Tag Archives: Rosenberg family

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