One of the main questions I had about Gerson Katzenstein, my great-great-grandfather, was why did he come to the United States? Did he have other relatives who had paved the way, or was he the first in his family to arrive?
When I first did some research about Gerson almost five years ago, I was unable to find any relatives aside from his wife and children, and so I had no information about the rest of his family. But thanks to the work of Barbara Greve and David Baron, I now have a long list of names of relatives, including the names of Gerson’s siblings. I thought that there might have been other relatives living in the United States when Gerson arrived that I’d not known about during my initial research several years ago.
What I learned from Barbara Greve’s work was that Gerson was one of the eight children of Scholem Katzenstein; there were four half-siblings born to Scholem’s first wife, Gella: Hannchen (1798-1840), Mendel, who died as an infant in 1799, Jacob (1803-?), and Gela, who also died as an infant in 1808. Gerson had three full siblings born to his mother, Breine Blumenfeld: Freudchen (1809-1818), Rahel (1813-1861), and Moses, for whom the only record is a birth record dated November 4, 1814. Perhaps Moses also had died as an infant. Thus, of the eight children of Scholem Katzenstein, the only ones for whom there are records indicating survival to adulthood are Gerson, Hannchen, Jacob, and Rahel.
Gerson’s birth is recorded as somewhere between 1811 and 1815, depending on the source. He married Eva Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen sometime before 1848, when their first child, Scholem, was born in Jesberg. Two more children followed, Jacob in 1851 and Brendina (Branche in German—presumably named for Gerson’s mother) in 1853.
Gerson, Eva, and their three children left Germany and arrived in New York City on July 3, 1856. On the ship manifest, Gerson listed his occupation as a butcher and their final destination as Philadelphia.
Just a little over a month later, Eva gave birth to their fourth child, Perry, who was born in Philadelphia on August 19, 1856. Eva had obviously been far into her pregnancy when they left Germany. Why did they leave then? Why did they go to Philadelphia? Was there another family member there? Had any of Gerson’s siblings preceded them? Or a cousin?[i] Did his wife Eva have family there?
I knew that Eva Goldschmidt had relatives already in the US. Her uncle Simon Goldschmidt had arrived in 1845 with his wife Fradchen Schoenthal, who was the aunt of Eva’s future son-in-law, Isidore Schoenthal, my great-grandfather. They were living in Pittsburgh in 1850. In 1860, Simon, at that point a widower, was living with his son Jacob in Washington, Pennsylvania. But no one from the Goldschmidt family was living in Philadelphia in 1856 when Gerson and Eva and their family arrived, at least as far as I can tell.
I decided to look more closely at Gerson’s siblings to see whether they or their children had emigrated. According to the work done by Barbara Greve and David Baron, Gerson’s half-brother Jacob married Sarchen Lion in 1829 in Jesberg, and they had nine children: Gelle (1829), presumably named for Jacob’s deceased mother, Michaele (1832), Schalum (1834); Rebecca (1826), Johanna (1838), Pauline (1841), Baruch (1844), Meier (1849), and Levi (1851). From the Greve/Baron research, it appears that neither Jacob nor any of these children left Germany.
As for Gerson’s sister, Rahel, she married Jacob Katz, and they had six children: Blumchen (1838), Moses (1839), Meier (1842), Abraham (1852), Samuel (1853), and Sanchen (1854). Of these six children, only Abraham and Samuel emigrated from Germany. According to the 1900 census, Abraham immigrated to the United States in 1872, many years after Gerson’s departure from Jesberg; he lived in Kentucky for many years.
Samuel also emigrated in 1872, and also lived in Kentucky before moving and settling in Omaha, Nebraska. Rahel’s other four children did not leave Germany, although some of the next generation did. Both Samuel and Abraham thus arrived in the United States long after their uncle Gerson had emigrated in 1856, and they settled far from Philadelphia where their uncle was living.
The remaining sibling who survived to adulthood was Gerson’s half-sister, Hannchen. She married Marum Mansbach, who was from Maden, Germany, which is where Hannchen and Marum lived after marrying. They had three children born in Maden: Gelle (later Henrietta) (b. 1833), Abraham (b. 1835), and Hendel (later Harry) (b. 1840). Hannchen died the day Harry was born, so Marum was left with three young children including a newborn to raise on his own. These children and their father ended up in the US, but when had they emigrated? Were they the ones who led the way for Gerson, Eva, and their children in 1856?
I went back to look at the documents relating to Gerson that I’d collected years back, and I started with the ship manifest pictured above. This time I noticed something I’d not seen before. Right below the family of Gerson Katzenstein were the names of two more people: Heinemann Mansbach, a sixteen year old male who was a peddler and headed for “Libanon,” and Malchen Mansbach, a sixteen year old female headed to Baltimore. Both were from Maden, Germany.
I hadn’t seen any connection to the Katzensteins originally since the two Mansbachs were from Maden, not Jesberg, and because they were headed to different cities, not Philadelphia. Plus I had no reason to see any connection to anyone named Mansbach. But now, thanks to the Greve/Baron work, I knew that Gerson had a niece and nephew from Maden with the surname Mansbach. Could Heinemann Mansbach be the person known later as Harry Mansbach? Could Malchen Mansbach be Henrietta, his older sister? She would have been 23 in 1856, not 16, but perhaps she, like so many others, had lied about her age. Or could this be an entirely different Mansbach not even related to Gerson Katzenstein?
And was there anyone from the Mansbach family already in the US, and if so, where? Why was Malchen going to Baltimore and Heinemann to “Libanon”? And where is “Libanon”? There is a Lebanon, Pennsylvania about 90 miles west of Philadelphia, so perhaps that is where Heinemann was headed. But why? A search of the 1860 census for Lebanon, PA, for those born in Germany did not uncover anyone who appears to have been connected to the Mansbach/Katzenstein family.
Then I wondered about Hannchen Katzenstein and Marum Mansbach’s older son Abraham. Where was he when his brother was apparently sailing with their uncle Gerson? I searched for him and found an Abraham Mansbach on an 1852 ship manifest; no age was given, but he was a merchant from Hesse. The ship arrived in Baltimore on December 14, 1852. Gerson’s nephew Abraham Mansbach would have been seventeen in 1852. This could have been him.
So perhaps Abraham Mansbach, Gerson’s nephew, was the first of the Katzenstein clan to come to the US. I don’t know whether he stayed in Baltimore or not, but by 1860, it appears that he was living in Philadelphia with his uncle Gerson and the other members of the Katzenstein family:
Gerson was working as a salesman and had a personal estate worth $400. He and Eva had had a fifth child, Hannah, who was a year old. Their oldest child Scholem was now using the name Joe and was twelve years old; Jacob was nine, Brendina was six, and Perry was three.
Living with them were a seventeen year old clerk named Benjamin Levi and a 24 year old bookkeeper named David Frank. In addition, there was a 25 year old salesman named Abraham Anspach; this could have been Abraham Mansbach, Gerson’s nephew. Finally, there was a twenty year old domestic named “Marley Manspach;” perhaps this was the same person as the Malchen Mansbach who was listed on the ship manifest.
But was Malchen/Marley really the daughter named Henrietta who would have been 29 in 1860, not 20? And where was Heinemann/Harry living if not with his brother and uncle? It’s too bad that the 1860 census did not include information about the relationships among those living in a household. That might have cleared some of this up.
But what did seem clear was that by 1860 my Katzenstein great-great-grandparents and the first four of their children were living in Philadelphia. It also seemed likely that at least two of the children of Gerson’s half-sister Hannchen and her husband Marum Mansbach had also arrived in the United States by then.
But many questions remained. Fortunately, David Baron helped me find some answers.
I admit that it’s been hard for me to get back into genealogy right now, but I am trying to find ways to deal with all my anger and grief, and while I look for ways of fighting back against Trumpism, I also am trying to find ways of clearing my head. Genealogy has done that for me before, and I am hoping it will help me now. This post was written before the election, and now I am trying to work on the next one.
[i] I also went through the rest of the family report prepared by David Baron to see if any of the more distant Katzenstein or Katz relatives had arrived in the US before 1856. There were none who arrived that early, although there were a few who were in the US by the 1890s and more who came after Hitler came to power.