Rose Lily Blieden Handler (April 15, 1875 – July 10, 1943) and Family
Rose Lily was the first child born to Hanah Wolfson and Aron Blieden. She was born in 1875 and said that Riga, Latvia, was her place of birth. We still do not have proof of that.
She grew up on the sawmill that her family owned. Their house was a stone structure attached to the side of the mill. She and her siblings liked to go log rolling down the stream on their property. Was it also a grain mill? That is the story that I had heard.
According to her daugther, Rose was a favorite of her grandfather (or step-grandfather) and it sounds like he lived with them or at least close by. He was either a silversmith or goldsmith and at the end of the day, he would sweep up the precious dust that had accumulated on the floor but Rose would come along and blow it all away! This was a story told to me by Rebecca Handler Garfinkle (Rose’s second child) who I corresponded with in the early 1970’s.
When she was 17, Rose was allowed to accompany her aunt, Yetta Blumberg, to New York as a graduation present. Rose had just graduated from the gymnasium in Riga, Latvia, which was near their home. Yetta was Rose Lily’s mother’s half sister. They left for New York in 1891. She listed Zagare, Lithuania, as her last residence. They sailed from Hamburg, Germany, aboard the ship Augusta Victoria. They left Hamburg on July 1, 1891, and arrived in New York on July 31, 1891. They sailed in the steerage section (the Zwischendeck), which was considered the least expensive way to travel and was in the crowded, lower part of the ship.
In 1892, while Rose was in the United States, her youngest sibling was born. She had a new sister, Reve Blossom, whom she would not meet until 1903 when Reve and Hannah, Rose’s mother, emigrated to the United States.
In January of 1893, Rose married Barnett Handler, and made the decision to stay in the United States.
An unproven family story was that Barnett was from St. Petersburg, Russia, and had been an uplolsterer to the czar. People did not like to admit that they were poor in the old country and often embellished what their former life was like.
In February of 1893, Rose’s father, Aron Itzak Blieden, died. Rose was living in New York at that time.
Rose and Barnett had five children, 3 boys and 2 girls, from 1894 to 1908. You can read about them in detail at the bottom of this page.
Her first child, Aaron Isadore, was born in 1884 in New York City. At some point after his birth, they moved to Harrisburg, PA. Her second child, Rebecca, was born in 1895 in Harrisburg.
According to the 1900 US Census, Rebecca and Barnett lived at 1212 Third Street in Harrisburg with their now 3 children.
The society pages of the local newspapers were the social media of the day, and we learn a lot about Rose from newpaper articles.
Sadly, from 1899 to 1902, she had some mental health issues and was committed to an “insane” asylum. She was probably admitted to the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital. How long she was there, we do not know, but she obviously recovered and went on to live a full and interesting life.
Note in the article below, it mentions that she was wandering around Washington, DC, trying to see President McKnley.
Reunited with her mother and sister in 1903, here Rose is showing off her newest child, a daughter, Helen, in 1906 in Harrisburg. Reve and Grandma Hannah, look so excited to be with the new baby.
According to the 1910 US Census, Rose Lily and Barnett were still living at 1212 Third Street, but now they had 5 children ranging in age from 16 – 1 1/2. Also, Barnett is now a retail merchant selling furniture, whereas in 1900 he was an upholsterer.
The year 1913 started off with a month’s vacation to Philly, New York and Boston. Rose was going to the Boston Furniture Show.
This article appeared in The Courier (Harrisburg, PA) Sunday, January 18, 1913, page 8
In 1913, Rose took her 7 year old daughter, Helen, to Chicago for the summer. One of her mother’s half-sisters, Lena Shapiro, lived in Chicago so I imagine they were going to visit her.
After returning from Chicago, Rose accompanied her husband on a business trip to Philadelphia and New York.
This article appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA), Wednesday, Sept. 24, 1913, p. 4
In 1915, Rose and her 9 year old daughter, Helen, spent the summer with her mother in Brooklyn, NY.
This article appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, Monday, August 30, 1915, page 4
About 1915, one of Rose’s younger brothers, Meyer, moved to Harrisburg and went to work for her husband, Barnett, as a collector. In early 1918, Meyer married Rose Tuch in Harrisburg. Unfortunately, he was struck down during the 1918 flu epidemic and did not survive. Rose’s sister, Reve, also got the flu but she did survive and felt guilty for her entire life.
In 1917, Rose and Barnett celetrated their 25th wedding anniversary. During their party, they renewed their vows. Notice how it was worded in the article!
Also in 1917, Rose was struck by an automobile. However, the driver was found not guilty of criminal negligence.
This article appeared in The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA), Thursday September 25, 1917, Page 1
By 1920, only 3 children were still living at home and they were still at the same address.
In 1921, Rose and Barnett give a reception in honor of their son’s Confirmation.
Rose’s siblings came from Brooklyn, NY, and from Kansas City, MO. Her mother attended as well.
The article about the reception appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA), Wed., Sept. 7, 1921, page 6.
On a Sunday in December of 1922, Rose and Barnett hosted a party in honor of their son Sam’s 25th birthday.
From the article we see that their children were talented musicians and that the family liked to play bridge.
Did only family attend or were there friends, also? Most of the names I can recognize as family but a few are unfamiliar.
The article is from The Evening News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, December 26 1922, Page 6.
In 1923, Rose applied for a passport as she intended to travel. Eventually, she travelled all over the world including back to her childhood home. We still don’t know if that was in Lithuania or Latvia. On the application below, she put that she would be travelling to Liithuania. However, you will see that when she did travel, she went to Latvia.
Sadly, on October 14, 1928, Barnett passed away, leaving Rose a widow.
However, Rose loved to travel and appears to stay busy visiting her relatives around the country as well as going on vacations with her son, Bernard, or by herself. Below are just some of her adventures that were documented in local newspapers.
One old family story is that Barnett had a furniture store. Once he got hurt so he decided his oldest son should be a doctor to help him out. Then he had some legal and business issues with the store so he decided his next son should be a lawyer. Finally, he had some problems with his teeth so he decided his youngest son should be a dentist!
After Barnett passed away, Rose Lily moved to 1006 Second Street in Harrisburg. According to Trulia.com, the house was built in 1900 and was located close to the riverfront and was also close to the downtown area.
By the time the 1930 Census was recorded, only her youngest child, Bernard, was living at home with her.
On March 6, 1930, The Harrisburg Telegraph reported on p. 6 that Rose had been visiting her mother, Hannah, in Brooklyn, NY. While there, a 4-generation picture was taken with Rose, her daughter, Rebecca Garfinkle, and her grand-daughter, Tina Garfinkle. Read my blog. “The 1930’s Photo that Travelled Around the World“, to find out how I acquired this picture.
In April of 1930, she and her son Bernard, spent a week in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, Friday, April 25, 1930, Page 17
In May of 1930, she was granted a building permit.
This appeared in the Harrisburg, Telegraph, Thursday, May 1, 1930, p. 11
In June of 1930, Rose and her son, Bernard, sailed to Europe on the Majestic. Her daughter and 2 grandchildren went down to the docks to wish them a Bon Voyage. This used to be a common occurrance when someone took a boat cruise or voyage.
Bernard was doing post-graduate work in dentistry in Germany, and they used his studies abroad to include other travels.
In August of 1933, Rose set out on a 6-month trip around the world.
On one stop, she visited her childhood home and had new tombstones erected for her father and step-grandfather. Their stones had been toppled over by the Russians. Where was her childhood home and where were these stones errected? We still do not know for sure.
On March 19, 1937, her beautiful and beloved daughter, Helen Selma Handler Lewy, tragically died from a botched abortion.
By 1940, Bernard is a practicing dentist in his own practice. He is still living at home with his mother.
Below are a few pictures of Rose later in her life.
Rose Lily died on August 13, 1943, after being hospitalized in Harrisburg Hospital for 8 days. She was 68 years old.
Rose is buried in Chisuk Emuna Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, next to her husband.
Her gravestone reads: “Liba Raisa, daughter of Aharon Yitzchak Died 12 of Av, 5703”
The Children of Rose Lily and Barnett Handler
Rose and Barnet’s children were: Arron Isaac , Rebecca Handler Garfinkle, Samuel, Helen Selma, and Bernard Sidney. Below is a little about each one of them.
Aaron Isadore Handler (1894 – 1976)
Aaron was born in New York on Feb. 4, 1894. He grew up in Harrisburg, PA.
In the 1920 Census, he was single, a second-year dental student and living at home. His WWI draft card, listed him a tall (he was 5′ 7″) with a medium build and dark brown eyes and hair.
In 1921, he married Zelda Miller and they had one child, Samuel J. By 1930, he had moved to Phildelphia, PA, and was a practicing dentist.
His WWII Draft Card lists him as being bald and having a scar under his chin. He is also listed as being a self-employed dentist.
While she was alive, his mother, Rose Lily, made many trips to Philadelphia according to the “social” columns in the local newspapers.
Aaron died on March 27, 1974. He was pre-deceased by his wife.
His obituary appeared in The Phildelphia Inquirer (Phildelphia Pennsylvania), Thursday, March 28, 1974, Page 24.
Rebecca Gertrude Handler Garfinkle (1895 – 1965)
Rebecca (Reba) was born November 23, 1895, in Harrisburg, PA. She was the second child of Rose and Barnett.
In 1915, when she was 20 years old, she eloped with Dr. B. Milton Garfinkle.
The announcement appeared in the Mount Carmel Item, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, Monday, September 13, 1915, Page 4
Milton, per family stories, proved to be a difficult husband and the marriage was not always a happy one.
They had 2 children, a daughter, Tina, born in 1917, and a son, Benjamin M. Garfinkle, Jr., born in 1920. By having a “Jr.” they were not following Askenazi Jewish naming traditions.
Rebecca was known to her immediate family as Becky.
In 1932, Rebecca had a non-support case filed against her husband. However, they decided to settle out of court.
Notice of this appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, December 20, 1932, Page 3.
I met Rebecca circa 1953 in her son’s home in Great Neck, Long Island, New York, He was an obstetrician and was my mother’s doctor when we lived in Queens, NY, and she was pregnant with her 3rd child, my sister, Avra. His office was attached to his home and after one appointment, he invited us inside to visit with his mother, Rebecca, who was visiting him.
In May of 1965, her husband, B. Milton, died at age 72.
Dr. B. Milton Garfinkle, Jr. married Sylvia Joffe. He met her after finishing his medical residency in the Alexandria, VA, area. With his wife, he had 5 children. The Bar MItzvah in Jersusalem was for his oldest son.
In the 1970’s, after my father passed away, I wanted to write a family history. I started cooresponding with Rebecca and she sent me my first Blieden family tree and also a picture of the “mill”, her mother’s childhood home. I only wish I asked more questions and pressed for more details, like exactly where was the family mill, and which cousin told her about being related to the Vilna de Gaon.
It filled my heart with joy to know that my father was a family favorite.
Late in her life, Rebecca suffered from severe arthitis and some days could not get out of bed. She died on August 6, 1988, at age 92, at her son’s home in Great Neck, New York.
She is buried beside her husband in Chisuk Emuna Cemetery, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Samuel Handler (1897 – 1970)
Samuel was the third child born to Rebecca and Barnett. He was born in Harrisburg, PA, in 1897
In 1915, he was a member of the Philothenian Debating Society.
This was posted in the Harrisburg Daily Independent, Harrisburh, PA, Thursday, May 13, 1915, Page 3
In May of 1922, he married Rae Miller. They had 3 children: Maxine Sheila, Barbara Mae, and Leslie Barnett.
Rael and Sam met through some legal aid society. Sam went to law school at New York University.
Sam and Rae would always host the family seders.
They spoke Yiddish at home or at least when they did not want their children and grandchildren to understand what they were saying!
Sam was an attorney and eventually his son, Leslie joined his firm.
Maxine married Dr. George Hafetz. They had 2 sons. Sadly, she died at age 63 in 1989 from colon cancer.
Maxine owned and operated the Yarn Tree Shop in Mercer Mall in Lawrence Township. New Jersey.
Sam died from pancreatic cancer in 1970. He was 73 years old.
Sam is buried in Beth El Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His wfe, Rae, who died in 1986, is buried next to him.
Sam and Rae’s son, Leslie Barnett Handler died on August 11, 2007 at age 73. He is also buried in Beth El Cemetery.
Leslie was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, was a Veteran of the Korean War, and retired to Captain in the Air Force Reserve.
He was a graduate of Harrisburg Academy, Penn State University, and University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
He was a partner with his father in the law firm of Compton & Handler and most recently a partner in the law firm of Handler, Henning, & Rosenbeg.
He was licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
He was a member of Beth El Temple, Harrisburg, the Dauphin County Bar Assoc. the Pennsylvania Bar Assoc., the Blue Ridge Country Club, the Jewish Federation of Harrisburg, and B’Nai B’rith.
He was the widower of Dr. Bonnie Silver Handler.
Helen Selma Handler Lewy (1906 – 1937)
Helen was the 4th child born to Rose LIly and Barnett.
We find out from the Rose Lily section above, that she often accompanied her mother on summer trips to visit relatives in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Chicago. They would also vacationed in Atlantic City. The local newspapers would report on their travels.
When she was about 7 years old, she was hit be a car in front of her house. Luckily, the injuries were not serious.
The article appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph, (Harrisburg Pennsylvania), Monday, September 29, 1913, Page 1.
Here is Helen at approximately age 11 with her little brother, Bernard. They are holding their first cousin, Tina, daughter of their Aunt Rebecca and her husband, Benjamin Milton Garfinkle.
She graduated from Central High School, Class of 1924, in Harrisburg. While in high school, she was a member of the student council according to a few newspaper articles. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Hygiene, class of 1926.
In 1926, Helen married Archibald Lewy in Philadelphia where they would be living. They had one child who was born in 1931, and family lore says they did not want any more children.
Sadly, on March 19, 1937, at only 30 years old, Helen died after a botched abortion.
Her oldest brother, Dr. Aaron Handler, served as the informant.
Although she was living in Phildelphia, she was buried back in her hometown of Harrisburg.
She was buried in Chisuk Emuna Cemetery in Harrisburg. A few years later, her younger brother, Bernard, would also be buried there.
Bernard Sidney Handler (1908 – 1945)
Bernard was the 5th child born to Rose Lily and Barnett Handler. He was born August 28, 1908 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
We also know that he played the saxophone as he performed at his brother’s, Samuel’s, 21st birthday party.
Here is Bernard at approximately age 9 with his big sister, Helen. They are holding their first cousin, Tina, daughter of their Aunt Rebecca and her husband, Benjamin Milton Garfinkle
In 1921, his parents hosted a party in honor of his Confirmation (Bar Mitzvah?). You can read about it in his mother’s section above.
In 1928 his father passed away. Barnard was 20 years old. We know that after that, he lived with his mother and travelled with her.
In 1937, his sister, Helen, tragically died. She was the sibling closest in age to him.
In 1943, his beloved mother passed away.
On March 8, 1945, Bernard married Lieut. Winifred Diamond.
The wedding announcement appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA), Thursday, March 8, 1945, page 19, but the tragic news also appeared in newspapers throughout the state.
A few months after the wedding, on July 12, 1945, Bernard tragically died.
At the time of his death, his wife was pregnant and would give birth to a daughter.
From this article we learn from his brother, Samuel, that Bernard had not been in good health for some time.
However, on that day, Samuel said that Bernard had gone out to lunch around noon and on the way back at about 1:00 pm had waved at his brother-in-law who was sitting on his front porch on Second Street.
This article appeared in The Evening News, Harrisburg, PA, Friday, July 13, 1945, page 9.
Because his will was written before he was married his wife was not named in the will. She petitions the court asking for a share in the estate. Samuel, Bernard’s brother, was appointed executor.
On November 28, 1945, Winifred gives birth to Bernard’s child, a daughter. At that time she was living in Brooklyn, NY.
The birth announcement appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, PA) Wednesday, December 5, 1945, page 11.
As of this point in time, we do not know if she was awarded a portion of his estate.
For this page, I would especially like to thank Jim Greve and Dr. Heidi Handler for sharing family stories and photos with me.
I would also like to thank my Aunt, the late Mildred Blieden Rich, for encouraging me to reach out to Rebecca Handler Garfinkle.
And of course, I have to thank my cousin, the late Rebecca Handler Garfinkle for corresponding with me and for sending me my first Blieden family tree and the precious photo of her mother’s childhood home.