Sunday, March 8, 2015

Great Uncle David Levitt of Philadelphia

My husband's great-grandfather, Max Levitt (1857-1935), married twice. I believe the name of his first wife was Adele Willer. (Hadel Willer on her daughter Rebecca's NYC marriage record.) There are two granddaughters who were named Adele, daughters of their son David Levitt and their daughter Rebecca (Levitt) Reisner. It is thought that Adele died either on the boat coming over to America, or before the family left Galicia for America. Max's second wife was Golda (also known as Gussie) Segal, from whom my husband is descended.

This can get confusing so I just set up a very simple tree for Max and his first wife, Adele, and their two children I know who had children: David and Rebecca.


David had three daughters with his first wife, and one daughter with his second wife.

Rebecca married Jacob Reisner and had seven children with him. I have blogged about this family before. See Jacob's and Rebecca's marriage license. See Jacob Reisner's obituary. See their tombstone.

I recently had contact from someone whose mother is second cousin to my husband, descended from David Levitt and his second wife, whom I found as Yetta Cornfield (Philadelphia Marriage Index), though he knows her as Henrietta. His grandmother is recently-deceased Shirley Mae Levitt in the tree above.

I thought I would share what I know about David Levitt. He first married Rebecca Neminroff [?] about 1912 (outside of Philadelphia, as I can't find them in the Philadelphia Marriage Index).

Rebecca Levitt died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, and I shared her tombstone here. I found her death certificate in Ancestry.com's Pennsylvania Death Certificates, which lists her parents as Ralph Neminroff and Rebecca Weintrob (the only place I've found these names). She left three young daughters: Adele, age about 5, and twins, Aida and Pauline, almost four years old.

(You might remember I blogged about twins before: David's sister, Rebecca, was also mother to twins: Naomi and Sarah Reisner.)

In 1920, widowed David Levitt (age 31) is living at 1332 Morris Street in Philadelphia with Rebecca Cooper (age 62), his three daughters, Adele (age 7), Pauline (age 5 2/12), and Ida (age 5 2/12), and Catharine Cooper, listed as niece. (Niece!?)

The Cooper family is puzzling to me - I thought Rebecca Cooper was mother of his deceased wife, Rebecca, and/or mother of Catherine Cooper below, but I'm not so sure.

1920 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll T625_1629, page 7A,
record for David Levitt and family
Rebecca Cooper is listed as "S" for single which makes it even more confusing. (Also note the Unk. in the right columns - it indicates that they are not native-born but their citizenship status is unknown.)

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The Philadelphia Marriage Index at Ancestry.com indicates that David married Yetta Cornfield in 1922. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates that Yetta was 29 at her first marriage (and David was 22 at his first marriage - to Rebecca).

1930 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll 2110, page 2B,
record for David Levitt and family

The household includes David's daughters from his first marriage: Pauline and Aida, and daughter with Yetta, Shirley M., not quite five years old.

The David Levitt family lived at 1322 Morris Street from as early as 1917 to at least 1930.

David's daughter Adele (named after her grandmother) can be found in 1930 at the home of Maurice and Kathryn Zegen, listed as "cousin." I theorize that Kathryn Zegen is Catherine Cooper in the 1920 household above. (Maurice L. Zegen and Katherine Cooper are in the Philadelphia Marriage index for 1922.)

1930 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll 2135, page 26A,
record for Maurice Zegen family including Adele Levitt

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By 1940, all three sisters are living in the Zegen household as "cousin":


1940 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll 3732, pages 4B & 5A,
record for Maurice Zegen family including Levitt sisters
I have several questions about this family: why is Adele not in her father's household in 1930? Why are all three half sisters not in their father's household in 1940? Why did Shirley not keep in touch with her half sisters? What exactly is the relationship between Rebecca Cooper, Rebecca Levitt (d. 1918) and Catherine/Kathryn (Cooper) Zegen?

My mother-in-law doesn't remember anything about Adele. She knew that Pauline married and had one or two sons. She does remember Aida because many years later, she came to live on the New Jersey shore with her third husband. (Aida died in 2001.)

Another story says that the half-sisters lived with their Aunt Rebecca after their father remarried, because they didn't get along with their step-mother, but their aunt Rebecca (Levitt) Reisner was in Manhattan in 1920 and in Springfield, Massachusetts, by 1930, so it turns out they were living with their mother's family, Kathryn being a cousin or aunt.

I would love it if another Levitt descendant could provide us with more information.

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