Who was Rosamond Astor?

The SS Switzerland arrived at the Port of Philadelphia on August 24, 1892 carrying Rosalie Nahodil and her four children. For many years, the passenger list announcing her arrival would be the earliest record to be found for Rosalie, who is most commonly known as Rosamond. The difficulty in researching Rosalie stems from almost every document having a slightly different name. The ten variations of Rosamond’s first name include: Rose, Rosa, Rosia, Rosie, Rosalia, Rosalie, Rosamond, Rosamund, Rosemond, and Rosmond. Do you know which name was given to her at birth?

Death certificates and obituaries for Rosamond and many of her children provide an array of maiden names for Rosamond: Arusta, Astor, Austro, Austruia, and Estorkia (?).

Of the sources documenting snippets of Rosamond’s life, only one was provided by her. In 1906, Rosamond was the informant providing information for the death certificate of her daughter Francis. The name she provided as her maiden name was Rosa Estorkia (?). This is the only primary source record found with Rosamond’s name after she immigrated. To further complicate matters, on a number of death certificates where one of her children was the informant, “can’t say” was written in response to being asked for Rosamond’s maiden name.

Name and birthplace provided by Rosamond on death certificate.

Enough background, let’s get to the reason for this post.

Friends, family, fellow searchers…it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Rosamund Julianna Oesterreicher. Would you like another surprise? Then let me also introduce you to Rosamund’s parents, Franz Oesterreicher and Marie Brumbauer. Rosamund was born in 1860 and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time of Rosamund’s birth and baptism, the family lived in Ruszkabánya, a commune in Western Romania. The baptism record shows that Franz was a shopkeeper, though it is unknown what type of shop.

Birth and baptism record for Rosamund Oesterreicher. Ancestry.com. Records are in Latin.

In late 1883, Rosamund and Rudolf Nahodil are found in Petroșani, Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania where the birth, baptism, and death of their son Antonius are among the records of the Roman Catholic Church.

A view of Petroșani, Transylvania. This community appears similar to the community of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, where they made their home in the U.S.

You may be asking yourself how Oesterreicher becomes Astor. I cannot provide an absolutely positive answer how the change occurred, but I can provide what I have found for you to interpret.

  • Oesterreicher is not only a surname that literally means “one from Austria,” but it is also the German word for Austria.
  • Although Rosamund arrived in the United States in 1892, the 1900 US Federal Census shows that she did not speak English.
  • As a final surprise, I am including an audio recording of what Rosamund’s name would have sounded like in her native German language. After listening to this, consider how Oesterreicher may be shortened upon arriving in America.
An audio introduction to Rosamund Oesterreicher by Jennifer Fidder.

Did these factors play a part in the variations in her maiden name? Was her maiden name Americanized? Did her English-speaking children not fully understand the pronunciation? Maybe she rarely mentioned her maiden name.

If you knew Rosamund (Oesterreicher) Nahodil and have memories that you would like to share, please email findingmydead@gmail.com. I would love to learn more about this woman from those who knew her directly.

I would like to give a special thank you to Jennifer Fidder for her kindness in making this post’s audio introduction to Rosamund for us.

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