Who was Sarah Goldfarb? The Plot Thickens

My search for answers as to how Sarah Goldfarb was related to my grandmother’s family had thus far led me to conflicting evidence.  Three of her children had listed her birth name as a version of Brotman on their marriage records, and the death record of her daughter Gussie also listed Sarah’s birth name as Brotman. Brotman, of course, was my great-grandfather Joseph’s surname.

katz-gussie-death

Two records, however, indicated that her birth name might have been Brod.  The birth record of her daughter Rosie in 1902 indicated that her birth name was something different—Braud, which appeared to be a phonetic equivalent to Brod. Brod or Brot was what I believed was the birth name of my great-grandmother Bessie.  And the marriage record of Sarah’s son Morris in 1919 reported Sarah’s birth name to have been Brod.

goldfarb-grinbaum-marriage-page-1

So was Sarah a sister of Joseph or a sister of Bessie? Since she had named one child Bessie and one Joseph, the naming patterns weren’t helpful and were in fact bewildering.  Was neither Joseph nor Bessie her sibling?

And their residences in the US also presented confusing evidence.  Sarah first had lived near the Brotmans, who settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey; then she and Sam had moved across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie after Joseph Brotman died in 1901.  Had Sarah moved to help her sister? Or her sister-in-law? Nothing was definitive.

As I indicated in my last post, a great-grandchild of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb, my cousin Sue, sent me extensive family history notes that someone in her extended family had compiled back in the 1980s.  I will refer to these materials as the “Goldfarb family research.” There were no original documents in these papers, but rather handwritten charts and notes that someone had recorded based on the research he or she had done.

I scoured those notes looking for additional clues.  Most of the information about Sam and Sarah Goldfarb confirmed what I’d already found.  There was also a lot of information about Sam Goldfarb’s siblings and their families and descendants.  Although these were not my genetic relatives, I nevertheless added them to my family tree and looked at the notes carefully, thinking that this information might also lead me to clues about my own relatives. Most importantly, the genealogist who compiled the Goldfarb family research agreed with my conclusion that the Sam and Sarah had come from Grebow, Poland, the same town I had visited in 2015 and the town that my great-uncles David and Abraham Brotman had listed as their home on their ship manifest in 1889.  That was reassuring.

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889 Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13156

Perhaps the most useful part of the Goldfarb family research were the notes that reflected more recent marriages and births and deaths than I had yet located and the names of descendants and their spouses. For example, although I had been able to find information that indicated that Joseph Goldfarb, Sam and Sarah’s fifth child, had married a woman named Rebecca “Betty” Amer, I did not know when or where they had married. According to the Goldfarb family research, Joe and Betty had married on September 17, 1922, in Brooklyn.  But I cannot find any entry in the NYC marriage index on either Ancestry or FamilySearch or through Steve Morse’s website to confirm that.

Since their first child Marvin was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1923, I thought that perhaps Joe and Betty had married in New Jersey, not Brooklyn.  I asked my researcher in New Jersey whether she could find a marriage record for them in New Jersey, but after a diligent search, she was unable to find a marriage record there either. Perhaps Joe and Betty never filed a marriage certificate?

Meanwhile, I continued searching for the Goldfarbs going forward from 1920 where I’d left off.  In 1925, Sam and Sarah were still living on Williams Avenue in Brooklyn with their daughter Rose, who was now 22.  Sam (listed here as Solomon) was no longer working.  Living at the same address were Sam and Sarah’s son Morris and his family; Morris was a grocery store owner.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

In 1925, Julius and Ida Goldfarb were living in Jersey City, according to the Jersey City directory for that year.  Listed right above Julius is a Joseph Goldfarb, and listed right below him is a Leo Goldfarb.  Although I could not be sure, I assumed that these were Julius’ brothers Joe and Leo (especially since Leo was not living with his parents in Brooklyn according to the 1925 NY census).

Jersey City directory 1925 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

Jersey City directory 1925
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

That was then confirmed when I searched for their sister Bessie (Goldfarb) and her husband Meyer Malzberg.  I had not been able to find them on the 1920 US census nor on the 1925 NY census, but when I saw that their first child Burton was born in 1923 in Jersey City, I decided to check that 1925 Jersey City directory for the Malzberg family.  Sure enough, there they were living at 247 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, the same address listed for Leo Goldfarb.  So in 1925, four of Sam and Sarah’s six surviving children were living in Jersey City; only Rose and Morris were still living in Brooklyn.

1925 Jersey City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

1925 Jersey City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Then on October 4, 1926, Sam (Solomon) Goldfarb died at age seventy.  I ordered a copy of his death certificate:

goldfarb-samuel-death-page-1

Sam had died from heart disease.  His father’s name was Julius; obviously, Sam and Sarah had named their firstborn son for Sam’s father.

But the one item that made me stop when I obtained this record was Sam’s birthplace: “Tarnobjek, Austria.”  I knew this must have been Tarnobrzeg—the very town I had visited in 2015, the place also known as Dzikow, the place I had long assumed was the home of my great-grandparents, Bessie Brod and Joseph Brotman, and that is only a few miles from Grebow.  Here was one more piece of the puzzle helping me corroborate that Tarnobrzeg and its immediate environs was where my great-grandparents had lived before emigrating from Galicia.

After Sam died, Sarah continued to live on Williams Avenue with her daughter Rose, and by 1930 her son Leo had moved back there as well.  He was working as real estate salesman. Morris was also still living on Williams Avenue, though now in a different building down the block; he was still the owner of a grocery store.

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1493; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; Image: 15.0; FHL microfilm: 2341228

Julius and Joe Goldfarb and their families were still living in Jersey City in 1930; Julius was the owner of a real estate business, and Joe was working as a salesman for a biscuit company.  Bessie was also living in New Jersey in North Bergen where her husband Meyer Malzberg owned a delicatessen.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45 Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: North Bergen, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1358; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0351; Image: 859.0; FHL microfilm: 2341093

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1355; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0152; Image: 753.0; FHL microfilm: 2341090

Sarah Goldfarb, like her husband Sam, died when she was seventy years old; she died on July 2, 1937.  Her death certificate was the most important and the most revealing of all the vital records I ordered for the Goldfarb family:

goldfarb-sarah-death-page-1 goldfarb-sarah-death-page-2-resized

Her son Joseph, the informant on the death certificate, reported that Sarah, who died from hypertension complicated by diabetes, was the daughter of Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz. I stared at this record for many minutes.  This was a huge revelation.

Joseph is the same name listed on my great-grandmother Bessie’s death certificate as the name of her father.  That certificate had named her mother as Bessie Broat, but I was and remain convinced that the informant, Bessie’s bereaved second husband Philip Moskowitz, was confused and thought he’d been asked for Bessie’s maiden name, not her mother’s maiden name.  Notice also that Bessie, like Sarah, suffered from diabetes.

Bessie was Joseph's second wife and mother of five children

Bessie Brotman Moskowitz

In addition, on Bessie’s marriage certificate from her marriage to Philip, she had given her father’s name as Josef Brotman and her mother’s as Gitel Brotman.

bessie philip marriage certificate

Things were starting to make more sense—to some degree.  It was starting to look like Sarah Goldfarb was my great-grandmother’s sister, not my great-grandfather’s sister.  Sarah and Bessie both had parents named Joseph and Gittel.  They both had suffered from diabetes. They both had daughters named Gussie or Gittel.

The naming patterns are fascinating.  In Eastern Europe, Ashkenazi Jews followed certain traditions in naming their children.  First, a child was to be named for a deceased relative, not a living relative.  Second, although there were no strict rules, generally children were named for the closest deceased relative—a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, and so on.

Sam and Sarah named their first son Julius for Sam’s father; their second son Morris was not named for Sarah’s father Joseph, suggesting that Joseph Brod was still alive when Morris was born.  But when her third son was born in 1897, she did name him Joseph, presumably for her father, who must have by that time died. That would mean that my presumed great-great-grandfather Joseph Brod died between 1886 and 1897.

The same rules would generally apply to the naming of daughters. Sam and Sarah named their first daughter Gittel, presumably for Sarah and Bessie’s mother Gittel Schwartz Brod.  Gittel (Gussie) Goldfarb was born in 1890, suggesting that Sarah and Bessie’s mother was deceased by then. My great-grandmother Bessie named her first daughter Tillie in 1884, which might indicate that her mother Gittel was still alive.  But when she had my grandmother in 1895, her second daughter, she named her Gittel, presumably for her mother. Thus, Gittel Schwartz, my presumed great-great-grandmother, must have died between 1884 when Tillie was born and 1890 when Gittel Goldfarb was born.

So at first I thought I had solved the mystery and thought that Sarah had to have been Bessie’s sister.  But then things started getting murky again.  Why did some records refer to Sarah’s birth name as Brotman, some as Brod? Why did records sometimes refer to Bessie’s birth name as Brot or Brod, sometimes as Brotman? What the heck did this all mean? Were these really two versions of the same name?

And then I recalled that the ship manifest that I had assumed was possibly the one listing my great-grandfather used the name Yossel Brod.  I wasn’t sure this was in fact my great-grandfather, but if it was, why was he using the name Brod, not Brotman?

Joseph Brotman ship manifest

Yossel Brod on ship manifest Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13155

I know that family lore says that my great-grandparents, Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod, were cousins.  I know also that sometimes children in Eastern Europe used their mother’s names as surnames, not their father’s names.  Could Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather, have been the son of a woman named Brod who was a sibling of the Joseph Brod who fathered Sarah and Bessie? Or was it the other way around? I have no record for Joseph Brotman’s mother’s name aside from the reference on his death certificate to “Yetta.” Moses Brotman’s death certificate lists his mother as Sadie Burstein.  Neither helps me here at all. And I’ve no idea how accurate either is anyway.

Unfortunately, the Goldfarb family research papers did not shed any further light on this question either, but merely contained the same information I’d found on the actual records about Sam and Sarah.

What am I to make of this? I have asked one of the Goldfarb descendants to take a DNA test, but given my experiences with DNA testing, I don’t hold out hope for much clarity from the results. But it’s worth a try.  If anyone else has any ideas or reactions, please let me know your thoughts.

The big question remains: was Sarah Brot(man) Goldfarb a sibling of my great-grandmother Bessie? Or a sibling of my great-grandfather Joseph? What do you think?

And perhaps even more importantly, are Brod/Brot/Brodman/Brothman/Brotman all really the same surname?

But the story continues when I turned to the question of … who was Taube Hecht? And it gets even better.

 

 

 

Update: Baby Rose Schoenthal—Did She Ever Exist? Do I Stop Looking for Her?

I need your advice.  I’ve hit a brick wall, and this time, I am not sure I should try and go further.  Please let me know what you think.

Some of you may recall the mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and his wife Florence who appeared on the 1930 census in Atlantic City as their fifteen month old child, but then disappeared.  She was not on the 1940 census; there was no death record for her in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and she was not buried with Jacob and Florence or with her grandparents.  She was not named as a survivor in Jacob’s will.

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

I was left concluding that either she had been adopted and thus had taken on a new name or had never even existed.  I haven’t yet tried searching for adoption records because it does not appear that I have legal standing to do that, given that I am not Rose, her child, her parents, or any other close relative. I also am not sure where I should search: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or any of the other states in the country where a child might have been adopted. And even more to the point, petitions to unseal adoption records are intended to reveal the birth name of an adoptee.  I can’t find any way to search for records of a birth child who was adopted if I don’t know the adoptive name.

I did, however, request a search of New Jersey’s birth records for 1928 and 1929, hoping that a birth certificate for a Rose Schoenthal would appear.  I now have received the report back from New Jersey, and they had no birth certificate for a Rose Schoenthal born between January 1, 1928, and December 31, 1929.  What does that mean? Well, it means either Rose was never born and the census report is just wrong.  Or it means she was adopted and the birth certificate was changed to her adoptive name.

Which seems more likely? Since the census record is so specific—says she was 1 and 3/12, born in New Jersey, and gives her full name, Rose Maxine Schoenthal—I am inclined to think it was accurate (unless Jacob and Florence had an imaginary child a la Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

So that brings me back to the adoption possibility.  Now I need to figure out how to search for an adoption when you know the birth name but not the adoptive name.  I also have to consider whether I should try to find an adoption record. Rose could very well still be alive; she’d only be 86 or so.  It feels inappropriate for me to invade her privacy, if she is in fact alive.  I am inclined to let this one go.

What do you think? Should I leave well enough alone? Or should I pursue this further?

Blog Update: The Mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal of Atlantic City

Before I move on from the Schoenthal family line, I have a few updates to write about, including some newly discovered cousins and some wonderful photos.  But first an update to one mystery.   Unfortunately an update but not a solution.

Remember the mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and Florence Truempy? She had appeared on the 1930 census as a fifteen month old child living with her parents in Atlantic City.

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Then she disappears.  She does not appear on the 1940 census with her parents or elsewhere as far as I can tell, and there is no death record for her in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania, no obituary for her, no news articles that mention her.  Nothing at all.

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 1-9

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 1-9

And she wasn’t buried with her parents.  Nor was she buried with her grandparents.  She just seemed to disappear.

Many people gave me suggestions on where else to look.  Some people thought Rose had been given up for adoption or sent to live elsewhere or institutionalized.  Others thought she was just omitted from the 1940 census and that she might have married and changed her name sometime later.  But I haven’t found any records with her birth name or her parents’ names to link her to a different name, whether she was adopted, institutionalized, or married.

Someone suggested I see if Rose was mentioned in Florence or Jacob’s will or obituary.  I wrote to the Atlantic City public library and asked them to do an obituary search.  Neither obituary mentioned a child.

Atlantic CIty Press July 5, 1967 p 5

Atlantic CIty Press July 5, 1967 p 5

 

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

 

Then I searched the online land records for Atlantic County, and found a record for a May, 1976 transfer of land owned by Jacob Schoenthal.  The transfer had been handled by the executrix of Jacob’s estate, who was not his daughter Rose, but his sister, Hettie Schoenthal Stein.   That meant that Jacob had had a will.

 

Deed of Jacob Schoenthal s land in Atlantic City-page-001

 

Deed of Jacob Schoenthal s land in Atlantic City-page-002

Transfer of Deed of Land Belonging to Jacob Schoenthal

 

 

I decided to request a copy of his will from the Atlantic County Surrogate’s Court.  That will, seen below though not easily read as reproduced, named the following people as his heirs at law and next of kin: his sister Hettie Schoenthal Stein, his sister Estella Schoenthal Klein, and his brother Sidney Schoenthal.  According to the will, there were no other surviving heirs or next of kin.  There was no mention of Rose or any other child.  (All of Jacob’s other siblings and his wife Florence had already died as of the time of his death in February, 1976.)

Jacob Schoenthal will Jacob will p 2

jacob will p 3

jacob will 4

 

Thus, Jacob’s daughter Rose either was no longer alive at the time of his death or she had been given up for adoption and thus was no longer his legal kin.  Unfortunately, I don’t know which is the case.  Next step is to check for adoption records.  I’ve contacted the appropriate office and am waiting to see if I am even eligible to request such records.  I frankly think it’s a real long shot, and I think this will remain one of those unsolved mysteries.

But I remain open to other suggestions.

 

Hettie’s Spirit Lives On: Her Children Walter and Blanche

In my last two posts about Hettie Schoenthal, I was very fortunate because Hettie and her son Walter had written down their own memories and stories, making their lives so much more vivid and authentic than I could have ever done myself.  The wonderful photographs that their family provided also helped me tell the story of Hettie Schoenthal, her husband Henry Stein, and their two children, Walter and Blanche.

Hettie Schoenthal, 1906 Courtesy of her family

Hettie Schoenthal, 1906
Courtesy of her family

It was a reminder of how important it is for all of us to write about our own lives and to take and preserve photographs so that someday our descendants will benefit from these shared words.  My newly discovered cousin Sharon Lippincott, daughter-in-law of Blanche Stein Lippincott, writes  about the art of writing memoirs at her blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, and has also published books on that subject.

In this post, I hope to convey how Hettie’s optimistic and energetic personality left its mark on her two children, both of whom also lived long and happy lives and were well-loved by many.  All photos are courtesy of their family.

Hettie and Henry had moved east from Arizona to Philadelphia in 1924, and a few years later their son Walter left home and moved to Atlantic City to work in his aunt’s hotel there, as seen on the 1930 census.  Walter remained in the Atlantic City area for the rest of his life, working in a restaurant and as a salesman over the years.  He married Ruth Levaur in 1938, and they had one daughter.

His sister Blanche also married in the 1930s, marrying Ezra Parvin Lippincott in 1937.  Ezra was a New Jersey native and a graduate of Rutgers University, and he worked as a banker and in the insurance business. They lived in New Jersey and had two children, a son and a daughter.  Sadly, Ezra died in 1969, leaving Blanche as a widow at only 57.

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1938

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1938

 

Blanche Stein Lippincott 1962

Blanche Stein Lippincott 1962

 

I don’t have a lot of “official” records about Walter or Blanche after 1940, but I don’t need them to convey the character and personality of these two people. Other people have already written about them both.

Both Walter and Blanche must have inherited their mother’s gene for longevity.  Walter died in 2007 at age 96, and Blanche died in 2013 when she was 101 years old.

Walter Stein in Atlantic City, 1987 courtesy of the family

Walter Stein in Atlantic City, 1987
courtesy of the family

Walter’s obituary from the Press of Atlantic City gives a vivid portrait of the man who spent his childhood with burros and snakes in Ray, Arizona:

Walter was born in Tucson, Territory of Arizona on October 9, 1910. He was recognized as a pioneer. He spent his childhood in Ray, Arizona in a mining camp and took pleasure in saying that his boyhood was what every boy dreams of. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1923, where Walter graduated from high school. In 1929 he went to Atlantic City for a vacation and never left the area except for four years. He met and married Ruth Levaur in 1938. They recently celebrated their 68th anniversary.

Walter was a fine fisherman, a championship bowler and a prize-winning marksman. He served on many boards, but his favorite was the 23 years he served on the Board of Friends of the (PAC) Performing Arts Center of Stockton College. Walter had a deep love of the theater. Some of his happiest moments were spent with Ruth and friends at the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Ballet, the theater and museums. He was Vice President of Atlantic Beverage for 35 years. ….

Walter was loved and respected by all who knew him. His sense of humor, his positive spirit and generous nature placed him in a class by himself. He was often referred to as a man of all seasons, and he truly was.

 

Walter and Ruth Stein, 2002 at Blanche's 90th birthday celebration

Walter and Ruth Stein, 2002 at Blanche’s 90th birthday celebration

 

Blanche also seems to have inherited her mother’s optimistic and adventurous spirit; her daughter-in-law Sharon wrote this about her on her blog on the occasion of Blanche’s 100th birthday:

Blanche was born 100 years ago in Tucson, in the newly admitted state of Arizona. Her family soon moved to Ray, Arizona, a now deserted copper mining community, where they lived until she was about twelve. When the copper industry declined, her parents, along with a few aunts and uncles, decided to move back to Philadelphia.  ….

If you asked her, she’d tell you she has had a rather ordinary life, and so it may seem to some. She’s never done anything truly flamboyant. She hasn’t set records, started a business, or written a best-seller. But she has tackled life with gusto, always open to new adventures and experiences. ….

Perhaps her  most important attribute is her devotion to family, friends and community. ….  No family member or friend ever has to ask for help – things are taken care of, often before the need is recognized. She always has something good to say about anyone she speaks of, and she excels at showing gratitude and appreciation. …

I could not ask for a sweeter, more supportive and helpful mother-in-law, nor is anyone prouder than she of her two children and their spouses, her five grandchildren and their spouses, and her six great-grandchildren. She is the most optimistic person I know, and should I live to be 100, I hope I’ll be as vital and involved as she continues to be.

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1984

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1984

 

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

You can read the rest of Sharon’s tribute to her mother-in-law Blanche at her blog here. 

I feel very privileged to be even distantly related to Hettie and her children, who were, respectively, my first cousin, twice removed (my grandmother’s first cousin) and my second cousins, once removed (my father’s second cousins).  It’s just too bad that I missed the opportunity to know them in person, given how long and how close by they all lived.

Blanche and Walter, August 9, 2006 courtesy of the family

Blanche and Walter, August 9, 2006
courtesy of the family

 

Blanche, Hettie, and Walter Stein

Blanche, Hettie, and Walter Stein

This post completes my research of the family of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach and their many children.  This has been a line of the family that has been a joy to research.  Although there were a few sad stories, this was a family of people who lived long lives and seemed to enjoy those lives.   They stayed close to one another even though at times they were separated by long distances.  And most of them spent much of their lives close to their childhood hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey, once called the World’s Playground.

Unfortunately, the next chapter—the story of Simon’s brother Jakob and his family—is not as joyful.

 

 

Where Did Baby Rose Go?

Although there are a number of unresolved matters in this post, the big question left is — what happened to little Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and Florence Truempy?  Maybe you can help me.

Having now worked through the first five children of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach (Harry, Gertrude, Louis, Maurice, and Martin), it’s clear that Atlantic City had a strong hold on the family.  Although Simon had first settled in Pittsburgh and he and Rose had married there and had their first three children there, they had left for Philadelphia by 1880 and then around 1892 for Atlantic City.  Atlantic City is where they stayed.

Their oldest child Harry[1] lived there for most of his adult life after spending about ten years in Philadelphia between 1910 and 1920.  Gertrude and Martin also left and returned, Gertrude after about 20 years in Arizona, Martin after about ten years in Chicago.  Only Maurice and Louis of the siblings I’ve covered so far moved away from Atlantic City permanently.  Louis moved to California and never returned.  Maurice moved to the Midwest in about 1910 where he met and married his wife Blanche, a Missouri native.  Maurice and Blanche lived almost all of their married life in Chicago.

Of the four remaining children of Simon and Rose—Jacob, Hettie, Estelle, and Sidney—two were Atlantic City “lifers” —Jacob and Estelle.   Jacob was born in 1883 in Philadelphia; Estelle was born in Philadelphia in 1889. They were both children when the family moved to Atlantic City.  In 1900 when he was seventeen, Jacob was working in the laundry business with his brother Martin and living with his parents and siblings.

Jacob Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Jacob Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Here is a photograph of Estelle, on the right, taken with her sister Hettie in 1906.

Hettie Schoenthal and Estelle Schoenthal, 1906 courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Hettie Schoenthal and Estelle Schoenthal, 1906
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

 

In 1910, Jacob and Estelle were both still living at home; their father had died in 1904, and they were living with their mother and their younger brother Sidney.  Jacob and Martin were still working in the family laundry business.  In 1911 Sidney joined them in that endeavor, called Incomparable Laundry.

Incomparable Laundry Schoenthals brothers 1911 Atlantic City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Incomparable Laundry
Schoenthal brothers 1911 Atlantic City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Their sister Hettie later wrote about the family laundry business:

When we moved to Atlantic City my father went into business. He had a stationery store. Next door was a cigar store and laundry office. The laundry was called the Incomparable Laundry. We had a branch of it. Two of my brothers had a big laundry wagon with big hampers to put the bundles. They’d pick it up on Monday and take it to Philadelphia, then deliver it on Friday. Some people brought their own bundles. Nobody had washing machines then. They had washboards and tin tubs for doing laundry at home.[2]

But in 1912 and in 1913, only Jacob was listed in the Atlantic City directories in connection with Incomparable Laundry.  Martin and Sidney had left Atlantic City, and the only Schoenthals listed in the directories for those two years were Jacob, Estelle, and Rose (their mother), all living at the same address, 25  Massachusetts Avenue.

Then in 1914, Jacob is the sole Schoenthal listed at all in the Atlantic City directory, still associated with Incomparable Laundry.  Where were his mother and his sister Estelle?

Estelle Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Estelle Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

I knew that Rose had been in Arizona with Gertrude in 1917 from my research of Martin Schoenthal, but was she also there in 1914? A search of the 1914 Tucson directory revealed that Estelle Schoenthal was living there that year at the same address as her sister Gertrude, 516 South 5th Avenue.  Perhaps Rose was there as well, just not included in the directory.  Estelle was working as a cashier at a business called Steinfeld’s.

Estelle Schoenthal 1914 Tucson, Arizona directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Estelle Schoenthal 1914 Tucson, Arizona directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

And then between 1915 and 1918, there is not one Schoenthal listed in the Atlantic City directories. Harry was still in Philadelphia; Gertrude and presumably Rose and Estelle were in Arizona as was Hettie; Martin and Maurice were in Chicago; Louis and Sidney were in California.  Where was Jacob?

Jacob was still in Atlantic City in 1915, according to the New Jersey census of that year.  He was listed as single and working as a driver. (Thank you to Marilyn Silva for sending me a copy of that census record.)  In September 1918, when Jacob registered for the draft, he was still living in Atlantic City, married to a woman named Helen.  He was still working as a driver–for Abbott Dairy.

Jacob Schoenthal World War I draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Jacob Schoenthal World War I draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Thus, it appears that Jacob may have never left Atlantic City between 1915 and 1918 when the rest of his family had left to go west; he may be simply missing from the Atlantic City directories for those years.

By 1920 Jacob’s older brother Harry, his younger sister Estelle, and his mother Rose were back in Atlantic City.  Harry was married with two young children and working as a clerk in a hotel, and his mother and his younger sister Estelle were also living with him.

Jacob is listed in the 1920 Atlantic City directory still married to Helen and living at 421 Pacific Avenue and working in the real estate business.  But according to the 1920 census, Jacob was single and boarding with a family living on Atlantic Avenue.  The census record listed his occupation as an agent in the produce business.  Since the census is dated January 16, 1920, I thought that the directory for 1920, probably compiled in late 1919, predated the census and that thus Jacob’s marriage to Helen had ended by January 1920, and he had moved out and changed jobs.

But then in the 1921 Atlantic City directory, Jacob is still listed with Helen, living at 408 Murdock Terrace and working in the real estate business.

Jacob is not listed in the 1922 or the 1923 Atlantic City directories.  When he reappears in the 1924 directory, he is listed with a new wife named Florence.

Jacob and Florence Schoenthal 1924 Atlantic City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Jacob and Florence Schoenthal 1924 Atlantic City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

What happened to Helen? Where was Jacob in 1922 and 1923? And who was Florence?

All good questions, but so far I can only answer the last one.  I asked for help from the New Jersey Genealogy group on Facebook, and an incredibly generous member, Marilyn Silva, volunteered to look for marriage records for Jacob in the archives in Trenton, New Jersey.  Marilyn concluded after searching several different ways for all possible years that there were no New Jersey marriage records for Jacob Schoenthal either to a woman named Helen or to a woman named Florence.

Where else could Jacob have married Helen and Florence? Pennsylvania? Had he gone to Arizona or California or Illinois where his various siblings were living? I haven’t found one document that explains where and when Jacob married Helen or Florence or where he was living in those years. I don’t even know Helen’s birth name or where she was born or when.

But I do know something about Jacob’s second wife, Florence.  She was born Florence A. Truempy on December 30, 1892, in Pennsylvania (probably Philadelphia).  She was the daughter of Daniel Truempy and Annie Christina Lipps.  Daniel was born in Switzerland, Annie in Germany.  They had married in Philadelphia in 1883 and had had two sons before Florence was born in 1892.  Then when Florence was only three months old, her father died from inflammation of the lungs. He was only 27 years old and left behind three very young children.

Daniel Truempy death certificate Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6MC-B24 : accessed 12 February 2016), Daniel Truempy, 19 Mar 1893; citing cn 20331, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,902,335.

Daniel Truempy death certificate
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6MC-B24 : accessed 12 February 2016), Daniel Truempy, 19 Mar 1893; citing cn 20331, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,902,335.

 

Florence’s mother Annie remarried in 1894; her second husband was John Geary O’Connor, born in Ireland. In 1900 Florence was living with her mother, stepfather, and half-sister Mabel in Philadelphia.  Her stepfather John O’Connor was working as a police officer.  Florence is listed as “O’Connor” in the 1900 census, so I thought perhaps John had adopted her.  But on the 1910 census she and her two brothers are living in John O’Connor’s household and listed as his stepchildren, their surname as Truempy.  Florence was then seventeen years old. The family was at that time living in Camden, New Jersey, across the river and the state line from Philadelphia.  John had no occupation listed, but his wife Anna was working as a laborer for an oil cloth company. (I do wonder whether the enumerator placed John’s occupation on the line for Anna, but that’s just sexist speculation on my part.)

In the 1911 and 1912 directories for Camden, Florence is listed as working as a waitress and living at the same address as her two brothers. But in 1920 Florence is not listed with her mother, stepfather, and siblings on the census.  I don’t know where Florence went.  Like Jacob, she does not appear on any record I could find during those years until she re-appears in the 1924 directory for Atlantic City, married to Jacob.  Perhaps Florence had been married to someone else in that period, just as Jacob had been married to someone named Helen during the 1910s.  I don’t yet know.  But Jacob and Florence stayed married to each other for the rest of their lives.  Assuming they were married in about 1923, Jacob would have been 40 when they married, Florence 31.

English: Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atl...

English: Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey by William Trost Richards. Oil on canvas, 29.9 x 50.8 cm. Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, Jacob’s sister Estelle also married sometime in the early 1920s.  Her husband Leon Klein was born in 1879 in Alsace-Lorraine, then under German control, and had immigrated to the US as a young child in 1881. After living in Philadelphia, the Klein family had relocated to Atlantic City.  In 1910, Leon and his brothers Abraham and Charles were the owners of a delicatessen in Atlantic City called Klein Brothers.  They were still listed that way in the 1916 Atlantic City directory.

But when he registered for the draft in September 1918, Leon was working as a grocer, living in Philadelphia.  In 1920, he was living with his brother Abraham and sister Rose in Philadelphia and still working as a grocer.  Then he returned to Atlantic City, where he is listed in the 1922 directory, married to Estelle, working as a grocer.  If he and Estelle married in 1921, they would have been 40 and 32 years old, respectively, when they married.

Thus, both Jacob and his sister Estelle married at “mature” ages for that generation.

Leon and Estelle had two sons in the 1920s, Morton and Robert.  By 1927, Leon had left the grocery business and was working in the hotel business like so many of his Schoenthal in-laws.  The 1928 and 1929 directories list his occupation as salesman; the 1930 census recorded his occupation simply as clerk, and the 1931 directory described him once again as a salesman.

The 1935 Atlantic City directory listing for Leon Klein reads, “Klein, Leon (Estella; Klein Haven).”  Klein Haven was also listed separately as “Klein Haven (Leon Klein) furn rms.” Was Leon in the hotel business or a salesman? I was confused by the flip-flopping of his described occupations.  Then I saw the 1940 census and learned that Leon was selling typewriter supplies.  Interestingly, Estelle is listed on the 1940 census as the head of household and the proprietor of a hotel, the Klein Haven.  Imagine that! A woman as the head of household in 1940, owning a hotel in her own name.

Estelle Schoenthal Klein and family 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 83A; Enumeration District: 1-2

Estelle Schoenthal Klein and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 83A; Enumeration District: 1-2

 

I found the text of an advertisement for the Klein-Haven in the August 1, 1930 issue of The Jewish Criterion:

KLEIN-HAVEN
Open  All  Year 103   States  Avenue Atlantic  City,  N. J.
UNEXCELLED  CUISINE All outside rooms with private bath or running- water.    
Bathing privilege.    Family rates. Phone 4-0994        EstelJe S. Klein

 

As for her brother Jacob, he was not in the hotel business.  By the mid-1920s, Jacob was working in the cigar business, a business he pursued from then and throughout the 1930s.  He and Florence had a daughter Rose born in early 1929 (she was fifteen months old as of the date of the 1930 census, April 10, 1930).  It is that daughter who later disappears.

By 1930, two of the other siblings, Gertrude Schoenthal Miller and Martin Schoenthal, had also returned to Atlantic City and were also involved with hotels like Harry and Estelle, but Jacob continued to sell cigars throughout the 1930s, as his father Simon had done many years before.

In 1940, the census reported a different occupation for Jacob; he was now working as a clerk in a private office.  His wife Florence was working as a stockroom “girl” in an auction house.  Her mother Anna Lipps Truempy O’Connor was also living with Jacob and Florence.

But where was their daughter Rose, who’d been only fifteen months old old on the 1930 census? She was not listed with her parents.  Where could an eleven year old girl be? I feared the worst.  Had she died?

Marilyn Silva volunteered to search for a death certificate for a Rose Schoenthal born around 1929 who died between April 10, 1930 (the date of the 1930 census record) and April 18, 1940.  But Marilyn found no reported deaths in the New Jersey archives for a child with that name in that time period.  I searched Pennsylvania and other states where I thought Rose might have lived or died.  I couldn’t find her alive, and I couldn’t find any record of her death.  I even contacted the cemetery where Jacob and Florence are buried, Beth Israel near Atlantic City, and Rose is not buried with her parents.

Any ideas? I am at a total loss.  I’ve searched the newspaper databases as well as Ancestry, FamilySearch, and, thanks to Marilyn Silva, the New Jersey state archives, and I cannot find out anything about what happened to Rose Schoenthal.  Perhaps she never existed and the enumerator received bad information? Maybe she was institutionalized somewhere and not recorded?

On his World War II draft registration Jacob reported that his employer was Superior Cleaners.  He and Florence were still living in Atlantic City, where they continued to live throughout the 1950s and where Jacob continued to work in the cleaning business, according to Atlantic City directories from that decade.  Florence died in July 1967 when she was 74 years old; Jacob died in February 1976; he was 92 years old.

 

Jacob Schoenthal World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. Full Source Citation.

Jacob Schoenthal World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. Full Source Citation.

Jacob’s sister Estelle also remained in Atlantic City for the rest of her life.  She and her husband Leon are listed in several Atlantic City directories during the 1950s, although without any occupation listed.  Leon died on November 4, 1957, when he was 78; Estelle died on November 26, 1978, when she was 89 years old.

Both Jacob and his sister Estelle lived long lives, married “late” but had long marriages, and spent almost their entire lives in Atlantic City. Jacob in particular seems never to have wandered too far from Atlantic City.  He, however, did not devote his career to the hotel business as so many of his siblings had.  He worked in the laundry business, produce, real estate, the cigar business, and the cleaning business over his long life in Atlantic City.  His sister Estelle spent some years in Arizona, but returned to Atlantic City where she met and married Leon Klein and had two children.  She worked in the hospitality business as did so many of her siblings, and remarkably she was the hotel owner while her husband worked as a salesman.

Although Estelle’s story is quite complete, there are many holes left in the story of her brother Jacob—when and where did he marry Helen, and what happened to that marriage? When and where did he marry Florence? And most importantly, what happened to his daughter Rose?

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Harry’s twin Ida had died when she was a young teenager.  There were nine surviving siblings.

[2]  Hettie Schoenthal Stein, “This is My Life.” Courtesy of her family.

[3] Hettie was actually older than Estelle, but for several reasons I decided to write about Jacob and Estelle together and will pick up on Hettie in a later post.

The Gift of Photography: Bringing Faces to the Names

I know I just posted yesterday, but I am so excited by the photographs I received last night that I can’t wait to share them.  I have been very fortunate to connect with the family of one of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal’s children, the descendants of their daughter Hettie, whose life story I’ve yet to tell.  The family very generously shared with me a multitude of photographs, and I will share many of them on the blog in upcoming posts.

But some of these photographs are of family members about whom I have already posted.  I’ve added those photographs to the appropriate posts, but since I know it’s unlikely that people will go back to find those photographs, I wanted to share some of them here.  All of the photographs here are courtesy of the family of Ezra Parvin Lippincott, Jr., Hettie Schoenthal Stein’s grandson.

First, here are photographs of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach, the patriarch and matriarch of this large family:

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

Simon and Rose had ten children; their first two were twins, Harry and Ida.  Ida died when she was a young teenager, so I was very touched to see this photograph of Simon with the twins, taken in 1875 when they were two years old.

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875 Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

And here is a collage of photographs of the nine surviving children: Harry, Gertrude, Louis, Maurice, Martin, Jacob, Hettie, Estelle, and Sidney.  They were my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen’s first cousins.

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal
Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Looking at all those faces, I cannot help but admire their mother Rose, especially knowing now how close these siblings were to each other.  Here are some additional photographs of Rose Mansbach Schoenthal:

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Rose Schoenthal -1916

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal 1916

Harry, the oldest surviving child, had a liquor business in Philadelphia for some time before returning to Atlantic City and working in the hotel business there.  I believe this photograph must be related to his Philadelphia business:

Uncle Harry's Beer Business Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Uncle Harry’s Beer Businesss
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

I am not sure, but perhaps one of those men is Harry himself.

I loved this photograph of Arthur H. Ferrin, who married Juliet Miller, the daughter of Jacob J. and Gertrude (Schoenthal) Miller.  You can tell that Arthur was a Tucson native:

Arthur  H. Ferrin 1905 courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Arthur H. Ferrin 1905
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

There are many more to come, but I didn’t want these to get lost in the shuffle.

 

Under the Boardwalk: My Cousins, the Atlantic City Hoteliers

I admit it. I have been avoiding Simon Schoenthal.  Not for any bad reason, but simply because he and his wife Rose Mansbach had ten children. Ten.  I just couldn’t get myself motivated to follow up on their ten children, each of whom was my first cousin, twice removed.  That is, those ten children were my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen’s first cousins.  And once she married and moved to Philadelphia in 1923, she was living not far from most of these cousins.  Maybe she knew them well.  I should be more motivated, but I’ve been procrastinating simply because I was overwhelmed by the number of children to research.

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal
Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

But it’s a new year, and the time is now, so here we go.  First, to recap what I’ve already written about Simon and Rose and their children.  Simon was the fifth child of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg and was born on February 14, 1849.  He was nine years older than my great-grandfather, his brother Isidore.  Along with his sister Amalie, Simon arrived in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1867, a year after their older brother Henry had settled there. Simon was a bookbinder and occupied in that trade for many years after he first came to the US.  In 1872, Simon married Rose Mansbach, and in the 1870s they had five children: Ida (1873), Harry (1873), Gertrude (1875), Louis (1877), and Maurice (1878).

By 1880, Simon, Rose and their children had moved to Philadelphia, where Simon continued to work as a bookbinder.  They had five more children in Philadelphia: Martin (1881), Jacob (1883), Hettie (1885), Estelle (1888), and Sidney (1891).  Their oldest daughter, Ida, twin of Harry, died in 1887 from heart disease, leaving nine living children.

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875 Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

In the 1890s, Simon left the bookbinding business and turned to other fields.  He sold cigars early in the decade, and then by 1898 he and his family had relocated to Atlantic City, where he had a “bric-a-brac” store.

What brought them to Atlantic City? In fact, what had led Simon and Rose to move from Philadelphia to Atlantic City in the first place? I’ve been to Atlantic City twice since its revitalization in the 1980s, and I’ve played Monopoly since I was a little girl and know many of the famous street names from that game—Pacific, Illinois, Indiana, Mediterranean, Park Place, and, of course, the Boardwalk.  But I didn’t know much about the history of the city or what it was like in the late 19th century and early decades of the 20th when Simon Schoenthal and his children were living and working there.

The official website for Atlantic City provides a fairly detailed history of the city.  Up until the mid-19th century, the island upon which Atlantic City was built was a fairly unsettled place.  Originally settled by the Lenni-Lenape Indians, the first permanent settlement by non-native Americans was not established until 1785 when Jeremiah Leeds settled there.  As late as 1850, there were only seven permanent homes on the island, all belonging to Leeds and his descendants.  Then in 1854, the first railroad line was completed, connecting Atlantic City to Camden, New Jersey, and in 1870 the first official road was completed.

At that point, Atlantic City was attracting visitors:

By 1878, one railroad couldn’t handle all the passengers wanting to go to the Shore, so the Narrow Gauge Line to Philadelphia was constructed. At this point massive hotels like the United States and the Surf House, as well as smaller rooming houses, had sprung up all over town. The first commercial hotel the Belloe House, located at Massachusetts and Atlantic Ave., was built in 1853, and operated till 1902. The United States Hotel took up a full city block between Atlantic, Pacific, Delaware, and Maryland (the current site of the Showboat Parking lot). These grand hotels were not only impressive in size, but featured the most updated amenities, and were considered quite luxurious for the time.

There were beautiful hotels, elegant restaurants, and convenient transportation, but the businessmen of Atlantic City had one big problem to contend with…SAND. It was everywhere, from the train cars to the hotel lobbies. In 1870, Alexander Boardman, a conductor on the Atlantic City-Camden Railroad, was asked to think up a way to keep the sand out of the hotels and rail cars. Boardman, along with a hotel owner Jacob Keim, presented an idea to City Council. In 1870, and costing half the town’s tax revenue that year, an eight foot wide wooden foot walk was built from the beach into town. This first Boardwalk, which was taken up during the winter, was replaced with another larger structure in 1880.

….

On Weds. June 16, 1880, Atlantic City was formally opened. With fanfare the likes few in the area had seen, a resort was born. By the census of 1900, there were over 27,000 residents in Atlantic City, up from a mere 250 just 45 years before.

 

The PBS website provided this description of Atlantic City in its early days:

The city boasted a prototype rollercoaster by the late 1880s. In the decades around the turn of the twentieth century, middle and working class Philadephians, and soon others from up and down the East Coast, would come to play by the seaside. Vendors hawked their wares. James’ Saltwater Taffy became “Famous the World Over.” Mechanical marvels took tourists on daring rides that made their stomachs turn. Children rode carousels, and families dined in seaside cafes. Concerts were held on the sand every evening and the many hotels up and down the shore held gala dances.

Atlantic City seemed to have developed two personalities. On the one hand, the resort was promoted as a restful and wholesome vacation spot, offering sun and surf. On the other hand, tourists reveled in the boisterous atmosphere spawned by a festival of midways, numerous amusement piers (such as the one H.J. Heinz purchased to popularize his 57 varieties of pickles), and a selection of rollicking rides.

English: Glossy postcard reads "A Mile St...

English: Glossy postcard reads “A Mile Straightaway Stretch of the World-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.” Back is divided. Published by Chilton Company, Phila., Pa., U.S.A. 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus, my relatives arrived as the city was booming, and it must have seemed a place of great opportunities for them and their children. In 1900, the older children of Simon and Rose Schoenthal were young adults. Harry was a student at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania; Louis, Martin, and Jacob were still living at home with their parents, but working: Louis was selling cigars, and Martin and Jacob were working in the laundry business. Maurice was not listed in the 1900 census, as far as I can tell, but he also was living in Atlantic City in the early 1900s, according to the 1904 Atlantic City directory.  In fact, four of the brothers appeared to be working in a related business at that time.  All four brothers were living at 22 Delaware Avenue in Atlantic City.  It appears that Martin and Jacob were running a laundry called Incomparable Laundry at 1432-1434 Atlantic Avenue and that Louis was running a cigar, tobacco, stationery and sporting goods business at the same location.  Louis also listed a billiards and pool hall on “S Virginia av n Beach.”  Maurice is listed as a manager at “S Virginia av, Ocean end.” The three youngest children, Hettie, Sidney, and Estelle, were still young and living at home in 1900.

English: Postcard published by the Post Card D...

English: Postcard published by the Post Card Distributing Co., Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Back is divided. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The oldest daughter, Gertrude, had married Jacob Miller in 1898, and they were living in Pima, Arizona, where they would have three children: Juliette (1900), Harry (1902), and Sylvester (1905).  The last child, Sylvester, was likely named for Simon Schoenthal, who died on March 26, 1904, when he was only 55 years old.

So what happened to the nine surviving children of Simon Schoenthal after he died?  For one thing, most of them lived long lives, especially for that generation.  Martin lived to only 67, but Hettie lived to be 103 and Sidney lived to be 100.  All the rest at least lived into their 80s.[1]  Almost all of them were married and had children and then grandchildren.  That’s a lot of years and a lot of people. You can see why I was procrastinating.

So let me start with the oldest, Harry, who was born in 1873, and as of 1902, was working for the Atlantic Wine and Liquor Company and living at 931 Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City.  (His brothers Jacob, Louis, and Martin were living at 1434 Atlantic Avenue.)

Harry Schoenthal Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Harry Schoenthal
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Harry does not appear in the Atlantic City directories between 1903 and 1910, whereas his younger brothers are listed in those years.  Harry does appear, however, in the 1910 census, living in Philadelphia, where he was boarding with a family named Wirtschafter.  The head of the household, Joseph Wirtschafter, and his wife and three children had several other boarders living in their household in addition to Harry.  Harry’s occupation is listed as the owner of a retail saloon, and Joseph’s occupation was a laborer in a liquor establishment.  Perhaps Harry’s landlord was working for him.

This photograph, shared with me by the family of Harry’s sister Hettie, is labeled “Uncle Harry’s Beer Business ? Philadelphia,” so I assume it refers to the liquor business owned by Harry Schoenthal.

Uncle Harry's Beer Business Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Uncle Harry’s Beer Business
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

One of Joseph Wirtschafter’s children on the 1910 census was a 21 year old daughter named Esther.  Later that year, Harry, who was sixteen years older than Esther, married her.  In 1912, their first child, Sylvan Harry Schoenthal, was born (presumably named for Harry’s father Simon) and in 1914, their second son, Norman, was born.   In 1918, they were living in Philadelphia at 2153 North Howard Street, according to Harry’s draft registration for World War I.  Harry listed his occupation as “merchant” and was self-employed.

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907615; Draft Board: 12

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907615; Draft Board: 12

By 1920, however, Harry’s circumstances had changed. His in-laws, Joseph and Jennie Wirtschafter, had relocated to Atlantic City and were the proprietors of a hotel located at 139 St. James Place. According to the Atlantic City directory, the name of the hotel at that address was the St. James Hotel.  Harry and Esther and their two sons were also living at the same address in Atlantic City, where Harry was now employed as a clerk in the hotel. His mother Rose and his thirty year old sister Estelle (listed as Stella) were also living with them.  The 1922 Atlantic City directory lists Esther Schoenthal and her brother Charles Wirtschafter as the hotel proprietors at 139 St. James Place.

According to Wikipedia, this was a good time to be in the hospitality business in Atlantic City:

The 1920s, with tourism at its peak, are considered by many historians as Atlantic City’s golden age. During Prohibition, which was enacted nationally in 1919 and lasted until 1933, much liquor was consumed and gambling regularly took place in the back rooms of nightclubs and restaurants. It was during Prohibition that racketeer and political boss Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson rose to power. Prohibition was largely unenforced in Atlantic City, and, because alcohol that had been smuggled into the city with the acquiescence of local officials could be readily obtained at restaurants and other establishments, the resort’s popularity grew further. The city then dubbed itself as “The World’s Playground”. [footnotes omitted]

The city’s website reports a similar view of the city’s popularity in this era:

Atlantic City became “the” place to go. Entertainers from vaudeville to Hollywood graced the stages of the piers. Glamorous Hotels like Haddon Hall, The Traymore, The Shelburne and The Marlborough-Blenheim drew guests from all over the world.

PBS had this to say about Atlantic City in the 1920s and 1930s:

By the 1920s, Atlantic City also had become a pre-Broadway show tryout town, a practice that continued until 1935. With the entrance of show business, the resort increasingly attracted celebrities who added a special element of glamour. Even as the city declined as a Broadway showcase, the celebrities continued to grace the city in the decades to come. Over the years people like Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, Fanny Brice, Harry Houdini, Milton Berle, Martha Raye, Guy Lombardo, Irving Berlin, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Marilyn Monroe, and many more would be spotted around town.

Its tourism and light-hearted revelry made Atlantic City the perfect spot to hold the first Miss America Pageant on September 8th, 1921.

Though the economy hit hard times in the 1930s, people continued to flock to Atlantic City. It became even more well known when it became the city featured in the Depression-era hit game, Monopoly, where players handled large sums of money and strategized to buy the best property along the boardwalk.

Monopoly board on white bg

Monopoly board on white bg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

According to a passenger manifest dated February 16, 1925, Harry and Esther were living at the Hotel Raleigh, located at 170 St. Charles Place in Atlantic City.  This is consistent with the 1930 census record for Harry and Esther, which has them living at 170 St. Charles Place in a hotel.  The census reports that they were the father-in-law and mother-in-law of the heads of household, which had me quite confused for a while.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0007; Image: 402.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0007; Image: 402.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Harry and Esther had sons who were eighteen and sixteen in 1930, so it made little sense.  Reading through the record of all those listed at 170 St. Charles Place, I found that the head of the household was Charles Wirtschafter, Esther’s brother.  Harry, now 56, was listed as retired, and Charles must have been running the hotel.  Esther and Charles’ father Joseph Wirtschafter, now a widower, was also living in the hotel.  So Harry and Esther were actually brother-in-law and sister of the head of household.

Raleigh Hotel, Atlantic City, found at http://www.monopolycity.com/ac_earlyhotels.html

Raleigh Hotel, Atlantic City, found at http://www.monopolycity.com/ac_earlyhotels.html

As for their two sons Sylvan and Norman, neither one was listed as living with their parents on the 1930 census.  In 1930-1931, Sylvan, then 18-19, was a freshman at Franklin and Marshall, according to the F&M 1931 yearbook. But where was he when the census was taken early in 1930? Norman was only sixteen in 1930—where could he have been? Boarding school? Living somewhere else? Just skipped by the enumerator?  I don’t know.  But neither appears on the 1930 census.

I found this family Jewish New Year’s greeting in the September 11, 1931 issue of the Jewish Chronicle of Newark, New Jersey (p. 28) in which Norman and Sylvan were included as well as their parents and the family of Charles Wirtschafter, all apparently still associated with the Hotel Raleigh:

1931 Rosh Hashanah greetings Harry Schoenthal and family

 

But then I also found this little social news item in the November 20, 1932 issue of the Washington (DC) Evening Star (p. 33):

Sylvan and Norman Schoenthal 1932 in DC paper

If Sylvan and Norman were going to Atlantic City for Thanksgiving, the implication is that neither son was living in Atlantic City at that point but rather presumably in Washington, DC, where the newspaper was published.  I did find Sylvan listed in both the 1933 and 1934 Washington, DC, city directory; in both years he was working at in the Shoreham Hotel and living at 2709 Woodley Road.  According to the 1940 census, Sylvan was still living in Washington, DC, in 1935.

As for Norman, he is not listed in the Washington, DC, city directories during the 1930s.   The earliest directory listing I have for him is the 1938 Atlantic City directory where both he and his brother Sylvan are listed as working at the Villa D’Este  hotel (located at 3100 Pacific Avenue) and living at 102 South Chelsea Street in that city.  Well, actually there is no separate listing for Sylvan, but rather one for a Mrs. Sylvan Schoenthal at that same address.  I believe that the directory editor mistakenly thought Sylvan was a woman and the wife of Norman Schoenthal.

Harry, Esther, Norman, and Sylvan Schoenthal 1938 Atlantic City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Harry, Esther, Norman, and Sylvan Schoenthal 1938 Atlantic City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

In this same listing, you can see that Norman and Sylvan’s parents, Harry and Esther (Wirtschafter) Schoenthal, were also residing at 102 South Chelsea Street, but still working at the Hotel Raleigh.

In March 1938, there was a fire at the Villa D’Este hotel operated by Sylvan and Norman Schoenthal:

JPG Villa deste fire 1938 Sylvan and Norman Schoenthal-page-001

As the article indicates, the Villa D’Este hotel was not owned by the Schoenthal brothers, but managed by them.

In 1940, Harry, Esther, Sylvan and Norman were all still living together in Atlantic City, but no street address is indicated on the census record.  The record also has some of the relationships confused.  Sylvan is listed as the head of the household (and as single, making me doubt even more the 1938 directory listing for a “Mrs. Sylvan Schoenthal”); Norman is listed as the manager.  Their mother Esther is listed as the assistant manager, and their father Harry is listed as “Brother.”  How many think that Harry was the manager and Norman the brother? Or was Harry really the head of household and Sylvan the manager?  One thing is certain:  Harry was not Sylvan’s brother.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2301; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 1-62

Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2301; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 1-62

In addition, the census identified Sylvan as the hotel proprietor, Norman and Esther as partners, and has no occupation or title given for Harry.  I am not sure what to make of that, but my guess is that the line for “Harry” was really describing Norman and vice versa.  Also, the news article above indicated that Sylvan did not own the Hotel D’Este, so was this a different hotel? Or had he purchased it since 1938? Or is the census record inaccurate on this point as well?  I don’t know.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2301; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 1-62

Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2301; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 1-62

 

Sigh.  More errors and ambiguities in census records….

Although the 1940 census record for Harry and his family did not include a street address or hotel name, in 1941, all four family members are listing in the Atlantic City directory as residing still at 102 South Chelsea Street, and Sylvan and Harry have the notation “Villa D’Este” next to their names, as they did in the 1938 directory.  So the fire did not result in closing down the hotel.

Both Sylvan and Norman served in the military during World War II; Norman enlisted in the army on February 24, 1942, for the duration of the war, and his brother Sylvan enlisted on September 5, 1942, also for the duration of the war.  Norman’s record with the Jewish Welfare Board about his military service indicates that he was wounded during his time in the service, but I could not find any further details.

Ancestry.com. U.S., WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Original data: Alphabetical Master Cards, 1942–1947; Series VI, Card Files—Bureau of War Records, Master Index Cards, 1943–1947; National Jewish Welfare Board, Bureau of War Records, 1940–1969; I-52; boxes 273–362. New York, New York: American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History.

Ancestry.com. U.S., WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
Original data: Alphabetical Master Cards, 1942–1947; Series VI, Card Files—Bureau of War Records, Master Index Cards, 1943–1947; National Jewish Welfare Board, Bureau of War Records, 1940–1969; I-52; boxes 273–362. New York, New York: American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History.

After the war, both Sylvan and Norman returned to their parents’ home at 102 South Chelsea Street.  Sylvan was now married to a woman named Rose, according to the 1946 Atlantic City directory, and Norman was still associated with the Villa D’Este hotel.  But the 1950 directory only includes Sylvan and Rose, still at 102 South Chelsea and still associated with the Villa D’Este. In 1952, Sylvan continued to be the manager of the Villa D’Este hotel, as seen in this advertisement; note that he is described as the “owner-mgr,” so perhaps he had purchased the hotel after the 1938 fire and thus the 1940 census record could be correct in describing him as the proprietor of a hotel:

Sylvan Schoenthal ad villa deste 1952 Richmond VA paper

 

Harry, Esther, and Norman are not listed in the 1950 Atlantic City directory. It is not really too surprising that they had left Atlantic City by then.  As the city’s own website reports:

Atlantic City’s future seemed bright, until World War II. After the war, the public seemed to stop its love affair with The World’s Favorite Playground. Possibly because of the public’s access to national air travel, the shift of the population westward, the general deterioration of the city, or a shift in the public’s taste for more sophisticated entertainment, Atlantic City lost much of its shine; and most of its tourists.

It appears that Norman moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, sometime after 1946.  He is listed in the 1951 and 1953 directories for that city with a wife named Harriet.  In both directories, he is listed as the manager of Spanish Courts.  A search on newspapers.com brought up this article from the December 13, 1950, Palm Beach Post (p. 4):

Normal Schoenthal buys Spanish Courts Palm Beach Post article

Interestingly, it appears that Norman had been in Florida before the war, returned after the war to Atlantic City, and then again returned to Florida.  Norman became active in the local business association and was elected president of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida State Motor Courts Association, according to the April 27, 1951, issue of the Palm Beach Post (p. 15).

Norman’s parents, Harry and Esther Schoenthal, must have also moved to Florida in the 1950s because Harry died in Palm Beach on September 23, 1954.  He was 81 years old.  According to the records at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia where he was buried, he had been a resident of West Palm Beach, Florida, when he died.  He was buried near his parents, Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Norman and Harriet divorced in 1954, and she relocated to NYC, where she became a very well-known publicist in the furniture industry and was president of Harriet Schoenthal Inc., a New York advertising, marketing and public relations firm. As far as I can tell, Norman and Harriet had not had any children.  On October 26, 1954, the Palm Beach Post (p. 1) reported that Norman had sold the Spanish Courts motor court for $175,000.  (Later news articles reveal that in 2002 there were plans to tear down the Spanish Courts motel for a new development, but that must not have happened because as recently as 2013, the Palm Beach Post reported new plans to raze the site for redevelopment.)

Sadly, a year later Norman Schoenthal died on September 15, 1955; he was only 41 years old.   He also was buried at Mt. Sinai in Philadelphia where his father and his grandparents were buried.  According to the cemetery records, he was a resident of Atlantic City when he died and thus I assumed he must have returned there after his divorce and the sale of his business.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

But he was only 41, and I wondered what had been the cause of his death.  I could not find an obituary or a death certificate online.  I thought he might have died in New Jersey, which does not have death records online, so I asked my New Jersey researcher to check the archives in Trenton, but she reported back that there was no death certificate for Norman Schoenthal in New Jersey.  I was stumped, so I turned to Tracing the Tribe, the Jewish genealogy group on Facebook, and as always received great assistance.   One group member there, Stacy, located Norman’s death certificate in the Delaware records:

Norman C. Schoenthal death certificate Delaware Death Records, 1855-1961," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KX3F-P3J : accessed 14 January 2016), Norman C Schoenthal, 15 Sep 1955; citing Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, United States, Hall of Records, Dover; FHL microfilm

Norman C. Schoenthal death certificate
Delaware Death Records, 1855-1961,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KX3F-P3J : accessed 14 January 2016), Norman C Schoenthal, 15 Sep 1955; citing Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, United States, Hall of Records, Dover; FHL microfilm

There is a lot to digest here.  First, this is obviously the right person, given the parents’ names, occupation, informant’s name, burial place, and former wife’s name.  But what was he doing in Delaware? And why is his residence address in Washington, DC, not Atlantic City or Florida or Delaware?  Mt. Sinai’s records reported his residence as Atlantic City.  The address in Washington, 3801 Connecticut Avenue, is an apartment building.

The cause of death is very disturbing.  Norman was run over by a truck, resulting in a fractured skull and crushed chest.  The coroner originally typed “accident” on the death certificate, but then that was crossed out and “suicide” was handwritten above it.  What had happened that led the coroner to change his conclusion? The certificate states that the injuries occurred in Farnhurst, Delaware.  When I Googled Farnhurst, the first thing that popped up was “Farnhurst Delaware State Hospital,” once known as the Delaware State Hospital for the Insane at Farnhurst.  Had Norman been a patient there? I could not find a Fairview Avenue in Farnhurst on current maps, only one in Wilmington, which is about six miles from Farnhurst.  I am hoping to learn more and have contacted the Wilmington Public Library Reference Department to see if they can locate a news article about Norman’s terrible death.

As for his survivors, his mother Esther had returned to Atlantic City after living in Florida; she is listed in the 1957 Atlantic City directory.  As the informant on his brother Norman’s death certificate, Sylvan had given his address as the Hotel Mark in Atlantic City. Sylvan had married a woman named Rose by 1954, as they are listed together in that year’s Atlantic City directory as well as in the 1956 directory for that city.  But they are not listed in the 1957 Atlantic City directory.  It seems that Sylvan and Rose had moved to Florida.  In January 1960, Sylvan and Rose were divorced in Dade County, Florida. It must not have been an amicable divorce as there was some post-divorce litigation. See Schoenthal v. Schoenthal, 138 So.2d 802 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1962).

Sylvan remained in Florida after his divorce.  There are two entries in the Florida Marriage Index and one in the Florida Divorce Index indicating that Sylvan was married and divorced again and then married one more time in 1971 to Doris Lippman, to whom he was married for 27 years until he died. (Although the Marriage Index indicates that her name was Dorothy Rosner, I am quite certain that it was in fact Doris Lippman; Doris’ stepfather was named Rosner, and Sylvan’s obituary indicates that he and Doris were married in the same year as the index entry for Sylvan’s marriage to “Dorothy Rosner.”)

Esther Wirtschafter Schoenthal died on October 21, 1969; she was 80 years old.  She was buried with her husband Harry and her son Norman in Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia.  Her burial record indicates that she was still residing in Atlantic City at the time of her death.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Sylvan Schoenthal, the only remaining member of his immediate family, continued to live in Miami, Florida, for the rest of his life.  He died on December 28, 1998, when he was 86 years old, according to his obituary in the December 31, 1998, issue of the Palm Beach Post (p. 95).  According to the obituary, Sylvan had moved to Miami in 1942, but that is not consistent with the directories and other sources I located.  He apparently was also in the hotel business in Florida.  In addition, he had three children, whom I am now trying to locate.  I have been in touch with his step-great-granddaughter, who reported that he was a kind man, well-loved by her great-grandmother’s family.  It would be interesting to hear any family stories about the Schoenthal family’s life in the hotel business in Atlantic City in its heyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] As we will see, I could not find anything about when Maurice died, so I don’t know how long he lived.

Part III: My Grandmother and Her Brothers 1942-2004

 

As I wrote in my last post, my Schoenthal great-grandparents died in 1941 and 1942.  At that time, three of their children were living on the East Coast: Harold in Montclair, New Jersey, Lester in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and my grandmother Eva in Philadelphia.

Gerson/Gary, the son whose asthma had taken them to Denver in 1907, continued to live in Denver with his wife Maude for many years, but in May, 1954 they decided to move to Desert Hot Springs, California, due to Gerson’s continuing health problems. The Desert Sentinel of Desert Hot Springs reported on June 10, 1954, p. 4, that, “Mr. and Mrs. Gary Sheridan are the lovely couple renting the Herb Ecclestone cottage for the summer. They are enamored of the village and will build a home here.” Sadly, within a few months of moving there, Gerson’s asthma finally took its toll, and he died at age 62.  As this article from the July 1, 1954, Desert Sentinel reported, it appears he and Maude had quickly made friends in their new home.

Gerson Schoenthal death Desert Sentinel July 1, 1954 p 1 Desert Hot Springs CA

How very sad that a fluke in the weather contributed to his death from the asthma he had battled for so many years.

Lester died five years later in August 1959, when he was seventy years old and had retired to Florida with his wife Juliet Grace “Julia” Beck.  She lived another fourteen years, dying in 1983, dying in and buried in Livingston County, Michigan.

Neither Lester nor Gerson had ever had children and thus have no descendants living today.  I never met Gerson or Lester, although I was two when Gerson died and seven when Lester died.  I had known virtually nothing about their lives before I started doing this research.

 

Harold Schoenthal

Harold Schoenthal

 

I did meet my great-uncle Harold, however. He had lived with his parents until they moved to Philadelphia in 1941 and had remained single.  When he was in his late 40s, he married May Gunther, and they had one child, my second cousin June.  Harold was in many ways a role model and mentor for my father.  He encouraged my father to pursue architecture, and my father took his advice and following in his footsteps, going to Columbia to study architecture.  Harold was not only a designer; he wrote poetry and painted.  He lived to 103, dying in 2004, in Montclair, New Jersey, where he had lived for almost eighty years.  Although I only saw him a handful of times, I remember him as a very gentle and kind man with a good sense of humor and a positive outlook on life.  I wish that I had been interested then in family history because he would have been an amazing source of information.

 

My Aunt Eva, my father, May and Harold Schoenthal

My Aunt Eva, my father, May and Harold Schoenthal

Uncle Harold and Aunt Eva

Aunt Eva and Great-Uncle Harold

Uncle Harold older

 

As for my grandmother, I knew almost nothing about her childhood before I started my research.  When I found the pictures and news stories about her in the Denver papers and in her high school yearbook, it made me think that she might have had a happy childhood growing up in Denver.  But her life was filled with challenges once she left Denver.  She was only eighteen and just out of high school when she married a man she had known for only half a year and who was nine years older than she was; within a year she had had a child and before she was twenty-three, she had two children.  She was living halfway across the country, far from her parents and two oldest brothers.  Only Harold was nearby.

Eva Schoenthal Cohen

Eva Schoenthal Cohen

Then her husband became disabled, and she just was not strong enough to deal with it all.  When she finally started getting her life back together in the early 1940s, she lost both of her parents within a year of each other. Soon thereafter both of her children became adults and left home.  She remarried in the 1950s to a very nice man named Frank Crocker who cared for her until she died in 1963 when she was 58 years old.

It was when she was married to Frank that I knew her, and we would see her a few times a year when we would make day trips to Philadelphia to visit. My clearest memory involves Frank more than my grandmother; he and I watched a Dodgers-Phillies game together on television during one of those visits, and if I remember correctly, Sandy Koufax was pitching.   I thought of that day when I saw last week that Sandy Koufax had turned eighty years old.

My memory of my grandmother is of someone who was fragile and insecure with a reserved and genteel presence.  But to be honest, I really did not know her well at all.  Doing this research has given me a somewhat fuller picture, and although she remains largely a mystery to me, at least I now know more about her brothers and her parents and the lives they led as well as more about her and her life.

My father and my grandmother at his graduation from Columbia, 1952

My father and my grandmother at his graduation from Columbia, 1952

 

 

Going Back East: My Schoenthal Great-grandparents and their Family 1924-1942

Happy New Year! I am still on vacation, but had this post 90% ready before we left, so with a cloudy morning I was able to get it finished.  Here is the remainder of the story of my Schoenthal great-grandparents; I have one more post almost done which will wrap up the story of my grandmother and her brothers.

….

By the mid-1920s, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal and her brother Harold had left Denver and moved east.  My grandmother had married my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen and moved to Philadelphia in 1923. She had two children by the end of 1926.

My aunt Eva Hilda Cohen and my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen, c. 1925

My aunt Eva Hilda Cohen and my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen, c. 1925

 

My father and his mother, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, c. 1927

My father and his mother, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, c. 1927

 

My great-uncle Harold was in college at Columbia University, studying architecture; he would graduate in 1927.

The rest of the Schoenthal family was still in Denver, where as seen in the 1924 and in 1925 Denver directories, they were still in the same occupations in which they’d been employed earlier in the decade: my great-grandfather Isidore was still working for Carson Crockery; Lester was still a traveling salesman, and Gerson was a salesman for the Sunland Sales Cooperative Association.

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. 1925 Denver directory

In 1926, however, my great-grandparents and their son Gerson and his wife Gratice were the only family members listed in the Denver directory.  Lester is not listed in the Denver directory and does not reappear in a directory in the Ancestry database again until 1929, when he is listed in the Richmond, Indiana directory as a manufacturer’s agent; his wife is now listed as Grace. By that time Lester and Juliet Grace had moved back and forth between Denver and Indiana twice.  It’s hard to know whether Lester kept moving for jobs or because he and his wife couldn’t decide whether to be closer to her family or his.

1929 Directory, RIchmond, Indiana Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

1929 Directory, Richmond, Indiana Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

On June 15, 1928, my great-uncle Gerson  was divorced from Gratice.

Ancestry.com. Colorado, Divorce Index, 1851-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Ancestry.com. Colorado, Divorce Index, 1851-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Also around this time, my great-grandparents left Denver and followed their two youngest children back to the east.  They settled in Montclair, New Jersey, where their son Harold was working as a designer after completing his undergraduate degree at Columbia.  They were all living together at 16 Forest Street in Montclair in 1929, 1930, and 1931, according to the city directories for those years, yet they are not listed in the 1930 US census at that address or elsewhere.  The enumerator did include other people who were living at that address (presumably an apartment building), but not my relatives.  According to those directories, Isidore was working at The China Shop and Harold was a designer.  A later news article about Harold indicated that in 1931 he was working at the interior design firm Schulz and Behrle.

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva Schoenthal Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

 

My grandparents, Eva (Schoenthal) and John Cohen, and their two children were living at 6625 17th Street in Philadelphia, according to the 1930 US census; my aunt was six, my father three and a half.  My grandfather was a clothing and jewelry merchant. But not long after the 1930 census, my grandparents’ lives changed dramatically.   My grandfather was diagnosed with MS, and in the aftermath of that diagnosis, my grandmother suffered a breakdown and was unable to care for her children. My grandmother ended up living with her parents and brother Harold in Montclair, New Jersey.  Her children were living with their ailing father and his mother, my great-grandmother Eva Mae Seligman Cohen, in Philadelphia, as I wrote about here and here.

As for Lester, he and his wife  were living in Richmond, Indiana, in 1930.  Lester was a traveling salesman and Juliet (listed on the 1930 census as Grace) an office manager for an insurance company, according to the 1930 census.  A year later, they had moved again.  In 1931, Lester and his wife (listed here as Julia G.) were living in Dayton, Ohio.  Lester was still a salesman. They are not, however, in the 1932 Dayton directory.  I do not know where they were until in 1935, when, according to the 1940 US census, they were living in Montclair, NJ, where my great-grandparents and great-uncle Harold were also living.

Thus, by 1930, Gerson was the only Schoenthal left in Denver. Gerson must have visited his family back East around 1930. That is my father in the photograph, and he appears to be about three or four years old in that picture.

Dad Uncle Gerson Eva

My father, his uncle Gerson Schoenthal, and his sister Eva Hilda Cohen

 

Although Gerson is listed in the 1930, 1931 , and 1932 Denver directories, like his parents and brother Harold in Montclair, NJ, he seems to have been missed by the census enumerator. Gerson is also missing from the Denver directories in 1934 and 1935, and when he reappears in the 1936 directory for Denver, he is listed with a wife named Maude.

Maude Sheridan was born in May 11, 1883, in Salt Creek Township, Kansas.  Her father died when she was just a young child, and she and her mother lived in Kansas until at least 1905.  By 1910, she and her mother had moved to Colorado Springs, where they were living with Maude’s father’s brother, Patrick Sheridan, a leather retailer.  Maude was working as a public school teacher.  She became a school principal in Colorado Springs, Colorado, around 1912, and had great success there.  In 1916, she signed a long term contract with Colorado Agricultural College, and she and her mother were living in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1920.  Maude was working as a college instructor.

Maude Sheridan principal

 

 

By 1930 Maude had left her education career and was the owner of a restaurant in Alamosa, Colorado.  She was still single and no longer living with her mother.  Then sometime between 1930 and 1936, Maude married my great-uncle Gerson Schoenthal.  In 1936, she would have been 53, he would have been 44.

Meanwhile, back in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1935, my great-grandfather was continuing to work for The China Shop, and his son Harold continued to work as a designer, living with his parents at 16 Forest Street in Montclair and working in Newark. My grandmother was also living with her parents in Montclair. Lester and Grace also continued to live in Montclair where Lester worked as a salesman.  All of them were still in Montclair for the rest of the 1930s, although my great-grandparents and Harold moved to 97 North Fullerton Avenue by 1937.

Upper Montclair NJ

Upper Montclair NJ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1939, my grandmother moved back to Philadelphia to live with her children, who were then sixteen and thirteen.  Their father was in a long term care facility by that time, and their paternal grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen had died on   October 31,  1939.  According to the 1940 census, my grandmother was working as a saleswoman in the wholesale china business at that time.

Her parents and brother Harold were still living in Montclair where in 1940 my great-grandfather was retired and Harold was working as a designer in the interior decorating business.  Lester and Juliet had moved once again, this time to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, where according to the 1940 census, Lester was working as a refrigeration engineer for a wholesale refrigeration business.

As for Gerson, for a long time I could not find him on the 1940 census.  Then when Ancestry added the Social Security Applications and Claims Index to its database collection, the mystery was solved.  This is what I saw:

Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

Obviously, Gerson had changed his name to Gary Sheridan sometime between the 1938 Denver directory and the 1940 US census.  And for some reason he had changed his mother’s birth name (and his middle name) from Katzenstein to Kay.  Why? To sound less Jewish, I’d assume. Or maybe to sound less German as Europe and eventually the US were at war against Germany. Sheridan had been Maude’s birth name, and Gerson kept his initials the same, but otherwise he’d taken on a whole different identity.

Once I knew his new name, I found Gerson a/k/a Gary and his wife Maude on the 1940 census.  He was working as a salesman for the American Automobile Association, and Maude was working a manager of a tea room in Denver.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T627_488; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 16-148

Year: 1940; Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T627_488; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 16-148

In early 1941, my great-grandparents moved to Philadelphia to help my grandmother with her children and lived next door to them on Venango Street.  My great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal died not long after on August 17, 1941; she had only been living in Philadelphia for seven months when she died, according to her death certificate.  She was 77 years old and died from pneumonia.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

My great-grandfather Isidore died a year later on July 10, 1942; he was 83 when he died; he also died from pneumonia.

Isidore Schoenthal death certificate 1942 Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Isidore Schoenthal death certificate 1942
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

When I think about my great-grandfather’s life, I am left with many questions.  He was the second youngest child in a large family and the youngest son.  Of those who emigrated from Germany, he was among the last members of his family to arrive. He watched, one by one, as his older brothers and sisters moved away. Then he finally came to the US himself with his mother and younger sister Rosalie.  He lived in the small town of Washington, Pennsylvania, for the first 25 years of his years in the US, a town where his older brother Henry was a recognized leader both in the business and Jewish community.  Isidore had most of his siblings relatively close by once again.

Then suddenly in his late 40s he moved far away from his entire family, taking his wife and his four children far from everything they knew to start again in order to give his son Gerson a healthier place to live. He started over working in the china business. And then he started over one more time when he returned to the east coast twenty years later to be closer to his two youngest children.  In the end he and his wife Hilda ended up helping to care for his daughter and his grandchildren, including my father.  By the time my great-grandfather died, he had lost every one of his nine siblings as well as his wife and his parents.

 

Cologne, after bombing of World War II By U.S. Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. [2] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons HTML Attribution not legally required

Cologne, after the bombing of World War II
By U.S. Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. [2] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My father recalls him as a very quiet man. He has a vivid memory of his grandfather Isidore crying when he learned of the bombing of Cologne by the Allies in May, 1942, during World War II.  My father had assumed that Isidore had lived in Cologne, and although his brother Jacob had lived in that city, there is nothing to indicate that Isidore had ever lived anywhere but Sielen when he lived in Germany.  Perhaps it was more the notion that his homeland was at war with his adopted country and that the land of his birth and his childhood was being devastated by Allied bombing that made him cry. Perhaps he had visited Jacob in Cologne and remembered what a beautiful city it was. Or maybe he was just crying for the memories of his nine siblings and his parents, living in Germany, when he was a child.

My father said that his grandfather didn’t talk about it, just sat with tears running down his face. He died just two months later. I will always wonder what stirred beneath the surface of this man who had led what seemed to be a quiet life but with so many twists and turns and so many losses.

In Part III, I will follow up with what happened to Lester, Gerson, Harold, and my grandmother Eva after 1942.

My Grandmother, Eva Schoenthal Cohen

It’s time to turn another page in the history of my family, or I suppose I should say, to climb another branch on the family tree.  Thus far I have researched my mother’s maternal and paternal sides as far back as I’ve been able (not far enough yet, but as far as I can, given the lack of documentation) and my father’s paternal side as far as I’ve been able.  Now I turn my focus to my father’s maternal side—his mother’s parents and their ancestors.  His mother’s father was Isidore Schoenthal; his mother’s mother was Hilda Katzenstein.  I am going to start with the Schoenthal family and explore and learn what I can about my great-grandfather, his parents, his siblings, and his children, including my paternal grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen.

My Grandma Eva

My Grandma Eva

My grandmother Eva was a beautiful and refined woman.  She was born on March 4, 1904, in Washington, Pennsylvania, but the family moved to Denver, Colorado, by the time she was six years old because one of Eva’s brothers had allergies and the doctors had recommended the drier climate out West.  After graduating from high school in Denver in 1922, Eva traveled to Philadelphia to visit with some of her mother’s family who lived there.

Eva Schoenthal high school yearbook picture

Eva Schoenthal high school yearbook picture

My grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, met her at a social event there, and he was so taken with her that he followed her back to Colorado to woo her and ask her to marry him.  She was very young when they met—only eighteen and right out of high school; my grandfather was nine years older.  Eva accepted his proposal, and they settled in Philadelphia after marrying in Denver on January 7, 1923.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. 1923

Eva Schoenthal and John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr. 1923

John and Eva Cohen c. 1930

John and Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen
c. 1930

Their first child, my aunt Eva Hilda Cohen, was born a year later on January 13, 1924, and my father was born almost three years after that.

My grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen and my aunt Eval Hilda Cohen

My grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen and my aunt Eva Hilda Cohen

My grandmother and my father

My grandmother and my father

In 1930, they were living at 6625 17th Street in Philadelphia, and my grandfather was a merchant, selling jewelry and clothing at a store called The Commodore, as I’ve written about previously.  They even had a servant living with them named Frances Myers, according to the 1930 census.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2133; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 1034; Image: 588.0; FHL microfilm: 2341867

Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2133; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 1034; Image: 588.0; FHL microfilm: 2341867

But not long afterwards, their life as a family suffered two major blows.  My grandfather was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and by 1936 had to be admitted to a veteran’s hospital where he lived the rest of his life.  Meanwhile, my grandmother Eva, a fragile and sensitive woman probably overwhelmed by what was happening to her, had herself been hospitalized and when released was not able to take care of her two young children.  As I’ve written before, my father’s paternal grandmother Eva May Seligman Cohen took care of my father and my aunt for several years.  After my great-grandmother died in 1939, my grandmother was well enough to move back to Philadelphia to live with my father and aunt.  In 1940, the three of them were living at 2111 Venango Street, and my grandmother was employed as a saleswoman in the wholesale china business, according to the 1940 census.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3732; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 51-1431

Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3732; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 51-1431

The 1940s must have been very difficult for my grandmother.  Her mother died in 1941, her father the following year.  My father and my aunt both served in the military during World War II and went away to college.  My grandmother remarried after World War II.  Her second husband, Frank Crocker, was the only “grandfather” I knew on that side of my family.  He was a kind and talkative man, much more outgoing than my shy, reserved grandmother.

My father and my grandmother at his college graduation in 1952

My father and my grandmother at his college graduation in 1952

Even as a child, I sensed that that my grandmother was a bit insecure and unsure of herself and perhaps uncomfortable around her three grandchildren.  I found her beautiful and refined,  and also somewhat mysterious.  Of course, as a child I knew nothing about her life.  Only by stepping into the family history and asking my father more questions did I develop a better understanding of who she was.

My grandmother died on January 10, 1963, when I was ten years old.  Her death was the first one I ever experienced.  (Although my mother’s father Isadore Goldschlager died when I was four years old, I really have no memory of his death.)  I remember being frightened and worried about my father and also confused because no one really talked about it before she died or after.  We weren’t (and still aren’t) too good at those things.

So as I start to delve now more deeply into her family history, I do it with the perspective of trying to understand who my grandmother was, where she came from, what her family was like, and how that all fits with the woman I remember.