Ruby Family History Project Blog

Louis Levin Katz's death announcement was in the newspaper

I was led astray on Geni by some bad information about the Paechter family, but immediately afterwards it delivered some fantastic new information about the Katz family.

Check out the 1918 newspaper death announcement of our 2G grandfather, Louis Katz, the father of Helga's grandmother Betty Katz. Here is the Google translation.

Special announcement!
Tonight, after long and severe suffering, my dearest beloved husband, our good caring father, father-in-law and grandfather, [passed away]

the Rentier Louis Katz
in the 79th year of life.
In the name of the grieving bereaved,
Bertha Katz born Bernhard.

Kolberg, August 13, 1918
Weissensee, Berlin, New York

The funeral will take place on Friday afternoon at 4 a.m.
from the mortuary of the Jewish cemetery

Rentier is a little difficult to parse. In German it is "reindeer" but it is used in the French meaning of "a person living on income from property or investments." It sounds like a "landlord," but that word translates in German to "Vermieter." We have seen him previously described as a merchant and banker, but presumably he had retired and was living on the proceeds of his investments. 

Bertha Bernhardt, Louis's widow who placed the notice, was his third wife. They had married in 1894, when Louis was 55. However, she is the only wife that our aunt Hilda knew of in her restitution affadavit, and Hilda thinks that Bertha is her natural grandmother. 

I am fascinated by the listing of cities on the line under the date of death. Weissensee is the residence of Louis's daughter Betty Wohlgemuth. Berlin is the residence of his second daughter Klara Jacobson. Why is New York mentioned? We don't know of any other children.

How did this new information show up on Geni. It turns out the the Geni profile that I posted for Louis Levin Katz some years ago had been augmented with helpful new content from two other Geni users. The image was uploaded as Louis' profile photo, and there is a bunch of new family information that was also added. Louis mother Taube Conrad was given a new first name, Sabine. And two brothers of Louis that I did not know of were added.

They are Isidor Victor Katz, born 1826, and Jacob Katz, born 1829. There is no more detail on Jacob but the parentage information on Isidor's 1894 Berlin death record prove that he is a brother of Louis. 

The Geni user who posted the Isidor Victor Katz record also lists his six children. However, Betty Katz's cousin Amalie Katz is not among them. Remember that Amalie was the Katz cousin who arranged for Betty Wohlgemuth's burial, and then was deported to her death from Berlin a few months later. 

Perhaps Amalie is a daughter of Jacob Katz, or perhaps there is another brother of Louis Katz who could have been Amalie's father. 

Whatever else we can learn from it, it is eye-opening to read the funeral announcement of our great-great grandfather, appearing in a Kolberg newspaper in mid-August 1918. Allied forces in WWI had just begun the Hundred Days Offensive that led to their eventual victory with the Armistice of November 11.  

Times would be tough for the German population in the aftermath of the war. Maybe it was a blessing that the suffering of Louis Katz ended a few months before that. I would imagine that the Wohlgemuth family from Berlin was present at the funeral in Kolberg.. 

Thank you to the Geni user community for surfacing this fantastic new information. 

Family Story:

Julius Paechter is the missing link

I discovered the vivid article about the arson at the Paechter store on the Geni web site attached to an elaborate family tree. According to the Geni records, Isaak Paechter, the storeowner in the article, was married to a Friederike Paechter, or all names. Their two children were Rosa and Kurt Julius, and the family later relocated to Berlin. 

This sent me down a rabbit hole of leads that went nowhere. Yesterday I asked myself why did I know Friederike was from Tiegenhof. The death record had that information, but I had only just found that. I've known about Tiegenhof for years. 

It was right there in this blog. Here is my article from August 23, 2018. Leopold Wohlgemuth marriage in 1863.  

The image and extracted information is from the metrical book of marriages of the Jewish community of Preussich Stargard, where our Wohlgemuth family originated. Among other data, it names the wife as Friederike Pächter from Tiegenhof, the daughter of Julius. 

That is when I learned about Tiegenhof, and it is also when I did not properly take note of the father's name. I did not capture that tidbit into my master family tree.  

When I went back yesterday, I saw that I had overlooked the information about Julius. I began to theorize that maybe Julius was another brother of Isaak and Meier Pächter with the department store. 

I searched for him in all my usual places without much luck. Ancestry had lots of Julius Paechters but not the right one. Then I ran a search in Ancestry for anyone named Paechter, and tried to narrow it by Tiegenhof or Nowy Dwor Gdanski, which is the modern name of the town. Those filters didn't help for some reason, even though I noticed there were a small sprinkling of results showing a location of Tiegenhof. I realized I could do a word search on that term on each of the many pages of Paechter search results, and thus find a needle in a haystack. 

I found one Tiegenhof record on the first page, another on the third and on page 6 was this beautiful listing. 

Germany, Select Marriages, 1558-1929

MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

Record information

Name Rosalie Paechter

Spouse Jacob Kleemann

Father Julius Paechter

Birth 1850

Marriage 7 Dec 1874 Tiegenhof, Westpreußen, Preußen, Germany

There was the familiar Danzig couple, Rosa Paechter and Jacob Kleemann. It showed they were married in Tiegenhof, and it showed the bride's father was Julius Paechter.

Q.E.D. Friederike and Rosa(lie) were both the daughters of Julius Paechter of Tiegenhof. I soon figured out that their mother was named Rachel. 

And that we are indeed third cousins once removed from Peter Nash. That's him in the photo as a youthful refugee in Shanghai.

Family Story:

We are related to the Australian Peter Nash

Several posts back, I mentioned that Rodney wrote to introduce me to an Australian contact. Now I can tell you that he is Peter Nash, the author of Escape From Berlin, which describes the ordeal his family endured in their flight from Nazi persecution. 

Born Peter Nachemstein in Berlin in 1935, Nash was a young child during his family's desperate flight to Shanghai, where he spent his boyhood years, before his family was able to settle in Australia after the war. He deeply researched his family history before writing the memoir that was published in 2017. So far, I have read just the Kindle sample, but with the news below I will now buy it and read it in full.

Peter Nash is our third cousin. Actually it is third cousin once removed because he is a generation older. He emailed yesterday before I figured out the puzzle. It sounds like he is still vigorous and active in his mid-80s. 

If you recall from the previous item, Peter's Kleemann family from Danzig included his great-grandmother, Rosa Kleemann, geb. Paechter. I had run across her myself doing my indexing work for the JewishGen Danzig volunteer project. The leader of that project, Australian Rodney Eisfelder, knew that I also had a Paechter family line but he was pretty blasé about it when I first mentioned the coincidence. Paechter is not an uncommon name, and Rodney is a particularly unflappable genealogist. He doesn't get excited easily.

(The word 'Pächter' means 'tenant' in German, and it is used to describe certain vacation rentals, something like tenant cottages.)

You'll also remember that Rodney had recently reviewed the 1910 death record of my 2G grandmother, Friederike Paechter, where her birthplace was shown as Tiegenhof. What Rodney later noticed about Peter's great-grandmother's Danzig residency registration is that it listed a prior residence in Tiegenhof. 

Even skeptical Rodney raised an eyebrow about that. Two Paechter women from Tiegenhof, one born in 1838, the other in 1850. 

The leap-of-faith possibility was there for all to see. But could I find a paper trail that would show without doubt that Friederike and Rosa were sisters. I got thrown off track by a mistaken family tree on Geni, but now I have a near-perfect proof that I will lay out in the next post.

Family Story:

A department store fire in Tiegenhof

It seems the Pächter family was more prominent that I imagined. Here is an excerpt from a retrospective about old Tiegenhof by Otto Stobbe that was originally published in the historical magazine Unser Danzig in 1963, and was reposted to a Danzig discussion forum in 2012. 

On the right side, already on the market square, was the Pächter'sche department store, Isaak Pächter, after his brother and co-owner Meier Pächter had died. It was a large half-timbered building with yellow bricks. A few years later, in the fall of 1898, the terrible fire began here, which then left half of Bahnhofstrasse in ruins. It was on a Wednesday evening, and exactly two (or three?) Weeks before it had already burned there, but was extinguished in good time, even with the help of bottled beer, because water was not quickly enough to hand. And after this big fire it should burn regularly every other Wednesday for months. Apparently there was an arsonist who was never caught. On the other hand, an anti-Semitic wave now arose: it was claimed that Pächter might have set fire to the house himself. It was so absurd that the judges in Tiegenhof didn't think of doing anything. But then the district court in Elbing, which took up the matter, issued an arrest warrant, but Pächter had to be released after a few weeks. Tiegenhof spoiled him and he didn't rebuild, but moved away. Otherwise I did not remember anti-Semitism in Tiegenhof.

This is exciting because it definitiely places the Pächter family in Tiegenhof, and it gives them a reason to be leaving town in 1898. However, the Isaak Pächter who owned the store was not the ancestor of Heinz Pächter who became the historian. Also, Isaak's wife was Friederike Meyer, and so her married name was Friederike Pächter, but it is not yet clear how our Friederike Wohlgemuth, geb. Pächter is related.

But now we know much more about the presence of the Pächter family in Tiegenhof, and how a supposed rare anti-Semitic action drove them out. 

Family Story:

Prominent emigre historian Henry Pachter was related to our Tiegenhof Paechters

There was email this morning from Rodney Down Under, as he calls himself. He was introducing me to another contact whose Kleeman family records in the Danzig civil records seemed to be connected to our family, both having members of the Paechter family in Tiegenhof, a town outside of Danzig.

Rodney had found a Danzig identity card for the other guy's ancestor, Rosa Kleeman, geb. Paechter, that showed she originated in Tiegenhof. Rodney remembered recently reviewing the death record of our ancestor, Frederike Wohlgmuth, geb. Paechter, that identified her birthplace as Tiegenhof. 

Two Paechters from Tiegenhof are very likely members of the same family, Rodney suggested. There is a 12-year age difference, with Frederike born in 1838 and Rosa in 1850. What might be their relationship?

I thanked Rodney for showing me about using the identity cards. I also replied with something I had already seen in my Danzig indexing work. The Kleeman-Paechter family in Danzig had four daughters who each married between 1902 and 1906. I made up a little table to show the names of the marriage parties.

Then I went to work to try to learn more about the Paechter family from Tiegenhof.  Googling "Paechter familie" returned an intriguing hit for "Family Tree Pächter in 19th-20th Century." On that page is an extensive family tree and footnotes related to a Pächter family in Bohemia, not West Prussia. It was compiled in Israel, probably in the early 1950s, by the former Heinz Pächter, now named Channoch ben Aris.

The tree is very interesting but it is all about the Bohemian Pächters. However, a comment in the footnotes grabbed my attention.

In Eretz [Israel], there exist four families named Paechter (three excluding ours) which as far as I know are unrelated to us. (1) The Paechter family of Tiegenhof near Danzig and Berlin. The wife of the late professor Hermann (?) Shunk was born Paechter. Her nephew, Dr. Heinz Paechter is known to me. He is (??) with me and is currently in the USA....

He then covers the other two unrelated Paechter families who are also in Israel, but it is this Tiegenhof group that we are following. Ben Aris mentioned the wife of the late professor who is now in Israel and Dr. Heinz Paechter who is now in the U.S. It is confusing because Heinz Paechter used to be the compiler's own name, and I think the question marks in the transcriptions are where he clarifies they are different people. So who was the other Heinz Paechter?

I googled some more and began to see hits for an academic of some sort who had written about the Spanish civil war and then about Nazi perversion of language. Then came more citations but one had Henry Paechter and a lot more had Henry Pachter.

It turns out that Henry Pachter was a prominent emigre historian and critic who was among the founders of Dissent magazine. He taught at The New School for Social Research and City College of New York. As a young man in Weimar Berlin, he had been active in left-wing political parties, then studied for his doctorate in political history before fleeing Berlin for Paris in 1933.  He died in 1980 in New York. Here's his Wikipedia page and there is a lot more you can learn about him online. 

I think it is clear that this is the Dr. Heinz Paechter referred to in the family tree footnotes as having descended from the Tiegenhof Paechters. The sources tell us he was born in Berlin in 1907, presumably after his parents settled there from West Prussia in the preceding years. We have seen how many Prussian Jewish families in this period were moving from smaller communities to cosmopolitan centers, mainly Berlin. 

On a first search, I have not found Paechter's Berlin birth record, and thus his parents' names and birth locations. I'll keep looking. Meanwhile, here is one scenario that would seem to fit the facts. Frederike was one Paechter sibling among several born in Tiegenhof between 1838 and 1850 or so. She had a brother who married and raised a family there. One of the sons of the brother moved to Berlin after 1900. His family there included a son born in 1907, Heinz Paechter, the future historian.

In that scenario, Frederike would have been a great-aunt to Heinz. Our grandmother Elly Wohlgemuth would have been a second cousin..

Family Story:

Meeting our long-lost Ringel cousins

I googled "Kissler in New Jersey" and immediately discovered Kissler & Co., a plumbing supply store in Carlstadt, N.J., with a Barry Kissler and Glenn Kissler as the top executives. Bingo! These brothers had to be the grandsons of Bella Giesskann, nee Ringel. They would be my third cousins. 

The Kissler & Co. web site offered a contact page, where I could send in a message. I wrote:

Hi Barry and Glenn, Unless my sleuthing is wrong, your maternal grandmother was Bella Ringel, Born in Scotland of parents previously from Hamburg. Her father was Jacob Schia Ringel, who was born in Rzeszow, Austria. Jacob’s older brother was Schia Ringel, Born in Rzeszow. Schia relocated to Berlin when Jacob went to Hamburg. schia’s son Hermann Ringel was a businessman in Berlin until his death by natural causes in 1938. He was my grandfather. His wife Elly and my mother Helga Ringel fled Berlin in September 1938 and made their way to New York in 1941. So that makes the two of you my third cousins. Let me know if I am right and if I can tell you any more. — Dan Ruby, 66, in Oakland, Calif.

Barry replied the next day. He thought my information sounded correct, but he had sent my info on to his sister, Sharon Goldstein, whom he thought would know more. Sharon then called her second cousin Madalyn Kates, nee Brody, on Long Island. They agreed I had identified their two grandmothers correctly, but that I hadn't mentioned the third sister, Betty, whom Madalyn remembers meeting as a child. They vaguely knew about Scotland, but had no idea about Hamburg or Rzeszow or any other Ringel family members in Germany. A few days later, I connected with Madalyn's 36-year-old daughter Dani Kates, who was the one who had posted the helpful tree on Ancestry. 

Dani wrote to me in email:

When my grandpa passed away (Morton Brody) I was helping my mom go through the house, and in my grandmas things I found a journal. It was Leahs or Bella's I cant believe I dont remember whose, but I think Leah since that was my great grandma. It was her journal while they were on the journey from Glasgow to Montreal. It has dates and everything. I gave it to my mom and it is packed away somewhere with their things so we will have to look for it again. Finding that journal was what first sparked my interest in learning about our past. 

A few months later, we Rubys were all going to be in New Jersey for a wedding. We hoped that we might arrange a meeting with some of the Kissler family. Barry was interested and tried to make it happen, but it turned out our schedule was too rushed. and it didn't come off. I know that he and his family members appreciated learning more about their Ringel family history from me. I regret I didn't post about thiis at the time, but I got very busy with my book project after that New Jersey trip and I stopped blogging altogether until restarting last week.

I'll look forward to hopefully meeting some of the Kissler and Kates family members on a future trip to New York, whenever that becomes possible again. 

Family Story:

The first Ringels in America

Four of the five Ringel siblings from Rzeszow relocated to Berlin and the German capital became the center of Ringel family life for sixty years. The fifth sibling, Jakob Schia Ringel, went instead to Hamburg. I figured out his story a year ago, and it led to making a connection with a branch of American Ringel relatives that we had not known of. Someimes in this work there are happy endings. 

Jakob Ringel married Rosalie Saffe in Hamburg in February 1890 when he was 29 years old. They had four children in five years (two survived) in Hamburg. Their address during part of this time is in Altona, which is the old city of Hamburg, probably the Jewish district. I don't know how long the family remained in Hamburg but they next show up in a census record in Glasgow, Scotland. That may have been an interim stop on an intended journey to America. Another daughter was born in Glasgow in 1901, and then they emigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1908, according to a 1911 Canadian census. 

The oldest daughter Bertha was 18 years old when she arrived and I don't know what became of her. The two younger daughters, Leah and Bella, went to school in Montreal and both of them married Jewish men in that city. Leah married Hyman Irving Shear in 1922, and they had a dughter Jacqueline there in 1924. In 1926, Hyman came to the U.S. and established the family in Booklyn. Jacqueline married Morton Brody in 1946. They had a son and a daughter, Madalyn, who later married Steven Kates. 

Bella marrried a former Austrian, Frederick Glesskann, in 1929 at age 28. This couple came almost immediately to the U.S., because they show up in the 1930 U.S. census in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. They had a daughter Renee in 1934. She may have shortened her name to Gilkan. In 1954, she married Gerald Kissler in New York City.  The Kisslers had four children—Sharon, Barry, Glenn and Steven—born between 1957 and 1963. 

All of this I figured in a few hours one day in early April 2019. Besides my usual databases and search tools, I benefitted from a public family tree posted on Ancestry. It was a revelation to discover that my mother had two first cousins (once removed) who lived in the New York area at the time she and my grandmother arrived. 

But it was what happened next that was even more rewarding.  

 

Family Story:

Hermann had many Ringel cousins in Berlin

I have known for a while that Schija's brother Leib Ringel also moved to Berlin because he served as a witness on some of the vital records I have. Recently, with the availability of record searches of the Berlin Landesarchiv, a slew of new records show the extent of the Ringel family in and around Berlin's Jewish Scheunenviertel district. 

Leib Ringel married Pessel Apfelbaum and they had seven children, four girls and three boys. One of the sons, five years younger than our Hermann Ringel, was his cousin Hermann Ringel. After his birth I have nothing else on him and four of the other children. But one of the sons, Moses, named for his grandfather, died at age 6. The eldest child was Zierel, or Tziril, who we have encountered before as a listing in the Yad Vashem victims database. Now we know about her husband, Josef Apfelbaum, also a victim, and their son Leon Apfelbaum, born in Berlin in 1902, who escaped to the United States and died in Dade County, Florida, in 1983.

Leib and Pessel and their seven children lived at Strasburgerstraße 57, just a few blocks from the Ringel home on Lothringer Straße where Hermann later lived. (I don't yet know where Hermann lived as a boy, but it must have been around these same few blocks.)

Daughters are usually harder than sons to track, but the Landesarchiv records show us the married names of Schija's two sisters, Reisel and Basze Sure. For Reisel, who married Arye Reich, we also have her four children, Rosa Lea (named for her grandmother), Rubin, Amalie and another Hermann, born between 1887 and 1893. The Reich family lived at Rosenstraße 27, on the south side of the quarter. Reisel died at age 53 in 1917. I have marriage information for the two Reich daughters. Amalie married Salli Sinzheimer in 1910 and Rosa Lea married Franz Julius Mau in 1916. In 1923, the Sinzheimer family lived at Lothringer Straße 54, apartment 2, downstairs from our Ringel family members. The records seem to show that Salli Sinzheimer emigrated to Palestine. That bears further study. 

The youngest of the original Ringel siblings, Basze Sure, married in Berlin in 1899. Her husband Josef Herzig may have been an egg and poultry dealer. They lived at Lothringerstraße 12. I don't have information about any children or their future fate. 

So besides Schija Ringel's three children (and a fourth who died), his siblings accounted for at least 11 other Ringel cousins in the neighborhood, more than that if the Herzig's had children. They were all Hermann's first cousins, and their numerous offspring were Helga's second cousins.

My point is there were a lot of Ringel relatives in Berlin, and most within a four-block radius. When Helga was born in 1924, in the more upscale Jewish neighborhood of Charlottenburg, she was a part of an abundant family network that had been flourishing in Berlin for almost 50 years. .

Family Story:

The rest of the Ringels

Recently we've been learning more about the two daughters of Schija Ringel and Fanny Kaufler. Along with our grandfather Hermann, they comprise one branch of the Ringel family descending from the original family from the Austrian town of Rzeszow. Let's pull some new threads by looking at the other Rzeszow family members.

Some of the information I will cover is brand new. Another part is playing catchup from a revelation of a year ago. We'll begin with an accounting of the five children of Moses Ringel and his wife Rose Lea, nee Reichman. 

First, I don't know a lot yet about the parents. I have done some general reading about the Rzeszow Jewish community, but have not found specific information about our Ringel and Reichman families there. I believe I have it that Moses was a butcher from one of the documents that we have, but I have not confirmed this recently. What I do know about them is they had five children, as follows. 

1. Schija Ringel, born June 13, 1856. Our direct ancestor was the first child.

2. Juda Leib Ringel, born February 16, 1859. On subsequent documents he is called Leib Ringel, without the Juda.

3. Jakob Schia Ringel, born in 1861. He uses both names, Jakob Schia, but I'll just call him Jakob to avoid confusion with Schija.

4. Reisel Ringel, born in 1864. 

5. Basze Sure Ringel, born August 3, 1870. 

Every one of these children left Rzeszow in the 1880a and 90s. Four went to Berlin and Jakob Ringel went to Hamburg. I'll cover all the Berlin Ringels next. 

Family Story:

Pinkas Twiasschor's flight went through Slovenia and Italy's Asti province

The data above is given for Pinkas Twiasschor in an Italian web site Escape stories: from Vicenza to the United States about the Fort Ontario experience. There are several important details to note. First, under "Family ties" he is described as "Solo." There is no mention of having had a wife and two daughters. Second, the three locations given for "Place of residence or internment before Fort Ontario" give us an idea of the route of Pinkas' flight from the Nazis. 

He was first in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, then the northern Italian town of Nizza Monferrato, and finally the southern Italian town of Ferramonti where a large internment camp was located. 

There will be more to learn here, but for starters is this page on the History of the Holocaust in Slovenia. I will cite a short section.  

In light of these circumstances, in 1941 the Jewish refugees from the Slovenian territory occupied by Germans managed to retreat to safety temporarily. Most of them initially fled to Ljubljana, where they joined large numbers of other Jewish refugees. In the end of August 1941 over 400 Jewish refugees from the Slovenian Styria and Upper Carniola, Germany, Austria, and more and more often from Croatia were located in Ljubljana. Usually they did not intend to stay in Ljubljana for long, but rather headed onwards to Italy. Despite the strict Italian anti-Jewish legislation Italy was an attractive destination for the refugees fleeing from the Nazi persecution. Until 1943 the level of the Italian anti-Jewish violence was extremely benign in comparison with the Nazi Germany. Jewish refugees and other Jews with foreign citizenship, also those in the Ljubljana Province, were soon subject to internment in Italy in accordance with the Italian racial legislation.

Family Story:

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