The Sisters Rosensweig[1]

One of the things that confused me about the ship manifest for David Goldschlager, before I knew that it was really my grandfather Isadore on the ship using his brother’s name, was that David did not list his brother Isadore as the person meeting him in New York.  Instead, he listed an uncle whose name appeared to be Morishe (?) Mintz.  I had no idea who this was, and I could not turn up anyone on any document who might have been this mysterious uncle.  Also, if Isadore had arrived first, why wasn’t he meeting his brother David?

Isadore Goldschlager ship manifest (under David's name)

Isadore Goldschlager ship manifest (under David’s name)

Once I established that in fact Isadore was the one who had arrived on the Patricia in October, 1904, I went back to look more closely at the manifest and to search again for Uncle M. Mintz, with no luck.  I did, however, find a separate document that I had not seen before relating to Isadore’s (“David’s”) arrival at Ellis Island, a Record of Detained Aliens, shown below.

Record of Detained Aliens Isadore listed as David Goldschlager

Record of Detained Aliens
Isadore listed as David Goldschlager

I am familiar with this type of document now because I had seen the one issued for Gisella Goldschlager, who had listed her husband Moritz as the person meeting her.  Because her husband had died, she was apparently detained and released to her son Isadore instead.  It appears that the same type of occurrence detained my grandfather.  On the document it says the cause of detention was “to uncle,” and then in the next column for “Disposition,” it says “Aunt Zusie (?)  Mintz, 177 East 111th Street, New York City.”  From this I surmised that something prevented Uncle Mintz from meeting Isadore and that instead his wife Zusie had picked him up instead.

That led to a search for the aunt and uncle.  I could not find any M  Mintz on the 1900 census from Romania who could fit.  I searched the NYC marriage index and also had no luck—until I searched for all men named Mintz who had married between 1880 and 1904.  I checked every one of them to see what their bride’s names were and was excited when I found a bride named Zusia ROSENSWEIG married to a Harry Minz in 1896.  Could this be a third Rosensweig sister?

If so, she would have been the youngest sister, about 14 years younger than Tillie, ten years younger than Ghitla/Gisella.  Why would she have left Romania first and not her older sisters? Her sisters did not arrive until 1907 and 1910, respectively, when they were already married and had children.  But Zusia was still single, and thus more able to pick up and leave earlier, as did her nephew Isadore at age sixteen.

Harry and Zusia were married in 1896, so I looked again on the 1900 census using the name Harry with a wife with a name that could be Zusia.  No luck.  I decided to look just for an S or Z Mintz and found a Sonsa Mintz, a widow, living with Jason and Rachel Reitman and their one year old daughter Clara.  Sonsa was identified as a cousin of the head of household and as a widow.  Assuming that this is the same woman who had married Harry Mintz, it means that her husband died less than four years after they were married.  It obviously would explain why he was unable to meet Isadore/David at the boat in 1904. I have not located a death certificate for Harry, however, nor do I know for sure yet that Sonsa is the same person as Zusia or really the sister of Tillie and Gisella.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a Sonsa, Zusia, Susan, or Susie Mintz in any later census.  I did find a reference for a Susie Mintz who died in the Bronx in 1931 and is buried in New Jersey, but I do not know if this is the same person.  I will order the death certificate to see, but at the moment I have no other records for Sonsa Mintz after 1900.  I assume she may have remarried, but I did not find a marriage record either.

The only other possible record relating to the third Rosensweig sister is a ship manifest listing an eighteen year old girl named Sural Rosensweig from Romania, arriving in New York on September 30, 1890.  The age and name are close enough that it could be the same person, but I cannot know for sure.  (On the 1900 census, Sonsa Rosensweig’s birthdate is April, 1874, and her arrival date is 1891, whereas on the manifest her birth year would have been 1872 and arrival year 1890.)

Although I’ve hit a wall so far with Sonsa and with Harry, her husband, I did look to see if I could figure out how Sonsa was a cousin to the Reitmans.  Was it through Harry? Through Jacob or through his wife Rachel? Although I was able to find a number of records for the Reitmans, up through their great-grandchildren, I have not yet figured out the relationship.  They, like Sonsa, were from Romania, but beyond that, I have no clues.  I have sent an email to one of the great-grandchildren, but it seems quite unlikely that they would know anything about a woman named Sonsa Mintz who lived with their great-grandparents in 1900.

I will have to hope that the 1896 marriage certificate for Harry Mintz and the 1931 death certificate for Susie Mintz have some clues.

[1] With apologies to Wendy Wasserstein.  No connection to her play is intended….

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Update: My Grandfather’s Arrival

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Isl...

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island, Manhattan, in New York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I received eight new documents, and I will report on them all over the next couple of days.  But for me, the most exciting document is my grandfather’s naturalization application.  It is always touching to see a document written in the handwriting of someone who means a lot to you, so that alone would have made it exciting.  It’s also exciting to see the names of my grandmother and aunt and uncle on his petition.  It’s exciting to see his distinctive signature.

But what made these pages particularly exciting is that they resolved a question that has been unanswered for a long time.  A number of years ago my brother tried to find the ship manifest for our grandfather Isadore at Ellis Island.  He was able to locate the manifests for David, Betty, Moritz and Gisella, but not Isadore.  When I started my own research almost two years ago, I also tried to find something that documented when Isadore arrived in New York, but found only the same information that Ira had found.  I had given up and moved on to other things.

When I returned to researching the Goldschlagers a few weeks ago, I once again looked, figuring that with my improved research skills and newer research tools, maybe I would finally find a ship manifest for my grandfather, but once again, nothing turned up.  I resigned myself to the idea that I would never find a record for his arrival.

Then the other day, as I wrote in my post entitled “Isadore and David Goldschlager: More than Brothers,” I realized that there were two ship manifests for David Goldschlager: one dated October 27, 1904, and the other dated November 4, 1910.  I also realized that it was the later one that was accurate.  Every other document said David had arrived in 1910: his naturalization papers, several census reports, and his wife’s naturalization papers.  It also made sense that David had waited with his mother and sailed with her to America.

That left me thinking that the David Goldschlager on the 1904 manifest was not David, but Isadore, my grandfather.  That manifest was for a ship called the Patricia, sailing from Hamburg, and arriving in the United States on October 27, 1904.  I was hoping that Isadore’s naturalization papers would reveal what ship brought my grandfather to America.  I hoped that I had finally found the evidence of how and when Isadore traveled to his new home.

Well, I opened the naturalization papers today, holding my breath, scanning quickly to see if the answer was revealed.  And there it was: Isadore wrote that he arrived on October 28, 1904, on the Patricia, sailing from Hamburg.  Isadore had in fact used his younger brother’s name to escape from Romania.

Isadore Goldschlager naturalization papers page 1

Isadore Goldschlager naturalization papers
page 1

page 2

page 2

page 3

page 3

I was always told that he left Romania to avoid the draft.  He turned sixteen in August, 1904, and was presumably then draft age.  David, on the other hand, was a year younger and would not turn sixteen until 1905.  Perhaps Isadore took David’s passport to get out of Romania.  Or maybe he just used his name.  (That leaves me wondering how David managed to stay safe until he left in 1910, but I am afraid we will never know the answer to that question.)

When I told my mother what I had found, she said that she was not surprised that her father figured out a way to get out of the country.  He was a very clever and resourceful man who knew how to get what he wanted.  He used his wits to survive.  As one of his namesakes who never knew him likes to say, “If at all possible, lie.” It seems that that approach may have saved our grandfather’s life and enabled his three children, his nine grandchildren, his fourteen great-grandchildren, and the ever-increasing number of great-great grandchildren to come into this world.

Thank you, Grandpa, for being so clever and for escaping Romania, and thank you, David, for letting him borrow your name.

SS Patricia, the ship that brought my grandfather to America

SS Patricia, the ship that brought my grandfather to America

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My Grandfather and Alma Gluck

In a recent conversation with my mother about her father, my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager, she said that one of the things that my grandfather remembered fondly about Iasi was the music.  From the photograph of the house where he was born, you can see a cathedral towering in the background.  My mother wondered whether that was where her father heard the music he loved.

One of the other stories my mother recalled was that my grandfather used to say that he babysat for Alma Gluck.  I knew nothing in detail about Alma Gluck, except that she was a famous opera singer and recording star, so I decided to do some research and see if I could figure out a link between my grandfather and Alma Gluck.

Alma Gluck

Cover of Alma Gluck

In reading a number of biographies online, I first learned that Alma Gluck was born Reba Fiersohn, daughter of Leon and Zara Fiersohn in 1884 in Romania; some sources say she was born in Bucharest, but others say she was born in Iasi.  Perhaps her family and the Goldschlager family were friends or at least acquaintances.   Since my grandfather was born in 1888 in Iasi, he obviously did not literally babysit for Alma Gluck herself since she was four years older; he must have babysat for her child.

Reba Fiersohn arrived in the United States in 1890, brought to the United States by her older sister Cecile, according to a biography from the Jewish Women’s Archive.  They lived in the Lower East Side, where Reba went to school and then worked as an office clerk.  On May 25, 1902, she married Bernard Glick, with whom she had a daughter, Abigail Marcia, who was born on June 9, 1903.  In 1906, Reba was discovered by an associate of her husband and began training to become an opera singer.  She debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in 1909 and became a very successful concert performer and recording star under the name Alma Gluck.  She traveled throughout the United States and was considered the most successful recording star of the time.

Here is one of her best known recordings, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.  You can find several others online.

She divorced Bernard Glick in 1912 and subsequently in 1914 married Efrem Zimbalist, the violinist, with whom she traveled, performed and recorded.  She and Zimbalist had two children, Maria, born in 1915, and Efrem, Jr., the actor, director and writer.  Although she continued to tour and record for a few more years, her voice had become strained, and she retired in 1924.  Alma Gluck died in 1938 from cirrhosis of the liver.

English: Russian-born American composer, condu...

English: Russian-born American composer, conductor and violinist Efrem Zimbalist (1890-1985) with his wife American opera singer Alma Gluck (1884-1938) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So where in this story might my grandfather fit? My best guess is that he babysat for Abigail, Alma Gluck’s child with her first husband Bernard.  As noted above, Abigail was born in 1903; my grandfather arrived some time in 1903 or early 1904.  In 1905 he was living alone at 2213 Second Avenue in New York, working as a grocery store clerk.  He was seventeen years old at the time.  That same year, according to the 1905 New York State census, Bernard and Reba Glick were living with their two year old daughter Abigail at 2 St. Nicholas Terrace in New York.  Bernard was an insurance agent, and Reba, the future star, was doing housework.  Could Isadore have been babysitting for little Abigail? St. Nicholas Terrace is crosstown from where my grandfather was living, about a half hour walk according to Google Maps.  It does not seem likely that the Glicks knew Isadore from the neighborhood, unless the store where he was working was located in their neighborhood north of Morningside Park.  Unfortunately, that’s a fact I will not be able to determine.

In 1909, Isadore was living at 440 East (?) 147th Street, according to the ship manifest for his father Moritz.  Google Maps could not find such an address in Manhattan, only in the Bronx, so perhaps it was 440 West 147th Street, about a mile north of where the Glicks had been living in 1905 and on the same side of Manhattan.  In 1910, Isadore was living with his aunt Tillie Strolovitz and her children on East 109th Street, back on the East Side.  The Glick family was living at 325 West 93rd Street, two and half miles away crosstown from where Isadore was living.  Again, unless there was some other connection—from back in Iasi or some Romanian community connection, it is not obvious how Isadore would have ended up babysitting for Abigail.

By 1912, Reba Fiersohn Glick had become the famous Alma Gluck, divorced from Bernard and traveling around the country.  One source reported that she fought Bernard for custody of Abigail and prevailed after a bitter court battle.  I cannot find where Abigail or either of her parents were living in 1915, but since by that time her mother was famous, wealthy and remarried, Abigail herself was twelve, and Isadore was 27 and working full time as a milkman, I doubt very much that he was babysitting for Abigail in 1915 or thereafter.

So is there any truth to the story that my grandfather babysat for Alma Gluck?  I, of course, am inclined to believe my grandpa—who wouldn’t? And it is entirely possible that he had a connection through ties in Iasi to the family of Reba Fiersohn.  He was a new immigrant when Abigail was just a toddler and himself alone and just a teenager.  Perhaps there was some outreach from former residents of his home city who arranged for him to earn some money as a babysitter for the future Alma Gluck, even if he was living crosstown.  We will never know with any certainty, but I believe that my grandfather babysat for little Abigail.

If he did, I wonder whether he knew how famous Abigail herself became.  Abigail Glick grew up to become a well-known writer under the name Marcia Davenport.  Among other works, she wrote the novel East Side, West Side, which became the basis of the well-known movie by the same name.  She was on the staff of The New Yorker for several years and wrote a very well-regarded biography of Mozart.  She also wrote an autobiography entitled Too Strong for Fantasy.  I have just ordered a copy—maybe she will talk about the young teenage boy who babysat for her when she was a young child? Unlikely, given all the other much more glamorous and interesting things that happened to her in her life, but I will be reading it with an eye open for any such reference.

We may never know a lot of things with absolute certainty.  Sometimes we just have to accept the versions of the truth we have learned.

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