Jacob Rotenberg and Family

Continuing my series of posts on my Rothenberg family (which I now realize is better transliterated as Rotenberg) of Warsaw and Lublin, Poland, I'd like to document what I now know about Jacob Rotenberg.

Jacob Rotenberg and Family

Continuing my series of posts on my Rothenberg family (which I now realize is better transliterated as Rotenberg) of Warsaw and Lublin, Poland, I'd like to document what I now know about Jacob Rotenberg. This post might rehash some old territory from previous posts but will also include new information. The cover photo of Jacob Rothenberg and several of his descendants is courtesy of my new-found cousin, Howard Siegel. The Rotenberg-Mershon family appears to the right of Jacob. The rest have not yet been accurately identified.

See previous posts:

Jacob was born somewhere in the Lublin region of Poland (likely in or near Grabowiec) around 1857 to parents Aryeh Leib Rotenberg and Golda/Goldie (last name unknown). Jacob's parents' names were discerned from his death record and gravestone, addressed later in this post.

Michigan Death Records, 1921-1952, Seeking Michigan, https://seekingmichigan.org, #005362053_03047, Death record for Jacob Rottenberg


A family genealogical document produced around 1990-1991 and provided in transcription from typewritten copy by cousin, JC, not only confirms the links to my Lichstein family and much of my research to date, but also states the following at its onset (original emphasis):

My grandfather, Jacob Rotenberg, was married twice. He had seven or eight children with his first wife, name unknown. He had two daughters. One daughter went to Israel and the other to Canada.
Upon the death of his wife, Jacob Rotenberg married Jeanette and had seven children with her.

I'm unsure who specifically wrote this history though JC believes it may have been Sarah Rotenberg Woodberg's son Louis Woodberg. I'm reluctant to believe the multiple wives story due mainly to the marriage record of my great grandmother Fanny (Finkel) Rotenberg Lichstein (the Canadian daughter referenced above) which lists Jochwet Marensztejn as her mother:

Indexed marriage data for Abram Symcha LICHTSZAJN and Finkel ROTENBERG, courtesy of JRI-Poland.

The microfilm scan received from JRI-Poland/JewishGen and translated by the kind folks at the Genealogy Translations Facebook group reads as follows (with grammatical edits):

Marriage in the city of Chełm on December 11, 1903 between: Abram Szymcha Lichsztajn (19 years), who was born and lived in the city of Krasnystaw, son of Ela and Frayda nee Kesel, and Finkel Rotenberg (25 years), daughter of Jankiel and Jachwet nee Morensztejn, who was born in Mołodiatycze, lived in Grabowiec, and is now staying in the city of Chełm.

From records of Jacob's other children, we can infer that Jochwet, Yochvit, Jennie, and Jeanette were all names for the same person, so, unless Fannie's mother was long forgotten by the time of her marriage it seems likely Jochwet was her mother. The big mystery here is about Fannie's proper birthdate. This marriage record shows her as being born many years earlier than her later records show, and I have not yet found a marriage document between Jacob and Jochwet to confirm the possibilities.

Regardless of a possible earlier marriage, Jacob and Jochwet would have to have been married by the mid-1880s for the remaining birth order to make sense. Fannie later documented herself as having been born in 1884, and her sister Miriam/Mary, included in the Rotenberg Genealogy document, was listed in her husband's US Naturalization record as being born as early as 1888:

Ancestry.com, Texas, Naturalization Records, 1852-1991 (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012), Ancestry.com, The National Archives at Fort Worth; Fort Worth, Texas; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21. Naturalization Record for Nathan Elia Steinberg. https://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=2509&h=339561&indiv=try.

Mary Rothenberg Steinberg's death record shows her birth year (possibly incorrectly) as 1891 and also includes her father and mother as Jacob and Jeanette.

Seeking Michigan, #005362076_00078, Death record of Mary Steinberg.


So far no birth records have been found for Jacob's children in Poland, but there are hints in other records. An updated accounting of the Rotenberg children appears below:

Name Birthplace Birth Date US Arrival Death Date
Several possible sons unaccounted for ? ? ?
Unknown daughter (went to Israel) ? ? ?
Moishe Rotenberg ? ? ?
Fannie (Finkel) Rotenberg Lichstein Mołodiatycze Bet. 1878-1884 21 Dec 1908 2 Feb 1952
Mary (Miriam/Manya) Rotenberg Steinberg Grabowiec 10 Mar 1888 29 Jun 1920 1 Sep 1943
Rose (Rosa) Rotenberg Rubin Warsaw? Abt. 1893 31 Oct 1911 13 Sep 1925
Minnie Rotenberg Mershon Warsaw? 22 Mar 1893 abt. 1914 15 Dec 1973
Benjamin Rotenberg Grabowiec 28 Apr 1894 4 Dec 1925 24 Mar 1960
Bertha (Brana/Brajndla) Rotenberg Lederman Grabowiec 15 Mar 1895 Bet. 1928-1935* Jun 1972
Sura Rotenberg Woodberg Lipowicz Warsaw? 15 Apr 1900 14 Sep 1921 15 Aug 1966

Sometime after the birth of Jacob's last child, Jochwet passed away. The first of his grandchildren named after her may have been Jennie/Jeanette Mershon, born in 1914 (Ashkenazi Jewish tradition does not permit naming children after living ancestors, so it can sometimes be discerned when an ancestor passed away by when grandchildren were named after them):

Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Birth Index, 1910-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: New York City Department of Health, courtesy of www.vitalsearch-worldwide.com. Digital Images. https://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61457&h=482668&indiv=try


Jacob left Poland with his daughter Sarah via Gdansk (formerly Danzig) on the S. S. Latvia on 31 Aug 1921 and arrived in New York on 14 Sep 1921:

Ancestry.com, New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1921; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3022; Line: 22; Page Number: 206. Record for Jankel Rotenberg. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7488&h=4025864403&indiv=try.

From there, we know he stayed for a time in Brooklyn, NY with his daughter, Rose Rotenberg Rubin, as per the 1925 Census:

Ancestry.com, New York, State Census, 1925 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012), Ancestry.com, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 32; Assembly District: 16; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings; Page: 32. Record for Jacob Rothenberg. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=2704&h=18217884&indiv=try.

From the 1930 and 1940 census, we know Jacob was staying in Detroit, Michigan with his daughter Sarah Rotenberg Woodberg throughout the 1930s and into 1940:

Ancestry.com, 1930 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002), Ancestry.com, Year: 1930; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 2340767. Record for Sara Woodberg. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=6224&h=12126962&indiv=try.
Ancestry.com, 1940 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012), Ancestry.com, Year: 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01857; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 84-559. Record for Sarah Woodberg. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=2442&h=85450053&indiv=try.

Sometime in this span, likely while on a trip to New York, portraits were taken of Jacob and the family including the one used as a cover photo in this post. My cousin, Howard Siegel, also provided this outstanding portrait of Jacob from that time. This is the first photo my mother and I have ever seen of Jacob.

Unknown photographer. Subject is Jacob Rotenberg. Via cousin Howard Siegel.


Jacob passed away in 1940, shortly after the census on which he appeared. I was able to turn up his death certificate in public records on which his daughter's husband provided information and his residence was the same as that of the Woodbergs.

Michigan Death Records, 1921-1952, Seeking Michigan, https://seekingmichigan.org, #005362053_03047, Death record for Jacob Rottenberg. http://seekingmichigan.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16317coll1/id/1473672/rec/2.

This allowed me to correlate dates with the correct Jacob Rotenberg in Find-a-Grave. Jacob was buried in Section A, Row 32 of the Beth Abraham Cemetery in Ferndale, Oakland, Michigan, USA.

Photo by Gilly, Find-A-Grave Memorial #152053036. Hebrew name reads "Yakob son of Aryeh Leib."

Further Research

Jacob's Parents and Siblings

Having the names Aryeh Leib Rotenberg and Goldie may provide answers to more distant genetic cousins. I found a marriage record in Chelm for what may eventually prove to be a sibling of Jacob's. I'll be reaching out to JewishGen when I can for a copy of the original scan, if available. As my own great grandmother's marriage was in Chelm, it's not impossible for Chaja Liba's marriage to have also taken place there. I'll reserve judgment until more hard evidence exists, but Lejba Rotenberg and Rechla Golda are similar enough names to be worth investigating.

Marriage record via JewishGen/JRI-Poland.

So far I have not discovered any genetic ties down the Rotenberg-Bukszpan line on the DNA websites, though I'm keeping my eyes open.