Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Aug 10

An Immigrant's Journey to America

Posted on August 10, 2018 at 9:07 AM by Melissa Dalton

A couple weeks ago, I posted a document from the probate records for the Estate of Max Simon. This record indicated that upon Simon’s death, his sisters, who were living in Germany, were to receive a stipend. However, after the start of World War II, the payments were halted per the request of the sisters. This estate file really captured our attention, and we believed it was a story that needed to be explored.

Max Simon was born on April 6, 1867 in the small town of Altleiningen, Germany. At the age of sixteen, Max boarded a ship in Bremen, Germany to come to the United States. According to his passport application from 1902, he arrived in New York in October 1886 (Fig 1). Although I found several passenger lists that list a “Max Simon”, due to inconsistencies in dates and age of passenger, I’m unable to pinpoint or determine which, if any, listed him.

Fig 1. 1902 Passport Application of Max Simon (JPG)
Fig 1. Passport Application of Max Simon, dated June 2, 1902 (FamilySearch.org)

On October 19, 1893, at the age of 26, Max became a naturalized citizen through the Montgomery County Probate Court. At the time of the passport application (in 1902), Simon planned to go aboard (likely to Germany to visit family), and was to return the United States within two years.

Simon became a prominent businessman in Xenia, first as a liquor dealer, and later as a horse dealer. Simon married his wife, Selma (maiden name unknown), in 1908. They had a son, Maurice, on March 1, 1910. At the time of the 1910 U.S. Census, the Simon family was living on South Galloway Street in Xenia, Ohio (Fig 2).

Fig 2. 1910 U.S. Census with Simon family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1910 U.S. Census Record with Simon Family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

In 1913, the Simon family applied for new passports (Fig 3) and departed for Germany, with the intent to return within six months. They returned to the United States on the Imperator on October 29, 1913 (Fig 4). Then in 1916, Simon had his will drafted, which left his entire estate to Selma, with a condition that his two sisters, Bertha and Elsie, receive $100 every three months until their death (Fig 5).

Fig 3. 1913 Passport Application for Max, Selma, and Maurice Simon (JPG)
Fig 3. Passport Application for Max, Selma, and Maurice Simon, dated July 8, 1913 (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 4. List of U.S. Citizens aboard the Imperator, dated October 29, 1913 (JPG)
Fig 4. List of United States Citizens, Passenger List for Imperator, dated October 29, 1913 (Ancestry.com)

Fig 5. Last Will and Testament of Max Simon, dated November 21, 1916 (JPG)
Fig 5. Last Will and Testament of Max Simon, dated November 21, 1916 (Greene County Archives)

In 1919, Simon became very ill and required emergency surgery. Just a week later, on May 24, 1919 he succumbed to the illness. The death certificate listed cause of death as cholangitis, which is an infection of the bile duct (usually caused by a blockage of some sort) (Fig 6). The Xenia Evening Gazette covered his illness and death, expressing high regard for Simon (Figs 7 & 8).

Fig 6. Death Certificate of Max Simon (JPG)
Fig 6. Death Certificate of Max Simon (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 7. Article from the Xenia Evening Gazette, dated May 26, 1919 (JPG) Fig 8. Article from the Xenia Evening Gazette, dated May 28, 1919 (JPG)
Figs 7 & 8. Articles from the Xenia Evening Gazette, May 26 & 28, 1919 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Selma and Maurice stayed in the family home at first, and were listed on the 1920 U.S. Census as still on N. King Street (Fig 9). Simon left a rather large estate to his wife, upwards of $23,500, which equates to roughly $340,000 today (Fig 10). There are several “Statement in Lieu of Account” documents filed from 1922 through 1941, showing draws on the estate and payments sent to Max’s sisters per the will (Fig 11).

Fig 9. 1920 U.S. Census with Selma and Maurice Simon outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 9. 1920 U.S. Census with Selma and Maurice Simon outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 10. Article from the Xenia Evening Gazette, dated June 25, 1919 (JPG)
Fig 10. Article from Xenia Evening Gazette, dated June 25, 1919 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 11. Statement in Lieu of Account, filed May 24, 1922 (JPG)  Fig 11. Statement in Lieu of Account, filed May 19, 1937 (JPG)Fig 11. Receipt showing payment to Bertha and Elsie, dated May 15, 1928 (JPG)
Fig 11. Various Statement in Lieu of Account documents filed with Probate Court (Greene County Archives).

Sometime before 1930, Selma married Samuel Posner, and she and Maurice moved to Dayton (Fig 12). Selma continued sending the $100 to Bertha and Elsie, but in 1939, they requested that the last three payments be held “due to the prevailing economic condition in Germany” (Fig 13). Correspondence in July 1940 and June 1941 show that payments did resume and were received by Elsie and Bertha (Fig 14). In July 1941, Selma filed a Statement in Lieu of Account stating that she was withholding the payments as it “was impossible to safely transmit these funds due the conditions caused by the present war in Europe” (Fig 15). This document further stated that the sisters were forced to move to Frankfurt.

Fig 12. 1930 U.S. Census with Posner family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 12. 1930 U.S. Census with Posner family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 13. Statement in Lieu of Account, filed May 17, 1939 (JPG)
Fig 13. Statement in Lieu of Account, Estate of Max Simon, FB 522 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 14. Letter verifying payment to sisters, dated June 23, 1941 (JPG)
Fig 14. Letters part of the Estate of Max Simon, FB 522 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 15. Statement in Liew of Account, filed July 7, 1941 (JPG)
Fig 15. Statement in Lieu of Account, Estate of Max Simon, FB 522 (Greene County Archives)

Unfortunately, that was the last document filed with the Court. Finding out what happened to the sisters has proven difficult as there is little information about them in the records. The fact that the Simon family was Jewish and forced to move to Frankfurt, an area heavily bombed during WWII, coupled with the lack of filings after 1941, we speculate that his sisters, Elsie and Bertha, were either civilian casualties of the bombings or possibly were imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Sadly, we believe the sisters did not survive the war.

This story isn’t all sad though; we do have some happy news to end on for you! Selma Simon Posner lived a long life, and died in 1985, just one month shy of her 100th birthday!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…

Sources:
Ancestry.com
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

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