Thursday, September 08, 2011

Henry Kubitshek's grave

I didn’t mention, when writing earlier about Henry Kubitshek’s house, that I had found a photograph of his tombstone on Find-A-Grave (above), proving again how useful a tool that project is for armchair genealogists and hack historians.

Henry, whose life took some interesting twists and turns along the way, was Chariton’s first permanent Jewish resident. The Oppenheimers, who came along later, remained longer and are in fact still here, if graves count. Gendler families were in business here between 1920 and 1940, but their stays were relatively short.

Henry was first, and he stayed a long time --- woven into the fabric of the community from roughly 1870 until soon after 1900 when he and his wife, Deborah, moved to Denver, Colorado. He died there during 1914 and is buried in the cemetery of Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation that is Colorado’s largest and oldest.

Chariton never managed to attract enough Jews to form a community as our neighbor, Centerville, did --- a small synagogue flourished there for many years. Chariton families looked to Des Moines, then and now the center of Jewish life in Iowa.

Currently, best estimates place Iowa’s Jewish population at roughly 6,000 with perhaps half in Des Moines where there are Orthodox (Beth El Jacob), Conservative (Tifereth Israel) and Reform (B’nai Jeshurun) synagogues as well as a Chabat.

Although married to a Presbyterian turned Seventh-day Adventist, Henry seems to have remained observant throughout his life. But I do not know which Des Moines congregation he was affiliated with.

Henry was born about 1832, in Aufthausen, Wurttemberg, as had been his father, Hess Kubitshek. His mother, Sarah (Hyman) Kubitshek, was born in Steinhart.

Hess and Sarah apparently brought their family to the United States about 1850, when Henry was 18. By the time the 1860 federal census was taken, the Kubitsheks had settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the 20th of June, that year, the census-taker enumerated the family as follows: Hess Kubitshek, age 52, a rag peddler; Sarah, age 51; Solomon, 31, a peddler; Henry, 27, a store keeper; Barbara, 24; Michael, 17; Hannah, 15; Isabell, 14; Bertha, 11; and Jennet, 10. Henry may not have actually been living here when the census was taken, but enumerators were instructed to list everyone who had lived in every household during the preceding year.

Hess seems to have been an astute businessman who later prospered to the point that he was able to return to Germany on business several times during the 1870s and 1880s. Beyond passenger lists, however, I have not tracked his life.

Henry Kubitshek reportedly had married Deborah M. Haskell on Oct. 13, 1859, at her home in Niagara County, New York. She was a daughter of John and Margaret (Grey) Haskell and her father had died the previous year.

By 1861, when Henry’s and Deborah’s first child, Susie Belle, was born on Oct. 6, the Kubitsheks were living at Middlebury, Indiana, as was Henry’s brother, Michael.

During 1862, both Henry and Michael enlisted in Indiana units for service during the Civil War and Deborah and Susie relocated to New York to live for the duration of the war with her mother.

Henry enlisted on Jan 16, 1862, as a sergeant in Co. G, 48th Indiana Infantry. After three years of honorable service he was promoted to first lieutenant on March 1, 1865, and mustered out later that year, on July 15 at Louisville, Kentucky.

During 1870 or before, Henry, Deborah, Susie and perhaps Michael as well came overland by horse and wagon to Iowa, stopping first perhaps in Ottumwa. The first Kubitshek land purchase in Chariton was made jointly by the brothers.

Michael, who seems not to have married, then settled permanently in Ottumwa. Both Michael and Henry were primarily grocers, although Henry prospered in a variety of ways --- as both bookkeeper and landlord, too. His business interests seem to have been headquartered mostly on the south side of Chariton’s square, where the Kubitshek Block (two or more adjoining storefronts) was located.

During 1875, Henry and Deborah built for $4,000 their fine brick house, now substantially altered, at the corner of South Grand and Linden streets. Their second daughter, Henrietta Estella, had been born Aug. 2, 1871, in Chariton.

Deborah was active for a number of years in Chariton’s First Presbyterian Church, but at some point during the 1890s became a Seventh-day Adventist and a member of a Des Moines congregation.

The extent of Henry’s involvement in one of the Des Moines synagogues just isn’t known, but he is cited in various publications as a donor to and member of various Jewish organizations and also, if Chariton newspaper accounts are considered, served as resident resource on Jewish holidays and customs for local editors.

The Kubitsheks’ eldest daughter, Susie, married Albert Douglas “Bert” Mallory, youngest brother of Chariton’s Smith Henderson Mallory, on June 20, 1882, at her parents’ home in Chariton.

Smith Mallory found jobs for Bert in his banks in Lucas, Creston and later Kansas and Bert and Susie became the parents of two children, Margaret (born 1887) and Meredith (born 1889), while living in Wichita, Kansas.

The marriage did not endure, however, and ended during the early 1890s. Susie did not remarry; Bert returned to Batavia, Ill., where his mother and other relatives lived, and married Frances Bolton Hazen during 1895. Susie apparently retained custody of Margaret; Bert, of Meredith.

By 1900, both Kubitshek daughters apparently were living in the Denver area and that probably was why Henry and Deborah sold their property in Chariton and moved there, perhaps during 1901 or 1902. Henrietta, known as H. Estella, married Bernard D. Eastman in Colorado on Feb. 26, 1900, and later married H.A. Knight.

While in Denver, Henry apparently became active in Temple Emanuel while Deborah affiliated with Adventist churches.

When Henry died during 1914, he was buried in the Temple Emanuel Cemetery, but because of congregational rules then in effect, Deborah apparently could not be buried there when she died at Golden on Oct. 26, 1919, and so she is buried elsewhere in Denver (I haven’t found the site).

Estella was a resident of Golden at the time of her mother’s death and Susie, according to her mother’s obituary, an Adventist missionary in Brazil.

Henry’s brother, Michael, was in business in Ottumwa until 1893 when he entered the National Military Home, established in Dayton, Ohio, for disabled Civil War Veterans, suffering from heart disease and rheumatism. He remained a resident for more than 30 years, discharging himself during June of 1924 in order to move to Evanston, Ill., to live with his sister, Bertha (Kubitshek) Berg. He died at her home on March 20, 1930, age 86, and was buried in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery near his mother.

Sarah Kubitshek had died, also age 86 and also at the home of her daughter, Bertha, on Dec. 21, 1894. Bertha, probably the last surviving member of her generation of the Kubitshek family, died at age 96 on April 30, 1945, in Evanston and was buried, too, at Rosehill.

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