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Maude Etta Hess was born Nov 4, 1884 in Wichita, Kansas, to Albert and Rosa Wollman Hess. Her father, a German immigrant, turned $300 into a prosperous life as a wholesale grocer for more than fifty years in Wichita, where he was well-liked and respected, a member of the city council. Her mother was known for charitable work, charter member of the Entre Nous Society, composed of Jewish women in Wichita working for social welfare. In her obituary Rosa Wollman Hess is remembered as a charming hostess, warm and loving, devoted to her children. In addition to Maude, sometimes called Minnie, the family included two elder brothers, Walter Wollman and Edgar Albert, and a younger sister, Lotta, later Mrs. Milton M Cohn.
Maude’s child and young adulthood doings are much reported in chatty small-town Wichita newspapers. As a young girl her presence is marked at marching drills, school pageants, birthday celebrations, voice, piano or lecture recitals. As she grows older she’s in attendance at every brand of late 19th/early 20th century party: whist parties; charade parties; holiday, boating and boxing day parties; watch parties, where magicians and ventriloquists perform; parties honoring visitors to town or those just returned from travel; fancy dress and waltz and costume balls. Then there are shared meals: Ten o’clock Breakfast and One o’clock Luncheon series, dainty lunches, Dutch lunches, golf and picnic and country club suppers, many of these events held in the family home at 637 Emporia Avenue, each reported down to the least paper lantern or nosegay.
Reading these traditions while locked down in a global pandemic stirs a thought: If we survive to be released again into society, we’d be right to invent as many opportunities to celebrate life in community.
Aside from celebrations, Maude, like her mother, partakes of charity work, as a child selling badges for the Common Charities—Wichita Hospital, Children’s and Rescue Home—and after high school leading a club called the King’s Daughters that secured subscriptions to support a children’s hospital, helping in 1910 to top the goal of $50,000; and finally joining the Entre Nous Society her mother had helped found.
Maude finishes eighth grade at Wichita’s Common School in 1900, graduates high school in 1904, and the next fall is reported heading out on the Santa Fe in company of her father to further her studies in New York City, where her older brothers and maternal grandmother have taken up residence. After a finishing year, Maude travels widely, with summers in Michigan or Atlantic City, and regular months-long visits with her older brothers in New York. Back in Wichita, she takes French classes, hosts an auction bridge club, the Delphian club, and with her sister Lotta welcomes Mary Antin, author and immigration rights activist to Wichita. In May 1912, Maude is 27 when swimming catches on. Wichita papers report many young townswomen taking lessons in local natatoriums to prepare for what all hope will soon be a warm river. Detailed, too, are their new rubber swim caps and matching swim costumes, Maude’s described as navy blue messaline piped in red.
In November of that year Maude’s mother falls ill while visiting her sons and mother in New York City. She’s operated on for gallstones, after which complications ensue. Maude and sister Lotta rush to New York and are with their brothers at their mother’s bedside when she dies. She was 56.
One could assume that on one of Maude’s many trips to visit cousins and grandparents in Kansas City, Missouri, she meets Alfred P. Rothschild, partner in Rothschild & Sons clothing store, an establishment highly regarded for its personal service and meticulous tailoring and a fixture at Tenth and Main streets in downtown Kansas City. They marry December 29, 1916 at Wichita country club, newspapers celebrating Maude as a wonderfully attractive girl, a brunette, whose sweet dignity has won her many friends. The Rothschilds honeymoon in Cuba and upon return settle into the Baltimore Hotel while their new home is completed, which it is in May of 1917, when they are announced at home at Parkhurst, 3440 Brooklyn. The new home may have proved unsuitable, as the 1920 census shows them at 3707 Charlotte with their daughter Marjory, just shy of two years old, and Alfred’s son, Alfred P., Jr, age 16, from a first marriage that ended in 1906. Also in the household are a cook, houseman and nurse.
By 1920 Maude’s father has retired and moved from Wichita to a house just blocks from the Rothschilds. Also in residence are Maude’s brother Edgar, now a stockbroker, and her sister Lotta. So they are closeby when on the last day of 1921 Maude gives birth to a second daughter, Nancy, born prematurely, who dies at the age of one month, 5 days on Feb 5, 1922. She’s buried at Rose Hill cemetery.
On the 1930 census the Rothschilds are at 400 E Armour in Kansas City, and in 1940 at the 335 Ward Parkway on the Country Club Plaza. Alfred lists the number of hours worked in the previous week as 60. Yearly salaries on this census only range up to $5000+, which is what Alfred reports. Their daughter Marjory, now 22, lives with them. Having been educated at Sunset Hill School in Kansas City and at Mills College and she is now employed as a teacher at a private school. The next year daughter Marjory marries at Oakwood county club the lumberman Harry A. Freiberg. They honeymoon on a drive across the south, where they then set sail for the British Honduras and the mahogany camps of Guatemala. Back home they settle first in Cincinnati, then New Orleans, and in 1944 and 45 they have two children, a son and daughter.
Throughout the years Maude continues charity work, appearing as a regular contributor to the Red Cross, Community Chest, Salvation Army, the Coal fund and all-youth orchestra. In 1956 she serves on the Board of Directors of Jackson county chapters of March of Dimes and National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
Maude’s husband Alfred, fourteen years her senior, dies at age 86 on October 2, 1954. Newspaper reports laud his success in maintaining and beautifying downtown Kansas City and his work in civic and social affairs. He had been chairman of the board of Rothschild and Sons, president of the Main Street association, member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Elks Club, and Congregation B’nai Jehudah, oldest synagogue in Kansas City. After her husband’s death, Maude brings into her home her brother Edgar, who after the crash of 1929 does not return to work as a stockbroker, devoting himself instead to charity interests and oil and gas leases. Edgar’s health is frail, and Maude cares for him until his death in January, 1957.
After his death, Maude, last of her immediate family in Kansas City, appears to have moved to New York City, perhaps to be nearer to her sister Lotta and brother Walter. In 1960 she appears in the Manhattan directory as a resident of the Hyde Park Hotel. In 1961 a record shows she flew to Lisbon. Maude’s brother Walter dies in 1963 and her sister Lotta in 1975. 1973 records that Maude, at the age of 89, is issued a Social Security number, and the next year shows Maude’s daughter Marjory living at 185 E. 85th Street, Apt 7e.
In early October 1978 at the age of 93 Maude dies. Place of death is Lenox Hill Hospital. Burial is in Plot 118-Section III, Grave 28, on Hart Island. Two decades later also interred on Hart Island in Plot 266-Section 1, Grave 4, is Maude's daughter, Marjory Rothschild Freiberg.
I didn’t know Maude Hess Rothschild, but I enjoyed trips with my grandparents to Rothschild & Sons in downtown Kansas City and later to their store on the Country Club Plaza. I equally enjoyed coming to know stories of Maude, her mother and sister, their cohort of girls and women. Their lives demonstrate understanding, as my dear grandparents’ lives taught me to understand, that charity is infused and immanent, a form and framework for all virtue, organizing and binding every upright practice.
Rest in peace, Maude Etta Hess Rothschild.
* I did not know this person personally. The below information was gathered from ancestry. com. *
Maude "Minnie" Hess Rothschild was born in Wichita, KS on November 4, 1884. Her parents were Albert and Rosa Hess. Her siblings Walter, Edgar and Lotta pre-deceased her. Her granddaughter Jill Freiberg Swan Kemp also pre-deceased her in 1981.
Her husband Alfred Rothschild, Sr. also predeceased her in 1954.
She had one daughter, Marjory Rothschild Freiberg, who also was later interred on Hart Island.
Maude traveled, with records indicating travel to England, Hawaii, Lisbon. Maude lived in Kansas, Missouri and New York.
Rest In Peace, Maude.