No, it’s not quite that incestuous or circular, but it’s pretty confusing.
Here’s the story, and I will try to keep this simple. Or as simple as I can.
Almost two years ago I received a message out of the blue from a fellow ancestry.com member named Nancy Hano. Attached to her message was a photograph of my grandfather and great-grandparents’ headstone, i.e., John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., and Emanuel and Eva Cohen.
Nancy had seen my tree on ancestry.com and wanted to know whether these were my relatives, and if so, she thought we might be related because her grandparents, Samuel and Louise Lydia Cohen, were buried nearby. After some back and forth and some looking at each other’s trees, we concluded that her Cohens and my Cohens were not genetically related.
However, we did find a different connection. With the help of Nancy’s cousin, Gil Weeder, we found that Samuel Cohen and Louise Lydia Hano had a daughter named Flora. Flora had married a man named Jacob Weil. Jacob Weil was the son of Lewis Weil and Rachel Cohen. Rachel Cohen was the sister of my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen. So in fact, Nancy and Gil were related to be my marriage—their relative Flora had married my relative Jacob Weil.
We exchanged pictures and information, and we all continued to do our own research.
Fast forward to this past week, almost two years later. I am now researching my Nusbaum relatives. As I was putting together lists of the descendants of my Nusbaum ancestors, I saw the name Jacob Hano appear as the husband of one of my relatives, Fanny Nusbaum, the daughter of Ernst Nusbaum, who is my 4x great-uncle, brother of John Nusbaum.
Since the Hanos, like the Cohens and the Nusbaums, were Pennsylvania Jews, I wondered whether there was a connection. So I did some research on Jacob Hano, and I soon found out that he was the brother of the Louise Lydia Hano who had married Samuel Cohen, Nancy and Gil’s ancestors. That is, Jacob Hano was Flora Cohen’s uncle, the same Flora Cohen who married Jacob Weil,the son of Rachel Cohen.
Are you still with me? There’s a quiz at the end. (No, not really.)
Thus, Nancy, Gil and I are related both through my Nusbaum family and through my Cohen family.
Did they all know each other? Jacob Hano married my relative Fanny Nusbaum in 1877. My great-grandparents Emanuel Cohen and Eva May Seligman (a Nusbaum) were married in 1886. Flora Cohen wasn’t married to my relative Jacob Weil until 1908, over twenty years later. So…here’s one possible scenario:
Eva May Seligman Cohen’s sister-in-law Rachel Cohen Weil says to Eva, “Do you know a nice Jewish girl for my son Jacob?”
Eva says, “Well, my mother’s first cousin Fanny is married to a man named Jacob Hano. His sister Louise Lydia is married to Samuel Cohen. A very nice family, also happened to be named Cohen. They have a daughter Flora. Perhaps Jacob would like to meet her?”
And poof! My Nusbaum and Cohen relatives are married to each other, and Gil and Nancy and I get all excited about a new connection, and my family tree starts twisting around on its own axis so badly that it just might fall down!
To state it most succinctly, my father’s maternal first cousin three times removed, Fanny Nusbaum, was married to Jacob Hano, who was the uncle of the wife (Flora Cohen) of my father’s paternal first cousin once removed, Jacob Weil.