This page is part of Family history documents: Ruth Schwartz & family.
-- Margaret Fulford

Overview of family history (with links to selected documents)

I am indebted to the "Schwartz-Weiss Family Tree" compiled by Gladys (Schwartz) Kaminsky in 1980, from which I took many of the facts below.


Ruth (Schwartz) Black (Aug 14, 1912 - January 6, 2005) was the seventh of eight children born to Benjamin Schwartz (1872?-1955) and Julia (Weiss) Schwartz (1877-1947). Benjamin and Julia were Jewish immigrants from Hungary who had arrived separately in New York City, with relatives, in the 1880s (Benjamin around age 12, and Julia at age 4) and had each settled on the Lower East Side of New York City. Benjamin and Julia were both from large families: Benjamin had at least seven siblings (two full siblings and at least five half-siblings), and Julia had four surviving full siblings and five half-siblings. Both of their mothers had died quite young (Benjamin's when he was only 2 or 3 years old, and Julia's when she was around 6).


Ruth's paternal grandfather, Herman Schwartz, a tailor, was born in Hungary in 1828 to Jacob (a teacher) and Mary; he had at least one sibling, Frieda. At one time Herman had been a prosperous farmer, until a disastrous fire left the family in poverty and caused them to move to Budapest.

The first of Herman Schwartz's four wives was named Mary; they had at least one child, Morris Schwartz, born in 1860. After Herman was widowed, he married Malvina (a.k.a. Mali or Mollie) Goldman [Ruth's paternal grandmother], born in 1839. Malvina was the daughter of a rabbi; her parents were Fannie and Benjamin Goldman. Herman and Malvina had three children: Therese (a.k.a. Razie or Raisie and Theresa), born 1872; Benjamin (a.k.a. Beny) [Ruth's father], born in 1872 or 1873; and Betty (a.k.a. Bertha), born around 1875. Malvina died in 1875, when her children were very young.

Around 1877 Herman Schwartz married his third wife, Esther [Benjamin's stepmother], with whom he would have four children. Around 1880, Herman's son from his first marriage, Morris, immigrated to the U.S., at about age 20. Benjamin [Ruth's father] briefly attended Hebrew school and German-language public school, before apprenticing as a tailor. Then, when he was about 12, he immigrated to the U.S. with his slightly older sister Therese, probably on June 19, 1885, joining their half-brother Morris in New York City. (Morris, a tailor, later lived in Rochester, New York and then in Chicago.)

A couple of years later, around 1887, Herman Schwartz [Ruth's grandfather] and his wife Esther immigrated to the U.S. with their four children: Mary, Mollie, Samuel, and Hannah [Benjamin's younger half-siblings]. In New York, Herman worked as a tailor. Esther must have died some time between 1905 and 1910, as the 1905 census shows Herman living on the Lower East Side with Esther and their four young adult children, but the 1910 census shows Herman living in Brooklyn with his daughter Theresa (Schwartz) Kronman, son-in-law/nephew, and grandchildren. (Theresa [Benjamin's sister] had married her first cousin, Jacob Kronman, the son of Herman's sister Frieda (Schwartz) Kronman.) Herman married his fourth wife, Mollie, in 1911; he lived into his nineties, dying in 1921.


Ruth's maternal grandparents were David Weiss, a tailor, and Helen (Grumbaum) Weiss, from Budapest, Hungary. David Weiss [Ruth's maternal grandfather] was born around 1844 in Budapest, and Helen (a.k.a. Helena and Elonora) Grumbaum (a.k.a. Greenbaum) [Ruth's maternal grandmother] was born in 1847. David's parents were probably Jacob Weis and Betti Fein (but they may have been Sam Weiss and Dora Gross). Helen was the daughter of Rosie and Isaac Grumbaum (a.k.a. Greenbaum). She had three older siblings (Betty, Hannah, and Isadore) and a younger brother, Herman.

Helen and David had five children who survived, of whom Julia (a.k.a. Julie) Weiss [Ruth's mother] was the second oldest. Julia had an older brother, William, who died when he was only 11, and at least four other siblings who died as infants. Julia's older sister Rose (a.k.a. Rosie) Weiss was born in 1870; Julia was born in August 1877; and her younger sisters Regina (a.k.a. Geanie) and Bertha (a.k.a. Birdie) were born in 1879 and 1881. Julia's younger brother Jacob (a.k.a. Jake) was the first person in the family born in the United States: the family immigrated to the U.S. around 1881 (when Julia was 4 years old), and Jacob was born in Manhattan in 1883.

When Julia was only 6, her mother Helen (Grumbaum) Weiss [Ruth's grandmother] died in her mid-thirties, in 1883, leaving five children whose ages must have been about 13 (Rose), 6 (Julia), 4 (Regina/Geanie), 2 (Bertha/Birdie), and still an infant (Jacob/Jake). For about two years the four younger children lived in an orphan asylum, while the oldest child, Rose, worked and kept house for her father.

Julia's father, David Weiss, remarried about two years later, in 1885, to Anna (Hani) Braun [Julia's stepmother], who was born in Hungary, probably around 1865; David was 39 and Anna was 19 years old. The four younger children left the orphan asylum to live with their father and young stepmother; the oldest child, Rose Weiss, moved in with her aunt Betty (a.k.a. Betnany) (Grumbaum) Freistadt, who was Helen (Grumbaum) Weiss's older sister. David Weiss worked long hours as a foreman in the clothing industry and was a member of the Kaiser Franz Josef Lodge (later renamed the Justice Lodge), a fraternal order and burial society. Julia finished grade eight and then at age 13 she went to work full-time as a sewing machine operator.

David Weiss and his second wife Anna had four surviving children (one child died accidentally as a toddler). The four who survived [Julia's half-siblings] were William (born 1886), Esther (born 1891), Sadie (a.k.a. Sally and Sophie, born 1892), and Edward (a.k.a. Eddie, born 1896). But in 1897, Anna (Braun) Weiss (like David's first wife Helen) died young, in her thirties. At the time of her death (from cancer), Anna's children would have been aged about 11 (William), 6 (Esther), 5 (Sadie), and 1 (Edward), and her stepchildren would have been aged about 27 (Rose, who'd gotten married about five years earlier), 20 (Julia), 18 (Regina), 16 (Bertha), and 12 (Jacob).

It seems likely that the older children who were still at home helped their widowed father take care of the younger children. Three years later, at the time of the 1900 census, David was living at 456 East 10th St. with Regina (age 21), Jacob (age 17), and the four younger children. David's occupation was listed as "Tailor," Jacob's as "Printer," and Regina's as "housekeeper" -- which presumably means she was keeping house for the family, not working outside the home. Julia had gotten married in 1898 but had stayed close to her family: in 1900 she was living in the building right next door, at 454 East 10th St., with her husband Benjamin Schwartz and their first child, Helen (10 months old).

In 1906 the Weiss family faced a crisis: Due to illness (heart disease), David Weiss [Ruth's grandfather], who was now in his early sixties, was no longer able to work and support his three youngest children (Esther, Sadie, and Edward). Esther (age 15) and Sadie (13) moved in with their married half-sister, Regina (Weiss) Holzman. Young Eddie (age 10) was taken in by the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum in November 1906, where he stayed until July 1909, at which point his older brother William was able to take care of him. David Weiss lived with his daughter Julia (Weiss) Schwartz [Ruth's mother] and her family until his death, at home, on August 18, 1907.


Benjamin Schwartz and Julia Weiss [Ruth's parents] were married on October 23, 1898, on the Lower East Side. By 1904 they had moved to Brooklyn, and by 1910 they had moved to the Bronx. Benjamin worked as a cutter, patternmaker, and grader of ladies' cloaks and suits; he was a member of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Ruth grew up in the Bronx with her older siblings Helen, Mae (a.k.a. Mabel and Mollie), Arthur, Daniel (a.k.a. Dan), and Ethel, and her younger sister Gladys. (Another sister, Blanche, had died of diphtheria at age 1, about eight years before Ruth was born.) Ruth's sister Gladys beautifully described her childhood memories of daily life in this loving family with two very hardworking parents (Benjamin as tailor and Julia as homemaker).

Here is a list of Benjamin and Julia's children:

Helen (Schwartz) Gotlieb, 1899-1940 (here she is in the 1940 census, age 40)
Mae (Schwartz) Weinberg, 1901-1969
Blanche Schwartz, 1903-1904
Arthur Schwartz, 1904-1985 (here he is in the
1930 census, age 25)
Dan Schwartz, 1908-1999
Ethel (Schwartz) Zeegen, 1910-1955 (here she is in the
1940 census, age 29)
Ruth (Schwartz) Black, 1912-2005
Gladys (Schwartz) Kaminsky, 1918-2001 (here she is in the
1940 census, age 21)


At the time of the 1930 census, at age 17, Ruth Schwartz was working as a stenographer for a furriers' union. When she was 26, Ruth married Joseph (Joe) Black (born April 17, 1915). Their wedding date, October 23, 1938, was exactly forty years after the wedding of Ruth's parents, Benjamin and Julia. Ruth and Joe began their married life in the Bronx; at the time of the 1940 census, Ruth was working as a stenographer for New York State Welfare, and Joe was working as a clerk for the New York City Department of Highways, where he later became a senior auditor. Ruth became a full-time homemaker; they had three children and six grandchildren. Ruth's mother Julia died on December 16, 1947; her father Benjamin died on January 6, 1955.

In 1954 Ruth and Joe Black and their children moved from the Bronx to Flushing, Queens. After the death of Joe's father (Sam Black) in 1948, Joe's mother Anna (Finkelstein) Black lived with Joe, Ruth, and their children in Flushing; Anna died around 1971. Ruth and Joe moved to Enfield, Connecticut, where Joe died on August 28, 1984. Ruth lived on her own in Enfield before moving to a retirement home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, where she celebrated her 90th birthday in 2002; she died there, age 92, on January 6, 2005 (exactly fifty years after the day her father Benjamin died).