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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.

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!

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

The Murder of Chava Feuer 1942

22 Apr

It is not every day that you find out exactly how your great grandmother was murdered in the Shoah.  But it just happened to me, and I am in shock.

I was taking a webinar called “The Case of The Missing Ancestors: Genealogy Tips from Nancy Drew,” that I signed up for from the Erie Community Library.  The speaker was Ellen Shindelman Kowitt. I am still searching for my grandfather’s three siblings.  After hitting dead end after dead end, I thought maybe this workshop would help. 

The speaker mentioned looking up the name of the town instead of the name of the person.  So while I was listening on one device, I entered the name of my grandfather’s birthplace, Trzciana, Poland, on another device.

At first I just found a short Wikipedia entry telling me that Trzciana was a small village in Buchnia County, the seat of the administration office, and so was called Gmina Trzciana.  It was just outside Mielec, which I knew.  It currently has a population of 1462.  No mention of the Shoah.

Then I entered “Trzciana and the Holocaust.”  A book popped up:
The Holocaust and European Societies: Social Processes and Social Dynamics edited by Frank Bajohr and Andrea Low.  There were also some sample pages that I could read, including a section on an event that happened in Trzciana.

I knew my great grandmother, Chava, was murdered in her town.  I knew she had been hidden. And that saved her when the rest of her family was taken. I thought she was murdered at the end, after the war was over. But that is not the case.  She was murdered in 1942. There is an entire paragraph about the murder of my great grandmother Chava, the wife of Gimple.  MY Great Grandmother.

I can imagine the fear she had when she knew the Nazis were searching for all the Jewish people in the area. When she knew that the Polish people were afraid and turning the Jews in.  How in fear she must have been when she went to a family that had hid her before. But I am sure she knew there was no hope.  No hope, no help. Just death. And did it really matter when everyone else was already gone? Her husband, her four children. Her extended family.

Yes, I am crying.  Yes, I think I am in shock.  This I never expected.  I did not find my great aunts and great uncle.  But I found this. 

I have ordered the book.  I need to see it and touch it.  To really believe it.

But read for yourself the murder of Chava Feuer, my great grandmother, for whom I carry her name.  May her name and memory always be a blessing. (Yes, I know it says Chana, but believe me it is Chava.)

She says “Do with me as you please.” This touches my heart. I was an obstinate child. I would often say to my parents and grandparents, “Do what you want, I am not moving.” My grandfather would shake his head and laugh, while my grandmother would say, “You are just like her.” The “her” being Chava, whose name I carry.

What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?

16 Apr
My great aunt Tova, my great Grandparents Gimple and Chava. The man driving is an Uncle. And the horses and cart they bought with the money my grandparents sent. They all perished.

Would it be horrible to say that I am disappointed to find that my grandfather’s two sisters were not the victims of Josef Mengele?  It sounds horrible even to me.  But I have been searching to find out what happened to them for over a decade.  And I thought I finally found a glimmer of hope.  I remembered that they were twins.  Perhaps they made it to the right concentration camp and were separated out. I could at least have some closure.

But no.  Another dead end, I write without a pun.  I had already searched through Yad V Shem, where I found my grandfather’s parents and one brother.  I have found my great grandparents, Gimple/Mordechai who died in Auschwitz and Chava who died in the town.  My great uncle, Shimon died in Belzec.   All three testimonies were put in Yad VShem by a cousin, Shalom Hollander.  Although he entered many other testimonies, there are none for the other three siblings.

I have searched through the Jewish Gen files.  I have found many, many, well hundreds of family members who perished in the Shoah.  But I cannot find my grandfather’s two sisters and their families and his other brother.  It is what I have been searching for since I started my genealogy searches. 

I tried the place that usually helps, Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group.  From one member, I found out about the the Arolsen Archives, International Center on Nazi Persecution, in Bad Arolsen in Germany.  And I had great hope.  I filled out three forms with all the information I had on my great aunts, Tova and Tzelia, and great uncle Nachum.  I admit it was not much.  Just their names and town of birth, parents and approximate date of birth. 

I was sure to add that Tova and Tzelia were twins.  I have a photo of Tova.  I knew she was married.  She probably had children. But by the time I spoke to my grandfather about her and his other siblings in the 1970s, he had forgotten the names of her husband and children.  So my search was based on somewhat limited information.

Unfortunately, the Arolsen Archives could not help.  For each of my requests, I received the same message. “We can inform you today that we – based on the data you provided – have made an extensive check of the documentation available to us.
To our regret, it has not proved possible for us to ascertain any information.”

Another dead end.  But I was not totally surprised.  I know that Mielec and Grandpa’s home town of Trzciana, were among the first cities that the Nazis chose to kill all the Jews.  Only 100 Jewish residents from the area survived the war.  Some were killed at the Denbica/Dembitz Murder site.  Others went to the Lodz Ghetto and then Belzec  Some died in Auschwitz.  But some died in their community, like my great grandmother.  Some were burned in the synagogue.  Some were burned in the mikve.  Some were shot. 

I have discovered many people with similar names, but not these three.

I assume they died nameless, not a number in the Nazi machine.

So perhaps not finding them is a good thing.  Perhaps they died quickly.  They did not have to suffer the indignity of being a victim of Mengele.  They did not make it to the Concentration Camps.  But what is so sad is that no family member was able to write their testimonies.  No one could enter their names in to Yad VShem data base.  And I cannot either, because I do not know what happened.

Perhaps my quest to find out the names of their children will never be achieved.  I will never find out what happened.   Each time I have found out what happened to a family member. I have had another little stab in my heart.  Perhaps it is time to let this search end.

Update About My Grandfather’s Mysterious Brother Jacob

1 Mar

I had a wonderful surprise on my blog last week.  A blog I wrote about my grandfather’s mysterious family focusing on his brother ( see blog below) had a message from my great uncle Jacob’s granddaughter.  There has been NO contact as far as I can tell since 1957.

The comment: “Rupert John Rosenberg was my father; Jacob was my grandfather.
Jacob did not come to England (but died in New York c 1957) but (Rupert) John did . I never met Jacob and I know little about my American family but I know Delilah had two children…” (I do not want to go into too much personal detail to keep the anonymity of my cousin.)

I was startled, but immediately answered her sending my work email address.   Since that first contact, she and I have been emailing, sending photos and information.  And finally, we had a face-to-face conversation through Facetime.  Later this month, she will meet more of the family, as we have a family Zoom with her.

In my original blog, I mentioned that my great uncle disappeared in 1957.  I searched for him everywhere. But no mention.  I thought he went to England to live with his son.  No mention.  Now I know that he died in 1957, when he was only 62, from cancer.  This would also impact his son, who also died in his late 50s from cancer as well.

But what I did not know is that the father and son had been estranged.  I am not too surprised, as Jacob also distanced himself from his own family.  His siblings basically had little contact with him after his mother passed away.  But it is a mystery.  My cousin thinks it is because her father did not want to serve in the Korean War, so left the country after he completed college. And that was the cause of the estrangement.   After his father passed away, her father did continue to have contact with his mother.

In the meantime, his son started using his middle name, John, as he progressed in his career as a writer of novels and working in the British film industry. One of the movies he worked on is one that I remember.

For me part of the excitement, besides finding my second cousin and her family, was learning that I was correct in my research.  I had found my father’s first cousins Rupert and Delilah.  Rupert was married exactly as I thought.  And, although I did not write about his sister’s marriage, the Delilah I found was correct.  She married the man I thought, Leonard Raphael, and was a concert pianist.  She had two children. (Since they are living, and I have no contact with them, I will not name them.)

When pieces of the puzzle come together, it is joyful!

My second cousin told me she had an older sister who lived in a Mediterranean country and she wanted to save the cats.  That made me laugh, as my daughter, who has name very similar to this yet unmet second cousin, also lives in a Mediterranean country and has saved many cats and volunteered at a shelter.  Another coincidence is that the cousin who contacted me, has the same name as my niece.  I find that so serendipitous.  My daughter and the sister have virtually the same name, with just one letter change.  And my niece and this cousin have the same name with just one letter change.

To continue the similarities, my newly found cousin has four children.  Her oldest son and my son have the same name. 

Finally, we had a long discussion about our family’s thick and wavy hair.  When she saw a photo of my brother, my found cousin commented that her Dad and sister have the same hair.  The men in my family are known for not having the male baldness gene!  Even the women are known for their thick and wavy dark hair.

I must admit I write my blogs for my family, but also to find out what happened to the people who disappeared.  In my mother’s family that pertains to those who were murdered in the Shoah.  In my father’s family, it is the mystery of his father’s siblings.  There are still two missing, Samuel and Minnie/Muriel.  I hope one day to find them as well.

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/10/back-to-my-grandfathers-mysterious-brothers-first-jacob/