Monday, October 9, 2023

Life Changes


One of the challenges of chasing our ancestors is to find the women who have changed their name. In the case of Aunt Rose, my research project for this month and sister of my paternal grandfather, the challenge was that she married three times. The record showing her 1915 wedding to George W. Kober indicated that he had married someone by the name of Rose Miller. Had it not been for her ever-present mother in the several documents in which I located her, I wouldn't have been sure I had located the right Rose.

Eventually, though, Rose's second husband George Kober—the one I had been able to locate in several newspaper articles—predeceased her, and I was left needing to search for her identity once again.

George's April 11, 1932, obituary in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was plain and to the point. Giving his full name—he was George Washington Kober, same as his father—the obituary indicated that he was survived only by his beloved wife Rose and a sister, Mrs. Pauline K. Thomas. There were no other family members mentioned, notably children. An evening funeral was to be held at the Kober home in Woodhaven on Long Island, part of the New York City borough of Queens. His obituary announced that burial was to follow the next morning at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Though George's memorial at Find a Grave does not include a photograph of any headstone, I would presume he was buried in a family plot. There are a couple reasons for that assumption. First is the fact that his mother-in-law, Rose's mother, was reported to have been buried at that same cemetery after her tragic demise in 1921, though I have found no sign of her yet, using any of the various names I've located for her identity. 

Then there was the comment, added by an unnamed Find a Grave volunteer to George's memorial, that he was "husband of Rose." That would certainly lead to the assumption that the volunteer gleaned the name of George's wife from some detail on a headstone in that same burial plot. But where was Rose? I couldn't find any memorial for her at Find a Grave.

When George left Rose a widow, he had not quite yet reached sixty years of age. Rose was, I assume, approximately the same age. While for some, being widowed at that age might only accentuate the sense of aging, for energetic others, they might hope to expect more out of life. Apparently, Rose's attitude fell in the latter camp, for I eventually stumbled upon some newspaper clippings showing Rose's third marriage, this time to another Post Office employee by the name of Julius Hassinger.

The problem with Julius was that, despite the distinctive name, I could find no further record on anyone by that name—with the exception of a New York City resident by the same name who was married to someone else. That couldn't have been Rose's new husband—or could it? I still haven't been able to find any death or burial records for Rose, making it seem as if she had disappeared into the ether. And the search results conjuring up a different Julius led nowhere. Perhaps Rose had moved out of the New York area. Or could she have divorced and married yet another man?

Revisiting a research mystery after laying it to rest for a while can be helpful. Sometimes, returning to the research question with fresh eyes helps us spot instantly the key we missed the last time we had passed this way. Over time, more documents become digitized and available online. We'll take a closer look at Julius and Rose tomorrow to see if we can discover any fresh hints about what became of the couple.  

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