Archive | Family RSS feed for this section

Finally Finding The Three Rosenberg Sisters

12 Sep

I have had such a mystery. I have found out much about my great grandparents Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. I know that they got divorced. I know that they lost one daughter, Celia, to the Spanish Flu and a son, Samuel, to a mental institution. (See blogs below.) They were their two oldest children. Other children in this family disappeared from our family connections.  I have been trying to find them all for over 20 years.

In order, the children were Samuel, Celia, my grandfather Harry/Hersh, Jacob/Jack, Bertha, Edith/Esther, Hady/Hatti/Hanna, Minnie/Muriel.  I have found Jacob in England, where he moved.  I have found out some about Muriel.  I did know my Aunt Hady when I was a small child.  (See blogs below.) But Bertha and Edith/Ethel were still a mystery.

At several times in their marriage, in which my great grandmother had 12 pregnancies and eight live births, my great grandparents had major issues, they eventually divorced, which in the 1920s was uncommon.  There was a period of time when their three middle daughters did not live with them: Bertha, Ethel/Edith and Hattie/Hady/Hannah. At first, I could not even find them anywhere in the census reports.  But then I posted a request for help on the Tracing the Tribe group

The mystery starts in 1900.  I found the family in Kings County, New York census. There were two girls are named Rose and Esther.  Rose is a name that was often given to a daughter in this family and then changed!  (See blog below).  And I believe Esther became Ethel/Edith.

In the 1905 New York census, none of these three girls were living with their parents.  But another Tracing the Tribe member (Sherri V) found Bertha living with a family headed by Lous and Rose Salomon/Solomon. She is listed as their niece. The list of family includes Benny, 22; Rebeka, 20; Moses, 19; William, 18; David, 16; Sadie, 24; Esther 13; and. Bertha 11.  Esther is not listed as a Rosenberg, but I have to wonder if she is Ethel.

I found the family again in both the 1910 and 1920 census.  This time all three girls were living with Louis and Rose Solomon and their sons Bernard, Morris, William and David. The three girls are listed as Bertha Rosenberg, 17, Ethel Solomon 15, and Hanna Solomon, 13. in 1910.  Later in 1920, Louis is living with William, and David, along with Bertha Rosenberg 24 and Ethel Solomon 23.

Although Ethel and Hanna are listed as Solomon, it is possible that they actually used these names when living with their aunt and uncle. These three girls seemed to go back and forth between their parentsmother and the Solomon family.

I posted the above information along with these questions to the Tracing the Tribe group: How is the Solomon family related to my great grandfather, Abraham Rosenberg, or to his wife, Sarah Ritt/Writ/Rith/Rosenberg. They lived in Kings County New York.

Kaye H. was kind enough to do some research for me.  She posted:  According to their marriage record, Rose’s maiden name was Rosenberg. Her parents were Jacob Rosenberg and Rhoda Anna Cohen (I think, it’s a bit hard to read). Does that line up with Abraham’s parents? https://a860-historicalvitalrecords.nyc.gov/view/7950837

Well that was a very good question.  I did not know the names of my grandfather’s parents.  He was born in Russia, and he was married in Europe.  I have been unable to find his parent’s names.  I have my great grandmother’s death certificate, so I know her parent’s names, but have been unable to find anything about my great grandfather.

My family lived entirely in Kings County once they came to the USA. But there is a rumor that my grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle.  A few years ago, when I was in Seattle, I went to the public library to see if I could find any records of him.  With the help of tw o lovely librarians, I found a few Abraham Rosenbergs, but no one that really matched my great grandfather.  I am thinking that I was looking too early.  I assumed in went around 1900. But now I think if he went it was closer to 1905.

My great grandfather was born about 1861.  Rose/Rosa, who is perhaps his sister, married Louis on January 4, 1882 in New York City. She was 17 or 18 when she got married.  Making her birth about 1865 and she was born in Russia. Rosa/Rose signed her marriage license with an X. Louis, her hsuband , was educated enough to sign his full name in Hebrew.

Because Bertha is listed as a niece, I have to believe that Rose is Abraham’s sister.  In fact, Abraham and Sarah did name their fourth children, Jacob, and the custom is to name after a relative that died.  It would make sense for Abraham to name a child after his father.  With this mystery uncovered, I now know the names of my great great grandparents, which was the only set of great great grandparents I did not know.

I want to thank Kaye, Sherri V., and others from the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group who are always willing to help solve a genealogy mystery.

The Importance of My Grandma’s Illegal 1931 Abortion

16 Jun

In 1931 a 25-year-old mother of two young children was pregnant with her third pregnancy.  It was twins.  But whereas her other pregnancies went fine this one was not going well at all. In fact, her kidneys were failing, probably due to eclampsia. If nothing was done, she and the fetuses she carried would all die.  Abortion was not legal in 1931.  But someone saved her.  Someone, I am told a doctor, provided her an illegal abortion. 

That woman was my grandmother.  She lived.  

“Preeclampsia may lead to kidney disease by causing acute kidney injury, endothelial damage, and podocyte loss. Preeclampsia may be an important sex-specific risk factor for chronic kidney disease,” according to an NIH website.  Although my grandmother did not die in 1931, she was left with failing kidneys.  In fact, she had kidney disease for the next 52 years of her life. 

Grandma decided to go back to Europe with her two children, my Mom and my Uncle, so that when she died they would be raised by their grandmother, as she was sure that she was still going to die. Someone traveled with my grandmother for this trip. In fact, one night she was so sick, they took her up on the deck because she wanted to see the stars one more time before she died.

The doctor who saved her life actually impacted the lives of many people. Because my grandmother lived, my mother and uncle were not left without a mother. Also, as the story continues, because my grandmother lived, others lived as well.

When my Grandmother got to Europe she traveled through Germany to Carlsbad, to take the waters, and then around Poland visiting family for over six months. During these travels her opinion about life in Europe changed drastically. By the end she was much healthier and concerned about taking her children back to the United States to safety.

Why do I say saving her life saved others? She had been traveling through Germany in 1931. She had seen the evil that was taking over Europe with the rise of Hitler.

This is where her surviving preeclampsia and a life saving abortion takes on even more meaning. First, everywhere she went in Poland, she told family and friends to “Get Out! Bad times are coming.” We do not know how many heeded her warning! But we know her story and what she tried to do.

When Grandma came home she had one goal, to get her family and the family of my Grandfather out of Europe! My grandparents worked to bring family members over from Poland and Austria. In the end, they only were able to bring my Grandmother’s father and sister. My Tante was very small for her age, so they changed her age and made her under 21 so she could travel to America on my great grandfather’s papers and visa.

My Tante lived.  She married and had one daughter.  Her daughter married and had three children.  Her children married and among them had 11 children.  

All because my grandmother had an abortion, all because she lived, two people survived and avoided the horrors of the Shoah and 15 descendants were born.  Who knows how many more will be born in the future.

Abortions save lives! The mother’s lives. To me these lives are extremely important. Currently, in this time of legal abortions another relative of mine had eclampsia putting her life and the life of her much wanted fetus at risk. They were both dying in the hospital. The only choice to save one life was an abortion. My cousin lived. Amazingly a year later she was again pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.

I do not believe anyone, a legislator or a member of the voting public, has the right to tell a woman how to handle her private medical issues. We have HIPAA laws that are supposed to keep our medical history private. What a woman decides, with input from her medical professional, for her own health is her personal business. HIPAA laws are not just for men. They are for everyone.

In the meantime, I support women’s health rights. I support women who make the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. I support their choice and decisions concerning their personal medical health. I know that the right to chose an abortion must remain legal, because I know that saving a mother’s life is vital.

Another Quest Completed!

29 May

Great Grandpa Abraham Shlomo Grave

One of my genealogy goals is to find the graves of all my great grandparents who are buried in the United States.  Five are buried in the USA with four for sure in the New York, New Jersey metro area. Three of my great grandparents died in Europe, two during the Shoah, so finding their burial sites is impossible.

Since I live in the middle of the country it is difficult to search cemeteries on the east coast. But luckily for me I have willing helpers!  I truly appreciate my family who understand my quest.

Last year during Covid, one of my first cousins went to Washington Cemetery in New York and took photos of my Goldman great grandparents.   (See blog below.). In my mind he was the ideal person to search for the graves, since is named for our great grandfather, with the Hebrew name, Baruch Lev.  It was perfectly apropos that he went to find the graves.

Now it was my brother’s turn.  My brother’s Hebrew name is Avraham Sholmo for my Szenk/Shenk/Schenk great grandfather.   Our great grandfather was born with the name Shlomo/Solomon. But when he was a child he became very ill.  His parents gave him a second name, Avraham, to keep the Angel of Death from finding him.

Usually, the names given to fool the Angel of Death were names like Chaim and Chaya, which mean life. The idea was to confuse the Angel of Death because he would not be able to find a child with a different name.  This superstition said changing the child’s name would save him/her.

In any case my great grandfather’s Hebrew name was changed, but his legal name remained Solomon, or Szlama, as he was known in Poland.  His birthdate was September 1874 and he died in 1942. My great grandfather came to the USA in 1936 along with my great aunt. It was the work of my grandparents to get as many people out of Europe that they could. Unfortunately, it was only these two that they were able to actually bring over.

At first my great grandfather lived with my grandparents.  But, although they had a kosher bakery and kept kosher, my grandmother did not cover her hair, and they did not follow the rules as they did in Europe.  So my great grandfather moved into a Hebrew Home for the Aged

We did have the name of the cemetery where he was supposedly buried. I think my mother’s first cousin told us.  My brother took over the job of finding the grave.  He contacted the King Solomon Memorial Park in Passaic asking about our grandfather. (I do find it interesting and coincidental that Solomon was buried in the King Solomon Cemetery.)  The response was positive, our great grandfather was buried in the Tuber Section through a gate that says Welloner Benevolent Assn. 

The grave had the correct date of death.  There is no date for his birth, probably because no one knew it.  We thought he was born in 1870, but his Visa paperwork said 1874.  However, the age on the stone matches what his age would have been when he died, 68 years old.

The staff at the cemetery even emailed my brother a map to the grave, which was exactly where my brother was told to look.  Not only that, the cemetery and the gravesite were in excellent condition.  So many old cemeteries are not kept up.  Thank you to the King Solomon Memorial Park for keeping these graves in excellent shape.

My brother took photos of the entrance to the cemetery, the gate to the section and the grave itself. He also looked for other family members, but did not find them. Then he left three stones on the grave. This is the way to show that we remember and honor his memory.

https://yivo.org/Folklore-of-Ashkenaz?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0NL84bX59wIVfW1vBB1sGgIMEAMYASAAEgKhzfD_BwE

Where Were My Three Great Aunts in 1905?

18 Apr

I have all the census records for my grandfather and his family starting in 1900 through 1930.  I can see the birth of the children through the additions in each census, till finally there are eight living children.   I can see as children disappear, one died, one to an asylum, several to get married.  And two who stayed with their mother even after her divorce. (Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg, Kings, Bronx, New York; Sometimes Aaron, one time Rosenbery.)

I know there is the rumor that my great grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle sometime around the turn of the century.  In the 1900 Census, it seems that they are living together with their five children, aged 1 through 14.

In 1905, the family shows up, but some of the children are missing.  The four oldest children and the newest baby are all there, as are two borders.  But the three other daughters, Bertha, Edith and Hattie, are not listed.   Where are they?  One was found, Bertha is living with Louis and Rosa Salomon, also in Brooklyn, Kings.  She is listed as a niece, living with her aunt and uncle and their seven children.  Bertha is 11.  Her cousins range in age from 13 to 22.

But how are they related?  Is Rosa the sister of Bertha’s mother or her father?  Or is Bertha somehow related to the father of the family?  Is Bertha really their niece, or some other distant relative, so Rosa and Louis are doing a favor for Abraham and Sarah?    Where are the other two girls?  Are they with other family members or in an orphanage? What happened to Edith and Hattie?

The questions keep coming into my mind.  Is this when my great grandfather abandoned the family.  If so, did Sarah give her daughters to other people to care for during this time.  Perhaps, even though Abraham is listed on the Census, he is NOT really living there.  Perhaps Sarah was too embarrassed to tell.

I do know the story that my grandfather was sent to search for his father and bring him home.  That at age 13, which would have been in 1903, he crossed the USA with a friend from New York all the way to Seattle in an effort to bring his father home.  I remember being told that my grandfather’s friend was Italian, and during that trip is when Grandpa learned to speak Italian.

So we know this is a posed photo, but it is when Grandpa (on right) crossed the USA looking for his father.

Did his father come home with him?  I understand that it took almost two years for the journey there and back.  Perhaps this is when they returned, but they had not yet collected the girls from the places where they are staying.

I do know that they came back.  Because the 1910 Census lists all of them.  It is the last time that they would all be together in a census.  Here both parents and all eight children are listed in age order.  The sons always keep the same names, Samuel, Harry/Henry, and Jacob/Jack.  But I must say the girls have many names: Celia/Cecelia is the oldest, but I know she also had a Hebrew. Rose/Bertha is the oldest of the four younger children.  Esther/Edith is the third oldest. Hattie also had another name, but almost always was Hattie or Hady.  Minnie/Marion/Muriel is the youngest.

In 1915, they are all listed, but Samuel is listed as a farmer.  I know now that he was not really living at home, rather he was an inmate in an asylum. (See blog below.)

By 1920, the world of the Rosenberg family is disrupted forever. Sarah and Abraham are divorced.  Sarah is the head of the household, but two children are missing.  Samuel is at the asylum and Celia has died at the age of 24.

In 1925 my grandfather, the oldest of the remaining children, is gone from Sarah’s home, as he has married my grandmother. In 1930, Jacob is also gone.  It is Sarah and her four daughters.  But now Bertha is listed as the head of the household.  Perhaps by then Sarah is already sick.   She died in 1936 from cancer.   Before she died, she did get to see two of her daughters get married.  Muriel, who married in 1924, named her first child after her mother.  Sarah died on January 28, 1936.  And on November 13, 1936, Muriel had a son she named Stanley and used her mother’s maiden name as his middle name.  That made me happy.  I am also named for Sarah, but I was born almost 20 years after Stanley.

Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady/Hattie, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

Aunt Hattie married Lenny Greenberg. I knew them.  In fact, it was Aunt Hattie who introduced my Dad to my Mom.  Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny never had children.

Bertha and Edith never married and always lived together.

But my questions continue. Where were Bertha, Edith and Hattie living in 1905.  How was Rosa and Louis Salomon related to Bertha?

Once again thank you to Sherri V. who connected information for me when I posted on Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group!

My Personal Coat of Many Colors

29 Mar

A recent on-line post from a friend reminded me of my favorite coat!  I had a coat when I was a freshman in high school that I just loved.  It was a long, mid-calf, tapestry coat in beige, cream, red and green, with a red satin lining. It was my personal coat of many colors.

My wonderful tapestry, multi-colored coat.

I wore it every day in the late fall till the early spring.  It was warm; it was comfortable; and I loved the feel of it.  I crocheted a green scarf to wear with it.  Over time the scarf got longer and longer.  I could wrap it around my neck, head, and face about three or four times, which kept me so warm.  When I wore that coat, I felt stunning.   I do not know why, I just did.

I have one photo of me wearing that coat.  I remember the moment it was taken.  I was on a high school trip to Washington, DC.   I have tried to remember why I went.  It was not the entire sophomore or junior class, just one teacher’s students.  Was it American history?  I sort of remembering that it was a specialty class.  North Bergen High School for a while offered one semester classes on all sorts of topics.  I took several of those.  My favorite was about Canada.  So perhaps it was one of these classes that sponsored the trip.

What I do remember is that my Dad drove me to the high school so early in the morning, the sun was not yet out.  Then we all got on to the bus for the drive from North Bergen to Washington.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  One I have always remembered.

We toured to the White House; we toured the FBI building; we toured the Capitol; we went to the Supreme Court; we went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, I did not climb up.  We also had a short visit to the Smithsonian, original building.  How we did all of that in one day, I do not know.  But we hustled and we walked fast.

We were allowed to walk around in small groups in some of the sites. I took lots of photos.  I don’t know where most of them are now.  But there is one I have: a photo of me in my lovely tapestry coat standing in front of a black marble monolith.  I do not know where it was taken, except it was on this DC trip.

I tried asking my North Bergen friends about when and why we went.  Only one other friend even remembers going.  No one else does.  I do not know who took this photo.  I wish I did because I would thank her.  My coat is long gone, but this photo gives me joy.

I wore that coat as much as I could for five years. The lining was frayed. The pockets had holes in them.  I kept sewing them back together.  But eventually the fabric was so thin, it could not even be sewn.  I thought about replacing the lining.  I never got the chance to do that. This coat drove my mother crazy.  She was constantly asking me to buy a new coat as the tapestry coat was falling apart.  But I would not.

In the end my mother won this argument.  It was not a fair fight, and I was really annoyed!

My sophomore year of college I spent overseas in Israel.  I did not take the coat with me.  Honestly, I could have used it.  Winters in Jerusalem can be cold, and a bit of snow did fall.  I was gone for 12 months.   When I got home in July, I did not look for my coat.  I had a lot to do.  In this time before social media, I lost a year of local, national and friend news.  I had to reconnect.  It wasn’t until I was getting ready to go to college in late August, that I discovered my coat was missing.

I asked my sister, “Where is my coat?”  She looked at me with a deer in the headlights stare and said something like.  “You better ask Mom about that.” I did. 

That did not end well because while I was in Israel, my Mom got rid of my coat! I will say that my Mom and I had one of our worst fights ever.  The following reconstructed conversation is to my best memory.  I will say the tone of the conversation was loud and screaming on my part.  My Mom was almost laughing the entire time.  She really did hate that coat!!!

“You did not wear it for a year so I thought you did not need it. It was just taking up room.” Her words.

 “I did not wear it because I was in Israel, it would have been difficult to get.” My words.

 “It was falling apart, the lining was shot.” Her words.

“I was going to replace the lining when I got home.” My words.

“You only asked about it now, you did not even notice it was gone.” Her words.

 “It was 80 to 90 degrees, and we were in the Catskills, who thinks of a winter coat then.” My words.

“You always hated my coat,” I finally yelled in frustration.

“It was in horrible shape and you could not wear it another year. There is nothing I can do now.  I will get you a new coat,” my Mom responded.

It was long gone and there was nothing I could do about it. Mom was right.  I went shopping with my Mom to get a new winter coat.  It was an okay coat.  A typical college coat.  Nothing special.  Solid colored with a hood.  I also got new gloves and a new scarf (Yes she got rid of the scarf as well). I was warm for the winter; however, without the sparkle or style I had with my tapestry coat!

I have never found another coat I loved wearing as much as I loved wearing that coat.  I can remember the feel of the coat.  It was not a printed-on tapestry look. It was an actual woven tapestry.  Although many, many years have passed, I have never forgotten my multi-colored, wonderful tapestry coat.  But at least I have this one photo to keep its memory alive.

Barbie Dolls, Fashion and Kindness

15 Feb

Growing up in the 60s, my friends and I were enamored of the newest toy, a Barbie doll, which were first sold in 1958.  I do not remember when I got my first one, but I was probably 7 or 8, in the early 1960s.  All I know is that the world of play time changed forever. 

At the time, we often were outside playing in our backyards or in the driveways or even in the streets!  Our homes in North Bergen, were close to each other making it was easy to get together. My neighbor, Dorothy, and I often played with our Barbies.  Each day we created a new story and chapter in the lives of our dolls.  It did not matter if we were indoors or outdoors, we could take our Barbies everywhere to play. 

The only one who was not enamored of our dolls, was my brother.  He and Dorothy were the same age, I am a bit younger, so the three of us often played together. Before Barbies, we would play ball in the driveways, or stoop ball in the front.  We had imaginary horses made by the cement fence that divided the property.  We would walk along the fence, we would dig in the backyards, we were often a threesome going on great adventures within the two backyards or along Third Avenue.

But the year the Barbies enter our lives, a major change began. My brother did not want to play with the Barbies and often would try to destroy our imagined home. Sometimes it was a war zone in our driveway, backyard or home, as he came through as the super hero/villain and wrecked havoc. Looking back as an adult, I know he felt left out. So I feel badly. But not then!

The other issue was my sister, who was four years younger. Dorothy was an only child and did not enjoy my mother’s instructions to allow my sister to play with us. It is really hard to be an older sister sometimes. Truthfully, we really did not want to play Barbies with her. It was just too difficult to plan our more ‘mature’ scenarios with a four-year-old. (Of course, now I am sorry we left her out.)

One way of avoiding these issues (known as my siblings) was to go across the street to Livia’s house.  She also liked to play with Barbies.  We did not play Barbies with her that often, but every once in a while we were invited into her home.  That was actually a big deal!  Livia’s older sister, Cheryl, had a birthmark that distorted one side of her face. It was red and wrinkly and stretched from the top of her forehead to her mouth, covering one side of her face.  The other side was perfectly normal.  Cheryl did not come outside to play.  But when we went to Livia’s house, Cheryl would often play with us.

The other interesting fact about their house was that their grandmother made the most fantastic Barbie clothes. WOW.  She made them for us as well.  Of course, Cheryl and Livia had the most extensive collection.  Why buy clothes, when their grandma could make the best?  I coveted those Barbie clothes.  I did have a few.  I am not sure if my Mom paid for them.  Or if Dorothy and I were given them because we would play with Livia and Cheryl and never said a word about Cheryl’s face.  My Mom made it very clear to me when I saw her once on the street, before I went over to their house,  that Cheryl was just like me and I was to be kind and polite.

So I was!  And Cheryl was just like us, but perhaps very shy. For me, Cheryl’s face became connected to homemade Barbie clothes in my mind.  Making them more precious because playing with Cheryl and being kind was so such an important directive in my home.

Recently I realized another connection.  My friend Dorothy and I still talk about growing up on Third Avenue and our childhoods in North Bergen.  In this conversation we talked about going over to Livia’s house.  We were remembering the wonderful Barbie clothes, when it hit me that Dorothy might have gone into fashion design and attend the FIT, because of the exposure to these magnificent Barbie clothes. And I asked, “Do you think it was these Barbie clothes that made you go into fashion?”  Dorothy’s response, “I never thought of that.”   But I think it did. Because she soon was drawing and making paper doll clothes all the time, then as she got older she was sewing and designing real clothing.   I think all from going to Livia’s house on Third Avenue.

Years later, when my daughter had her own Barbie dolls, I searched out craft people who made Barbie clothes and purchased many outfits for my daughter’s dolls.  My favorite was a doll dressed in the most glorious wedding gown.  It stayed high on a shelf in my daughter’s room with her doll collection.  The Barbie clothes, and her doll collection are now packed away in my basement.  Memories perhaps waiting for another generation.

Each time I purchased a doll outfit and dressed the Barbies with my daughter, I did think of ]Livia’s grandma, the time playing Barbies with the girls, and those beautifully made Barbie clothes in the 1960s.

Mysteries, Mysteries, Mysteries: The Continuing Saga of My Grandfather’s Family

17 Jan

It has been a crazy investigation that started when I found a birth notice for a daughter named Rossie Rosenberg for my great grandparents.  I could not find any other information about her.  Just that one document.  So, I posted on my favorite Facebook group for help.  Once again, another Tracing the Tribe member came through…in a GIGANTIC way. 

First of all, a MAJOR thank you to Sherrie V. who connected the dots and solved the mystery of Rossie Rosenberg.  She was born on May 3, 1904.  But her name did not show up in other records.  However, another child, Minnie/Marion/Muriel does appear.  She was born on May 5, 1904.   Close enough.  I have to assume they could not think of a name when their last of eight living children was born, so just called her Rossie.  Once she got home, a final name, Minnie, was selected.  The mystery of Rossie/Minnie is now solved.

I do know that Muriel got married in 1934 to a man named Harry Moskowitz and they had four children.  But what makes it very evident that this is the right Muriel Rosenberg Moskowitz, is that she named her first son Stanley RITT Moskowitz (He has passed away so I mention his name.).  Ritt was my great-grandmother, and Muriel’s mother’s maiden name, which really helped in following the trail.

But Sherri did not stop with Muriel. Something caught her eye about my grandfather’s oldest brother, Samuel.

First some back story.  My grandfather’s oldest brother disappeared.  I could not find him anywhere except on census documents up until 1915.  However, now I know that I did find him, I just did not realize what I was finding.

My grandfather never mentioned his family.  When I spoke to my grandmother about her family, she filled me in a bit about his family, but she was not very forthcoming.  She told me that they were all crazy.  Her information was basic and not totally correct.  In her rendition, he was the oldest of six children.  He supported them because his father ran off and abandoned the family.  He helped put his younger brother through law school, he helped his sisters go to school.  And then they left him.  (See blogs below for information on them.)

Her most important message to my sister and me, was “Be careful who you marry.  Check out the family.  You have to be sure that they are not crazy.  Look what happened to me.”  My sister remembers this being told to us over a long weekend when my grandmother stayed with us.   But that is not the only time she told this story.  She repeated over and over again to me when I was dating my husband and finally engaged. 

My grandfather, just so you understand, was not the oldest of six children.  He was really the third of eight children who survived childhood.  My great-grandmother Sarah, had 12 births and 8 living children.  I found Grandpa’s older sister, Celia, who died at age 24.  (See blog below.)

But I never could find Samuel…till now.

Sherri sent me New York and Federal census lists starting in 1900 through 1925. Many of them I had seen before and had acknowledged as my family. Others I had looked at and thought no, it can’t be them. But with Sherri, I could see how my great grandfather could be listed as Aaron and not Abraham, especially when all the other names and dates matched up. But she had a bit of knowledge that I did not know about the Kings Park State Hospital. A place which I never heard of before, but I have learned much more. Now my grandmother’s rants and stories all make sense.

In the 1915 New York census, it showed Samuel living at home, but listed his occupation as a farmer.  Before that, in 1910 he was the foreman at a tailor shop. When I saw this, I thought, hmmm this is why he disappeared. He left the tailor business and tried his hand at farming. Perhaps he farmed in New Jersey or Long Island and came home to sleep at night.  Okay, I was naïve.  But I honestly could not understand why he was a farmer.

Sherri posted the following note: Is there any anecdote about one of the ‘kids’ being hospitalized? The occupation of “farmer” in the 1915 census makes me wonder whether Samuel was institutionalized at the Kings Park State Hospital which used farming as therapy for mental illness. There is a WW1draft registration and census records there through 1940 for a patient named Samuel Rosenberg, b. 1888. It appears he died in 1944 but I don’t see a burial online.”

Wow! That put a shock through my system. I had seen the WW1 draft form, which I found when I found my grandfather’s and other great uncle’s registration. But I assumed it was not him. And since my grandparents never spoke about him, and I think my Dad never knew about him either. But then my brain started working and connecting and thinking: Grandma! She probably knew all about the crazy brother, hence her tirade on checking out families before you got married. If he died in 1944, I wonder if my grandfather was contacted. Since his mother had died in the 1930s. Perhaps that is when grandma found out about the crazy brother who she knew nothing about.

I had found the military registration for a Samuel Rosenberg in Kings Park, but I just blew it off. I had no idea that a farmer could mean a patient/inmate in the hospital. But now I had to know more. And Wikipedia had the information. Kings Park Psychiatric Center opened in 1885. It was unique in its efforts to actually help people. The idea was to be a farm community where patients worked or helped on the farm as part of their treatments. My great uncle being listed as a farmer was the information Sherri needed to understand what happened. Why was he still listed on their census form? I am not sure. But perhaps because they did not want to say he was mentally ill.

In 1895 the hospital was over-crowded and the state of New York took it over, renaming it Kings Park State Hospital. The residential area around the hospital was also called Kings Park.  The hospital became self-sufficient and grew its own food.  It finally closed 100 years later in 1996.

Over the years there are a few records of Samuel.  And I will say it is a bit difficult to see the words inmate after his name, as well as the words insanity!  What would he be today, bi-polar, psychotic, schizophrenia?  I have no idea, but I cannot help but wonder!

It also made me think about my great grandparents getting divorced by the 1920 census. In those days people did not divorce that easily.  It was considered a Shanda, a shameful event.  But Sarah is divorced and head of the household in 1920.  Celia is dead by the time of the census and Samuel is no longer listed as part of the family, while the six other children are living with her. Abraham is gone.

I think about being a parent.  With one child, who is  in hospital for mental illness by 1915, the age of 27, and another child that dies in February of 1920 at the age of 24, perhaps the stress was just too much.  Or perhaps one of them was also a bit crazy! We will never know why they divorced.

In any case, I am not quite done with my research.  I am trying to get a copy of Samuel’s death certificate, information on his burial and finally perhaps his records from the hospital.  Actually, when I say I am trying, I am hoping my sister takes care of the paper work for the family.  She has a talent for details!

I will admit, while it is nice finally knowing what happened in my grandfather’s brother, I would liked to have found out that he had a family and did something special. Finding him as the inmate in a mental health institution is just sad.

I am left with just one mystery. I just need to find out what happened to my great grandfather!  Where did Abraham go!

(I want to thank Evan W. for all his help in the past in originally finding some of the documentation.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park_Psychiatric_Center

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm

Oy Vey Rosie Rosenberg!

30 Dec

Somewhere out there is more information about my Grandfather’s supposed sister, Rose/Rosie/Rossie, who was born on May 3, 1904, and died before the 1910 US census. 

First, I have to start by saying, I have known for a while that though we were told my grandfather was the oldest of six siblings, I know that he was actually the third oldest of 8 siblings who lived to adulthood.

I also know that his mother gave birth to 12 children.  For three I have no records, so I assume they were still births.  However, for one, I have a name and a date of birth.  Rose/Rosie.  That name touches my heart.  My father’s nickname when he served in Korea was Rosie.  To this day when I visit a memorial stone I put in the local Korean War Memorial, I always bring a rose.

But he never knew he had aunts who died tragically young: one named Celia, who lived to 24, (see blog below) and Rosie, who probably only lived for a couple of years or less.

But I cannot find Rosie except for this one document which includes her birthdate and her parent’s names.  I know it is correct, because it has Sarah Ritt/Rith for the mother’s maiden name. Also the family did live in Brooklyn in Kings County. I am not sure about the street. I know at one point they lived on a Sackman Street. But that was later. And I have found that this family seemed to move a bit.

Also I know Rosie was born before the youngest daughter Minnie/Muriel.  I remember seeing her name in a list of the family members at some point after 2017.  At that time, I wrote a blog about searching for my grandfather’s family.  Someone sent me an email or a private message with information about all the children from research he/she had done.   At the time I did not believe it was correct because I was still under the assumption that grandpa was the oldest of six, not the third of eight, or even nine.  But somewhere along the way I have lost that document.  And now I need it.

That teaches you to have absolutely NO assumptions about your family’s history and to never disregard a document.

I have found several Rosie or Rose Rosenbergs who died between 1905 and 1909. I am not sure if any of them is my family’s Rosie. Since her sister, Celia, was buried in 1920 at Montefiore Cemetery in the Queens, I was hoping to find Rosie there as well. But the only Rose Rosenberg buried in Montefiore, Springfield Gardens, had no date of birth or death. Could it be her? The memorial ID number is 148979659. But there is no other information or photo.

I am hoping someone who researches better than I can find out more about Rosie! I used Ancestry and Family Search as the two sources for the information I do have. Thank you!

My Grandfather’s Mysterious Family is Slowly Unveiling

3 Nov

I recently wrote a blog about my Grandfather’s sister Celia.  In it I call her my grandfather’s younger sister.  That might or might not be true.  Her date of birth ranges from 1890 to 1895.  She could be a year older or perhaps four years younger.  But then my Grandfather’s birth dates range as well from 1890 to 1892.  Who knows?  What I do know is that keeping records was not that easy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

That blog brought a response from Amy, one of my friends, who I met through Tracing the Tribe.  She recommended that I go to Family Search, part of the Mormon genealogy sites to try to find my great aunt Celia’s death certificate. 

Although I have used JewishGen and Ancestory, I never used Family Search on my own before. It was wonderful. Although I already had my Great Aunt’s, death certificate, someone had found it for me, I did not have a photo of her head stone. Family Search had it! Celia’s Hebrew name is Tzipa Gittal. (Thank you to Robin of Tracing the Tribe for figuring out the first name for me.) Like those of many who die young, the stone is in the shape of a tree cut down. There are palm leaves engrave on it along with the words, Beloved Daughter and in big letters SISTER. (I plan to put this photo on the other post as well!)

I found my grandfather’s family on the 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925 Census.  In the 1915 Census, the last name was misspelt as Rosenbery.  In the 1920 Census, I found out that my great grandparents had divorce before then.  I knew that they were divorced, but somehow knowing they divorced before Celia died made me a little sad.   In the 1925 Census only five of her children were still living with Sarah.  Samuel disappeared after the 1915 Census, Celia died before the 1920 one, and my Grandfather married before the 1925 Census.  All four daughters: Bertha, Edith, Hattie and Minnie, who in this Census was renamed Muriel, were stenographers.  Jacob was already a lawyer.  (See blog below.)

Finding success with Celia, I decided to look for more information on my grandfather’s other missing sister, Minnie/Muriel. I found her as well. She also has a number of birth years ranging from 1904 to 1910. On the census from 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925, it was either 1904 or 1906. But then I found her marriage license, there she is listed as being born in 1910. It makes sense, even with using 1910 as her birth year, she was still two years older than her husband. In reality, she was about 5 or 6 years older.

Muriel got married May 26, 1934, to a man named Harry Moskowitz in Kings, New York.   She and her husband had four children, three boys and one girl.  Since some of them are still alive, I will not name them.  Muriel died in the New York City area in January 1991.  That actually made me sad.  It means that my Grandfather did not live far from his sister, but he had no contact with her.  Why?  I honestly wish I know the answer!

He did have one sister who he did stay in contact with and whom I knew, Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny.  I wrote about them in the blog below.  I also found their marriage license. Besides seeing several birth years for her, 1901 to 1903, I found out that her legal name was not Hattie, even though that is what everyone called her.  On. December 16, 1934, Ethel H. Rosenberg marred Levert Greenberg, the son of Joseph and Rebecca (Schneider).  Uncle Lenny served in WW 2.  They never had any children.  But I remember them fondly.  Although over the years, Aunt Hattie made my Dad crazy at times.

Using Family Search was easy and helpful.  I am glad Amy suggested that I use it.  I do not know why I have never used it before now.  However, I know that I will continue to use it as I double my efforts to find Samuel, as he is the only sibling I have been unable to find.

Did Great Aunt Celia Die From the Spanish Flu?

31 Oct

With the Covid pandemic in its second year, I decided to write about my Grandfather’s younger sister who died over 101 years ago.

As I have written in other blogs, much about my paternal grandfather’s family was a mystery.  My Grandmother told me that my Grandfather was the oldest of 6 children, I now know that his mother actually gave birth to 11 children. I now also know that eight siblings that survived to adulthood and that my Grandfather was the second oldest of these eight.  

I know a bit about his one brother (See blog below) and I actually knew one of his five sisters.  (see blog below.) Three sisters and brother I know their names and perhaps some information, but it nothing definite.  I know Muriel married and had two children.  And I know there were two ‘maiden’ aunts.   I know Samuel supposedly went west in the early 1900’s.  But there was one sister that I had absolutely no information about his younger sister Celia.  I did not even have her name, as Celia died before my grandparents became engaged and married.

But now I know Celia.  Born on the Fourth of July in 1895, Celia was five years younger than my grandfather.   But whereas my grandfather lived until he was 95, Celia died when she was just 24 years old on February 6, 1920, from pulmonary edema and pneumonia, which was a major cause of death from the Spanish Flu.

According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Flu continued from February 1918 to April of 1920.  And the CDC website that discusses the Spanish flu has this information: 

“The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.

It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic.”  (The bold high lights are mine.)

By the winter of 1920, the Spanish flu had begun to ebb.  But people were still dying.  One of the symptoms was lungs filling with fluid, pulmonary edema, which killed them.   Was Celia one of the victims of this pandemic?  I might never know, but with the Covid pandemic on my mind, I cannot help but think it was the Spanish Flu that killed my great aunt Celia.  Sadly, a few months after she died the pandemic was officially over. 

Celia is buried in the old Montefiore Cemetery in New York.  She is in the Adath Israel of B’ville section.  I do not think any other members of our family are buried there, or at least any that I have found so far.   Most are buried in Washington Cemetery.  The fact that she is there alone saddens me.

I have not been able to find a picture of her grave online. But I do have the information needed to find it.  I hope one day that I will.  In the meantime, I wonder if my Great Aunt Celia was one of the millions of people who died during the Spanish Flu.  In my heart the answer is yes.

Update: I now have Celia’s Headstone. See the additional Blog for more information.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm