Anna (Blau) Hoffstadter Roth

15 March 1880 – 25 October 1931

Anna Blau was born in Galicia which seems to now be in Spain OR is no longer called that as various census records put it in Poland and Austria (the early 1900s were exceptionally volatile for national borders so this actually comes up a lot). She seemed to settle on Austria in the later records so I went with that.

I couldn’t find her 1900 census, but she married first husband Ignatz (later Isaac, called Ike) Hoffstadter in 1899, two years after she arrived in the US. Ike was more than 15 years her senior and had been married before, having at least one child with his first wife (who I believe was named Rose). Son Samuel was born in New Jersey, but whether Ike’s first wife’s death led to his move to Chicago or if some other parting of ways did, I couldn’t discover. Sam is also buried at Waldheim, along with his wife, but by the time Anna’s family showed up on the census in 1910, Sam was out on his own.

Over the first ten years of their marriage, Anna and Ike had four children: Joseph (1901), Isabelle (1903), William (1906), and youngest Nathan (1908). On the 1910 census, the couple indicated that they owned a grocery store which they ran together, but by the 1920 census, something odd had happened: Ike was no longer living with his family and Anna listed herself as widowed. She also did not list an occupation, though the family seems to have been financially secure as none of the children had entered the workforce and all were pursuing their post-8th-grade educations (which after WWI was becoming more common). This is also the first appearance of what would become the long-time family residence of 901 Ashland.

What is odd about Anna’s 1920 census is that Ike did not die until the July 1921. On his death record, he was listed as single, so it appears that he either ran off on the family or Anna and Ike divorced and used the common fiction of the woman being widowed to avoid scandal. Divorce or abandonment seem the most likely explanations, too, because when Isabelle died just two years after her father in 1923, he was not mentioned in her obituary.

Sometime between 1920 and 1930, Anna remarried to Julius Roth, a baker. It seems likely that this marriage took place prior to Isabelle’s death because the mausoleum has both of Anna’s husbands’ surnames over the door, indicating Anna’s intent for it to be used for her children and likely for her second husband, too.

Ike was listed as a baker on his death record, so I’m curious if Anna and Julius met due to some connection there. Julius was a few years younger than his wife and had not previously been married. Anna’s sons were all still living with their mother and pursuing higher education: Joseph to be an attorney; William, a doctor; and youngest Nat bookkeeping, though he eventually took over the family baking business.

The 1930 census found the family still at 901 Ashland, though Julius was listed as head of the family; however, after Anna’s death just a year later, Julius was the one who left Ashland and Joseph became head of the household. It appears, though I can’t confirm it, that the original grocery from 1910’s census became the family bakery and that after Ike died, Julius married into the business. After Julius died in 1946, it seems Nat then took over. None of this is implicit in the records, but the baking thread runs through all of it, and I think it’s the same business.

In 1940, the three brothers were all still living together at 901 Ashland and had hired a live-in servant as they were all working in their busy professions. None had yet married, and William never would, though he would go on to serve as an officer in WWII. Nat eventually married and had two children; but I couldn’t track Joseph past his WWII draft card in 1942. I believe he married in 1944 but couldn’t confirm that. I only know he died prior to his brother William’s death in 1962 thanks to his inclusion in William’s obituary as “the late Joseph.”

Only William mentioned his half-brother Sam in his obituary, but, very sweetly, Nat and William both remembered Isabelle in theirs.

901 Ashland, as it was when the family lived there, is long gone. A newer building now stands in its place, and a dental practice occupies the address.

For whatever reason, only Anna joined Isabelle in the family mausoleum. Though several niches remain empty, Nat and William were buried at Westlawn. Julius remarried and was buried with his parents elsewhere at Waldheim.

RIP Anna and family

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