As promised, this is the first post about “What’s in a Name?” When I first started building up my family tree, and using the Synagogue Vöhl website as the primary source, I started seeing some things regarding this Isaak Rothschild, and his cousin, Isaac Rothschild born in 1820, that just didn’t add up. Turns out, the spelling of the first name had become interchangeable in the area records, making it very easy to combine information for the two men. It took me a long time to get it all sorted. Especially with Isaac Rothschild, I was able to find a lot of supporting documentation. Even though Isaak Rothschild’s (1799) name is sometimes written as “Isaac Rothschild”, and Isaac Rothschild’s (1820) name is sometimes written as “Isaak Rothschild”, I have decided to use “Isaak” for this one and “Isaac” for the other one. So now that we’ve got that cleared up, and without further ado, here’s what I know about this Isaak Rothschild, son of Selig Salomo Rothschild, grandson of Salomon Abraham Rothschild. Unless otherwise indicated, the information for Isaak Rothschild comes from the Synagogue Vöhl website.
Isaak Rothschild was born about 1799 in Vöhl, the second child and first son of Selig Salomo Rothschild and Rachen Rubino Rothschild. As a child, he attended school in Korbach, which is about 13km north of Vöhl. In 1829, he was listed as one of the 14 members of the congregation involved in the drawing of places in the synagogue. It’s interesting to note that the original painted numbers indicating where people/families should sit are still visible in the Women’s balcony above the sanctuary, and they number 1 – 14.
The tax records for the 1800s are interesting to me. Not only do they take in census information, and a person’s primary form of business, but secondary businesses as well. For instance, the tax records for 1842 show that Isaak’s primary trade is a Wool Retailer. His secondary trades are Butcher and Fruit Trade. Basically, he is a merchant, which is how his profession is often mentioned.
Sometime before 1843, Isaak married Jettchen Löwenstern. This is not the same Jettchen Löwenstern mentioned in the previous post as being the sister-in-law of Feist Kaiser, even though their names and ages are virtually identical. Isaak and Jettchen’s eldest son, Selig Rothschild, was born in Vöhl 21 December 1843. Selig became a doctor and often went by the nickname “Saly” or “Sali”. He is not to be confused with his first cousin Selig Rothschild, also born in Vöhl, who also went by “Saly” or “Sali”, and who also became a doctor.
Isaak and Jettchen had a second son, Minko Rothschild, who was born in Vöhl on 27 January 1846. Jettchen passed away sometime in 1846 or 1847. Sadly, Minko didn’t live very long either. He died 10 July 1852, just 6 1/2 years old. He spent three days in bed following a severe fall (I thought I read once that it was a fall from a tree but cannot at the moment find that reference), and passed away at 4 in the afternoon. It’s interesting to note that Germany kept close tabs on the births of male children so they could be conscripted at age 20 to serve their time in the military. Minko showed up on the conscript list of 1865. There was a cross next to his mother’s name. Below that was another cross and the date 10 July 1852.
I imagine Isaak must have been very depressed following the deaths of his wife and youngest son, and from this point onward it was just Isaak and his oldest son Selig.
By 1844, Isaak was on the board of the Jewish Community. In 1845, Isaak Rothschild, Michael Mildenberg, and Levi Blum wrote a letter to the district council in which they complained that the unmarried Jews didn’t bid for their seats in the synagogue. This action is attributed to this Isaak Rothschild, but the more I think about it, the more I believe this should be attributed to his cousin, Isaac Rothschild born in 1820. Levi Blum was born in 1820, the same year as this Isaak Rothschild’s cousin, Isaak Rothschild, was born. Michael Mildenberg was born in 1805, so closer to this Isaak Rothschild in age than to the other one, but it makes more sense to me that the younger generation might complain. Of course, this Isaak Rothschild wasn’t married either when the seats went up for bid. Makes me wonder if there was ever any end to the debate over who got to sit where in the synagogue!
There are about 15 years when the records of Vöhl and the surrounding area mention “Isaak/Isaac Rothschild”, and it could be either one of the two men. Once I realized that Isaac Rothschild (born 1820) was the husband of Friedericke Dilsheimer, that they married around the same time Jettchen passed away, and that their son Gustav was born in Frankfurt, it became easier to sort them out by process of elimination.
On 31 May 1851, the Grand Ducal Government Commission of the Biedenkopf administrative district asked the mayor of Vöhl to name four suitable persons from the most highly taxed half of the Vöhler Jews. The Government commission would then select two of them who would work with the other selected members on a Board. The mayor suggested Feist Saalberg, Isaak Rothschild, Moses Schaumburg, and Abraham Kaiser. I haven’t been able to find any other information about this board or it’s purpose.
In 1854, his professions are listed as wool and fruit trader, and butcher with no shop. From 1855 onward, his profession was listed as trader of fruit. He must have done very well, because he appears to have stayed in the most highly taxed half of the Vöhler Jews for quite awhile, but by 1877 he is listed as one of the poorest Vöhler Jews at the time, paying a tax of just 56 pfennigs, along with a contribution of 5.04 Marks. The tax records always fascinate me. Take this example from 1878: “Isaak Rothschild owns a garden of 2525 square meters, a house garden of 41 square meters in the village, courtyard of 269 meters in the village, another courtyard of 125 square meters in the village, and he pays a property tax of 0,71 Marks.” This lists suggests he owned 2 hours, each with courtyards and gardens. No idea why his tax would have been so low if he had two properties, though it may have been based more on income rather than possessions.
Between 1845 until at least 1868, Isaak had a number of maids from about the area. They were: Susanna Maria Bracht from Meinringhausen; Henriette Märzen from Meinringhausen; Friedericke Wilhelm from Meinringhausen; Maria Emde from Meinringhausen; Maria Sude from Nieder-Ense; Elisabetha Walber from Meinringhausen; Katharina Weber from Schmitlotheim; and Friederike Mehrhof from Höringhausen. Starting in 1866, for an undisclosed time, he also had Isak Heinebach in the home with him as a student. I haven’t been able to find any additional information on Isak Heinebach, so I’m not sure who he was. He may have been a boarder from another village who attended school with the other Vöhler Jews.
The last piece of information I have about Isaak Rothschild, unlike the rest of the information listed here, doesn’t come from the Synagogue Vöhl website. Instead, it comes from Ancestry.com, and is the Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 11172 Ironically, it is his death record that gives us the best bit of anecdotal evidence that this Isaak Rothschild did not marry Friedericke Dilsheimer. German death records tend to list the most recent spouse’s name. And this one leaves us in no doubt as to whose son he was, nor whose husband he was. “The merchant Levi Kaiser of Vöhl states that the merchant Isaak Rothschild, 75 years old, Mosaic religion, lived in Vöhl, was born in Vöhl, married the deceased Jettchen, born Löwenstern, son of the deceased Selig Rothschild of Vöhl, died on the 6th of June in the year thousand eight hundred seventy and five, at the 11th hour.” The informant, Levi Kaiser, is his nephew through his sister Belchen’s marriage to Feist Kaiser.
Sometimes, as I’m researching a person, I get a sort of… well… my mom would have called it a “vibe”. A feeling, an impression of the person. The feeling I pick up about Isaak Rothschild is he was a simple, hardworking man, who must have loved his wife very much. When dealt with the harsh blows life sometimes threw his way, I suspect he took a breath, put his shoulder to the wheel, and just kept moving forward. Dear Cousin Isaak, I believe I would have very much liked getting to know you in person.
The next entry will be about two of Isaak’s sisters: Mathilde, about whom we know next to nothing, and Minna, who also went by Minkel and Mückel. Until next time.