Another Cousin Discovered: The Granddaughter of Etta Wolfe Wise, My Third Cousin Sally

For me, genetic genealogy has been disappointing as a tool for finding new ancestors and breaking down brickwalls, but it has occasionally been useful for confirming what I already knew through traditional research. For example, in March I contacted a DNA match named Sally who came up as a fourth cousin on Ancestry, and after contacting her and checking my tree and hers, we realized that we were both the great-great-granddaughters of Levi Schoenthal and Henrietta Hamberg.  That is, Sally is in fact my third cousin, even closer than the DNA estimate on Ancestry.

Sally is descended from Levi and Henrietta’s daughter Amalie Schoenthal, and I am descended through their son Isidore Schoenthal. Sally and I exchanged family stories and information and photographs, and she generously agreed to let me share those stories and photographs on the blog. As you will see, there are some apparent family resemblances traceable to our shared Schoenthal ancestry.

As I’ve already written about on the blog, Sally’s great-grandmother (and my great-great-aunt) Amalie Schoenthal married Elias Wolfe. Their daughter Etta Wolfe was Sally’s grandmother. Etta was my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen’s first cousin.

Sally has no photographs of her great-grandparents, but shared with me photographs of her grandmother Etta, all taken when she was a grandmother.  I will start with this one as it is the clearest photograph of her and shows much of her personality, as described to me by Sally. Sally knew Etta well because she died when Sally was eight years old. She remembers her grandmother lovingly and described her as easy-going and soft spoken and as someone who always enjoyed family trips and outings. Sally remembers that when she was just four or five, her grandmother would share shrimp cocktails with her. Can’t you see that sweetness in her face in this photo?

Etta Wolfe Wise, Courtesy of her Granddaughter Sally

Etta Wolfe married Maximilian Wise in 1910 in Pittsburgh, as noted here on the blog. Etta and Max had six children, a daughter Florence and then five boys, Irving, Richard, Max Jr., Robert, and Warren. Sally’s father Robert was their fifth child and fourth son. Here are two pictures of Max and Etta’s children.

Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Irving, Richard, Max, Jr. Robert, and Warren Wise.  Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Sally told me that Etta and Max converted from Judaism to Christian Science because they believed that their daughter Florence’s clubfoot was cured by Christian Science. Unfortunately, according to Sally, several other members of the family were not so fortunate with their faith in Christian Science and died fairly young after refusing traditional medical care.

Sally’s father Robert Wise enlisted in the Army on April 19, 1943, and served until February 20, 1946.1 Sally told me that her father was an Army Staff Sergeant Engineer, Aviation Battalion, and was stationed most of his time in the service during World War II in the South Pacific, building an airport and serving in combat.  After the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945, Bob drove two generals in his Jeep to see the devastation there and photographed what he saw. He also was at the airport when the Japanese planes landed for the signing of the peace treaty; he climbed over a wall and took pictures of the two planes. Unfortunately, Sally does not have access to those historically important photographs.

Bob Wise’s army experience was part of an exhibit about local veterans who served in World War II that was curated by the Middletown (Ohio) Historical Society and shown at the Fine Arts Center in Middletown in 2015.  These photographs of Robert were part of that exhibit, as was the one above of the six children of Max and Etta:

Robert Wise as a young boy in Middetown. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Sally also shared these additional photographs of her father taken during his service in World War II:

Robert Wise. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Robert Wise. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

After the war, Robert married Mildred Myers on January 10, 1948, in Ohio. Sally sent me this photograph from their wedding:

Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

The next few photographs made me sit back with amazement at some of the family resemblances. Here are photographs of my father, his mother Eva Schoenthal Cohen, and his grandfather Isidore Schoenthal and then some of the photographs of Bob Wise and Sally.

Isidore Schoenthal

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Sr. 1923

John Cohen, Jr.

Bob Wise and Sally. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

The family of Bob Wise. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Mildred and Bob WIse, 1982. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers

Look at the eyes. Do you see the resemblances that Sally and I see? Or are we just seeing what we want to see?

Finally, two photographs of Etta Wolfe and Max Wise’s descendants—their children and their grandchildren. What a legacy!

The grandchildren and children of Etta Wolfe Wise. Front Row includes Florence Wise Keuthan. The second row, lefet to right, is Bob Wise, Mary Stephenson Wise (Max, Jr’s wife), and Millie Lunford Wise (Richard’s wife). Last row, left to right, is Mildren Myers Wise (Bob’s wife) , Max Wise Jr.,e Fred Keuthan (husband of Florence Wise, Richard Wise and Irving Wise. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers (The grandchildren are not named for privacy reasons).

Etta Wolfe Wise and all of her grandchildren. Courtesy of Sally Wise Myers.

Thank you, Sally, for sharing the stories and photographs with me. I am so glad we found each other.


  1. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946; SSN: 277015114, Branch 1: AAC, Enlistment Date 1: 26 Apr 1943, Release Date 1: 20 Feb 1946, U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 

34 thoughts on “Another Cousin Discovered: The Granddaughter of Etta Wolfe Wise, My Third Cousin Sally

  1. I like that on ancestry, you can see the profile photo of your DNA match right next to your own profile picture at one stage. Many times, I’ve thought that 3rd, 4th, even 6th cousins look like they could be my sister or brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When looking for similarities we are often fooled by our desire to see a connection between family members. When a child is born, people begin seeing most notably similarities between the new-born and the parents. It is mostly wishful thinking that causes this phenomenon. As to adult facial expressions, there are often unique features, such as in your story the eyes, which go beyond wishful thinking. Great post with so many lovely photos, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My father-in-law took photos of some not very pleasant stuff in WWII and the story is that Life Magazine at one time offered him $10,000 for the photos. Of course, the brother who has them now has zero interest in sharing with anyone and the last I knew, the photo album was stashed in his garage. Someday I’m sure someone will find the photos and toss them in a dumpster. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  5. Wow! What a wonderful DNA connection! I loved the story and the photos. The Nagasaki visit is incredible. The Christian Science conversion was a surprise. I totally see the resemblance around the eyes!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • This was a particularly lovely one, especially considering that you haven’t had a lot of luck with DNA matching. My husband has had nada (except people he already knows) from DNA matching. Nothing ever seems to fit his family, especially his father’s family.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Sally was already on my tree—I just didn’t know from the DNA match since she had a pseudonym. So it wasn’t an ACTUAL DNA find. But DNA led me to contact her, so I will consider that a partial gain from DNA.

        Liked by 1 person

      • But still. So nice. We found a woman whose ancestors come from the same shetl in Belarus as the gardener’s great-grandfather with the same unique surname and NO DNA MATCH. So frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The closest I have come to an actual new discovery through DNA is a close match to a woman named Phyllis. We share an ancestral suranme (Brod) and ancestral towns very close to each other in Poland. But we can’t prove the actual connection because there are no records from those towns of that surname.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it is so difficult for all those reasons. But . . . I did just find a possible branch of the Shulmans in Canada through DNA matching. I hope they respond and are helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: A Schoenthal Update: More Photos from My Cousin Sally | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  7. I am the granddaughter of Florence Wise. Sadly I never got meet her as she passed when she was young. My mother also passed away several years ago. I have not seen most of these photos. I am so grateful to have stumbled upon your post. Thank you for sharing these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jeanne! That makes you Sally’s first cousin, once removed. Do you know each other? I will email you so we can connect. Thanks for reaching out!


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