- Birth name: Baptist Fritz Louis Blumenfeld
- Born: 21 August 1868 – Braunschweig, Niedersachsen, Germany
- Occupation: Trick rider, trapeze artist, boarding house keeper
- Married: 8 September 1910 – London
- Died: 7 Jul 1943 – New York, United States
- Birth name: Alice Gertrude Victoria Daniels
- Born: 13 September 1884 – Southport, England
- Occupation: Trapeze artist, trick piano player, boarding house keeper
- Married: 8 September 1910 – London
- Died: 9 March 1944 – New York, United States
Baptist Blumenfeld was born on 24 August 1870 in Braunschweig, Germany to Simon and Wilhelmina Blumenfeld. Baptist’s grandfather was Moritz Levi Cerf Blumenfeld, patriarch of the German Circus Blumenfeld; his parents were circus performers and his father (Simon) owned his own circus, which performed in Germany, England, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Baptist had five siblings: Egon, Virginie, Alexander, Charles, Paul, and William; all of them performed with their father’s circus.
Simon, Wilhelmina, and their children moved to England sometime around 1883. They travelled a good deal so it is difficult to determine when they took up a permanent residence in England. The first time they appear in the English census is in 1901. Simon, Wilhelmina, Baptist, Paul, and William lived in the Walworth neighborhood of London, where they maintained a permanent residence through 1914. The three brothers’ occupations are listed as “Music Hall Artist.”
All of the siblings performed jointly and separately (mostly in England but also in other countries) from the 1880s through the 1910s. Egon had a troupe of performing dogs; Virginie, Alexander, Charles were trick riders; Baptist, Paul, and William began as trick riders, but reflecting the shift in popularity from equestrian to aerial/acrobatic acts, began to increasingly perform as acrobats and trapeze artists — first as the “Brothers Blumenfeld,” and later as the “Salores.”
The family also travelled to other countries to perform. From 1889 through 1891, most of the family toured Denmark, Norway, and Sweden with Simon’s Circus Blumenfeld. In Bergen, Norway, Baptist had a relationship with Jørgine Anderson that resulted in a child: Georg Blumenfeld (1890-1979). Whether Baptist remained in touch with his son is uncertain, but unlikely.
The three youngest Blumenfeld brothers married Englishwomen: Paul married Amy “Ruby” Simpson, while Baptist and William married sisters Gertrude and Beatrice Daniels.
Gertrude (born Alice Gertrude Victoria) was born on 13 September 1884 in Southport, England. Her parents were William Daniels (1846-1910) and Mary Ridyard (1866-after 1920). Her father was a jeweler and diamond merchant with a shop in King Street. She had four siblings: William, Beatrice, Rosie, and May. As they grew older, Gertrude and Beatrice went to exclusive parties wearing the jewelry available for sale in their father’s shop as a kind of advertisement.
Marriage & Final Years in London
Unfortunately, little is known of how Gertrude and Beatrice met the Blumenfeld brothers. Did the sisters attend a circus performance and fall in love with two dashing German brothers? How did they convince their parents to let them marry two Jewish circus performers? The clue may come in the fact that Gertrude was seven months pregnant when she married Baptist on September 8, 1910 at the parish church of St. Mary Newington, London. Baptist was 41 while she was only 24. Their first and only child, Doris Amy Wilamina Victoria Gertrude (1910-2000), was born on December 13, 1910 in London.
The Blumenfeld families continued to live together in the Walworth area of London: in the 1911 census, Simon & Wilhelmina, along with Baptist & Gertrude and child Doris, Paul & Amy/Ruby and child Alexander, and William & fiancée Beatrice all lived in the same lodgings as in 1901. Their home had seven rooms, not including bathrooms. Simon, Baptist, Paul, and William are all listed as “Music Halls [performers] (acrobats).” Baptist’s brother William and Gertrude’s sister Beatrice married in 1911; Baptist’s father, Simon, died in London on June 2, 1911 in London, England.
Baptist continued to perform with his brothers through the end of 1914, when all three and their families immigrated to the United States. It is very likely that this was due to the outbreak of World War I in July/August, 1914, when there were widespread anti-German riots in England.
Immigration to the United States
Baptist, Paul, and William Blumenfeld immigrated to the United States before their wives and children, departing from Liverpool (the most common departure port in the UK) on the “New York,” arriving at Ellis Island, New York on December 14, 1914. Gertrude and daughter Doris, and Beatrice and daughter Virginia, travelled from Liverpool on the “Orduna,” arriving on August 16, 1915. Gertrude was sick for the entire trip and stayed in bed, while some kind neighbors on the ship took care of four-year-old Doris, who remembers that they were fearful because the Titanic had sunk two years before on the same route. The brothers were living in Chicago at the time, but New York City quickly became their home.
The Salores immediately began performing in the United States, with their first recorded performance in Syracuse, New York in February 1915. They performed through about 1920, traveling as far as San Francisco, after which they settled down in New York City so that the children could go to school.
According to the census, Baptist and Gertrude ran boarding houses, first in Manhattan (1920), later in Weehawken, New Jersey (1930). Gertrude and Beatrice’s mother, Mary Ridyard Daniels, moved to the United States in 1919, where she lived with Baptist and Gertrude. She died sometime in the 1920s after returning to England.
Gertrude and Beatrice remained close throughout their lives. Ruby was a bit of an outsider, not being a sister, and Gertrude and Beatrice used to gossip about her. Apparently Ruby liked to drink a bit, which Gertrude and Beatrice considered not ladylike.
Baptist Blumenfeld died in July 1943 in New York, one year before his wife Gertrude.
1. The family is listed in the 1901 England census under the incorrect names of Sidney, Winnie, Benjamin, Phillip, and Walter Blumenfeld. This is probably the correct family, however, as all of the first initials match, as do the ages and occupations (all three sons are listed as being musichall artists).
2. The 1920 United States census incorrectly calls Baptist “Baptiste.”