Mendelsohn Siblings: Louise, Pauline, Max, and Murdock

Following the death of their mother, the former Rebecca Cohen, from tuberculosis in 1911, the Mendelsohn siblings, Louise, Pauline (Polly), Max, and Murdock, were admitted to the Home by their father, Joseph, a Lithuanian immigrant.  Although the children had been born in Arkansas, where Joseph worked as a peddler, the family moved to Nashville during Rebecca’s illness to live with her relatives, Gertrude and Joe Weinstein. After Rebecca died, her youngest child was initially placed in a Catholic orphanage in Nashville, which changed the three-year-old’s name from Moses to Murdock.

In 1915, Louise, then 15, returned to the Weinsteins in Nashville, followed by Polly, at age 13, in 1918. After studying piano at Ward-Belmont College for Women, Louise and Polly taught school. In 1921, Louise married David Horwitz of El Paso, Texas. Just four years later, at age 34, David died, leaving Louise and their two young sons. By 1950, Louise moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she lived with one of her sons and worked as a stenographer for the federal government. Louise remained in Honolulu until her death in 1988.

In 1930, Polly married Leonard Rosenthal and moved to his native Chicago where they raised two daughters. Polly died in 1965 at age 59.

Pauline, Max, & Murdock Mendelsohn, 1918

Pauline (Polly), Max, and Murdock Mendelsohn, c. 1916, sit on the fountain on the Home’s front lawn. Except where otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Joan Mendelsohn Mehlman, Murdock’s daughter.

Joseph Mensdelsohn with his children Murdock, Max, and Polly, Jan. 2, 1918.

Joseph Mendelsohn with his children, Murdock (front), Max, and Polly, Jan. 2, 1918.

Murdock Mendelsohn, c. 1916

Murdock Mendelsohn, c. 1916.

Polly Mendelsohn, c. 1916.

Polly Mendelsohn, c. 1916.

Murdock and Max returned to the Weinsteins in June 1919 following Max’s graduation from Isidore Newman School, where he distinguished himself as a scholar just as he had distinguished himself in the Home as an elected leader in the Golden City. The brothers first took jobs with wholesale milliner L. Jonas & Company. Murdock remained in Nashville, where he married Eva Rosenblum, raised three children, and opened Murdock Mendelsohn Company, ladies’ and children’s clothing wholesaler. Max moved to El Paso. 

Max Mendelsohn's Golden City medallion, 1915

Golden City medallion, 1915, presented to Max Mendelsohn, as the Home’s all-around “best boy” of the year. Courtesy of Joan Mendelsohn Mehlman, this medallion is now part of the “Most Fortunate Unfortunates” exhibit at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans.

Max Mendelsohn, Newman Pioneer, 1919

Max Mendselsohn’s senior high school picture, 1919, courtesy of Isidore Newman School Archives. In addition to serving as valedictorian, his fellow seniors lauded Max as “undoubtedly the smartest boy in the class.”  

When the U.S. entered World War II, Max and Murdock refused to let their advanced ages (39 and 33) impede their patriotism. Murdock, who was stationed in Mineral Wells.  Texas, joked about his short stature by telling his daughter the only part of his army uniform that fit was his shoe laces. 

Max, a corporal, was stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky. In May 1943, he died shortly after suffering a heart attack while training his troops to run tanks.

Murdock died in 1973 and was buried in Nashville’s Sherith Israel Cemetery.


Murdock Mendelsohn, 1944

Corporal Murdock Mendelsohn, Mineral Wells, TX, 1944.