Why I Love Marriage Announcements: Guest Lists!

On August 29, 1911, my second cousin, twice removed, Lester Bensev married Jennie Winheim:

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Lester was almost 38 years old when he married Jennie. Jennie was also born in Germany; she was born in about 1880, making her seven years younger than Lester, and according to the 1920 US census, she immigrated to the US in 1900. I was unable to find any other information about her background until I found this newspaper article about her wedding to Lester, proving once again how valuable newspapers are as a genealogy resource:

Denver Post, September 3, 1911, p. 17

From this article I knew that Jennie Winheim was the niece of a Mrs. A. Schlesinger, and I was able to find Jennie and her brother Sam living with the family of Abraham and Sarah Schlesinger and their children in Denver in 1910.1 Sarah was born in Ohio and Abraham in Miltonberg, Germany on August 10, 1851.2 According to his obituary,3 Abraham came to the US in about 1864 with an older brother and settled first in Indiana, then Kansas, and finally in Denver in the 1890s. Abraham died on April 10, 1910, and in his will he named Jennie as his niece and left her $1000.4

Thus, it appears to me that Jennie Winheim, who according to the 1910 census came to the US in 1895, must have been the daughter of a sister of Abraham Schlesinger. Her uncle had died a year before her wedding, but his widow hosted her wedding at their home.

But what made this wedding article particularly exciting to me were the names on the guest list because included on that list were my great-grandparents—Mr. and Mrs. I. Schoenthal—that is, Isidore Schoenthal and Hilda Katzenstein. Why would they have been attending this wedding?  Well, follow the bouncing ball.

Hilda Katzenstein was the daughter of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein. Eva was the sister of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach. Sarah was the mother of Breine Mansbach Bensew. Breine was the mother of Lester Bensev, the groom who married Jennie Winheim. In other words, Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal was Lester’s first cousin, once removed—his mother Breine’s first cousin.

Isidore and Hilda had only recently moved to Denver in 1907 after their son Gerson was diagnosed with asthma. Imagine how happy Hilda must have been to find some cousins in Denver when she got there. When she married Isidore, she had relocated from Philadelphia where she was raised to the small town of Washington, Pennsylvania, and now she was moving 1300 miles further west. I had always thought that she and Isidore knew no one out in Denver, so I was quite excited to learn that she had family there and that she and Isidore were included in this wedding. In fact, now I know that not only did she have her cousin Lester Bensev living in Denver, her first cousin Amelia Mansbach Langer and her family were also living there.

However, it’s not very likely that Hilda knew these cousins well and possible she had never met them before moving to Denver since when they immigrated and settled in Colorado, she was married and living in Washington, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Philadelphia, they grew up in Germany. But family is family, and the fact that Hilda and Isidore were invited to this wedding demonstrates that these cousins were in fact in touch when Hilda and Isidore moved to Denver.

But Lester and Jennie Bensev did not stay in Denver for very long. By 1913 they had relocated to Cleveland, Ohio.5 Their daughter Hortense was born there on February 25, 1915.6 According to his World War I draft registration, Lester was employed as the store manager for Consumers Cigar Company in Cleveland in 1918. The 1920 census reported the same occupation. In 1930, Lester was working as an information clerk for a bank in Cleveland, but in 1940 he had returned to the cigar business.7

Lester Bensev, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831765; Draft Board: 07
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

On October 20, 1940, Lester and Jessie’s daughter Hortense married Robert W. Kabb in Cleveland. Robert was a Cleveland native, son of Samuel Kabatchnik and Lillian Fisher, born on March 1, 1913.8 In 1940 he was working as a furniture salesman.9

Marriage record for Hortense Bensev and Robert Kabb , Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 193-194; Page: 386; Year Range: 1940 Aug – 1941 Mar
Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973

Lester died on March 13, 1953, in Cleveland, and his wife Jessie died three years later on August 16, 1956.10 He was 79 when he died, she was seventy. They were survived by their daughter Hortense and her family.

Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68JS-P5T?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-BP8%3A287602201%2C293606502 : 21 May 2014), 1953 > 13601-16300 > image 2835 of 3155.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 15, 1953, p. 59

Lester’s older brother William was still in Denver during the years my great-grandparents and my grandmother were living there and thereafter. By 1918, perhaps to help William after Lester left the area, their brother Heine Bensev moved to Denver from Chicago.  According to his World War I draft registration, Heine was working for his brother William as the manager of a cigar stand. In 1920, Heine was living with William and Jessie and their daughter Theodora:

Bensev household, 1920 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 267, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

But notice that here Heine is listed under the name Jack. At first I was thrown—was this yet another Bensev brother? According to the 1920 census, Jack Bensev was 39 years old so born in about 1879-1880. Heinemann Bensew was born in Malsfeld, Germany on March 14, 1879.

Heinemann Bensev birth record, Standesamt Malsfeld Geburtsnebenregister 1879 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 4410)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortMalsfeld, p. 14

Heine’s draft registration reports his birth date as March 22, 1879, not the exact date, but still obviously the same person:

Heine Bensev, World War I draft registration, “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-817R-9STQ?cc=1968530&wc=9FHB-BZS%3A928310401%2C928571801 : 14 May 2014), Colorado > Denver City no 5; A-Talom, William M. > image 229 of 3469; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

The 1920 census also reported that both William and “Jack” immigrated in 1881 and were naturalized in 1885. This is plainly wrong. Even based on the facts in the same census, Jack would have been only toddler in 1881 and a kindergartner in 1885.

But what really threw me was that the 1920 Denver directory has a listing for both Jack Bensev and Heine Bensev, living at the same address as each other and William Bensev, both working as clerks, Jack for William Bensev. The 1925 and the 1940 Denver directories also have listings for both Jack and Heine, but other directories only list Jack.11

Title: Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1920
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

In the end I concluded that Heine and Jack were in fact the same man and that the family called him Heine, but the outside world called him Jack—probably to appear more American. On the 1930 census, he was listed as Heine Bensev and was living with his brother William and his family. William was the proprietor of a cigar store, and Heine was a cigar salesman. Now he listed his immigration date as 1902, which is consistent with the date on Heine’s naturalization record.

William Bensev household, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0108; FHL microfilm: 2339972
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Roll Description: B-524 through B-550 Gustov Joseph
Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project)

Meanwhile, the other two Bensev brothers also eventually moved to Denver. Like Heine, Max was naturalized in Chicago in 191512 and was the only brother still in Chicago in 1920.13 He was then rooming with a family and working as a salesman for a clothing store. Julius had moved to Gary, Indiana by 1920 where he was rooming with a family and working as a manager for an oil company, perhaps Standard Oil where he, Max, and Heine had been working in 1910 when they were all living together in Chicago.14

But in 1923 Max and Julius sailed together on the SS Rotterdam from Rotterdam to New York, and both gave their address as 825 17th Street in Denver. If they were living in Denver for any extended period, it is strange that Julius is not listed in the Denver directories for any year. Max does appear once, in 1933, but that is also the only year he appears in the Denver directory.

Year: 1923; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3247; Line: 1; Page Number: 34, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

However, on the 1940 census, the listing for the William Bensev household in Denver included William Bensev, his wife Jessie, daughter Theodora, nephew Edwin Stern, brother Heine and his brothers Julius and Max. Julius and Max are listed on a separate page in the census report , but at the same address and clearly in the same household. Julius and Max were now working as traveling salesman selling wholesale luggage. Heine and William were both still working in the cigar business.

William Bensev household 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 16-149
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Julius and Max Bensev, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 61A; Enumeration District: 16-149
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Thus, William had three of his brothers living in his household as well as a nephew, Edwin Stern, son of his sister Roschen, plus, of course, his wife Jessie and daughter Theodora.  And a maid.

The younger Bensev siblings lost three family members in the next few years, first their oldest brother William, who had provided a home for so many of them. William died on January 13, 1944, at age 68.15 William’s wife Jessie died less than a year later on September 13, 1944, when she was 60.16 And then sadly William and Jessie’s daughter Theodora died October 5, 1946 when she was only forty.17 Theodora had not married or had children, so there are no descendants for William and Jessie Bensev or their daughter Theodora.

After William’s death, Julius, Heine, and Max all moved to San Diego. They are all listed at the same address in the 1947, 1948 and 1950 San Diego directories:18

Title: San Diego, California, City Directory, 1947
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Max and Julius traveled together to Europe and other places many times in the 1950s. For example, in 1951, Julius and Max traveled to Israel for a three month stay:

The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 115
Ancestry.com. U.S., Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1914-1966 , lines 7 and 8.

They also traveled to Oslo and on the SS Queen Elizabeth to Cherbourg, France. Their brother Heine never joined them on these trips, and I wonder whether that was due to lack of interest or poor health.19

In September 1954, Julius and Max again traveled together, this time on a transatlantic cruise from New York to LeHavre, France.20 Sadly, their brother Heine “Jack” died on September 22, 1954, in San Diego, shortly after his brothers’ return. He was 75 years old. 21 (NOTE: he is listed twice—once as Heine and also as Jack on the California death index.)

Search results for “Bensev” on the California Death Index database on Ancestry.com

I cannot find a death record for Julius Bensev, but I believe he died sometime between September 1954 and April 1956 because (1) only Max is listed in the 1956 San Diego directory and (2) Max traveled alone on April 25, 1956, for a five to six month visit to Germany.22 Max died on November 14, 1959, in San Diego.23 He was 77 years old. Julius must have predeceased him because Max’s death notice named only his sister Frieda and cousin Alfred as survivors. Julius must have died outside California as, unlike Max and Heine, he is not listed in the California Death Index.

San Diego Union, November 19, 1959, p. 11

Julius, Heine, and Max never married or had children, and thus, like their brother William, they have no living descendants. Of the five Bensev brothers, only Lester has living descendants.

What about the two sisters, Frieda Bensew Loewenherz and Roschen Bensew Stern? What happened to them in the 20th century? Stay tuned for the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Abraham Schlesinger household, 1910 US census, Census Place: Denver Ward 10, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T624_116; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0122; FHL microfilm: 1374129, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  2.  JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry  
  3. “Death Removes One of Denver’s Best Merchants,” The Denver Post, April 23, 1910, p. 11 
  4.  Probate Records, 1900-1946; Author: Denver County (Colorado). Clerk of the County Court; Probate Place: Denver, Colorado, Ancestry.com. Colorado, Wills and Probate Records, 1875-1974, Case Number: 13356. 
  5. Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1913, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. Ancestry.com. Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964, State File Number: 1915015448. 
  7. Lester Bensev, 1920 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Ward 22, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1371; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 431, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Lester Bensev, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0456; FHL microfilm: 2341510, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. Lester Bensev, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03228; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 92-630, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  9. Kabb household, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03228; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 92-618, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  10. Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
  11.  Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1925, 1940, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  12. Max Bensev, Year: 1923; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3247; Line: 1; Page Number: 34, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  13. Max Bensev, 1920 US census, Census Place: Chicago Ward 12, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_320; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 685, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  14. Julius Bensev, 1920 US census, Census Place: Gary Ward 1, Lake, Indiana; Roll: T625_446; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 239, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  15.  JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  16. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  17. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  18.  San Diego, California, City Directory, 1947, 1948, 1950, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  19. Passenger manifests, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 73, Ancestry.com. U.S., Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1914-1966. Year: 1951; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8016; Line: 7; Page Number: 24, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists 
  20.   Passenger manifest, Year: 1954; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 8504; Line: 1; Page Number: 270, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  21. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997. 
  22. San Diego city directory, 1956, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Passenger manifest, Year: 1956; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8792; Line: 4; Page Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  23. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 (listed as Max Bensey on Ancestry) 

My Bensew Cousins Come to the US: The Children of Breine Mansbach Bensew

Breine Mansbach, my great-grandmother’s first cousin, was the oldest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach and the only one who did not immigrate to the United States with her siblings and her parents. But all but one of her children did immigrate, and this post and the two that follow will tell their story.

As I wrote back on January 19, 2018, Breine was born on September 27, 1844 in Maden, Germany. She married Jakob Bensew on February 3, 1870, in Maden, and then moved with him to Melsungen. When I first wrote about Breine, I thought that she and her husband Jakob had had six children—five sons and one daughter: William (1872), Julius (1875), Siegmund (1877), Heinemann (1879), Max (1882), and Frieda (1886). Since then I have discovered two more children whom I had not located back in January, Lester (1873) and Roschen (1870).1

Siegmund was born on July 20, 1877, and died before his fifth birthday on January 24, 1882 in Malsfeld, Germany, where the family was then living.

Siegmund Bensew birth, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4408, 1877. Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Siegmund Bensew death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4484. Year Range: 1882. Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The other seven children all survived to adulthood and all but Roschen immigrated to and settled in the US, though Roschen also may have traveled to the US before marrying and having a family back in Germany, as we will see below.

The first Bensew sibling to arrive was William, the oldest son, traveling as Willi Bensew on the SS EMS from Bremen and arriving in New York on August 15, 1885. On the manifest his age is fourteen, but if his US records are accurate, he was born in either February or November 1872 so would have been around thirteen in August 1885. (Birth records for 1872 for Melsungen, Germany were not available online.)1

Roschen, Lester, and Julius seem to have traveled together to the US with a departure from Hamburg on May 15, 1890.

Bensew siblings, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1741 Month: Direkt Band 067 (2 Apr 1890 – 28 Jun 1890) Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

The manifest lists three Bensews traveling together, all from Melsungen, Germany, a 20-year old woman named Rosa, a 16 year old boy named Lasser, and a 14 year old girl named “Juls.” Both Lasser and Juls are identified as “Kaufmann” or merchant. I would think that Lasser was Lester, as Lester was born October 23, 18732 and would have been 16 in May 1890. And I also think that “Juls” was Julius, who would have been 14 in May 1890 as he was born on September 13, 1875;3 since Juls is identified as a Kaufmann—a male noun—I think the gender identification as weiblich (female) was a scrivener’s error. As for Rosa, Roschen was born on January 20, 1870,4 so would have been twenty in May 1890, the age given for Rosa on the manifest. So perhaps that was their big sister Roschen bringing them to America, but I have no later records for her in the US. And Roschen definitely married and raised her children in Germany, as we will see.

Thus, the three oldest Bensew brothers, William, Lester, and Julius, all left home as young teenagers. In America they changed the spelling of their name to Bensev—presumably to preserve the German pronunciation of their name. Otherwise, they would have been called Ben-SOO.

In 1890, William was already living in Denver.5 By 1894, he was joined by his younger brother Julius, and both were clerks for the M. Hyman Cigar Company,6 as they were in 1898 as well. They were living at 615 24th Street with their aunt Amelia Mansbach and her husband Henry Langer.

Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1898
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1898
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

In 1900, William was still in Denver, living with the Langers and working as a cigar salesman.

Henry Langer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240117
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

But Julius had left Denver and was living in Reading, Pennsylvania, working as a salesman.7

As for Lester, he was living in Philadelphia in 1896,8 working as a salesman. But after Julius left Denver for Pennsylvania, Lester left Pennsylvania for Denver. He came for a visit in 1899, and in 1902 he was living with his brother William and the Langer family and working as a manager for M. Hyman Cigar Company with his brother William, who was the secretary of the company.

Denver Rocky Mountain News, January 1, 1899, p. 6

It was also around this time that two more of the Bensew brothers arrived in the United States.  I could not find a ship manifest for Heinemann Bensew, who was born March 14, 1879, in Malsfeld,9 but according to his naturalization records, he arrived on September 30, 1902.10  The youngest brother Max, who was born on May 24, 1882,11 arrived on May 13, 1903. He was headed for Philadelphia to his uncle, J. Mansbach, i.e. Julius Mansbach, at 915 North 6th Street in Philadelphia:

Max Bensew, ship manifest, line 21, Year: 1903; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0355; Line: 1; Page Number: 85
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Frieda Bensew, who was born February 21, 1886, in Melsungen,12 followed her older brothers to America four years later; she arrived on November 25, 1907.  On the manifest she listed that she, like Max, was going to her uncle, Julius Mansbach, in Philadelphia.13 In January, 1908, she visited her brother William in Denver.

Denver Post, January 7, 1908, p. 5

But in 1910, she was living in Chicago, where three of her five brothers were also living. Julius, Heinemann (listed as Hein here) and Max were living together in a boarding house in Chicago, and all three were working as clerks for Standard Oil:

Julius, Max and Heine Bensev 1910 US census,Census Place: Chicago Ward 23, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_266; Page: 2A;Enumeration District: 0982; FHL microfilm: 1374279
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Frieda was working as a stenographer for a publishing house and living a mile and half north of her brothers as a roomer with a widow, Sophie Rosenthal, and her adult daughter in 1910.12

Their oldest brother William was still in Denver in 1910. He had married Jessie Fannie Holzman on June 28, 1904, in Denver, in “one of the most elaborate of the numerous June wedding[s]” in Denver that year, as detailed in this wonderful article:

Denver Post July 2, 1905, p. 15

As noted in the article, prior to the wedding, Jessie had been living with David Kline and his wife Frances (Sands) Kline and is listed as their niece on the 1900 census.13 According to the article, Jessie’s father was Joseph Holzman; Joseph Holzman was a German immigrant who married Theresa Sands in Denver in 1877. Jessie was born in Denver on November 6, 1883, and her mother Theresa died when Jessie was eight years old in 1891. I assume that Frances Sands Kline must have been Theresa Sands Holzman’s sister since Jessie was Frances’ niece.14

William and Jessie had a daughter, Theodora, born on December 10, 1905,15 in Colorado. When M. Hyman retired in 1907, he transferred his cigar business to William and a partner, B. F. Meyer. In 1910, William and his family were living in Denver, and William continued to work as a cigar salesman.16

Denver Post, March 10, 1907, p. 2

Lester Bensev was also still in Colorado in 1910, but he had moved from Denver to Colorado Springs where he was the proprietor of a cigar store.17

Thus, by 1910, six of the seven children of Breine Mansbach and Jakob Bensew were living in the United States, four in Chicago and two in Colorado. Their parents were still living in Germany, as was their sister Roschen. Roschen married Joseph Stern, son of Jacob Stern and Esther Koppel, on April 10, 1899, in Kassel, Germany:

Marriage record of Roschen Bensew and Jozef Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4611, 1899, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On May 8, 1900, Roschen gave birth to her first child, Alfred Stern, in Kassel. 18 According to US records, Roschen and Joseph had a second son Edwin on January 6, 1905.19 Some family trees have three other children born to Roschen and Joseph Stern, but I have not yet been able to verify that information. The names Alice Stern, Frieda Stern, and Herbert Stern are too common for me to be able to know with certainty whether I am looking at the right person unless I can link them to Roschen and Joseph or some other member of the family, and so far I have not be able to do so. Thus, I will only write about Alfred and Edwin, both of whom ended up in the US, but not until after Hitler came to power.

 

 

 

 


  1. Willi Bensew, ship manifest, Year: 1885; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 489; Line: 1; List Number: 1017.
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. William Bensev, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240117, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  2. Lester Bensev, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 68; Volume #: Roll 0068 – Certificates: 59167-60066, 09 Jul 1908-24 Jul 1908. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  3.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 521019057. 
  4. Roschen Bensew marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4611. 1899. Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  5. Ancestry.com. Denver, Colorado City Directory, 1890. 
  6.  Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1894, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Julius Bensev, 1900 US census, Census Place: Reading Ward 3, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0053; FHL microfilm: 1241378,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1896, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  9. Heinemann Bensew birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4410. Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  10. Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939N-FGS7-2?cc=1838804&wc=M6TM-Q6X%3A165129401 : 20 May 2014), B-524 to B-550 Gustov Joseph > image 983 of 6652; citing NARA microfilm publication M1285 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). The birth date on the naturalization record is March 22, 1879, whereas the German birth record says March 14, 1879. 
  11. Max Bensew birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4413. Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  12. Frieda Bensev, 1910 US census, Census Place: Chicago Ward 25, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_269; Page: 2B;Enumeration District: 1094; FHL microfilm: 1374282, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13. Kline household, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240117, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  14. Joseph Holzman and Theresa Sands marriage record, and David Kline and Frances Sands marriage record, Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). “Colorado State Census, 1885,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939N-8TC6-W?cc=1807096&wc=M83M-BMS%3A149195601%2C149208301%2C149200101 : 1 April 2016), Arapahoe > Denver > Population > image 184 of 598; citing NARA microfilm publication M158 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Sands family, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Helena, Lewis and Clark, Montana Territory; Roll: M593_827; Page: 186B; Family History Library Film: 552326, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com. Web: Gallatin County, Montana, Death Index, 1856-2014.  
  15. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  16. William Bensev household, 1910 US census, Census Place: Denver Ward 8, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T624_115; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1374128, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  17. Lester Bensev, 1910 US census, Census Place: Colorado Springs Ward 2, El Paso, Colorado; Roll: T624_118; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0037; FHL microfilm: 1374131, Enumeration District: 0037, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  18. Alfred Stern birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 910_5143, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  19. Edwin Stern, naturalization record, The National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Washington, DC; Naturalization Records, Colorado, 1876-1990; ARC Title: Naturalization Records Created by the U.S. District Court in Colorado, 1877-1952; NAI Number: M1192; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Colorado, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1868-1990. Edwin Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 232, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 

The Langer Brothers: Lives Devoted to Photography

Amelia Mansbach and her husband Henry Langer died in the 1920s and were survived by their two sons, my grandmother’s second cousins Joseph and Lester, both of whom were career photographers, Joseph for The Denver Post and Lester as a dark room technician. We saw that in 1930, Joseph was still living in Denver,1 but Lester was living in Kansas City.2 Neither brother was married at that time. Lester was a lodger in what appears to have been a large boarding house in Kansas City, and Joseph was living in a hotel in Denver. This post will look at their lives in more depth.

It was a challenge to learn much more about Lester, the younger of the two brothers. In 1940 he was still living in Kansas City, working as a photographer, and living at the Washington Hotel. According to the census record, he was married, but I found no other indication of a marriage, and he is not listed with another woman named Langer at the Washington Hotel.3 I believe this was an enumerator mistake, or Lester was lying. After all, he had listed his mother as his wife on his World War I draft registration. Lester was still living at the Washington Hotel two years later when he registered for the World War II draft (he was then 58 years old). And he was still working as a photographer—for Guy E. Smith.

Lester Langer, 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 Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Box or Roll Number: 966.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

I could find no other information about Lester in his years in Kansas City except for this news story about him being the victim of a robbery in 1930:

“Loot Is His By Priority,” Kansas City Star, March 11, 1930, p. 22

The only other reference I could initially find for Lester was an entry on FindAGrave indicating that he died on March 19, 1960, and was buried at Temple Israel Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.4 I contacted the synagogue affiliated with the cemetery where Lester was buried, and the archivist there told me that there are no other Langers buried there and that Lester was not a member of the congregation. I was not sure where else to look to learn more about Lester and how he ended up being buried in Memphis.

So I  joined the Tennessee Genealogy group on Facebook, and a very helpful member named Shannon located Lester’s death certificate, which opened the doors to the rest of his story.

Lester Langer death certificate, “Tennessee Deaths, 1914-1966,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9DL-CF56?cc=1417505&wc=34DM-BZS%3A1580614801 : 15 October 2018), 007552516 > image 33 of 2310; Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.

Lester had died in the Baptist Hospital in Memphis, but was residing at the time of his death in the tiny village of Ridgely, Tennessee, located about 100 miles north of Memphis. Ridgely’s population in 1960 was 1,464. Why was Lester living there? His death certificate indicated that he was still a photographer working as a darkroom technician.

I contacted the local newspaper for Ridgely, The Lake County Banner, and they kindly sent me a copy of Lester’s obituary:

Lake County Banner, March 24, 1960, p. 5

From the obituary I learned that Lester had moved to Ridgely, Tennessee in 1954, just six years before he died, to work with W.L. Glover, a “nationally known livestock photographer,” who had purchased the photography business of Lester’s Kansas City employer, Guy E. Smith (the name mentioned on Lester’s World War II draft registration card) in 1952. The obituary said that Lester had worked for Smith for twenty years, so dating back to 1930 or so, when he was living in Kansas City.

Then I contacted one of W.L. Glover’s sons, Jere, who remembered Lester well and told me that Lester had also spent time in Hollywood where he did photography developing and printing for movie studios. From what I already knew about Lester’s career, I assume that he must have been in Hollywood sometime after 1920, when he was still in Denver, and before 1930, when he was already in Kansas City. Those must have been exciting days in the early years of the movie business. Unfortunately Jere did not have more details as he said that Lester had not talked very much about his Hollywood days.

Jere also told me that Lester “was well liked by everyone in the town. He had a good sense of humor and was a truly nice person.” He thought that Lester was probably the only Jew in the area.  Nevertheless, Lester had held on to his Jewish identity. His funeral was officiated by a rabbi, and he was buried in a Jewish cemetery. I found it particularly touching that a small number of residents of Ridgely, including the Glovers, traveled all the way to Memphis to attend the funeral, as noted in the obituary.

So from knowing almost nothing about Lester, I now have a fairly complete picture of Lester Langer’s life, thanks to the generosity of Shannon from the Tennessee Genealogy group, the Lake County Banner, Temple Israel synagogue in Memphis, and Jere Glover.

Fortunately, it was easier to find information about Lester’s older brother Joseph—largely because Joseph worked for a newspaper. In fact, I was able to find news coverage about Joseph dating back as early as 1899 when he was just twenty years old and won an amateur photography contest with a photograph of the then-governor of Colorado laying the corner stone for a hospital in Denver:

“Joseph Langer Wins The Leslie Prize,” The Denver Post, September 3, 1899, p. 5

Not long after that, Joseph became a staff photographer for The Denver Post. In 1904 he took this photograph:

The Denver Post, January 2, 1904, p. 14

And in 1908 Joseph did this full page layout of photographs of the mayor of Denver, Robert Speer:

The Denver Post, January 19, 1908, p. 46

He also took this photograph of the Denver Post editorial board:

And here is a street photograph he took of a couple hoping to marry:

The Denver Post, July 10, 1909, p. 3

Obviously, these are not very good quality reproductions of the photographs as they are scans of photographs published in old newspapers, but they give a sense of the variety and volume of Joseph’s contribution to the newspaper.

Sometimes Joe Langer was himself the subject of articles, as in this 1911 article written when he broke his leg after slipping on ice. The newspaper wrote of the irony of him injuring himself this way in light of the risks he had taken for his job:

Denver Post, December 20, 1911, p. 7

The strangeness of the ways of fate is here again emphasized.  All newspaperdom familiar with Langer’s record as one of the pluckiest of press photographers and his hair-breadth escapes in the pursuance of his arduous and hazardous vocation, his daring exploits and his proverbial good luck while on perilous ventures—and now a slip and a trifling fall has laid him up in pain for perhaps six weeks!

The article then described some of his feats, including climbing up on the scaffolding on the spire of the new cathedral to get a birds-eye view of Denver and another time climbing up on the tower of a newly completed building, standing in the wind as it swayed, to get another shot of the city.

As noted in an earlier post, Joe served in the armed services intelligence division during World War I. In 1924 the Post published a whole article about Joe, celebrating his 22nd anniversary with the Denver Post:

Denver Post, March 3, 1924, p. 6

This article also heaped high praise on Joe for his work:

“Joe” has been struck by lightning, burned by flashlight powder, his camera has been smashed, he’s been cursed and lauded, rebuffed and welcomed, but he’s never lost his enthusiasm for the press photography fame, and if there is a better newscamera man in the world. The Post hasn’t been able to find him.

… In his twenty two years as The Post’s news photographer, Langer has exposed approximately 90,000 negatives.  If those negatives were placed end to end they would make a glass strip all the way from Denver to Arvada.

The news of Denver, as Langer has seen it thru his cameras, would fill a library. And the most interesting stories, because they are the inside and the most intimate stories of the big happenings of those one score and two years, would far surpass what has been printed.

The article also described some of Joe’s many challenging experiences over the years.

After his mother Amelia died in 1926, Joe retired and began to travel the world.5 In 1930 Joe Langer was one of a number of journalists sailing on the SS Resolute, when this photograph was taken:

Embed from Getty Images

I found one manifest for Joe on the SS Resolute in 1929,6 and Joe also traveled to South America in February 1930 on the SS Samaria,7 and in August he traveled on the SS St. Louis to Hamburg Germany.8 It is thus not surprising that I could not find Joe on the 1930 US census.

While searching on Google for more information about Joseph Langer and for more examples of his photographs, I ran across this image:

Embed from Getty Images

According to the caption with the photograph on the Getty Images website, “JAN 20 1933; Honeymooners are Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Langer of Denver, shown here as they reached New York recently after an eighteen-day cruise of the West Indies. For many years Langer was a photographer on The Denver Post staff. His bride was Miss Bertha Courlander of Denver. Following their wedding here they sailed from New York Dec. 17 on the S.S. Reliance of the Hamburg-American line and spent the holidays sailing the Caribbean sea. (Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images)”

Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate an actual marriage record for Joseph and Bertha or even a newspaper article, despite a search done by the Denver Public Library of issues of the Denver Post for that time period. From the caption, it appears that they were married in Denver shortly before departing on December 17, 1932, for their honeymoon cruise to the West Indies. It also appears that Joe was no longer working for the Denver Post, as the caption described him as someone who “[f]or many years… was a photographer” for the Post. (Emphasis added.)

Joe was 53 in December, 1932, when he married Bertha. She was 36. Bertha was born in Chicago on August 11, 1896, to David Courlander and Tillie Oppenheim. Her father was a dry goods jobber in 1900.9 In 1910, Bertha and her parents and siblings were living in Indianapolis where her father was now a woolens merchant.10 Then in 1920 Bertha was a patient in the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives in Denver. She was 24 and listed her occupation as a stenographer for a lawyer. Bertha was also, however, included in the enumeration of her parents’ household in Detroit in 1920, where she was listed without an occupation. Since both enumerations are dated in January 1920, I am not sure how to reconcile this, but my guess is that her parents included her because they still considered her residence to be with them even if she was a hospital patient elsewhere.11

But Bertha Courlander stayed in Denver. She is listed in the 1922 Denver directory as residing at 1356 Pearl Street, in 1924 at 1440 Washington Street, and in 1928, 1929, and 1930, at the Hotel Cosmopolitan, the same hotel where Joe Langer resided.12 It was probably there that Joe and Bertha met. In 1933 they are listed together in the Denver directory as living at 2737 East 13th Avenue in Denver, and Joe was working as an agent for a steamship company. They later moved to 3535 East 17th Avenue in Denver.13

Sadly, their marriage did not last very long because Joe’s life was cut short on August 29, 1934, when he died from complications after a minor operation. He was 54 years old. The obituary published by his former employer, The Denver Post, filled in some of the remaining gaps in the story of Joseph Langer:

“Death Takes Former Post Photographer,” The Denver Post, August 30, 1934, p. 9

Announcement that “Joe” Langer is dead will be received with sincere regret and sorrow by thousands who knew him during his activities as a newspaper photographer. Until he retired to become a world traveler some eight years ago [1926] he was always at the front with his camera in every important story calling for picturization. No day was too long, no task too difficult to curb his enthusiasm or turn his ambition to be the “unscooped photographer.” The great and humble and all in between were to him “interesting subjects: and his files were a clear pictorial history of the times. ….After the death of his mother in 1926 he decided to see something of the world.
He took a world cruise, carrying the faithful camera along, and on his return headlined many club programs with moving pictures and oral descriptions of places he had visited in far lands.

Joe Langer certainly left his mark on the paper and the city of Denver.

Neither Joseph nor Lester Langer had any children, and thus there are no descendants for them or for their parents, Amelia Mansbach and Henry Langer. The two brothers both had such full and interesting careers in photography, one living in Denver all his life, the other living at times in Hollywood, Kansas City, and finally the small town of Ridgely, Tennessee. I am so glad I was able to learn so much about them and keep the facts of their lives from disappearing into oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Publication Title: Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1931, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  2. Lester Langer, 1930 US census, Census Place: Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0018; FHL microfilm: 2340928. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. 
  3. Lester Langer, 1940 US census, Census Place: Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri; Roll: m-t0627-02165; Page: 81A; Enumeration District: 116-13, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  4. MEMORIAL ID 149610799, Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current. 
  5.  “Death Takes Former Post Photographer,” The Denver Post, August 30, 1934, p. 9 
  6.  The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Pedro/Wilmington/Los Angeles, California;NAI Number: 4486355; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85. NARA Roll Number: 021, Ancestry.com. California, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1959 
  7. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4706; Line: 1; Page Number: 193. Ship or Roll Number: Roll 4706,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists 
  8. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4805; Line: 19; Page Number: 14. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 573669492. Courlander household, 1900 census, Census Place: Chicago Ward 9, Cook, Illinois; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0221; FHL microfilm: 1240253,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  10. Courlander household, 1910 US census, Census Place: Indianapolis Ward 3, Marion, Indiana; Roll: T624_367; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1374380, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  11. Bertha Courlander 1920 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 244, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Courlander household, 1920 US census, Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_813; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 428, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Denver City Directories, 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929, 1930, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  13. Denver City Directories, 1933, 1934, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 

The Colorado Coalfields War and Its Effect on the Mansbach Brothers

As we saw, between 1910 and 1920, there was a fair amount of growth in the families of Hannah Mansbach Dannenberg and Louis Mansbach, the two children of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach who were still living in Philadelphia. Hannah’s daughters had married and had children as had Louis’s daughter, and Hannah’s son Arthur Dannenberg had become a doctor. Julius Mansbach and his family were living in Wunstorf, Germany.

The Colorado siblings—Amelia, Bert, and Meyer—were experiencing similar growth in this decade. Amelia and her husband Henry Langer were still living in Denver. Both of their sons registered for the World War I draft, and as you can see, both were in the field of photography, Joseph for the Denver Post and Lester a self-employed commercial photographer.

Joseph Langer, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561841; Draft Board: 5
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Joe Langer enlisted and was assigned to the intelligence division, “marching away with his camera under his arm.”1

Lester’s World War I draft registration confused me.  For his nearest relative, it says “Mrs. Amelia Langer wife.” But that was his mother’s name, and on the 1920 census he was listed as single and living at home with his parents and brother Joseph. And I can find no record that he had been married to anyone named Amelia before 1920, nor can I find an Amelia Langer elsewhere in Colorado (except for his mother).

Is it possible someone else filled out the form and Lester only signed it and didn’t see the mistake? The handwriting on the form is similar but somewhat different from the signature—especially if you compare the Es in the signature to those on the line where Lester’s name is written at the top. What do you think?

Lester Langer World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561841; Draft Board: 5
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Henry Langer and family 1920 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 245
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

As for Bert and Rosa (Schloss) Mansbach, their daughter Corinne had married Herbert J. Kahn in 1909, as noted in my earlier post, and on July 13, 1912, Corinne gave birth to their daughter Rosalynn.2 In 1920, they were living in Trinidad, Colorado, and Corinne’s younger brother Alvin was also living with them. Herbert was a produce broker, and Alvin was an electrician.3 Alvin had served in the US Army overseas during World War I as a regimental supply sergeant on an ammunition train and had returned safely home in 1919.4

Although Corinne and Alvin were thus in Trinidad in 1920, their parents Bert and Rosa Mansbach had moved to Albuquerque, where Bert is listed in the 1917 directory as a dry goods merchant.5 What would have taken Bert and Rosa away from Trinidad where both their children and their granddaughter were living and where Bert had been in business with his brother Meyer for so many years?

In 1912 both Bert and Meyer were still in Trinidad. They were listed in the Trinidad directory for that year as officers of The Famous Department Store, Bert as president, Meyer as treasurer.

Mansbach brothers, Trinidad, Colorado, City Directory, 1912
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

But Meyer also ended up leaving Trinidad; in 1914 he was listed in the Detroit, Michigan city directory as a milliner.6 What had happened?

Well, a search on genealogybank.com revealed the answer. The Famous Department Store had been forced into bankruptcy in the spring of 1914, according to this article from the May 10, 1915 Denver Post (p. 8) describing the sale of the assets of the store to a third party:

According to the first two paragraphs of this article:

One of the largest commercial transactions of the west, and one of supreme importance to the shopping public of Denver has been consummated in the sale of the entire $125,000 stock of the Famous Department Store of Trinidad, the largest and most complete department store in Southern Colorado, to the Golden Eagle of this city.

The Famous Department Store enjoyed the reputation of carrying one of the finest and highest grade stocks in Colorado and was established “many years ago.” Early last spring it was forced into bankruptcy through the general depression caused by the great Southern Colorado coal strike.

This ad, which appeared in the Denver Post on May 23, 1915, also reveals the demise of the Famous Department Store in Trinidad owned by Bert and Meyer Mansbach and its sale to the Golden Eagle:

The strike that caused the failure of the Mansbachs’ store is better known today as the Colorado Coalfields War and the Ludlow Massacre. Much has been written about this tragic chapter in US labor history, and I cannot give it adequate coverage here, but I thought that this summary from the Denver Public Library website provided a good overall description of the background of the strike and its aftermath. Here are some excerpts:

From 1884-1912, Colorado miners died at nearly double the rate of the national average, according the University of Denver’s Coal Field War Project. ….But unsafe work conditions were hardly the only problem Colorado coal miners faced as they headed to work. Thanks to a variety of unfair work practices, miners were paid by the amount of coal they pulled from the mine, not by the number of hours they worked. Even worse, miners were not compensated for the time they spent actually getting down the mine or the time they spent tunneling, laying track and other jobs that they referred to as, “Dead Time.”

By 1900, the United Mine Workers of America was actively organizing Colorado’s coal miners, and in 1913, after a few false starts, they launched a massive strike. … The 1913 strike involved nearly 90% of Colorado’s coal miners and involved an exodus from the mining camps to UMWA-sponsored tent cities that had a devastating effect on the families of the men walking the picket lines.

The strikers’ demands were relatively benign by today’s standards. Their conditions included:

An hourly wage for “dead time” and a 10 percent increase in the price per tonne paid.

The right to shop outside of company stores.

An 8-hour workday

The opportunity to elect their own representatives to operate the scales that weighed their output. (Apparently CF&I’s company men could not be counted on to provide fair and accurate measurements.)

Not surprisingly, the mine owners were not happy about the strike and were more than willing to use brutal force to suppress their rebellious workforce. Rockefeller’s representatives hired private security companies to put down the strike with violent results. .…

Tensions between striking miners and the men hired to put them down came to a head on April 20, 1914, when gunfire shattered the calm of a Sunday morning at a strike encampment at Ludlow. Though there are still disputes as to who started the shooting, there’s no question about who took the brunt of the violence that followed; innocent women and children.

When the gunfire subsided, 25 people were dead, including 11 children. Most of those children died from suffocation when a burning tent collapsed on a makeshift bunker where they’d taken refuge.

News of the murders in Ludlow spread quickly and ignited violence across the coal field as striking miners unleashed their pent-up rage on the coal mines and their absentee owners. The violence continued for 10 more days until Federal troops stepped in to break the warring parties apart.

The Colorado coal strike lasted for another seven months before desperate miners finally went back to work. Though they’d wrangled a few concessions from their bosses, the strike was anything but a victory for the men and women who put everything on the line in hopes of winning fair pay and safe working conditions.

Armed strikers, Trinidad, Colorado. By Survey Associates, Inc. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This terrible event, about which I’d known nothing before, had ramifications most tragically for the miners and their families, but it also harmed those in the community who were not directly involved in mining, including Bert and Meyer Mansbach, who lost their business.

It is not surprising that they both left Trinidad for bigger cities where they could start over. Bert and Rosa were living in Albuquerque in 1920, Bert working as a retail dry goods salesman as an employee.7 It must have been hard to work for someone else after all those years owning his own business. In 1920, Meyer and his family were in Detroit where Meyer was a retail merchant in the millinery business; his son Arthur was in business with him.8

It’s sad that after working together and raising their families near each other for all those years that Bert and Meyer were separated by so many miles in 1920. Amelia Mansbach Langer was at that point the only Mansbach sibling still in Colorado where once five of them had been living there : Amelia, Bert, Meyer, Katinka, and Julius.


  1. “Death Takes Former Post Photographer,” The Denver Post, August 30, 1934, p. 9 
  2.  Number: 181-09-2067; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. Herbert Kahn and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: T625_167; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 136. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  4.  Ancestry.com. Colorado, Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918. The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 75. Date Range: 12 Aug 1918-Sep 1918, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists 
  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico, City Directory, 1917, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. Detroit, Michigan, City Directory, 1914, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Bert Mansbach, 1920 US census, Census Place: Albuquerque Ward 3, Bernalillo, New Mexico; Roll: T625_1074; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 18.  Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Meyer Mansbach 1920 US census, Census Place: Detroit Ward 1, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_803; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 50
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. One thing puzzled me about this census record, in addition to Arthur (23) and Edith (18), the census lists two other children living with Meyer and his wife Ida who are identified as their sons: Harry (16) and Meyer (14). Both boys were listed as born in Colorado. But neither was listed with Meyer and Ida on the 1910 census, and neither was named as a survivor in the death notices and obituaries later published for Meyer and Ida. I cannot find a birth record for either boy in Colorado or elsewhere, nor can I find any other records for a Harry Mansbach born around 1904 or a Meyer Mansbach born about 1906. Was the census enumerator just wrong? Was someone pulling a prank on the enumerator? Or were these boys someone else’s children? I don’t know, but if they existed at all, I do not think they were the sons of Meyer and Ida. 

The Legacy of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach: Prosperity in America, Roots in Germany 1900-1910

As seen in the last post, in 1900 six of the surviving children of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach were living in the United States, as was Sarah. Their oldest daughter Breine Mansbach Bensew was still living in Germany, and three children had passed away, as had Abraham in 1889.

The six children living in the US were split between Colorado and Philadelphia. Amelia Mansbach Langer and her family were living in Denver, and her brothers Berthold and Meyer were living in Trinidad, Colorado. Sarah and her other three children—Louis, Julius, and Hannah —were all living in Philadelphia.  All of Sarah’s children except Julius, the youngest, were married by 1900, and she had nine grandchildren born in the United States plus her German-born grandchildren, the children of her daughter Breine Mansbach Bensew. A tenth American grandchild was born when Meyer and Ida (Jaffa) Mansbach had a second child, Edith, on December 15, 1901, in Colorado.1

In 1903, Julius, Sarah’s youngest child, married Frieda Bensew in Wunstorf, Germany.2 Frieda was born on March 6, 1883, in Wunstorf, the daughter of Moses Bensew and Theodora Freudenthal.3 Julius had applied for a passport on August 10, 1903, stating that he was temporarily residing in Wunstorf, Germany, where he had been since July 8, 1903, and that he intended to stay there for two months. I assume this was when he must have married Frieda.

Julius Mansbach, 1903 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 41; Volume #: Volume 075: Germany
Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Their grandson Art shared this photograph of Julius and Frieda dated 1903 when they were engaged:

Julius Mansbach and Frieda Bensew, 1903. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Julius and Frieda returned to the United States and settled in Philadelphia where on July 12, 1904, their daughter Beatrice was born.4 In May 1905, Julius, Frieda, and Beatrice sailed to Germany, presumably for Frieda’s family to meet the new baby.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 1905, p. 35

Here are two beautiful photographs of Frieda and her baby daughter Beatrice, courtesy of my cousin Art Mansbach:

Frieda Bensew Mansbach and her three-month old daughter, Beatrice, 1904. Courtesy of Art Mansbach.

Frieda Bensew Mansbach and daughter Beatrice, c. 1906. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

The year 1907 brought two sad losses to the family.  First, on June 26, 1907, Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach passed away from nephritis at age 88.

Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 059571-063330
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Sarah was the oldest child of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander and had outlived all but three of her younger siblings. Unlike her younger siblings who had immigrated as young adults, Sarah came to the United States and settled in Philadelphia in the 1880s when she was already in her sixties and had grown children. It must have been a hard transition, especially with half her children living half a continent away in Colorado and one daughter still back in Germany. She had survived her husband and three of her children and lived to 88.

She must have been an exceptionally strong woman. That strength and her warmth certainly show in this photograph of Sarah with her granddaughter Beatrice taken shortly before she died:

Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach with granddaughter Beatrice Mansbach, 1907. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

The second loss the family suffered in 1907 came less than two months after Sarah’s death. Cora Eslinger Mansbach, Louis Mansbach’s wife, died from tuberculosis on August 22, 1907; she was only 40 years old and left behind not only her husband, but her eleven-year-old daughter, Rebecca.

Cora Eslinger Mansbach death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 078391-082250
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

This photograph was taken just eight days before Cora’s death.  It is dated August 14, 1907, and taken in Cape May, New Jersey. The young girl on the left is Cora and Louis Mansbach’s daughter Rebecca, and she is with Julius and Frieda Mansbach and their daughter Beatrice:

Rebecca Mansbach, Beatrice Mansbach, Frieda Bensew Mansbach, and Julius Mansbach. August 14, 1907, Cape May, New Jersey. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Rebecca’s face conveys sadness; her mother must have already been quite ill and had been sick for six months. Perhaps Julius and his family took her to Cape May to distract her from her mother’s illness.

Julius and Frieda Mansbach and their daughter Beatrice moved to Wunstorf, Germany by 1910, where Julius and Frieda’s son Alfred Heinz Mansbach was born on February 10, 1910.5 They did not return to live in the US for another two decades. Thank you again to Art Mansbach for sharing these wonderful photographs of Julius and Frieda and their young children:

Beatrice, Frieda, and Alfred Mansbach, 1911. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Alfred, Frieda, Julius, and Beatrice Mansbach, 1913 in Wunstorf, Germany. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

In 1910 Louis Mansbach, now a widower, was boarding with his thirteen year old daughter Rebecca in the household of the Beutelspacher family. I cannot find any connection between his family and the Beutelspachers.  Louis continued to practice veterinary medicine.6

Hannah Mansbach Dannenberg, the only other sibling still in Philadelphia, was living in 1910 with her husband Gerson and their three children as well as Moses Dannenberg, Gerson’s brother. Gerson and Moses were both merchants and owned a supply house. Hannah and Gerson’s son Arthur was in college.7

As for the three siblings in Colorado, Amelia Mansbach Langer and her family were still living in Denver in 1910. Her husband Henry, now 71, was retired. Their sons were both living with them. Joseph (30) was a newspaper photographer, and Lester (26) was a photographic printer in a portrait gallery.8

In 1910, Berthold Mansbach and his wife Rose and son Alvin (15) were living in Trinidad9. Bert and his brother Meyer, who had been the proprietors of a dry goods store known as Mansbach Brothers, were now in business with John and Barney Tarabino as owners of The Famous Department Store, as listed in the 1910 Trinidad directory. The directory lists Bert as the treasurer and Meyer as the secretary.

Title: Trinidad, Colorado, City Directory, 1910

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Bert and Rose’s daughter Corinne had married Herbert J Kahn on October 11, 1909, in Trinidad. Herbert was a Trinidad, Colorado native, the son of two German immigrants, Jacob and Rosa Kahn. His father was a dealer in hides and wool.10

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

The Denver Rocky Mountain News posted this news item about the wedding on October 12, 1909 (p. 4):

In 1910, Herbert and Corinne were living in Trinidad where Herbert was working as a salesman in a clothing store.11

Berthold’s younger brother Meyer was also living in Trinidad in 1910. He and Ida and their two children Arthur (13) and Edith (8) were living with Ida’s mother Amelia Jaffa, and Meyer was, as described above, the secretary of The Famous Department Store, the store he owned with his brother Berthold and others.12

Thus, in 1910, the family of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach was doing well. Bert and Meyer and their families were living in Trinidad where the brothers were partners in a department store. Amelia and Henry Langer were living in Denver where Henry was retired and their sons were both involved in photography. Hannah Dannenberg was living with her family in Philadelphia and had a child in college already. Louis and his daughter Rebecca were in Philadelphia, moving forward after the death of Cora. In addition, as we will see, six of the children of Breine Mansbach were also in the US by 1910.

The only descendants of Sarah and Abraham still in Germany in 1910 were their oldest child, Breine Mansbach along with her husband Jakob Bensew and their daughter Roschen and her children, and their youngest child, Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda Bensew and their children Beatrice and Alfred.

 

 

 

 


  1. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, Social Security #: 573387763. 
  2. As per Julius Mansbach’s grandson, Art Mansbach. 
  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 351248754 
  4. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBYL-HSB : 10 March 2018), Beatrice Mansbach, 12 Jul 1904; citing 18961, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 2,110,929. 
  5. Number: 341-03-5638; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. Louis and Rebecca Mansbach, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1394; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0355; FHL microfilm: 1375407. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  7. Gerson and Hannah Mansberg and family 1910 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1399; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0692; FHL microfilm: 1375412. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census  
  8. Henry and Amelia Langer and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Denver Ward 10, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T624_116; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0134; FHL microfilm: 1374129. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  9. Berthold Mansbach and family 1910 US census, Census Place: Trinidad Ward 2, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: T624_122; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0120; FHL microfilm: 1374135. Enumeration District: 0120. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10. Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Las Animas; Roll: 1561836, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Kahn family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240126.
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  11. Herbert and Corinne Kahn, 1910 US census, Census Place: Trinidad Ward 2, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: T624_122; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0120; FHL microfilm: 1374135. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  12. Meyer Mansbach and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Trinidad Ward 2, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: T624_122; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0115; FHL microfilm: 1374135. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

Growing in America: The Family of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach

As seen in my last post, as of 1882 Sarah Goldschmidt and her husband Abraham Mansbach had immigrated to the United States, as had all but one of their eight surviving children. Three of those seven children had arrived before 1880 and are enumerated on the 1880 census. Amalie and her husband Henry Langer and their two sons were living in Denver, Colorado, where Henry was furrier. Louis was a veterinarian, living with my great-great-grandparents Gerson and Eva (Goldschmidt) Katzenstein in Philadelphia. Berthold was in Trinidad, Colorado, living with and working with his cousin, Abraham Mansbach, in his dry goods business. The rest of the family—Sarah, Abraham, Hannah, Meyer, Kathinka, and Julius—arrived between 1880 and 1882.

The years between 1882 and 1900 were eventful years for Sarah and Abraham and their family—many happy events as well as some sad ones. First, on February 10, 1888, Berthold Mansbach married Rosa Schloss in Philadelphia. Rosa was born in Philadelphia in August 1868, the daughter of Aaron Schloss and Caroline Stein, who were German immigrants. Rosa’s mother Caroline died when Rosa was just nine years old. Her father Aaron was in the jewelry business.1

Berthold Mansbach and Rosa Schloss marriage record, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792
Organization Name: Congregation Rodeph Shalom
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013

Berthold and Rosa’s first child Corinne was born on February 1, 1889, in Trinidad, Colorado.2 Here is a delightful photograph of Corinne with her grandmother Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach:

Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach and her granddaughter Corinne Mansbach, c. 1892. Courtesy of the Mansbach family

And here are two photographs taken in Trinidad, Colorado of Corinne as a little girl with her uncle Julius Mansbach:

Julius Mansbach and his niece Corinne Mansbach, c. 1892. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Julius Mansbach and niece Corinne Mansbach, c. 1892. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Berthold’s younger sister Hannah was also married in 1888. She married Gerson Dannenberg in Philadelphia.3 Gerson was born in Adelebsen, Germany on July 22, 1862, and had immigrated to the US in 1881. He was the son of Simon Dannenberg and Henrietta Brandes and was a merchant by occupation.4 Hannah and Gerson’s first child, Reta, was born on September 11, 1889.5

Sadly, Abraham Mansbach died not long after the births of these two new grandchildren. He died on October 5, 1889, at the age of 80. (The death certificate has his age as 81 years, nine months, but that is not consistent with other records; I am not sure which is correct.) The cause of death was a lung hemorrhage.

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6P3D-C4N?cc=1320976&wc=9FT9-JWL%3A1073324801 : 16 May 2014), 004010398 > image 335 of 1093; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The next two grandchildren born were presumably named for Abraham.  Arthur Mansbach Dannenberg, son of Hannah Mansbach and Gerson Dannenberg, was born in Philadelphia on January 7, 1891.6  Berthold and Rosa’s second child was also named in memory of Abraham; Alvin Abraham Mansbach was born in Trinidad, Colorado, on December 26, 1894.7

Unfortunately, the family had suffered another loss before the birth of Alvin. On February 3, 1893, Kat(h)inka Mansbach, Sarah and Abraham’s youngest daughter and second youngest child, died from consumption, or tuberculosis, in Trinidad, Colorado. She was only 30 years old. (The death certificate says 27, but that is not consistent with her birth record from Maden.) Her body was transported back to Philadelphia for burial, accompanied by her brother, Louis Mansbach.

Kathinka Mansbach death certificate, “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6353-MYS?cc=1320976&wc=9FR2-929%3A1073252901 : 16 May 2014), 004009761 > image 1367 of 1803; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Katinka’s sister Hannah honored her sister’s memory by naming her third child Katinka Mansbach Dannenberg, born on June 21, 1894, in Philadelphia.8

Louis Mansbach married Cora Eslinger on June 20, 1895 in Philadelphia.9 Cora was born on November 13, 1866 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; her parents were Jacob Eslinger and Rebecca Stein. Cora had experienced many losses by the time she married Louis. Her father had died when she was a very young child—in 1868. A brother William died in 1871 at age four from typhoid fever, her mother died in 1885, and an older brother Solomon died in 1889 at age 26 from heart failure.  Cora had only one member of her immediate family left when she married Louis Mansbach—her older sister Esther.10

Louis and Cora had one child, a daughter, Rebecca, presumably named for Cora’s mother; records conflict as to her date of birth, one is as early as November 1896, another suggests October 28, 1897.11 Since the November 1896 date came from the 1900 census and the other from far later source, it would seem November 1896 may be more reliable. I could not locate a birth record in the Philadelphia birth index.

Meyer Mansbach married Ida Jaffa on January 21, 1896, in Trinidad, Colorado. Ida was born in Trinidad on January 28, 1875, the daughter of Samuel Jaffa and Amelia Sommer. Her parents were both German immigrants, and her father was an important merchant in Trinidad.12

Meyer Mansbach Ida Jaffa mariage record, Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006. Original data: Marriage Records. Colorado Marriages. State Archives, Denver, Colorado.

In an earlier post about the Mansbach family, I discussed how Trinidad had experienced huge economic growth in the 1870s, making it an attractive place for merchants to settle to take advantage of the population explosion. Sharon Haimovitz-Civitano of the Branches of our Haimowitz Family Tree and Branches on Civitano Tree blogs alerted me to a page on the website of the Jewish Museum of the American West that describes the Jewish history of Trinidad, Colorado. According to that website, Ida Jaffa’s uncles and father were among the earliest Jews in Trinidad, arriving in the 1870s.  Sam Jaffa, Ida’s father, was the first president of the local B’nai Brith and the first chair of Trinidad Town Council, formed in 1876. The synagogue, Congregation Aaron, was founded in 1883 and named for the Jaffa brothers’ father Aaron.

Meyer and Ida’s first child, Arthur Jaffa Mansbach, was born in Trinidad on November 21, 189613 He also was presumably named for his grandfather Abraham Mansbach.

The only surviving child of Sarah and Abraham who did not marry before 1900 was Julius Mansbach, their youngest child. In 1892 he was in the dry goods business with his brothers Berthold and Meyer in Trinidad, Colorado:

Title: Trinidad, Colorado, City Directory, 1892
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Art Mansbach, Julius’s grandson, generously shared this photograph of Julius and his brothers Bert and Meyer in their Trinidad store:

Bert, Meyer, and Julius Mansbach in the Trinidad store. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

Here Julius is depicted with his two Langer nephews, Joseph and Lester, in Denver.  From the ages of the boys, I would estimate that this was taken in about 1888-1889.

Julius Mansbach with Lester Langer and Joseph Langer. Courtesy of Art Mansbach

By 1897, Julius must have moved to Philadelphia as he was listed in the 1897 Philadelphia directory as a salesman, living at the same address as his brother Louis, the veterinarian, 915 North 16th Street.14 In 1900, he was still living with Louis, Cora, their daughter Rebecca, and his mother Sarah in Philadelphia. Julius was working as a milliner and Louis as a veterinarian.

Louis Mansbach and family 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0313; FHL microfilm: 1241459
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Hannah and her husband Gerson Dannenberg and their three children were also living in Philadelphia in 1900, and Gerson was in the towel supply business. They were just a mile away from Louis and his household.15

In 1900 Amelia (as she is listed here and known as thereafter) and Henry Langer were still living in Denver with their children and with Amelia’s nephew, William Bensew, son of her sister Breine and brother-in-law Jakob Bensew. Henry was still a furrier, and their older son Joseph (20) was a cigar salesman as was his cousin William (28). Amelia and Henry’s younger son Lester (16) was still in school.16

Henry Langer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240117
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Berthold Mansbach was living with his wife Rosa and children in Trinidad in 1900, where he continued to be a merchant.  His younger brother Meyer was living right nearby (they are enumerated on the same page of the 1900 census report) with his wife Ida, their son Arthur and Ida’s parents and siblings. He also was a merchant.17

Thus, three of the Mansbach children were living in Philadelphia and three were living in Colorado in 1900. Together, Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach had nine American-born grandchildren living in the United States in 1900.

What would the first decade of the 20th century bring to Sarah’s family?

 

 


  1. Bert Mansbach family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240126.
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Caroline Schloss death, Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803–1915. Schloss family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20 District 66, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1407; Page: 432A; Family History Library Film: 552906.
    Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  2. Corinne Mansbach Kahn death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 057151-059700.  Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  3. Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951. Original data: “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Marriage License Number: 20344. 
  4. Gerson Dannenberg death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 020901-023300. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 81; Volume #: Roll 0081 – Certificates: 1621-2520, 02 Apr 1909-15 Apr 1909. Volume: Roll 0081 – Certificates: 1621-2520, 02 Apr 1909-15 Apr 1909. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  5. Reta Dannenberg Alkus death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 076201-078900. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. 
  6. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 179363551. 
  7. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 179363551. 
  8.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, SSN: 199369215. 
  9.  Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951. Original data: “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
  10. Cora Eslinger Mansbach death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 078391-082250. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Translation of Jacob Eslinger’s gravestone. William Eslinger death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JD1V-VY4 : 8 March 2018), William Eslinger, 16 Jan 1871; citing , Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 2,020,733. Rebecca Eslinger death record, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 Solomon Eslinger death record, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 
  11. Louis Mansbach and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0313; FHL microfilm: 1241459. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Rebecca Esslinger Rattin death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 040001-043000. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  12. Sam Jaffa and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: 92; Page: 66A; Enumeration District: 066. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. Sam Jaffa and Amelia Sommer marriage record, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792. Organization Name: Congregation Rodeph Shalom. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013. 
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 560148581. 
  14.  Title: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1897, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  15. Gerson Dannenberg and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 9; Enumeration District: 0425; FHL microfilm: 1241462. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  16. The Bensew/Bensev family will be discussed in subsequent posts in greater detail. 
  17. Berthold Mansbach and family, Meyer Mansbach and family, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240126. Enumeration District: 0064; Description: Trinidad City, Precincts 12, 28 and 32 and 35, Trinidad Ward 1, Ward 2, Ward 5. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

My Great-Grandmother Hilda

I have now written about all of the siblings of my great-grandmother, Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, as well as about her parents and some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I still have more of the Katzenstein extended family to discuss, but first I want to look back at the life of my great-grandmother.  Her story has been covered only in bits and pieces through the stories of her husband and children and through the stories of her parents and siblings.  Isn’t that all too often the case with women—that their stories are seen only through the stories of those who surrounded them? Especially since this is Women’s History Month, I wanted to be sure to give my great-grandmother her own page, her own story.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, my great-grandmother

Hilda was the third daughter and sixth and youngest child of her parents, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt.  She was the third of the six to be born in the United States—in Philadelphia on August 17, 1863.

When Hilda was three years old, her sibling closest in age, Hannah, died at age seven from scarlet fever. Hilda was seven years younger than her brother Perry, who was the second closest to her in age, and so there was a big gap between Hilda and her surviving older siblings. Joe was fifteen years older, Jacob thirteen years older, and Brendena was ten years older than Hilda. My great-grandmother was the baby of the family, and I would imagine that after losing their daughter Hannah, her parents must have been very protective of her.

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-1

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1870 census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 Dist 48 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1429; Page: 708B; Image: 96949; Family History Library Film: 552928

Her sister Brendena married Jacob Schlesinger in 1871 when Hilda was just eight years old. By the time Hilda was ten years old in 1873, her oldest brother Joe had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and within a few years after that her other two brothers, Jacob and Perry, had also moved to western Pennsylvania.  Thus, Hilda was still quite young when her older siblings left home, leaving her to live with just her parents.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Katzenstein family Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

But her brother Joe’s move to Washington, Pennsylvania proved fateful for Hilda and for my family as it was there that she met her future husband, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, who had only arrived in the US a few years earlier from Sielen, Germany.

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

Hilda married him in 1888 when she was 25 years old and settled with him in Little Washington where he was a china dealer.  Their first son, Lester, was born that same year.

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

Then a series of tragic events hit the Katzenstein family. In the spring 1889, Hilda’s brother Jacob lost his wife Ella and both of his sons, one before the Johnstown flood and two as a result of the flood. The following year, my great-grandfather Gerson died at age 75.  Hilda named her second child for her father; Gerson Katzenstein Schoenthal was born on January 20, 1892. A year later Hilda lost her mother, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, on September 6, 1893; she was 66.

Hilda did not have another child until August, 1901, when my great-uncle Harold was born—more than nine years after Gerson.  Just a few months after Harold’s birth, Hilda’s brother Joe died in December, 1901; just over a year and a half later, her brother Perry died in August, 1903.  Hilda was forty years old and had lost her parents and three of her five siblings.  Only Jacob and Brendena remained.

In March, 1904, my great-grandmother Hilda gave birth to her last child and only daughter, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal, named for Hilda’s mother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

eva-schoenthal-cohen-watermarked

My grandmother, Eva Schoenthal

When my grandmother was just a small child, her parents decided to leave Washington, Pennsylvania, and move to Denver, Colorado, believing that the mountain air would be better for their son Gerson, who had developed asthma.

Thus, Hilda packed up her children and belongings and moved far away from her two remaining siblings: Brendena, who was living with her husband Jacob and family in Philadelphia, and Jacob, who by that time had remarried and was living with his second wife Bertha and their children in Johnstown.  I don’t believe Hilda or Isidore knew anyone in Denver, but somehow they started their lives over in this city far from their families back east.

They remained in Denver for at least twenty years, raising my grandmother and my great-uncles. During the many years that Hilda lived in Denver, her brother Jacob died, and her sister Brendena lost her husband as well as both of her daughters.  It must have been hard to live so far away from all of her family during those painful times.

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal in Denver

After many years in Denver, Hilda and Isidore moved back east. Their son Harold had gone back east for college, and my grandmother had moved to Philadelphia after she married my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, in 1923.  She had met him when, after graduating from high school, she’d gone to visit relatives in Philadelphia, probably Brendena’s family.

My father and aunt were born in the 1920s, and they were my great-grandparents’ only grandchildren at that time.  I assume that they were part of the reason that by 1930, my great-grandparents returned to the east and settled in Montclair, New Jersey, where their son Harold lived and not far from my grandmother and my aunt and father.

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva HIlda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda and Isidore lived in Montclair until 1941 when they moved to Philadelphia so that my grandmother could take care of them, both being elderly and in poor health by that time. Hilda died from pneumonia  on August 17, 1941, just seven months after the move to Philadelphia; she died on her 78th birthday. Her husband Isidore died eleven months later on July 10, 1942.  They were buried at Restland Memorial Park in East Hanover, New Jersey.

Looking back over my great-grandmother’s life, I have several thoughts.  Although she was the baby of the family, she was also the only one who ventured far from where her family lived.  Her brothers left Philadelphia, but never left Pennsylvania; her sister lived in Philadelphia for her entire life after arriving as a child from Germany. Hilda moved across the state to marry Isidore Schoenthal, and Hilda was the only Katzenstein sibling to leave the east, moving with her husband and four children all the way to Colorado.

Her life was also marked by many losses, some quite tragic: a sister died as a young child, her parents died before Hilda was thirty years old, and two of her brothers died before Hilda was forty.  Several nieces and nephews also died prematurely.  Her brother Jacob also predeceased her; she was 52 when he died. So many losses must have had an effect on her perspective on life.

On the other hand, she had a long marriage and four children who grew to adulthood.  She lived to see two of her grandchildren, my father and aunt, grow to be teenagers. My father remembers her as a loving, affectionate, and sweet woman; she loved to cook, and when for a period of time he lived near her in Montclair, she would make lunch for him on school days.

Hilda saw more of America than her parents and siblings, and she lived longer than any of them except for her sister Brendena, who survived her. She endured many losses in her life, but the love she received from her family must have outweighed all that sadness, for my father recalls her as a very loving and positive woman.

Are These My Great-Uncles?

As I wrote about here, while in Denver, I visited Temple Emanuel where the confirmation class photographs of my grandmother Eva Schoenthal and of her brothers Gerson and Harold were posted on the wall.  It was easy for me to find my grandmother in her class photograph as I knew her face well.  But it was more difficult to identify which boys in the other two class photographs were my great-uncles.

When I got home, I asked my father and also compared the one photograph I have of Gerson and several photographs I have of Harold to see if I could pick out Gerson and Harold in the confirmation class photographs.  Now I think I have, but I’d be interested in whether others agree with me.  My father said he really has no memory of Gerson, but agreed with me as to which boy was Harold.

This is Gerson’s class photograph.

Temple Emanuel 1908 confirmation class with Gerson Schoenthal

Temple Emanuel 1908 confirmation class with Gerson Schoenthal

And this is the only photograph I have of Gerson as an adult:

Dad Uncle Gerson Eva

Here are some closer shots of the faces of the boys in that class:

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I think Gerson is the tall boy in the center of the top row (first boy on the left in the bottom photograph and the boy to the far right in the top photograph: same boy).  The one photograph I have of Gerson is of terrible quality, but there is something about the shape of the head and the ears that seems most similar to the boy in the middle.  Do you agree?

Here is Harold’s class photograph:

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And here are closeups of the boys in that photo:

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I think Harold is the first boy on the left in the top picture.  Here are some other photographs of Harold as a young man:

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Harold Schoenthal

Harold Schoenthal

 

Again, the ears, the shape of the head, and the mouth seem most similar to the boy on the top left of the first photograph of closeups above.  Do you agree?

It would have been so much easier if they had listed the students in the order in which they were standing instead of alphabetically!

 

Thoughts While Driving from Denver to Santa Fe:  A Northeasterner’s View of the Southwest

Before this trip, I’d never been to Colorado or New Mexico before.  I’d never seen the Rocky Mountains, and although I had been to Arizona, it was almost 20 years ago, and I didn’t get the same perspective that I had this time.  This time I found myself truly marveling at the landscape, the mountains, the desert, the overall expanse of land that exists in so much of the United States.

After all, I am a Northeasterner: born in the Bronx, raised in the suburbs of NYC, and a resident of New England since I was eighteen years old.  I’ve never lived in the country; I’ve never lived more than 90 miles from a major metropolitan area.  I now live a few miles from Springfield, Masschusetts, and about 25 miles from Hartford, Connecticut.  Although Springfield and Hartford aren’t huge cities, they are densely populated urban areas without much open space.

It’s true that from our home we can drive thirty minutes or less and be in fairly rural places—farms are nearby, and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire are just two hours away.  But even in those places, you don’t see miles and miles of empty road surrounded by undeveloped land with barely a sign or gas station or store to be seen.

So driving through Colorado and especially New Mexico was eye-opening for me.  We took I-25 south from Denver and headed to New Mexico.  Here we were on an interstate highway, the speed limit 75 miles an hour, and within a short distance from Denver, we began to see mountains.  I snapped photo after photo as we sped by, trying to capture the Rocky Mountains from the car.

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Fortunately, we decided not to take I-25 all the way to Santa Fe, but stopped overnight in Raton, New Mexico, the first town over the state line from Colorado, about three hours south of Denver.  It was not a scenic place.  We stayed in a Best Western right off the highway, and the highest rated restaurant in town on TripAdvisor and Yelp was the place right in the Best Western.  It was not good.  But it was edible.   There was no nightlife in Raton, so we rose early to get started on the rest of our journey.

Before we left Raton, however, I’d spotted a brochure for “Historic Raton” in the motel lobby and asked the person at the front desk how to get there.  She very pleasantly gave me directions, though I have to think she wondered why I wanted to see the town.  The town consisted of two parallel streets of buildings (with two or three cross streets) about maybe a quarter mile long.  And almost all the buildings were empty, boarded up, out of business.  It was depressing.

Raton

Raton

downtown raton

Downtown Raton

But it was important for us to see.  This was a town that had once been an important mining town, according to the brochure.  Even more recently those stores and building must have been occupied.  What did the people who lived in Raton now do for work, besides work at the Best Western and the few fast food places near the highway?  Is this why so many people in this country feel so disenfranchised, so angry? Sure, there is poverty in all kinds of places all over the country.  Springfield itself has a large population of people who are unemployed or underemployed, living in desperate conditions.  But a whole town of almost all empty buildings? What must it be like to live in such a place?

We left Raton with a sense of gratitude for all that we have and with a sense of embarrassment that we generally take so much for granted.

And then we ventured on towards Santa Fe.  This time we took Route 64, a two-lane road running southwest into New Mexico.  For the first forty miles or so, the road ran straight and flat through miles and miles of ranch land.  The endless fields of dry beige and green grass, speckled here and there with cattle, were mesmerizing.  We both just kept saying, “This is incredible! Look at how much land there is.”  I wish my little iPhone camera could capture the scope of open land we saw.  There were mountains in the distance, but overall the land was flat and wide as far as we could see.

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Then we entered the Cimarron Canyon area, and the terrain suddenly changed.  We were surrounded on both sides by walls of tall evergreen trees and then incredible stone formations above and in front of us as we followed the winding roads up and down and up and down the terrain.  It was like going from a huge empty room into a tiny dark hallway that twisted and turned so that you couldn’t see where it would end.  And it was gorgeous.  It was truly gorgeous.

Entering Cimarron Canyon

Entering Cimarron Canyon

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And then it got better.  We passed through the canyon and emerged at the top of hill overlooking the Eagle Nest area with a large blue lake below us to the left and the mountains shadowing us to our right.  In just over sixty miles we had seen three very different types of terrain.  And barely a town or even many cars.  Who owned all those ranches? Who worked on them? Where did they live? We didn’t know.

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From Eagle Nest we drove another thirty miles to Taos, passing through more open land and more mountain roads.  We stopped briefly in Taos to stretch our legs, but we knew we were coming back there after our stay in Santa Fe, so we did not take the time to look around.

Quick stop in Taos

Quick stop in Taos

After following Route 64 for about 100 miles (and for just over two hours), we picked up Route 68 in Taos to take the “low road” or “river road” to Santa Fe.  The first portion of Route 68 was awe-inspiring as we looked down at the Rio Grande and climbed high and twisted roads over the mountains and back down again.  In front of us and to our left we could see the white snow-covered peaks of the mountains while to our right we could see the deep gorge that the Rio Grande had carved into the land around it.

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Finally, after passing through the rather non-scenic section of Route 68 near Espinola, we arrived in Santa Fe by lunch time.  And there we settled for the next four days, having now seen both how beautiful and inspirational our country can be and also how sad and empty it can be.

 

 

Denver and A New Portrait of My Grandmother

About 110 years ago, my great-grandparents Isidore and Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal and their four children, Lester, Gerson, Harold, and my grandmother Eva, moved from Washington, Pennsylvania, to Denver, Colorado.  Gerson had allergies and asthma, and doctors had suggested that the air in Denver would be better for him.  My grandmother was only a few years old, her brother Harold only six, and the two older brothers were teenagers when they moved.  My grandmother spent her childhood in Denver, leaving when she was eighteen to marry my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, of Philadelphia.

As I wrote about here, my great-grandfather had several jobs in Denver, but spent most of his years in Denver working for Carson Crockery, a major distributor of china and other related products.

isidore schoenthal mgr carsonsBy the early 1920s, the family members began to leave Denver. My great-uncle Harold left to go to Columbia University; my grandmother moved to Philadelphia after marrying my grandfather in 1922.  Lester, the oldest son, and his wife Juliet Grace Beck, moved between Indiana and Colorado and back again over the years.  And my great-grandparents moved back east by 1929, settling in Montclair, New Jersey, where their son Harold had moved after finishing college. Eventually Lester and his wife also settled in Montclair.  Only Gerson stayed behind in Denver after the 1920s; he remained there until shortly before his death in 1954 in California, where he and his wife Maude had moved just a month beforehand.

Thus, for about twenty years, Denver was home to my great-grandparents and their children.  So when my friends and I decided to have our reunion in Boulder, Colorado, this year, I knew I had to spend some time in Denver to see the city where my Schoenthal family had lived in the early years of the 20th century.

My husband and I didn’t have much time in Denver—just one afternoon and evening and the following morning.  Nevertheless, I think we got a fairly decent feel for the downtown section of the city.  We walked through the downtown area all the way from the Civic Center and State Capitol building to Union Station and the bridge over the river at the opposite end of Sixteenth Street.  Denver is quite obviously a city that has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades, as the mix of older and newer architecture reveals.  Everywhere you look you see new, shiny glass skyscrapers next to older buildings, some of which could date from the era when my great-grandparents lived in the city.  I tried to capture that contrast in these photos.

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Although we arrived on a weekday, expecting the bustle of a big city, Denver felt strangely quiet even in the downtown area during a Monday workday, at least as compared to cities like New York or Boston.  Not that the streets were empty, but there was definitely a slower pace and fewer people on the streets than we would have expected.

When my great-grandparents were living in Denver, they belonged to Temple Emanuel, where my grandmother and two of her brothers were confirmed. Temple Emanuel was then located on 16th Avenue and Pearl Street, a location about a fifteen minute walk from our hotel.  The building is still there, and it is beautiful. Although the Pearl Street building is now a church, the original building’s exterior has been preserved. (We did not see the interior.) The Star of David still appears in several places on the building, as does the name Emanuel, as you can see from these pictures.

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Apparently the years that my family lived in Denver were years of growth for Emanuel as a substantial addition was built in the 1920s.  But after the war, the congregation left this downtown location and built a new building further out.

Before arriving in Denver, I had contacted Steve Stark, the current executive director at Temple Emanuel, to ask whether they would have any records or photographs from the era when my great-grandparents had been members.  He wrote back and told me that the confirmation class photographs from that time period were on the walls of the current building and that I was more than welcome to come to the building to see them.  So we drove out to Temple Emanuel’s current building after leaving downtown that morning.

I was very excited when I was able to locate the photographs of the confirmation classes of three of Isidore and Hilda’s children: Gerson, class of 1908, Harold, class of 1916, and my grandmother Eva, class of 1919.  I was struck by how formal and how elegant they all look.  It’s hard to imagine a class of fifteen year olds looking like this today.

Temple Emanuel 1908 confirmation class with Gerson Schoenthal

Temple Emanuel 1908 confirmation class with Gerson Schoenthal

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Temple Emanuel 1916 confirmation class with Harold Schoenthal

 

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Temple Emanuel 1919 confirmation class with Eva Schoenthal

Although I was easily able to identify my grandmother in her class photograph, I will need to get my father’s help to pick out Harold and Gerson in their class pictures.

My grandmother Eva Schoenthal, second from left

My grandmother Eva Schoenthal, second from left

We then stopped by the Temple library to see if there were any other records from the early 20th century, but we learned that all records from that time period are archived in a separate storage facility.  However, Rita Dahlke, the assistant principal of the religious school and librarian at Emanuel, very generously gave me a copy of Temple Emanuel of Denver: A Centennial History by Marjorie Horbein (1971).  Although my family is not mentioned in the book, it does describe the years from 1900-1930 as years of significant growth for the congregation.

We also asked Rita about the history of their current building, which was built during the 1950s and officially opened in 1960.  I had seen a photograph of their sanctuary on their website and noted the similarity to the sanctuary of our synagogue, Temple Beth El in Springfield.  We were curious as to whether their building had also been designed by the noted synagogue architect, Percival Goodman, and Rita checked and confirmed that in fact their building was designed by Goodman.  She then took us into their sanctuary so that we could see it for ourselves.  The resemblance is striking.

Percival Goodman sanctuary, Temple Emanuel, Denver, Colorado

Percival Goodman sanctuary, Temple Emanuel, Denver, Colorado

Percival Goodman sanctuary, Temple Beth El, Springfield, Massachusetts

Percival Goodman sanctuary, Temple Beth El, Springfield, Massachusetts

It was a poignant moment for us as our current synagogue is considering changes to our sanctuary to accommodate today’s smaller crowds.  Temple Emanuel took a different path and built a separate smaller chapel in the late 1980s rather than compromise the beauty of Goodman’s design.

I also wanted to see if I could find any of the houses where my relatives had lived, but after checking, I realized that two no longer existed. The one closest to downtown must have been torn down when the Denver Performance Center was built, and the other address no longer has any structure on the site at all.

Then we found this lovely building at what I thought was 1550 Downing Street, the address listed as my great-grandparents’ residence in the 1908 Denver directory.  I got out of the car and took a lot of pictures of this building, thinking that this was my grandmother’s home in 1908. Here are two of them:

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But I wasn’t sure when the building was built, so in writing this post, I googled 1550 Downing Street to see if I could find that information.  But Google kept showing me a very different house.  I was confused.  So I looked more closely at the house I’d photographed.  You can see that I took pictures of 1530, not 1550.  SIGH.

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Here, however, courtesy of the internet, is a photo of 1550.  According to Zillow, it was built in 1888 and sold in March, 2016, for $798, 200.  It appears to have been totally gutted and renovated, and probably the only thing left from the time my grandmother lived there is the claw-footed tub.  You can see more pictures here.

1550 Downing Street better

 

Our visit to Denver was a touching one—to be able to see the building where my grandmother had been confirmed and acted in plays for the Jewish holidays, to see her photograph on the walls of the new building, to pass the addresses where she and her family once lived.  In my head I could envision my great-grandparents and their four children living in this place a century ago.

Below is an interactive map showing the places where my family lived in Denver and the location of their synagogue.  Click on the red balloons to see more about the location.

In a recent conversation with my father about his mother, he commented that I had presented only a partial representation of her in my writing about her.  In my limited times with her when I was child (she died when I was ten), she had seemed quiet and fragile and somewhat withdrawn.  But my father pointed out that in her youth, she had been very outgoing—someone who had performed in plays both at temple and at her high school.  He described her as very social—someone who had many boyfriends after my grandfather died; she also worked outside the home to support my father and my aunt once she was able to care for them again, working in the china business, making lampshades, and doing drafting for the military during the war.

Grandma Eva 1915 Denver Post photo

Eva Schoenthal, top left, 1915

Eva Schoenthal high school yearbook picture

Eva Schoenthal high school yearbook picture, 1922

John and Eva Cohen c. 1930

John and Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

And although I had thought that her parents had moved to Philadelphia to help her care for my father and aunt, in fact the opposite was true.  They moved to Philadelphia so that she could care for them, as they both had become quite ill and needed help in their daily lives.  They moved next door so that she could cook and care for them.   My grandmother was not a timid or weak person, but a woman who had survived the tragic illness of her husband and her own troubles to come back to take care of others.

Fortunately, my father shared these thoughts with me before my trip out west, and so as I walked the streets of Denver, I imagined my grandmother not as I knew her in the later years of her life, but as a young, vibrant, beautiful and happy little girl and young woman, surrounded by her parents and three older brothers, performing on the stage, and actively participating in her school activities.  I am so glad that my father corrected my impressions of her and thus allowed me to envision her childhood in a more positive way.