Struggling with Sponsorship: Who’s That Nephew?

Struggling with Sponsorship: Who’s That Nephew?

This is day 13 of the Family History Writing Challenge and I’ve hit a brick wall — to use a common genealogical term for encountering seemingly insurmountable problems that make you want to bang your head against one (this last is just my interpretation).

I’m still poring over the emigration questionnaire of Adolf Schweizer: Emigration document Adolf Schweizer

In answer to the question: “Which connections do you have abroad, especially in the country you want to emigrate to?” Adolf wrote:

The first line indicates that Adolf has a “Neffe” — a nephew —  in New York named Berthold Spielholz. Well, that’s a close relationship that should be easy to track down.

I found a great deal of information about Berthold Spielholz from various documents.

  • He was born on June 8, 1903 in Kavionka, Poland
  • He came over to the U.S. on the SS Columbus from Vienna via Cherbourg in August 11, 1933
  • His wife, Paulina Spielholz-Wilkes (or Wilkes-Spielholz), was born on June 7, 1898
  • He and Paulina were married in Vienna April 1933
  • In New York, they lived in the Bronx
  • Berthold’s father was named Ignatz (which was also my grandfather’s name on my father’s side, much to my shame when I was asked to put his name on a family tree in third grade; I believe I changed his name to Irving. But I digress)
  • Berthhold had a sister named Anna who was born in 1908 and arrived in New York in May 1938 from Vienna via Le Havre on the S.S. Georgic 
  • Berthold had a sister named Irma who was born in 1910 and made it over to the U.S. in December 1941 via Buenos Aires on the SS Argentina; by then, it wasn’t very easy to get passage directly out of Europe. She married a man named G. Kalmer and died in Brooklyn in 2001.

I could go on but there’s one key thing I can’t find out about Berthold Spielholz: How he could have been a nephew of Adolf and Bertha Schweitzer.

It is impossible that he was a nephew on Bertha’s side: None of her seven Kornmehl siblings had children with the names Berthold, Anna, or Irma. The only possibility, then, is that Berthold was a nephew on the Schweizer side — or Reiter side, as Abraham Reiter was Adolf’s original name — but I could find no relationship match that was even close.

Berthold would have been had to sponsor his sisters, rather than an uncle, in any case; both Anna and Irma Spielholz named him on the ship’s manifests as their relative in the U.S.

Was Adolf Schweizer claiming a relative he didn’t have in hopes of bluffing his way out of the country?

I suppose it’s moot. Whether a fabrication or a connection I can’t manage to find, the Schweizers weren’t able to use it to escape.

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