Sprinz is a unique branch on the Miranda-Fimbres line that we continue to research. Other iterations of the last name include: Spring, Springs, and Sprintz. For now, the line can be traced back to David Sprinz and Caroline Landsberg, who lived in a small German Jewish community in the Posen region of Prussia (present-day Poznan in Poland) during the early to mid 19th century. This was a challenging point of history for the Jewish community in Prussia, who were still not afforded the same rights as other citizens and were constantly caught between ethnic Germans and Poles. Many Jewish communities did not have deep roots in Prussia and continually looked westward for a homeland, including to the United States.
David and Caroline had at least five children together:
Rudolph, born February 1857 in Bromberg, Prussia (present-day Bydgoszcz, Poland), married Sarah Kamak and later Manuela Martinez;
Henry, born November 1858 in Bromberg, Prussia, married Emilie Ferner and lived in Los Angeles, CA, El Paso, TX, and New York City;
Max, born October 29, 1863 in Bromberg, Prussia, married Bertha Sprinz and lived in New York City;
Leon, born June 29, 1865 in Bromberg, Prussia; married Rachel Freudenthal and lived in New York City;
Auguste, born November 25, 1871 in Santomischel, Prussia (present day Zaniemyśl, Poland), married Alex Ziegel.
Rudolph Sprinz was the first of his line to settle permanently in the United States, although eventually all but one of his four siblings also settled in the United States. There is a record of a 17-year-old Rudolph Sprinz(g) that arrived from Hamburg, Germany to New York City, New York in February 1874 on the passenger ship Pommerania. The arrival date and age (based on a birth year of approximately 1857) are consistent with information we have on “our Rudolph.” According to this ship record, Rudolph was a merchant from Santomischel, Posen, Prussia (present-day Zaniemysl, Poznan, Poland). At right is a translation of the original passenger detail from German.
It seems likely that Rudolph briefly used New York City, where a large Eastern European Jewish community already was firmly established, as a base. But there are indications that he began exploring even further west, searching for business opportunities. While he does not appear (as of yet) in the 1880 U.S. census, he appears in the early 1880s to have split his time between the nascent towns of Clifton, Arizona Territory, and El Paso, Texas. Per tax assessment records for the year ending 1881, Rudolph paid taxes on a house he owned in Clifton. He also owned a general merchandise store, one of only five businesses (including the post office) operating there as of 1882 per McKenny’s business directory for the state of Arizona.
While he definitely moved his primary residence from Clifton shortly thereafter, he appears to have maintained a financial interest in general merchandise in Clifton until 1889, when the Arizona Weekly Enterprise newspaper notes, in its December 1889 issue, that he had resigned his partnership with Pablo Salcido in the business. He also had a thriving business in El Paso since at least 1881, where he lived on a more permanent basis until around 1905. With a population of only 1,900 in 1880 per U.S. census data, Rudolph was a pioneer of that town, and certainly one of the earliest Jewish settlers.
Rudolph’s three male siblings eventually joined him in the United States: Henry arrived in 1875, Max in 1880, and Leon in 1887. While the latter two remained entirely in New York/New Jersey, Rudolph and Henry spent many years living in Texas and California. Rudolph did return to New York for his wedding, marrying Sarah Kamak on September 23, 1883 in Manhattan, New York. Their marriage record notes Rudolph’s parents as David Sprinz and Caroline Landsberg. Sarah’s parents were Hyman Kamak and Albertine Levy. Rudolph and Sarah settled together in El Paso and had one child together:
Harry, born December 14, 1884 in El Paso, Texas; married Nancy McDonald
Rudolph is listed in the El Paso Tax Rolls as early as 1882 and in the El Paso City Directory in 1885. While his brother Henry was living in Los Angeles, California, they shared a business together in El Paso during the 1880s known as Sprinz Brothers and Davidson, selling dry goods and mens and women’s clothing. In the 20 or so years Rudolph lived in El Paso, he was involved in a variety of other businesses and investments: clerk for the Mexican International Banking Company of Ciudad Juarez; accountant and bookkeeper for the Krakauer, Zork, and Moye hardware store; investor in the Orion Mining Company of El Paso; and traveling salesman for Ben Schuster & Company.
He apparently lived for some time in Los Angeles, California as per an 1888 voter registration list for Los Angeles. It lists an R. Sprinz working as a bookkeeper and living at the Calumet Hotel. The registration list notes that he was originally from Germany and naturalized as a U.S. citizen in September 1884 in the El Paso, Texas district.
The Mexican Connection
Rudolph’s connection to the Miranda-Fimbres line is a curious one. It appears he had an unofficial (unmarried) relationship with a Mexican women from Ciudad Juarez named Bersabe Lucero beginning in the mid 1880s. From the records we have seen, they had five children together between 1886 and 1895:
Luis, born June 20, 1886 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, died January 31, 1924 in Norwalk, California;
Jose, born December 14, 1890 in Ciudad Juarez, died September 13, 1935 in Los Angeles, California;
Maria Concepcion, born October 29, 1892 in Ciudad Juarez, married Jose Medina;
Rodolfo, born May 1, 1895 in Ciudad Juarez, married Maria Luisa Serrano.
None of the civil birth or baptismal records from Ciudad Juarez list Rudolph as the birth father, which can be explained by two facts: 1) he was never married to Bersabe and 2) he was Jewish, and therefore would not be present at, or mentioned in, the baptismal records. However, Anna’s and Luis’s death records list Rudolph as the father. A secondary reference to Rudolph involves the birth record of one of his grandchildren in Arizona, whereby the listed father’s race is half Mexican and half German. This all coincides neatly with oral history in the family referring to a German Jewish ancestor with the last name Sprinz. Finally, several family members that have taken genealogical DNA tests have Ashkenzi Jewish markers from Poland, where Rudolph’s family originated. It is unclear what type or relationship, if any Rudolph had with his Mexican-born children, although it is clear they were at least aware of him and their roots.
El Paso Jewish Community Pioneer
As noted above, Rudolph was one of a pioneer group of Jewish settlers in late 19th century Texas. He was among the El Paso Jews that contributed funds for the purchase of land for a Jewish cemetery and was a founding member of the Mt. Sinai Association, established in 1887 to maintain the cemetery and help support economically disadvantaged Jews. Sarah Sprinz was one of 19 El Paso Jewish women who organized the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society, hosting events to raise money to support local Jewish women and families in need. Rudolph also was a founding member of El Paso’s first Jewish Synagogue, the Temple Mt. Sinai. The below is a Texas Historical Marker located on 100 E. Yandell Street in El Paso commemorating the first meeting of the Temple Mt. Sinai congregation on October 10, 1898 in the El Paso County Court house. Rudolph’s name is one of 21 names noted on the marker as present at that meeting.
Transitions and Family Side Notes
The 1900 U.S. Census lists Rudolph, Sarah, and their son Harry, although it lists Harry’s birth as being ten years later than it actually was. Shortly after the census was conducted, a June 30, 1900 article in the El Paso Herald notes that Sarah died at her residence on 711 N. Oregon Street of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 41. Sarah was interred at the Mount Sinai cemetery in El Paso. Shortly thereafter in 1902, per an article in the El Paso Herald, Rudolph took a management position with a prominent mining company in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico.
In the meantime, his son Harry graduated from the Mesa School in the early 1900s, where he excelled in boxing and baseball. Per numerous newspaper articles from the time, Harry subsequently had a fairly distinguished career playing for several El Paso and Douglass, Arizona baseball teams in the nascent southwestern minor league. Harry was a member of the El Paso Pioneers Association, which began around 1904 and reunited some of the early prominent settlers of the city. He remained in El Paso until about 1912 and then lived for a time in the midwest. He married Nancy McDonald on January 1, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois and they had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, in September that same year. Nancy appears to have died prior to 1930, and Henry and Mary Elizabeth settled in the San Francisco area, where Henry worked as a surveyor and topographer. Henry died in Santa Clara, California on April 30, 1974.
A few years prior to 1900, Rudolph’s brother Henry relocated from Los Angeles to El Paso with his wife Emilie and daughter Pauline. Henry operated jewelry stores in downtown El Paso and Ciudad Juarez for some 20 years. His store in Juarez was destroyed in 1911 during the Mexican revolution. Pauline was a singer of some note in town and served as music director for the El Paso County school system before eventually marrying Morgan Grossman and relocating to New York City. Meanwhile, Rudolph remarried in El Paso to Manuela Martinez on March 11, 1903.
Sometime shortly after his marriage, he and Manuela moved permanently to Los Angeles. Rudolph is listed in the city directory for Los Angeles beginning in 1906 and appears from thereon in city directories working as a bookkeeper for either private individuals, a grocery store, and later as an accountant for the federal Internal Revenue Service. In the 1910 U.S. Census for Los Angeles, Rudolph is noted as a bookkeeper at a grocery store, whereas in both the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses, Rudolph worked as a an official accountant for the federal government. There is no information indicating that Rudolph and Manuela had any children together.
According to Rudolph’s civil death record for the state of California, he died in Los Angeles on June 24, 1934 from Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The record notes that he was married to Maluelas (a misspelling of Manuela) Sprinz. It notes his date of birth as February 12, 1857 but erroneously lists his place of birth as Berlin, Germany. Rudolph is buried at the Mount Carmel Cemetery – a Jewish Cemetery in Los Angeles. Manuela died on August 24, 1960, also in Los Angeles.