Sunday, August 12, 2018

52 Ancestors: Youngest

This week’s blog prompt is Youngest.  I had quite a few youngest siblings to choose from but since I didn’t know much about my great grandmother’s youngest brother, Colman Schwartz, and he was such a cutie, I decided to focus on him.

Colman Schwartz 1890
Written on back of photo:
From Colman Schwartz
Age 5 years, 4 months
Uncle Meyer A. Steen
Feb 6th, 1890

Colman Schwartz, the youngest child of Rebecca (Steen) and Louis Schwartz, was born in Santa Cruz 21 Sep 1884.  Not only was he the youngest living child, he was also the last (of eight) children born to the couple, only four of whom lived into adulthood.

Colman’s father, Louis Schwartz, died when Colman was not quite 9 years old.  It seems that his mother, Rebecca, traveled to Oakland and lived there for many years.

Colman Schwartz 1896
Colman Schwartz, 1896, age 12

From the Santa Cruz Evening Sentinel, 15 Jun 1897, page 3.

Colman and Rebecca travel Santa Cruz Evening Sentinel 6_15_1897 pg 3

I know that Colman graduated from high school in Oakland, probably in about 1902.   From the Santa Cruz Evening Sentinel (26 Apr 1902, page 1) it appears that he did, in fact, attend Oakland High School, although I was unable to find his name in the list of attendees.

Colman Schwartz Actor Santa Cruz Evening Sentinel 4_26_1902 pg 1

I also learned from The Santa Cruz Sentinel, 15 Dec 1907 page 10, that Colman was a monologist.  What?  That was a new term for me so once again, Google to the rescue.  From Wikipedia: “A monologist is a solo artist who recites or gives dramatic readings from a monologue, soliloquy, poetry, or work of literature.”  Interesting.  Sounds like he might have been a crowd favorite.

Colman Schwartz Monologist Santa Cruz Sentinel 12_15_1907 pg 10

Colman graduated (I believe in 1911) from Hastings Law School, University of California, San Francisco.  He went on to practice law in Oakland and San Francisco until his death.

I first wrote about Colman when I found my grandmother’s (and Colman’s niece) scrapbook back in 2012.  Colman was married to Selma Lavenson on 25 Apr 1914 in Sacramento.  You can read about the wedding from the eyes of my grandmother who was just 18 years old at the time HERE

Colman and Selma had three children:  Colman born 26 May 1915 in Sacramento; Flora Jean born 31 Jan 1917 in Alameda; and Milton Lewis born 20 Jan 1920 in Alameda.  

From various San Francisco and Oakland City Directories, I learned that Colman spent some time working at the Kohl Building, a building that is a San Francisco landmark (#161) located at 400 Montgomery Street.  He was associated with Grover O’Connor and the firm was known as O’Connor & Schwartz.  He and Selma lived at 301 Perkins in Oakland.

Colman’s life was cut short when he died 25 Sep 1920, just 4 days after his 36th birthday.

Colman Schwartz Obituary SF Chronicle 9_27_1920 pg 2
San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Sep 1920, Page 2

What I found interesting was an obituary printed in the Santa Cruz Evening News on page 9, 28 Sep 1920.  Looks like the newspaper made a HUGE error in reporting that Milton had died when, in fact, it was his brother, Colman.  I wonder how many people were stunned the next time they saw Milton walking down the street.

Milton_Colman Schwartz died Santa Cruz Evening News 9_28_1920 pg 9

Colman is buried in Home of Eternity Cemetery, Oakland, alongside his parents and young brother, Marks, who died before he was born.

Colman Schwartz

It was a rough couple of years for the Schwartz family as Rebecca died in 1918, brother Joseph in 1919, and Colman in 1920.  Selma never remarried and lived until 1979.


  1. I imagine being a monologist made Colman very popular. I know for a fact that dramatic recitations were much in demand as entertainment (because I’ve watched Anne of Avonlea a million times). Wouldn’t it be fun to know what made him such a comedian? And that obituary - that is just too funny.

    1. I'm sure when people saw Milton they thought the were seeing a ghost!

  2. How very sad that he died so young. Those photographs are so precious. Why does the headstone say Marks at the top?

    1. Marks was his brother who died at the age of 4.

  3. Ah, thanks for the explanation. How sad....

    1. They lost 4 children - two at about age 4. The other two I found had died but I don't know how old they were. My guess is that they were very, very young.

  4. So as with my post today---just too much heartbreak to imagine.

  5. Colman was adorable. I love the lace collar and big bow in the first photograph. He died young but he had a full life.

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Colleen. Sometimes I tend to focus too much on the age. Maybe because the years are zipping by for me.