Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Two Youngest Children Irvin and Harold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Children Herman, Alfred and Gussie

I hope all my US readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!

Here is the penultimate chapter in the story of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston. Thanks for reading! I am grateful to you all for doing so and for all the help and support I’ve gotten from my readers. You help to give me hope and light in this darkest time of the year.


By 1930, almost all of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s seven surviving children had left Bloomington. The three oldest children were no longer there. Rosalie had moved to Chicago to be near her son Morton after losing her husband Albert in 1924, Maurice had died and his widow and children had moved away, and Sigmund and his family had moved to Chicago.

Herman Livingston, the fourth child, was one of the two children of Dora and Meyer still living in Bloomington as of 1930. He was still a department store owner and living with his wife Dorothy.1 By 1940 Herman was retired, and he and Dorothy were still in Bloomington.2 They lived there the rest of their lives, but also spent time in Florida. After suffering a heart attack in Florida, Herman was on his way back to Bloomington, but was taken to the hospital in Chicago where he died on February 17, 1951. He was 76. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, who died two years later.3

Alfred Livingston and his wife Eva and their daughter Miriam/Marion were living in Chicago in 1930 where Alfred had become the secretary of a musical instrument manufacturing company.4 In 1940 he was working as a representative of a wholesale gift company.5

On April 22, 1937 Alfred and Eva’s daughter Miriam married Robert Gruen in New York City.6 Robert was a native of New York, born there on April 2, 1913, to Toby Gruen and Ethel Janowitz.7 Robert was a graduate of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, majoring in painting and decorating.8

In 1940 Miriam and Robert were living in New York City and Robert was a junior executive in the motion pictures industry.9 However, on his World War II draft registration filed on October 16, 1940, he described himself as self-employed. On a 1946 temporary immigration card to Brazil, Robert described himself as a “desenhista-industrial,” or an industrial designer. Miriam and Robert had two children born in the 1940s.

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

Digital GS Number: 004548695, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Miriam’s father Alfred did not live long after the births of his grandchildren. He died on April 1, 1949, in Chicago.10 He was seventy years old. His obituary reported that he was “preceded in death by his parents and three children.”11 I don’t know whether the newspaper was in error and that should have read siblings, as he was preceded in death by his siblings, but by four of them: Rosalie, Maurice, and Sigmund, and also by his brother Irvin, as we will see. I have not seen any records indicating that Alfred and Eva lost three children. In 1910, three years after they’d married in 1907, Eva reported that she had had no children, living or dead. In 1920, Marion (Miriam) is the only child listed on the census. It’s possible that Eva had had three other children who had died between 1910 and 1920, but I think it’s more likely that Alfred’s obituary is wrong since I cannot find any other birth or death records for a child of Robert and Eva.

Eva Siegel Livingston died six years after her husband Alfred on April 11, 1954; she was 71. She died in Los Angeles and was survived by her daughter Miriam Livingston Gruen.12 Miriam died on November 22, 1978, at age 66 after a long illness, according to her obituary. Her obituary described her as someone “who helped turn many of East Hampton (NY)’s old homes into historic landmarks.”13 She was survived by her husband Robert Gruen, who died 21 years later in 1999,14 and their two children.

Gussie Livingston Salzenstein had lost her husband Solomon Salzenstein in 1924, but by 1930 she had remarried. Her second husband was Sam Wertheimer, whose first wife had died. Sam was born in 1871 in Buffalo, New York, to Henry and Regina Wertheimer. Sam grew up in Buffalo, but by 1898 he had relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where he married his first wife Cora Becker.15 Cora died in 1924,16 just as Gussie’s husband Solomon had, and by 1930 Gussie and Sam had married and were living in Omaha with Gussie’s son James Salzenstein and Sam’s son, Sam, Jr. Sam was in the cattle feed business.17

James Salzenstein was still living in Omaha in 1936, working as a clerk,18 but by 1939 he had relocated to Los Angeles. That year on July 10, 1939, he married Gertrude Goodman in Chicago.19 Gertrude was born there on February 11, 1917, to Milton E. Goodman and Jessie Reinach.20 According to an article announcing their marriage, James was at that time living in Los Angeles.21 James and Gertrude settled in LA where James was working as a merchandising trainer for Sear Roebuck in 1940.22 James enlisted in the US Army on December 21, 1942, and served until October 14, 1945.23 He and Gertrude had three children.

James Salzenstein, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1584, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

James and his family returned to the Chicago area by 1946.24 His mother Gussie was still living with her husband Sam in Omaha. Gussie died on September 12, 1957 at age 75; she was buried back in Bloomington with her first husband Solomon Salzenstein.25 She was survived by her son James and his children. James died when he was 76 on March 16, 199026 and was survived by his wife Gertrude, who lived until 201127, and their children.

Next, the two youngest children of Dora Blumenfeld Livingston, Irvin and Harold, and the final chapter in the story of the Livingston family.


 


  1. Herman and Dorothy Livingston, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. Herman and Dorothy Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00841; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 57-10, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199176/herman-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Herman Livingston (29 Dec 1874–17 Feb 1951), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199176, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). “Herman Livingston,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, 18 Feb 1951, Sun • Page 12 . Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199180/dorothy-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Dorothy Ensel Livingston (4 Nov 1882–17 Nov 1953), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199180, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . “Mrs. Dorothy Bloomington,” The Pantagraph
    Bloomington, Illinois, 18 Nov 1953, Wed • Page 21 
  4. Alfred Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0177; FHL microfilm: 2340156, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  5. Alfred and Eva Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-257,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Miriam Rose Livingston, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 22 Apr 1937, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Robert Gruen, Certificate Number: 8497,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  7. Robert Gruen, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Robert Gruen
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1913, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 7 Jun 1999, Father: Toby Gruen, Mother: Ethel Janowitz
    SSN: 131105816, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8.  “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Carnegie Institute of Technology; Year: 1934, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  9. Robert and Miriam Gruen, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02644; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 31-867,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199178/alfred-livingston : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Alfred Livingston (15 Jan 1879–1 Apr 1949), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199178, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  11. “Alfred Livingston,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois, 02 Apr 1949, Sat • Page 3 
  12. Eva S Livingston, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1882, Birth Place: Iowa
    Death Date: 11 Apr 1954, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: Seigle, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  13.  Miriam Gruen, Social Security Number: 068-22-2120, Birth Date: 22 Mar 1912
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10021, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1978, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. “Miriam L. Gruen,” Newsday (Nassau Edition)
    Hempstead, New York, 26 Nov 1978, Sun • Page 30. 
  14. Robert Gruen
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1913, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 7 Jun 1999, Father: Toby Gruen, Mother: Ethel Janowitz
    SSN: 131105816, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  15. Marriage record of Sam Wertheimer and Cora Becker, State Library and Archives, Nebraska State Historical Society; Lincoln, Nebraska; Nebraska, Marriage Records, Year Range: 1897-1899, Ancestry.com. Nebraska, U.S., Select County Marriage Records, 1855-1908 
  16. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/223889386/cora-b-wertheimer : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Cora B Wertheimer (1879–17 Feb 1924), Find a Grave Memorial ID 223889386, citing Pleasant Hill Jewish Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Mike Hughbanks (contributor 47582335) . 
  17. Sam Wertheimer and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Omaha, Douglas, Nebraska; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 2341011, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  18. James Salzenstein, 1936 Omaha, Nebraska City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  19. “Gertrude F. Goodman to be a Bride Tomorrow,” Chicago Tribune
    Chicago, Illinois, 09 Jul 1939, Sun • Page 79 
  20. Gertrude Frances Goodman, Birth Date: 11 Feb 1917, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Gender: Female, Father: Milton Goodman, Mother: Jessie Reinaet [sic], FHL Film Number: 1276276, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  21. See Note 19. 
  22. James and Gertrude Salzenstein, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00401; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 60-301, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  23. James Livingston Salzenstein, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 2 May 1913
    Death Date: 16 Mar 1990, Cause of Death: Natural, SSN: 547125166, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 21 Dec 1942, Discharge Date: 14 Oct 1945
    Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  24. “S. Livingston’s $500,000 Estate Left to Family,” Chicago Tribune
    Chicago, Illinois, 28 Jun 1946, Fri • Page 30 
  25. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198642/gussie-l-wertheimer : accessed 04 November 2021), memorial page for Gussie L Wertheimer (27 Oct 1881–12 Sep 1957), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198642, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  26. James L Salzenstein, Death Date: 16 Mar 1990, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 6005377, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  27. Gertrude G Salzenstein, [Gertrude G Goodman], Gender: Female
    Race: White, Birth Date: 11 Feb 1917, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, Death Date: 26 Jul 2001, Father:Milton E Goodman, Mother:Jessie B Reinach, SSN: 526266835, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

My Cousin Sigmund Livingston, The Founder of the Anti-Defamation League

Although traditional genealogy research tools gave me many of the bare bones details of the life of Sigmund Livingston, it wasn’t until I googled his name after reading his obituary that I learned that he had founded the Anti-Defamation League and was quite an exceptional person. He thus merits his own separate post.

We’ve already seen that Sigmund was a lawyer. According to a biography published on the McLean County Museum of History website, he graduated from the law school at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1894 and was second in his class. After graduating, he and William R. Bach, who had ranked first in the class, became law partners in Bloomington. Their practice was primarily devoted to civil matters.

According to the museum’s biography:1

In numerous newspaper articles, Sigmund was described as extremely intelligent and well respected. One article claimed, “he gives promise of becoming one of the ablest as well as the most prominent attorney in the state.” However, Livingston gave a personal account in his book Must Men Hate? of how, outside of dear friends, he had a “general distrust to overcome” because locals had never known of a Jewish lawyer when he was beginning his career. Livingston recalled that after a few years, he had earned their trust.

Sigmund was involved in many civic activities in Bloomington. He was active in Republican politics and a loyal supporter of the American Red Cross and of efforts to support America and its soldiers in World War I. But he is best remembered for his efforts to support Jewish Americans and to fight anti-semitism. In 1894 he became president of the Bloomington chapter of B’nai Brith, and in 1899 he was elected vice-president of the 6th district of B’nai Brith.

The museum biography described in detail the experience that Sigmund had that motivated him to become more involved in the fight against anti-semitism:

Shortly after the turn of the century, he had an experience that impacted the trajectory of the rest of his life. When he was in Chicago on business, Livingston decided to drop into a vaudeville theater to while away a couple of hours before an appointment. The show began like many others with the usual trained dog acts, jugglers, and acrobats. However, when the show turned to a couple of comedians with a “routine of bum jokes, told in dialect and at the expense of Jews,” Livingston had enough and walked out of the theater. It was this life changing event that made him decide then and there that he would try to do something about the prejudicial caricaturing of Jews.

Livingston was most disgusted with the portrayal of Jewish people in vaudeville shows and films. ….Following the show, Livingston spoke with the managers to make them aware of their cruel and inaccurate depictions of Jews. Surprisingly, the managers were willing to make a change despite them not being aware of their offense.

Believing that publicity would help to alleviate prejudice, in 1908, Livingston established the Publicity Committee of the Publicity Bureau within the B’nai B’rith, which evolved into the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) five years later. The Publicity Committee, based in Bloomington, was created to consider the problem of the defamation of Jews and named Livingston its chairman.

The website for The Pantagraph, the local Bloomington newspaper, published an article on July 11, 2010, about Sigmund and included this description of his involvement in the fight against anti-semitism and the founding and growth of the Anti-Defamation League in 1913.2

[In 1912] Livingston embarked on a lengthy tour of Europe and the Middle East, with stops in Vienna, Jerusalem, Cairo and elsewhere. In London he delivered an address titled “The Condition of the Jew in America,” and in Berlin, at an international meeting of B’nai B’rith, he spoke on the moral necessity of intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign nations “when humanity and civilization dictate.”

The Anti-Defamation League was established in Bloomington in October 1913 as an arm of the B’nai B’rith, with Livingston as its first director.

The museum biography noted that:

The organization had a fairly humble start. The ADL was established in the First National Bank building in Chicago. Livingston started out with only a $200 budget and two desks in his law office, but the ADL quickly grew into a nationwide organization. Members, led by Livingston, planned to campaign along three lines of education, vigilance, and legislation. Livingston believed that hate and fear could be overcome through education and had faith in “the essential goodness of the American people.”

As we saw, Sigmund married his wife Hilda in 1918, and their son Richard was born in 1920. In 1929, after practicing law in Bloomington for 35 years, Sigmund and his family moved to the Chicago area, where he continued to practice law. He was still practicing law there in 1940.3 Here is a photograph of Sigmund and Hilda taken around this time.

Sigmund and Hilda (Freiler) Livingston c. 1940. Courtesy of Art Zemon, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/ppl/0/d/b21ea1d3dd971e202d0.html

He also authored ten books as well as continuing his work with the ADL and his other civic activities. His best known book, entitled Must Men Hate, was published in 1944.

Sadly, Sigmund died just two years later on June 13, 1946, at age 73.4 According to his obituary, he was a “leading Chicago corporate counsel” and had been in failing health for the past year. He was survived by his wife Hilda and their son Richard, who was at that time studying at Duke University after serving four years in the Army Air Force.5

Richard Livingston graduated from Duke in 1947, and the following year on May 30, 1948, he married Miriam “Mimi” Spector in New York City. Mimi, the daughter of Samuel and Tessie Spector, had graduated from Wellesley College.6 Richard and Mimi settled in New York and had three children.

Richard’s mother Hilda died February 20, 1962, in Highland Park, Illinois.7

Richard became a successful business owner and moved from New York City to Scarsdale in 1959, where he and his family lived until 1986. He later moved to Larchmont, New York, and also had a home in Boca Raton, Florida. He was not only successful in business; he was active in civic affairs in many different organizations as well as numerous philanthropic endeavors. He died while vacationing in Turkey on October 5, 1994, when he was 74. He was survived by his wife Mimi, their children, and grandchildren.8

Sigmund Livingston was the third of the eight children of Dora and Meyer to be born, and he was the third to die, following his brother Maurice and sister Rosalie. He was born in Germany and came to the US as a young boy with his mother. He was a successful lawyer in Bloomington and Chicago. He definitely made a lasting mark on Bloomington, but also should be remembered by all Jews everywhere for his work with the Anti-Defamation League, which continues today its hard work of fighting not only anti-semitism but all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

 


  1. A version of the biography that provides citations to its sources can be found at https://mchistory.org/perch/resources/biographies/sigmund-and-hilda-livingston-2021.pdf 
  2. “Bloomington Lawyer Led Ant-Semitism Fight,” The Pantagraph, July 11, 2010, found at https://pantagraph.com/special-sections/news/history-and-events/bloomington-lawyer-led-anti-semitism-fight/article_19b023ee-8c8e-11df-badf-001cc4c03286.html 
  3. Sigmund Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 2220; FHL microfilm: 2340238,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census; 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-257, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sigmund Livingston, Birth Date: abt 1873, Death Date: 13 Jun 1946, Death Place: Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, Death Age: 73, Gender: Male, Father Name: Mayer Livingston, Mother Name: Dora Blamenfeld, Spouse Name: Hilda F., FHL Film Number: 1991309, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  5. “Sigmund Livingston Dies in Highland Park,” The Pantagraph,
    Bloomington, Illinois, 15 Jun 1946, Sat • Page 3 
  6. “Bride of Former Bloomingtonian,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois
    01 Jun 1948, Tue • Page 6 
  7. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198509/hilda-v-livingston : accessed 03 November 2021), memorial page for Hilda V Freiler Livingston (25 Apr 1891–20 Feb 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198509, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  8. “Richard M. Livingston, businessman, philanthropist,” The Daily Times
    Mamaroneck, New York, 11 Oct 1994, Tue • Page 6 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Children and Grandchildren: The Departure from Bloomington

By 1930, Dora Blumenfeld Livingston was gone, but seven of her eight children were still living as were her ten grandchildren, who ranged in age from Morton Livingston, who was thirty, to Ralph Livingston, who was two. This post and the three that follow will complete the story of those children and grandchildren, starting with Dora’s two oldest children and their families: Rosalie and Maurice.

Rosalie Livingston, widowed when her husband Albert died in 1928, moved to Chicago and was living with her son Morton in 1930.1 Morton had graduated from the University of Chicago in 1921 with a Bachelors of Philosophy, but had then returned to Bloomington until at least 1922.2 I don’t know when he moved back to Chicago, but in 1930 he was working there as a plumbing fixtures salesman.3

Morton Livingston, University of Chicago 1921 yearbook, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: University of Chicago; Year: 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

Morton married Helen Pflaum on January 14, 1932.4 She was the daughter of Abraham J. Pflaum and Harriet Ettenson and was born in Chicago on December 7, 1906.5 According to the newspaper article announcing their wedding, Morton’s mother Rosalie was living at the Chicago Beach Hotel at that time. Morton and Harriet had two children born in the 1930s. In 1940, they were all living in Chicago where Morton was now working as a salesman for an investment brokerage.6

Mrs. Morton Livingston, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 31 Jan 1932, Sun • Page 84

Rosalie was also still living at the Chicago Beach Hotel in 1940.7 She died three years later on July 19, 1943, in Chicago;8 she was 74 and was the second of Dora and Meyer’s children to die—twenty years after her brother Maurice and fifteen years after her husband Albert. She was survived by her son Morton, who died in Chicago in May 1984;9 his wife Helen had predeceased him in 1976.10 They were survived by their children.

Maurice Livingston had died in 1923, as we saw. His widow Bertha and their two daughters remained in Bloomington until at least 1930 where Bertha appears to have taken over Maurice’s role at the department store.11 On December 1, 1937, their older daughter Ruth married Stanton Robert Schiller in Chicago.12 Stanton was born in Chicago on September 4, 1912, and was the son of Morris H. Schiller and Mary Burnstein.13 In 1940 Stanton and Ruth were living in Chicago where he was a clothing salesman.14 They had two children born in the 1940s. Ruth later relocated to California where her mother and sister were living.

Ruth’s younger sister Betty married Herman Bendix, Jr. on October 30, 1938, in Los Angeles where she and her mother were then living. Betty had graduated from the University of Chicago. Herman was born in Denver on August 9, 1910, to Herman Bendix, Sr. and Clara Kohn.15 When Betty and Herman married, he was in business in Portland, Oregon, where they then settled and where in 1940 Herman was working as a traveling salesman for a ladies’ garment factory.16 By 1946 Betty and Herman had relocated to Los Angeles where her mother Bertha was still living.17 I have not been able to find any records of children born to Betty and Herman.

“Local Girl Becomes Bride in California,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois
03 Nov 1938, Thu • Page 8

Bertha died on October 7, 1957, in Los Angeles.18 She was survived by her two daughters, Ruth, who died in 1979, in Los Angeles,19 and Betty, who died in 1983, in Los Angeles.20

Thus, the families of both Rosalie and Maurice Livingston had left Bloomington, Illinois, behind by the time their children were adults. In fact, by 1940, as we will see, only two of the eight siblings were still in Bloomington.

Next, the third Livingston sibling, Sigmund.

 

 

 

 


  1. Rosalie and Morton Livingston, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 0129; FHL microfilm: 2340155, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. 1922 Bloomington directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. See Note 1. 
  4. Morton A. Livingston, Marriage Date: 14 Jan 1932, Spouse: Helen B. Pflaum, Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {78E80849-0E1C-40E8-892B-84CEBC8682FF}, File Number: 1333793, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5.  Helen P Livingston, Nationality: USA, Age: 55, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1906, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA, Arrival Date: 12 Feb 1962, Arrival Place: Miami, Florida, USA
    Airline: BWIA, Flight Number: 406, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963. “Out-of-Town Wedding,” St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press, 13 Jun 1904, p. 6; Pflaum family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 3, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_243; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0235; FHL microfilm: 1374256, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  6. Morton Livingston and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 103-245,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Rosalie Livingston, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00928; Page: 81B; Enumeration District: 103-238, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. Rosalie Livingston, Death Date: 19 Jul 1943, Death Location: Cook County, IL,
    File Number: 21087, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  9.  Morton Livingston, Social Security Number: 352-05-1727, Birth Date: 20 Oct 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60035, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, USA, Death Date: May 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10.  Helen Livingston, Social Security Number: 325-38-3720, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1906
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60035, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. Bertha Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2340270, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census  
  12. Ruth J. Livingston, Marriage Date: 1 Dec 1937, Spouse: Stanton R. Schiller
    Marriage Location: Cook County, IL, Marriage license: {2B03ABBF-478F-4796-AE43-5CD16AF78743}, File Number: 1557550, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
    Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  13. Stanton Schiller, Birth Date: 4 Sep 1912, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Ethnicity: American, Gender: Male, Race: White, Father: Morris H Schiller, Mother: Mary Burnstein, FHL Film Number: 1288265, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  14. Stanton Schiller and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 62A; Enumeration District: 103-267, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  15. Herman Bendix, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Oregon, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 8, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947; Bendix family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 242, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census.Clara Kohn, Age: 22, Gender: Female, Birth Year: abt 1883, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 25 Oct 1905, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Spouse Name: Herman Bendix, Spouse Age: 30, Spouse Gender: Male, FHL Film Number: 1030393,  Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  16. Herman and Betty Bendix, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon; Roll: m-t0627-03385; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 37-24A,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  17. Mrs Betty Livingston Bendix, Residence Date: 1946, Street Address: 682 S Irolo St, Residence Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Party Affiliation: Democrat, California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 
  18. Bertha August Livingston, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 29 Jan 1887, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 7 Oct 1957, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: August, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  19. Ruth Loretta Schiller, Social Security #: 386070986, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Dec 1913, Death Date: 26 Jun 1979, Death Place: Los Angeles, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  20. Betty Livingston Bendix, Social Security #: 572427551, Gender: Female
    Birth Date: 22 Jan 1916, Birth Place: Illinois, Death Date: 3 Aug 1983, Death Place: Los Angeles, Mother’s Maiden Name: August, Father’s Surname: Livingston, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston and Her Family in the 1920s: Years of Loss

After Meyer Livingston died in 1915, his widow Dora and many of his children continued to live in Bloomington, Illinois, although some relocated to Chicago. And the family continued to grow.

Rosalie, the first-born child of Meyer and Dora, was living in Bloomington with her husband Albert Livingston and their son Morton in 1920; Albert was a dry goods merchant.1 Her brother Maurice and his wife Bertha and their two daughters Ruth and Betty May were also living in Bloomington, and Maurice listed his occupation as the proprietor of a department store.2

The second oldest son, Sigmund, married Hilda Freiler in Chicago on December 18, 1918. She was the daughter of Philip Freiler and Lizzie Ehrlich and was born on April 25, 1891, in Elgin, Illinois.3

Sigmund Livingston marriage, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/ppl/0/d/b21ea1d3dd971e202d0.html Courtesy of Art Zemon

Here is a photograph of Sigmund and Hilda taken on their honeymoon.

Sigmund Livingston and Hilda Freilder on their honeymoon 1918. Courtesy of Art Zemon, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/index.html

Sigmund and Hilda settled in Bloomington, where in 1920 Sigmund continued to practice law.4 Their son Richard was born on March 8, 1920, in Bloomington.5 There will be more on Sigmund and his career in a separate post.

Herman, the next oldest sibling, and his youngest brother Harold were still single and living at home with their mother Dora in 1920. Both Herman and Harold listed department store owner on the 1920 census as well as on their World War I draft registrations.6 Harold served in the Finances and Supplies Detachment of the Surgeon General’s Office of the US Army during World War I.7

Herman Livingston, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: McLean County, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harold Livingston, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: McLean County, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Gussie, who had moved to Virginia, Illinois, with her husband Solomon Salzenstein after marrying him in 1906, had returned to Bloomington with her husband and their son James. In 1920 Solomon was working as a corn farmer.8

So in 1920 six of the eight Livingston children were still living in Bloomington. The other two, Alfred and Irvin, were in Chicago. On his 1918 registration for the draft, Alfred reported that he was the sales manager for a piano manufacturer; in 1920, he was living with his wife Eva and their daughter Miriam/Marion in Chicago, and now he described his occupation as “piano manufacturer.”9

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

Irvin was practicing law in Chicago and living with his wife Helen and their two older children in 1920.10 Their youngest child, Irvin, Jr., was born the following year.11

The 1920s brought many changes for the family, including some very sad losses. First, Maurice Livingston died on November 19, 1923, in Bloomington. He was only 52 years old, and making it even sadder, his two daughters Ruth and Betty were only ten and seven, respectively. His wife Bertha was only 37.12 The Pantagraph, the local Bloomington newspaper, published this obituary, which reported that Maurice had been in poor health for a few years, but died suddenly of a heart attack after a night at the theater with his family.

“M. Livingston Is Suddenly Taken,” The Pantagraph, November 20, 1923, p. 5

Just a year later, Gussie Livingston lost her husband Solomon Salzenstein on September 9, 1924, in Bloomington. He was only 55, and his only child James was just eleven when he lost his father. Gussie was 43.13

There was some good news in the 1920s when the two remaining single brothers married. Herman Livingston married Dorothy Ensel in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 14, 1922. Dorothy, the daughter of Gustave Ensel and Sophie Lieber, was born in Somerset, Kentucky, on November 4, 1882.14 Herman and Dorothy settled in Bloomington.

“Ensel-Livingston,” The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, March 12, 1922, p. 8

Harold, the youngest child of Dora and Meyer Livingston, married Marion Kunstadter, the daughter of Samuel Kunstadter and Theodora Hess, in May 1926 in Chicago. Marion was born on October 6, 1905, in Chicago. Harold and Marion also settled in Bloomington.15

But those two happy events were bookended by two more losses in the 1920s. On January 15, 1927, the family lost its matriarch, Dora Blumenfeld Livingston; she was 79 years old.16 She was survived by seven of her eight children and her grandchildren. Dora had successfully given birth to and raised eight children and left her homeland in Germany to settle in the middle of America with her husband Meyer and his many Livingston relatives in Bloomington, Illinois. That fateful decision meant that her children and their children were spared the horrors that many of her relatives who stayed in Germany had to endure.

Dora’s death was followed by another loss a year later. Dora’s oldest child, her daughter Rosalie, lost her husband Albert Livingston on January 7, 1928.17 He was 65 years old and was survived by Rosalie and their son Morton, who was 28.

Thus, in the span of just five years from 1923 to 1928, the family suffered four losses—Maurice, Solomon, Dora, and Albert. Fortunately, the decade ended with a birth. Harold Livingston’s wife Marion gave birth to Ralph Hirsch Livingston on November 17, 1928, in Bloomington.18 Ralph was the tenth grandchild of Dora and Meyer and the last to be born.

I found it interesting that although Dora and Meyer’s children grew up with so many siblings, one of those eight children had no children (Herman) and five had just one child (Rosalie, Sigmund, Alfred, Gussie, and Harold). Only Maurice (2) and Irvin (3) had multiple children. If not for the fact that these siblings appeared to stay connected to each other geographically and presumably otherwise, I might have thought their choices to have small families were a negative response to their own childhood experiences. And if not for the fact that the family was prosperous, I might have thought that it was an economic choice.

But perhaps it was just other forces—fertility issues, the desires of their spouses, or the demands of time. And of the times themselves.


  1. Albert Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 18, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_387; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 108, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Maurice Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 11, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 101, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198509/hilda-v-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Hilda V Freiler Livingston (25 Apr 1891–20 Feb 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198509, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). Phillip Feilen [sic], Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 8 Jul 1883, Marriage Place: Kane, Illinois, USA, Spouse Name: Lizzie Ehrlich, Spouse Gender: Female
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Marriage Index, 1860-1920. Freiler family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Elgin Ward 1, Kane, Illinois; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0092; FHL microfilm: 1240311, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sigmund and Hilda Livingston, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 19, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_387; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 109,Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  5. Richard Mayor Livingston, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 8 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Bloomington, Illinois, Death Date: 5 Oct 1994, Father: Livingston, Mother:
    Hilda V Feild, SSN: 322148741, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  6. Dora, Herman, and Harold Livingston, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 11, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 101, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7.  The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 437, Description Date Range: 14 Mar 1918-26 Jul 1918, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  8. Sol Salzenstein and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bloomington Precinct 1, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T625_386; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 91, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  9. Alfred Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_309; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 306,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  10. Irvin Livingston and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_309; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 305,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. Irvin P Livingston, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1921, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Gender: Male, Father: Irvin L Livingston, Mother: Helen Baer, FHL Film Number: 1309494, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  12. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198500/maurice-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Maurice Livingston (14 Jan 1871–19 Nov 1923), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198500, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  13. Sol. Salzenstein, Birth Date: 3 Dec 1868, Birth Place: Pleasant Plains, Ill
    Death Date: 9 Sep 1924, Death Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Burial Date: Sep 1924, Cemetery Name: Jewish, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Real Estate, Race: White
    Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Father Name: Jacob Salzenstein, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Lussie [sic] Salzenstein, FHL Film Number: 1493146, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  14. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9199180/dorothy-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Dorothy Ensel Livingston (4 Nov 1882–17 Nov 1953), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9199180, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224). Ensel family, 1880 US census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Somerset, Pulaski, Kentucky; Roll: 440; Page: 94C; Enumeration District: 086, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives; Frankfort, Kentucky.
    Description: Film 7017487: All Counties, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Death Records, 1852-1965 
  15. Marion Kunstadter, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 1926, Marriage Place: Champaign, Illinois, USA, Spouse: Harold Livingston, Various Illinois County Courthouses; Marriage Records; Collection Title: Marriage Records, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1800-1940. Marian Kunstadter Livingston
    Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 6 Oct 1905, Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois
    Death Date: 29 Aug 1987, Father: Samuel Kunstadter, Mother: Theodora Hess
    SSN: 341206539, Death Certificate Number: 125588, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Marriage announcement, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 23 May 1926, Sun • Page 91 
  16. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198506/dora-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Dora Blumenfeld Livingston (27 Jun 1848–15 Jan 1927), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198506, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  17. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198010/albert-livingston : accessed 02 November 2021), memorial page for Albert Livingston (31 Jan 1862–7 Jan 1928), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198010, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  18.  Ralph H. Livingston, Social Security Number: 351-20-2225, Birth Date: 17 Nov 1928, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 94941, Mill Valley, Marin, California, USA, Death Date: 23 Feb 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Dora Blumenfeld Livingston’s Growing Family, 1887 to 1915

By 1887, Meyer and Dora (Blumenfeld) Livingston, as they were now known, had eight children and were living in Bloomington, Illinois, surrounded by Meyer’s siblings and their ever-growing dry goods businesses. There were over twenty individual listings for people and businesses named Livingston in the 1889 Bloomington directory.1

The 1893 city directory also lists numerous Livingstons, including two Miss Rosalie Livingstons, one presumably the daughter of Meyer, the other the daughter of Isaac. Sigmund Livingston is listed as a law student, Maurice (formerly Moritz) as a bookkeeper for M Livingston & Co, his father’s business.

1893 Bloomington, Illinois directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995

I located this photograph (available under a Creative Commons license) of the six Livingston brothers taken in the late 1890s on a Flickr site belonging to Geoff Livingston, great-grandson of Irvin Livingston:

Back Row (left to right): Irvin Livingston, Alfred Livingston, Herman Livingston
Front Row (left to right): Sigmund Livingston; Harold Livingston; Maurice Livingston. From the Flickr site of Geoff Livingston, found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoliv/3894617201

On November 10, 1897, Dora and Meyer’s oldest child Rosalie married Albert Livingstone (spelled that way for both Rosalie and Albert in this wedding article). They were described as “among the most prominent members of the Hebrew society in Central Illinois,” and Rosalie was described as the daughter of “Mayer Livingstone, a wealthy merchant of this city.”

Marriage of Livingstone / Livingstone -

“Livingstone-Livingstone,” The Inter Ocean (Chicago), November 11, 1897, p. 3.

Albert, who was likely related to Rosalie although I’ve not yet figured out exactly how, was born in 1862 in Germany,2 but by 1880 when he was eighteen he was living in Bloomington.3 Albert is listed in the 1893 Bloomington directory as a “merchant tailor” in business with Julius Griesheim.4 Albert and Rosalie had one child, a son Morton born in Bloomington on October 20, 1900.5

In 1900, Meyer and Dora Blumenfeld Livingston were living with the other seven of their eight children in Bloomington, Illinois.6 The seven children living at home were Maurice (30), who was working as a merchant, Sigmund (28), a lawyer, Hermann (24), a clothing clerk possibly in his father’s store, Alfred (21), Gussie (19), Irvin (16), and Harold (12), all at school.

Meyer Livingston family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Bloomington Ward 1, McLean, Illinois; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1240321
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Between 1900 and 1910, two more of Meyer and Dora’s children married, but surprisingly it was not two of the older children, but two of the younger ones. Gussie Livingston married Solomon Salzenstein on October 17, 1906. Solomon was born in Pleasant Plains, Illinois, on December 3, 1868, to Jacob and Hanna Salzenstein.7  In the newspaper article announcing their engagement, Solomon was described as a “junior member of the dry goods firm of Salzenstein Brothers in Virginia, Illinois,” and Gussie was described as “a popular society girl of Livingston.”

“Short Telegrams,” Evening Times-Republican, Marshalltown, Iowa, 30 May 1906, Wed • Page 8

Marriage record of Gussie Livingston and Sol Salzenstein, “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L924-RDGN?cc=1803970 : 28 November 2018), image 1 of 1; county offices, Illinois.

In 1910, Gussie and Solomon were living in Virginia, Illinois, where Solomon continued to work as a dry goods merchant.8 Solomon and Gussie had one child, James Salzenstein, born in Bloomington on May 2, 1913,9 indicating that by that time Solomon and Gussie had relocated to Bloomington from Virginia, Illinois.

Gussie’s brother Alfred also married before 1910. He married Eva Seigel on November 6, 1907, in Chicago, Illinois.[^9] Eva was born in Des Moines, Iowa on June 27, 1882, to Solomon Seigel and Mary Cohen.10 In 1910, Alfred and Eva were living in Chicago where Alfred was a lawyer in general practice. They had one child, a daughter Miriam, though sometimes identified as Marion, born in Chicago on March 22, 1912.11

Although he was not yet married, Irvin Livingston, the second youngest child of Dora and Meyer, had also moved out of the home by 1910. In 1908 he was living in Chicago, studying law at the University of Chicago, having already obtained his bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Irvin Livingston, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; School Name: University of Chicago; Year: 1908 Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

By 1910, he was practicing law in Chicago, living as a lodger.12 On January 19,1914, Irvin married Helen H. Baer,13 daughter of Joseph and Emilie/Amelia Baer, in Chicago. Helen was born on August 1, 1890, in Chicago.14 Irvin and Helen had three children: Robert, born in Chicago on December 30, 1914;15 Julie May, born January 7, 1919, in Chicago;16 and Irvin T. Livingston, born April 3, 1921, in Chicago.17

The other four sons of Dora and Meyer Livingston were still single and living at home in Bloomington in 1910. Interestingly, Dora is referred to as Toni here, a reference I’ve seen in several other places starting around this time and going forward. Meyer still owned a department store, and it appears that three of the four sons living at home were working in the family business: Morris (Moritz or Maurice), Harry (probably Herman by age and process of elimination, and Harold (although it looks like “Jarold” on the census record). Sigmund was working as a lawyer.

Meyer Livingston family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Bloomington Ward 1, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T624_306; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0081; FHL microfilm: 1374319, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Later that year on November 15, 1910, Maurice married Bertha August in Rochester, New York. She was the daughter of Jacob August and Henriette Meyer and was born in Germany on January 29, 1886.18 She immigrated with her parents when she was a young child and grew up in Rochester.19 Maurice and Bertha settled in Bloomington where their two children, Ruth and Betty May, were born, Ruth on December 19, 1913,20 and Betty on January 22, 1916.21

Marriage of Bertha August and Maurice Livingston, Year Range: 1908 – 1912
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1847-1849, 1907-1936

Meyer Loewenstein/Livingston did not survive to see the births of all his grandchildren. He died on October 10, 1915, in Bloomington when he was 75 years old.22 Meyer was survived by all eight of his children, most of whom were still living in Bloomington, and by ten grandchildren. Many of those children and grandchildren continued to contribute to the Bloomington business community for years to come, as we will see.


  1. 1889 Bloomington, Illinois City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198010/albert-livingston : accessed 28 October 2021), memorial page for Albert Livingston (31 Jan 1862–7 Jan 1928), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198010, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  3. Albert Livingston, 1880 US census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: 230; Page: 180A; Enumeration District: 161, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  4. See image above. 
  5.  Morton Livingston, Social Security Number: 352-05-1727, Birth Date: 20 Oct 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60035, Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, USA, Death Date: May 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. As noted in my prior post, the notation that Dora had had eighteen children and only eight survived is an error, corrected on the 1910 census.  It also erroneously reports that the family immigrated in 1871. 
  7. Sol. Salzenstein, Birth Date: 3 Dec 1868, Birth Place: Pleasant Plains, Ill, Death Date: 9 Sep 1924, Death Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Burial Date: Sep 1924
    Cemetery Name: Jewish, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Real Estate, Race: White
    Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois, Father Name: Jacob Salzenstein, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Lussie Salzenstein [sic], Comments: 11y of this place, FHL Film Number: 1493146, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  8. Solomon and Gussie Salzenstein, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Virginia Ward 3, Cass, Illinois; Roll: T624_232; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0029; FHL microfilm: 1374245, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  9. Alfred Livingston, Age: 28, Gender: Male, Birth Year: abt 1879, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 6 Nov 1907, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Spouse Name: Eva Seigle, Spouse Age: 23, Spouse Gender: Female, FHL Film Number: 1030431, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  10. Eva S Livingston, [Eva S Seigle], Gender: Female, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1882
    Birth Place: Iowa, Death Date: 11 Apr 1954, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: Seigle, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 11 Apr 1954, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997. New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G5QY-Q7W?cc=1923888&wc=MFVY-TM9%3A1029870501 : 2 October 2015), 4136 – vol 9244-9245, Sep 24, 1928 image 446 of 813; citing NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). The spelling of Eva’s birth name varies between Seigle, Siegle, and Siegel. 
  11. E.g., Miriam Livingston, New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G5QY-Q7W?cc=1923888&wc=MFVY-TM9%3A1029870501 : 2 October 2015), 4136 – vol 9244-9245, Sep 24, 1928 image 446 of 813; citing NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Marion Livingston, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_309; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 306, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Irvin Livingston, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_245; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0314; FHL microfilm: 1374258, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13. Irvin J. Livingston, Age: 30, Gender: Male, Birth Year: abt 1884, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 19 Jan 1914, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Spouse Name: Helen H. Baer, Spouse Age: 23, Spouse Gender: Female
    FHL Film Number: 1030564, ncestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  14. Baer family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 3, Cook, Illinois; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0077; FHL microfilm: 1240247, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census; Helen Livingston, Gender: Female, Age: 48
    Birth Date: 1 Aug 1890, Birth Place: Chicago Ill, Arrival Date: 13 Feb 1939, Arrival Place: Miami, Florida, USA, Ship: Florida, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2774842; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963 
  15. Robert Irvin Livingston, Birth Date: 30 Dec 1914, Gender: Male, Father: Irvin Livingston, Mother: Helen Baer, FHL Film Number: 1288338, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  16. Julie May Livingston, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Gender: Female, Father: Irwin Livingston, Mother: Helen Baer, FHL Film Number: 1276449, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  17. Irvin P Livingston, Birth Date: 2 Apr 1921, Birth Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
    Gender: Male, Father: Irvin L Livingston, Mother: Helen Baer, FHL Film Number: 1309494, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 
  18. Bertha August Livingston, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 29 Jan 1887, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 7 Oct 1957, Death Place: Los Angeles, Father’s Surname: August, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 7 Oct 1957, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  19. August family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Rochester Ward 16, Monroe, New York; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0098; FHL microfilm: 1241076, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  20. Ruth Loretta Schiller, Social Security #: 386070986, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Dec 1913, Death Date: 26 Jun 1979, Death Place: Los Angeles, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 26 Jun 1979; Social Security: 386070986, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  21. Betty Livingston Bendix, Social Security #: 572427551, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 22 Jan 1916, Birth Place: Illinois, Death Date: 3 Aug 1983, Death Place: Los Angeles, Mother’s Maiden Name: August, Father’s Surname: Livingston, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 3 Aug 1983; Social Security: 572427551, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  22. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198505/mayer-livingston : accessed 28 October 2021), memorial page for Mayer Livingston (Nov 1839–10 Oct 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198505, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 

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

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

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

History of Livingston Family in Bloomington -

History of Livingstons in Bloomington part 2 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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