The Legacy of Jake Katz: One More Family Rescued and a Remarkable Life

The last child of Meier and Sprinzchen Katz to leave Germany was their son Aron, who had been his younger brother Karl’s partner in the cattle trading business in Jesberg.

The family of Aron Katz and Sara Leiser: rear, Julius, Aron, Jack; front, Sara.
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

As noted in an earlier post, Aron’s son Jacob, known as Jack, had left Germany for the US in 1926 and was living with Jake Katz and his family in Stillwater in the 1930s, working in the Katz department store there.

Aron’s son Julius arrived on November 4, 1936, on the same ship as his cousin Moritz Katz, son of Moses Katz’s daughter Lena. Julius listed himself as a cattle trader and said he was headed to his uncle “Jakob” Katz in “Chillwater,” Oklahoma.

Julius Katz manifest, line 6Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5900; Line: 1; Page Number: 146
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,

On February 22, 1939, Aron and his wife Sara finally arrived from Germany. Fred Katz told me that Aron had been quite resistant to leaving Germany, believing like so many others that things would not get too bad. Thank goodness Aron realized how wrong he was before it was too late.  When the war in Europe started just a little over six months later, it became much more difficult for Jews to leave Germany.

Aron and Sara listed their son Jacob (Jack) Katz of Stillwater, Oklahoma, as the person who was receiving them, but handwritten in is the additional notation that they were also going to Aron’s brother Jake at the same address. Aron reported that he was a merchant.

Aron and Sara Katz, ship manifest, lines 4-5, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6291; Line: 1; Page Number: 141
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

In 1940, Aron and Sara were living in Stillwater like so many other members of the extended family.

As mentioned in the post about Walter  and Max Katz, Aron and Sara’s older son Jack Katz was in the US Army during World War II and stationed for some time in Germany. Jack was 31 when he registered for the draft in October, 1940.  He was living in Stillwater and working Katz Department Store there. I don’t know the details of his service other than what was described by Walter, but his draft card indicates that he was discharged on November 2, 1945.

Jack Katz Draft Registration
Page 1 – Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations 15-Oct-1909

After he returned home Jack married Helen Oppenheimer of Jackson, Missouri, on August 18, 1947.

Jack’s brother Julius registered for the draft in October, 1940. At the time he was living in Oklahoma City and listed his employer as Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty was a supermarket chain owned by Sylvan Goldman, the son-in-law of Jake Katz and husband of his daughter Margaret Katz. As I wrote previously, Sylvan and his brother Alfred had married the two daughters of Jake Katz, Margaret and Helen (respectively). The Goldman brothers were in the grocery business together.

The Oklahoma Historical Society website provides this description of the history of the Goldman brothers’ grocery business:

After World War I… [Sylvan and] Alfred opened Goldman Brother’s Wholesale Fruits and Produce in Breckenridge, Texas. Years later, while living in California, Sylvan and Alfred were intrigued by a new type of grocery store that offered all products under one roof—the supermarket. The brothers returned to Oklahoma in order to bring this new way of shopping to their home state. With Sylvan serving as president and Alfred as vice president of Sun Grocery Company, they opened a store on April 3, 1920, at 1403 East Fifteenth Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One year later there were twenty-one Sun Grocery markets throughout the state.

In 1929 Sylvan and Alfred sold the Sun chain to Skaggs-Safeway Stores, and in 1934 Sylvan purchased the faltering Humpty-Dumpty grocery chain. The chain was revived in part due to Goldman’s revolutionary advertising and enlightened personnel policies. His greatest contribution was the shopping cart, invented in 1936 and patented by Goldman. He established the Folding Basket Carrier Company to manufacture his invention. It was just the beginning of a list of creations that revolutionized the grocery industry: the grocery sacker, the folding interoffice basket carrier, and the handy milk bottle rack.

The New York Times described Sylvan’s invention of the shopping cart in Sylvan’s 1984 obituary:

With help from a carpenter and a maintenance man, and with a folding chair as a model, he built the first grocery cart in the mid-1930’s. Shoppers were reluctant to use it, so Mr. Goldman hired people to push loaded carts back and forth in front of a store. He also hired a woman to offer the carts to customers as they entered.  “Sylvan N. Goldman, 86, Dies; Inventor of the Shopping Cart,” The New York Times, November 27, 1984.

After Alfred Goldman died on July 9, 1937, while vacationing in New York City, Sylvan continued the business, and Julius Katz, Aron’s son, was working for him in the Oklahoma City store at the time he registered for the draft in 1940. More information about Sylvan Goldman can be found here, here, here, and in this video:

Julius Katz was still living in Oklahoma City in 1943 when he became a naturalized citizen. He listed his occupation as farming in 1937 when he filed his Declaration of Intent, but the Petition for Naturalization does not reveal what his occupation was at the time.

Julius Katz Declaration of Intent
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship , compiled 1908 – 1932; ARC Number: 731206; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Oklahoma City Declarations of Intention, 1932-1974 (Box 1)
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

Aron Katz died on October 19, 1950. He was seventy-five years old and was buried in Stillwater.

On November 15, 1953, his son Julius married Seena Hana Kaufman in Kansas City, Missouri:

Marriage record of Julius Katz and Seena Kaufman
Ancestry.com. Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

The marriage must not have lasted, however, because two years later in 1955, Seena is listed under her birth name in the Kansas City directory.

Julius died on August 7, 1963.  According to his obituary, his body was discovered at his farm by his brother. The obituary described Julius as a “well-known Payne County farmer and rancher with operations north of Stillwater.”  The only survivors mentioned were his mother and his brother Jack. “Funeral Services Slated  Friday for Julius Katz, Stillwater Newspress, August 8, 1963, p. 8.

Aron’s wife Sarah died three years after her son at age 88 on December 18, 1966. She was survived by her son Jack, who died in Dallas, Texas, on August 27, 1997.  He was 87 years old. Like his father, mother, and brother, he was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater.

Thus, all of the children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungenheim—Jake, Aron, Ike, Regina, and Karl and all their children—ultimately left Germany and settled safely in the United States, almost all of them in Oklahoma. Some came as early as the 1890s, other as late as the 1930s. As for those who came in the 1930s, it is tempting to think that it was a miracle that the entire family survived the Holocaust, but it was probably more a combination of luck, courage, and their own determined efforts and those of their family in America—especially those of Jake Katz—that got them out of Germany in time.

As for Jake Katz himself, recall that by 1930 he had lost his wife Sophia as well as his son Albert Jerome. Thanks to Jake’s great-granddaughter, I now have photographs of Jake and Sophia’s three children, Albert Jerome, Margaret, and Helen:

Albert Jerome Katz in rear, Helen Katz and Margaret “Babe” Katz seated with unknown cousins on laps
Courtesy of the Goldman family

Perhaps some Katz family member can identify the two unknown little cousins? Since we know Albert Jerome died in 1919, I am assuming this photo was taken in about 1918, meaning the two young children were likely born in 1916-1917. I am thinking one might be the daughter of Lester Katz and Mayme Salzenstein, Mildred “Bobbie,” since she was born in January 1916 and was related to Jake and Sophia on both sides, Lester being Jake’s cousin and Mayme being Sophia’s sister.

Here is Jake Katz with all three of his children:

Albert Jerome Katz in rear,
Margaret “Babe” Katz, Jake Katz, and Helen Katz seated
Courtesy of the Goldman family

Family members tell me that after Albert Jerome died, Sophia did not want to continue living in the house where their son had lived, so Jake sold it to a sorority.  After Sophia died, he bought the house back from the sorority. Family members recall his home as a family gathering place where children played hide and seek.  There were frequent Sunday dinners where the extended family would come to visit, and Jake always had either a silver dollar or a Hershey’s kiss for every child. Jake’s great-niece Ester wrote about Jake and his role in saving the family on her blog, It’s All from Hashem in her post Thoughts of a Libra. 

Jake Katz died on July 2, 1968, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He was 94 years old. His obituary made the front page of the Stillwater Newspress (July 3, 1968)[There is one error here; Sophia Salzenstein Katz did not die fifteen years after they were married; she died in 1930.]

Stillwater Newspress, July 3, 1968, p. 1
Jake Katz obituary

Jake Katz was truly a remarkable man. He came to the US as a young teenager, traveling alone. He worked with family members until he was able to strike out on his own, and then he started a department store business that expanded over the years and ultimately supported many members of his extended family. He rescued several of his siblings and their children from Nazi Germany. And he did all of this despite suffering the tragic loss of his son Albert Jerome and the premature death of his wife. He is remembered with great love and admiration by many members of the family who knew him.  It is quite a legacy.

His daughters Margaret and Helen survived him. Margaret died in 1984, followed just a few weeks later by her husband, the grocery store magnate and shopping cart inventor Sylvan Goldman. Helen died in 1999. Jake’s three grandsons also have passed away, but he is survived today by two great-grandchildren.

 

The Family of Regina Katz and Nathan Goldenberg—Escaping the Nazis

When Hitler came to power in 1933, three of the five children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim were still living in Germany: Aron, Regina, and Karl.  Through the moving memoir of Fred Katz  and the oral history of Walter Katz, we’ve seen how Karl Katz and his family were finally able to leave Jesberg by December, 1938. His sons Walter and Max had left earlier, and Karl, his wife Jettchen, and youngest son Fred left soon after Kristallnacht. All had settled in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with the help of Karl’s oldest brother, Jake.

Jake wasn’t only helpful to Karl’s family. Karl and his family had been preceded by his sister Regina and her family—her husband Nathan Goldenberg and their three children, Bernice, Theo and Albert.

Theo, Bernice, and Albert Goldenberg
Courtesy of the Goldenberg family

Theo was the first of Regina and Nathan’s family to leave Germany, arriving in New York on August 17, 1934, when he was twenty years old. Thanks to Theo’s granddaughter Abbi, I have some documents that reflect Theo’s work history and reputation before he left Germany. Special thanks to Doris Strohmenger and Heike Keohane of the German Genealogy group on Facebook for translating these documents for me.

This first letter, written November 14, 1932, when Theo was eighteen, is from his employer, A. Bachenheimer, a clothing manufacturing company, where Theo had been first an apprentice and then a salesman; he’d started when he was fourteen years old. The letter describes him as an honest, efficient and diligent salesman.

The second letter is from the next employer, Josef Volk, another clothing manufacturer, where Theo worked from December, 1932, until July 1933; this letter also describes him as willing, honest, and industrious. I am not sure where Theo went next or why he left this company, but given that Hitler had been elected by then and the boycott of Jewish businesses had been declared in April 1933, I assume there was some connection.

Theo left Germany a little over a year later. He filed a certificate of deregistration with the community of Kestrich on August 6, 1934, indicating that he was leaving the community.

He sailed on the SS New York with his cousin, Helma Goldenberg, who was 22 and a nurse. Theo listed his occupation as “clerk” and his final destination as Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he was going to his uncle Jake Katz. (Helma was going to Georg Goldenberg, her uncle, who was in New York City.) As my cousin Marsha learned when she interviewed Theo in 1993, Jake met Theo at the boat in New York when he arrived and provided him with land to farm when they returned to Oklahoma.  Theo told Marsha he “owed it all to Jake.”

Theo Goldenberg ship manifest, line 19, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5531; Line: 1; Page Number: 39
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Theo’s sister Bernice and her family were the next to arrive in the US.  Bernice was married to Julius Katz, who was born in Steinbach, Germany. They had a son Henry.  I knew that the family had arrived by 1940 because they are listed as living in Brooklyn on the 1940 census. Julius was working as a wholesale butcher, and Bernice as a dressmaker. But I could not find a passenger manifest for them.  When I look back on it, I am not sure why it was so hard to locate. But I thought it might be worthwhile sharing what I did and how I finally found them.

Because all I had was the 1940 census, I used the names and ages on that census to search for a manifest. I searched for Bernice Katz, Julius Katz, Henry Katz, and Julius’ mother and sister, Violet and Bette Katz. I searched for any ship arriving between 1935 and 1940 because I knew from the census that they were still in Germany in 1935. But nothing came up that seemed right.

Bernice Goldenberg and Julius Katz and family, 1940 census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: T627_2611; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 24-2457

Then I searched to see if I could find more specific information about Julius and his mother and sister—when and where were they born? Nothing came up. Finally, I searched for obituaries, and although I found a SSDI record showing that Bernice had died in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1985, I could not find any obituaries. I was stumped.

So I decided to ask the family for help.  I sent Theo’s son Nate a message on Facebook, asking whether he knew when Bernice had arrived and whether her son Henry was still alive. Nate knew that Henry had died within the last few years so I narrowed my obituary search to the last few years, and Henry’s obituary immediately appeared.  It revealed, among other things, that Henry and his family had arrived in 1936. It also revealed that Henry was born in 1931, not 1933, as the 1940 census had indicated. (Hartford Courant, January 17, 2015)

That led me to a specific search for any Katz arriving in 1936 in New York City—with no limits on ages or names.  And this time the search immediately produced the right result: a ship manifest for Julius Katz, Berni Katz, Heinz [Henry] Katz, Veilchen [Violet] Katz, and Betty Katz arriving in New York on April 10, 1936.  Julius Katz listed his occupation as an animal dealer, and they were all heading to New York City where Julius’ brother Leopold Katz was living.

Bernice Goldenberg Katz and family on ship manifest, lines 9-13, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5787; Line: 1; Page Number: 176
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

How had I missed this before? I am not sure.  Yes, all the ages were off.  Julius is listed as 37 on the 1936 manifest, but is listed as 48 four years later on the 1940 census; Bernice, who is listed as 29 on the manifest, is lasted as 37 on the 1940 census. Henry, as noted, was two years younger on the census than he was on the ship manifest. Had I searched too narrowly by those birth years? I don’t know.  All I know is that I was very grateful to my cousin Nate for providing me with enough information to narrow my search and find the passenger manifest for his aunt Bernice and her family.

On July 2, 1936, less than three months after Bernice and her family arrived, Nathan and Regina (Katz) Goldenberg and their son Albert arrived from Germany. (Regina is listed as Rosa here.) Nathan’s occupation was a cattle dealer, and Albert, who was sixteen, was an apprentice.  Here is Nathan’s business identification card from Germany:

They were headed to Stillwater, Oklahoma, going to Jake Katz and also joining their son Theo.

Nathan Goldenberg and family, ship manifest, lines 1-3, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5825; Line: 1; Page Number: 20
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 5825
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Here are their German passports:

Nathan Goldenberg passport

Regina Katz Goldenberg passport

 

Albert Goldenberg passport

In 1940, Nathan, Regina, Theo, and Albert were all living together in Stillwater where Nathan and Albert were farming, and Theo was a salesman in a clothing store—Katz Department Store in Stillwater.

Nathan Goldenberg and family, 1940 census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Stillwater, Payne, Oklahoma; Roll: T627_3323; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 60-33
Description

Thus, the entire family of Nathan and Regina (Katz) Goldenberg had safely left Germany before 1940.. Theo filed a Declaration of Intent to become a US citizen on February 7, 1936, his brother filed on February 10, 1938, his father Nathan filed one on December 29, 1938, and his mother Regina had done the same on August 18, 1941.  All must have been very relieved to be safely living in Stillwater and anxious to become American citizens.

Theo Goldenberg Declaration of Intent
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Petitions 1932 – 1991; ARC Number: 731222; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Oklahoma City Petitions, 1954-1957 (Box 6; Volume 14-17)
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

Albert Goldenberg Declaration of Intent
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship , compiled 1908 – 1932; ARC Number: 731206; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Oklahoma City Declarations of Intention, 1932-1974 (Box 1)
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

Nathan Goldenberg Declaration of Intention
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship , compiled 1908 – 1932; ARC Number: 731206; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Oklahoma City Declarations of Intention, 1932-1974 (Box 2)
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

Regina Katz Goldenberg Declaration of Intent
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship , compiled 1908 – 1932; ARC Number: 731206; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Oklahoma City Declarations of Intention, 1932-1974 (Box 2)
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

Albert and Theo both registered for the draft, Theo on October 16, 1940, and  Albert on July 1, 1941. Both were working at Katz Department Store in Stillwater at the time of their registrations.

Theo Goldenberg draft registration
Page 1 – Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations 1940
Web Address
http://www.fold3.com/image/612584757?xid=1945

Albert Goldenberg draft card
Page 1 – Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations 1941
Web Address
http://www.fold3.com/image/612584753?xid=1945

Tragically, the family was to suffer two terrible losses not that long after settling in the United States. First, on March 17, 1944, Nathan Goldenberg died. He was only 67 years old. According to his obituary, he had been ill for some time. His two sons were in the military at the time of his death; Theo was a corporal in the US Army stationed in Garden City, Kansas, and Albert was a private, first class, stationed in the Pacific Theater. “Goldenberg Rites Sunday,” Stillwater Newspress, March 17, 1944, p.3.

Just three months later on July 12, 1944, Albert was killed in action serving his adopted country. According to his obituary, he had been inducted into the army on December 1, 1941, just six days before Pearl Harbor.  He had trained at Camp Barkley in Texas and was serving with the medical corps attached to the 105th Infantry in Saipan when he was killed. He was only 24 years old at the time of his death. “Services Set for Goldenberg, Stillwater Newspress, June 16, 1948, p. 8.

Albert Goldenberg,  courtesy of the Goldenberg family

According to Theo’s son, after receiving training to join the intelligence service, Theo was en route to France when he received word that his brother had been killed; he was called back and discharged from the service as the sole surviving son. In the space of three months, Regina Katz Goldenberg had lost her husband and her youngest child, and her two remaining children, Theo and Bernice, had lost their father and younger brother.  How heartbreaking it must have been to have escaped the Nazis only to lose two family members so soon afterwards, one of whom was killed serving his new country.

After returning home to Stillwater, Theo returned to work at Katz Department Store with his uncle Jake, where he worked for over fifty years, and also operated a small dairy business for over forty years. He milked cows by hand and sold raw milk; he was the last dairyman to be able to sell raw milk in Payne County.

On October 15, 1950, Theo married Anne Marie Kunstler, who was born in Nuremburg, Germany. They were married in Stillwater.

Marriage License of Theo Goldenberg and Anne Marie Kunstler
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890-1995 [database on-line].
Original data: Marriage Records. Oklahoma Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

According to family lore, Theo and Anne Marie met in New York City, and six days later Theo proposed to her. She told him she wouldn’t marry him without seeing Oklahoma first, and he told her he would buy her a one way ticket, and if she didn’t want to stay, she’d have to pay for her own ticket back home.

Apparently Oklahoma met her standards, and she and Theo were married for almost fifty years. Theo died on January 11, 2000. He was 86 years old. Anne Marie is still living.

As for Theo’s sister Bernice, she and her husband Julius and their son Henry lived in Brooklyn for many years, where Julius worked in the meat industry (a kosher hot dog company) and Bernice in the garment district. She would take her sewing machine back and forth from work so that she could work at home in the evenings. Bernice and Julius moved to Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1975, after Julius was mugged several times in Brooklyn.

Julius Katz died on November 26, 1977, in Fairfield. Bernice Goldenberg Katz, died at age 79 in Fairfield, Connecticut, on May 2, 1985. Their son Henry died on January 15, 2015, in West Hartford, Connecticut. He was a veteran of the Korean War and was a structural designer, having studied at Pratt Institute and New York City Community College. He worked for over thirty years at Dorr Oliver, a chemical engineering company in Stamford, Connecticut. (Obituary, Henry Herman “Hank” Katz, The Hartford Courant, January 17, 2015.)

Thus, another branch in the family of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim survived the Holocaust and prospered in America.  But for the tragic death during World War II of young Albert Goldenberg, this would have been another happy story about Meier and Sprinzchen’s descendants.

 

 

 

 

Walter and Max Katz: Two Outstanding Americans

When I spoke with Fred Katz, I had many questions about what it was like to come to the US in 1938, a nine year old boy leaving the small town of Jesberg, arriving in New York City, and then settling in Oklahoma. Fred made it seem as though this was not a very difficult adjustment for him, although he said it was harder for his parents. I asked how he felt about leaving Germany, and he said that he had been very excited to come to the US although sad to leave the family’s horse behind.  He said he learned English quickly and adjusted easily to school in Oklahoma, and he said the family felt comfortable in Oklahoma, having so many other family members around, most of whom had been either born in or living in the US for quite some time.

So what happened to the rest of the family of Karl and Jettchen Katz after immigrating to America in the late 1930s? What happened to Fred’s two older brothers, Walter and Max?

On September 24, 2000, two graduate students at Wichita State University, Janice Rich and Paul Williams, conducted an oral history interview of Walter Katz. That interview, which remains unpublished, is the source of much of the information in this post.

In the interview Walter spoke about the family’s decision to leave Germany after 1933. He told the interviewers that boys who had been his friends before Hitler came to power ganged up on him and threw dirt clods at him, giving him a black eye; after 1935, his father and uncle were not legally allowed to engage in their cattle trading business, but they persisted illegally at great risk. He also shared the story that Fred had told of the difficulties the family had getting visas from the American consulate and of Fred’s rescue of the Torah scroll after Kristallnacht.

Walter also noted that his uncle Jake in Oklahoma had facilitated Max and Walter’s departure from Germany by submitting affidavits to support their applications for exit visas. When Walter left Germany, he sailed to New York, stayed with relatives there for a few days, and then took a train to St. Louis where he was met by his uncle Jake. Obviously Jake was very instrumental in saving Karl’s family from the Nazis.

Walter Katz on passenger manifest, line 29, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6055; Line: 1; Page Number: 50
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6055
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Jake brought him back to Stillwater where he was enrolled in school and was quickly put on the football team (he was seventeen, but because he did not yet know English, he was placed in junior high school).

Walter’s younger brother Max arrived in New York on July 21, 1938, and also listed that he was going to his uncle in Stillwater, Oklahoma:

Max Katz passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6188; Line: 1; Page Number: 101
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6188
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Finally, Max and Walter’s parents and brother Fred arrived on November 30, 1938:

Karl Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6258; Line: 1; Page Number: 16
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

The family of Karl Katz and Jettchen Oppenheimer was finally reunited in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Family of Karl Katz reunited in Stillwater: Max, Jettchen, Karl, Fred, and Walter

In 1939, Walter moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he worked at a men’s clothing store owned by two of his Youngheim cousins.  In 1942, he was drafted and inducted into the army at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He was then transferred to Camp Cook in California (now Vantenberg Air Force Base) and was soon naturalized as a United States citizen, as he described in the oral history interview.

Walter Katz in the US Army during World War II, courtesy of his family

Walter was assigned first to the 5th Armored Division and worked in company supply because of his retail experience.  He trained in Tennessee and in New York and was then transferred to intelligence school at Camp Ritchie in Maryland where he received two months of intensive training to prepare him to interrogate POWs.  He and 300 other servicemen from his base were then sent to the UK for seven months more of training. After that he was stationed in France, Belgium, and Germany. In France Walter became entangled in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944; while en route to Paris to pick up jeeps, he learned that the Germans had broken through Allied lines, and his unit, which had been stationed in Reims, France, was relocated to Belgium.

In Germany Walter was part of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) where his job after the war was to interview and arrest civilian officials who had been Nazis and to see that they were replaced with those who had not been affiliated with the Nazis.  Walter told his interviewers that the people he interviewed all denied being Nazis and claimed they had no choice but to follow orders.

While in Germany, Walter met up with his cousin Jack Katz, Aron’s son, who was stationed in Wiesbaden. The two cousins attended high holiday services in 1945 at a restored synagogue in Bad Nauheim. In one of those eerie small world stories, a teenage boy who participated in the service later married one of Walter’s cousins.  Walter did not know of this coincidence until visiting that cousin in New York years later.

Walter and Jack also visited Jesberg while they were stationed in Germany. Walter was distressed by the state of the cemetery, which had been vandalized during the war, and he demanded that the mayor restore the stones that had been toppled and clean up the damage, which was done by the next time he visited. Walter and Jack also met a young Jewish woman they’d known in Jesberg who had been in one of the camps and wanted to live in Jesberg again.  She had no money, so Walter went to the man who had been the local Nazi official responsible for the damage to the synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses and demanded that this woman be provided with everything she needed.

Walter and Jack visiting the former Jesberg synagogue after World War II, courtesy of the Katz family

Walter Katz and Jack Katz in Jesberg after World War II
Courtesy of the Katz family

Although Walter had an opportunity to stay in Germany and work for the State Department, he wanted to return to the US.  He returned to Wichita and to his work in his cousin’s men’s clothing store, The Hub, which he eventually purchased.  He married his wife Barbara Matassarin in Denver on July 7, 1950.  Barbara had been a nurse training in Wichita when she met Walter and had enlisted in the US Army as a second lieutenant in early 1950. When she was assigned to a hospital in Denver, they decided to get married. Walter and Barbara lived, however, in Wichita with their daughter for most of the rest of their lives, and Walter remained in the men’s clothing business until he retired.

Walter Katz at his store in Wichita, 1950s.
Courtesy of the Katz family

Walter’s brother Max also served in the US army during World War II.  He served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945, according to his obituary. Like Walter, he became a US citizen while serving in the armed forces.  According to his brother Fred, Max was stationed stateside during the war and did not fight overseas.

Max Katz in the US Army during World War II

After the war, Max returned to Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma A&M for two years, receiving a certificate in business.  He worked in the meat packing industry for several years before starting his own cattle trading business in 1953.

Military discharge papers for Max Katz

According to his obituary, “in 1973, Max began buying pasture land throughout Payne County and feeding his own cattle, in addition to commission buying. At any given time, Max usually had about 3,000 head of cattle either on pasture or in feed lots. Max retired from the cattle business in 2009.” Tulsa World, January 1, 2011.

Walter, Max, and Fred Katz lost their father Karl in 1966 and their mother Jettchen in 1979. Both had remained in Stillwater, where they are buried.

Katz family members buried at the Stillwater cemetery

Walter Katz died in Israel on November 5, 2007; his wife Barbara had predeceased him on July 1, 2000. They are buried in Israel. Max Katz died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on December 30, 2010; he is buried in Stillwater.

According to his obituary, Max Katz “was known far and wide as a superior cattle buyer and rancher who created a successful 56-year career in the cattle business by relying on a keen eye, a razor-sharp business sense, honest dealings, and above all, pure hard work. His generosity and willingness to help others in need became his hallmark and reputation.” Tulsa World, January 1, 2011.

Walter Katz, when asked in 2000 by his interviewers what he would say to the youth of America, said “First, you are lucky to be born in the United States. Second of all, you can do anything here that you want to do if you put your mind to it. The opportunity for anything you want to do is here if you want to do it. Work hard and stay with it and be good and honest. Live a good honest life and you will make it!”

Although those words do not necessarily reflect the experiences of everyone in this country, they do reflect the experiences and the values of Walter Katz and of his brother Max. Both Walter and Max had escaped from Germany as teenagers and traveled by themselves to the United States; they both had contributed greatly to their adopted country. They served in its military during a war against their country of birth, and they worked hard to become successful businessmen.

And yet these were two men who almost did not get into this country because of some bureaucrats dealing with immigration in the 1930s.  How many more could have been saved? How many more were turned away because of ignorance, fear, and prejudice? Will we ever learn?

Fred’s Story: A Boyhood in Jesberg in the 1930s

As I wrote in my last post, many of the descendants of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz were still living in Germany when Hitler came to power. One of those was Manfred Katz, son of Karl Katz, grandson of Meier Katz, and great-grandson of Rahel and Jacob.  Fred, as he is known, is my third cousin, once removed, and he was a young boy in the 1930s.

Relationship of Fred Katz to Amy Cohen

Before I left for Germany, I had a long conversation with Fred.  Years ago he had written a memoir about his years in Jesberg and his family’s experience after the Nazis came to power.  I asked Fred if I could reprint his memoir on my blog. Fred graciously granted me permission to post his story.  In addition, he and his family have provided me with some wonderful photographs, some of which are included in this post, and others will be added to those to come.

The family of Karl Katz and Jettchen Oppenheimer, from left to right: Fred, Karl, Walter, Max, Jettchen, c. 1933
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

Fred’s story is very moving, and having now been to Jesberg, I can visualize this young boy growing up in the small village with a beautiful brook running through it, surrounded by his brothers and cousins, his parents, and his aunt and uncle.  It should have been an idyllic boyhood, but as you will see, it was not.

Please read this and remember what happened to innocent children like Fred:

My Childhood in Germany[1]

By Fred Katz

I was born [in] 1929, in Giesen, Germany.  My parents actually lived in Jesberg, a small village in the state of Hessen, with a population of about 1000, of which about 70 were Jews.  ….  Since there was no hospital in Jesberg and my mother was 40 years old, she opted to go to Giesen, where she lived with her sister until it was time for her to go to the hospital to deliver me.  She took me to Jesberg when I was a week old to meet my two older brothers, 9 year old Walter and 8 year old Max. 

We lived in a large two story house with an attached barn.  We lived downstairs and my uncle, aunt and son lived upstairs.  My dad and uncle were partners in a very successful cattle business. 

The Katz home, 1930s
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

I was told that the winter of 1929 was one of the coldest and longest on record.  My brothers always told me that they had to go every morning to a small stream, the Gilsa, in back of our house, to break the ice with an axe and bring buckets of water for use in the house and livestock in the barn since all the water pipes in the house were broken. 

The stream behind the Katz house in Jesberg

I actually have very pleasant memories of my childhood until I started the 3rd grade of public school.  My playmates up to that time included non-Jewish and Jewish.  I enjoyed being with my older brothers when they did chores, and especially harvesting potatoes and making hay.  It was great riding home on top of a load of hay being pulled by a team of horses.

Riding the family horse, Ella, c. 1933: Walter to the left, Julius to the right, Fred and Max on the horse.

Fred Katz, c. 1936
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

 I fondly remember all the festivities associated with my brothers’ Bar Mitzvahs.  We had a small synagogue with about 20 families in 1934.  I always went with my father and brothers to Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon services, as well as all holidays.  We had a religious school that must have been rather informal because I can remember tagging along with my brothers when I was surely no more than 3 years old.  My exposure to religious school ended when I was 8 years old, but by that time, I knew most of the Bible stories and could read prayer book Hebrew. 

Starting in 1934, the number of Jewish families in Jesberg slowly decreased as they emigrated due to the ever more severe restrictions being imposed by the Nazis.  I started first grade in 1935.  There were 3 teachers in the Volkschule [public school].  One for the first 2 grades and one each for grade 3 through 5 and 6 through 8.  My first teacher was not a Nazi and I had no problems in his classroom or in the playground. 

However, the 3rd through 5th grade teacher was a real Nazi who instructed the students in Nazi doctrine while 3 of us Jewish students had to stand outside of the classroom as long as 2 hours, while they were supposedly discussing Christianity.  There were only 3 of us left in 1937 because others had already emigrated with their families or had been sent to Jewish schools in large cities.  My memories of the 3rd grade and part of the 4th that I attended until the 9th of November 1938 are not very pleasant.  I don’t know what hurt more, the taunts being thrown at me or the stones. 

We, my parents and two brothers, tried to immigrate to the United States already in the fall of 1935.  We traveled by train to the American consulate in Stuttgart, but they refused to give us a visa.  We tried again a year later, and this time they were willing to give my parents and myself a visa, but not to my brothers, who they claimed had tuberculosis.  My parents did not want to leave without my brothers so they declined the visa. On the return from Stuttgart, we stopped in Frankfurt so my brothers could be examined by a specialist, who found no trace of TB. 

Shortly after that, my father had a severe cerebral hemorrhage.  His entire right side was paralyzed, and he could not speak.  He slowly regained some ability to speak and move his limbs while under a doctor’s care in our home in Jesberg.  About 6 weeks after he had the stroke, it was recommended that he be moved to a Jewish rehab hospital in Frankfurt.  He made good progress there so that when he came home about 6 weeks later he was able to speak clearly and walk with the use of a cane. 

After my father had the stroke, mother decided to get separate visas for Walter and Max.  Walter went by himself to the American consulate, and they issued him a visa.  He left by himself in the fall of 1937 for Stillwater, Oklahoma.  Then Max went to the American consulate, and they granted him a visa.  He left for Stillwater in the spring of 1938.  [Stillwater was the home of Jake Katz, brother of Fred’s father Karl and by that time a very successful business owner in Oklahoma, as discussed in earlier blog posts.]

By then, our father was able to get around fairly well with a cane but was not able to do any physical work.  Uncle Jake knew one of Oklahoma’s senators, Elmer Thomas, quite well, and they were able to pull some strings at the State Department so that when my parents and I went back to the American consulate for the third time in early fall of 1938, we were granted a visa.  Preparations were then made for us to leave Germany in the middle of December. 

Alas, November comes before December, so I therefore experienced the Kristallnacht of November 9, 1938.  Not every German was a Nazi and an anti-Semite.  The son of a neighbor who had the only car in the village and who drove some of the Nazis heard of the plan and told my parents.  By this time, there were only 4 other Jewish families left in Jesberg, and my parents told them.  All left their homes that night to hide in the fields except us.

My father still had difficulty walking in fields so we went to the house of a Jewish family who had recently sold it for use as a municipal building.   We thought that we would be safe there, and this turned out to be the case.  We heard the mob hooting and hollering as they ransacked our little synagogue, destroying the one remaining Jewish store, and then went on to our house. 

Katz home in Jesberg today

The devastation we found on returning to our house in the morning was indeed sad.  Furniture had been severely damaged, glasses and dishes broken, beds soiled with urine, and they also left behind a cat of 9 tails, which really scared me.  However, I was also angry and decided to go by myself to the synagogue to find my wimpel, which I wanted to take with us when we left for America. 

I am sure that most of you never heard of a wimpel since it is strictly a German Jewish tradition.  A wimpel is about a 10 foot long linen sash made from the cloth from swaddling a boy at his Brit and is used to bind the two scrolls of the Torah together.  It is made by cutting the washed swaddling clothes into strips about 7 inches wide and sewing them together.  The child’s Hebrew name and date of birth are painted or embroidered into the cloth, along with a traditional blessing in Hebrew and, “May God raise him up to a life of Torah, a successful marriage, and good deeds, Amen.”  Additional color images of animals, bride and groom under the Chuppa etc are also added. 

Wimpel, By Center for Jewish History, NYC [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

The synagogue was in terrible condition.  Prayer books, prayer shawls, wimpels, Torah scrolls and mantels had all been thrown into a large pike and then set on fire.  However, the fire only scorched some of the items before it went out.  Searching through the rubble, I did not find my wimpel but found a Torah which had been torn apart at the seam, but was otherwise undamaged.  I went home to ask my parents if I could bring this Torah home.

Not Jesberg, but an example of the destruction of a small synagogue on Kristallnacht, this one in Hechingen.
http://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/kristallnacht/kristallnacht-november-9-10/

When I got home, there was an Army truck with a canvas cover along with about half a dozen SA troopers, the ones wearing the light brown uniforms, in front of our house. The doctor from our village was also there, and he told the SA leader that my father was in no condition to go with him since my father was still recovering from his stroke and that my uncle could not be taken because of his heart condition.  We found out later that the men picked up in Hessen were taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp.  They were all released over the next 2 to 6 weeks.  None were intentionally killed or severely hurt.  The idea was to scare the remaining Jews to leave Germany. 

My uncle [Aron], who had been a soldier in the German army in World War I, had no intention of leaving, but changed his mind after Kristallnacht.  He was fortunate that he and his wife got a visa and arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma in September 1939. 

The family of Aron Katz and Sara Leiser: rear, Julius, Aron, Jack; front, Sara. 1933
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

My mother gave her ok for me to take our hand wagon to pick up the two scrolls of the Torah.  About a month later, the scrolls were packed with our household belongings into a large wooden box called a Lift and shipped to Stillwater. 

So it was with this background that we left Germany for Hamburg on an American ship, the SS Washington, the middle of December, 1938.  We came into NY harbor standing at the rail, looking at the Statue of Liberty.  After a week in NY city, visiting with relatives, we left by train for our new home and life in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

SS Washington in NY harbor

The Torah [scroll I had rescued] could not be used, being torn apart at the seam, so [it] remained unused until 1956, when my brother Walter brought it to his synagogue in Wichita, Kansas.  There, it was repaired to make it kosher and useable.  My niece, Ellen, Walter’s daughter, read from it at her Bat Mitzvah.  Our son Harold brought the Torah to Tulsa, Oklahoma for each of our three grandsons’ Bar Mitzvahs, so they could read from it.  Ethan, the oldest, … and I shared the same Torah portion, Terumah.  The rabbi asked if I would like to read the first section, which I had read at my Bar Mitzvah, followed by Ethan reading the next sections.  As you can imagine, this was quite an emotional moment for me.

Tulsa World, February 24, 1996

I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like, linking the generations, the traditions, and the places he loved.

Looking at those old family photographs and reading Fred’s story made it very clear to me how much was lost because of the Nazis. Here was a family, living a comfortable and happy life in a small town in Germany—a family where children grew up feeling safe and loved. All of that was stolen from them.  Although they were among the very fortunate ones who were able to escape, it remains remarkable to me that they were able to rebuild their lives, continue their traditions, and create a place for themselves in a new country that they could call home.

More on that in posts to come. First, a look at what happened to the other Katz/Katzenstein family members who were still in Germany in the 1930s.

 

 

 

 

[1] I have done only a small bit of editing here, deleting some background on Jesberg already discussed in the blog and some personal information about birth dates of those who are still living. I’ve also added a few editorial explanations. I otherwise did not want to alter in any way Fred’s voice or the content of his story.

The Children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim in Germany Before the Nazi Era

As I wrote in my last post, most of the family of Moses Katz, son of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, were still in Germany in 1930. That was also true for most of the children of Moses’ brother Meier and his wife Sprinzchen. Their sons Jake and Ike were in Oklahoma, but Aron, Regina, and Karl were in Germany. Meier Katz died on October 29, 1925; his wife Sprinzchen had predeceased him.  She died on June 14, 1917.  As I wrote about here, they are buried in the cemetery that overlooks Jesberg.

Meier Katz death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3916
Description
Year Range : 1925
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Sterberegister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Death record of Sprinz Jungheim Katz 1917
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3915

Their son Aron had married Sarah Leiser on June 2, 1907.  Sarah was born on September 2, 1878, in Niederurff, Germany, a town less than ten kilometers from Jesberg.  Aron was four years older than Sarah, born on November 28, 1874, in Jesberg. Aron and Sarah had two sons, Jakob, named for Aron’s grandfather, born on October 15, 1909, and Julius, born March 30, 1913.

In August, 1926, when he was not yet seventeen, Aron and Sarah’s son Jakob left Germany and joined his uncle Jake in Oklahoma. He settled in Stillwater and worked for his uncle there.  In the US, this younger Jakob became Jack, presumably to distinguish himself from his uncle Jake.  Jack was the only other member of Meier Katz’s family to come to the US before Hitler came to power besides Jake and Ike.

Passenger manifest for arrival of Jakob “Jack” Katz, 1926. Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3907; Line: 1; Page Number: 145
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 3907
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Jacob “Jack” Katz naturalization petition, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, compiled 1909 – 1960; ARC Number: 731194; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Oklahoma City Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, 1909-1925 (Box 1)
Source Information

Aron’s younger sister Regina, who was born February 6, 1882, married Nathan Goldenberg on March 10, 1905.  Nathan was born in Kestrich, Germany, on June 4, 1876, and he and Regina settled there after marrying.  Kestrich is about 50 kilometers from Jesberg. Regina and Nathan had three children: Bernice, born March 16, 1906; Theo, born April 27, 1914; and Albert, born November 15, 1919.

Marriage record of Regina Katz and Nathan Goldenberg, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Eheregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Finally, the youngest child of Meier and Sprinzchen to survive to adulthood was Karl Katz, born in Jesberg on May 18, 1885.  Karl married Jettchen Oppenheimer on May 18, 1919, in Frankenau, where Jettchen was born on January 10, 1889.  Frankenau is about 30 kilometers from Jesberg. Karl and Jettchen had three sons, Walter (1920), Max (1921), and Manfred (1929).  Karl and his siblings Aron and Regina were all still living in Germany in 1930.

Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1885 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3816) Jesberg 1885, p. 39

Thus, a fair number of my cousins, the descendants of my 3x-great-aunt Rahel Katzenstein, were still living in Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933. What happened to them once the Nazis were in power?

As I started to research that question, I prepared myself for the worst, knowing that some had in fact survived the Holocaust, but not knowing if any had not.  I knew from prior research that I should be prepared for that wincing pain I have experienced every time I learn that another of my relatives was among the six million killed.

Back in Jesberg: The Family of Moses Katz Before the Nazi Era

While Jake and Ike Katz, grandsons of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, were establishing their dry goods business in Oklahoma along with their uncle Abraham Katz and his children, other members of the family of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz were still back in Jesberg, Germany.  Rahel and Jacob had three children who were still living in Germany in the late 19th century: Blumchen, Moses, and Meier. This post will describe the status of the families of Blumchen and Moses up to 1930.

Jacob and Rahel’s oldest child, Blumchen, died March 15, 1909, in Meimbressen, Germany, where she had lived after marrying Heskel Grunenklee of that town. As far as I’ve been able to find, Blumchen and Heskel did not have any children.  Heskel died in 1920.

Transcription of Blumchen Katz Grunenklee’s gravestone on LAGIS,
Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs in Meimbressen (Calden), aufgenommen im Juli 1937 durch Baruch Wormser von Grebenstein 1700-1936 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 590) AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 12

Moses Katz, the second oldest child of Jacob and Rahel, had married Malchen Wetterhahn on July 3, 1869. She was from Rhina, Germany.  Moses and Malchen had six children: Rickchen, born June 28, 1869; Markus, born August 30, 1870; Lina, born September 5, 1872; Bertha, born June 22, 1878; Jacob M., born May 27, 1880; and Julia, born December 13, 1883. Moses died in 1898, and Malchen followed him four years later in 1902.

Death record of Moses Katz, Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1898 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3896)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsverlauf1898ErscheinungsortJesberg, p.32

Death record of Malchen Wetterhahn Katz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1902; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3900

Children (and Grandchildren) of Moses and Malchen (Wetterhahn) Katz

Rickchen had married Abraham Moses on August 12, 1895; Abraham Moses was from Grossropperhausen, Germany, and had been previously married and widowed. Abraham and Rickchen had three daughters: Rosa (1896 in Grossropperhausen), Amalie (1904), and Recha (1904). Amalie and Recha were twins, Amalie born before midnight on February 10 and Recha born after midnight on February 11.  They were born in Frielendorf. Rosa married Julius Katz (perhaps from the Jesberg Katz family); they had a son Guenther born on August 30, 1929, in Frielendorf, Germany.

Rickchen died on September 15, 1933, in Frielendorf.

Death record of Rickchen Katz Moses, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 166,p. 54

Markus Katz, the second oldest child of Moses and Malchen, married Minna Wallach on September 7, 1902 in Oberaula, Germany, where Minna was born in 1880.  Markus and Minna had three children: Maurice (also known as Moritz or Moses) (born in 1903, named for his grandfather), Mali (1904), and Senta (1906). They were all born in Jesberg.

Maurice came to the United States as a young man on April 4, 1925. According to his naturalization papers, he was going to his “cousin” Jack Katz in Yale, Oklahoma; this might have referred to Jacob M. Katz, his brother, who was living in Yale, Oklahoma in 1925. Maurice’s passenger manifest, however, said he was going to his “uncle,” Jake Katz, in Stillwater. (Jake, son of Maurice’s uncle Meier, was really his cousin, not his uncle.) In 1930, Maurice was living as a lodger in Oklahoma City, where he was working as a salesman in a clothing store.

Maurice (Moritz) Katz naturalization petition,
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, compiled 1909 – 1960; ARC Number: 731194; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Oklahoma City Correspondence Relating to Naturalization, 1909-1925 (Box 1)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, Naturalization Records, 1889-1991

 

Maurice (Moritz) Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3630; Line: 1; Page Number: 72
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 3630
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

As for Maurice’s two younger sisters, Mali married Siegfried Baumann on April 17, 1930, in Jesberg.  Siegfried was born in Lauterbach, Germany, in 1893. The youngest child of Markus and Minna, Senta, married Julius Abraham of Niederurff, Germany, by 1932 when their first child was born in Niederurff.

Lina Katz was the third child of Moses and Malchen Katz; she married Hermann Katz on April 15, 1901. He was from Schweinsberg, Germany.  Hermann and Lina had three children born in Schweinsberg: Bertha (1902), Moritz (1903), and Amalie (1905). Hermann died on November 2, 1929, in Marburg, Germany.

Lina’s daughter Bertha married Siegmund Sieferheld on January 14, 1927; they would have three children. The younger daughter Amalie married Max Blum, who was also a Schweinsberg native.  Lina and all three of her children were still living in Germany as of 1930.

Marriage record of Lina Katz and Hermann Katz, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Eheregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

The fourth child of Moses and Malchen was Bertha, born in 1878. Unfortunately the only record I have for Bertha is her birth record.  I don’t know whether she died young or married or just disappeared. According to family lore, Moses and Malchen Katz had a daughter who died by drowning in the Seine River, and I did find a death record for a female named Katz who died in France in 1901, but again, I have no idea whether that is Bertha Katz. I thought that the fact that Lina and Hermann named their first daughter Bertha in 1902 supported this theory, but then I realized that Hermann’s mother was also named Bertha and their daughter was likely named for her.

Bertha Katz birth record,
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3809
Description
Year Range : 1878
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Geburtenregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Jacob M. Katz, Moses and Malchen’s youngest son, left Germany in 1908, immigrating to the United States.  Although he put Stillwater, Oklahoma, as his final destination, he listed his uncle Abraham Katz of Louisville, Kentucky, as the person to whom he was going in the United States. By 1910, he was living in Yale, Oklahoma, working as a department store manager.  By 1920 he was married to Julia Meyer, had a son, and was working as a dry goods merchant in Yale. In 1930, Jacob and his family were living in Wolf, Oklahoma, where he continued to work as a dry goods merchant.

Jacob M Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1908; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1132; Line: 1; Page Number: 104
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 1132
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Finally, Moses and Malchen’s youngest child was Julia Katz.  She followed her brother Jacob to Oklahoma, arriving in August 1912 when she was 29 years old. Finding her manifest was quite a challenge as Ancestry had her indexed as Inlchen Thatz when she in fact sailed as Junchen Katz.  But as you can see, this is the right woman as she was going to her uncle Isaac Katz in Oklahoma.

Julia (Julchen) Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1912; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1918; Line: 1; Page Number: 30
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 1918
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Seven years after arriving in the US, Julia (as she was known in the US) married Maurice Mink, a Russian immigrant who was a dry goods merchant in Cleveland, Oklahoma.  The marriage was written about in the Pawnee newspaper:

Miss Julia KATZ, one of the most popular clerks of the Katz Department Store and niece of Mr. Ike KATZ, became the bride of Mr. Maurice MINK, of Cleveland, Oklahoma, Sunday. the ceremony took place at Tulsa and following the wedding a six o’clock dinner was served at the Cutcham Hotel. The happy couple left for a two week honeymoon, after which time they will be at home to their friends at Cleveland, Oklahoma, where Mr. MINK is one of the leading business men and has a splendid home for his bride. Pawnee regrets to lose Miss Julia, but wishes her much happiness as Mrs. MINK. (Pawnee Courier-Dispatch and Times-Democrat, June 19, 1919)

In 1920 Julia and Maurice were living in Cleveland, Oklahoma, with Maurice’s two children from an earlier marriage. Their own daughter Marguerite was born that same year.  In 1930, Julia and Marguerite were living in Cleveland, and although Julia reported that she was married, Maurice is not listed as living in the household with Julia and their daughter. He is rather listed in a separate household in Cleveland, living with his two older children from the first marriage.

Thus, as of 1930, two of the children of Moses Katz and Malchen Wetterhahn (Jacob M and Julia) were in the US and one of their grandsons (Maurice) had emigrated from Germany as well.  But all the other descendants of Moses and Malchen were still in Germany.

Similarly, three of the children of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungenheim were still in Jesberg, as I will describe in my next post.

 

Before You Visit A Cemetery, Read This Post

There’s a lesson in here for anyone planning to visit a cemetery to find where their ancestors are buried.  I wish I’d had this lesson before traveling to Germany.

May 10 was our last day in the Kassel region, and we were going to see the village of Jesberg, home of the Katz and Katzenstein families.  As the Katzenstein/Katz family has been the one I have been researching most recently, these names and stories were freshest in my mind, and I was very interested in seeing what we could find and learn. Hans-Peter Klein was again going to be our guide along with Mrs. Ochs, who lives in Jesberg. We followed Hans-Peter from Kassel to Borken, where he picked up the key to the cemetery in Haarhausen where the Katzenstein and Katz family members from Jesberg were buried before the Jesberg cemetery itself was established.

As with the Obervonschutzen cemetery near Gudensberg the night before, I had no idea what to expect in Haarhausen.  I did like the horses who were grazing nearby.

This was another very big cemetery with close to 400 stones dating back to 1705. Once again, Hans-Peter came equipped with a map and pages from the LAGIS website showing the headstones and information about many members of the Katz and Katzenstein families who were buried at this cemetery.  So we were off on another treasure hunt—but with better lighting and more rested eyes than the evening before.

Haarhausen cemetery

And what treasure we found.  I have to admit that I should have been better prepared for this visit.  I should have searched the LAGIS website myself before leaving home and written down all the Katzensteins who were buried there, where they were buried, and how they were related to me.  But I failed to do that.  I am not sure I even knew about that part of the LAGIS website, or I’d forgotten about it.  It would have made my search both easier and more meaningful if I’d been better prepared.

For example, these two headstones:

I thought that these were the headstones of my three-times great-grandparents Scholum Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld because, looking quickly, they matched the pages for a Schalum and a Brendelchen.  I placed stones and even took a picture with both stones, believing these were the parents of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

But I was wrong.

In fact, having now had the chance to sit and check my tree and the LAGIS pages and the photos, I know that these were the stones of my FIVE-times great-grandparents, Schalum, son of Pinchas ha-Cohen, and his wife Brendelchen (father’s name unknown) who died in 1774 and 1776, respectively.  They were the grandparents of Scholum Katzenstein, great-grandparents of Gerson. Wow. Do I wish I had known? Yes. Does it really matter? Probably not.  I paid tribute, I visited. I just thought they were different people.

I am, however, really sorry I could not find the stone for Meir, the son of Schalum ha Cohen and Brendelchen, who is buried at Haarhausen.  He was my four-times great-grandfather, the father of Scholum Katzenstein.  There were many stones that were similar to this one depicted on the LAGIS website.  But I could not find Meir’s stone.

I did, however, find the stone for his wife, Henchen, who was my four-times great-grandmother.  But I did not realize this was who she was at the time, only when I got home and checked my resources.

Henchen, wife of Meier Katz. My 4th great-grandmother

I assume that Meir’s stone was nearby.  Henchen died in 1793, Meir in 1803.

And this stone, which I photographed but could not read clearly at the site, is in fact the stone for my three-times great-grandfather, Scholum Katzenstein.  It is labeled on the LAGIS website as the stone for Abraham Schalum, son of Meir ha-Kohen, so I didn’t realize it at the time, but again, after checking with my resources at home, I now know that that was the Hebrew name used by Scholum Katzenstein and that that was in fact his stone. Perhaps the stone for his wife was nearby, but  Hans-Peter had no sheet for a Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein, and I couldn’t find one either at the LAGIS site.

Scholem Katzenstein, my 3x great-grandfather

I did find the stone for Schalum Abraham Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, grandson of Scholum Katzenstein.  He was my first-cousin, three times removed.  His brother Meier is also buried at Haarhausen, but we did not find his stone. (You can see why I was overwhelmed with all the similar names!)

Jacob Katzenstein’s son, Schalum Katzenstein

So I learned an important lesson: be really well prepared for cemetery visits.  I feel extremely fortunate that I found the stones of my 5x great-grandparents, my 4x-great-grandmother, and my three-times great-grandfather. But I sure wish I’d known more about who was buried at Haarhausen and where they were buried before I even got to the cemetery.  Am I kicking myself? Yes. I missed some important stones because I had not done a careful enough job of preparation. It’s too late now, and I am annoyed with myself, but I also learned a very important lesson.  Do the hard work of preparation ahead of time because cemeteries are overwhelming, stones are hard to read, and time is limited.

We left the cemetery and proceeded on to Jesberg, where the Katz and Katzenstein families lived from at least the early 19th century. Today there are about 2500 people living in Jesberg, making it about four times the size of Sielen but smaller than Breuna. A castle was built in Jesberg in the 13th century, and there was a Jewish community dating from the 17th century. In 1905, the Jewish community of about 90 people made up over ten percent of the overall population of Jesberg; during the 19th century when my great-great-grandfather was born and raised, the Jewish population ranged from 55 people to 73 people, according to Alemannia-Judaica.  A synagogue was built in 1832, and there was a mikveh, a Jewish school, and eventually a cemetery.

Jesberg synagogue before World War I

In 1933 when many members of my Katz family were still living there, there were still more than fifty Jews in Jesberg.  Today there are no Jews in Jesberg.

Helping us in touring Jesberg along with Hans-Peter was Mrs. Ochs, who is another volunteer in the research of the Jewish history of the area and who works with Barbara Greve, who was out of town. Mrs. Ochs lives in Jesberg and was, like all the others, very warm, friendly, and helpful. We first drove out to the Jesberg cemetery, which did not open until about 1900 and which only has about twenty stones.

View of Jesberg from the cemetery

Jesberg cemetery

These are all the stones at the Jesberg cemetery

I knew that Meir Katz and his wife Sprinzchen Jungenheim were buried there, the parents of Jake, Aron, Ike, Regina, and Karl Katz, all of whom came to the US and settled in Oklahoma, some in the 19th century, others in the 1930s to escape the Nazis. I had spoken to Karl Katz’s son Fred before we left for Germany, and he had asked me to look for his grandparents’ graves and told me how to find them in the cemetery.

Back of the stones for Sprinzchen and Meier Katz in German

Front of stones for Sprinzchen and Meier Katz in Hebrew

There were three children of Jacob Katzenstein, brother of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein, buried in the cemetery.  These were my great-grandmother Hilda’s first cousins:

Levi Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, and his wife Jeanette

Levi  Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein, and his wife Jeanette

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein:

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein:

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein

There were also a few stones where half of the stone was left blank, obviously reserved for a spouse.  What had happened to their spouses? Had they left Germany and escaped safely or had they been killed in the Holocaust? I decided I would check.

Markus Katz: He was the son of Moses Katz, as I wrote about here.  His grandmother Rahel Katzenstein was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

Markus Katz, son of Moses Katz, grandson of Rahel Katzenstein

Markus was married to Minna Wallach, also known as Nanny according to other records.  As I had feared, she was murdered in the Holocaust, explaining the blank side of this headstone.

Another stone with a blank half was for Josef Katz.  He was quite distantly related to me, a third cousin, three times removed.  According to David Baron’s research, Josef was married to Bertha Lowenstein, daughter of Simon Lowenstein and Esther Stern, and she was born in Fronhausen, Germany in 1870.  I have not yet found any information about Bertha’s death so cannot say why the other half of Josef’s gravestone is blank. Perhaps she escaped the Holocaust, though her son Siegfried did not survive, so I doubt she did either. I will keep looking.

Josef Katz, third cousin, three times removed

The third stone with a blank half was for someone named Moses Schloss.  As far as I know, he was not a relative of mine, but I still wanted to know what had happened to his wife.  According to Yad Vashem, his wife was Lisette Gans Schloss, and she died at Theriesenstadt on October 14, 1942. So it appears my hunch was right.  At least two of the three blank stones were for victims of the Holocaust.

After visiting the cemetery, we returned to Jesberg, where Mrs. Ochs showed us the former synagogue and pointed out the brook that ran behind it, feeding what was probably once a mikveh.

Former synagogue in Jesberg

Brook running behind the synagogue

Back of former synagogue

I could imagine the carefree life that my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein and his many cousins had in Jesberg, running through the quiet streets and playing in the brook.  The town is probably not that much different today in appearances, other than the cars and paved roads.

We also walked down Bahnhofstrasse, the street where Fred Katz had lived as a young boy before escaping with his parents to Oklahoma in December 1938.  Fred had told me the house number, so I was able to find the house where he had lived with his parents, Karl Katz and Jettchen Oppenheimer, his brothers Walter and Max, his uncle Aron and his wife Sarah, and their sons Jack and Julius.  More on Fred and his life in Jesberg in a later post.

Marktplatz and church in Jesberg

Bahnhofstrasse in Jesberg

House where the Katz family lived in Jesberg in the 1930s

The brook that runs through Jesberg

We then all went to lunch in a nearby town (there was no place to eat—not even a bakery—in Jesberg), and then Harvey and I said another difficult goodbye to Hans-Peter and Mrs. Ochs and to the Kassel region.

Our days in the Kassel region far exceeded my expectations.  The friends we made and the places we saw will stay with me forever.  Yes, I wish I had better prepared for the cemetery visits, but overall I have no regrets and am so thankful that I got to visit the homes of my Hamberg, Goldschmidt, Schoenthal, and Katzenstein ancestors.  I am particularly thankful to Ernst Klein, Julia Drinnenberg, Hans-Peter Klein, Barbara Greve, and Mrs. Ochs for all their hard work and dedication, and, of course, especially to Harvey for being a willing and helpful participant in the hunt for stones in so many cemeteries.

Now we were heading south to Wurzburg and then to Schopfloch, the home of the Nussbaums

 

 

 

 

The Blessings and Curses of Old Family Stories

Family stories can often lead you astray, but perhaps more often they can give you clues or corroborate evidence you’ve already uncovered.  In the case of the descendants of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, there has been a little of all three.

What I know from the research done by Barbara Greve and David Baron is that Rahel and Jacob had six children: Blumchen, Moses, Meier, Abraham, Sanchen, and Samuel. Abraham and Samuel came to the United States in the years following the Civil War, as I’ve written.  But what about the other four siblings? What could I learn about them?

Fortunately, my cousin Marsha interviewed our mutual cousin Theo Goldenberg in January, 1993, about the family history.  Theo Goldenberg was born and raised in Jesberg; he was the grandson of Meier Katz and came to the US in the 1930s as a young man escaping Nazi Germany. Having grown up in Jesberg with his Katz and Katzenstein relatives, Theo had first-hand knowledge of the family stories and may have been one of the the best people to ask about the siblings of his grandfather Meier.

In his interview with Marsha, Theo named five of the children of Rahel and Jacob: Blumchen, Moses, Meier, Abraham, and Samuel.  He also told Marsha that there had been another daughter who drowned as a small child—presumably that would have been Sanchen, the only other daughter found by Barbara Greve or David Baron. Thus, Theo’s recollection is quite consistent with the list of names I had learned from Barbara Greve and David Baron.

Family lore, however, is that there was another son who came to the United States before Abraham and Samuel and who fought in the Civil War.  The family story is that when Abraham came to the US, he went to New Orleans to look for this brother, but never found him. He was presumed to have been killed in the Civil War.

Theo Goldenberg told Marsha that he was not aware of any other son, and although I have spent a fair amount of time searching, I have found no records that support the existence of this fifth brother (nor did Barbara Greve or David Baron, both of whom have done extensive research on the family).

At first I thought perhaps Moses was this missing brother because I found a Moses Katz who came from the Hesse region and who fought in the Civil War.  He survived the war and settled in Baltimore.  But I could find no tie to the family of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, and Marsha’s father Henry pointed out persuasively that if Moses had been in Baltimore, Abraham would have known and easily found him without traveling to New Orleans, especially since Abraham lived in Baltimore when he first came to the US.

Theo Goldenberg, moreover, told Marsha that Moses never left Germany. Although Marsha commented in her notes that this part of her interview with Theo was somewhat confusing, it appears that Theo told her that Moses had died as a young man after being kicked by a cow in the stomach.  He had, however, been married and had had several children.

David Baron also had information about Moses Katz that indicated that Moses had married Amalia Malchen Wetterhahn in Jesberg, Germany on July 3, 1869, and had had six children born in Jesberg.  I owe David a huge thank you for sending me many of the Katz records from Jesberg and also for teaching me how to find others myself.  Here is one he shared with me, a death record for Moses Katz:

Moses Katz death record, Jesberg Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1898 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3896) Jesberg 1898, p.32

My FB friend Matthias Steinke once again helped me out and translated the document, and it says nothing about the cause of death, so the “kicked in the stomach” story will have to remain family lore.  Also, Moses Katz died when he was almost sixty—so hardly a “young man.”  Maybe Theo was referring to someone else in the family.

Jesberg, the 9th July 1898
To the below signing registrar came the personally known merchant Markus Katz, residing in Jesberg, house-nr 32/2, and reported, that the merchant Moses Katz, 58 years, 6 month, 11 days, mosaic religion, residing in Jesberg, housenr. 32/2, born in Jesberg, been married to Amalie nee Wetterhan of Jesberg, son of the deceased merchant Jakob Katz and his deceased wife Rael nee Katzenstein of Jesberg, in Jesberg at the 8th July 1898 past midday at 6 o’clock is deceased. The Markus Katz declared, that he knows about the death by his own knowledge. Readed, confirmed and signed Markus Katz – the registrar (signature)

I suppose it’s possible that Moses went to the US, fought in the Civil War, returned to Jesberg after the war and married Amalia in 1869. But that seems unlikely, and wouldn’t Abraham have known that his brother had returned to Jesberg?

Perhaps it was not a brother but a cousin who fought and died in the Civil War? I don’t know.  But at this point I think the evidence does not support the story of this missing brother. However, the story has been passed down through the generations, and I’ve learned that in every family story there is usually some kernel of truth.  I just haven’t found it yet in this story.

Nor can I verify the story about Sanchen’s drowning. If Sanchen died as a young girl, that would have been more than fifty years before Theo’s birth and so perhaps not reliable as a piece of family history (and unfortunately before the earliest Jesberg records that are kept online.)  Yet such a traumatic event might very well have been reliably reported from generation to generation.

As for Blumchen, Theo told Marsha that she had stayed in Germany, married, and had not had any children.  According to David Baron, Blumchen married Heskel Grunenklee of Meimbressen, Germany, and she died on March 9, 1909.  Theo’s story is thus consistent with the research done by David Baron.

Theo had, not surprisingly, the most information about the children of Meier Katz, his grandfather, who died on October 29, 1925, when Theo was eleven.  Unfortunately, there were no insights about Meier in the interview notes.

Meier Katz death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3916
Description
Year Range : 1925
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Sterberegister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Theo’s grandmother Sprinzchen Jungheim Katz died on June 15, 1917, so Theo would have been only three years old when his grandmother died.

Death record of Sprinz Jungheim Katz 1917
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufendenummer: 3915

Meier and Sprinzchen had six children: Jacob, Aron, Seligmann, Regina, Karl, and Sol, according to Theo. I have not seen Sol listed anywhere else, and Theo had nothing more to say about him besides his name. However, there was a Salli Katz born to Meier and Sprinzchen on June 14, 1888, who died on January 10, 1892, so I assume that this is the “Sol” referred to by Theo Goldenberg.

Salli Katz birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3819
Description
Year Range : 1888
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Geburtenregister und Namensverzeichnisse. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, Deutschland.

Salli Katz death record, Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg: Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1892 (HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3890)
Jesberg 1892, p.2

As translated by Matthias Steinke:

Jesberg at the 10th January 1892 – To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Moses Katz, residing in Jesberg, House nr. 32 1/2 and reported, that Salli Katz, 2 years 6 month 25 days old, mosaic religion, residing in Jesberg, house nr. 28, born in Jesberg, son of the merchant Meier Katz II and his wife Sprinzchen nee Jungheim of Jesberg, in Jesberg at the ninth January of the year 1892, past midday at four o’clock is deceased. The Moses Katz declared, to know about the death by his own knowledge. Readed, confirmed and signed Moses Katz The registrar Appell

[The death record reports that Salli was two and a half years old, but based on the birth record, he was really three and a half years old.]

The other five children of Meier and Sprinzchen—Jacob, Aron, Isaac, Regina, and Karl—all survived to adulthood and all came to the United States, some as early as the 1880s, others as late as the 1930s.  But fortunately they all survived. More on that in the posts to come.  For now, here is a photograph of Meier and Sprinzchen and those five children:

Meier and Sprinzchen (Jungheim) Katz and children

What I learned from all this is that we all should be doing what Marsha did back in 1993; we should be interviewing the older generations in our family, asking questions and taking notes.  Even if some of the information leads us on a few wild goose chases, the stories we will hear will disappear if they are not recorded.  I am so grateful that Marsha had the wisdom to meet with her cousin Theo and ask him to answer her questions about the family back in 1993.  If only I had done the same with my own older relatives 24 years ago…

 

 

 

Will the Real Abraham Mansbach Please Stand Up?

In my prior post about my great-great-grandparents Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt, I was trying to determine whether anyone in either of their families was living in Philadelphia when they immigrated there with their first three children in 1856.  The closest possible relative I could find who might have been there first was someone I thought was Gerson’s nephew Abraham Mansbach, son of his half-sister Hannchen Katzenstein and her husband Marum Mansbach of Maden.

There was an 1852 ship manifest for an Abraham Mansbach, a merchant from Germany, who I thought might be this nephew, but there was no town of origin or age listed on the manifest, so it was hard to know. Also, he had entered the country in Baltimore, not Philadelphia.

abraham-mansbach-1852-immigration-card

Abraham Mansbach 1852 immigration card “Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists Index, 1820-1897,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-37337-15431-34?cc=2173933 : 17 June 2014), NARA M327, Roll 98, No. M462-M524, 1820-1897 > image 2545 of 3335; citing NARA microfilm publication M327 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

abraham-mansbach-1852-passenger-list

Abraham Mansbach on 1852 passenger list “Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32011-12875-22?cc=2018318 : 25 September 2015), 1820-1891 (NARA M255, M596) > 9 – Jun 2, 1852-Aug 29, 1853 > image 503 of 890; citing NARA microfilm publications M255, M596 and T844 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

The 1860 census, however, shows that living in the household of Gerson Katzenstein was a 25 year old salesman named Abraham Anspach.  Since Gerson’s nephew Abraham was born in 1835, he would have been 25 in 1860.  It seemed to me that this was in fact the son of Hannchen Katzenstein and Marum Mansbach, Abraham Mansbach.

But there was also a 20 year old woman living in the house named Marley Mansbach, and I had at first thought she could be Gerson’s niece and Abraham’s sister Henrietta.  I also thought she was likely the same person who was listed on the 1856 ship manifest right below Gerson Katzenstein and his family: a sixteen year old girl named Malchen Mansbach from Maden. But the ages were off from the birth year I had for Henrietta (1833), and the name Henrietta is quite different from Malchen.  Most Malchens I’d seen adopted the name Amelia or Amalia; most Henriettas had been Jette in Germany, not Malchen.

Plus there was Heinemann Mansbach, the other sixteen year old who had sailed with Gerson and his family and who’d been heading to “Libanon.”  He was not listed on the 1860 census with the Katzenstein family. Who was he, and where was he?

Ship manifest close up Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

Ship manifest close up
Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

Closeup of Katzensteins and Mansbachs on 1860 census

Closeup of Katzensteins and Mansbachs on 1860 census

So I consulted with David Baron, and what a Pandora’s box that opened! David worked on this Mansbach puzzle quite extensively and discovered that the Katzenstein family was entwined in multiple ways not only with the Mansbach family, but also the Goldschmidt, Jaffa, and Schoenthal families.  Some of this I’d known before, but much of it was new to me and was quite a revelation.  There are siblings who married the siblings of their spouses; cousins who married cousins; and so many overlapping relationships that my head was spinning.  I won’t describe them all here.  I’d lose you all.

But what David sorted out for me did help answer some of the questions posed above. He pointed me to the work done by Hans-Peter Klein on the Mansbach family from Maden. From Hans-Peter’s work I learned that there were FOUR men from Maden named Abraham Mansbach. The first Abraham Mansbach died sometime before 1808.  I will refer to him as Abraham I. He had two sons, Lieser, born in 1770, and Marum, born in either 1769 or 1778 (Marum I).

family-group-sheet-for-abraham-mansbach-i-page-001

Lieser had three sons: Isaak (1799), Marum II (1802), and Abraham II (1809).  So that’s two Abrahams, two Marums.  Still with me? Both Abraham I and Abraham II were clearly born too early to have been the Abraham Mansbach on the 1860 census with Gerson.

family-group-sheet-for-leiser-mansbach-page-001

As a distracting aside, let me mention that Lieser’s son Abraham II married Sarah Goldschmidt, Eva Goldschmidt’s sister, making him the brother-in-law of my great-great-grandparents, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt.  But that’s a story for another day.

Lieser’s son Marum II is the one who married Hannchen Katzenstein, sister of Gerson, and they had Abraham III in 1835.  He’s the one I believe is listed with Gerson on the 1860 census; he also appears to be the first member of the Katzenstein line to come to the US.

family-group-sheet-for-marum-mansbach-page-001

Finally, Lieser’s brother Marum I had a daughter named Schiele (birth year unknown).  Schiele had two children apparently out of wedlock; both took on the surname Mansbach.  They were Abraham IV, born in 1849, and Malchen/Merla, born in 1840.  Thus, Abraham IV was born fourteen years after Gerson’s nephew, Abraham III, and was far too young to have been the Abraham living with Gerson in 1860 or sailing by himself to America in 1852.

descendants-of-marum-mansbach-i-page-001

Thus, I feel quite certain that the Abraham Mansbach on the census and on the 1852 ship manifest was Abraham Mansbach III, son of Hannchen Katzenstein and thus Gerson Katzenstein’s nephew.

In addition, David Baron believes, and it seems right to me, that the girl named Malchen Mansbach listed with Gerson and his family on the 1856 ship manifest and the 1860 census was not Henrietta Mansbach, daughter of Marum Mansbach II and Hannchen Katzenstein, but instead the daughter of Schiele Mansbach and sister of Abraham Mansbach IV.  Schiele’s daughter Malchen was born in 1840, according to Hans-Peter’s research, and so she would have been sixteen in 1856, as reflected on the manifest, and twenty in 1860, as reflected on the 1860 census.  Abraham Mansbach IV, her brother, did not immigrate to the US until 1864.

Having gone down this deep rabbit hole of the extended Mansbach family, I had to pull myself back up and regain my focus.  After all, other than the children of Marum Mansbach II and Hannchen Katzenstein, none of these other Mansbachs are genetically connected to me.  Their stories are surely important and interesting, but I had to get back to the Katzensteins before I became too distracted.

I now feel fairly confident that the Abraham listed with Gerson in 1860 was in fact his nephew, Abraham Mansbach III, son of Hannchen Katzenstein and Marum Mansbach II, but that Malchen/Marley Mansbach was not their daughter Henrietta and thus not Gerson’s niece.  But I still had questions about Hannchen and Marum’s two other children, Heinemann/Harry and Henrietta. In 1860, where was Heinemann Mansbach, the third child of Hanne and Marum, the one who had sailed with Gerson in 1856 and whose destination was apparently Lebanon, PA? And when, if at all, did Henrietta arrive in the US?

More on that in my next few posts.

 

 

The Katzenstein Clan: Who Got Here First?

One of the main questions I had about Gerson Katzenstein, my great-great-grandfather, was why did he come to the United States?  Did he have other relatives who had paved the way, or was he the first in his family to arrive?

When I first did some research about Gerson almost five years ago, I was unable to find any relatives aside from his wife and children, and so I had no information about the rest of his family.  But thanks to the work of Barbara Greve and David Baron, I now have a long list of names of relatives, including the names of Gerson’s siblings.  I thought that there might have been other relatives living in the United States when Gerson arrived that I’d not known about during my initial research several years ago.

What I learned from Barbara Greve’s work was that Gerson was one of the eight children of Scholem Katzenstein; there were four half-siblings born to Scholem’s first wife, Gella: Hannchen (1798-1840), Mendel, who died as an infant in 1799, Jacob (1803-?), and Gela, who also died as an infant in 1808.  Gerson had three full siblings born to his mother, Breine Blumenfeld: Freudchen (1809-1818), Rahel (1813-1861), and Moses, for whom the only record is a birth record dated November 4, 1814.  Perhaps Moses also had died as an infant. Thus, of the eight children of Scholem Katzenstein, the only ones for whom there are records indicating survival to adulthood are Gerson, Hannchen, Jacob, and Rahel.

family-group-sheet-for-scholum-ha-kohen-katzenstein-rabbi-page-001

 

Gerson’s birth is recorded as somewhere between 1811 and 1815, depending on the source.  He married Eva Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen sometime before 1848, when their first child, Scholem, was born in Jesberg.  Two more children followed, Jacob in 1851 and Brendina (Branche in German—presumably named for Gerson’s mother) in 1853.

Gerson, Eva, and their three children left Germany and arrived in New York City on July 3, 1856.  On the ship manifest, Gerson listed his occupation as a butcher and their final destination as Philadelphia.

Gerson Katzenstein and family on 1856 ship manifest Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

Gerson Katzenstein and family on 1856 ship manifest
Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

Just a little over a month later, Eva gave birth to their fourth child, Perry, who was born in Philadelphia on August 19, 1856.  Eva had obviously been far into her pregnancy when they left Germany. Why did they leave then? Why did they go to Philadelphia? Was there another family member there? Had any of Gerson’s siblings preceded them? Or a cousin?[i] Did his wife Eva have family there?

I knew that Eva Goldschmidt had relatives already in the US.  Her uncle Simon Goldschmidt had arrived in 1845 with his wife Fradchen Schoenthal, who was the aunt of Eva’s future son-in-law, Isidore Schoenthal, my great-grandfather.  They were living in Pittsburgh in 1850.  In 1860, Simon, at that point a widower, was living with his son Jacob in Washington, Pennsylvania. But no one from the Goldschmidt family was living in Philadelphia in 1856 when Gerson and Eva and their family arrived, at least as far as I can tell.

I decided to look more closely at Gerson’s siblings to see whether they or their children had emigrated.  According to the work done by Barbara Greve and David Baron, Gerson’s half-brother Jacob married Sarchen Lion in 1829 in Jesberg, and they had nine children: Gelle (1829), presumably named for Jacob’s deceased mother, Michaele (1832), Schalum (1834); Rebecca (1826), Johanna (1838), Pauline (1841), Baruch (1844), Meier (1849), and Levi (1851).  From the Greve/Baron research, it appears that neither Jacob nor any of these children left Germany.

As for Gerson’s sister, Rahel, she married Jacob Katz, and they had six children: Blumchen (1838), Moses (1839), Meier (1842), Abraham (1852), Samuel (1853), and Sanchen (1854). Of these six children, only Abraham and Samuel emigrated from Germany.  According to the 1900 census, Abraham immigrated to the United States in 1872, many years after Gerson’s departure from Jesberg; he lived in Kentucky for many years.

Abraham J Katz and family 1900 US census Year: 1900; Census Place: Louisville Ward 5, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: 530; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0053; FHL microfilm: 1240530

Abraham J Katz and family 1900 US census, line 39
Year: 1900; Census Place: Louisville Ward 5, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: 530; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0053; FHL microfilm: 1240530

Samuel also emigrated in 1872, and also lived in Kentucky before moving and settling in Omaha, Nebraska. Rahel’s other four children did not leave Germany, although some of the next generation did. Both Samuel and Abraham thus arrived in the United States long after their uncle Gerson had emigrated in 1856, and they settled far from Philadelphia where their uncle was living.

Samuel Katz 1905 passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 669; Volume #: Roll 669 - 01 Feb 1905-28 Feb 1905

Samuel Katz 1905 passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 669; Volume #: Roll 669 – 01 Feb 1905-28 Feb 1905

 

The remaining sibling who survived to adulthood was Gerson’s half-sister, Hannchen. She married Marum Mansbach, who was from Maden, Germany, which is where Hannchen and Marum lived after marrying.  They had three children born in Maden: Gelle (later Henrietta) (b. 1833), Abraham (b. 1835), and Hendel (later Harry) (b. 1840).  Hannchen died the day Harry was born, so Marum was left with three young children including a newborn to raise on his own. These children and their father ended up in the US, but when had they emigrated? Were they the ones who led the way for Gerson, Eva, and their children in 1856?

I went back to look at the documents relating to Gerson that I’d collected years back, and I started with the ship manifest pictured above.  This time I noticed something I’d not seen before.  Right below the family of Gerson Katzenstein were the names of two more people: Heinemann Mansbach, a sixteen year old male who was a peddler and headed for “Libanon,” and Malchen Mansbach, a sixteen year old female headed to Baltimore.  Both were from Maden, Germany.

Ship manifest close up Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

Ship manifest close up
Year: 1856; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 164; Line: 1; List Number: 589

I hadn’t seen any connection to the Katzensteins originally since the two Mansbachs were from Maden, not Jesberg, and because they were headed to different cities, not Philadelphia.  Plus I had no reason to see any connection to anyone named Mansbach.  But now, thanks to the Greve/Baron work, I knew that Gerson had a niece and nephew from Maden with the surname Mansbach.  Could Heinemann Mansbach be the person known later as Harry Mansbach? Could Malchen Mansbach be Henrietta, his older sister? She would have been 23 in 1856, not 16, but perhaps she, like so many others, had lied about her age.  Or could this be an entirely different Mansbach not even related to Gerson Katzenstein?

And was there anyone from the Mansbach family already in the US, and if so, where? Why was Malchen going to Baltimore and Heinemann to “Libanon”? And where is “Libanon”?  There is a Lebanon, Pennsylvania about 90 miles west of Philadelphia, so perhaps that is where Heinemann was headed.  But why? A search of the 1860 census for Lebanon, PA, for those born in Germany did not uncover anyone who appears to have been connected to the Mansbach/Katzenstein family.

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lebanon County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lebanon County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then I wondered about Hannchen Katzenstein and Marum Mansbach’s older son Abraham. Where was he when his brother was apparently sailing with their uncle Gerson? I searched for him and found an Abraham Mansbach on an 1852 ship manifest; no age was given, but he was a merchant from Hesse. The ship arrived in Baltimore on December 14, 1852. Gerson’s nephew Abraham Mansbach would have been seventeen in 1852.  This could have been him.

abraham-mansbach-1852-passenger-list

Abraham Mansbach on 1852 passenger list “Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32011-12875-22?cc=2018318 : 25 September 2015), 1820-1891 (NARA M255, M596) > 9 – Jun 2, 1852-Aug 29, 1853 > image 503 of 890; citing NARA microfilm publications M255, M596 and T844 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

abraham-mansbach-1852-immigration-card

Abraham Mansbach 1852 immigration card “Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists Index, 1820-1897,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-37337-15431-34?cc=2173933 : 17 June 2014), NARA M327, Roll 98, No. M462-M524, 1820-1897 > image 2545 of 3335; citing NARA microfilm publication M327 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

 

So perhaps Abraham Mansbach, Gerson’s nephew, was the first of the Katzenstein clan to come to the US.  I don’t know whether he stayed in Baltimore or not, but by 1860, it appears that he was living in Philadelphia with his uncle Gerson and the other members of the Katzenstein family:

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

 

Gerson was working as a salesman and had a personal estate worth $400.  He and Eva had had a fifth child, Hannah, who was a year old.  Their oldest child Scholem was now using the name Joe and was twelve years old; Jacob was nine, Brendina was six, and Perry was three.

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1859 Philadelphia directory

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1859 Philadelphia directory

Living with them were a seventeen year old clerk named Benjamin Levi and a 24 year old bookkeeper named David Frank.  In addition, there was a 25 year old salesman named Abraham Anspach; this could have been Abraham Mansbach, Gerson’s nephew.  Finally, there was a twenty year old domestic named “Marley Manspach;” perhaps this was the same person as the Malchen Mansbach who was listed on the ship manifest.

Closeup of Katzensteins and Mansbachs on 1860 census

Closeup of Katzensteins and Mansbachs on 1860 census

But was Malchen/Marley really the daughter named Henrietta who would have been 29 in 1860, not 20? And where was Heinemann/Harry living if not with his brother and uncle? It’s too bad that the 1860 census did not include information about the relationships among those living in a household.  That might have cleared some of this up.

But what did seem clear was that by 1860 my Katzenstein great-great-grandparents and the first four of their children were living in Philadelphia.  It also seemed likely that at least two of the children of Gerson’s half-sister Hannchen and her husband Marum Mansbach had also arrived in the United States by then.

But many questions remained.  Fortunately, David Baron helped me find some answers.

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I admit that it’s been hard for me to get back into genealogy right now, but I am trying to find ways to deal with all my anger and grief, and while I look for ways of fighting back against Trumpism, I also am trying to find ways of clearing my head.  Genealogy has done that for me before, and I am hoping it will help me now. This post was written before the election, and now I am trying to work on the next one.

 

[i] I also went through the rest of the family report prepared by David Baron to see if any of the more distant Katzenstein or Katz relatives had arrived in the US before 1856.  There were none who arrived that early, although there were a few who were in the US by the 1890s and more who came after Hitler came to power.