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