Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part VI: Her Daughter Rebecca Strauss Meyer

The youngest of the children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss to survive to adulthood was their daughter Rebecca Strauss Meyer. Although her name was spelled Rebekka on her birth record and on the ship manifest and Rebecka on her naturalization papers and on her son’s draft registration, she ultimately adopted the more typical American spelling of her name, Rebecca, as seen on her Social Security application and her gravestone as well as the 1940 and 1950 census records. For purposes of simplicity, I will also use that last spelling in this post.

Rebecca was a 57 year old widow when she arrived in New York in 1938, a year after her children Rudolph and Ilse had immigrated. In 1940, Rebecca was working as a maid for Julius and Selma Katz in New York City.

Rebecca Strauss Meyer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02673; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 31-2010, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

I could not locate her son Rudolph on the 1940 US census, but on October 16, 1940, when he registered for the draft, he was living in Albany, New York, and listed his mother Rebecca as his contact person; she was residing in New York City. Rudolph was working for Cotrell & Leonard, a manufacturer of graduation caps, gowns, and hoods in Albany. They were considered the original American manufacturers of those items. The 1941 Albany directory lists Rudolph as a presser for Cotrell & Leonard.1

Rudolph Meyer, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York State, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Rudolph enlisted in the US Army on September 6, 1943.2 He petitioned for naturalization two months later in December, 1943, and at that time he was already married to Ruth Leah Cohn. I don’t have a marriage record for them, but Ruth was born in New York City on September 26, 1908, to Benjamin Cohn and Hilda Lesser. She and her family were living in Albany in 1930 where her father was a tailor.3

Rudolph Meyer petition for naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Description, Description: Petitions For Naturalization, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992

Rudolph and Ruth had one child in the 1940s, and Rudolph was discharged from the army on October 31, 1945.4 In 1950, they were living in the Bronx, and Rudolph was now an accountant for motion pictures distributors. Ruth was an elementary schoolteacher.  Rudolph’s mother Rebecca and Ruth’s father Benjamin were also living with Rudolph and Ruth and their child, and Benjamin was working as a tailor.

Rudolph Meyer and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: 2831; Sheet Number: 21; Enumeration District: 3-1173
Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Rudolph’s sister Ilse Meyer was working as a nursemaid for a family in New York City in 1940. On August 31, 1941, she married Friedrich/Frederick Scheer in New York City.5 He was born in Regensburg, Germany, on November 2, 1906, to Markus and Hanna Scheer, and had immigrated to the US on May 9, 1937. Friedrich entered the US Army on November 16, 1942.6 Ilse and Friedrich (using Fred after the war) had one child born in the 1940s. In 1950 they were living in New York City, and Fred was an accountant for the Comptroller of the City of New York.7

Ilse Meyer, 1940 US census, ear: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02640; Page: 63A; Enumeration District: 31-732, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Sadly, Ilse died just six years later on December 23, 1956, at the age of 46. She left behind her husband Fred Scheer and their child, who was only eight years old.8

Three years later, Ilse and Rudolph’s mother Rebecca died on September 22, 1959; she was 78.9 Rebecca had survived her husband Albert, who’d died young in 1928, raised her two children alone, immigrated at 57 to the US, and then survived the death of her daughter Ilse. She was survived by her son Rudolph and her grandchildren.

Rudolph died on August 28, 1984; he was 76 and was survived by his wife Ruth and their son.10 Ruth outlived Rudolph by eighteen years; she was 94 when she died on December 6, 2002.11

Thus ends the saga of the family of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss and their children. Their children all left Germany in time and survived the Holocaust, but there was still some tragically early deaths in the family. But fortunately there are numerous living descendants of Dusschen and Isaac.


I will be taking next week off to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. When I return, I will write about Dusschen’s younger brother and the fifth child of Isaac Blumenfeld and Gelle Strauss, their son Meier. Unfortunately, his story does not have many happy endings.

In the meantime, I wish all who celebrate (and everyone else) a sweet and healthy New Year! Shana tova!

 

 


  1. Rudolph Meyer, Residence Year: 1941, Street Address: 41 Steuben, Residence Place: Albany, New York, USA, Occupation: Presser, Publication Title: Albany, New York, City Directory, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Rudolph Meyer, enlistment record, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 05872; Reel: 251, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Ruth L Cohn. Birth Date: 26 Sep 1908, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 51794, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Birth Index, 1878-1909; Benjamin Cohen and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Albany, Albany, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0044; FHL microfilm: 2341137, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  4. See Note 2, supra. 
  5. Ilse Meyer, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marriage Age: 31, Birth Date: Aug 1910
    Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1941, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 241 W. 101 St., Occupation: Nurse, Father: Albert Meyer Mother: Rebecca Meyer, Spouse: Friedrich Scheer, Certificate Number: 15061, Current Marriage Number: 0, Witness 1: Mrs.rRebecca Meyer Witness 2: Mr. Fred Gaertner, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  6. Frederick Scheer, Petition for Naturalization, he National Archives at Fort Worth; Fort Worth, Texas; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Title/Description: Naturalization Petitions, 1943, pt 2, Ancestry.com. Texas, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1852-1991; Friedrich Scheer
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Marriage Age: 34, Birth Date: 2 Nov 1906, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Affidavit Date: 25 Aug 1941, Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1941, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 241 W. 101 St., Residence Place: New York City, Occupation: Stock Clerk, Father:
    Markus Scheer, Mother: Hanna Scheer, Spouse: Ilse Meyer, Certificate Number: 15061
    Current Marriage Number: 0, Witness 1: Mrs.rRebecca Meyer, Witness 2: Mr. Fred Gaertner, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  7. Fred Scheer and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4376; Sheet Number: 3; Enumeration District: 31-2172, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  8. Else [sic] Scheer, Age: 46, Birth Date: abt 1910, Death Date: 23 Dec 1956, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 27062, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233510287/ilse-scheer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Ilse Scheer (1910–1956), Find a Grave Memorial ID 233510287, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551). 
  9. Rebecca Meyers [sic], Gender: Female, Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1881, Residence Place: New York, USA, Death Date: 22 Sep 1959, Death Place: New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 64679, New York State Department of Health; Albany, Ny, Usa; New York State Death Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, U.S., Death Index, 1957-1970;   Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233491260/rebecca-meyer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Rebecca Strauss Meyer (1881–1959), Find a Grave Memorial ID 233491260, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551). 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36600273/rudolph-meyer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Rudolph Meyer (1908–1984), Find a Grave Memorial ID 36600273, citing Forest Green Park Cemetery, Morganville, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by Kat (contributor 19409629). Rudolph R Meyer, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 17 Mar 1908, Death Date: 28 Aug 1984, SSN: 129055912, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 27 Sep 1943, Discharge Date: 31 Oct 1945, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010. 
  11. Ruth L Meyer, Age: 94, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1908, Death Date: 6 Dec 2002
    Death Place: New Jersey, USA, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; New Jersey Death Index, 2001-2017, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1848-1878, 1901-2017 

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part III: Her Children Bertha and Moritz and Their Lives in America

By 1940, the five surviving children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss—Bertha, Moritz, Hermann, Meier (Max), and Rebekah—were all living in the US. Their children were also safely in the US as were their spouses (although Rebekka’s husband Albert Meyer had died in 1928). It almost seems like a miracle that not one of Dusschen’s children had been killed in the Holocaust. In this post and the next three I will continue the stories of each of those children. This post is about the oldest child, Bertha Strauss Herz and her family and about the second oldest child Moritz Strauss and his family.

Bertha, the oldest child, was living with her husband Morris Herz and their daughter Henrietta (Henny on the 1940 census), their son-in-law Alfred Gaertner, and granddaughter Ingeborg in New York City where both Alfred and Morris were working as tailors, Alfred for a mail order house and Morris for a retail tailor shop.

Herz and Gaertner family 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 31-2030, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Morris and Bertha’s son Manfred Edgar Herz had changed his name to Fred Edgar Herz and registered for the World War II draft under that name on October 16, 1940. At that time Fred was living in Charleston, West Virginia, and working for the Interstate Home Equipment Company.

Fred Herz, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for West Virginia, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 216 Description Name Range: Hern, Author-Hess, William Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

He enlisted in the US Army on June 21, 1943, and was honorably discharged on October 12, 1945.1 By that time, he had obtained a license to marry Zelma Anderson Risher, as announced in the March 22, 1945, issue of the Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel. Both Fred and Zelma were residing in Charleston, West Virginia, at that time.2 They did not have children, although Zelma had a daughter from a prior marriage.

Meanwhile, Fred’s mother Bertha, the oldest of the siblings, died at age 71 in New York on October 31, 1942.3 She was survived by her husband Morris and children Henrietta and Fred and granddaughter Ingeborg. Morris outlived Bertha by almost twelve years; he died on January 8, 1954, at the age of 78.4

Henrietta’s husband Alfred Gaertner died in December 1968,5 and she followed him fifteen years later on August 2, 1983.6 They were survived by their daughter Ingeborg and her family. Fred Herz and his wife Zelma both died in Palm Springs in 1987, she on January 20,7 and Fred on June 9, 1987.8

Bertha’s brother Moritz (Morris in the US) Strauss, who had been in the US since 1889 when he was a teenager, was living in the Bronx with his wife Therese in 1940. He was now retired.9

Their daughter Blanche had married between 1930 and 1940; her husband was Irving Heller, and he had lost his first wife, Frances Lippmann, on July 13, 1937.10 Although I cannot find a marriage record for Blanche and Irving, I assume they married sometime between July 13, 1937, and April 17, 1940, when the 1940 census was enumerated, as they appear together on that census as husband and wife, living in New York City with Irving’s son Lester. Irving was the owner of a wholesale egg business, and Blanche was still a teacher in the New York City public schools.

Irving Heller 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 31-2063, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Morris Strauss died on October 20, 1947, in New York; he was 74.11 He was survived by his wife Therese and daughter Blanche.

In 1950, Therese was living with Blanche and her husband Irving Heller in New York, where Irving still had the egg business and Blanche was still teaching.

Irving Heller 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4378; Sheet Number: 83; Enumeration District: 31-2222, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Therese died three years later at the age of 80 on October 22, 1953.12 Irving Heller died on February 19, 1970; he was 78.13 Blanche lived another twelve years; she died on March 15, 1982, at the age of 84.14 As Blanche had had no children of her own with Irving, there are no biological descendants of Morris and Therese, although Irving’s son from his first marriage may have been adopted by Blanche.

My next post will be about Bertha and Moritz’s next oldest sibling, Hermann Strauss, and his family’s life in the United States.


  1.  National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 09895; Reel: 51, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946; Manfred Edgar Herz, Gender: Male,Birth Date: 18 Feb 1909
    Death Date: 9 Jun 1987, SSN: 235266471, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 5 Jul 1943, Discharge Date: 12 Oct 1945, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  2. The Knoxville News-Sentinel – 22 Mar 1945 – Page 8. 
  3. Bertha Herz, Age: 71, Birth Year: abt 1871, Death Date: 31 Oct 1942, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 21563, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  4. Date obtained from the Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, NJ, where Morris and Bertha are buried. 
  5.  Alfred Gaertner, Social Security Number: 052-07-5367, Birth Date: 9 Aug 1895
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1968, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Henrietta Gaertner, Social Security Number: 094-46-9690, Birth Date: 14 Nov 1901
    Issue Year: 1969, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1983, Sociial Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7. Zelma A Herz, [Zelma A Anderson], Social Security #: 234303318, Gender: Female
    Birth Date: 1 Apr 1906, Birth Place: West Virginia, Death Date: 20 Jan 1987, Death Place: Riverside, Mother’s Maiden Name: Snyder, Father’s Surname: Anderson, Place: Riverside; Date: 20 Jan 1987; Social Security: 234303318, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  8. See Note 1, supra. 
  9. Morris Herz, 1940 US Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02467; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 3-251A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Frances Heller, Age: 40, Birth Year: abt 1897, Death Date: 13 Jul 1937, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 16513, Wills and Probates: Search for Frances Heller in New York Wills & Probates collection, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948; Frances Lippman, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 8 Mar 1925, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
    Spouse: Irving Heller, Certificate Number: 7528, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  11. Morris Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marital Status: Married, Age: 74
    Birth Date: 19 Jan 1873, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 150 Bennett Ave, Residence Place: New York,Death Date: 20 Oct 1947, Hospital: Beth Abraham Home, Death Place: New York City, Bronx, New York, USA, Death City Ward: 9
    Cause of Death: Cerebral Thrombosis, Old Right Side Hemiplegia General, Arteriosclerosis, Burial Date: 22 Oct 1947, Burial Place: Union Field Cemetery
    Occupation: Butcher, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany
    Father: Isaac Strauss, Mother: Duse Strauss, Spouse: Theresa Strauss, Informant: Theresa Stauss, Informant Gender: Female, Informant Relationship: Wife, Executor: Therese Strain, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 10219, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Bronx; Year: 1947, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  12. Theresa Strauss, Age: 80, Birth Date: abt 1873, Death Date: 22 Oct 1953, Death Place: Bronx, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 10571, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  13.  Irving Heller, Social Security Number: 093-10-9363, Birth Date: 5 Dec 1891, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1970, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. Blanche Heller, Race: White, Age at Death: 84, Birth Date: 8 Apr 1897, Death Date: 15 Mar 1982, Death Place: Dade, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998 

Max Bloomfield: An American Immigrant Who Never Forgot His Family Back Home

As mentioned in my earlier post, when Dorothea Blumenfeld’s daughter Gertha came to the US in 1939, she listed on the ship manifest an aunt named “J. Bloomfield” who lived at 1162 Grant Avenue in the Bronx as the person she was going to. I determined, based on that address and the name, that J. Bloomfield was born Johanna Tannenbaum and that she was the widow of Dorothea’s younger brother Markus Blumenfeld (Gertha’s uncle), who became Max Bloomfield in the US. (Because Max also had a nephew who adopted the name Max Bloomfield, I have labeled this Max, the uncle, Max Bloomfield I.)

Max’s immigration story, however, is quite different from that of his niece Gertha as well as that of his older sister Berta and the children of his brother Moritz, who all came to the US in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany. Max had left Germany fifty years earlier, long before Hitler came to power.

Max, as we saw, was born Markus Blumenfeld in Kirchhain, Germany, on December 3, 1871, the fifth child of Giedel Blumenfeld and Gerson Blumenfeld. His mother Giedel died when he was only eleven years old, and five years later when he was only sixteen, Markus left home and immigrated to America, arriving on August 3, 1888. On the ship manifest he listed his occupation as “dealer.”

Markus Blumenfeld passenger manifest, Year: 1888; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List Number: 1061, Ship or Roll Number: Lahn, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

What could have led a sixteen-year-old boy with a father and seven siblings back home to leave Germany? It’s hard to imagine why he left or how he managed when he arrived in New York on August 3, 1888.

Markus settled in New York and by 1894 had become Max Bloomenfeld, the name that he was using when on March 28, 1894, he married Johanna Tannenbaum Kahn, a widow who was also an immigrant from Germany. Johanna, who was born in 1868 to Mayer Tannenbaum and Minna Strauss,1 had arrived in the US on November 15, 1887.2 She had married Herman Kahn exactly four years later on November 15, 1891.3  Herman died less than a year after they married; he was 23 and died of an intestinal obstruction and general peritonitis on August 2, 1892.4 Johanna was already pregnant at that time and gave birth to their son two months later on October 10, 1892; she named the baby Herman in memory of his father, a father he never met.5

Then a year and a half later on March 28, 1894, Johanna married Max “Bloomenfeld.”6

On June 15, 1897, Max filed his naturalization petition under the name Max Bloomfield and reported his occupation as a butcher. He used the surname Bloomfield for the rest of his life.

Max Bloomfield naturalization petition, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, US District Court for the Southern District of New York (058-059), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1900 census, Max and Johanna were living in New York with Johanna’s son Herman, a ten month old daughter Minnie, and several of Johanna’s relatives. Max reported his occupation as carpet layer, as did his brother-in-law Max Tannenbaum.

Max Bloomfield 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0808; FHL microfilm: 1241116, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

I initially thought that Minnie was Max and Johanna’s first child, but a closer look at the 1900 census record alerted me to the fact that there had been two children born before Minnie. Johanna reported that she had had four children, two of whom were living. Given that her first husband died before the birth of their first child and within a year of their marriage, I assumed that the two other children who died were her children with Max, and I set out to locate their records.

I was able to locate both of those children. Gertrude Bloomfield was born on April 17, 1895, and died a month later on May 19, 1895. She died from a condition I’d never heard of before: erysipelas simple. According to WebMD, it is “a common bacterial infection of the skin. It affects the upper dermis (upper layer of the skin) and the lymphatic vessels within the skin. The condition begins with the breaking of the skin, followed by bacterial invasion. Erysipelas face occurs when the bacteria causes tender and bright red rashes to appear on the facial skin. Erysipelas infections usually affect the face and the legs but can occur anywhere on the skin.” According to Gertrude’s death certificate, she had this all over her body. Today it can be treated with antibiotics, but in 1895 that was not an option, and one month old Gertrude could not fight off the infection.7

Gertrude Blumenfeld death certificate

Ella Bloomfield, born October 16, 1896, a year after Max and Johanna lost Gertrude, died on October 26, 1898, at the age of two from complications from asthma.8 I can’t imagine how Max and Johanna must have felt after losing two daughters like that.

So in fact Minnie was Max and Johanna’s third child, and by the time she was born on August 9, 1899, both of her older sisters had died.9 Fortunately, Minnie survived to live a long life.

Max, Johanna, Herman, and Minnie were still living in Manhattan when the 1905 New York State census was taken, and Max now listed his occupation as a dyer.10 Johanna gave birth to their son Gerard Milton Bloomfield on December 4, 1905, in New York.11 I’ve not located any birth or death records for a child of Max and Johanna born between Minnie’s birth in 1899 and Gerard’s birth in 1905, but I wondered whether Johanna and Max had lost any more children between those two births.

The 1910 US census indicates that in fact there had been no other children born, as Johanna reported that she had had five children, three of whom were living (Herman, Minnie, and Gerard). The family had moved from Manhattan to the Bronx between 1905 and 1910, and Max now reported that he was a carpet cleaner.12  The 1915 New York State census found them all still living together in the Bronx, and Max was still cleaning carpets for a living.13 The same held true in 1920 as well, but by then Max was the owner of the carpet cleaning business, and his daughter Minnie was working as a stenographer in the business while his stepson Herman was also in the business. They were now living at the 1162 Grant Avenue address in the Bronx where Max’s niece Gertha would later look for Johanna when she came to the US.14

The following year Minnie Bloomfield married Richard Leon Altman on December 4, 1921, in New York.15 Richard was born in Port Jervis, New York, to Adolph Altman and Selma Schafronsky on July 31, 1897. On the 1920 census, Richard was living with his parents in New York and working as a salesman of cloaks and suits.16

The 1925 New York State census lists Max, Johanna, and Gerard Bloomfield as well as Herman Kahn and his wife Frances  (nee Gutman) all living together in the Bronx where Max and Herman were still in the carpet cleaning business and Gerard, now 20, was a student.17 Meanwhile, Minnie and Richard had also settled in the Bronx, and by 1925 had two children, Lawrence, born in 1922, and Gloria, born in 1925. Richard continued to work as a cloaks and suits salesman.

Altman family, 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 65; Assembly District: 08; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 16, District: A·D· 08 E·D· 65, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1925

In 1930, Max and Johanna and their son Gerard were still living at 1162 Grant Avenue in the Bronx, and Max continued to own the carpet business, presumably with his stepson Herman, who also listed his occupation as owning a carpet business. Gerard was working as a lawyer.18 Minnie and her family were also living in the Bronx, and her husband Richard now owned a cleaning business.19

Sadly, Max died three years later on September 13, 1933, in New York; he was 61 years old.20 He was survived by his wife Johanna, stepson Herman Kahn, daughter Minnie, son Gerard, and two grandchildren. He did not live to see his son Gerard marry and have children of his own, giving Max a total of five grandchildren. He also did not live to see that a number of his siblings and their children would come to the US to escape Nazi Germany, including his niece Gertha who listed Max’s widow Johanna as the person she was coming to in the US.

On December 19, 1937, Max and Johanna’s son Gerard married Kathryn Federman, daughter of Morris Federman and Esther “Queenie” Mendel. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 24, 1908. In 1930, she’d been living with her parents in Manhattan and working as an art teacher. Gerard and Kathryn had three sons.21

Now widowed, Johanna Tannenbaum Bloomfield was living with a servant at 1162 Grant Avenue in the Bronx in 1940. Her daughter Minnie and her family were living in an apartment in the same building and apparently right next door. Richard was still managing the cleaning business.

Johanna Bloomfield, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02467; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 3-268C, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Richard Altman family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02467; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 3-268C, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

And Johanna’s son Herman Kahn and his family were also close by, living at 1420 Grand Concourse in the Bronx; Herman was still in the carpet cleaning business.22 Gerard and his family were also nearby at 1000 Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Gerard working a lawyer in his own practice while his wife Kathryn worked as a high school teacher.23

Johanna Tannenbaum Kahn Bloomfield died in October 1955 and is buried with Max at Mt Zion Cemetery in New York, according to FindAGrave. According to the Mt Zion Cemetery website, she was buried on October 30, 1955. (I was unable to locate any death record for Johanna.) She was 87 years old and was survived by her sons Herman Kahn and Gerard Bloomfield, her daughter Minnie Bloomfield Altman, her daughters-in-law and son-in-law, and five grandchildren.24

Herman Kahn only survived his mother by two years; he died on September 22, 1957, at the age of 64; he was survived by his wife Frances, their two children, and his half-siblings Minnie and Gerard and their families.25

Gerard Bloomfield also did not live a very long life. He died of a heart attack when he was 69 on September 10, 1975. According to his obituary, he was a member of the Mayor’s Economic Council in New York City at the time of his death and had a history of civic involvement. He was survived by his wife Kathryn and their three sons and grandchildren.26

Minnie Bloomfield outlived both of her brothers as well as her husband Lawrence, who died in 1982.27 Minnie died on March 8, 1990, in Hollywood, Florida, at the age of 90. She was survived by her children and grandchildren.28

The story of Max Bloomfield (born Markus Blumenfeld) and his family has its tragic elements; losing two young daughters must have been heartbreaking. But overall his story—coming to the US as a teenager and building a life, a business, and a family in the US—is so different from the stories of the families of his older siblings Moritz and Berta, who escaped from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and especially different from the story of Max’s sister Dorothea, whose entire family was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis except for her daughter Gertha.

The fact that Gertha named Max’s widow Johanna as the person she was going to in the US indicates that even after over fifty years in the US, Max’s family was still in touch with their Blumenfeld relatives back in Germany. Max may have assimilated into American life, but it appears that he never forgot his family back in Germany.

 


  1. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HX-4TD : 10 February 2018), Max Bloomenfeld and Johanna Taunenbaum Kahn, 28 Mar 1894; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,439,745. 
  2.  Johanna Dannenbaum, Gender: Female, Ethnicity/ Nationality: German, Age: 19
    Birth Date: abt 1868, Place of Origin: Germany, Departure Port: Bremen, Germany, Destination: USA, Arrival Date: 15 Nov 1887, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA
    Ship Name: Fulda, Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 16; List Number: 1466, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Hannah Tannenbaum, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 15 Nov 1891, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Herman Kahn, Certificate Number: 14282,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  4. Herman Kahn Sex Male Age 23 Death Date 1 Aug 1892 Death Place Manhattan, New York County, New York, United States Death Place (Original) Manhattan, New York, New York, United States Birth Year (Estimated) 1869 Father’s Name Emanuel Father’s Sex Male Mother’s Name Sarah Kahn Mother’s Sex Female Record Type death Certificate Number cn 28859, New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W68-YJC : 3 June 2020), Herman Kahn, 1892. 
  5. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W9X-C98 : 11 February 2018), Herman Kahn, 12 Oct 1892; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 39106 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,269. 
  6. See note 1. 
  7. Name Gertrude Bloomfield, Sex Female, Birth Date 17 Apr 1895, Birthplace Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, Birthplace (Original) Manhattan, New York, Race White, Father’s Name Max Bloomfield, Father’s Age 23,Father’s Birthplace Germany, Mother’s Name Hannah Danober, Mother’s Age 27, Mother’s Birthplace Germany, “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WSH-CQY : 11 February 2018), Gertrude Bloomfield, 17 Apr 1895; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 17037 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,314. Gertrude Blumenfeld Sex Female Age 0 Death Date 19 May 1895 Death Place Manhattan, New York County, New York, United States Death Place (Original) Manhattan, New York, New York, United States Birth Year (Estimated) 1895 Father’s Name Max Blumenfeld Father’s Sex Male Mother’s Name Johanna Blumenfeld Mother’s Sex Female Record Type death Certificate Number cn 17713, “New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949”, database, FamilySearch  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W62-FDD : 3 June 2020), Gertrude Blumenfeld, 1895. 
  8. Ella Bloomfield Sex Female Birth Date 16 Oct 1896 Birthplace Manhattan, New York, New York, United States Birthplace (Original) New York City, New York, New York Race White Father’s Name Max Bloomfield Father’s Age 24 Father’s Birthplace Germany Mother’s Name Hannah Dannenbaum Bloomfield Mother’s Age 29 Mother’s Birthplace Germany, “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WSR-C5T : 11 February 2018), Ella Bloomfield, 16 Oct 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference 46730 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,343. Ella Bloomfield, Sex Female, Age 2, Residence Place Manhattan, New York City, N.Y.
    Burial Date 27 Oct 1898, Burial Place New York City, N.Y., Death Date 26 Oct 1898
    Death Place Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States, Death Place (Original) Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, Birth Date about 17 Oct 1896
    Birthplace New York, Marital Status Single, Race White, Father’s Name Max Bloomfield
    Father’s Sex Male, Father’s Birthplace Germany, Mother’s Name Johanna Bloomfield
    Mother’s Sex Female, Mother’s Birthplace Germany, Certificate Number cn 30322, “New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WXM-1X7 : 3 June 2020), Ella Bloomfield, 26 Oct 1898; citing Death, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,951. 
  9.  Minnie Altman, Social Security Number: 068-38-6048, Birth Date: 9 Aug 1899
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 33019, Hollywood, Broward, Florida, USA, Death Date: 8 Mar 1990, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Max Bloomfield and family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 30 E.D. 08; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 14, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 
  11.  Gerard Bloomfield, Social Security Number: 065-12-6905, Birth Date: 4 Dec 1905
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10471, Bronx, Bronx, New York, USA, Death Date: Sep 1975, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Max Bloomfield and family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 32, New York, New York; Roll: T624_996; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 1421; FHL microfilm: 1375009, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13. Max Bloomfield and family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 11; Assembly District: 32; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 17, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  14. Max Bloomfield and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 1, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1130; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 26, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  15. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24WJ-54S : 10 February 2018), Richard Altman and Minnie Bloomfield, 04 Dec 1921; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,653,316. 
  16. Richard Leon Altman, World War I Draft Registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; Altman family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 21, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1224; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 1443, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, Selma Altman death record, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1939, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  17. Max Bloomfield and family, 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 38; Assembly District: 02; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 8, District: A·D· 02 E·D· 38, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1925 
  18. Max Bloomfield and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York; Page: 45A; Enumeration District: 0149; FHL microfilm: 2341202, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  19. RIchard Altman and family 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0149; FHL microfilm: 2341202, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  20.  Max Bloomfield, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marital status: Married, Age: 61
    Birth Date: 3 Dec 1871, Birth Place: Germany, Years in US: 45 Years, Death Date: 13 Sep 1933, Death Street Address: 1162 Grant Ave, Death Place: New York City, Bronx, New York, USA, Cause of Death: Chronic Myocarditis, Acute Coronary Thrombosis
    Burial Date: 15 Sep 1933, Burial Place: MT Zion Cemetery, Occupation: Carpet-Eleaner
    Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Gersen Blumenfeld, Mother: Gitel Blumenfeld, Spouse: Johanna Bloomfield, Executor: Johanna Bloomfield, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 7827, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Bronx; Year: 1933, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  21. Gerard M Bloomfield, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 19 Dec 1937, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Kathryn Federman, Certificate Number: 28519, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 ; Catheryne Federman, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 24 Oct 1908
    Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, Kings, New York, USA, Residence Address: 49th Brooklyn 1122, Certificate Number: 35855, Father: Morris Federman, Mother:
    Queenie Federman, Mother Maiden Name: Mendel, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Birth Certificates; Borough: Brooklyn; Year: 1908, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909. Federman family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 26A; Enumeration District: 0442; FHL microfilm: 2341291, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  22. Herman Kahn and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02464; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 3-175, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  23. Gerard Bloomfield and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02468; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 3-291,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  24. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80993503/johanna-bloomfield : accessed 07 February 2022), memorial page for Johanna Bloomfield (unknown–Oct 1955), Find a Grave Memorial ID 80993503, citing Mount Zion Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 
  25. Herman Kahn, Birth Date: 12 Oct 1892, Death Date: 22 Sep 1957, Claim Date: 3 Oct 1957, SSN: 058100609, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  26.  Gerard Bloomfield, Social Security Number: 065-12-6905, Birth Date: 4 Dec 1905
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10471, Bronx, Bronx, New York, USA, Death Date: Sep 1975, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. “Gerard Bloomfield of Economic Panel,” The New York Times, September 11, 1975, p. 44, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1975/09/11/76604030.html?pageNumber=44 
  27. Richard L Altman, Race: White, Age at Death: 84, Birth Date: 31 Jul 1897
    Death Date: 13 May 1982, Death Place: Broward, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998 
  28. Minnie Altman, Race: White, Birth Date: 9 Aug, Death Date: 8 Mar 1990
    Death Place: Broward, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998; death notice, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    10 Mar 1990, Sat • Page 34 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Two Youngest Children Irvin and Harold

We have already traced the stories of the six oldest children of Dora Blumenfeld Livngston and her husband Meyer Livingston, the six who were born in Germany and who came to the US with Dora in 1882 when they were young children. This last post about Dora will discuss her two youngest children, the two who were born in the US, Irvin and Harold.

Irvin Livingston, the seventh of the eight children of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, was still a practicing lawyer in 1930, living with his wife Helen and their three children in Glencoe, New Trier, Illinois.1

Their daughter Julie married Gustav Freund (“GF”) Baer in Chicago on July 18, 1939.2 Gustav was born in Chicago on July 27, 1916, to Walter Baer and Hennie Freund. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1938.3 In 1940, they were living in Chicago where Gustav was working as a manager for Universal Wheel & Abrasive Corporation.4 Julie and Gustav had two children.

In 1940 Irvin was still practicing law and living in Chicago with Helen and their two sons. Robert was also a lawyer by that time.5 He married Gertrude Abercrombie later that year on August 29, 1940, in Chicago.6 Gertrude was the daughter of two opera singers, Thomas Abercrombie and Jane “Lulu” Janes. She was born in Austin, Texas, on February 17, 1909.7 Gertrude was already a recognized artist by the time she married Robert. She won first prize at the 1935 Chicago Art Institute Show and had a one-woman show there in 1944.

UPDATE: Thank you to Janice Webster Brown for calling to my attention this essay written by Dina Livingston, Robert and Gertrude’s daughter, about her mother’s art and how she used symbols to reveal her feelings about her marriage to Robert and other relationships.

But her marriage to Robert Livingston did not last. In 1948 she married Francis Sandiford, Jr. Robert also remarried, although I’ve yet to learn when or where or even the full name of his second wife, only that her first name is Virginia.8

Irvin and Helen’s youngest son Irvin, Jr., was a student at the University of California Berkeley when he registered for the draft on February 14, 1942.

Irvin I Livingston, Jr., World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1071, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

On July 19, 1947 he married Jean Louise Swarts in Chicago. Jean, the daughter of Charles Eugene Swarts and Louise Friedman, was born in Chicago on January 23, 1923,9 and like her husband Irvin, grew up in Glencoe, New Trier Illinois. Irvin, Jr., and Jean had two children.

Sadly, Irvin, Sr., did not live to see his five grandchildren grow up. He died suddenly on July 10, 1949, at the age of 65,10 just three months after the death of his brother Alfred. Irvin was the fifth sibling to die. He was survived by his wife Helen, his three children, and his remaining siblings: Herman, Gussie, and Harold.

His son Robert also was not blessed with longevity. He was only 52 when he died on August 1, 1967, in New York City. Robert had been a lawyer like his father and had been general counsel and then president of Walter E. Heller & Company, at that time the fourth largest commercial financing company in the US. He was survived by his mother and siblings as well as his wife Virginia and daughter.11

Robert’s mother Helen outlived him fifteen years; she was 91 when she died in June 1982.12 Her younger son Irvin, Jr., died on May 6, 1995, in California; he was 74.13 His sister Julie was blessed with her mother’s longevity; she was 93 when she died on October 25, 2012.14

The youngest child of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston was her son Harold Livingston. He was one of the two siblings still in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1930, along with his brother Herman. He was living with his wife Marion and son Ralph and continued to own the family department store at that time.15 In 1938, he had switched businesses and was now the owner of The House of Flowers in Bloomington. He is also listed there in 1940 with Marion listed as his wife, but by 1941, there is no listing for Harold in the Bloomington directory.16

The 1940 census record for Harold is rather confusing. It shows Harold as the owner of the flower shop living at the same address in Bloomington, but lists his wife as Lucille and son as Harold. At first I thought this was a different Harold Livingston, but given that he was the flower shop owner, I think the census record is just wrong.

Harold Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00841; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 57-13, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

In any event, Harold did not stay in Bloomington much longer. By the time he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, he had relocated to Chicago and was self-employed.

Harold H Livingston, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

By 1944 his marriage had ended and Marion had remarried.17 Harold died in Chicago on July 2, 1950; he was 62.18 He was survived by his son Ralph and his two remaining siblings, Gussie and Herman. Ralph married in 195719 and had two sons. He died February 23, 2008, in California, at age 79.20

As we saw, Herman died a year after Harold in 1951, and Gussie, the last remaining sibling, died in 1957. Not one of the siblings made it to eighty years old, though most lived into their seventies. They are survived today by their many descendants.

Thus ends the story of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, born in 1847 in Momberg, Germany, the fourth child of Abraham Blumenfeld II and Gidel Straus, the mother of eight children, a woman who uprooted herself from her homeland, sailing with six of her eight children to America, and who lived to see all eight reach adulthood and attain prosperity in her new country. Dora left Germany in 1882 and by doing so changed the fate of her children and their descendants.

Next we turn to her younger brother Moses Blumenfeld IIA and his story.


  1. Irvin Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 2207; FHL microfilm: 2340238, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Livingston-Baer,” Hyde Park Herald, August 24, 1939, p. 2 
  3. Gustav Freund Baer, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 27 Jul 1916, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 2 Jun 2001, Father: Walter S Baer, Mother:
    Hennie Freund, SSN: 322186356, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Gustav Baer, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: University of Michigan; Year: 1938, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  4. Gustav and Julie Baer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 103-240, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Irvin Livingston, Sr., and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00783; Page: 63B; Enumeration District: 16-311, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Robert I. Livingston, Marriage Date: 29 Aug 1940, Spouse: Gertrude Abercrombic
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL,Marriage license: {4DDD0318-39EE-48C2-81D8-0E8A8EB63F37}, File Number: 1651842,Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages),Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk,Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  7. Gertrude Abercrombie, Birth Date: 17 Feb 1909, Gender: Female, Birth Place: Austin, Travis, Texas, USA, Father: Thomas Abercrombie, Mother: Lula M James
    Mother Residence: Chicago, Illinois, Ancestry.com. Texas, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1903-1932 
  8. “R. Livingston Services To Be Held Here,” Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 03 Aug 1967, Thu • Page 60 
  9. “Wedding July 19, ” Chicago Daily News, June 25, 1947, p. 26. Jean S. Livingston
    Maiden Name: Swarts, Gender: Female, Death Age: 86, Birth Date: 23 Jan 1923, Birth Place: Chicago, Marriage Date: 19 Jul 1947, Residence Place: Danville, Death Date: 10 Jul 2009, Death Place: Danville, Calif, Father: Charles E. Swarts, Mother:Louise Swarts
    Spouse: Irvin Livingston, Mercer Island Reporter; Publication Place: California, USA; URL: http://obituaries.blackpress.ca/obits.new.php?cmpRegion=&paper=201&paperSelect=0&submit=&name=&skip=630, Ancestry.com. U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-Current 
  10. Death notice, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 11 Jul 1949, Mon • Page 46. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/195693240/irvin-i-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Irvin I. Livingston (1884–1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 195693240, citing Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Jim Craig (contributor 46551563) . 
  11. See Note 8. 
  12.  Helen Livingston, Social Security Number: 357-38-5531, Birth Date: 1 Aug 1890
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60022, Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1982, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Irvin I Livingston Jr, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 3 Apr 1921, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 6 May 1995, Father: Irvin I Livingston,
    Mother: Helen Baer, SSN: 322166988, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14.  Julie L Baer, Social Security Number: 334-38-8021, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1919, Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: Illinois, Death Date: 25 Oct 2012, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Harold Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  16. Harold H Livingston, Bloomington City Directories, 1938, 1940, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  17. Marion K. Livingston, Marriage Date: 19 Jun 1944, Spouse: Murray S. Mahler
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {DDB7A346-6764-42A1-AAF7-F746F4DB826F}, File Number: 1818237, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960. 
  18. Harold Livingston, Death Date: 2 Jul 1950, Death Location: Cook County, IL, File Number: 6048068, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths)
    Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk,
    Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  19. Ralph Livingston, Marriage Date: 1 Apr 1957, Spouse: Joan M. Aubineau, Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {DE63F65C-99FC-44CB-AC2C-F9A71E20936A}, File Number: 2436286, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  20. Ralph H Livingston, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 17 Nov 1928, Death Date: 23 Feb 2008, SSN: 351202225, Enlistment Branch: A, Enlistment Date: 16 Jun 1951, Discharge Date: 27 Jan 1953, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 

German Jewish Immigrants in America in the 1800s: The Livingstons in Bloomington, Illinois, as a Classic Example

In 1882, Dora Blumenfeld Loewenstein and six of her children arrived from Germany and settled with her husband Meyer Loewenstein in Bloomington, Illinois, where they had two more children, completing their family. But why Bloomington? What brought them there? It was not near any major city—about 140 miles from Chicago, 170 from Indianapolis. But between 1850, when there were only about 1500 people living there, and 1880, when there were about 17,000 people, it had experienced a huge population explosion. Its rich farm land attracted settlers, and it grew to be a center for trade in central Illinois. Even Abraham Lincoln was known for traveling there from his home in Springfield, Illinois, seventy miles away.

But why did Meyer choose Bloomington? A February 10,1927, article (pp. 3, 5) from The Pantagraph, the Bloomington newspaper, provided the background to answer that question.

History of Livingston Family in Bloomington -

History of Livingstons in Bloomington part 2 -

The Pantagraph, February 10, 1927, pp, 3, 5

I will excerpt from and summarize some of the pertinent parts of this long article. Note that Meyer is spelled “Mayer” in this article as it sometimes was on other records as well.

Probably no other family in Bloomington has played such a prominent part in the mercantile history of the community as the Livingston. No other has produced so many buildings or taken such an active part in the commercial affairs of the city. Dating back to the middle ages and originating in Hessen, Germany, the father of the first representatives of the Livingston family to reach Bloomington was Hirsch, who resided at Daubriegn [sic], a suburb of Giessen in Hessen. He was the fiscal agent for a baronetcy and very prominent in that locality.

It was in the early fifties that two of his sons, Sam and Aaron, then in their teens, decided to emigrate to America to carve their fortune in the land of liberty. … They came over in a sailing vessel and the voyage required two months. …

The two lads came to Cincinnati where an uncle, Mayer Livingston [note: not Dora’s husband, but his uncle], was in business and with whom they resided until they had mastered the English language. They then started out with peddlers packs upon their backs and sold merchandise thru Ohio. Reports of a more prosperous condition in Illinois, led to their shift to this state in 1852, and they did so well with their merchandising that they were able to buy a horse and wagon with which they traveled from farm to farm. They found the farmers hospitable and the two boys accumulated a little money.

Aaron was the first to reach Bloomington, coming in 1855 and renting a little shack at the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets for a clothing store. ….

Prosperity came and a few months later, the brother Sam also laid aside the peddler’s pack and also opened a clothing store at the southwest corner of Main and Front streets…These two establishments marked the inaugural of the Livingston business in Bloomington….

On the early seventies Sam and Aaron erected the building at the northwest corner of Center and Washington streets [which a third brother, Maik, managed]. …Aaron also launched a dry goods store at the south side of the square and which he turned over to his cousins….

That was a notable event in the Livingston family when their beloved father, Hirsch, was induced to join his sons here and see the prosperity that had come to them. The old man made the long voyage in 1880, just arriving to witness the death of Aaron. Hirsch, a fine type of the old school of German families, was greatly interested in Bloomington, saw the need of a Jewish synagogue here and was the founder of the Moses Montefiore edifice which was erected in the early eighties. Hirsch passed to his forefathers in 1885, his couch surrounded by his sorrowing children and grandchildren.

When Aaron died, the remainder of the family sent for Isaac and Mayer to come over from Germany….Mayer arrived in 1881 and Isaac in 1882. [This confirmed my hunch that the Isaac Loewenstein sailing with Dora and her children was indeed her brother-in-law.] Following a conference, it was decided that Mayer should take charge of the clothing store at the corner of Main and Front streets; Isaac, the clothing store [at Main and Washington]; while Sam was to take charge of the 640-acre farm in Old Town township.

The article continues and brings the history of the Livingston family in Bloomington up to 1927, but I will stop here for now and return to the specific story of Meyer and Dora and their eight children.

The story of Hirsch Loewenstein and his sons is so typical in many ways of the German Jews who immigrated to the US in the mid-nineteenth century. Like my Katz/Katzenstein, Schoenthal, and Nusbaum families in particular, the Loewensteins/Livingstons came as young men, became peddlers traveling to far flung and rural parts of the growing country, eventually becoming successful enough to settle in one place and establish permanent stores there. Those stores grew to become department stores, leading to prosperity and security for those young immigrants and their families. It was not only my family’s story, but the story of many of the great department stores that grew all over this country in the mid to late 19th century, many of which still exist today.

 

Dusschen Dora Blumenfeld and Her Children: Immigrating to America in 1882

I am now up to the fourth child and first daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld II and his wife Giedel Strauss, Dusschen Blumenfeld. Dusschen would have eight children, and I admit that when I looked at that list, I grew a bit weary. After all, Dusschen is only the fourth of the eight children of Abraham II, and Abraham II is the oldest of the three children of Moses Blumenfeld, the oldest sibling of my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein.

So I still have so much to do on this Blumenfeld branch of my tree. I am not complaining; well, not really. It’s all good. I am glad to have the work. But sometimes it does feel overwhelming. Does anyone else ever feel that way about researching large families with many children?

And then, to make things even more overwhelming, I ended up confusing two different Dusschen Blumenfelds, one the daughter of Abraham II, one the daughter of his brother Isaac. After getting a lot of help from other researchers, I managed to sort it out and learned which one was born when, which one married which man.1

Anyway, enough kvetching! On to Dusschen Blumenfeld I, the daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld II and Giedel Strauss.

She was born on June 27, 1847, in Momberg, Germany.

Birth record of Dusschen Blumenfeld I, daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld. Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 628, p. 16

Unfortunately, that is the only German record I can find for Dusschen I. Since she was later known as Dora, I will use that name going forward when I refer to her.

In 1868, Dora married Meyer Loewenstein,2 who was born in Daubringen, Germany, on November 9, 1839.3 Unfortunately, I do not have an actual birth or marriage record for Meyer, but had to rely on the information that he provided after he immigrated to the United States. Similarly, I had to rely on US records to find the birth dates for his children. Giessen, the town where Dora and Meyer lived in Germany, does not have records online for the dates that are relevant to this family.

UPDATE: Since publishing this post, I was able to obtain a book titled Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 by Hanno Miller (Giessen, 2012) that lists on p, 392 information about Meyer, Dora, and six of their children. Although no primary sources are included, the descriptions of the records include enough detail (time of birth, witnesses to each birth) that the information appears to be quite reliable. According to this source, Meyer was born on November 9, 1839, and Dora and Meyer were married on April 23, 1868.

Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen 2012), p. 392.

I have noted below where the Juden in Giessen book provides different birth dates for the children of Dora and Meyer than those found in US sources. These discrepancies corroborate the accepted notion that birthdays were less important to European Jews than here in the US and that people estimated their birthdates rather than knowing them exactly.

As noted above, Dora and Meyer had eight children, and the first six of those children were born in Germany. Their first born was Rosalie, born April 3, 1869.4 Then came Moritz, born January 14, 1871.5 A second son Sigmund was born on December 13, 1872,6 and then Hermann, their third son and fourth child, was born December 25, 1874.7

After giving birth to four children in five years, Dora may have had a bit of a respite. Her fifth baby Aaron (later Alfred) was born on January 15, 1879.8 Perhaps that break came because Meyer had been traveling; I found a Meyer Loewenstein from Germany who was 41 years old on an 1878 ship manifest from Hamburg to New York.9 But I can’t be certain that is the same Meyer, given the lack of identifying information on the manifest and the discrepancy in the age.10

Dora and Meyer did have one more child in Germany before immigrating. Their sixth child and second daughter Auguste or Gussie was born on October 30, 1881.11 Dora and her six children sailed to New York from Bremen, arriving on September 9, 1882. The children are listed as Pauline (11 ½), Moritz (10), Sigmund (1 ½ ??), Hermann (7), Alfred (3), and Auguste (1). Meyer was not sailing with them so perhaps he’d returned to the United States before his wife and children though I cannot find him on any manifest after the 1878 one mentioned above.

Listed right above Dora on the 1882 manifest is another Loewenstein family: Isaac Loewenstein (38), his wife Rosa (28) and their two children (presumably), Rosalie (11) and Hermann (9).

Dora Loewenstein and children on ship manifest, Year: 1882; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List Number: 1286, Ship or Roll Number: Elbe
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I speculated that Isaac was the brother of Meyer Loewenstein. Why? Both ended up settling in Bloomington, Illinois, and both changed their surnames to Livingston (sometimes spelled Livingstone).

In any event, Dora and the children arrived in October 1882 and settled in Bloomington, Illinois, where on January 2, 1884, Dora gave birth to their seventh child and fifth son, Isaac, later Irvin.12 Their last child, Harold, was born on November 16, 1887, in Bloomington.13

Why Bloomington, Illinois? Why did Meyer and Isaac choose that city? I didn’t know the answer until I found a long news article from the Bloomington newspaper, The Pantagraph, dated February 10, 1927. More on that in my next post.



  1. Thank you so much to Richard Bloomfield and Michael Rosenberg for the invaluable assistance with straightening out the two Dusschen Blumenfelds, including helping me find and transcribe their birth records, which appear on the same page of the Momberg registry. 
  2. Livingston family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Bloomington Ward 1, McLean, Illinois; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1240321, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen, 2012), p. 392. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198505/mayer-livingston : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Mayer Livingston (Nov 1839–10 Oct 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198505, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) .
  4. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen, 2012), p. 392. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198011/rosalie-m-livingston : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Rosalie M “Rosa” Livingston (3 Apr 1869–19 Jul 1943), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198011, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  5. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen, 2012), p. 392. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198500/maurice-livingston : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Maurice Livingston (14 Jan 1871–19 Nov 1923), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198500, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  6. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen 2012), p. 392. US sources say December 27, 1872 or December 29, 1872. Sigmund Livingston, Age: 39, Birth Date: 27 Dec 1872, Birth Place: Giessen, Germany, Residence Place: Bloomington, Illinois, Passport Issue Date: 25 Mar 1912
    Has Photo: No, Certificate Number: 68761, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 155; Volume #: Roll 0155 – Certificates: 68321-69176, 18 Mar 1912-30 Mar 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  7. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen 2012), p. 392. US sources say December 29, 1874.  Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199176/herman-livingston : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Herman Livingston (29 Dec 1874–17 Feb 1951), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199176, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  8. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen 2012), p. 392.Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199178/alfred-livingston : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Alfred Livingston (15 Jan 1879–1 Apr 1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199178, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  9.  Meyer Loewenstein, Gender: Male, Ethnicity/ Nationality: German, Age: 41
    Birth Date: abt 1837, Place of Origin: Germany, Departure Port: Hamburg, Germany and Le Havre, France, Destination: USA, Arrival Date: 17 Dec 1878, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA, Ship Name: Cimbria, Year: 1878; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 53; List Number: 1326, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. The 1900 US census indicated that Dora had given birth to eighteen children, eight of whom were still living. So perhaps that gap between 1874 and 1879 reflects at least some children who did not survive. But ten deceased children in five years seemed unlikely, and when I checked the 1910 US census, it reported that Dora had had eight children, all of whom were still living. 
  11. Hanno Miller, Juden in Giessen 1788-1942 (Giessen 2012), p. 392. US sources say October 27, 1881. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198642/gussie-l-wertheimer : accessed 27 October 2021), memorial page for Gussie L Wertheimer (27 Oct 1881–12 Sep 1957), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198642, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  12. Irvin I Livingston, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Jan 1884, Birth Place: Bloomington, Illinois, USA, Residence Place: Glencoe, Illinois, USA, Military Draft Date: 1942, Relationship to Draftee: Head, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  13. Harold Hirsch Livingston, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 16 Nov 1887
    Birth Place: Bloomington, Illinois, Father: Mayer Livingston, Mother: Dora Blumenfeld
    SSN: 336146596, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Meier Blumenfeld’s Three American Children: Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss left Germany before the Nazi era and settled in Chicago, as we saw in my last post. First, the sisters Rosa and Sophie came in 1893 and moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where their uncle David Strauss was living. In 1900 Rosa was living with David and his family in Chicago, and Sophie may have returned to Germany, but returned to Chicago in 1905. Meanwhile, Hugo Blumenfeld, the only brother, arrived in 1904, and he also settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka in 1905, and they had one child, a daughter Elsa. Ignaz was a tailor. Hugo married Bertha Wolf in 1912, and they had two children. On his World War I draft registration, Hugo reported that he was working as a manufacturer with a firm called Deutsch, Blumenfeld & Strauss in Chicago.

Hugo Blumenfeld, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook,Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, Ignaz, Rosa, Elsa, and Sophie were all in one household in Chicago. Ignaz was still a tailor, and Sophie was the manager of a delicatessen. Rosa was not employed outside the home.

Herzka household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1920 Hugo Blumenfeld was working as a traveling salesman and living with his family in Chicago. Hugo had become a US citizen in 1911.1

Sophie had filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on November 21, 1917, and her petition for naturalization on January 28, 1921. She took the oath to become a US citizen on February 24, 1922. Later that year she traveled abroad, perhaps to Germany to visit her family.2

Sophie Blumenfeld, petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petitions For Naturalization, V· 96, No· 9401-9500, 1920-1921, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Rosa was a witness on Sophie’s petition, and on Rosa’s 1924 passport application, she indicated that she was a naturalized citizen of the United States, but I cannot find naturalization papers for Rosa or for Ignaz. It appears, however, that all three Blumenfeld siblings were American citizens by 1924. Rosa and Ignaz traveled to Germany to visit family in the summer of 1924.

Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Perhaps these visits from his American aunts and uncle helped convince Otto Blum, the son of Dina Blumenfeld and nephew of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo, to move to the US. We’ve seen that he arrived November 1, 1926, and reported that he was going to his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld in Chicago.

I cannot find Sophie or Rosa and her family on the 1930 census, so perhaps they were traveling then as well. In fact, Rosa appears on an August 1930 manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York. That may have been the family’s last trip back to Germany.3

Ignaz and Rosa’s daughter Elsa Herzka married Irving Blum in Chicago on September 21, 1931.4 Irving was born on January 7, 1900, in Chicago to Fred and Carrie Blum; he was working as a real estate salesman in 1930 and living with his parents and sister in Chicago.5 Elsa and Irving would have two children born in the 1930s.

With Hitler taking power in Germany, the Blumenfeld family in the US must have been very concerned about the family members remaining in Germany. Fortunately, Otto Blum’s brother Ernst Jacob Blum came with his wife Erna and two daughters on May 29, 1936, and also settled in Chicago, as already discussed. Sadly the two remaining sisters of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—Franziska and Johanna-–failed to leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust.

But there was loss on this side of the Atlantic as well. Hugo Blumenfeld died on November 7, 1937, in Chicago.6 He was only 55 and was survived by his wife Bertha and two daughters. Bertha outlived him by 28 years and was 81 when she died in April 1965.7 In addition to their daughters, Hugo and Bertha are survived by five grandchildren.

In 1940 Rosa, Ignaz, and Sophie were all living together in Chicago. Ignaz was still in business as a tailor; Rosie and Sophie were not working.8 Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka died just two years later on January 8, 1942; she was 69.9 That was also the year that both Franziska and Johanna were killed by the Nazis. Rosa’s husband Ignaz died two years later on May 5, 1944.10 They were survived by their daughter Elsa and two grandchildren.

Thus, by the end of 1942, Sophie was the only surviving child of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss. She died seven years later in December 1949; she was 75.11

Although two of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss’s children were killed in the Holocaust, three of their children—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—and all their grandchildren ended up in the US, and because of that, today there are living descendants to carry on their family line.

Next, the story of Meier’s brother Baruch and his family.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Hugo Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_315; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 403, ncestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  2. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1922; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 13; Page Number: 44, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Rosa Herzka, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 382; Page: 2890; Microfilm No.: K_1984, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  4. Elsa Herzka Marriage Date 21 Sep 1931 Spouse Irving M Blum Marriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{46572B06-0A28-41F2-9499-D268830B06C9} File Number1324805 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)Archive repository locationChicago, IL Archive repository nameCook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5. Irving Blum, Social Security Number: 345-09-1004, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60649, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1967, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Blum family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0160; FHL microfilm: 2340156,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1882, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany
    Death Date: 7 Nov 1937, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Nov 1937
    Burial Place: Chicago, Ill., Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Insurance Agent, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfeld, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany, Spouse Name: Bertha, FHL Film Number: 1953190, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  7. Obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 07 Apr 1965, Wed • Page 74 
  8. Herzka household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 103-258, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Rosa Herzka, [Rosa Blumenfield], Birth Date: 5 Sep 1872, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 1942, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Jan 1942, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt Israel, Death Age: 69, Occupation: Housewife, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Female, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfield, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Ignatz G., FHL Film Number: 1953739, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  10. Ignaz G. Herzka, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1863, Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary
    Death Date: 5 May 1944, Death Place: Chicago, Cook Co , Illinois Burial Date: 8 May 1944, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 80, Occupation: Tailor, Race: White, Marital status: W, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook Co., Ill., Father Name: Adolph Herzka, Father Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary, Mother Name: Minnie, Mother Birth Place: Hungary, Spouse Name: Rosa
    FHL Film Number: 1983247, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  11. Sophie Blumenfeld obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
    03 Dec 1949, Sat • Page 25 

My Cousins Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld: What Drew Them to America?

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—left Germany as young adults and immigrated to the United States. Why did they leave when their siblings stayed behind?

Rosa was born on September 5, 1872, in Marburg.

Rosa Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 37

Her younger sister Sophie was born on May 30, 1874, in Marburg.

Sophie Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 39

Finally, Hugo, the only son of Meier and Sarah, was born on September 25, 1882, in Marburg.

Hugo Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5561, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

On June 26, 1893, when Rosa was almost 21 and Sophie was nineteen, they arrived in New York on the SS Ems, heading for Kokomo, Indiana, according to the ship manifest. Why did they leave home? And why Kokomo? Kokomo in the 1890s had a very small Jewish population; in fact, there were not enough Jews in Kokomo to establish and support a synagogue until 1942. Why would two young German Jewish women have immigrated to such a place?

Rosa and Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1893; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1, Ship or Roll Number: Ems, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot find any records for either Rosa or Sophie in Kokomo, but in 1900 Rosa was living in Chicago as a boarder with David and Helen Strauss, both of whom had immigrated from Germany. When I saw the surname “Strauss,” I wondered if David Strauss was related to Sarah Strauss, Rosa’s mother.

Rosa Blumenfeld 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 1025; FHL microfilm: 1240286
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

And so down the rabbit hole I went. And what did I find? David Strauss married Helen Heldman in 1892, and their son Herbert was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in March, 1893, just three months before Rosa and Sophie arrived in the US. Were they coming to care for the baby and help David and Helen? Was David related to their mother?1

I went back to the German records for Sarah Strauss’s parents Hirsch Strauss and Betty Loewenstein and found that indeed Sarah had a younger brother named David, born in 1852 so the right age to be the David Strauss living in Chicago with Sarah’s daughter Rosa in 1900.2 So Rosa was living with her uncle and his family in 1900, and he was obviously the reason she and Sophie had been heading to Kokomo in 1893.

But where was Sophie in 1900? I can’t be certain, but I believe she may have returned to Germany because I found her on another ship manifest coming to the US from Germany on November 2, 1905. Also, her naturalization papers indicate that she had been in the US continuously starting in 1905, not 1893.3

National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1903-1981; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Declarations V· 25-30 P 161 1917-1918
Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Meanwhile, Sophie and Rosa’s little brother Hugo arrived on April 27, 1904. His ship manifest indicates that he was coming to his sister Rosa in Chicago and that he was a clerk.

Hugo Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1904; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 102, Ship or Roll Number: Kronprinz Wilhelm
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 (last entry)

Thus, by 1905, three of Meier and Sarah’s children had settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka on January 4, 1905.4 Ignaz was born in Szerat, Hungary, on November 29, 1863, and had immigrated to the US in 1889. In 1900, he and his brother Nathan were living as boarders in Chicago and had their own tailor shop there.5

Rosa and Ignaz had an adopted daughter, Elsa, who, according to the 1910 census, was born in Hungary in 1903.6 This is consistent with what is reported on the 1920 census: that Elsa was born in Budapest, Hungary, and was adopted.7  However, Rosa’s 1924 passport application says that Elsa was born in Chicago on March 22, 1905. It also, however, says that Rosa and Ignaz married on January 4, 1904, when the Chicago marriage index says January 4, 1905.8 Later records including the 1940 US census also say that Elsa was born in Chicago, not Hungary.9  I am not sure which records are accurate with respect to either the date or place of Elsa’s birth.

In any event, in 1910, Ignaz continued to work as a tailor. Sophie was also living with Rosa, Ignaz, and their daughter Elsa in 1910; she was a saleswoman in a delicatessen.

Ignaz Herzka and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

I could not find Hugo on the 1910 census, and perhaps he had returned to Germany for a visit as he had in 1909.10 But in 1911 Hugo became a naturalized United States citizen.11 And on March 24, 1912, he married Bertha Wolf,12 who was also a German immigrant. She was born in Langenbruck, Germany, on March 19, 1884, to Rudolph Wolf and Rosa Stein.13 Hugo and Bertha had two daughters, Sylvia and Marjorie, both born in Chicago.

Thus, long before Hitler came to power, Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld had all left Germany and were living in Chicago. Their decision to come to America was a blessing for the legacy of their parents Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss.

The next post will follow their lives from 1910 on.

 


  1. Dave Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 8 Jun 1892, Marriage Place: Hamilton, Ohio, USA, Spouse: Helen Heldman, Film Number: 000344499, Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993. Herbert Dave Strauss
    Race: White, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1893, Birth Place: Indiana, USA
    Residence Date: 1917-1918, Street Address: 5833 Michigan Ave, Residence Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Draft Board: 15, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  2. David Strauss birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Amöneburg 1814-1896 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 49), p. 6. 
  3. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1905; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 30; Page Number: 12, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  4. Rose Blumenfeld, Age: 28, Gender: Female, Birth Year: abt 1877
    Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 4 Jan 1905, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Spouse Name: Ignaz Herzka, Spouse Age: 40, Spouse Gender: Male
    FHL Film Number: 1030380, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  5. Ignaz Herzka, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 1034; FHL microfilm: 1240287, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Elsa Herzka, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  7. Elsa Herzka, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  9. Rosa Herzka Blum, 1940 US census, Elsa Blum, Age: 35, Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birthplace: Illinois, Marital Status: Married, Relation to Head of House: Wife, Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Map of Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Street: E 53rd Street, Sheet Number: 1B, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-271, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Gender: männlich (Male), Ethnicity/Nationality: Deutschland (German), Marital status: verheiratet (Married), Residence Place: Chicago
    Departure Date: 8 Aug 1909, Departure Place: Hamburg, Deutschland (Germany)
    Arrival Place: Boulogne-sur-Mer; Southampton; New York, Ship Name: Blücher
    Shipping Line: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft), Ship Type: Dampfschiff, Ship Flag: Deutschland, Emigration: nein
    Accommodation: 2. Klasse, Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213; Page: 1691; Microfilm No.: K_1809, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  11.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization
    Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  12. Hugo Blumenfeld, Age: 29, Gender: Male, Birth Year: abt 1883, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 24 Mar 1912, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
    Spouse Name: Bertha Wolf, Spouse Age: 24, Spouse Gender: Female
    FHL Film Number: 1030518, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  13. Bertha Wolf Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Mar 1884
    Birth Place: Langenbrucke, Federal Republic of Germany, Father: Rudolph Wolf
    Mother: Rosa Stein, SSN: 342408956, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Son Harry: A Son of Immigrants and a World War I Hero

In 1910, the family of Jacob and Taube (Tillie) Hecht was living in Brooklyn, as we saw. But by 1913, they had returned to Manhattan. Their oldest daughter Ida married Julius Goldfarb on November 20, 1913. Both she and Julius were living at the same address, 131 Avenue C, in Manhattan, according to their marriage certificate.

Marriage certificate of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:243Y-5QW : 10 February 2018), Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, 20 Nov 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,807.

But no, they weren’t living together before they married. Their families lived in the same building. The 1915 New York State census shows that the family of Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb and the family of Taube (Brotman) and Jacob Hecht were all living at that same address. As I’ve mentioned before, also living at that address were my great-uncle Hyman/Herman Brotman, Taube’s half-brother, and his family.

Goldfarb, Hyman Brotman and family, and Jacob Hecht, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85
Description District: A·D· 06 E·D· 18, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

The 1915 NYS census reported that Jacob was 50, Taube (Tillie) 40, that both were born in Austria, had been in the US for 30 years, and were still not citizens of the United States. Jacob was working as a tailor. They still had seven children living at home with them. Their oldest child Harry was 23 and a salesman at a department store. David (19), Etta (16), Gussie (14), Sadie (12), Rosie (9), and Eva (7) were all in school.

I am very grateful to my cousin Jerry for sharing this photograph of Taube and Jacob and all eight of their children, taken probably around 1915.

Standing rear: Julius Goldfarb, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Harry Hecht, David Hecht, Etta Hecht. Standing front: Sadie (Shirley) Hecht, Taube “Tillie” Hecht, Eva (Evelyn) Hecht, Jacob Hecht, Ruth Hecht, Gussie (Jean) Hecht. c. 1915 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Meanwhile, Ida and Julius had moved to Jersey City, and I’ve told their story here, here, and here, so will not repeat it again, except to note that Taube and Jacob became grandparents when Ida gave birth to her first daughter Sylvia on May 7, 1915, in Jersey City. Ida had had her second child, Gertrude, on June 28, 1917, in Jersey City, giving Taube and Jacob their second grandchild.

By that time, the US had entered World War I, and both of Taube and Jacob’s sons registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. They were living at 306 East 11th Street in Manhattan, showing that the Hecht family had moved yet again.

Harry was working as a salesman at B. Altman’s department store. He described himself as tall and slender with brown hair and brown eyes.

Harry Hecht, World War I draft registration, New York; Registration County: New York
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

David was a student and employed by City College of New York. He also described himself as tall, slight, with brown hair and brown eyes. David claimed an exemption from service for physical reasons not specified. David did end up working as a clerk for the War Department.

David Hecht, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harry, however, was drafted into the US Army on September 28, 1917. He was sent to Camp Upton for basic training and  assigned to Company K of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion of the 77th Division. He was promoted to a bugler in December, 1917,1 and shipped out to Europe with his company on April 16, 1918.2

His granddaughter Jan shared this photograph of Harry in uniform.

Harry Hecht, c. 1918. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

A detailed journal of the wartime activities of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion written by Henry W. Smith can be found here. It provides an almost day by day description of the training and experiences and the course of the battles these soldiers fought in France.

Harry spent a year serving overseas in France in some of the most important and most deadly battles of World War I. He served in the Baccarat Sector, where this video was filmed and shows the arrival of the 77th Division.3

He also served in the Vesle Sector and fought in the third Oise Aisne offensive in the late summer of 1918, one of the most important battles of the war as the Allied forces began to force the Germans to retreat. Here is a film of the Oise Aisne offensive.

Harry was gassed during the Oise Aisne offensive on September 5, 1918, and evacuated to the 305th Field Hospital. But he returned to the battlefield and fought in the Meuse Argonne offensive in the fall of 1918.4

As described on the National Archives website:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.

Fortunately, Harry was not among those killed in this horrific battle. He was promoted to the rank of private first class in November, 1918, and received a regimental citation for his outstanding service. The citation specified that, “For extraordinary heroism in the Bois de la Naza, Argonne Forest, when the battalion was held up by heavy machine gun fire from Oct. 1 to 5, 1918, P.F.C. Hecht continuously delivered messages to 3 Bat. Hdqtrs. and also maintained liaison with Cos. M & L 305 Inf who were on our right at that time, being subjected at all times to machine gun and shell fire.”5

Harry was discharged from the Army on May 9, 1919,6 and returned home, an American hero: a son of Jewish immigrants, a boy whose father worked in a sweatshop sewing coats to provide for his wife and eight children, and my mother’s first cousin. I am proud to call him my cousin as well.

 


  1. Harry Sidney Hecht, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919; Harry Hecht, Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (B) Casualties (Boxes 6-9); Box #: 6; Folder #: 6; Box Info: (Box 6) H-Hez, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921 
  2.  Harry Sidney Hecht, Departure Date: 16 Apr 1918, Departure Place: New York, New York, Address: 306 E 11th St, Residence Place: New York, New York
    Father: Jacob Hecht, Ship: Cedric, Rank: Bugl, Service Number: #1698294
    Notes: Company “K” 305th Infantry NA, The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 404, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  3. See note 1, above. 
  4. See note 1, above. 
  5. See note 1, above. 
  6. See note 1, above. 

The Mystery of Taube Brotman Hecht, My Great-Aunt

My next project is to write about my great-aunt Taube1 Brotman Hecht and her family.  I wrote about the Hecht family back in 2016 when I discovered Taube at the same time I discovered my Goldfarb family in my aunt’s baby book and grandparents’ address book.  It was a long and twisting path to figure out that “Mrs. Taube Hecht” in that baby book was my grandmother’s half-sister, Taube Brotman.

My aunt’s 1917 baby book. Taube Hecht is the last guest listed.

Those earlier posts in 2016 focused on my research methodology and the path I followed to figure out that Taube Hecht was my grandmother’s sister. Now I want to go back and tell her story and the story of her children and grandchildren in a more complete way. If you are interested in learning how I found Taube and how I determined that she was my great-aunt, you can read the earlier posts here, here, and here.

Let me now start with what I do and don’t know about Taube’s early life. As with all my Brod and Brotman relatives, I have no European records, but need to rely on American records.

Taube was born sometime between 1870 and 1875 according to various census records. The 1900 US census says she was born in March 1875.2 The 1905 NYS census says she was born in 1870.3 According to the 1910 US census, she was then 38, giving her a birth year of 1872.4  She reported that she was 40 on the 1915 NYS census, meaning she was born in 1875.5 In 1920 her age was reported as 47,6 and in 1930 she was 58, meaning a birth year of 1872 or 1873.7  In 1940 she shaved some years off her age, reporting that was 60, thus born in 1880.8 And her death record in 1944 says she was “about 71.”9 All in all, I’d say Taube was born sometime in the 1870s.

Her father was my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman, as stated on her death record; her mother was not named, but I know from records from her brothers David and Max that their mother was Chaye Fortgang, Joseph Brotman’s first wife. Taube’s US records all say she was born in Austria or Poland,9 and I have nothing more specific than that. Presumably like the rest of her family she was born in or near Tarnobrzeg in what is now Poland, then Galicia and part of the Austria-Hungary Empire.

According to family lore as discussed here, Taube left for the US when she was ten years old. I found ship manifests listing a young girl named Taube Brodt sailing from Hamburg on the Moravia to New York in July 1887. Both the Hamburg manifest and the New York manifest report that Taube was eleven. According to both manifests, she was coming from “Tarnowschek.” And on the Hamburg manifest she is grouped with a woman named Eva Singer and her baby, Ascher Singer.

Taube Brodt 1887 NY ship manifest
Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 509; Line: 1; List Number: 911

Taube Brodt ship manifest 1887
Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1736
Description
Month : Direkt Band 059 (3 Jul 1887 – 29 Dez 1887)

I can’t be positive this is my Taube. The spelling of the name Brodt was also used by other family members (along with Brod, Brodmann, Broadman, Brothman, and so on).  The age is close to what the various birth years for Taube would suggest if a bit younger, but also close to family lore. And Tarnowschek certainly sounds like Tarnobrzeg.

But who were Eva and Ascher Singer? And why was Taube with them? I have spent more hours than I care to count trying to find Eva and Ascher after they got to America. I’ve had no luck. I have gone down more rabbit holes, hit more dead ends, and searched in more ways and more places than was probably justified. Especially since I have nothing to show for my efforts. I found an Ascher Singer who was the right age, but he was from Bukovina, Romania. That was as close as I came. And who knows? Even if I found the Singers, it probably wouldn’t reveal anything about Taube.

Why would Taube have left Europe in 1887? By that time her mother had died, and my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman had married his second wife, my great-grandmother Bessie Brod. They’d already had two children together by 1887. But Joseph Brotman and Taube’s full brothers Abraham, David, and Max were still in Europe in 1887. Joseph immigrated to the US  in 188910 as did his oldest sons Abraham and David. Max came in 1890.11

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 079; Page: 1373; Microfilm No.: S_13156, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

So if Taube came in 1887, she left her whole family back in Europe. What did she do when she got here especially if she was only eleven? Even if we take a birth year of 1872, she would only have been fifteen when she arrived in 1887.  Where did she go?

Family lore says she stayed with her two older brothers, but then she had to have arrived after 1889 when Abraham and David immigrated, not in 1887. And if she did come after Abraham and David,  she was already a teenager, maybe even seventeen, certainly not ten. And why can’t I find her on another manifest?

Family lore also says her brothers sent her to St Louis to learn English. I can’t find any evidence of that.  There were several people with the surname Brod listed in the 1889 St. Louis directory, but I’ve no idea whether they were relatives. And why would her brothers, who lived in NYC when they immigrated, send their sister all the way to St. Louis? It doesn’t make sense to me. But sadly, without the 1890 census, I cannot find Taube in St. Louis, New York, or anywhere else in the US.

So Taube’s arrival and early years in America remain a mystery. Fortunately from about 1891 on, there is better evidence of her life. And I will start there next time.

Taube Brotman Hecht


  1. Taube was also known as Toba, her name in Hebrew, and Tillie, a later Americanization of her name. Because my grandmother also had a full sister whose Americanized name was Tillie, I will refer to Taube as Taube to prevent confusion. 
  2. Hecht family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Hecht family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 14; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 
  4. Hecht family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. Hecht family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  6. Hecht family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 226,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Hecht family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 2341088, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. Hecht family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. See census citations above. 
  10. Yossel Brod, ship manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 36; List Number: 244, Description
    Ship or Roll Number: Aurania, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Morske Brodmann, Year: 1890; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 25; List Number: 804, Ship or Roll Number: City of Chicago, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957