Monday, August 8, 2011

Sherlock's Unsolved Mystery - The Esterson Mystery

by Michal Esterson

There is still a mystery on my paternal side of the family. One Pesach I was with my grandfather’s cousin, Jerry, in Jerusalem and he told a true story just before his youngest grandson was to go and open the door for Eliahu. This story was about one Pesach Seder at his paternal grandfather’s house (Baltimore, Maryland), Joseph Esterson (27 Nov 1864-26 Apr 1942). Joseph’s fourth born son (b. 1895) was sent to open the door to the home during the family Pesach Seder, in order to allow the prophet Elijah to enter. When called upon to return to the Seder table, he did not respond, and when someone went to the door to investigate, he was found to have disappeared. He was never heard from again. It is thought that he was about 3-4 years old at the time. No one remembers his name or whatever happened to him. It was possible he was kidnapped, or possibly wondered away.

Family photo taken after their son went missing. Rebecca and Joseph are sitting.

I sure would like to find out what really happened and what his name was.  I'm still looking for Joseph's 1900 census report - maybe there I can find this son's name.  Joseph emigrated to Baltimore on 01 Feb 1891.  By 1892 he had earned enough money to bring over his wife Rebecca, and their first two children Jacob and Albert.  He enjoyed studying talmud and tanach in the Shaarei Zion Synagogue, in which he was a member for many years. He was a tailor and retailer.

Joseph's younger brother Shlomo (Simon) emgirated alone too and went directly to live with him in 1896.  Shlomo operated his pants shop on the first floor of their three story row house (as subcontractor to a clothing manufacturer). His workers were people brought over from Europe, taught the work for a living (housing, food, & clothing) until ready to go out on their own.  His shop on Hanover Street was a slightly larger shop.

Shlomo and his family lived through the Baltimore Fire of 1904.  Raged over a large part of the city, within blocks of where they lived.  People were moved through the night by horse-drawn vehicles, by the Davidson Transfer Company.  His wife, Elke, departed Bremen, German on 14 Jul 1898.  She and her children also went directly to her brother-in-law Joseph's house to join her husband there.  She made the button-holes of the pants at their pant shop.  She was ill from February-May 1920.  She died around November 1932.

More on Shlomo and Elke's family later.

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