A Legitimate Part of the Family


In my last post about the Schoenthals, I mentioned that Hannah Schoenthal, my great-grandfather Isidore’s oldest sibling, had had a child out of wedlock in 1865, a daughter she named Sara (later spelled Sarah).

Sara Schoenthal birth record HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 772, S. 12

Sara Schoenthal birth record
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 772, S. 12

I wondered how such a child would be treated under Jewish law and by society at that time.  According to Jewish law, a child born to an unmarried couple is not treated any differently for religious or marital purposes than one born to a married couple, unless  the mother was married to someone else or there was an incestuous relationship between the parents.   Even if the father was not Jewish, the child would still be considered a legitimate member of the Jewish community.  Although some sources indicated that there was disapproval by the Jewish community of unwed mothers, other sources said that there was no stigma attached to a child born to a single woman.  Sarah’s story indicates that she was fully accepted as part of her mother’s extended family and that there was no stigma.

In 1874, nine years after Sarah was born,  her mother Hannah married a man named Solomon Stern with whom she had three children, Jennie, Edith, and Louis, all born between 1875 and 1879.

Marriage record for Hannah Schoenthal and Solomon Stern HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 839, S. 22

Marriage record for Hannah Schoenthal and Solomon Stern
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 839, S. 22

Solomon died in February, 1888, and Hannah emigrated from Germany that year, settling in Pittsburgh where several other Schoenthal relatives were living.  Although I could not find with any certainty a ship manifest for Hannah, at the time of the 1900 census she was living with two of her children, Edith and Louis, in Pittsburgh.  Also living with them was Hannah’s 44 year old stepson, Morris Stern. All four said they had arrived in 1888.

Hannah Stern and children 1900 US census Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 6, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1356; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0058; FHL microfilm: 1241356

Hannah Stern and children 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 6, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1356; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0058; FHL microfilm: 1241356

As for Jennie, I did find a possible ship manifest dated December 10, 1888, for a sixteen year old named Jenny Stern from Germany; the index on Ancestry said her destination was Pittsburgh, but to be honest, I think that the manifest says that she was destined for New York.  Hannah’s daughter would have been only thirteen, not sixteen like the Jenny Stern on the manifest.  So I am not convinced this was my Jennie Stern. See the last entry below and the column on the far right indicating the destination.

Ship manifest for the Italy with Jenny Stern Year: 1888; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 528; Line: 1; List Number: 1643

Ship manifest for the Italy with Jenny Stern
Year: 1888; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 528; Line: 1; List Number: 1643

Thus, when I didn’t see Jennie on the 1900 census with Hannah, Edith, and Louis, I wasn’t sure that she had immigrated with her family, but then I found Jennie’s death certificate:

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90

This was obviously the right Jennie, given her parents’ names, and now I knew that her husband’s name had been Max Arnold and that she also had been living in Pittsburgh.  I then found Jennie and Max and their family on the 1900 census:

Jennie and Max Arnold 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1354; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0009; FHL microfilm: 1241354

Jennie and Max Arnold 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Allegheny Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1354; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0009; FHL microfilm: 1241354

But what about Hannah’s first child, Sarah? Had she left her illegitimate daughter behind? Had she put her up for adoption after she was born? Or had Sarah died? I had no idea, and I could not find Sarah in any records.

Until I saw that social announcement in the paper about Henry Floersheim’s party for the Schoenthal and Katzenstein families:

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

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

Who was Sarah Stern, and what was she doing at this party? The dim lightbulb in my head slowly lit up:  Sarah Stern had to be Hannah’s first child, the one she had before marrying Solomon Stern, who must have given her his name when he married Hannah.

But was I right?

The document that helped to answer that question was, surprisingly enough, an entry in the California Death index on Ancestry.com for a Sarah Oestreicher, who died on February 5, 1940, in Los Angeles.  How did I know that this was Hannah’s Schoenthal’s daughter Sarah?  Because the index said her father’s surname was Stern, her mother’s Schoenthal, and that she had been born January 8, 1867, in a foreign country.  Although the birth record I had for Hannah’s daughter Sara recorded her birth date as January 8, 1865, the other facts certainly made it clear to me that Sarah Oestreicher was in fact the daughter of Hannah Schoenthal and that she had just made herself two years younger than she actually was.

Now that I had Sarah’s married name, it was not hard to find other records for her.  I found a Sarah Oestreicher living in Pittsburgh on the 1900 census with her husband Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney (9), Francis (6), and Helen (4).   Sarah reported her birthdate as January 1865, her birthplace as Germany, and her arrival date as 1884.

Oestreicher family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 21, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1362; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0254; FHL microfilm: 1241362

Oestreicher family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 21, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1362; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0254; FHL microfilm: 1241362

The 1910 and 1930 census reports also gave an 1884 arrival date for Sarah.  (The 1920 census said she arrived in 1895, but that is obviously not correct, especially since it says she was naturalized in 1894.)  Thus, Sarah had arrived before her stepfather Solomon Stern had died and before her mother Hannah and her half-siblings immigrated in 1888.  It thus makes sense that she, a young woman living without her immediate family, would have been invited along with her two uncles, Henry and Isidore Schoenthal, to the party given by Henry Floersheim in 1887.  Perhaps she was even living with her uncle Henry at that time in Washington, Pennsylvania, or maybe she was living in Pittsburgh with another relative.

According to the 1900 census record, she and Gustav had been married for ten years, meaning they had married in 1890 or 1889.  According to his passport application filed in 1911, Gustav was born in Austria on September 17, 1867, and had arrived in the United States in September, 1884.  He had lived in New York and Cincinnati before settling in Pittsburgh.  In 1900, he was working as an artist, doing painting and photography, according to the census record for that year.

Gustav Oestreicher passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 141; Volume #: Roll 0141 - Certificates: 55972-56871, 23 Jun 1911-05 Jul 1911

Gustav Oestreicher passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 141; Volume #: Roll 0141 – Certificates: 55972-56871, 23 Jun 1911-05 Jul 1911

Sarah and Gustav appear to have been connected to the Pittsburgh Jewish community.  In 1907, both Sidney and Helen participated in the Purim festivities held by the sisterhood of the Rodeph Shalom synagogue.

Purim part 1

Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) 24 Feb 1907, Sun • Page 7

Pittsburgh Daily Post
(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
24 Feb 1907, Sun • Page 7

In 1910 Sarah and Gustav and their three children were still living in Pittsburgh, where Gustav was now working as a merchant, apparently having abandoned artistic pursuits. Their two sons, Sidney and Francis, now 18 and 16, respectively, were working as clerks, perhaps in their father’s store.

The oldest Oestreicher child, Sidney, married Esther Siff in 1915. Esther was the daughter of Isaac and Rosa Siff, who were immigrants either from Germany and Austria or from Russia, depending on the census record. Isaac had been a coppersmith, but was working as a traveling salesman in 1920.  Esther was born and raised in Chicago. When Sidney registered for the draft in 1918, they were living in Chicago, and he was working as a traveling salesman for a New York based company.

Sidney Oestreicher WW I draft registration Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1439758; Draft Board: 13

Sidney Oestreicher WW I draft registration
Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1439758; Draft Board: 13

Perhaps Sidney had met Esther’s father during their traveling as salesmen?  In 1920 Sidney and Esther were living in Chicago where Sidney was still working as a traveling salesman, selling women’s undergarments.  They had two children by then, Gerald (1916) and Florence Betty (1919).

In 1920, Sarah and Gustav were still living in Pittsburgh with their other two children, Francis and Helen, and Gustav was still a retail merchant. Francis was now a salesman; he had served in the US Army during World War I and had participated in the Meuse Argonne offensive in that war, fighting against the country where his mother had been born.  As described here, it was the major offensive of US troops during World War I:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the greatest American battle of the First World War. In six weeks the AEF lost 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded. It was a very complex operation involving a majority of the AEF ground forces fighting through rough, hilly terrain the German Army had spent four years fortifying. Its objective was the capture of the railroad hub at Sedan which would break the rail net supporting the German Army in France and Flanders and force the enemy’s withdrawal from the occupied territories.

English: Ruined church at Montfaucon-d'Argonne...

English: Ruined church at Montfaucon-d’Argonne just behind the American Monument. The blocky structure on the left is a German WWI observation post. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s hard to know what impact this had on Francis, though it’s hard to believe it did not have some major effect on him.

On March 3, 1920, Helen Oestreicher married Robert Steel Kann, the son of Myer Kann and Bertha Friendlander of Pittsburgh.  Myer was a Pittsburgh native, the son of a German immigrant father and a Pennsylvania born mother; he had been a steel manufacturer (hence, his son’s middle name) and had died from gall bladder cancer just three months before the wedding.  Robert was also working in the steel industry in 1920.  Tragically, Robert’s life was cut short less than two years after he married Helen.  He died from acute lobar pneumonia when he just 26 years old.

Robert Steel Kann death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90

Robert Steel Kann death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90

Helen remarried sometime between 1925 and 1929.  Her second husband was named Aaron Mitchel Siegel. He was born in Barre, Vermont, in 1895, the son of Russian (or Polish, depending on the census) immigrants, Harry and Gertrude Siegel.  Harry was a clothing dealer in Vermont in 1900, and the family was still living there in 1910.  Sometime thereafter, the family to Brooklyn, where Aaron was living when he registered for the draft for World War I.  In 1920 Aaron was selling cotton goods and living with his parents, as he was in 1925 as well.  But sometime after that he must have met and married Helen Oestreicher Kann because their daughter Betty was born in about 1929 in New York.  I wish I knew the story of how Helen, a young widow from Pittsburgh, met Aaron, a Vermont-born young man living in Brooklyn.

By 1930 Gustav Oestreicher had retired, and he and Sarah had moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Their son Sidney and his family had returned to Pittsburgh by 1930, for Sidney to take over the store once operated by his father.  Sidney and Esther’s two children, Gerald and Florence Betty (known as Betty) would both graduate from high school in Pittsburgh during the 1930s.  In 1931, Sidney and Esther had another child, Elaine.

The 1930s and the Great Depression were not kind to the Oestreicher’s longstanding Pittsburgh retail store.  In the spring of 1933, Sidney Oestreicher filed for bankruptcy on behalf of himself, his brother, and their store, The People’s Store.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 28, 1933 p. 18

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 28, 1933 p. 18

During the 1930s, most of the family relocated to Los Angeles.  Gustav and Sarah were living there by 1935, according to the 1940 census.   Helen and Aaron Siegel also relocated there by 1935, and Aaron was working as salesman for a textile company. Francis Oestreicher also moved to LA by 1942, according to his draft registration for World War II.  It appears that Francis was not married, as he listed his sister Helen as his contact person and also indicated that he was living with Helen at that time.

World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

By this time Francis had changed his surname from Oestreicher to Striker; I am not sure whether that was a change done to make it easier to say and spell or to avoid sounding German or Austrian during World War II or to make it seem less Jewish, but it was a change made by his brother Sidney as well.

In  1940, Sidney was still using Oestreicher, and he and his family were still living in Pittsburgh; Sidney was selling ladies’ lingerie.  But by 1942, Sidney’s draft registration showed some recent changes.  Oestreicher was crossed out and replaced with Striker, the same name being used by his brother Francis.  And the Pittsburgh address was crossed out and replaced with an address in the Bronx, though his mailing address and the address for his wife Esther remained the address in Pittsburgh.  Perhaps Sidney was working out of New York when he registered for the draft.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 308

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 308

Sarah Stern Ostreicher died on February 5, 1940.  She was seventy-five years old.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 7, 1940 p. 24

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 7, 1940 p. 24

Her husband Gustav died ten years later on December 22, 1950.  He was 83.  They are both buried in Los Angeles at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

All three of their children lived very long lives.  Sidney died in 1985; he was 94.  Francis died at 97 in 1990.  Their sister Helen died in 1989; she was 94.  As far as I can tell, Sarah and Gustav’s three granddaughters are all still living, and their grandson Gerald lived to 97.  Those are some fairly amazing genes for longevity.

Sarah may have started life off with the potential disadvantage of being born out of wedlock, but it certainly appears that her mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents fully embraced her as did her stepfather Solomon Stern, whose name she took.  She traveled alone to the US as young woman, settled in Pittsburgh near her extended family, and married a fellow immigrant with whom she raised three children, each of whom lived over 90 years.  She appears to have had a good life surrounded by lots of loving family.

Sarah and Gustav lived many years in Pittsburgh, where Sarah’s mother Hannah and many of her other family members were living, but she and Gustav ended their lives together in Los Angeles.   There is almost something Hollywood-like about their story, so Los Angeles seems quite an appropriate final destination for my cousin Sarah and her husband Gustav.

English: The Hollywood Sign, shot from an airc...

English: The Hollywood Sign, shot from an aircraft at about 1,500′ MSL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

Bankrptcy of Adler Nusbaum Dec 5 1870 phil inq p 3

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


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

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

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

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

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

jacob hano bankruptcy cleveland plain dealer may 15 1878 p 4

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

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

Description: Postcard of Youngstown Sheet & Tu...

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

map of nusbaum wiler simon homes 1870s

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

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

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

Poplar Street houses

House on Poplar Street, perhaps like those lived in by the extended Nusbaum-Dreyfuss family in the 1870s https://ssl.cdn-redfin.com/photo/93/bigphoto/440/6336440_0.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Long Depression:  The Family of Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock

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

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

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

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

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

Rosia Pollock death certificate 1871

Rosia Pollock death certificate 1871

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



[1] I am greatly oversimplifying the causes and the effects of the Long Depression that began in 1873.  For more information, see http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/eras/the-long-depression/   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1873   http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2010/05/about-that-long-depression-of-1870s_27.html

Robin Williams 1951-2014

Robin Williams took my breath away.


Cover of "Mrs. Doubtfire [Blu-ray]"

Over and over again.  He took my breath away by making me laugh so hard. His words and quips and expressions came so fast and furious that I am not sure how he could breathe.  I couldn’t.  Whether it was in Mrs. Doubtfire or Good Morning Vietnam or in Moscow on the Hudson or in Aladdin or in an interview on television, once he started his monologue, there was just no stopping.  No time to catch your breath.


He took my breath by shocking me with the depth of his heart in many serious acting roles.  His eyes, both twinkly and sad at the same time, could pierce my heart.  He could convey empathy and compassion in a way that felt truly genuine, and after reading about all the time he spent with children in need, I know it not only felt genuine, it was genuine.  Whether it was in Dead Poet’s Society or Mrs. Doubtfire or Good Will Hunting or Patch Adams or Awakenings, Robin could leave me breathless with his ability to create compassionate relationships on screen.  His heart was as big as this picture from Aladdin suggests.




He took my breath away with his intelligence.  His banter, his monologues that seemed spontaneous, were not only incredibly funny, they were incredibly clever and insightful.  You had to listen to every word (which was almost impossible) in order to appreciate all the word play, all the segues from one idea to another, all his incise descriptions of what was right and what was wrong with the world.  In Good Morning Vietnam he conveyed the insanity of war brilliantly while also making us laugh.  After listening to him being interviewed by anyone on television, my reaction was always, “That man is utterly brilliant.  He can express and connect ideas so quickly and so creatively.”  He took my breath away.



Cover of "Moscow on the Hudson"

Cover of Moscow on the Hudson


Good Morning, Vietnam

Good Morning, Vietnam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robin Williams was my contemporary.  He grew up in my times, he lived through the times I’ve lived through.  His life was far different from mine, of course—the celebrity, the success, the drugs and alcohol, the multiple marriages, and the awful depression he battled were not things I’ve experienced; but his view of the world was one to which I could definitely relate.



Many years ago when our children were still too young to know who he was—before Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin made them fall in love with him—we passed him walking on Madison Avenue in New York, wearing his trademark black shirt and a beret.  He was walking with his young son and his second wife so it must have been in the late 1980s, and he seemed both happy and harried.  Maybe that is how all celebrities feel, but maybe for some it becomes far too difficult.  The image has stayed with me all these years.



So yesterday afternoon when my daughter looked up from her iPad and said, with shock and denial in her voice, “Robin Williams died,” I once again lost my breath.  I had to stop what I was doing and focus on this awful, awful news.  My other daughter contacted me not long after, saying she was beside herself.  We were all just heartbroken.



My daughter send me this link this morning about Robin and the devastation of depression.



He took his own breath away this time.  And with it, he once again took mine.