Andrew Greene (530nm330hz) wrote,
Andrew Greene

Genealogy: Wertheim!


Excuse me, I'm really excited, because today I found THREE of the things that have been high up on my genealogy goal list, which helped me reach five of my goals.

As I'm sure I've mentioned, I have been stymied by the disappearance, as it were, of my great-grandmother Pearl Wertheim. I have her in the census from 1905, 1915 (not pictured), and 1920, in each case living with my great-grandfather, her son Leo. And then she disappeared.

Part of what frustrated me is that I had a note from my grandmother saying that Pearl lived to nearly 100, and she was born in 1840 or so, so I was looking at the 1930s. And when I asked around, older cousins said "Yeah, she went to live with so-and-so" but that never panned out.

And part of what frustrated me was her name. I knew her, from my grandmother's remeniscences, as "Pearl Wertheim." But in these census records, she's clearly listed as "Pauline."

And then other names started trickling in. I found marriage certificates and death certificates from Leo's siblings where Pearl's name was listed as "Pesa" or "Pessel", and her maiden name was given as "Falk" or "Fowlik".

I finally decided to cast my net a little wider. I used Steve Morse's excellent front-end on the Italian Genealogical Group database to look for any death certificate issued after 1920 for a woman with the last name Wertheim born in the early 1840s. And there were two plausible chocies:

Bessie P. Wertheim, 7 Apr 1923
Rebecca Wertheim, 12 Dec 1928

The first seemed more likely (since the 1925 census had Leo with no Pauline) but I decided to send away for both from the Familysearch Photoduplication service.

Well, today they arrived, and as soon as I opened Bessie's, I knew I had the right one:

* The address is 24 Patchen Ave. I have seen that address on so many documents!
* Her father's name is given as Leo Falk. The last name is consistent with the previously obtained evidence, and the name "Leo" occurs many times among her descendants. (Alas, the mother's name is "unknown").
* The signature on the back is from Leo Wertheim, son.
* As a bonus confirmation, the physician signing the medical portion is L. L. Kranzer, which is her grandson (whom I knew was an M.D.)

So, goal one achieved: I now know when my great-grandmother passed away, and I can stop chasing will-o'-the-wisps.

Also, the death certificate states that she was buried at Union Field Cemetery, in Ridgewood. I never would have found that -- no one else in the family is buried there (although there are two other cemeteries nearby where others in our family are buried), and they don't have a searchable index on the web. I did send them an email, and they were able to provide me with the section and grave number.

So, goal two achieved: I now have specific locations for the graves of all my ancestors buried in the United States except one.

Furthermore, the death certificate said that she'd been in the country for 26 years. I went back to Leo's naturalization papers, which had the following:

It was hard to read, and I was never able to quite work it out to an actual record. But this time I managed to hit it all the right way. Searching was fruitless, but I went to the Ellis Island site and started with the ship's name. I had been misreading it as the Normandie, but it's not, it's the Normannia; it arrived in New York not on July 3, 1896, as Leo says later in the petition, but on July 6. And they were listed not as Pearl and Leo Wertheim, but as Pesse and Leib Werdesheim:

And I was able to find the corresponding record in the Hamburg database of departing passengers, with their home town listed as Mielec, which I knew was correct.

So, goal three achieved: I now had a passenger record for both Leo and Pearl. To be honest, I had not expected them to be traveling together; I thought Pearl had come later, perhaps with one of her deaf daughters. So I had actually had this listed as two separate goals.

It does also mean, though, that I probably need to start looking for Pearl's naturalization paperwork around the same time as Leo's. I just have to try more names. :-)

But let me actually rewind for a moment. Part of why I had trouble finding the passenger record had been that I was looking under the wrong date and the wrong ship name, but it was also that I was looking for Leo or Leopold Wertheim, and this was Leib Werdesheim.


Was that an error on the part of a clerk at Ellis Island? If so, why do the Hamburg departure registers have the same error? Was the mistake made there and copied in New York?

On a hunch, I went to the JRI-Poland website, which does Jewish Record Indexing; while Mielec was part of Galicia/Austria when my family lived there, it's now in Poland and the Polish State Archives hold the records.

I searched for Werdesheim records in Mielec, and I found Leo's older brother Hersch:

and Leo:

(The work "krawiec", by the way, means "tailor", which they were. And I knew their father's name was Moses. And here Pearl/Pauline/Pesse is listed as Pesel, which by now doesn't surprise me.)

And I thought I found a skeleton in our closet:

There's no father listed, and "nie ślubne" apparently means "not married."

But I have records of Bessie, married to Max Fleisher, with a daughter named Esther born in 1896 and a daughter named Sarah born in 1898. Per the 1910 US Census, they arrived here in 1898. So this is probably not as scandalous as the records say.


So all this time, Wertheim turns out to have been a changed name!

And it means I've now acheived another goal: For the first time, I have a record trail on my father's side that continues back across the ocean!

I don't know if I will spend the money to actually get copies of these records. (The LDS doesn't have these, at least not according to the JRI site, although if someone out there knows enough Polish to look at the catalog on Familysearch and see if they actually do have these on microfilm I'd appreciate the input!)

But knowing that I've been searching on the wrong name means that I can re-search my research. I've already noted that there are other spellings: Werdescheim (as we see in Hersch's record above) and I recall seeing a few other variants which I can't put my finger on now.

All in all, a very rewarding sequence of finds!
Tags: genealogy

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.