Where in New York is Harry Koppetsch?

Okay, I used a gameshow as an inspiration but at least I got your attention 😉

I have the following “mystery” or brick wall.

passenger list 1929

passenger list 1929

According to the passenger lists Harry Koppetsch was 7 years old when he arrived at New York City in April 1929 with his mother Else and his siblings Wilhelm (5 yrs old) and Eva (3 yrs old). Their father Paul already lived in New York. He arrived in the US in October 1928.

Harry was born in Koenigsberg, East Prussia and received his visa in Berlin before leaving the German Reich.

1930 census Koppetsch family

1930 census Koppetsch family

The 1930 census shows him living with his parents and his siblings at Stony Ave. in the Bronx.

The family name is given with “Kopeck”.

And on every other document I have on the family following the 1930 census he is vanished:

  • Paul’s Petition for Naturalization from February 1936 only mentions Wilhelm and Eva as children (incl. birthdates)
  • the family returned to Germany in November 1936. The passenger list only provides Information on Els(i)e, Paul, Wilhelm (William) and Eva
  • the 1940 census only shows Paul, William and Eva – Else being absent is another mystery I try to solve here

So, where is Harry? One family anecdote tells the story that he got killed by a drunk hit-and-run-driver in the Bronx in either 1934 or 1936 – which matches the period, but I just read this story once in an email I received from a distant cousin. And unfortunately, I’ve never heard from her again.

I definetly need help on this one. Where would I start to look for a possible death entry? Sorry for such a newbie question, but that would be the first death record I am looking for in the US 😉

I checked newspaper databases for anything on a car accident in that time, but no success.

Ideas anyone? Please? 🙂


16 thoughts on “Where in New York is Harry Koppetsch?

    • 10-12-2014 You’ve certainly done extensive research so far. I suggest that you post your query (in as abbreviated form as you can do, perhaps no longer than 2-3 paragraphs) on the website rootschat.com. I have recently discovered it and the queries posted there usually get a good response because the posters there seem to have access to great genealogical sources and a wide audience of interested persons from all over the US. I would almost be willing to bet anything that the variations in the spelling of the surname will be a factor here.


  1. What about newspaper obituaries?

    Especially obituaries from the other boroughs of New York?

    Is there a possibility that he may have returned to Europe with another relative in the meantime?

    Can u email that distant cousin back? I’m assuming you would have done that by now, if it were possible.

    Interesting . . . . Keep us posted on this.


    • I tried several times to get in contact with her, but no success. The email adress I had from her is not valid anymore.. unfortunately, that is not an option. 😦 But I will try to find newspaper obituaries from the other boroughs.


  2. Barbara, I am the granddaughter (by marriage) of Harry’s sister, Eva. I am married to Eva (now know as Eve Booth) grandson, Paul. Harry was indeed killed by a hit and run driver. It was tragic, especially to his father, Paul – who never got over the death of his son.

    While Harry was on a boy scout outing, he was tragically killed. When his parents were notified, they were told two children had been hit. One was killed, but that Harry only had a broken arm.

    When they arrived to the hospital, they were told of the mistake and that Harry had in fact passed.

    Harry was killed in 1934.


    • Hi Amanda, this is fantastic to read from one of the Nicolaus / Koppetsch descendants! Thank you so much for sharing this piece of a puzzle with me. And it must have been terrible to think that he just had a broken arm and then to learn that he passed.


      • From what I have been told, his father (Paul) became very bitter. He would often make comments about why his son was gone, and why he couldn’t have lost his daughter.

        I have, in my possession, his mother and fathers original passports. Fathers death certificate and various documents in German. I do not speak German, but would be happy to send you copies so you may continue your quest.

        Please let me know if you have an email I could send them to.

        Dr. Eve Koppetsch Booth is now 91. I know, with tears in my eyes, that the end is quickly approaching. Her grandson (my husband) sees her every week. If I can answer any questions for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. She has a fantastic long term memory – and loves to talk over coffee and milk.


      • Hi Amanda, please use barbara-schmidt(at)t-online(dot)de to send me the documents. I’d be happy to translate the German ones. And why did they return to Berlin in 1936? Not the best place to be during that time. And I try to detangle the life of her grandmother’s family back in Germany.


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