Julius (Judah) Leib Wolfson was the older brother of my great-grandmother, Hannah Wolfson Blieden. He was born August 18, 1851. Family lore says he was a cantor who travelled from Lithuania to Paris and then to the Harrisburg, PA, area.

He married Yetta Gertrude Novgrod around 1875. Their son Abe (who went by Charles) was born in Paris, as were their other children: Sarah, Anne, Mitchell, and Teresa.

According to his Naturalization Petition of 1908, he was born in Kovno, Lithuania. He emigrated to the United States from France in 1896.

Julius Wolfson's Naturalization Petition of 1908

Other family stories are about Julius’ son Charles (Abe) who was a tailor. His wife, Rose Strauss managed the local hotel, the Kenmar in New Kensington, PA. At that time, New Kenington was known as Little Chicago because it was run by the local Mafia family, the Mannarinos. Abe survived the Depression by making suits for the Mafia. He would sew on extra pockets so that they had places to hide their guns. The Kenmar was a hangout and Rose knew all “boys”. Abe and Rose had 2 sons. George was adopted, while Jules was born to them.

Julius died in 1924. He is buried in Kesher Israel Cemetery in Harrisburg, PA. It is from his gravestone that we learn that his father was considered a martry (Ha’Kadosh). He is buried next to his daughter, Anna, who died in 1922.

Anna Wolfson Lipman Death Certificate
Gravestone of Julius Wolfson

The line by line translation of Julius’ gravestone is: “[abbreviation] Here lies buried/ an upright man, perfect in his ways/ modest in his deeds/ with God and man/ Mr. Yehudah Leib/ son of Mr. Yechezkel, the Holy/ Wolfson/ born 5604/ died 26 Menachem Av 5684/ [abbreviation] May his soul be bound in the bond of life.”

On the sixth line, the word “Ha’Kadosh,” “the Holy” immediately after “Yechezkel” indicates that the father was killed for being Jewish and died due to anti-Semitic persecution.

Thank you to:

  • Lee Wolfson for sharing family stories