#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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#52ancestors No. 3 – Paul Hugo Rudolf Koppetsch

It is time for the third blogpost in regards of the 52 ancestors challenge, which Amy Crow from “No story too small” started for 2014. Take a look at it.There are great bloggers taking part.


Sorry, this will be a longer one. When I was done writing it, I thought about including the whole family in this post, but I decided otherwise. That would be too much information, I guess.

This week I would like to introduce you to Paul Hugo Rudolf KOPPETSCH. He is the husband of my greataunt Else NICOLAUS. Regular readers might recognize her name. She is coming up once in a while in my blogposts. Her story and the one from her family just intrigues me.

But to start at the beginning. What do I know about Paul?

The first document I have found for him was a passenger list from 1928, the year he emigrated from Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany (today’s Kaliningrad, Russia) to New York on board the vessel S.S. Hamburg.

passenger list 1928

passenger list 1928

There he is stated as being 36 years old, married and working as a railroad laborer. His birthplace is given with Daniels. I really thought that this is a mistake, but Auntie Google helped me out. I really found a tiny place called Daniels in the county of Königsberg. His last residence was the city of Königsberg.

And how often did I tell you to check and re-check and check the sources again? And what do you think how often I fall into the same trap? Well, you are right! I didn’t check the second page of the passenger lists just until yesterday. I cannot believe I made this “beginner’s” mistake. But I think not even a newbie would be that “stupid”.. no offense meant,  you get my drift ;)

When I started looking online for the name KOPPETSCH, I always fell over a Wilhelm (William) KOPPETSCH emigrating from Königsberg to New York. This guy got really annoying, since he was always where I looked for my KOPPETSCH ;)

The second page provides more detailed Information about the closest relative back home, which in this case is his wife Else in Königsberg, even with the full adress. Then the final Destination, Information about how much money he had – $25 not much to start a new life – some political questions, his appearance (5 feet 11 inches with blonde hair and brown eyes) and the most important thing: Who paid for his passage?

It was his brother! His name was William KOPECK, he lived  in the Bronx – 2328 Turnbull Av.

Is that the Wilhelm (William), I always stumbled over? Note to myself: dig deeper into this.

declaration of intention

declaration of intention

On Valentine’s Day 1929 Paul declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States of America. And with this document I have more detailed information about him for the first time.

Oh.. he grew one inch from the time he arrived in 1928, being 6 feet now ;) And it looks like blonde hair, brown hair.. who cares.

He was born on February 10, 1892 in Daniels, Germany. He is still living at his brother’s residence at 2328 Turnbull Avenue in New York, NY. And it is the first time I find a connection between him and Else. That is the name of his wife and she still resides in Germany.

The next trace I have of Paul is the 1930 US census. As a genealogist you have to be creative sometimes when it comes to names. I found him under the last Name KOPECK. He is 38 years old and he found work as a plumber.

1930 census

1930 census

In the meantime his wife Else had arrived with the three children Eva, Wilhelm and Harry. They entered the US in 1929.

Question: Does the US census 1930 have one or two pages? I only saved one page and don’t have access to the worldwide records anymore to check.

Actually the next document was like my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It is his Petition for Naturalization from February 13, 1936.

Petition for Naturalization

Petition for Naturalization

He moved in the meantime to 1121 Vincent Ave, Bronx, NY. He still works as a plumber. I could “confirm” his birthdate and -place. That means, I at least have 2 different records with the same data. And it matches his age on the passenger list from 1928.

The document also provides his wedding date. He married Else on December 12, 1920 in Königsberg, Prussia, Germany. As well as detailed data for his wife and his two children. Harry is not mentioned here anymore.

One family story says he was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver in either 1934 or 1936.

Those documents are great since there are cross references on them. E.g. his passenger lists. That really helps to clarify and to make sure that I have the correct person.

In the same year the family traveled back to Germany. Family story says because the daughter Eva fell sick and got treated in a hospital in Berlin. I actually wonder, if no US hospital was able to help them or if the family wanted to be surrounded by their relatives in case the worst thing happened.

The passenger list from November 12, 1936 of the vessel S.S. Hansa shows Paul, Else William and Eva.

passenger list 1936

passenger list 1936

As you can see, Paul is already stated as a US citizen. He received his US passport on October 11, 1936 in Berlin.  What is odd is the fact that with the -“- it looks like also his son William was US citizen, but Else and Eva not (yet).  They were still travelling with a visa.

What strikes me here is that their adress is given again with 2328 Tournbull New York, NY, although according to his petition they moved to 1121 Vincent Ave.

1937 Else filed her petition for Naturalization. The adress provided there is 1113 Dean Ave and Pauls occupation is given with “fireman”.

I wonder how often the family moved around and why?

For the 1940 census I had to be creative again. Who would have guessed their last name to be given with KOWPETCH?

And the census ist the first sign that Paul and Else are not together anymore. You might remember from my story about her, that she went missing between 1937 and 1948, where she re-appeared with a different last name in Paterson, NJ (VEAUDRY).

census 1940

census 1940

So, the 1940 census only shows Paul as head of the household but still married, his son William and his daughter Eva. They moved to East 74th Street in the meantime. And again I don’t get it how the enumerator could state they lived in the same place on April 1, 1935. And btw. here is son William ist given als “Al” like Alien. Only Paul is naturalized.

military registration card

military registration card

But that is not all I found out about him. I found a Military Registration Card from 1942 for him. And there it is the first time that I’ve seen an indication that he changes his name:

His full name is given with Paul Hugo KOPPETSCH but someone wrote KAY over his last name. I guess he was either sick and tired that people would always make up new names for him or he wanted to get rid of this “germanic” last name in the times of WW II.

He moved again, living in East 83th now? His son William (living at the same adress) is given as the person who will always know his father’s whereabout. Which for me is the next sign that Else is not part of their lives anymore.

I also found the index card for his final name change, but unfortunately forgot to save it, when I had my trial on ancestry.com.

He changed his name to Paul Hugo Rudolf KAY.

And that was the last trace I found of him.

Open question:

  • where is he after 1942
  • did he really fight in World War II, if yes did he survive
  • if he did, what did he do after WW II
  • did he ever remarry
  • when and where did he die?

Have you heard the name before? Do you maybe have any information on him or his family?

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October 15 – Today in my family tree

I am leaving Diedrichshagen for today ;) And this is a mixture between “today in my family tree” and “cousin bait”.

October 15, 1925 was the day, my greatcousin Eva KOPPETSCH was born in Daniels in the county of Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad, Russia). She is the daughter of Else NICOLAUS, you might remember her from my very first blog.

She left Germany with her mother and her two brothers on board the SS Albert Ballin April 26, 1929, travelling from Hamburg to New York. Below you see their names on the Hamburg passengerlists. As you can see, the handwriting is horrible ;)

Eva Koppetsch Hamburg Passagierlisten


On the incoming New York papers, they can be found and read a lot easier

Eva Koppetsch New York Passagierlisten

The 1930 cencus shows her living with her family – they reunited with their father in the meantime – in the Bronx.

1936 the family travels back to Germany, because Eva got very sick and she received treatment in a hospital in Berlin, they arrived back in New York in late November, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The 1940 cencus shows her, her brother William and her father living in East 74th Street in New York. Else’s whereabout is still the big mystery and her brother Harry died 1934.

And then I loose her trace. Is she still alive? I have no idea, but would love to know.

Since I don’t know if she is still alive or not, I thought a while if I should really write this blog. But I don’t publish anything which is not already online yet. And I would really love to find someone from that part of the family. Maybe you can help me?


Albert Karl Julius Nicolaus, * July 15, 1871 Königsberg, East Prussia

This is my greatgrandfater Albert Karl Julius Nicolaus. He was born July 15, 1871 in Königsberg in East Prussia (today’s Kaliningrad) as the oldest son to the merchant Franz Carl Nicolaus and his wife Marie Wocsna.


Albert Karl Julius Nicolaus

Albert Karl Julius Nicolaus

Albert Karl Julius Nicolaus

Unfortunately, the second picture has gotten wrinkled over the years.

In Königsberg he got married to Ida Biernath (I have no record yet on the exact date) and his 2 oldest daughters were born there: Eva and Else (you might remember them from my previous blogs about them).

In 1918 he married my greatgrandmother Hedwig Agnes Clara Ribbe in Halle (Saxony-Anhaltina). When I finally received their marriage record from the archive in Halle, I was surprised to see him living in Dresden. I never heard of that. Well of Dresden of course, but not that family ever lived there ;-)

Hedwig & Albert

Hedwig & Albert

Following his marriage to Hedwig he took over the family hotel and the school of etiquette and ballroom dancing she inherited from her first husband when he died.

This postcard shows the ballroom of the hotel “Goldener Hirsch”:


On July 8, 1920 when the horse race track in Halle opened again after 6 years following WWI, he opened a restaurant at the race track. I contacted the race club, if they have any more information than they had published on their website (which is unfortunately not active anymore), but so far, they didn’t answer. So, if anyone of them reads this.. please contact me.

He has 2 children with Hedwig, born 1921 and 1922. One of those being my grandfather Wolfgang Albert Nicolaus.

Following Hedwigs death in 1925, he married again in 1929. His third wife was the former nanny of the family, Gertrud Ellie Rudolf.

I have traced him til 1931 in the city directories, but I couldn’t find any death record at the Halle archives.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you research Nicolaus, too?

Frieda Nicolaus * 1876 in Koenigsberg, East Prussia

And here is another member of my Nicolaus family.

Let me tell you the few things I know about Frieda Nicolaus, the aunt of Eva and Else.

Frieda is the little sister from my greatgrandfather. She was born 1876 in Koenigsberg. In 1906 she married Emil Altrock, a “big fat man” as one of their nieces described him.

1909 their son Heinz was born. The same niece described him im as a young man with horn rim glasses – a sweetheart. She had a very clear memory of his apartment from abt. 1936. It was like walking into Arabian nights- carpets, big cusions everywhere, read walls, red curtains.

Frieda died 1963 in “I have no idea where”.

Emil Altrock supposedly had a huge carnival. In 1934 an Emil Altrock owned a liquor factory in Koenigsberg in the Wassergasse 29/30. I wonder if that is the same person?

And that’s it. That is all I have. So I wonder if there are any Altrocks out there who could help me?