Part II: The Benefits of Teamwork

So who was Frederick Selinger, and how did he fit into the family? And who was Fanny Selinger’s mother?

In Part I, I described the research I had done first with Val Collinson in 2014 and then separately with Shirley Allen during the summer and fall of 2015 to try and find the connections between all our various Selinger relatives. Through that research we had established with a fair degree of certainty that Julius and Alfred Selinger, who married two of my Cohen cousins, sisters Augusta and Fanny, were themselves brothers, the sons of Seligmann Selinger and Breinle Hofstadter. We had also established that Helena Selinger Auerbach, who had been Val’s great-grandmother, was a first cousin to Julius and Alfred and the daughter of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdorfer.

Relationship_ Julius Selinger to Helena Selinger

We also had established that Fanny Selinger Rosenthal, Shirley’s grandmother, was also a daughter of Abraham Selinger, but Shirley and I had not found any document that revealed whether her grandmother Fanny was a full or half sister to Helena and the other children of Abraham Selinger; we had not found her mother’s name or where she was born.

And I still didn’t know how Frederick Selinger fit into the question.

We also knew that Abraham Selinger had immigrated to England by 1871 because he appeared on the 1871 UK census with a second wife, Gali, along with several children: Sigfried, Helena, Cornelia, and Oscar.  By 1881, Abraham had died, and his widow Gali was living with some different children: Morris, Flora, and Sidney, plus Oscar.  Aside from Helena, who were all these children, and where were they born?  I had no birth records for Cornelia, Morris, Flora, Sidney, or Oscar.

So by late November, we had many answers, but many questions remained.

Fast forward again to January 13, when I again heard from Shirley.  She had received a copy of the marriage authorization for Fanny Selinger and Jacob Rosenthal from the Chief Rabbi in London.  It confirmed that Fanny was the daughter of Abraham and that she was born in Hurben, but did not reveal her mother’s name.  Although we did not have any new information, the new communication inspired us to try again to get answers to our primary questions: Who was Fanny Selinger’s mother?  And how did Frederick Selinger fit into the family, if at all?

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred
Courtesy of Shirley Allen

After reviewing everything we had, I decided to post on the German Genealogy group on Facebook for information about records in Ansbach , where Oskar Selinger had claimed to be born on his UK naturalization record.  Although I was unable to find Ansbach birth records for the appropriate years, my friend Matthias did find two websites with information about Abraham Selinger in Ansbach: one, a website listing past and present tobacco businesses in Germany; Abraham Selinger was listed as the manager of Equity and cigar-tobacco factory in Ansbach from 1862 until 1871. Thus, it made sense that Oscar Selinger was born in Ansbach.

The second website was even more revealing.  It was an Ansbach police report from 1870 reporting the arrest on May 31, 1870 of Abraham Selinger from Hurben, manager of a cigar factory,  for fraud.  Perhaps that is why 1871 was both the last date he had the cigar business in Ansbach as well as the first year he appeared on UK records.

But it also meant that the children I believed had been born to Abraham in the 1850s—Frederick, Fanny, Morris, Flora, and Sidney—were probably not born in Ansbach if Abraham’s business there didn’t start until 1862.  So where were they born?  Shirley continued to contact various offices in Germany, and I tried to think of new paths for research.

And then I had the best idea I’d had yet.  While doing all this work with Shirley in 2015, I had somehow forgotten about my correspondence with Val Collinson back in 2014.  Maybe Val had made some new discoveries or would have some new ideas.  I wrote to Val on January 22, 2016, and now we had three heads working on the mysterious Selingers.

Filament Productions

Filament Productions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The emails started flying back and forth among the three of us, and it became clear fairly quickly that Val and Shirley had some relatives in common, that is, relatives they both had met or at least had heard of.  I just sat back, enjoying the fact that I had brought these two cousins together.  They both were descendants of Abraham Selinger:  Shirley through his daughter Fanny, Val through his daughter Helena.  We weren’t yet sure whether Helena and Fanny were full or half-sisters, but in any event Shirley and Val, who’d never heard of each other before and who live about 60-100 miles apart in the UK, are third cousins.  I was thrilled that I’d brought these two wonderful family researchers and cousins together.

Shirley and Val both had lots of information about the marriages and descendants of some of the other Selinger siblings and also some wonderful photographs, but neither had any information about Frederick and neither was sure as to the identity of the mother or birthplaces of Fanny, Cornelia, Morris, Flora, or Sidney.

And then on January 29, 2016, the walls started tumbling down.  Val found this on Ancestry:

JPF Ludwigshafen page

Ludwigshafen?? Where was that? It’s a town very close to Mannheim.  Could be this OUR Fanny? Val asked me to follow up because I have the broadest Ancestry subscription (All Access), and I was able to pull up a scan of the actual record.  And not only did I find birth records for Fanny, I found them for three other children, all born to Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdorfer, his first wife.

The four children born in Ludwigshafen were:  Babetta, born in 1853, died in 1854; Flora, born in 1855 (later Flora Wallach); Fanny, born December 5, 1856; and  Sigmund (later Sidney) born in 1858.  We finally had a birth record for Fanny, and we knew now that she was in fact a full sister to Helena as they were both the daughters of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.  Val and Shirley were officially third cousins.

 

Fanny Selinger birth record from Ludwigshafen Ancestry.com. Ludwigshafen, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1798-1875 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ludwigshafen Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875. Stadtarchiv Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen, Deutschland.

Fanny Selinger birth record from Ludwigshafen
Ancestry.com. Ludwigshafen, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1798-1875 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Ludwigshafen Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875. Stadtarchiv Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen, Deutschland.

So that left three children whose birthplaces were still unknown: Morris, Cornelia, and, of course, Frederick.  Since Morris and Cornelia were both born before 1862 when the Selinger family arrived in Ansbach and after 1848 when the family had moved to Mannheim, I assumed that they were probably born in Mannheim.  The 1881 census recorded Cornelia’s age as 18, two years younger than Helena, whom they reported as twenty. But even English census records are unreliable.  Helena would have been turning 22 that year; maybe Cornelia was really 19 or 20 and thus born in 1850 or 1851.  The 1881 census said Morris was 28; he was probably born in 1852 since Babetta, the child who died in 1854, was born in 1853, in Ansbach.  Cornelia and Morris would also probably have been the children of Abraham and Rosalia since there were four children born to that couple even after Cornelia and Morris were born.

So I went back to the Mannheim records because my initial search had been only for the years between 1853 to 1859; now I searched the set of records before it, dating from 1842 to 1852.  And there they were, birth records for Cornelia (1850) and Morris (1852).  And Helena (1849).  All three were the children of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmdoerfer.

landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_2862_bild_147_4-1229196-147 Birth record for Helena Selinger from Hurben

landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_2862_bild_147_4-1229196-147
Birth record for Helena Selinger from Mannheim (center, left page)

 

So there are two birth records for Helena, one in Hurben, one in Mannheim.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, Val found yet another document:

Abraham Selinger - Ansbach, Germany JPG

(I cannot understand why neither the Ludwigshafen nor the Ansbach registers showed up for me when I searched.  Val has a magic touch with the search engine logic that I don’t have.)

I then retrieved the image of the actual document:

Abraham Selinger Lutheran register Ansbach

 

Abraham Selinger family in Ansbach Ancestry.com. Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ansbach Lutheran Parish Register Extracts. Digital images Tobias Brenner Collection.

Abraham Selinger family in Ansbach
Ancestry.com. Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Ansbach Lutheran Parish Register Extracts. Digital images Tobias Brenner Collection.

This document revealed two more things: that Gali’s birth name was Kohn and that she and Abraham had had another child before Oskar, Isidor, who died when he was an infant. So now I had a record confirming that Oscar was born in Ansbach and that his mother was Gali Kohn, not Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.

Shirley, Val, and I had pretty much closed the circle on the children of Abraham Selinger.  But despite all our efforts, we still had not found one record for Frederick Selinger.  If he was born in 1856 as his passport application and his death certificate indicated, he should have been included with those children born in Ansbach.  He would have been born around the time of Flora or Fanny, maybe even a twin of one of them.  But he wasn’t there. And he wasn’t in the Mannheim records or the Hurben records.

So something did not make sense.  Frederick was not the child of Abraham Selinger with either of his wives.  I was convinced of it now.  So who was he? What was I missing?

 

P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This is the part of the story where I just want to kick myself.  I went back once again to the Hurben birth records and looked more closely at the children born to Seligman Selinger.  There were nineteen of them.  NINETEEN.  Nine were born to Seligman and his first wife between 1835 and 1844.  They all were born too early to be Frederick.  Ten children were born to Seligman Selinger and his second wife, Breinle Hofstadter, between 1849 and 1866.  There were five girls and five boys from that second marriage.  The five boys were Heinrich (1852), Julius (1853), Sigfried (1855), Hugo (1860), and Alfred (1866).  Julius and Alfred were the two who had married my Cohen cousins Augusta and Fanny.  That left Heinrich, Sigfried, and Hugo. Could any of them be Frederick?

Sigfried.  Hmm, I thought.  That could have become Frederick, maybe?? But he was born December 29, 1855, and Frederick was born in December 1856, according to his US death certificate and his US passport application.  So what, I thought? People lie! He made himself a year younger. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that Sigfried was Frederick.  The disparity in the dates in December for his birthday (the death certificate said December 27, the passport application December 21) didn’t bother me either.  Jews in Europe might not have known their birthday on a Gregorian calendar, only a Jewish calendar.  Frederick might have just known that his birthday was close to Hanukkah and nothing more precise than that.

I went back to Ancestry to look at the records I had for Frederick.  The earliest two—his 1880 marriage record and the 1880 census—list him as Fred, not Frederick.  Fred could be a shortened version of Sigfried, couldn’t it?  So I decided to search for Sigfried Selinger.

Marriage record for Frederick Selinger and Rachel Cohen 1880

Marriage record for Frederick Selinger and Rachel Cohen 1880

And I found this ship manifest from 1872:

Siegfried Selinger ship manifest 1872 to Baltimore The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

Siegfried Selinger ship manifest 1872 to Baltimore
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

Siegfried Selinger, sixteen years old, arrived in Baltimore in June 1872, when Sigfried Selinger of Hurben would in fact have been still sixteen years old.  I thought that this could very well be the man who became Frederick Selinger.  Supporting this assumption was the fact that his marriage record states that he was from Baltimore and that he ended up marrying a woman from Washington, DC, so it would make sense that he would have entered the US through Baltimore, as his naturalization papers indicated.    (They also say he entered the country in June 1871.  People lie!  People forget!)

Frederick Selinger passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 378; Volume #: Roll 378 - 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891 Description Volume : Roll 378 - 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891

Frederick Selinger passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 378; Volume #: Roll 378 – 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891
Description
Volume : Roll 378 – 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891

And when I searched for Fred Selinger in Baltimore, I found two listings in Baltimore directories, one in 1875, one in 1878.  I am quite certain I have found Frederick and now know that he was Sigfried Selinger,  the son of Selinger Seligmann and Breinle Hofstadter.  He was the middle brother to his brothers, Julius and Alfred, who followed him to the US in the following decade and married respectively the aunt (Augusta) and the sister (Fanny) of Frederick’s wife Rachel.

So why do I want to kick myself? Not only because I should have seen this much, much earlier, but because Ralph Bloch in fact told me he thought Sigfried could be Frederick way back in August, 2015.  I’d forgotten that until I reviewed all the old emails to write this blog post.  I probably saw his comment and forgot it or thought that I needed more proof.  And I got caught up in searching for Fanny and the other Selingers and for some reason assumed Frederick had to be the child of Abraham.  I could have so easily searched back then for Sigfried in the US and found what I found just this past week.

But actually I am so glad that I didn’t.  Because if I had done that in August, I might never have continued searching and working with Shirley and Val.  I might never have brought Shirley and Val together, third cousins who’d never known each other before.  I would have missed out on all the fun Val and Shirley and I have had as we worked together to solve this mystery.  That makes this all very worthwhile.

All this, you might say, for people who aren’t even my blood relatives? For people who happened to marry my distant cousins Rachel, Augusta, and Fanny?

It’s moments like this that I want to say, “We are all cousins.  Our families are all entangled.  And every person’s life, every person’s story is worth remembering and is worth memorializing.”

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Teamwork: Part I

In my recent post, I mentioned that I had been working with two other researchers on the mystery of the three Selinger men who married my Cohen cousins.  Frederick Selinger had married my cousin Rachel Cohen in 1880 in Washington, DC.  Rachel was the daughter of Moses Cohen, my three times great-uncle (brother of my great-great-grandfather Jacob).  Julius Selinger had married Augusta Cohen in 1884 in Washington, DC; Augusta was the daughter of Moses Cohen, Jr. and niece of Rachel Cohen.  Finally, Alfred Selinger had married Fannie Cohen in Washington, DC, in 1893.  Fannie was also a daughter of Moses Cohen, Jr., also a niece of Rachel Cohen, and a sister of Augusta Cohen.

Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922

Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922

 

Way back on July 22, 2014, when I first posted about the three Selinger men, I had speculated that they all had to be related.  Both Julius and Frederick had documents indicating that they had been born in Hurben, Germany.  Alfred and Julius had lived together in DC before they’d married, and Alfred had traveled with Julius and Augusta to Europe before he married Augusta’s sister Fannie.  But I had nothing to support that speculation besides that circumstantial evidence.

Then a month later on August 5, 2014, I wrote about the marriage of Eleanor Selinger to Henry Abbot.  Eleanor was the daughter of Julius Selinger and Augusta Cohen; Henry was the son of Hyams Auerbach (Abbot) and Helena Selinger (some records say Ellen or Helen).  I was curious as to whether Helena Selinger was somehow related to Julius and the other Selinger men, Alfred and Frederick.  I thought that she might be since how else would an American woman have met an Englishman? And the shared name seemed too uncommon to be pure coincidence.

 

Eleanor Selinger Abbot and Abbot family-page-001

Eleanor Selinger Abbot (center) with the Abbot family Courtesy of Val Collinson

 

As I wrote then, I had contacted the owner of an Ancestry family tree who turned out to be Eleanor Selinger and Henry Abbot’s great-niece: Val Collinson.  Val and I exchanged a lot of information, but we could not at that time find any definitive evidence linking Helena Selinger, her great-grandmother, to Frederick or Julius or Alfred.  All were born in Germany, but it seemed from the records in different locations.  Helena’s marriage record indicated that her father’s name was Abraham Selinger, whereas Julius had indicated on his passport application that his father was Sigmund Selinger.  We were stumped.  And that was that.  Or so I thought.

Fast forward a full year to August, 2015, when I received a comment on my earlier blog post about Eleanor Selinger and Henry Abbot from someone named Shirley Allen, whose grandparents were Jacob Rosenthal and Fanny Selinger:

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and their children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred
Courtesy of Shirley Allen

I’ve been delving into my paternal (Rosenthal) family history. I’ve found that my grandfather Jacob Rosenthal was married to Fanny Selinger. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything further about Fanny other than she was born in Germany, probably in 1857. However, I’ve recently come upon a wonderful paper lace invitation to the 1873 wedding of Hyams Auerbach and Helena Selinger that you referred to. What I don’t know is why Fanny would have been invited. Clearly she and Helena were related – but how ?

Needless to say, I was intrigued.  Maybe Fanny Selinger was related to Helena and/or maybe she was related to Julius, Frederick, and Alfred.  Shirley and I communicated by email, and we both started digging.

Invitation to the wedding of Helena Selinger and Hyms Auerbach Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Invitation to the wedding of Helena Selinger and Hyms Auerbach
Courtesy of Shirley Allen

 

I found a website called Jewish Genealogy of Bavarian Swabia (JGBS) that had records for Hurben and located 25 Selingers in their database, including those for Alfred and for Julius, who were the sons of Seligman Selinger and Breinle Hofstadter and thus were brothers, as I had suspected. Shirley and I both thought that Seligman Selinger had been Americanized to Sigmund by Julius on his passport application and that the birth records for Julius and Alfred confirmed that they were in fact brothers.

I also found a birth record for Helena Selinger, whose father was Abraham Selinger, not Seligman Selinger.  Abraham and his wife Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer had six children listed: Seligman (1842), Raphael (1843), Pauline (1845), Karolina (1847), Heinrich (1848), and Helena (1849). Pauline, Karolina, and Heinrich had all died as young children, leaving Seligman, Raphael, and Helena as the surviving children of Abraham.  Here is Helena’s birth record from Hurben in August 1849.

Helena Selinger birth record from Hurben http://jgbs.org/SuperSearch.php?Sp=3&Book=birth&Com=11

Helena Selinger birth record from Hurben (third from bottom)
http://jgbs.org/SuperSearch.php?Sp=3&Book=birth&Com=11

 

But what about Frederick?  And Fanny? And was there a connection between Helena’s father Abraham and the father of Julius and Alfred, Seligman Selinger?

A little more digging on the JGBS site revealed that both Abraham Selinger and Seligman Selinger were the sons of Joachim Selinger, thus confirming that they were brothers and thus that Helena was a first cousin to Julius and Alfred.

Marriage record from Hurben for Abraham Selinger, son of Joachim, and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer http://jgbs.org/detail.php?book=marriage&id=%206671&mode=

Marriage record from Hurben for Abraham Selinger, son of Joachim, and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer (second in page)
http://jgbs.org/detail.php?book=marriage&id=%206671&mode=

 

Seligmann Selinger, son of Joachim, marriage to Breinle Hoftsadter

Seligmann Selinger, son of Joachim, marriage to Breinle Hoftsadter (second from bottom) 1848 http://jgbs.org/detail.php?book=marriage&id=%206695&mode=

 

That meant that Eleanor Selinger, daughter of Julius Selinger, had married her second cousin, Henry Abbot, son of Helena Selinger.

 

But that still left us wondering about Frederick Selinger and Shirley’s great-grandmother Fanny Selinger.  How did they fit into this picture?

I contacted Ralph Bloch, the webmaster for the JGBS website, and he was extremely helpful.  More helpful than I realized at the time, but more on that later.  Ralph also could not find any evidence that Fanny was born in Hurben, and he reassured me that the birth records for Hurben were quite complete.  He even searched through the original pages to be sure that Fanny hadn’t somehow been missed when the records were indexed. (There was a Fany Selinger born in the 1830s, but that would have been far too early for Shirley’s ancestor.) Ralph also sent a photograph of Seligman Selinger’s headstone, which confirmed that his father’s name was Joachim or Chaim, his Hebrew name.

Seligman Selinger gravestone

 

So once again we hit the brick wall.  We still had not found either Frederick or Fanny.  Shirley said she would pursue it on her end, and I turned back to the other research I’d been doing when I received Shirley’s comment.

Not much happened again until late November when I heard again from Shirley, telling me that she had received a copy of Fanny Selinger’s marriage certificate, which revealed that Fanny was the daughter of Abraham Selinger.  Now we could link Fanny to Helena, also the daughter of Abraham, as well as to Julius and Alfred, Abraham’s nephews. But we didn’t know if Fanny and Helena were both the daughters of Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.

Shirley’s research of UK records showed that by 1871 Abraham was married to a woman named Gali, and we assumed that Abraham had left Hurben at some point, that his first wife Rosalia had died, and that he had had several children with Gali.  That is what the UK census records from 1871 seemed to reflect. Abraham and Gali were living with Sigfried (28), Helena (20), Cornelia (18), and Oskar (4).  But there was neither a Fanny nor a Frederick.

 

Abraham Selinger and family 1881 UK census Class: RG10; Piece: 555; Folio: 86; Page: 3; GSU roll: 823397 Description Enumeration District : 10 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871.

Abraham Selinger and family 1881 UK census
Class: RG10; Piece: 555; Folio: 86; Page: 3; GSU roll: 823397
Description
Enumeration District : 10
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871.

Abraham died in 1880, and in 1881, Gali was living with four children, but aside from Oskar (13), they were all different from those on the 1871 census: Morris (28), Flora (surname Wallach) (25), and Sidney (23).  Now I was really confused.  Who were these people, and where had they been in 1871?  Flora was presumably married to someone named Wallach and now a widow, but Morris would have been eighteen in 1871 and Sidney only thirteen. Where were they living?  Who were they? None of those children were listed on the Hurben birth register on the JGBS site; in fact, there were no children listed for Abraham Selinger and any wife in Hurben after Helena’s birth in 1849.

Gali Selinger and family 1881 UK census Class: RG11; Piece: 472; Folio: 118; Page: 55; GSU roll: 1341103 Description Enumeration District : 9 Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881

Gali Selinger and family 1881 UK census
Class: RG11; Piece: 472; Folio: 118; Page: 55; GSU roll: 1341103
Description
Enumeration District : 9 Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881

I assumed that Morris, Flora, Sidney, and Oscar, all born after 1850, were born in a different place and perhaps to a different mother.  Certainly Oskar had to be Gali’s child since he was so much younger than all the rest and only four on the 1871 census.

Searching again on Ancestry, I found a new record:  an entry for Abraham, Rosalia, Seligman, and Raphael Selinger on the Mannheim, Germany, family register dated November 26, 1848.  What were they doing in Mannheim? By that time the three younger children, Pauline, Karolina, and Heinrich, had died.  Perhaps they needed a change of scenery.  But what about Helena? She was born in Hurben in 1849.

Then I found a second Mannheim family register that included Helena, the final entry on the page:

 

Abraham Selinger and family, Mannheim register Ancestry.com. Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

Abraham Selinger and family, Mannheim register
Ancestry.com. Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

My friends in the German Genealogy group,  Heike Keohane, Matthias Steinke, and Bradley Hernlem, came to my rescue and translated it to read, “Helene, his daughter, here born the 22 August 1849.”  So Helena’s birth is entered on the Hurben birth records (on the same date) and on the Mannheim records.  I’ve no idea which is the correct birthplace; maybe Rosalia went home to Hurben to give birth and returned to Mannheim afterwards where the family was living.

But perhaps now I could find out where Frederick was born, not to mention Morris, Flora, Sidney, and Oscar. Maybe they were born in Mannheim.  I checked the Mannheim birth records from 1853 through 1866 and found not one person named Selinger.  I checked over and over, looking at each page until my eyes were blurry.  There were no Selingers born in Mannheim during that period that I could find.

Then I discovered that Oskar Selinger had listed Ansbach as his birth place on his UK naturalization papers and thought that perhaps the family had moved from Mannheim to Ansbach.

Oscar Selinger UK naturalization papers The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 54 Description Description : Piece 054: Certificate Numbers A20701 - A21000

Oscar Selinger UK naturalization papers
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 54
Description
Description : Piece 054: Certificate Numbers A20701 – A21000

I had no luck locating Ansbach birth records for that period, and by then it was Thanksgiving, and other matters distracted me, and I put the Selinger mystery on the back burner.

To be continued…..

Two More Generations Back! The Amazing Seligmanns

Get ready for a real brain twister here.

As I mentioned in my last post, my cousin Wolfgang sent me several new documents relating to our mutual Seligmann ancestors.  Wolfgang and his mother received these from Beate Goetz, who had also sent me several important documents over a year ago.  I continue to be amazed by how much information is available about my Seligmann forebears.

The first document is a death certificate for Jakob Seligmann, my four-times great-grandfather, father of Moritz Seligmann and grandfather of Bernard Seligman.  Until now Jakob was the earliest relative I had found in the Seligmann line; he was born in Gaulsheim, Germany in 1773 and died there in 1851.  His wife, my four-times great-grandmother, was Martha Mayer.

Jakob Seligmann death record

Jakob Seligmann death record

 

With help from Wolfgang, his mother, and my friend Matthias Steinke, I learned that this document says that Jakob Seligmann died on December 21, 1851, when he was 78 years old.  He was born in Gaulsheim, the son of Seligmann Hirsch, deceased, a merchant in Gaulsheim, and Mina nee Mayer.  The informants were his son Leopold Seligmann and Konrad Vollmer, not related.   What was most exciting about this document was that it revealed the names of Jakob’s parents: Seligmann Hirsch and Mina Mayer.

Seligmann Hirsch and Mina Mayer were thus my five-times great-grandparents.  I now had another generation back to add to my family tree.  And then something occurred to me.  When I saw that Mina’s birth name had been Mayer, I was puzzled.  Was she related to her daughter-in-law Martha Mayer? Of course, it could be.  But when I thought about it a bit more, I realized that when Mina was born in the mid-18th century, Jews were not using surnames.  Instead, they were using patronymics—Mina was probably the daughter of a man whose first name was Mayer, not whose surname was Mayer. She was Mina bat (daughter of) Mayer.

So if Jakob Seligmann’s father was Seligmann Hirsch, it meant that he was probably Seligmann ben (son of) Hirsch.  That meant that the Seligmann surname really came from Jakob’s father’s first name.  When Jakob had to adopt a surname in Napoleonic times, he must have taken his patronymic of Jakob ben (son of) Seligmann and compressed it into a first name and surname, creating Jakob Seligmann.  Seligmann ben Hirsch was thus the original source for the Seligmann surname that survives to this day in my family with Wolfgang himself.

And that meant that Seligmann ben Hirsch was the son of  a man named Hirsch, who was my six-times great-grandfather.

That hunch was corroborated by another bit of evidence that Wolfgang brought to my attention.  Back in July 2015, I posted about Moritz Seligmann’s sister, Martha Seligmann, who had married a man named Benjamin Seligmann, son of Isaac Seligmann and Felicitas Goetzel.  Martha and Benjamin’s son Siegfried had married Moritz and Eva Seligmann’s daughter Caroline.  Caroline and Siegfried were the parents of Emil Seligmann, who created that very long and detailed family tree I wrote about here.  That is, Emil was the grandson of both Moritz Seligmann AND his sister Martha Seligmann.  He was his own second cousin.

Here’s the chart I posted last time.  I know this is all confusing, but if I don’t write it down, I will never remember my own thought processes.

Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

 

Or as I wrote then, “Emil’s father Siegfried was the son of Martha Seligmann; his mother Karoline was the daughter of Moritz Seligmann.  Moritz and Martha were siblings, so Siegfried and Karoline were first cousins.  Thus, Emil’s paternal grandmother Martha and his maternal grandfather Moritz were sister and brother.  Now if in fact Benjamin Seligmann, Martha’s husband, was also a cousin, there is truly a remarkable amount of inbreeding there.”

And I think that’s in fact the case: Benjamin and Martha were also first cousins.  Back in July I had thought that perhaps Benjamin Seligmann and his wife Martha Seligmann were cousins since both had the surname Seligmann.  I thought that their fathers, Isaac and Jakob, respectively, could have been brothers, but I had no way of proving it.  But now I know from Jakob’s death certificate that his father’s name was Seligmann ben Hirsch. Was that also the name of Isaac’s father?

A look at Isaac’s gravestone from the Steinheim Institute website revealed this, one of the most beautiful grave inscriptions I’ve ever seen:

 

האיש החשוב משכיל וטהור Here lies  the respected man wise and pure,
החבר ר’הירש בן כ”ה זעליגמאן the Torah Scholar Mr. Hirsch, son of the honored Mr. Seligmann of
גוילסהיים: למלאכתו מלאכת Gaulsheim. For his work was Heaven’s work.  As swift as 
שמים כצבי מהיר אור תורתו 5 a deer was the light of his Torah.  Like a sapphire. 
כספיר תאיר צדק קדמו פעמיו:  righteousness was before him.  A wholly righteous man, great in deeds, doing 
איש תמים ורב פעלי’ גומל חסדים many acts of lovingkindness  for the
רבים: לרעבים וצמאים hungry and thirsty.  
אורו נגנז יום וי”ו ך”ה ובא He died on six, 25 Iyar, and he came
למנוחתו כבוד יו’ א’ך”ו אייר 10 to his honored resting place Day 1, 27 Iyar.
לפרט יקר בעיני ד’המות’ לחסידי’ Especially dear in the eyes of the Lord is the death of the pious.
תנצב”ה May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.

 

(Thank you to Neil, Bracha, and Gerald from Tracing the Tribe on Facebook for help in translating the Hebrew; the original German translation on the Steinheim site did not translate well into English using Google Translate, so I decided it would be better to  get a translation of the Hebrew directly rather than getting a translation of the translation. If the lines of the translation do not line up exactly with the Hebrew text, that is my error, not that of my translators.)

And thank you to my friend Dorothee who told me about the link to the photograph of the headstone.

Hirsch "Isaac" ben Seligmann headstone Found at http://www.steinheim-institut.de/daten/picsbng/xl/0358_bng.jpg

Hirsch “Isaac” ben Seligmann headstone
Found at http://www.steinheim-institut.de/daten/picsbng/xl/0358_bng.jpg

“Isaac’s” Hebrew name was Hirsch, son of Seligmann. His father was thus named Seligmann, as was Jakob’s father.  Furthermore, Jewish naming patterns suggest that Isaac’s father could have been Seligmann son of Hirsch, the man who was also Jakob’s father. Hirsch/”Isaac” was older than Jakob; when Seligmann son of Hirsch had his first son, he named him for his own deceased father, Hirsch.  Jakob and Hirsch/“Isaac” were most likely brothers, both sons of Seligmann ben Hirsch.

Why then is Isaac referred to as Isaac, not Hirsch as his gravestone indicates? I don’t know.  The Steinheim Institute site notes that “Hirsch from Gaulsheim called Isaac Seligmann. He was a schoolteacher in Bingen,” without further explanation.  On the page for Hirsch/Isaac’s son Benjamin, the Steinheim site comments that “Benjamin Seligmann was in Gaulsheim (today district of Bingen), the son of school teacher Hirsch (later: Isaac) 1798 Seligmann and his wife Felicity born.” [Translation by Google Translate] Hirsch must have changed his name to Isaac.

So that means that Benjamin Seligmann, son of Hirsch/Isaac, and Martha Seligmann, daughter of Jakob, were first cousins.  Their son Siegfried was thus not only their son but also a first cousin removed from each of his parents.  Oy vey.  Siegfried then married his first cousin Caroline, daughter of his mother’s brother Moritz.  ENDOGAMY, anyone??  No wonder Emil’s tree was so convoluted!

Here is an updated pedigree chart for Emil Seligmann.  Notice that Seligmann ben Hirsch and Mina Mayer appear as his great-grandparents in three different places:

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

 

Where am I? Oh, right.  I now know that my six-times great-grandfather was named Hirsch and that he had a son named Seligmann, who had at least two children, Hirsch (who became Isaac) and Jakob.

But what about Jakob Seligmann’s wife Martha, daughter of Mayer, my four-times great-grandmother? The second document Wolfgang sent to me was her death certificate.  Martha died on December 17, 1849 in Gaulsheim when she was 76 years old.  She was born in Oberingelheim and was the daughter of Jakob Mayer, deceased, a merchant in Oberingelheim, and Odilia, nee Simon.  The informants were her husband, Jakob Seligmann, and Konrad Vollmer, who was not related to her.

Martha Seligmann nee Mayer death record

Martha Seligmann nee Mayer death record

Thus, I now know another set of five-times great-grandparents, Martha’s parents: Jakob Mayer (probably Jakob ben Mayer) and Odilia Simon (probably Odilia daughter of Simon).  And I know where to search for them: Oberlingelheim.  And if I am right about the patronymics, then I know two more of my sixth-great-grandfathers, Mayer, father of Jakob, and Simon, father of Odilia.

All that from two pieces of paper dating from the mid-nineteenth century.

Thank you, Beate Goetz, Wolfgang Seligmann and his mother Annlis, Matthias Steinke, and the members of Tracing the Tribe, for all your help.

 

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.

Two New Leaves for the Brotman Family Tree

I love seeing the family trees grow with new babies, and Naomi Dombey Ratner, great-granddaughter of Max Brotman and my second cousin, once removed, was blessed with two new grandchildren over the last several months.

First, Ada Helene Ratner was born on July 8, 2015, to Naomi’s son Justin Ratner and his wife Tara Hawk.

Then, Elijah Eric Judy was born on December 8, 2015, to Naomi’s daughter Kara Ratner and Brian Judy.

Here is a photograph of the two new cousins taken in late December when Elijah was just a few weeks old and a more recent one of Elijah.

Elijah and Ada Courtesy of Naomi Ratner

Elijah and Ada
Courtesy of Naomi Ratner

Elijah Courtesy of Naomi Ratner

Elijah
Courtesy of Naomi Ratner

Ada and Elijah are the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of Joseph Brotman and his first wife Chaye Fortgang, the great-great-great-grandchildren of Max Brotman and Sophie Schmigrud, the great-great-grandchildren of Renee Brotman and Charles Haber, the great-grandchildren of Rosalind Haber and Daniel Dombey, and the grandchildren of Naomi Dombey and Eric Ratner.  Ada and Elijah are my second cousins, three times removed.

Mazel tov to Naomi and her children on the births of Ada and Elijah!  Welcome to the extended Brotman family!

Louis Mansbach Schoenthal: The Elusive Showman

 

The third surviving child of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal was their son Louis.  Louis, born in 1878, was working as a cigar salesman on the 1900 census, living with his parents in Atlantic City.  In 1904, he was working with his younger brothers Maurice, Martin, and Jacob in a cigar, stationery, laundry, sporting goods, and pool hall business in Atlantic City.  I have a hard time imagining how they pulled off so many diverse businesses, but that’s what the 1904 directory reflects:

Atlantic City directory 1904

Atlantic City directory 1904 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Louis married Mary Pomroy Dumbleton on October 27, 1906, in the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Camden, New Jersey.  Mary, who was fourteen years older than Louis, was a Pennsylvania native whose parents were Andrew J. Pomeroy, a Pennsylvania native and a Civil War veteran who had once worked as a painter, and Adelaide Mann.  Mary’s father had been disabled after the war and was living in a soldier’s home in Wisconsin from 1877 until he died on March 10, 1912.  Her mother, also a Pennsylvania native, died in 1875 when Mary was only eleven years old.  Although her two younger sisters were living with their grandparents in 1880, Mary, who was sixteen, was working in a hosiery mill in Philadelphia, living as a boarder in someone’s household.

Mary married William Dumbleton on December 21, 1882, when she was nineteen.  She was still married to him in 1900, living in Camden, New Jersey, but on December 18, 1900, her husband William died at age 38.

What a sad life Mary had lived to that point.  It sounds like something out of a novel by Charles Dickens.  Her mother died, and her father lived in a soldier’s home in Wisconsin, and Mary ended up boarding with another family, working in a mill.  She married at nineteen, only to become a widow when she was only 36 years old. She and William do not appear to have had any children.

It was six years later that Mary married Louis Schoenthal.

Marriage record of Louis schoenthal and Mary Pomroy Dumbleton Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1093

Marriage record of Louis schoenthal and Mary Pomroy Dumbleton
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1093

 

In 1908, Louis ran into some trouble when caught gambling:

Louis Schoenthal poker arrest 1908 Atl City

 

Eight policemen early this morning captured ten poker players in a gambling place on Atlantic avenue, near Delaware avenue, conducted, it is alleged, by Louis Schoenthal.  He was held for the grand jury by Justice Williams.  The players were so intent with the cards, a twenty-five cent limit game, that the officers had entered the room before they were seen.  The players were held under nominal bail, as all were well known, although they registered under fictitious names.

If he’d waited another seventy years or so, he’d have been able to play as much poker as he wanted in the casinos that now line the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.   Or maybe even owned a casino.

In 1909, Mary Schoenthal is listed without her husband in the Atlantic City directory for that year.  Where was Louis? By 1910, Louis was far from Atlantic City and was one of the few children of Simon and Rose never to live again in the World’s Playground. Instead, he and Mary moved to California and were living in Los Angeles in 1910. Although the census indexer listed his name as Morris and it certainly looks like it says Morris, I am quite certain that this was Louis and Mary Schoenthal, given the places of birth given for themselves and their parents as well as the occupation given for Louis/Morris.  He was the proprietor of a stationery store, continuing in the business in which he’d been engaged in Atlantic City.

"Morris" and Mary Schoenthal 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 72, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_82; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0168; FHL microfilm: 1374095

“Morris” and Mary Schoenthal 1910 US census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 72, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_82; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0168; FHL microfilm: 1374095

What had driven them to California? Was it his arrest for gambling? Or the lure of California itself, which drew so many people in the early 20th century? Had he changed his name to Morris to hide from the Atlantic City police? After all, his poker players had played under fictitious names so this was a practice with which Louis was familiar.  Is that why Mary was listed alone in 1909 in Atlantic City?

Searching for Louis and Mary in the Los Angeles directories proved extremely puzzling. There are no listings for Louis or Mary (or Morris) until 1912, when there is a listing for Mrs. Mary Schoenthal, living at 930 ½ Santee Street. In 1913, Louis finally shows up as Louis Schoenthal, also living at 930 ½ Santee, in the cigar business.  (His cousin Meyer L. Schoenthal is also now appearing in the Los Angeles directory; he was the son of Henry Schoenthal, as discussed here.)

Things got very confusing in 1914.  Now there are listings for Louis N. Schoenthal, Morris L. Schoenthal, and Sidney R. Schoenthal, all residing at 930 ½ Santee.  Morris is listed as the proprietor of Lou’s Place cigars, and both Louis and Sidney were working in that business as well, it would appear.  So who were Morris and Sidney?  Sidney is easy; he was the youngest child of Simon and Rose Schoenthal and the youngest brother of Louis.  But Morris?

My first thought was that Morris was Maurice Schoenthal, another younger brother, but Maurice (as well as the next brother, Martin) are both listed in the Chicago city directory for 1914, Maurice as a credit manager and Martin as a salesman, so Maurice could not have been the “Morris” listed in the Los Angeles directory for that.

In 1915 there is no listing for Louis Schoenthal at all, but there are listings for Meyer L. Schoenthal, Morris Schoenthal, and Sidney Schoenthal (residing at 930 Santee).   I am speculating that Morris was the same person as Louis; his listing is for a cigar, billiards, and barber shop.  Then, in 1916, the Los Angeles city directory has two listings for Louis Schoenthal, one, simply as Lou, who was a barber and cigar salesman, and one listed as Louis M, who was a clerk.  I don’t know whether Louis had two listings and two jobs or whether there happened to be another Louis M. Schoenthal in Los Angeles. Seems unlikely. The 1917 directory also has two Louis Schoenthals, both living on the same street, South Hill, but at different numbers and with different occupations:

1917 directory for Los Angeles

1917 directory for Los Angeles Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

What happened to Morris? (Sidney is gone also.) The 1918 directory has no listings for Morris or for Louis, but does have one for Sidney.  What was going on?

Louis’ World War I draft registration answers this in part:

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration Registration State: California; Registration County: San Francisco; Roll: 1544266; Draft Board: 13

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration
Registration State: California; Registration County: San Francisco; Roll: 1544266; Draft Board: 13

 

Here Louis is Louis Maurice Schoenthal, not Louis Mansbach Schoenthal, so he does seem to have altered his name a bit.  He is listed as married to Mary D. Schoenthal, residing at 480 Pine Street in San Francisco, working as a self-employed salesman in San Francisco.  So as of 1918, Louis and Mary had left Los Angeles for San Francisco.  On the 1920 census, Louis is listed as Lou living as a lodger in San Francisco, working as a clerk in a dry goods store.  Listed below him is Adel Schoenthal.  Was this Mary? Or a new wife? Mary’s mother was Adelaide, and she had a younger sister by the same name.  Was Mary now using an alias of some sort? Sheesh, these people are confusing!

The 1923 San Francisco directory has a listing for Louie M. Schoenthal, a salesman, at 480 Pine Street. By 1928 he had moved to 1124 O’Farrell Street and was a salesman for the Superfine Candy Company.  In 1929, living at the same address, his occupation was abbreviated as “confr mfr.”  Confectioner manufacturer?

Unfortunately, Louis is not listed in the 1930, 1931, 1932, or the 1933 San Francisco directory, nor can I find him on the 1930 US census.  I have no idea where he might have disappeared to during those years. In 1934, he resurfaces in San Francisco, however, living with Mary at 954 Eddy Street and working as a laborer.  In 1935 he is listed as Louis Schoental, living at 844 California, with no mention of Mary in the listing.  On the 1940 census, Louis was living in a hotel, alone, giving his marital status as single and his work status as retired.  He was 62 years old.  I cannot find any records for Mary after the 1934 directory listing.  I don’t know if they had divorced or she had died between 1934 and 1940.  He did not list himself as either divorced or widowed, so I cannot tell.

When Louis registered for the “old man’s draft” in 1942, he gave his name as Louis Mansbach Schoenthal this time.  He was still living in San Francisco, working at Sammy’s Fur Shop.  He provided Sammy’s name and address as the person who would always know his address.

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

Louis Schoenthal World War II draft registration
World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

 

 

The only other information I found about Louis only added more confusion.  It seems that in the summer of 1946, Louis had a stroke that landed him in the hospital (Laguna Honda) for an extended time.  I only know this because of three mentions of his hospital stay in Billboard under the caption Showfolks of America.  Apparently, Louis became or had been a showfolk or a showman. Billboard, August 24, 1946, p. 73; September 7, 1946, p. 74; September 21, 1946, p. 69 (all found through Google Books).

What, you might ask (as I did), does that mean? I can’t really find a definitive explanation, but from what I did find both in these articles and the sections of Billboard where they appeared (under “Carnivals”) as well as in other sources, I believe that showfolk or showmen were the people who set up booths as vendors at outdoor carnivals or who performed at those outdoor venues.  Maybe when Louis was a candy salesman and/or manufacturer he had been working the carnival trade? Is that why he disappeared between 1929 and 1934—was he traveling with the carnival?  I wish I knew.

English: Cotton candy Ελληνικά: Μαλλί της γριάς

English: Cotton candy Ελληνικά: Μαλλί της γριάς (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the California Death Index, Louis Schoenthal died on June 26, 1956, in Napa, California.  He was 78 years old.  He died far away from all of his siblings; he was no longer married to Mary Dumbleton, and he had no children.   I wish I could have found out more about Louis.  There are so many questions left unanswered, and given that he has no direct descendants and lived so far from his family, I am not sure I will ever find the answers.

 

 

Jews in Arizona: Gertrude Schoenthal Miller and Her Family

As we will see, Harry Schoenthal and his sons were not the only descendants of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal to spend much of their lives in Atlantic City; five of Harry’s siblings also spent most of their lives there.  Harry’s younger sister Gertrude had left Atlantic City for Arizona after she married Jacob J. Miller in 1898, but she returned to Atlantic City, albeit a quarter century later.

As I wrote earlier, Jacob Miller was a German immigrant who had arrived in the US in the 1880s (records are in conflict as to whether it was 1880, 1882, or 1888, but 1882 is supported by three different records so may be the most accurate date). I don’t know how Jacob met Gertrude or where Jacob was living before he married Gertrude, but they must have moved to Arizona not long after they married because Jacob was listed in the Tucson directory in the cigar business in 1899. On the 1900 census, Jacob and Gertrude and their infant daughter Juliet (sometimes spelled Juliette) were living in Pima County, Arizona, where Jacob was a grocer.  (Tucson is in Pima County, so I assume they were living in or near Tucson but the enumeration sheet does not identify the city, only the county.)

Map of Arizona highlighting Pima County

Map of Arizona highlighting Pima County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When I looked further down the enumeration sheet where Jacob and Gertrude and Juliet were listed, I noticed that there were two other Millers just a few entries below that of Jacob and Gertrude: Albert Miller and his brother Solomon.  The census record reports that Albert and Solomon were also born in Germany and that Albert was also a grocer (Solomon a store clerk).  A little further research into the backgrounds of Albert and Solomon confirmed my hunch that these were Jacob’s brothers.  Albert had been in Arizona since at least 1896; he had married his wife Fanny Goldbaum in Pima County on January 19, 1896.  Research into Fanny’s background revealed that she had been living in Pima County since at least 1880 when she was just four years old.

Jacob Miller and family and his brothers on 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Precinct 1, Pima, Arizona Territory; Roll: 47; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0049; FHL microfilm: 1240047

Jacob Miller and family and his brothers on 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Precinct 1, Pima, Arizona Territory; Roll: 47; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0049; FHL microfilm: 1240047

Based on these observations, my hunch is that Albert, the oldest brother, must have moved out west to Arizona sometime before 1896 and then lured his two younger brothers, Jacob and Solomon, to join him out there.  It reminds me of the story of Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather, who followed his older brother Sigmund to Santa Fe and was then followed by their younger brother Adolf to that city as well.

I am sure that like my Seligmann ancestors, the Miller brothers were among a very small number of Jewish settlers in Arizona during that time.  According to the Arizona Jewish History Museum, there was no synagogue in the entire Arizona Territory until Eva Mansfield purchased land to build one in Tucson in 1900.  The history of the Jewish community of Tucson is also discussed on the Jewish Virtual Library website:

The total Jewish population of Arizona in the 1880s was estimated at about 50 people, so the numbers in Tucson must have been fewer. ….

Almost none of the descendants of the pioneer families are counted among the Jews of Tucson today. Many of the original Jewish settlers fled to other parts of the West or the nation in the late 1880s and 1890s when an economic depression hit the Arizona territory. Moreover, those Jews who had already made money left the community because of the unbearable heat, often over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which could last sometimes from May through October.

In the early 20th century a number of Jews remained in Tucson as is evidenced by the presence of a Hebrew Ladies’ Benevolent Society and the building in 1910 of the first Jewish temple in Arizona: Temple Emanu-el (Reform).

Until World War II, and even among some of the pioneers, the Jews who arrived in Tucson came because someone in the family needed the dry air for his/her health.

So Jacob and his brothers appear to have settled in Arizona and stayed when many others, Jewish and non-Jewish, had left.  Had they been drawn to the dry air for their health? Or did they see opportunities where others did not?

Stone Street Synagogue, first synagogue in Arizona 1914 Found at http://www.jmaw.org/temple-emanuel-tucson-synagogue/

Stone Street Synagogue, first synagogue in Arizona
1914
Found at http://www.jmaw.org/temple-emanuel-tucson-synagogue/


Jacob and Gertrude had their second child, Harry, in Arizona in 1902.  According to the 1910 census, however, their third son Sylvester was born in 1906 in New Jersey, so perhaps Jacob and Gertrude had returned to the east coast for some time in 1906, but they then had returned to Arizona by 1910.  Jacob was the manager of the liquor department of a wholesale store in Tucson, Arizona, according to the 1910 census record.
Jacob Miller and family 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Tucson Ward 2, Pima, Arizona; Roll: T624_41; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1374054

Jacob Miller and family 1910 US census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Tucson Ward 2, Pima, Arizona; Roll: T624_41; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1374054

 

When he registered for the draft in 1918, Jacob was living in Ray, Pinal County, Arizona, and working for himself as a merchant.  The 1920 census confused me because Jacob is listed twice: one enumeration page dated January 21, 1920, has him living with his brother Albert in Ray, Arizona, where Jacob was again working as a grocery store merchant and Albert as a dry goods store merchant.  Both were still married according to that record.  The other enumeration page from the 1920 census that includes Jacob , dated January 10-12, 1920, has him living in Tucson with Gertrude and his three children and working as the proprietor of a general merchandise store.  Did Jacob move between January 12 and January 21? Or was he living in Ray while his family lived in Tucson? Tucson is 90 miles from Ray, so he was not commuting from home.  Perhaps Jacob and Albert believed that there were better bisiness opportunities for merchants in Ray, but that there families would be better off in Tucson.

 

Jacob Miller with family 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Tucson Ward 1, Pima, Arizona; Roll: T625_50; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 97; Image: 876

Jacob Miller with family 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Tucson Ward 1, Pima, Arizona; Roll: T625_50; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 97; Image: 876

Jacob Miller 1920 census with brother

Jacob Miller and brother 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Ray, Pinal, Arizona; Roll: T625_51; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 114; Image: 389

It does seem that Jacob stayed in Ray for too long.  The 1922 Tucson, Arizona, city directory lists Jacob Miller as a grocer, living with Gertrude; there are also separate listings for their children Juliet and Harry, described as students, living at the same address as their parents. The 1923 directory for Tucson has the same entries.  But the 1924 Tucson directory does not have any of them listed.

Like those who had left Arizona before them, as mentioned above, Jacob and Gertrude left Arizona and returned to the east.  The family must have moved to Atlantic City sometime after 1923 and before 1926, because they appear in the 1926 directory for Atlantic City. The family was residing at 141 St. James Avenue, which was the address for the Hotel Lockhart.  Jacob was working for the Hotel Lockhart as was his son Harry; Sylvester was working at the Rittenhouse Hotel. Gertrude’s mother, Rosa Mansbach Schoenthal, was also living at the Hotel Lockhart that year. The owner of the Hotel Lockhart in 1919-1920 was Mrs. J. Wirtschafter, the mother of Esther Wirtschafter, who was the wife of Harry Schoenthal, Gertrude’s brother.  Thus, Jacob and Gertrude were living in a hotel owned by Harry’s mother-in-law.  And it was at that same address, 141 St. James Avenue, that Harry and Esther Schoenthal had been living in 1920.

Thus, Gertrude’s brother Harry Schoenthal made it easier for his sister to return to Atlantic City by providing job opportunities for  her husband Jacob and her sons Harry and Sylvester as well as providing a place for them all to live at the Hotel Lockhart.

In 1925, Gertrude and Jacob’s daughter Juliet married Arthur Ferrin in Philadelphia.  Arthur was not from Philadelphia or from Atlantic City.  He was born in 1881 in Tucson, Arizona, making him almost twenty years older than Juliet.  He had been previously married to a woman named Jennie Della Owens, with whom he had had a son named Harold in 1915. Jennie had died in 1919.  In 1920, Arthur was listed on the census in Graham, Arizona, married to a woman named Marie, who was only nineteen.  Marie died in San Francisco, California, a year and half later on September 1, 1921, from typhoid fever. She was just 21 years old.  From the death certificate, it appears that she had arrived in California just 14 days earlier.

Marie Jacobson Ferrin death record Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985. Microfilm publication, 1129 rolls. Researchity. San Francisco, California.

Marie Jacobson Ferrin death record
Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985. Microfilm publication, 1129 rolls. Researchity. San Francisco, California.

So Juliet’s husband Arthur had been twice widowed when he married her in 1925.  Juliet and Arthur were living in Tucson in 1926, but by March 1929, they had also moved to Atlantic City as their first child, Helene, was born there that month.  On the 1930 census, Juliet, her husband Arthur, his son Harold, and their daughter Helene were living with Juliet’s parents and her brother Harry at 141 St. James Avenue, the address of the Hotel Lockhart. Jacob Miller was now listed as the hotel proprietor; his son Harry was working as a clerk, and his son-in-law Arthur was working as a waiter, both at the hotel.  (Arthur seemed to have shaved several years off his age; he was born in 1881, but later records say 1884, and on the 1930 census, when he should have been listed as 48 or 49, his age is reported as 42.)

Jacob Miller, Arthur Ferrin, and families 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0017; Image: 744.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Jacob Miller, Arthur Ferrin, and families
1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0017; Image: 744.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Thus, by 1930, yet another household of the Simon Schoenthal family was living and working in the Atlantic City hospitality business.

Meanwhile, Gertrude and Jacob’s youngest child Sylvester Miller was a student at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1920s and became a licensed dentist in Pennsylvania on July 19, 1928.  He married Isabella Lazarus in Philadelphia in 1933.  She was a Philadelphia native, the daughter of Joseph Lazarus and Aimee Frechie.    Joseph was a manufacturer of shirtwaists. Sylvester and Isabella would have two children during the 1930s. Isabella became an artist of some note.  You can see one of her paintings here.

When I saw the name Frechie, I knew it was familiar and checked my tree.  Harry Frechie, also born in Philadelphia about four years after Aimee, had married Minnie Cohen, my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s niece.  Could Harry and Aimee be related? Both had fathers from Antwerp, Belgium, and they both had settled in Philadelphia.  Harry’s father Ephraim was an auctioneer. Aimee’s father Meyer Solomon was a cigar manufacturer.  They were buried in different cemeteries, and I could not find the name of Meyer’s parents to compare to the parents of Ephraim.  I’ve no idea how common a name Frechie is in Belgium, so perhaps it’s just a coincidence.  But if Aimee and Harry were in fact cousins, it would be one more twisted branch of my ever-growing family tree.

Harry Miller also married in the 1930s.  He married Mildred Pimes who was a Washington, DC, native, daughter of Max Pimes, a tailor born in England, and Ray or Rachel Frankfurther, a Virginia native. Harry and Mildred’s first child was born in August 1935 in Atlantic City so presumably they were married sometime in 1934 or before.  They would have a second child a few years later.

 

Thus, by 1940, all three of Gertrude (Schoenthal) and Jacob Miller’s children were married, and there were seven grandchildren, five living in the Atlantic City environs and two not too far away in Philadelphia.  According to the 1940 census, Jacob was working at a restaurant; he was 66 years old, and Gertrude was 63. They were living at 4 Bartram Street in Atlantic City.

Both the 1938 and the 1941 Atlantic City directories list their daughter Juliet and her husband Arthur Ferrin living at 4 South Cambridge Street in Ventnor City; Juliet was the vice-president and Arthur was the secretary-treasurer of Atlantic Beverage Company, where his son Harold was also employed. (In the 1941 directory, Harold is listed with his wife Dorothy and residing at a different address.)  The 1940 census is consistent with these listings.

Harry Miller and his family were living in Margate City, another community near Atlantic City, in 1940.  Harry was a partner in a beverage company; the 1941 Atlantic City directory is more specific.  Harry was the president of Atlantic Beverage Company.[1]  The directory identified the company as a beer distributor.

Sylvester Miller was practicing dentistry and living with his family in Philadelphia.

Jacob Miller died on October 18, 1949, from coronary thrombosis and a heart attack; he was 76 years old and was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia. (There was a coroner’s inquest and thus two certificates.)

Jacob J. Miller death certificate before inquest 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.

Jacob J. Miller death certificate before inquest
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.

Jacob J Miller death certificate after inquest 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.

Jacob J Miller death certificate after inquest
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.

His wife, my first cousin twice removed Gertrude Schoenthal, died almost thirteen years later on January 4, 1962.  She was 86 years old and was buried with Jacob at Mt. Sinai cemetery. (Gertrude must have died outside of Pennsylvania because there is no death certificate for her in the Pennsylvania death certificate database on Ancestry.)

Juliet Miller Ferrin lived to be 102; her husband Arthur Ferrin lived to 104.  I could not find death records for Harry Miller or his wife Mildred, but another genealogy researcher claimed that Harry died in 1983 when he was 81 and that Sylvester Miller, the youngest child, died in 1980 when he was 74.   I am still trying to confirm that information and have tried contacting a couple of presumed descendants, but have not heard back.  Isabelle Lazarus Miller died on May 21, 1996.

I had no luck finding any newspaper articles about Gertrude and Jacob or any of their children.  Maybe I will hear from a descendant and learn stories about Gertrude and her family that will go beyond the facts revealed in the census records, directories, and death certificates.  There must be some good family stories about living in Tucson in the first part of the 20th century and about living in Atlantic City when it was the “World’s Playground.”

 

 

 

[1] I don’t know whether there is any connection between the Atlantic Beverage Company run by Harry Miller and his sister Juliet Ferrin and her husband Arthur Ferrin and the Atlantic Wine and Liquor Company with which Harry Schoenthal, Gertrude’s brother, had been associated in 1900.

Update on the Death of Norman Schoenthal and Why I Love Libraries and Librarians

I never really realized all the things that librarians do until I starting doing genealogy research.  I’ve loved libraries ever since my mother first took us to the local public library as small children on her first driving experience after she received her driver’s license. Those trips became a weekly adventure, and I remember the long, winding road that brought us to the library and the smell of the new books on display in the children’s room, which was on the lower level.  And I remember how we each could pick a few books to check out and take home for the week to be returned the following week.

In my professional career, I also encountered amazing help from law libraries and librarians.  They seemed able to find resources and books I’d never be able to find on my own.  The librarians where I worked could find something in a few keystrokes that might take me hours to find, if I found it at all.

My latest experience with a librarian has reinforced my appreciation and gratitude for all that librarians do. In my last post, I wrote about the sad death of Norman Schoenthal at age 41 as recorded on his death certificate.

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

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

I had wondered what Norman was doing in Delaware, why he was residing in Washington, DC, and whether or not his death was accidental, as originally reported, or a suicide, as the amended certificate indicates.  I had written to the Wilmington Public Library to see if there was a news article about the incident, and a reference librarian there responded in less than 24 hours and sent me an article that addressed my question.  For free! I am very grateful to Ben, that librarian, for helping me to solve the mystery of Norman Schoenthal.

Here is the article he sent, which is from the September 16, 1955, issue of the Wilmington Morning News (p.4):

NOrman Schoenthal death story part 1

Wilmington (DE) Morning News, September 16, 1955

Wilmington (DE) Morning News, September 16, 1955, p.4

 

 

Man Dies Under Truck Wheels

Norman C. Schoenthal, 41-year old Washington, D.C., hotel man, became Delaware’s 74th highway fatality victim yesterday, when he was killed instantly by a truck on Fairview Avenue, just off the DuPont Highway at Farnhurst.

State troopers said the victim either slipped, fell or dived from the side of the road and was run over by the four tandem wheels of a 20-ton tractor trailer operated by George R. Lammy, 32, of near West Chester.  The vehicle is owned by Trans Materials Company, Berwyn, Pa.

Troopers said Schoenthal was standing on the south side of Fairview Avenue near the Farnhurst Post Office, about 60 feet west of the DuPont Parkway.  The driver told police he saw the man at the edge of the road as he drove past and declared the latter seemed to jump under the four wheels of the trailer.

Investigation showed that Schoenthal was engaged in the hotel business and had spent Wednesday night at the Twin Willows Tourist Home, just in the rear of the post office.  His car was found at the tourist home.  Police said he apparently was traveling alone.

Lammy was driving the gravel-filled truck into the Petrillo Brothers gravel pit, where hot mix asphaltic road surfacing material was being prepared.

The truck driver was arrested on a charge of manslaughter and held in $2000 bail by Magistrate Samuel J. Hatton of New Castle.

Troopers are continuing their investigation. [The remainder of the article is about an unrelated matter.]

The article answered some of my questions.  It does not appear that Norman was a patient at the nearby state hospital.  It does confirm that he was living in Washington, contrary to the burial card from Mt. Sinai cemetery where Norman was buried, which said he was residing in Atlantic City at the time of his death.  The news article also suggests that Norman was still in the hotel business and was perhaps in Wilmington on business.

I also was able to find where the accident occurred, assuming that the post office is still in the same general location in Farnhurst.  Du Pont Parkway still exists and runs north-south in Delaware (also known as Route 13), and the post office is located right off the parkway south of where the parkway now intersects with Interstate 295.  Interestate 295 runs east-west and crosses into Delaware from New Jersey over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and runs west to connect with Interstate 95.  According to Wikipedia, construction of the Farnhurst interchange on Interstate 295 was not completed until 1961; my guess is that the road that was Fairview Avenue in Farnhurst disappeared at some point after Norman’s death as part of the construction of this interchange.  Probably the Two Willows Motel disappeared around that time as well.

 

But there are so many unanswered questions.  Did Norman jump in front of the truck as the driver asserted and as the coroner apparently concluded? He had been recently divorced, had lost his father, and had sold his business in Florida. He could certainly have been depressed.

What happened to the driver, who had been arrested on manslaughter charges? Certainly if the death was ruled a suicide, the charges should have been dismissed, I would think.  I asked  Ben, the reference librarian in Wilmington,  whether there were any follow-up stories about the investigation that had still been pending at the time this article was published, but he wrote back to say he’d been unable to find any.  I guess the legal niceties were not as important to report as the gruesome death itself.

What a terribly sad way to die, whether it was accidental or intentional.

Thank you again, Ben and the Wilmington, Delaware, public library for your kind and generous assistance.  And thank you to all librarians everywhere.

 

 

Under the Boardwalk: My Cousins, the Atlantic City Hoteliers

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

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

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

Hardbound book spine stitching.

Hardbound book spine stitching. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

At that point, Atlantic City was attracting visitors:

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

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

….

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

So let me start with the oldest, Harry, who was born in 1873, and as of 1902, was working for the Atlantic Wine and Liquor Company and living at 931 Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City.  (His brothers Jacob, Louis, and Martin were living at 1434 Atlantic Avenue.) Harry does not appear in the Atlantic City directories between 1903 and 1910, whereas his younger brothers are listed in those years.  Harry does appear, however, in the 1910 census, living in Philadelphia, where he was boarding with a family named Wirtschafter.  The head of the household, Joseph Wirtschafter, and his wife and three children had several other boarders living in their household in addition to Harry.  Harry’s occupation is listed as the owner of a retail saloon, and Joseph’s occupation was a laborer in a liquor establishment.  Perhaps Harry’s landlord was working for him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monopoly board on white bg

Monopoly board on white bg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1931 Rosh Hashanah greetings Harry Schoenthal and family

 

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

Sylvan and Norman Schoenthal 1932 in DC paper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sigh.  More errors and ambiguities in census records….

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvan Schoenthal ad villa deste 1952 Richmond VA paper

 

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

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

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

Normal Schoenthal buys Spanish Courts Palm Beach Post article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.]

 

 

 

.