Meeting New Cousins

There is one more sibling of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein to research and write about—his half-brother Jakob.

But before I move on to the next step in the Katzenstein research, I have several other topics to discuss—updates and items of interest that have accumulated over the months but that were put on the back burner. So the next few posts will be about these varied topics including some interesting discoveries and meetings with cousins. Today I want to talk about two recent meetings with “new” cousins.

On August 4, my cousin Jan and her husband Richard made a trip to Provincetown to meet Harvey and me and spend the day together. We met them at the wharf where the ferry from Boston arrives, walked around Provincetown, and had a wonderful lunch overlooking Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown Harbor. We had a great time together—the conversation flowed naturally, and we all hit it off very easily.

Jan and me and a new friend in Provincetown

Jan is my second cousin, once removed. Her great-grandmother Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht was the half-sister of my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager. I had “discovered” Jan after the amazing breakthrough I had finding my grandmother’s long missing half-sister Toba through the pure serendipity of a list of names in my aunt’s baby book from 1917.

Aunt Elaine’s baby book. Note the last name in the list on the left—Mrs. Taube Hecht; that is my grandmother’s half-sister Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht and Jan’s great-grandmother.


While we were together, Jan completed a DNA testing kit, which I mailed the next day.  I am hoping that her DNA results will help me with my Brotman research since Jan is descended  from Joseph Brotman and his first wife and not from Bessie, my great-grandmother. Perhaps her results will help me identify which genes came from Joseph and not Bessie as I search for more answers to the many questions that remain about the Brotmans, for example, about the relationship between Joseph and Bessie.

Then on Tuesday, August 8, we had dinner with another “new” cousin, Mike and his wife Wendy. Mike is my fourth cousin through my Hamberg line. We are both the three-times great-grandchildren of Moses Hamberg of Breuna. Mike’s great-grandmother was Malchen Hamberg, who married Jacob Baer; Mike’s grandmother was Tilda Baer, who married Samuel Einstein/Stone, the co-founder with Maurice Baer (Tilda’s brother, Mike’s great-uncle) of Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the jewelry company now known as Swank.

Samuel Einstein/Stone, Sr., Samuel Stone, Jr. standing Sitting: Harriet, Stephanie (Mike’s mother), Tilda, and Babette (Betty) Stone Courtesy of the family


Mike and I found each other back in March, 2017, as a result of a comment left on my blog by a man named Dr. Rainer Schimpf. Dr. Schimpf wrote then:

I am so excited to read your blog! We are doing research on Samuel Einstein, born in Laupheim, Wuerttemberg. He was connected to Carl Laemmle, founder and president of Universal Pictures, who was also born in Laupheim. Could you please get in contact with me? Thank you so much!

Best, Rainer

I contacted Rainer immediately, excited by this connection to Hollywood since I’ve always been a movie fan and trivia nut. Rainer told me that he was curating an exhibit about Carl Laemmle for the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is the state museum in Stuttgart for the history of southwest Germany. Laemmle was born in Laupheim, Germany, and had immigrated to the United States in 1884. The story of his career in the United States is quite fascinating (though beyond the scope of my blog). You can read it about it here and here.

Carl Laemmle
From Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Rainer said that in the course of his research about Laemmle, he had found a newspaper article describing a party celebrating Laemmle’s fiftieth birthday in 1917; one of the guests mentioned in the article was Samuel Einstein from Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Einstein had not yet changed his surname to Stone.)

Motion Picture Weekly, January 1917

Rainer had been trying to learn more about Samuel Einstein and had learned quite a bit, including that Einstein was one of the founders of Attleboro Manufacturing, now known as Swank.  He also had learned that Samuel Einstein was “one of four Jewish boys of Laupheim, who made unique careers in the US. All four were meeting at the birthday party of Laemmle in 1917 (Leo Hirschfeld [inventor of the Tootsie Roll] and Isidor Landauer [of International Handkerchief Manufacturing] are the other two boys).” (email from Dr. Rainer Schimpf, March, 2017)

Rainer wanted to learn more about Einstein, his family, and his connection to Laupheim, Germany, and to Laemmle. I shared with Rainer what I knew, and then I searched for and contacted as many of the Baer/Stone family members as I could, and one of them, Faith, a great-granddaughter of Tilda and Samuel Stone, responded with great interest and then connected me to her cousin, Mike. Thanks to that one comment by Rainer on the blog, I now not only know more about Samuel Einstein/Stone, I also am connected to many more of my Hamberg cousins.

Together Rainer, Mike, and I were able to pull together a fuller picture of Samuel Einstein, his family of origin, and his life in Germany and in the United States.  Although I won’t go into complete detail here about the Einstein family, I will point out one interesting bit of information we learned that answered a question I’d had while researching the Baer family: how did Maurice Baer and Samuel Einstein end up as business partners?[1]

The Baers lived in Pittsburgh, and Samuel Einstein lived in Attleboro, Massachusetts. How could they have met each other? Even today, it would take almost ten hours to drive the more than 500 miles between the two cities. It would have taken days to get from one to the other back then.


Well, Rainer discovered that Samuel Einstein had three uncles who lived in Pittsburgh who had been in the US since the mid-19th century. Perhaps Samuel met Maurice Baer when he visited his relatives in Pittsburgh; maybe the Baers and Pittsburgh Einsteins were well-acquainted. If and when I have time, these are questions I’d like to pursue.

When Mike learned that I spend the summer on the Cape where he would be visiting this summer, we arranged to have dinner together. It was a lovely evening with Mike and Wendy with lots of stories and laughs and good food.  We felt an immediate connection to these warm and friendly people. Mike shared some old photographs and even showed me Maurice Baer’s walking stick. It was a lot of fun.

Harvey, me, Mike, and Wendy

It is always such a pleasure to meet new cousins—whether they are as distant as fourth or fifth cousins or as close as a second cousin.  It reinforces the idea that we are all connected in some ways to everyone else, and it inspires me to keep looking and researching and writing.

There are so many more cousins I’d like to meet in person—or as Jan said, IRL FTF. Some live nearby, and I hope to get to see them within the next several months. Others live much further away, making it harder to get together. But I’ve gone as far as Germany to meet a cousin, so eventually I hope I can meet many of those who live in the United States.


[1] Since Samuel is only related to me by his marriage to Tilda Baer, I had not previously researched his background too deeply. For the same reason, I won’t go into detail here on all that we discovered about his family.

31 thoughts on “Meeting New Cousins

  1. You need a Love button. I want to do this too! Many of my cousins I’ve only met per email have made such a difference in my genealogy work. I have had the pleasure of meeting a few in person. One this year, the same time you were in Germany, and I have been wanting to write about her but keep putting it off.
    Like you I have several other topics I would like to write about. I feel I need to get the ancestors I planned on writing about this year done before I start something else. Taking a break from them might be a better solution. Enjoyed reading this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, WordPress needs to add more options like Facebook did—love, sad, mad, etc.

      I really needed a break from all the sadness of the Katzenstein research. That and the situation here in the US was just bringing me down. I have a couple of “lighter” posts for the next two weeks just so I can get my head above water again. Breaks are necessary!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I understand what you mean by needing to do a few lighter posts after the Katz family. I cannot imagine where the situation in the US is leading. Take care and know people outside the US are as worried about what is going on as you are.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Cathy. I think the whole world should be worried. As we have seen throughout history, what happens in one part of the world affects the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy- I really enjoyed this section about cousins and finding them! I really am thrilled to have found cousin Jim and what happened to all my Wiley/Cohen family. Thanks to you and your blog! I have done my DNA and found interesting facts and am diving into finding my cousins. I found a cousin of my Dad in pictures who I knew only by meeting him several times in later life. He looked exactly like my Dad in his 20’s/30’s-with the red/auburn hair-they could have been brothers/twins! I accidentally got a call from a cousin I was researching on the Seilheimer side and called him back.
    turns out he has a private number and someone got ahold of it and made a sales call using it illegally! I was happy to have made the call, as was he. We are cousins through our great grandparents, and he has the family red hair, as does his kids and family! He has not done any research nor has done his DNA. I told him when he is ready, I have documented back pretty far-back to the 1700’s, so we were happy to have met over the phone. Another cousin by chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pat, I am so glad you found Jim—I would love to reconnect with him, but haven’t heard back from my emails. I am glad he’s ok! And yes, there is just so much emotion and fun involved in connecting with new cousins! Good luck to you in your continuing search.


  3. Finding cousins has been one of the most rewarding aspects of researching my family. Even just meeting them virtually, it is so nice to have someone to talk with about the details of our family. I have two in the same city – one I met as a child and one I didn’t even know existed, although I had heard the names of her parents. I’m excited to meet both IRL soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your blog hit home today for me. I just spent a few days meeting “new” cousins in Pennsylvania and had a very good time. Meeting cousins has been one of the best results from doing family research.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a lovely post, Amy, and yes, the content happy and a nice change from what is going on elsewhere. I am wondering about a reputable method/organization for DNA testing. I have decided to take the plunge because since this spring, I’ve met two cousins and hope to meet more. Your thoughts on which one would be much appreciated. I love the photos of you and your cousins. I can see the contentment and joy on your faces. Simply wonderful. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Karen. As for DNA companies, I cannot speak to AncestryDNA since I haven’t used that company. As between 23andme and FTDNA, I would recommend FTDNA. I tested first with 23andme, and it has been pretty useless and hard to manipulate. I uploaded my data to GEDmatch, which has been very helpful. My brother, mother, and cousins all tested on FTDNA, and it is a much easier site to master and understand. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Amy. After I asked you, I saw an article I think on NPR that caught my eye. It was something about what white supremacists say when they learn they are not 100% white. That alone is fascinating material, but I was curious about the companies who do the testing. While they offer information, it also said the results may be skewed. For an accurate explanation it would be better to find that article, but it got me to thinking. Thank you for the input.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t put weight into the ethnicity breakdowns (although mine says I am 97% Ashkenazi Jew). I only use the results to find possible matches.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this Amy! What fun connections. I love it when a distant cousin finds me because of my blog. The pieces of information they bring to the discussion are so helpful. The clue in the baby book is awesome. I regularly wonder how many clues I have sitting somewhere in my home that I haven’t yet noticed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an amazing story! I am so proud to be a little part of your wonderful research. You are giving an impressive example how close past and present are connected and what we all can learn from history. Thank you so much! Please continue and all the best for your whole family!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just came across the Stone-Baer history and I lived across Samuel Stone Jr. on Lincoln Ave and also knew John Baer’s daughters.
    My mother knew Stephanie Baker and played bridge with her.
    It was very informative and I am working on a story about my grandparents building a home on Lincoln Ave in 1935 while establishing a business as well at that time period.
    You are very talented
    Craig C.Petrie

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi: I have been in touch with John [Jack]Baer’s youngest daughter who is my age within the past year. I have more to share about Sam Stone Jr. as he was married a third time to a woman named Camilla around 1965 or so.She came from the South.They were in the middle of a divorce when he died in 1980. Yes ,I would be interested as I remember Mike Baker’s name and mother. I was always interested in anyone’s family history in Attleboro when I was growing up until I went to Vermont for my second semester sophomore years to boarding school. Thank you for responding quickly. CCP

        On Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 8:53 AM Brotmanblog: A Family Journey wrote:

        > Amy commented: “Wow! I am in touch with some of the descendants. Let me > know if you’d like to be connected to them. Thank you!” >

        Liked by 1 person

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