The name Monda debuted on the SSA’s baby name list nearly a century ago:
- 1922: unlisted
- 1921: unlisted
- 1920: 10 baby girls named Monda [debut]
- 1919: unlisted
- 1918: unlisted
The SSDI data reveals a similar spike in the number of people named Monda in 1920:
- 1922: 1 person named Monda
- 1921: 1 person named Monda
- 1920: 8 people named Monda
- 1919: 1 person named Monda
- 1918: 1 person named Monda
What was the cause?
A Chicago woman who led a double life!
News broke on February 3, 1920, that a 27-year-old Chicago woman named Rose Schweiburg, alias “Monda Rose,” had been apprehended in Winnipeg, Canada.
She had been a employee at Biehl & Sifferman Leather Co. in Chicago until January 24, when she disappeared.
A few days after her disappearance, her employer found a shortage in excess of $10,000 on the books.
While investigating both the missing money and the missing lady (who had been a bookkeeper earning $25 per week) a detective discovered that Rose Schweiburg had a second identity: She was also Monda Rose, a wealthy “society butterfly” who hung out with the fashionable set on the North Side of Chicago.
During the hunt for “Monda Rose” Schweiburg, the leather company had some of her property seized. This included a “$1,500 saddle horse, $2,000 automobile, and the furnishings of her luxurious apartment” on Winthrop Avenue.
She returned to the U.S., all the while telling authorities that she was not to blame — that her lifestyle and lavish expenditures “were made possible by money given her by a man.”
Here’s what else she said, according to the New York Times:
“If there’s any music,” said “Monda Rose,” “I’m willing to face it. I have profited some, but not in any illegal manner. If there’s any money missing somebody else has it. I haven’t.”
“I simply adore society,” she continued. “Long ago I used to watch the well dressed people and envy girls who rode or drove smart rigs or did any of the attractive things.
“I made up my mind then, and never have lost the vision, that some day I would be well dressed and that when the time came I would have read enough and observed enough to be able to maintain my place and be certain of myself in any company.”
By now, the books were known to be off by $25,000, and a shortage of $50,000 was expected once the audit was complete.
Detective Charles W. Haas said, “Her method of obtaining the money was simple. She had access to bank checks which she filled out, forged, and cashed. The stubs retained by the company showed the amounts she should have drawn had been written over for several times the amount.”
Meanwhile, the newspapers — all but declaring Monda Rose guilty of embezzlement — had fun with the details of the case. One brought up her “butcher boy lover” Harry Berger. Another detailed what she was wearing the day she was arrested (she was “bundled up in an expensive sealskin coat and bedecked with a small fortune in diamonds”). One even mentioned her weight (190 lbs).
Monda Rose was released from jail on bonds of $10,000. She continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Her attorney claimed that company co-owner Joseph Sifferman was behind the check raising, and that Rose had merely been following Sifferman’s instructions.
Many months later, in mid-December, the charges against Rose were finally dropped. Attention was then turned toward Sifferman, who said: “This whole thing is frame-up. Now I will have a chance to prove it.”
I’m not sure what happened after that — if Sifferman was ever charged, or if the missing money was ever located.
But I can tell you that society-loving “Monda Rose” Schweiberg went on to marry Harry the butcher boy, and that the two lived out their days in Chicago.
I can also tell you that at least 2 of the babies born in 1920 and named Monda got the middle name Rose:
- Monda Rose Farmer, born Jan. 25, 1920, in Missouri
- Monda Rose White, born Feb. 3, 1920, in Illinois
What do you think of the name Monda? Would you ever use it? How about the combo “Monda Rose”?
- “Chicago Butterfly Dances in Her Cell.” Pittsburgh Press 10 Feb. 1920: 13.
- “Chicago News in Brief” Chicago Tribune 20 Apr. 1920: 14.
- “Missing Monda Rose Arrested in Canada.” New York Times 3 Feb. 1920.
- “Monda’s Lawyer Passes Check Charge to ‘Boss.'” Chicago Tribune 10 Feb. 1920: 7.
- “‘Monda Rose’ Returns.” New York Times 8 Feb. 1920.
- “Pretty Bookkeeper Social Butterfly on Stolen Funds.” Evening News 3 Feb. 1920: 1.
- Rose M (Schweiburg) Berger – Find a Grave
- “Schweiburg Girl Keeps up Fight on Extradition.” Chicago Tribune 6 Feb. 1920: 4.
- “She Cashiered by Day and Played Society by Night.” Arizona Republican 17 Feb. 1920: 2.
- “Suit May Bare Hidden Chapter of ‘Monda Rose.'” Chicago Tribune 18 Dec. 1920: 1.