As I move closer to closure on the family of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg, my great-great-grandparents, I want to ask for your help regarding a mystery involving a boy I believe was part of Henriette’s family, the Hambergs. I need to know if my thinking about him makes sense.
His name was Samuel Hamberg (spelled Hamburg here), and in 1880 he was twelve years old and living in Washington, Pennsylvania, as the adopted son of my great-great-uncle Henry Schoenthal and Helene Lilienfeld.
Who was he? Was he part of my great-great-grandmother’s family? According to the 1880 census, Samuel was born in 1868 in South Carolina. Henry Schoenthal, the first of Henriette Hamberg’s children to emigrate from Germany, hadn’t arrived until 1866, two years before Samuel was born. Henry settled in Pennsylvania. How would a boy born in a state so far away two years after Henry arrived in the US have ended up with Henry unless there was a family connection? The surname Hamberg couldn’t just be a coincidence, could it?
His first name also seemed unlikely to be a coincidence. Henriette’s father was Moses Hamberg, my three-times great-grandfather. Moses had a younger brother named Samuel, my four-times great-uncle. Young Samuel could have been named for him. The name similarities added to my hunch that this Samuel Hamberg was in some way related to my great-great-grandmother and the other Hambergs from Breuna. I had to figure this one out.
I was able to locate a two year old boy named Samuel Hamberg on the 1870 census living in Columbia, South Carolina, in the household of a Charles Hamberg, age 46, and a Tenah Hamberg, age 21. Given the birth place, name, and age of the boy, I felt it quite likely that this was the same boy who ten years later was living with Henry Schoenthal in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the 1870 census did not include information describing the relationships among those in a household, but I assumed that Charles and Tenah were the father and mother of little Samuel. If so, who were they?
According to the 1870 census, Charles was born in Prussia 46 (or is it a 40?) years earlier or in 1824 or so. (Breuna was within the boundaries of Prussia from 1866 until the German Federation was created in 1871.) Charles was working as a “ret gro” merchant, which I interpret to mean a retail grocery merchant. Tenah was born in South Carolina as was Samuel.
I was able to trace Charles back ten more years to the 1860 census, where he was also living in Columbia, South Carolina, but married not to Tenah but a woman named Mary. According to the 1860 census, Charles was then 28, so born in 1832; according to this census, he was born in Germany and working as a merchant. Mary was a North Carolina native and 27 years old.
I then discovered a marriage record for Charles Hamberg and Mary Hanchey reporting their marriage in 1853 in New Hanover, North Carolina.But that was the earliest record I could find for Charles Hamberg. And I still didn’t know whether he was related to the Hambergs of Breuna, my great-great-grandmother’s family.
Fortunately for me, others, including the noted genealogist Hans-Peter Klein, had already done extensive research of the Hamberg family tree. You can find it here. There was no Charles Hamberg listed in the records in Breuna. But there were other men in the family with the surname Hamberg who would have been about the same age as Charles Hamberg. I had to find out whether any of them came to the United States and perhaps changed his name to Charles.
Moses Hamberg, my 3x-great-grandfather, had five sons:
Juda, who died in Breuna in 1863;
Seligmann, who died in Breuna in 1897;
Salomon, who married and had several children in the 1850s in Breuna (no death record has been located;
Marcus, who died in Breuna in 1846;
And finally, Abraham, born in Breuna in 1828 and for whom there was no marriage or death record in Breuna.
Of Moses Hamberg’s five sons, the only one who might have emigrated by 1853 was Abraham.
As for the sons of Samuel Hamberg, brother of Moses, there were three sons:
another Juda, who died in Breuna in 1863;
Baruch, born in 1824 and for whom there was no marriage or death record;
And Moses, born in 1829 and for whom there was also no marriage or death record in Breuna.
So it was possible that Baruch and/or Moses had emigrated.
The three Hamberg men from Breuna who could have immigrated to the US by 1853 were thus Abraham, Baruch, and Moses: no one named Charles. All three of those Hamberg men were close in age to the Charles Hamberg in Columbia, South Carolina. All were born between 1824 and 1829. But had any of them actually immigrated to the United States? I decided to search for them on ship manifests and other US records and found that all three did in fact leave Germany for the United States before 1853.
Moses Hamberg arrived in New York from Breuna in August, 1846, when he was seventeen, according to the ship manifest. This is clearly Moses, the son of Samuel Hamberg, who was born in 1829 and thus would have been 17 in 1846. Moses was a shoemaker, according to the manifest.
Baruch and his first cousin Abraham arrived in New York together in September 1852. According to the ship manifest, they were coming from Breuna, and both were 24 years old, meaning they were born in about 1828. My great-great-grandmother’s brother Abraham was born in 1828; according to Breuna records, Baruch was born in 1824.
Despite the disparity in the ages between the Baruch on the manifest and the Baruch born in Breuna, I believe that the two men on this manifest were in fact Abraham Hamberg, son of Moses Hamberg, and Baruch Hamberg, son of Samuel Hamberg. The ship manifest reports that their destination in the US was “Sevanna,” which I assume meant Savannah, Georgia.
So did any of these three young men become Charles Hamberg of Columbia, South Carolina? And if so, which one? Since Abraham and Baruch were headed to a city in the South whereas Moses indicated that New York was his intended destination, my inclination was to focus on Abraham and Baruch as the ones more likely to have become Charles Hamberg.
Searching for further records for Abraham Hamberg led me to the sad discovery that he died not too long after arriving in the US. He died in Savannah, Georgia, his intended destination, on August 26, 1854, of yellow fever and was buried in that city. He was my great-great-grandmother Henriette’s younger brother. He was only 26 years old.So what then happened to his cousin Baruch Hamberg? Had he made it to Savannah?
My guess is that somewhere along the way from New York to Savannah, Baruch and Abraham stopped in New Hanover, North Carolina, where Baruch met and married his first wife Mary Hanchey in 1853. And by then, he had dropped the Hebrew name Baruch and adopted the much more American name Charles. In fact, his full name was Charles B. Hamberg. Perhaps that B was for Baruch.
What else supports this conclusion that Baruch Hamberg became Charles Hamberg? Recall that Baruch Hamberg was the son of Samuel Hamberg of Breuna. And what did Charles Hamberg name his son born in 1868? Samuel.
If I am right, then Charles/Baruch Hamberg was Henriette Hamberg Schoenthal’s first cousin; their fathers Samuel and Moses were brothers. Charles’ son Samuel was therefore a second cousin to Henriette’s son Henry Schoenthal, the man who had adopted him by 1880.
So does my analysis make sense? Did Baruch Hamberg become Charles Hamberg?
And if so, why was his son Samuel living with and adopted by Henry Schoenthal in 1880? That question will be addressed in a later post.
 And while I wait to talk with my third cousin Betty, who is also their great-great-granddaughter.
 I wrote a little bit about the Hambergs of Breuna, Germany here when I described the remarkable story of how I learned that my fifth cousin Rob and I shared not only some DNA, but had lived at one point just a few miles from each other, and, even more remarkably, were both close friends with the same couple. We had a lovely dinner back in December hosted by Rob and his wife Ann where all of us—our mutual friends included—had a great evening. I remain amazed by what a small world it is. Rob and I are both the four-times great-grandchildren of Jeudah ben Moses, the father of Moses Hamberg and Samuel Hamberg. Rob is descended from Samuel; I am descended from Moses.
 I will follow up on Moses Hamberg in a later post.