Thursday, December 10, 2009

1910 - Marital Motivations - Part II

I consider myself careful regarding what I conclude from evidence. I try to assume as little as possible. I'd say I try to assume nothing -- but there is an anecdote of Mark Twain being told to assume nothing as a reporter, and turning in the following news story:
"A woman giving the name of Mrs. James Jones, who is reported to be one of the society leaders of the city, is said to have given what purported to be a party yesterday to a number of alleged ladies. The hostess claims to be the wife of a reputed attorney."
(This anecdote appears many places, but I've been unable to locate a definitive source.)

Where was I? I have a tendency to focus my research on my ancestors, and their descendants. With limited exception, I haven't done a lot of research on the spouses of collateral relatives. However, if I am going to make suppositions about marriages, I really need to research both bride and groom.

So last Wednesday
I noted that Nellie and Bella Newmark, two sisters of my great grandfather, were married in January of 1910, nine months after arriving in St. Louis. I was surprised at the shortness of time involved.

I failed to ask where their husbands were nine months earlier. A grandchild of Nellie quickly informed me that her husband, Morris Fudemberg, had a nice stable job as a tailor on Savile Row in England, with at least one regular customer without a surname -- George. He left that behind to follow the woman he loved. (George had a major career advancement in May of 1910, due to the death of his father, Edward. If the family story is accurate, Morris likely worked for Davies and Son.)

I quickly found Morris's passenger record. He traveled on the SS Philadelphia in June of 1909, three months after Nellie. Under the column of "Friend or Relative" he was joining, he listed the Newmarks. So there is no question in my mind that Morris and Nellie met in London.

What about Charles Cohen, Bella's husband? I wasn't able to locate his passenger record. All the censuses said he immigrated in 1909. Though its not uncommon for the same year to be put down for husband and wife, even if they immigrated in different years.

I found his name in the St. Louis Naturalization Index, which indicates he declared his intent between August and December, 1910, suggesting that 1909 might be an accurate year for him.

So on Saturday morning I visited the library, and discovered his Declaration of Intent said he arrived in December of 1904. (The handwriting is clearly a 4, and not a 9.) Almost five years before the Newmarks arrived. Assuming the document is correct, this means that he met Bella in St. Louis, right?

Well...perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to make that decision. His last prior residence was London. He may have known Bella before he left, and they were reacquainted when Bella arrived in St. Louis in the Spring of 1909. It is thought he was six years older, and would have been 20 to Bella's 14 when he left in 1904. They were unlikely romantic, but Charles, like Morris, and all the Newmark men, was a tailor. It's not unlikely they knew each other, at least professionally.

And there was another bit of information on that Declaration of Intent that jumped out. Charles Cohen's town of origin - before he moved to England - Sokolov, Russia. The exact same town of origin for Morris Fudemberg.

So I could easily write a story of two friends from Sokolov, traveling to London, starting tailoring businesses. One heads for America in 1904. Where does he settle? I can't answer that question yet. But the other friend travels to America in 1909, following his love, and they head for St. Louis. Perhaps Charles was already there. Perhaps Morris wrote to Charles and suggested he join them in St. Louis. Maybe told (or reminded) Charles that this girl he knew, Nellie, had a sister.

The two couples took out a marriage license on Jan 3, 1910, and were married in what was likely a double wedding on January 30, 1910. At least they were married on the same day by the same Rabbi at the same address. (Source: marriage licenses - also in the library's microfilm department.) The picture on the left is of Morris and Nellie.

I'm not currently in contact with any descendants of Charles and Bella, though there is some hope that situation could change. They might certainly be able to help me out here. I will continue my attempt to assume as little as possible.

Note: On Charles Cohen's intent, it says he arrived on the passenger ship, Seawick. I'm thinking this is likely the Sedgwick, which may have been going by the name Arizona by 1904. I've been unable to even find record online of what dates this ship made the London-NY passage in 1904, or thereabouts.

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

What an interesting story and mystery. Hope you are successful in turning up more information in support of your hypothesis - sounds as though there must have been some sort of prior acquaintance.