Anna (Blau) Hoffstadter Roth

15 March 1880 – 25 October 1931

This article was originally posted on May 15, 2022. I was contacted by Anna’s grandchildren and given additional information and clarification which I’ve used to annotate this article, while leaving my erroneous conclusions and conjectures in place.

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.

The family confirmed that the Galicia in question was “an ephemeral geographic location” in what is now Poland and Austria

I couldn’t find her 1900 census, but Anna 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.

My research here was confirmed by the family though they also did not know what happened to Sam’s mother or what brought Isaac and Sam to Chicago.

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.

According to the family, the 1910 grocery was always a bakery — The Augusta Bakery Corporation established in 1908 originally located on Augusta Ave — “Finest Rye Bread in the City of Chicago!”

At some point after 1910, the bakery and the family moved to 901 N. Ashland, the family living above the bakery.

What is odd about Anna’s 1920 census is that Ike did not die until 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.

Chicago Tribune, 10 April 1917, page 7

The family clarified that Anna and Ike broke up due to another man and Ike even filed charges against the interloper, though neither they nor I could find if anything came of the suit. (see news clipping)

Though the family was not sure of Isabelle’s cause of death, they think it may have been leukemia.

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.

From what the family told me, the remarriage was quite soon after Ike’s death, and so was prior to Isabelle’s passing. I do still believe Anna intended her second husband and her sons – at least some of them – to join her in the mausoleum some day, but that never was to be.

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.

(See above and news clipping for the connection) According to the family, Ike continued to work at the bakery even after their divorce and while Anna was listing herself as widowed. Very sadly, he died of heat exhaustion at that very bakery, and after that, Anna remarried to her new love Julius Roth.

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.

As I said above, it was always a bakery. It is a bit unclear how Julius came into contact with Anna as the family doesn’t believe he was actually a baker himself, but some initial business connection does seem to have been the catalyst. According to the family, there was drama around ownership of the baker as Julius retained some kind of rights to the business. He remarried, and after he died in 1946, there was more legal wrangling to restore full ownership to the brothers and to extricate Julius’s widow. The legal business was handled by Joseph who had become an attorney by this time.

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.”

It turns out that Joseph did marry as it was this branch of the family who contacted me and provided more insight into their grandparents’ stories. In 1944, he married a young woman who’d fled Germany, and together they had three children.

Joseph was head of the family corporation until his death in 1961 with Nat running the day-to-day. William was a one-third stock owner but did not hold another role in the business.

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

The family shared that more than one of her nieces are named after their Aunt Isabelle.

901 N. Ashland, circa May 2018
901 N. Ashland, circa May 2018

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.

I stand corrected on this — it is the same building still and at second look, recognizable as having been something more industrial than its current role containing a dental practice. It was the very clean and spiffed-up-looking exterior that made me initially believe it to be a replacement.

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.

The family does not know why no one else was entombed there after Anna’s death. Though oldest half-brother Sam is also buried at Waldheim, all three of Anna’s sons are buried at Westlawn.

RIP Anna and family

Thank you so much to Anna and Isabelle’s family for taking the time to share more information about their lives and filling in the missing pieces.

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