Where in New York is Harry Koppetsch?

Okay, I used a gameshow as an inspiration but at least I got your attention ;)

I have the following “mystery” or brick wall.

passenger list 1929

passenger list 1929

According to the passenger lists Harry Koppetsch was 7 years old when he arrived at New York City in April 1929 with his mother Else and his siblings Wilhelm (5 yrs old) and Eva (3 yrs old). Their father Paul already lived in New York. He arrived in the US in October 1928.

Harry was born in Koenigsberg, East Prussia and received his visa in Berlin before leaving the German Reich.

1930 census Koppetsch family

1930 census Koppetsch family

The 1930 census shows him living with his parents and his siblings at Stony Ave. in the Bronx.

The family name is given with “Kopeck”.

And on every other document I have on the family following the 1930 census he is vanished:

  • Paul’s Petition for Naturalization from February 1936 only mentions Wilhelm and Eva as children (incl. birthdates)
  • the family returned to Germany in November 1936. The passenger list only provides Information on Els(i)e, Paul, Wilhelm (William) and Eva
  • the 1940 census only shows Paul, William and Eva – Else being absent is another mystery I try to solve here

So, where is Harry? One family anecdote tells the story that he got killed by a drunk hit-and-run-driver in the Bronx in either 1934 or 1936 – which matches the period, but I just read this story once in an email I received from a distant cousin. And unfortunately, I’ve never heard from her again.

I definetly need help on this one. Where would I start to look for a possible death entry? Sorry for such a newbie question, but that would be the first death record I am looking for in the US ;)

I checked newspaper databases for anything on a car accident in that time, but no success.

Ideas anyone? Please? :)

#52ancestors No. 11 I have news on Elsie!!

This is part eleven of Amy Crow’s challenge “52 Ancestors”. Take a look at “no story too small” to find all the great bloggers who are taking part!


You might remember my greataunt Else Nicolaus. If you would like to refresh your memory, just take a look here (or here where I introduce you to her husband Paul).

Every once in a while I turn back to her and her family because I am really fascinated by her story.

Here a short re-cap from my original blogpost about her:

  • born October 22, 1900 in Koenigsberg, East Prussia
  • married Paul Hugo Rudolf KOPPETSCH on December 12, 1920 in Koenigsberg, East Prussia
  • followed her husband to the United States on April 26, 1929 (with her three children)
  • found her in the 1930 census
  • declared her intention to become a US citizen in 1937
  • missing in the census of 1940

And I had this card:

Elsie Koppetsch Namensänderung

From some previous help I knew she moved to Paterson, NJ between 1937 and 1949 where she was found as Elsie M. Veaudry in the city directory. I actually have no idea, where this “M” is coming from.

And then I received here via the blog an email from a wonderful genealogist called Barbara Schenk asking if I could help her with a translation of a German record. Of course I could and she asked me if she could be of any help with any US related research.

So I referred her to the two blogs asking for any hint she could find.

She contacted the Paterson library for help and a few days ago I found the announced envelope in my mailbox.

The librarian sent her some obituaries and copies of the city directories.

Here is one example of the obituaries.

obituary Elsie Nicolaus

obituary Elsie Nicolaus

This is great! Now I don’t only know her exact death date, but I also know that she and George moved to Paterson already in 1946. And they had a son together: Robert.

And I always wondered if the namechange of her husband from last name Koppetsch to Kay also held true for the children. At least for William I know now it was true.

And I have a married last name for her daughter Eva (Booth).

And I also told you about Elsie’s sister Eva. And I have a married last name for her now and know that she moved to Australia.

The existence of another sister Lilo is news to me. And it puzzles me a bit since in her passenger list from 1929 a Lilo Berger is named as her closest relative: her mother. But as far as I know Lilo Berger was her stepmother following the divorce of her parents.

I have to dig deeper into this!

But I have to tell you that when I read the lines with the surviving sisters in Australia I found it so sad that her German family hadn’t been mentioned at all. I mean, she had a surviving brother and sister there, too. Half siblings but nevertheless siblings. Too sad that they never really had contact. Only when my grandfather and greataunt had been children.

And here an example of the city directory:

city directory 1962

city directory 1962

It is wonderful to be able to tie some loose ends… well, and get some new ones ;)

  • where is she for the 1940 census
  • when did she get divorced from Paul
  • when did she marry George
  • and when was their son Robert born

I have to thank Barbara Schenk for her tremendous help with this!


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March 12 – Georg Aloysius Tilinski

The Coca-Cola Company of Asa Griggs Chandler sells Coca-Cola for the first times in bottles on March 12, 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

March 12, 1913 is Canberra Day. The future capital of Australia is officially named Canberra.

Today 15 years ago my great uncle Georg Aloysius TILINSKI died in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

I remember this day quite well. My great uncle had been in the hospital for days, his death didn’t come unexpectedly. I was home (well, visiting my parents) alone, my mom was still at work, my Dad was driving my sister to work at the theatre when my great aunt called. I only heard a sobbing and instantly knew what happened. I just said “we are on our way”.

So, I called the theatre.. my Dad had already dropped my sister off and I only got her boss on the line. I told him that my Dad would pick her up immediately again. When my Dad got home I told him to turn around, pick up my sister and we would meet at the hospital. I would wait for my mom..

She came just a couple of minutes later and the four of us reached the parking lot almost at the same time.

Since Uncle Georg and my great aunt Ilse Meta Anna née GATZEMANN didn’t have own children, the two have been the honorary grandparents for all of us children (my mom’s and of her three sisters) so there was no doubt we would bid our farewell to him. Actually he was the first dead body I had seen. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, I have to admit. I expected it to be more surreal.

Georg was born on July 29, 1923 in Korschen, East Prussia, Germany (today’s Korsze, Poland).




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March 5 – Horst Walter Tylinski

With signing the Treaty of Ribe on March 5, 1460, the danish king Christian I. also becomes ruler of Schleswig and Holstein.

On March 5, 1853 Heinrich Steinweg founds the piano manufacturer “Steinway & Sons” in New York. Today the company has production sites in New York and Hamburg.

And on my family tree?

It will be a short blogpost today. I just have one event. And it is a sad one, I might add.

My first cousin once removed Horst Walter  TYLINSKI died on March 5, 1938 in Korschen, East Prussia, Germany (today’s Korsze in Poland) being not even one year old.

He was born on March 10, 1938 in Korschen, East Prussia into the marriage of Otto Horst TYLINSKI and his wife Lieselotte née ECKARDT.

This is my mom’s cousin and from her I know that Otto Horst has three additional children, but she couldn’t confirm, if Lieselotte was the mother. Therefore I added them with an unknown mother into my database. From at least two of these children I know they are still alive – I won’t mention their names and dates here.

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January 27 – Harry Tylinski

There are those days for which I don’t have to surf the net for interesting historical events. E.g. November 9 was a day like that.

And today is another one. A combination of “excessive” history classes in school and just plainly being German those events are stored in my mind and not even a formatting of the brain would get rid of it.

Today in 1859 the future King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany Wilhelm II. is born as Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Preussen in Berlin. He belongs to the House of Hohenzollern and is the grandchild of not only of Emperor Wilhelm I. but also of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. If you are interested in his family tree: he was also a first cousin-in-law of Tsar Nicholas II. of Russia.

The second historical event for today happened on January 27, 1945. It is the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz by the Russian Red Army.

Auschwitz was a complex of three camps: the main camp as well as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Auschwitz-Monowitz. Within 5 years from 1940 to 1945 Nazi Germany killed at least 1,1 mn Jews, 140.000 Polish, 20.000 Sinti, 20.000 Roma, 10.000 soviet prisoners of war and 10.000 prisoners of war of other nationalities at Auschwitz only. Following World War II Auschwitz became a symbol for the Shoa.

Today the remains of the complex which form a Museum are a UNESCO World Heritage site called “Auschwitz-Birkenau – deutsches nationalsozialistisches Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslager“.

Well, following a topic like this it is hard to move on to my family tree. But I think the best we can do to honour our ancestors is to remember them.

We move to my mother’s side for this one. Parts of her family come from East Prussia, which is part of Poland today.

My Mom’s uncle, my greatuncle Harry TYLINSKI is born on January 27, 1920 in Korschen, East Prussia (today: Korsze in Poland). Harry was the next older brother of my grandma.

Compared to the prologue my “real” family post will be rather short. Because unfortunately he just had a short life.

Like many other young men his age he joined (or had to join, who can tell the difference) the German Navy during WWII.

He is lost at sea in the Strait of Kerch in the Black Sea (today’s Ukraine) on March 14, 1943.

I found his name on the Laboe Naval Memorial in Kiel, Germany. And he is also registered with the “Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V“.

That is


a humanitarian organization which is charged by the Federal Republic of taking care of registering the German war dead abroad and to ensuring that it is updated and monitored

[end quote]

If you search for German ancestors / cousins who fought and got killed in WWII, their page is great. They have a search function for war memorial cemetaries they maintain.

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