No More Dinkelspiels

My three-times-great-grandfather John Nusbaum had one sister who settled in the US (or at least she is the only one I’ve found): Mathilde Nusbaum, who married Isaac Dinkelspiel in Germany and immigrated with him to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As I have already discussed, Mathilde died in 1878, and her husband Isaac Dinkelspiel died in 1889.  Their son Adolph died in 1896, and he had no children who survived him.  That left Mathilde and Isaac’s two daughters, Paulina and Sophia, to continue the family line, although not the Dinkelspiel name.  Sadly, Adolph Dinkelspiel was the last member of my family to have this rather unique and interesting name.

This post will focus on the family of Paulina Dinkelspiel. Paulina had married one of the three Simon brothers, Moses, and in 1880 they were living in Baltimore with their children: Joseph, Francis, Leon, Flora, and Nellie, ranging in age from eighteen down to eight years old. Moses was in the retail liquor business.  Moses remained in the liquor business throughout the 1880s and 1890s until he died on February 12, 1899, at age 64.  His wife Paulina Dinkelspiel Simon died five years later on March 29, 1904.  She was 63.

Paulina Dinkelspiel Simon death certificate

Paulina Dinkelspiel Simon death certificate


The terms of Paulina Dinkelspiel Simon’s will were disclosed in a news story in the April 16, 1904, edition of the Baltimore Sun, page 8.  She left her house and its contents to her daughter Nellie.  Her granddaughter Madeline Mayer (daughter of Flora Simon Mayer, to be discussed in my next post) was given $500, and the rest of the estate was divided evenly among her five surviving children, Joseph, Francis, Leon, Flora, and Nellie.  It is interesting that she singled out one child and one grandchild over the others.

Baltimore Sun April 16, 1904, p 8

Baltimore Sun April 16, 1904, p 8

Paulina was buried at Oheb Shalom cemetery in Baltimore along with her husband Moses, her parents Isaac and Mathilde (Nusbaum) Dinkelspiel, and the two children who predeceased her and Moses, Albert and Miriam.

Paulina and Moses Simon’s oldest child Joseph Simon had married Emilie Baernstein in July, 1889, in Baltimore, where she was born and raised.  By 1902, Joseph and Emilie had moved to York, Pennsylvania, where Joseph purchased a millinery shop.

York Daily, January 13, 1902.

York Daily, January 13, 1902.

Joseph and Emilie had a son Moses Joseph Simon, born in 1902, who died in May, 1908.  Unfortunately, I could not locate a death certificate for Moses, so I do not know the cause of death.  All I could locate was this notice of his funeral in the York Daily newspaper and his headstone.

York Daily May 4, 1908 p. 5

York Daily May 4, 1908 p. 5


Joseph and Emilie did not have any other children. They were members of the Hebrew Reformed Congregation in York and supporters of the local symphony orchestra. Joseph worked as a milliner in York for many years until his death in April 1928.  Emilie lived another twelve years.  After Joseph died, she relocated to Baltimore, where she died in 1940.  They were buried with their son Moses at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Pennsylvania.

simon-joseph-0 headstone simon-amelia-0

(Emilie’s official name appears to have been Amelia.)



(All headstone images found at )

Joseph’s younger brother Francis Simon, known as Frank, was working as a clerk in 1895, and in 1900 he was living with his mother and younger sister Nellie, still listing his occupation as a clerk.  Like his brother Joseph, Frank married a woman born and raised in Baltimore, Bertha May.  According to the 1930 census, Frank married Bertha when he was 40 years old and she was 34, or in 1904.  They did not have any children.  In 1910, Frank and Bertha were living with Bertha’s father and her sister Tillie and brother-in-law Joseph Wurtzburger and their children.  Frank was working as the treasurer of a mercantile business.  In 1920 Frank and Bertha were living on their own, and neither was employed.  Frank was 54, and Bertha was 50. In the 1922 Baltimore directory, however, Frank is listed as being in the soft drinks business.  The 1930 census again lists them without occupations.

Frank died January 31, 1932, and is buried at the Baltimore Hebrew cemetery; Bertha was living with her widowed sister, Tillie Wurtzburger, at the time of the 1940 census.  Her sister Tillie died in 1945, and Bertha died in June, 1951, at the age of 81.

The third child of Paulina Dinkelspiel and Moses Simon was Leon Simon, born in 1866, two years after Frank.  By 1895 Leon had his own company, L. Simon and Co., listed in the Baltimore directory as a cloak manufacturing company.  He married Helen Wolf the following year in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Helen was born in Harrisburg, and her father William was a real estate agent there, according to the 1880 census.  Perhaps Frank’s mother Paulina had known the Wolf family when she was growing up in Harrisburg.

Leon and Helen had two sons, William Wolf Simon, born in 1897, and Mervyn Moses Simon, born in 1900: the first named for Helen’s father and the second for Leon’s father, who had died the year before.  Leon had no occupation listed on the 1900 census, but the 1902 Baltimore directory still listed him with L. Simon and Co.  On the 1910 census, however, his occupation appears to read “General Manager Furniture Business;” in the 1914 directory, his firm name now appears as Salontz & Simon, so it would seem that his cloak business no longer existed. I found a listing in a 1904 Pittsburgh directory for the Baltimore firm of Salontz & Simon in the fur business category.  The 1920 census is consistent with this, as it gives his occupation as a manufacturer of furs.  In 1930 he was still in the fur business, though now his occupation is described as a fur retail merchant. The 1940 census also described him as a retail furrier.

By Doug Coldwell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Doug Coldwell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons

All through these decades, Leon and Helen’s two sons lived with them, and they worked in their father’s fur business once they were old enough.  Neither son ever married.  Leon died on August 29, 1941, and his son Mervyn died the following year on August 27, 1942.  He was only 42 years old.  I have ordered a death certificate for Mervyn to determine his cause of death.

UPDATE: Here is Mervyn’s death certificate.

Mervyn Simon death certificate

William Simon, the older brother, continued to live with his mother at least until 1956 when both are listed at the same address in the Baltimore directory.  (No occupation was listed.)  Helen Wolf Simon died November 29, 1965, and William died less than a year later on October 4, 1966.  All four members of the family are buried at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

I am going to skip the fourth child Flora for now and move on to the fifth child, Nellie Simon, the one who inherited the house from her mother Paulina Dinkelspiel Simon.  I had a lot of trouble figuring out what happened to Nellie after her mother died in 1904.  In 1900 she had been living with her mother and brother Frank; she was 27 years old and had no occupation listed. She is also listed in the 1902 directory at the same address at 844 North Howard Street, again with no occupation listed.  Since her mother bequeathed that house to Nellie when she died in 1904, I expected to find Nellie living there in 1910.  But I could not find her there, and although there was another Nellie Simon working as a hairdresser in Baltimore in the 1910s, the address was not the same.

One tree on listed Nellie as married to an Adolph Feldstein, but I could not find any direct sources to corroborate that marriage.  I was able to find Adolph and Nellie S. Feldstein on the 1910 census as well as the 1920 and 1930 census reports living in Philadelphia.  The facts about that Nellie seemed consistent with my Nellie Simon: her age, parents’ birth places, and her birth place were all right, although the latter two census reports had her place of birth as Maryland instead of Pennsylvania.  I still felt uncertain until I found a bill from the funeral home in charge of Nellie’s funeral in 1958.  The document listed Horace A. Stern as the person responsible for the bill.  Although at first the name did not ring a bell, a quick search of my own family tree revealed that Horace Stern was married to the granddaughter of Nellie’s sister Flora.  That was enough to convince me that the Nellie who had married Adolph Feldstein was in fact Nellie Simon, the youngest child of Paulina Dinkelspiel and Moses Simon and the grandchild of Mathilde Nusbaum and Isaac Dinkelspiel.

Nellie and Adolph Feldstein did not have any children.  Adolph worked in his father’s business manufacturing “haircloth.”  I had never heard this term before, but a quick look on the internet revealed that according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, it is “any of various stiff wiry fabrics especially of horsehair or camel hair used for upholstery or for stiffening in garments.”   Adolph was the secretary and treasurer of the company in the 1910s, and he continued to work in the business throughout the 1920s and the 1930s until his death by suicide in 1937.  As mentioned above, Nellie lived another twenty years, passing away in 1958.

Hair Cloth Loom

Hair Cloth Loom

It’s interesting that three of these siblings were all involved in the clothing trade, although different aspects of it: hats, furs, and haircloth.  (I am not really sure how Frank supported himself and his wife.)  It’s also interesting that three of the five children of Paulina Dinkelspiel and Moses Simon did not have children who survived them.  Joseph’s one child passed away as a little boy, and Frank and Nellie married but never had children. Leon did have two sons who grew to adulthood, but his sons never married or had children, so there were no descendants to carry on his family line.  Only Flora, the remaining sibling, had grandchildren and further generations of descendants.  I will discuss her and her descendants in my next post.

Back to the Real World and the 1870s…

And I am back from vacation.  We had a wonderful time, and not having reliable internet access may have been a blessing.  I couldn’t do any new research or posting to the blog so my brain had a chance to clear.  Always a good thing.  I did, however, have one more post “in the bank” that I prepared before I left, so here it is. I was awaiting a few more documents, hoping they would answer a few questions, and I received some while away that I have just reviewed.

I wish I could post a somewhat more uplifting post for the holiday season, but I can’t deny the sad fact that some of my relatives suffered considerable sadness in their lives.  On the other hand, researching and writing about the families of Leopold Nusbaum and his sister Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel only made me appreciate all my blessings.  So in that sense it is perhaps appropriate.  Nothing can make you appreciate all you have more than realizing how little others have.

So here is the story of two of the Nusbaum siblings, one of the brothers and one of the sisters of my three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum.

Leopold Nusbaum had died in 1866 when he was 58 years old, leaving his widow Rosa and daughter Francis (how she apparently spelled it for most of her life) behind. Leopold and Rosa had lost a son, Adolph, who died when he was just a young boy.  Francis was only 16 when her father died.  After Leopold died, Rosa and Francis moved from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and were living in 1870 with Rosa’s brother-in-law, John Nusbaum.

Late in 1870, Francis Nusbaum married Henry N. Frank.  Henry, the son of Nathan and Caroline Frank, was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where Leopold’s brother Maxwell Nusbaum and his family had once lived before relocating to Harrisburg.  Henry’s father Nathan Frank was in the dry goods business, so the Nusbaums and Franks might have known each other from those earlier times. Nathan, Caroline, and their children had relocated to Philadelphia by 1870 and were living on Franklin Avenue right near the Simons, Wilers, and other members of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss clan.  Perhaps that is how Francis and Henry met, if not from an earlier family connection.

Not long after they were married, Henry and Francis must have moved back to Lewistown because their first child, Leopold, was born there on August 11, 1871.  Leopold was obviously named for Francis’ father.  A second child, Senie, was born in May 1876, and then another, Cora, was born in 1877.  In 1880, Henry and Francis were living in Lewistown with their three young children as well as Francis’ mother Rosa and Henry’s father Nathan. Maybe Nathan was shuttling back and forth between Lewistown and Philadelphia because he is listed on the 1880 census in both places, once with Henry and Francis and then again with Caroline and their other children.  Both Henry and his father Nathan listed their occupations as merchants.

Lewistown Town Square By KATMAAN (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Lewistown Town Square
By KATMAAN (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, there is not much else I can find about Henry, Francis, or their children during the 1870s because Lewistown does not appear to have any directories on the city directory database. Lewistown’s population in 1880 was only a little more than three thousand people, which, while a 17% increase from its population of about 2700 in 1870, is still a fairly small town.  It is about 60 miles from Harrisburg, however, and as I’ve written before, well located for trade, so the Frank family must have thought that it was still a good place to have a business even if the rest of the family had relocated to Philadelphia.

Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiels’ family is better documented.  She and her husband Isaac had settled and stayed in Harrisburg, which is where they were living as the 1870s began. Isaac was working as a merchant.  Both of their children were out of the house.  Adolph was living in Peoria at the same address as his cousin Julius Nusbaum and working with him in John Nusbaum’s dry goods store in that city.  On January 4, 1871, Adolph Dinkelspiel married Nancy Lyon in Peoria, and their daughter Eva was born a year later on January 25, 1872.  Adolph and Nancy remained in Peoria, and by 1875 Adolph was listed as the “superintendent” of John Nusbaum’s store.  (Julius does not appear in the 1875 directory, though he does reappear in Peoria in 1876.)

On November 28, 1879, his daughter Eva died from scarlet fever.  She was not quite eight years old.  Adolph and Nancy did not have other children, and this must have been a devastating loss.

eva dinkelspiel death cert

In fact, shortly thereafter Adolph, who had been in Peoria for over sixteen years, and Nancy, who was born there and still had family there, left Peoria and relocated to Philadelphia.  On the 1880 census, Adolph was working as a clothing salesman and Nancy as a barber.  (At least that’s what I think it says.  What do you think?)  Perhaps Adolph and Nancy left to find better opportunities or perhaps they left to escape the painful memories.  Whatever took them away from Peoria, however, was enough that they never lived there again.

adolph dinkelspiel snip 1880 census

Adolph and Nancy did not remain in Philadelphia for very long, however.  By 1882 Adolph and Nancy had relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, where Adolph worked as a bookkeeper for many years.  They remained in St. Louis for the rest of their lives.  Adolph died on November 25, 1896, and Nancy less than a year and a half later on March 5, 1898. Adolph was only 53, and Nancy was not even fifty years old.

My cousin-by-marriage Ned Lewison sent me a copy of Nancy’s obituary from the March 7, 1898 Peoria Evening Star.  It reported the following information about Nancy and Adolph Dinkelspiel:

“She married Adolph Dinkelspiel, at that time manager of the Philadelphia store on the corner of Main and Adams Street, one of the leading dry goods houses in Peoria.  When the house failed, they removed to St. Louis and lived happily together until the death of Mr. Dinkelspiel, when his widow came to this city.  But she preferred St. Louis for a residence, and although she made frequent visits to Peoria, she did not take up residence here.”

I found two points of interest in this obituary.  One, there is no mention of their daughter Eva.  And two, it reveals that the Nusbaum store in Peoria had closed, prompting Nancy and Adolph to relocate.  Thus, Adolph and Nancy not only suffered a terrible personal loss, like many others in the family and in the country, they were negatively affected by the economic conditions of the 1870s.

Nancy and Adolph are both buried, along with their daughter Eva, in Peoria.  Only death, it seems, could bring them back to Peoria.

dinkelspiel headstone

Adolph’s sisters Paulina and Sophia Dinkelspiel did not have lives quite as sad as that of their brother, but they did have their share of heartbreak.  Sophia, who had married Herman Marks in 1869, and was living in Harrisburg, had a child Leon who was born on October 15, 1870.  Leon died when he was just two years old on October 24, 1872.  I do not know the cause of death because the only record I have for Leon at the moment is his headstone.  (Ned’ s research uncovered yet another child who died young, May Marks, but I cannot find any record for her.)

leon marks headstone

Sophia and Herman did have three other children in the 1870s who did survive: Hattie, born May 30, 1873, just seven months after Leon died; Jennie, born August 24, 1876; and Edgar, born August 27, 1879.  Herman worked as a clothing merchant, and during the 1870s the family lived at the same address as the store, 435 Market Street in Harrisburg.

Paulina (Dinkelspiel) and Moses Simon, meanwhile, were still in Baltimore in the 1870s.  In 1870 Moses was a dealer “in all kinds of leather,” according to the 1870 census. At first I thought that Moses and Paulina had relocated to Philadelphia in 1871 because I found a Moses Simon in the Philadelphia directories for the years starting in 1871 who was living near the other family members and dealing in men’s clothing.  But since Moses and Paulina Simon are listed as living in Baltimore for the 1880 census and since Moses was a liquor dealer in Baltimore on that census, I realized that I had been confused and returned to look for Moses in Baltimore directories for that decade.

Sure enough, beginning in 1871 Moses was in the liquor business, making me wonder whether the 1870 census taker had heard “liquor” as “leather.”  After all, who says they deal in all kinds of leather?  All kinds of liquor makes more sense.  Thus, like the other members of the next generation, Adolphus and Simon Nusbaum in Peoria, Leman Simon in Pittsburgh, and Albert Nusbaum in Philadelphia, Moses Simon had become a liquor dealer.

Moses and Paulina had a fourth child in 1872, Nellie. The other children of Moses and Paulina were growing up in the 1870s.  By the end of the decade, Joseph was eighteen, Leon was fourteen, Flora was twelve, and little Nellie was eight.

Ned Lewison, my more experienced colleague and Dinkelspiel cousin, found a fifth child Albert born in 1875 who died August 25, 1876 and a sixth child Miriam born in July 1877 who died October 30, 1878, both of whom are buried at Oheb Shalom cemetery in Harrisburg, where their parents would also later be buried.  Thus, Paulina lost two babies in the 1870s.  For her parents, Mathilde and Isaac, that meant the deaths of four grandchildren in the 1870s alone.

As for Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel themselves, although they began and ended the decade in Harrisburg, my research suggests that for at least part of that decade, they had moved to Baltimore.  Isaac has no listing in the 1875 and 1876 Harrisburg directories (there were no directories for Harrisburg on line for the years between 1870 and 1874), but he does show up again in the Harrisburg directories for 1877 and 1878.  When I broadened the geographic scope of my search, I found an Isaac Dinkelspiel listed in the Baltimore directories for the years 1872, 1873, 1874, and 1875 as a liquor dealer.  This seemed like it could not be coincidental.  It’s such an unusual name, and Isaac’s son-in-law Moses Simon was a liquor dealer in Baltimore.  It seems that for at least four years, Isaac and Mathilde had left Harrisburg for Baltimore, leaving their other daughter Sophia and her husband Herman Marks in charge of the business at 435 Market Street in Harrisburg, where Isaac and Mathilde lived when they returned to Harrisburg in 1877.

Market Street in Harrisburg 1910  By Wrightchr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Market Street in Harrisburg 1910
By Wrightchr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The extended Dinkelspiel family as well as the Nusbaum family suffered another major loss before the end of the decade.  According to Ned Lewison’s research, Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel died on June 20, 1878. Another Nusbaum sibling had died, leaving only John and Ernst alive of the original six who had emigrated from Germany to America; Maxwell, Leopold, Isaac, and now Mathilde were gone. Mathilde is buried at Oheb Shalom cemetery in Harrisburg.

What happened to Isaac Dinkelspiel after his wife Mathilde died? Although Isaac appeared in the 1880 Harrisburg directory at 435 Market Street, the same address as his son-in-law Herman and daughter Sophia (Dinkelspiel) Marks, he does not appear with them on the 1880 census at that address.  In fact, I cannot find him living with any of his children or anywhere else on the 1880 census, although he is again listed in the Harrisburg directory at 435 Market Street for every year between 1880 and 1889 (except 1881, which is not included in the collection on  I assume the omission from the census is just that—an omission, and that Isaac was in fact living with Sophia and Herman during 1880 and until he died on October 26, 1889, in Harrisburg.  He is buried with his wife Mathilde at Oheb Shalom cemetery in Harrisburg.

Thus, the Dinkelspiels certainly suffered greatly in the 18070s.  Five children died in the 1870s—Eva Dinkelspiel, May Marks, Leon Marks, Albert Simon, and Miriam Simon.  And their grandmother, Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel, also passed away, joining her brothers Maxwell, Leopold, and Isaac, leaving only John and Ernst left of the six Nusbaum siblings who left Schopfloch beginning in the 1840s to come to America.

And so I leave you with this thought as we start looking forward to a New Year.  Don’t take your children or your grandchildren for granted.  Cherish every moment you get to share with them.  And be grateful for modern medicine and the way it has substantially reduced the risks of children being taken from us so cruelly.


The Nusbaum and Dreyfuss Families Settle into America: 1850-1860

Market Square, Harrisburg in 1860

Market Square, Harrisburg in 1860

As I wrote in my last post about the Nusbaums, the 1850s were for the most part a decade of growth for the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss families although there were two tragedies during that decade.  I have already written about the tragic death of Maxwell Nusbaum in the 1851 Great Fire in San Francisco.  Maxwell died trying to protect the property of another merchant, and his death left his wife Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum with two very young children, Flora and Albert.  Mathilde remarried a few years later, marrying Moses Pollock, with whom she had two more children in 1856 and 1859, Emanuel and Miriam.  Moses was employed as a merchant in Harrisburg, according to the 1860 census.  Since Mathilde was my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette’s sister, her children with Maxwell were cousins both maternally and paternally.

Because the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss families were so entwined, it seems appropriate to discuss them together rather than as two separate lines in my family.  Why return to Harrisburg (and Peoria) twice? (Nothing against those two cities; it just seems to make sense to discuss the two families together.)

In the 1850s a number of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss siblings were living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  In 1860, Mathilde Nusbaum (sister of Maxwell, John, Leopold and Ernst) and her husband Isaac Dinkelspiel were still living in Harrisburg with their three children, now all adolescents: Paulina (19), Adolph (17), and Sophie (12).  Isaac was working as an “agent,” which I assume means he was an agent in the Nusbaum merchant business.  His son Adolph was working as a clerk, again presumably for the Nusbaum family business.

Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel’s brother Leopold Nusbaum had also moved to Harrisburg during the 1850s, leaving Blythe, Pennsylvania where he had been a butcher.  Perhaps they moved in the aftermath of his family’s personal tragedy.  Their son Adolph, born in 1848, died on June 6, 1852.  He was only four years old.  He died from acute gastritis.  The death certificate says it was “accompanied by” a word I cannot decipher.  Can anyone read it?  He was buried at Mikveh Israel cemetery in Philadelphia.  I found it interesting that the family, though living in Harrisburg, buried their child in Philadelphia.  Perhaps the Jewish cemetery in Harrisburg had not yet opened.[1]

UPDATE:  My medical consultant says that the other cause of death is cerebritis, meaning a brain infection or abscess.

Death certificate of Adolph Nusbaum, son of Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum

Death certificate of Adolph Nusbaum, son of Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum

Leopold and his wife Rosa had a second child, Francis, who was born in 1850.  Although Francis is listed as a boy on both the 1850 census and the 1860 census, by 1870 she is identified as female and is so thereafter.[2] Her name, however, is almost always spelled as Francis, and I suppose that must have confused the first two census takers as ordinarily Francis is a boy’s name and Frances is the way it is spelled for a girl.  At any rate, it is pretty clear that Francis was a girl even in 1850 and 1860.

Leopold seems to have given up on being a butcher when he moved to Harrisburg.  According to the 1860 census, he, like his brothers John and Ernest, was now a merchant.  Also listed as living with Leopold, Rosa, and Francis on the 1860 census was “A. Dinkelspiel,” presumably Adolph Dinkelspiel, Leopold’s nephew, Mathilde’s son.  Since Adolph was also listed in his parents’ household, my guess is that he may have been living with Leopold and working as a clerk in his store, but that his parents had also counted him as part of their household.

Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum and family 1860 census

Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum and family 1860 census

In addition to the two Nusbaum siblings Leopold and Mathilde (Dinkelspiel), Harrisburg was also the home of Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler for some part of the 1850s.  Caroline, the sister of Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock, was married to Moses Wiler.  They had four children, Eliza (1842), Simon (1843), Fanny (1846), and Clara (1849). Simon was born in Philadelphia, and Clara was born in Gettysburg (nothing more specific than Pennsylvania is given for Eliza or Fanny), so Caroline and Moses must have been moving around quite a bit within Pennsylvania during the 1840s.  I assume he was a peddler and thus the family kept moving until he could open a more permanent business.

Although they are listed as living in Harrisburg in 1850, by 1860 they were living in Philadelphia with their four children, at that point three teenagers and one eleven year old.  Moses was working as a merchant, apparently doing quite well.  He had $8000 worth of real estate and $22,000 worth of personal assets; they also had a 27 year old servant living with them.

Moses and Caroline Dreyfuss WIler and family 1860 census

Moses and Caroline Dreyfuss WIler and family 1860 census

John Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandfather, had also moved to Philadelphia by 1860.  In fact, their fifth child, Miriam, was born in Philadelphia on October 30, 1858, so the family must have relocated from Harrisburg by that time.  According to the 1859 Philadelphia directory, John Nusbaum and his family were living at 433 Vine Street, and his place of business was located nearby at 132 North Third Street in Philadelphia.

John and Ernst Nusbaum in the 1859 Philadelphia direcotry

John and Ernst Nusbaum in the 1859 Philadelphia direcotry

John and Jeanette and all five of their children were living, like the Wilers, in the 12th Ward of Philadelphia.[3]  John was occupied as a merchant and had $6000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal property, so like his brother-in-law Moses Wiler, he was doing quite well.  In fact, the Nusbaums had two servants living with them at that time.  My great-great-grandmother Frances, the future wife of Bernard Seligman, was fourteen years old in 1860, and her brothers were 12, 17, and 18, plus there was two year old Miriam, so it must have been quite a handful for those two servants—four adolescents and a toddler.[4]

John Nusbaum and family 1860 census

John and Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and family 1860 census


John and Jeanette not only had Jeanette’s sister Caroline and her family living nearby, they also had John’s brother Ernst and his family living about a mile away.  According to the 1859 Philadelphia directory (see above), Ernst Nusbaum was living at 521 Buttonwood and working at 55 North Third Street, down the block from his brother John.  Ernst had been living in Philadelphia since at least 1851 since his first child Arthur was born on December 31 of that year.  In 1852, he and his wife Clarissa Arnold and their infant son were living at 191 North 10th Street, and Ernst was working as a merchant at 70 ½ North Third Street.  By 1854 they had moved to Buttonwood Street, and in the 1859 directory Ernst is listed as a clothier doing business with Simon W. Arnold (Clarissa’s brother) and Jacob Nirdlinger.

Ernst Nusbaum 1859 Philadelphia directory

Ernst Nusbaum 1859 Philadelphia directory

On the 1860 census, Ernst’s occupation is listed as “M’s Tailor,” or what I assume is men’s tailor.  Was that his role in the clothing business with his brother-in-law Simon?  Or was it more that they were selling men’s clothing?  Ernst had $20,000 in personal assets and two servants living in the home in addition to his wife Clara and their five children: Arthur (1851), Myer (1852), Fanny (1856), Edgar (1858), and Henrietta (1860 and just two months old at the time of the census).  Unlike his brother John, Ernst had a household of young children in 1860, five children under ten years old.

Ernst and Clarissa Arnold Nusbaum 1860 census

Ernst and Clarissa Arnold Nusbaum 1860 census

Thus, whether in Harrisburg or Philadelphia, the Dreyfuss sisters and their husbands and the Nusbaum siblings and their spouses were all adjusting to life in America, and their families were growing.  Although they suffered two very tragic losses early in the decade of the 1850s, by 1860 it appears that all were doing well.

The next decade would bring changes as the next generation entered adulthood and the country faced the Civil War.

[1] I am awaiting a book on the Jewish history of Harrisburg and should know more once it arrives.

[2] Thus, my reference to two sons in my prior post was mistaken.

[3] The Nusbaum businesses were located about a mile north of where my Cohen relatives were operating their pawnshop business during this same time period.  It would be interesting to know how often their paths crossed even before Flora Cohen married Jacob Weil in 1908.

[4] The ten year gap between Julius and Miriam makes me wonder whether there weren’t other children born during that time who did not survive.

The Great Fire of San Francisco 1851 and My Twisted Family Tree

By 1850, as I wrote previously, John Nusbaum and his siblings Mathilde, Leopold, Ernst, and Maxwell were all settled somewhere in Pennsylvania and involved in selling merchandise (except for Leopold, who was a butcher).  In the next decade the family would move around a bit, see their families grow, and endure some terrible tragedies.

The first of those tragedies involved Maxwell.  In 1850 Maxwell was living in Lewistown, working as a merchant in a store that carried his name, M. Nusbaum’s.  He and his wife, Mathilde nee Dreyfuss, the sister of my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum, had a daughter Flora who was born in 1848.  And Mathilde must have been pregnant in 1850 because on January 30, 1851, their son Albert was born.  Maxwell and Mathilde must have moved to Harrisburg by then because Albert’s birth took place in Harrisburg.

When I searched for Maxwell and his family on the 1860 census, I could not find Maxwell or Mathilde at all, but I did find Albert and Flora Newsbaum, living with an M. Pollock, a Swiss born merchant in Harrisburg.  Unfortunately, the census was barely legible, and the transcriber had had a lot of difficulty recording the names on the census, but by searching generally for M. Pollock born in Switzerland and living in Harrisburg, I was eventually able to find out that M. Pollock was Moses Pollock and that he was married to Mathilde.  The other names on that 1860 census, although transcribed as Mary Pollock, Michael Pollock, and Mary Pollock, were really Mathilde, Emanuel, and Miriam Pollock.  Emanuel and Miriam were Mathilde’s children with Moses, born in 1856 and 1859 respectively.

Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and family 1860 census

Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and family 1860 census

But what had happened to Maxwell? I could find no record of him after the 1850 census, not a directory, census, or death record.  So I turned to and found this terrible news item:


Sunbury (PA) American,  July 5, 1851, p. 2

Sunbury (PA) American, July 5, 1851, p. 2

Maxwell had died in San Francisco while trying to protect the property of another business from the raging fires that destroyed much of San Francisco in the spring and summer of 1851.

Before the fire Wikipedia

San Francisco before the 1851 fires Library of Congress CALL NUMBER: DAG no. 1331

The first 1851 fire was described graphically on the website honoring the San Francisco Fire Department,

The great fire on this day actually began after 11:00 PM on May 3rd, in a store on the south side of Portsmouth Plaza.  A known habitue of villainous Sydney-Town was seen running from the store moments before it exploded in flame and simultaneous fires erupted in the business district.  Water evaporated to steam as swift winds sent the roaring flames everywhere through the great blow-pipe-like hollows beneath the plank streets.  Men in their anguish, ran for shelter within new, fancied “fireproof” brick and iron buildings, only to perish miserably when the metal shutters and doors expanded and couldn’t be opened.  Three-fourths of the city was lost, yet, in ten days, San Franciscans rebuilt one-fifth of their city.

Six weeks later, there was a second horrendous fire:

On June 22, 1851, just before 11:00 AM, a fire, clearly the work of an incendiary, broke out in a frame house on Pacific Street near Powell. Strong summer sea-breezes drove the flames south and east.  Firefighter’s fearless battles were of no avail against the fire’s intense heat and speed.  Ten blocks and portions of six others were destroyed between Powell, Sansome, Clay and Broadway.  The raging demon swept away relics of an older time. City Hall was consumed, born in 1846, and the Jenny Lind Theatre burned for the sixth time.  The Old Adobe Custom House burned, and Sam Brannan’s House, in which were exhibited the first specimens of gold brought from the Placers, met the same fate.  San Franciscans quickly rebuilt again, this time, with water tanks on many roofs.

1851 after fire Berkely site

After the June 1851 fire in San Francisco


For some reason, neither of these reports indicates how many people were killed in the fire, nor have I yet found any other source that reveals that information.  I have to believe that there were many people killed in addition to my third great-grand uncle Maxwell Nusbaum and his clerk Rosenthal.

I was surprised to learn that Maxwell was all the way in San Francisco, presumably for business.  Was he transporting merchandise to this other merchant in San Francisco? How did he get all the way there? His wife was home with a three year old daughter and a five month old son.  How long would he have been away? How long did it take in 1851 for the news to get back to Mathilde that her husband had died in the fire? Unfortunately, I cannot find the answers to these questions, but I can imagine how dreadful it must have been for her, a relatively recent immigrant with two very young children, losing her husband.

Fortunately, Mathilde had lots of family around for support.  Her sister Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandmother, was also in Harrisburg, as was her other sister Caroline Dreyfuss, who was married to Moses Wiler, and her mother, Mary Dreyfuss, aged 65, born in Germany.  I cannot be completely certain that Mary Dreyfuss was the mother of Jeanette, Mathilde, and Caroline, but given the name, age, place of birth, and the fact that she was living with Caroline, I believe that she was in fact their mother.  Research by others indicated that their mother was named Miriam (Marianna) Samson nee Bernheim Dreyfuss, and the similarity in the name and age to Mary Dreyfuss seems fairly persuasive evidence that Mary Dreyfuss had come with or followed her three daughters to Pennsylvania. (When I first saw the names Mathilde Pollock and Caroline Wiler in the Nusbaum family bible, I assumed they were John’s sisters; only after a lot of research did I finally realize that they were both sisters of Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum.)

Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler and family 1850 US census

Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler and family 1850 US census

Also living in Caroline and Moses Wiler’s household, in addition to Mary Dreyfuss and the Wiler’s four children, Eliza (1842), Simon (1843), Fanny (1846), and Clara (1850), was an eighteen year old man named Leopold Pollock, reportedly born in Germany, according to the 1850 census.  I do not know what his connection to the household was, but further research revealed that he, like Moses Pollock, was born in Switzerland, not Germany.   My hunch is that Leopold and Moses Pollock were brothers. Moses Wiler, who was about ten to fifteen years older than the two Pollocks and also born in Switzerland, was probably either a relative or friend from back in Switzerland.  The Pollock brothers likely came to Harrisburg in order to be near Moses Wiler, and the Wilers had taken in the teenaged Leopold when he arrived.

When Mathilde was suddenly a widow after Maxwell was killed in the 1851 fire, perhaps her sister Caroline introduced her to Moses Pollock.  Mathilde and Moses must have been married within a few years after Maxwell’s death, given that their first child Emanuel was born in 1856.  I cannot locate Moses Pollock on the 1850 census, so perhaps he arrived after his brother Leopold and then soon thereafter married Mathilde.

These relationships get rather unwieldy since two branches of my family are entwined.  Jeannette Dreyfuss was my three-times great-grandmother, making her two sisters Mathilde and Caroline, my three-times great-grand aunts (or four-times great-aunt, as some prefer).  Since Mathilde married Maxwell, who was the brother of my three-times great-grandfather, that means that my three-times great-grand aunt married my three-times great-grand uncle.  That makes their children, Flora Nusbaum and Albert Nusbaum, my first cousins four times removed both on the Nusbaum side through Maxwell and on the Dreyfuss side through Mathilde.  And so on through their descendants.

And then it gets even more twisted a generation later when Flora Nusbaum, my double first cousin four times removed, married Samuel Simon. Samuel Simon had a brother named Moses Simon.  Moses Simon married Paulina Dinkelspiel, who was the daughter of Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel, another of my three-times great-grand aunts, another sister of John Nusbaum. So Flora and Paulina were both first cousins (since Maxwell Nusbaum and Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel were siblings) and sisters-in-law.

And, of course, the children that Mathilde Dreyfuss had with Moses Pollock and the children that Caroline Dreyfuss had with Moses Wiler are also my first cousins four times removed, but only on the Dreyfuss side.

I know.  It’s confusing.  I’d make a chart, but would it help?

It was a small and somewhat twisted world.  No wonder they say DNA testing for Ashkenazi Jews is not terribly accurate.  We are all cousins of each other of some kind or another.












Caps for Sale: Peddlers and Merchants

As I wrote in my last post, by 1852 or before, five of the eight children of Amson and Voegele Nusbaum had settled in Pennsylvania.  Two of the siblings had settled in Harrisburg, one in Lewistown, one in Blythe, and one in Philadelphia.  According to the 1850 census, John Nusbaum was a merchant in Harrisburg, and his brother-in-law Isaac Dinkelspiel was a peddler there, married to John’s sister Mathilde.  Leopold Nusbaum was a butcher in Blythe, Maxwell was a merchant in Lewistown, and Ernst was a merchant in Philadelphia.

It is not surprising to me that Ernst would have settled in Philadelphia, which, as I have written about in the context of my Cohen ancestors, had a fairly large German Jewish community by the mid 1800s.  But why were John Nusbaum and Isaac Dinkelspiel and their families in Harrisburg?  Even more surprising, what were Leopold and Maxwell doing in relatively small towns like Lewistown and Blythe?  What would have taken these new German Jewish immigrants away from the big cities and to smaller towns and cities in Pennsylvania?

The choice of Harrisburg is not really that surprising.  By the time John Nusbaum arrived in the US, perhaps as early as 1840 or even before but certainly by 1850, Harrisburg had been the Pennsylvania state capital for many years already, i.e., since 1812.  It had been settled in the early 18th century and because of its location on the Susquehanna River where there was an opening between the mountains, it had developed into an important trading post for trade and expansion to the west.  By the 1830s the railroad and the Pennsylvania Canal passed through Harrisburg, further increasing its economic importance for westward expansion.  By 1840 the population of Harrisburg was almost six thousand people.  By comparison, the population of Philadelphia in 1840 was over 93,000 people.

Capitol. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.), by A. G....

Capitol. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.), by A. G. Keet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jewish immigrants began to arrive in Harrisburg in the 1840s, primarily from Germany and England.  The first synagogue, Ohev Sholom, was begun in 1853, first as an Orthodox congregation, and then in 1867 it became a Reform congregation.   The Jewish population, however, was not very large.  There were sixteen members of the congregation in 1853, and even as late as 1900 there were only 35 members.

So how would my three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum have ended up here?  I do not know for sure, but I can speculate that like many German Jewish immigrants, he arrived in Harrisburg as a peddler and, once finding a strong and stable economic base there, eventually opened his own store.  Harrisburg was obviously an important location for trade not only for its residents but also for those who stopped there as they moved westward in the United States.  It was likely an ideal location for a merchant.  Unlike his three-times great-granddaughter (and her immediate relatives), he must have been a very able entrepreneur.

This pathway to economic success—from peddler to merchant—was quite common among German Jewish immigrants.  According to Hasia Diner in “German Jews and Peddling in America,” (hereinafter “Peddling”) located here:

In Nashville, 23 percent of the adult male Jews in 1860 peddled, as did 25 percent of those in Boston between 1845 and 1861. In Easton, Pennsylvania, a town which occupied the strategic meeting point of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, 46 percent peddled in 1840, but just five years later, the number jumped to 70 percent. By 1850 the number had dropped to 55 percent, still a significant figure for any one occupation among a relatively small number of people. Of the 125 Jewish residents in Iowa in the 1850s, 100 peddled around the state, as did two-thirds of all the Jews in Syracuse, New York in that same decade before the Civil War.

See also  Rudolf Glanz, “Notes on Early Jewish Peddling in America,” Jewish Social Studies ( Indiana University Press, Vol. 7, No. 2, April,  1945)  located here.

In a different article, “German Immigrant Period in the United States,” (hereinafter “German Immigrant”) located here in the Jewish Women’s Archive, Hasia Diner explained why peddling was so widespread among German Jewish immigrants.

Americans in the hinterlands had little access to finished goods of all sorts, since few retail establishments existed outside the large cities. Jewish men overwhelmingly came to these remote areas as peddlers, an occupation that required little capital for start-up and that fit the life of the single man. In the large regional cities, Jewish immigrant men would load themselves up with a pack of goods, weighing sometimes as much as one hundred pounds, and then embark on a journey by foot, or eventually, if a peddler succeeded, by horse and wagon.

In “German Immigrant,” Diner opined that because many of these German Jewish immigrants came as single men, they were not tied down to families in a particular location when they first arrived and could thus take on the itinerant life of the peddler.  In her “Peddling” article, Diner further explained the popularity of peddling, pointing out that many of these German Jewish men came from families in Germany where their fathers had been peddlers.  That was certainly true for John Nusbaum and his brothers; their father Amson had been a peddler.  This was an occupation with which they were familiar.  Diner also stated that the Jewish German immigrants had networks of families and friends who could extend credit and help them get started on a peddling business.

19th century etching of a peddler by Granger found at

19th century etching of a peddler by Granger found at

In “Peddling,” Diner provided this vivid description of the life of the peddler:

The peddlers operated on a weekly cycle. They left their base on Sunday or Monday, depending on how far they had to go. They would, if necessary, take the railroad or canal barges to get to their territories.  They peddled all week and on Friday headed back to the town from which they had gotten their goods. Here on the Jewish Sabbath and, depending on geography, on Sundays as well, they rested, experiencing fellowship with the other immigrant Jewish peddlers who also operated out of this town. The peddlers engaged with the settled Jewish families, some of whom either operated boarding houses for peddlers or merely extended home hospitality to the men during their brief respites off the road. On the weekends the peddlers could partake of Sabbath religious services and consume some of the good food associated with Jewish holy time, food prepared in the distinctive manners of the various central European regions. Saturday night, after sundown, when the restrictions of the Sabbath lifted, the peddlers came to the shopkeepers and or other creditors to whom they owed money, paid up from the goods they had sold that week, and then filled up their bags, ready for another week on the road.

Rudolf Glanz wrote in “Notes on Early Jewish Peddling in America,” Jewish Social Studies ( Indiana University Press, Vol. 7, No. 2, April,  1945) located here, that these that peddlers played a crucial role in the economic growth and population growth in the unsettled parts of the United States in the 19th century because they provided the pioneers with access to goods that they otherwise would not have had.  This freed the pioneers from having to carry or manufacture these products themselves as they migrated west, thus enabling them to survive and adapt to the frontier conditions.  Glanz, pp. 121-122.  Diner described in “Peddling” the types of goods these peddlers generally sold:

The peddlers did not sell food or fuel. Rather they sold a jumble of goods that might be considered quasi-luxuries. In their bags they carried needles, threads, lace, ribbons, mirrors, pictures and picture frames, watches, jewelry, eye glasses, linens, bedding, and other sundry goods, sometimes called “Yankee notions.” They carried some clothing and cloth, as well as patterns for women to sew their own clothes, and other items to be worn. At times they carried samples of clothes and shoes, measured their customers, and then on return visits brought the finished products with them. When the peddlers graduated from selling from packs on their backs to selling from horse and wagon, they offered more in the way of heavy items, such as stoves and sewing machines.

As Diner points out, often these peddlers were the first Jews in a particular town or village.  Once a peddler had saved enough money to start a permanent store and become a merchant, they would often pick one of these towns where they had had success as peddlers, gotten to know the residents, and established a rapport and a reputation.  Both Diner and Glanz discuss this evolution from peddler to merchant.   According to Diner in “Peddling,” most peddlers did not peddle for long periods, but were able to become storeowners, marry, and start families within a reasonably short period of time. Most became at least moderately successful, and some became the owners of some of the biggest department stores in the US, such as Gimbel’s and Macy’s.

My hypothesis is that John Nusbaum also started out as a peddler.  He must have started from Philadelphia or perhaps New York as a single man and peddled goods through Pennsylvania until he accumulated enough capital and was able to settle in Harrisburg, a prime location for a merchant for the reasons stated above.  Perhaps it was only once he had done so that he married Jeanette and started a family in the 1840s.

When his brother-in-law Isaac Dinkelspiel arrived with his wife Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel sometime later, it would have made sense for them to settle in Harrisburg.  Since Isaac also started out as a peddler, as seen on the 1850 census, as a married peddler with children, it is not surprising that they would have moved to a place where Mathilde would have had family nearby while her husband Isaac was on the road.  In addition, it is very likely that John was supplying Isaac with the products he was peddling.  According to Diner, it was Jewish merchants who supplied the peddlers with the goods that they then carried out to the less settled regions to sell to those who lived there.  Jewish peddlers needed Jewish merchants for their inventory, and Jewish merchants benefited from the increased market they could reach through the peddlers.

Maxwell, John’s youngest brother, was also a merchant by 1850, but he was in Lewistown, sixty miles from Harrisburg and about 160 miles from Philadelphia.  What was he doing there? Unlike Harrisburg, it was not the state capital, and unlike Philadelphia, it was not a major seaport city.  But it was by 1850 itself an important trading center based on its location near the Pennsylvania Canal and the railroads.  Mifflin County, where Lewistown is located, had a population of close to 15,000 people in 1850 so it was not an insignificant location.  I assume that Maxwell, arriving after his brother John, had also started as a peddler, selling the wares he obtained from his brother, and traveling around the state, until he was able to save enough money and establish a store in his own territory, close enough to his brothers, but not so close as to compete for business.

According to the JewishGen KehillaLinks page for Lewistown, Pennsylvania, found here , the Mifflin County Historical Society had no records of Jews before 1862, but obviously Maxwell was already there. In fact, there was a street named for him:

A map of Lewistown in 1870 shows that Nathan Frank had a store at Brown and Market Streets, listed in a business directory of the time as Franks — Dry Goods, Carpets, Clothing, Furnishings, Goods, Etc.”  Spruce Street was at that time listed as Nusbaum Street and in April, 1880 M. Nusbaum — Clothing & Gents Furnishings was advertised. By 1907 however Nusbaum & Co. was no longer listed in the directory.

The biggest mystery to me is why Leopold Nusbaum ended up in Blythe as a butcher. Blythe is sixty miles from Harrisburg and a hundred miles from Philadelphia.  Like Lewistown, it was also located near railroads and the canals.  I cannot find anything about its population in 1850, but even today its population is under a thousand.  Schuykill County, where Blythe is located, however, had an overall population of over sixty thousand in 1850, which was a doubling of its 1840 population.  Something must have been happening there, but I’ve not yet been able to figure out why its population exploded in that ten year period.  Perhaps that explains why Leopold was living there with his wife Rosa and two young sons in 1850.  But why was he a butcher? Certainly he could not have been a kosher butcher; even today the Jewish population of Blythe is 0%.  At any rate, by 1860, as we will see, Leopold and his family had left Blythe and moved to Harrisburg, where Leopold also followed in his brother’s footsteps and became a merchant.

Thus, the Nusbaum story is not unlike the story of many of those German Jewish immigrants who came to the US, started off as peddlers, and then became merchants, owning stores all over the United States. It must have taken a lot of hard work and a courageous spirit to move to this new country, carrying a heavy pack hundreds of miles through undeveloped territory, dealing with strangers who spoke a strange language, on your own and alone for most of the week.  It must have taken much determination and persistence to do this week after week, maybe for a few years or more, until you had made enough money to find one town to settle in and establish a store.  And then it must have been a hard life, living as perhaps the only Jewish family in that town far away from other family members and other Jews.  In my posts to follow, I will trace the lives of my Nusbaum peddler and merchant relatives and how they progressed in America.



The Nusbaums Come to America

PA Harrisburg 1855

PA Harrisburg 1855 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am having a hard time finding a place to start the rest of the story of my Nusbaum ancestors.  I just keep going in circles and hitting walls.  I have been able to locate most of the children of Amson and Voegele Nusbaum in the US, but for some have not been able to find very much about them.  I am still searching and hoping more will turn up, but the Nusbaums seem so far to have stayed pretty much under the radar, unlike the Seligmans for sure and even more so than the Cohens, about whom I found a number of newspaper articles.

So I will start with what I have and hope that as I go along, I will find more and learn more about the elusive Nusbaums.  From the report compiled by Rolf Hofmann based on the research of Angelika Brosig, I know that Amson and Voegele had eight children.  Guetel, the oldest, reportedly born in 1805, I have not had any luck finding either in Germany or in the United States.  I assume she married in Germany since she would have been in her mid-thirties by the time her other siblings left Germany in the 1840s.  Without access to marriage records or death records in Schopfloch, I have hit a dead end on Guetel.  At least for now.

I also have had no luck finding anything about Amson and Voegele’s fifth child, Sara, for what I assume are the same reasons.  Sara, born July 8, 1812, according to Angelika Brosig’s research, also was probably married before her siblings left Schopfloch.  Neither Guetel nor Sara appear in the Nusbaum family bible that belongs to my father, so I have to assume that they did not ever move to the United States.

On the other hand, I was able to find all five of Amson and Voegel’s sons in the United States without too much trouble, and I even was able to find their other daughter, Madel or Mathilde.  She was born on July 20, 1806, according to Angelika Brosig. My search for Mathilde was more successful than those for her two sisters because once again I was very fortunate to find someone who is related to me (and to Mathilde) by marriage.

I had posted a question on JewishGen seeking help in researching my Nus(s)baum ancestors from Schopfloch, and I received an email from a fellow researcher, Ned Lewison, who said that he doubted that he had anything helpful, but that one of his relatives, Isaac Dinkelspiel, also with ancestral ties to Schopfloch, had married someone named Mathilde Nusbaum, and that they had lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  (He also said that another relative had married another Nusbaum, but more on that in a later post.)  I knew right away that that could not be just coincidence since I already knew that John Nusbaum had settled also in Harrisburg.  Further research (to be described later) confirmed that Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel was John’s sister.

So I know of six Nusbaum children who came to the United States: Mathilde, Leopold, Isaac, John, Ernst, and Maxwell.  The earliest record I have found that might relate to my Nusbaum ancestors is an entry for a John Nussbaum on the 1840 census living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, the 1840 census does not provide a lot of information.  It only lists the male heads of household with check marks indicating the numbers of males and females within certain age ranges living in that household.  The entry for John Nussbaum has check marks for one male between 30 and 40 years old, one female between 20 and 30 years old, and one female between five and ten years old.  My three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum would have been 36 in 1850, his wife Jeanette would have been 33, and they did not yet have any children that I am aware of.  In fact, the family bible lists their marriage date as July 1, 1841 and their first child, Adolphus, born in 1842.

Could this be my ancestor on the 1840 census?  I am not sure.  His wife’s age could be wrong, the family bible could be wrong about the marriage date, but who was the five to ten year old daughter?  Could John have had another wife and a child before Jeanette? I cannot be sure.  There are no birth records or death records on file in Pennsylvania before 1877 except for scattered church records and some local civil records.  There are some marriage records, but they are not complete, and I cannot find any Nusbaum marriage recorded that early.  I do know, however, that John was in Harrisburg by 1850. So maybe this is my ancestor on the 1840 census, maybe not.  I have written to the local historical society in Harrisburg and hope to get some answers.

I cannot find any of the other Nusbaum siblings on the 1840 census.  The next document I have that may relate to my Nusbaum ancestors is an immigration record for Leopold, John’s older brother. Since I only so far have the index entry and not the full ship manifest, this is also not a very helpful record.  According to the index, a Leopold Nussbaum, aged 35, arrived from Germany to New York on June 9, 1847. The family bible does not have a birthdate for Leopold (though it does have his date of death).  The Brosig records indicated that Leopold (Loew) was born on April 26, 1808, and the census records for Leopold in America conflict with each other, but suggest he was born between 1810 and 1812.  I do not know for sure, therefore, whether this is the same Leopold Nussbaum, and perhaps seeing the full ship manifest will tell me more.  But 1847 seems to be a reasonable date for the arrival of Leopold.

Although I have not been able to find any immigration records for any of the other Nusbaum siblings, I know that by 1850 four of them were already in the US because they appear on the 1850 census.  John was living in Harrisburg’s South Ward and working as a merchant.  He and his wife (listed as Shamet here) had four children: Adolphus (8), Simon (6), Frances (my great-great-grandmother, 4), and Julius (2), all born in Pennsylvania.[1]  They also had eight other unrelated adults living with them, two servants and six whose occupation was given as “clerk,” presumably in John’s store.  So by 1850 John Nusbaum was quite comfortably settled in Harrisburg.

John Nusbaum 1850 census Harrisburg, PA

John Nusbaum 1850 census Harrisburg, PA

As I indicated above, his older sister Mathilde was also living in Harrisburg with her husband Isaac Dinkelspiel.  Isaac was working as a peddler, and he and Mathilde had three children: Paulina (8), Adolph (6), and Sophia (2).  Since all three children were listed as born in Germany, this would suggest that Isaac and Mathilde had been in the United States for less than two years at the time of the 1850 census.  Mathilde and her husband Isaac had no servants living with them and presumably were not yet as comfortable as her brother John and his family, who may have been in Harrisburg for ten years at that point.

Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel 1850 US census Harrisburg, PA

Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel 1850 US census Harrisburg, PA

I did not find a definite listing for Leopold Nusbaum on the 1850 census, but I believe that this listing for L. Nussbaum is the right person.

L. Nusbaum 1850 census Lewistown, PA

L. Nusbaum 1850 census Blythe, PA

L. Nusbaum is listed as a butcher, 38 years old (which would give him a birth year of 1812), and married to Rosannah, both born in Germany, with two children: Adolph (2) and Francis (seven months), as well as a non-related person, perhaps a servant. Both children were born in Pennsylvania, meaning that Leopold and Rosannah had been in Pennsylvania since at least 1847, consistent with the ship manifest. They were living in Blythe, Pennsylvania, a town about seventy miles from Harrisburg.

Why do I believe this is Leopold? Because I know from later documents that Leopold’s wife was Rosa and that he had a son named Francis and a son named Adolph.   Both John and Leopold had children named Adolph/us and Francis/Frances.   Perhaps the two Adolphs were for Amson, the two Francis/Frances for Voegele. (Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel also had a child named Adolph.)

The fourth sibling listed on the 1850 census is Maxwell (Meier) Nusbaum, the youngest of the Nusbaum siblings, born September 14, 1819.  In 1850, he was living with his wife Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum and their two year old daughter Flora in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, which is about sixty miles from Harrisburg. Flora might also have been named for Voegele.  Maxwell was a merchant, and he had a clerk living in his household.  His wife Mathilde was the sister of Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum, the wife of Maxwell’s brother John Nusbaum.  (More on the Dreyfuss family in a later post.)

Maxwell Nusbaum 1850 US census Lewistown, PA

Maxwell Nusbaum 1850 US census Lewistown, PA

Although I cannot find Ernst Nusbaum on the 1850 census, I did find a listing for an Ernest Nusbaum, a merchant in Philadelphia, on the 1852, 1854, and 1859 city directories for Philadelphia.  Given the name and the occupation and the fact that Ernst and his family show up on the 1860 census living in Philadelphia, I think it is reasonable to assume that Ernst was in Philadelphia by 1852. (Unfortunately, the 1860 census did not include street address information so I cannot compare it to the 1850s directories.)

Ernest Nusbaum in the 1852 Philadelphia city directory

Ernest Nusbaum in the 1852 Philadelphia city directory located at

As for Isaac Nusbaum, the remaining sibling who emigrated to the US, I have no record for him before 1865 in Peoria, Illinois.  I do not know when he arrived or where he was in 1850.

Thus, what I know with a reasonable degree of certainty is that by 1850 (1852 for Ernst), John, Mathilde, Leopold, Maxwell, and Ernst Nusbaum had settled in Pennsylvania, John and Mathilde in Harrisburg, Leopold in Blythe, Maxwell in Lewistown, and Ernst in Philadelphia.  What were they doing living in these places spread out miles from each other? In my next post I will address that question.

Nusbaum 1850 map

Google Maps





[1] The family bible says that Adolphus was born in Newville, Pennsylvania, which is about 32 miles from Harrisburg.  Simon, Frances, and Julius were all born in Harrisburg.