52 Ancestors in 52 weeks – #3: Ralph Oppenheim

Here is my third post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a challenge posed by Amy Johnson Crow.

Ralph would be my first cousin – twice removed. Our common ancestors are EmanuelWeiss and Theresia Passauer, my second-great-grandparents.

Ralph Oppenheim was born on 13 Jan 1896 in New York. 

Portion of Ralph’s Birth Certificate

When Ralph was born, his parents, Max Oppenheim and the former Rosa Weiss already had one child, a daughter named Irene.

Undated – New York – L-to-R:
Max, Ralph, Rosa, Irene

1900 – Vienna, Austria


Rosa’s sister Sophie, still in lived in Vienna, Austria which was also Rosa’s birthplace. The families must have been fairly well-off as there was frequent travel between New York and Vienna. The first trip I documented was in 1900, when Ralph traveled to Vienna with his sister and mother.

The picture at the right shows Irene and Ralph during the 1900 visit to Austria. Ralph is seated with his Aunt Sophie. I am not 100% who the gentleman is. My guess is that it’s the “elusive” Josef Weiss – a supposed half-brother of Rosa and Sophie. I have yet to find out much about him, other than his death and burial information.

This is likely the last time the two sisters saw each other. Sadly, just three days after Ralph’s 7th birthday, his mother passed away after contracting tetanus

According to the 1910 U.S. Census, Ralph, his father and sister were boarders in the home of a woman named Jennie Monroe, at 246 West 136 Street in New York City.

1910 US Census

<!–[if supportFields]>xe “New York ” \f B<![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>Despite being only 14 years old in 1910, Ralph was working as an an office boy in a cutlery house in New York. That same year, Ralph and his sister traveled again to Vienna to visit his Aunt Sophie and her family.

I just love this photo! 1910 – Vienna, Austria
L-to-R:
Claire Spiegel (my aunt), Irene Oppenheim, Herman and Sophie Spiegel (my great-grandparents), Emil Spiegel (my uncle, Rose Spiegel (my grandmother), Ralph Oppenheim,  and -possibly – Josef Weiss
Ralph and his cousin, Rose had an interesting but sad thing in common; Ralph’s mother died when he was 7 and Rose’s father, Herman died just 5 days after her 8thbirthday.
By 1915, he was employed as a salesman of neckwear and living with his father and sister at 1056 Hoe Avenue in the Bronx, a borough of New York City.
Ralph was in the Army during World War I serving overseas from September 13, 1918 to March 13, 1919. According to military records his address was 875 West 180th Street in New York City.
1924 or 1929 – Ralph and Emily – Don’t you just LOVE that car????


On October 19, 1919, Ralph married Emily Schlesinger. By 1920, the couple was living in the Bronx at 789 East 166th Street. At that point, Ralph was working in the furniture business.
In 1924 their son, Don Bruce was born and two years later their daughter, Enid Lee was born.





<!–[if supportFields]>xe “United States:New York:New York City:875 West 180th Street ” \f B<![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>
In front of the Nepperham house.
Emily with Enid (L) and Don (R)


By 1927, the Oppenheims had moved to 244 Morningside Road in an area of Yonkers referred to as Nepperhan Heights.
The 1930 U.S. Census lists Ralph’s occupation as an executive in the fur dyeing business, a position he would hold for many years.
By 1938 Ralph’s Aunt Sophie and her family were in dire need of assistance. Her son-in-law,Paul Lichtenthal had been imprisoned in a concentration camp and all of their assets were in danger of being seized by Hitler’s Nazi party. Thankfully, Sophie had retained her Dutch citizenship which made it possible for her to escape Vienna with her daughter, Rose and grand-daughter, Doris. According to Doris, it was Ralph Oppenheim who was able to secure Paul’s release from Dachau in 1939. According to family legend, Ralph was able to arrange a payment to the Nazis which resulted in Paul’s release.

By the 1940s the family was living in Mount Vernon, NY at 221 Summit Avenue and by the 1950s they had moved to New Rochelle, NY.


Ralph and Emily enjoyed vacationing in the Catskills. According to an ad in the Oct. 20, 1957 NY Times, the Oppenheims had been vacationing at Grossinger’s for 38 years!!



Ralph also must have enjoying eating…at least Chinese food, as his niece, Doris mentioned him in a letter to her mother dated June 8, 1954. After writing about Chinese restaurant she had visited in Japan, Doris wrote, “Boy what Ralph O. could do to a place like that!!!”

Undated photo, snagged from ancestry.com
tree of a relative


At the time of his death on Jan. 3, 1983, Ralph was living in Poughkeepsie, NY wi
th his daughter, Enid and her family.
Ralph died on January 3, 1983 at the age of 86 in Poughkeepsie, NY.

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