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.

Some Broken Brick Walls: Thank you, Cousin Bob!

In my post about the descendants of Mary Seligman, the youngest child of Marx Seligman, I wrote that I was hoping to be in touch with one of Mary’s descendants to learn more about what happened to some members of the family.  Specifically, I was trying to connect with Bob Cohn, who is the son of Harold Cohn and Teddi Kremenko (sometimes called Tillie, sometimes Theodora).  Harold Cohn was the son of Joseph Cohn and Rose Kornfeld.  Rose was Mary Seligman’s daughter with her husband Oscar Kornfeld.  Here’s a chart showing how Bob and my father are related as fourth cousins, making him my fourth cousin once removed.

Dad to Bob

After jumping through a number of hoops, I finally reached Bob after emailing someone at the public relations firm he founded in Atlanta forty-five years ago, Cohn & Wolfe.  Although Bob has retired, the man I contacted at the firm immediately emailed Bob, and within minutes Bob and I had exchanged emails.   It’s a long story as to how I figured out that the Bob Cohn at Cohn & Wolfe was the right Bob Cohn.  I won’t describe all my crazy sleuthing on this one!

Bob Cohn with trophy

My cousin, Bob Cohn All photos in this post are courtesy of Bob Cohn

Anyway, Bob is himself a family historian and has generously shared with me a great deal of information and a wonderful collection of photographs.  He, however, did not know very much about his grandmother Rose or her family, so he was delighted to learn what I had discovered about Rose and her Seligman(n) family roots.  By sharing what we each knew, we each were able to fill in some of the gaps that we each had in our research.

For example, I had been unable to find Rose and Joseph on any record after the 1930 US census.  At that time they were living on West 90th Street in New York, and after years in the printing business, Joseph had become an investor in the securities business.  Obviously that was unfortunate timing because, as Bob told me, Joseph lost a great deal of money in the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Depression.

Joseph and Bob Cohn

Joseph Cohn and his grandson Bob.  Note the family resemblance as you can see in the photo of Bob above.

Bob also told me that he had no memory of his grandmother Rose.  Since I knew Bob was born in 1934, I assumed that Rose might have died sometime between 1930 and 1940 if he had no memory of her.  Although a death record had not shown up in my initial search, this time I was able to find it.  Rose had died on June 24, 1930, shortly after the 1930 census.  She was 52 years old and died from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by hypertension.

Rose Cohn death certificate

Rose Cohn death certificate

Since I had not found Joseph on the 1940 census or elsewhere after the 1930 census, I was hoping Bob would know when he died or where he lived.  Bob believes that Joseph died in a nursing home in New Rochelle sometime in the late 1950s.   Those death records are not publicly available, however, except to close family, so I don’t have any record of Joseph’s death.  But knowing that he was a widow after 1930 led me to search again for him on other records.   I still, however, ran into some trouble.  On the 1940 US census, I found a Joseph Cohen (with the E), a widower of the right age, living in Newark, New Jersey, working as a storekeeper in a restaurant. (You will have to click on the images below to see them more clearly.)

Joseph Cohen and lodger 1930 US census

Joseph Cohn and lodger 1940 US census

 

Full page: Joseph Cohn 1930 census

Full page: Joseph Cohn 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Newark, Essex, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2414; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 25-132

Bob has no memory of his grandfather living in New Jersey.  The man on this census record was living with a woman, Mary Miller, listed (I think) as “occupant,” working as a laundryman (?) in a hospital.  Although the enumerator wrote that Joseph was living in the same place in 1935, he also wrote that he was living in Matthen (??), New York, in 1935.  Maybe that’s Manhattan?  The same page has lots of other strange entries.  I think perhaps this enumerator was not very careful.

So why would I think that this is Joseph Cohn, Bob’s grandfather? Because I also found a World War II draft registration that shows that Joseph Cohn was living in Newark, New Jersey, in 1942.  This is definitely the right Joseph Cohn; he lists his closest relative as Harold Cohn of East 9th Street in Brooklyn, which is where Bob and his parents and brother Paul were living in 1942.  On the draft registration, Joseph was living on Court Street in Newark. The Joseph Cohen on the 1940 census was living on Bergen Street in Newark, less than two miles away.  Joseph was working for L. Loeb in Newark in 1942 at 317 Mulberry Street in Newark.

Joseoh Cohn World War II draft registration

Joseph Cohn World War II draft registration

 

I decided to search Newark directories for 317 Mulberry Street to see if I could find out what Joseph was doing in Newark.  I did not find Joseph in the 1942 Newark directory, but at 317 Mulberry Street in 1942 I did find a listing for a butcher named Samuel Cohn.  Bob had told me that his grandfather Joseph had had a brother Samuel, but he had not been able to learn what had happened to his great-uncle.  When I saw the name and the same address that appeared on Joseph’s draft registration, I assumed that this had to be Joseph’s brother Samuel.  I searched further in the Newark directories and found that in 1934 Sam Cohn was located on Bergen Street, where Joseph CohEn was living in 1940, according to the 1940 census.  In 1941, Sam was located at 69 Court Street; Joseph was living at 59 Court Street in 1942.  I was quite certain now that Joseph had moved to Newark after his wife Rose died in order to be closer to his brother Samuel.

That made me curious to know more about Samuel, the great-uncle Bob had not been able to locate.  Knowing now that he was a butcher, I was able to find him living in New York City in 1940 on the US census; he was living with his wife Minerva and adult son Phillip as well as two boarders.  The census indicated that he had been living in Newark in 1935 and that he was a butcher.  Now knowing his wife and son’s names, I found Samuel on the 1910 and 1920 census (but not the 1930), working as a butcher and living with his wife Minerva (or Minnie) and his son Phillip in the Bronx.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any records for Joseph or Samuel Cohn after 1942.  All I know is what Bob told me—that Joseph lived until sometime in the 1950s and was living at a nursing home in New Rochelle when he died.

 

Harold and Teddi

Harold and Teddy 1926

Harold and Teddi 1926

When I first wrote about Bob’s parents, Harold Cohn and Teddi Kremenko, I knew that Harold and Teddi had married in 1928, but then they disappeared for the next sixteen years.  I couldn’t find them on either the 1930 or the 1940 census.  All I knew was that Harold had died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 39 in 1944.  I didn’t know what he had done for a living, I didn’t know what had happened to his wife Teddi, and I didn’t know whether they had had children.  Fortunately, one of Teddi’s relatives, a granddaughter of one of her sisters, has a tree on Ancestry.com, and by connecting with her, I learned more and eventually found our mutual cousin, Bob.

I had been unable to find Harold and Teddi on the 1930 census, but one clue from Bob helped me locate a Harold Cohn who seems likely to be the right one.  I asked Bob what his father had done for a living, and he told me he’d been in the silk importing business.  I’d had no luck looking for a Harold Cohn married to a woman named Teddi, Tillie, or Theodora, but by entering “silk” into the search form, I came up with this Harold Cohn.  (You will need to click and zoom to read it.)

Harold Cohn 1930 census

Harold Cohn 1930 census  See lines 11 and 12.  Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1556; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0449; Image: 1030.0; FHL microfilm: 2341291

 

Yes, it says his father was born in Germany, whereas Harold’s father Joseph Cohn was born in New York. But his grandfather Philip was born in Germany.  Harold’s mother Rose was born in New York, as the census reports.  He was a silk distributor, as the census reports.  His age is not exactly right, but it’s close, or at least within the range of accuracy that census records generally report. They were living on West 86th Street, the same neighborhood where Harold’s parents were living in 1930.  All that certainly supports my assumption that this is the correct Harold Cohn.

But then it says his wife was Fay, not Tillie, Teddi, or Theodora.  It says she was born in New York, but Teddi was born in Russia.  It says her mother was born in England, but Teddi’s mother was born in Russia.  How do I explain these inconsistencies?  I can’t.  Did the census enumerator talk to a neighbor who knew more about Harold than he or she knew about Teddi? I don’t know, but I still think this is the right Harold.  But am I certain? No.  What do you think?

The 1940 census is even more problematic. In 1940, Bob turned six, his brother Paul turned three.  Bob said that they were living in Brooklyn when he started school at PS 99.  But I can’t find them in Brooklyn.  Even looking at the census report for everyone living on East 9th Street between Avenues J and K where Bob recalls the family living, I couldn’t find them on the 1940 census.

I only found one possible entry  for Harold and Teddi on the 1940 census, and it is even more of a stretch; I have serious doubts about whether these are the right people. I found a Philip Kohn married to Lillie with a four year old son named Michael, living in Queens.  Why would I even for a second think this was Harold and Teddi Cohn? Because Philip Kohn was in the silk business.  But it says he was born in Russia, not New York.  But it also says Lillie (could be Tillie?) was born in New York, not Russia.  Had the enumerator switched the birthplaces? And gotten all the names wrong?  And forgotten a child? Probably not.  Especially since Bob says they never lived in Queens. So the Cohn family remains missing from the 1940 census as far as I can tell.

Could this be Harold Cohn? See line 74

Could this be Harold Cohn? See line 74  Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: T627_2749; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 41-1623B

 

For the rest of the story, I have the great benefit of Bob’s memories, experiences, and research.  I think it best to let him tell his story mostly in his own words.

First, a few pages that Bob wrote about his mother’s family, the Kremenkos.

Bob's book 1 Bob's book 2 Bob's book 3

As for his father’s family, Bob wrote:

The Cohn family history covers three generations.  Bob’s father, Harold, was born in New York City and was the only child of Joseph and Rose Cohn.  Joseph was also born in New York to Adela and Phillip Cohn in 1876. … Phillip and Adela immigrated to New York in 1866 and married four years later.  Adela was from the Alsace Region of France hat sits on the west bank of the Upper Rhine River next to the German border. It is one of France’s principal wine-growing regions.  Phillip was born in Baden in July, 1842 and later worked as a banker there.

From the collection of family photographs Bob shared with me, it looks like Harold Cohn and Teddi Kremenko and their sons were living happily up until 1944:

Harold and Teddi

Harold and Teddi

Mom and Dad at tennis

Harold and Teddi

Mom and Dad with Robert in the grass

Harold, Bob, and Teddi Cohn

Mom and Robert, 1937

Teddi and Bob, 1937

Mom, Paul and I, 1944 at Bungalow Colony

Paul, Teddi, and Bob Cohn 1944

Robert (Red) Cohn

Bob

My Mom and Dad, Uncle Barney

Harold and Teddi Cohn, Barney Kremenko, and others

U 2

Harold and Teddi

 

And then, as noted earlier, Harold died unexpectedly.  Bob wrote:

When I was 9 years old, I remember my father giving me a nickel on the front porch of our home on East 9th Street between Avenue J and Avenue K.  The money was for a Red Cross Fund Drive.  My Dad died that day, February 1, 1944, at the age of 39 from a heart attack.

As if that wasn’t tragedy enough for two young boys and their mother, less than two years later, Bob and Paul’s mother Teddi died at age 42 from throat cancer.

My mother, Theodora (Teddi) Cohn died on Oct. 13, 1945, barely a month after World War II ended. For my Oct. 12th birthday Uncle Barney (Kremenko) took me to Yankee Stadium’s press box to watch undefeated Army play a highly ranked Michigan team. Army had two Heisman trophy winners in the backfield—Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis—and four consensus All-Americans. At halftime the score was 14-0 when Uncle Barney got a call to rush home because my mother was dying. We got there before she passed away and she gave me an ID bracelet that was popular in those days. Everyone in the family called me Robert, including my Mom, but she knew I preferred the name Bob. So it was the first time she acknowledged my preference and gave me the sterling silver bracelet with Bob Cohn inscribed on the top. On the reverse side she had inscribed “From Mother, Oct. 12, 1945.

ID bracelet

As it turned out Army won 28-7 and it was a historic day in college football.  

(According to Wikipedia, “Outmanned by Army, Michigan’s Coach Fritz Crisler unveiled at halftime the first known use of the so-called “two-platoon” system in which separate groups played offense and defense.” Click the link for more on the game.)

Thus, by the time he was eleven, Bob Cohn had lost both his parents; his brother Paul was only eight years old.  Where would they go?

Bob wrote:

There was a family circle meeting to decide who would take my brother Paul and I in. Aunt Diana and Uncle George said they wanted to have us but the others voted against them because they would not be right for young children because they had no experience, having no children of their own. Then Aunt Rose and Uncle Louie put in their bid but they also were turned down. The decision was made by the family for us to live with Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Sol because they had two young children and could best deal with the situation. Aunt Diana understood but over the years spent a lot of her time with the two of us. Ann [a cousin] said she loved us deeply.

Bob pointed out that his Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Sol had two children—Barbara and Morton—who became like siblings to Bob and Paul. Barbara is three years older than Bob, and Morton is seven years younger.

Barbara Paul Morty and Bob

Aunt Rose with Paul Barton Cohn

Rose Kremenko and Paul Barton Cohn

Kremenko sisters

The five Kremenko sisters and their mother Minnie

What would happen to these two little boys who lost both their parents so young? Not only did they survive; they both thrived, as we will see in Part II of Bob’s story.  That they did is a tribute to the love they had received from Harold and Teddi in their early years and the love they received from the family members who raised them and cared for them after they’d lost their parents.

 

 

One for the Road: How I Found Another Brotman

This will be my last post before we leave on our trip.  I wanted to leave on a high note with a new discovery—a Brotman line I’d not discovered until the last week or so.  Perhaps this is a good omen for what I might find when in Poland.  I might post a bit while away—depends on internet access, time, and energy.  But I will report on the trip either as it unfolds or after I return, so stay tuned.

*********

In my last post I reported on the conflicting results of my search through the records of the families of Moses and Abraham Brotman of Brotmanville, New Jersey.  I was looking for any shred of evidence that might reveal where they, and thus perhaps my great-grandparents, had lived in Europe.  What I found was that some records said Moses was born in Austria, some said Russia.  Same for Abraham.  And not one record named a town or city.  Thus, I had not gotten any closer to any answers.

But while reviewing the documents I had and checking and double-checking my tree, I did find something somewhat anomalous.  In doing my initial research of Moses’ family, I had not been able to find them on the 1920 census, as I mentioned in my last post.  In trying to find the family, I had searched for each of the children separately, and I had found a Joseph Brotman living in Davenport, Iowa, according to the 1915 Iowa state census.  I admit that I had not looked very carefully (BIG mistake) and had jumped to the conclusion that Moses’ son Joseph had been shipped out to Iowa to live with another family since I couldn’t find Moses or Ida or any of the siblings listed on that census.  (This is one reason I keep my tree private on Ancestry—I’d hate to mislead someone else while I am doing preliminary research.)

But in now reviewing my original preliminary research, this just struck me as strange.  So I went back to look more carefully.  First, I pulled up the census record for Joseph.  Instead of being a list or register as with other census reports, Iowa had separate cards for each resident.  Here is the one for Joseph Brotman:

Joseph Brotman 1915 Iowa census  Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest

Joseph Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest

You can see why I made that initial mistake.  He was born the right year (1902) and the right place (New Jersey).  He was Jewish, his father was born in Austria, mother in Russia.  All those facts certainly seemed to suggest that he was the son of Moses and Ida Brotman.  So I had entered this record for Joseph on to my tree in Ancestry.

But this time I took the next step—were there other Brotmans in Davenport on that census? First I saw a Lillian Brotman.  I thought, “Hmmm, maybe two siblings were sent to Iowa?” Remember—Moses had a daughter named Lillian, as did Abraham.  So I looked at Lillian’s entry in the 1915 census.

Lillian Brotman 1915 Iowa census  Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

Lillian Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

She was living at the same address as Joseph, was also born in New Jersey, and had a father born in Austria, a mother in Russia.  Like Joseph, she had been in Iowa for three years.  So I thought that this had to be Joseph’s sister.  But this Lillian was 16 years old, and Moses’ daughter Lillian was born in 1892, so she would have been 23 in 1915. Could it be Abraham’s daughter Lillian? She was the right age, but somehow that just didn’t make much sense.

I decided to go through the cards in the census by flipping backwards from Joseph’s card and then found several other Brotmans at the same address: Albert (2), Eva (37), and May (10).  May also had been born in New Jersey, Albert in Iowa, and Eva in Russia. Who were these people? Were they related to MY Brotmans in some way? I assumed Eva was the mother of these four children, but who was the father? And where was he?

So I searched for the family by using Eva’s names and the names of the children, and I found them on the 1910 census living in Philadelphia.  The husband’s name was Bennie, wife Eva (32), and four children: Lily (11), Florence (10), Joe (8), and May (6).  These ages lined up with the ages of the children on the Iowa census five years later, but the census record said these children were born in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey. The father, Bennie, was 33, born in Austria with parents born in Russia, and had immigrated in 1894, according to the census.  He was a cutter in a clothing business.  He and his wife had been married for 12 years or since 1898.

Bennie Brotman 1910 census

Bennie Brotman 1910 census Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1386; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0019; FHL microfilm: 1375399

Bennie Brotman 1910 census
Source Citation
Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1386; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0019; FHL microfilm: 1375399

What had happened to their daughter Florence? And where had they been in 1900? Were they related to my Brotmans? I first searched for their missing daughter, and I found an entry in the Iowa, Select Deaths and Burials 1850-1990 database:

Name: Flora Brotman
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Single
Age: 13
Birth Date: 1900
Birth Place: Philadelphia
Death Date: 23 Aug 1913
Death Place: Davenport, Iowa
Burial Date: 24 Aug 1913
Father: Ben Brotman
Mother: Eva Siegel
FHL Film Number: 1480948
Reference ID: p186 r59

 

This document provided me with Eva’s birth name and Flora’s birthplace.  I thought that the family must have been living in Philadelphia in 1900 if that is where Flora was born, but I could not find them on the 1900 census living in Philadelphia.  I searched again for Flora, and this time found a birth record—not in Philadelphia or even in Pennsylvania, as the death record and 1910 census had reported.  Rather, she was born in, of all places, Pittsgrove, Salem County, New Jersey, on July 19, 1900, to Benj. Brotman (born in Austria) and Eva Sigel (born in Russia).  Once I saw Pittsgrove, my heart beat a little faster.  This more and more seemed like a member of the Brotmanville Brotman family—someone I had not ever located or researched before.  Who was he? How was he related, if at all, to Moses and Abraham?

Name: Flora Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 19 Jul 1900
Birth Place: PIT, Salem County, New Jersey
Father’s name: Benj Brotman
Father’s Age: 24
Father’s Birth Place: Aug.
Mother’s name: Eve Sigel
Mother’s Age: 22
Mother’s Birth Place: Russia
FHL Film Number: 494247

 

I searched for them on the 1900 census again, but this time in Pittsgrove, New Jersey.  It took some doing, but finally found Benjamin listed as Bengeman Brotman, listed at the very bottom of the same page as Moses Brotman, just a few households away.  The census reported that he was 24, a cutter, and married for one year.  It stated that he and his parents were born in Austria, that he had immigrated in 1888, and that he was a naturalized citizen.  At the top of the next page were the listings for his wife Eva and daughter Lilly, just a year old.  The other children had not yet been born.

Bengeman Brotman 1900 US census

Bengeman Brotman 1900 US census

Ben Brotman's family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Ben Brotman’s family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

 

From this census, I knew that Benjamin Brotman had lived in Pittsgrove right near Moses Brotman, had married Eva Siegel and had had at least two children in Pittsgrove before moving to Philadelphia, where they were living in 1910.  By 1913, the family was living in Davenport, Iowa, where their daughter Flora died.  But where was Benjamin in 1915 when the Iowa census was taken? And was he related to Moses Brotman?

Looking one more time, I found him listed in the 1914 Davenport, Iowa, directory as a peddler, living with his wife Eva at the same address where she and the children were listed in the 1915 Iowa census. I also found him in the 1915 directory at that address, but with no occupation listed, and in the 1918 directory at a new address, 1323 Ripley, the same address given for his son Joseph, listed as a chauffeur, and his daughter Lillian, listed as a bookkeeper. A very similar series of entries appears in the 1919 directory. In both Benjamin still had no occupation listed.  If he was living in Davenport in 1914, 1915, 1918 and 1919, why wasn’t he in the Iowa census?

One more search of the I0wa 1915 census produced this result:

Benjamin Brotman 1915 Iowa census Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

Benjamin Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

At first, I didn’t know why this card was separated from the family’s cards.  Looking at this card, however, revealed the reason: Benjamin is described as an invalid, and under “Remarks” it says, “Tuberculosis Hospital.”  He was not living with his family. Benjamin was sick with the dreadful disease that caused suffering for so many and their families.  Perhaps that is also what killed his daughter Flora.  Of note on this card is that his birthplace was Austria and that he had been in the US for 27 years, that is, since 1888, consistent with the 1900 census though not the 1910 census.  Also, as with the other members of the family, Ben had been in Iowa for three years or since about 1912.

But what happened to Ben after 1915? Did he recover? Is that why he appears in the 1918 and 1919 directories? On the 1920 census Ben is listed with Eva and three of their surviving children, Lillian, Joseph, and Albert, and a new son Merle, only four years old.  It would seem that Ben had not only recovered, but had returned home and fathered another child.

Benjamin Brotman 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Rock Island Precinct 4, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: T625_402; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 128; Image: 1078

Benjamin Brotman 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Rock Island Precinct 4, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: T625_402; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 128; Image: 1078

The family was living in Rock Island, Illinois, right across the Mississippi River from Davenport, Iowa.  Ben was not employed, but Lillian was a bookkeeper and Joseph a salesman at a general store.  Their daughter May was listed on the 1920 census as an inmate at the Institution for Feeble-Minded Children in Glenwood, Iowa, over 300 miles away from Rock Island.  She was still there ten years later according to the 1930 census.

English: Downtown Davenport, Iowa looking acro...

English: Downtown Davenport, Iowa looking across the Mississippi River from Rock Island, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I followed the family forward into the 1920s, Benjamin seemed to have died or disappeared.  In the 1921 Rock Island directory, Eva Brotman is listed as a widow. And in the Illinois, County Marriages 1810-1934 database on FamilySearch, I found a marriage listing for Eva Brotman and Abe Abramovitz on July 26, 1923, in Rock Island.  In 1930, Eva was living with her second husband Abe and her two youngest sons, Albert (listed incorrectly as Abe) and Merle (listed incorrectly as Muriel), who were then 18 and 15, respectively.  They were all still living together ten years later, according to the 1940 census.

Eva Siegel Brotman Abromovitz and sons 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Rock Island, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: 553; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0084; Image: 716.0; FHL microfilm: 2340288

Eva Siegel Brotman Abromovitz and sons 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Rock Island, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: 553; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0084; Image: 716.0; FHL microfilm: 2340288

It seemed I had reached the end of the line for Benjamin Brotman, but I had no death record, and I still had no idea whether he was related to me or to the Brotmanville Brotmans.  I kept searching for a death record, and instead I found this:

Ben Brotman World War I draft registration Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1544482; Draft Board: 1

Ben Brotman World War I draft registration
Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1544482; Draft Board: 1

A World War I registration for a Ben Brotman born in 1876, no birthplace listed, living in Denver, Colorado.  I might not have given it much thought but for the name given as his nearest relative: Moses Brotman of Alliance, New Jersey, his father.  Moses Brotman of Alliance is the Brotmanville Moses Brotman (Alliance was the name of the community where the Brotmans settled, part of Pittsgrove, now called Brotmanville.).  This Ben Brotman was his son. The age fit exactly—the Ben Brotman living in Pittsgrove in 1900 was 24, thus born in 1876, just like the Ben Brotman living in Colorado in 1918, son of Moses. I had no child listed for Moses named Benjamin, and if this was in fact his son, he was born before Moses married Chaya/Ida/Clara Rice.  That is, this could be Abraham’s full brother from Moses’ first wife, whose name I did not know.

But could I be sure that this was the Ben Brotman who had lived in Pittsgrove, then Philadelphia, then Davenport, Iowa? And if so, what was he doing in Colorado in 1918 when this draft registration was filed? After all, Ben Brotman, Eva’s husband, had been listed in the 1918 and 1919 Davenport directories.

The draft registration listed the Colorado Ben Brotman as a porter at Oakes Home in Denver.  I googled that name and found that Oakes Home in Denver was an institution for patients suffering from tuberculosis.   Was Ben really an employee there or was he a patient?  There is no indication on his draft registration that he was in poor health and not able to serve in the military.  Had he gone there as a patient and recovered sufficiently to be employed but not yet enough to return to Iowa?

As you might imagine, I was now more than a bit confused.  If this was the same Ben, had he then returned to Iowa at some point in 1918, been there in 1919 and 1920, and then died by 1921, as Eva’s listing in the 1921 Rock Island directory suggested? I needed to find his death certificate, and I had no luck searching online in Iowa, Illinois, or Colorado.  As I’ve done before, I turned to the genealogy village for assistance.

I went to the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook and found a number of people who volunteered to help me.  One person found an entry on Ancestry from the JewishGen Online World Burial Registry for a Bera Brotman who died on January 4, 1922, who was born about 1877, and who was buried at the Golden Hills Cemetery in Lakewood, Colorado.  It seemed like a long shot.  Was Bera even a man? The birth year was close enough, but if Eva was a widow in 1921, the death date was too late.  There was a phone number for a contact person at the cemetery listed on the entry, so I called him.

Name: Bera Brotman
Birth Date: abt 1877
Death Date: 4 Jan 1922
Age at Death: 45
Burial Plot: 10-097
Burial Place: Lakewood, Colorado, United States
Comments: No gravestone
Cemetery: Golden Hill Cemetery
Cemetery Address: 12000 W. Colfax
Cemetery Burials: 3839
Cemetery Comments: Contact: Neal Price (303) 836-2312

The contact person checked the cemetery records and confirmed the information listed on JOWBR, but gave me one more bit of critical information: Bera’s last residence was the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in Denver.  By googling the JCRS, I found that JewishGen had a database of records from there, and when I searched for Ben Brotman on the JCRS database, I found this record:

JCRS record for Ben Brotman from JewiishGen

JCRS record for Ben Brotman from JewiishGen

This Ben Brotman had to be the one who had been at one time living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and then had moved to Davenport, Iowa.  This was the Ben who had married Eva and had six children.  He had twice been a patient at the JCRS.  First, he’d been admitted when he was 41 or in 1917, when he listed his status as married, and then he’d been admitted again when he was 45 or in 1921, when he listed his status as divorced.  The pieces were starting to come together.  Perhaps Ben had in fact been in Denver in 1917, recovered enough to register for the draft there in 1918, then returned to his family in Davenport sometime in 1918 through 1920.  He then had to return to the JCRS in Denver in 1921, where he died in January, 1922.  By 1921 he and Eva had divorced, and Eva had listed herself as a widow in the directory, as many divorced women did in those days when divorce was stigmatizing.

I emailed the cemetery contact person and explained that I thought Bera was really Ben, and he agreed to change the records.  But I still had some nagging doubts.  Was the Ben Brotman who had died in Colorado in January, 1922, and who had lived in Davenport also the one who was the son of Moses Brotman, as indicated on the draft registration?  I needed the death certificate to be sure, and perhaps it would also tell me where Ben was born, helping to answer the question that had started me down this path in the first place.

I ordered the death certificate, and it finally arrived just the other day.

Benjamin Brotman death certificate

Benjamin Brotman death certificate

Ben Brotman died on January 4, 1922, of pulmonary tuberculosis at the J.C.R.S Sanitorium.  He was 45 years old and born in 1876, and he had been a tailor.  He had contracted TB in Davenport, Iowa, and had had it for ten years, or since 1912, which would mean around the time the family had moved to Iowa.  (That makes me wonder even more whether his daughter Flora had also died of TB, since she died in 1913.)  The doctor at JCRS who signed the death certificate said that he had attended Ben since September 7, 1921, which must have been when he was admitted the second time.  The certificate stated that Ben had been a Denver resident for three months and 28 days, indicating that he had been elsewhere before returning in September.  It also reported his marital status as divorced.  Finally, his place of birth was given as Austria, and his parents were also reported to have been born in Austria.

And then the answer I’d been seeking: his father’s name was Moses.  This was then most definitely the same Benjamin Brotman I had traced from Pittsgrove to Philadelphia to Davenport to Denver to Rock Island and back to Denver.  This was the son of Moses Brotman, my great-grandfather’s brother.

And then the (hopefully accurate) big revelation:  his mother’s name was Lena.  For the first time I had a record of the name of Moses’ wife prior to Ida/Chaya/Clara Rice.  Lena.  She very well might have been the mother of Abraham Brotman.  I don’t know.  There is a big gap between Abraham’s presumed birth year of 1863 and Benjamin’s birth year of 1876.  There must have been other children in between, I’d think.  Or perhaps Lena was Benjamin’s mother, and Abraham’s mother was an even earlier wife of Moses. But since both Abraham and Benjamin named their first daughters Lillian and at around the same time, I think that both of these girls were named for their grandmother Lena, who must have died before 1884 when Moses married his second wife Chaya.

I made one more look back at the records I had for Moses and for Abraham and realized that I had not re-checked the 1895 New Jersey census.  Since it only listed names, not ages or birthplaces, I had not thought it important in my search for where they’d lived in Europe.  Moses and his family are listed on the page before Abraham and his family on that census.   Abraham is listed with Minnie and their first three children, Joseph, Samuel, and Kittella (presumably Gilbert).

Abraham Brotman 1895 NJ census Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Abraham Brotman 1895 NJ census
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Moses is listed with Clara and the five children they had had by 1895: Sadie, Katie, Lillie, Samuel, and “Abraham.”[1] But also listed with Moses is a name I had overlooked during my preliminary research: Bennie.  He was listed in the 5-20 year old category, and if this was the Ben Brotman of Iowa and Denver, he would have been 19 years old in 1895.  There he was—Benjamin Brotman, the son I had overlooked and who very well could have been the full brother of Abraham Brotman.

Moses Brotman 1895 NJ census Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Moses Brotman 1895 NJ census
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

What I don’t know and will likely never know is why Ben and Eva left New Jersey. Why did he go to Davenport, Iowa?[2]  The whole story is rather sad. He doesn’t even have a headstone at the Golden Hills cemetery.  I have identified some of his descendants, and perhaps when I return, I will try and contact them.

Although I was very excited to find this lost Brotman, unfortunately I still don’t have any record identifying a specific town or city where the Brotmanville Brotmans lived in Europe.  But soon I will head off to Tarnobrzeg, Poland, the town I still think is the most likely ancestral home of my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman.

 

 

 

 

[1] I found this very strange—did Moses really have another son named Abraham? The Abraham listed on the 1895 New Jersey census was five years old or younger, meaning he was born in 1890 or later.  Samuel was born in 1889, but must not yet have turned five; Lily was born in 1892.  The only other child born between 1890 and 1894 was Isaac (who became Irving), not Abraham, so I assume this entry on the 1895 census was a mistake and that “Abraham” was really Isaac.

[2] In doing this research I kept tripping over another Brotman family—a family living in Rock Island that owned the theaters in town.  However, they do not appear to be related.  The patriarch of that family, Jacob Brotman, was born in 1848 in Minsk, Russia, and had lived in London before emigrating to the US sometime after 1901.   Since Joseph and Moses were born around the same time but somewhere in Galicia, it seems unlikely that Jacob was a close relative.  But anything is possible.

My Brotmanville Cousins: Searching for Answers

One thing I have been trying to do as part of my preparations for our visit to Tarnobrzeg and the surrounding towns is a last ditch effort to find some other clues as to where my Brotman ancestors lived.  I have gone back through the research I’ve done on my great-grandparents and their Galician born children, Abraham, Max, David, Hyman, and Tillie, and have found no new clues.  Then I realized that now that I have some DNA confirmation that my great-grandfather Joseph was the brother of Moses Brotman of Brotmanville, I needed to go through their records as well to see if I could find some new clues.  I had done an initial search a few years ago, but had not yet gone back and checked it more thoroughly.

Moses Brotman

Moses Brotman courtesy of his granddaughter Elaine

What I already knew was that Moses Brotman had had many children, some born in Europe, some born in the US.  His oldest (known) child was his son Abraham, who was born in Europe.  Abraham Brotman had originally settled in New York City and established a cloak factory there, but was invited by those who created the Alliance Colony in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, to start a factory there to employ the residents when the farming season ended.  Eventually, a section of Pittsgrove was named Brotmanville in his honor.[1]

At this point I will not tell the full story of the Brotmanville family in America; that will have to wait. My immediate objective in reviewing my research of the Brotmanville Brotmans was to see if I could find any records that revealed where Moses and his family had lived before arriving in the US.  So I had to focus first on those who had been born in Europe, not those who were born in the US, although that meant also looking for records for the children born here to see if those records revealed the birthplaces of their European born parents

What I knew from the descendants and from my earlier research was that Moses had been married twice and Abraham had been the child of his first marriage.  Although the census records for Abraham are in conflict about his birthdate, the earliest to include his age, the 1900 census, reported his birthdate to be November 1863, long before Moses married Ida, the woman with whom he immigrated to America.

1900 US Census for Abraham Brotman

1900 US Census for Abraham Brotman Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Looking at the 1900 census report for Abraham, by 1900 he and his wife, Minnie Hollender, had been married for 13 years and had had six children, five of whom were still alive.  All six children were born in the US.  Abraham reported that he had arrived in the US in 1884, three years before marrying Minnie.  Their children as of 1900 were Joseph (10), Samuel (7), Gilbert (6), Nephtaly (later Herman) (4), and Leah (2).  They were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and Abraham was working as a manufacturer.[2]

The 1910 census for Abraham and his family is only somewhat consistent with that of the 1900:  his age is 47, still giving him a birth year of 1863, but now his birthplace is reported as Russia. He and Minnie now reported that they had had eleven children, nine of whom were still alive.  In addition to the five listed above, there were three more daughters and one more son.

Abraham Brotman 1910 US census

Abraham Brotman 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: T624_908; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0154; FHL microfilm: 1374921

The 1920 census reported one more child and once again had Abraham’s birthplace as Austria.  However, he now claimed to be 48, thus born in 1872, not 1863 as previously reported.  Later records also made him ten years younger than had been reported on the 1900 and 1910 census reports.  Genealogists generally assume that the records closest in time are more likely to be accurate than those later in time (and people are more likely to make themselves younger as they get older), so I am inclined to assume that Abraham was born in 1863.  It also makes more sense that he was 21 when he immigrated, not 11.  But where was he born? Austria? Russia? And in what city or town?

Since both the 1930 and the 1940 census reported his birthplace as Austria, I am inclined to discount the 1910 and assume that the 1900, 1920, 1930 and 1940 census reports indicating his birthplace as Austria are more accurate.  And, of course, “Austria” meant within the Austria-Hungary Empire, just as it did for my great-grandparents and many other immigrants from that region, including Galicia.

But then where more specifically was he born? Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a death record for Abraham, and the death records I have for his children are no more specific.  For example, the death certificate for his oldest child, Joseph, only reports that his father’s birthplace was Austria.

Joseph Brotman 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.

Joseph Brotman 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.

Samuel’s death certificate says that his father’s birthplace was Russia.

Samuel Brotman 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.

Samuel Brotman 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.

Abraham’s youngest child, Aaron, who was born in 1911, died as a young man in 1939 from heart disease.  His death certificate indicates that his father was born in Austria.

Aaron Brotman 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.

Aaron Brotman 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.

Those were the only sources I have located so far that reflect anything about where Abraham was born.  I also had no records of what his mother’s name was nor did I have any indication of full siblings for Abraham, only the half-siblings born through his father’s second marriage.  So I then turned to Abraham’s father Moses and his children to see if there was more to learn through their records.

The earliest record I had found for Moses was his petition for naturalization, filed in 1894.  It had his birthplace as Russia.  It also said that he had arrived in the US in 1885.

Moses Brotman petition for Naturalization

Moses Brotman Petition for Naturalization “New Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-29863-26750-98?cc=2057433&wc=M73R-4NL:351145001,351187001 : accessed 14 May 2015), Salem > Petitions for naturalization 1888-1895 > image 95 of 96; county courthouses, New Jersey.

The 1900 US census reported his birthplace and date as Austria in November 1844.  It also reported that he had immigrated in 1886 and that he was a farmer.  Like his son Abraham, he was living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey with his wife “Chay”  (probably Chaya), to whom he’d been married for sixteen years.  (Abraham was already 37 in 1900, indicating that Abraham was not Chaya’s son.) Moses and Chaya had had eight children, seven of whom were alive, according to the 1900 census.  The seven were Sadie (16), Katie (13), Samuel (10), Lilly (7), Isaac (5), Bessy (2), and Lewis (three months)[It is spelled “Lewis” on the census, but according to his grandson, his name was actually spelled “Louis.”]  The youngest four were born in New Jersey, Katie in New York, and Sadie and Samuel reportedly in Austria.  Of course, that made no sense to me—if Katie was older than Samuel, how could he have been born in Austria if she was born in New York? Had Moses and Chaya returned to Europe at the time Katie was born? Or was the census just in error?  If they really had immigrated in 1886 and if Samuel was 10 in 1900, he must have been born in the US.

Moses Brotman 1900 census

Moses Brotman 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

The other thing that struck me as very strange about this report was the fact that Moses had a son named Samuel as did his son Abraham.  In 1900 Moses’ Samuel was ten; Abraham’s was seven.  So Abraham’s son Samuel had an uncle three years older with the same name.  When I turned to the 1910 census report for Moses and his family, that became even stranger, as now Moses had had another child, a son named Joseph, who was seven as of 1910.  Abraham also had a son named Joseph, who was seventeen in 1910. So Abraham’s son Joseph had an uncle Joseph who was ten years younger than he was.  In addition, both Moses and Abraham had daughters named Lilly or Lillian; Moses’ daughter was born in February 1892; Abraham’s daughter was born September 5, 1898. Why would Moses and Abraham have given their children the same names? Perhaps they were named for the same ancestors, but it must have been awfully confusing in Pittsgrove to have two Samuel Brotmans., two Joseph Brotmans, and two Lilly Brotmans running around that small community.  It sure doesn’t help genealogists either.

The 1910 census report for Moses now had his wife’s name as Ida, which was a common Americanization of Chaya.  Moses was now working as a presser in a clothing factory, presumably the one owned by his son Abraham.  As with the 1900 census for Abraham, Moses’ birthplace is now given as Russia, not Austria.  He and Ida had six of their children living with them: Samuel (20), Lilly (15), Isaac (14), Bessie (12), Lewis/Louis (10), and the above-mentioned Joseph (7).  The birthplace for all the children was New Jersey, except for Samuel, whose birthplace was reported as Russia, same as his parents. Sadie and Katie were no longer living with their parents. Unfortunately, I have not yet found any records for what happened to Sadie or Katie, although their father’s obituary revealed their married names and their residence as of 1935 in Philadelphia.

Moses Brotman 1910 census

Moses Brotman 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: T624_908; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0154; FHL microfilm: 1374921

It took me forever to track down Moses Brotman and his family on the 1920 census, and although I am not 100% certain this is the right family, I am fairly certain that it is.  The head of household is Morris Brotman, wife Clara—another common Americanization of Chaya.  Morris was reported to be 70 years old, so born around 1850, not far off from his birthdate on the 1900 census.  Birthplace is given as Russia for Morris, Austria for Clara, and it reported that immigrated in 1887, close to the 1886 reported in 1900.  The most convincing support for this being the right family are the names and ages of the children: Lillian (21), Louis (20), Bessie (19), and Joseph (17).  Although Lilly would have been 25 and Bessie 22, the sons’ ages are accurate; maybe they lied about the daughters’ ages to make them appear more “marriageable.”  The family was now living in Philadelphia, not New Jersey, which at first I found odd.

Moses Brotman 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1634; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1095; Image: 530

Moses Brotman 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1634; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1095; Image: 530

But then I checked for the older sons, Samuel and Isaac (now Irving) and found that both had married between 1910 and 1920 and were living in Philadelphia.  Although I still have not located the two older daughters Sadie and Katie, perhaps they also had married by then and moved to Philadelphia.  Maybe Moses and Ida/Clara/Chaya also moved there to be closer to all their children.

Thus, I now had conflicting birthplaces for Moses—one census said Austria, two said Russia.  I looked at the 1930 census, and once again there was a conflict.  Now Moses’ birthplace was reported as Austria-Hungary, then crossed out with “Europe” written above it. His parents’ birthplace, however, was given as Austria-Hungary.  Moses was now 80 years old, and he and his wife (now Ida again) and their youngest son Joseph (28) were living in Vineland, New Jersey, near Pittsgrove. So as with Abraham, the birthplace for Moses fluctuated back and forth between Russia and Austria with no specific town or city mentioned. Perhaps Moses really did not know where in Europe he was actually born.

Moses Brotman 1930 US census

Moses Brotman 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: 1327; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0060; Image: 434.0; FHL microfilm: 2341062

Moses died on September 23, 1935.  His death certificate said he was born in Austria in 1847 and that his parents were named Abraham Brotman and Sadie Berstein, also born in Austria.  His grandson Aaron Brotman was the informant, Abraham’s youngest son who would die himself just a few years later.  Moses’ wife’s name was given as Rachel Rice.  This has caused considerable confusion for the family.  Was this a third wife? A mistake?

Moses Brotman death certificate_0001_NEW

In the obituary for Moses, it says he was survived by his widow, but did not name her.  It did, however, name all his children (including the married names for Sadie and Katie, as indicated above) and their residences.

Moses Brotman obituary

Moses Brotman obituary Courtesy of his granddaughter Elaine, source unknown

I found the death certificate for his youngest child, Joseph, who died less than a year after his father on July 26, 1936, from bacterial endocarditis.  He was only 34 years old.  On his death certificate, Moses’ birthplace is once again given as Russia, and Joseph’s mother’s name is reported to be Rachael Rice. The informant was Joseph’s half-brother, Abraham Brotman.

Joseph Brotman (Moses' son) 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.

Joseph Brotman (Moses’ son) 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.

Since Moses’ wife on the 1910 census was Ida and since Joseph was born in 1902, it would seem likely that Ida was Joseph’s mother.  Or could Chaya have been Rachel Rice and then died after Joseph was born? Was Ida a third wife? And was she the same woman as Clara, the wife listed on the 1920 census, or was that a fourth wife? My own personal hunch was that Rachel, Chaya, Ida and Clara are all one and the same person.

Although I was able to find the death certificate for Irving Brotman, it had no information for the name of his mother, had his father’s name as Morris, and had no information for their birthplaces.  I was, however, able to find the following entries in the New Jersey, Births and Christening Index on Ancestry.com for two of Moses’ children:

Name: Liza Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 2 Feb 1892
Birth Place: Pit, Salem, New Jersey
Father’s name: Moritz Brotman
Mother’s name: Chai Reis
FHL Film Number: 494224
Name: Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 12 May 1897
Birth Place: Pit , Salem, New Jersey
Father’s name: Moses Brotman
Father’s Age: 45
Father’s Birth Place: Austria
Mother’s name: Clara Rice
Mother’s Age: 30
Mother’s Birth Place: Austria
FHL Film Number: 494236

Notice that the mother’s name was Chai Reis on the first, then the more Americanized Clara Rice on the later one.  These were both created before the 1900 census listing of Moses’ wife as Chaya, the 1910 listing as Ida, the 1920 listing as Clara, or the 1930 listing again as Ida.  Notice that the surname is Reis/Rice, the same surname given for Moses’ wife on his death certificate in 1935 and that of his son Joseph in 1936.  I find this last bit of evidence enough to conclude that Rachel Rice was the same woman who married Moses in 1884 or so, immigrated with him and their first two children, and gave birth to and raised nine children from Sadie, born in 1884, through Joseph, born in 1902.  In 1940 after Moses had died, Ida (aka Chaya-Clara-Rachel) was living with her son Lewis/Louis and his wife Jean and their daughter Elaine in Vineland, New Jersey.  According to Elaine, Ida died about three years later.  Unfortunately I have not yet located a death record or obituary for Ida.

Lewis Brotman 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2327; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 6-76

Lewis/Louis Brotman 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2327; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 6-76

Thus, reviewing all the records I had found had not brought me any closer to learning exactly where Moses Brotman or Abraham Brotman had been born or where they had lived in Europe.  But while searching, I stumbled upon something else.  I will report on that as my last post before I leave for my trip.

[1] Relatives of the Brotmanville Brotmans say family lore is that the family was from Preszyml, a town about 90 miles from Tarnobrzeg, Grebow, and Radomysl nad Sanem, the other ancestral towns where possible family members lived. But I have not found any record supporting that family lore.

[2] A few geographical facts are necessary to understand the locations discussed in this post.  Brotmanville is an unincorporated community within the township of Pittsgrove so Pittsgrove is listed on the census records, not Brotmanville.  The colony where Baron de Hirsch and others created the farming settlement for poor Jewish immigrants was called the Alliance Colony. Vineland is a neighboring community where many of the Brotmans lived over the years.

The Mystery of Fanny Wiler: Post-script

Two days ago, I posted what I called my final chapter of the mystery of Fanny Wiler.  I had finally learned where and when and why Fanny had died after receiving her death certificate from the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh.  But I ended that post with the remaining questions that still lingered.  Was the child Bertha born to a Fanny Wieler and Joseph Levi in New York City the daughter of my Fanny?  If so, what happened to her?  Since I could not find the family on either the 1870 or the 1880 census and since the 1890 does not exist, I didn’t know whether Bertha had died, married, or moved away between 1866 and 1900, and I could not find her in 1900 or afterwards either.

But first I had to determine whether this was in fact the child of Fanny Wiler Levy.  There was no point in chasing her down if she wasn’t my cousin.  I’d already spent far too many hours chasing the wrong Fanny Wiler.  So I ordered the birth certificate for the Bertha Levi born in New York in 1866.  It arrived hours after I posted about Fanny.  And I was both excited and a bit exasperated to see that Bertha was in fact the daughter of my Fanny.

Levi, Bertha Birth

Why exasperated?  Because I had no idea what had happened to Bertha.  I half-wanted that baby not to have been my cousin so I could finally really put closure on Fanny Wiler.  I also feared that that baby had died and would thus just be one more sad story to add to the life of Fanny WIler.  But there she was—definitely their child, daughter of Fanny Wieler born in Harrisburg.  It had to be the same Fanny and the same Joseph, despite the misspellings and despite the birth in New York, not Philadelphia.

So back to the books I went, now even more determined to find Bertha.  It took many searches and many different wildcards, databases, and spellings, and I still could not find the family on either the 1870 or 1880 census, but I did find this:

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

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

How had this not turned up before? Because Joseph Levy was indexed as “Lery.”  It was only when I searched for the name as “?e?y” that I finally got a hit.  At first I wasn’t certain this was the right person, given that there was no mother’s name and that it said the mother was born in Germany.  But the informant was “A.J. Levy,” and Fanny and Joseph’s oldest son was Alfred J. Levy, so I felt that there was enough here to pursue this Bertha, indexed on Ancestry.com as “Bertha Gellect.”

Well, there was no Bertha Gellect, and I decided that the name Gellert was a more likely option, even though it does look more like a “c” than an “r” on the death certificate. I also knew that in 1917 Bertha Gellert was living in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Fortunately, my hunch was right, and I soon found Bertha and Jacob Gellert on the 1900 census living in Pottsville.  Jacob was a tailor, born in New York, and he and Bertha had been married for three years or in 1897.  This time the birth places of Bertha’s parents were correct: mother born in Pennsylvania, father in Germany.  And the final clue that I had found the correct Bertha?  Their two year old daughter was named Fanny.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Pottsville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1485; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0186; FHL microfilm: 1241485

Year: 1900; Census Place: Pottsville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1485; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0186; FHL microfilm: 1241485

I laughed, smiled, even cried a bit.  My poor Fanny Wiler not only had been found; she had a namesake.  Her daughter Bertha had named her first born child for her mother.  Bertha had only been eleven when her mother died from tuberculosis, and it must have been an awful time for a young girl, watching her mother waste away from this dreadful disease.  Bertha had honored her mother by naming her own daughter Fanny.

In 1910, Jacob, Bertha and Fanny were still living in Pottsville, but Jacob was now an insurance salesman, not a tailor.  Sadly, as seen above, Bertha died seven years later from diabetes.  She was only 51 years old.  A few months after Bertha’s death, Jacob and Fanny both applied for passports in order to take a trip to Cuba—for “pleasure and rest,” as Jacob wrote on his passport application.  Attached to Fanny’s application was a letter from a doctor, attesting to the health reasons for this trip to Cuba:

Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

Here is Fanny’s photograph from her passport application:

Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

By the 1920 census, however, Jacob and Fanny were back in Pottsville. Jacob was now a widower, and his daughter Fanny was living with him.  Jacob had his own business selling fire insurance.  The following year, Fanny married Lester Guttman Block.  Lester was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1895, the son of German immigrants, Daniel and Bertha.  (Yes, his mother’s name was the same as that of his wife’s mother.)  His father was a clothing merchant.  In 1920, Lester was living with his widowed mother and his sister Alice in Trenton, where he worked as a clothing salesman in a retail store.

Fanny Gellert and Lester Block had two daughters born in the 1920s.  Fanny’s father Jacob died from a brain tumor on July 23, 1927; he was 55 years old.  His second wife Reba H. Gellert is named on the death certificate; he had married her by 1922, as they are listed together in the Pottsville directory of that year.  Max Gellert of Pottsville, Jacob’s brother, was named as the informant.  Notice also that Jacob’s mother’s name is given as Fanny Cohen.  Like his daughter, Jacob had married someone whose mother had the same name as his mother.  Could Fanny have been named for both of her grandmothers? Probably not since Jacob’s mother Fanny was still alive long after Jacob and Bertha’s daughter Fanny was born, and ordinarily Jews do not name their children for living grandparents.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

In 1930 Lester and Fanny were living with their daughters as well as Lester’s mother Bertha.  One of the daughters had a name starting with B, and since Lester’s mother was still alive, I assume that the daughter was named for Bertha Levy Gellert, Fanny’s mother.  Lester was in the real estate and insurance business.  In 1940, the members of the household were the same, and Lester was still an insurance agent, like his father-in-law Jacob.

Lester died on December 18, 1953, and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Trenton.  Fanny Gellert Block, the granddaughter of Fanny Wiler Levy,the great-granddaughter of Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler, and my third cousin, twice removed, died on July 9, 1977, when she was 78 years old.  She is buried at Greenwood Cemetery with her husband Lester.

Trenton Evening Times, July 30, 1977, p. 31

Trenton Evening Times, July 30, 1977, p. 31

I am currently trying to contact the descendants of Fanny and Lester.  I am hoping that they also will find meaning in the lives of our mutual ancestors and cousins.

 

View of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

View of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Some Good News, Some Bad News

As I look over the notes and research and documents I have for the other children of Ernst Nusbaum and Clarissa Arnold, I admit that I am not eager to write about the rest of the family.  The post about their oldest son Arthur and his family really brought me down.  And the post prior to that about Myer Nusbaum’s suicide also was very disturbing.  I ended the last post saying that the lives of the other children were not as sad, but on reviewing them again, I am not so sure about that assessment.  But their lives, whatever the sadness, are not to be forgotten simply because it is hard to write and read about them.  They deserve to be remembered just as much as those who succeeded and lived wonderful, happy lives.

Having said that, for now I am going to skip ahead from the oldest child, Arthur, to the two youngest children, Henrietta and Frank, because I need a break from all the heaviness of Arthur.  Not that either Henrietta’s story or Frank’s story is light and airy, but they are a little bit less depressing.  I will, of course, return to the other three siblings and their stories.  Not that they are all bad, but some are pretty tangled, and I still have work to do before I can post.

Before I turn to Henrietta Nusbaum Newhouse and her brother Frank Nusbaum, however, it’s important to return to Clarissa, Ernst’s widow and their mother.  Clarissa survived the death of her son Myer and the death of her husband Ernst in 1894, the death of her son Arthur in 1909 and her grandson Arthur in 1910, the death of her grandson Sidney in 1923, and the death of her granddaughter Stella in 1929.  She also survived the deaths of two other children, one daughter-in-law, and two other grandchildren, all of whom I will write about in later posts.  In 1910 she was living at 2035 Mt. Vernon Street in Philadelphia, and her daughter Henrietta and son-in-law Frank Newhouse were living with her as they had been since 1890.  Clarissa was eighty years old.  She died nine years later on October 2, 1919, of uremia at 89.  She had had a long life with many sad times, but also many years of happiness, I would hope.

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.

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.

Philadelphia Inquirer October 5, 1919 p 18

Philadelphia Inquirer October 5, 1919 p 18

Henrietta and Frank Newhouse continued to live at 2035 Mt. Vernon Street for many years after Clarissa died.  Frank, who had been a traveling salesman in 1900, was selling woolen goods in 1910 and in 1920.  By 1930, Frank and Henrietta had relocated to 3601 Powelton Avenue, and Frank was now doing sales for a “picture house.”  I am not sure whether that refers to a movie theater or a photography studio.  Frank was now 76, and Henrietta was 70.

Frank  Newhouse died five years later on February 23, 1935; he was eighty years old.  Henrietta died five years later on January 4, 1940; she also was eighty when she died.  They are both buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia.  They never had children, so there are no descendants.  Like her mother Clarissa, Henrietta had endured many losses in her life, but she and her husband Frank had had a long marriage and long lives together.

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.

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.

Henrietta’s brother Frank, the youngest of the siblings, also lived a long life and had a long marriage.  In 1900, he and his wife Dolly Hills were living with their daughter Loraine in Philadelphia, and Frank was working as an insurance salesman.  In 1901, he was listed as a director of the agency in the city directory, and he was residing at 3206 Mantua Avenue.  In 1920, Frank was still in the insurance business, and the family had relocated to 811 63rd Street; Loraine was now 21 years old.  They also had a boarder and a servant living with them.

In 1905, Frank and Dolly Nusbaum were the victims of a burglary at their home; this short excerpt from an article about the burglary gives a sense of their lifestyle and what they lost:

Frank Nusbaum burglary p 1

FRank burglary p 2 rev

Philadelphia Inquirer, September 9, 1905, p. 6

 

Loraine married Bertrand [Bertram on some documents] L. Weil in 1921. Bertrand was also a Philadelphian, and his father was in the shirt waist manufacturing business.  Bertrand had been working as a shirt waist salesman in 1910, presumably for his father’s business.  Loraine and Bertrand had one son, Burton L. Weil, born on December 7, 1916, in Pennsylvania.  Sometime thereafter, the family relocated to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where they were residing at the time of Bertrand’s draft registration in 1917.  Bertrand was still engaged in the shirt waist industry, now listing his occupation as a manufacturer.  (His father Abe Weil listed himself as retired on the 1920 census, so perhaps Bertrand had taken over the business.)  In 1920, the family was still living in Atlantic City, and Bertrand was still a shirt waist manufacturer.

Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Atlantic; Roll: 1711902; Draft Board: 2

Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Atlantic; Roll: 1711902; Draft Board: 2

 

In 1930, Frank and Dolly Nusbaum were living at 4840 Pine Street in the Pine Manor Apartments.  Frank, now 68, was still working as the manager of a life insurance business.

It’s not clear what the status was of their daughter Loraine’s marriage in 1930.  Loraine and her son Burton, now 13, were living back in Philadelphia at 241 South 49th Street.  Although Loraine still gave her marital status as married, she is listed as the head of the household.  Bertrand, meanwhile, is listed in the 1930 census as living in New York City, also giving his status as married.  He was living as a lodger in the Hotel New Yorker on Eighth Avenue and working as a “traveler” in the ready-to-wear business.  Had his shirt waist business failed? Was he simply in New York on business when the census was taken?  I do not know.

But six years later, Bertrand died in New York City. On October 20, 1936, he was found dead in his room at the Hotel McAlpin in New York, and after an autopsy, the cause of death was given as “congestion of viscera; fatty infiltration of liver; contusion of head.”  I am not sure what the first refers to exactly, though I found one source online saying that it was not uncommon at one time in New York to use “congestion of the viscera” as a temporary catch-all on death certificates when the cause of death wasn’t yet clear.

Weil, Bertram Death page 1

The second page of the certificate has a handwritten entry dated February 22, 1937, four months after his death, that says “acute chronic alcoholism.”

Weil, Bertram Death page 2

That might explain both the separation from Loraine and the contusion on his head.  I also noted that it was his sister, not his wife, who made the arrangements with the undertaker.  Bertrand was buried at Mt. Sinai in Philadelphia; the plot arrangements were made as well by his sister, not his wife.

Loraine remarried a year later in 1937.  She married Robert Cooke Clarkson, Jr., a mechanical engineer also born in Philadelphia and a 1915 graduate of the University of PennsylvaniaRobert Cook Clarkson Penn bio 1917

Robert had married Anna Armstrong in Philadelphia in 1918, and he was still married and living with her as of the 1930 census.  Since I cannot find a death certificate for Anna, I assume that Robert and Anna divorced, and in 1937, he married Loraine Nusbaum Weil.  Loraine and Robert are listed together on a passenger manifest for a cruise to Bermuda on May 15, 1937, a trip that might very well have been their honeymoon trip.

Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5978; Line: 1; Page Number: 15

Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5978; Line: 1; Page Number: 15

In 1940, Loraine, Robert, her son Burton Weil, and his mother Hannah Weil were all living at 1006 Edmunds Street in Philadelphia.  Robert was working as the mechanical inspector for the Board of Education, and Burton, now 23, was working as a clerk for Campbell Soup Company.  Loraine’s parents, Frank and Dolly Nusbaum, were still living on Pine Street; Frank was retired and 78 years old; Dolly was 76.

The 1940s were a decade of loss for the family.  First, on January 23, 1943, Dolly died at 79 from cachexia or wasting syndrome due to arterial deterioration and senility.  Almost two years later on December 21, 1944, Frank died at age 83 from myocardial deterioration.  They are buried at West Laurel Hill cemetery in Philadelphia.

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.

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.

Their grandson Burton Weil had enlisted with the Army Air Corps on October 14, 1940, after two years at the University of Tennessee.  He had fought in World War II as a pilot; he had shot down a German plane before he himself had been shot down over North Africa and captured in Tripoli on January 18, 1943.  He was sent to a German prisoner of war camp and was liberated in May, 1945.  For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Clusters.

Just a year after his liberation while continuing to serve in the Air Corps in California, on September 20, 1946, he was killed when his plane crashed in Kentucky while he was en route to his home in Philadelphia.

Burton_Weil_obituary-page-001

Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Birth and Death Records: Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Newport – Microfilm (before 1911). Microfilm rolls #7007125-7007131, 7011804-7011813, 7012974-7013570, 7015456-7015462. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1955). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Birth and Death Records: Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Newport – Microfilm (before 1911). Microfilm rolls #7007125-7007131, 7011804-7011813, 7012974-7013570, 7015456-7015462. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1955). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Loraine, who lost her mother, then her father, and then her son in such a quick period of time, lost her husband Robert ten years later on October 9, 1956, when he died of a pulmonary embolism.  He was 64 years old.

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.

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.

 

Despite all that heartbreak, Loraine lived another 35 years, dying on February 13, 1991, when she was almost 103 years old.  I wish I knew more about what her life was like after 1956, but sadly I cannot find an obituary.  Loraine is buried with her second husband Robert and her son Burton at Drexel Hill Cemetery.

courtesy of Penny at FindAGrave

courtesy of Penny at FindAGrave

Neither Henrietta Nusbaum Newhouse nor Frank Nusbaum has any living descendants.

 

 

 

 

Rosenzweig Update: Who Signed that Death Certificate?

One of the biggest mysteries I encountered in researching my Rosenzweig cousins was the mystery of Lilly Rosenzweig, the first child of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig.  Lilly was my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager’s first cousin.  Lilly had married Toscano Bartolino in 1901 and had had a child William with him, born March 9, 1902.  Then just two years later on April 27, 1904, Toscano had died from kidney disease at age 27, leaving Lilly a twenty year old widow with a two year old child.

Bartolini Rosenzweig marriage certificate

Bartolini Rosenzweig marriage certificate

 

William Bartolini birth certificate

William Bartolini birth certificate

Toscano Bartolini death certificate

Toscano Bartolini death certificate

 

Lilly and her son William were living with Gustave and Gussie in 1905, but by 1910, William was no longer living with his mother and grandparents, but was in St. John’s Home for Boys in Brooklyn.

Gustave Rosenzweig family on the 1905 NYS census

Gustave Rosenzweig family on the 1905 NYS census

William Bartolini 1910 at St John's Home, Brooklyn

William Bartolini 1910 at St John’s Home, Brooklyn

 

Lilly was still living with her parents in 1910 and working as a nurse.  In 1915, William was at a different residential home, but I could not find Lilly at all on the 1915 NYS census nor could I find her anywhere after that.  None of the great-grandchildren of Gustave and Gussie knew what had happened to her, except that they thought she had remarried and moved to New Jersey at some point.  No one knew her married name or whether she had more children.  I was stuck and could not get any further.

I thought I had a new clue when I obtained Gustave’s 1944 death certificate.  It was signed by an informant I thought might be Lilly.  I posted the signature on the blog, hoping someone would be able to decipher it more clearly than I could, but every possible reading of the signature led me nowhere, even using wildcard searches and as many variations as I could.  I put Lilly aside and figured it was a lost cause.

Gustav Rosenzweig death cert 1

And then? Well, this past weekend I received a call from Harriet, one of Lilly’s nieces.  She not only remembered Lilly well—she remembered the first name of her second husband—Carmen. And she said they had lived in Jersey City. She remembered Lilly fondly and described her as funny and fun-loving, like all the Rosenzweig siblings.

So I now had two more clues.  Lilly had married someone named Carmen, and they had lived in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Armed with just those additional pieces of information, I was able to design a search on FamilySearch using the two first names and the location.  The first result on the results list was a Lilly and Carmen Dorme living in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1940.

Carmen and Lillian Dorme 1940 US census

Carmen and Lillian Dorme 1940 US census

 

Rutherford was not Jersey City, but it was close by, so I decided to try that surname.  Using Dorme, I was able to search more thoroughly and found that Lilly and Carmen Dorme were already married by 1918 when Carmen  (using Carmine Dormes then) registered for the World War I draft and that they were living in Jersey City.  This had to be my long-missing cousin Lilly.

Carmine Dormes World War I draft registration

Carmine Dormes World War I draft registration

 

After that, I was also able to find Lilly and Carmen in several Jersey City directories and in the 1930 US census, which revealed that Lilly and Carmen had a child, Louis, who was then sixteen years old.

Dorme family on the 1930 US census

Dorme family on the 1930 US census

Further searching uncovered a Louis Dorme’s entry on the Social Security Death Index, indicating that he was born in New York on May 13, 1913, and had died in 1977.  This was consistent with the age and birthplace for Louis on the 1930 census, so I am reasonably certain that this is the correct person.

I still cannot find the family on the 1920 census, and since they were living in Jersey City both before and after 1920, I assumed that they would have been there then as well.  But although Carmen is listed in both the 1918 and the 1925 Jersey City directories, he is not in the 1922 directory (the intermediate years are not available online).  Harriet thought that Lilly had served as a nurse overseas during World War I, so perhaps that is where the family was located during that period.  I cannot, however, find a military record for Carmen, so I have no way to know for sure where they were during that period.

And although I do know when Louis died (1977) and when Carmen died (1962) from the SSDI, I cannot find Lilly on the SSDI nor can I find any other record of her death.  Harriet does remember Lilly’s death (in fact, Harriet’s mother reported that Lilly’s last words was a request for a corned beef sandwich!), but not the specific year or place.

But I do have one clue, and it goes back to Gustave’s death certificate.  As soon as I saw that Lilly’s married name was Dorme, something clicked in my head.  I went back to look at Gustave’s death certificate, and now it seemed strikingly clear that the informant’s name was L. Dorme.

Lilly as informant

How could I not have seen that or found her before?  I just don’t know.  But now I knew that it was in fact Lilly who signed her father’s death certificate.  And so I know that she was still alive as of October 16, 1944, when Gustave died.  I am sure with a few more clues I will be able to narrow down the year and perhaps find her death record as well.

So in the space of one afternoon with the help of a new cousin, I was able to resolve one of the biggest questions I had remaining about my grandfather’s Rosenzweig first cousins.  Thank you, Harriet!

 

Final Chapter: The Dreyfuss Family in America

My three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and her two sisters, Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler, came to America and along with their husbands they settled in Pennsylvania where their husbands started as peddlers and then became merchants.  Two of the sisters married Nusbaum brothers: my three-times great grandfather John Nusbaum and his brother Maxwell Nusbaum.  They all had several children.  They all suffered financial hardship, untimely deaths of family members, and in some cases, terrible tragedies.  Today there are no living descendants of Mathilde Dreyfuss.   Jeanette Dreyfuss and John Nusbaum have a number of living descendants, myself included, of course.

As for the family of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, I have written about the lives of their daughter Fanny Wiler and her children and of their son Simon Wiler.  Of their daughter Eliza’s five children, Flora and Nellie were the only ones still alive in 1920, and the only grandchild alive was Flora’s son Lester Strouse.  In 1920, Lester was 32 and working in advertising, living at home with his mother Flora.  In 1928, Lester married Mabel Schoultz; he was forty, and she was 37.  Mabel was born in Pennsylvania, and her parents were born in Sweden.  In 1930, she and Lester were living in the Plaza Hall apartments in Philadelphia.  Lester was still in the advertising business, a field in which he remained for his career.

Lester’s mother Flora was living as a boarder in 1930 at 1712 Mt. Vernon Street in Philadelphia; she listed her marital status as widowed.  In 1940 she was living as a boarder at 2008 Spring Garden Street; her son Lester and his wife Mabel were living in Cheltenham, a suburban community thirteen miles north of Philadelphia.

 

In August, 1941, Nellie Simon Loux, died at 66 of breast cancer, and her nephew Lester paid the bill for her funeral.  A year later Flora Simon Strouse Heulings, Lester’s mother and Nellie’s sister, died in November 1942 from chronic myocarditis. She was 76 years old.  Flora had been residing at the Majestic Hotel before becoming a patient at the Bella Vista Sanitarium in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where she died.  Nellie and Flora were buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery with their parents and siblings.

Flora’s death certificate is yet another example of how unreliable these documents can be.  It says her father’s name was Simon Weiler, when in fact her father was Leman Simon.  Wiler was her mother Eliza’s maiden name.  Apparently whoever filled this out conflated the two surnames.  The certificate also represents that Flora was widowed, which she was when her first husband Nathan Strouse died.  But the husband listed here, Albert C. Heulings, was alive and well and living in Chicago with his second wife.  As the 1920 census had indicated, Flora was divorced, not a widow. Although the 1930 census said she was a widow and the 1940 listed her as single, the 1920 is likely the most accurate.  It’s not surprising that someone grieving would make these mistakes.

Thus, by the end of 1942, all of the children of Eliza and Leman Simon had now passed away.  Their only surviving descendant was their grandson Lester.  That last descendant died on October 14, 1960, from coronary thrombosis; he was 71 years old.  Lester, an advertising salesman all his career, was survived by his wife Mabel.  There were no children, and thus that was the end of the family line for Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon.

That left only the children of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers to carry on the line of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler.  As of 1920, Daniel and Clara as well as their children Bertha, Samuel, and Harry were gone.  I also discussed Leon Meyers’ death in my last post.  By 1920, all the other children except for Milton, the youngest, were married and had settled on careers, and many had had children.  In the rest of this post I will review how each of those children fared.

In 1920 Isadore Meyers was a clothing manufacturer, married to Elsie Goodman, with two sons, Robert and David.  I had not had much luck finding Isadore in any city directories until I found a listing that included his company’s name, which was Meyers & Obermayer.  I was able to find the company listed as early as 1911, selling “pantaloons.”  Here is a small classified ad from 1915 that I found in which they were looking to purchase a second hand pressing machine for their trousers business.

Philadelphia Inquirer  January 31, 1915 p. 11

Philadelphia Inquirer January 31, 1915 p. 11

The last listing I could find for Meyers & Obermayer in Philadelphia was in 1925.  There are also listings for a clothing manufacturer called Obermyer & Myers in Norristown during the 1910s and 1920s, but I don’t know whether that is just a coincidence or the same business.

In 1930 Isadore, Elsie and their sons were living at 1228 65th Avenue, and Isadore was still a clothing manufacturer.  I was unable to find any records for the family between 1930 and 1940, but the 1940 census finds Isadore, Elsie and David still living at 1228 65th Avenue.   Their older son Robert must have been living elsewhere.

By 1950, Isadore’s business was known as Meyers and Sons, as listed in the 1950 Philadelphia phonebook.  Isadore died on November 1, 1960, from heart disease.  He was 81 years old.  His wife Elsie died fourteen years later on December 23, 1974.  She was 92 years old.  They are buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery.

Isadore Meyers death cert

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.

Max, the next son, was a mechanical engineer working at Newton Machine Tool Works and married to Henrietta Klopfer.  They had a son Donald, born in 1918, and a daughter Dorothy born in 1923.  Almost every year, Max, Henrietta, and their children took a cruise together.  On December 1, 1939, just a few months after their last cruise, Max died from prostate cancer.  He was only 58 years old.  His widow Henrietta lived until April 1977; they are both buried at Mt. Sinai.

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.

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.

In 1920, Benjamin and Leona (Faulcher) Meyers were living in Collingswood, New Jersey, with Leona’s parents, and Benjamin was working as an optometrist.  Benjamin and Leona had two children in the 1920s, Margaret born in 1924, and Clara, named for his mother, born in 1926.  In 1930, the family was back in Philadelphia at 6418 North 16th Street, and Benjamin was now working as a manager in a cotton yarns business, presumably that of his younger brother Clarence, discussed in my last post and below.  The family was still living at that address in 1940 (Margaret was now listed as Rosebud), and Benjamin’s occupation was now reported to be a superintendent in a factory, again his brother Clarence’s yarn business.  He and Leona were now in their fifties and their daughters were teenagers.  His 1942 World War II draft registration confirmed that Benjamin was working with his brother Clarence.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 212

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 212

 

Benjamin and Leona moved to Camden, New Jersey, the following year.  He died on October 21, 1956, from heart disease.  He was 73 years old.  He and Leona were then living in Audobon, New Jersey, and his occupation was reported to be a superintendent for Clarence L. Meyers & Company.  Leona died less than three years later on April 3, 1959, also of heart disease.  She was 73.

Clarence, the cotton yarns manufacturer, had been in that business since 1910, originally operating as the Elm Converting Company.  In 1920, he and his wife Estelle were living at 2251 North Park Avenue with their one year old daughter, Nancy.  Clarence and Estelle apparently loved to travel.  From as early as 1924 and all through the 1930s and 1940s, the family traveled to many places, according to the numerous ship manifests I located.  His business was seemingly quite successful as at least two of his brothers, Benjamin and Milton, as well as at least one of his nephews were also at one time or another working in the business.

In 1940 Clarence, Estelle, and Nancy were living at 707 Medary Avenue, along with Estelle’s mother, a butler, and a servant.  They were still living there in 1942 when Clarence registered for the draft and also in 1950, according to the 1950 Philadelphia phonebook.

Sadly, on February 5, 1951, Clarence lost his wife Estelle to cancer.  She was sixty years old.  Clarence continued to travel after Estelle died, including a cruise around the world in 1953 and trips to Argentina and to Italy in 1954 and 1955. Clarence died in April, 1961, in Dade County, Florida.  He was 75 years old.  He and Estelle are buried in Mt. Sinai cemetery, as is their daughter Nancy, who died just three years after her father Clarence.

The next brother was Franklin, an optometrist, who in 1920 was living with his wife Mae in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he had been since about 1914.  Franklin and Mae had a daughter Carolyn born in 1922.  Franklin and Mae remained in Pottstown throughout the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and Franklin had an optometry practice there throughout all those years.

Franklin_F__Meyers_ad-page-001

Franklin died on January 23, 1956, and I was able to find this detailed obituary published in the Pottsdown Mercury, the local newspaper, on January 24, 1956, pp. 1, 5:

Part_1_of_obit ff meyers-page-001

obit part 2

Like so many of his siblings, he died from heart related issues.  He was 68.  Despite living in Pottstown for over 40 years, he was buried back in Philadelphia at Mt. Sinai.  His widow Mae died twenty years later in Pottstown, and she also was buried at Mt. Sinai.

Miriam Meyers Strauss was married to Abram Strauss, a doctor, and living with him at 1836 North 17th Street in 1920. From a decision of the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Board in 1921, I was able to learn that Abram was a dermatologist.    He and Miriam had two sons, Daniel and Richard.  By 1930, they had moved to the suburb of Cheltenham, where they were also living in 1940.

After that I have no records for them until Miriam’s death on July 26, 1975.  I do not have her death certificate because the death is too recent, and I cannot locate an obituary, but I know that she is buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery with her with her parents and her siblings, but not with Abram.  I cannot find any record for Abram after his 1942 draft registration.

Miriam’s younger sister Charlotte was married to J. Albert Field, and in 1920, they were living at 1905 Diamond Street with her brothers Leon and Milton.  In 1930, they were still living at 1905 Diamond Street, but without any other family members or boarders.  Albert was still a department store manager.  Charlotte and Albert took a cruise together to Bermuda in 1931.  In 1940 they had moved to the Oak Lane Tower apartments.  Albert was continuing to work as a department store manager.

Charlotte died on October 8, 1940, just a few months after the 1940 census.  Although I have her burial records at Mt. Sinai, as with her sister Miriam, I cannot find a death certificate so I do not know her cause of death.  Also like Miriam, Charlotte was buried with her parents and siblings and not her husband.  However, Albert listed Charlotte’s brother Clarence as the person who would always know his address on his World War II registration in 1942.  It appears that Albert did remarry sometime after Charlotte died as his marital status at the time was married, and the name of his wife on his death certificate in 1958 was Frances.  Charlotte and Albert had not had any children.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Finally, we come to Milton, the baby of the family. In 1920, he was living with Charlotte, Albert, and Leon at 1905 Diamond Street, and he was working at Clarence’s yarn factory.  Milton married Beatrice Kaufmann sometime between 1920 and 1923 because their son James was born in 1924.  Beatrice was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a merchant.  In 1926 their second son Gordon was born.  On the 1930 census, they owned a house worth $35,000 in Cheltenham/Elkins Park.  Milton listed his occupation as a manufacturer of cotton yarns, still in business with his brother Clarence.  They were living in the same house in 1940 (now given a value of only $20,000 after ten years of the Depression), and Milton’s occupation remained the same.  Milton’s World War II draft registration is also consistent with these facts.

Throughout these years and the 1950s, Milton and Beatrice traveled frequently, taking trips to Cuba, England, and Argentina, for example.  Milton died May 8, 1975. He was living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time and was 79 years old.  He was buried in Mt. Sinai cemetery.  His widow Beatrice died in 1996 at age 93.  Her obituary fills in some of the details of her life:

Beatrice Kaufmann Meyers, 93, died Tuesday of cancer at her home in Jenkintown. Mrs. Meyers, who was a graduate of Beechwood Finishing School (now Beaver College), was the widow of Milton Meyers, owner of Clarence L. Meyers & Co., textile manufacturers.  She was a driver for the American Women’s Volunteer Services during World War II, and was active in the Orphan’s Guardian Program, which was similar to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  She was a member of Philmont Country Club for more than 70 years, and of Rodeph Shalom Congregation.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 1996, p. B04)      Interestingly, Beatrice was not buried at Mt. Sinai with her husband but at Shalom Memorial Park in Lower Moreland, Pennsylvania.

And that brings me to the end of the story of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, their children, and their grandchildren.    Of course, there are other descendants, many of whom are still living.  Looking back on this line of my family, I see a family that truly suffered greatly.  Deaths from tuberculosis, a child killed by matches, financial crises, many adults who did not live to see their grandchildren.  But I also see a resilient family.  The children of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers in particular were able to overcome their father’s business problems and create their own businesses that were quite successful, allowing them to travel and provide homes and continuity for their children.

It’s another example of the much sought after American dream.  In seventy years the family started by two people born in Germany who came to the United States in the mid-19th century with little more than their diligence and persistence had grown to include a number of successful descendants: a clothing manufacturer, a cotton yarn manufacturer, several optometrists, and a mechanical engineer.  They overcame incredible tragedies and losses, but they nevertheless thrived in this country that had attracted their grandparents for just those opportunities for success.  So although this particular chapter has at times been very sad and upsetting, in the end it is an uplifting chapter.