Monday, August 15, 2011

Last day: Touching Lincoln

Touching Lincoln 

One of the most interesting discoveries of this trip was finding out more about the Salzensteins, the family of our great-great grandmother (Carla's paternal great grandmother), Sarah Salzenstein. We learned that there were three Salzenstein brothers who emigrated from Germany (Halsdorf, Hessen)(also called Hesse Cassel), through Baltimore, arriving in the Sangamon Valley in 1831, among the earliest Jewish families in the area. The Salzenstein brothers were Elias, Louis, and Jacob and they each settled in a different town, all within 20 miles of Springfield. Louis's wife, Minnie, was the first German-speaking woman in the area. (A fourth brother, Solomon, remained in Germany, but after he died in 1864 his widow, Henrietta, and daughter, Sophie, came to the Sangamon Valley.)

Elias was the oldest brother (1792 - 1873), married to Jeanette Weil (1823-1894) (also from Germany) and the father of Sarah Salzenstein (1846 - 1908). Sarah (sometimes referred to as "Alice" or "Mary"), had a sister Betty (also called "Bessie") (1842-1933) and brothers Emanuel (1853-1933) and Albert (1859 -1915).  Sarah came to the US in ___, and arrived in Illinois when she was 14 in about 1849.

Abraham Nusbaum (1827 - 1896) came to the US in ___ from Bavaria, first settling in Cincinatti where his father, Baer (or Bernhard) Nusbaum was a cattle trader. Sarah Salzenstein and Abraham Nusbaum  married in _____ and first lived in Salisbury, where Elias had settled and ran a store.   Their first child, Moses, was born in Salisbury in 1855.  They moved to Petersburg, where Abe was a storekeeper, and Charles, our great grandfather, was born in 1859. Abe Nusbaum ran his store in Petersburg until about 1874.  He died at age 69 in 1896 (the death certificate says he died of stomach cancer after a year-long illness).  

Sarah's brother Albert was "a prominent member of the Sangamon county bar" after graduating high school in Springfield and apprenticing with a law firm.  He was admitted to the bar in 1880 and became the city attorney of Springfield in 1881.  Her brother Emanuel was "one of Springfield's most respected citizens".  He started out in the business of "buying and selling of cattle" and then came to Springfield to start a livery business which evolved into an  "automobile storage business". "His ability and fairness attracted a large trade" and he supplied the national guard with horses for their summer encampments.  Sarah's sister Betty (Bessie) married Benjamin Nusbaum (Abe Nusbaum's brother) and they lived in Springfield, where Benjamin worked in the cattle trading business with Emanuel.. 

Sarah's uncle, Louis Salzenstien, was a cattle trader and storekeeper in Athens (pronounced with a long a). The store, now the Long Nine Museum, was named so because Abraham Lincoln and eight of his fellow legislators from the Sangamon Valley, all quite tall, had a banquet there in 1836-37.  Louis Salzenstein bought the store in the 1830's and became friends with Lincoln, who is said to have delivered mail to the store. Lincoln also visited the store as he rode circuit around the area. There is a story that Lincoln borrowed an ax from Louis. When Lincoln came back later to tell Louis that he had lost the ax, Louis told Lincoln not to worry and refused payment for the lost ax.

Salzenstein store next door
(now Long Nine Museum)
Louis & Minnie Salzenstein's home, Athens

 This memorial gate in front of the Athens American Legion Hall was dedicated to Sol and Albert Salzenstein.  Sol's headstone says he died in 1918.  Albert was Sarah's brother, and Sol a cousin.

At the same time Louis had his store in Athens, Abe Nusbaum had a store in Petersburg, and Samuel Stern (Carla's paternal great grandfather) had a store in Lincoln, in Logan County, about 60 miles from Springfield. Louis's store was the most famous, because of its connection to Lincoln.  We learned more about how such stores worked from an article in the Chicago Jewish History newsletter written by Louis' great-great nephew. Louis made trips on a flatboat from Beardstown down the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to St. Louis and Cincinnati to purchase goods and brought them back the same way.  These trips would often take a month or longer.    

The three Salzenstein brothers, Abe Nusbaum and his brother Benjamin, the Lillensteins (Moses' business partner) and Charles Stern, also from Springfield, were among a handful of Jewish families who settled in the area by 1860. They started a Jewish synagogue in Springfield, B'rith Shalom, serving the whole Sangamon Valley. The synagogue started with services in German and Hebrew but before long adopted English (with alternate services in German). The families continued their association with the synagogue throughout their lifetimes, and a rabbi from Springfield officiated at weddings and funerals.

These families did business together, prospering as cattle traders, stock traders, livery keepers and storekeepers, and their families became further connected through marriages. Both Benjamin Nusbaum and Abe Nusbaum married Salzensteins. There were marriages between the Salzensteins and Lillensteins. They served on the boards of banks and other business ventures, like coal companies. The wives were members of philanthropic women's clubs. Some of their children, like Moses Nusbaum (Charles' brother) and Meyer Lillenstein continued in the cattle trading business and others, like Louis and Elias Salzenstein, continued in the storekeeping business. A few sons, like Charles Nusbaum (1860-1924) (our great grandfather) and Albert Salzenstein (his uncle), apprenticed with lawyers or attended law school and after a time became members of the Illinois State Bar, setting up practice in the county seats. 

Charles Nusbaum married Clara Stern, from Lincoln in 1893 (Albert Salzenstein was a witness) and after a few years of small town law practice, became State's Attorney for Menard County (1888-1896). Carl, our grandfather, was born in 1896. Charles became an attorney for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, and the family moved to Chicago in when Carl started at the university there, before World War I.. Carl and Hermien married in 1916, before he went to sea.  At age 64, Charles died suddenly from heart failure on the golf course in 1924, leaving his wife Clara ("Granny Nusbaum") and son Carl quite well off financially.

Mose continued to live in Petersburg, most likely with his mother Sarah after Abe died, and continued as a cattle trader and investor in farming and ranching properties with Meyer Lillenstein.  After Sarah died in 1908 (pneumonia) at age 73, Mose moved into the New Salem Hotel, where he lived for the last 27 years of his life, until he died from pneumonia at the age of 80 in 1936.

Mose left his estate in the hands of Arthur Lillenstein, the son of his business partner, Meyer Lillenstein who died several years earlier. Mose never married and had no children. Before he died, he set up a trust for his grandneices, Carla and Amy, and grandnephew, Milton (“Buddy”) Nusbaum, and he left farm property to Buddy as well. Arthur administered the trust, doling out money to our grandmother, Hermein Nusbaum, for the children's clothes and school expenses, and, among other things, paying for Amy's college tuition at Antioch. The money from Uncle Mose helped Hermien and the children weather the depression while Hermien was developing Our Baby's First Seven Years and becoming self-supporting after her divorce from Carl Nusbaum in 1931 (?). (Apparently, Uncle Moses was not pleased with his hapless nephew Carl and left him nothing.) (Carla's inheritance from Uncle Moses ultimately helped seed the beginnings of Paul Harris Apparel in 1953.) 

Today, many of these patriarchs and matriarchs and their children are buried under the trees in the “old Jewish section” of the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, in an area called “Old Vault”. Abe and Sarah Nusbaum are there, and Mose Nusbaum, along with a baby Isadora Nusbaum. Benjamin Nusbaum is there with his wife Bessie. and many Salzenstein, Lillensteins and Sterns. The Springfield phone book lists no Nusbaums and only one Salzenstien. These aspiring, pioneering German Jews left their mark through their children, and their children's children, and their children, who continue to try to understand how their family history influences our lives today.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 5: Springfield

The State House Inn, where we are staying, is very nicely appointed in a modern style with nice touches like bathrobes and a full hearty breakfast included.  

We started at the Oak Ridge Cemetery, where we drove around looking for the Nusbaum family plot.  I had a section # - 5, but it took awhile to find the right area - it was in a part called "old vault".  Once we got to the right area, we found section #5 and the Nusbaum family plot - with Abraham (Carla's great-grandfather), Sarah (his wife), and Moses (their son, Uncle Mose, who was Charles' brother and Carla's great uncle).  In another part of the same section we found many Salzenstein graves - Sarah, Abraham's wife, was Sarah Saltzenstein.  Ann found the grave for Benjamin Nusbaum, who we believe was Abe's brother, and his wife Bessie and a daughter.  

Abraham Nusbaum

baby Nusbaum

Louis and Minnie Salzenstein

Dust to Dust
Soul to God

This section of Oak Ridge was a cemetery site for Congregation B'rith Shalom, the oldest synagogue in central Illinois, started by German Jews in 1858, and a magnet for the sprinkling of Jews in the Sangamon Valley, including Petersburg and Athens (pronounced with a long "a"), where the Salzensteins had a store at the time Lincoln lived in the area.  (Mim found some very interesting stories about this in a History of Athens.)

Cheri figured out that Sara Salzenstein came to Illinois in 1849, when she was 14.  Abe Nusbaum came to Illinois in 1853, when he was 26.  Quite possibly Abe's younger brother Benjamin had already settled in Springfield.  We couldn't find any marriage records, but their first child, Moses, was born in 1855.  Cheri also found Abe's obituary which said he was survived by his brother in Springfield.  In another publication, Benjamin Nusbaum's parents were identified as Baer and Marion.  Benjamin Nusbaum also married a Salzenstien in 1863.  

Cheri has been putting together timelines for each person so we can keep it all straight and Ann has offered to scan documents into the wiki site she started several years ago.  No photos today - I used my camera and not my phone.  Cheri & I are off to the copy center while Ann & Mim go to the Lincoln museum.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 4: Petersburg, New Salem, Springfield

Petersburg - We stayed at the Branson House B & B, up on the hill, a stately Eastlake Victorian with remarkable plaster detailing, marble fireplaces, and an old elevator now used as a dumb waiter to carry suitcases upstairs.  The proprietor is also the Petersburg mayor and he had lots of stories to tell.  We started at the New Salem Hotel, where Mose Nusbaum (Carla's uncle) lived for the last 20+ years of his life - it is now an antique store.  I liked this painting of the hotel that was in the store, but the photo didn't turn out too well.

In the courthouse, we found the picture with Charles Nusbaum (Carla's grandfather) which I had thought was at the dedication of the new courthouse, but it was just before the razing of the old courthouse.  He was  State's Attorney (like district attorney) and is standing in front with other city fathers.  (There are also people standing on the roof, but we couldn't figure out why.)

We also found the death certificate for Abraham Nusbaum (Charles' father - Carla's great grandfather), from August 16, 1896.  It says he was born in Platz, Bavaria, was a retired merchant, and had lived in the state for 43 years. 

Despite trips to the library and the historical society we were unable to find any addresses for the family or anything about Abraham Nusbaum's store, though we picked a storefront we liked on the courthouse square and decided it would have been a fitting location. 

 I did find notices in the newspaper about Charles - his office listed as in the courthouse - and some public notices about wills and estates signed by him. 

 Ann found a description of Abraham in a directory of the Masons that gave his father's name as "Christian" Nusbaum and his mother as Mary Kahn.  A different (and we think more accurate) resource lists Abraham's father as Bernard Nusbaum, who followed Abraham from Bavaria to Cincinnati but stayed there when Abraham moved on to Petersburg.

Cheri stayed on to do more digging for information while Ann, Mim and I walked through New Salem, a restored pioneer community two miles away where Lincoln lived for about 8 years in his 20's before moving to Springfield.  Very calm and quiet and restorative.  We met up in Springfield at the State House Inn, with a magnificent view of the Illinois capital with its multi-tiered rotunda.

We are all busily trying to make sense of all the information we've been collecting.  Stay tuned.  And think about Cincinnati as the next site for a family history trip.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 3: Chicago, Lincoln, Petersburg

Today we rented a car and first stop was the Waldheim Jewish Cemetery near Forest Park, west of Chicago, a sprawling complex of hundreds of Jewish burial societies, synagogues, associations, etc, each with a gate and sign and specific rules.  We checked in at the office and gave a list of names and approximate dates and in a short time we had the gate number, row number, and grave number. 

We found two family plots in the gate for the Free Sons of Israel Cemetery Association - one for the LeBoskys - with Harris LeBosky and Mary LeBosky (Earl's mother Estelle's parents), along with Benjamin LeBosky and Jacob LeBosky (two of Estelle's brothers).  In a nearby plot we found Estelle Harris and Jay C. Harris (Earl's parents) next to Goldie Friedman (one of Estelle's sisters) and her husband, Jacob J. Friedman, and son, Harold B. Friedman.  The plots were all fairly well maintained. 

Then we drove south towards Petersburg.  On the way, we stopped at Lincoln, the county seat of the next county to the north of Petersburg, the home of Clara Stern's family.  Clara was Charles Nusbaum's wife (Clara and Charles were Carl's parents - Carl was Grandma Hermien's husband).  We found a very helpful clerk in the county courthouse who found us Clara and Charles' wedding certificate, along with the death certificate for Samuel Stern, Clara's father.  At the library, we found an advertisement for "S. Stern & Son, The Clothiers & Furnishers, opp. court House Door - Lincoln, Ill" in an 1894 newspaper, and addresses for the Stern's store, on the courthouse square, and home, a few blocks from the square in an area of nicer homes but quite remuddled. 

The clerk also guided us to the cemetery where Samuel was buried, the Old Union Cemetery.  Driving through the cemetery, Mim spotted the "Stern" monument and we found a small section of the cemetery I affectionately called "the Jewish neighborhood" - all very Jewish sounding surnames (maybe 15-20 surnames in all) but no visible markings on the headstones distinguishing them as Jewish, separated by a small path from the rest of the cemetery.  There we found headstones for Jeanette Stern and Samuel Stern (Clara's parents), and one for a baby Stern.  It was a very peaceful setting, lots of trees, grassy and well-tended, bordering on a farm.

We were a bit awed by touching this personal history.  At one point, Ann read Psalm 23,
son of
S & J Stern
Nov. 14, 1870
1 yr 5 mo 18 ds
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff -
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

We took lots of pictures - I'll post some tomorrow, if I can.

Love, Suzy

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 2: Chicago

After a very light breakfast this morning, Mim & I headed over to the Chicago History Museum, where we strolled separately through the exhibits. The special exhibit was on being gay/lesbian/bisexual, etc. in Chicago, and it included an interesting section on Jane Addams and her life partner,  Mary Rozet Smith.  I found a photo of the Unity Building, no longer standing, where Clarence Darrow and Jake Le Bosky (Earl's uncle, the labor lawyer and rabblerouser), respectively, had their law offices in the early  1900's.  We also saw a poster for the Alton-Chicago Railroad, which Charles Nusbaum represented in the teens and 20's.  I liked the exhibit on the 1933 Chicago World's Fair - with its wonderful Art Deco posters - and thought about Dad selling ice cream there. (Am I remembering that right?  Was he selling something else?  Was it a different world's fair?)

Then we met our cousin Ann, who had just arrived from Cleveland, at the farmer's market at Lincoln Park.  We found a shady spot to have lunch and catch up, then walked back to the History Museum to check out the archives, where we were only allowed to bring in a pencil and a pad.  (Found out later that we could have brought laptops, which would have been easier than using a pencil.)  The librarian showed us how to access the archive newspapers in an online data base, the card catalog, city directors and clipping files.  

Ann found some addresses in the city directory:

Earl's Mother's Family

In 1917, Jacob ("Jake") C. LeBosky was a lawyer with an office at 127 N. Dearborn, #820, and lived at 2115 W. North Ave.

In 1917, Leo LeBosky (Earl's Aunt Jenny's husband & Marion Edelstein's father) , also a lawyer, worked at 139 S. Clark st. #1511, and lived at 5136 Ingleside Ave.  In 1923, he  lived at 5488 Everett Ave & practiced in a firm called LeBosky & Pennington.  (In 1928, they were at 5019 Woodlawn.)

Carla's Father's Family

In 1923, Charles Nusbaum (Carl Nusbaum's father and Carla's grandfather) was a lawyer & lived at 5341 Hyde Park Blvd.

In 1928, Carl Nusbaum lived at 5124 Kenwood Ave.  

We also emailed ourselves lots of newspaper articles that will need going through to find information of interest.  Mim found an article about the Piccadilly Theater, where Earl worked as an usher during high school, and place where he sold shoes. (I didn't remember either of these things.)

Our last stop was the Hull House Museum, consisting of the two remaining buildings from the original block, now surrounded by the University of Illinois - Chicago.  This was our favorite stop - after reading Jane Addams' Twenty Years at Hull House, we enjoyed seeing and being in the space, and the exhibits were very accessible.  You could see the bed where she slept, a part of her library, meeting rooms and dining rooms, and get a flavor of the austere yet warm balance throughout.  

Mim found this display about an art instructor at the Hull House who would have been there at the time that Carla volunteered teaching art lessons there.

There were some fascinating maps upstairs, like this one, showing the nationalities of people living in the tenements surrounding the Hull House.  No evidence today of tenements at all.

While Ann and Mim finished walking through the museum, I sat outside and sketched the courtyard.

Tonight we ate at the small French restaurant in the hotel (not the more expensive one) - early enough that we had a quiet table in the corner and the food was excellent!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 1: Chicago

My sister Mim and I found each other at Midway Airport and then taxied to the historic Belden-Stratford Hotel in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  After a very slow check-in and mishap with a cell phone (kindly returned by the taxi driver who heard it ringing in the back seat), we found the suite to be very pleasant and settled in for a bit before taking a walk.  The air outside was surprisingly balmy and we walked across the street to the Lincoln Park Conservatory - a beautiful Victorian airie with room after room of tropical plants, orchids, ferns, and more.

This evening, cousin Howard Nusbaum and his wife Ann Henley took us to dinner at Salpicon, a wonderfully quiet place with a very solicitous waiter who brought us the most beautifully created and delicious haute Mexican food.  Howard, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Chicago, shared his most recent research focus which has something to do with articulating the limits of sensory reception, the power of suggestion, and the patterns that emerge when looking at lots of data at a very micro level.  He is working with an anthropologist on the religious phenomenon of hearing voices and talking in tongues.  I know I am not doing his work justice here but it was a wonderful conversation and very multi-faceted.  Ann, too, had an interesting update on her work with connecting undergraduate psychology students to research opportunities.  And we learned that Howard's daughter Rebecca just moved to Galveston to start a medical pathology PhD program.  Mim shared her recent work on Health Reform policy, explaining some of the changes to Medicaid and what is at stake with the new health care regulations.  And I, of course, shared stories about Emma, our rescue dog and companion dog to Cody.