Up until a couple years ago, I believed Siegmund and his wife had one son, and that was it. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by a new-to-me cousin, Andy Selig, who let me know not only did Siegmund also have a daughter, but provided me with family photos, and information on 5 more generations of descendants! So, huge thanks to Andy for the photos and for more info, some of which we’ll see here, some of which we’ll learn about when I write about his children.
Siegmund was born 17 July 1818 in Vöhl, and was the first child born to Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg, and grandson to Salomon Abraham Rothschild. His parents were married in November the previous year, so he was an 8 month baby. The Synagogue Vöhl website has very little available about Siegmund, stating only that he attended the state school in Korbach from 1832 – 1824. I calculated his date of birth by taking the information from his death entry which states he was 59 years, 1 month and 20 days old at the time of his death.
Siegmund’s parents had 9 children, born between 1818 and 1833. Siegmund would have been 15 when his mother, Sprinza, passed away in September of 1833.
The list of military servants of 1838 states Siegmund Rothschild is “Tradesman, wealthy, can handle horses.” In 1841, the Civic Records of Vöhl state “Ascher Rothschild’s children from his first marriage have a guardian.” I doubt this applied to Siegmund, as he’d have been 23 by then.
Siegmund married Betti/Betta Homburger, daughter of Isaak Herz Homberger, on 21 February 1844. The marriage date is found in the book “Juden in Gießen 1788 – 1942” by Hanno Müller. I do not yet have a copy of this book, but was sent a photocopy excerpt by Herr Berg, the vestryman for the Lutheran Church in Burg-Gemünden. Betti was born 10 September 1823 in Gießen. Her date of birth comes from the book “Juden in Gießen 1788 – 1942” by Hanno Müller.
The couple lived in Offenbach am Main, where Siegmund was a resident and a manufacturer, though I don’t know of what. They had two children born to them: Justus Friedrich Rothschild (6 May 1847) and Sophie Rothschild (24 December 1844). The genealogists among you are probably wondering why I listed the children in reverse birth order. That’s because until I was contacted by Andy Selig in late 2018, I didn’t know Sophie existed. And it was because of that information that we began to learn that my gg Grandfather, Adolph Rothschild, wasn’t as isolated from the rest of the family as we’d believed up to that point. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I will, I promise, cover that when I get to Adolph’s biography. And it’s going to take several posts!
It’s clear to see from the photographs that the family was fairly well off. We know that Siegmund came from money — it’s been reported that his father, Asher Rothschild, provided each of his children with 3000 guilders during his lifetime. And Betti and the children are extremely well-dressed. From this second photo, which I suspect was taken around 1857, we can see that Betti has the padded wing hairstyle that was so popular in the mid – late 1850s.
Siegmund passed away at Frankfurter Straße 66 in Offenbach 7 September 1877 at the age of 59. Which isn’t very old at all. By that time, both children had left home: Sophie to settle in St. Louis with her husband, and Justus to be mostly in St. Louis, but also in New York and Vienna. The end result was the same: Betti was alone in Offenbach.
When I first found Siegmund’s death entry, I could read enough German to make out names, dates, locations. In 2019, I was frantically working to put together as much biographical information about the Rothschild family as I could before traveling to Vöhl in May of that year, and even after that I was still working on it, getting everything ready for a family reunion the following July. It was in between those two months that I pulled up Siegmund’s death entry and REALLY looked at it. The first thing I noticed was the informant was “Pfarrar Wilhelm Eberwein”. “Pfarrar” means “pastor”. Why was a pastor signing the death entry of a nice Jewish boy like Siegmund? And that name? Why did that name sound familiar? So I broke out Google Translate, and a website that lists the German words for familial relationships, a pen and paper, and set about the painstaking work of transcribing/translating.
“Pastor Wilhelm Eberwein, a resident of Offenbach, appeared in front of the registrar today, and indicated that his brother-in-law, the pensioner Siegmund Rothschild…” Wait. WHAT??? Brother-in-law?
Well, that had me confused, because Camille and I were pretty certain we’d found most of Ascher and Sprinza’s children at this point. The only one we hadn’t been able to pin down was Rebecca, who had reportedly been given 10,000 guilders with which to leave home and make her way in the world. What if she’d married a pastor instead? More digging, and we found out that Pastor Eberwein’s wife was Friedericke Rothschild, daughter of Ascher and Sprinza. Knowing that everyone in this family — especially the women — has seemingly countless variations on names, we decided she must be the long-lost Rebecca, middle name Friedericke. Well, ok, we found the missing daughter. WHEW! And glad to know the siblings stayed close, despite their differences in religion.
It took me awhile longer to figure out why it sounded familiar. And a little while longer than that to figure out Pastor Eberwein’s real relationship with the family. And we’ll get to that, I promise. But if I tell you now, it’ll spoil the surprise.
Betti Homberger Rothschild passed away in Offenbach am Main 29 January 1902 at Frankfurter Straße 76 in Offenbach, just a few doors down from where she and Siegmund lived together when he passed. According to Google Maps, both houses are still there, but I can’t get a street view. The informant on Betti’s death entry was Jakob Goldschmidt. I don’t know yet who that was.
That’s all the info I have on Siegmund and his wife Betti. I wish I knew what Siegmund manufactured. I wish I knew more about his day-to-day life. But I’m grateful for the bits I do know.
Next time, we’ll learn about Siegmund’s brother, Isaac Rothschild. He was an interesting person. Until then, stay happy and healthy!