My Great-grandparents: Thank You

When I started doing genealogy research about four years ago, I only had seen pictures of two of my eight great-grandparents:  Isidore Schoenthal and Hilda Katzenstein, parents of my paternal grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

 

 

I had no idea what any of my other six great-grandparents looked like.  Over time I have been very fortunate to find cousins who had pictures of four of those other six.  For example, I now have pictures of Moritz Goldschlager and Ghitla Rosenzweig, parents of my maternal grandfather Isadore Goldschlager.

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Moritz Goldschlager

Moritz Goldschlager

 

 

Another cousin had pictures of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman, but I did not have a photograph of my great-grandfather, Emanuel Cohen.  Until now.  One of the photos in my Aunt Eva’s suitcase was a photograph of Emanuel Cohen. I was so excited to be able to see his face.  It’s amazing how a photograph can bring to life someone you’ve never seen.

So I now have pictures of Eva Seligman and Emanuel Cohen, parents of my paternal grandfather, John N. Cohen, Sr.

Eva Seligman Cohen

Eva Seligman Cohen

Emanuel Cohen

Emanuel Cohen

That leaves me missing only one photograph in the collection of photographs of my great-grandparents.  I am fortunate to have a picture of my great-grandmother, Bessie—the person for whom I named.  But I do not have a picture of Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather.  The Brotmans remain the most elusive of my ancestral families, and they were the ones who started me on this search and to the blog.  How I would love to know what Joseph looked like, but none of my cousins has a photograph, and somehow it seems very unlikely that any will turn up.  But here is my great-grandmother Bessie Brod/Brot/Brotman, the mother of my maternal grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager.

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

When I scan through these photographs and think of my eight great-grandparents, I feel somehow comforted and inspired.  It makes me feel good to know that they are remembered and that their stories are being told, at least as well as I can tell them.  Five of the eight were born in Europe and immigrated here to make a better lives for themselves and for their children and those who followed. They came from Sielen, Germany, from Iasi, Romania, and from Tarnobrzeg, Poland.  The other three were the children of immigrants from Gau-Algesheim and Jesberg, Germany and from London, England; they benefited from the risks taken by their parents, my great-great-grandparents, but they each took risks of their own.  In America, my great-grandparents lived in Washington (Pennsylvania), Philadelphia, New York, Denver, and Santa Fe.  Each in his or her own way was a pioneer.  Each one is an inspiration to me.

On this week of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to them for all they did and proud to be their great-granddaughter.

 

13 thoughts on “My Great-grandparents: Thank You

  1. What a fantastic blog, so glad you managed to trace your great grandparents, I am also trying to trace my family. I always find photographs from other family members an amazing find, it’s so nice to ‘see’ the ancestors.

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    • Thank you so much, Jackie! If you need any help with your search, please feel free to ask. Sometimes fresh eyes find things that we might miss ourselves. I know others have often done that for me.

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  2. I had a photo in my collection of a very nice looking man and remember asking my mom if she knew he was. Nope. I put it aside and months later I found a ‘clipping’ in my paternal grandmother’s scrapbook of her father-in-law’s obituary. Lo and behold the picture in the obituary was that same nice looking man! What a thrill to see his face. I now have 7 out of 8 of my great grandparents, too.

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    • That’s great! My mother has no idea what her own grandfather looked like since he died almost 30 years before she was born, and even she’s never seen a picture so I doubt one exists. But hey, 7 out of 8 not’s bad, right?!

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  3. I have photos of all eight of my great-grandparents but none of my husband’s eight. Your post however gave me an idea of doing signatures of the ancestors to make up for the photos. I could get back several generations, at least for those who were able to write. Happy Thanksgiving Amy!

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  4. I hold out great hope that the missing photograph will find you somehow. And, I know exactly what you mean about feeling comforted and inspired by gazing on the faces of the folks who came before me. Happy Thanksgiving, Amy! My blogging friends are such a blessing in my life, and for that I’m very thankful.

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    • Not that I know, but that branch, as I said, is my most elusive. I am not even sure what my GGM’s birth name was, thus the list of possibilities. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  5. It seems to me you have a genius for reconstructing the past, Amy. Finding these pictures and being able to put a name and a connection to them must be a real joy. One day I keep telling myself I will have to do the same for my motley crew of ancestors. Belatedly, Happy Thanksgiving (well, I’m English!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Watch out for the genealogy bug—once you let it bite you, you will be trapped forever in an unending puzzle that never ceases to fascinate. I can only imagine the materials you’d find for your stories and books by looking into the lives of your ancestors!

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