The fourth chapter, twenty-first verse of the Book of Genesis introduced Jubal as the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Adam and Eve. Jubal also was presented as the father of musicians. He therefore was perhaps the world’s first instance of a musician father becoming a parent to musicians.
The case of Gottlieb, Gottfried, and Norma Federlein could be considered 20th-century equivalents. Gottlieb Federlein (November 5, 1835 – April 29, 1922) was a musician who was as successful a composer, performer, scholar, teacher, and writer in the United States as he had been in his native Germany. With his wife, Connecticut-born arranger and contralto soloist Ella Harrison Federlein (October 24, 1850 – May 1, 1927), he was the parent of New York-born arranger, composer, organist, pianist, and teacher Gottfried Federlein (December 31, 1883 – February 26, 1952).
Gottfried in turn became the father of choir and church singer Norma Adelaide Federlein (1919 – 1996). Norma was born in New York on April 18th. She was the child of Gottfried’s marriage to his second wife, Brooklyn-born music teacher and soprano soloist Adelaide Fischer (born September 28, 1889).
Adelaide was the daughter of Manhattan-born Otto Fischer (August 9, 1852 – January 4, 1915) and Brooklyn-born Adelaide Freitag (November 20, 1856 – May 9, 1922). Her ancestry was traceable in unbroken lines to western Europe. For example, the paternal Fischer line went back to early 17th-century Germany and beyond.
Experiences as German-Americans and love for music undoubtedly brought Adelaide and Gottfried together. They married before September 12, 1918, when Gottfried mentioned “Adelaide Fischer Federlein” as his nearest relative on cards for New York City’s local draft registration board in Brooklyn. Adelaide’s and Gottfried’s address was listed as 468-A McDonough Street, Brooklyn.
The address designated one of the locations in Brooklyn where Adelaide’s parents raised their children. Thirteenth federal census enumerator Thomas M. Harvey Jr. found the family at home on April 19, 1910. He identified the dwelling place’s residents as the following:
- 57-year-old Otto, native New Yorker born to German-born parents, married 30 years, and working as a dress trimmings house bookkeeper;
- 53-year-old wife Adelaide, native New Yorker born to German-born parents and mother of the couple’s two surviving of three children;
- 29-year-old son Otto Louis, native New Yorker working as a musician;
- 21-year-old daughter Adelaide L., native New Yorker working as a singer.
The location must have symbolized not only personal happiness — since the family was together despite the remembered grief of one child’s passing — but also professional well-being since it represented one of the parents’ experiences as homeowners in a country where they were the native-born children of immigrants.
Twelfth federal census enumerator Charles F. Embleton contacted the home-owning couple on June 2, 1900. He identified as residents of 904 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn the following:
- 46-year-old Otto, native New Yorker born August 1853 to German-born parents, married 20 years, and working as a bookkeeper;
- 43-year-old wife Adelaide, native New Yorker born November 1856 to German-born parents and mother to two surviving of two children;
- 19-year-old son Otto L., native New Yorker born September 1880 and student at college the previous 10 months;
- 10-year-old daughter Adelaide (born September 1889), 15-year-old nephew Robert Schmidt (born July 1884), and 9-year-old nephew Oscar Schmidt (born April 1891), native New Yorkers and students at school the previous 10 months.
The household was prosperous enough to include 23-year-old servant Lena Zijibin, German-born in May 1877 to German-born parents, immigrating in 1884 at age 16, and previously unemployed three months.
Fourteenth federal census enumerator Agnes C. McGuire accessed the McDonough address on January 2, 1920. She found as inhabitants the following native New Yorkers born to German-born parents:
- 65-year-old owner Otto Fischer, a dress trimmings house bookkeeper;
- 62-year-old wife Adalaide;
- 72-year-old sister-in-law Carrie Rowbottham;
- 28-year-old nephew Oscar Schmidt, a magazine artist.
Norma A. was included as Otto’s grandchild, born in the Big Apple nine months previously to native New Yorkers. Norma’s parents were not mentioned.
But Norma’s parents did appear elsewhere in the 1920 census. Fourteenth federal census enumerator Harry S. Gorman contacted the couple the following day, on January 3rd. He identified as occupants of 879 Henry Street, Brooklyn the following:
- 36-year-old renter Gottfried, native New Yorker born to a German-born father and U.S.-born mother and working as a musician;
- 31-year-old wife Adelaide, native New Yorker born to Big Apple natives.
It was the only federal census in which Adelaide and Gottfried appeared as man and wife.
Gottfried and Adelaide still constituted a couple in 1922. On Sunday, November 19th at 3:30 p.m., the couple performed together at a children’s concert at Punch and Judy Theater. Gottfried played the piano both as accompanist and as soloist. Adelaide and baritone Manton Monroe Marble (1889 – 1968) each sang solo and together. Perhaps three-year-old Norma was in the audience.
But less than five years later, Gottfried and Adelaide no longer formed a personal couple or a professional team. Gottfried married Dorothy Nina Cooke (born June 23, 1902) in Maine on August 13, 1927. Adelaide raised and trained Norma. She was a self-supporting single parent through continued employment in music.
Adelaide temporarily moved her household to Port Chester, New York. R.L. Polk & Co.’s Rye Directory of 1928-1929 published Adelaide’s address as 57 Ridgeland Manor. Adelaide supported the family and Norma’s studies through work as a vocalist.
With the completion of Norma’s studies, Adelaide chose to return to her home borough. Fifteenth federal census enumerator Joseph P. Walters found the single-parent household in Brooklyn on April 8, 1930. He listed among the residents of 417 St. John’s Place the following:
- 41-year-old Adelaide, divorced New Yorker born to native New Yorkers, first married at age 29, paying $60.00/month rent, and working as a concert singer;
- 11-year-old daughter Norma, native New Yorker born to Big Apple natives.
Monthly rents for the other 23 units ranged from $60.00 to $105.00. Fellow renters were predominantly native New Yorkers although other states (Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island) and countries (Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Venezuela) were represented. They worked predominantly in:
- Business (as accountant, bookkeeper, clerk, decorator, designer, director, furrier, importer, insurance agent, manager, salesperson, stenographer, typist);
- Communications (as telegrapher);
- Government (as postal carrier, security officer);
- Hospitals (as nurse, physician, supervisor);
- Industry (as engineer);
- Schools (as teacher).
Adelaide ultimately decided upon the personal and professional contacts abounding in downtown New York City. Sixteenth federal census enumerator Terence B. McManus interviewed the mother and daughter in Manhattan on April 7, 1940. He listed among residents of 410 East 59th Street the following:
- 51-year-old Adelaide, widowed New Yorker dwelling in the same residence as in 1935, earning income as a music and piano teacher for 52 weeks in 1939 and working five hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940;
- 20-year-old Norma, native New Yorker earning $208 as a church choir singer for 52 weeks in 1939 and working 10 hours March 24 – 30, 1940.
Monthly rents on the other seven units ran from $50.00 to $65.00. Adelaide and Norma represented two of the building’s eight New York-born renters. Their neighbors were born nearby (New Jersey, Pennsylvania), less close (Maryland, Ohio) and rather far away (California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma). But excepting one London sojourn, all were committed to life as downtowners since they claimed Manhattan as their residence five years previously. Like Adelaide and Norma, two of the rental units additionally were occupied by the same renters as in 1935.
Adelaide and Norma appreciated the personal and professional advantages of their Manhattan location. The above-mentioned address became their most enduring home. After Gottfried’s death on February 26, 1952, Adelaide changed listings under her name to Fischer. It in fact was under her maiden name that she had herself entered — with the Manhattan telephone exchange PLaza 5-9037 — in 1959 city directories.
Adelaide predeceased Norma. Norma preferred to continue her personal and professional life as a Manhattanite. But she settled upon another location as her final residence. Her apartment at 720 W. End Avenue #1122 vaunted the Manhattan telephone exchange 212-863-3156 and was zipcoded 10025-6299 decades before her death there — as the musician daughter of musician parents and grandparents — on August 29, 1996.
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