So Many Cohens, So Many Stories to Tell

Alone and drowning

 (Photo credit: wok)

I am feeling a little overwhelmed.  I thought there were a lot of Rosenzweigs; after all, Gustave had nine children and Tillie had seven.  But my great-great-grandparents Jacob and Sarah Cohen had THIRTEEN children, and Jacob’s brother Moses had five more. And they are only the first generation of American Cohens.  There are two more to go before I get to my generation, and each generation gets bigger.  Fortunately, Jacob’s other siblings did not have children, or I would really be drowning in Cohens.

As is it, I am not sure where to start or how to tell the story of Hart Levy and Rachel Cohen’s grandchildren.  Do I keep doing it by decade, jumping from one of those descendants to another?  Do I take each one and discuss his or her life separately?  Doing it the first way gives me more of an opportunity to see and describe the big picture, but it could make each post very long if I tell the story of all the grandchildren’s lives in a particular decade.  Doing it one by one would be simpler, but would mean losing the chance to see overall trends in the family.

I am also still researching each one of these eighteen grandchildren and looking ahead to see how many children each one of them brought into the world.  I haven’t even begun to research that generation—the great-grandchildren of Hart and Rachel, many of whom lived far into the 20th century.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  One thing at a time.  First, the children of Jacob and Sarah.  Then the children of Moses and Adeline.

Since Jacob and Sarah’s children were born over a twenty year span from Frances (1846) to Abraham (1866), I think it makes sense to take a few of these children at a time in chronological sets.  I will do first the four oldest, then the middle five, and then the last four.  Some of these people, especially the women, I have not been able to track completely, but amazingly for most of them, I have been able to go from birth to death.

Once I have done Jacob and Sarah’s children, I will turn to the five children of Moses and Adeline Cohen.  I am still researching the question of whether or not the DC Cohens were in fact related to the Philadelphia Cohens, but I am operating under the assumption that they were in fact all descendants of Hart and Rachel.  I am even having my brother take a DNA test to see if we can make the linkage.  Only time will tell, but meanwhile I am going with my hunch that Moses and Jacob were brothers.

So that’s where I am.  Thanks for letting me think out loud and get organized.  It may take a bit longer to get each of these posts researched and written, so I may be posting a little less frequently. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the Cohen clan.

If you think my plan makes no sense, let me know.  I am more than open to suggestions on how to tell the story.

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17 thoughts on “So Many Cohens, So Many Stories to Tell

  1. I have no suggestions. I am facing some of the very same problems in the writing of my family’s story. I have done so many outlines and then tossed them into the waste basket that I should plant a tree somewhere.


  2. I know how you feel. However, making the decision to write a book has helped me to put things in perspective. Do you use a genealogy software? You could print a report and use it as your staring outline. The National Genealogy Society has two small publications that I am currently using the write my framework, Numbering Your Genealogy, and Creating A Winning Family History. They are filled with the standards ways of writing a history, and advice for making it interesting.


    • Thank you! I will check out those two publications. I use Family Tree Maker in conjunction with as my software, and it can generate reports so that is helpful also. Good luck with your book! I will be following your efforts as you go, as I, too, want to turn my research into a book format.


      • You are welcome! I use the same set-up, Ancestry and Family Tree Maker. I didn’t actually start with a report, but I thought it might be a viable option. I just started with the immigrant ancestor and went from there. While I am waiting for more documents, I am going through and updating burial information for everyone this week.


      • I am doing the same—starting with the oldest ancestor in that line and moving forward. But the families just keep getting bigger with every generation! Do you stick with your direct line or do you do all the cousins by the dozens as well?


      • I am doing my first DNA testing with someone I hope is a distant cousin. I am very curious to see what it shows.


      • Good luck! If you are a distant cousins, the test might not show that you matching which doesn’t necessarily mean you are not related. Did you do an autosomal test?


      • No, my brother is doing a Y-DNA test to see if we are related to another Cohen family, a descendant of the Moses Cohen I have written about.


      • Good question. I am not sure I have one goal. Certainly one is to preserve family history for future generations. But I am also trying to make sense of that history and learn from it. And also to place their stories in the general history if their times and places.


  3. It seems to me that you should probably figure out what your end goal is in order to figure out how to organize. Are you trying to discover and preserve the history of the family for future generations? Or is there something else altogether as your goal?


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