Death Certificates: Answering Some Unanswered Questions

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

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

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

Death certificates_0004_NEW

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

Death certificates_0003_NEW

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

Mervyn Simon death certificate

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

Death certificates_0001

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

And the Tree Keeps Growing: A New Rosenzweig Leaf!

Marvin Shea Sundick photo

I am delighted to announce that we have another new addition to the Rosenzweig family tree.  Marvin Shea Sundick was born at 12:05 pm on February 20, 2015.  He weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz. and was 20 inches long.  He is the son of Lauren and Bradley Sundick and the brother of Madeline Sundick.  He is the grandson of Robin and Ronald Sundick and of Ellyn Wolfenson, Mick Belzer and Bob Stein.   Marvin is also the great-grandson of Sandy Wolfenson.

Marvin is named for two people. Marvin (in Hebrew, Moshe) is for Lauren’s maternal grandfather, Marvin Wolfenson, who passed away just a year ago.   Shea was to honor the Shapiro family name (the birth name of Marvin’s maternal grandmother Robin).  In Hebrew, Marvin’s middle name is Yisroel for Robin’s father, Israel Shapiro, Brad’s maternal grandfather and Marvin’s great-grandfather.

On his paternal grandfather’s side, Marvin is also the great-grandson of Mildred (nee Rosenzweig) and Seymour Sundick, the great-great-grandson of Joseph and Sadie Rosenzweig, the great-great-great-grandson of Gustav and Gussie Rosenzweig, and the great-great-great-great-grandson of David and Esther Rosenzweig. (That makes him my third cousin twice removed as David and Esther Rosenzweig were my great-great-grandparents, the parents of my great-grandmother Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager.)

Mazel tov to all of his family! And welcome to the family, Marvin!

The Schoenfelds and Erbes-Budesheim: Part II

In my last post, I wrote about Erbes-Budesheim, the German town where my Schoenfeld ancestors lived, where my 3x-great-grandmother was born, and where my 4x- and 5x-great-grandparents lived.   From the records I was able to obtain, I know that my 4x-great-grandparents Bernhard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann were married and living in Erbes-Budesheim by 1804 when their first child Benedict Baehr was born.

As explained to me by Gerd Braun, the man in Erbes-Budesheim who sent me the documents,  when the French took over control of the region, one thing that they did in 1808 was order the Jewish residents to adopt surnames akin to those used by the Christian population.  Before that, Jews used patronymics.  Thus, before 1808, Bernhard Schoenfeld was named Baer (ben) Salomon[1] and Rosina was Rosina (bat) Benjamin.  The two children born before 1808 were named Benedict (ben) Baer and Taubchen (bat) Baer.  Taubchen was renamed Eva Schoenfeld after 1808.

Here is the birth record for Benedict.  (All the records before 1816 are in French, and my high school French classes came in handy.)  The translations for all of the documents below are in italics.

Benedict Baer birth record 1804

Benedict Baer birth record 1804

Act of birth of Benedict Baer born the 15th of Frimaire[2] at 10 in the morning, the legitimate son of Baer Salomon, merchant, living in Erbesbudesheim, and of Rosine nee Benjamin of Munchweiler.  The sex of the child has been recognized as masculine.  [Witnesses and signatures]

Benedict died just eight months later.

Benedict Baer death record 1805

Benedict Baer death record 1805

Act of death of Benedict Baer, died the 17th of Messidor[3] at 7 in the evening, eight months old, born in Erbesbudesheim and living in Erbesbudesheim.  Son of Baer Salomon and Roes nee Benjamin.  On the declaration made by Baer Salomon, his father, resident of Erbesbudesheim and a merchant, and Francois Colin, resident of Erbesbudeshem, a barber and a neighbor.

A year later, Taubechen (who became Eva) was born:

Birth record of Taubchen Baer/Eva Schoenfeld 1806

Birth record of Taubchen Baer/Eva Schoenfeld 1806

Act of birth:  In the year 1806 on the 2d of June in the afternoon appeared before the mayor of Erbesbudesheim… Baehr Salomon, a merchant, 34 years old, living in Erbesbudesheim, No. 66, and presented to us a female child of him and his legal wife Rosine nee Benjamin born the 2d of June at 5 in the morning and also stated that he wanted to give the child the name Taubchen.  [Witnesses and signatures.]

The children born after 1808 were given the name Schoenfeld, including my 3-x great-grandmother, Babetta.  You will see that on this record, Bernard and Rosine are referred to with surnames.

Babete Schoenfeld birth record 1806

Babete Schoenfeld birth record 1806

In the year 1810, the 28th of February, at nine in the morning, Bernard Schoenfeld, 37 years old, a merchant, and a resident of Erbesbudesheim,appeared before Andre Cronenberger, Mayor of Erbesbudesheim and presented a female child born the 28th of February in the morning of himself and Rosine nee Goldmann, his wife, and also declared that he wanted to give the child the name of Babet. [Witnesses and signatures]

In addition, I received records for other children of Bernard and Rosina Schoenfeld, ancestors I’d not known about before.  The first two are in French, but the last two are in German because they occurred when the region was back under German control.  The two in French follow the format and content of those above and evidence the births of a daughter Marianne, born June 29, 1812, and a daughter Rebecque, born July 20, 1814.

Birth record of Marianna Schoenfled 1812

Birth record of Marianna Schoenfled 1812

Birth record of Rebecque Schoenfeld 1814

Birth record of Rebecque Schoenfeld 1814

The last two are in German.  Thank you to Matthias Steinke for the translations. The first record is for the birth of another daughter, Zibora, in 1818.

 

Birtn record of Zibora Schoenfeld 1818

Birtn record of Zibora Schoenfeld 1818

In the year 1818, the 23rd of May came to me, the mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity of Erbesbuedesheim, county of Alzey, Bernhard Schoenfeld, 45 years old, merchant, residing in Erbesbuedesheim, who reported, that at the 22nd of May at 11 o´clock in the night a child of female sex, which he showed me, was born and whom he intends to give the first name Zibora, and which he declared to have fathered with his wife Rosina Goldmann, 35 old, residing in Erbesbuedesheim.  The child was born in the Hauptstr. nr. 77. This declaration and presentation happened in presence of the witnesses Johannes Knobloch, 55 years old, farmer, in Erbesbuedesheim residing and Jacob Landesberg, 29 years old, farmer, in Erbesbuedesheim  residing, and have the father and the witnesses signed his birth-record and it was read to them. Signatures

The last child of Bernard and Rosine for whom I have a record was their daughter Saara, born in 1820:

Birth Record of Saara Schoenfeld 1820

Birth Record of Saara Schoenfeld 1820

In the year 1820 the fifteenth of October at twelve o´clock midday came to me, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim Bernhard Schoenfeld, 51 years old, merchant, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, who reported, that at the fifteenth October at two o´clock in the morning a child of female sex, whom he showed me, was born and whom he intends to give the name Saara, and he also reported, that he fathered the child with Rosina Goldmann, 41 years old, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, his legal wife. This declaration and showing happened in presence of the witness Johannes Knobloch, 57 years old, farmer, and Jakob Landsberg, 28 years old, merchant, both residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, and have the father and the witnesses with me this present birth-certificate after it was read to them, signed. Signatures

In the midst of all these births, there was also a death.  On February 16, 1813, Salomon Schoenfeld, father of Bernard Schoenfeld, died at age 63 (or is that soixant treize meaning 73?).  His occupation was given as “cultivateur,” or cultivator, which I assume means that he was a farmer.  The witnesses to his death included Benoit Schoenfeld, his son, age 23, a “propietaire”  or owner, but no indication of what he owned.  This must have been a younger brother of Bernard since in 1813 Bernard would have been at least 40 years old.  (His age seems to vary from birth record to birth record.)

Death Record of Salomon Schoenfeld 1813

Death Record of Salomon Schoenfeld 1813

 

There is also a record for the birth of the child of an Isaac Schoenfeld and a Barbe Goldmann who is probably also a family member, though I am not sure what the exact connection was between these Goldmanns and Schoenfelds and Bernhard and Rosina, my 4x great-grandparents. But the number of marriages between a Schoenfeld man and a Goldmann woman are somewhat revealing.  Here is a third such marriage, this one between Rebeka (Rebecque) Schoenfeld, the daughter of Bernhard and Rosina,  and Salomon Goldmann.  Is it any surprise that Ashkenazi Jews come up with thousands of matches when DNA testing is done?  We are all interrelated at so many different levels.

Marriage Record for Rebecque/Rebkah Schoenfeld and Salomon Goldmann

Marriage Record for Rebecque/Rebkah Schoenfeld and Salomon Goldmann

 

 

In the year 1834 on the fifteenth October at ten o´clock pre midday came to me, Andreas Cronenberger mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey:

Salomon Goldmann, 42 years old, merchant, residing in Kirchheimbolanden, Rhein-county, Bavaria, born in …thal, like it was presented to me by a certificate of the district-court Kirchheimbolanden from the 24th of December 1807, which was certified by the district-court in Mainz, the adult son of 1. Joseph Goldmann, 75 years old, during his lifetime a merchant in Kirchheimbolanden, deceased there the 8th of  November, 1800 (some parts here were cut off) 2. Friederike Goldmann, widow, nee Goldmann, 62 years old, without profession residing in Kirchheimbolanden and here present and giving her confirmation and who declared to be unable to write.

And on the other hand, Rebeka Schoenfeld (Schönfeld), 20 years old, born in Erbebudesheim in 1814, like I have seen in the present birth-register of the year 1814, without profession, in Erbes-Buedsheim residing.

Minor daughter of 1. Bernhard Schoenfeld, 62 years old, merchant and owner of a manor, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing. 2. Rosina Schoenfeld nee Goldmann, 55 years old, without profession, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, both are present and giving their confirmation.

The appearing people asked me to do the marriage. The proclamation was published at the main-door of the comunity-building the September 24, 1834 at noon and the second the September 26 at noon in Erbes-Buedesheim and in Kirchheimbolanden the 14th of September the first time and the 21st of September of the same year the second time was made.

Due to the case, that no objections against this marriage appeared, and after reading the sixth chapter of the civil-rights-lawbook which is titled „about the marriage“ I asked them whether they want to marry each other. Both confirmed this question and I declared that Salomon Goldmann, widower from Kirchheimbolanden and the maiden Rebeka Schoenfeld of Erbes-Buedesheim are from now on connected by the matrimony.

About this act this certificate was made in presence of the following witnesses:

Georg Peter Erbach, 54 years old, member of the regional council and manor-owner in Erbes-Buedesheim, a neighbour of the bride, not related.  Johannes Klippel, 45 years old, farmer in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride, Christoph Zopf, 49 years old, farmer in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride,  Johannes Härter, 82 years old, comunity-servant in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride. After happened reading have all parts this document with me signed. Signatures

I have a couple of observations about this marriage certificate.  First, the groom was a widower and 24 years older than the bride.  Also, Rebeka was younger than her sister Babete or Babetta, my 3x-great-grandmother, yet married before her, even though this would appear to have been an arranged marriage.  Did Babetta object to marrying Salomon? Or did Salomon choose Rebeka over her older sister?

Also, I was struck by the fact that Bernard was described not just as a merchant, as he had been in the records of his children’s births, but as the owner of a manor.  Perhaps this explains why my Schoenfeld relatives were living in this small village with almost no Jewish residents.  Bernard must have  been quite successful to be a manor owner.

Two years after this wedding, Bernard Schoenfeld died.

Death record of Bernard Schoenfeld 1836

Death record of Bernard Schoenfeld 1836

In the year 1836 November 20th, at eight o´clock pre midday came to me, Andreas Cronenberger, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey, 1. the Jakob Landsberg, 46 years old, merchant in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, related as uncle of the below named deceased, and 2. Leopold Schoenfeld, 42 years old, merchant, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, related as sibling of the below named deceased, and have reported to me that Bernhard Schoenfeld, 67 years old, merchant and manor-owner, born and residing in Erbes-Bueresheim, married to Rosina Schoenfeld, nee Goldmann ,56 years old, without profession, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim. Parents were: Salomon Schoenfeld, during lifetime merchant and manor-owner in  Erbes-Buedesheim, 2. Gertrude Schoenfeld nee Judah, during lifetime also residing in Erbes-Buedesheim.

Died November 1836 at three o´clock past midday in house nr 85 in the Hauptstrasse (Mainstreet) here is deceased and have the here present this certificate after it was read to them with me undersigned.

In this record, Bernard’s father Salomon is described as a merchant and manor owner, not a cultivator.  I am not sure how to reconcile that with the earlier record of Salomon’s death. The above record also reveals two more relatives: Leopold Schoenfeld, another brother of Bernard, and Jakob Landsberg, an uncle.  But Jakob Landsberg was over 20 years younger than Bernard.  Perhaps he was a nephew?  Leopold Schoenfeld’s headstone appeared in the video I posted in the last post.  Here’s a screenshot from that video:

Leopold Schoenfeld headstone

Leopold Schoenfeld headstone

Just a few months after Bernard Schoenfeld died, his daughter Babete, my 3-x great-grandmother, married Moritz Seligmann on February 14, 1837.

Marriage record of Babete Schoenfeld and Moritz Seligmann 1837

Marriage record of Babete Schoenfeld and Moritz Seligmann 1837

In the year 1837 the 14th of the month February, at three o´clock past midday to me, Peter Cronenberger, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey came:

Moritz Seligmann, 38 years old, widower of Eva Seligmann, nee Schoenfeld, deceased in Gaulsheim the 12th of May 1835 as it is written in the death-register of the comunity Gaulsheim of the year 1835, merchant, in Gau Algesheim residing, like it is in the birth-records of the community Gau Algesheim to find, adult son of 1. Jacob Seligmann, 63 years old, merchant, in Gaulsheim residing, 2. Martha Seligmann nee Mayer, 63 years old, in Gaulsheim residing, both not present, but giving their permission to this marriage according a notary-certificate of the notary Wieger in Gaulsheim from the 6th of February, 1837,

and on the other hand, Babete Schoenfeld, 26 years old, without profession, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, born the February 28, 1810, like it is stated in the birth-register of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim of the year 1810, adult daughter of 1. Bernhard Schoenfeld, during lifetime merchant, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, deceased 19th of November 1836, as it is stated in the death-register of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, 2. Rosina Schoenfeld, nee Goldmann , 56 years old, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, last named here present and consenting to the marriage. ….

Due to the case, that no objections against this marriage appeared, and after reading the sixth chapter of the civil-rights-lawbook which is titled ‘about the marriage,“ I asked them whether they want to marry each other. Both confirmed this question and I declared that Moritz Seligmann, merchant in Gau Algesheim residing and Babete Schoenfeld, without profession in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, are from now on legally connected by the matrimony.

About this act I made this certificate in the presence of the following witnesses: [Witnesses and signatures]

This marriage record answered a question that I had had about the two sisters both marrying Moritz Seligmann.  According to this record, Eva Schoenfeld had died on May 12, 1835.  Eva died in the aftermath of giving birth to her fourth child, Benjamin, who was born on May 10, 1835.

Her sister Babetta (as it was later spelled) became the instant mother of Eva’s four children, who then ranged in age from Benjamin, not yet two years old, to eight year old Sigmund, who would be the first to come to the US and settle in Santa Fe.  Babetta not only had these four children to care for; she must also have become  pregnant almost immediately after the wedding because my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, obviously named for Babetta’s father Bernard Schoenfeld who had died the year before, was born on November 23, 1837, just nine months and nine days after the marriage.

The last record I received from Erbes-Budesheim was the death record for Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld, dated July 19, 1862.  She was 84 years old.  She was my 4-x great-grandmother.  All I know about her is where she was born, her father’s name, her husband’s name, and the names of her children and some of her grandchildren.  I know that she lost one child at eight months old, an adult daughter in the aftermath of childbirth, and her husband almost thirty years before she died.  It’s not a lot, but it is remarkable to me that I know even that much about a woman who was born in the 18th century in Germany.

Death record of Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld 1862

Death record of Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld 1862

So what have I learned about my Schoenfeld ancestors and their lives in Erbes-Budesheim from all these documents?  First, they must have been one of only a very few Jewish families in Erbes-Budesheim if the total Jewish population was just 23 people.  Second, they must have been fairly comfortable living in that small town, living as merchants and manor owners.   But there was no future for their family in the town.  Bernard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann had only daughters who survived to adulthood.   To find marriage partners for their daughters, Bernard and Rosina had to look outside of Erbes-Budesheim.  Their 20 year old daughter Rebeka Schoenfeld married a 44 year old widower from a town in Bavaria, about ten miles from Erbes-Budesheim.  Their daughter Eva married Moritz Seligmann and moved to Gau-Algesheim.  Then their daughter Babetta,  my 3-x great-grandmother, married Moritz after her sister died.  These young women must have had no choice but to marry and move away from Erbes-Budesheim.  No wonder the town’s Jewish population never grew and eventually declined and disappeared.

But the cemetery still exists, and Erbes-Budesheim is one more town to add to my list of ancestral towns I’d like to visit one day.

 

 

[1] Gerd Braun did not use the Hebrew terms “ben” or “bat” for son or daughter of, but simply referred to them as, for example, Baehr Salomon.  I am assuming, however, based on Jewish practice, that the second name would have been the father’s first name.  Thus, Baehr Salomon is really Baehr son of (ben) Salomon.

[2] According to Wikipedia,  Frimaire “was the third month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the French word frimas, which means frost. Frimaire was the third month of the autumn quarter (mois d’automne). It started between November 21 and November 23. It ended between December 20 and December 22. It follows the Brumaire and precedes the Nivôse.”  Benedict was thus born about December 6.

[3] Messidor in the French Republic Calendar was equivalent to June 19 to July 18.  The 17th would be equivalent to July 6.

New Seligmann Discoveries: Erbes-Budesheim and the Schoenfelds, Part I

While you all may have thought that for the last several months I was obsessed with Nusbaums and Dreyfusses (and I guess I was), there were several other things happening in my genealogy life (not to mention my actual life) that I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet.  One of the biggest things was the discovery of documents and information about another line of my family, the Schoenfelds, and another ancestral town, Erbes-Budesheim.

Erbes-Büdesheim in January 2006

Erbes-Büdesheim in January 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who are the Schoenfelds?  Moritz Seligmann, my 3-x great-grandfather from Gau Algesheim, married two Schoenfeld sisters (not at the same time, of course).  First, he married Eva Schoenfeld and had four children with her, and then he married her younger sister, Babetta, my 3-x great-grandmother, the mother of Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather.  Moritz and Babetta had seven children together in addition to the four born to Eva.

Because the birth names of women often disappear, it is all too easy to overlook the family names and lines that end when a woman changes her name to that of her husband.  Although I was always aware of the family names of Goldschlager, Brotman, Cohen, Nusbaum, and Seligman (as well as those from my paternal grandmother’s side, not yet covered on the blog), I had no awareness of a family connection to the names Rosenzweig, Dreyfuss, Jacobs, and Schoenfeld.  Discovering the Schoenfeld name, like discovering those others, was an exciting revelation and addition to my extended family tree.

So how did this happen?  As I wrote back on December 1, Ludwig Hellriegel’s book about the Jews of Gau Algesheim revealed that Moritz Seligmann was born in Gaulsheim and had moved to Gau Algesheim as an adult.  That discovery had led me to the Arbeitskreis Jüdisches Bingen and a woman named Beate Goetz.  Beate sent me the marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld, which revealed that Eva was the daughter of Bernhard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann from Erbes-Budesheim.  (Now I also know another maternal name—Goldmann.)

Marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld February 27, 1829 Gaulsheim, Germany

Marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld February 27, 1829 Gaulsheim, Germany

From there I contacted the registry in Erbes-Budesheim to ask about records for my Schoenfeld ancestors, and within a short period of time, I received several emails from a man named Gerd Braun with an incredible treasure trove of information and records about my Schoenfeld ancestors.

But first, a little about Erbes-Budesheim.  Erbes-Budseheim is a municipality in the Alzey-Worms district of the Rhineland-Palatine state in Germany.  It is located about 25 miles south of Gaulsheim where Moritz Seligmann was born and grew up and about 27 miles south of Gau Algesheim where Moritz and his family eventually settled.  The closest major city is Frankfort, about 46 miles away.

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The town has an ancient history, dating back to the Stone Age, according to Wikipedia.  Like many regions in Germany, it was subject to various wars and conquerors throughout much of its history.  During the Napoleonic era in the late 18th, early 19th century, Erbes-Budesheim and the entire Alzey region were annexed as part of France; after 1815 it was under the control of the Grand Duchy of Hesse.

Although originally a Catholic community, after the Reformation Erbes-Budesheim became a predominantly Protestant community.  Some sources say that there was a small Jewish community in Erbes-Budesheim as early as the 16th century, but as of 1701, there were only 15 Jews (two families) living in the town.  A third family lived there in 1733, but even as late as 1824 and throughout the entire 19th century, the population did not exceed 23 people.  The Jews in Erbes-Budesheim for much of that history joined with Jews from neighboring communities for prayer, education, and burial.

By 1849, however, one Jewish resident named Strauss had dedicated the first floor of his home for prayer services, and it was furnished with the essential elements for a synagogue: Torah scrolls, an ark, a yad, and a shofar, for example.  Perhaps this is where my 4-x great-grandfather Bernhard Schoenfeld went to daven [pray] when he and his family lived in Erbes-Budesheim.

Strauss home where the Erbes-Budesheim Synagogue was located  http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/erbes_buedesheim_synagoge.htm

Strauss home where the Erbes-Budesheim Synagogue was located
http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/erbes_buedesheim_synagoge.htm

 

There is also a Jewish cemetery in Erbes-Budesheim.

On this video you can some headstones with the name Schoenfeld from the Erbes-Budesheim cemetery.

By 1939, there were only eight Jews left in the town, and it would appear from the allemannia-judaica website that none of these survived the Holocaust.

Thus, Erbes-Budesheim was never a place where a substantial Jewish community existed, and it makes me wonder what would have brought my ancestors there.  Why would anyone want to be one of a handful of Jews in a community?  In my next post, I will consider that question and share the documents I received from Erbes-Budesheim.

Some Stories from Santa Fe

While I have been researching the Dreyfuss clan and all their heartaches, a few other items have come up in my research that are worth blogging about before I move on to the last line of the Nusbaum clan (and more heartache).  I have a number of exciting discoveries relating to my Seligman relatives, some new cousins, some new stories, and some DNA work to write about.  Today I want to share two stories that my cousin Pete, the grandson of Arthur Seligman and great-grandnephew of Simon Nusbaum, shared with me from the website to which he contributes, www.vocesdesantefe.org.

The first is a story about Simon Nusbaum, the son of John Nusbaum and brother of Frances Nusbaum, our mutual ancestors.  Simon was my great-great-granduncle, the one who settled in Santa Fe after years in Peoria, and who became the postmaster there and the deputy treasurer of the New Mexico territory.  Pete’s story is about Simon and the house that he owned and its history.

Santa Fe New Mexican May 26, 1986

Santa Fe New Mexican May 26, 1986

http://vocesdesantafe.org/social/index.php/explore-our-history/architecturebuildings/item/1182-simon-nusbaum-a-little-known-jewish-pioneer-in-santa-fe

It’s very sad to me that the house no longer exists, but I am happy to report that Nusbaum Street does still exist.  One more thing to add to my travel plans: a walk down Nusbaum Street.

Pete’s second story is about his grandfather Arthur Seligman, my great-granduncle.  When Arthur was the governor of New Mexico, the elevator that goes into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park was completed, and the governor was referred to as the “father of the elevator.”  Arthur’s story tells the story behind this remarkable engineering accomplishment and our ancestor’s role in implementing it.

Here is a photograph from Pete’s personal collection of the day that the elevator was officially opened.  Governor Seligman is in the front row wearing a black coat and a bow tie. To his right is his wife, Mrs. Franc E. Seligman; to his left is his step-daughter, Richie Seligman (Mrs. John March); Harold Albright, Director of the NPS; Wilbur Lyman, Secretary of Interior; and US Senator, Bronson Cutting.

Courtesy of Arthur "Pete" Scott

Courtesy of Arthur “Pete” Scott

The link below will take you to the whole article that Pete wrote about this event and the elevator.

carlsbad_caverns_park_1932

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you, Pete, for sharing these pictures and stories with me and with my readers.

 

 

 

The First Chapter: The Dreyfuss Family

Yeah, I know.  My last post said it was the FINAL chapter of the Dreyfuss family.  How could this one be the first?

Way back on November 18, 2014, I wrote, “More on the Dreyfuss family in a later post.”  Then I proceeded to write about the Nusbaum family and the Dreyfuss family together.  Since two Dreyfuss sisters (Jeanette and Mathilde) had married two Nusbaum brothers (John and Maxwell), it just made sense to follow the stories of the three Dreyfuss sisters (Jeanette, Mathilde and Caroline) along with the stories of the Nusbaum siblings.  But what I never got back to doing was what I had promised back on November 18.  I never got back to the beginning of the Dreyfuss story as I moved forward from the 1840s in America through to the 20th century.  So although my last post was called the “Final Chapter” of the Dreyfuss family, I need to go back and write the first chapter before I can complete the story (as far as I currently know it).

So I need to step backwards in time—both in my time and in the times of the Dreyfuss family before 1840.  Back in the fall when I was researching the family of John Nusbaum, I had a wonderful resource in the family bible owned by my father.  My father had photocopied several pages of handwritten entries for births, deaths, and marriages from the bible , and most of those entries related to the Nusbaum family.  From studying the page for marriages, I learned that John Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandfather, had married Jeanette Dreyfus (as it was spelled there).  And that was the first time I knew the birth name of my three-times great-grandmother.  On the page for births, the second entry after the one for John Nusbaum was one for Jeanette Nusbaum, giving her birth date and her place of birth.  It took me a while to figure out what it said because of the handwriting, but eventually I was able to decipher it and learned that Jeanette was born in “Hechingen in Wurttemberg, Prussia,” as it is inscribed in the bible.

But there was no other Dreyfus(s) on any of the pages in the bible, and I was at that point in time focused on the Nusbaum line.  It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized that the bible’s death entry for Mathilde Pollock was not an entry for a sister of John Nusbaum, but an entry for a sister of Jeanette Dreyfuss (who happened to marry a brother of John Nusbaum) and that the entry for Caroline Wiler was also not a sister of John Nusbaum but another Dreyfuss sister. The big clue was finding 65 year old Mary Dreyfuss  on the 1850 census living with Caroline and Moses Wiler: a head-slapping moment when it occurred to me that it was Jeanette who was keeping the family bible and that, of course, she would record her sisters as well as her husband’s siblings in the family bible.

And then in mid-November I went on JewishGen’s Family Finder page and found Ralph Baer, who was also researching the Dreyfuss family from Hechingen.  I have mentioned Ralph before in the context of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss family and his generous help with research and translation, but what I had forgotten to write about in my telling of the story of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss family in the US was what Ralph had helped me learn about my Dreyfuss roots in Hechingen, Germany.

Hechingen, Germany

Hechingen, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, a little about Hechingen.  Today it is in the German state of Baden-Wurttemburg, located about 56 miles north of the Swiss border in southern Germany.  It is about 40 miles from Stuttgart, the state capital.  Although inhabited long before, the city was founded as the capital city of the Counts of Hohenzollern in 1255.  It remained during the Middle Ages a provincial and agricultural community.  During the 16th century, it became a center for art, architecture and music.  Even after the Reformation, it remained a largely Catholic community.  Throughout its pre-19th century history, Hechingen was subjected to many sieges and attacks by other German states as well as by Sweden.

de: Burg Hohenzollern bei Hechingen, Baden-Wür...

de: Burg Hohenzollern bei Hechingen, Baden-Württemberg, Deutschland en:Castle Hohenzollern near Hechingen, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, “There was a small Jewish settlement in Hechingen in the early 16th century, and a house was bought for use as a synagogue by the community of 10 families in 1546. In 1592 the burghers refused to conduct any commercial or financial transactions with Jews, who therefore left the town. There is no trace of Jewish settlement in the town during the next century. In 1701 Prince Frederick William I gave letters of protection lasting 10 years to six Jewish families in the neighboring villages; soon there were Jews living in the city as well. By 1737 there were 30 households, and a synagogue was built in 1761 which existed until 1870.”

The Jewish community blossomed in Hechingen in the late 18th and early 19th century through the efforts of a woman named Chaile Raphael Kaulla.  Her father was a successful entrepreneur and banker, and he provided Chaile with a good education.   She even learned German, not something girls were usually taught in those times.   When her father died, Chaile, being much older than her oldest brother, took over her father’s business; she managed the business very successfully while also raising six children.  Her husband, a Talmudic scholar, did not work.  Chaile and her brother Jacob developed a very good relationship with the authorities in Hechingen and became the leaders of the Jewish community there.  Here is more about Chaile from the Jewish Women’s Archive:

Chaile developed an aristocratic lifestyle, owning an elegant house and a horse-drawn carriage, but she continued to live according to Jewish law. She never forgot the mitzvot and cared for the Jewish community together with her brother, using her connections to the prince. The Kaulla family had their own private synagogue and rabbi. Both sister and brother gave generously to the Jewish as well as to the Christian poor and founded a hostel for needy and migrating Jews in Hechingen. In 1803, they donated a Bet Midrash, a Talmud school, with three rabbinical scholars whom they supported, together with their students and an important library.

 

The 19th century was a time of economic and industrial growth for the town of Hechingen and for its Jewish residents.  Wikipedia states that “By 1850, Hechingen had started to industrialize, primarily with Jewish enterprises. By 1871 the city had become one of the most important economic centres in the region, with textiles and machine shops among the major industries.”  According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Jewish community in Hechingen was “prosperous and owned most of the local industries.” The Jewish population reached 809 people in 1842, which was about a quarter of the total population of the town.  This was also around the time that my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette and her sisters and mother would have left, which might seem strange, given how favorable the conditions there seemed to have been.

The Alemannia-Judaica, however, reports that there were some anti-Semitic “disturbances” in the 1840s, and the Dreyfuss sisters were not the only ones to leave.  By 1880, the Jewish population had dropped to 340; by the 1930s it had dropped to only 101.  Like so many other Europeans, Jews and non-Jews, the lure of opportunities elsewhere must have been irresistible.  The Dreyfuss sisters were wise to leave Hechingen because it was no more immune to the destruction and genocide of the Nazis than any other place during the Holocaust.  The synagogue was heavily damaged on Kristallnacht in November, 1938, and most of the Jewish men were sent to Dachau.  In the aftermath, 53 Jews emigrated successfully; the remaining 32 Jewish residents of Hechingen were sent to concentration camps where all but one were murdered by the Nazis.

According to another source, “In 1991, the synagogue building was rebuilt as a cultural center, housing an exhibition on Hechingen’s Jewish history. A new Jewish community was founded in Hechingen in 2003.”  More pictures can be found here.

 

Where did my ancestors fit into this story of Hechingen? I was very, very lucky to find Ralph Baer on the JewishGen Family Finder because Ralph had already done extensive research on all the Hechingen Dreyfuss families years before I stumbled onto the name in the old family bible.  Even though he had not been able to find a connection between his Dreyfuss ancestors and mine, he had included my line in his tree when he’d done his research years ago.  Thus, my first email from Ralph in response to my inquiry as to his Hechingen Dreyfuss family included the following names:

A)3. Samuel (Sanwil) DREYFUß (ZELLER) 25 May 1776 Hechingen – 3 July 1859
Hechingen, married about 1805 to Miriam (Marianna) Samson BERNHEIM 17 May
1787 – 1841

A)31. Jeanette DREYFUß 20 May 1817 Hechingen, married to … NUßBAUM

A)32. Moses DREYFUß 10 February 1819 Hechingen

A)33. Goldel (Golde, Auguste) DREYFUß 16 October 1822 Hechingen,
married to … WEILER

A)34. Mathilde (Magdalena) DREYFUß 30 March 1825 Hechingen, married
to … POLLAK

A)35. Samson DREYFUß about 1827 Hechingen

A)36. Auguste DREYFUß about 1829 Hechingen[1]

There were my 3x-great-grandparents right at line 31, and there at line 33 was Caroline (born Golde) “Weiler” and at line 34 Mathilde “Pollak.”  I knew immediately that Ralph had found the three Dreyfuss sisters listed in my family bible.  Not only did the names line up, but so did the birth dates.  Thus, I now also knew that Jeanette, Caroline, and Mathilde were the daughters of Samuel Dreyfuss Zeller (later documents, as I found, indicated he had changed his surname to Zeller) and Miriam (Marianna) Samson Bernheim, that is, the Mary Dreyfuss I had found on the 1850 census living with her daughter Caroline in Pennsylvania.  (The death date of 1841 given for Miriam Ralph and I later discovered was not correct. I have not, however, found a death record for Miriam, though with two grandchildren named Miriam, one (Miriam Nusbaum, daughter of John Nusbaum and Jeanette Dreyfuss) in 1858, and one in 1859 (Miriam Pollock, daughter of Mathilde Dreyfuss and Moses Pollock, it would appear that Miriam died before 1858.)  In addition, I now had evidence of three other siblings: Moses, Samson, and Auguste.

But, of course, I wanted to see the actual records where Ralph had long ago found my relatives while researching his own.  With his patient assistance, I was able to locate a number of records relating to my Dreyfuss ancestors.  Fortunately, many of the Jewish vital records from the Baden-Wurttemburg region are digitized and available on line, and Ralph walked me step by step through the process of researching those archives and then helped me translate what I had found.  Once again, I struggled with the German script, but with Ralph’s help, I was able to find a number of relevant records.

I am now including the links to them here with a transcription of what is on each record so that I have a record later when I once again have trouble reading the script.  If you are interested in seeing the underlying documents, just click on the links.  The JPG versions were too blurry to read, so I am only posting links to the PDF versions, with two exceptions that were more legible.

Dreyfuss births (1)  Birth Registry for Hechingen 1800-1905

Line 132 Moses Dreyfuss                             Father Samuel                  Mother Miriam geb Bernheim

Line 186 Golde (Augusta) Dreyfuss           Father Samuel                 Mother Miriam geb Bernheim

Line 223 Mathilde Dreyfuss                                                 SAME

 

Dreyfuss Family on Archives film 240 bild 31  (Census 1831)

Dreyfuss family on archives film 240 film 31

#192 Samuel Dreyfuss 56 and Marianna 44. Six children: Jeanette 14, Magdalena 6, Golde 10, Moses 12, Samson 4, and Auguste 2.

 

Golde Auguste Caroline Dreyfuss birth record

First line:    October 16, 1822      Golde (Augusta)         Samuel Dreyfuss               Miriam geb Bernheim

 

Mathilde Dreyfuss birth record

Sixth line:  March 30 1825          Mathilde                       Samuel Dreyfuss                  Miriam geb Bernheim

 

Meier Dreyfuss brother of Samuel  Death Record

Parents               Samson Dreyfuss and Jeanette

 

Moses Dreyfuss birth record

Seventh line:  February 10, 1819    Moses Dreyfuss          Samuel Dreyfuss               Miriam geb Bernheim

 

Moses Zeller ne Dreyfuss death record Hechingen

Son of Samuel Zeller and Marie geb Bernheimer

 

Samuel Dreyfuss and family on Hechingen Family Records

Ralph helped me decipher this; otherwise, it would have meant nothing to me:  The name DREYFUSS is underlined with Samuel next to it. Below Samuel is written Zeller.  Below that it says Eltern (parents) Samson, and below that Jeanette(Scheile). To the right is geb. (born) and below that get. (married). The birth date for Samuel is on the right 1776 25 Mai. Between that is written “63 alt geworden” (became 63 years old, his age at the time of the compilation). For marriage it says angebl. (apparently) 1805 with also something in Hebrew. Samuel’s wife is on the right: Miriam, daughter of Samson Bern…and Golde. It also mentions a sister name Sussen right below that. The birth date for Miriam is listed as 17 Merz (March) 1787.  On the bottom are the children. The first one on the left is r Jeanette. In parentheses after her name is NUSSBAUM and below that 20 years old. To the left it states ca. 1817 20 Mai. Also listed are Moses, Mathilde Madel (Pollak), and Auguste (Golde) Weiler with birthdates.  (This was obviously compiled after 1851 since all three sisters are married and Mathilde is already married to Moses Pollock, whom she did not marry until after Maxwell Nusbaum died in 1851.)

Samuel Dreyfuss death record bild 143  (second on page)

 

Samuel Zeller death p 1 Samuel Zeller death p 2

Bottom of both pages: Samuel Zeller  Hechingen      Samson Dreyfuss and Jeanette    Alterschwaeche (old age)

 

There are some missing records.  I do not have a separate birth record for Jeanette.  Nor can I find a death record for her mother, my 4x-great-grandmother Miriam Bernheim.  I cannot find any records for the two youngest of the siblings, Samson and Auguste.  I also do not understand why there are two children with the name Auguste.  Perhaps one was a child of a family member who died? There is also a huge gap between the recorded marriage date for Samuel Dreyfuss and Miriam Bernheim of 1806 and the birth date of their oldest child, Jeanette, in 1817.  Did Samuel and Miriam have other children who died, or is their marriage date incorrect?  Samuel would have been 41 in 1817, Miriam would have been 30.  Both Samuel and Miriam had fathers named Samson.  Were both alive in 1819 when Moses was born? If not, it seems odd that their first son would not have been named Samson, unless there had been an earlier born son named Samson who had died.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I have answers to so many more questions than I ever expected, thanks to Ralph.  I know the names of my 4x-great-grandparents, Samuel Dreyfuss Zeller and Miriam Bernheim, and the names of my 5x-great-grandparents, Samson and Jeanette Dreyfuss and Samson and Golde Bernheim.  I have the names of the three other siblings of my 3-x great-grandmother Jeanette: Moses, Samson, and Auguste.  And I am not yet done looking for more about my Dreyfuss ancestors and now, my Bernheim ancestors as well.

Once again, I am deeply grateful to Ralph Baer.  Without him, none of this would have been possible.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Together Ralph and I filled in many of the blanks here, enabling both of us to have a more complete record.

Final Chapter: The Dreyfuss Family in America

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Inquirer  January 31, 1915 p. 11

Philadelphia Inquirer January 31, 1915 p. 11

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

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

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

Isadore Meyers death cert

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Franklin_F__Meyers_ad-page-001

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

Part_1_of_obit ff meyers-page-001

obit part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Tuberculosis Continues to Ravage the Family: The Children of Fanny Wiler and Clara Wiler

In 1910, the three sons of Fanny Wiler were still living with their father Joseph Levy and stepmother Bella Strouse Levy as well as their half-sister Miriam, who had married Albert Hanff.  Alfred, Leon, and Monroe Levy were all single and all employed in sales.  Alfred was in lumber sales, and Leon and Monroe were selling clothing.

Five years later Monroe succumbed to the same awful disease that had taken the life of his cousin Leon Simon the year before: tuberculosis.  Like Leon Simon, Monroe had been living at a sanitarium, the Dermady Cottages Sanitarium in Morton, Pennsylvania, ten miles outside of Philadelphia.  Monroe had been there since November 24, 1913, and he died on October 28, 1916, almost three years later. Like his cousin Leon, he did not have a family member sign the death certificate as the informant; in Monroe’s case, it was the undertaker who took on that responsibility.    Monroe was 42 years old.  He was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery, another young man whose life was cut short by TB.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

His two older brothers fared much better. Leon J. Levy married Minnie Howell in Philadelphia in 1910, apparently after the 1910 census had been taken.  Minnie was a Pennsylvania native and was 35 when she married Leon; he was 38.  On his World War I draft registration, Leon recorded his occupation as the manager of Walter D. Dalsimer, which was a dry goods and clothing merchant in Philadelphia.  In 1920, he was still the manager of a clothing store, and Minnie was working as a chiropodist.  Minnie’s parents were living with them at 5214 Spruce Street.  There were no children.

On February 11, 1929, Leon died from complications from an intestinal obstruction that led to general peritonitis and a ruptured and gangrenous appendix.  He was not yet 57 years old.  His brother Alfred J. Levy was the informant on the death certificate.  Leon’s wife Minnie died just three years later from coronary thrombosis and hypertension.  She was also only 57 years old.  They are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, a non-sectarian cemetery.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The oldest of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons, Alfred, married Josephine B. May in 1916.  He owned his own business, A. J. Lumber Company, and in 1917 was living in the Majestic, a grand hotel catering to the wealthy in those days.  Alfred and Josephine were still living there in 1918 as well, and on the 1920 census, they were still living there.  Alfred was then 51 years old, and his wife Josephine is listed as 22.  That means she was 18 when she married him, and he was 47.  (This family certainly liked to marry people who were significantly older or younger than they were.)  Alfred continued in the lumber business for many years.  In 1930 census, he was now 62, Josephine was 33, and there were no children, so it does not appear that the couple had any children.

 

Ten years later, Alfred was listed a widower on the 1940 census; he was living with his sister Miriam and her family, and he was still engaged in the lumber business.  Two years later, Alfred Levy died from liver cancer at 74 on November 15, 1942.  Contrary to the 1940 census, the death certificate indicates that Alfred was divorced, not a widower, at the time of his death. Since I cannot find a death certificate for Josephine, I assume that the death certificate is more accurate.[1] His last residence was with his sister Miriam and her husband Arthur Hanff, the informant on his certificate.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Like his brother Monroe, Alfred was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery.

Burial plots for Joseph, Alfred and Monroe Levy

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1112 Description Organization Name : Rodeph Shalom Cemetery Records

 

Thus, none of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons had children, and there are no descendants.  From the three oldest children of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, there would be only one great-grandchild: Lester Strouse, the son of Flora Simon.  Lester was the only grandchild (of two) of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon to survive to adulthood.  Fanny Wiler had no grandchildren.  Simon Wiler had no children.

Which brings me to Clara Wiler Meyers, the youngest child of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler and the mother of thirteen children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood.  As of 1910, none of those children had married, although nine of the eleven were already in their 20s and 30s.  Only two of the eleven had moved out of the house.  In the next ten years most of those children moved out and on with their adult lives.  In addition, there were several losses.

First, Clara Wiler Meyers, the mother of all those children and widow of Daniel Meyers, died on November 7, 1918, from fatty myocarditis.  She was living at 1905 Diamond Street, an address where at one time or another during the 1910s several of her children resided.  Clara was 68 years old when she died.  She had outlived one child, Bertha, and her husband, Daniel.  She had weathered the financial and legal problems he had faced in the late 1890s.  She had given birth to thirteen babies, one stillborn, and she had raised eleven of those babies to adulthood.  Like so many women of her times, she did remarkable things but things that history would not have noticed.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Leon, her oldest surviving child, had moved out before 1910 and was working as optician and living at 1904 Somerset Street in 1911; the following year he was living and working on Market Street.  On his World War I draft registration form in 1917, Leon’s address was now 1905 Diamond Street,[2] the address where his mother was living, and he now described his occupation as a self-employed optometrist [3]working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, almost 50 miles from Philadelphia, where his younger brother Franklin had been an optician/optometrist since at least 1914.  In the 1918 directory which covered Pottstown, Leon is listed at the same business address as his younger brother Franklin, working as the manager of the optometry practice and residing at the YMCA.  The strangest thing about his draft registration is Leon’s entry for his nearest relative: Bessie H. Meyers, address unknown.  Had Leon married since 1910? How could he be married to someone whose address he did not know? And doesn’t the name look more like MYERS than MEYERS?

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

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

 

The 1920 census may answer some of those questions.  Leon is listed as divorced and living in the household of his younger sister Charlotte and her husband, J.A. Field, at 1905 Diamond Street back in Philadelphia, along with his younger brother Milton.  Leon’s occupation is reported to be drug salesman.  What happened to being an optometrist?

By 1923 Leon had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and resumed practicing optometry, as discussed below, after his brother Samuel died.  Leon is also listed in the Bethlehem directory with the same occupation in 1927.  Leon Meyers died from colon cancer at age 55 on February 14, 1930.  His brother Clarence was the informant on his death certificate.  His marital status was single, not divorced or widowed, so it would seem Leon had never married.  I still don’t know who Bessie Meyers was.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Leon’s next oldest brother Samuel followed in his steps professionally, becoming an optometrist.  In 1912, Samuel was an optician in Philadelphia, living at 1906 Diamond Street, across the street from his mother and siblings Leon and Charlotte and Milton. By 1917, he had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and was married to Mary Potts Hamilton, another Philadelphian.  They would have both been in their thirties when they married.  Samuel was an optometrist in Bethlehem, according to both the 1920 census and the 1920 Bethlehem directory.  There were no children.

Samuel died May 10, 1922, from tubercular peritonitis, an infection caused by the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis but that manifests outside of the lungs (at least that’s what I think I understood from what I read online).  Another family member thus succumbed to the deadly bacteria that causes TB.  Samuel was 46 years old.  It would seem that Leon moved to Bethlehem after Samuel died, perhaps to take over his optometry practice.  Samuel’s widow Mary lived another 14 years, and Samuel and Mary Hamilton Meyers are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

Harry Meyers, the next brother, also died young.  He was a tailor, and in 1912 he was living at 1906 Diamond Street, the same address as his brother Samuel that year and across the street from his mother and Leon, who were at 1905 Diamond Street.  On his World War I draft registration, Harry was living at 1905 Diamond Street and said he was an unemployed tailor.  He gave his mother’s name as his closest relative.  Harry died a year after his mother on July 4, 1919.  Like his brother Samuel and his cousins Leon Simon and Monroe Levy, he died from tuberculosis.  He had been sick for over five years, according to his death certificate, having been treated since January, 1914.  That would explain why he was unemployed in September, 1918, when he registered for the draft.   Harry was 41 when he died.  He never married; he had no descendants.

 

Thus, two of Clara’s three oldest children died from tuberculosis before they were fifty years old. Leon, the oldest, made it to 55.  These three oldest sons did not leave behind any descendants.  Fortunately, the family’s luck changed with the remaining siblings, all but two of whom lived until at least 1956.  For these siblings, I will write about their lives until 1920 and then will write a separate post for the future years.

Isadore was the fourth brother, and he had been working as a traveling salesman in 1910, selling men’s clothing.  In 1915 he married Elsie Goodman, also a native Philadelphian and the daughter of a salesman, Beno Goodman.  Elsie and Isadore had a baby boy on May 1, 1916, who died that same day from atelectasis, a complete or partial collapse of the lungs.  This is often associated with premature birth.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In 1918 when he registered for the draft, Isadore’s occupation was a manufacturer.  He and Elsie were living at 812 North 15th Street, and they had a son born that year, Robert.  On the 1920 census, they were living on Camac Street, and Isadore’s younger brother Milton was also living with them.  They also had a servant living with them.  On June 19, 1920, not long after the census was taken, Elsie and Isadore had another son, David.

The brother who followed Isadore in birth order was Maxwell or Max.  In 1910 Max had been employed as a draftsman for a machine works company.  In 1912 Max was, like his older brothers, living at 1905 Diamond Street with his mother, and he continued to work as a draftsman.  In 1917 Max married Henrietta Klopfer, a Pennsylvania native and daughter of a millinery merchant.  On his World War I draft registration, Max reported his occupation to be a mechanical engineer for Newton Machine Tool Works in Philadelphia.  He and Henrietta were living at 1311 Ruscomb Street in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1918, their son Donald was born.  Their second child Dorothy was born five years later on September 3, 1923.   Here is a photo of one of the many machines made by Newton Machine Tool Works.

 

The sixth son was Benjamin Franklin Meyers.  (I do love that name.)  He was one of the earliest of the children to move away from home; in 1910, he was living in Trenton, New Jersey, working as a watchmaker.  He remained in New Jersey during the next decade, and he married Leona Faulcher, a Richmond, Virginia, native and daughter of a machinist who had been living in Camden, New Jersey in 1900 and 1910.  They were married as of September 1918 when Benjamin registered for the draft, and they were living in Collingswood, New Jersey.  Benjamin was now involved with aircraft production for the Victor Talking Machine Company, the company famous for the Victrola phonographs.  In September 1918, just when Benjamin was registering for the draft, the company converted to the production of aircraft parts as part of the war effort.

By Norman Bruderhofer (Collection of John Lampert-Hopkins) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Norman Bruderhofer (Collection of John Lampert-Hopkins) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1920, Benjamin and Leona were living with her parents in Collingswood along with her two sisters and their husbands.  Interestingly, Benjamin was now working as an optometrist like several of his brothers.  Benjamin and Leona would have two daughters in the 1920s, Margaret and Clara, the second obviously named for Benjamin’s mother, Clara Wiler Meyers.

Clarence was the next son in line after Benjamin.  In 1910 when he was 24, he was already engaged in the cotton yarns business, an industry to which he dedicated his entire career.  Despite being the seventh child, he was the first to marry.  He married Estelle Seidenbach in 1911; she was just 21, and he was 24.  She was also a Philadelphia native; her father was already retired at age 50 in 1900, according to the census.  In 1912, they were living at 2251 North Park Avenue.  On October 23, 1919, their daughter Nancy was born.  On the 1920 census, the family was still residing at 2251 North Park Avenue, and Clarence was still a cotton yarns merchant.  Googling his name brings up a number of results regarding his business and the patents they owned and/or developed.

Here’s one little news item from the November 1919 Underwear and Hosiery Review:

The Underwear & Hosiery Review, Volume 2 (Google eBook) Front Cover Knit Goods Publishing Corporation, 1919 - Hosiery industry

The Underwear & Hosiery Review, Volume 2 (Google eBook)
Knit Goods Publishing Corporation, 1919 – Hosiery industry

 

Next in line was Franklin, born just a year after Clarence.  He was, like some of his older brothers, an optometrist.  In 1912, he was also still living with his family at 1906 Diamond Street. By 1914, he named his occupation as an optician in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, but by 1918 when he registered for the draft, he gave his occupation as optometrist.  At that time he was living and working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was still single.  Sometime between 1918 and 1920, however, Franklin married Mae Gross, a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and daughter of a clothing salesman.  Bloomsburg is 114 miles northwest of Pottstown, so it would be interesting to know how these two met.  In 1920, they were living in Pottstown, where Franklin continued to practice optometry.  They would have one child, Carolyn, born in 1922.

Finally, after having eight boys in a row, Clara and Daniel had a daughter, Miriam, born in 1892, five years after Franklin was born.  In 1910, Miriam had been only eighteen and was still at home.  In 1914, she married Abram Strauss.  He was born in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, in 1887; he was 27, and Miriam was 21 when they married.  Abram was a physician, and in 1916 he and Miriam were living at 600 Butler Avenue in Philadelphia.  Their first child, Daniel, was born that year.  They were still living at 600 Butler as of June, 1917, when Abram registered for the draft.  In 1920, Abram, Miriam and Daniel were living at 1848 North 16th Street, and Abram’s mother Mary, sister Helena, and aunt Clara were also living with them.  Only Abram and his sister were working outside the home.  By the next year Miriam, Abram, and Daniel were living at 1836 North 17th Street.  I am not sure how many of those in the 1920 household moved with them.  Miriam and Abram also had another child Richard in September, 1921.

The penultimate child of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers was Charlotte or Lottie, born a year after Miriam.  She married J. Albert Field in 1914 when she was 21; he was 33.  He was an assistant manager of a department store and the son of a salesman born in Northern Ireland and a woman born in New York.  In September 1918 when he registered for the draft, Albert and Miriam were living at 1905 Diamond Street, and Albert was a manager at John Wanamaker’s Department Store.  They were still living there in 1920, as mentioned above, along with Miriam’s oldest brother Leon and her youngest brother Milton.

 

Which brings me to Milton, the youngest of the children, born in 1896, so only fourteen in 1910.  He was living with his mother and siblings in 1918 when he registered for the draft and was working for his brother Clarence in the cotton yarns business. Milton served in the Navy from December 1917 until December 1918 during World War I. He was living at 1905 Diamond in 1920, as stated above, and working with Clarence.

Thus, by 1920, Clara Wiler Meyers and two of her adult children, Samuel and Harry, had died.  Several of the other sons had gone into optometry; one son was an engineer, one was a clothing manufacturer, one was a cotton yard manufacturer, and one was working in the production of aircraft parts. One daughter had married a doctor, and one a department store manager.  All of the children alive in 1920 other than Leon and Milton had married between 1910 and 1920; there were also a number of grandchildren born during the decade.  So although there were some terrible losses during this decade, for many members of the family the decade brought both some professional and personal successes.  Certainly Clara’s family overall fared better than the families of her siblings Fanny and Eliza.

Here is a Google Street View shot of 1905 Diamond Street today:

I will bring the Caroline Dreyfuss story to an end in my next post before moving on to the last of the extended Dreyfuss/Nusbaum clan, the family of Ernst Nusbaum.

 

 

[1] I did find a Josephine Levy, born in Pennsylvania, living in New York City on the 1940 census, of the approximate age.  She was listed as married, but living as a lodger and not with a husband.  That could be Alfred’s ex-wife, but I can’t be sure.

[2] This is the same address found on Simon Wiler’s death certificate in 1911.  I cannot (yet) explain whether that is a coincidence or not.

[3] It appears that before the 20th century, the term “optician” was used to refer both to those who made glasses and those who evaluated eyesight for the need for those glasses.  According to Wikipedia, “Although the term optometry appeared in the 1759 book A Treatise on the Eye: The Manner and Phenomena of Vision by Scottish physician William Porterfield, it was not until the early twentieth century in the United States and Australia that it began to be used to describe the profession.”    All of the Meyers brothers who started out as opticians eventually switched from the term optician to the term optometrist to describe their occupation.

Life’s Injustices

The last two posts and the research surrounding them have really been draining.  The sad stories of Minnie Simon and Daniel Meyers in particular were hard to read about and to write about.  And sadly the next decade for the descendants of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler is no more uplifting.  In fact, in some ways it’s even worse than the first decade of the 20th century.  But rather than put it off, I want to get it done. Today I will post about the children of Eliza Wiler and Moses Simon; next I will post about the children of Fanny Wiler and Joseph Levy and the children of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers. Then maybe I can post some cartoons or funny pictures or pictures of kittens.  Anything but death, disease, and despair.

The four surviving children of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon continued to have far more than their fair share of tragedy in the 1910s.  First, on April 20, 1915, the youngest child Leon died from tuberculosis.  He had been at the Mont Alto Sanitarium in Quincy, Pennsylvania for over a year.  He was only 36 years old.  Having just watched the PBS program about tuberculosis, “The Forgotten Plague,” on February 10, I have a whole new appreciation for the suffering this disease caused.  People could live for years with the disease, coughing, wasting away, and being sent to live in a sanitarium surrounded by others also suffering from these symptoms.  I now better understand how many people were affected by TB and how lucky we all are that medical science eventually figured out not only how to treat it, but also how to prevent it.

Title: Mont Alto State Sanatorium, high in the mountains of Mont Alto State Forest Park, located in Franklin County, Pa., on Route 997, between Chambersburg and Waynesboro   Created/Published: John Myerly Company, Hagerstown, Md.

Title: Mont Alto State Sanatorium, high in the mountains of Mont Alto State Forest Park, located in Franklin County, Pa., on Route 997, between Chambersburg and Waynesboro
Created/Published: John Myerly Company, Hagerstown, Md.

There are a number of strange things about Leon’s death certificate.  First, notice that it says Leon was widowed.  I have no record that he ever married, and since as I pointed out in my last post, I can’t find Leon on the 1910 census, I don’t know whether he married before or after the 1910 census.  In addition, if he was widowed, it means his wife also died very young.

Leon Simon death cert

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

 The second strange thing is the name of the informant: Leon Simon.  Certainly Leon could not have signed his own death certificate.  I checked to see if there was another Leon Simon in the extended family who might have signed, and there was Leon (Dinkelspiel) Simon, the son of Moses Simon and Paulina Dinkelspiel, who was after all Leon (Wiler) Simon’s first cousin.  But that Leon was fifteen years older and lived in Baltimore.  I found it strange that he would be signing the death certificate when Leon the deceased had so many closer relatives living right in Philadelphia.

Leon Simon informant

Then I looked more closely and realized that the handwriting on the signature of the informant matched the handwriting of the local registrar, Wilson Reynolds.  The rest of the handwriting on the certificate matches that of the doctor, William McKelvey, who provided the cause of death.  I am not sure what to make of this except that perhaps Leon had provided all the information about his family to the sanitarium at some earlier point and that the doctor had then filled it out and the registrar just “rubber stamped” it by signing both Leon’s name and his own.

The final interesting piece of information on this certificate is the address provided as Leon’s last address before entering the sanitarium: 2513 South 18th Street.  You may remember that I also had trouble locating Leon’s brother Joseph on the 1910 census because there were so many men with that name in Philadelphia.   Using this address I found Joseph L. Simon living at that same address both on the 1910 and in the 1920 census reports as well as in the 1918 Philadelphia directory.  It is also the address that Joseph gave on the funeral bill for his brother Leon’s funeral in 1915.

Leon Simon funeral bill

On the two census reports, Joseph was married and living with his wife, Mary, who was nineteen years younger than he was.  The 1910 census reports that Joseph and Mary had been married for eight years, meaning they married in 1902. I’ve yet to find a marriage certificate.  Joseph was working as an accountant for a trust company (Providence Life & Trust Co, according to the funeral bill).

Provident Building, 401-09 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA (1888-90, demolished 1945) in 1910. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, PA,51-PHILA,256A-1

Provident Building, 401-09 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA (1888-90, demolished 1945) in 1910. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, PA,51-PHILA,256A-1

 

Mary was born in Virginia, as were both of her parents.  The only part of the 1910 census report that bothers me is that it says that Joseph’s father (Leman) was born in Pennsylvania; he was born in Germany.  It says that Joseph’s mother (Eliza) was born in Virginia; she was born in Pennsylvania.  But overall, it seems that this is definitely my Joseph Simon.  The address on Leon’s death certificate and funeral bill seem quite persuasive evidence of that conclusion.

The 1920 census did not help matters though.  On that census, Joseph’s parents are both listed as born in Virginia.  Very strange.  Could Mary have thought he was a Virginian like she was?  If he married her in 1902 as indicated on the 1910 census, Leman Simon was still alive.  I can’t imagine that a German immigrant sounded like a Virginian even after being in Pennsylvania for almost fifty years. Nevertheless, because they were still living at 2513 South 18th Street, I still believe that this is the right Joseph and Mary Simon.

And then Joseph and Mary disappear.  There are many, many Joseph and Mary Simons listed in directories in many, many places during this time period, yet the 1930 census does not have one  couple that fits my Joseph Simon even as closely as the 1910 and 1920 census reports.  This was the closest fit I could find for Joseph.

JOseph Simon 1930 census

Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2102; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0572; Image: 389.0; FHL microfilm: 2341836

On this census the birth places of Joseph’s parents are correct: Germany and Pennsylvania.  The age is correct.  But the middle initial looks more like an H than an L.  There is no occupation, so that is no help.  Joseph’s marital status is given as single, and he is living at a lodger at what seems to be a very large boarding house.  I think this is Joseph.  If so, what happened to Mary?  Did she die? Did she leave him? I don’t know.  The trail has run dry.  It also ran dry on Joseph.  I cannot find him on the 1940 census nor have I found a record of his death.  He remains an elusive subject.

As for Flora Simon, she had been widowed back in 1901 when Nathan Strouse died, and she had remarried in 1903.  But that marriage did not last.  Although Flora was living with her second husband Albert Heulings in 1910, by 1917 he was married to another woman, Evelyn Cotton, according to both the Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index and his draft registration for World War I.

On the 1920 census, Flora was listed as divorced and living with her son Lester, now 31 years old.  Flora was working as the “keeper of an apartment house,” and Lester was in the advertising business.  There were also three lodgers plus Flora’s sister Nellie. Why was Nellie living with her sister? What had happened to her husband Louis? That’s when I looked and found the death certificate for Florrie Loux, a child I had not known about until I saw the 1920 census and looked for where Louis Loux might have been.

And that’s where the story really turns tragic.

I mentioned in my last post that I couldn’t find Nellie and Louis on the 1910 census and would not have known about their daughter if I had not found her death certificate.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Florrie had died on September 21, 1918 from burns accidentally caused by matches.  A seven year old child.  There is nothing I can say to describe the horror I felt when I saw that death certificate.

Three months later her father Louis B. Loux died from broncho pneumonia on December 15, 1918.

Philadelphia Inquirer December 17, 1918, p. 19

Philadelphia Inquirer December 17, 1918, p. 19

From his World War I draft registration, I know that in 1917 Louis had been working in Philadelphia doing advertising sales for the German Daily Gazette.  The home address he had provided for his 1917 draft registration, however,  was 311 Linden Street, Haddonfield, New Jersey.  The death notice for Louis indicated that that was his parents’ residential address in 1918.  But Florrie’s death certificate indicated that she and Louis both had been living at 128 North 10th Street in Philadelphia when she died.  I was able to obtain the information contained in the death certificate for Louis (I am still waiting the actual document), and it reports that he was divorced at the time of his death.  I cannot tell from these records whether Louis and Nellie had divorced before or after the death of their daughter.

UPDATE:  Here is the death certificate for Louis Loux.

Death certificates_0003_NEW

Think about it: between 1910 and 1920, Leon Simon had died from tuberculosis; Flora Simon, already widowed once, saw another marriage end; Joseph Simon was married, but sometime after 1920, his marriage seems also to have ended either by death or divorce; and Nellie Simon lost both her young daughter and her ex-husband in the space of a few months in 1918.  All this followed a decade where Leon, Flora, Joseph and Nellie had lost both of their parents and their sister Minnie.

Now you can see why I need something to lift my spirits.  Fortunately, as I will cover in my next post,  things were not as bad for the children of Fanny Wiler Levy or the children of Clara Wiler Meyers.  Not as bad.

 

 

 

A Decade of Heartache for Caroline’s Family

The 19th century ended badly for the extended family of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler.  Their daughter Eliza Wiler Simon died in August 1897, and their son-in-law Daniel Meyers, Clara’s husband, died in 1902, following several years of financial distress and legal problems.   Unfortunately, it only got worse as the 20th century began.

First, on April 23, 1901, Flora Simon’s husband Nathan Strouse died from myasthenia gravis.  He was 24 years older than Flora, but only 58 years old when he died.  Their son Lester was only thirteen years old when he lost his father.  I found it rather interesting that Nathan’s occupation on the death certificate was given as “gentleman.”

Nathan Strouse death certificate

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JDLH-SJ1 : accessed 11 February 2015), Nathan Strouse, 23 Apr 1901; citing cn 22852, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,845,290.

 

Two years later Flora married Alfred C. Heulings, a New Jersey lawyer who, in contrast to her first husband, was almost twelve years younger than Flora.

Then in 1904, there was another disaster for the family.  Minnie Simon, the younger daughter of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon, committed suicide.  Her death certificate stated that she took her life “by inhaling gas while temporarily insane.”

minnie simon death cert 1904

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JDGP-4DQ : accessed 11 February 2015), Minnie Simon, 05 Aug 1904; citing cn 19898, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,004,045.

 

Apparently her death created some controversy based on this news article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, August 9, 1904,  covering the coroner’s inquest:

minnie suicide 1

 

minnie suicide 2

 

minnie suicide 3

minnie suicide 4

Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) Volume: 151 Issue: 40 Page: 5 August 9, 1904

From Joseph’s description of his sister’s personality, today she might have been diagnosed and treated for bipolar disease or depression.  But in 1904 that was not possible, and so Minnie succumbed to mental illness and took her own life.  She was only 26 years old.

Two years after losing his daughter Minnie and nine years after losing his wife Eliza, Leman Simon passed away on October 13, 1906, from a cerebral hemorrhage.  He was 72 years old.

Leman Simon death cert

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JK98-3Q6 : accessed 11 February 2015), Leman Simon, 13 Oct 1906; citing cn 25343, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,319,469.

 

Thus, in the ten years between 1897 and 1906, the family lost five members:  Eliza Wiler Simon, Nathan Strouse, Daniel Meyers, Minnie Simon, and Leman Simon.  The Simon family in particular must have been quite devastated.

Not all was sad, however, in the first ten years of the 20th century.  Nellie Simon married Louis Boughen Loux on April 30, 1908.  They were married in the Eleventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  Louis was 21, and Nellie was 33.  Like her sister Flora’s second marriage, this was a marriage between a man and a significantly older woman, which must have been quite unusual in those days.

Thus, by 1910, the family had changed quite a bit.  Leman and Eliza Simon were both gone, as was their daughter Minnie.  Flora was living with her second husband Albert Heulings and her son Lester Strouse at 913 North 16th Street.  Albert was practicing law.  Lester, who had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1909, was now 21 and working in the advertising business for the Quaker City Publicity Company.  There were also two servants in the household.

As for Flora’s siblings, I am once again having a terrible time finding them on the census.  Nellie Simon and her husband Louis Loux had a child Florie born on March 3, 1910, in Philadelphia, but I only know this from Florie’s death certificate.  I cannot find a birth record, nor can I find Nellie and Louis on the 1910 census.  I found a Leon Simon listed in the 1908 Philadelphia directory at 541 Fernon Street, working as a bookkeeper, but he is not at that address on the 1910 census.  Joseph Simon’s address in 1904 was 136 Farson Street in West Philadelphia, according to the news article about his sister Minnie’s death.  But he is not at that address on the 1910 census.  I have some possible listings for Joseph, but given how common his name was, I just am not certain.

As for the family of Clara Wiler Meyers, Clara in 1910 was a widow, still living at the long-time family home at 920 Franklin Street, with nine of her children. Her oldest son Leon Meyers (36 in 1910) had by 1902 become an optician and was still living at home as late as 1904.  In 1910 he was living at 1628 North 13th Street, according to the Philadelphia directory, yet he is not listed there on the 1910 census, nor is he listed on the census at 1904 Somerset Street, where he is listed as residing in the 1911 directory.  I think Leon, like his Simon cousins, just eluded the census taker.  His younger brother, Benjamin Franklin Meyers, 25 years old in 1910, was living as a boarder in Trenton, New Jersey, where he was working as a watch maker in a watch factory.

The other nine Meyers children were still living with their mother Clara.  All were unmarried.  Samuel (34) was like his brother Leon an optician.  Harry (33) was a tailor.  Isador (30) was a “commercial traveler” for a men’s clothing business.  Max (28) was a draftsman for a machine works business. Clarence (24) was a cotton yarn salesman. Frank (22) was an optician like his two older brothers Leon and Samuel.  The three youngest children Lottie (20), Miriam (17), and Milton (14) were all at home and not occupied.

Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1394; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0334; FHL microfilm: 1375407

Source Citation
Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1394; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0334; FHL microfilm: 1375407

I cannot imagine what this house looked like that accommodated all of those people.  I’ve tried to locate a photograph, but have had no luck.  Google Street View shows a modern apartment building at that address today.

Fanny Wiler Levy’s three sons were also still single and living with their father Joseph and stepmother Bella at home at 2122 Camac Street in 1910.   Their father Joseph Levy was living on his “own income,” according to the 1910 census.  Alfred, now 41, was a lumber salesman, and Leon (37) and Monroe (35) were clothing salesman.  Their half-sister Miriam (27) was married to Arthur Hanff, a traveling shirt salesman.

Levy family 1910

Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1403; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0750; FHL microfilm: 1375416

 

Levy occupations 1910

Simon Wiler, the only son of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, was living in a large boarding house on Spruce Street in 1910.  He was working as a salesman in a paper warehouse.  Simon died the following year on October 23, 1911.  He died from shock after a prostatectomy, according to the death certificate.  Although the death certificate says he was residing at 1905 Diamond Street prior to his death, he is not listed there on the 1910 census.  The informant on the certificate was A. Freed, the undertaker, who did not know the names of Simon’s parents, but given the name, the age, and the occupation, it seems reasonable to conclude that this was Simon, the son of Caroline and Moses.  Like the other members of his family, he was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Thus, as of 1911, the only child of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler who was still alive was Clara Wiler Meyers. Between 1897 and 1911, there had been many deaths, but only two weddings and only one birth.  There were a number of adult cousins still living at home with their parents.  The next ten years  brought continued heartache and loss.