name was originally Rosa but was changed to Johanna (or Hannah) after her mother died.

Birth record of Rosa later Johanna Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6175

So Pauline took on the responsibility for raising her niece Johanna. She and Hirsch also had six children together: Ricchen Rosa (1892), Julius (1894), Meta (1894), Sarah (1896), Siegfried (1897), and Recha (1900).  Although Julius and Meta were both born in 1894, they were not twins; Julius was born January 2, 1894, and his sister Meta was born almost twelve months later on December 26, 1894, meaning Julius was only three months old when Meta was conceived.

Birth record of Julius Abraham Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6179

 

Birth record of Meta Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6179

Pauline and Hirsch lost two of their children at young ages. Their daughter Sarah died on June 25, 1910; she was only fourteen.

Death Record for Sarah Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6261

Their son Siegfried was killed fighting for Germany in World War I. He was only nineteen when he was shot in the line of duty on April 13, 1917. According to his death record, he was a musketeer in the Germany infantry and was shot twice, once in the left forearm and once in the chest, and died from his injuries; he was buried in a common grave.

Siegfried Abraham death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6268

The fact that twenty years later Siegfried’s family would be forced to leave Germany to survive makes his death even more tragic. My cousin Fred Abrahams was named for his uncle Siegfried.

Siegfried’s brother Julius also served in World War I. Here is a photograph of three of Siegfried’s siblings at some gathering in Germany in 1915; first, the overall photograph and then a snip focusing on the three Abraham siblings, Meta, Julius, and Recha. You can see that Julius is in uniform:

Courtesy of Fred and Martin Abrahams

Courtesy of Fred and Martin Abrahams

On September 25, 1921, Johanna Abraham, Pauline’s niece whom she raised after her sister Johanna died, married Jakob Hirschberg of Zwesten, Germany. Jakob was born on April 15, 1893. He and Johanna had one child, a son Martin.

Marriage of Johanna Abraham and Jakob Hirschberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6226

Although I have very little information at all about Hirsch and Pauline’s oldest daughter Ricchen Rosa Abraham, one passenger manifest lists her with the married name Zechermann; I don’t know her husband’s first name or when or where she married, nor do I know whether they ever had children.

Ricchen Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

The other surviving daughters of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsh Abraham both immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. Recha, the youngest child, was only 25 when she first left Germany on October 6, 1925, to travel to the US. According to the passenger manifest, she had been last living in Frankfurt and working as a housekeeper and was now traveling to her uncle, Max Abraham, who resided in Davenport, Iowa. Recha stated that she expected to stay for nine months.

Recha Abraham 1925 ship manifest
Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3741; Line: 1; Page Number: 135
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Max Abraham was Hirsch Abraham’s older brother; he had come to the US from Germany in the 1870s when he was just a teenager. In 1880, he was living in Louisville, Kentucky, and working as a dry goods merchant. He remained in Kentucky for a number of years and after marrying in 1988, he moved to Campbellsburg, Indiana, where he became president of the local bank. After 25 years in Indiana, Max and his family moved to Davenport, Iowa in 1916, where he and his sons started what became a very successful clothing business, Abrahams Brothers. “Max Abrahams, Treasurer of Ready to Wear Store in Davenport, Dies at 82,” Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), 24 Apr 1938, p. 1

I don’t know how long Recha ended up staying with her uncle Max in Iowa on this trip, but on October 15, 1926, she again sailed from Hamburg to New York listing her destination as her uncle Max Abraham’s home in Davenport, Iowa. She listed her last address as Frankfurt. She provided no occupation nor did she indicate this time the length of her stay.

Recha Abraham 1926 ship manifest
Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3947; Line: 1; Page Number: 182
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

On September 23, 1927, her older sister Meta also arrived in the US and also indicated that she was going to her uncle Max Abraham of Davenport, Iowa. Meta stated that she planned to stay in the US permanently. She stated that her occupation was a clerk.

Meta Abraham 1927 passenger manifest
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4135; Line: 1; Page Number: 94
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

In the fall of 1930, both Meta and Recha must have visited their family in Germany because a passenger manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg and arriving in New York City on October 8, 1930, lists both sisters as residents of New York City where they were both living at 42 West 89th Street. Recha was working as a cashier and Meta as a dressmaker. Neither had yet become a US citizen. Both reported that they had been in the US since 1927, although Recha obviously had arrived earlier than that.

Meta and Recha Abraham 1930 passenger manifest
Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4854; Line: 1; Page Number: 90
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Meta and Recha did not show up on the 1930 census when I searched for them on Ancestry and FamilySearch, which puzzled me. I turned to stevemorse.org, using his enumeration district finder tool and the address from the 1930 passenger manifest—42 West 89th Street. There they were, clear as could be.

Meta and Recha Abraham 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1556; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0450; FHL microfilm: 2341291

So why hadn’t they shown up when I searched? For one thing, both had reported themselves as much younger than they were; Meta, who apparently gave the information to the enumerator, said that she was 24 and her sister 22 when in fact Meta was 34 and Recha was 30. That obviously threw off my search even though I thought I’d given fairly wide ranges in my search parameters for their ages. Also, Recha was listed as Rebecca. But this household is clearly that of the Abraham sisters. Meta was working as a cashier for a butcher and Recha was a seamstress at Macy’s. Both are listed with the surname Abrahams, a change that had also been made by their uncle Max in Iowa.

Meanwhile, back in Niederurff, Germany, Pauline and Hirsh’s only surviving son, Julius Abraham, had by 1932 married his half-third cousin Senta Katz of Jesberg, and they had two sons in the 1930s, Martin and Siegfried/Fred. (Julius and Senta were married either on January 10, 1931, or January 10, 1932; their sons were not sure of the year, and I’ve not been able to find an official record.)

It was not too much longer before Julius and Senta recognized the need to escape from Nazi Germany. As Fred described in his memoir excerpted here and as I wrote about in that same post, Julius and Senta and their two sons left Germany and arrived in New York City on June 24, 1937 . They were going to Julius’ sisters, Meta and Recha, who were then living at 252 West 85th Street. Julius reported his occupation to be a tailor.

Family of Julius and Senta Katz Abraham, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6003; Line: 1; Page Number: 18
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6003
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

The next family member to arrive from Germany was Johanna Abraham Hirschberg, the half-sister of Meta, Julius, and Recha, daughter of Johanna Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham. Johanna came with her husband Jakob and son Martin on May 4, 1938; they also were going to Meta and Recha’s home at 252 West 85th Street in New York City. Jakob was a merchant. They had been living in Zwesten, Germany, before immigrating to the US.

Johanna Abraham Hirschberg and family on 1938 passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6152; Line: 1; Page Number: 168
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Sadly, Pauline Ruelf Abraham died on March 22, 1938, in Niederurff, and thus did not get to join her children in the United States. She was 68 years old when she died.

Pauline Ruelf death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6280

Pauline Ruelf Abraham gravestone

Her husband Hirsch Abraham left Germany a year later, arriving in New York on March 25, 1939. He also was joining his daughters at 252 West 85th Street. He was eighty years old when he left Niederurff, Germany and sailed alone to New York City, leaving behind the only home he’d ever known. He lived only a year in the US, dying on March 9, 1940 at age 81. (New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948, on Ancestry.com)

Thus, by March 1939, all but one of the children of Pauline Ruelf and Johanna Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham were living safely in New York City.  On the 1940 census, Meta and Recha were still living at 252 West 85th Street; Meta was a bookkeeper for a women’s clothing manufacturing company, and Recha had no occupation listed. Meta died in New York City on May 18, 1977, and her sister Recha died almost a year to the day later on May 24, 1978. Meta was 83 when she died, and Recha was 78. It appears the two sisters had lived together their entire adult lives once coming to the US in the 1920s.

Meta and Recha Abraham on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2643; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-809

Their half-sister/first cousin Johanna and her husband Jakob (listed as Jack) and son were also still living in New York in 1940; Johanna and Jack were both working as cooks, Jack for the city and Johanna in a private home. By 1955, the family had moved to Davenport, Iowa, where Jack and his son Martin were both working in Max Abrahams’ store. Johanna died August 15, 1955, and Jack died in 1960. They are buried in Davenport.

Johanna Abraham Hirschberg and family on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2636; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 31-547

Julius Abraham and his wife Senta Katz and their sons were also living in New York City in 1940. As I wrote earlier, the family was living at 325 West 93rd Street, and Julius was working in the family business, Abrahams Brothers, the clothing business started by Max Abrahams and his sons in Davenport, Iowa. The business had grown to about a dozen stores throughout the Midwest. In 1940, Julius was working in the fur department of the New York office, where the administration and buying for the many stores was handled. He continued to work for the business for the rest of his life. Julius died on December 22, 1959; his wife Senta lived to 93, dying on October 15, 2000, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Senta Katz Abrahams and family, 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2642; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 31-777

The only child of Pauline Ruelf Abraham who is unaccounted for is Ricchen Rosa Abraham, Pauline’s first child. I have no records for her aside from her birth record and the 1961 passenger list card depicted above.  I am also only inferring that this is in fact Ricchen in the passenger list card based on the birth date and place of birth and the fact that her nephews Martin and Fred knew that she had ended up in Chile. The family story is that she was unable to gain entry to the US and so went to Chile instead.

I have no records for her in Chile so do not know when she got there, whom she married, whether she had children, or when she died. I have tried finding information about her from sources in Chile, but so far have had no luck. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

But what I do know is that all of the children and grandchildren of both Pauline Ruelf and her sister Johanna Ruelf survived the Holocaust. That in and of itself gives me a happy ending to this last chapter in the story of Gelle Katzensten and Moses Ruelf.

 

 

Something fun

One day a while back my brother asked me whether I thought Uncle Sam looked like our grandmother.  I said that I saw a family resemblance among all four of Bessie and Joseph’s children for whom we had photos.  (Poor Frieda—there does not seem to be any picture of her.  Maybe Harry took off with them all…)  To me, they all resembled Bessie.  Here are some close-up head shots of Bessie and the four children.

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

 

Hyman Brotman

Hyman Brotman

 

Tillie

Tillie

 

Gussie Brotman

Gussie Brotman

 

Sam Brotman

Sam Brotman

I did not see as much resemblance between Max and the other children, not surprisingly since he had a different mother.

Max Brotman

Max Brotman

That made me wonder whether Max looked more like Joseph than the other children, or did he look like his mother? (And sadly, we have no pictures of Abraham.  It would be nice to be able to compare Abraham and Max.  Morty and Paula, if you are still reading, do you have any photos of your grandfather??)  We have no photo of Joseph, so it’s all speculation.

So I thought maybe if we combined a picture of Max and Hyman we’d have some clue as to what Joseph looked like.  Totally unscientific, I know, and also illogical, but when you are searching, anything seems like a possibility.  So here’s a picture that morphs Max and Hyman.

max and hyman morphed

max and hyman morphed

Here’s Hyman and Sam morphed—a much closer resemblance:

Sam and Hyman morphed

Sam and Hyman morphed

 

Then I went a step further and combined Tillie and Gussie—the results are striking.  The two sisters had a strong resemblance.

Tillie and Gussie morphed

Tillie and Gussie morphed

Finally I combined all four of Bessie and Joseph’s children (Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam) and all five of Joseph’s children for whom I have pictures (Max, Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam).

Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam

Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam

Max, Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam morphed

Max, Hyman, Tillie, Gussie and Sam morphed

 

Obviously these prove nothing, except perhaps that I am easily amused!  What do you think?

This Made My Day!

Yesterday was one of those winter days where I didn’t leave the house all day.  I read the paper, did the crossword puzzle, and played on the computer.  It was quiet, relaxing, but not exciting.  Then late yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Judy, Max’s granddaughter, that made my day.  Attached to the email was a document that Judy’s sister, Susan, had found while going through some old papers.  It’s a family tree sketched out by hand by Renee Brotman Haber, one of Max Brotman’s daughters and Roz, Susan and Judy’s mother.

Take a look at it:

Image

If you now compare this to the family tree on the blog for Abraham and his descendants, you will immediately realize that Renee had written out the family tree of her father’s brother Abraham.  Judy and Susan don’t know when she did it or where, but this is definitely written by Renee and it is definitely Abraham’s family.

Paula Newman, Abraham’s granddaughter, commented on the blog a couple of months ago that she believed she had met Rosalie and Dick Jones in Florida years ago when she was there with her parents.  Rosalie was Renee’s sister, and Judy said that both families used to go to Florida every year at Christmas time.  Perhaps it was during one of those vacations that Paula’s family met with Renee and Rosalie’s families and provided Renee with the information she sketched out on the family tree.

This is the third piece of evidence that supports the conclusion that Abraham and Max were brothers and that Abraham, like Max, was Joseph’s son from his first marriage.  First, we have the fact that Max was the witness on Abraham’s naturalization papers.  Second, we have the fact that Abraham’s Hebrew name was Avraham ben Yosef Yaakov, named for his grandfather Avraham whose son was Yosef Yaakov.  (Recall that Joseph’s Hebrew name was Yosef Yaakov ben Avraham.  Also, Abraham named his son Yosef Yaakov shortly after Joseph died, as did Hyman and Tillie.) And now we have evidence that Renee met or spoke with Abraham’s daughter or granddaughter to write down this family tree.  I don’t know how they found each other, or , more sadly, how they had all lost each other beforehand and then afterwards.

I guess you can tell how much this all means to me that receiving this document made me so happy.  Who cares about snow and sleet and cold when there is a new discovery linking our families!!

This should also be an inspiration to the rest of you to look for things like this—old letters, cards, postcards, pictures. You never know what you will find. Come on, make my day!  

Update on Abraham Brotman of Brooklyn

Yesterday I received photos of the headstones of our great-grandfather Joseph Brotman, which I will post separately, and of Abraham Brotman of Brooklyn, who I have been researching to find out whether he was also related to Joseph.  Max was the witness on Abraham’s naturalization application, so I assumed there was a connection, but couldn’t find any other evidence of it.  Well, now I do.  Joseph’s headstone revealed that his Hebrew name was Yosef Yaakov ben Avraham.  Abraham’s headstone revealed that his name was Avraham ben Yosef Yaakov! Thus, Abraham was named for Joseph’s father, our great-great-grandfather.  (Or great or great-great-great, depending on which generation you are a part of.)  

I am in touch with two of Abraham’s grandchildren, Morty Grossman and Paula Newman, who are also second cousins of the fourth generation cousins.  I also am going to add a new page for Abraham and his descendants.  It’s a little thin now, but I am hoping that Morty and Paula will be able to fill in with some more information.