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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finding a Jewish ancestor

Dan's Question:
My wife’s great grandfather’s last years and his death are somewhat of a mystery. I hope you can assist. He was Louis Rubenstein.
While I have some specific dates about him in Chicago, here’s the jist.
He lived with his wife Henrietta Pearlstein in Chicago, raising four children.
She died in childbirth with the last child, he placed a couple into an orphanage in Cleveland, and tried raising the older two. He retrieved the two in the orphanage “with his new wife” around 1882. And, that’s the last we heard of him.

The family believes that he and his new wife moved to New York City and died in a Jewish home for the elderly there around 1920, or so.I’d like your advice in one major area now: find his re-marriage and new wife’s info; and also where/when did he die.

I’m eager to access the various Homes-for-the-elderly’s resident records, around 1920. How can I do this, and what recommendation do you have??

Olive Tree Answer:
Dear Dan - Unfortunately, there are no readily available records of Homes for the Elderly. There being no Medicare, no Social Security, no federal programs for the elderly, official documents are not to be found. Additionally, there were few assisted-living facilities: most folks simply moved in with their children.

You will have to rely upon traditional research avenues to find Louis and his new family.

The Illinois State archives has pre-1900 marriages online. If he married in Illinois you can obtain the marriage information. You will have to spend some time there, as the Search function is precise: no soundex, no miracode.

Likewise the information for the death of Henrietta may be found there (if she died in Illinois, it is possible that they moved after April 1880 census).

Have you looked at City Directories for Chicago and Cleveland? There must have been a reason for him to have chosen a Cleveland orphanage. Both Footnote,comicon and have City Directories.

Follow the known children. Obtain their census, marriage, death records. When you find a birthdate for Maurice, you will (presumably) have an approximate date for Henrietta's death. I use the census records on but Footnote,comicon also has many online. You may find other sites that have the census records you need.

Louis and his new wife may be living with one of those children; and if his new wife was younger than he, they could have more children. And the data collected on those kids will supply a maiden name for the second wife.

It will be quite a challenge to find the correct Louis Rubenstein in 1920 NYC census if you do not have additional information at hand. Can I assume you have consulted Jewish Gen for help with Jewish genealogy records such as Senior Homes?

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