It’s fascinating to me how finding one more ancestor—in this case, my great-great-grandfather’s younger sister Mina–leads to so many more descendants, so many more stories. Sometimes I do think that eventually I will find myself related to every Jewish person I know if not every person I know.
While searching for Hamberg relatives in the Breuna marriage archives, I ran across a record for a “Minna Schoenthal” who married a Markus Rosenberg. I was surprised to see the name Schoenthal in Breuna, but saved the document to study later. I thought Minna could be a relative, but I was focused on the Hambergs at that moment, and I couldn’t decipher Minna’s parents’ names, so put it on the back burner.
I did the same when I saw a Breuna birth record for a child named Hendel whose mother’s birth name had been Mina Schoenthal, father Noah Braunsberg. I was a bit confused—was this the same woman as the Minna married to Markus Rosenberg? Was this a relative? Again, I put it on the back burner.
When I returned to the children of Levi Schoenthal and Henrietta Hamberg, first David Baron and Roger Cibella shared their discovery of Levi Schoenthal’s sister Fradchen/Fanny, and her marriage to Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith. That led to the discovery that more than twenty years before Henry Schoenthal had arrived in America in 1866, his aunt and uncle had settled in western Pennsylvania with their children Jacob and Hannah. I had assumed that Henry had been the pioneer in the family, but in fact he was following in the footsteps of Fanny and Simon Goldsmith and their children.
Then Hans-Peter Klein informed me that Levi Schoenthal had had a third sister, Mina, and I recalled that I had seen the above-mentioned records in the Breuna archives. I sent them to Hans-Peter, and he confirmed that both records were for Levi’s sister Mina; the marriage record to Markus Rosenberg indicated that her parents were Hienemann Schoenthal and Hendel Beerenstein, who were also the parents of Levi Schoenthal and Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith. That is, Mina, like Fanny, was my three-times great-aunt.
Hans-Peter also explained that Mina had first married Noah Braunsberg and had the child for whom I’d found the birth record, that is, Hendel, born in August 1847. Mina had then gotten married again, this time to Markus Rosenberg in September 1949, and they had also had a child, a daughter named Malchen who died two months after she was born in 1850. Hans-Peter sent me Madchen’s birth and death records, and with some additional searching I found both the marriage record for Mina Schoenthal and Noah Braunsberg and the death record for Noah Braunsberg, who died in 1847, just a year after marrying Mina and months after the birth of their daughter Hendel.
Hans-Peter had concluded that Mina and Markus had not had any other children after Madchen died. But after entering Markus Rosenberg into my family tree on Ancestry, a number of shaky leafs, as the hint system on Ancestry calls them, popped up. I figured that they would be hints for a different man named Marcus Rosenberg, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that it was a US census report for a Marcus Rosenberg with a wife named Mena and several children. I searched a bit further, and once I saw that this family had been living in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1860, I knew that this had to be the same Markus and Mina Rosenberg from Breuna, Germany, and thus my three-times great-aunt and her husband. Marcus was working as a shoemaker, just like his father-in-law back in Germany, and he and Mina had in fact had a number of children after Madchen died—some born in Germany, some in the United States.
From this advertisement, it appears that Marcus had been in business in Washington, Pennsylvania, for some time before 1860:
To figure out when they had immigrated to the US, I tried to find records for the children reported to have been born in Germany on the 1860 US census record: Hannah (1848) and Rachel (1852). If the birth year for Hannah was really 1848, that would mean she was born before Mina married Marcus and that she was probably the child named Hendel born to Mina and her first husband Noah Braunsberg. The birth year was inferred by Ancestry as 1848 because Hannah was reported to have been twelve on the 1860 census and 22 on the 1870 census, but she also could have been born in August, 1847, as Hendel had been, and just not yet have celebrated her next birthday at the time of the census. Although I cannot be sure, I am fairly certain that Hannah was in fact the daughter of Noah Braunsberg, not Marcus Rosenberg. Rachel, born in 1852, would then be the first child born to Mina and Marcus Rosenberg.
But where was Rachel born? On the 1860 census, she is listed as nine years old and born in Germany, thus presumably born in 1851. The 1870 census reports that Rachel was then nineteen, but that she was born in Maryland. Using the closer in time rule, it would seem more likely that she was born in Germany as the 1860 census reports. I’ve yet to find a German birth record for her, however.
The next child listed as a child of Mina and Marcus Rosenberg was Julia, who according to the 1860 census was born in 1854 in Maryland. Of course, there are inconsistencies in later records. The 1870 census says she was born in Hesse-Darmstadt; the 1880 census says she was born in Pennsylvania. Since two out of three say she was born in the US, and the closest in time to her birth (1860) says she was born in the US, I am willing to discount the 1870 census. She was then living as a lodger with her sister Hannah, and the census taker could have gotten bad information from someone else in the household.
Thus, if in fact Julia was born in the US (whether Maryland or Pennsylvania) in 1854, that meant that Mina had herself immigrated by that time. If Rachel was born in the United States in 1851, then the family had immigrated even earlier. Although I still have not found a passenger manifest for Mina or her two oldest children, Hannah and Rachel, I was able to find this one listing Marcus Rosenberg. He arrived on the ship Ocean on August 9, 1850, five years after Fanny and Simon Goldsmith, and sixteen years before Henry Schoenthal. If Rachel was born in 1851 in Germany, as one of the census records suggests, Mina must have been pregnant when Marcus left for the United States.
A fourth daughter named Mary was three in 1860 and fourteen in 1870 and born in Pennsylvania, according to the census records. (She is missing from the first enumeration of the 1870 census, but appears in the second enumeration.) Thus, she was likely born in 1856. Mina and Marcus had another child, a son named Henry on the 1870 census, but listed as Harry on later records. Harry was reported as nine years old on the 1870 census, so was born probably in 1861.
Thus, not only was Henry Schoenthal preceded by Fanny and Simon Goldsmith in coming to Washington, Pennsylvania; Fanny’s sister Mina and her husband Marcus Rosenberg had also gotten here before Henry and had also lived in Washington, Pennsylvania.
But the Rosenberg family did not stay in Washington. By 1870 and perhaps earlier, they had relocated to Philadelphia, where Marcus was working as a tailor, according to the 1870 US census. Rachel, Julia, Mary, and Henry were still living with them. Their oldest daughter, Hannah, had married Herrman (later Herman) Hirsh on November 5, 1867, in Philadelphia, so it is possible that by 1867 the family as a whole had already moved to Philadelphia. But Herman and Hannah moved back to the western part of Pennsylvania not too long after their marriage; their first child, Morris, was born in Pittsburgh on August 12, 1869, and his brother Nathan was born the following year. In 1870, Herman and Hannah Hirsh and their two sons were living in Allegheny City (today part of Pittsburgh), and Herman was working in the retail clothing business. Herman was also born in Germany and a fairly recent immigrant.
During the 1870s, Herman and Hannah (Rosenberg) Hirsh had three more children, a daughter Carrie born in 1872, and two sons: Harry (1874) and Sidney (1878).
By 1880, Marcus and Mina only had Julia living with them at home in Elk City, Pennsylvania. Marcus was working in the retail clothing business. Elk City is about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh and over 300 miles from Philadelphia. I am not sure what took Marcus, Mina and Julia back to the western part of Pennsylvania, yet to a place not close to their other family members in Pittsburgh and Washington, Pennsylvania.
Their youngest daughter Mary had married Joseph Podolsky sometime between 1870 and 1878, when their first child Flora was born. Harry followed in 1879, and Birdie in 1880. According to the 1880 census, Joseph was a clothing dealer born in Prussia. They were living in Millersburg, Ohio, about 120 miles from Pittsburgh, where Mary’s sister Hannah was living, and almost 170 miles from Elk City, where Mary’s parents and sister Julia were living.
I cannot account for where the other two children of Mina and Marcus Rosenberg were in 1880. I cannot find Rachel or Harry on the 1880 census. In fact, I can’t locate Rachel on any document after 1870. Perhaps Rachel had married, but I can’t find her. I think it is more likely that she died. Harry would have been only 19 in 1880. Where could he have gone? He does reappear later, but I’ve no idea where he was in 1880.
By 1880, my various Schoenthal relatives were thus getting more spread out, though still for the most part in Pennsylvania and mostly in the western part of the state. The next two decades would bring new family members into the fold—both by birth and by immigration.
I would love to see your files. You must be so organized, Amy.
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Hmm, not probably what you’d imagine. I have very little in hard copy. I keep everything on my computer plus an external hard drive plus in the cloud. I try to keep folders by family name, but that means hundreds of documents and photos in a folder. Sometimes I break it down into subfolders when I feel inspired. Let’s just say I don’t think anyone else would have an easy time finding things!
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I’m kind of disappointed because I thought I could really learn something, but then again I am glad I am not too much worse (though I am definitely worse) at taking the time to really organize properly.
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I sometimes wake up worrying that everything I have will be lost. But I just cannot see making hard copies of every document. Those will get lost also….
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Do you have a backup?
Everything is backed up on an external hard drive and a cloud. The tree itself is backed up on FTM 2014 on my hard drive as well as Ancestry, and I have GEDCOMs saved to my hard drive and to the cloud and the external drive. And the blog is also all in hard copy by Blogbooker/Lulu every few months.
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Good morning, Amy. I’m wondering if you have found any additional information about Markus Rosenberg, Mina’s husband. I am trying to establish if he had any ties to Latvia, more specifically the Courland region. -Barb
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I am taking a break from blogging right now. My father died last week. But I will look and see what I can find.