What Was My Cousin Doing in Omaha?

By 1885, Samuel Katz, my first cousin three times removed, had moved to Omaha, Nebraska, from the small town in Kentucky where he’d first settled after immigrating from Jesberg, Germany. What took him to Omaha, and what was he doing there?

First, what took him to Omaha? After all, his brother Abraham was living in Kentucky.  Omaha is almost 800 miles west of Horse Cave, Kentucky, where Abraham was living.

 

Omaha was a booming town.  Between 1880 and 1890, its population grew from just over 30,000 people to over 140,000 people. Wikipedia describes it as the fasting growing city in the United States in the 1880s.

According to Wikipedia:

After Irish-born James E. Boyd founded the first packing operation in Omaha in the 1870s, thousands of immigrants from central and southern Europe came to Omaha to work in the Union Stockyards and slaughterhouses of South Omaha. They created Omaha’s original ethnic neighborhoods… The Near North Side also developed greatly during this period, with high concentrations of Jews and Germans, and the first groups of African Americans. …Omaha’s growth was accelerated in the 1880s by the rapid development of the Union Stockyards and the meat packing industry in South Omaha. …There were several breweries established throughout the city during this period.

Omaha 1889, located at http://www.printsoldandrare.com/nebraska/

Not only was Omaha a booming economic center in the 1880s, it also had an established Jewish community.  Temple Israel, the oldest synagogue in Nebraska, provides this history of the Omaha Jewish community on its website:

The first Jewish settlers, mostly merchants and businessmen, arrived in Omaha in 1856. …During the early 1860s, Jewish religious services in Omaha were conducted by laymen including Max Abrahams, grandfather of Milton R. Abrahams, who would become president of Temple Israel in 1942.

In 1871, the Congregation of Israel was founded …. Recognizing the need for a Jewish burial ground, five acres for a cemetery at 42nd and Redick were purchased and deeded to the congregation. During the summer and fall of 1871, Reverend Alexander Rosenspitz served the congregation and conducted the first Confirmation Service for a class of seven. The next year, a short-lived Sunday School was organized. Articles of incorporation were filed with the Douglas County Clerk in 1873. … Enthusiasm and dedication kept the tiny congregation viable. But all money raised was designated for a building leaving little for a rabbi’s salary. Finally, a lot was purchased at 23rd and Harney for $4,000. Reverend George Harfield was hired as rabbi in 1883 and on September 18, 1884, the 50-member congregation dedicated the first synagogue in Nebraska. It had been built for $4,500.

Temple Israel of Omaha, 1st Building
photo located at http://www.jmaw.org/temple-israel-omaha-nebraska/

 

Thus, Omaha would have been an attractive location for a Jewish merchant like Samuel Katz.  He did not, however, strike out all alone with his wife and son and move to Omaha; his wife Lorena’s sister, Bella Rothschild Pollock, and her husband Alexander Pollock had settled in Omaha as early as 1871; by 1880, Lorena’s brother Lafayette had also settled there. And during the 1880s, Lorena’s parents and her sisters Annie and Minnie moved there as well. So Samuel Katz was led to Omaha by his wife’s family.

Now what did he do there? That proved to be a difficult question to answer. I searched for Samuel in every Omaha directory from 1880 through 1912 to try and find answers to that question.

In 1885 there were two men named Samuel Katz and one named Samuel Kats in the Omaha directory.  One Samuel Katz was a grocer, residing at 2514 Douglas Street; the other was a glazier living 1308 Leavenworth Street. Samuel Kats was a tailor living at 1432 13th Street.

1885 Omaha directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

In 1886, the glazier was no longer listed, and the tailor was listed with a son, a Samuel Katz, Jr. Since my Samuel did not have a son named Samuel, the tailor could not have been my Samuel Katz.  The grocer named Samuel Katz was now listed as residing at 2016 Farnam; it seemed this had to be my Samuel Katz.

By 1887 there was only one Samuel Katz listed in the Omaha directory; he was working for a real estate business called Katz & Company and residing at 2106 Farnam Street, the same address where the grocer had been living the year before.   I thought this must have been “my” Samuel and that he had moved to the real estate field.

1887 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

But there was a Miss Minnie Katz living at the same address who was a music teacher as well as a Miss Annie Katz.  Samuel did not have a wife or a daughter or a sister named Minnie or Annie, so who could they be? I was mystified.

Then I remembered that Lorena had sisters named Minnie and Annie, and they certainly could have been living with Samuel and Lorena.  Perhaps the directory erred by listing them with the surname Katz instead of Rothschild?

A check of the 1888 Omaha directory answered my question:

1888 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Annie and Minnie Rothschild were listed as living at 2113 Douglas Street, along with their father William and their brother Lafayette; Minnie was a music teacher.  Now I knew that Samuel Katz and his family were all living with Lorena’s parents and siblings in the same home at 2113 Douglas Street in 1887. The 1887 directory had simply assigned the wrong surname to Minnie and Annie.

In 1888 Samuel Katz was listed as a general agent for real estate for Manhattan Life Insurance Company, residing with his in-laws at 2113 Douglas Street.  And in 1889 the Samuel Katz living on Douglas Street (now 2111) was working for Polack Clothing Company, the same company that employed his brother-in-law Lafayette. This was presumably the business of Alex Pollock (as it was later spelled), brother-in-law of both Samuel Katz and Lafayette Rothschild.

Omaha directory 1888
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

1889 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

In 1890 my Samuel Katz was part owner of a clothing manufacturing business with Charles Nevins (later spelled Nevens) and William Rees and was still living at 2111 Douglas Street.  Meanwhile, Samuel Katz the tailor was still living on 12th Street.

1890 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Samuel Katz of 2111 Douglas Street continued to be listed with Katz-Nevens-Rees in the Omaha directories for each year between 1890 and 1895, although in 1895 there was a second listing for a Samuel Katz who was a grading contractor living on 11th Street.  Every directory from 1895 up to 1899 had these two listings for Samuel Katz, but which one was my relative—the clothing manufacturer at 2111 Douglas Street or the grading contractor at 11th Street?

1899 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

On the 1900 census my Samuel Katz was living at 2111 Douglas Street—that is, the address of the Samuel Katz who was the clothing manufacturer with Nevens and Rees, according to the Omaha directories.

Samuel Katz and family, 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Omaha Ward 4, Douglas, Nebraska; Roll: 924; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1240924

Samuel Katz’s occupation on 1900 US census

But doesn’t it look like the occupation for that Samuel Katz on that 1900 census says “Contr-Grd”? As in grading contractor? Was he both a clothing manufacturer AND a grading contractor? Or did every issue of the Omaha directory for all those years have the two men named Samuel Katz mixed up?

I was so confused….until I looked more carefully at the 1899 directory listing. And I noticed that the Katz-Nevens clothing company was located at 204 South 11th Street, the same address where the grading contracting business, Samuel Katz & Co, was located. Samuel Katz was in fact in both the clothing business and the grading contracting business.

1899 Omaha directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

But there were more mysteries to be solved, such as who was Bertha Katz, residing at 2111 Douglas Street and working as a stenographer for Katz-Nevens? And how did Samuel Katz end up in two very different businesses?

TO BE CONTINUED

My Cousin in Sao Paulo

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had been fortunate to have several German sources of information about Rosalie Schoenthal Heymann, her husband Willy, and their six children, three sons, Lionel, Walter, and Max, and three daughters, Johanna, Helene, and Hilda.  I’ve already posted about the lives of the three sons. This post and the next will tell about the lives of the three daughters.

The death notice for one of those sons, Lionel, mentioned a sister named Henny Mosbach Rothschild; his full obituary mentioned an unnamed sister living in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

 

Ancestry.com. Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 [database on-line].

Ancestry.com. Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 [database on-line].

Ancestry.com. Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 [database on-line].

Ancestry.com. Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 [database on-line].

 

From the Steinheim site, I knew that the second-born child of Rosalie (Schoenthal) and Willy Heymann was their daughter Johanna; that site reported that Johanna was born in 1889, married someone named Mosbach, and died in Brazil.  From the Juden in der Geschichte des Gelderlandes book, I learned that Johanna’s husband was Hermann Mosbach, a merchant in Ratingen, and that they had married on April 8, 1915.

 

page 370 for blog

Bernhard Keuck and Gerd Halmanns, eds., Juden in der Geschichte des Gelderlandes, p. 370

Thus, I assumed that the sister mentioned in the obituary and the one named in the death notice were one and the same: Johanna (“Henny”) Schoenthal, who had married a man named Hermann Mosbach and who had ended up in Brazil.  But I didn’t know anything about what had happened in between: Why had she gone to Brazil, not Chicago where her three brothers were living? When had she gotten there? What had happened to Hermann Mosbach? And who was the apparent second husband named Rothschild?

I did not find anything helpful on Ancestry, but on FamilySearch.org, I found two records from Brazil. The first was a record for a widow (“viuva”), Johanna Mosbach, born February 27, 1889, in Geldern, Germany, daughter of Willy Heymann and Rosalie Schoenthal.  She was being admitted to Brazil as a permanent resident.  The card was dated February 18, 1939, and indicated that she had arrived at the Porto de Santos on the ship Monte Sarmento.

 

Brasil, São Paulo, Cartões de Imigração, 1902-1980," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKD5-RQ52 : accessed 31 March 2016), Joana Mosbach Rothschild, 1939; citing Immigration, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, certificate 544986, registration 20634, Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Public Archives, São Paulo).

Brasil, São Paulo, Cartões de Imigração, 1902-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKD5-RQ52 : accessed 31 March 2016), Joana Mosbach Rothschild, 1939; citing Immigration, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, certificate 544986, registration 20634, Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Public Archives, São Paulo).

 

The second record I found for Johanna through FamilySearch’s Brazil database was not dated, but was presumably some years later.  Her name is now recorded as Joana Mosbach Rothschild, same birth date as above, and she is now “casada” or married.  She was apparently still an alien as this was a card issued by the public security secretary for registration of foreigners or “estrangeiros.”

 

Brasil, São Paulo, Cartões de Imigração, 1902-1980," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKJG-XR67 : accessed 31 March 2016), Joana Mosbach, 1939; citing Immigration, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, certificate 20634, registration 544986, Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Public Archives, São Paulo).

Brasil, São Paulo, Cartões de Imigração, 1902-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKJG-XR67 : accessed 31 March 2016), Joana Mosbach, 1939; citing Immigration, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, certificate 20634, registration 544986, Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Public Archives, São Paulo).

 

But that was as far as I could get without more assistance, so I sent an inquiry to a woman named Anita on the JewishGen Family Finder, who listed Mosbach as one of her family names.  I also wrote to three of the JewishGen listservs, including one for Latin America.  Once again, the genealogy village came through and provided me with helpful suggestions and ultimately many answers.

First, Anita from the JewishGen Family Finder sent me three links that provided more information about Johanna and her first husband Hermann Mosbach.  All pertained to the Jewish community in Ratingen, Germany, before World War II.  From these three sources, I learned that Johanna was Hermann Mosbach’s second wife and that he’d had a daughter named Else with his first wife.  Hermann was born on July 18, 1877, and died on October 30, 1931, in Ratingen, when he was 54 years old.  Here is a photograph of Hermann, standing far right.

 

 

(Caption under photograph says, “Hermann Mosbach, owner of the “Rheinische department store C. Schmidt & Co.”, was a member of the Catholic Mercantile Association (CISO). In the picture he is seen at an event of the club in the second row on the right. (1928).”

These sources also indicated that Hermann’s daughter Else had immigrated to Brazil in 1936 and that Johanna also had left Ratingen by 1936.  Three years later she arrived in Brazil, presumably to be with her stepdaughter Else.  That might explain why she did not go to Chicago to be with her brothers.

I was curious as to why Else and then Johanna would have selected Brazil as their new home.  Was there a Jewish community there? Why Sao Paulo?

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sao Paulo had a long history of being a city that welcomed immigrants, receiving over three millions immigrants from all over the world before 1940.  Jewish immigrants began to arrive in the late 19th century, but Jewish immigration really surged in the 1920s as immigration obstacles in the US and Canada made those less likely destinations for Jews leaving Europe.  Sao Paulo, however, welcomed these immigrants, and during the 1920s, synagogues, Jewish schools, cemeteries, and other institutions were created to serve the growing Jewish population.  After Hitler came to power in 1933, there was another large influx of Jewish immigrants to Sao Paulo.  Thus, it made sense that Else Mosbach and her stepmother, Johanna Heymann Mosbach, would have settled there.

English: aerial photograph of Sao Paulo Brazil...

English: aerial photograph of Sao Paulo Brazil 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Neither Anita nor I could find any information about what happened to Johanna or her stepdaughter Else once they got to Brazil.

Fortunately, I then heard from Sandra through the LatinAmSig on JewishGen; she was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil; her family had also immigrated there to escape Nazi Germany.  Sandra was incredibly generous and had asked her mother to see if she could find any information about Johanna or Else; she then sent me three links to additional online sources, including links to two newspaper articles regarding Else Mosbach Simon’s successful application to become a citizen of Brazil in 1950.

From those articles, I learned that Else was born on February 8, 1905, to Hermann and Selma Mosbach.  Thus, Else had been only ten years old when Johanna married her father in 1915, further explaining why Johanna would have moved to Sao Paulo—to be closer to the child she had helped to raise.  Else had married someone with the surname Simon by 1950, but unfortunately, I’ve not yet found out more information about her.

Sandra also gave me a link to the Arquivo Historico Judaico Brasileiro and suggested I contact the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Sao Paulo.  She then translated into Portuguese an email I drafted and sent it to a person she knew at the synagogue when I had trouble trying to contact them directly through their website.  From these sources, I learned that Johanna had died on September 11, 1971, and was buried at the Buntantan cemetery in Sao Paulo.  She was 82 years old.

 

By Dornicke (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Synagogue Beth El in Sao Paulo By Dornicke (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The pieces were starting to come together, except that I still had no information about Johanna’s presumed second husband named Rothschild.  Then someone sent me (I apologize for failing to note who that was) this marriage announcement in the September 29, 1957 issue of the O Estado de Sao Paulo (p. 12) for someone named Hans Joseph Schmitz, described as the son of Ferdinand Rothschild and Johanna Mosbach Rothschild:

 

 

Could this be my Johanna? Could she have remarried and had a son born sometime after 1939 who was now marrying—although he could be no more than 18 years old?  That seemed unlikely, but now at least I had a first name to use for her presumed second husband.

I found a tree on Ancestry that included Ferdinand Rothschild and contacted the tree’s owner, Rainer.  He informed me that Ferdinand Rothschild had married Johanna Heymann on April 9, 1955, when Johanna was already 66 years old and Ferdinand was 67.  Ferdinand had been previously married to Grete or Gretchen Schmitz, Rainer’s great-aunt, who had died in Brazil on April 29, 1939.  Hans was her son.  He died on April 5, 1970, according to these death notices from the April 7, 1970, issue of O Estado de Sao Paulo, p. 35:

 

Hans Schmitz death notice April 7, 1970 O Estado de Sao Paulo Hans schmitz second death notice same paper p 35 same as other april 1970 o estado

 

Rainer also sent me Ferdinand’s death record.  He had died on December 31, 1958, while on a visit to Germany  and was buried in Dusseldorf, Germany, not in Sao Paulo where Johanna was living.  At the bottom of that record you can see a reference to the marriage date for Ferdinand and Johanna.

 

Ferdinand Rothschild death certificate

Ferdinand Rothschild death certificate

 

Johanna and Ferdinand had been married only three years when he died; he was seventy years old.  Johanna would outlive her second husband by another thirteen years, dying, as noted above, on September 11, 1971, in Sao Paulo.  Like her brothers Lionel and Walter, Johanna left no descendants behind, except for her stepdaughter Else Mosbach Simon and her stepson Hans Joseph Schmitz.

Once again, I am very grateful to all those who helped me put together these pieces of my cousin Johanna Heymann Mosbach Rothschild’s life, including my new cousins-by-marriage, Rainer and Anita, and especially Sandra, without whom I’d never have been able to learn where and when Johanna died and was buried.

That leaves me with the two remaining daughters of Rosalie Schoenthal and Willy Heymann: Helene and Hilda.