Saturday, December 24, 2016

The fourth founding father or, poor Adolph


Of my four founding families, I expected the genealogical researching of the Gánsl side to bring in the richest results, and the Rosenbaums to be impossible to sort out. Never have expectations: they are apt to be confounded. Great-grandmother, Julie Rosenbaum, has produced a vast mass of Rosenbaums, not only sideways, thanks to all her brothers and sisters, but even backwards. I little thought that I would end up with the great-grandfather of my great-grandmother. 

But I did. Julie’s father, Adam, was the son of Napthali Rosenbaum, son of Salomon Rosenbaum ... which takes us back into the Bohemian mists of the eighteenth century and the towns of Königsberg an der Eder (NOT the Königsberg now Kaliningrad, which is miles away) and Katzengrün -- now Kynsperk nad Ohri and Kacerov, Czechoslovakia, respectively -- where I am sure a forefather or two of ours lies in the old Jewish Cemetery which is currently under restoration (see:

 I’ll return to the Rosenbaums of antiquity in due course, but first I need to tidy up Great-Grandfather number 4. Adolf Gánsl, Julie’s husband. Well, I’ve got plenty of Gánsl photographs. Adolf, Julie, their three surviving sons. But whereas Julie has all sorts of back-family, for Adolf I can blankly find none. No father’s name. Nothing. Just the bald statement that he was born in Mór, Hungary, in 1844. It makes sense. There are records of a good handful or three of Gansls born and living in Mór at the right time. But no Adolf or Adolph. And not one real clue have I found as to his background and life before he turns up in Vienna in the 1870s. I suppose he could be a relation of the Herren S Gansl and M Gansl, merchants, from Hungary (seemingly Szerdahely) who turned up in the Vienna ‘Fremdenblatt’ frequently in the 1850s, there’s a Herr A Ganzl with them in 1853, but he’d only be nine. Ooh, in 1865 there’s a Herr H Gansl from Mór! And I Gansl from Mór! Staying at the Hotel Weisser Wolf in the Fleischmarkt. I Gánsl from Szerdahely … M Gánsl from Mór … F Gánsl actor! ... and then 1869 A Gánsl, merchant, staying at the Russischer Hof. And what’s this: an Hungarian Adolf A Gánsl setting up a ?Dampfmüble-Acten-Gesellschaft with all Hungarian directors, in that year. And, oh, yes, I was expecting him ‘Herr A Gansl, Leiter des Hauses Rothschild in Californien’. But he’s not an Adolf/ph.  In 1872, Herr H is still commercially travelling up from Mór. And then it is December 1873 and there, finally, is our Adolph, launching a ‘erste und grösster Leopoldstädter Bazaar’ in the fashionable Hotel Europa … I think this was just a temporary Festive thing, it only seems to have advertised briefly.

But Adolph has already entered the story, for up in the Bohemian Spa Town of Franzenbad on the 4 February of that year, Adolph had wed the eldest Miss Rosenbaum. So did he try to become a businessman before, or after, he got mixed up with the very businessmanly Rosenbaum family? He wasn’t, alas, very good at it.

1874 (15 February) sees the firm of Gansl and Rosenbaum (Heinrich, eldest brother) fancy-goods-merchants, starting up, in the wake of the Bazar, at the Europa. By 1877 they were announced as ‘Falliments’, alongside an unfortunate manufacturer of an early type of Esky. ‘Das Firma Gansl und Rosenbaum wurde über Gesellschaftaufgebund gelöscht’. Heinrich went on to join his brothers in their printing firm, Adolph doesn’t seem to have had any more such ventures with the family.

His family life had seemingly gone sadly too. Julie gave birth to three daughters, Ida (4 June 1876), Gisela (26 July 1877) and Rosa (21 December): all three failed to survive. However, things looked up when their first son, Josef (‘Pepi’), was born (3 June 1881) at Buchfeldgasse 7, and two others followed … Max (30 December 1883) and Fritz (30 May 1886) after they moved to Währing’s Schulgasse 8.

Life as a ‘general merchant’ in Währing wasn’t, evidently, very productive. The latest shop-business was in Julie’s name, so she took the flak when things got tough … 

but then life struck again. Or, rather, death. Julie died, at the age of 45 (5 June 1888). Usually the Viennese papers got the city’s deaths from officialdom, and the cause of death (‘tuberculosis, heart-attack, lung complications’) was printed in the lists. Not so for Julie. I wonder why.

It was said, in my family, that Adolph died ‘of a broken heart’ within the year (8 April 1889). He was also in a total mess. His bankruptcy proceedings didn’t come up until after his death and they were, well, messy. And, again, the papers printed no cause of death.

So, the three little boys were orphaned. My father always said, the two little ones went into an orphanage, and the slightly older Pepi was brought up by one of the ‘Tante Rosenbaum’s. I’m not sure how to trace this … but I’ll try. Anyway, that’s the next chapter. Which starts with teenaged Pepi listed amongst the commercial clerks of Brüder Rosenbaum … and the three brothers getting ready to face the 20th century,

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