Why I Love the Internet: The World Wide Web

Internet

Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet continues to provide me with so much more than access to information.  Through my blog, Ancestry, Facebook, Google, and ordinary old email, I continue to find and be found by cousins all over the world.  In the last two weeks, I have seen my network of cousins expand and greatly enrich my knowledge and understanding of my family history.  So a few updates.

First, I heard from a relative of Margaret Swem, the wife of Felix Schoenthal, my Boston relative, and she filled me in on the background and family of Margaret.  Quite interesting information that I will add to the post about Felix and his family.  Once again, having a blog proved useful because Margaret’s relative found my blog by Googling Margaret Swem’s name.

Second, an Israeli second cousin, once removed, of my husband found me through my tree on Ancestry.  I haven’t even done very much yet on my husband’s family, but through this new cousin we’ve learned a great deal about the Shrage family in Zabarazh, a town once in Galicia but now part of Ukraine.  It’s been very exciting learning from our new Israeli cousin.

Third, I’ve heard from a descendant of Hettie Schoenthal, one of Simon Schoenthal’s younger children about whom I’ve yet to blog.  This new cousin has shared some of Hettie’s own remembrances of her life as well as other stories.  I am looking forward to incorporating some of those into the blog as well as some photographs.

Fourth, I’ve been in touch with two British relatives of the UK Selinger cousins, relatives of Julius, Alfred, and Frederick Selinger, all of whom married my Cohen relatives.  I then put the two of them in touch as they had not previously known each other despite being cousins.  That gave me great satisfaction, and now all three of us are hunting for answers about the connections among some of the Selingers.

Fifth, I am in touch with a Goldfarb cousin and hoping to learn more about this recently discovered branch of my Brotman family line.  I just received a huge package of information that I need to go through, enter into my tree, and research.

Sixth, another Hamberg cousin just contacted me this morning.

And last but definitely not least, my cousin Wolfgang in Germany sent me new information about our Seligmann family line.  He and his mother received four new documents about our ancestors.  The first reveals two more generations back in the line of Jacob Seligmann, my four-times great-grandfather from Gaulsheim, Germany.  I will be blogging separately about these documents and what they revealed in the next few days before I return again to the children of Simon Schoenthal.

English: internet Español: internet

English: internet Español: internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turning on my computer in the morning has become a real treat, waiting to see who has found me, who has responded to my inquiries, and which cousin has new information to share.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my good fortune.  Sure, there are still many people who don’t reply to my emails or Facebook messages, but for every person I have found or who has found me, I am so deeply grateful.  The family tree keeps growing, and with it so does the world-wide web of fascinating and generous people whom  I can call my cousins.

Photo Analysis: Why You Should Ask an Expert

Sometimes you need to hire an expert to help with hard questions.  With the help of the genealogy village—my fellow bloggers and the members of the various Facebook groups and JewishGen—I have been able to find and learn more than I ever imagined.  But when it came to some of those mystery photos that bewildered and frustrated me, I decided it was time to find an expert, and the expert who came highly recommended—for good reason—is Ava Cohn, a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the Photo Genealogist.

I had originally sent Ava this photo of my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager because I was curious about identifying the other people in the photograph.

Isadore Goldschlager and unknown others

Isadore Goldschlager and unknown others

But Ava and I discussed it, and she concluded that without more information and more photographs, it would be impossible to make much progress identifying total strangers who lived over a hundred years ago. I really appreciated Ava’s honesty, and when she asked if I had any other photographs that might be more amenable to her analysis, I looked back to consider some other options.

I sent her this photograph from Fred Michel’s album, which I had discussed here and here and here, but about which I remained somewhat mystified.

Uncle Adolf and Grandmother Gau Algesheim

I had concluded tentatively from my own analysis and comparison to other photographs and the inscriptions on the photograph that the older woman was probably my three-times great-grandmother Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann, and the two men labeled Onkel Adolf and Onkel Jakob were probably Babetta’s sons, Adolf and James, brothers of my great-great grandfather Bernard Seligman.  Adolf, like my great-great-grandfather Bernard, had left Germany and settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and James had moved to Great Britain.  I had learned that James was not a common name for boys in Germany in the 19th century so it was likely that he was born Jakob and adopted the name James after emigrating.  Also, my cousin Lotte, who had met James Seligman when she was a young girl, thought that “Onkel Jakob” resembled the man she remembered as James Seligman.

But I was not at all sure who the two younger women were, especially the woman to the left in the photograph.  I’d asked on the blog if anyone could read the inscription near her picture, but no one was certain what it said.  The woman in the center appeared to be labeled Anna Oppenheimer, but I couldn’t understand why she would be in the photo.  Anna Oppenheimer was the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and the granddaughter of Babetta.  But why of all the grandchildren would only she be in this photograph, especially since her mother was not included, just two of her uncles?

Ava studied the photograph as well as my blog posts, my family tree for the Seligmann family, and other photographs of the Seligmann family, and then sent me a detailed and thorough analysis of her own conclusions, which I found well-founded, fascinating, and persuasive.  With her permission, I am sharing some of her report.

I thought Ava’s analysis of the overall relationships among those in the photograph based on traditional posing in studio photographs of families was quite interesting:

In the mystery photograph, the family is posed in a typical family grouping of five individuals seated and standing around a large library table upon which is a dog, perhaps the family pet. The photo has been taken in a photographer’s studio with an appropriate backdrop for the time period. The two individuals on the left hand side appear to be a married couple while the elderly woman seated on the right could be mother or grandmother to one or more of the individuals in the photo. The man on the right, probably a son and the young woman in the center holding the dog could be related but are not married to each other.

Ava concluded that the photograph was taken in 1896-1897.  Here is part of the reasoning for her conclusion:

To establish a year for the photograph, I looked at the clothing worn. Since what we know of the family’s comfortable economic status, it is logical that they are wearing up-to-date fashions, for the most part. The elderly woman, as is customary for many older women, is not as fashionable as the two younger women. Her dress, with multiple small buttons down the bodice, is a typical style of the 1880s as is her bonnet. The other two women are wearing clothing from the latter half of the1890s, post 1895. By this point in time the enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves of the 1893-1895 time period have become less full with the vestige of fullness above the elbow.  The man on the left is wearing a high Imperial collar, common in the 1890s.

Ava agreed that it was reasonable to conclude that the elderly woman labeled “Grossmutter Gau Algesheim” was Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann and that the man on the right, labeled Onkel Adolf, was her son Adolf Seligman, brother of Bernard and a resident of Santa Fe in the 1890s.  At that time Adolf was in his fifties (born in 1843) and unmarried.  Ava thought that the man labeled Onkel Adolf in the photo appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Ava did not think the woman in the center was Adolf’s wife, Lucy, since Lucy would have been only about fourteen in the mid-1890s and did not marry Adolf until 1902.

 

Onkle Adolf

Rather, Ava opined that the woman in the center was in fact Anna Oppenheimer as labeled.  She would have been nineteen or twenty in 1896-1897:

It appears that she is wearing a wedding or engagement ring in the photograph. The writer of the inscription has used Anna’s maiden name, Oppenheimer, as opposed to her married name, Anna Kaufman, so, along with the absence of Max Kaufman in the photograph, I believe that this photo was taken before her marriage to Max. Again, having a marriage certificate for Anna and Max could confirm why the writer used Anna’s maiden name here instead of her married name.

Unfortunately, I do not have a marriage record for Anna, and there is no record of any children born to her and her husband Max Kaufman so it is impossible to determine when exactly they married.

Anna Oppenheimer maybe

That left the two remaining people in the photograph: Onkel Jakob and the woman sitting on the left side of the picture whose name I could not decipher in the inscription.  Ava agreed that “Onkel Jakob” was James Seligman. So who was the other woman?

Ava believes that she was James/Jakob Seligman’s wife, Henrietta Walker Templeton, who was born in England in 1866 and married James Seligman in London in October 1887.  Ava read the inscription next to the woman to be “Tante Heni:”

Tante Glori

 

Heni is a nickname for Henrietta and clearly shows the relationship with the writer of the inscription because of the informal use of a nickname. Tante (Aunt) could be one by marriage not necessarily by blood. In the mystery photo Heni appears to be about age 30-31.

In addition, Ava interpreted the posing as indicative of a marital relationship between Jakob and the woman seated in front of him, saying, “The manner in which he is posed with his arm around the back of Heni’s chair suggests their relationship.”

This made perfect sense to me.  Ava speculated that perhaps James and Henrietta had come to Gau-Algesheim to celebrate their tenth anniversary with the Seligmann family, which would have been in 1897.  I also recalled that Lotte had mentioned in an email dated July 6, 2015, that James and his English wife (whom Lotte referred to as Hedy) had visited “the continent” once.  Lotte was born in 1921, so would not remember a visit in the 1890s, but the fact that James and his wife visited during Lotte’s lifetime in Germany makes it even more likely that they had in fact visited on earlier occasions.  Lotte also said that James returned after Henrietta’s death in 1928.

Ava even analyzed the dog in the photo.

Given that the same dog appears in both the mystery photograph and the one of Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann (born 1875), I thought I’d include that here. It is clearly the same dog. I had considered that the dog may have belonged to the photographer but given how calm he/she appears in the photographs, I believe he was a family pet. The photo of Bettina was taken roughly 3 years after this one, circa 1900. The photo of Bettina may have been an engagement picture as she and Adolf Arnfeld married in 1900.

Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann

Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann

Anna Oppenheimer maybe

Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld was the daughter of Hyronimus Seligmann, Babetta’s son and brother of Bernard, Adolf, and James, among others.  She was Anna Oppenheimer’s first cousin.  So whose dog was it? Certainly not James or Adolf since neither lived in Germany.  Perhaps the dog belonged to Babetta? She is the only common link between the two young women pictured with the dog.  Babetta died 1899; if Ava is correct and the photograph of Bettina was taken in 1900, perhaps Bettina inherited the dog from her grandmother?

I was quite satisfied and persuaded by Ava’s analysis of the family photograph.  But she didn’t stop there.  I had also supplied her with additional photographs to help with her analysis of the family photograph.  For example, I sent her this one, which I believed was a photograph of Babetta as a young woman.

Uncertain see ava report

I had based that conclusion on the fact that another photograph that I paired with the one of the woman was labeled Grossvatter and thus presumably was my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann.

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

But Ava disagreed about the identity of the young woman:

I did a comparison of the older photograph of a young woman that you supplied. This photograph is roughly dated circa 1859-1861 based on clothing and hairstyle as well as the type of image, most probably a daguerreotype popular in the 1850s and very early 1860s. The young woman appears to be in her teens and no more than 20 years of age. This eliminates the possibility that this earlier likeness is Babetta who would have been 49-51 years old. But there is a possibility given the provenance of the photograph and the resemblance to Babetta that this is one of her daughters, Pauline or Mathilde. It is unlikely to be her niece/stepdaughter, Caroline. Given that the photo was obtained from the Michel descendants, Pauline is the most likely candidate. Further research, documentation and comparison photographs would be needed to make a positive identification. 

Although I was quite disappointed to think that this was not Babetta, the more I considered Ava’s analysis and the more I looked at the photograph of the young woman and the one of Moritz, the more I realized my error.  The frames on the two photographs are quite different as is the style and the posing.  I had just jumped to the conclusion that because Suzanne had sent these two photographs in the same email that they were of a couple.  That’s why sometimes you need to hire an expert!

Finally, Ava also did an analysis of the wonderful photograph that my cousin Davita had sent of a man she said was her grandfather, Adolf Seligman, and his favorite sister, Minnie, riding camels in Egypt:

gramdfather Adolph and great aunt Minnie_rev

I was quite surprised but also persuaded by what Ava had to say about the identity of the people in this photograph; she is quite certain that the woman is in fact Henrietta Walker Templeton, and the more I studied the photograph, the more I agreed.

The Egypt photo is roughly dated based on her suit and hat as being taken in 1910. That would make Heni 44 years old. Her face has aged from the earlier photo and she’s put on a bit of weight, not uncommon approaching middle age.  She is very stylish in the 1897 photo and likewise in the 1910 one. In both, she has chosen an up-to-date suit rather than a dress. Her dark hair is the same style. Notice the “dip” in her bangs on the right side of her forehead. It’s the same as the earlier photo.  Her eyebrows, nose and mouth are the same as is the overall attitude captured by the photographer.

Tante Heni

Tante Heni

 

Minnie Seligmann

After I read Ava’s comment, I checked the emails that Lotte had sent me and saw that she had described James’ wife as “big and pompous.”  The woman Ava concluded was Henrietta certainly does have a certain air of superiority in both of the photographs.

Also, I have absolutely no record of any kind supporting the existence of a Seligmann sister named Minnie, so already had had questions about Davita’s description. Thus, I was open to the idea that it was not Minnie, but someone else.  I hadn’t considered Henrietta since I believed that the man was Adolf, as Davita said.  Why would Henrietta from England be riding a camel in Egypt with her brother-in-law Adolf, who lived in Santa Fe?

But Ava raised a question as to whether this was in fact Adolf. If the photograph was taken in 1910, why would Adolf, who had married in 1902 and had three children by 1910, be traveling to Egypt? The more I looked at the earlier photographs of Adolf and Jakob/James, the more I became convinced that the man on the camel is in fact James, not Adolf.  Ava also agreed that it seems quite likely that it is James, not Adolf, in the photograph, but that without more information, we can’t be entirely sure, especially since Davita, the source of the Egypt photograph, believed that it was her grandfather Adolf. (Adolf died before Davita was born, so she had never met him in person and only had this one photograph that she had been told was of her grandfather.)

Adolph Seligman in Egypt

James or Adolf?

Onkel Jakob

James Seligman

Onkle Adolf

Adolf Seligman

Thus, although without more photographs and/or records we cannot be 100% certain, I am persuaded that Ava’s conclusions are correct about the likely identities of the people in the group photograph, the portrait of the young woman, and the Egypt photograph.

It was well worth the fee I paid to have the benefit of Ava’s expertise.  I highly recommend her to anyone who has questions about an old photograph.  If you are interested, you can email Ava at Sherlock.cohn@comcast.net or check out her website at http://sherlockcohn.com/  You will probably have to wait quite a while because her services are very much in demand and she devotes a great deal of time to each project, but it will be worth the wait.

[I was not paid or required by my contract with Ava to advertise her services; I am writing this blog post as a service to others who might be interested.]

 

 

 

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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 Great-grandparents: Thank You

When I started doing genealogy research about four years ago, I only had seen pictures of two of my eight great-grandparents:  Isidore Schoenthal and Hilda Katzenstein, parents of my paternal grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

 

 

I had no idea what any of my other six great-grandparents looked like.  Over time I have been very fortunate to find cousins who had pictures of four of those other six.  For example, I now have pictures of Moritz Goldschlager and Ghitla Rosenzweig, parents of my maternal grandfather Isadore Goldschlager.

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Moritz Goldschlager

Moritz Goldschlager

 

 

Another cousin had pictures of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman, but I did not have a photograph of my great-grandfather, Emanuel Cohen.  Until now.  One of the photos in my Aunt Eva’s suitcase was a photograph of Emanuel Cohen. I was so excited to be able to see his face.  It’s amazing how a photograph can bring to life someone you’ve never seen.

So I now have pictures of Eva Seligman and Emanuel Cohen, parents of my paternal grandfather, John N. Cohen, Sr.

Eva Seligman Cohen

Eva Seligman Cohen

Emanuel Cohen

Emanuel Cohen

That leaves me missing only one photograph in the collection of photographs of my great-grandparents.  I am fortunate to have a picture of my great-grandmother, Bessie—the person for whom I named.  But I do not have a picture of Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather.  The Brotmans remain the most elusive of my ancestral families, and they were the ones who started me on this search and to the blog.  How I would love to know what Joseph looked like, but none of my cousins has a photograph, and somehow it seems very unlikely that any will turn up.  But here is my great-grandmother Bessie Brod/Brot/Brotman, the mother of my maternal grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager.

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

When I scan through these photographs and think of my eight great-grandparents, I feel somehow comforted and inspired.  It makes me feel good to know that they are remembered and that their stories are being told, at least as well as I can tell them.  Five of the eight were born in Europe and immigrated here to make a better lives for themselves and for their children and those who followed. They came from Sielen, Germany, from Iasi, Romania, and from Tarnobrzeg, Poland.  The other three were the children of immigrants from Gau-Algesheim and Jesberg, Germany and from London, England; they benefited from the risks taken by their parents, my great-great-grandparents, but they each took risks of their own.  In America, my great-grandparents lived in Washington (Pennsylvania), Philadelphia, New York, Denver, and Santa Fe.  Each in his or her own way was a pioneer.  Each one is an inspiration to me.

On this week of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to them for all they did and proud to be their great-granddaughter.

 

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.

 

 

The Last of the Children of Marx and Sarah Seligmann: Mary Kornfeld and Her Descendants

In this post I will complete the story (as far as I know it thus far) of the descendants of Marx and Sarah (Koppel) Seligmann.  Marx, the younger brother of my three-times great-grandfather, came to the US with his second wife Sarah in 1849 and had four children:  Sigmund, Jacob, Charlotte, and Mary.  I have already written about the first three.

As I posted before, the youngest child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann, their daughter Mary, was the first to marry.  She and her husband Oscar Kornfeld, a cigar maker, married in 1873 and by 1882 had four children: Marx (later Max) (1874), Rose (1877), Carrie (1879), and Lillian (1882).  In 1900 Mary, Oscar, and their three daughters were living at 1883 Madison Avenue.  Their son Max had already married Emma Pisko that year prior to the 1900 census.

Two of their daughters also married during 1900. On March 22, 1900, Carrie Kornfeld married Berthold Weiss.  He was the son of Sigmund Weiss and Rose Hecht, who were Hungarian immigrants.  Sigmund was a woodturner, according to the 1900 census, and Berthold was a hosiery salesman.

On December 23, 1900, Rose Kornfeld married Joseph Cohn.  Joseph was the son of Philip and Adele Cohen, German immigrants.  His father was a baker. Joseph was born in New York in 1876.  In 1900, before marrying Rose, he had been living with his parents and brother and working as a printer.

New York, Marriages, 1686-1980," , FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F6HY-Z96 : accessed 8 August 2015), Joseph Cohn and Rose Cornfeld, 23 Dec 1900; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1,570,443.

New York, Marriages, 1686-1980,” , FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F6HY-Z96 : accessed 8 August 2015), Joseph Cohn and Rose Cornfeld, 23 Dec 1900; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1,570,443.

Thus, within one year, three of the four children of Mary and Oscar Kornfeld had married.  Their youngest child, Lillian, married two years later.  She married Emil Nardin on May 4, 1902.

"New York, Marriages, 1686-1980," , FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F6QW-TVL : accessed 8 August 2015), Emile Nardin and Lillian Kornfeld, 04 May 1902; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1,570,816.

“New York, Marriages, 1686-1980,” , FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F6QW-TVL : accessed 8 August 2015), Emile Nardin and Lillian Kornfeld, 04 May 1902; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1,570,816.

Emil was born in France, the son of Fredric and Susanne Nardin, and had arrived in the US in about 1886 when he was about twenty years old.   He had been married previously to Lena Chavey, also French born, and they had had three children together: Ida, born in 1888, whom I cannot find on any subsequent record, Henri Arthur, who was born in 1892 and who died in 1895 from scarlet fever, and Helen Edith (known as Edith), born in 1896. On the 1900 census, Emil and Lena were living with just Edith.  The census record reported that although Lena had had three children, only one was alive, so Ida must have died also.  Emil was working as a cook. (A French chef in the family!)  The family was living at 627 Amsterdam Avenue in New York. Sadly, Emil’s first wife Lena died from tuberculosis on December 4, 1900, leaving him with four year old Edith.  Lena was 39 years old.

Nardin, Arthur death Nardin, Lena

Thus, Emil had lost two young children and his wife before marrying Lillian Kornfeld in 1902.  Lillian and Emil had a child of their own, a son named Arthur, born on June 26, 1903.

Mary and Oscar Kornfeld had two other grandchildren born in the early years of the 20th century.  Carrie and Berthold Weiss had a daughter, Edna Hazel, on February 27, 1903. Rose and Joseph Cohn had a son Harold, born on January 18, 1905. Arthur Nardin, Edith Weiss, and Harold Cohn were the only grandchildren Mary and Oscar would have.

Overall, these should have been happy years for the extended Kornfeld family. Unfortunately, Max Kornfeld soon ran into serious legal problems.  In 1903, he was convicted on several counts of insurance fraud and sentenced to Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York.  As reported in the November 20, 1903, edition of The Standard, an insurance industry trade publication, Max Kornfeld was a public fire insurance adjuster and had been convicted of making a false insurance claim for $2000, claiming that his wife Emma’s wardrobe had been destroyed in a fire at the Hotel Richelieu.  A later article dated December 10, 1903, in The Spectator, another trade publication, reported that Max was in fact part of a much larger insurance fraud scheme.  It reported that Max had confessed to over 300 fraudulent fire insurance claims.  He had testified that in these claims the adjuster received 40% of the proceeds, and he described some of the methods used to make these claims.

Sing Sing Prison

Max was admitted to Sing Sing prison on July 17, 1904, and according to the admission record below, it looks like he was sentenced for three to nine years;  he was still in prison at the time of the 1905 New York State census.  One thing I found interesting on the Sing Sing admission record is the recording of his religion as Protestant and Hebrew.  There is also a detailed physical description; Max had a number of scars on his head as well as on his hand.

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Sing Sing Prison, 1852-1938; Box: 14; Volume: 36

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Sing Sing Prison, 1852-1938; Box: 14; Volume: 36

As for the rest of the family in 1905, I could only find Mary and Oscar Kornfeld and their daughter Rose on the 1905 NY census.  In 1905, Mary (nee Seligman) and Oscar Kornfeld were living as lodgers without any of their children in the household of a woman named Anna Bohl, residing at 274-276 West 19th Street in Manhattan.  Oscar was still working as a cigar maker.  According to the 1905 NY census, their daughter Rose, her husband Joseph Cohn, and their son Harold were living at 10 West 118th Street, and Joseph was working as a printer.

Although I could not find Carrie Kornfeld Weiss or Lillian Kornfeld Nardin on the 1905 NY census, I had better luck locating all the Kornfelds but Mary and Oscar on the 1910 census.  Max was out of prison, and he and Emma had moved to Philadelphia, where Max was working as a real estate broker.  They did not have any children.  Rose and Joseph Cohn were living on West 148th Street with their six year old son Harold, and Joseph had his own printing business.  Carrie and Berthold Weiss were living on Lenox Avenue with their seven year old daughter Edna, and Bert was still a hosiery salesman.  Lillian and Emil Nardin were living on West 17th Street with their six year old son Arthur and Emil’s daughter Edith, who was now fourteen; Emil was a chef in a hotel.  Thus, it appeared that all four of the Kornfeld children were doing fairly well in 1910.

The next five years were harder. Their father Oscar died on November 27, 1911; he was 58 years old.  He died from cirrhosis of the liver.

Kornfeld, Oscar death

Then Lillian’s husband Emil died on March 28, 1914, also from cirrhosis of the liver as well as a uremic coma; he was only 48 years old and left not only Lillian, but his daughter Edith, who was only 18, and his son Arthur, who was only ten years old.

Nardin, Emil death

Poor Edith Nardin had lost her mother Lena in 1900 and now her father in 1911. By 1915 she was married to Arthur Downing Holmes, and the couple was living with Edith’s stepmother, Lillian Kornfeld Nardin, and Edith’s half-brother, Arthur Nardin, on West 92nd Street.  Arthur Holmes was 25 and working as a real estate agent. He had been born in New Haven, Connecticut, and was a graduate of Yale.

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 10; Assembly District: 17; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 14

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 10; Assembly District: 17; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 14

According to his World War I draft registration, Arthur D. Holmes was in the construction business.  At the time of his registration and on the 1920 census, their address was on West 84th Street.  By 1920, Arthur and Edith had two sons, William and Lawrence.  In 1922 they had a third son Robert.  (Although Arthur and Edith were still together on the 1930 census, by 1940 Arthur was married to a much younger woman named Ann.  I cannot find what happened to Edith after 1930 except for a 1974 Florida death record for an Edith H. Thomson with the same birth date.)

Meanwhile, eighteen months after Emil’s death, his wife Lillian Kornfeld Nardin remarried.  On September 27, 1915, she married Arthur Rosenberg.  He was born in England in 1885 and had immigrated to the US in 1898 with his parents.  In 1910, he had been a chauffeur for a private family.  According to his 1918 World War I draft registration, he and Lillian were living at 3440 Broadway, and he was now a rental agent for L.J. Phillips, a real estate company.

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786675; Draft Board: 141

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786675; Draft Board: 141

 

Carrie (nee Kornfeld) and Bert Weiss and their daughter Edna were living at 2400 Seventh Avenue in 1915.  The 1915 NY census reports that Bert was working in the wholesale dental supplies business, but according to his draft registration for World War I three years later, he was back in hosiery sales in what appears to be his own business, Weiss and Goldstein.  The family was then living at 555 West 115th Street.

Registration State: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 146

Registration State: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 146

In 1920 Rose and Joseph Cohn were living at 253 West 146th Street, and Joseph had his own printing business.  Their son Harold was now 15.

According to his World War I draft registration, Max Kornfeld and his wife Emma were living at 1628 Diamond Street in Philadelphia in 1918, and Max was self-employed as a merchandise man and insurance adjuster. I was surprised to see that he was back in the insurance business, given his criminal record for insurance fraud.  In 1920, however, Max reported his occupation as a real estate adjuster.

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907649; Draft Board: 29

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907649; Draft Board: 29

Mary Seligman Kornfeld must have moved in with her son Max and daughter-in-law Emma sometime after the 1920 census because when she died on January 13, 1921, her address was 1628 Diamond Street in Philadelphia, where Max and Emma had been living in 1920.  Mary was 64 years old and had died from cardiac dilatation and pulmonary edema. I thought it interesting that she had moved from New York where her three daughters and her grandchildren lived to live with her son in a city where she had never before lived.  I also thought it odd that Max could not provide the name of his mother’s parents as the informant on her 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.

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.

Two years later Mary’s youngest child, Lillian Kornfeld Nardin Rosenberg, died at age 41.  (Her death certificate says she was 39, born in 1884, but that is not consistent with the birth records from the NYC birth index I have for her.)  She died from chronic endocarditis and cerebral edema.

Rosenberg, Lillian death page 1 Rosenberg, Lillian death page 2

 

Lillian’s son Arthur Nardin was 20 years old when she died.  On March 6, 1925, Arthur married Jane Burns; they were both 21 years old at the time.  Their son Arthur Nardin, Jr., was born two years later.  According to the 1930 census, Arthur, Sr., was a car salesman.  The family was living on West 181st Street at that time.

In 1930, Lillian’s sister Rose and her husband Joseph Cohn were living on West 90th Street, and Joseph was no longer a printer, but now an investor in securities. Their son Harold had married Tillie or Teddi or Theodora Kremenko, a Russian immigrant, on October 6, 1928.  Thus far, I cannot locate Harold or Tillie on the 1930 or 1940 census, but did find that Harold died on January 31, 1944.  He was only 39 years old and died from coronary thrombosis.  I am now following a lead to someone who might be Harold and Tillie’s son, so I hope to get more information and some photographs.

Cohn, Harold death page 1 Cohn, Harold death page 2

The third Kornfeld sister, Carrie, and her husband Bert Weiss were living on West 103rd Street in 1930, and Bert was still a dry goods salesman.  Their daughter Edna had married Harry Rosenberg on December 14, 1924.  Harry was born in New York City, and in 1920 he and his father Edward were both selling dry goods.  In 1925, Harry and Edna were living on West 176th Street, and Harry was selling real estate.  Unfortunately, as with Harold and Tillie, I cannot find them on the 1930 or 1940 census.

Finally, Max Kornfeld and his wife Emma had moved to Atlantic City by 1923, according to the directory for that year for that city.  They were still there in 1926, and Max was working again as an insurance agent. I could not find Max and Emma on the 1930 census.  (What is it with this family and the 1930 census? How did they elude the census takers?), but they were still living in Atlantic City when Max died on October 25, 1931.  Max was 57 years old. He was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery in Philadelphia.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1112

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1112

Thus, by 1931, two of the Kornfeld siblings had died, Max and Lillian.  I cannot find Rose and her husband Joseph Cohn on the 1940 census, nor can I find their death records, and thus I do not know anything about them after 1930.  The only Kornfeld sibling I located on the 1940 census was Carrie and her husband Bert Weiss.  They were then living at 607 Broadway, and Bert was still selling hosiery.  I do not have any information about them after 1940.

As for the three grandchildren of Mary Seligman and Oscar Kornfeld, as noted above, I cannot find Carrie’s daughter Edna and her husband Harry Rosenberg on either the 1930 or 1940 census, nor can I find Rose’s son Harold and his wife Tillie on any census after their marriage in 1928.  I only know that Harold died in 1944.  The only grandchild about whom I could find any real information after 1930 was Arthur Nardin, the son of Lillian and her husband Emil Nardin.  In 1940, Arthur and his wife Jane and his two children, Arthur, Jr. and Edith, were still living on West 181st Street, and Arthur was a car dealer.  By 1958, Arthur and Jane had moved to Miami, where he died in 1983 at the age of 80.

That brings me to the end of the line started by Marx Seligmann and his wife Sarah Koppel, who immigrated to the United States in 1849 shortly after Marx’s divorce from his first wife.  Marx and Sarah must have come to the US to begin their lives together as a married couple in a new country, far away from their home country of Germany.  From that marriage came four children, eighteen grandchildren, and fifteen known great-grandchildren as well as many great-great-grandchildren, all my previously unknown American-born Seligman cousins, including my wonderful cousin Steve who supplied me with so many family stories and photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Brick Walls Everywhere

I’ve run into some tough brick walls in my research, but never as many as I have with the descendants of Charlotte Seligman, the third child of Marx and Sarah Seligman. It’s been one frustration after another, searching for her children and grandchildren.

As noted in my earlier post, Charlotte (or Lottie) married Max Schlesinger in 1874, and they had four children: Harriet (1875), Arthur (1876), Lillie (1877), and Louis (1884).  Max was in the tie manufacturing business. Lillie and Louis were still living at home in 1900.

By 1900, Harriet (or Hattie) had married George Cain and had had one child, originally named Edith, but then renamed Lucie in memory of George’s sister.  The following year Harriet and George had a second daughter named Ethel.

I could not locate Arthur at all on the 1900 census, nor have I found him on any other record aside from the 1880 census and the NYC birth record index.  There is one possible military enlistment record for him dated March 4, 1895, but I can’t even be sure it is the same Arthur Schlesinger from the record.

On December 14, 1904, Max and Charlotte’s third child Lillie married Solomon Sondheim. Solomon, or Sol, was born in New Hampshire in 1867, making him ten years older than Lillie.  His father, a German immigrant, was in the dry goods business.  After living in New Hampshire, Sol had lived in Buffalo, New York, and then Bradford, Pennsylvania.  By 1900 when he was 33, Sol was working as a salesman and living in New York City as a boarder in what appears to be a large boarding house at 589 Second Avenue.  After marrying, Lillie and Sol were living on East 116th Street, and Sol listed his occupation on the 1905 NY census as a merchant.

In searching to learn more about Sol Sondheim, I found numerous articles about the suicide of his brother Philip.   From these articles, I learned that Sol’s father had been a wealthy man, leaving quite a large estate to be divided among his four children (which apparently Philip squandered through gambling).

New_York_Times_December_9_1900_page_1 Philip Sondheim

Sondheim suicide from Herald

Boston Herald December 13, 1900 p. 8

As for the rest of the family of Charlotte and Max Schlesinger, the 1905 NY census just presented me with problems. First, I cannot find Hattie and George Cain at all on the 1905 census (and Arthur still was missing).  What’s even more confusing, Charlotte Schlesinger is listed twice on the 1905 census (both with the date June 1, 1905, preprinted on the page).  On one page, Charlotte and Max were living at 231 West 116th Street, and Max was still working in manufacturing (presumably ties).

Max and Charlotte Schlesinger 1905 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 39; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 24

Max and Charlotte Schlesinger 1905 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 39; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 24

On another page of the 1905 census, Charlotte is listed with her son Louis and his wife Alice, living at 1838 Seventh Avenue.  Louis was only 21, and Alice was only 19.

Louis Schlesinger 1905 census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 35; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 38

Louis Schlesinger 1905 census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 35; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 38

I assume Max died sometime between the first census listing and the second, but I cannot find any record for Max’s death.  There is no listing in the NYC death index, no obituary, nothing that explains what happened to him. Moreover, the NYC marriage index has Louis marrying Alice Stacke on April 26, 1906, a year after the 1905 census. Is it possible that this second census entry was filled in and filed a year late? Or perhaps it is more likely the marriage certificate was filed a year late.  Or they weren’t legally married until April 1906?

According to the 1910 US census, Louis and Alice were still living with Charlotte, now listed as a widow (the NY 1905 census had not asked about marital status).  They were living at 200 West 136th Street, and Louis was working as a clothing salesman.  Harriet and George Cain and their two daughters were living at 2308 Seventh Avenue, and George was the secretary of a bank.  Lillie and Sol Sondheim were living on West 122nd Street, and Sol was a traveling salesman.  Arthur remained missing.

On June 4, 1914, Harriet’s husband George Cain died.  I could not find a death record for him, but did find this death notice in the June 5, 1914, New York Times.

New York Times, June 4, 1914

New York Times, June 5, 1914

Since there is no listing for George Cain in the NYC death index, I assume George died someplace outside of New York City.  He left behind two young daughters, just 14 and 13, as well as his wife Harriet.  On the 1915 NY census, Harriet was living with her two daughters Lucie and Ethel as well as her mother Charlotte at 2308 Seventh Avenue.  No one in the household was employed outside the home.

Harriet Schlesinger Cain 1915 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 23; Assembly District: 21; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 11

Harriet Schlesinger Cain 1915 NY census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 23; Assembly District: 21; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 11

In 1920, Harriet was living with Lucie and Ethel, now 19 and 18, at 465 Central Park West.  Harriet’s occupation was reported as “renting rooms” at home, and there was one lodger listed in the household, but her name was crossed out.  Lucie was working in the bonding department of a security company, and Ethel was not employed.

I cannot find either Louis Schlesinger or Lillie Schlesinger Sondheim on the 1915 NY census.  (These people are just incredibly elusive, no matter how I search.) But between 1910 and 1920, much had changed for both of them.  First, on July 12, 1917, Louis married a second time, this time to Bertha Stein.

New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HM-6GL : accessed 4 August 2015), Louis Schlesinge and Bertha Stein, 12 Jul 1917; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm .

New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HM-6GL : accessed 4 August 2015), Louis Schlesinge and Bertha Stein, 12 Jul 1917; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm .

 

I would have thought this was a different Louis, except that the marriage record reveals his parents’ names as Charlotte Seligman and Max Schlesinger.  What had happened to Alice, his first wife? I don’t know.  There is no death record for her, but neither was there one for George Cain or for Max Schlesinger.  There are a number of later records for women named Alice Schlesinger, but none is obviously the right one.  If she remarried, I haven’t found her.

At any rate, Louis and Bertha Schlesinger had a child on June 14, 1918, less than a year after marrying.  They named him Arthur, which makes me believe that Louis’ older brother Arthur had died.  According to his draft registration for World War I, Louis was the financial secretary for the Joe Morris Music Publishing Company, and he, Bertha, and their son Arthur were living at 301 St. Nicholas Avenue in New York City.  Their residence remained the same on the 1920 census.

Louis Schlesinger World War I draft registration Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786672; Draft Board: 139

 

As for Lillie, her life also changed dramatically between 1910 and 1920.  Her husband Sol died on March 12, 1919, while he was in Chicago; I assume he was traveling there as part of his job as a salesman as he died at a hotel.  He died from heart and kidney disease.  He was 52 years old.

Sondheim, Sol. death

Six months later Lillie married William Lindsay on September 24, 1919.  William was born in Philadelphia, the son of Joseph Lindsay and Mary Thomson, who were born in Scotland and Ireland, respectively. William grew up in Philadelphia, where his father was a shirt manufacturer.  In 1920, William was working as an advertising solicitor for a trade magazine, and he and Lillie were living on 112th Street.

Thus, between 1910 and 1920, three of the children of Charlotte Seligman and Max Schlesinger had had  major marital status changes in their lives.  Harriet had become a widow; Lillie also had become a widow and then remarried; and Louis had either become a widower or had his marriage end, and he had remarried.  Meanwhile, their mother Charlotte was living on her own at 2040 Seventh Avenue.  Charlotte died three years later on January 19, 1923, when she was 69 years old.

I cannot find Harriet on the 1925 NY census, but according to a directory listing, she was still living at 465 Central Park West in 1925.  Her younger daughter Ethel had married Milton Robitchek on June 29, 1922, when she was 21, and had a daughter Georgia in 1928.  By 1930, however, Ethel was divorced, and she and two year old Georgia were living with Harriet on West End Avenue.  Ethel was a public school teacher. (I can’t seem to find Milton Robitchek at all after the 1922 marriage record. How could someone with such an unusual name just disappear?)

Harriet Schlesinger Cain 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1557; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0465; Image: 685.0; FHL microfilm: 2341292

Harriet Schlesinger Cain 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1557; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0465; Image: 685.0; FHL microfilm: 2341292

 

Harriet’s older daughter Lucie was living on her own on Clinton Street in Brooklyn, according to the 1930 census, which reported that her occupation was “child placing” for an accountant.  I have no clue what that means.

In 1940, Harriet was still living with her daughter Ethel, now on East 68th Street, and with her granddaughter Georgia, now twelve.  Ethel was still working as a teacher.  Lucie was still living on her own in Brooklyn, and her occupation now clearly states that she was a public accountant.   I have not found any later records for Harriet, Lucie, Ethel, or Georgia.  I have searched as many ways as I can, but have found no documents, no news stories, no obituaries.

As for Harriet’s sister Lillie, she became a widow again on November 14, 1924, when her husband William Lindsay died at age 58.  Like Harriet’s first husband Sol, William died of both heart and kidney disease.

Lindsay, William death page 1

I’ve had no luck finding Lillie on either the 1925 NY census or the 1930 US census, but did find her on the 1940 census.  She was 62 years old, living at the Wyndham Hotel, and not employed.  That is the last record I have for Lillie.

Finally, there is Charlotte and Max’s youngest child Louis Schlesinger.  In 1925, he was still married to Bertha, and they were still living on St. Nicholas Avenue with their son Arthur, now six years old.  Louis was still employed in music publishing.  Although the family had moved to West 180th Street by 1930, all else remained the same (though everyone was five years older, of course).

But then the big mystery for me surrounding Louis and his family surfaced in the 1940 census.  Now Louis, Bertha, and Arthur are living on West 164th Street, but there are two more children living with them: Henry, listed as their son, 17 years old, and Matilda, listed as their daughter, 12 years old.  Where did these two children come from? If they were in fact Louis and Bertha’s children, they should have been listed with them on the 1930 census, but they were not.  Had they been adopted after 1930? They both had the surname Schlesinger, at least on the census record.  I don’t know, and what’s even more mystifying, I cannot find either of them on any later record or document.  I would think Henry would have served in World War II, but I cannot find any record that would match him, if his name in fact was Henry Schlesinger.

Louis Schlesinger 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2677; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 31-2144

Louis Schlesinger 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2677; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 31-2144

At any rate, in 1940 Louis was still in music sales, and his son Arthur, now 21, was a clerk in an advertising firm.  On his draft registration for World War II, Louis reported that he was a music salesman and the president of Lewis Music Company.

Arthur Schlesinger, Louis and Bertha’s son, died on February 20, 1943.  He was 24 years old.  His death certificate does not report the cause of death, but it does indicate that he had been under a doctor’s care since October, 1942.  He had been working as a clerk in federal court.

Schlesinger, Arthur 1943 death page 1

 

That, unfortunately, is the last record I have for Louis Schlesinger and his family.  As with his siblings Harriet, Arthur, and Lillie, I do not know when he died.  I don’t know when his wife Bertha died, what happened to his first wife Alice, or what happened to the two children who were living with him as his children in 1940, Henry and Matilda.

Since I cannot find out what happened to Ethel Cain Robitchek’s daughter Georgia either, I don’t know whether there are any living descendants of Charlotte Seligman and her husband Max Schlesinger.  Harriet’s other daughter Lucie did not marry.  Lillie had no children.  Louis’s son Arthur died at a young age.  But what I did learn about Charlotte and her family is that this was a family where many marriages ended early either due to divorce or death.  Lillie was widowed twice.  Harriet was left a widow at a young age with her two young daughters.  Her daughter Ethel’s marriage was over by the time Ethel’s daughter Georgia was only two.  And Louis married twice, though I don’t know if the first ended because his first wife died or because they divorced.

So many unanswered questions.  I am hoping that with further digging, some answers will turn up, but for now I must say that searching for the family of Charlotte Seligman has made me feel like a very poor researcher and a very frustrated genealogist!  If any of you out there reading have any suggestions on how I might find more about these people, please let me know.

 

 

 

From Cigars to Security, and Heartbreak and Heart Disease: The Family of Jacob Seligman

The second child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann was Jacob.  As I wrote in an earlier post, he married Mathilde Kerbs in 1881, and they had four sons and one daughter: Max (1882), Harry (1883), Louis (1885), Samuel (1888), and Beatrice (1902).  Jacob was a cigar packer, and the family was living at 303 East 69th Street in 1900.  Max and Harry were both working as salesman, according to the 1900 census.

 

The family suffered a terrible loss when Max died on November 25, 1903.   He was only 21 years old.  He died from typhoid fever and pneumonia.

Maxwell Seligman death certificate 1903

Maxwell Seligman death certificate 1903

In 1905, the remaining members of the family were living at 212 East 40th Street.  Harry was a police officer, Louis an errand boy, and Samuel a stock keeper (I assume in a store).  Their father Jacob was still a cigar packer.

On July 17, 1907, Samuel, the youngest son, married Frances Hooton, the daughter of William Proctor Hooton and Hannah Newman.

Marriage certificate of Samuel Seligman and Frances Hooton

Marriage certificate of Samuel Seligman and Frances Hooton

Seligman - Horton marriage page 2

William was born in England and was a shipping clerk; Hannah (usually referred to as Annie) was his second wife.  His first wife Deborah Newman (perhaps Annie’s sister?) died in 1879, leaving him with four children.  After having two children with Annie, including Frances in 1886, William lost his second wife Annie when she died on November 27, 1887.  William himself died in 1901 when Frances was only fifteen, and she ended up living with one of her sisters, working as a dressmaker. [Thanks to the generosity of Chip Bennett, a relative of the Hootons, I am able to share some photographs of Frances Hooton Seligman and her children.]  When Samuel and Frances married, he was only nineteen and she was 21.

Their first child Marion was born a year later in July, 1908.

Marion Seligman photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Marion Seligman
photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

In February 1910, their second child Maxwell was born.  According to the 1910 census, the family was living at 349 East 82nd Street, and Samuel was working as a special officer for the Highway Department.   A third child was born to Samuel and Frances in 1913; his name was William.

Frances Hooton Seligman with Max and Marion and her niece Ethel   Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Frances Hooton Seligman with Max and Marion and her niece Ethel
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

 

Meanwhile, the other children of Jacob and Mathilde Seligman were still living with their parents in 1910.  Jacob was still in the cigar business, and Harry was still working as a city police officer.  Louis had no occupation listed, and Beatrice was only eight years old.

Harry married Rose Weis on March 24, 1912.  Rose was the daughter of Joseph/Ignatz Weis and Henrietta Schoen, Hungarian immigrants.  Her father was an upholsterer.  As far as I can tell, Harry and Rose did not have any children.  In 1915, Harry continued to work as a police officer.  He and Rose were living at 349 East 84th Street, according to the 1915 census.

Jacob Seligman died on December 16, 1915.  He was 63 years old.  His son Louis was married a year and a half later; he married Fannie Zinck on June 2, 1917.  She was born in Alsace-Lorraine in about 1889 and immigrated to the US around 1902.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any more about Fannie’s background.  Louis and Fannie did not have any children.

According to his World War I draft registration, Louis was employed as a canvasser by his brother Samuel in 1918; according to Samuel’s registration, he was self-employed as a watchman.  What would Louis have been doing as a canvasser for a watchman?  They were living not far from each other, Louis and Fannie at 506 East 83rd Street, Sam and Frances and their children at 242 East 85th Street.  Harry and Rose were also nearby—at 409 East 84th Street; Harry (using the name Henry on his draft registration) was still a New York City patrolman.  I found it interesting that all three brothers were in some aspect of the security business.

Their mother Mathilde Kerbs Seligman died on March 12, 1918; she was 54 years old.  Beatrice, the youngest sibling, was only sixteen years old and orphaned.  She moved in with her brother Louis and his wife Fannie, according to the 1920 census.  They were then living at 307 East 78th Street; Louis listed his occupation as special officer on night patrol, and Beatrice was a typist. In 1920, Harry and Rose continued to live at 409 East 84th Street, and Harry continued to work as a police officer.  Sam, Frances, and their three children were still living at 242 East 85th Street, and Sam was still working as a night watchman.

Things remained pretty much the same in 1925.  Louis, Fannie, and Beatrice were still living on 78th Street.  Louis was now working as a mechanic, according to the 1925 New York census; it looks like Beatrice’s occupation was a correspondent.  I am not sure what that means.  Samuel and his family were still on 85th Street.  Sam had his own business, and his two oldest children were working: Marion doing clerical work and Maxwell as a helper—perhaps in their father’s business?  I have not been able to locate Harry and Rose on the 1925 New York census.

Marion Seligman as a young girl photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Marion Seligman as a young girl
photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Samuel and Frances Seligman’s son Maxwell married Helene Sumner on August 25, 1927.  Helene was the daughter of Edward Sumner and Priscilla nee McCarthy, who were English-born immigrants; her father was an engineer. Maxwell was only 17 years old when they married (although listed as 22 on the marriage record, all other records indicate he was born in 1910); Helene was listed as 17, but all her earlier records say she was born in 1912, making her only 15 in 1927. Given how young they were, I might have thought that Helene was pregnant (and maybe she was), but their first and only child, Joseph, was not born until 1929.

Maxwell Seligman as a young boy Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Maxwell Seligman as a young boy
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

The 1920s ended very sadly for the family.  On March 9, 1929, Samuel Seligman died; he was only 40 years old and left behind his wife Frances and their three children.  He died from angina pectoris and myocarditis—heart disease.

Samuel Seligman death certificate 1929

Samuel Seligman death certificate 1929

 

Marion was 21, Maxwell 19, and William only 16 years old when their father died.  Frances remarried a man named Frank Mildrum on February 16, 1931, according to the records in the New York marriage index on Ancestry, although according to the 1930 census, she was already married to Frank, as she is listed as his wife and living with him and two of her children, Marion and William, in the Bronx.  Frank also had a thirteen year old daughter Florence from his prior marriage.  Frank was a private detective.  Marion Seligman was working as an office clerk.

Louis Seligman did not live much longer than his brother Samuel.  In 1930 he and Fannie as well as his sister Beatrice were still living at 308 East 78th Street.  Louis had his own business in protective alarms, and Beatrice was a clerk for an express company, according to the census.  But on October 23, 1931, Louis died from luetic aortitis and chronic myocarditis at age 44. Heart disease had contributed to the death of yet another family member.  Of the four sons born to Jacob and Mathilde Kerbs Seligman, only Harry was still alive.

Louis Seligman death certificate 1931

Louis Seligman death certificate 1931

By 1930 Harry and his wife Rose had moved in with her parents and siblings in Brooklyn, and Harry was no longer working as a police officer, but instead as a clerk in a brokerage house.  Harry was 49 years old; he had been working for the police force since at least 1905. Why would he and Rose have moved in with her family after all those years living on their own? Was Harry disabled? Had he reached eligibility for retirement? Did the police force even have a pension back then? According to this article from the official New York City website, there was some form of pension for police officers dating back to the 19th century.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that Harry died just seven years later on March 6, 1937.  He was fifty-six years old and died from “coronary thrombosis with cerebral and pulmonary emboli induced by generalized arteriosclerosis.” (The parents’ names on this certificate are clearly in error, but this is also clearly the correct Harry Seligman, son of Jacob and Mathilde.)

Harry (Henry) Seligman death certificate 1937

Harry (Henry) Seligman death certificate 1937

The New York Times March 7, 1937

The New York Times March 7, 1937

 

Beatrice Seligman had been orphaned by the time she was sixteen, and now she had lost all of her siblings by time she was 35 years old.  In 1940 she was living as a lodger on West 99th Street and still working for the express company as a stenographer.  She was single and 38 years old.  After that, I cannot find her.  I don’t know whether she ever married or what happened to her after 1940.  I don’t know when she died.

Of the five children born to Jacob and Mathilde Seligman, only one, Samuel, had had any children.  As noted above, Samuel and Frances Seligman’s son Maxwell married Helene Sumner as a teenager, and they had a son Joseph born in 1929.  I saw on Ancestry that Joseph died when he was three years old in 1932.  When I received the death certificate, I was shocked.  Joseph had been hit by a car on 85th Street between Second and Third Avenue and had sustained a fractured skull.  How could something like this happen to a three year old child?

Seligman, Joseph death page 1 Seligman, Joseph death page 2

It appears that the marriage between Maxwell and Helene did not survive the death of their son.  In 1939, Maxwell traveled with his brother William to Key West, Florida.  On the 1940 census Maxwell and William were both living with their mother Frances Hooton Seligman Mildrum, who had been widowed again when Frank Mildrum died in June, 1939.  Frank’s daughter Florence was also living with them.  Maxwell and William were both working as collectors for a detective agency; according to the 1940 census, both Maxwell and William had been living in the same house in 1935, suggesting that Maxwell’s marriage had ended by then.

William Seligman as a young boy Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

William Seligman as a young boy
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

As for Marion, Samuel and Frances Seligman’s other child, she married Howard Fairweather on July 3, 1932.  He was the son of Howard and Margaret (Duffy) Fairweather.  This also appears to be a marriage that did not last.  On the 1940 census, Howard and Marion were living on Undercliff Avenue in the Bronx.  Although Marion was working as a secretary at Star Protection Company, Howard had no occupation listed.

Marion may have been more than a secretary; she may have been THE secretary of the company.  According to an article from the New York Times dated January 27, 1940 about a labor strike at the company (Star Electric Protective Company, a burglar alarm company), Marion Fairweather was at that time the treasurer of the company.

Marion Fairweather burglar alarm strike

Marion and Howard had no children.  In 1942 Howard was serving in the armed forces as a private and still listed his status as married.  He reported that his occupation was as a non-public police officer, so I assume a private detective.  After that I have no records for them together.  Marion traveled alone several times in the 1950s.  Perhaps they were still married, but I have no documentation for either of them until their deaths.  Howard Fairweather died in Atlantic City in 1976; Marion Seligman Fairweather died July 27, 1988. Her last residence had been in New York City.

William had enlisted in the military on 1942.  In July, 1953, he traveled  to Bermuda. It appears that William never married.  William P. Seligman is listed in the New York City telephone directory in 1959 and 1960, and there is a Max Seligman as well, but I don’t know if it is the correct Max since even within the family there were several Max Seligmans.  William died on June 2, 1964.  His death notice in the New York Times mentioned only his sister Marion Fairweather as a survivor so Max must have predeceased him.  Unfortunately I cannot locate a death record or obituary for Max.

The New York Times, June 4, 1964

The New York Times, June 4, 1964

None of the children of Samuel Seligman had children, and Samuel was the only child of Jacob Seligman to have children, and thus the line of Jacob Seligman, son of Marx and Sarah Seligmann, ended when Marion Seligman Fairweather died in 1988.  Looking back at their story, this seemed to be a family that was succeeding in America—three sons who were all involved in personal and property security in some form or another.  But they were also three sons who died far too young in addition to the fourth son who died as a very young man.  There was the tragedy of a three year old child killed by a car and the marriage between his two young parents that failed not long after that death.  It is also a family that has no living descendants to carry on the names or the stories of these people.

Descendants of Jacob Seligman and Mathilde Kerbs

Descendants of Jacob Seligman and Mathilde Kerbs

 

 

 

Gifts from My Cousin Steve

How very lucky I have been in finding my Seligman cousins.  Starting with my cousin Pete from Santa Fe, then my cousin Wolfgang in Germany, then my cousin Suzanne from Scranton, and now two more cousins: Lotte, a descendant of Hieronymous Seligmann, brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard, and Steve, a descendant of Marx Seligman, brother of my three-times-great-grandfather Moritz.  I will talk about Lotte in subsequent posts, but for now I will continue the story of Marx Seligman and his descendants.

Steve is a grandson of Sigmund Seligman, the oldest child of Marx and Sarah Seligman, and as I mentioned last time, he has generously shared with me many photographs of his family as well as personal anecdotes about them.  All the photographs in this post are courtesy of Steve.  I am filled with gratitude to him for bringing to life his father Leo, his aunt Mary, and his uncles Max and Albert.

In my earlier post about Marx and his descendants, I wrote that “Sigmund and Charlotte had five children between 1883 and 1896: Mary (1883), Max (1884), Leo (1891), Theresa (1894), and Albert (1896).  Sigmund was employed in the insurance industry.  In 1900, they were living at 304 East 117th Street.”  As posted last time, here is a family photograph of Sigmund and Charlotte and their children from about that time, estimated to be taken in 1901.

Sigmund Seligman and family about 1901. Standing rear: Mary, Max.  Sitting middle row: Sigmund, Albert, Leo, and Charlotte.  In front: Theresa Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Sigmund Seligman and family about 1901. Standing rear: Mary, Max. Sitting middle row: Sigmund, Albert, Leo, and Charlotte. In front: Theresa
Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Tragedy struck this happy family on September 27, 1902, when eight year old Theresa, the little girl seated in front, died from tubercular meningitis.

Theresa Seligman death certificate

Theresa Seligman death certificate

 

In 1905, the remaining children were all still living with their parents at 89 East 121st Street; Sigmund was a supervisor in an insurance company, Max was working as a bookkeeper, and the other boys were in school.  Mary was home.

As noted last time, Mary married Joseph Brandenburg (later Brandt) in 1907.  By 1910, her parents and brothers had moved to 275 East 123rd Street.  Sigmund was still working as a supervisor in the insurance company, now identified as Metropolitan Life.  Both Max and Leo were working as clerks for American Pencil Company, and Albert was only fourteen and presumably in school.

In 1915, the family had relocated again to 60 West 129th Street; Sigmund was still in the insurance business.  The census does not report what businesses they were working in, but Max was working as an assistant manager, Leo as a salesman, and Albert as a stock clerk.

Sigmund Seligman and family 1915 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 09; Assembly District: 21; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 35

Sigmund Seligman and family 1915 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 09; Assembly District: 21; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 35

Sigmund and Charlotte’s first grandchild, Jerrold Thurston Brandt, son of Joseph and Mary (Seligman) Brandt, was born on June 15, 1913.

On October 12, 1915, Max married Pauline Hirsch. Pauline’s father Samuel was a German immigrant working as a watchman; her mother had died in 1901. Pauline had been working as a bookkeeper for a clothing company in 1910.  Pauline and Max had a daughter Theresa born August 15, 1916, presumably named for Max’s little sister Theresa, who had died in 1902.

Both Leo and Albert served in World War I.  Leo served stateside near Jacksonville, Florida; Albert was sent overseas where he was gassed on the battlefields of France.  According to his nephew Steve, Albert never fully regained his health, suffering from heart problems and pneumonia all his life.

Leo Seligman World War I courtesy of Steve Seligman

Leo Seligman World War I courtesy of Steve Seligman

Albert Seligman ww1

Albert Seligman World War I photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

By 1920 Sigmund had retired.  He and Charlotte were still living with two of their sons, Leo and Albert, as well as a boarder. Home from the war, Leo was a salesman for a cloak company, and Albert was a merchant in ladies’ clothing.

On April 18, 1920, Leo married Jeanette Freundlich, the daughter of Morris and Martha Freundlich.  Morris was an immigrant from the Austria-Hungary Empire, and according to his passport application, he was born in Krakow.  Morris was a furrier and had his own business.  According to the 1920 census, Jeanette and her brothers Julian and Edwin were all helping their father in his business.  Jeanette and Leo had three children in the 1920s, Joan, my newly-found cousin Steven, and Edward.

Leo Seligman and his family

Leo Seligman and his family

Joan Seligman

Joan Seligman

Edward, Joan and Steven Seligman

Edward, Joan and Steven Seligman

EDDIE & STEVE ABOUT 1938 001

Edward and Steven Seligman about 1938

Joan Seligman, age 13

Joan Seligman, age 13

In 1920 Max was working as the assistant manager in the pencil company, and he and his family were living at 424 East 51st Street.

Albert Seligman married Bella Heftler on November 20, 1921. Bella was the youngest of ten children of Max and Sarah Heftler, who were Hungarian immigrants.  Max Heflter was supporting that large family as a tailor, with his two oldest daughters working in a shirt factory in 1900. By 1920, Max had died, and Bella was working as a bookkeeper, still living with her mother and five of her siblings.  In 1923, Bella and Albert Seligman had a son Maxwell, named presumably for Bella’s father.

Albert Seligman courtesy of Steve Seligman

Albert Seligman courtesy of Steve Seligman

Bella Heftler Seligman

Bella Heftler Seligman courtesy of Steve Seligman

Maxwell Seligman courtesy of Steve Seligman

Maxwell Seligman courtesy of Steve Seligman

Sigmund Seligman died on June 15, 1924.  He was 74 years old.  His wife Charlotte survived him by ten years, dying on July 18, 1934.  She was 75 years old.

Sigmund Seligman and Charlotte Koppel Seligman

Sigmund Seligman and Charlotte Koppel Seligman

As for their children, in 1930 Max was working as the manager of a movie theater and living with his family on West 97th Street.  Leo was living with his family on Cathedral Parkway (110th Street) and working in coat manufacturing.  Albert and his family were living on Jesup Avenue in the Bronx, and Albert was a salesman in the film industry.  Mary and Joe Brandt were living with their son Jerrold at 23 West 73rd Street, and Joe was one of the owners of what was now called Columbia Pictures.

By 1940, all three brothers were somehow connected to the film industry.  Joe Brandt had left Columbia Pictures in 1932 and had died in 1939, but he somehow must have connected his three brothers-in-law to the movie industry.  According to the 1940 census, Max Seligman was working as a purchasing agent for Columbia Pictures.  His draft registration for World War II says that Columbia Pictures was his employer.  Leo reported that he had his own office as a film distributor on the 1940 census, and on his World War II draft registration he said his employer was Max Seligman.  According to Steve, his father distributed foreign films as well as children’s cartoons for a local movie theater.  As for Albert, the 1940 census reports his occupation as a movie theater manager, but on his World War II draft registration he listed his employer as Columbia Pictures.  Steve said that Albert was in the publicity department.  Thus, by 1942 all three brothers appear to have been working in the film business.

Max (front left), Leo (rear on right), and Mary (front right) and two friends playing cards  Courtesy of Steve Seligman

Max (front left), Leo (rear on right), and Mary (front right) and two friends playing cards
Courtesy of Steve Seligman

Mary had also moved back from Hollywood to New York at some point after Joe died, and her nephew Steve remembers that she would often take him and his siblings to the movies.  Steve wrote, “Aunt Mary would march up to the box office and demand to see the manager.  When he came out she would come up with the same pitch.  ‘My husband was President and co-founder of Columbia Pictures and this child and I would like to see this picture.’ I never remember being turned away.”

Mary Seligman Brandt Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Mary Seligman Brandt
Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

About his Uncle Max, Steve wrote, “Uncle Max had a habit of saying almost everything twice.  When I would go and visit him and my Aunt Pauline, Uncle Max would invariably open the door and say, ‘Hello my boy, hello my boy, how are you, how are you.’  Even during conversations it would happen.  I don’t know whether he thought we were hard of hearing or if he just wanted to emphasize what he said.    Not everything was repeated, of course, but enough times for my brother Eddie and my cousin Maxwell to refer to him as Uncle Max, Uncle Max.”

Steve also wrote this loving tribute to his father, Leo Seligman, the middle brother:

One thing you could say about my father was that he was a lousy ballplayer.  He couldn’t throw, he couldn’t catch, he didn’t even follow the baseball teams. When my brother Eddie and I would be in our room listening to a replay of the day’s games, my father would be in the living room reading the paper and surely not the sports page. But in other ways he managed to spend quality time with us. In the summer almost every Sunday we would go up to the roof of our apartment building with bridge chairs and hang out for a couple of hours. He would have contests between Eddie and me testing our spelling, math and memory skills. Eddie would always win the math contest but I managed to hold my own in the other games. I think whoever won would get a nickel, nothing to get crazy over but enough to tide us over in the candy store.  In my early teens on Sundays in the spring he and I would rent bikes and go bike riding in Central Park. It’s amazing but I still remember the store. The owners name was Aug, it was on 81st St. and he charged a quarter an hour. That was fun. What my father lacked in ball playing he made up on a bike. One other thing; he never spanked us. When I misbehaved he would “flick” my ear, hard.  It’s hard to describe what “flicking” an ear is but if you put your forefinger against your thumb and release it strongly, that’s flicking. It really didn’t hurt much but it didn’t matter, we knew we were being punished.

Leo Seligman

Leo Seligman

Leo and Jeanette (Freundlich) Seligman

Leo and Jeanette (Freundlich) Seligman

All three brothers died within five years of each other.  Albert, the youngest, died first on October 6, 1948.  He was only 52 years old and had been plagued with poor health since his service during World War I.  Leo died on January 1, 1952; he was just sixty years old.  Max, the oldest of the three, died the following year on March 9, 1953; he was 68.

 

Max Seligman NYT Obit

Mary Seligman Brandt, the oldest of the children of Sigmund and Charlotte Koppel Seligman, lived the longest.  She died in February, 1977, at the age of 94.

Thank you once again to my cousin Steve Seligman for sharing his photographs and his stories with me.  I am so pleased that we have found each other.  These new contacts and the pleasure they bring me continue to be the most meaningful benefits I get from doing genealogy and writing this blog.  Here are some additional photographs of Steve’s family:

Steve's brother Eddie Seligman

Steve’s brother Eddie Seligman

Steve's wife Arline

Steve’s wife Arline

Joan Seligman's husband Bennett Pollard

Joan Seligman’s husband Bennett Pollard

Steve and Arline Seligman

Steve and Arline Seligman

Nancy (nee Seligman) and Barry Buzzuro

Nancy (nee Seligman) and Barry Buzzuro

Steve and Arline Seligman and daughter Nancy

Steve and Arline Seligman and daughter Nancy

Jane Brenwasser Jacobs, great-granddaughter of Sigmund Seligman

Jane Brenwasser Jacobs, great-granddaughter of Sigmund Seligman

 

 

I Could Have Been A Contender*

 

The original CBC Film Sales logo used from 191...

The original CBC Film Sales logo used from 1919 through 1924 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I continued to research the descendants of my four-times-great-uncle Marx Seligman, one thing kept bothering me. I had not yet confirmed one of the facts asserted in the second handwritten tree discovered by my cousin Wolfgang.  That second handwritten tree, which had led me to Marx and his family, claimed (1) that Marx had remarried and moved to New York.  That was true about the Marx I was following—he had married Sara Koppel and moved to New York City.

The creator of that second tree also claimed that (2) Marx and Sara had had a son who (also) married a woman whose surname was Koppel (or Coppel).  That also proved to be true of the Marx I was following: his son Sigmund had married a woman named Charlotte Koppel, born in Germany (and likely related to Sigmund’s mother).

tree 2 page 8

But there was one more specific fact that the tree had mentioned that I had not yet confirmed:  (3) that the son had had a daughter who married a film agent. As I researched up to 1900, I had not yet uncovered anyone involved in the film industry who was related to Marx.  Being a big movie fan, I was disappointed not to find a connection to Hollywood.

But then I entered the 20th century in my research.  While researching the children of Sigmund Seligman as they entered adulthood, I found the answer.  According to another family tree I found on Ancestry owned by Sharon Bolton, Sigmund and Charlotte’s first child, Mary, married a man named Joseph Brandt, who was born on July 20, 1882, in Troy, New York.  I am always very reluctant to rely on anyone else’s tree, having seen so many that are unsourced and clearly carelessly done, but this one seemed very thorough and included many photographs as well as personal stories by Sigmund’s grandson, Steve. (I am now in touch with both Sharon and Steve, and they generously shared wonderful photographs and stories about Sigmund’s family.  I will post more photographs in a subsequent post.)

Sigmund Seligman and family about 1901. Standing rear: Mary, Max.  Sitting middle row: Sigmund, Albert, Leo, and Charlotte.  In front: Theresa Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Sigmund Seligman and family about 1901. Standing rear: Mary, Max. Sitting middle row: Sigmund, Albert, Leo, and Charlotte. In front: Theresa
Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

According to Joseph Brandt’s record on the 1920 census, his father was born in Russia and spoke Yiddish; his mother was born in Germany.

Joseph Brandt and family 1920 census  Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1227; Page: 38B; Enumeration District: 1506; Image: 543

Joseph Brandt and family 1920 census
Source Citation
Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1227; Page: 38B; Enumeration District: 1506; Image: 543

 

I could not find Joseph on any census before or after 1920, and I could not find anything else about his parents or family.  (Sharon also had nothing about his background on her tree.) Based on his birth date and birth place as recorded on Sharon’s family tree, the only other official records I could find for him were his 1913 passport application, his 1918 World War I draft registration card, and several ship manifests for his travels with Mary.

But his draft registration corroborated that third missing fact from the handwritten family tree.  According to his 1918 draft registration card, Joseph was then employed as an attorney and assistant treasurer for Universal Film Manufacturing Company.  Now I had evidence that the Marx Seligman I had been following was the same man discussed in the handwritten family tree: Marx’s son Sigmund had married a woman named Koppel; they had had a daughter (Mary) who married a “film agent.”

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1787086; Draft Board: 170

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1787086; Draft Board: 170

Of course, Joe Brandt was more than a film agent.  In fact, he was much, much more.  Once I saw that he was in fact involved in the film industry, I googled his name and learned more.  From Wikipedia and his obituary in the New York Times on February 23, 1939, p.28,  I learned that Joe Brandt was one of the founders and the first president of Columbia Pictures.  Joe had graduated from NYU Law School in 1906 and had worked in the advertising industry for several years before being hired in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Film Manufacturing, today known as Universal Studios.  In 1919 he and two brothers he had known at Universal,, Harry and Jack Cohn, formed their own film production company, known first as C.B.C. Film Sales (for Cohn Brandt Cohn) and later known as Columbia Pictures.

Christmas ad in The Film Daily December 1920  p 1484

Christmas ad in The Film Daily December 1920 p 1484

 

Joe sold his interest in Columbia Pictures in 1932 and then became president of two other film companies before retiring due to poor health in 1935.  Joe died at the age of 56 on February 22, 1939. Joe and Mary had had one child, a son named Jerrold Thurston Brandt, who would also enter the movie industry.

Joe Brandt obit NYTimes February 23, 1939

But why couldn’t I find out anything about Joe’s background before entering the film industry other than his birth in Troy, New York, in 1882?  From a link in the Wikipedia entry, I found this little snippet about him from a journal called Moving Picture World dated April 6, 1912:

Joe Brandt goes to Laemmle

Joe had changed his name from Brandenburg to Brandt.  There is also a reference to his name change in this article from the February 1, 1913 edition of Motography:

Motography part 1

Motography part 2

Motography part 3

Once I knew his original name, I had no trouble locating his parents and his siblings. Joseph Brandenburg was the son of Daniel and Rosa Brandenburg.  Daniel was born in 1846 in Russia, and according to the 1900 census, had arrived in the United States in 1870.   His wife Rosa was born in Prussia in 1847 and had immigrated to the US in 1865, according to the 1900 census.  Daniel and Rosa had married in 1871, and by 1880 they were living in Troy, New York, where Daniel was working as a tailor.  They had three children by that time: Albert, Lilly, and Anna.   Joseph was their youngest child, born in 1882. At some point the family must have moved to New York City because the article reprinted above from Motography states that Joe was educated in the NYC public schools.  On the 1900 census, Daniel and Rosa were living in New York City with all of their children, including Joe, who was already a lawyer, according to the census report.  Daniel was still working as a tailor.  Joe was still living with his parents as of the 1905 New York census and was still listed as a lawyer on that census record.

On October 20, 1907, Joseph Brandenburg married Mary Seligman in New York City.

New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HY-X9K : accessed 15 July 2015), Joseph Brandenburg and Mary Seligman, 20 Oct 1907; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm .

New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HY-X9K : accessed 15 July 2015), Joseph Brandenburg and Mary Seligman, 20 Oct 1907; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm .

He was still using the Brandenburg surname as of 1910, when according to the census, he was working in advertising for Billboard magazine.   He and Mary were living at 3161 Broadway in NYC.  Sometime between 1910 and 1913 when he applied for a passport, Joe changed his surname to Brandt, as that is how he appears on every document thereafter.

Joseph Brandt passport application 1913 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 194; Volume #: Roll 0194 - Certificates: 14182-15185, 07 Aug 1913-30 Aug 1913

Joe Brandt passport application 1913
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 194; Volume #: Roll 0194 – Certificates: 14182-15185, 07 Aug 1913-30 Aug 1913

Joe Brandt’s story is another one of those remarkable American dreams come true.  The son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who worked as a tailor, Joe not only went to college and law school.  He became a major figure in the burgeoning American film industry of the early 20th century and an extremely wealthy man, according to his nephew Steve. In fact, if I hadn’t found the facts myself, I’d say it was just a Hollywood story made to perpetuate the myth of the American dream.  But it is in fact a real story.

Mary Seligman Brandt Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Mary Seligman Brandt, my second cousin, three times removed
Photo courtesy of Steve Seligman

Moving Picture World July-September 1913, p. 728  http://archive.org/stream/movingpicturewor17newy#page/727/mode/1up

Moving Picture World July-September 1913, p. 728 http://archive.org/stream/movingpicturewor17newy#page/727/mode/1up

 

————-

* From On the Waterfront, a Columbia Pictures film