In my last two posts I wrote about the tragedies the Katzenstein family endured in 1889 when Jacob Katzenstein, my great-grandmother Hilda’s brother, lost his son Edwin and his wife Ella (who may also have been related to me through my Goldschmidt line) in the devastating Johnstown flood of May 31, 1889. This post will follow up with the rest of my great-great-grandparents’ family.
Here is a family group sheet for the family of my great-great-grandparents, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt and their six children, five of whom survived to adulthood.
A little over a year after the flood, on July 22, 1890, my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein died of dropsy at age 75 in Philadelphia. According to several sources, “dropsy” is an old-fashioned term for edema or swelling of body tissues, whether it’s the brain, the heart, or some other body part or organ. I don’t know what type of edema afflicted Gerson or why it killed him. He was buried at Adath Jeshrun cemetery in Philadelphia.
In March, 1891, his son Jacob remarried two years after losing his wife and son in the Johnstown flood. Jacob married Bertha Miller, the daughter of Samuel Miller and Eliza Leopold, whom I mentioned here. (As I described, Jacob’s first father-in-law, Marcus Bohm, would later be living with Jacob’s second wife Bertha Miller’s aunt, Minnie Leopold Reineman, in 1910 in Johnstown.) Bertha’s parents were both born in Germany, and her father Samuel was a “merchant tailor” in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1880.
Bertha and Jacob had a child Helen in 1892, and they had a second child on June 8, 1893, whom they named Gerald, presumably for Gerson Katzenstein, Jacob’s father, my great-great-grandfather. He was not the only grandson named for Gerson. On January 20, 1892, my great-uncle Gerson Schoenthal was born, son of my great-grandparents Hilda Katzenstein and Isidore Schoenthal. In addition, SJ Katzenstein and his wife Henrietta also had a child possibly named for Gerson: Vernon Glyde, born on February 8, 1892.
My great-great-grandmother, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, died on September 6, 1893. She was 66 years old and died of “carcinoma ventric omentum.” According to my medical consultant, today that is called “carcinoma of the ventral omentum, which is a part of the lining of the abdomen near the stomach.”
Eva also had grandchildren named for her, including my grandmother, Eva Schoenthal. Jacob and Bertha’s third child, born December 2, 1894, was also named Eva.
Jacob and Bertha had two more children by 1900: Leopold (1898) and Maurice (1900). As pointed our earlier, they were living in Johnstown in 1900 with Jacob’s first father-in-law Marcus Bohm and Bertha’s brother Maurice. Jacob was working as a clothing merchant.
SJ Katzenstein and his family were living in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1900, where he was still a clothing merchant as well. Their children were all still at home and at school, except for Howard, who was working as a clerk.
Brendina Katzenstein Schlesinger and her family were still in Philadelphia, and her husband Jacob listed his occupation on the 1900 census as a meat salesman. Their oldest son, Solomon Joseph, was a manager of a laundry, and Alfred was managing a newspaper. Sidney was working as a clerk in a clothing store. The two daughters, Heloise and Aimee, were not employed.
Perry Katzenstein and his wife Rose were also living in Philadelphia where Perry was in the clothing business. They had no children. Rose’s sister Flora Elias was living with them.
And, as I’ve written before, my great-grandparents Hilda Katzenstein and Isidore Schoenthal were living in Washington, Pennsylvania, with their two older sons, Lester and Gerson, and my great-grandfather was working in the china business there.
So as the century turned, my great-grandmother Hilda and her siblings had lost both of their parents, but the next generation of the family was growing. As of 1900, there were eighteen grandchildren—my grandmother’s first cousins and brothers— and my great-uncle Harold was born on August 28, 1901, bringing the total to nineteen. My grandmother and one more first cousin were yet to be born. All of them lived in Pennsylvania, spanning from Philadelphia in the east to Washington in the west with family living in Johnstown in between.
But the start of the 20th century was not very kind to the Katzenstein family. On December 7, 1901, my great-great-uncle SJ Katzenstein died at age 53. He left behind his wife Henrietta and six children, ranging in age from Moynelle, who was 22, to Vernon, who was only nine years old.
Then less than two years later, SJ’s younger brother Perry died. He was just a few days shy of his 47th birthday. According to his obituary, he had been living in Washington, Pennsylvania, not Philadelphia, at the time of his death. Perhaps he had taken over SJ’s clothing business. Perry died from appendicitis and peritonitis. He was survived by his wife Rose.
But Rose did not last very long without him. While visiting her sister in Chicago on February 24, 1904, she took her own life. Her death was ruled a suicide, strangulation by hanging. Perry’s death must have been too much for her to bear.
Thus, by February, 1904, my great-grandmother Hilda had lost her parents, two of her three brothers, two nephews, and two sisters-in-law. She also had her fourth and last child that year, my grandmother Eva, who was born on March 4, 1904, shortly after Rose’s death.
Jacob Katzenstein and his second wife Bertha also had their final child in 1904; he was born in August 1904 and was named Perry, obviously for Jacob’s brother Perry who had died the year before.
My great-great-grandparents Gerson and Eva (Goldschmidt) Katzenstein were thus survived by 21 grandchildren, including my grandmother Eva. In posts to come, I will share their stories.
For now, I will be taking a short break from research, but will be sharing some of the photographs and records I’ve received but have not yet had a chance to post.