In my last post I wrote about Moe Lifshitz aka Joseph Schiffman my 1st c 2x r. He was a man who walked on the wrong side of the road, convicted of bigamy and forgery he spent a good part of his life in prison from Sing Sing to Dannemora and then Seagoville Correctional Facility in Texas where he passed away in 1955. I must make note that he was sent away for a $20 check forgery for 5 years in the 1930’s. That seems like such a stiff sentence for $20, but coupled with the bigamy charges – had there been more to it – to him?
Recently shared with me by Cheri, is the marriage certificate for Joseph M. Schiffman to Rebecca Wexelman. This is an amazing document because there was no such person as Joseph M Schiffman – he actually was Moses/Moe Lifshitz and yet here it is – a legal government document that he got away with. (This record is for the second wife that Joseph (Moe) married.)
Courtesy of the Rebecca Wexelman Family
Once received I took a good look at it, the addresses, his parents names –
Living at 85 Penn Street Brooklyn, the address for ‘Joseph’ actually belonged to Rebecca’s parents Hyman and Sarah Wexelman. They owned the 2 family home. Listed as Betty on this census it says she was born in Russia immigrating at the same time, 1912, as her parents. I checked the the 1920c and the family was at the same address then, with Betty as Rebecca and again the Russia birth location, also confirmed with the naturalization papers for Hyman. (note this document says she was born in New York City.)
I have seen the addresses mixed up on marriage documents before so I wasn’t very concerned. My next step was to discover who lived at the 110 E. 17th Street NY City address. This proved a bit more difficult. I had no luck just using Ancestry. I then tried Stephen P. Morse street name changes, thinking that might be a reason, was it listed as 17th or Seventeenth? but forgot to check the ED listings (enumeration districts) I turned to the FB page of Tracing The Tribe for help. With more direction from Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey https://brotmanblog.com I returned to Stephen P. Morse this time using the ED finder and there it was – what I was looking for, the address
110 E. 17th Street, N.Y. City —-Because the enumeration was done in April and they married in Feb., it is possible the address listed on the marriage certificate was for Joseph Schiffman in this home
Looks like this is a boarding house run by owner, a 70 year old widow, Katherine Jar. Living there was Helen Buckingham (60), Jesse Morris (42), Fred Broege (44) and Arthur Cawtha (64)
It appears the addresses for the two of them were transposed and written in the incorrect box, or was it a ploy of Joseph’s to confuse the facts on the certificate?
Then we have the parental names used by Joseph Schiffman for his parents. Who were
Samuel Schiffman and Hannah Liebowitz
Had Rebecca ever met his parents or his family/siblings? Question I would love to find answers for.
Had he made these names up or were they real people he knew and was ‘borrowing’ their names? Using ancestry, familysearch and Italiangen (a wonderful resource) I located a naturalization record for a Samuel Schiffman now using Schiff married to a Hannah, -however this Samuel was born in 1893 – which is only 3 years older than our Joseph (Moe) he could not be his father as written on marriage certificate. I began thinking about it and turned to newspapers.com locating two articles that interested me. I found quite a few articles for a Samuel Schiff, 38, placing his birth year 1891, two years difference.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Nov. 26, 1929 – page 4
The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York) 27 Nov. 1929, Wed . Page 7
What I found most interesting with this was the reference to Sing Sing prison. Checking the date it was not consistent with Joseph’s (Moe) term at Sing Sing but with a stretch of the imagination, pick pocket, petty crime, Moe, check forgery conviction, petty crime could there be a connection between these two? Had they possibly known each other?
Checking back with newspaper.com using the name Hannah Leibowitz – a little surprised, I found numerous articles with her name in connection to ‘bigamy’. Here are just two of them recounting the court proceeding.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 14 Apr 1937, Wed . Page 32
Marriage year to Hannah had been 1927 and to Henrietta 1936.
DailyNews (New York, New, York) 12 Apr 1937, Mon . Page 458
While neither of these articles connect Joseph (Moe) to them – I found it ‘interesting’ to say the least that using these names – there was a connection to the crimes (and I use that loosely) we have found for Jospeh (Moe)
As I continue to research and hopefully uncover more documents for Moe Lifshitz/Joseph Schiffman it will be interesting to see if I can get a clearer picture of his life. I have yet to find any other information regarding the additional alias that were sited for him: Morton Gibson, Martin Brown, Moses Cohen, and Moe Howard… and if that last name sounds familiar it should, as that was the name of the famous ‘Moe’ Howard of “The Three Stooges”