Abraham Rothschild was the youngest son of Selig Salomo Rothschild and Ranchen Regine Rubino Rothschild, and the grandson of Salomon Abraham Rothschild. Unless otherwise indicated, the information about Abraham Rothschild comes from the Synagogue Vöhl website.
Abraham was born 19 November 1808 in Vöhl, the youngest of his parents’ children. The first mention of him is in the “Directory of Those Compulsory for Military Service 1828” in which it states “Financial Circumstances: Wealthy.” This is not surprising, given what we know about the Rothschild family of Vöhl as a whole. What it doesn’t say is whether or not he was able to buy his way out of military service. If one were wealthy enough, they could pay a fee, or pay for someone else to serve in their stead.
Sometime before 1841, or perhaps in the early months of that year, Abraham married Hanchen Johanna Hannah Speier. She was born about 1825 in Züschen, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Hesse, Germany. That’s all I’ve been able to learn about her origins, and haven’t yet been able to find a marriage document for this pair. If I ever do, that will certainly provide us with her parents’ names and her date of birth. Being born in or around 1825 means that she was just 16 when their first one, Selig Rothschild, was born 3 December 1841 in Vöhl. This Selig is different from all the other Selig Rothschilds in the family. As far as I know, he didn’t become a doctor, and he didn’t stay in Germany. According to the 1861 list of conscripts who were born in 1841, it states that Selig went to America a few years earlier. I haven’t been able to find him on a ship’s manifest yet.
Their second son, Ruben Rothschild, was born in Vöhl 8 November 1808. Ruben later married, moved to New York, and was the father of 9 children. I haven’t been able to determine if he had any grandchildren, though.
They had another son, Karl/Carl Charles Rothschild, born about 1855 in Vöhl. He also emigrated to the States, but I haven’t been able to fully track him down yet.
Their only daughter, Regina Rachel Rothschild, was born about 1860 in Vöhl.
There is mention of another possible child born to this family in 1851, but there is no birth record available. The only mention of it is a letter from the district Judge written in January 1852 to the Mayor of Vöhl, in which the former criticizes the latter for the fact that the birth register for Abraham Rothschild’s son does not specify a midwife. The thing is, there is no known member of the Rothschild family of Vöhl born that year.
Abraham’s profession seems to have changed from time to time. In 1841, the trade tax list states his main business was “Skins trader, fruit trader, and small cattle dealer.” I don’t think this means he dealt in small cattle, but rather that it was a side business. In 1843, in addition to these professions, it also states his main business is a peddling goods dealer. In 1854, his profession is listed as cattle dealer, butcher without a shop. Regardless of which profession he was pursuing, he did well for himself, as he belongs to the most taxed half of the population.
Abraham Rothschild did, like others, have dealings with the court. In 1844, Heinrich Heinze II owed Abraham 30 guilders. District Judge Koch ordered a garnishment and an auction, so Mayor Wiesemann seized one of Herr Heinze’s cows. And in 1865 this or another Abraham Rothschild had an argument with Selig Stern because he wanted to build on the boundary between their properties. Ah, the complicated judicial interactions in a small town!
Like other members of the family, Abraham served on the Jewish Community Board. In 1849, as a member of the board, he proposed that Salomon Kugelmann be elected to replace Isaak Rothschild. And in 1851, he was involved in selecting the successor of Selig Stern on the Board.
The last comment on the Synagogue Vöhl website regarding Abraham Rothschild is the property line dispute with Selig Stern. So what happened to the next 22 years? Well, let me tell ya.
In November of 1866, Abraham and his wife Johanna, along with children Carl (age 10) and Regina (age 6) made their way to Bremen, boarded the SS America, and crossed the ocean, steaming into New York harbor on 3 December 1866. Ironically, they arrived 6 months to the day after Abraham’s younger cousin, Abraham Adolph Rothschild and his family, arrived in New York.
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957
Abraham and Johanna settled in New York, and appeared in the 1870 census. Abraham was 62, and his profession was listed “at home”, so he appears to be retired. Johanna was 50. Living with them were Charles (aka Carl), age 20, Rachel, age 10, and Rudolph, age 25. It took me a bit to figure out Rudolph was actually their son Ruben, who had emigrated prior to 1864.
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census
By the time of the 1880 census, Abraham and Johanna, with Charles and Rachel, were living at 325 W Fifty-Second in New York. Looks like a very nice apartment building.
Rachel, by this time, was 20, and Charles was approaching 30. His profession was listed as “cutter”. This profession is described as “use hand tools or hand-held power tools to cut and trim a variety of manufactured items, such as carpet, fabric, stone, glass, or rubber.” It could also refer to meat. Rachel, like her parents, was “at home.”
Abraham passed away 21 July 1887 in Washington, D.C., where he and Johanna were presumably living. I have no idea what took them there. Johanna was in the Washington, D.C. City Directory of 1892, listed as the widow of Abraham. She passed away 17 August 1895. Their deaths and burials are recorded in both findagrave.com and Jewishgen Online Worldwide Burial Registry.
As I was researching Abraham and Johanna, Ancestry.com kept insisting the couple buried in DC were my Abraham and Johanna, but I wasn’t convinced. So I asked for volunteers on findagrave.com to get photographs of their headstones. Abraham’s is so worn, so faded, that I couldn’t be sure. Then I looked at the headstone for Johanna. I don’t know why his is so worn and hers is so pristine. But it is beautiful, and detailed, and states: “Hannah, wife of Abraham Rothschild, born in Züschen by Fritzlar, Germany. Died in Washington, D.C., 17 Aug 1895. May her soul rest in peace.”
I know there are plenty of women named Johanna or Hannah who married men named Abraham Rothschild. But in all of my research so far into the Rothschild family of Vöhl, I’ve only come across the village of Züschen once. For me, this was
Abraham, Johanna, and all of their children made it to The New World. Following their trail was fun! Next time, we’ll go back to Märle Rothschild and David Stern and start learning about their children. Until then, stay safe.