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Bertram J. Rosenbush, Jr. Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 221

Scope and Contents

Researchers examining the Rosenbush Family Papers can shed light on Jewish life in the South and family-owned businesses in the late 19th century, 20th century, and early 21st century. The collection is arranged into two series: Series I, Family files, contain mostly correspondence between family members. It also contains newspaper clippings and obituaries on various members of the family. Series II, Business files, contain correspondence, ledgers, and receipts from both the funeral parlor business and the furniture store business.

Dates

  • 1894 - 2010

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Julius Rosenbush was born in Germany in 1859 and came to America as a young boy with his family which settled in Mississippi. In 1895, he moved to Demopolis, Alabama, and opened a furniture store. The furniture store also included a funeral parlor, because Julius was a licensed undertaker. At first, the store was located on the bottom floor of the Hotel Royal. In 1897, Julius married Essie Baum, affectionately called “Miss Essie”. Soon after, the business moved to larger storefront on West Washington. Fire destroyed the building in 1909, but the structure was rebuilt. Julius and Essie had two children. Doris was born in 1898 and Bertram Julius, Sr., was born in 1902. Following Julius’ untimely death in 1911, Essie continued the business, which made her one of the few women in business at the time. Essie maintained control of the store until Bertram finished school and was able to join the family business. Bertram married Miriam Stein and they had two children. Bertram Julius, Jr., was born in 1929 and Bette Doris was born in 1932. Essie turned over her interest in the family business to Bertram, Jr., in 1950 and father and son ran the company together several years. In 1970, Bertram, Jr., married Mary Louise Bell, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the University of Alabama. The same year, they Rosenbushes took a leap and purchased at auction the Merchant’s Grocery building on North Walnut along with a warehouse behind it and a storefront across the street. The buildings dated form 1895, the year Julius Rosenbush first came to the river city. Using special funds to renovate the historic buildings, the Rosenbushes restored the site, adding only air conditioning and a sprinkler system for comfort and safety. Soon after, the building was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. In 1995, the Rosenbush Furniture Company celebrated 100 years in business. It was recognized the company as the oldest continuing family-owned furniture store in Alabama. With no children to carry on the family business, Bertram, Jr., and Mary decided to close the store in 2002 after 108 years in business. They donated the building to the city of Demopolis for public use and now spend their time taking care of the Jewish cemetery. He died on January 10, 2019, at the age of 89, the last Jew in Demopolis.

Extent

10 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Rosenbush Family Papers were compiled over three generations beginning with Julius Rosenbush, who was a prominent entrepreneur in the mortuary and furniture businesses in Demopolis, Alabama. His children also participated in the mortuary and furniture business. The collection includes blueprints, correspondence, deeds, accounting ledgers, photographs, genealogical records, and maps.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series:

Series I: Personal files Series II: Business files

Physical Location

The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The Breman Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309.

Related Materials

OHC Rosenbush, Bertram Julius, Jr. 012-001 V/F R

Separated Materials

Photographs removed to visual arts collections and objects removed to artifact collection.

General

The Cuba Family Archives accessioned the Bertram J. Rosenbush, Jr. Family Papers in February, 2012.

Title
Bertram J. Rosenbush, Jr. Family Papers, Mss 221
Status
Completed
Author
Jane Leavey, Demece Harvey, and Jeremy Katz
Date
March 2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

Contact:
1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States
678-222-3700