Volkmarsen and Breuna: A Remarkable Day

On Monday morning, May 8, we picked up our rental car (a cute little Nissan Juke) and started our drive northeast from Cologne to the Kassel region where we would spend the next three days.  I must admit I had some trepidation about driving in Germany (well, about Harvey driving in Germany; I certainly wasn’t going to drive).  I’d heard about the absence of speed limits on the Autobahn, and being a nervous passenger under any circumstances, I had visions of a combination of bumper cars and roller coasters.  Add to that the fact that the signs would be in German and distances in kilometers, and I figured this would not be a relaxing experience.

But I was wrong.  Our GPS was excellent (with a delightful British accent), the signs were clear, the roads were smooth, and we somehow managed to keep up (to some extent) with the pace of the German drivers.  The only part I didn’t like was the fact that the vehicles in the right lane were going about 30 mph slower than those in the left lane, making changing lanes at times nerve-wracking (for me, not for Harvey).

We made one visit to a rest stop along the way where I ran from the car to try and get ahead of the three busloads of teenagers going on a school trip.  I was only partly successful and had to wait amid a bunch of chatty teens before paying 70 cents to use the facilities.  When I received a voucher back for 50 cents, I had to ask one of the girls what it was for.  I learned we could redeem it for items in the rest stop store, so we bought a pretzel for the road and re-entered the Autobahn.

Our destination was Volkmarsen where we were to meet Ernst Klein, who would be our guide for the towns we were visiting that day. We arrived on time, and Ernst promptly met us in front of the rathaus (town hall) in the pretty center of the village. I had only emailed a few times with Ernst beforehand, and he had told me that his English was not great, but he was wrong.  His English was excellent, and I immediately warmed to this friendly and modest man.

Ernst Klein and me

First, he showed us around Volkmarsen. I was at first not sure why I would be interested in Volkmarsen since, as far as I knew, I had no family from that town.  But Ernst pointed to a building right across from the rathaus and told us, showing us a photograph, that it had once been the store of Salomon Hamberg. I had to look him up to figure out the connection.  His father Juda Hamberg was a first cousin to my great-great-grandmother, Henrietta Hamberg, the mother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. So Salomon was Isidore’s second cousin.

Salomon Hamberg’s store in Volkmarsen

 

Building where Salomon Hamberg once had a store

Ernst showed us the church in Volkmarsen and pointed out that several former Jewish homes were right nearby; he commented that before the Third Reich, Jews and Christians had lived and worked together peacefully as neighbors and friends. We then walked to one of the older homes in town where Ernst wanted to show us something special that he had discovered.

Rathaus in Volkmarsen

Church in Volkmarsen

Street in Volkmarsen where some Jewish families once lived

We went into the backyard of the home and entered a door into the basement at the back of the house.  It was dark inside, and I had no idea what we were going to see.  But Ernst turned on a spotlight that lit up a corner of the basement where we could see stone steps leading down into a rectangular opening—a mikveh!  A mikveh is a ritual bathing place where  traditional Jews go for a ritual purification at particular times in their lives—e.g., for women, before marriage and after each menstrual period. Ernst said he had had the stones dated by an expert and that it was believed that this mikveh was 500 years old, meaning Jews had been in this little town as early as 1500.  There is even visible water at the bottom, showing that natural waters could fill the mikveh.

Volkmarsen mikveh

He then told us how he had discovered the mikveh.  He had been looking for some evidence of an early Jewish community in Volkmarsen in the older buildings and homes in the village, and when he saw this decorative pillar in the basement of this home, he had a hunch that the basement had once been used for something special.

Pillar in basement where mikveh was found in Volkmarsen

He asked the owner for permission to remove the brick flooring to see what was underneath, and the owner agreed, as long as Ernst promised to restore the flooring if there was nothing below it.  But there was, and further investigation indicates the possibility that the front part of the basement was used for prayer services.  There are marks on the walls that look like hand prints and Hebrew letters as well as an opening in the wall that might have housed the Torah scrolls.

Handprints on wall in Volkmarsen

Hebrew lettering ?

Possible location of ark holding Torah scrolls

We were very excited to see this space and wondered what would happen to it since the home is privately owned. Ernst described his hope that his organization could raise the funds to buy the house and convert it into a Jewish museum. I am hoping to help them accomplish this goal, and if you are interested in learning more about this fascinating project, here is more information from their website. I believe that this museum will serve a very important purpose in education and preservation of the Jewish history of the region, and I hope some of you will consider making a donation.

After a quick lunch at yet another great German bakery, we went to see the Volkmarsen cemetery.  The cemetery had been damaged by the Nazis during the war, the headstones smashed to pieces.  A memorial has been established by assembling pieces of the stones together along with a large stone commemorating those who had been buried there.

Broken stones at the Volkmarsen cemetery

Memorial made of broken stones at the Volkmarsen cemetery

In addition, Ernst saw that a memorial wall was created to include the names of Volkmarsen residents who had been killed during the Holocaust.  The empty spaces in the wall are meant to represent the holes now missing from the community, a brilliant and very powerful visual statement.

Memorial to those killed in the Holocaust from Volkmarsen

Ernst then took us to the current Jewish museum in the town, and I could see why he needs more space. He and his colleagues have created an incredible little museum packed with information and Judaica and photographs and records of Jewish history in the area.  The museum is visited by children and adults from the region and also from all parts of the world. There are copies of photographs and letters of members of the Hamberg family, including some of Rob Meyers’ mother and her family. (Rob is my fifth cousin, the one with whom we have very good mutual friends as well as mutual cousins from my father’s Cohen side, the Goldweins.)

Irmgaard Hamberg

Then we left for Breuna, the village where my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg was born. Henriette was the daughter of Moses Hamberg and Guetchen Rotenberg, both of whom had died in Breuna in the 1860s. Henriette was one of ten siblings and at least some of her siblings had stayed in Breuna and died there.   Although I have yet to delve too deeply into the Hamberg genealogy and story, I wanted to see where they’d lived and where they are buried.

On the way to Breuna, Ernst had us pull over to the side of the road so we could see the small mountain that was the inspiration for the family name.  In the early 1800s when the government ordered Jews to adopt surnames for tax-collecting purposes, many Jews picked names based on locations or places that they knew.  Moses Hamberg’s family chose the small mountain outside of Breuna that was and is known as Hamberg.

Hamberg mountain

Breuna is a small village not dissimilar from Volkmarsen or Gau-Algesheim.  There is a church, a small open square, a town hall, and then many individual houses surrounding those public buildings. Ernst showed us the former synagogue, noting its proximity to the church, and two houses that were once the homes of Hamberg family members.

Plaque on former synagogue in Breuna

Former synagogue in Breuna

Former synagogue, left, and church, right, in Breuna

Hamberg home

The weather that day was the coldest and wettest of our days in Germany, and unfortunately we were too uncomfortable to spend much time walking around.  So we headed to the cemetery.  Along the way we passed the street named for Susanne Hamberg, Rob Meyer’s aunt who was, along with her parents, killed in the Holocaust. Susanne was only thirteen years old; she was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Outside the cemetery was a sign telling the history of Breuna’s Jewish community. It includes the Hamberg family as one of the families that made up that community.

Inside the cemetery are many stones in about six or seven different rows.  It is quite a nice cemetery and very well maintained.  Many of the stones are only in Hebrew and somewhat eroded, so reading them was extremely difficult, but fortunately many stones also have German on the reverse side, revealing the secular name of the person buried in that spot. I looked at each stone, often seeing nothing that seemed relevant, and occasionally seeing a name that seemed a possible relative—a Goldschmidt or a Hamberg.

But my search was rewarded when I located these two stones:

Hebrew side of stone for Guetchen Rotenberg Hamberg

Hebrew side Moses Hamberg’s stone

On the reverse were their German names:

Guetchen Rotenberg, reverse side

Moses Hamberg stone reverse side

These were the stones for my three-times great-grandparents, Moses Hamberg and Guetchen Rotenberg, the parents of Henriette Hamberg, the grandparents of Isidore Schoenthal.  Seeing them took my breath away.  I had not expected to find stones for my own direct ancestors.  Because of my experience in Gau-Algesheim, I had kept my expectations low. Yet here were the stones for my ancestors, the grandparents of my father’s maternal grandfather.

I never knew these people and in fact knew almost nothing about them beyond their names, birth dates, and death dates.  The birth record of their daughter Hannchen revealed that Moses was a cattle merchant.  Despite this thin amount of personal information, somehow I felt a connection to these people who died almost a hundred years before I was born.

In the cemetery there were also a number of stones for other people on my Hamberg family tree:

Jettchen Gans Hamberg, wife of Seligmann Hamberg, brother of my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg.  Jettchen and Seligmann were the parents of Malchen/Amalia Hamberg who married Jacob Baer and had the children who founded and worked for the Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the large jewelry business in Attleboro Massachusetts.

 

Levi Mollerich, husband of Miriam Hamberg, sister of my great-great-grandmother Henriette Hamberg.

Baruch Hamberg and his wife Sara Herzfeld.  Baruch was my second cousin, three times removed; more importantly, he and Sara were my cousin Rob Meyer’s great-grandparents.  Baruch was also related to Joel Goldwein as Baruch’s mother Breine Goldwein was the sister of Joel’s great-grandfather Markus Goldwein.

Rosa Hamberg Braunsberg.  She was Baruch Hamberg’s sister, so another second cousin, three times removed.

Fanny Herzfeld Goldwein and Markus Goldwein.  Great-grandparents of Joel Goldwein, who is my cousin through my Cohen line and Rob’s cousin through the Goldwein line.

In addition there were some stones with names that might be a part of my family and then others that I need to have translated.  But overall, visiting that cemetery on that very cold and very dreary day left me feeling uplifted and strangely happy.  My ancestors were there, and I had been there to pay tribute and to remember them.  It was a very moving experience.

We drove through Oberlistingen, the home of my Goldschmidt ancestors, and then we said goodbye to our new friend Ernst—he and I both with tears in our eyes—and drove to our hotel in Kassel.  It had been a remarkable day, beginning with a 500 year old mikveh and ending with the discovery of my 3x-great-grandparents’ gravestones.  The next day we would go to Sielen, the home of my Schoenthal ancestors.

 

Another Small World Story, Another Twist in the Family Tree

In my last post I described my discovery that Rose Mansbach Schoenthal was not only related to me by her marriage to Simon Schoenthal, the brother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, but that she was also related by marriage to my other great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein through her Mansbach cousins.   This post is about another discovery of a strange twist in my family tree, but this one involving two living cousins.

Last week I received a comment on an old blog post about Elizabeth Cohen, who was the sister of my other great-grandfather, Emanuel Cohen.  The man who left the comment on my blog, Joel Goldwein, is the great-grandson, through his mother’s side, of Elizabeth Cohen.  He is thus my third cousin.  I was, of course, delighted to make this connection, and I emailed Joel to learn more about him and our mutual family.

In the course of the exchange of emails, Joel shared information not only about his mother’s family, but also about his father, Manfred (Fred) Goldwein, who had escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport to England.  His father’s parents and other family members, however, were murdered by the Nazis.  Joel sent me a link to a website about his son’s bar mitzvah in Korbach, Germany, the town where his father was born and had lived until he left Germany.  I was very moved by the idea that Joel’s family had returned to this town to honor the memory of his father’s family.

I mentioned that I was going to be in Germany, not far from Korbach, because I had Hamberg ancestors from Breuna.  Joel then mentioned that his paternal great-grandparents are buried in Breuna and that he had visited the cemetery there.  He sent me a link to his photographs of the cemetery, and I looked through them in search of anyone named Hamberg.

Imagine my surprise to find this photograph:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein

Baruch Hamberg was the second cousin of my great-great-grandmother, Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal.  More importantly, he was the great-grandfather of my fifth cousin, Rob Meyer.

Some of you may remember the story of Rob.  He and I connected through JewishGen’s Family Finder tool about a year and a half ago, and we learned that not only did Rob live about a mile from where I had once lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, we also had very good mutual friends.  It was one of those true goosebump moments in my genealogy research, standing in a cemetery in Longmeadow and talking to Rob as we realized that we both had the same close friends.

Rob’s mother had, like Joel’s father, escaped from Nazi Germany, and she also, like Joel’s father, had lost most of the rest of her family in the Holocaust. I sent the headstone photograph to Rob, and I asked whether he might be related to Joel.  Rob answered, suggesting that perhaps he was related to Joel not through Baruch Hamberg, but through Baruch’s mother, Breinchen Goldwein.  A little more digging around revealed that in fact Joel was related to Breinchen: her brother Marcus Goldwein was Joel’s paternal great-grandfather.

Thus, Joel and Rob are third cousins, once removed, through Rob’s mother’s side and Joel’s father side. And although they did not know of each other at all, Joel also had a photograph of the street in Breuna named in memory of Rob’s aunt:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein

.

It gave me great pleasure to introduce Rob and Joel to each other, who soon discovered that not only are they third cousins through their Goldwein family line, they are also both doctors and both graduates of the same medical school.

And they are both my cousins, Rob through his mother’s Hamberg side and Joel through his mother’s Cohen side.

There truly are only six degrees of separation.

Are These Two Photographs of the Same Woman?

Sharon, one of my readers and a fellow genealogy blogger, asked in response to my last post whether I thought the woman in this photograph of Lawrence Baer and his son John Degen Baer could be John’s grandmother. Certainly the way his hand rests on her shoulder suggests that she was someone he knew well and felt comfortable with:

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

John’s paternal grandmother was Amalia Hamberg, the woman in the photo I’d posted in an earlier post. People thought that photo was taken in the 1880s or about 40 years before the one above:

amalia-hamberg-and-jacob-baer-from-celena-adler-watermarked

Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer

 

Could the woman in the top photo also be Amalia? In 1924, Amalia would have been 73 years old. Her face is obviously much thinner in the later photograph, but are the mouth, nose, and eyes similar? Do you think this is the same woman in both photographs?

And if any of Amalia’s descendants can help, please let me know.

(I tried to use the pictriev tool that Cathy Meder-Dempsey blogged about, but the photo of Amalia and Jacob was too small for pictriev to detect the faces.)

More Gifts of Photographs

In my last post, I shared the wonderful photograph I received of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer from one of their descendants.  Before posting it here, I shared it with other descendants of Amalia and Jacob, and that prompted some of those descendants to share some other photographs. Thank you to the extended Baer family for allowing me to publish these photos.

First is a photograph of Lawrence Baer, Amalia and Jacob’s youngest child, born in 1891 in PIttsburgh.  Lawrence became one of the principal innovators and executives at the family-owned jewelry business, Attleboro Manufacturing.  This photograph was taken in 1924.  The little boy in the center is John Degen Baer, Lawrence’s son.  He would have been three years old in this photograph. The individual on the right is not known.

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Here is a photograph of Lawrence Baer’s first wife and John Degen Baer’s mother, Donna Degen.  This photograph was not dated, but it looks like the 1920s to me.

Donna Degen

Donna Degen

This is another picture of their son John, dated 1924:

John Baer, summer of 1924

John Baer, summer of 1924

How adorable is he!

Finally, here is a photograph of Olivia Ganong Baer, Lawrence Baer’s second wife, and Minette Brigham Baer, John Degen Baer’s first wife, with Lawrence in the background.

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

John Degen Baer grew up to be a very accomplished business leader like his father.  He died just a little over a year ago on November 3, 2015.

According to his obituary,

Baer attended both Yale and Brown Universities, graduating from the latter in 1943. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, having been attached to the Second Marine Division in the Pacific theater and int he Occupation of Japan. He resigned his commission in 1950. He was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970. Mr. Baer established a consulting company in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 1970 joined the Edwards Baking Company as Executive Vice President. He retired from Edwards in 1978. While residing on Sea Island, Georgia, he participated in the construction and management of the Island Retreat and the Island Square apartments.

Baer and his family moved to Blairsville in 1985 where he and his wife founded and managed the Truck & Gas Market. The business closed in March 1992. Baer then retired from all activity. While residing in Massachusetts, Baer served as a member of the Attleboro Zoning Board of Appeal for 12 years. He was also a Director of a local Bank and the Chamber of Commerce. For several years he served as a director of the Optical Manufacturers Association, located in New York City. While living in Oxford, Georgia, Baer was elected and served on the town Council.

Thank you again to his children for sharing these photos and allowing me to see the faces behind the names of these cousins of mine. Here’s a chart showing how we are related.

relationship-john-baer-to-me

A Special Photograph

While taking a short break from research, I want to share a few photographs and records I’ve received recently, but did not have a chance to post on the blog.

You may recall the series of blog posts I did about Amalia Hamberg and her family.  Amalia, born Malchen, was my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s first cousin:

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

 

She acted as the administratrix of the estate of Charles Hamberg, the cousin who lived in South Carolina whose first wife had been murdered and whose son Samuel Hamberg ended up living with Henry Schoenthal in Washington, Pennsylvania after his father died as well.  Amalia had married Jacob Baer, with whom she had nine children, many of whom ended up working for the family jewelry business founded by the oldest brother, Maurice, in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Well, one of the descendants of Amalia and Jacob Baer found my blog and connected me with his siblings, one of whom graciously shared with me this wonderful photograph of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer. Both Amalia and Jacob lived long lives.  Amalia lived from 1851 until 1931; Jacob from 1847 to 1932. Imagine all the changes they saw—starting in Germany in the middle of the 19th century and living through the Industrial Revolution, the first World War, and the Roaring Twenties.  They raised nine children in western Pennsylvania and must have seen Pittsburgh grow from a small fairly rural area to the home of steel manufacturing.  They lived to see the invention and development of cars and telephones, even airplanes.

amalia-hamberg-and-jacob-baer-from-celena-adler-watermarked

I don’t know when this photograph was taken.  Although Amalia and Jacob may look old because of their attire and Jacob’s seemingly gray hair, their faces have no wrinkles, and the style of dress does not look 20th century to me.  I would guess that they were in their 40s, so perhaps the picture was taken in the 1890s.  What do you think?

I am so excited to have this photograph. Thank you so much to the Adler siblings who shared this with me.

The Last Chapter of the Story of Amalia Hamberg

Finally, I come to the two youngest children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer to survive to adulthood[1]: Elsie Baer Grant and Lawrence Baer.   With this post, I close the chapter on Amalia Hamberg, first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, or my first cousin, three times removed.  Her children were my second cousins, twice removed (or my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s second cousins).

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

Elsie Baer was born in Pittsburgh in 1886 and married Jerome Grant in 1913.  For almost their entire married lives they lived in New York City, where Jerome worked for Baer & Wilde, one of the family jewelry businesses based in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Elsie and Jerome had two daughters, Marjorie and Elinor.  As of 1930, they were still living in New York City, and Jerome was still working for the family jewelry business.  The same was true in 1940; both daughters were still at home.

In the next decade both daughters married. Marjorie married Richard E. Weinreich, whose family was also in the jewelry business.  Richard’s father, Sol Weinreich, had founded Marvella Pearls, a jewelry wholesale business with his brother in Philadelphia, where Richard was born in 1915.  By 1930, the family and the business had relocated to New York, and by 1940, both Richard and his father were working in the business.

Marvella pearls

I assume that Richard and Marjorie met as a result of the fact that both families were in the jewelry business in New York.  Richard and Marjorie would have one child.  Richard eventually became president of Marvella.  According to this antiques website, “Marvella was purchased by Trifari in the early 1980s and eventually became part of the Liz Claiborne group. As of 2010, jewelry is still being distributed in department stores and other retail outlets on cards bearing the Marvella name.”

Marjorie’s sister Elinor served for over a year with the Red Cross in India in the early 1940s. On December 19, 1946, she married Alan Fredrick Kline of Chicago.

Elinor Grant wedding to Alan Kline 1946 NYTimes-page-001

Alan was a graduate of Dartmouth College and had served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II.  His father Jacob was one of the founders of Kline Brothers, a department store chain that started in Lorain, Ohio, and eventually had a large number of stores in the Midwest.

Suburbanite_Economist_Sun__Oct_28__1973_ article about Kline Bros

Elinor and Alan had two children before Alan died at only 37 years old on October 1, 1950, leaving Elinor with two very young sons.  Elinor would eventually remarry.

Elsie Baer’s husband Jerome Grant died on July 29, 1964; he was 75.  According to the death notices in The New York Times, he was a Mason, a member of The Golden Circle, and a member of the Maiden Lane Outing Club.

Like her sisters Josephine, Tilda, and Amanda, Elsie Baer Grant lived a long life, dying many years after her husband in May 1983 at age 96.

Unfortunately, the daughters of Elsie and Jerome were not blessed with their mother’s longevity.  Marjorie predeceased her mother, dying in May, 1978; she was only 59.  Her sister Elinor died at age 72 on November 2, 1993.

As for Elsie’s younger brother Lawrence, the youngest of the children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, he played, as I’ve written here, a critical part in the success of the family jewelry business in Attleboro.  He not only invented the Kum-A-Part cufflinks that made the company highly successful in the 1920s; he also invented and received patents for several other jewelry products.  For example, in 1922, Lawrence received a patent (No.  US 1420232 A) for a jewelry contained, described as “a container which can be carried in the pocket or in a traveling bag or the like or placed in an article of furniture in the home, for holding buckles, brooches, buttons, and any article of jewelry.”  He also received during the 1920s and 1930s patents for a number of other inventions: necktie holders, a belt fastener, a bill holder, a shirt holder, and a display device.

Jewelry holder invented by Lawrence Baer

 

As noted in my earlier post, Lawrence had married Donna Degen in 1919, and they had one child, a son named John Degen Baer, born in 1921.  As of 1942 when Lawrence registered for the draft, they were still living in Attleboro and Lawrence was still working for the family jewelry business, now known as Swank, Inc.  But by 1946, Lawrence was listed with his second wife, Olivia Ganong, in the West Palm Beach, Florida, city directory.  He and Olivia lived in Florida for the rest of his life.  Lawrence died in May, 1969, in Lake Worth, Florida. He was 77 years old.

His son John remained in Attleboro even after Lawrence remarried and moved to Florida. According to his obituary, John attended Yale and Brown, graduating from Brown in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater and in the occupation of Japan.

In 1946, the Attleboro city directory lists John as serving in the United States Marine Corps and married to a woman named Minette. In 1953, he was the executive vice-president of The Bishop Company in Attleboro.  According to his obituary, John “was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970.“

In 1963, John was still listed with Minette in the Attleboro, directory, but that is the last listing I can find for him there.  Sometime in the 1960s, John relocated to Florida, living not far from where his father was also living at that time.  He also appears to have married his second wife, Jane Rollins, during this time period.

After he sold Univis in 1970 (a year after his father died), John moved again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was executive vice-president of Edwards Baking Company until 1978.  In 1985, he relocated yet again, moving to Blairsville, Georgia, where he started and managed the Truck and Gas Market until 1992, when he retired.  John Baer died on November 3, 2015.  He was 94 years old. (All this information comes from his obituary, which also includes a number of photographs of John.)

*****

Thus ends the recounting of the lives of all of the children (and the children of the children) of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer: Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Flora, Tilda, Elsie, Alfred, and Lawrence.  I am once again amazed by the fact that two immigrants who came to the United States in the 19th century raised children who achieved such remarkable success both in business and in the arts.

Perhaps it is a lesson to us all about the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make this country.  We should be very wary of anyone who seeks to exclude immigrants from this country.  After all, most of us living in the US today are descended from immigrants.

 

 

 

[1] Alfred Baer, the second youngest child, had died years before.

The Jeweler and the Suffragette: Star-crossed Lovers?

What would have brought a 71 year old Massachusetts jewelry manufacturer together with a 68 year old suffragette from Birmingham, Alabama?

As I wrote last time, Attleboro Manufacturing, the jewelry company that ultimately supported four of the children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, was founded by their oldest child, Maurice Jay Baer.  This post tells the story of the rest of Maurice’s life and his mysterious marriage to a woman named Bossie.

Maurice somehow eluded the census taker every decade after 1900, that is, every decade after he moved out of his parents’ home in Pittsburgh.  In fact, I am not even sure he was still in their home in 1900 since by then he and his future brother-in-law Samuel Stone had founded Attleboro Manufacturing in Attleboro.  And Maurice does not appear on the 1910, 1920, 1930, or 1940 census as best I can tell.

What makes this particularly strange is that he does appear in many directories for the city of Attleboro in the years ranging from 1907 through 1933, and for almost all of the years in which he appears, his residence is 224 County Street in Attleboro.  That is also the address he gave on his World War I draft registration form.

Maurice Jay Baer ww1 draft reg

Maurice Jay Baer, World War I draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Maurice’s sister Tilda Baer Stone and her husband Samuel Stone (ne Einstein) also were living at 224 County Street in Attleboro, according to the 1920, 1930, and 1940 census records.   If Maurice was living at that address with his sister and her family, why wasn’t he included in those census records?  Was he hiding from the census enumerator?

Tilda Baer and Samuel Einstein [Stone], 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

Tilda Baer and Samuel Einstein [Stone], 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

Making it even stranger is the fact that there are numerous passenger manifests listing Maurice as a passenger on ships going back and forth to Europe during the 1920s and 1930s, and on a number of those manifests, Maurice gave a New York City address as his residence.  Perhaps he had a pied a terre in New York as well as a home in Attleboro, but he doesn’t appear on any census record in New York for those years either.

Maurice Jay Baer 1928 ship manifest with NYC residence Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4195; Line: 1; Page Number: 29

Maurice Jay Baer 1928 ship manifest with NYC residence
Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4195; Line: 1; Page Number: 29

 

Although his absence from census records made it hard to determine whether Maurice had married or had children, I assume that at least until 1945 he had not married. Then on June 19, 1945, Maurice married Julia Hendley in Tryon, Polk County, North Carolina.  I know this is the correct Maurice because of the marriage license application identifying the names of his parents:

Maurice Jay Baer and Julia Hendley marriage license, 1945 Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

Maurice Jay Baer and Julia Hendley marriage license, 1945
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

The marriage register for Polk County lists Maurice’s residence as New York City and Julia’s as Birmingham, Alabama.

Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

So who was Julia Hendley? And how did Maurice meet her and decide to get married, presumably for the first time, in 1945?

According to the marriage license application, Julia’s parents were Frank P. O’Bride and Indiana McBride, both deceased as of 1945.  But my research suggests that Julia’s father’s name was O’Brien, not O’Bride.  For one thing, it just seemed odd to me that the mother’s birth name was McBride and the father’s O’Bride.  Plus I could not find a Frank O’Bride in Birmingham, Alabama, but I did find a Frank P. O’Brian married to a Dannie O’Brien on the 1880 census in Birmingham, and Dannie seemed like a possible nickname for someone named Indiana.

1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: 17; Family History Film: 1254017; Page: 490A; Enumeration District: 075; Image: 0290

1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: 17; Family History Film: 1254017; Page: 490A; Enumeration District: 075; Image: 0290

 

That census lists four children of Frank and Dannie O’Brian: Mary, Anna, Margaret, and a fourth daughter named Dannie, born in 1876.  The only one who is close in age to “Julia” would be Dannie, as Julia claimed to be 68 when she married in June, 1945, so she would have been born in either late 1876 or early 1877.  Could the daughter Dannie be Julia?

I also found Indiana McBride (or McBryde) in other sources, and several trees on Ancestry report that she was married to Frank P. O’Brien (spelled with an E).  One tree included a three page biography of Frank O’Brien, saying that his wife was Julia Indiana McBride. Perhaps Dannie, the daughter, had her mother’s full name and also had a first name of Julia that she didn’t use except for legal documents?   I contacted the owner of the tree with that biography of Frank O’Brien to ask about the name, and apparently it was written by a now-deceased family member in 1969, and the tree owner did not have any other source for the name Julia for either Frank’s wife or daughter.

I did, however, find a great deal of information online about Frank P. O’Brien.  He was a Civil War hero (on the Confederate side) and a beloved mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.  The Alabama Pioneers website wrote this about O’Brien:

Frank P. O’Brien was one of the best known and most popular citizens of Birmingham. He born in the city of Dublin, Ireland,. February 29, 1844…. [His family immigrated to Pennsylvania when Frank was a young boy.]  Frank P. O’Brien attended school from the age of five until fourteen years of age, when he ran away from home, at which period he began to learn the trade of scenic and fresco painter, under the instructions of the celebrated artist, Peter Schmidt, who secured the second prize for merit at Washington for work in the Capitol buildings. Mr. O’Brien followed his trade until 1874, coming to Montgomery,Alabama, in 1859, with Mr. Schmidt, who had contracted to paint the scenic and fresco work of the Montgomery Theatre. …  Mr. O’Brien erected some of the most substantial buildings in the city.  …  Mr. O’Brien was one of the most enterprising and popular men of the city, and as a manager, through his determination to exclude all companies that did not furnish entertainments of an elevating nature, has established the reputation of Birmingham as one of the best theatrical cities in the South. …. O’Brien was Jefferson County Sheriff from 1896 to 1900. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor against incumbent George Ward in the 1907 mayoral election. He was elected in the 1909 Birmingham mayoral election and served most of one term as mayor, before his death in 1910….. – See more at: http://alabamapioneers.com/biography-frank-p-obrien/#sthash.9DEYGNLZ.dF0taqNz.dpuf

This photo of Frank P. O’Brien appears on the same site:

OBrien-Frank_OBrien1844-Montgomery-and-Jefferson

Frank P. O’Brien

There is more information about his life here.

But was this Frank P. O’Brien the father-in-law of Maurice Jay Baer, my cousin and co-founder of Attleboro Manufacturing? Was Julia Hendley, wife of Maurice Jay Baer, in fact the daughter of Frank P. O’Brien? Was she the daughter identified as Dannie on the 1880 census?

The next clue I found was a listing in the Alabama Select Marriages database on Ancestry for the marriage of Daniell McBryde O’Brien to Oscar R. Hundley on June 24, 1897, in Birmingham, Alabama.  It seemed likely that this was the same person as the daughter named Dannie on the 1880 census.  Her middle name was the same (albeit spelled with a Y, not an I) as her mother’s birth name on the marriage record to Maurice, and her surname matched her father’s surname.

When I then searched for the actual record on FamilySearch, I saw that the bride’s name was actually Dannie, not Daniell, and thus was convinced that this was in fact the daughter of Frank P. O’Brien and Indiana McBride/McBryde who later married Maurice Jay Baer.

 

Marriage record for Oscar R. Hundley and Dannie McBryde O'Neil

Marriage record for Oscar R. Hundley and Dannie McBryde O’Neil Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-34000-18845-98?cc=1743384 : 16 July 2015), 007251058 > image 33 of 649; county courthouses, Alabama

So why did Dannie O’Brien Hundley later marry Maurice Jay Baer using the name Julia Hendley? Since the marriage record for Maurice in 1945 had misspelled the bride’s father’s name as O’Bride instead of O’Brien and the mother’s as McBride instead of McBryde, certainly Hundley might have been misspelled as Hendley. It also recorded Maurice’s age as 65 when he was actually 71.  I still was baffled by the bride’s first name, but was now quite sure that the woman who married my cousin Maurice was the daughter of Frank P. O’Brien and Indiana McBryde and had once been married to Oscar R. Hundley.

On the 1900 census, however, Dannie O’Brien Hundley was using yet another first name: Bossie.  She and Oscar, a lawyer and for a short time a federal judge, were living in Huntsville, Alabama, with a servant.

Oscar and Bossie OBrien Hundley 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Huntsville, Madison, Alabama; Roll: 28; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1240028

Oscar and Bossie OBrien Hundley 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Huntsville, Madison, Alabama; Roll: 28; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 1240028

They would have a daughter Margaret in 1909, and on the 1910 and 1920 census records, Dannie is also named as Bossie (spelled as Bessie in 1920).

Oscar and Bossie O'Brien Hundley

Oscar and Bossie O’Brien Hundley

In addition, she is listed in several Birmingham city directories as Bossie O’Brien Hundley.  That this had become her legal name (or at least the name she used on all formal and informal documents) is further evidenced by the fact that when Oscar died in 1921, the petition for probate was filed by Bossie O’Brien Hundley.

Probate petition for estate of Oscar Hundley

Petition to Probate Estate of Oscar Hundley Ancestry.com. Alabama, Wills and Probate Records, 1753-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Alabama County, District and Probate Courts.

And Bossie O’Brien was not just the daughter of the mayor of Birmingham and the wife of a federal judge; she was a well-known person in her own right: a woman who fought for the right to vote in the Suffragist Movement in the 1910s.  As noted on the BHAM Wiki, a website about Birmingham, Alabama:

[Bossie O’Brien] Hundley joined the Birmingham Equal Suffrage Association soon after it was formed in 1911 and quickly rose to a position of leadership in the group. She became president of the Birmingham Chapter and then legislative chair of the statewide association. In 1914 she organized a petition drive which collected over 10,000 signatures calling for a referendum on women’s voting rights. She and fellow suffragist, Mrs A. J. Bowron, drove across the state on a publicity tour in her Hudson Six. She debated Congressman Tom Heflin in front of a crowd of thousands in Wetumpka. Despite her efforts, the legislature ignored the AESA’s demand for a referendum.

 

The story of her confrontation with Congressman Heflin was described in the Montgomery, Alabama Daily in 1915, and is reprinted here.

Wayne Flynt in his book, Alabama in the Twentieth Century (University of Alabama Press, 2004) p. 260, wrote this about Bossie:

Bossie O’Brien Hundley, daughter of Birmingham’s mayor from 1908 to 1910, was a Catholic graduate of a Kentucky convent school and the wife of a federal judge and a power in the state’s Democratic Party.  As chief strategist in the 1915 lobbying effort on behalf of enfranchising women, she sat in the gallery while one legislator after another quoted Scripture to justify denying women the vote.  Hundley finally offered a proof text of her own, Psalm 116:11:  “All men are liars.”

Bossie sure sounds like someone I would have liked to have known—a strong woman who didn’t back away from confrontation.

But how did she meet my cousin Maurice Jay Baer, a man from Massachusetts?

After her first husband died in 1921, Bossie took several trips to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Maurice, as noted above, also took numerous trips to Europe during those years.  In fact, both traveled to Europe in 1926, 1928, and 1929, although on different ships arriving home in different months. But in October 1930, they were on the same ship returning to New York, listed together on the ship manifest (the last two names on this page):

1930 ship manifest listing both Maurice Jay Baer and Bossie Hundley Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4849; Line: 1; Page Number: 183

1930 ship manifest listing both Maurice Jay Baer and Bossie Hundley
Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4849; Line: 1; Page Number: 183

 

Were they in fact traveling together? Or had they met on that ship and coincidentally ended up listed one after the other on the manifest? It certainly seems that they knew each other by at least October 1930.  But they didn’t marry for another fifteen years.

Bossie continued to live in Birmingham, but by 1940 she moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina, where she was living at the Monte Vista Hotel.  What would have prompted the move at that point in her life?  Was this a place where she and Maurice could be together?

She married Maurice five years later on June 19, 1945 in North Carolina.  Sadly, Maurice died less than a year later on April 25, 1946, in Asheville, North Carolina, from pyelonephritis, that is, a kidney infection.  He was 72 years old.

Maurice Jay Baer death certificate Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Maurice Jay Baer death certificate
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

There are a number of strange things about this death certificate.  For one, it reports that Maurice was single, not married.  The informant was his brother-in-law, Jerome Grant.  Did he not know that Maurice was married? Also, it shows his residence as New York City.  Did he and Bossie live together in New York? North Carolina? Or did they live separately?

And Maurice was buried in Philadelphia at Mt. Sinai Cemetery with his parents and brother Alfred and sister Hattie.

His death notice in the New York Times did not even mention Bossie as one of his survivors, just his siblings.

Maurice Jay Baer death notice New York Times, April 27, 1946

Maurice Jay Baer death notice
New York Times, April 27, 1946

 

Maurice must have left a fairly substantial estate.  The New York Times reported on May 16, 1946. that a petition had been filed to probate the estate in New York County Surrogate Court and that Maurice had left money to a number of charitable causes and institutions:

New York Times, May 16, 1946, p. 22

New York Times, May 16, 1946, p. 22

I was hoping to obtain a copy of the will, but it appears to be quite costly to do so ($90 just for the court to do a search and then $1.50 per page for photocopying the will if they find it).  If I can find a less costly way to obtain the will, I’d be very curious to see whether his will named Bossie as a beneficiary.

Records certainly suggest that Bossie and her family knew about and acknowledged her marriage to Maurice.  Bossie lived another twenty years, dying on November 15, 1966, at age ninety.  Her death certificate describes her as a widow, and it names Maurice Jay Baer as her husband.  She died in Asheville, North Carolina, and at the time of her death had been still residing in Black Mountain, North Carolina, where she and Maurice had married in 1945.

Bossie Baer death certificate Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bossie Baer death certificate
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Her obituary describes her as the widow of Maurice Baer.

The Birmingham News, November 16, 1966, p. 26

The Birmingham News, November 16, 1966, p. 26

 

But she was not buried with her husband Maurice at Mt. Sinai nor with her first husband Oscar Hundley in Alabama.  She was buried in Black Mountain, North Carolina, where her daughter Margaret was also living.  Margaret was buried there as well when she died a month after her mother.

Something is quite odd about all this.  Had Maurice not told his family about his marriage? If not, why not? I don’t know. My best guess is that the religious differences were the issue: Maurice was Jewish, Bossie Catholic.  Her family certainly knew she had married him, so was he hiding it from his Jewish family because they might have objected to his marriage to a Catholic woman?

Maurice Jay Baer was an intriguing member of my Hamberg family, an oldest son who started a successful business, a man who appears on no census record after 1900, a man who seemed to have had homes both in New York CIty and Attleboro, Massachusetts, and a man who married late in life, just a year before he died, but whose family seems not have known or at least acknowledged his marriage to a Catholic woman from Alabama who had been an activist in the movement for women’s suffrage.

So many unanswered questions. How did Maurice and Bossie meet? What drew this lifelong bachelor to a woman from such a different background? Where did they live after marrying? Why didn’t his family know about the marriage?

I’m afraid these are questions that are not likely to be answered in official documents or even newspapers, but will remain unanswered.  Unless somebody out there either has the answers or some suggestions for where I might find them?

 

 

 

 

 

Attleboro Manufacturing Company: My Cousins, the Jewelers

As I mentioned in my last post, the oldest child of Amalia (Hamberg) and Jacob Baer, Maurice Jay Baer, founded a jewelry company in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in the late 1890s when he was in his twenties. The company was originally called Attleboro Manufacturing. The stories of four of Amalia and Jacob Baer’s children are integrally related to the history of Attleboro Manufacturing: two of their sons, Maurice and Lawrence, and two of their sons-in-law Samuel Stone, married to their daughter Tilda, and Jerome Grant, married to their daughter Elsie, were all involved in leadership roles in the company.

At one time, Attleboro, Massachusetts was known as the Jewelry Capital of the World due to the numerous jewelry manufacturers doing business there.  But like most of the manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts, jewelry businesses in Attleboro eventually moved elsewhere to save on labor and other costs.


Attleboro Manufacturing was one of the businesses that eventually moved out of the region; later known as Swank and Company, the company was in business in Attleboro until the closing of its plant there in 2000. Though no longer in Atttleboro, Swank, Inc. is still in business today as a division of Randa Accessories, designing and manufacturing men’s jewelry, belts, personal leather accessories, and gifts. (“Jewelry legacy takes another hit with Swank closing, ” The Sun Chronicle, March 17, 2000.)

The company was founded by Maurice Baer and Samuel Stone.  Samuel Stone was born Samuel Einstein in Laupheim, Germany, on February 25, 1872, the son of Moritz Einstein.  He immigrated to the US in 1885, according to his 1920 passport application, and settled in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  He was only thirteen years old at the time and seems to have come by himself.  According to his 1920 and 1923 passport applications, his father was still residing in Germany at those times.  Other sources indicate that his parents both died in Germany.  This source also concluded that he came by himself to the US.

Samuel Einstein is listed as a jewelry manufacturer as early as 1890 and 1892 in the Attleboro city directories for those years, that is, several years before he and Maurice Baer founded Attleboro Manufacturing together.  How did Maurice, who lived in western Pennsylvania, end up doing business with a young man living in Attleboro? Was there a family connection? Not that I have yet found.  Perhaps they just met through business, Maurice traveling to New England or Samuel traveling to Pennsylvania.

According to this source:

By chance, Einstein had been doing business for a number of years (presumably wholesale jewellery) with a Pittsburg, PA salesman named Maurice Baer. It probably helped that Baer’s parents were German immigrants and both men were also of a similar age so an apparently close bond developed between the two.

That article and several other sources report that in 1897 Samuel and Maurice started Attleboro Manufacturing Company.  Their first year brought an unexpected challenge.

The beginnings of Swank, Inc. can be traced to the year 1897, when Samuel M. Stone [originally Samuel Einstein] and Maurice J. Baer founded the Attleboro Manufacturing Company to produce and sell jewelry for women. The two men took over a building in Attleboro, Massachusetts, that had been constructed decades earlier as a forge to turn precious metals into jewelry.

Unfortunately, less than a year after Stone and Baer began production, one of the largest fires in the town’s history claimed an entire block of buildings, destroying their small enterprise. Many of the company’s employees helped fight the fire and were able to salvage a portion of the machinery and finished jewelry. Therefore, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was able to resume its operations with the remaining equipment and material in another building nearby, which came to be the center of production for the next century.

Mill_Street,_Attleboro,_MA

The local Attleboro newspaper, the Sun Register, also reported on this history in its March 17, 2000, issue (“Jewelry legacy takes another hit with Swank closing, ” The Sun Chronicle, March 17, 2000) :

The company, starting with 10 employees, was located in a factory at Mill and Union streets. The fire of 1898 leveled a good portion of Attleboro’s jewelry plants, including the Attleboro Mfg. Co. However, volunteers managed to save the equipment of Attleboro Mfg. and within a day, the company was back in operation in the basement of a building adjacent to the present plant on Hazel Street.

Although both of these sources report the almost immediate re-opening of the business after the fire, Maurice Baer may not have yet relocated permanently to Attleboro, as he is listed as residing in Pittsburgh in the 1899 Pittsburgh city directory and on the 1900 census.  But soon the company was doing quite well, and in 1908 Maurice and another man named Eben Wilde started a separate division to expand from women’s jewelry to men’s jewelry:

Within ten years, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was enjoying a good deal of success in producing women’s jewelry and decided to begin expanding into new markets. In 1908, [Maurice] Baer formed a new division, called Baer and Wilde, to oversee the production of men’s jewelry, while Stone remained in charge of Attleboro Manufacturing.

Downtown, about 1909

Downtown Attleboro, about 1909 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At some point, Maurice must have introduced his younger sister Tilda to his partner Samuel Einstein because by 1908 they were married and living in Attleboro where their first child Stephanie was born in June, 1908.  They would have three more children, Samuel, Jr. (1910), Harriet (1913), and Babette (or Betty, 1919).  In 1910, Samuel was still using the surname Einstein, as he was in 1920, so all four children were originally given the surname Einstein.

Samuel and Tilda Baer Einstein (Stone) 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

Samuel and Tilda Baer Einstein (Stone)
1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

The family was still using the name Einstein as late as 1923, as that is how Samuel is listed in the Attleboro directory for that year and also the name appearing on his 1923 passport application, but by 1927, they had switched to Stone, as can be seen in this ship manifest for a trip they all took to France that year.

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 - Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 – Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Stone family on 1927 passenger manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4125; Line: 1; Page Number: 28

Stone family on 1927 passenger manifest
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4125; Line: 1; Page Number: 28

The third Baer child whose family was to become involved in the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was Elsie, the seventh child and youngest daughter.  In 1910 she was still living with her parents in Pittsburgh, working as a kindergarten teacher.  She was 24 years old.  Three years later she married Jerome Louis Grant in Philadelphia.  Jerome was born in Cortland, New York, in 1888, and in 1910 he had been living with his parents in Philadelphia where he and his father, Theodore Grant, were both working in the fur business.

Two years after marrying, Jerome and Elsie were living in New York City where Jerome was working as a salesman.

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant and family 1915 NYS census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 60

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant and family
1915 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 60

Jerome Grant’s draft registration for World War I revealed for whom he was working as a salesman: Baer & Wilde, the division of Attleboro Manufacturing Company started by his brother-in-law Maurice Baer.  He was a salesman as well as the manager of their New York office.  The registration revealed something else: Elsie was pregnant.

Jerome Grant World War I draft registration Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 147

Jerome Grant World War I draft registration
Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 147

 

Elsie and Jerome’s first child was born in 1919, a daughter named Marjorie.  Their second daughter was born two years later and named Elinor.

Although the 1920 census reported that Jerome was a contractor in the building industry, the 1930 census reports that he was still in the jewelry manufacturing business.  Moreover, both the 1920 and the 1925 New York City directories list Jerome as associated with Baer & Wilde, so I believe that the 1920 census is not correct in its reporting of Jerome’s occupation at that time.

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Long Beach, Nassau, New York; Roll: 1461; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0137; Image: 104.0; FHL microfilm: 2341196

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Long Beach, Nassau, New York; Roll: 1461; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0137; Image: 104.0; FHL microfilm: 2341196

Finally, the other Baer sibling to get involved in the Attleboro business was the youngest child, Lawrence.  Even in 1910 when he was only 18, Lawrence was already involved in jewelry sales.  By 1917 when he registered for the draft for World War I, he was a part owner of Baer & Wilde and living in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  There was a notation on his draft registration saying, “This man employs from 150 to 175 people in jewelry business.”  Was this a basis for exempting him from the draft?

Lawrence Baer World War 1 draft registration Registration State: Massachusetts; Registration County: Bristol; Roll: 1684755; Draft Board: 40

Lawrence Baer World War 1 draft registration
Registration State: Massachusetts; Registration County: Bristol; Roll: 1684755; Draft Board: 40

The company did in fact participate in its own way in the war effort:

By the time the United States became involved in World War I, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was large enough to handle the production of thousands of metal identification tags, better known as “dog tags,” for the military. While this was the company’s most notable contribution to the war effort, it also profited from the production of numerous other emblems for the U.S. government during those years.

But was that enough to keep a man exempt from the draft? Although it would certainly seem that Lawrence was not essential to the operations of the business, given the involvement of his brother Maurice as well as two of his brothers-in-law, he certainly had a major impact on the success of Baer & Wilde:

[Baer & Wilde} operated with marginal success until 1918, when [Maurice] Baer’s brother, Lawrence Baer, came to them with his newly invented Kum-A-Part “cuff button”. It was an immediate success, to the tune of some four million pairs per year. In 1923, with some improvements made to it by Wilde, the design was patented. Kum-A-Part items remained in production until 1931.

Kum-A-Part cufflinks

Kum-A-Part cufflinks

The tremendous success of the Kum-A-Part cufflinks had a major impact on the future of the company:

[After World War I, the demand for this cuff button was so great that the company stopped making women’s jewelry. By this time Baer & Wilde had absorbed the Attleboro Mfg. Co. facilities.

By the 1920s, Baer & Wilde was selling more than 4 million pairs of cuff buttons a year. The company started to grow with acquisitions and adding other lines such as belt and buckle.

Lawrence Baer’s invention thus changed the fortunes of the company founded by his brother Maurice and brother-in-law Samuel.

Lawrence married Donna Degen on October 20, 1919.  Donna was a Michigan native, and in 1910 she had been living with her parents and brother in Grand Rapids Michigan, where her father was a life insurance agent.

Engagement announcement of Lawrence Baer and Donna Degen, Pittsburgh Jewish Criterion, October 24, 1919

Marriage announcement of Lawrence Baer and Donna Degen,
Pittsburgh Jewish Criterion, October 24, 1919

After marrying, Lawrence and Donna were living in Attleboro in 1920; a year later their son John Degen Baer was born in Attleboro.  The family was still living in Attleboro in 1930, and Lawrence was listed as the owner of a jewelry manufacturing factory.

The 1920s were years of rapid growth for the family’s jewelry business:

After production of the women’s jewelry line was halted, the company focused solely on the manufacture and marketing of its men’s items. Although its men’s products were already in high demand, the company pushed even harder to gain more market share through the implementation of a new marketing plan and increased advertising. The new marketing plan was originated by [Samuel Einstein] Stone in the late 1920s and dictated that the Attleboro Manufacturing Company employ seven wholesale dealers in different major cities throughout the United States to handle the sale and distribution of the men’s jewelry line. This action helped the company more easily distribute its products nationwide and also increased its advertising range.

Thus, by 1930, there were three Baer siblings living in Attleboro and involved in the leadership of the very successful family jewelry business: Maurice, Tilda, and Lawrence.  Another sibling, Elsie, was living in New York, where her husband Jerome was also working for the family’s jewelry business.

As seen in the last post, their three other surviving siblings had no connection to the jewelry business. Josephine was living in New York with her husband Morris Green, who was in the financial industry at that time.  Two of the Baer daughters were in Philadelphia: Amanda, whose husband Meyer Herman was in the clothing manufacturing business, and Flora, whose husband Julius Adler was a successful engineer.  Two of the nine children had died young: Hattie in 1910 and Alfred in 1923.

By 1930, Jacob and Amalia had thirteen grandchildren: Hattie’s two children, Justin and Richard Herman (raised by her sister Amanda, who had married Hattie’s widowed husband Meyer Herman); Josephine’s son Alan Baer Green; Flora’s three children, Stanley, Jerrold, and Amy Adler; Tilda’s four children, Stephanie, Samuel, Harriet, and Babette Stone; Elsie’s two daughters Marjorie and Elinor Grant; and Lawrence’s son John Degen Baer.

In my next series of posts I will describe what happened after 1930 to the seven surviving children and thirteen grandchildren of Jacob and Amalia (Hamberg) Baer and to Attleboro Manufacturing Company.

How Descendants Bear the Scars of their Forebears: The Legacy of Charles Hamberg and His Son Samuel

As my last several posts have described, Samuel T. Hamberg lived an interesting and in many ways sad life.  His mother Lena Goodman Hamberg died when he was nine; his father Charles Baruch Hamberg killed himself when Samuel was eleven.  Samuel was adopted by his second cousin, Henry Schoenthal, and moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, from Columbia, South Carolina.  He even probably lived with my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, also his second cousin, for some time.  I feel some emotional connection to this poor orphaned boy.

Then he moved to Philadelphia where he attended and graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.  He started to work as a pharmacist, married Jennie Tracy, moved to Camden, New Jersey, and had three children, Charles, Frances, and Edwin, with his wife Jennie.  His life seemed to be remarkably successful and happy for someone who had suffered so much trauma as a young child.

But perhaps there was just an outward appearance of happiness and success.  By 1910, Samuel was no longer living with his wife and children.  Even after Jennie died at a young age in 1917 when her children were not yet grown, Samuel did not come back to live with his children.  Instead, they lived with their aunt, Jennie’s widowed sister, Clara Campbell.

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

Samuel lived in Pittsburgh for some time, working as an investigator for the state, and then by 1930 was back in Philadelphia living with a woman from western Pennsylvania named Cecelia Link.  Cecelia died in 1934.  And I have absolutely no idea what happened to Samuel after 1930.

I can’t find him on the 1940 census anywhere; I can’t find him in any city directory.  I can’t find him in any newspaper articles.  And I can’t find him on any death record. I called the cemetery where Jennie was buried.  He’s not there.  I contacted the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, but received no response.  I have run out of ideas.  A solid brick wall.  I am still searching and hoping to find out more about the rest of his life, but I worry that Samuel’s life ended poorly.

English: A brick wall (stretcher bond) Françai...

English: A brick wall (stretcher bond) Français : Un mur de briques (Appareil en paneresses). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for his children, in 1920 they were still living at 126 Dudley Street in Camden, but with only their aunt Clara Campbell (Jennie’s sister, a widow) as the adult in the household.  Charles, now nineteen, was working as a bonds salesman.  Frances, now sixteen, was working as a clerk in an insurance company, and Edwin, thirteen, was not employed.

Samuel Hamberg's children 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1024; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 182

Samuel Hamberg’s children 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1024; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 182

 

In 1924, Charles and his sister Frances were still living together, but at a new address—2931 Mickle Street in Camden.  They also appear to have changed the spelling of their surname from Hamberg to Hamburg. Were they disassociating from their father? Why would they change the E to a U?

Charles was working as a salesman, Frances as a clerk.  Edwin, who would have been only seventeen, was not listed in the directory.  In 1926, Charles and Frances were living at yet another address—2918 Carman Street—and still working at the same occupations. Their surname is once again spelled Hamburg.  Edwin is still not listed.

And then Charles and Frances disappear.  They are not listed in the 1927 or 1928 Camden directories nor is Edwin.  But in 1929 Edwin does appear in the directory—as Edwin F. Hampton, a salesman residing at 67 South 29th Street in Camden. The 1929 directory has him with the same name, residing at the same address and indicating that he was a salesman in Philadelphia.

Edwin had apparently changed his surname also–from Hamberg to Hampton.  I knew this was the correct Edwin because on the 1930 census Edwin Hampton was living in Camden, NJ, with his aunt Clara Campbell, the same aunt who had taken care of Edwin and his siblings after their mother died in 1917. Edwin was married, and his wife’s name was Edna.  Edwin was working as a weather-stripping contractor, Edna as a bookkeeper in a dairy. Both were 24 and were married at 23, so about a year before the 1930 census.

Edwin Hampton 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Camden, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: 1322; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0057; Image: 137.0; FHL microfilm: 2341057

Edwin Hampton 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Camden, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: 1322; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0057; Image: 137.0; FHL microfilm: 2341057

 

I don’t know how long the marriage between Edwin and Edna lasted, but in 1939 Edwin married Ruth V. Peterson, and he is listed on the 1940 census with this second wife, Ruth. Edwin was now working as a driver for an oil company, and they had a two year old daughter.  I again knew this was the correct Edwin because also living with them was Edwin’s aunt, Clara Campbell.  Ruth and Edwin were still living in Camden in 1943, according to the city directory for that year.

Edwin Hampton 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Pennsauken, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 4-116

Edwin Hampton 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Pennsauken, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 4-116

After that there were no other records I could find for Edwin.  I did, however, find his wife Ruth’s obituary from June 25, 1995, which revealed both where she was to be buried, Bethel Memorial Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and that she was a widow when she died.  Thus, I knew that Edwin had died prior to June 1995.  I called the Bethel Memorial Park cemetery and asked if they had any information about Edwin.  I learned that he was buried there on November 23, 1970.  Even with that information, I could not find an exact date of death.  Edwin isn’t even listed in the Social Security Death Index.

What about his siblings, Charles and Frances?

Knowing that Edwin had changed his surname to Hampton, I searched for Charles under that surname as well. There was a Charles T. Hampton in the 1930 census, listed as in the insurance business and residing at 2617 North 33rd Street in Philadelphia. He was married to a woman named Lula (and her mother Lula Wright was living with them), and the census indicated that they had been married about three years. I found a marriage record for Charles T. Hampton and Lula Wright in Philadelphia in 1927.  In 1930 at the time of the census, they had an eighteen month old son.

Charles Hampton 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2113; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0696; Image: 546.0; FHL microfilm: 2341847

Charles Hampton 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2113; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0696; Image: 546.0; FHL microfilm: 2341847

At first I was not at all convinced that this was the right Charles.  He was 32, a few years older than my Charles T. Hamberg would have been in 1930.  The census said he was born in Pennsylvania, where Charles was in fact born, but the census also said that Charles Hampton’s father was born in Pennsylvania instead of South Carolina where Samuel Hamberg had been born.  That error and the age discrepancy gave me reason to doubt that this was Charles Hamberg.

That doubt increased substantially when I found another Charles T. Hampton on the 1900 census living in Aston, Pennsylvania, a seven month old baby who would have been close to the right age to match the Charles T. Hampton I’d found on the 1930 census.  That Charles was the son of Charles and Elsie Hampton.

Some of the doubt was erased, however, when I found those Hamptons on the 1910 and 1920 census and learned that the Charles Hampton born in October 1899 was in fact Charles August Hampton and that in 1930 Charles August Hampton was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, married to a woman named Mary.

Although that eliminated that Charles Hampton, I still hadn’t confirmed that the Charles T. Hampton married to Lula Wright was in fact born Charles Hamberg, son of Samuel Hamberg and Jenny Tracey.  So I continued to look for more clues about Charles T. Hampton.

I found him with his family on the 1940 census.  He was still married to Lula, and they now had two children, an eleven year old son and a five year old daughter.  Lula’s mother was still living with them.  Charles was a life insurance salesman.  And this time his age was reported as 39, meaning he was born in 1900 or 1901, which is consistent with the birth year for Charles Hamberg.  I was now more convinced that this could be the right person.

Charles Hampton 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3714; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 51-873

Charles Hampton 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3714; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 51-873

Could be, but was it?   Lula Wright Hampton died on October 4, 1955, from ovarian cancer.  Her husband Charles signed the death certificate as the informant, so I knew that Charles T. Hampton was still living as of October 4, 1955.  Lula was buried at Mt. Peace cemetery in Philadelphia.

Lula Wright Hampton 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 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lula Wright Hampton 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 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

And then I found an important clue: a June 10, 1968 bill submitted by the Oliver H. Bair funeral home for services rendered in connection with the funeral of Charles T. Hampton and his burial at Mt. Peace cemetery.  The same cemetery where Lula Hampton had been buried in 1955.  And the most revealing bit of information on that bill was that it had been submitted to Mr. Edwin F. Hampton.  That is, the brother of Charles T. Hampton.  For me, that was the one piece I needed to tie Charles T. Hampton, husband of Lula, to Charles T. Hamberg, son of Samuel: his funeral had been paid for by his brother, Edwin F. Hampton, born Edwin F. Hamberg.

Bill for funeral of Charles T. Hampton, June 1968 Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records Indexes, 1920-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Bill for funeral of Charles T. Hampton, June 1968
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records Indexes, 1920-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

That left one more sibling to find: Frances D. Hamberg, born in 1903 or so, whom I’d last found in the 1926 Camden directory, living with her brother Charles and working as a clerk.  As is so often the case with women, she seemed to disappear.  I assumed she’d married, but I couldn’t find a marriage record.

Once again, one small clue broke down the wall.  Someone with a private tree on Ancestry had someone on their tree named Dorothy Whitman, wife of Frank E. Whitman, indicating that Dorothy Whitman was born Frances Dorothy Hamburg. [1]  I figured it was a clue worth pursuing.

And it indeed was.  I found a marriage record dated October 4, 1924 for Frank Eugene Whitman and Frances Dorothy Hamburg from the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  And I knew this was the right Frances D. Hambe/urg because one of the witnesses at the wedding was her brother, Charles T. Hamburg (before he changed his surname to Hampton).  See the last entry on the document below:

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1018 Description Organization Name : Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1018
Description
Organization Name : Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

 

Frank E. Whitman had been previously married to Mildred Mendenhall, with whom he’d had a son in 1919 named Frank E. Whitman, Jr.  Mildred had died on January 31, 1920, from influenza during the epidemic that killed so many people.  Her infant son, like Samuel T. Hamberg and then like Samuel’s own three children, was left motherless.

There are some strange occurrences in the directory entries for Frank and for Frances in the years right after they married.  In 1925, Frank is listed in the Philadelphia directory as a salesman, living at 3450A Angora Street.  But in 1926, Frances is listed as Frances Hamburg in the Camden directory, living at the same address as her brother Charles, 2918 Carman Street. If she had married Frank in 1924, why was she still using Hamburg, and why was she living in Camden with her brother?

Finally, in 1927 Frank and Frances are listed together at 67 South 29th Street in Camden, the same address where Frances’ brother Edwin Hampton was living. Frank and Frances are listed again at the address two years later in the 1929 Camden directory.

But I cannot find Frank and Frances anywhere on the 1930 census—not in Camden, not in Philadelphia, not in any other place.  On the other hand, I did find Frank’s son from his first marriage living with his grandparents, Frank Sr.’s parents, in Philadelphia.  He was also living with them in 1940, so it appears that he was raised by his paternal grandparents, not his father and stepmother, just as his stepmother Frances had been raised by her aunt, not her father after her mother died.

So where were Frank and Frances in 1930? I don’t know.  They don’t reappear on any records until the 1940 census when they are listed as living at 215 Walnut Lane in Philadelphia, Apt. A202.  Frances is now using her middle name Dorothy as her first name.  Frank was working as a plant manager for a petroleum company.  They had been living at the same place in 1935, and they were still living there two years later when Frank registered for the World War II draft.

Frank and Dorothy Whitman 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3704; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 51-553

Frank and Dorothy Whitman 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3704; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 51-553

 

Frank and Frances Dorothy (Hambe/urg) Whitman both died in Florida, Frank in 1981, Frances Dorothy in 1998. She was 95 years old.  As far as I can tell, they did not have children together, but without the 1930 census, I cannot be certain.  Her obituary had no personal information at all.

Thus ends the saga of Charles Hamberg, born Baruch Hamberg in Breuna, Germany.  As a young man, he immigrated in 1852 with his cousin Abraham, who died less than two years later.  Charles married Mary Hanchey in 1853, and she was murdered in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1866.  Charles remarried, and with his second wife Lena, he had one child, Samuel.  Then, as stated above, after Lena died and Charles took his own life, Samuel moved to western Pennsylvania where he grew up with his Schoenthal cousins.  As described above and in my prior post, Samuel’s own life was a rollercoaster—a tragic childhood, a promising young adulthood, and then a life that seemed to fray around the edges.

As Samuel must have borne the scars of his tragic childhood, so did his children.  They also lost their mother at a young age.  They also seemed to lose their father early in their lives, although not to death.  They all changed their surnames, perhaps to distance themselves from that father.  Charles Baruch Hamberg’s legacy appears to be a sad one, though without a few more answers, it is hard to know for sure.

 

 

[1] Although the tree was private, Ancestry will list names from a private tree; you just can’t see the details of the tree without permission of the owner.  .

The Mysterious Administratrix

As I wrote last week, Samuel Hamberg, my great-grandfather’s second cousin, was orphaned in 1879 in Columbia, South Carolina, when his father Charles committed suicide two years after Samuel’s mother Lena had died at age 28.  But how did Samuel end up in Pennsylvania? Looking for the answer to that question led to another mystery and, I think, more answers.

Charles Hamberg died without a will, leaving behind personal property consisting primarily of furniture and household items valued at that time at $487.71; today that would be equivalent to approximately $11,600.  The administratrix of his estate was someone named Amelia (or Amalia or Amalie[1] ) Hamberg.

Richland County, South Carolina Miscellaneous Estate Records, 1799-1955; Author: South Carolina. County Court (Richland County); Probate Place: Richland, South Carolina

Richland County, South Carolina Miscellaneous Estate Records, 1799-1955; Author: South Carolina. County Court (Richland County); Probate Place: Richland, South Carolina

 

Now who was she?  For a long time I assumed she was yet a third wife, someone Charles married after Mary, who’d been murdered, and Lena, mother of Samuel.  Lena had died in 1877, leaving Charles with their nine year old son.  I figured he had quickly married again, finding a mother for Samuel.  But I could not find one record for an Amalia or Amelia or Amalie Hamberg anywhere in South Carolina before or after Charles’ death. I couldn’t even find someone with just that first name who seemed a likely candidate.  I was working in circles, getting frustrated.

Then I searched for anyone named Amelia or Amalia or Amalie Hamberg anywhere in the US, and I found one Amalia Hamberg on a death record for her daughter Hattie Baer Herman, who had died in Philadelphia in 1910.  Hattie’s father was Jacob Baer.  Both parents were born in Germany, according to the death certificate.

 

Death certificate of Hattie Baer, daughter of Amalia Hamberg 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 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Death certificate of Hattie Baer, daughter of Amalia Hamberg
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 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Then it occurred to me: what if Amalia was not Charles Hamberg’s wife, but a sister or a cousin? If Charles died unmarried and intestate, some other family member might have been appointed to administer his estate.

So I looked back at the Hamberg family tree, and I saw that there was a Malchen Hamberg on the tree.  Malchen was the daughter of Seligmann Hamberg and granddaughter of Moses Hamberg.  She was my great-grandfather’s first cousin.

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

 

 

Malchen was born March 7, 1851, in Breuna, and according to the family report posted on the site maintained by Hans-Peter Klein, she had emigrated from Germany.  She certainly looked like a possible candidate for the Amalia Hamberg who had been appointed to administer Charles Hamberg’s estate.  She was, like my great-grandfather, a first cousin, once removed, of Charles Hamberg.

corrected chart charles hamberg to malchen hambeg

 

 

So I had found yet another Hamberg cousin who had immigrated to the US.  Further research revealed that Amalia had immigrated in 1871, arriving in Baltimore.

Amalie Hamberg passenger ship manifest for the USS Baltimore, arriving September 4, 1871, Baltimore, MD Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK6L-H1ZK : accessed 2 May 2016), Amalie Hamberg, ; citing Immigration, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States, NARA microfilm publications M255, M596, and T844 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL film 417,401.

Amalie Hamberg passenger ship manifest for the USS Baltimore, arriving September 4, 1871, Baltimore, MD  Line 388
Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK6L-H1ZK : accessed 2 May 2016), Amalie Hamberg, ; citing Immigration, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States, NARA microfilm publications M255, M596, and T844 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL film 417,401.

According to the 1900 census, Amalia married Jacob Baer in 1873.  Reviewing the birth records of their children indicated that Amalia and Jacob lived in Pittsburgh for many years where they had nine children born between 1874 and 1891.  (More on Amalia and her family in a later post.)  The fact that Amalia ended up in Pittsburgh where her Schoenthal cousins were living further corroborated my assumption that she was in fact Malchen Hamberg of Breuna.

And then the icing on the cake: I received the death certificate for Amalia Baer.   Amalia Baer died on April 23, 1931, in New York City.  Her father’s name was Selig Hamburger.

Baer, Amalia death page 1

Baer, Amalia death page 2

 

Okay, it not precisely right.  Malchen’s father was Seligmann Hamberg.  So the informant cut off a syllable from the first name and added one to the surname.  I still think Amalia was Malchen.

The mother’s name was even further off—Julia Schwartz instead of Jette Gans.  But death certificates are often filled with mistakes, and it’s not surprising that the informant did not have completely accurate information about the parents of a 78 year old woman, parents that the informant had likely never met.

The certificate also stated that Amalia had been in the US for 60 years; Amalia Hamberg had arrived in 1871, sixty years before 1931, the year Amalia Baer died.

So I am 99% sure that Malchen Hamberg, granddaughter of my three-times great-grandfather Moses Hamberg, was Amalia Hamberg, wife of Jacob Baer, administratrix of Charles Hamberg’s estate.

Only one thing seemed strange.  If Amalia married Jacob Baer in 1873, why was she using the name Hamberg in 1879 when she was appointed to administer Charles’ estate? I don’t know.  Hence, that lingering one percent of doubt.

There are also other questions.  Why wasn’t Charles’ brother Moses made the administrator of his estate? He was the closest relative.  Why Amalia, his cousin and a woman, instead?

Well, I cannot find the Moses Hamberg from Breuna who immigrated in 1846 as a seventeen year old shoemaker on any subsequent record.  Having searched every census from 1850 forward using wild cards, misspellings, and several databases, I have hit that proverbial brick wall. I can find other men named Moses Hamberg, but none that fit the other criteria for being the correct person.  Either the age is off, the birth place is wrong, or the family members and structure are different.

Maybe Moses changed his name so drastically that it is undiscoverable.  Maybe he died and his death is not recorded anywhere I can find.  Maybe he returned to Germany or went to some third place.  I don’t know.  But I can’t find him.  That may explain why Amalia, not Moses, administered Charles Hamberg’s estate.

But there are other questions.  By 1879 Amalia had several young children of her own to care for.  Did she travel to South Carolina to deal with Samuel and with the estate?  Or was it all handled locally by Walter. S. Monteith, the Columbia attorney representing Amalia, according to the estate papers?

And how did Samuel get from Columbia, South Carolina, to Washington, Pennsylvania? Did Amalia go to get him? Or Henry? Or some other family member? Or did he take a train by himself? These are all questions for which I have no answers.

As for what happened to Samuel after he came to Pennsylvania—well, that’s a story for yet another post.

 

 

 

 

[1] The spelling varies according to the record; later records seem to consistently use Amalia so I will adopt that in this post.