Adolph Roth 28 December 1829 – 22 March 1921: Family Lore

Adolph Rothschild, painting by his son, E. O. Roth

In 1977, my mom, Jeannette Elizabeth Roth Price Woolf, decided she wanted to learn more about her paternal line, so started researching. She took a genealogy class at BYU and learned out to use research logs, organize files, take notes, write letters, keep track of whatever she was working on, etc. Mom was meticulous in everything she did, and this was no different. Her files on Adolph went so far as to include copies of news articles she read about the best places to do specific forms of research, copies of letters she’d written, responses she’d received, vital records, certified copies of census record extracts, as well as photographs of the paintings: one of Adolph, and one of his wife Kathinka.

Kathinka Luja Rothschild, painted by her son, E. O. Roth

What she knew about Adolph would have filled a paragraph, maybe two. He and his wife Kathinka came to America from Germany in 1866 with their three children — Wilhelmina, Augusta, and Reinhardt — moved to Illinois where their youngest son, Edward Otto was born, and eventually settled in St. Louis. Ok, there was a little more than that.

Adolph Roth met Kathinka Luja when he was 24 and she was 14, working as a barmaid. They courted for 10 years before getting married. And family lore suggested her family had been courtiers in the courts of Spain!

After she’d been researching for about 3 years, she came across a copy a ship’s manifest that had her perplexed, so she called her father, Bill Roth. I was sitting at the table with her when she called, and the conversation went something like this:

Mom:  Daddy, I just found a ship’s manifest that shows a family arriving July 3, 1866 on the SS Bremen.  The parents are Adolph and Kathinka, with children Wilhelmina, Augusta, and Reinhardt.  All of their information matches what I have, except their last name is Rothschild, not Roth.  Do you think they could be the same people?

Granddaddy:  Oh, I know they are.  That was the family name.

Mom:  What?!?  When did the name change?  And why?

Granddaddy:  My father changed it when he left home because he was antisemitic.

Mom:  Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?  You knew I was researching this!

Granddaddy:  I didn’t think it mattered.

So, Adolph Roth became Adolph Rothschild, and that’s when mom was able to find his death certificate, and to request census record extracts (which would only show him and his wife and members of the household if he was listed as the head of household). And with the last name of Rothschild, mom assumed the family was Jewish, so she began writing to synagogues in St. Petersburg, IL and St. Louis, MO, to see if he’d been a member of the congregation, but none of them had any record of him.

One of the family stories that baffled us for years – decades! – was the one about their youngest son. At the age of 19, Edward and Adolph had a discussion about Edward’s future. Edward, a gifted artist, wanted to be a painter. His father wanted him to be a Lutheran minister. The debate ended in a stalemate, and Edward, dog in tow, retreated to the basement. He sketched a lovely drawing of his dog, later turning it into a painting, and in the morning, he left, disappeared for 9 years, without a word to anyone. Why on earth would a nice Jewish man want his son to be a Lutheran minister?

When I took over the Rothschild research from mom sometime around 2003, the family tree was pretty small. Reunions still consisted of mom and her 3 kids, her brother Billy, their cousin Sandra, Sandra’s son Frank, and his children, and their cousin Betty who had 6 children, all married, with lots of grandchildren. I think we numbered around 30.

Family Lore is a fabulous place to start a genealogical journey, but as new pieces of information become available, our perceptions about what might have been change, and we form new ideas. Adolph is the perfect example of this. At one of our family reunions, we all pitched in to pay for a DNA test taken by my Uncle Bill, as he was the last direct male line descendant in the family. The test came back and definitively proved we were of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Which, to our way of thinking, meant Adolph had married a nice Jewish girl. In fact, going back to family lore for the Luja family, we believed those courtiers in the Royal Court of Spain were Jews.

One of our perceptions was that Adolph was estranged from his family. This was particularly true when we realized Kathinka couldn’t have been a nice Jewish girl. This one, I’m embarrassed to say, took me far too long to figure out. In fact, it wasn’t until after Camille and I had each taken our own DNA test that we began to realize we were really off base where Kathinka was concerned. First off, while I have some DNA from the Iberian Peninsuala, Camille doesn’t have any. Instead, she has Danish genes. I do as well, but figured they came from my paternal line. This discovery prompted an email with silly lyrics set to a tune from the musical “My Fair Lady”. “Our genes from Spain came mainly from the Danes!” Told you they were silly. Then, we finally, really took a look at Kathinka’s parents, and realized there was absolutely no way they were Jewish.

Kathinka Luja, whose full name we recently discovered was Maria Elisabethe Katherine Luja, was born 18 April 1839 in Hanau, Hesse, Germany. Her parents were Christoph Luja and Christiana Heil. No, I cannot tell you why it took me nearly 20 years to look at those names and realize Jews weren’t prone to using Christ-based names, but it did. So, Kathinka wasn’t a Jew. Ok, well, that explained why Adolph was estranged from his family. And why did we think this? Because, at the time, we had found zero evidence supporting any connection between him and his family, even those living in the States.

In the beginning, based on the 1880 census, we believed that Adolph Roth/Rothschild had been born in Vöhl. Because of that, we believed he was related to the Rothschild family of Vöhl. (Thank you, Förderkreis Synagoge in Vöhl, e.V. for making SO MUCH information about that family available on your website!) We believed he and Kathinka met when she was working as a barmaid at the age of 14 and he was 24. We believed they courted for 10 years because her family didn’t approve of him. We believed he was estranged from his family, probably because of that marriage. We knew they had 4 children. We knew they had arrived in New York City on the SS Bremen on 2 July 1866. We knew they had lived in St. Petersburg, Illinois for a while before finally settling in St. Louis. We knew that they were buried there at the Valhalla Cemetery.

So, how much of what we believed was true? How much wasn’t? How and where did all the pieces fit together? And how on earth were we ever going to connect Adolph to the Rothschild family of Vöhl? Well, it’s been a process, that’s for sure. And it started with the letters mom received from her two paternal aunts, Edna Roth Bock and Eugenia Josephine “Jean” Roth Burr.

In the letters from Aunt Edna, dated in 1969 and 1970, she insisted the family name had been Rothschild, which she had learned when she was a girl corresponding via mail with her Calman cousins. But no one in the family believed her, and even her father, Edward Otto Roth/Rothschild told her she was wrong. Letters from Aunt Jean from the 1970s and 1980s would periodically refer to Aunt Edna’s belief about the family name, but it really wasn’t anything more than speculation, which is why mom was searching for Adolph Roth.

Intriguing hint from Ancestry.com

In the summer of 2016, Camille received a hint on Ancestry.com. We both felt like this was right, like this was our Adolph, but I wanted a copy of the document. So we tracked down an email address for Burg Gemünden, wrote to them, and waited. Eventually we got a reply letting us know we’d reached the church at Nieder Gemünden, but we needed the church at Burg Gemünden, and provided us with an email address. So we wrote them. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

In December of 2016, I wrote a letter and mailed it. More waiting. We were both getting frustrated.

On a cold Monday in January 2017, I felt prompted to look through mom’s files, and I stumbled across a newspaper article mom had cut out of the Salt Lake Tribune dated Sunday, May 1, 1977, entitled “The Search for Jewish Roots”. Part of the article is torn away, but it was the very last article that caught my attention: “The best place? ‘Painful though it may be to admit,’ writes Mr. Rottenberg, ‘the best records for Jewish ancestor hunters are not to be found in Jewish institutions, but in the Mormons’ genealogical library in Salt Lake City.'”

I just stared at that. And a light went on. I knew that the library closed at 5 on Mondays, and I got off work at 3:30. That gave me just enough time to drive up there, see if I could find the record. I raced downtown after work, walked into the library, went to the help desk, and asked for baptismal records for Burg Gemünden in 1860. A very nice man was there, and he helped me find the correct reel of microfilm, reminded me how to use the microfilm reader, and left me to my own devices. It didn’t take long to realize I had a problem: while I may once have been fluent in reading, speaking, and understanding German, I no longer was. Especially not with the alte schrift, the old-style handwriting. But I can still read numbers, so I ploughed ahead, figuring I could get to the general area and then ask for help. As I was getting closer, I gave the handle one last crank, and the microfilm stopped scrolling. Perfectly centered on the screen was a document, in terrible handwriting, with the name Adolph Rothschild written in the left-hand margin. I got goosebumps. I hurried back to the help desk, explained my situation, and the man who had helped me earlier came over, skimmed the document, and then exclaimed, “He was Jewish?!?” I started sobbing. I knew, I KNEW that whatever else he told me, this was MY Adolph Rothschild. The helper sat down and started reading. In brief it says, “On 1 June 1860, after much study, and going before the board to prove his understanding of Christianity, and his acceptance of the Lutheran faith, Abraham Rothschild, a Jew, born 28 December 1829 in Vöhl, son of the deceased merchant Ascher Rothschild, and his first wife Sprinza nee Sternberg, was baptized, and was, by the priest, given the Christian name of Adolph.”

Baptismal Record of Abraham Adolph Rothschild

There, in one document, was the information that linked my gg-grandfather to the Rothschild family of Vöhl. The names Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg I recognized from the Synagogue Vöhl website. I couldn’t stop crying. The helper left, I thought because of my tears, but he simply returned to hand me some tissues.

Finding this document, this missing link, was so bittersweet for me. I wanted, more than anything, to call my mom and tell her all about it. Tell her that our combined 40 years of wandering in the genealogical wilderness was over, and that Adolph had siblings — so many of them! And parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, all of it! But mom had had a stroke a number of years before, and couldn’t comprehend the information. Still, I like to think part of her understood.

I told Camille. I told my “Aunt” Betty (mom’s first cousin). I emailed the extended family. I told my husband, over and over and over. And I continue to tell it, because it’s just such an amazing story. And an absolute turning point in our research into this family.

Armed with this new information, Camille and I dove into the deep end of the genealogy pool and have been busy ever since. All the blog posts before this one, and all the rest of the blog posts for this generation, and a number of the blog posts for subsequent generations, are a direct result of this one document.

Thanks, Camille, for sharing that hint with me, and for feeling like I did that it was “our guy.”

Next up, we’ll learn more about Adolph, and separate fact from family lore.

Friedericke Rothschild and Wilhelm Eberwein: Addendum

Since my last post, I’ve been working away on the next blog post, presumably about Abraham Adolph Rothschild. I mean, that was the plan. And then this morning, I received an email response to an inquiry I’d sent to the Kirchengemeinde in Mörfelden, Hesse, Germany. Mörfelden is where Wilhelm Eberwein served the Lutheran community from 1878 until he retired in 1895, and continued to live until he died in 1899. The information I received was wonderful, and I am extremely grateful to Pastor Andrea Schätzler-Weber for getting back to me.

She provided me with a copy of Wilhelm and Friedericke’s youngest daughter’s marriage record, along with a transcription, which is great because the handwriting is a mess!

Marriage record for Louise Friedericke Franziska Fanny Eberwein and Friedrich Ludwig Konrad Georg Theodor Herman Siebert Bindewald.

What’s great about this record is that all of that writing in the margin is about their 4 children. Hilmar Ernst Wilhelm Friedrick Bindewald was born 23 August 1885, died 2 September 1893, just a week or two after his 8th birthday. Otto Hans Friedrich Bindewald was born 18 August 1886, and then disappears. I’m hoping he grew up, married, and had a bunch of kids. Unnamed Daughter Bindewald was born 19 January 1890 and lived just 2 1/2 minutes. Those three I knew about, but I was surprised to learn about Karl Gustav Hilmar Bindewald, born 26 February 1893, and died 1 August 1909, at the age of 16.

50th Jubilee of Pastor Ernst August Wilhelm Eberwein

This is the document I got really excited about because it provides a timeline of his postings as a pastor, and provided me, finally, with an answer to a question that’s been pestering me for awhile now: How did a Lutheran Pastor from Sellnrod meet a nice Jewish girl from Vöhl? Because he was in Vöhl!

Martinskirche, Vöhl, Hesse, Germany. Photo by Elizabeth Foote

Pastor Eberwein graduated from the Universitätbibliothek Gießen on 25 May 1840. His first posting was to Vöhl. From 1840 – 1849, he was the pastor, or assistant pastor (still sorting that out) of Martinskirche. Friedericke’s father, Ascher financed the construction of the building. Following the death of his first wife, Sprinza, Ascher’s younger children were sent to live with Ascher’s nephew, Ruben Rothschild, and Ruben’s wife, Helene Sternberg, who was Sprinza’s sister. While the first mention of this arrangement is in 1840, I believe the children went to live there shortly after Sprinza’s death, and probably just stayed there, even after Ascher married his second wife, Blümchen Sternberg. In late 1847, Ruben officially resigned from the Jewish Community Board, and in January of 1848, he wrote to the Grand Duke Hesse asking that his name be permanently revoked from the Jewish Community. This request was granted toward the end of the year, and in 1849, he was named guardian of a young Christian child named Andreas Kalbfleisch. This implies Ruben was Christian.

With Christianity in the home, I’m certain Pastor Eberwein visited the family often, so there was plenty of opportunity for Friedericke and Wilhelm to get to know each other, fall in love, and get married. I’m currently working on tracking down a marriage record for them, and am curious to know if they got married in Vöhl before he left to his next posting or after.

From 1849 – 1860, he was the pastor of Ulrichstein. Located in the Vogelsberg Mountains, Ulrichstein is the highest town in Hesse, Germany. It’s interesting to note that the River Ohm originates just northwest of town. Downstream is the town of Homberg/Ohm, where the Sternberg sisters — Sprinza, Helene, and Blümchen –were from.

Katharinengemeinde, Burg Gemünden, photo by Elizabeth Foote

From 1860 – 1867, Wilhelm was in Burg Gemünden. On 1 June 1860, in his official capacity as Pastor, he baptized Friedericke’s brother Abraham, and gave him the Christian name of Adolph. Camille and I were lucky to be able to spend about 3 minutes here. Had we known, we’d have taken the time to walk around to the back where there is reported to be a gorgeous rose window. Next time.

From 1867 – 1878, he was the pastor in Ober-Ramstadt. I haven’t yet been able to find out any information about this church. Ober-Ramstadt is located south and a little east of Frankfurt.

Finally, in 1878, he was appointed pastor in Mörfelden, where he served the Lutheran community until he retired in 1895, and where he and Friedericke stayed until he died in 1899. You can read more about his posting in Mörfelden in the last blog post.

And now, back to work on my first post for Adolph Rothschild. Stay safe and stay happy!

Friedericke Rothschild Eberwein, 1827 – 10 May 1911

Let me start off by saying it wasn’t until July of 2019 that we even knew about Friedericke. She wasn’t listed on the Synagogue Vöhl website, and we hadn’t seen any mention of her anywhere else. And even when we did find out about her, we gave her the wrong name. Sort of. So let me tell you how we got from not knowing about her at all, to thinking we knew who she was, to REALLY knowing who she was.

From the Synagogue Vöhl website, we knew that Ascher and his first wife Sprinza had several sons and one daughter: Rebekka. According to Synagogue Vöhl website, Rebekka left home in 1858 at the age of 26, without a trade or profession, and immigrated to Kurhessen with assets equaling 10,000 guilders. Later, through our research, we learned about Bertha Rothschild Ballin.

In June of 2019, Camille and I were still absorbing everything we’d experienced during and learned from our trip to Vöhl the previous May, as well as getting ready for our extended family reunion in July. Camille had written a fabulous interactive pageant that everyone was going to take part in. It was, without a doubt, the highlight of our reunion!

Just a side note about the reunion. The descendants of Edward Otto Roth (my great-grandfather, grandson of Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg) have gotten together for reunions every few years (give or take) since 1980. It’s been a small group, consisting of my mom and her kids, her brother, and their two cousins, Betty and Sandra, with their families. The first year we had the reunion we had all but about 3 people there. There were 17 of us. We’re not a big group, and there are zero first cousins on my generational plane, just 10 second cousins. We had a reunion in 2017, with just a handful of the EO Roth crowd and Camille. The reunion of 2019, though, had so many new faces that we needed nametags!

Rothschild Family Reunion, July 2019

So that summer, Camille was writing the pageant, and I was on this crazy research binge, and I kept finding more information. Finally, about a week or two before the reunion, Camille told me I wasn’t allowed to find any new relatives until after the reunion, because she couldn’t keep re-writing the pageant! And what prompted this proclamation? The death certificate of Siegmund Salomon Rothschild. This wasn’t a new-to-us document. This was one we’d had for awhile, but we’d relied on the bare-bones basic translation provided by ancestry.com, which provided his name, age, year of birth, date and place of death, and his parents’ names. I’d been slowly, slowing re-learning how to read German, and I went back to review that document to see if I could make out any other details. And that’s when something caught my eye. At the very top of the document, it listed the name of the informant: Pfarrer Wilhelm Eberwein.

Excerpt from death record of Siegmund Salomon Rothschild

I skimmed through the document, got down to where it listed Siegmund’s religion. Yep, it said “israelischer”. So why would a Pfarrer — Pastor — be the informant? The next line after the good pastor’s name talked about where he lived (Offenbach), and the line after that read, “und zeigte an, dass sein Schwager, der Rentiner Siegmund Rothschild…” (Translation: “and states that the “Schwager” of the retiree, Siegmund Rothschild…”) Now, part of this document is written in what I would consider standard longhand for pretty much anywhere, but part of it, like the word “Schwager” was written in old German, and it’s a bear to figure out sometimes. Because of that, it took me a crazy amount of time to figure out what that word was, because for the longest time it looked like”Vifeaayor”, and I knew that was wrong! Once I remembered that first letter was a capital S, I found a website (that I haven’t been able to find since) that listed out words for different familial relationships. I went to the S section, and found “Schwager”. Brother-in-law. Wait, what?

It was about that time that I started thinking this pastor sounded familiar, and went to the only other document I knew of that had a pastor on it: the baptism record for Adolph Rothschild. And it was signed by pastor Wilhelm Eberwein. Who was this guy? And did he realize he was completely re-writing what I thought had happened in my family? Needless to say, I got to work researching the good pastor, and I found out quite a bit.

Pastor Eberwein,

Ernst August Wilhelm Eberwein was born 8 May 1821 in Sellnrod Germany, son of Ernst Gottlieb Wilhelm Eberwein and Karoline Christiane Betz. He was baptized in Sellnrod on 24 May 1821. He studied theology at the Universitätsbibliothek Giessen, and graduated from there 25 May 1840.

We don’t as yet know how he met Friedericke, or when exactly they were married, but we’re guessing it was around 1850. This is based solely on the fact that their first child was born in 1851. Friedericke and Wilhelm had 4 daughters together. Caroline Amone Sophie Eberwein (14 June 1851 – 24 July 1916), Mathilde Eberwein (17 December 1852 – 10 Janurary 1914), Auguste Eberwein (17 June 1855 – 25 December 1940), and Louise Friedericke Franziska Fanny Eberwein Bindewald (22 December 1859 – 3 August 1908). Of the four daughters, only Louise married, and she had three children. Given how close together the births of Caroline and Mathilde are, it’s possible there was another pregnancy and/or birth between Mathilde and Auguste, as well as between Auguste and Louise. But if that kind of information exists, I haven’t found it yet.

Kirche Burg Gemünde 20 May 2019, photo by Elizabeth Foote

The family seems to have moved a number of times, based on where Wilhelm was sent for his work. The oldest three daughters were born in Ulrichstein, but Louise was born in Burg Gemünden. And it was there on 1 June 1860, that Pastor Eberwein baptized my gg-grandfather, Adolph Rothschild. According to page 342 of the Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogthums Hessen, he was still the pastor of Burg Gemünden in 1862.

We know that Willhem and Friedericke were in Offenbach in 1877, when he was the informant of his brother-in-law Siegmund’s death, and that Wilhelm served as the Parish Administrator in Erlichshausen from 1897 – 1899.

In this undated photo below, we can see Pastor Eberwein in the middle of a group of children from his parish in Mörfelden, where he was a pastor from 1878 to 1898. The caption at the bottom of the photo translates as follows: “A state class of confirmants, in front of the snow behind the vicarage in Langasse, which was destroyed a few years ago. For 90 children, 36 girls and 54 boys, a new phase of life began at that time. We do not know the year the picture was taken or the vintage. But it must have been before 1898, because in the middle is Pastor August-Wilhelm Eberwein, pastor in Mörfelden from 1878 to 1898. The Eberweinstraße was also named after Pastor Eberwein. The almost uniform clothing is interesting. All young men with dark suits, bow ties and hats, or “Hartmann”. The wreath on the head of the young ladies, the hat, and the little bouquet on the lapel of the young men were obligatory at that time.” Given the style of dresses the young women are wearing, I would date the photo to around 1890. I did reach out to the publication DKP where I found this image to ask if they had any additional information, or even the original photograph that could hopefully be scanned, but they said this had been published in issue number 175, dated July 1985, that they did not have the original image, nor a digital copy of said image, and couldn’t tell me any more about it other than what was in the caption. Still, it does give us quite a bit of information about Pastor Eberwein.

“Mörfelden Yesterday”, published by DKP

At the aforementioned reunion, we presented Pastor Eberwein as the husband of Rebekka, who went by Friedericke.

Sometime after the reunion, Camille was contacted by Bill, a fellow Vöhler Jew descendant, who had found his relative on her virtual Vöhler Jewish Cemetery at findagrave.com. Several emails and a few weeks later, Bill shared some vintage newspaper articles with us, which led us to Bertha Rothschild Ballin’s estate dispute, which led us to getting copies of the documents of that dispute, which listed all the members of Bertha’s family. I know this next part is really lengthy, but I believe it’s important to show just how detailed Bertha’s estate documentation was and how many clues we received from it. (And, no, I don’t know why I didn’t think to add this to her blog post.) It lists her beneficiaries as follows:

“… the lawful heirs of the said Bertha Ballin now living are your orator, James Otto Rothschild of Hoboken in the county of Hudson and the State of New Jersey, Isaac Rothschild of the city, county, and State of New York, Moses Rothschild of Voehl in Prussia, Adolphus Rothschild of Petersburg in the State of Illinois, brothers of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased, Sophie Einstein of St. Louis in the County of St. Louis and State of Missouri, Justus Rothschild of the city of Brooklyn in the County of Kings and State of New York, a son and daughter of Sigmund Rothschild, deceased, a brother of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased, Richard Emanuel, Otto Emanuel, Victor Emanuel and Rudolph Emanuel of Rodenberg in Hanover, the three children and husband of Rebecca Emanuel, deceased, a sister of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased, a sister of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased, Frederika Eberwein of Hamburg in Germany, Sophia Flatau of Hamburg in Germany, and Fannie Hirschhorn of Frankfurt-on-the-Main in Germany, said Frederika Eberwein being a sister of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased, and said Sophia Flatau and Fannie Hirschhorn being daughters of Dr. Saly Rothschild, deceased, a brother of the full blood of said Bertha Ballin, deceased.” The documents go on to state that James Otto and Isaac are unmarried, that Moses is married to Caroline, that Adolphus is married to Kathinka, that Sophie is married to William Einstein, that Justus is married to Julia, that Richard, Otto, Victor, and Rudolph Emanuel are all unmarried, that Frederika is married to Pastor William Eberwein, that Sophia Flatau is married to Moritz Flatau, and that Fannie Hirschhorn is married to Isaac Hirschhorn. This is a LOT of information, and confirms much of what we knew. Things we didn’t know, however, were that Justus Rothschild had a wife and that her name was Julia; that the Emanuel family was related to us at all; and that Friedericke (Frederika) and Rebekka (Rebecca) were two different people. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m sorry the family had to go through this legal dispute, but I’m so grateful they did so we could have this fantastic wealth of information!

So, to everyone who was at the reunion and took part in the pageant, Friedericke was a heretofore unknown sister, who had NOT started off in life as Rebekka, and Rebekka was not married to Pastor Eberwein, Friedericke was.

I’ll end this post the way I normally begin them. Friedericke Rothschild was the 6th child and 2nd daughter of Ascher Rothschild and his first wife Sprinza Sternberg. She was born in Vöhl in 1827 or 1828. Friedericke passed away 10 May 1911 in Friedberg, Hesse, Germany., where she had been living with her daughter, Mathilde Eberwein. She had outlived her parents, her husband, her daughter Louise, and 9 of her siblings.

Next we’re going to be learning about Adolph Rothschild, my gg-grandfather. Fair warning: his information is going to be spread out over several posts, starting where most genealogical research starts: Family Lore. Until then, be safe, be healthy, be happy.

Jacob/James Otto Rothschild, 3 February 1825 – 12 January 1893

Home for Aged and Infirm Hebrews

Jacob Otto Rothschild was born in Vöhl 3 February 1825, the 5th child and 4th son of Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg, and the grandson of Salomon Abraham Rothschild.

Jacob was 8 years old when his mother, Sprinza Sternberg Rothschild, passed away on 5 September 1833. He most certainly was placed in guardianship with the family of Ruben Rothschild and Helene Sternberg Rothschild. Ruben was his 1st cousin, and Helene was his mother’s sister.

The List of Military Service of 1845, for those born in or around 1825, states that Jacob was a merchant, that he was rich, and that he could pay for someone to serve in his place. We know the family was very well off, and that Ascher had given each of his children 3,000 guilders during his lifetime.

On 2 July 1851, Jacob submitted a Naturalization Declaration with the State of New York, listed his name as James Otto Rothschild, and his occupation as merchant. Six years later, on 19 December 1857, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. He wasted no time making travel arrangements; he applied for a passport the same day he became a naturalized citizen. His application was approved 19 January 1858. It lists his description as: Age – 32 years; Stature – 5’3″; Forehead – high; Eyes – Blue; Nose – Medium; Mouth – Small; Chin – Sharp; Hair – Dark Brown; Complexion – Fair; Face – Oval. While this is a general description, we can see that he wasn’t very tall. Except for his height, this description could almost be applied to my brother Thomas.

Both the 1860 and 1870 US Census records show “Otto Rothschild” living with Max and Bertha Ballin in Hoboken, New Jersey. The New Jersey City Directory of 1871 shows Rothschild, James O., a clerk, living at 136 Garden St., Hoboken, New Jersey. This is the address of Max and Bertha Ballin.

On 10 August 1871, Jacob applied for and was granted a passport. On this application, he listed his date of birth as 3 February 1828, his place of birth as Voehl, Prussia, and his age as 43. When I look at a document, I typically take a few moments to look at the pages before and after the one for my ancestor, just in case something catches my eye. And in this case, something did! The passport application immediately following his was for Bertha Ballin, listing her date of birth as 9 November 1824, and her place of birth as Voehl, Prussia. It was at that point that I realized there had to be a connection between the two of them, more than just tenant and landlady. A little more digging on my end, and a surprise email from Karl-Heinz with her marriage information stating she was the daughter of Ascher and Sprinza, and we made the connection they were siblings.

Documentation doesn’t always show up in chronological order. In fact, it often comes all out of order, and one leads to another, and another, and another, until you have a jumble that needs to be organized. The next document I found for him was the 1880 census which showed James O. Rothschild living in St. Louis, Missouri. His occupation was listed as bookkeeper, and his birthplace, and that of his parents, was Voehl. It shows his relationship as widowed, and that he was no relation to the head of household. His profession as bookkeeper allowed me to find him in the St. Louis City Directories as far back as 1875.

My gg-grandfather, Adolph Rothschild, was Jacob’s brother, and I had wondered what had taken him and his family from Illinois, where they had initially settled, to St. Louis. It occurred to me that having a brother there, one who possibly talked about good financial prospects, would be good incentive.

A few years ago, my cousin, friend, and research partner Camille Calman found Andy Selig on Family Tree DNA. Camille is a whiz at understanding centimorgans, which is an absolute blessing. Andy told us he was descended from Siegmund Salomon Rothschild, through Siegmund’s daughter Sophie. Daughter? Daughter?!? What daughter? Andy provided SO much information, and many, many fabulous photographs. And told us Sophie had married William Einstein and settled in St. Louis. I got goosebumps, hopped on ancestry, and went back to that 1880 census for Jacob. Sure enough, he was living at 2707 Morgan Street, the home of William and Sophie Einstein. Love it when the dots connect!

Jacob’s sister Bertha passed away in Hoboken on 15 January 1882. I don’t know if Jacob was already living back in New Jersey at that time or not, but I do know legal issues — the resolution of Bertha’s estate — kept him there.

Bertha’s will is a gloriously detailed document which lists out all of her beneficiaries. She made it clear her estate was to be divided evenly between her siblings, or, in the case they were deceased, her nieces and nephews. Unfortunately, the Seidenberg brothers who had administered the estate of Bertha’s husband Max, took it upon themselves to seize the property, under the pretense of being executors, and Jacob along with his brother Isaac, spearheaded a court case that went on for months. Eventually, thanks in no small part to Jacob’s tenacity, the courts agreed the Seidenbergs had no business being involved, and allowed Jacob and Isaac to sell the disputed property and distribute the proceeds evenly among the beneficiaries, as was outlined in Bertha’s will.

Jacob’s sister Rebecca passed away in 1883, and his half-sister Auguste passed away in 1890. I’ve often wondered what it would be like, living so far away from where you were born, to receive notification that a loved one had passed. By the time you found out, it would be too late to do anything more than send condolences to the family, and mourn their loss. Even if notification came by telegram, there would be no feasible way to get there in time for the funeral. Would there be any form of resolution, or just resignation and acceptance? Living that far apart, I’m sure every time they said goodbye, they wondered if it would be the last time.

Jacob spent his final days at the Home for Aged and Infirm Hebrews in New York City (see the picture above), and passed away there on 12 January 1893. The president of the facility at the time was a Julius Ballin. While I haven’t, as yet, been able to find a connection between him and Jacob’s brother-in-law Max, I have a hard time believing it’s a mere conicidence.

Jacob’s death certificate listed his name as James Otto Rotheschild, a 69 year old single white male, who was buried 15 January 1893 at Mount Neboh Cemetery. It lists his occupation as merchant, his country of origin as Germany, and his parents as Ascher and Sophia Rotteschild.

Next, we’ll learn what we can about Jacob’s sister Friedericke and her husband, Pastor Eberwein.

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you well, and pray that your days are filled with joy.

A Life Well Lived

I had promised the next post would be about Ascher Rothschild’s son, Jacob, but life never quite goes as planned. My mother recently passed away, and while I plan to eventually write a more detailed blog post about her, today, I thought I’d share her obituary.

On 17 March 2022, our brave, beautiful, talented, intrepid wife and mother chose to transition from this life to the next. It seems fitting that this avid gardener and lover of cats chose the feast day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the Patron Saint of Cats and Gardeners.

Jeannette Elizabeth Roth Woolf was born in Los Angeles, California 24 May 1936, the oldest child and only daughter of Carroll William Roth and Elizabeth Cleveland Quarles. She was a Campfire Girl as an adolescent, teenager, and young adult, and spent every summer for 13 years at Camp Waswagan, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A gifted artist, Jeannette chose to pursue a career as a Medical Illustrator, and attended the Medical College of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. To become a certified Medical Illustrator, one is required to take 3 years of medical school and have an impressive art portfolio. While there, she met fellow medical student Thomas Watson “Emory” Price, Jr. They were married in June 1962. Jeannette graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in June 1963 with a Masters Degree in Medical Arts.

As a Medical Illustrator, surgeons could describe new procedures they were pioneering, such as arthroscopic knee surgery, and new procedures for rotator cuff repair. With those descriptions, she was able to create a series of illustrations accurately depicting the procedure and/or the new instruments that would be needed as well. Jeannette also excelled as a watercolor artist, with her primary subjects being landscapes and old barns. She loved taking watercolor classes, and learning to improve her skills.

Tom and Jeannette were the parents of three children: Elizabeth, Thomas, and William. During their marriage, they lived in Byromville, GA, Cottage Grove, OR, and Montezuma, GA. Widowed at the age of 39, she moved 3 children, 2 cats, 4 kittens, and three large goldfish across country from Georgia to Utah, bought a house, turned part of the yard into a vegetable garden, and became as fiercely independent and self-sufficient as she could. Despite the challenges and financial hardships she faced, she introduced her children to many cultural events, was able to send each of them to Germany as part of an exchange program, and raised her children to be responsible, adventurous adults.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jeannette was actively involved in church activities, and delighted in sharing her love of nature, gardening, music, and genealogy with the members of her ward.

One day, shortly after her children had all left home, John Woolf knocked on her door and commissioned her to cross-stitch a picture for him of a skep beehive. He began stopping by periodically to check the progress, then more and more often until he was stopping in daily. By the time it was completed, they were madly in love. They were sealed for Time and Eternity in the Provo Temple on 28 July 1988. Everyone who knew them could see and feel the love radiating from them. John and Jeannette loved participating with the Pioneer Heritage Company. With her attention to detail – she had been a costume mistress in her high school drama department – Jeannette ensured their costumes and activities were accurate to the period they were portraying. For many years, she was a docent at the BYU Museum of Art, and was particularly fond of the Egyptian exhibits, the blown glass of Dale Chihuly, and the paintings of C. C. A. Christensen. During her tenure with the BYU MOA, she received perhaps her greatest challenge: a thread-by-thread restoration to restore the Minerva Tichert famous “orange scarf” used in so many of Tichert’s early paintings.

Both John and Jeannette were avid gardeners, and took great pride in their yard. With its split-rail fence, large trees, immaculate flower and vegetable beds, and goldfish pond, it was the talk of the town, and they received Provo City citations and District recognition for their yard and garden.

John and Jeannette were dedicated and devoted to community. John was the first president of Habitat for Humanity in Utah County, and both of them were instrumental in helping create the Utah County affiliate for Habitat for Humanity. For years, on the first Sunday of every month, they would travel to downtown Salt Lake City to feed the homeless “under the viaduct” near Pioneer Park. For years, Jeannette also volunteered in the Deseret Industries Humanitarian Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helping create, assemble, and package supplies for worldwide relief operations. With her medical background, Jeannette was a volunteer for the American Red Cross during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Following her stroke in January 2011, John has been by her side almost constantly, caring for her in every way imaginable, never letting her forget his undying love for her. Her children are so very grateful for his example of unconditional love and compassion.

Jeannette is survived by her husband John; her children Elizabeth Foote (James Foote), Thomas Price (Andie Grace), William Price (Jeni Austin); her stepchildren John Harper, Timberlyn, Sarah, and Kristen Woolf; her granddaughters Maren Christensen, Chloe Tolman, and Jamie Grace; her grandsons Nolan, Nathan, and Jason Foote; and her brother, Bill Roth; as well as her cousins, Betty Thompson and Sandra Asquith.

Jeannette will be interred on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 at 10:30 a.m. at the Mount Olivet Cemetery, 1342 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to the charity of your choice. 

So often when we read an obituary, or when we talk of a loved one’s recent passing, we focus on the aspects that made them almost saint-like. I’ve been remembering mom’s silliness, her love of painting, and her passion for having everything “just so”. Here are some examples:

The first exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art was on the Etruscans, the civilization that preceded Ancient Rome. Mom suggested everyone dress in period appropriate clothing for the first week, and the director agreed. Rather than risk people showing up in poorly draped bed sheets, mom volunteered to make all the costumes. I remember her telling me, with unveiled disgust in her voice, “The men wore the robes over their shirts and ties, with their suit pants sticking out. It looked so DORKY!!!”

She and John were shingling the roof once, and a friend helped them for a few hours. After the friend left, mom, from 20 feet away, said, “John, that shingle, 3rd row up and 5 tabs in, is 1/16th inch off. You need to fix it, or it’s going to throw the whole line off as we proceed.” John tried arguing with her that it wasn’t off, that no one would notice, and that there was no way she could see it from that far away. To prove his point, he measured. It was 1/16th inch off. He fixed it.

When I went to visit Vöhl in 2019, I wanted to take part of mom with me to leave there. After discussing it with my brothers and John, we settled on one of her small paintings. It wasn’t until I was presenting it to the Förderkreis Synagoge in Vöhl, e.V., that I realized she had painted it in 1999, the same year the Förderkreis was founded. If she hadn’t been incapacitated from her stroke, she’d have beat me to the airport to go on that trip. Or at least picked which painting she wanted to send.

Karl-Heinz Stadtler holding mom’s painting in the erstwhile Synagogue in Vöhl. It has since been framed and is hanging on display there.

God-speed, mom. Until we meet again

Bertha Rothschild Ballin — Addendum

Bertha’s date of birth presents a conundrum. While it’s perfectly believable that she and older brother Selig are nearly 2 years apart, the problem is that she could not be born 9 November 1824 and her next sibling, Jacob, be born 3 February 1825.

As I sat down to start working on Jacob’s blog post, I realized I have 10 different sources, ranging from census records, death records, passport applications, ships manifests, and all points in between, in which he consistently puts his date of birth as 3 February 1825. By contrast, documentation for Bertha shows birth years of 1824, 1825, 1826, 1830, and 1838. Which of those is correct? To be honest, I don’t think any of them are.

In looking at the birthdates of the rest of her siblings, the only way Bertha fits into the family is if she was born in 1823. That makes her 11 months younger than Selig, and 15 months older than Jacob.

I do not have a single scrap of documentation suggesting her birthyear is 1823. But I know it can’t be any of the other years that she suggested it was. So, in my records at least, I’m changing her date of birth to 9 November 1823.

Bertha Rothschild Ballin, 9 November 1823 – 15 January 1882

Ancestry.com, National Archives and Records Administration

Bertha Ballin was the fourth child and first daughter born to Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg, and the granddaughter of Salomon Abraham Rothschild. Like the rest of her siblings, she was born in Vöhl, Hesse, Germany.

Bertha was an enigma for quite awhile. We found census records of Jacob James Otto Rothschild living with her and her husband, then living with her after her husband’s death. I assumed he was a border. And then I found a US Passport application for him, and one for her on the next page. The Passport application, dated 10 August 1871, gave me a date of birth, 9 November 1824. It also listed her place of birth as Voehl Prussia. That DEFINITELY caught my attention, and had me questioning their relationship. At this point in my research, I had heard that Ascher and Sprinza had a daughter named Rebecca, to whom he had presumably given 10,000 guilders so she could go off and make her way in the world. Could this be the missing sister? Maybe. I already knew that people in this family can be born with one name and end up with a dozen others. Or could it be another sister? Shortly after finding this, I received an email from Karl-Heinz Stadtler in Vöhl telling me he’d found a record of Bertha Rothschild, daughter of Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg, married to Max Ballin in Gießen. Ok. Another sister. Cool!

According to the records from Giessen, she was the wife of Meier Max Ballin, a fabric merchant, and had been accepted as a citizen of Giessen 11 February 1847.  At that time, it indicated that she had been married to Meier at the age of 22, which would have been in 1846.  This corresponds with her birthdate of 1824.

Boston Eagle 7 November 1854

The next mention we have of Bertha’s husband Max is from a news clipping of the Boston Eagle dated 7 November 1854. Apparently Max was involved in a lawsuit where he was accused — and found guilty — of putting fake labels on an inferior product and trying to pass it off as high-quality champagne. I especially like the argument his attorney gives for why he shouldn’t serve time.

Given that both Bertha and James Otto applied for passports on the same day, with the intent of traveling to Germany, I like to think they were going home to visit the family.

The next mention we have of Bertha’s husband, Max, is from a small article in the Boston Eagle, dated 7 November 1854. By this time, Max was a wine merchant, and was involved in a lawsuit where he was charged with putting fake labels on an inferior product and passing them off as high-quality champagne. I love this brief news clipping, especially the reasoning his attorney gives for not sentencing him. So, not the straightest arrow in the quiver, old Max.

The next we hear of Bertha is from a ship’s manifest for the SS Hammonia, which departed Hamburg on 22 February 1862. I’m assuming she was coming back to New York after a visit to family. She traveled first class, listed her age as 36, which puts her birth year at 1826.

Max was born 14 March 1813 in Rotenburg an der Fulda, Hesse, Germany, the son of Nathan Ballin and Betty Wertheim. He declared his intent to become a US Citizen on 29 October 1853, listing his residence as New York and his profession as wine merchant. Max died from Consumption on 29 October. He left a very detailed — and interesting — will. It [1] was filed with the court on 9 November 1869.  In it, he lists Joseph and Samuel Seidenberg as his executors.  He instructed them to invest the sum of $10,000 in whatever manner they saw fit, and that the interest derived was to be given to his wife Bertha.  Additionally, he left her all the furniture, portraits, kitchenware and household goods.  Another $10,000 was to be invested, with the interest to go to his mother, Betty Ballin, living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  There were a couple of smaller bequests, but he left the bulk of his estate to be divided equally among his siblings, and/or his nieces and nephews.  Max states that he was 62 at the time he wrote his Will.

The executors, Joseph and Samuel Seidenberg, took their responsibility quite seriously, and I get the feeling they didn’t really like Bertha. On 3 April 1870, they filed a detailed inventory of Max’s estate with the court. To say it was extensive would be an understatement. It listed every article that was in the home from tablecloths to carpets to bedding to furniture. And it was all given a value. A second page lists everyone to whom Max had lent money, with the amount due listed in one of the following three columns: Good, Doubtful, Bad. There were 4 members of the Rothschild family listed:

Isaac Rothschild, New York, $835.96, Doubtful

Justus Rothschild, Wien (Vienna), $39, Good

Jas. O. Rothschild, Hoboken, $330, Doubtful

Ad. Rothschild (no location), $87.86, Doubtful

Justus Rothschild is the son of Bertha’s oldest brother, Siegmund. I believe Ad. Rothschild to be Adolph Rothschild, Bertha’s next youngest brother. That no location is listed for him doesn’t surprise me, as he moved a lot.

On 28 June 1871, Bertha filed a petition with the Chancery Court of New Jersey, contesting her husband’s Will in general, and the accounting practices of the executors in particular. But a ruling dated 21 October 1871 stated the Will would stand, as would the value of the estate as determined by the executors.

The 1880 census shows Bertha living at 127 Garden Street in Hoboken, New Jersey, the same address where she and Max had lived since moving to America. They often had boarders living with them in the large townhouse. While her brother, James Otto, wasn’t living with her in 1880 — at that time he was living with their niece Sophie Rothschild Einstein and her family in St. Louis — she did have Rafael and Lily Palomina of Cuba living with her. Also per the 1880 census, she listed her age as 42. Hey, I get it. We women reach a certain point where we are in denial of how old we really are, and Bertha was no exception.

On 15 January 1882, after 6 days of illness, Bertha passed away from Smallpox, with “disease of the heart” as a contributing factor. She was buried in Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen, New Jersey. Her death certificate lists her age as 57, which lines up with her 1824 birthdate.

I found the following information about the cemetery at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoboken_Cemetery: The Hoboken Cemetery is located at 5700 Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen, New Jersey, in the New Durham section. It was owned by the City of Hoboken. The Flower Hill Cemetery borders it on two sides. Although one may have the sense of a well-groomed and cared for cemetery when first arriving at Hoboken Cemetery, just a short walk in any direction and you will find a different story. The Secaucus Junction was built on land that was partially the Hudson County Burial Grounds. The exhumed bodies were to be re-interred at the Hoboken Cemetery, but that was canceled when the cemetery was found to have been recycling older full graves that did not have tombstones, and selling them as virgin plots. The cemetery said it has no record of any bodies being buried in those plots.

Ordinarily, if the person and their spouse are both dead, then I call the blog post complete and I move on. But Bertha is a different story. It turns out, she held the key to finding out the names of all of her siblings.

When Camille and I went to Vöhl in 2019, she took pictures of all the legible headstones in the old Jewish cemetery, and created a virtual cemetery at findagrave.com. A few months later, she was contacted by a man named Bill in New Jersey. He’s descended from the Jews of Vöhl, had found his ancestor’s headstone, which he didn’t know existed, and had reached out to Camille. Before long, she looped me in on their emails, and the three of us had some great exchanges. One day, Bill sent us an email, stating he’d done a quick search for Bertha, and had found a notice in the newspaper about her estate, listing a number of different people, namely: Isaac Rothschild, James Otto Rothschild, Adolph Rothschild, Sophie Rothschild Einstein, Justus Rothschild, Selig Rothschild, Friedericke Rothschild and Ernst Wilhelm Eberwein, Adolph Rothschild and Kathinka Luja Rothschild, Moritz Rothschild and Karolina Lieber Rothschild, and Rudolph, Otto, Viktor, and Richard Emmanuel. Camille and I were baffled. We knew all the other names by now, figured Friedericke was the elusive Rebecca. But who was the Emmanuel family? We started digging. And finally found the elusive Rebecka Rothschild, who hadn’t run off to seek her fortune, but who had married Rudolph Emanuel and became the mother of 3 sons.

That newspaper article made me curious, and I reached out the Chancery Court of New Jersey, got a copy of all the court papers related to the newspaper article. Apparently, Bertha left her estate to her siblings and, if they were deceased, to her sibling’s children. She listed spouses names for everyone. It was an absolute treasure trove of information! But remember Joseph and Samuel Seidenberg, the executors of her husband’s estate? Well, somehow they made themselves the trustees of Bertha’s estate and were reluctant to hand things over to the rightful heirs. Her brother James Otto Rothschild was supposed to be the primary executor of her estate. Since the Seidenbergs weren’t cooperating, the family banded together and filed a petition to gain possession of the estate. The battle went on for months before the family finally won. When all was said and done, they divided an estate worth about $3000. After all the court fees, I’m not sure there was much left.

I’m sorry the family had to go through this. But I’m grateful the family went through this, because the 80 plus pages turned out to be a genealogist’s dream! A positive well-spring of information. Here is a list of all the family members who are mentioned:

James Otto Rothschild, brother; Isaac Rothschild, brother; Moses Rothschild, brother, and his wife Caroline Rothschild; Adolphus Rothschild, brother, and his wife Kathinka Rothschild; Sophie Einstein, niece, and her husband William Einstein; Justus Rothschild, nephew, and his wife Julia Rothschild; Richard Emanuel, nephew; Otto Emanuel, nephew; Victor Emanuel, nephew; Rudolph Emanuel, husband of deceased sister Rebecca Emanuel; Friederick Eberwein, sister, and her husband Pastor William Eberwein; Sophie Flatau, niece, and her husband Moritz Flatau; Fannie Hirschhorn, niece, and her husband Isaac Hirschhorn.

And that is the story of Bertha Rothschild Ballin. Bless you, Bertha, for all the information you provided us!

Next up is Jacob James Otto Rothschild. Until then, everyone stay safe!

After careful consideration, I’ve changed her year of birth from 1824 to 1823. Please see the Addendum blog post for the explanation.


[1] Author: New Jersey. Surrogate’s Court (Hudson County); Probate Place: Hudson, New Jersey

Dr. Selig “Sali” Rothschild, 6 December 1822 – 6 November 1875

Selig “Saly” Rothschild was the 3rd child and 3rd son of Ascher Rothschild and his first wife Sprinza Sternberg, and the grandson of Salomon Abraham Rothschild. He was born in Vöhl, like the rest of his siblings, on 6 December 1822.

We know very little of his childhood, only that his mother Sprinza passed away on 5 September 1833, a few months before his 11th birthday. Due to his age, he was likely one of the children placed under the guardianship of his cousin Ruben Rothschild, and Ruben’s wife Helene Sternberg, who was his mother’s sister. He did not stay there long. From 1835 – 1840 he attended the Alte Landesschule in Korbach. Korbach is only about a 15 minute (14 km) away from Vöhl, but in 1835, travel would have been by foot, horse, or wagon, so it stands to reason that he resided in Korbach for the bulk of this time. After 1840, he attended the Gymnasium in Bündigen, where his faith was listed as “Jude”.

Note: within the German education system, a Gymnasium (pronounced with a hard “G”), is a state-maintained secondary school that prepares a student for higher education. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gymnasium-German-school)

One of the things I truly appreciate about the information found in the biographies at www.synagoge-voehl.de is the rich detail that has been found about individuals, particularly military records. From my observations, typically a young man became eligible for military service at age 20. The military list of the year 1842 states, “Without occupation; rich.” Rich individuals could usually pay someone else to take their place in military service. And the “Contingent list for the district of Vöhl for Completing the Field Troops of 1843” states, “Rothschild, Selig. Residence: Vöhl. Had not appeared at the muster in 1841. And it has been determined that 1842 was his first march.”

While working on this blog post, I came across this little snippet of information on books.google.com. It’s an excerpt from the book “Großherzoglich-Hessisches Regierungsblatt: auf d. Jahr 1847”, page 185. It states, “Doctorates at the Gr. Landes-Universität Gießen. The doctoral degree in medicine, surgery and obstetrics received: 2) on March 26th (1847) Sali Rothschild from Vöhl.”

“Selig” was a popular name with the Rothschild family, and most of them had the nickname of “Sali” or “Saly”, these being interchangeable. Ruben and Helene, for example, had a son named Selig who became a doctor. Because of that, there are a number of references in the biographies from Vöhl that start with “This or another Selig Rothschild”. Such as the one from 22 October 1852 which states, “He or another Selig Rothschild — there are several — received a housing permit, which allowed him to reside in Darmstadt for 1 year.”

photo from Staadtarchiv Fulda

Selig married Bertha Jacobson on 16 February 1853 in the beautiful and impressive synagogue in Fulda, which is the town where Bertha was born on 29 July 1833 to Jacob Jacobsen and Adelheid Homberger. The couple settled in Vöhl, and their daughters were born there; Sophie on 11 November 1854 and Steffanie (also written as Staffanie, known as Fanny) on 8 June 1856.

Selig’s father, Ascher, passed away 13 January 1859. It is believed he became the guardians of his 3 half-sisters, Auguste, Mathilde, and Adelheid. What is known is that sometime before 1861, Selig and his family, along with his half-sisters, moved to Mainz. In Mainz, his half-sisters soon found husbands and were married. Adelheid was first, marrying Julius Isaac Lenneberg in Mainz on 7 October 1861, and Dr. Sali Rothschild was one of the witnesses, listed his relationship to the bride as half-brother.

On 7 July 1862, Dr. Sali Rothschild attended the birth of his niece, Johanna Magdelena Lenneberg, on 12 May 1863, he attended the birth of his nephew, Alfred Lenneberg, and on 18 February 1866, he attended the birth of his nephew, Paul Wolfgang Lenneberg. It’s interesting to note he did not attend nor announce the birth of his niece, Clara Lenneberg, born 28 October 1864. Nor does he seem to have attended or announced the births of his other nieces and nephews through his sisters Auguste, who married Heinrich Calman, and Mathilde, who married Heinrich Bayerthal. This may be because Auguste and Mathilde converted to Christianity at the time of their respective marriages, though this is purely speculation. To be honest, for years I thought the family as a whole had little to do with those members who had converted, but recently I’ve begun to believe that was not the case at all.

Selig and Bertha’s daughter Sophie (11 November 1854 – 13 December 1922) married Moritz Flatau (3 July 1840 – 9 July 1899) were the parents of Elisabeth Flatau, Carl Stefan Flatau, and Hans Ernst Flatau.

Their daughter Steffanie (8 Jun 1856 – 6 Mar 1891) married Isaak Isidor Hirschhorn (25 March 1851 – 28 March 1925) were the parents of Ernst Sally Hirschhorn.

Dr. Selig “Sali” Rothschild passed away in Mainz on 6 November 1875, just one month shy of his 53rd birthday. One of the informants on his death record is Isfrid Jacobson, his brother-in-law.

Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriage and Deaths, 1798-1875

In family history research, one piece of information often leads the researcher in unexpected directions. For example, when my cousin Camille found the death record of Bertha Jacobson Rothschild, and shared it with me, we wondered who the informant was and why Bertha was in Hamburg. The informant was Elisabeth Flatau, a name that was, at that time, unfamiliar to us. It didn’t take much digging to discover Elisabeth was Bertha’s granddaughter. That led us to Elisabeth’s father, paternal grandparents, and siblings. Then another look at Selig’s death record, and recognizing the last name of one of the informants, led to information about Bertha’s parents and siblings. It’s kind of like ripples in a pond. It’s one of the things I love most about genealogical research.

Bertha far outlived her husband, passing away in Hamburg on 4 January 1913.

Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Our next post will be about the first daughter born to the Ascher Rothschild family: Bertha. She definitely had an interesting life, and led us to finding so many unexpected family things! Until then, stay safe, and hug those you love and hold dear.

Isaac Rothschild, 23 June 1820 – 26 December 1897

This is the second of two posts about “What’s in a Name” or, more appropriately perhaps, “A Tale of Two Isaacs”. The first post concerns Isaak Rothschild 1799 – 1875. The two men were first cousins, both being grandsons of Salomon Abraham Rothschild. This Issac is the son of Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg. A lot of the information concerning Issac comes from the Synagogue Vöhl website. I’ll be sure to share where the other documentation comes from.

Isaac was the second child and second son born to Ascher Rothschild and Sprinza Sternberg. He was born 23 June 1820 in Vöhl. His name is sometimes written “Isaak”, sometimes “Isaac”, and sometimes “Isai”. Because of this, a number of the references to this Isaac were attributed to his cousin Isaak, and vice versa. It took a while to sort it all out.

On 5 September 1833, his mother, Sprinza Sternberg, passed away, likely due to complications in childbirth. Following her passing, the younger children were placed in the care of their father’s nephew, Ruben Rothschild, and Ruben’s wife, Helene Sternberg, who was Sprinza’s sister.

On 14 October 1842, in the Civic records of Vöhl, Isaac Rothschild is listed as “reclaimed citizen; Place of Worship – Vöhl; Occupation: Businessman; NOTE: Failed.” This indicates he’d moved away from Vöhl for awhile and had returned, and that his business, whatever it was, had failed. While it doesn’t indicate whether he worshipped with the Lutherans or the Jews, it was likely the latter. It is in this record that he also provides his date of birth as 23 June 1820.

Isaac married Friedericke Dilsheimer on 21 October 1847 in Offenbach. This information was written in the margin of the birth record for their daughter, Sophie. Friedericke was born 28 Jan 1824 in Aschaffenburg, the youngest child and daughter of Löb Dilsheimer and Geliche Wolf.

Shortly after their marriage, Isaac and Friedericke moved to Frankfurt. They were the parents of three children. Their first daughter, Sophie, was no doubt named for Isaac’s deceased mother Sprinza (aka Sprinz, Spring, Iris, Bertha, and Sophie). She was born 9 July 1848. Sadly, she only lived 7 days, and passed away on 16 July 1848, in Frankfurt. Their second child and only son, Gustave Gottfried Rothschild, was born in Frankfurt 16 May 1849. Their third child, Maria Rothschild, was born 29 May 1851 in Frankfrut.

After this, the trail for Isaac goes cold, and it’s easy to understand how he and the other Isaak were assumed to be the same person. Friedericke and the children also disappeared for awhile, but I finally found them. In 1875, the “Adressbuch von Frankfurt am Main mit Bockenheim, Bomheim”, found at books.google.com, lists: “Rothschild, Friedericke, gb. Dilsheimer, Wwe.” Rothschild, Friedericke, nee Dilsheimer, Widow. This led me to believe Isaac had died sometime before 1875. But then I found the marriage record for daughter Maria, who married Maximilian Sander of Frankfurt on 30 May 1870. Sadly, the marriage was short-lived, as Maximilian passeed away 27 October 1871. It’s interesting to note that Maxilian’s parents were Alexander Sander and Lenchen Dilsheimer. Lenchen and Friedericke were sisters. So, first cousins got married, which is a little close for comfort in my book. But what really caught my attention is the marriage entry states the bride’s father, Isaac Rothschild, is living “in New York in Amerika.” Well, isn’t that interesting. What’s he doing there?

According to his US Naturalization records, Isaac arrived in New York City in September 1856. He appeared before the Court of Common Pleas on 25 April 1877 and declared his intent to become a US Citizen. His request was granted 29 September 1884. I was able to find Isaac Rothschild listed in several City Directories for New York City between 1880 – 1892. He ran a leather goods import/export business. His home address on East 52nd St wasn’t in a very upscale neighborhood, but it was close to the docks and the warehouses, so likely convenient for his work. Isaac’s bid to become a Naturalized Citizen was approved on 29 September 1884. He listed his address as 351 E 52nd Street, the same address as Isaac Rothschild the leather merchant listed in the city directories, confirming this is the same person.

Maria married Emmanuel Mayer on 24 December 1874, in Paris, France. She was yet again listed as the daughter of Isaac Rothschild and Friedericke Dilsheimer. Maria and Emmanuel were the parents of Alice Leonie Mayer (1877 – 1944).

On 15 January 1882, his sister Bertha Rothschild Ballin passed away in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is just across the Hudson River from New York City. When Bertha’s husband, Max Ballin, passed away a few years earlier, his will listed his executors as having control over the estate, and indicated his wife would receive a stipend. Because of that will, the same executors were to disperse Bertha’s estate to her beneficiaries. They did not. And so the beneficiaries, led by her brothers James Otto Rothschild and Isaac Rothschild, both of New York City, filed suit in the New Jersey Surrogates Court of Hudson County. This 80+ page document turned out to be a fantastic piece of information, as Bertha lists all of her living siblings, as well as the children of those siblings who were deceased.

From the France Archives we learn Isaac’s son Gustave married Hélène Clémence Noémie Lévy in Paris on 24 May.  “Marriage contract between Gustave Rothschild, born in Frankfurt (Germany), German subject, commission merchant, rue d’Hauteville n ° 38, son of Isaac Rothschild, also a merchant, residing in New York (USA), and Frédérique Dilsheimer, rue Lafayette n ° 106, and Hélène-Clémence-Noémie Lévy, rue du Faubourg Montmartre n ° 30, daughter of Bernard Lévy and Sarah Davis.  Further information:  Other act following May 24, 1886: filing of the marriage certificate and publication papers. Among the property, the future husband brings in marriage the rights in the partnership between him and Wilhem Dilsheimer, for the operation of a house freight forwarder in Paris, rue d’Hauteville No. 38, under the company name ‘Dilsheimer and Rothschild.’ From this record, we see that Friedericke (aka Frederique) is alive and living in Paris.  The William Dilsheimer listed here is Gustave’s 1st cousin.  He was the son of Friedericke’s brother Joseph Dilsheimer and his wife Rosalie Eskeles. Gustave and Helene were the parents of Henri Leon Rothschild (1887 – ?), and Marthe Sarah Rothschild Wolf (1889 – ?).

In 1892, Isaac retired from the import/export of leather goods, and turned the business over to his son Gustave. Upon his retirement, he moved to 51 St, Marks Place in New York, a boarding house run by Mrs. Fritsch. It was there, on 26 December 1897, that Isaac passed away. His death made the New York Times, and reads as follows:

ISAAC ROTHSCHILD DEAD.

An Old-Time Leather Merchant Suffocated in His Room by Gas – Familiar East Side Figure.

Isaac Rothschild, seventy-nine years old, of 51 St. Mark’s Place, was found dead in his room yesterday, having been killed by breathing illuminating gas, which had escaped from an unlighted gas stove.  It is believed by his friends that death was the result of accident and not suicide, as reported by the police

Mr. Rothschild had occupied a room on the top floor of the house since he retired from the business of a leather merchant five years ago.  When he retired, he turned over his capital to his son, Gustave, on the condition that the latter would support him during his declining years.  The son opened an establishment in Paris and sent his father a liberal allowance monthly.

About two years ago, Mrs. Helen Fritsch put a gas stove in the old man’s room.  One night, however, through carelessness he left the unlighted burners open and was found unconscious on the floor.  He was with difficulty resuscitated.  That accident happened not long after the stove was placed in his room.  Then the gas stove was replaced by an oil stove, but the old man complained the other day that the oil stove smelled badly and he wished the gas stove back again.  His desire was acceded to, and the gas stove was replaced on Christmas Day, with particular warning that he use it properly.  He said that he understood its use, and would be very careful.

Mr. Rothschild retired to rest about 10 o’clock on Saturday night, after having passed a pleasant hour with others in the house.  At 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, a servant tried to get into his room, but found the door locked.  She also smelled the odor of gas, and informed Mrs. Fritsch.  Others then went to the room and forced open the door, to find the aged occupant of the apartment lying dead on the floor, with volumes of gas flowing from the burner in the stove, which had been left unlighted.  It was evident that the stopcock had been turned off and on again.  Mr. Rothschild was in his night clothing.  He had apparently gone to bed and had been awakened by the sensation of suffocation.  With an effort, it is supposed, he arose and fell unconscious while attempting to make his way out.

His friends scout the idea of suicide, for they say that he was a man of contented mind.  He was a familiar figure in the neighborhood and a favorite of the children in the entire vicinity.

Mr. Rothschild’s wife died many years ago.  Besides his son, a married daughter lives in Paris.His death certificate indicates he’s buried at Linden Hill Cemetery. My cousin Camille, who lives in New York City, took an outing to Linden Hill Cemetery, and could not find him anywhere. While she was there, she met a kind Samaritan who informed her Linden Hill has two halves: the Jewish half, and the Methodist half. A little bit of metaphorical digging, and she found him, in an unmarked grave in the Methodist half. Without relatives nearby — his closest living relative would have been his younger brother, Adolph, who was living in St. Louis, Missouri at that time — it’s believed that his landlady, Mrs. Fritsch, or some others of his acquaintance, arranged for the burial.

As for Friedericke, like Mark Twain, the rumors of her demise were greatly exaggerated. She lived the remainder of her life in Paris, outliving her husband by nearly 6 years. She died 10 August 1903 in Montmorency, Val-d’Oise, Ile-de-France, France. She is buried in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.

Next time we’ll learn about Isaac’s brother, Dr. Selig “Saly” Rothschild. Until then, stay safe.

Siegmund Salomon Rothschild, 17 July 1818 – 7 September 1877

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!


	
Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

Adventures in Genealogy