26 September 2012

The Death of Henry Rothkopf

116 Suffolk Street on the Lower East Side still bear the big, bold name of it's former occupant: S. Rothkopf & Sons. Rothkopf was a maker of children's nightwear, as well as "trimming, buttons and veilings."

It's funny how these inadvertently preserved signs in the city often open the door on a forgotten tragedy or scandal. In 1895, Henry Rothkopf, the senior partner in the firm (and son of Simon Rothkopf, the founder), committed suicide. He did the dead in his office, at 9:30 a.m., by shooting himself in the head. He was 33.

On the day of his death, Henry's behavior was perfectly normal and business-like. He drew out some money from the cashier, went out for a bit, returned, signed some papers and handed them to the cashier. Then, he shot himself. Henry had no business troubles, but he was lame and in ill health, and officials thought this was what drove him to suicide. It was surmised that he purchased the pistol with the money he withdrew that very morning. The gun was new.

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