As I wrote yesterday, I was somewhat befuddled by the existence of two men named Hart Cohen, born around the same time (1850-1851), both married to women named Henrietta whose birth names started with B. Although one Hart was born in Philadelphia and the other in Maryland, at first I (along with many other ancestry.com members) thought they were the same person and had their families intertwined on my family tree. After spending much time sifting through census reports and other documents, I was finally convinced that there were in fact two Hart Cohens married to two different Henriettas, one living in the Washington, DC, area his whole life and the other living in Philadelphia his whole life except at the very end of his life. Philadelphia Hart died in Washington, DC, in 1911, thus making the situation even more confusing. But there were in fact two separate men, not one man living a double life.
But was this more than coincidence? Was there any connection between them aside from all those coincidences? I went to sleep last night unsure about the answer to that question, but the last document I found before my post was a death record for DC Hart which revealed his parents’ names: Moses Cohen and Adeline Himmel. Further research revealed that Moses was born in England, Adeline in Germany, and that they had had a son born in Germany named Moses before emigrating to Maryland and having DC Hart.
I woke up this morning, determined to find some link between Moses Cohen, DC Hart’s father, and Jacob Cohen, my great-great grandfather and the father of Philadelphia Hart. After some searching, I first found Adeline’s death record and saw that she had died in 1895, already a widow, in Washington, DC, and was buried in Washington. I then tried to figure out when Moses, her husband, had died, and found a number of Washington, DC. city directory listings in which Adeline Cohen was described as the widow of Moses. The earliest one I found was dated 1867, meaning that Moses had already died by that time.
In fact, in 1870, Adeline was living with DC Hart and her other children in Washington.
That gave me an outer limit for when Moses, Sr., had died, and by placing a date limit on his death, I was able to uncover this record on ancestry.com:
Notice his father’s Hebrew name: Naftali ha Cohen. This rang a bell, and I went back to my earlier research and found that on my great-great grandfather Jacob Cohen’s marriage record his father’s Hebrew name was recorded as Naftali Hirts ha Cohen.
This was one coincidence too many and enough for me to conclude that Moses, Sr. and Jacob were in fact brothers, that Moses had not stayed in England as I had concluded early on in my Cohen research, but had come to America just as all his other siblings had. I now also think that it is possible that the “Mordecia” [sic] listed as living with Jacob on the 1850 US census was probably his brother Moses, who had also emigrated in 1848 from England.
His wife Adeline and son Moses, Jr., must have arrived sometime later, though I have not yet located a record revealing when they came. I will need to track down a few more documents to be sure—death certificates for Moses and Jacob and also photographs of their headstones.
But assuming my hunches are correct, Philadelphia Hart and DC Hart were first cousins, sharing a name, sharing an occupation (pawnbroker/jewelry store owner), having wives with the same first name, and sharing a grandfather for whom they were both named, my three-times great-grandfather, Hart Levy Cohen. The only real coincidence was that they both had wives named Henrietta.
I just love when the pieces come together. It is what makes this so much fun. Digging around in the muck, being totally confused and overwhelmed, and then that AHA! moment when suddenly it all makes sense.