In honor of all who served, no matter the country, here are a few photos of them in uniform.
There have been several Braunhart men who have served in the military. And yes, some served in the German army in World War I.
In honor of all who served, no matter the country, here are a few photos of them in uniform.
The earliest photos of Braunhart babies and children are from 1900 on. Just for fun, here is a selection of some of them:
Some families are quite open about talking about all of their relatives and ancestors. Unfortunately on my father's side of the family - they were not. I do not have any idea why that was the case. For example, of my 4 great grandparents on that side, when I started my family history research, I only knew the name of one of my great grandparents - Isidor Heyman. I do not recall at all the mention of any of the other three.
However, I do recall the mention of my grandmother's cousin - Eric Brock. All I remember from the few short verbal snippets is that he was an attorney living in New York.
So for this inaugural edition of "Ancestor of the Month" we will salute Eric Brock. Fortunately, because of successful genealogy research, a bit about Eric's life has been discovered in the past 10 years.
Elkan Eric Brock was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 27,1906. Eric as he was called, was the son of William Broch and Amalie (Molly) Bernstein Broch. Amalie was a younger sister of my great grandmother - Ernestine Bernstein Heyman, Isidor's wife.
The surname Broch was sometimes spelled Brock and after the early 1900s it appears that the family settled on the latter version. Eric was named after William Broch's father Elkan Broch from Austria. Both William and Amalie immigrated to America in the late 1890s, and married in New York City in 1899. From census records we find that William was a translator, language teacher, magazine writer, and calligrapher. Family lore states that Amalie was also a magazine writer, yet there is no proof of that yet.
Eric graduated from Brooklyn Law School in the late 1920s. He is cited as a lawyer in the 1930 and 1940 censuses; his older sister Regina a shoe designer, and oldest sister Teresa a stenographer in a bond house.
He married later in his life and was devoted to his mother, caring for her in her later years at their home at 780 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, a place where they resided for many many years. The senior Brock, William it appears was estranged from the family as he is not living with the family in neither the 1930 or 1940 censuses, choosing a different residence. William died in 1943. Amalie passed in 1965 in Manhattan. William is buried at Beth El Cemetery in Westwood, New Jersey. Coexisting in Westwood is the Cedar Park Cemetery, where Amalie and Eric are buried side by side.
Eric was the one and only of the New York Braunharts and Bernsteins who traveled to Northern California frequently to visit his relatives. The bulk of the family had moved to the San Francisco area, starting in the 1860s when Bernhard and Samuel Braunhart had initially located after immigrating. The Heyman families and Bernstein families moved to Oakland starting in 1910, and others made the move over the next 30 years.
Here is Eric with some of his cousins and other relatives in the late 1930s while he was visiting them in Oakland. Eric is the balding man with the suit and tie just behind the older woman in the center - his Aunt Ernestine.
Eric focused primarily on estate law. We know from the will of his first cousin, once removed - Selma Braunhart Gandel, that he was the attorney of record.
Eric met his wife Edith Sternberg Walker in a law office. Twelve years Eric's junior, she was a Holocaust survivor and was divorced from her first husband, with one son and one daughter, who provided me with the information about Eric's last twenty years of life, as well as details about his marriage to Edith. Edith was quite interested in getting married, however Eric, in his 60s, was reluctant. Eventually love won out and they were married in Maryland. Unfortunately the specific location and exact date have not been discovered as yet.
They lived happily together for about 15 years. He retired from his law practice in the mid-1970s.
Eric's final days were traumatic for he and his wife. Suffering from dementia and other mental problems, sadly Eric became abusive, which was not his nature. He had to be institutionalized. Eric died at Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital at age 77 on April 9, 1984. Edith survived for another 24 years.
In the course of discovering one's ancestry - it certainly is a journey and many times a trek (a journey with obstacles). If we consider Lewin Jacob Braunhart and his wife Wilhelmine Zadek as the first generation of Braunharts; and Bernhard, Samuel, Sara, and Alexander as the 2nd, then the 3rd generation would be the seventeen surviving children of Bernhard, Sara, and Alexander. These I have previously written about as quite an admirable group of ancestors in The Memorable Seventeen. The 3rd generation was exemplified by immigration and escape. Half of the 17 immigrated to America, and half escaped from Schubin to Berlin, and many of those escaped Germany from the Nazis, although two were unsuccessful.
So what about the next generation - the fourth? There were a total of 35 children born to the 17 grandchildren of Lewin and Wilhelmine. Who were they and what makes them special? These 35 were exemplified by the majority being born in America as a result of their parents immigrating. However, holdovers from the 3rd generation still occurred, as a few of these 35 had to also escape Nazi Germany.
The birth years range from 1892 to 1936 - quite a span. Here is a list, followed by names and photos. Truly an impressive bunch:
And here they are:
Isidore went to his room and didn't reappear to the family for three days. At that time in the late 1940s he was living with his daughter Mynette Heyman and her husband Henry Pound and their son Clyde. When Isidor came out of his room with a huge grin on his face, he displayed for the family a necktie with an exchangeable knot that could be easily changed out as the wearer wished. The clip-on tie was invented in Clinton, Iowa in 1928 - but this may have been the first exchangeable knot-based tie. Who knows?
Isidore Heyman was my great grandfather. He was the only one of my great grandparents who was alive when I was. I do not remember him at all, except for a vague memory that he smelled funny. He died when I was only eight years old.
For some reason, for the past few years as I have been researching his history and stories, I have come to call him "Izzie," so as a nickname that he probably either never heard or didn't like, I will use that moniker fondly throughout his story.
Izzie was born in Posen, Prussia in 1866. Unfortunately I have not been able to pinpoint the exact city or town of his birth. According to a marriage record, his father's name was Hyman Heyman, and his mother was Caroline. The marriage record states that her last name was "Bufsky" but I believe that it was a phonetic spelling. For some reason, yet to be proven, I suspect that her last name was Jacobowsky.
He immigrated to America in 1882 as a 16 year old young man. There is a very fuzzy story that his family were furriers, but there is no evidence of that as yet.
Ernestine Bernstein became Izzie's wife on July 19, 1893 in Manhattan. Ernestine was the very first female Braunhart to have immigrated to America. She did so at age 17, unaccompanied and unmet at the Port of New York in 1888.
Ernestine and Izzie had six children - Robert, for whom my father is named, died as a youngster from tuberculosis prior to 1910. Celia Heyman, my grandmother, was the oldest, followed by Martha, Arthur, Leo and Wilhelmine (who changed her name to Mynette because she hated her first name - and wasn't too fond of Minnie either).
Izzie was a very creative sort and had many interesting occupations. Early in his life in New York, he was a pocketbook manufacturer and registered a patent in 1887 for a leather coin purse. Throughout his life he was involved with leather goods manufacturing.
He sued the Eastern Brewing Company in 1898. He drove their horse drawn "beer wagons," and stopped another beer wagon with its horses out of control from running over a family. He was dragged for quite a distance and suffered many scratches and scrapes, as well as needing surgery on his skull. He carried the large indent in his head for the rest of his life.
Various other occupations included owning and operating a fish market, as well as operating a nickelodeon theater, where his daughter played the piano during the screening of silent movies.
The Heyman family moved to Oakland, California in 1910. Ernestine's mother, Sara Braunhart Bernstein, and Ernestine's brother Max had previously moved to California in 1906, shortly after the death of Samuel Braunhart, the politician.
Izzie owned a pool hall initially after moving to California, and then his creativity took over. He invented the metal stairs that came out of the trains as steps for passengers to embark or disembark. Unfortunately, he was not a great businessman and after showing his invention to Southern Pacific, they promptly had someone else manufacture them, and Izzie received nothing.
Back to his roots, Izzie formed the Bay Cities Bag Company. He invented the valise hinge that was used in doctor's bags, and was also used for many years in men's grooming kits. Below is a photo of the hinge, patented in 1921:
Izzie ran the Bay Cities Bag Company for nearly two decades, manufacturing leather purses, Boston bags and other miscellaneous leather items. He retired in the late 1930s and his leather goods business soon became a new business founded by his son-in-law Mervyn Marks. That company, California Optical Leather Company, existed for another 40 years under the tutelage of my grandfather Mervyn and his two sons, Robert and Merv Jr.
Izzie's sweet wife Ernestine died in 1944. Izzie became an excellent whist card player and probably spent the last 11 years of his life dreaming up new ideas.
I have never met any of my Braunhart ancestors. The only person older than my grandmother Celia Heyman Marks who I met, was Celia's father Isidor Heyman, who was married to a "Braunhart" - Ernestine Bernstein. Ernestine died in 1944, two years before I was born. She was the granddaughter of the Braunhart patriarch and matriarch Lewin Braunhart and Wilhelmine Zadek Braunhart. I was too young to make much sense of what Isidor had to say and I didn't see enough of him to develop much of a relationship.
All I know about these ancestors are the stories that have been told and the letters that are nearly a hundred years old that we have had translated.
I have posted often about my great great great uncle Samuel Braunhart, who was beyond feisty, and his convictions coupled with his "loud mouth" often got him in trouble. But he was an honorable man who cared for the "little people." If anyone happened to know both Sam and myself, it would be quite easy to make a connection between our two personalities. So I am quite drawn to his story and his exploits.
Yet, there is one more Braunhart (of many) that I would loved to have met - and that is Lilly Braunhart. Lilly was the daughter of Julius Braunhart and his wife Dorka Asch Braunhart. Julius has been identified as brilliant, but also a gambler who deserted his family. Dorka, Lilly, and Lilly's younger brother Lothar, escaped from Germany and were refugees in Shanghai. After ten years, they left Shanghai, then spent part of their time in New York City, but soon moved to San Francisco, the place of my birth. The unfortunate thing is that I was alive for over 20 years that Lilly and I were both in the San Francisco area. And we never met, since I didn't know anything about the Braunhart family.
Lilly was a very smart lady. She left New York City, because her relatives did not understand that she wanted to use her brain in any chosen vocation. I do not know if her brother Lothar and her mother Doris (as she was known) were already in San Francisco when Lilly moved there but they lived together until Lilly married her second husband.
Lilly was married twice - first to a journalist, Alexander Hoorin, who was in Shanghai with her, until Alexander was captured by the Japanese during World War II. Nothing is known about the circumstances of their divorce, but it appears that they were married less than five years. Lilly was also not married for very long to her second husband Jack Rains - it appears that it was less than three years.
Lilly was quite involved with the group of Shanghai survivors who met often. She was educated as a statistician, a rare occupation for a woman in the 1950s. She worked primarily for non-profit and charity organizations, such as the Jewish Relief organization and the United Bay Area Crusade (a precursor to the United Way). From a letter that Lilly wrote in 1984 about her career - "I was able to always make a good living in my field of statistical analysis. That is with the exception of the time after I arrived in New York, when several of my relatives pushed me into jobs which were underpaid. When I started out in San Francisco, my first salary was more than double of the one with which I ended up in New York. Aside from good money, these jobs I held (there were only two over a period of 23 years) offered prestige. Well, the time I lived in New York wasn't one I like to think about. Being an independent person, I hated to be told what to do, but some of the relatives never gave up to do just that."
Lilly was one of the few "Braunharts" that kept in touch with Theodor's widow Lucie Braunhart, who remained in Germany after the war and after her husband died in 1951. From a letter that Lilly wrote in 1983 - "As to Aunt Lucie, I am truly the only one who seems to care about her. Aunt Selma had been the other one. The rest of the family behaved badly and never showed any appreciation for the many sacrifices she made on behalf of the old father and all the Jewish relatives who stayed and later were killed in Germany. She was separated from her husband for 10 years, so that someone stayed behind to look after the old father. When he died, she could no longer leave Germany. This is quite a story and cannot be told in a letter."
She owned a home quite near the ocean near the Presidio and lived there until she passed in 1997. Lilly was a smart, independent woman, who lived her own life. Definitely a woman I would have loved to have known.
Leather is in my blood. The family business revolved around leather for approximately one hundred years, manufacturing pocket books, purses, Boston bags, key cases, eyeglass cases and calculator cases, when electronic hand held calculators were first sold en masse starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
My great grandfather, Isidor Heyman started the family business in the 1880s. In his naturalization papers in 1888, and city directories in the late 1800s and early 1900s in New York, he was identified as a pocket book maker. He received a patent in 1887 for a leather purse:
When he moved his family to Oakland, California in 1910, he started the Bay City Bag Company. His sons Arthur and Leo worked at the company, and his son-in-law, Mervyn Marks was a salesman for the company. This company manufactured leather purses. Arthur learned to sew at his father’s company and later was a clothing designer and a seamster in both World War I and World War II in the Seabees.
Mervyn Marks picked up the family business in the mid-1930s and started the Marks Leather Goods Company. His sons Robert and Mervyn, Jr. worked at the company. They primarily made key cases in addition to purses.
The company’s big break came during World War II, when it manufactured leather eyeglass cases for Rayban, who was providing sunglasses to the U.S. Air Force. It was then that the company changed its name to California Optical Leather Company.
The company moved its manufacturing site to Castro Valley, California from Oakland in the late 1940s. Mervyn Sr and his wife Cele had a home that was attached to the “shop” as it was called.
Robert designed many new eyeglass cases and had several patents, including these:
Mervyn Jr ran the manufacturing facility. In the late 1950s, the company was bought by the two sons. Mervyn Jr. left the company in the 1960s and Robert ran and increased the size of the company substantially until it was sold to a non-family member in the 1980s. Robert was responsible for hundreds of designs. I would venture a guess that the preponderance of eyeglass cases manufactured in the 1950s through the 1970s were his designs, many times "stolen" by other manufacturers, both domestic and foreign.
There are so many fond memories of the shop, as I worked there during my childhood and teen years. The smell and feel of leather; operating the massive “clickers’ that stamped metal dies onto the leather and cut the cases, and the chance to be around my grandparents, Mervyn and Cele every day, as well as my Uncle Merv and Aunt Jeanne.
But the most important life lesson for me was to learn to be a “tortoise” rather than a “hare.” As I stood every day at the “shaping” machines next to my grandfather, I always tried to beat him in shaping the most number of cases in an hour. But like most kids, I fell into the trap of being the “hare,” where for 15 minutes I could out do him, and maybe for a half hour, but at the end of the hour, his production was always greater, as he plodded along, without interruption and without fanfare.
So the smell of leather always produces fond memories of my family.
On this Father's Day we remember our deceased Braunhart fathers. Some of us knew you and all of us wish we had met you.
Alexander Braunhart - Father of Moritz, Jakob, Anna, Martha, Theodor, Carl, Selma, Cecelia, Julius, Philipp, Frieda, Caesar, and one unknown
Harry Tulman (Husband of Anna Braunhart) - Father of Mildred, Muriel, Stanley, and Helene
Bernard Sternbach (Husband of Martha Braunhart) - Father of Leo, Harold, and Regina
Carl Braunhart - Father of Hanna and Heinz
Jacob Braunhart - Father of Erna, Margaret, and Herbert
Philipp Braunhart - Father of Horst, Gisela, and Bernhard
Salo Brunn - (Husband of Frieda Braunhart) - Father of Henry and Miriam
Max Markheim (Husband of Cecelia Bernstein) - Father of Arthur, Robert, Minnie, Pauline, Leo, and Edith
Isidor Heyman (Husband of Ernestine Bernstein) - Father of Celia, Martha, Arthur, Robert, Leo, and Mynette
Julius Braunhart - Father of Lilly and Lothar
Unfortunately we do not have photos of the following Braunhart fathers:
Bernhard Braunhart – Father of Harry
Aaron Bernstein (Husband of Sara Braunhart ) - Father of Amalie, Ernestine, Cecelia, Hattie, Max and 2 others unknown
William Fried (Husband of Hattie) - Father of Leo
William Brock (Husband of Amalie) - Father of Teresa, Regina, and Eric
I have always wondered about the World War I draft card for my grandfather Mervyn Raphael Marks. There have always been two things that bothered me about it.
The first bothersome entry was that he identified himself as a "farmer." The second was that he had sole support of his mother, Mollie Raphael Marks. He had not yet married my grandmother, Celia Heyman. That happened in 1918.
Let's take a look at these two "facts." First, below are the two pages of his draft card:
I'm sorry, but unless I am terribly mistaken, my grandfather was not a farmer. He was a salesman. And although his parents according to the 1910 census were not living together (I could not find his father anywhere), I do believe that they were together in 1917 (his father Joseph Marks, died in 1919).
In reviewing the rules for deferment for World War I, about 50% of the men who registered in the first registration (men 21 to 31 years old), received deferments, and sole support of a parent and critical agriculture employment were two factors in receiving a deferment.
So did Grandpa lie to get out of the draft? His son is still alive, but I don't think this would be something that one would be proud to admit to one's son. On the other hand, maybe his parents were separated and he did work on a farm - but I doubt it. I don't think I will ever know.
My grandmother, Celia Heyman Marks, was a whiz at the typewriter. Because she mostly used manual typewriters all her life (she was born in 1894), she had incredibly strong fingers and hands.
The story goes that at the New York World's Fair in the early 1900s, she broke one of the first electric typewriters (which were first mass produced in 1902) because she typed so fast. On a manual typewriter, I know she exceeded 125 words per minute for an extended period. I believe the world record is 147 wpm for an hour.
There was much more to my grandmother - she was smart as a whip and loved word games.
Here she is and below her photo is a photo of her typing medal in 1909 from the Wood's Brooklyn School of Business and Shorthand.
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