The Search for Max Blumenfeld: It Took A Village, Part I

The search for what happened to Max Blumenfeld, son of Moses IIB, was not an easy one. It was a lesson in persistence and in the value of working with other researchers. My cousin Richard Bloomfield contributed a great deal to the research of the life of Max Blumenfeld as did David Lesser, my new research friend from Tracing the Tribe.

Finding Max’s birth and marriage records was easy. As I’ve already written, he was born in Kirchhain on June 13, 1880, and married Johanna Grunwald in Berlin on March 16, 1906.

But finding out what happened next was not as easy. Did they have children? Did Max and Johanna survive the Holocaust? Neither was listed in Yad Vashem, so I felt hopeful that they did. But I couldn’t find them anywhere else either. There were no records in the Arolsen Archives. There were no US immigration records or other records placing them in the US. There were no Palestinian immigration records for them either. Where else could they have gone? Did they die before the Nazi era? If so, I couldn’t find any German death records.

When I looked at other trees on Ancestry and at Geni and MyHeritage, there were similar holes in the information for Max and Johanna—-there was nothing after their marriage in 1906. I only found one tree that had more information, and fortunately for me, it was the tree of my fifth cousin and fellow researcher Richard Bloomfield. According to Richard’s tree, Max had emigrated to Italy in 1933 and died there, Johanna had died in Israel sometime after 1947, and they had a son named Fritz who died in about 1977 in Israel.

I contacted Richard to ask where he’d gotten the information, and he said he’d gotten the information from someone else’s tree. So he and I began to see if we could verify any of that information.

Richard noted that on Max’s marriage record his occupation was given as “Waisenhausinspektor” or orphanage inspector and that he was living in Graudenz at the time of his marriage. But since Max and Johanna were married in Berlin, Richard had a hunch that Max had become the Waisenhausdirektor for the Jewish orphanage in Berlin and decided to search old Berlin directories. He found Max listed as the Waisenhausdirektor in those directories for a number of years, including 1934, 1935, and 1936. Thus, we knew that Max had not immigrated to Italy in 1933, but was still in Berlin at least until the 1936 directory was compiled.1

Max Blumenfeld, Title: Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für Berlin und Umgegend, 1936, Ancestry.com. German Phone Directories, 1915-1981

On a very recent trip to Berlin, Richard took and shared these photos of the building where the Judische Waisenhaus once stood.

Judische Waisenhause building in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Richard and I then started to see if we could find any evidence of Fritz Blumenfeld, the supposed son of Max and Johanna. Richard located a record on the IGRA website that indicated that a Fritz Blumenfeld, son of Max, born in 1910,was registered as a voter in Palestine in 1939 and living in En Harod.

Found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/index.php

Then I located a Fritz Blumenfeld who had Palestine immigration papers at the Israel Archives website. Fritz was born in Graudenz, Germany, on July 13, 1910, the same town where Max had been living when he married Johanna in 1906. He was married to Dora Salpeter and working as a locksmith. He had first entered Palestine on June 28, 1937.

Fritz Blumenfeld and Dora Salpeter immigration file found at Israel State Archives at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Richard found directories for Graudenz that listed Max as a teacher there in 1905, as a teacher and orphanage inspector in 1907, and as the Waisenhausinspektor there in 1909, 1911, and 1913. Thus, Max and Johanna were living in Graudenz when Fritz Blumenfeld was born. This certainly seemed to be their son.2

And then I found the record that definitely tied Fritz to Max and Johanna. Returning to the IGRA website, I located Fritz Blumenfeld’s marriage record. Fritz married Devorah on August 15, 1940, in Israel, and his marriage record indicated that he was a locksmith, which was consistent with his Palestinian citizenship application. On those Palestinian immigration papers, I learned that Devorah’s name was originally Dora Salpeter.

Most importantly, Fritz’s parents were listed as Max and Hanna, confirming for me that this was the son of Max Blumenfeld and (Jo)hanna Grunwald. Since it appears that Johanna was better known as Hanna or Anna, I will use the name Anna to refer to her going forward.

That marriage record gave me two other critical pieces of information. It said the groom’s parents lived in Italy—although it took help from Tracing the Tribe for me to learn that the Hebrew I was reading as Atelah was in fact Italia in Hebrew. The marriage record also indicated that Anna was at home, but Max was deceased. Thus, we now knew that Max had died sometime before Fritz married on August 15, 1940, and presumably had died in Italy.

Fritz Blumenfeld marriage record, found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

I didn’t think we would get any further than that since I had no idea how to research deaths in Italy. But once again Richard came to the rescue. He found two more sources. One was a German book, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001) by Inge Lammel, about the Jewish orphanage in Berlin where Max had been the Waisenhausdirektor. Lammel’s book included this passage, as translated by Richard:3

When Isidor Grunwald [Johanna’s father] died in February 1925, his son-in-law, Max Blumenfeld, took over the directorship of the house. Martin Davidsohn [long-time teacher at the Second Jewish Orphanage] says that he brought a more liberal spirit into the educational process, democratic structures, such as an opportunity to utter grievances and a trainees’ adjudicatory council elected by secret ballot, which gave the trainees more self-confidence.

Richard paraphrased the information about Isidor Grunwald that he found in the book:4

Max’s father-in-law had been an officer in the army and carried the army’s manner of doing things over into his work at the orphanage. He patrolled the large dormitory hall carrying his ring of large keys to enforce discipline. He had the boys line up each night in front of his apartment in the house according to height, shook their hands and wished them good night. In addition to physical education, he had the boys do drills led by a drill sergeant and sometimes accompanied by flute and drum music

Here is a photo from the book showing Max standing with some of the children and staff at the orphanage in about 1933; he is the man in the dark suit in the foreground.

From Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow, 2001

In addition to obtaining a copy of this book, Richard also located Max’s obituary, which not only provided us with the date and place of Max’s death (March 8, 1936, in Merano, Italy), but also more information about his life:

“Max Blumenfeld,” Gemeindeblatt der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, March 15, 1936, page 7

Richard translated the obituary as follows:5

Last Sunday the director of the Second Orphanage of the Jewish Congregation in Berlin, Max Blumenfeld, died in Merano [Italy] where he was taking time for rest and recreation. Blumenfeld died young at the age of 56. He was originally a teacher whose excellent teaching abilities drew the attention of leading personalities, and when his father-in-law [Isidor Grunwald] died about ten years ago, Max Blumenfeld became his successor as director of the Jewish Orphanage in Pankow. Blumenfeld dedicated himself to the traditional task of the institution of training its students as craftsmen. Blumenfeld demonstrated a personal interest in each of the youth in his care, each of them could recon with his support and encouragement. He combined with kindness and friendliness decisiveness and consistence in the execution of his task.

These two documents discovered by Richard Bloomfield have given us a much fuller picture of our cousin Max Blumenfeld. He certainly left his mark and obviously was a kind and generous person.

Unfortunately, the obituary did not include information about his survivors. Was Fritz their only child? Did Johanna stay in Italy, as their son Fritz’s 1940 marriage certificate suggests? Did she return to Berlin? Immigrate to Palestine?

Well, the story of Max Blumenfeld doesn’t end here nor does the story of the collaboration it took to find the rest of that story.

More to come.


  1. Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für Berlin und Umgebun, 1934, 1935, 1936.  Ancestry.com. The one depicted I found on Ancestry for 1935. 
  2. I have tried to recreate Richard’s search through the Graudenz directories. He sent me to the GenWiki website section for directories, and although I found the Graudenz directories, I still need more lessons in how to search through those directories to find Max. 
  3. Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001), p. 50. 
  4. Ibid, p. 48, as paraphrased by Richard Bloomfield, attachment to email May 1, 2022. 
  5. “Max Blumenfeld,” Gemeindeblatt der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, March 15, 1936, page 7. 

At a Crossroads: The Future of My Blog

I am at a crossroads.

I have been thinking a lot about the future of my blog lately because I am feeling a bit blocked, a bit overwhelmed. Some of my sense of being blocked comes from the fact that too much of what I have been researching recently is overwhelmingly sad. So many of the families I am now focused on were killed in the Holocaust. Each time I need to search Yad Vashem to find out what happened to some cousin, it takes something out of me. Even though these are all very distant relatives, each name is real. I feel compelled to tell their stories, but it does have a real impact on me.

Yet how dare I complain, given what so many of them experienced? I know how important it is to tell these stories and to remember what happened and to honor all of them and their lives. But it is truly wearing me down.

For almost nine years, writing this blog has been a true labor of love for me, and it’s given me the opportunity to do numerous things I love to do: research, writing, connecting with friends and family members, and connecting with fellow family historians and genealogy bloggers. I still love the research, and I still love the writing. I still love connecting with others who are interested in what I write.

But for the first time since I started blogging in 2013, I am having a hard time finishing the posts I’ve already researched and written—that is, doing the technical work where I add all the footnotes and images before hitting publish. It is very time-consuming and frankly boring.

Also, I have noticed a substantial drop in the number of people blogging about genealogy. People who used to post frequently and regularly have either stopped posting completely or are posting very infrequently. The community of genealogy bloggers has become smaller and smaller, and that is a loss for me. I enjoy reading about the work of others almost as much as I enjoy having them read about mine. And if others have lost interest in their own research, it makes sense that they will have less interest in my research also.

But I am not going away or stopping. I started the Blumenfeld branch of my tree back in August 2021, starting with my 4th great uncle Moses Blumenfeld, brother of my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein. Breine had five siblings, so there are four more to do after Moses. And Moses had three children, and I am only on his second child, Isaak. And Isaak had ten children, and I am only up to Isaak’s son Moses IIB, the fourth of those ten.

So there is still so, so much to do on the Blumenfeld family. I will complete the Blumenfeld family story no matter how long it takes. I’ve made some wonderful connections recently, and I want to share those on the blog. That’s the most rewarding part of this whole endeavor.

But to help me balance all that is going on and give me a break from the constant pace of preparing posts, I’ve decided to cut back to posting about once a week instead of twice a week.

What about you, fellow bloggers? Are you feeling some burn out? How do you stay motivated?

1950 Census Day!

I was going to post more about the Blumenfelds today, but I am too distracted and excited because the 1950 US census has been released, and I just want to dive right in and start looking for all my family and friends who were born before 1950. I’ve already found my mother and maternal grandparents and my husband’s parents and brother, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

My grandparents and my 19 year old mother on the 1950 US census

So I’ll be happily buried in the search page which you can find here. Even if you aren’t a family history/genealogy geek like I am, I bet you will be interested in finding all those pre-1950 people you know.

Giedel Blumenfeld Blumenfeld and Her Eleven Children: Siblings and Cousins

After Isaak Blumenfeld’s first wife Frommet Kugelmann died in 1842, he married Gelle Straus in 1843. Together, as we saw, they had nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. After their first baby died the day he was born, their second child was Giedel, born December 16, 1844, in Momberg, Germany. Giedel was presumably named for Isaak’s mother, Gidel Loeb Blumenfeld, not for her mother’s sister Giedel Straus, who was still living at that time and married to Isaak’s brother Abraham IIA.

On November 11, 1863, when she was a month shy of her nineteenth birthday, Giedel married her father’s first cousin, Gerson Blumenfeld.

Giedel Blumenfeld and Gerson Blumenfeld marriage record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1873 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 498)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1873, p. 7

Gerson, born April 20, 1834, in Kirchhain, Germany, was the son of Maier Blumenfeld and Betti Oppenheim, and Maier Blumenfeld was the younger brother of Moses Blumenfeld I, Isaak Blumenfeld’s father.

Giedel also had a brother Gerson Blumenfeld, born in 1853, as I’ve mentioned before. So I will refer to Giedel’s husband as Gerson Blumenfeld I (son of Maier) and her brother, as noted earlier, as Gerson Blumenfeld II (son of Isaak).

Giedel and Gerson I had ELEVEN children, all but two of whom lived to adulthood. Unfortunately, their first born child was one of the two who did not survive. Abraham Blumenfeld, presumably named for his great-great-grandfather or a cousin or uncle who predeceased him, was born on September 13, 1864, in Kirchhain and died there just ten months later on July 7, 1865.

Abraham Blumenfeld, birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874, p. 13

Abraham Blumenfeld death record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Sterberegister der Juden von Kirchhain 1832-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 499)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1832-1874, p. 9

Their second child did survive. He was born in Kirchhain on June 18, 1866, and was named Moritz, presumably for his great-grandfather, Moses Blumenfeld I, my four-times great-uncle. Since this Moses was known as Moritz and was the oldest of the four cousins with that name on my tree, I will refer to him as Moritz Blumenfeld I.

Moritz Blumenfeld son of Gerson and Giedel birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874 Monographie, p. 14

Giedel and Gerson’s third child was born on December 27, 1867, in Kirchhain and was named Berta.

Bertha Blumenfeld birth record , LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874, p. 15

Dorchen Blumenfeld was born on December 26, 1869, in Kirchhain. She was also known as Dorothea.

Dorchen Blumenfeld birth record, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874, p. 16

Another son was born on December 3, 1871, in Kirchhain; he was named Markus.

Markus Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874, p. 17

Sara Blumenfeld, born on October 19, 1873, in Kirchhain, was the sixth of Giedel and Gerson’s children.

Sara Blumenfeld daughter of Giedel and Gerson birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburts- und Trauregister der Juden von Kirchhain 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 497)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1874, p. 18

She was followed by her brother Hermann, born on March 16, 1876, in Kirchhain.  There are three Hermann Blumenfeld’s on the family tree, and this one is the second oldest, so I will refer to him as Hermann II.

Hermann Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4977, Year Range: 1876, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Giedel and Gerson had another son next and named him Salli; he was born on March 15, 1878, in Kirchain.

Salli Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4979, Year Range: 1878, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Meier Blumenfeld, born on November 2, 1879, in Kirchain. He was the third Meier on the tree, so he is Meier III.

Meier Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4980, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The tenth child born to Giedel and Gerson was their daughter Franziska, born on June 12, 1882, in Kirchhain.

Franziska Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4983, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And finally, on June 3, 1883, Giedel gave birth to her eleventh and last child, a boy named Gustav.

Gustav Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4984, Year Range: 1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Tragically, Giedel died that same day, presumably from complications from childbirth, and her infant son Gustav lived only eighteen days, dying on June 21, 1883.

Giedel Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5068, Year Range: 1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Gustav Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5068, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Giedel was only 38 when she died and had given birth to eleven children between 1865 and 1883. She left behind her husband/cousin Gerson Blumenfeld I and nine of those eleven children, ranging in age from Moritz Blumenfeld I, who was seventeen, to Franziska, who was only a year old. What a terrible tragedy for those children. Unfortunately, it was not the last tragedy suffered by this family, as we will see.

Who helped Gerson raise the nine children who survived the death of their mother Giedel, most of whom were not even ten years old? Well, he remarried a year and a half later on December 1, 1884, in Niederurff. His second wife was named Giedel Katz, daughter of David Katz and Gella Israel, and she was born on September 31 (?), 1842, in Niederurff. So that means that Gerson’s first wife was named Giedel, and so was his second, and his new mother-in-law had the same first name, Gelle or Gella, as his first mother-in-law; it’s no wonder so many Ancestry trees collapsed the two wives into one person….1

Gerson Blumenfeld I and Giedel Katz marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6193, Year Range: 1884, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Meanwhile, Gelle Straus Blumenfeld died three years after her daughter Giedel on May 5, 1886, in Momberg. Her husband Isaak Blumenfeld died six years later in Momberg on April 2, 1892.

Gelle Straus Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6553, Year Range: 1886, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Isaak Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6559, Year Range: 1892, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

What happened to the nine surviving children of their daughter Giedel Blumenfeld Blumenfeld? Their many stories will follow in the posts to come.

 

 

 


  1. I will continue Gerson Blumenfeld I’s story when I get to the family of his father Meier Blumenfeld I, another brother of my three times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein. 

Abraham Blumenfeld III’s Family 1909-1928: Births and Deaths

When Friedericke Rothschild Blumenfeld died on October 8, 1909, five of her nine children were married. There were also quite a few grandchildren born before and shortly after Friedericke’s death. To recap:

Dina and her husband Salomon Heldenmuth had two children: Gertrude (1897) and Siegfried (1902).

Auguste and her husband Menko Stern’s son Max was born in 1901, and their son Julius was born in February, 1910, a few months after Friedericke’s death

Katincka and her husband Samuel Heymann had lost their one child Frieda at ten months in July 1911. She was probably named for her grandmother Friedericke since she was born sometime around September 1910.

We saw that the family had a double/double wedding on June 30, 1909, when Nanny Blumenfeld married Jakob Stern and her brother Hermann Blumenfeld married Jeanette Stern, Jakob’s sister. Those two marriages produced more grandchildren born after Friedericke’s death

Nanny and her husband Jakob Stern had two children. Manfred Stern was born on July 3, 1910, in Treysa.

Manfred Stern birth record, Arcinsys Hessen Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 56

His brother Arthur Stern was born on November 12, 1914, in Treysa.

Arthur Stern birth record , Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 57

Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Jeanette had four children. Julius Blumenfeld was born on May 29, 1910, in Momberg.1His sister Frieda was born in Momberg on August 24, 1911;2 she was probably named for Friedericke, but might also have been named for her cousin Frieda Heymann, who had died the month before.

Hermann III and Jeanette’s third child was Max Blumenfeld, born in 1913.3

Abraham Blumenfeld III had lived to see the births of all ten of these grandchildren, and there were two more to come. But he died on December 8, 1913, at the age of 71.

Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6223, Year Range: 1913, 
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Although I have not been able to locate one record to verify this, according to several trees on Ancestry, Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld gave birth to a fourth child, Alfred, on April 23, 1915. If Jeanette did have this fourth child, it must have led to health problems because she died just a few weeks later on May 8, 1915, in Marburg, Germany.

Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5705, Year Range: 1915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Jeanette was only 32 years old and left behind four children all under five years of age. Her husband Hermann was a widower at 35.

That tragedy was followed just a year later when Moritz Blumenfeld IV, the eighth and second youngest child of Abraham III and Friedericke, was killed on June 21, 1916, fighting for Germany while the German army was storming Fort Souville in France, a key battlefield in the Verdun battle during World War I. Moritz was 29 years old when he lost his life in battle. Like his cousin Siegmund Blumenfeld, he gave his life for the country that would persecute and murder his relatives just twenty years later.

His two brothers-in-law Jakob Stern and Menko Stern also fought for Germany in World War I, but they came back alive.

Thus, in three years the family lost Abraham Blumenfeld III, his daughter-in-law Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld, and his youngest son Moritz Blumenfeld IV.

On April 12, 1920, Hermann Blumenfeld III remarried five years after losing his first wife Jeanette. His second wife was Ida Stern, daughter of Samuel Stern and Guetel Loewenstein, born in Wehrda, Germany, on September 17, 1878. As far as I can determine, there was no relationship between Ida Stern and Hermann’s first wife Jeanette Stern, but there may very well have been some cousin relationship.

Hermann Blumenfeld and Ida Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 3583, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hermann and Ida had one child together, a son Kurt Siegfried Blumenfeld, born in Momberg on July 11, 1921.4

Neither Hugo Blumenfeld nor his sister Bertha Blumenfeld, the sixth and seventh of the nine children of Abraham Blumenfeld III, ever married or had children. In fact, there were no more weddings or births in the family until Emma Blumenfeld, the youngest sibling, married Siegmund Wetterhahn on September 17, 1923. Siegmund was born in Rimbach, Germany, on February 20, 1887, to Alexander Wetterhahn and Emilie Seligmann. Emma had lost her mother when she was a teenager and her father when she was 22. But she fortunately had seven older siblings and many nieces and nephews still living when she married Siegmund Wetterhahn.

Emma Blumenfeld and Siegmund Wetterhahn marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1923, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Siegmund and Emma had one child, a daughter Trude Ruth Friedericke Wetterhahn, born on April 9, 1925, in Frankfurt, Germany. She was the last born of the twelve grandchildren of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild.5

Tragedy struck the family three years later when Hermann Blumenfeld III, widowed at 35 and left to raise four children on his own, died at age 48 in Momberg on October 17, 1928. He also left behind his second wife Ida and their seven year old son Kurt.

Hermann Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6238, Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Thus, by the end of 1928, seven of the nine children of Abraham III and Friedericke were still living, but two of the three sons had died, Moritz in World War I and Hermann. Eleven of their grandchildren were also living.

How many of these descendants of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke would survive the Holocaust?

To be continued.


  1. Julius Blumenfeld, Gender: männlich (Male), Nationality: dtsch. Juden, Residence Age: 29, Record Type: Residence, Birth Date: 29 Mai 1910 (29 May 1910), Birth Place: Momberg, Last Residence: Momberg, Sojourn Start Date: 3 Mai 1940 (3 May 1940)
    Residence Place: Treysa Ziegenhain, Sojourn End Date: 18 Okt 1940 (18 Oct 1940)
    Notes: Foreigners who were living in the location during the war – permanently or temporarily, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70487480Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  2.  Frieda Blumenfeld S., Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsch Juden
    Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 24 Aug 1911, Birth Place: Momberg
    Residence Place: Momberg Marburg, Notes: Lists of judicial and official files concerning foreigners and German Jews, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70443455, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  3. Meir Max Blumenfeld, Name in Hebrewמאיר מקס בלומנפלדHebrew Nameמאיר מקס, Birth Date1913 Death Date21 Sep 2004 / ו תשרי תשסהDeath Place Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot /בי”ח קפלן Age at Death91Burial Date22 Sep 2004Burial Plotסא ד 29Burial PlaceRehovot, IsraelFather NameHerman /הרמןMother NameYenta /ינטהCemetery Burials197 
  4.  Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  5. Entry at Yad Vashem found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11654659&ind=1 

Abraham Blumenfeld III’s Children: Sisters and Brothers Marrying Sisters and Brothers, and Down the Rabbit Hole I Fell

As we saw, Abraham Blumenfeld III and his wife Friedericke Rothschild had nine children born between 1871 and 1892. By 1894, the older children were beginning to marry and have children of their own while Abraham and Friedericke were still raising their younger children.

The oldest child of Abraham III and Friedericke was their daughter Dina, born on February 1, 1871. She married Salomon Heldenmuth on November 27, 1894. Salomon, the son of Samuel Heldenmuth and Auguste Katz, was born in Altenkirchen, Germany, on May 16, 1866.

Marriage of Dina Blumenfeld and Salomon Heldenmuth, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6504, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Dina and Salomon had three children. Leopold was born on December 5, 1895, in Altenkirchen.

Leopold Heldenmuth birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 911; Laufende Nummer: 4624, Year Range: 1895, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Gertrude was born on July 31, 1897, in Altenkirchen.

Gertrud Heldenmuth birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 911; Laufende Nummer: 4626, Year Range: 1897, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Siegfried was born March 21, 1902, also in Altenkirchen.1

Auguste, the second child of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild, born on June 13, 1873, married Menko Stern on December 19, 1900. Menko was the son of Wolf Stern and Minna Hirsch and was born in Niederurff on March 30, 1872.

Marriage record of Auguste Blumenfeld and Menko Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 8009, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Auguste and Menko had two children born in Treysa, Germany. Max was born on November 7, 1901.

Birth record, Max Stern, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 52

Julius was born on February 1910 in Trysa.

Birth record of Julius Stern, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 55

The third child of Abraham III and Friedericke, Katincka, was born September 5, 1875, and she married Samuel Heymann on November 28, 1902, in Greifenstein, Germany. He was born in Biskirchen, Germany, on March 10, 1872, to Heimann Heymann and Betty Moses.

Marriage record of Katincka Blumenfeld and Samuel Heymann, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 911; Laufende Nummer: 7199, Year Range: 1902, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Katincka and Samuel had one child, Frieda, who died when she was ten months old on July 2, 1911.

Death record of Frieda Heymann, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 911; Laufende Nummer: 7256, Year Range: 1911, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Abraham III and Friedericke’s fourth child, their daughter Nanny, who was born on January 3, 1878, in Momberg married Jakob Stern on June 30, 1909, in Momberg.  He was born in Niederurff on December 25, 1876, to Wolf Stern and Hannah Blyn.

Nanny Blumenfeld Jakob Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6194, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

There was actually a double/double wedding on June 30, 1909, the day Nanny Blumenfeld married Jakob Stern because Nanny’s brother Hermann married Jakob’s sister Jeannette Stern that day. Jeannette, also known as Johannette, was also the child of Wolf Stern and Hannah Blyn and was born in Niederurff on January 23, 1883.

Marriage of Hermann Blumenfeld and Jeannette Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6194, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

But then the question came to me: were Jeanette Stern and Jakob Stern related to Menko Stern, who’d married Auguste Blumenfeld, the sister of Hermann and Nanny Blumenfeld?

I went down quite a rabbit hole trying to ascertain whether the Wolf Stern who was the father of Menko Stern was the same Wolf Stern who was the father of Jakob Stern and Jeannette Stern. Knowing how names repeat in Jewish families, it could very well have been possible that there were two Wolf Sterns from Niederurff who were cousins or not even related. To answer this question, I needed to know the names of the parents of the two “Wolf Stern” entries on my tree, and so I looked for marriage records for Wolf Stern and Minna Hirsch and for Wolf Stern and Hannah Blyn and/or for birth records for Wolf Stern.

Unfortunately, I had no luck. I looked for records in the towns where Minna Hirsch was born (Sachsenhausen) and where Hannah Blyn was born (Niederurff)2 since marriages often took place in the brides’ hometowns. I was hampered to some extent by which records were available online for each of these towns.

I consulted with Dennis Aron, who has the same Wolf Stern married to both Minna and Hannah (not at the same time, of course) on his Ancestry tree. He sent me a link to the page for Wolf Stern’s gravestone on the LAGIS Jewish cemetery website, which reports as follows (translation by Google Translate):

Wolf Stern, butcher; born on September 4th, 1843 in Niederurff; Parents: Meier Stern, butcher and trader, and his first wife, Fradchen (Fratchen), born Rothschild, from Gilserberg, living in Niederurff;

married in first marriage legally (officially) in Jesberg on May 21, 1869, born in Minchen, Hirsch from Sachsenhausen (Waldeck), born there on April 11, 1839, daughter of the married couple Michel Hirsch and Süschen, born in Löwenstern;

married in second marriage judicially (officially) in Jesberg on November 8th, 1872 Hanna née Blyn [Stein No. 132] from Zwesten;

died on May 5th, 1922 in Niederurff at the stated age of 78 years, 8 months and 1 day.

That sent me to the marriage records for Jesberg online, but again I had no luck because those years are not included in the online archives for Jesberg on any of the sites for Jewish records in Hesse. I also was puzzled as to why a man born in Niederurff marrying women born in Sachsenhausen and Niederurff would have married them in Jesberg. Jesberg is under four miles from Niederurff and 22 miles from Sachsenhausen.

I also had no luck locating a death record for Minna Hirsch, which might have given me evidence of why Wolf Stern married Hanna Blyn just three years after supposedly marrying Minna.

I finally crawled out of the rabbit hole, thinking, “Does it matter if Jakob and Johannette Stern were the half-siblings of Menko Stern?” I decided to accept that the best I could do was rely on the information on the LAGIS Jewish cemetery website and assume that they were.

It was only after I’d given up on finding an answer that I located an article about the Stern family of Treysa written when Stolpersteine were installed for them in Treysa. According to that article, Jakob and Menko were brothers and in business together as butchers, living and working in the same house.

Thus, as of June 30, 1909, five of the children of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild were married, and there were already quite a few grandchildren.  But just over three months later Friedericke, the mother of nine who gave birth over a twenty-one year period, died at the age of 63 on October 8, 1909, in Niederurff. Her youngest child Emma was still a teenager at the time, just a month shy of her seventeenth birthday.

Death of Friedericke Rothschild Blumenfeld, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6219, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Unfortunately, Friedericke’s death in 1909 started a long period of many losses for the family of Abraham Blumenfeld III.


  1.  Siegfried Heldenmuth, Gender: Male, Declaration Age: 38, Record Type: Declaration, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1902, Birth Place: Altenkirchen, Germany,
    Arrival Date: 28 May 1940, Arrival Place: New York New York, Declaration Date: 15 Feb 1941, Declaration Place: Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts, USA, Declaration Number: 4912, Has Photo: Y, National Archives At Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: Rg 21, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996 
  2. The birth places of Minna Hirsch and Hannah Blyn were found on the LAGIS Jewish graves website here

Isaak Blumenfeld’s Ten Children, Or How I Found Myself Overwhelmed With Repeating Names!

I am slowly working through the research of my Blumenfeld relatives, a branch of the tree that sometimes seems overwhelming. I have completed the blogging (for now) about only the first branch of the first sibling of my 3x-great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein, that is, the oldest child (Abraham IIA) of the oldest brother of Breine, Moses Blumenfeld I. I will now turn to the second child of Moses Blumenfeld I, his son Isaak.

There are two different dates recorded for Isaak’s birth. First, on a family register compiled for the Neustadt region which includes Momberg where he was born, his birth is given as December 13, 1814.

Family register for Moses Blumenfeld, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 631, S. 18

On the other hand, his death record filed many years later says he was born on December 18, 1813.1

Which is right? I don’t know. But given the general principle that the record created closest in time to the event is presumed to be more reliable, I will assume that Isaak was born on December 13, 1814.

Isaak was a butcher, like his father and his brother Abraham IIA. He married Frommet Kugelmann on August 27, 1841, in Neustadt. Frommet was the daughter of Hiskias (Hezekiah) Kugelmann and Knendel Andorn, and she was born in about 1821 in Wohrda. I have no actual birth record, but her marriage record reports that she was 20 when she married Isaak.2

Marriage of Isaak Blumenfeld and Frommet Kugelmann, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 629, S. 6

Sadly, Frommet died on March 18, 1842, just five days after giving birth on March 13, 1842, to her first and only child, Abraham Blumenfeld, named presumably for his great-grandfather Abraham Katz Blumenfeld, the patriarch of this line in my tree and my four-times great-grandfather. According to her death record, Frommet was nineteen when she died, meaning either her marriage record or her death record is incorrect.

Frommet Kugelmann Blumenfeld death record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 630, S. 8

I will refer to her son as Abraham III to distinguish him from his great-grandfather and from his uncle, Abraham Blumenfeld IIA, Isaak’s brother, as well as the other four Abraham Blumenfelds on my tree.

Abraham Blumenfeld III birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628, S. 12

Ten months after Frommet’s death, on January 10, 1843, Isaak married again. His second wife was Gelle Straus, sister of Giedel Straus, the wife of Isaak’s brother Abraham IIA. So two brothers were now married to two sisters. Gelle was born on November 6, 1819, in Amoeneburg, to Hahne Straus and Dusel Loewenstein.

Marriage of Isaak Blumenfeld and Gelle Straus, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 629, S. 6

Gelle and Isaak had nine children together, meaning that Isaak had ten children altogether. Unfortunately, the first child born to Gelle and Isaak, an unnamed baby boy, did not survive. He was born and died on January 24, 1844, in Momberg.

Unnamed child, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Neustadt 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628), p. 13

Just eleven months after losing that first baby, Gelle gave birth to her second baby, a girl named Giedel, born on December 16, 1844. I assume that Giedel was not named for her aunt, Gelle’s sister, but for one of the many other women with that name on the family tree.

Giedel Blumenfeld birth, LAGIS Archives, Geburtsregist Neustader der Juden vont 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1884, p. 14

And guess what they named their next child, a boy born on May 2, 1847, in Momberg? Moses! Yes, another Moses Blumenfeld, one of six on this tree. I will refer to this one as Moses Blumenfeld IIB to distinguish him from his first cousin Moses Blumenfeld IIA, son of Abraham Blumenfeld II.

Moses Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Neustadt 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1824-1884, p. 16

Next born was another Dusschen Blumenfeld, not to be confused with her first cousin Dusschen Dora Blumenfeld, daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA. I was confused about these two Dusschens for some time. To keep them straight, I called Abraham’s daughter Dora; I will refer to this one as Dusschen. She was born on December 25, 1848.

Dusschen Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Neustadt 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628), p. 16

Then came Meier Blumenfeld, born on March 5, 1851, in Momberg. Like his siblings Moses and Dusschen, he also shared his first name with a first cousin, Meier Blumenfeld IIA, son of his uncle Abraham IIA. I will refer to Isaak’s son as Meier Blumenfeld IIB.

Meier Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608), p. 3

Isaak and Gelle’s sixth child was named Gerson. He was born on April 29, 1853, in Momberg. You might think that unlike his older siblings, Gerson didn’t have to share a name with a first cousin since we haven’t yet talked about another Gerson Blumenfeld. But in fact, there was another Gerson Blumenfeld, the son of Meier Blumenfeld I, younger brother of Moses Blumenfeld. That Gerson Blumenfeld was born in 1834, and guess what? He would later marry Isaak’s daughter (and Gerson’s sister) Giedel! But I am getting ahead of myself. Isn’t this fun? Anyway, Isaak’s son Gerson will be referred to as Gerson II.

Gerson Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1850-1874, p. 4

The seventh child born to Isaak and Gelle was born on August 23, 1856, in Momberg. Her name was Rebecca, and she also shared her name with a first cousin, Rebecca Blumenfeld, the daughter of Abraham IIA. So I will refer to this Rebecca as Rebecca II.

Rebecca Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608), p. 4

Finally with their eighth child, Isaak and Gelle selected a name that was not shared by any of that child’s close relatives. Fradchen Friedericke Blumenfeld was born on November 2, 1858, in Momberg.

Fradchen Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1850-1874, p. 5

That brings me to the ninth and last child born to Gelle and Isaak, Sara, born on October 16, 1861, when Gelle was 42 years old. Unfortunately Sara died when she was only eight years old on July 11, 1870.

Sara Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1850-1874, p. 5

Sara Blumenfeld death record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Sterberegister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1851-1873 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 609)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1851-1873, p. 5

Thus, Isaak Blumenfeld had ten children, one with his first wife Frommet and nine with his second wife Gelle. Eight of those children lived to adulthood, and their stories will be told in the posts to come. Let’s hope I can keep them all straight from their identically named cousins!

 


  1. Isak Blumenfeld, Age: 79. Birth Date: 18. Dez 1813 (18 Dec 1813), Death Date: 2. Apr 1892 (2 Apr 1892), Death Place: Neustadt Hessen, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Neustadt (Hessen), Father: Moser Blumenfeld, Mother: Giedes Blumenfeld, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6559, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. To learn Frommet’s parents’ names other than from the information on the LAGIS cemetery website here, I looked at the birth records for Wohrda in the Arcinsys Archives, but they start in 1825 so too late to include Frommet. I found a birth record for one of her siblings, however, and asked on the GerSIG Facebook group for help in deciphering the script. Thanks to Bernhard Kukatzki for doing so and revealing the names of their parents. 

Baruch Blumenfeld: Where and When Did He Die, Part II

The mystery of where and when Baruch Blumenfeld died led me down several rabbit holes to answer several questions. Did Baruch Blumenfeld move to New York and leave his wife Emma and his daughters and his grandchildren behind? Was the 1920 census accurate in reporting that he had immigrated to the US in 1869 and become a US citizen in 1875? If so, how did he marry Emma in 1872 and father two children between 1872 and 1875? And did he really die in New York City in 1923?

I turned to several Facebook groups for further help to confirm that this was the correct Baruch. First, I asked on Tracing the Tribe for help finding more information about the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York. My fellow Blumenfeld cousin Tova Levi suggested that I try and find a connection to the family with whom Baruch was living in 1920. That led me to search for Getta and Emma Neuberger and their place of origin, including locating their extended family in New York and searching for naturalization records that might reveal where they came from in Germany.

Baruch Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 14, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1212; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 1047 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

After hours of searching and getting help from the New York City genealogy group, the German genealogy group, and the GerSIG group, including from Sandy Hahn Lanman and Matt Luders, I concluded that the Neuberger family came from Thalmassig in Bavaria, not anywhere near Hesse where Baruch had lived, and that thus it was unlikely that my Baruch would have known them before coming to the US.

Steph Mayer, one of the members of the German Genealogy group, also was very helpful. She made several suggestions, including sending me a link to the entry for Baruch Blumenfeld on genealogy.net, an important Germany genealogy website. Steph recommended that I email the contact person, Hartwig Faber, to see if he had any additional information.

And so I did, and Hartwig helped solve one part of this mystery. He noted that on the 1900 marriage record for Baruch’s daughter Charlotte, Baruch is described as living at an unknown distance. That is, by 1900 Baruch’s whereabouts were no longer known by his family.

Marriage record of Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld and Hermann Hammel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6510
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is the transcription and translation of that part of the record:

Tochter des in unbekannter Ferne weilenden Kaufmanns Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld und der nochlebenden Ehefrau Emma geb. Docter wohnhaft in Neustadt.

Daughter of the merchant Baruch Abraham Blumenfeld, living in unknown distance, and the still living wife Emma, née Docter, living in Neustadt.

That record supports the possibility that Baruch did immigrate to the US and did die in New York in 1923.

But I can’t still cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any ship manifest even when I search without limiting by dates or with wildcards on the name.

I also have had no luck finding any naturalization papers for him. I’ve gone through indexed and unindexed records on Ancestry and FamilySearch, and the only citizenship record that came close was a declaration of intention dated October 8, 1873 by a Baruch Blum. In that era declarations carried no identifying information other than the name and country of origin, so that doesn’t help very much. And I remain skeptical that Baruch would have been in the US at that time, given that he married Emma in 1872 and had a baby later that year and a second three years later.

I also cannot find a Baruch Blumenfeld on any census record in the US except the 1920 census. If he really immigrated to the US in 1869, he should have appeared on the 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 US census enumerations.

I did find a German-born Benny Blumenfeld living as a boarder in New York in 1915 on the New York State census of that year. He was 72, so born in or close to 1843. He had no occupation. Could that be Baruch? Maybe. It says he’s been in the US for 32 years or since 1883. That would make a lot more sense than 1869, the year given on the 1920 census. There’s even a young man listed below, also a boarder in the same household, who was a butcher. Do you think this could be my Baruch?

Benny Blumenfeld 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 10; Assembly District: 10; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 38, District: A·D· 10 E·D· 10, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

But there is no one else with a similar name and age that I could locate on the 1900 or 1910 US census. My working hypothesis at this point is that Baruch Blumenfeld took on an assumed name when he immigrated and then changed it back years later.

When I received the copy of the actual death certificate for the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923, I was even more certain that he was the same person as my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

The first page of that certificate first of all made it clear that his mother’s surname was Strauss, not Lhauss. Secondly, his age is given as 80 years and eight months. Since he died in September, 1923, that means he was born in January, 1843. My Baruch was born on January 29, 1843. This definitely supports the conclusion that this was my Baruch Blumenfeld.

One other interesting bit of information is included on first page of the certificate. It reports that he had been living in the US and in New York for 42 years or since 1881. That would make a lot more sense than the year given on the 1920 census—1869. By 1881 both of Baruch’s daughters were born, and he very well might have left Germany around that time.

I was feeling pretty excited that I had enough information to confirm that this was my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld—until I looked at the reverse side of the certificate.

It indicated that Mary Farley, a sister of the deceased, had hired the undertaker to take care of Baruch’s burial. Mary Farley? A sister? There were many Mary Farleys living in the US 1923—too many to count. If I limited my search to New York City, I found 32 registered to vote in New York in 1924.1 I also searched for a Mary Farley born in Germany living in or near New York who might be the woman named on the death certificate. I only found one woman with that name born in Germany; she lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was married to a native-born American named John Farley. Her maiden name was Richardt, not Blumenfeld.

UPDATE!! Thank you so much to Lisa K of the GerSIG group on Facebook for pointing out that this is NOT the reverse of the death certificate for Baruch Blumenfeld, but for someone named James Graham. So Mary Farley must have been HIS sister. I’ve now ordered a correct version of the reverse of Baruch’s death certificate.

I very much doubt any one of the many possible Mary Farleys was Baruch’s sister. Friend, neighbor, whatever—she likely said she was the sister so she could arrange the burial for him.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that the Baruch Blumenfeld who died in New York in 1923 was the same man born in Momberg, Germany, on January 29, 1843, to Abraham Blumenfeld II and Giedel Strauss? Please share you thoughts in the comments.

I am so very grateful to the genealogy village for all the help I’ve received to try and learn what happened to my cousin Baruch Blumenfeld.

The Growing Family of Taube Brotman and Jacob Hecht: An Exercise in Deciphering Census Records

Although the evidence of Taube Brotman’s life before 1892 is very limited, beginning with her son Harry’s birth certificate, we have evidence of her life after arriving in the US, probably in 1887.

Harry Hecht birth certificate

The birth record for Harry indicates that he was born at 33 East Houston Street in New York City on May 24, 1892, that his parents were Jacob Hecht and Toba Brotman and that they were living at that same address. Jacob was 25 and working as a cloaks operator, that is, in a sweatshop, and Toba was 20, suggesting a birth year of 1872. Both reported that they were born in Austria. Harry was Toba’s first child.

Where it says there are now seven children living, you might be puzzled. But this birth certificate was not filed until 1906, fourteen years after Harry’s birth, for reasons that are not clear. As we will see, Jacob and Taube Hecht were not very conscientious about filing records with the city. But by 1906, Jacob and Taube did in fact have seven children.

The 1900 census is the next source of information about Taube’s early years in the US.  It is rich with information, but also filled with errors and almost illegible cross outs. First, it gives Taube’s name as Mitilda—probably because she was already using Tillie at that time. They were living at 64 Broome Street in New York City, about a block away from Taube’s father, my great-grandfather, Joseph Brotman, and his family (including my grandmother Gussie, Taube’s sister) at 81 Ridge Street.

 

According to the census, Taube had been married to Jacob Hecht (spelled Hect here) for nine years at the time of enumeration, meaning they were likely married in about 1891. Unfortunately, I cannot find a marriage record for them. Jacob was working as a tailor, probably meaning he was still a cloak maker in a sweatshop on the Lower East Side.

Contrary to Harry’s birth record, the 1900 census reported that Jacob and Taube were both born in Russia, not Austria. Of course, neither is strictly accurate since Taube was born in Galicia, a province of the Austrian-Hungary Empire that bordered what was then Russia (now Ukraine). According to the census, Jacob had been in the US for twelve years, yet it says he immigrated in what looks like 1880? Or 1887? And the census says that Taube had been here for fifteen years, but then says she immigrated in 1875, written over 1885. Oy, that poor enumerator… he must have had a really hard time understanding whoever was giving him the information.

By 1900, Jacob and Taube had four children, all living with them: Harry was eight, born in 1892; “Annie” (actually Ida) was seven, born in May 1893; David was four, and although the year is crossed out, he likely was born in 1896, and Yette (later Etta) was seven months old and born in October 1889. Obviously that should be 1899 or Yette would have been eleven years old, not seven months old. As I discussed here, I have been unable to find birth records for three of those four children, only the later-filed certificate for Harry shown above.

Hecht family 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1094; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094

Five years later, the Hecht family had moved to 22 Mangin Street, about a half mile from where they’d been living in 1900, according to the 1905 New York State census. This enumerator seems to have had an easier time recording the family information. Taube is now listed as Tillie, as she was known in the US. Her age is reported as 35, meaning she was born in 1870; Jacob was 42, and now both once again report their birthplace as Austria. Jacob had been in the US for 17 years, Taube for 20. Neither was yet a citizen of the United States. Jacob was still making cloaks.

Hecht family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 14; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905

They now had six children, two daughters having been born since 1900: Harry was 13, Ida 11, David 9, Etta 6, and the two most recent additions were Gussie (later Jean), who was five, and Sadie {later Shirley), who was two. Also living with them was another Sadie, listed as Jacob’s mother. She was 65 and had been in the US for 12 years. I find it rather odd that Taube and Jacob would have named a child Sadie if Jacob’s mother was Sadie and still living. And I cannot find any other record for the older Sadie Hecht, so I am wondering whether this was an enumeration error.

By 1910, the family had moved again and grown again. They now were living at 48 Boerum Street in Brooklyn. Jacob was still working as an operator in a coat shop and had filed his papers to become a citizen. On this census, both he and Taube (Tillie) gave “Aust Polish” as their birthplace. Jacob was 48, Taube 38. He had immigrated in 1886, she in 1884, according to the census record. And they’d been married for nineteen years, or in 1891, consistent with what was reported on the 1900 census.

Hecht family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977 Description Enumeration District: 0329 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

There were now eight children. Harry, now eighteen, was working as a bookkeeper in a department store. Ida was seventeen and a “button holer” operator. David was 14, Etta 11, Gussie 9, and Sadie was six. The two new additions were Rose (later Ruth), four years old, and Eva (later Evelyn), who was two. Eva is the only other Hecht child for whom I have a birth record:

Eva Hecht birth certificate

Eva was born on January 30, 1908, at 38 Montrose Avenue in Brooklyn, where the family was then residing, so they had moved again between 1908 and 1910 when they were living on Boerum Street. Note the errors on this record: Jacob is identifed as Joseph, and Taube’s birth name is listed as Rothman, not Brotman. Taube’s age is given as 37 here, meaning a birth year of 1872. Both Taube and Jacob reported that they were born in Austria.

With Eva’s birth, the Hecht family was complete. There were eight children ranging from Harry born in 1892 to Eva born sixteen years later in 1908. The next decade would see most of those children join the work force and one marry and have children of her own.

I Am Back!

After two glorious weeks with my kids on the Cape, I am back to my blog and my family history work.

While I was researching and writing about my Goldfarb cousins, a few other interesting discoveries came in on other matters. Before I turn to my next big topic—the family of my great-aunt Toba/Taube/Tille Brotman Hecht—I want to share these other discoveries.

First, my cousin Wolfgang found an envelope that I found very exciting in the “magic suitcase” of Seligmann family history documents .

You can see that it is addressed to Frau M. Seligman in Gau-Algesheim, Germany, and postmarked on January 30, 1894, from Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This was most likely a letter from my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman to his mother, Babette Schoenfeld Seligmann, or Frau Moritz Seligmann. It could also have been a letter from Bernard’s brother Adolf to his mother or a letter from one of Bernard’s children to his or her grandmother. Unfortunately, there was no letter inside the envelope. But it is evidence that the American Seligmans were still in touch with their family back in Gau -Algesheim many decades after leaving Germany and coming to the US.

The other interesting discovery related to my great-aunt Tillie Brotman Ressler’s family. Her son Leo and his wife Mildred owned a dress shop in New Haven, Connecticut for many years. A woman was cleaning out her mother’s closet and found the dress depicted below. She googled the name Mildred Ressler and found my blog and then was so kind to contact me and share these photos of the dress. I shared them with Leo and Mildred’s son Peter, my second cousin. We were both very moved by seeing these pictures.

I love to see these little mementos capturing part of the lives of my relatives. The material objects somehow makes those lives real to me in ways that are different from photographs.