Posted in Chicago, Genealogy, Srolowitz

Srolowitz And The Matchmaker: Fraud, Graft and Fortune Telling

In my last posting I wrote about Matchmaker/Marriage Broker Meyer Brick who sued grandmother Hannah Srolowitz in the amount of $200 for breach of contract in the arrangement of Bernhard Perboner to her granddaughter Rachel Lapini (Papini) in marriage. You can read about it at the link below ~

Going back into using ‘Meyer Brick’ and the year 1899, I was stunned to find the story had been picked up in 9 states. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois all ran the story. What was it about this that made it so note worthy?

In the last post I shared records that led to my confusion regarding two different Bernhard’s and who was the right one. I believe I have cleared up the confusion on the two.

Elias Perbohner and his wife Rachel Rose had sons, their oldest Adolph b. 1855, Latvia and their youngest Bernhard b. 3 Oct, 1876 Latvia, who I’ll refer to has # 1. Adolph married Anna Elias and they had a son named Bernhard b. 24 Dec. 1877, who I’ll refer to has # 2. Brenhard #1 spells his last name Perboner without the h. Born a year apart, the two were uncle and nephew.

In the newspaper articles shared in the last post, grandmother Hannah Srolowitz seems to be implying that the marriage was between Bernhard #1 to a Rachel/Rae Lapini/Papini on 18 Oct 1899, however the only marriage record I could find was for Bernhard #2 is to Eleanor Rabchikow on 18 Oct on 1898. The date reported in the papers was 16 Oct., 1899. Also, reported as Hannah – I only found her in records as Anna)

I can not find any marriage record for Bernhard #1 to a Rachel Lapini/Papini, nor can I find any record for a Rachel/Rae/Ray with either last name. If they had married they were not together by 1904 which seems to be substantiated by this article I found.

From The Tacoma Tribune (Tacoma, Washington) . 18 Jan 1904, Mon . Page 1

What was he doing walking back home at 1:30 with $600 worth of diamonds and other valuables?
In 1904 Bernhard was living with his sister Ida Goldberg (widow)

The 1910 & 1920 census records support that Eleanor was the granddaughter of Hannah and her husband Lieb Srulowitz. They were living with Eleanor and her husband Bernhard #2 and children Robert/Rupert, Miriam and Lillian up until their passing.

If Rachel was another granddaughter – I have nothing to prove or disprove that. From I found a marriage record for Bernhard #1 for a marriage to LaVillah Sands on 12 Apr 1948, in Seattle, WA. From, I also found a 1923 marriage announcement to Miss Flora (Florence) Snitovsky. They would have 1 daughter, Marjorie Rae, born 1924.

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) . 19 Aug 1923, Sun . Page 64

Looking at the record I found for Bernhard #1 with a connection to a Rachel aside from the original newspaper mentions is Bernhard’s #1 WWI draft registration, 1918. At first I thought this may confirm a girlfriend/wife but after some thought I decided to check on this mention of “Ray” with the Richmond, VA address.

This Ray is not a wife, Rachel, but is referring to his mother Rachel – Ray. I found her living, with her daughter Lena and husband Louis Burnstein and family at that exact address on the 1920 census.

The papers reported that “Perbona and his wife testified and substantiated Mrs. Srolowitz’s story.” They had spelled his last name as Perbona, the papers all differ with the spelling of Rachels last name. Lapini and some as Papini. Using both spellings and variations I still could not find a marriage record. (In fact I am jumping the gun here, bare with me. My thoughts are leaning toward – had this been an elaborate scam of some kind? You’ll understand why this thought shortly)

Bernhard #1 went by two names, Bernhard and Benjamin Perboner. His passport application dated 14 Sept. 1895, age 18, birthdate 3 Oct., 1876 was under Benjamin Perboner. His passport was issued on 11 Sept 1907, age 30, birthdate 3 Oct., 1876 under Bernhard Perboner.

This all began with a newspaper article with the last name of Srolowitz catching my eye. I have spent enough time on the possible trying to find a connection to our branch and it’s time to put it to rest. But before I do that, I wanted to share what I discovered about his brother Adolph.

Adolph Perbohner b. 1855 met an untimely and quite tragic death on 27 Oct., 1905, in Chicago, Ill.. He was 50 years old. And once again, I am struck by the amount of newspaper coverage his death got. It was picked up in 13 states that I found, Ill., Iowa, N.C., Penn., OK., Utah, Texas, Neb., Washington D.C., Tenn., N.D., Wisconsin, and Kansas.

from The Charlotte News (Charlotte, North Carolina . 27 Oct 1905, Fri . Page 1

In another article headed “Big Ring of Grafters Pray On The Public”

Fron Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) . 23 Sept. 1906, Sun . Page 53

My rabbit hole adventure with this family seemed to become endless. The Chicago Tribune in a follow up article a year later on graft in the city made mention of not only Adolph but his wife Anna. Who was Adolph’s wife, Anna, clairvoyant and fortune teller?

Anna was the daughter of Hyman Elias and Lena Kaminsky. Born about 1855, Russia, she immigrated about 1885/87. I found her in the 1900 and 1910 census. Both records listed her occupation as clairvoyant. She was head of household for both. With husband Adolph’s death in 1905, I was surprised to see he was not listed with her and children Leopold, Jacob, and Mary/Marion in 1900. Anna had 5 births with 4 living, the 4th being Bernhard who married to Eleanor Srolowitz. I also found a 1904 city directory listing her under ‘Clairvoyant’ heading. Anna died on 22 July, 1911 and is buried at the Waldheim Cemetery.

Having found this information on brother Adolph, I am now beginning to wonder if perhaps Meyer Brick, marriage broker, trying to recoup his $200 fee may actually have been some kind of scam that went wrong. I have the wrong granddaughter connecting to Srolowitz, fortune telling, clairvoyant, diamonds, graft, fraud, suicide….. I just touched the tip of newspaper reporting on this family and have left connecting Hannah and Lieb Srolowitz to our branch open.

I would to love read your thoughts on this.


An adoptee who found both her maternal and paternal side 18 years ago, I began digging into my new found families past. The journey has been amazing connecting and reconnecting lost and found generations.

7 thoughts on “Srolowitz And The Matchmaker: Fraud, Graft and Fortune Telling

  1. I admire your willingness to go so deep on someone to whom you seem not to have any connection. It is an incredible story though, so I understand how you fell into this hole!

  2. HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those are some stories! I love the way they used to word stuff in newspaper articles–that bit about not “offering” to attack the neighbor. You are really back in the research seat, Sharon!

  3. That is quite a tale you uncovered! At least if it is a squirrel trail, it was an interesting one! Family connections are often twisted, but that one has a lot of twists!

I would love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.