In my last post I wrote about Benjamin Haimowitz, his wife Goldie aka Gussie Stein and their son Abraham aka Al. I was trying to answer the question, who was Benjamin and what happened to him after he divorced Gussie in 1921. I was unable to answer that question but provided all the information I could locate up until that date. Benjamin just seemed to disappear from all published records.
But in trying to answer that question I stumbled upon who I believe was Benjamins brother.
Researching for the Sherman family, I was given access to their ancestry page to take a look at their DNA matches. Hoping to find a clue that way, there were two 4-6 cousin matches that looked promising. One was for a Joseph Haimowitz(1886) m Lena Braumerwitz and one for Leon Haimowitz (1878) m Esther Hausfater. Their ages put them in the age range I had for Benjamin (1878 – 1880) to be siblings or cousin.
I took the information these tree’s had and began to work with Leon, building my own tree for him, gathering the records I could find, working backwards and forwards. (I have not made progress with Joseph)
Leon Haimovici arrived in August 1900 at the age of 22. (this was the same year Benjamin claimed to have arrived) He was born on 15 March,1876 in Braila, Romania. He left from Rotterdam, Holland aboard the SS Spaarndam, however they were not traveling together.
There are actually 2 records for a Leon – ours spelled on the passenger list as Chaimowitz, 22, tinsmith from Braila (matching his marriage and draft record) traveling to a friend (unable to read) The second listing which has been picked up by the other researchers is for a Leon Chaimowics, 28 tailor, married traveling with Sussel (female) 10. Both were traveling on the same ship arriving in August of 1900. It is really important not to just attach record hints that pop up on ancestry. The hint on ancestry defaulted to the wrong Leon. Looking at the hint I was suspicious of it as his profession was tailor, married and there was a young girl but it did not indicate her as a daughter. I started to scan through the pages associated with this voyage and located the correct Leon.
I found a marriage record on ancestry first but there was no information other than his name date and place (the certificate is available to order) I then checked on familysearch and located this record which matched the information that was on the corresponding DNA cousin tree. This gave me the names of Leons parents along with Esthers.
A bit later in my research I located the marriage certificate for Leon and Esther on the site of the DNA match with the Shermans. (I would have loved to have seen Benjamins name as a witness)
I was unable to find them in the 1905 census but located then in 1910 living at 344 Alabama Ave. Brooklyn. Leon (30) and Esther (25) and daughter Celia who had been born (1905), then son Abraham (1906) and Max (1907) Leon listed his occupation as tinsmith– I was really excited about this tinsmith connection with Benjamin who had listed his occupation in 1910 as tinsmith too as well as both arriving in the same year. Was this same occupation a family occupation?
I am out of chronological order but the next record I located was Leon’s Petition For Naturalization dated July 19, 1909. It was on this document that the connection with Benjamin was confirmed.
Under Affidavit of Witnesses was Jacob Steinworzel, father of Goldie/Gussie, Benjamin’s wife with the address confirming it was the right Jacob. It is my assumption that Benjamin’s father-in-law was witness on his brother Leons papers.
This next document dated April 23, 1914 seems to contradict the 1915 census record information (1915c will follow this) however it is possible that by 1915 the situation had reversed itself and Leon was back in the home.
Below is an application for admission to the New York, U.S., Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1860 – 1934 (Ancestry) for Abraham and Max, their 2nd and 5th born children. Leon had abandoned the family for work and Esther was forced to place two of her children in the orphan home temporarily while she seeked employment. From the explanation below it also appears she had to sell all her household goods for money to survive.
Remarks: Husband of applicant deserted family 11 years ago. His whereabouts unknown. Man had been unsteadily employed before his desertion. Woman intends to seek employment after the children are admitted. She claims that since man went away she has sewed occasionally and earned from $1.50 to $2 per week. She recieved $4.50 for her household effects. No assistance from ( ? ) no relatives able to assist. (I am questioning the desertion of 11 years as an error)
By 1915 Leon shows up at the 105th St. address from above and was on the census. Spelled Himowitz he was (38) and Esther (31) and his occupation was listed simply laborer. Added to the family had been Joseph b. 1910 (Esther must have been pregnant at the time of 1910 census) and Isidore b. 1912. This made 5 children for the family. I also spent some time going through the pages hoping to find Benjamin possibly living close to Leon but had no luck.
But by 1918 the family had relocated to Oregon. The next record found was Leon’s WWI draft registration. He had moved his family and was living at 415 Main St. Oregon City, Oregon. Leon was 42 born Sept. ‘I don’t know’ 1876. He was working as a junk dealer for the Alaska Junk Co.
By 1920 if they had truly been together prior, things had changed. I found Esther (35) divorced and all 5 children living at 684 2nd St., Portland. They were renting and Esther was not employed. Celia (15) was working as a waitress in a department store, Abe (13), Max (12) and Isadore (9) were news boys on the street and Joe (7) was spared working. I was unable to locate Leon in 1920
1930 they were still divorced however Esther (47) had moved to 187 Arthur St. Portland and had bought the home. It’s value was $2000. She was working in a garment factory as a coat operator. Still at home was Abe (24) architect in an architect office and Isidore (19) was a bookkeeper in an advertising office. Celia had married Herman Rosenbloom on Feb. 21, 1926, sadly Joseph had died at age 14, on Nov 8, 1926, and Max (23) was in San Francisco working as a chauffeur for a private family.
Leon (54) divorced, was listed as Lane Haimovci on the 1930 census. He was living at 75 Burns St. in West Linn, Oregon. He also owned his home and the value was $2300. He was working on his own account as a salesman in a furniture store.
Leon and Esther must had been on friendly terms because on June 3, 1930 they crossed the Oregon/Washington border and married in Vancouver, WA. One of her witnesses was her daughter Celia Rosenbloom.
However the marriage did not last long and they divorced in Clackamas County, Oregon on November 28, 1930.
By 1940 Leon (65) was working again as a junk dealer in his own business. He owned his home on Kone Street in West Linn, Oregon.
Leon passed away on June 10, 1950 Portland, and is buried at Shaarie Torah Cemetery. The cemetery is maintained by Congregation Shaarie Torah.
Esther passed away on Dec. 17, 1942 and is also buried at Shaarie Torah Cemetery.
Whether Leon is actually the brother of Benjamin or a cousin has not been proven. I want to believe they were brothers. I have searched the census pages around Leons entries hoping to find Benjamin living close by but have had no luck.
The one thing discovered was times were tough for this family, Leon and Esther’s marriage was rocky and filled with heartache. Neither remarried, they tried a second time – there had to be a deep love and affection that survived. They are at rest buried next to each other at Shaarie Torah.
May their memories be a blessing