Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund Did Not Have A Baby in Her Fifties: Mystery Solved

As of 1900, Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund had over twenty grandchildren, but had lost her husband Albert and four of her ten children. Three of those children had died without any descendants: Jacob, Lena, and Stella.

William had left five children behind, and in 1900, all of them were still living with their mother Adelaide in Washington, DC. Albert (26) was a clerk in a jewelry store; Abraham (24) was working in men’s and women’s furnishings. Jeanette (20), Goldie (17), and Howard (13) were not working outside the home.

Adelaide Sigmund and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240159
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

There are two things to note about this census record. First, Goldie was a son, not a daughter. That threw me off until I found later records for Goldie, whose real name was Goldsmith. Second, the record reports that Adelaide had had seven children, only five of whom were still living. I knew that Herman had died in 1883, but I have not located the other child who was no longer living.

Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s six surviving children were all married by 1900, and four of them were living in Baltimore.  Ella herself was living with her daughter May, May’s husband Gerson Cahn, a fur salesman, and their baby boy, Felix Albert Cahn (listed as Albert on the census).

Gerson Cahn and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 16, Baltimore City (Independent City), Maryland; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0209; FHL microfilm: 1240615
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Simon Sigmund was a dry goods salesman and was living with his wife Helen and son Harold in Baltimore.1 Leo Sigmund and his wife Claudia and infant daughter Tracy Edna were also living in Baltimore in 1900 where Leo was a hat merchant.2  Leo and Claudia’s second child Albert Lloyd Sigmund was born on September 17, 1902.3

The fourth of Ella’s children living in Baltimore in 1900 was her daughter Mollie, who was living with her three children and husband Harry Goldman.4 Although Harry was working as a police magistrate in 1900, his other activities are what he would become best known for. Harry Goldman, who was known as Judge, was one of the original organizers and investors in the team that would eventually become Baltimore’s American League baseball team, the Orioles, when the American League was formed in 1900. Here is the first Orioles team in 1901:

As a somewhat lapsed baseball fan, I loved reading the many articles describing how the American League was created and the obstacles it had to overcome as the older circuit, the National League, took extraordinary steps to try and prevent the creation of a league that would compete for audiences and players. For example, Harry Goldman located the land where the Baltimore’s stadium was to be built, and the National League tried to block that acquisition. Harry played such an instrumental role in the organization of the team and its league that he was named the first secretary-treasurer of Baltimore’s first American League team in 1900.5

The Baltimore Sun, November 17, 1900, p. 6.

Ella’s two remaining children were not living in Baltimore in 1900. Henrietta had long ago moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, with her husband S.J. Katzenstein. And by 1900, Joseph Sigmund had left Pittsburgh, where he had moved several years before. In 1900 he was living in Denver with his wife and children and working in advertising.

Joseph Sigmund and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0059; FHL microfilm: 1240118
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Censu

Thus, in 1900, Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund had four of her six surviving children living nearby in Baltimore, plus one living in Pennsylvania and one in Denver. The next four years would be terrible ones, however.

First, Ella’s son-in-law S.J. Katzenstein, Henrietta’s husband, died on December 7, 1901, at the age of 53. He left behind his wife Henrietta and six children, ranging in age from Moynelle, who was 22, to Vernon, who was only nine years old.

Then two years later on November 23, 1903, Ella lost another son-in-law when May’s husband Gerson Cahn died from pulmonary tuberculosis. He was only 31 years old.

But the family’s tragedy deepened when May herself died just four months later on March 18, 1904, at the age of 29, from pulmonary edema and heart failure. Their son Felix Albert was orphaned at just four years old.

When I recently received May’s death certificate, it answered a question I had asked in a recent post: Had Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund really had a child in her fifties?

May was not Ella and Albert’s biological child. She was the child of their daughter Lena and her husband Solomon Sigmund. Although her death certificate states that May was born on May 2, 1875, both the 1880 census record and the 1900 census record suggest that she was born in 1874, not 1875. That would mean she was just over a year old when her mother died on July 31, 1875.

So perhaps her grandparents Ella and Albert adopted her, legally or unofficially, and thus they identified her as their daughter on the 1880 census and as one of Albert’s children in his obituary. But it also explains why Ella reported only five living children on the 1900 census, not six.

Gerson Cahn and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 16, Baltimore City (Independent City), Maryland; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 0209; FHL microfilm: 1240615
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

One question that remains unanswered is what happened to Lena’s husband and May’s father Solomon. I have not been able to find one reference or record that reveals where he was after Lena’s death. He is not listed in the Baltimore City Death Index for 1875-1880, so presumably he was still living in 1880 when May was living with her grandparents and listed as their daughter. So perhaps he had returned to Germany or just moved on to a new location in the US.6

Losing May after losing Lena as well as Jacob, Stella, and William must have been just too much for Ella to bear. She had now outlived four of her ten children as well as her husband Albert and now her granddaughter/adopted daughter May. Ella died the day after May on March 19, 1904, at the age of eighty-one from nephritis and diabetes.

Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund, my first cousin, four times removed, had lived quite a challenging life. Born in Grebenstein, Germany, she was the oldest of seven children and lost her mother when she was only sixteen. Faced with financial burdens, she had taken on the responsibility of not only helping to care for those younger siblings but of earning a living as a milliner. Then when she was about twenty-one, she decided to strike out on her own and left Germany for the US, where she married Albert Sigmund and had ten children. Although Albert was a successful businessperson in Baltimore, Ella suffered far too many losses—five of her children predeceased her as well as her husband Albert. One has to wonder whether her dreams of a better life in the US were fulfilled, given how much she had endured as an adult.

But five of her children survived her as well as over twenty grandchildren, so her legacy did not end with her life, as we will see.

 


  1. Simon Sigmund and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 16, Baltimore City (Independent City), Maryland; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0208; FHL microfilm: 1240615, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Leo Sigmund and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 16, Baltimore City (Independent City), Maryland; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0209; FHL microfilm: 1240615, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W23-G4M : 10 February 2018), Claudia Hirsch in entry for Albert Lloyd Sigmund, 24 Oct 1938; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,108,250. 
  4. Harry Goldman and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 16, Baltimore City (Independent City), Maryland; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0209; FHL microfilm: 1240615, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. See, e.g., “The New Ball Club,” The Baltimore Sun, January 27, 1900, p. 6; “More Baseball War,” The Baltimore Sun, July 29, 1902, p. 6; Fred Lieb, The Baltimore Orioles: The History of a Colorful Team in Baltimore and St. Louis (SIU Press, 2005), pp. 91-95,111, 116, 147 
  6. I did find a Sol Sigmund of the same age and born in Germany on the 1900 census, living in St. Louis and married to Emma Lorber with two children, but I have no way to know if that man was the same man. If it was the same Solomon Sigmund, he never reappears with that family either. Sol Sigmund and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: St Louis Ward 12, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0185; FHL microfilm: 1240894, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. By 1910 Emma was living with her sons and still listed as married, but Sol is not in the household. By 1920 Emma identified her marital status as divorced. Could this be the same Solomon Sigmund? And if so, where did he now disappear to? 

Mystery solved! The Marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann

A few weeks ago I wrote about the mystery of the marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann—when and where had they met? When and where had they married? We may never know the answer to the first set of questions, but I now have the answer to the second set. I received two days ago a certified copy of their marriage certificate.

This is not a copy of an original certificate, but rather a transcription of the facts in the original record created and certified by the General Register Office of England on September 6, 2019. Nevertheless, it is considered proof of the facts related to the marriage.

Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann were married on May 24, 1899, at the British Consulate in Calais, France. Marcus was 39 and a merchant and gave his residence at the time of marriage as the Hotel Terminus in Calais. Alice was 18 and living at 23 Rue St. Denis in Calais. I was not surprised to read that Marcus was a naturalized British subject, but I was surprised to read that Alice was as well, but I then learned that because her father Joseph Weinmann was a naturalized citizen, his children were as well.

The other interesting information on this record are the names of the witnesses, Philippe Weinmann (brother of Joseph Weinmann1) and Isidor Aschaffenburg. Isidor Aschaffenburg was married to Bertha/Barbara Morreau, Marcus Morreau’s sister. They were still residents of Germany in 1899. I wrote about Bertha/Barbara and Isidor here.

And so finally we have more of the answers. But there are always more questions. How had a 39 year old man living in England met an 18 year old woman living in France? Was he in fact living in Calais for some period of time at the hotel, or was he just staying there while the wedding was taking place? Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to find answers to all those questions.


  1. Philippe Weinmann birth record, Stadt Frankfurt, Page Number: 690;691,
    Custodian: Evangelisches Kirchenbuchamt Hannover, Frankfurt, Author: Evangelische Kirche Frankfurt (Main), Ancestry.com. Rhineland, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1533-1950 

Jacob Goldsmith, The final chapter: What happened to his son Frank?

As of 1930, only six of Jacob Goldsmith’s fourteen children were still living: Annie, Celia, Frank, Rebecca, Florence, and Gertrude. As seen in my prior posts, Eva died in 1928. In addition, I have written about the deaths of Gertrude in 1937 and Rebecca in 1940. There remain therefore just four siblings to discuss, and by 1945, they were all deceased.

Annie and Celia, the two oldest remaining siblings, both died in 1933. Celia, who’d been living with her sister Florence and her family in 1930, died on January 15, 1933, in Denver, and was buried in Philadelphia on January 18, 1933. She was 73 years old.  Celia never married and has no living descendants.1

Her sister Annie died four months later, on May 29, 1933, in San Francisco.2 She was 77 and was survived by her three children, Josephine, Harry, and Fanny. Sadly, Harry did not outlive his mother by much more than a year. He died at 53 on August 4, 1934, in San Francisco.3 He was survived by his wife Rose, who died in 1969, and his two sisters, Josephine and Fanny. But Josephine also was not destined for a long life. She died less than three years after her brother Harry on April 23, 1937; she was 59. Like their father Augustus who’d died when he was fifty, Josephine and Harry were not blessed with longevity.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 05 March 2019), memorial page for Fannie Mendelsohn Frank (unknown–1 Sep 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100371723, citing Home of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Diane Reich (contributor 40197331) .

Of Augustus and Annie’s children, only Fanny lived a good long life. She was 93 when she died on September 1, 1974.4 According to her death notice in the San Francisco Chronicle, she had been a dealer in Oriental art objects.5 Like Josephine, Fanny had never married and had no children, nor did their brother Harry. Thus, there are no living descendants of Annie Goldsmith Frank.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 05 March 2019), memorial page for Fannie Mendelsohn Frank (unknown–1 Sep 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100371723, citing Home of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Diane Reich (contributor 40197331) .

The third remaining child of Jacob Goldsmith was Florence Goldsmith Emanuel. In 1930, Florence was living with her husband Jerry Emanuel in Denver as well as their nephew Bernard, the son of Gertrude Goldsmith and Jacob Emanuel, and Florence’s sister Celia. Jerry was working as a clerk in a wholesale tobacco business. In 1940, they were still living in Denver, now with Jerry’s sister Grace in their home, and Jerry was working as a salesman for a wholesale liquor business.6

Emanuel family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0137; FHL microfilm: 2339973
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Florence Goldsmith Emanuel died on August 4, 1942, at the age of 73. Her husband Jerry survived her by another seventeen years. He died on June 16, 1959, and is buried with Florence in Denver. He was 89. Florence and Jerry did not have children, so like so many of Florence’s siblings, there are no living descendants.7

That brings me to the last remaining child of Jacob Goldsmith and Fannie Silverman, their son Frank. In 1930, Frank and his wife Barbara were living in Atlantic City, and Frank was retired.8 On July 25, 1937, Barbara died in Philadelphia; she was 67. Like Frank’s parents and many of his siblings, she was buried at Mt Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia; in fact, she was buried in the same lot as Celia and Rachel Goldsmith and one lot over from her in-laws Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith.9

I mention this because for the longest time I was having no luck finding out when or where Frank Goldsmith died or was buried. In 1940, he was living as a widower in the Albemarle Hotel in Atlantic City, and the 1941 Atlantic City directory lists Frank as a resident.9 But after that he disappeared. I couldn’t find any obituaries or death records, but what really mystified me was that there was no record of his burial with his wife Barbara and his other family members at Mt Sinai cemetery.

I contacted Mt Sinai and learned that the plot that had been reserved for Frank is still unused. Barbara is buried with Frank’s sisters Celia and Rachel and one lot over from Frank’s parents. But Frank is not there. Here are two of the Mt Sinai burial records showing that Barbara and Celia are buried right near each other in lots owned by Frank.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,  Mt· Sinai Cemetery, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013

I also hired a researcher to search the New Jersey death certificates in Trenton (since they are not available online). She came up empty. So what had happened to Frank?

Well, once again Tracing the Tribe, the Jewish genealogy Facebook group, came to the rescue. I posted a question there and received many responses, most of them suggestions for things I’d already done. But one member,  Katherine Dailey Block, found a 1920 newspaper article that mentioned Frank that I had never seen:

“To Leave for Florida,” Harrisburg Telegraph, December 30, 1920, p. 4.

That raised the possibility that Frank might have spent time in Florida more than this one time. I had made the mistake of assuming that, having lived his whole life in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he must have died in one of those two states. Now I broadened the search to Florida. (Doing a fifty-state search was not helpful since the name Frank Goldsmith is quite common, and I had no way to figure out whether any of them was my Frank.) And this result came up:

Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VV91-P84 : 25 December 2014), Frank F. Goldsmith, 1945; from “Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” index, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : 2004); citing vol. 1148, certificate number 9912, Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, Jacksonville.

A Frank F. Goldsmith had died in Tampa, Florida in 1945. Could this be my Frank? Tampa is on the opposite coast from Jacksonville as well as much further south. That made me doubt whether this was the same Frank F. Goldsmith. But then I found this record from the 1945 Florida census; notice the second to last entry on the page:

Census Year: 1945, Locality: Precinct 2, County: Hillsborough, Page: 43, Line: 32
Archive Series #: S1371, Roll 20, Frank F. Goldsmith 65
Ancestry.com. Florida, State Census, 1867-1945

There was Frank F. Goldsmith, and when I saw that he was born in Pennsylvania, I was delighted, figuring that this could be my Frank. On the other hand, the census reported that this Frank was 65 years old in 1945 whereas my Frank would have been 82. But it seemed worth ordering a copy of the death certificate from the Florida vital records office to see if it contained information that would either confirm or disprove my hope that this was my cousin Frank.

Unfortunately, here is the death certificate:

As you can see, it has no information about this Frank F. Goldsmith’s wife, parents, birth place, occupation, or much of anything that would help me tie him to my Frank F. Goldsmith. In fact, the age and birth date on the certificate are inconsistent with my Frank Goldsmith, who was born in June 1863, according to the 1900 census, not June of 1878.

Despite these blanks and inconsistencies, my hunch is that this is my Frank. Why? Both Franks have a birth date in June. And on later census records, Frank’s estimated birth year based on his reported age moved later than 1863—1868 in 1910, 1876 in 1920, and 1870 in 1930 and 1940. He seemed to be getting younger as time went on. Maybe by 1945, he was giving a birth year of 1878. And by 1945 there was no one left to inform the hospital of his family’s names or his birth date or age so perhaps whoever completed the death certificate (looks like someone from the funeral home) was just guessing at his age and birth date.

In addition, there is no other Frank F. Goldsmith who fits the parameters of the Frank on the death certificate. Finally, this Frank was to be buried in the “Jew cemetery,” so we know that he was Jewish.

So what do you think? Is this enough to tie the Frank F. Goldsmith who died in Florida to my Frank F. Goldsmith? I know these are thin reeds upon which to make a case, but I think they may have to be enough.

In any event, like his sisters Rachel, Celia, Annie, Emma, Eva and Florence, and his brother Felix, Frank Goldsmith has no living descendants. In fact, it is quite remarkable how few living descendants Jacob Goldsmith and Fannie Silverman have, considering that they had had fourteen children. Five of those fourteen children did not have children of their own: Emma, Rachel, Celia, Frank, and Florence. Four of Jacob and Fannie’s children had no grandchildren: Annie had three children, but none of them had children. Eva had one son, Sidney, who did not have any children, and the same was true of Gertrude’s son Bernard and Felix’s two children Ethel and Clarence. From fourteen children, Jacob and Fannie had twenty grandchildren and only twelve great-grandchildren, and a number of those great-grandchildren also did not have children. From my count, there were only ten great-great-grandchildren. With each generation, instead of growing, the family became smaller.

But that is not the legacy of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith. Rather, theirs is the remarkable story of two young German immigrants settling in western Pennsylvania and then Philadelphia, raising fourteen children who eventually spanned the continent. From all appearances, many of those fourteen children stayed close, both geographically and presumably emotionally. Many of them lived together, especially the daughters who spent years in Denver together. Like so many first-generation Americans, these fourteen children provided evidence to their parents that the risks they took leaving their home country behind and crossing the ocean were worthwhile. Yes, there was plenty of heartbreak along the way, but overall Jacob, Fannie, and their fourteen children lived comfortably and free from oppression.

 


  1. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 
  2. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 
  3. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 
  4.  Number: 562-66-4663; Issue State: California; Issue Date: 1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5. San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 1974, p. 35 
  6. Florence Emanuel, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00490; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 16-221B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  8. Frank Goldsmith, 1930 US census, Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2341043, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,  Mt· Sinai Cemetery, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 

Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann: A Final Update

The process of finding the story of Rosa Abraham has been a challenging one. At first all I had was her birth record and one passenger manifest for a Rosa Zechermann with the same birth date and birth place.

Ricchen Rosa Abraham birth record Nov 20 1892 Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6177

Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

Then with the incredible help of members of the Jekkes Facebook group, I learned that Rosa had married Isidor Zechermann and immigrated to Chile to escape Hitler. I had not found a marriage record, but several bits of circumstantial evidence supported that conclusion.

Most recently I’d received Rosa and Isidor’s request for repatriation as German citizens and Rosa’s application for reparations from the German government for the loss of her occupation. I also was able to deduce from various documents and directories that Rosa and Isidor must have married sometime between 1930 and 1932. But I still didn’t have a marriage record that proved when they were married and, perhaps most importantly, that the Rosa who married Isidor was in fact my cousin Rosa Abraham.  All the evidence pointed in that direction, but I had no official record, just secondary sources and circumstantial evidence.

I wrote to the city of Frankfurt to request a marriage record, and Sigrid Kaempfer of the Institut fuer Stadtgeschichte responded not only with Isidor and Rosa’s long sought marriage record, but with three other interesting documents as well. First, that much hoped-for marriage record:

Marriage record of Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann

It states that Isidor Zechermann, merchant, born on February 25, 1878, in Frankfurt and living in Frankfurt, married Ricchen Rosa Abraham, business owner, born on November 20, 1892, in Niederurff, on September 17, 1930, in Frankfurt. Finally, I had the proof I needed to get closure. My cousin Ricchen Rosa Abraham, daughter of Hirsch Abraham and Pauline Ruelf, born on November 20, 1892, was the wife of Isidor Zechermann and had married him in the time period I had determined in my last post about Rosa.

Also of interest—the two witnesses to the marriage were Adele Trier, geb. Abraham, Rosa’s sister, and Alfred Trier, Adele’s husband. Adele and Alfred were the couple Rosa and Isidor went to visit in Queens in 1952, as I wrote about here.

Ms. Kaempfer also sent me a link to Isidor’s birth record, confirming that he was born on February 25, 1878, in Frankfurt. With the help of the German Genealogy group, I learned that Isidor was the son of Schaye Zechermann, a shoemaker, and Fanny Benedikt. (Special thanks to Heike Keohane and Carolina Meyer for their extraordinary help in decoding Schaye’s first name!)

Isidor Zechermann birth record
HStAMR Best. 903 Nr. 8916 Standesamt Mitte (Frankfurt) Geburtsnebenregister 1878, S. 61

And Ms. Kaempfer sent me two documents relating to the businesses operated by Rosa and Isidor. For Rosa, she sent me this record of her tax payments from 1924 through 1932 for her “Damenkonfektion” or ladies’ clothing business. The form also notes the change to her married name Zechermann. And it indicates that Rosa’s business was shut down on August 31, 1938, and deregistered on September 8, 1938, presumably by the Nazis.

Rosa Abraham business record 1924-1938

For Isidor, Ms. Kaempfer sent me the record of his registration as a haberdasher in Frankfurt. He first registered on September 6, 1933.

Isidor Zechermann business registration and deregistration

I am not sure how to interpret the various entries on the first line below the solid line on the right side of this card, which asks about the location and personnel of the management of the business, but the last two notes there—-“isr./isr” —-are quite obviously a reference to the fact that the owner of the business was Jewish (“Israeltisch”). And the red stamped entries on this card—indicating that the business was shut down on August 31, 1938 and deregistered on September 3, 1938—are clearly a reflection of Nazi persecution as presumably was the case with Rosa’s business.

With these final records, I now have closure on the life of Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann.  I know when and where they were born, when and where they married, where they lived and worked in Frankfurt, when they emigrated from Germany and moved to Chile, and when they died. But it truly took a village to get here.

This search has proven once again that this work cannot be done alone and depends on the generosity of many people.  Thank you all! As this year draws to a close, I am mindful of and grateful for all the help I have received in 2017.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all my friends, family, and readers who celebrate Christmas a joyful and loving holiday.  I will be taking a short break from blogging, but will return in 2018 to start the saga of my Goldschmidt family.

Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year! Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!

 

Something I Never Expected to See

I want to share two documents that I thought I’d never see.  In preparing for our upcoming trip to Germany, I’ve been trying to find guides who can help me in the various places we plan to visit.  One of those guides is a man named Aaron.  Although Aaron is based in Cologne and will be our guide while we are there, he also asked where else we were visiting and whether we needed any help finding records.

I mentioned to him that probably the one place I had had the worst luck finding any records—online or elsewhere—was Schopfloch, the small town in Bavaria where my Nussbaum ancestors once lived.  Some of you may recall that all I had were the notes left behind by a researcher named Angelika Brosig, who died in 2013.  Angelika had a lot of information about the birthdates of the children of Amson Nussbaum and Voegele Welsch, my four-times great-grandparents, including a name and birthdate for my three-times great-grandfather, Josua Nussbaum, who became John Nusbaum in the United States.  I knew these facts were accurate because they were consistent with the information in the Nussbaum family bible kept first by my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and later by my great-grandmother Eva May Seligman Cohen.  But I had no images or transcriptions of original records

Even after contacting several people who knew Angelika Brosig and had worked with her, I had no luck figuring out where she’d gotten this information.  But Aaron had better luck—he found the death records for my four-times great-grandparents, Amson and Voegele.  This gives me hope that perhaps other records exist and that someday I may find them.

Death record of Voegelein Nussbaum

Death record of Voegelein Welsch Nussbaum, October 2, 1842

As transcribed and translated by Leon and Cathy from the German Genealogy group on Facebook, this says:

Vogelein Nussbaum, Wittwe des Amson Nussbaum, geb. Welsch, stirbt in einem Alter von 60 Jahren und 7 Monaten plötzlich am Schleimschlag Sonntag Abends am zweiten /2/ Oktober 1/2 5 Uhr 1842, und wird beerdigt Tags drauf am 3. dess. Abends 5 Uhr. Arzt wird nicht gebraucht. No. 132.

Vögelein Nussbaum, widow of Amson Nussbaum, born Welsch, dies at the age of 60 years and 7 months suddenly due to mucoid impaction on Sunday evening on 2nd October, half before 5 o’clock, 1842, and is buried on the next day in the evening 5 o’clock. Doctor is not needed.

death-record-of-amson-nusbaum-1

Death record of Amson Meier Nussbaum, 1837

Death record of Amson Meier Nussbaum, June 7, 1836

Leon and Cathy translated Amson’s death record to say:

Amson (Meier) Nussbaum, merchant, here no. 132, married, consumption, 8th this evening at 8 o’clock, 58 years old.

Thank you to Aaron for his persistence and hard work in locating these records. And thank you also to Leon and Cathy from the Facebook German Genealogy group!  Danke!!

Death Certificates: Answering Some Unanswered Questions

Over the last few weeks I have received a number of death certificates, most for people about whom I have written, so I will also post them as updates to the relevant posts.  But I also wanted to post about them separately for those who might never go back to those original posts.

Three of these were for relatively young men whose deaths puzzled me.  Why had they died so young?  E.g., Simon L.B. Cohen.  He was only 36 when he died on October 24, 1934, after serving valiantly in World War I.  He was my first cousin, twice removed, the first cousin of my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen.  Simon had faced the horrors of war, been awarded a Distinguished Service Cross by General Pershing for his service, and had been reported killed in action when he was in fact still alive.  He came home and married, but then died only five years after he married.  I had wondered what might have caused such a young man to die after surviving everything he did during the war.

His death certificate reported that his cause of death was glomerulonephritis, chronic myocarditis, and arterial hypertension.  Glomerulonephritis is a form of kidney disease, sometimes triggered by an infection like strep or some other underlying disease.  Overall, it would appear that Simon was just not a healthy 36 year old.  But that’s not the whole story.  The death certificate also described Simon as an “unemployed disabled veteran.”  Although I do not know in what way he was disabled, obviously Simon paid a huge price for what he endured while serving in the military.

Death certificates_0004_NEW

The second young man whose death puzzled me was Louis Loux.  Louis was the husband of Nellie Simon, daughter of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon.  Louis was thirteen years younger than Nellie.  They had a daughter Florrie, born in 1910, who died from burns caused by matches.  She was only eight years old when she died in September, 1918.  Then her father Louis died just three months later on December 15, 1918.  He was only 36 years old.  I had wondered whether there was some connection between these two terrible deaths.  I knew from the 1920 census that Nellie and Louis had divorced, but I did not and still do not know whether that was before or after their daughter died.  From the death certificate for Louis, I learned that he died from broncho pneumonia. So it would seem that it was perhaps just a terrible sequence of events and that Louis’ death was not in any directly related to the death of his daughter.

Death certificates_0003_NEW

The next death I had wondered about was that of Mervin Simon, the great-grandson of Mathilde Nusbaum and Isaac Dinkelspiel.  He was only 42 years old when he died on August 27, 1942.  He was the son of Leon Simon, who was the son of Moses Simon and Paulina Dinkelspiel.  Mervin died almost a year to do the day after his father Leon.  According to his death certificate, he also died from broncho pneumonia.  Like Simon Cohen, he had no occupation listed on his death certificate.  Even on the 1940 census, neither Mervin nor his brother William had an occupation listed.

Mervyn Simon death certificate

The last death certificate I received in the last few weeks was for Dorothy Gattman Rosenstein.  Dorothy was the daughter of Cora Frank from her first marriage to Jacques Gattman.  Cora was the daughter of Francis Nusbaum and Henry Frank and the granddaughter of Leopold Nusbaum.  Cora’s husband Jacques had died when Dorothy was just a young child, and Cora had remarried and moved to Dayton, Ohio, with her new husband Joseph Lehman and her daughter Dorothy.  I had had a very hard time tracking down what happened to both Cora and Dorothy, and only with the help from a number of kind people had I learned that Dorothy had married Albert Rosenstein from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  But I wanted the death certificate to corroborate all the other less official evidence I had that this was in fact the same Dorothy Gattman, daughter of Jacques Gattman and Cora Frank.  Her death certificate confirmed that.

Death certificates_0001

Thus, all of these certificates helped put closure on some lingering questions that had bothered me.

Pennsylvania, I love you!

OK, perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but yesterday morning I woke up to read online that the Pennsylvania death certificates up through 1944 were now available on ancestry.com.  (Previously, only those up through 1924 were available.)  As soon as I’d had my breakfast, I started searching for all my previously researched Cohen relatives who died between 1925 and 1944 to find their death certificates.  Within a half an hour I had found eleven of them.  Although they did not contain any amazing revelations, I was able to learn when and why several of my relatives had died.

I have updated the relevant blog posts for Hannah Cohen, Lewis Weil, Rachel Cohen, Martin A. Wolf and his wife Marie Morgan, Laura Wolf, Harry Frechie, and Samuel Rosenblatt, Jr.  I also have certificates for Reuben Cohen, Sr., Emanuel Cohen, and Abraham Cohen which will be discussed in later posts.  The only one of these that I was particularly interested in was that of Samuel Rosenblatt, Jr., who had died when he was only twenty and was his parents’ only child; he died of leukemia.  Laura and Martin A. Wolf, siblings and the children of Hannah and Martin Wolf, also died at relatively young ages—in their 40s, Laura of diabetes and Martin A. of ulcerative colitis.

If you are interested in seeing the certificates, I have posted them at the relevant blog posts as linked to above.

It was good to put some closure on some of those lives, although sad to be reminded again of how many of my ancestors died so young.  Thank you to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for opening up your records so that family histories can be told.

My Great-Great-Grandparents’ Marriage Certificate: Small Details Reveal So Much

As I celebrate the newest member of my extended family, I am also thinking about my great-great-grandparents, Jacob and Sarah Cohen.  A while back I had sent for their marriage certificate from the General Register Office in England, and the certificate arrived just a few days before Remy was born.  It confirms a number of facts I already knew—that Sarah’s birth name was Jacobs, that her father’s first name was Reuben, that she and Jacob married on October 24, 1844, that Hart, Jacob’s father, was a dealer as was Reuben Jacobs, Sarah’s father (a glass dealer?) and Jacob himself, and that they all lived in Spitalfields, Christchurch, Middlesex County, in England.  But the marriage certificate also revealed a few other interesting details.

Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs marriage certificate

Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs marriage certificate

For example, according to the certificate, Jacob was still a minor, but Sarah was of “full” age.  All the documents I have for Sarah, both from England and the US, place her at least two years younger than Jacob.  I wondered: Was the age of majority younger for women in England in 1844 than it was for men?  The 1841 census puts Rachel’s age that year as 15, meaning she was 18 when she married Jacob, whereas Jacob was only 20.  (When I think about how young they were and then how many children their marriage produced and how many years they were married, it is astounding.)

I did a little research and learned that although a girl could marry at 12 and a boy at 14, parental consent was necessary if either was under 21.  Both men and women were considered minors before they were 21; there was not a double standard.[1] That leaves me perplexed. Was Rachel older or younger than Jacob?  Was the marriage certificate right and all the other documents wrong? One would think that a marriage certificate would be more accurate than census reports, but perhaps this was just a mistake.

Sarah and Jacob marriage cropped

The certificate also indicates that, as with Hart Levy Cohen on his wife Rachel’s death certificate, Jacob and Sarah could not sign the document, but only left their marks on it.  Another question is thus raised: how literate was the population of England at this time?

A little quick research revealed that the literacy rate in England in 1840 was somewhere between 67% and 75% for the working class population.[2]  Another source indicated that based on the ability of brides and bridegrooms to sign their marriage certificates, the literacy rate was even lower among women at that time—around 50%, .  That same source, however, suggested that since writing was taught after reading, simply because someone could not sign his or her name did not mean that he or she could not read.[3]

A third interesting detail on the certificate is that it appears that both Jacob and Sarah were residing at 8 Landers Building at the time they were married.  Since it is not likely they were living together before they were married, this would mean that their families were living in the same building.  Were they childhood friends?  Had their parents as neighbors arranged the marriage? Were they all related in some way? It also appears that the marriage had taken place at this same location, not at a synagogue.  But the record from Synagogue Scribes indicated that they were married at the Great Synagogue, as were Hart and Rachel.  I assume that this was this just a civil certificate completed to comply with civil, not religious, law.  I find it interesting that it states that the ceremony was done “according to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion” despite the fact that it is not a religious document.

It is quite amazing to me how much information and how many questions can be mined from one simple document.  Receiving this document was very exciting, as with receiving Rachel’s death certificate from England.  It ties me directly to my ancestors—people who were born almost 200 years ago, but with whom I have a direct and easily established connection.

 

 

 

[1] See the discussion on RootsChat at http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=643885.0 and also at BritishGenealogy.com at http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showthread.php/57256-Age-at-Marriage-Minor

[2]  R.S. Schofield, “Dimensions of Illiteracy in England, 1750-1850) in Literacy and Social Development In the West: A Reader (edited by Harvey J. Graff) (1981), p.201.

[3] “Introduction,” Aspects of the Victorian Book, at http://www.bl.uk/collections/early/victorian/pr_intro.html

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My Great-Great Grandmother Rachel Jacobs Cohen: Her Death Certificate

I have received a certified copy of my great-great grandmother’s death certificate from the General Register Office in London.  This is my first English vital record, and I was quite excited to receive it.  It amazes me that I can obtain a record that is over 150 years old from a foreign country just by clicking on the keys of a computer.  Below is a scan of the document and also a cropped version to highlight the actual text on the certificate.

Rachel Jacobs Cohen  death certificate

Rachel Jacobs Cohen death certificate

rachel jacobs cohen death cert 1851 cropped

There are a number of things that interest me about the information on this document.  First is Rachel’s date of death, January 9, 1851.  When I had searched through the BMD Index for this certificate, there were a number of Rachel Cohens who might have been the right person.  I guessed that it was this one based on the date.  Although Lewis and Jacob, Rachel’s sons, had left for the US in 1846 and 1848, respectively, Rachel’s husband and other children, Elizabeth and Jonas, did not leave until 1851.  I had a hunch that they did not leave because Rachel was ill and not able to make the journey, so they waited until after she died.

As the certificate shows, Rachel’s cause of death was “scirehus paylonis” and exhaustion, and it seems she had been ill for a year.  As best I can tell, scrirehus paylonis would be translated to schirrous pylonis or cancer of the stomach.  (My medical expert should feel free to correct this.)  I found some English writings on line in which that term was used to refer to what we would call stomach cancer.

The certificate also indicates where the family was living—in Landers Buildings in Christchurch, Spitalfields, in the Registration District of Whitechapel, County of Middlesex.  It also confirms that Hart Levy Cohen was a clothes dealer.

Perhaps most interesting and surprising to me is that Hart signed the certificate with a mark, an X, not with a signature.  Was he not able to sign his name? Was he illiterate? It’s so hard for me to imagine not being able to read and write that I found this shocking and disturbing.

 

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Hart Cohen and Family Between 1841 and 1851: My Great-Great Grandfather Jacob Cohen

English: Liberty Bell

English: Liberty Bell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As reported previously, in 1841 Hart Cohen and his wife Rachel were living with four of their children, Elizabeth, Moses, Jacob and John, on New Goulston Street in the Whitechapel section of London, presumably part of the Chut community and living fairly comfortably with the two older sons working as china dealers.  There was also at least one other son, an older son Lewis, and possibly another younger son, Jonas, although I am now thinking that John was in fact Jonas, but more on that later.  By 1860, only Moses (and John if there was in fact a son named John) was living in England; all the rest were in Philadelphia. I will try to trace in chronological order the major events and moves made by these family members.

In order to get a complete picture of the family and their lives in England, I will need to get copies of the vital records, including their birth certificates and marriage certificates.  I am now trying to learn how to do that.  I have received some extremely helpful tips and information from another of my favorite genealogy bloggers, Alex Cleverley of the blog Root to Tip.  Alex is a very experienced English genealogist, and with the help she has given me, I will now order the records I need.  Unfortunately it appears that there is no fast and easy access to these documents so for now I will have to rely on the 1851 census, a few other secondary sources, and later census reports and infer a number of facts from those documents.  As I receive other documentation, I will report what I find.

I will start with Hart and Rachel’s son Jacob because he is my direct ancestor, my great-great grandfather, and thus the one I have the greatest interest in tracking.  According to the 1841 census, Jacob was 15 that year, giving him a birth year of 1826.

Hart Cohen and family 1841 English census

Hart Cohen and family 1841 English census

This appears, however, to be inaccurate based on later census reports from the United States and from a passenger manifest, all of which indicate a birth year of 1824 or 1825.  That would have made Jacob 16 or 17 in 1841.

This also seems more consistent with the fact that Jacob may have married his wife Rachel Jacobs (possibly a relative of his mother, whose birth name was also Jacobs) on October 24, 1844.  Without an actual marriage certificate I cannot be completely sure, but I found a marriage record on SynagogueScribes for Jacob Cohen, son of Naphtali Hirts HaCohen, to Sarah Jacobs, at the Great Synagogue of London on that date.  The Hebrew name is not identical to what I had earlier found for Hart, Jacob’s father, but it is very close.  I know that Sarah’s maiden name was Jacobs based on the death certificates of two of their children, Isaac and Frances.  Thus, I feel fairly confident that this is in fact their marriage record as transcribed by SynagogueScribes.

COHEN
Forenames Jacob
Hebrew Name Jacob
Event Marriage
Date 1844 [29 Oct]
Occupation
Address
Father
Father’s Hebrew Name Naphtali Hirts HaCohen
Mother’s Family Name
Mother’s Forename
Mother’s Hebrew Name
Spouse JACOBS Sarah

Frances, or Fanny, was Jacob and Sarah’s first child, born around 1847, as inferred from later US census reports.   Within a year of Fanny’s birth, Jacob and Sarah left London and moved to Philadelphia.  On July 7, 1848, Jacob, Sarah and Fanny, an infant, arrived in New York aboard the ship New York Packing.  Jacob’s age was given as 24, consistent with a birth year of 1824, and Sarah was 20, giving her a birth year of 1828.  Jacob’s occupation was given as “General dealer,” as were many other men on the manifest.

Jacob and Sarah Cohen ship manifest 1848

Jacob and Sarah Cohen ship manifest 1848

Jacob was the first of Hart and Rachel’s children to leave London and move to the US.  His siblings and eventually his father began arriving several years later.  I found this interesting, given that Jacob was not the oldest son, but the fourth child and third son.  Why did he go first?  What drew him away from his family and to America with his young wife and baby?  I also found it revealing about my direct line that both Hart and Jacob were the sons who left their families behind and moved to a foreign country.  As far as I can tell, Hart arrived alone and without his family when he immigrated to England, just as his son Jacob did fifty years later when he left England and moved to the US.  I can’t say I inherited this willingness to take risks and move far from home, having never lived more than four hours from where I was born, but I like the idea that my ancestors were such risk-takers and so independent.

I don’t know whether Jacob and his family stayed very long in New York after arrival, but by 1850, Jacob and Sarah were living in Philadelphia.  It was not easy finding Jacob and Sarah on the 1850 US census.  I tried searching for all Jacob Cohens, Sarah Cohens, Fanny Cohens, and variations on each name and wild card searches on each name, but came up empty for a family that fit my relatives.  Then I decided to search just by first names for a Jacob with a wife named Sarah and a daughter Fanny and found them listed as “Coyle,” not “Cohen,” another instance of a mistaken name on a census report.  I am quite certain that these are my relatives despite the Irish surname because all the other facts fit closely enough—names, ages, places of birth for Jacob, Sarah and Francis.  Jacob’s occupation is described as “Dealer in 2d HG,” which I interpret to mean a dealer in second hand goods.  The only inconsistency is that Francis is listed as male, not female, but later census reports correct that mistake and list her as female.

 

Jacob Cohen and family 1850 US census

Jacob Cohen and family 1850 US census

By 1850, Jacob and Sarah had two additional children born in Pennsylvania.  Joseph was two years old, so presumably born shortly after Jacob and Sarah had arrived in the US in 1848, meaning Sarah was pregnant when they left England.  Isaac was six months old, so presumably born in January, 1850, since the 1850 census was dated July 25, 1850.

There were also two other men living in the household, both twenty years old: Mordecia (Mordecai?) Coyle (Cohen?) and Alexander Kelly.  Unfortunately, the1850 census did not identify the relationship of each individual to the head of household as later census reports did, so I do not know who these two men were.  Mordecai might very well have been a relative since he shared the same surname with the family.  But how might he have been related? None of Jacob’s siblings were old enough to have had a twenty year old son, and Jacob did not have a younger brother named Mordecai.  Also, the census indicates that Mordecai was born in Pennsylvania, meaning that his parents would have been in the US in 1830.  Perhaps Hart had a brother who had emigrated from Holland or Amsterdam or England that early? Or was Mordecai not even related to Jacob?  I have done some preliminary searching for other records for Mordecai, but so far have not had any success.

Thus, by 1850 my great-great grandfather was settled in Philadelphia, a young man with a young wife and three little children, working as a dealer in second hand goods.  His parents and his siblings were all still back in London, but between 1850 and 1860, that would change, and Jacob’s family both in his household and in Philadelphia would expandd many times over.

My next post will describe what the rest of Hart’s family was doing between 1841 and 1860, by which time most of the Cohens had arrived in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

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