Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Seeking Julius


If Aunt Rose stated that her father's given name was Julius, and if Rose's mother Anna was married to someone named Krauss, it would stand to reason that the man Rose referred to in her marriage records was named Julius Krauss. That's a reasonable guess, but the real question is: can we find anyone by that name in New York City who was married to our Anna?

I've never spotted Anna in documents which included the name of her husband. In the 1920 census, she was listed as the widow Anna Krouse in her son-in-law's Queens, New York, household. Earlier, in the New York State census for 1915, she appeared alongside her daughter as Anna Krausse. Before that point, the only place where I can find Anna was in the 1910 census, where her name was mangled into the incomprehensible spelling "Kusfkr." What became of Anna's husband? Could his name have been Julius? And can we find any sign of their household in New York City?

Looking for Julius and Anna was not as easy as it sounds. First, the search had to include all spelling variations for the surname Krauss. Then, I limited the age possibilities for Julius to a range similar to Anna's own age. And since none of my own family members had ever mentioned children resulting from Anna's marriage to the mysterious Mr. Krauss, I had to presume that the couple did not have children.

Right away, I spotted a couple with the requisite names, Julius and Anna, in the 1900 census. Manhattan bookbinder Julius, born in 1858, was on the young side for our candidate, but that wasn't the key to his rejection; it was a much younger Anna in the household, along with their three children—none of whom was named either Rose or Theodore—who tipped me off that this was not the Julius I was seeking.

A more promising candidate in that 1900 census was the Manhattan jeweler Julius Krauss, who was born in 1850. Yet his was a marriage lasting for nearly thirty years--a narrative which wouldn't have matched our Anna's story. And though some people have trouble correctly understanding and answering census questions, the fact that the couple reported having no children—and certainly no children still alive at that time—gave me pause.

Trying a different approach, I looked in passenger records for anyone named Julius Krauss or any of the other spelling permutations which could possibly have been used. For each Julius found, I checked to see whether he was traveling with someone named Anna. The only possibility I found was again a man with a family of several children—all except for our Rose and Theodore.

Deciding to take Anna's enumeration information seriously, I wondered whether I could find a death record for a Julius Krauss which would justify her reports of widowhood. The earliest date in which I found Anna Krauss calling herself a widow was in the 1920 census. The 1915 New York State census did not ask for marital status, but even then, Anna's household did not list a husband. Could I locate a death record for the missing Julius? Not really: the one record I found, in which a Julius Krauss died in New York City, the date was in 1900. Besides, the man was forty two at the time, somewhat young for a husband of a then-fifty year old woman.

Thinking that over further, I realized the enigmatic 1910 census—the one with the strange Kusfkr surname—was telling me that Anna was not married to anyone named Krauss until after that point in 1910. And yet, when Anna died in 1921, her name was once again reported as something similar to that Kusfkr name: Kusharvska. Could the Julius Rose had named in her wedding documents have actually been a man named Julius Kusharvski?

Another key to unraveling this mystery: in the 1920 census, Rose reported that she was a United States citizen, giving 1915—the year of her marriage to George Kober—as the date of her naturalization. On the other hand, Anna gave her status as alien, despite what appeared to be two marriages since her children were born in Poland. If either of those husbands were United States citizens, she should also have been able to claim she was a naturalized citizen. Thus, we can infer that Anna, even if she married after arriving in New York, could only have married another alien.

For now, I'll set aside my quest to find the identity of the father named Julius in Rose's marriage license applications. While I've certainly not exhausted all possible routes to learning more about Anna's two possible husbands, it's clear I'll need to try a different approach to finding more information on these immigrant family members.

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