Rabinowitzes of Harlem

Rabinowitz family

My most recent find are census records for the Rabinowitz family in 1900 and 1910. In our family tree that I have been assembling, we had Joseph and Lena Rabinowitz with five children--Julius, Meta, Abe, and Blossom in addition to little Walter, the youngest.

The 1900 census gives us a number of other names. In order, the children with their birth years, are Julius (1874), Henry (1879), Sadie (1881), Abraham (1883), Mammie (1886), Seymour (1887), Blossom (1891), and Walter (1893). Also living in the household was a boarder, Barnard Linkoff, presumably Lena's brother. All of the children were born in New York, so Joseph and Lena must have emigrated no later than 1875.

Oh, here it is right here. The year of immigration to the United States for Joseph and Lena is 1874. Barnard arrived in the same year, when he was only five years old, presumably traveling together with Joseph and Lena. Joseph's occupation is listed as "peddler." The oldest children were already employed, in order, as a bookkeeper, stock clerk and milliner. Barnard Linkoff's occupation was clothing salesman.

Then we move on to 1910 for the same family. The family, now living at an address on 118th St., now includes Joseph, Lena, Abraham, Sadie, Meta, Seymour, Blossom and Walter. Barnard is still in residence along with his spouse, Fannie. Joseph is still listed as a peddler, and all of the kids now have jobs. Walter at age 16 is listed as an office clerk.

I have image clips from the two census documents but for some reason Blogger doesn't want to upload them now. I will add them later on.

All our Rabinowitz names can be found at Mount Hebron Cemetery

Walt, I started looking at the Mount Hebron cemetery records again, and am feeling hopeful that the Joseph Rabinowitz who died August 31, 1920 and is buried in the Isaac Elchonon Independent Society plot may be our guy after all. You might recall that I had chalked it up to a near miss when I blogged about it on August 1. The problem is that Italiangen shows a Joseph Rabinowitz who died that day at age 46. Our Joseph would have been 66.

Now I am considering the possibility that Italiangen has an error. We've seen other cases of transcription errors. It wouldn't be hard to believe that 46 was entered by mistake instead of 66.

Besides the name of the burial society (that society buried about 100 people at Mount Hebron between the years 1913 and 1987--no other names that I recognize), the other indicator is that there are people in that cemetery (all buried by other societies) that match the names of every member of the family except Blossom.

Actually, though there are two Julius Rabinowitzes there, we know our Julius is in Montefiore Cemetery. And sure, each name by itself is common enough to have many occurences, but what is the chance that there would be a Joseph, Lena, Sadie, Abraham, Henry and Seymour Rabinowitz along with a Meta Cannold and of course Walter Ruby? It looks to me that this must be the family cemetery.

Also, I just ran a search for Joseph Rabinowitz in the 1920 census (we had not previously found a Rabinowitz family record for that year) and I discovered that a Joseph Rabinowitz was a patient in Montefiore Home & Hospital in The Bronx as of January 5, 1920. I did a little reading on the history of Montefiore and learned that before it became a world-class research hospital it was a rest home for Jewish patients with chronic diseases like tuberculosis and diabetes.

I am going to order a copy of the death certificate for $10 from NY Municipal Archives. And it looks like you will have another field trip to do. I can provide you with all the plot numbers or you can do the searches yourself here. By the way, there are seven Lena Rabinowitzes buried there. The best bet appears to be the one who died January 30, 1948, when she was a ripe old 87 or 88. At first, I thought that might not be her because I recalled that she wasn't listed as a survivor in Blossom's obituary, which I thought was earlier, but I just checked and Blossom died on November 4 of that same year.

I've got a good feeling about this. If this is the right Joseph, his death certificate and/or gravestone should give us the answer we have been seeking.


Wrong again

Phooey! The death certificate that I ordered for the Joseph Rabinowitz buried Sept. 2, 1920 at Mount Hebron arrived yesterday. He was age 46 and had been in the U.S. for 14 years—originally from Russia. Son of Elias Rabinowitz and Ella Tarman (?). Resided at 587 Beck Street in the Bronx before his 10-month convalescent stay at Montefiore Home & Hospital. Diagnosis of his last illness was chronic endocarditis.

So that's not our guy. Beautiful embossed-seal reproduction of the original, though. The search goes on.

Rabinowitz cousin Harriet, daughter of Seymour, discovers our blog with delight and astonishment

Our hope for living Rabinowitz relatives paid off when I got a call Thursday night on my cell phone. It took me a moment to understand that the caller had just discovered this blog and disclosed herself as a previously unknown to us member of the Rabinowitz family.

She is Harriet Berkowitz, a 73-year-old retired schoolteacher from Miami Beach who was calling from her daughter's home in Westlake Village CA. She said that she was the daughter of Seymour Rabinowitz, Walter Ruby's older brother, who was mainly known to us as "the truant officer." Seymour was in his late forties when Harriet was born in 1936.

In our call and in a subsequent talk with Walter, Harriet provided quite a bit of interesting new information. She knew Blossom and Meta, and had met Thad a short time before his death. She had wild new information that brother Henry changed his name to H.V. Lee and operated a restaurant. She mentioned Julius' children Abner and Judith. There are several Arthurs in the mix, Arthur Zimpkin, son of Sadie, but also apparently another son of Joseph and Lena who we don't have on record. Is he younger than Walter?

She described her father Seymour as a brilliant but flawed man. He studied classics at City College but struggled with his own Jewish identity. He had lost an eye in a childhood accident. He tried to pursue an academic career but settled into his work for the school district, just one of two Jewish truant officers in the borough, Harriet said. He also had a gambling habit, which eventually drove his marriage apart. When he was found dead in his apartment in February 1963, he was wrapped in his Jewish prayer shawl.

About our branch of the family, Harriet said she had memories of Walter Ruby's wife Selma from when she was remarried to Jack Prager. That would have been after Stanley and his sister Joan were gone from the household. Harriet said she didn't know Stan and Joan well and had always wondered what happened to them. Seymour was somewhat estranged from other family members and then when Harriet's parents divorced and she went to live with her mother, then later got married herself, she lost track of her Rabinowitz family.

Until the other day when visiting her daughter in Los Angeles and they googled on Walter Rabinowitz. Imagine her delight to land on our Ruby Family History Project and to start reading about all her aunts and uncles. Imagine my delight when she told me who she was on the phone call.

Now that we have connected, there is lots of interest in sharing information, photos and planning a physical meeting for the next time she is in California. I'll have more to add soon, but for now welcome Harriet Rabinowitz Berkowitz and her children and grandchildren to our Ruby/Rabinowitz family.


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