Almost no information regarding the families of origin of Julius Paul and Brunis Rottke Paul was passed down to the couple’s descendants in America. Julius claimed to be an orphan, and that amounted to the sum total of information about him conveyed. His children never even knew their paternal grandparents’ names; on Julius’s 1942 death certificate his daughter Lydia listed his parents as “unknown”. Barely more was remembered concerning Brunis’s origins. Her 1928 newspaper obituary stated that she was the daughter of a “German school teacher,” and Julius reported on her death certificate—only partially correctly—that her parents’ names were “Carl Rattke” and “Carolina Bittner”. A story was passed down through the family that Brunis was the oldest of five children and did not marry until after her mother died. Both parts of that tale turned out to be false. These scraps of partially misremembered facts are the sum total of what I collected from the Paul family regarding their origins.
The sparseness of information about the Pauls passed down through the generations is surprising considering that Julius and Brunis were not the only members of their families of origin to immigrate to America. Julius in fact had three cousins who came to the United States. All of them settled as he did in Chicago, and Julius & Brunis maintained ties with them for years. Their daughter Gertrude even married into one of those cousin’s families! In addition, their daughter Helen exchanged letters with descendants of one of Julius’s half-brothers in Germany after World War Two.
The stories below relay some information about these cousins of Julius Paul in both America and Europe. Unfortunately nothing is known at this time regarding cousins on Brunis’s side of the family.
A Paul line in Germany