One More Chapter in the 1870s: Ernst Nusbaum and Family

The 1870s were a pretty tough decade for my Nusbaum relatives.  There were business and financial troubles as well as numerous deaths of children and others.  So I admit that it is not with great enthusiasm that I return to the 1870s, but at least this is the last branch of the family to cover during that decade.  I’ve covered my three-times great-grandparents, John Nusbaum and Jeannette Dreyfuss, and their children, as well as the families of  Jeanette’s two sisters, Mathilde and Caroline, and also those of John’s sister Mathilde and the surviving families of John’s brothers Maxwell and Leopold.  That leaves only the 1870s story of John’s brother Ernst and his wife Clarissa and their children.

Ernst was the closest sibling in age to John, just two years younger, and he was apparently the only sibling who settled in Philadelphia perhaps as early as 1851  and stayed there for the rest of his life.  He had married Clarissa Arnold, a Pennsylvania native born in 1830 who was fourteen years younger than Ernst.  Ernst and Clarissa seemed to have been quite comfortable in the 1850s and 1860s.  By 1861, they had six children.  Ernst was in the men’s clothing business in a firm called Arnold, Nusbaum, and Nirdlinger.  (I assume the Arnold was one of his wife’s relatives.) By 1870, Ernst and Clarissa’s children were almost all teenagers or almost teenagers: Arthur was 19, Myer 18, Fannie 14, Edgar 12, Henrietta 10, and Frank was nine years old.  They were still living at 625 North 6th Street, the same home they had been in since at least 1861.  They also still had two servants living with them.

But in 1870, Ernst’s firm went bankrupt, as seen in this December 5, 1870, article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bankrptcy of Adler Nusbaum Dec 5 1870 phil inq p 3

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 5, 1870, p. 3


Three years later Ernst is listed in the notions business at 518 Arch Street in the 1873 directory.  Interestingly, his son Arthur and his wife Clarissa seem to have had a ladies’ furnishings business at the same address called Clares & Arthurs.  Arthur was still living at home, and the family had moved to 1000 North 6th Street by 1873.   Was this a move necessitated by the economic downturn?  Did Clarissa want to start working out of the house because they needed more money or was it just that her youngest child was twelve years old and the others well into their teens or twenties so she had the time and interest in doing so?

I do not know, but the following year, it appears that Clares & Arthurs no longer existed.  Ernst is listed without a business address, Clarissa has no listing, and Arthur is listed as a clerk. The next year, 1875, has Ernst living at 2103 Green Street without any occupation listed and Arthur listed as residing at the same address and working as a salesman at 730 Chestnut Street.  His younger brother Myer is also listed at the 2103 Green Street residential address.  In 1876, Myer is listed as working as a bookkeeper, but Arthur and Ernst simply have the residential address.  Same in 1877 and 1878 for Ernst and Myer, but Arthur is not listed at all. So had Ernst retired?  Or had he simply stopped working due to the recession? And where was Arthur?

Well, in 1879, when the recession was starting to end, Ernst is once again listed with an occupation—in the cloaks business.  Myer is still listed as a bookkeeper, and now Edgar, his younger brother, is listed as a salesman.  All three are still listed as residing at 2103 Green Street in the 1879 Philadelphia directory.

And where was Arthur?  I cannot find him in the directory listings for 1877 through 1879.  He had married Henrietta Hilbronner in 1876, and they had had a daughter Florence born in 1877 and a son Sydney born in 1879.  According to the 1880 census, they were all living with Henrietta’s parents on North Seventh Street.  Henrietta’s father Morris was a clothing merchant with his own business, and Arthur was working as a clothing cutter, presumably for his father-in-law.

The other children of Ernst and Clarissa were also getting married in the late 1870s.  Fannie Nusbaum married Jacob L. Hano on February 28, 1877, and they also had two children born by 1880: Louis F. Hano, born in Youngstown, Ohio, on November 30, 1877, and Ernst Nusbaum Hano, born May 16, 1880, also in Youngstown, Ohio.  Jacob Hano was born in Philadelphia in 1850 and had lived his whole life there.  In 1874 he’d been working as a salesman in Philadelphia, residing at 2026 Green Street, right across the street from Fannie and her family.  He had attended Crittenden’s Philadelphia Commercial College.  Perhaps he moved Fannie to Youngstown after they married because he believed that there were better business opportunities there.  Unfortunately, however, like others in the family and the country, he faced financial problems and declared bankruptcy in May, 1878.

jacob hano bankruptcy cleveland plain dealer may 15 1878 p 4

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 15, 1878, p. 4

He and the family remained in Youngstown, however, and he is listed on the 1880 census living there with Fannie, their two young sons, and his brother Benjamin as well as a servant.  He listed his occupation as a clothier, and his brother was working as a clerk in a department store. Thus, Jacob must have rebounded from his bankruptcy and started a new business.  They did not remain long in Youngstown, however, as we shall see.

Description: Postcard of Youngstown Sheet & Tu...

Description: Postcard of Youngstown Sheet & Tube (early 20th century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myer Nusbaum, Ernst and Clarissa’s third child, also married and had two children in the 1870s.  He married Rosalie Aub, and their first child Corinne was born on May 19, 1878.  Her brother Jacob was born the next year on June 24, 1879.  As noted above, Myer was working as a bookkeeper throughout the 1870s and was still employed as a bookkeeper in 1880 according to the census of that year.

Although the 1900 census indicates that Edgar Nusbaum married Viola Baritt in 1879 when he was 21 and she was eighteen, on the 1880 census he is still listed as living at home with his parents at 2105 Green Street and single.  My guess is that they did not marry until 1880, and their first  and only child Selina was born a year later on November 16, 1881.   As noted above, Edgar was listed as a salesman in the 1879 directory, and the same occupation is given in the 1880 Philadelphia directory, although the 1880 US census lists his occupation as a clerk.

Ernst and Clarissa’s youngest two children, Henrietta and Frank, were also still at home in 1880 at 2103 Green Street, depicted below.  Henrietta was 20 and Frank 19.  Frank was working as a clerk like his brother Edgar.  Their father Ernst listed his occupation as a manufacturer.  So perhaps the slowdown of the 1870s had eased, and Ernst and his sons were all then once again gainfully employed.


And now we can move on to the next decade. The 1880s may not have presented the same economic challenges as the 1870s, but as we will see, it presented other challenges and other changes for the extended Nusbaum family.



Four Weddings and a Funeral: More Twists and Turns

My last post covered the migration of several Nusbaum/Dreyfuss family members to Peoria, Illinois in the 1860s. Meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania, the rest of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss clan was growing during the 1860s.  In Philadelphia, two of the Nusbaum brothers and two of the Dreyfuss sisters were seeing their families grow and their children grow.  Other family members were still in Harrisburg. By the end of the decade, even more of the family would have relocated to Philadelphia.

The Civil War was having at least some minor financial impact on the family.  For example, John Nusbaum was liable for $26.79 in income tax to the federal government in 1862 under the terms of the Internal Revenue Act of 1862 That law was enacted to raise money to help pay for the expenses incurred by the Union in fighting the Civil War.  It was the first progressive income tax imposed by the federal government.  For anyone whose income exceeded $600 a year, a tax was imposed based on the level of income.

For John Nusbaum, whose income was valued at $892.96 in 1862, that meant a tax of $26.79.  According to one inflation calculator, $892.96 in 1862 would be worth about $20,000 in 2014.     For someone with stores in Philadelphia and Peoria (and possibly still some interest in a store in Harrisburg) and who reported $6000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal property in 1860,[1] that does not seem like a lot of income, but I have no idea how that was determined back then. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

By 1863 John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandparents, had seen their two older sons move to Peoria, but they still had one son, Julius, and two daughters at home in 1863: Frances, my great-great-grandmother, who was eighteen, and Miriam, who was only five years old in 1863.  Plus 1863 had started off with another new baby in the family.  Lottie Nusbaum was born on January 1, 1863.  Jeanette would have been almost 46 years old, and her first born child Adolphus was going on 23.

I have to admit that I have some questions about whether Lottie was actually the child of John and Jeanette.  Jeanette must have been close to the end of her child-bearing years.  They had not had a child in five years.  Could Lottie have been a child of one of their sons, raised as the child of her actual grandparents?  Or a child they adopted?  I have no way of knowing.  Lottie had no children, so even if I could figure out some way to use DNA to answer my doubts, there are no descendants to use for DNA testing.

On Lottie’s death certificate, the informant was Mrs. E. Cohen, that is, my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, Lottie Nusbaum’s niece and Frances Nusbaum Seligman’s daughter.  Eva filled in the father’s name as John, but put unknown for the mother’s maiden name.  Eva certainly knew her grandmother Jeanette’s name.  (Eva is the one who held and maintained the family bible for many years.) Did she not know her grandmother’s maiden name? Was she too grief-stricken to remember? Or was she suggesting that Jeanette was not in fact Lottie’s real mother?  I do not know, and there is no one left to ask.  But it did not do anything to resolve my doubts about the identity of Lottie’s parents.   Maybe I am too skeptical.  Maybe she was just a menopause baby. Maybe John and Jeanette were missing their boys so much that they decided to have one more child. Or maybe not.  What do you all think?

Lottie Nusbaum death certificate Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Lottie Nusbaum death certificate Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

In any event, just as John and Jeanette were emptying their household of their sons, they had a new baby to raise.  The family was still living at 433 Vine Street in 1862, according to the Philadelphia city directory, but in 1864 they are listed at 455 York Avenue.  That address is about two and a half miles north of Vine Street, and as I’ve discussed earlier, Jews began to move north in Philadelphia as their socioeconomic status improved.

By 1865, John and Jeanette’s house on York Avenue was a little emptier.  By that time Julius had joined his brothers in Peoria, and on March 28, 1865, my great-great-grandmother Frances married Bernard Seligman.  For several years they lived in Philadelphia, and Bernard was apparently in business with his brothers-in-law in a firm called Nusbaum Brothers and Company.  They had four children between 1866 and 1869, including my great-grandmother Eva.  Then in 1870, Bernard returned full time to Santa Fe with Frances and their children where Frances and Bernard lived for almost all of the rest of their lives, as discussed in my Seligman blog posts.

Nusbaum Brothers and Company 1867 Philadelphia Directory U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Nusbaum Brothers and Company 1867 Philadelphia Directory U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

John’s brother Ernst was also in Philadelphia during the early 1860s.  He was a clothier, working at 55 North Third Street and living at 626 North 6th Street.  He and his wife Clarissa had another child in 1861, Frank, bringing their family up to six children ranging in age from newborn to ten years old.  So both Ernest, who was 45 when Frank was born, and John, who was 49 when Lottie was born, had new babies in their homes in the 1860s.

Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum also had a sibling living in Philadelphia.  Her sister Caroline (Dreyfuss) Wiler had also moved from Harrisburg to Philadelphia by 1860.  She and her husband Moses Wiler were living at 466 North 4th Street in 1862 with their four children, who ranged in age from Eliza who was twenty to Clara who was twelve.  Moses was in the cloak business.

The following year the Wiler household became a bit smaller when Eliza Wiler married Leman Simon on September 9, 1863, in Philadelphia.  Yes, Leman Simon.  Do you remember that name? He was the brother of Moses Simon, who married Paulina Dinkelspiel and started the migration of Nusbaums to Peoria.  So once again, my family tree groans and twists a bit.  Eliza and Paulina were already related, at least by marriage.  Eliza’s mother Caroline Dreyfuss was the sister-in-law of John Nusbaum, Paulina Dinkelspiel’s uncle.  Sometimes these people make me want to pull out my hair!  Imagine, I am casually researching Eliza, and I see her husband’s name and think, “Leman Simon.  Hmmm, that sounds familiar.”

So by 1863 the Simons, Nusbaums, Dinkelspiels, and Dreyfusses were all somehow interrelated, often in more than one way.

But it gets worse.

By 1866, Moses Pollock and Mathilde (Dreyfuss Nusbaum) Pollock had also moved to Philadelphia from Harrisburg. In 1868, Flora Nusbaum, the daughter of Mathilde Dreyfuss and Maxwell Nusbaum and step-daughter of Moses Pollock, married Samuel Simon.  I have mentioned this before because Flora Nusbaum is my double first cousin four times removed since both of her parents were siblings of one of my three times great-grandparents, Flora’s father being John Nusbaum’s brother, her mother being Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum’s sister.  Now Flora was marrying her first cousin Paulina’s brother-in-law Samuel Simon, who was also her cousin Eliza’s brother-in law.

Groan…. Maybe this chart will help.


So all three Simon brothers were now married to someone in the clan: Samuel to Flora Nusbaum, Leman to Eliza Wiler, and Moses to Paulina Dinkenspiel.

The wedding of Samuel Simon to Flora Nusbaum (Pollock) seems to have been a celebration worthy of all that interconnectedness.  Here is an article from the Harrisburg Telegraph of October 20, 1868, republishing an article from the Philadelphia Sunday Mercury that described their Philadelphia wedding.  It’s really worth reading to get the full flavor of both the wedding and “social media” in the 1860s.

flora pollock wedding part 1

flora pollock wedding part 2

flora pollock part 3

The strangest part of this article is not the detailed description of the lavish, extravagant wedding celebration, but the reporter’s mistaken assertion that Flora was not Jewish.  Certainly her parents were both Jewish, and even her stepfather Moses Pollock was Jewish.  The reporter’s statement that “the pure religion of love had broken down all sectarian barriers” seems a bit strange for a wedding announcement, even if it had been an interfaith wedding.  But why would the reporter have thought Flora wasn’t Jewish?

The overlapping branches of the family were well represented in the bridal party: Clara Wiler and Simon Wiler, the children of Moses and Caroline (Dreyfuss) Wiler; Frances Nusbaum, the daughter of John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum; Arthur Nusbaum, son of Ernst and Clara Nusbaum; and Albert Nusbaum, son of Maxwell and Mathilde (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum and brother of the bride.  I do not know who the Schloss family is or the Goldsmiths, at least not yet, but I fear more double twists yet to be uncovered.

So the extended family was doing quite well, and there were lots of new families being formed and babies born, but unfortunately there also was one big loss in the 1860s.  Leopold Nusbaum, who was still living in Harrisburg in the 1860s, died on December 24, 1866.  He was buried at Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Philadelphia.  His widow Rosa and sixteen year old daughter Francis moved shortly thereafter to Philadelphia, where they moved in with John and Jeanette Nusbaum, whose household had been reduced by two when Julius moved to Peoria and Frances married.

Below is a photo I found while searching for old images of Harrisburg.  I was so excited when I saw the name on the store at the far upper right—Leo Nusbaum!  Although this photo was dated 1889, Leopold Nusbaum’s name was still on the store even though he had died almost 25 years earlier.

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

The only Nusbaum family members left in Harrisburg by the end of the 1860s were Mathilde (Nusbaum) Dinkenspiel, her husband Isaac, and their daughter Sophia.  Their daughter Paulina (Dinkenspiel) Simon was living in Baltimore, and their son Adolph was in Peoria.  Their youngest child Sophia married Herman Marks, a Prussian born clothing merchant, in 1869, and they settled in Harrisburg as well.  Perhaps they were the ones to keep Mathilde’s brother’s name on the store.

Thus, by the end of the 1860s, most of the extended family was living in Philadelphia, with a small number living in Peoria, a few in Harrisburg, and a few in Baltimore.



[1] $600 in 1860 would be worth about $17,000 today, and $20,000 in 1860 would be worth about $571,000 today.  Not too shabby for someone who had come to America around 1840.

The Nusbaums Come to America

PA Harrisburg 1855

PA Harrisburg 1855 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Nusbaum 1850 census Harrisburg, PA

John Nusbaum 1850 census Harrisburg, PA

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

Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel 1850 US census Harrisburg, PA

Mathilde and Isaac Dinkelspiel 1850 US census Harrisburg, PA

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

L. Nusbaum 1850 census Lewistown, PA

L. Nusbaum 1850 census Blythe, PA

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

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

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

Maxwell Nusbaum 1850 US census Lewistown, PA

Maxwell Nusbaum 1850 US census Lewistown, PA

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

Ernest Nusbaum in the 1852 Philadelphia city directory

Ernest Nusbaum in the 1852 Philadelphia city directory located at

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

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

Nusbaum 1850 map

Google Maps





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

The Nusbaums: Were They Jewish? Learning from Rookie Mistakes

English: Postcard, dated 2.9.1917. Title: &quo...

English: Postcard, dated 2.9.1917. Title: “Schopfloch” Deutsch: Postkarte, datiert 2.9.1917. Titel: “Schopfloch” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Before I started doing genealogy research, I knew only one thing about the Nusbaum name.  I knew it was my father’s middle name, that it was also his father’s middle name, and that they were named for some ancestor named…John Nusbaum, my great-great-great-grandfather.

I had no idea who John Nusbaum was, although I think I did know he was from Germany.  I didn’t know if he had ever lived in the United States.  And I had no idea how he had gotten the name John.  John is not a Jewish name.  Jonathan, yes, but I do not think I have known more than one or two men named John who were Jewish, except for my father.  In fact, there were some people who had questioned whether my father really was Jewish, given his first name.

Things got even more confusing when I first started doing genealogy research a couple of years ago.  I was a real novice, and I did not know enough to know that people often put bad information on their family trees.  I assumed, very naively, that if someone put a tree on ancestry, it had to be right.  Like I said, I was a real novice.  So as I was adding information (much of it from reliable sources like census reports), I found several ancestry trees with my ancestor John Nusbaum appearing on it—with his descendants included.  I was excited—these trees linked my ancestor to a whole line of Nusbaums going back hundreds of years!  I felt like I had hit the jackpot.  I added all these people to my tree, thinking that I could now trace my family back centuries on the Nusbaum side.

I should have been more circumspect.  I should have picked up on a few clues—too many people named Johann, too many people named Maria, Christian, Catherine—no Jewish sounding names.  I began to think that in fact my Nusbaum ancestors had not been Jewish.  But I was new and trusting and just accepted what I saw.  It was the internet, after all. It had to be true. Right?

I had then turned to other things and put those Nusbaums aside.  After all, they were all done, I thought.  Someone else had found them all.

But then about a month ago I started looking again at those Nusbaums, an older and hopefully wiser researcher now.  I went back to all those trees, and I realized they had no sources to support the claim that my John Nusbaum was the same person as the Johann Nusbaum that linked back to all those non-Jewish sounding Nusbaums.  Only one tree had any sources at all for these earlier Nusbaums; the others had just somehow linked to that tree and added my ancestor to it, assuming John was the same as Johann.

I contacted the owner of that one sourced tree, and he and I had a good exchange and a few chuckles about all those other misleading trees.  His ancestors were Christian, and he had no sources indicating a link to a John Nusbaum who settled in Pennsylvania, as my John Nusbaum had done back in the 1840s.  I detached my ancestor from the other trees, sad to lose hundreds of years of ancestors, but happy to know that my Nusbaums could have been Jewish.  (I also wrote to the owners of those other trees, pointing out the error, but not one of them responded nor did they take my Nusbaums off their trees.)

So now my Nusbaum line ended with John Nusbaum.  I was able to find quite a bit in the US records, but had no hints as to his parents, siblings, or home town in Germany.  And then my father provided me with some answers.  He has the Nusbaum family bible, and it has entries for John and his siblings as well as his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  It told me where he was born—Schopfloch, Ansbach, Bavaria, in 1814.  I had names and birth dates for his siblings: Isaac (1812), Ernest (1816), Caroline (1822), Mathilde (1825).[1]  It was a gold mine.  And I was off and running to find the real Nusbaums.

A Map of Schopfloch im Landkreis Ansbach, Baye...

A Map of Schopfloch im Landkreis Ansbach, Bayern, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now comes the best part.  I contacted the registry in Schopfloch to ask whether there were any records for my ancestors, giving the names of the Nusbaums I knew about.  And this is what I received in return from a man named Rolf Hofmann:



compiled by Rolf Hofmann (    VERSION 01 



peddler in Schopfloch

born ca 1777 (Schopfloch ?), died 07 Jun 1836 Schopfloch

father = Meier ?

married ca 1804 ?



born 07 Mar 1782 (where ?), died 02 Oct 1842 Schopfloch

father = ? 


CHILDREN (all born in Schopfloch): 

(01) GUETEL                10 Feb 1805 – ?


(02) MADEL                 20 Jul 1806 – ?


(03) LOEW                  26 Apr 1808 – ?


(04) ISAK                  28 Mar 1810 – ?  emigrated to USA in 1843


(05) SARA                  08 Jul 1812 – ?


(06) JOSUA                 29 Nov 1814 – ?

(JOHN in USA)          emigrated to Philadelphia, USA around 1840

married ca 1852 [this is not correct]

JEANETTE  NN from Hesse-Darmstadt (Germany)

20 May 1817 – 12 Jan 1908 (died in Philadelphia)  parents = ? 

so far known children = Millen * 1853 + Lottie * 1863


(07) SALOMON               24 Aug 1816 – ?


(08) MEIER                 14 Sep 1819 – ?


I am now in touch with Mr. Hofmann and hope to get the sources for this information, but you can imagine the happy dance I did when I saw this.  I had the names of my FOUR-times great-grandparents, Amson and Voegele.  I had names for all their children, including some I had no records for and some who matched with the names I had from the family bible.  Madel must be Mathilda, Isak is Isaac, and I assume Ernst is Salomon, based on the birth year.  Also, I  found other Nusbaums through research—Meier is Maxwell, Loew is Leopold.

And most importantly?  Well, John, my three-times great-grandfather—his name was originally Josua.  He did in fact have a Jewish name.  He obviously Americanized it to John, just as many of his siblings Americanized their names to names that were less Jewish-sounding.  My father and my grandfather could have been named Joshua Nusbaum Cohen if their namesake had not changed his name to John.

There is still much research to be done and much to learn about the Nusbaums.  But one big mystery is solved.  My Nusbaums were not descended from all those Johanns and Marias, but were from a Jewish family living in Schopfloch, Bavaria, in the early 19th century.


[1] Although Caroline and Mathilde were listed with different surnames, I was able to find US records that verified that they were John’s sisters.  More on that later.