The Children of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz 1944-1989

After Abraham and Amelia Katz died, their children almost all continued to live and work in the same places in Oklahoma for most of the rest of their lives.   They were all in some way connected with the dry goods business.

Katz Department Store logo designed by Sidney Pepper, husband of Ann Levine Pepper, daughter of Henrietta Katz Levine

Rachel and Morris Kohlmann continued to live in Bristow, Oklahoma, until at least 1935, but by 1940, they were living in Oklahoma City where Morris owned a shoe store.  By April, 1942, however, when Morris registered for the World War II draft, he and Rachel were living back in Louisville, Kentucky, where they had met and where Morris now owned a business called Jewel Cleaning and Dyers. [Thank you to Janice Webster Brown of Cow Hampshire Blog for pointing out that it says Dyers, not Dryers!]

Morris Kohlmann World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Kentucky, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 7644732; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Morris died in Louisville five years later on April 10, 1947; he was 67 years old.  His death certificate states that he was a shoe salesman at the time of his death.

Morris Kohlmann death certificate
Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1964 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Birth and Death Records: Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Newport – Microfilm (before 1911). Microfilm rolls #7007125-7007131, 7011804-7011813, 7012974-7013570, 7015456-7015462. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1964). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Rachel must have returned to Oklahoma after the death of her husband. She died in Sapulpa on January 8, 1953; she was seventy years old.

Rachel Kohlmann headstone
JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Lester Katz, the oldest brother, had remained in Sapulpa where he was the owner and manager of the family department store there.

Lester Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 14

This wonderful photograph shows the five sons of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz probably sometime in the 1950s:

Ben, Sidney, Mickey, Sigmund and Lester Katz
courtesy of the Katz family

Lester died in Sapulpa on January 17, 1959; he was 73 years old.  The Sapulpa Historical Society sent me a copy of his obituary, but it does not identify the paper in which it appeared.  According to the obituary, Lester had had heart issues prior to his death.  It reported that he had died from a heart attack and had been found by his brother M.J. (Milton) lying on the floor in the family’s store.  The obituary also stated that Lester had been active in several civic organizations and that “he was perhaps as well known in this section as any local merchant.”

Lester Katz headstone
JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Lester’s wife Mayme died almost seven years later on December 2, 1965.  They were survived by their daughters.

Sidney and his brother Ben continued to run the Katz Department Store in Ada, Oklahoma, where they both lived.

Sidney Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Notice that Sidney listed Ben as the person who would always know his address, and Ben did the same on his draft registration:

Ben Katz World War II draf registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

The family described to me the special relationship between Ben and Sidney.  They worried about each other and always looked out for each other’s best interests.  When Sidney decided to retire, he tried to reduce the inventory in the store so it would cost Ben less to buy him out; Ben, worried that Sidney would not have enough to live on after selling his share, arranged for the inventory to be rebuilt so that he would have to pay Sidney more.  That is a remarkable partnership and relationship—to put family before business and before your own interests.

Here is a photograph of Ben and his wife Sadie and their three children, Henry, Bryna, and Alfred, taken in about 1933:

Sadie, Ben, Henry, Bryna, and Alfred Katz c. 1933

The Katz Department Store in Ada during the 1940s on Rodeo Day:

Ada, Oklahoma 1940s
Courtesy of the Katz family

Sidney and Ben and other unidentified people in the Ada Katz Department Store:

Katz Department Store in Ada, OK with Sidney and Ben Katz
Courtesy of the Katz Family

An advertisement for the Ada store published in the Ada Evening News on March 15, 1953:

Ada Evening News, March 15, 1953

Sidney Katz died in 1961. In another unlabeled obituary I received from the Sapulpa Historical Society, Sidney was described as “universally loved and respected on Main Street by his fellow businessmen and by the hundreds of people he knew in his long career here. He was a man of great energy.  He liked people and gave constantly and unselfishly of his time to a host of civic and community projects.”  The obituary also noted that he enjoyed golf.  Sidney was survived by his wife Eulalia, who died in 1972.

Sidney Katz, photograph from 1961 obituary

Courtesy of FindAGrave member Linda Abelli (#48304482)

Ben died just five years after his brother Sidney on March 25, 1966. He was 73 years old and was survived by his wife Sadie and their three children. His obituary appeared on the first page of the Ada Weekly News of March 25, 1966:

Courtesy of FindAGrave member Jackie (#46788388)

His wife Sadie died in 1983; she was 86. Here is a photograph of Ben and Sadie with their granddaughter Marsha.

After Ben died, his two sons Alfred and Henry took over the Ada store, which they ran until 2004 when they retired.  Following are photographs of the store in Ada:

The family lost two siblings in 1972.  In July, Blanche died in a nursing home in Sapulpa; she was 89 years old and, as far as I can tell, had never worked outside the home or married.  Six months later on December 27, 1972, Florence Katz Frisch died in Sapulpa.  Her husband Sol Frisch had died in 1943; they had been living in Stillwater, Oklahoma at that time, but sometime after Sol’s death, Florence returned to Sapulpa.  Florence had also been predeceased by her only child, Sara Jean Frisch Looney, who died on August 19, 1966, at age 44 from a brain tumor.

JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Milton Katz, who was known as Mickey, had returned to Sapulpa in 1944 after spending some time in the east in the construction business, according to a 1973 profile of him in the Sapulpa newspaper.  When he returned, he joined his brother Lester in the Sapulpa store.  Milton married Ruth Billingslea on February 24, 1951, in Benton, Arkansas. Ruth was a widow when she married Milton; she was 48, and he was 49.  Ruth was born in Oklahoma and had been living in Chickasha, the town where Milton’s sister Henrietta lived. Milton and Ruth lived in Sapulpa where, according to Ruth’s obituary in the Sapulpa Herald of Friday, July 9, 2004, she assisted Milton in the Katz Department Store

According to the 1973 article (for which I unfortunately do not have a full citation), Mickey was quite a character, especially in his youth. The article described how he had purchased rain insurance for a Sapulpa high school football game and collected when it rained .3 inches; then he had managed to get the game played anyway by having the field burnt and purchasing cleats for the players.

Milton “Mickey” Katz died in Sapulpa in April 1983 when he was 81 years old; according to his obituary (another unlabeled one I received from the Sapulpa Historical Society), he had served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, and the Kiwanis Club and as chairman of the Sapulpa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and of Sapulpa Flood Control.  His wife Ruth survived him by 21 years.  She died in 2004 when she was 101 years old.

Photo of Mickey Katz from 1973 article in Sapulpa newspaper

The last two surviving siblings, Henrietta and Sigmund, both lived long lives.  Henrietta and her husband Ben Levine had remained in Chickasha, Oklahoma.  Ben died in Chickasha on January 2, 1960 at age 71.  Henrietta remained in Chickasha, where she died 28 years later in June, 1988, at age 93; she was survived by her three children.  Ben is buried between Henrietta, his second wife, and her older sister Bertha, his first wife.

Photo by P Black-Avitts (#46910889) of FindAGrave

Sigmund was then the last living child of Abraham and Amelia Katz, but he only survived Henrietta by eight months. He died on February 24, 1989.  Sigmund and his wife Elizabeth had remained in Bristow, Oklahoma, until at least 1942.  In 1940, Sigmund was still working as a merchant, but on his World War II draft registration in 1942, he reported that he was not employed.

Sigmund Katz World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Oklahoma, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 576250; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

According to his obituary in the Sapulpa Herald of February 26, 1989, “Mr. Katz worked at the Bristow store from 1922-1941 then associated with the Oklahoma State Employment Service. He resided in Sapulpa from 1952 until 1985, when he moved to Tulsa.”   Sigmund died in Tulsa on February 24, 1989; he was 92 years old.  Elizabeth lived another three years, dying in Tulsa on April 8, 1992; she was 93.  They were survived by their two daughters.

Together, Abraham and Amelia Katz had ten children, eleven grandchildren, and a large number of great and great-great-grandchildren, a number of whom still live in Oklahoma while others are spread throughout the United States.  And I am so fortunate to have been able to find and connect with a number of them.  I am particularly grateful to my cousins Marsha and Henry for generously sharing the photographs and allowing me to share them with you.

The Children of Abraham and Amelia (Nahm) Katz: 1920-1944

In my last two posts, I wrote about Abraham Katz and the decision he made in 1910 to move his family from Louisville, Kentucky to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where business opportunities seemed more promising for him and his children. By 1920, Abraham Katz and his large family were well-established in Oklahoma.  Four of the ten children were married, one, Bertha, had died at a tragically young age, and five of the ten children were still living at home.

During the 1920s, four of the other Katz children married. Florence, who had been living at home in 1920, had married by 1921.  Her husband was Solomon Frisch, who was born in Springfield, Illinois, but grew up in Athens, Illinois, the same town where Lester Katz’s wife Mayme had grown up.   Solomon was the son of Isaac and Sophia Frisch, who were immigrants from Hungary and Germany, respectively; Isaac was a bookkeeper. In 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft, Solomon had his own store in Athens.

Solomon Frisch World War I draft registration; United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G14V-J6P?cc=1968530&wc=9FCN-RM9%3A928312901%2C928928301 : 14 May 2014), Illinois > image 785 of 2475; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Florence and Sol must have married not long after the 1920 census, as their daughter Sarah Jean was born on November 18, 1921. In 1930, they were living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Sol was working as a dry goods merchant.  Stillwater was, as mentioned in an earlier post, the town where Abraham Katz’s nephew (and Florence’s first cousin) Jake was also a dry goods merchant, and Sol was working with Jake in Stillwater in the Katz Department Store.

Benjamin Katz also married in the 1920s.  His wife, Sadie Bardine, was the daughter of two Russian immigrants, Isaac and Molly Bardine; Sadie was born in Kansas City, Missouri, where she grew up.  In 1920, she was working as a stenographer in a law office.  Sadie and Ben were married on June 12, 1924, in Kansas City.

Marriage record of Benjamin Katz and Sadie Bardine
Ancestry.com. Missouri, Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Marriage Records. Jackson County Clerk, Kansas City, Missouri.

According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Life published by the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life,  “Sadie came from an Orthodox family and found it very daunting to adapt to her husband’s classical Reform Judaism and the difficulty of finding kosher meat in Sapulpa. She lived with Ben in Sapulpa from 1924 until 1926, when Ben decided that a life as a shoe clerk was not enough.”

It was at that point that Ben and Sadie moved to Ada, Oklahoma where in 1926, Ben and his brother Sidney purchased a long-established department store together in Ada, as reported in the April 15, 1926, issue of the Ada Weekly News (p. 4):

A deal will be closed today in which one of Ada’s oldest department stores changes hands and tomorrow morning, unless present plans go amiss, Simpson’s will open its doors under the banner of Katz Department Store.

Sidney and Ben Katz will be in charge of the store here, having arrived here several days ago from Bristow, where they made their home for six years. …

Although the new owners of the store establish this store here as another link to the chain of stores they operate in the Southwest, their desire is to impress the public with their public spirit in the interest and advancement of the town.  …

An extensive and commendable news article in a Bristow paper deplored the loss of Sidney Katz from its business fraternity. “Sidney Katz has been in Bristow for the past six years coming here to open the Bristow store.  During the time he has been a resident of this city, he has been one of the liveliest workers the city has had.  He has had a part in every worth while [sic] move that Bristow civic organizations have made, and members of the organizations say that his loss as a citizen will be felt.

Ben and Sidney ran the store together in Ada for many years. More on that to come.

Abraham and Amelia’s youngest daughter Henrietta also married in the 1920s.  She married her sister Bertha’s widower, Ben Levine, on June 28, 1925. In 1930, they were living with their first two children in Chickasha, Oklahoma, where Ben was (guess) a dry goods merchant.

Marriage record of Henrietta Katz and Ben Levine
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Chickasha is 134 miles from Sapulpa. According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities published by the Goldring Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, in 1919, Chickasha had a Jewish population of about 125 people.  The Encyclopedia reports that, “By far the most prominent and long lasting Jewish business in Chickasha was the Dixie Store, owned by friends and distant cousins Charles I. Miller and Ben Levine. Charles and Ben had opened the store in 1919, and “Charles and Ben became icons in the Chickasha community, running a newspaper ad for their department store every day for over 50 years.”

When Sigmund Katz married Elizabeth Pattison on September 23, 1926, he was the fourth child of Abraham and Amelia to marry since 1920. His wife Elizabeth was the daughter of William Pattison and Ersula Wade.  Her father was born in Ohio, and her mother in Tennessee, where Elizabeth was also born. In 1900, when Elizabeth was four, the family was living in Florence, Alabama, where William was a lumber dealer. By 1920, however, Elizabeth’s father had died, and she and her mother were living with her grandparents in Allen, Oklahoma, where Elizabeth was working as a public school teacher.  Allen is only 19 miles from Ada, where Sigmund’s brothers Ben and Sidney were living.

Marriage record of Sigmund Katz and Elizabeth Pattison
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

In 1930, Sigmund and Elizabeth were living with their first two children in Bristow, Oklahoma, where Sigmund’s sister Rachel was also living.  And yes, Sigmund was also a dry goods merchant.

Rachel and her husband Morris Kohlmann were still living in Bristow in 1930, where Morris continued to work as a dry goods merchant; they had no children.  Lester and his wife Mayme and their children were living in Sapulpa, and Lester was also a dry goods merchant, working in the family store.  Sidney and his wife Eulalia were living in Ada, Oklahoma, where Sidney was the manager of a dry goods store with his brother Ben, as noted above; Sidney and Eulalia did not have children.

By 1930 then, Abraham and his wife (listed as Millie here) were living with only two of their nine surviving children, Blanche and Milton, their youngest child, who was then 28. Abraham, who was now 79 years old, was still working as a merchant, and Milton was working as a clerk in the family store with his father and brother Lester.. Blanche was not employed outside the home, nor was her mother.

Abraham Katz and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Sapulpa, Creek, Oklahoma; Roll: 1900; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0040; Image: 842.0; FHL microfilm: 2341634

Thus, by 1930, Abraham and his sons and sons-in-law had established quite a number of dry goods stores in various towns in Oklahoma.

Abraham J. Katz died on July 29, 1936, at age 85. According to the records of the funeral home, he died of uremic poisoning and heat prostration.

Funeral record of Abraham Katz

The Sapulpa Herald of July 30, 1936, reported his death on its first page:

According to the obituary, Abraham died at home in Sapulpa after being critically ill for two weeks. The obituary also reported that Abraham had lived in Sapulpa since August, 1910, the first time I’ve seen the date so specifically pinpointed.  The obituary also commented that “Mr. Katz has always been one of the communities [sic] most generous donors to charity.  He is well known for his philanthropies here throughout the years.  He has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for years as well as other local booster organizations.”

Abraham was survived by his wife Amelia, nine of their ten children, and eleven grandchildren.

In 1940, Amelia, who was then 80, was living in Sapulpa with two of her children: Blanche, who was 56 and not employed, and Milton, who was 38 and working as a clerk in Katz Department Store.

Amelia died in Sapulpa on June 16, 1944; she was 84 years old. The Sapulpa Herald of June 17, 1944, reported her death on its first page, describing her as a “well known local woman.”  She and Abraham were buried together at Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Photo by FindAGrave member P Black Avitts
(#46910889)

Abraham Katz, who came to the US as a teenager shortly after the Civil War and started as a dry goods merchant in a small town in Kentucky, left behind quite a legacy for his children and their descendants.  He and his family had established a series of department stores spread over a number of cities and towns in Oklahoma that would continue to support the family long after Abraham was gone, as we will see in the next post.