Sunday, August 7, 2011



The story of Henry Ber Kaufman is an incomplete one. What we know is gathered from little odds and ends, and there are many unanswered questions about his heritage. I guess it is often that way with orphans. Henry is not my relative nor is he my husband's. But he IS family, because Jerry was married to his granddaughter for many years until her untimely death at the age of 44. I needed to research her family line in order to give Carole a voice in the genealogy that has been so pervasive in our house these last 24 years. So here we have the family heritage of Carolyn Kaufman Title.

The picture above is of Henry Ber and his wife Caroline Gottlieb Kaufman. Shown are their first three children, Theo, Rachel (Ray), and Lewis. Later Ed, Fannie and Gertrude came along. Ed was Carole's father.

Son Lewis wrote a short family history and I'll quote from his notes: "My father, Henry Kaufman...was born in 1854 in New Orleans. During the year 1855 there was a yellow fever epidemic and both of his parents died. My father, an orphan, was adopted by a Mr. and Mrs. Ber, who had no natural children. Later Mr. Ber died, leaving the widow with the adopted son whom they had named Henry Ber Kaufman. Widow Ber, Mathilde Godchaux Ber, somewhere met widower Solomon Gottlieb and they married. So Henry Ber Kaufman, the orphan, was brought into a large Gottleib family and became 'one of the boys', being the same age as Charles Gottlieb." Apparently Mr. Gottlieb had children from an earlier marriage, so Henry fit nicely into the family.

Backing up a bit, on August 1, 1855 the Home for Jewish Widows and Orphans opened in New Orleans as a result of this yellow fever epidemic. Mr. Ber was one of the early sponsors.

In a hunt for the orphanage records I went to New Orleans, where I was able to locate these records. To my great surprise, in looking at them I found several things of note: 1) Henry's name was actually Kaufman, which means Mr. Ber did not change Henry's name when he adopted him but used Ber as Henry's middle name, 2) the "Biography 3" indicates that Henry was the third child to be placed in the orphanage, 3) Henry was admitted on August 1, although the formal record states the orphanage was opened on August 7; and 4)Henry was adopted when he was three years old.

So little Henry was one of the reasons that the orphanage was needed. There is no birth record for Him, except that the orphanage records says he was born in Louisville, Kentucky. That is more likely than the family saying he was born in New Orleans. However, I have never been able to corroborate that.

Henry did fine growing up in the Gottlieb family. Solomon had a daughter named Carrie about Henry's age, and Matilda was sure that Henry and Carrie would make a good match. The family always remembered her saying to her step-daughter Carrie, "Nuh, dare is nothing like dat Heinie." Over the years Carrie came to believe her, and she and "Heinie" (Henry) married on February 22, 1890 in Baton Rouge.

This is a picture taken in 1945 of those Kaufmans who were still living in Baton Rouge.

Henry Ber Kaufman has many descendants, four of whom are my lovely granddaughters, Stacey, Carley, Jill and Katie. The research on the Kaufman side of the family is for them.

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