S. Rothkopf

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Two knotty problems with S. Rothkopf & Sons. (1) Search as I might I have never found any listing that locates this business on Suffolk Street. In its early days they were located at 423-425 Broadway, then 477 Broadway. From 1899 into the 1960s they were located on Rivington Street, mostly 115 Rivington beginning in 1919. Rivington Street is right around the corner from 116 Suffolk St., but still it is not Suffolk. If 116 Suffolk was a branch location, why was it never listed? (2) There were two S. Rothkopfs, both named Solomon. The person who founded the company in the 1870s was Solomon Rothkopf (1831-1894). Then there was a younger Solomon Rothkopf (1855-1917). All well and good. Problem is I have not been able to establish any family relationship between these two Solomon Rothkopfs.

The first Solomon Rothkopf is possibly listed on the ship's manifest of the SS Wieland sailing to New York from Bremen, Germany, in 1853. He is "Salomon Rothkopf, age 20, merchant." He then appears in the 1860 U. S. Census as Solomon Rothkopf, age 27, born Germany, occupation "Fancy Goods," living in New York's Ward 13, District 4. His first entry in New York city directories comes in 1862, when he was Solomon Rothkopf, "fancy goods," at 381 1/2 Grand St. Apparently he had a partner for a short while; Uhlfelder & Rothkopf (Emanuel Uhlfelder & Solomon Rothkopf) at 385 Broadway is listed in Wilson's Copartnership Directory in 1866. In the 1870 U. S. Census he was recorded living at 339 East 19th Street with wife and three children. His occupation was "Dealer in Fancy Goods Wholesale[?]." In 1880 he lived at 160 East 74th Street with wife and, now, four children, including Henry age 18.

In 1892 Solomon Rothkopf applied for a passport where he said that he was 60 years old, that he was born 31 November 1831 in Schmalkalden, Bavaria, Germany, that he emigrated from Bremen June 1853, and that he became a naturalized citizen of the U. S. 18 October 1880. This Solomon Rothkopf died 2 March 1894. The New York Times, 3 March 1894, pg. 5, had this notice: "Rothkopf - Friday, March 2, Salomon Rothkopf, aged 62 years. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the funeral from his late residence, 160 East 74th St., Sunday, March 4, at 9:30 A. M. Please omit flowers."

S. Rothkopf, Son & Co. located at 477 Broadway was taken over by Solomon's son, Henry Rothkopf (1862?-1895). It was Henry who famously committed suicide in 1895. As reported in the Washington Post, 1 Sept. 1895, pg. 8, "New York, Aug. 31.- Harry Rothkopf, senior member of the firm of Simon Rothkopf, Son & Co., manufacturers of and dealers in buttons, trimmings, and veilings, shot himself in the mouth with a revolver while in his office at 477 Broadway and died almost instantly. No reason is known for the suicide. A friend said that the only thing that troubled Mr. Rothkopf was a lameness. Mr. Rothkopf's fortune is estimated at something more than half a million dollars. He was a prominent member of the Freundschaft Society, a great reader, and an enthusiast at chess. He lived with his mother."
The New York Times, 1 Sept. 1895, pg. 2, also had the story: "Henry Rothkopf, senior member of the firm of S. Rothkopf Son & Co, which deals in trimmings, buttons, and veilings, at 477 Broadway and 50 Mercer Street, committed suicide in his office about 9:30 o'clock yesterday morning by shooting himself in the head. ... Mr. Rothkopf was thirty-three years old. He was not married, and lived with his mother, at 160 East Seventy-fourth Street. He became senior member of the firm when his father, Simon Rothkopf, died several months ago." Please note: Solomon Rothkopf is called Simon in these accounts, but this form of the name is not otherwise recorded. Also, the Harry Rothkopf here is always identified as Henry in census reports and directory lists.

With the death of both Solomon and his son Henry, S. Rothkopf & Son should have gone out of business. But no, in 1902 we find Rothkopf, Solomon, 222 Rivington Street under Dry Goods in a New York city business directory. And S. Rothkopf & Sons, 222 & 225 Rivington under Men's Furnishing Goods in 1906. Trow's Copartnership Directory for 1906 lists Solomon, Hyman, Samuel, and Morris Rothkopf at Rothkopf & Sons, 222 Rivington Street. But who were all these Rothkopfs? They seem to pop up out of the woodwork without warning, and as I said before, I have not been able to establish a connection with the former Solomon and Henry.

The New York State Census in 1905 recorded Solomon Rothkopf, age 50, born Austria, in U.S. 15 years, alien, merchant, living at 222 Rivington Street. With him were sons Hyman, 21, born Austria, and Morris, 19, born Russia. They, like their father, were in the U.S. 15 years - i.e., immigrated 1890. He is also recorded in the 1910 U. S. census, now 58 years old, born Russia, immigrated 1890, alien, retail merchant, dry goods, living at 222 Rivington Street. His son, Morris, age 23, born Russia, immigrated 1895, also lived with the family. Subsequent city directories list Solomon, Hyman and Morris Rothkopf as members of S. Rothkopf & Sons.

This Solomon Rothkopf (1857-1917) died in 1917. His son, Hyman Rothkopf (1877?-1956), registered for the World War I draft in 1918, when he declared he was 41 years old, born Warsaw, Poland, 15 October 1877. He was a naturalized U. S. citizen, and his occupation was "wholesale hosiery and underwear, in business for himself, 155 Rivington Street." A similar draft registration in 1942 gives a different birth date. Now it is 18 December 1878. But place of birth is still Warsaw, Poland, and occupation is still "Own business, S. Rothkopf & Sons, 155 Rivington Street."

Another son, Samuel Rothkopf (1882-1957), was born in Russia, immigrated to the U. S. in 1895, and became a naturalized citizen 8 August 1905. The naturalization petition gives his birth date as 11 July 1884. Other documents indicate the year of his birth was 1882. He registered for the World War I draft in 1918, when he was 36 years old, born 15 July 1882, a naturalized U. S. citizen, and employed "dry goods, self, 155 Rivington St." His 1942 draft registration said that he was born 15 July 1882. In 1942 he was retired and his business was Samuel Rothkopf & Sons, 59 Canal St., NYC.

According to the 1910 U.S. Census, a third son, Morris Rothkopf (1889-1961), was born in Russia and immigrated in 1895. The 1920 census has the immigration date as 1891. In the 1942 draft registration he said he was born 1 December 1889 in Warsaw, Poland. In 1942 he was self-employed at Morris Rothkopf, 62 Orchard St., New York.

One more son in the business was Abraham Rothkopf (1897?-1971). Native born, he lived with Solomon Rothkopf at 222 Rivington St. in the 1905 New York State Census and in the U. S 1910 Census. His World War II registration (for "young" men) gives his birth date as 1 June 1898. He was employed "S. Rothkopf & Sons, 155 Rivington St., NYC."

Samuel Rothkopf, Morris Rothkopf, and Abraham Rothkopf are all buried in Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, where Find-A-Grave memorials give death dates but no birth dates.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Grutchfield