I am back! It was great to spend days with my family and then to start the research on my next project, and now I am ready to dive into that project.
It’s been wonderful to focus on my mother’s side of the family tree these last few months and to discover so many wonderful new Goldfarb and Hecht cousins. There are far fewer long limbs on my mother’s side of the tree because despite years of trying, I cannot get beyond the names of her great- grandparents on either her maternal or paternal side. The records just don’t exist, and those still living have no more information than what I’ve already found. So while I can get as far back as a sixth great-grandparent on some of my father’s lines, my mother’s tree ends with her great-grandparents, about whom I know nothing other than their names.
And so now I return to my father’s side of the tree once again, and I am climbing on one of those longer limbs—the Blumenfelds. Breine Blumenfeld was my three-times great-grandmother. She was born in Momberg in about 1783 and married Scholem Katzenstein of Jesberg in 1808. Their son Gerson was my great-great-grandfather, and he and his wife Eva Goldschmidt immigrated to the US in 1856 and settled in Pennsylvania where my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein was born. Hilda married Isidor Schoenthal, and their daughter Eva was my paternal grandmother. I’ve already written extensively about Breine Blumenfeld’s descendants and relatives by writing about Scholem Katzenstein’s family and Eva Goldschmidt’s family and Isidor Schoenthal’s family, and so now it is time to return to Breine’s family of origin—her parents and her siblings.
Unfortunately, I have no primary sources for Breine’s parents. Instead I’ve had to rely on secondary sources—primarily the work of Alfred Schneider, “Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain.” In addition, I’ve relied on pages written by Rev. Wilhelm Bach sometime in the 19th century and shared with me by Barbara Greve. There is also information on the Lagis-Hessen site for Jewish gravestones. I also looked at numerous trees on Ancestry, but they also do not have sources for my early Blumenfeld ancestors, and thus I have no idea how reliable they are.
With those disclaimers up front, let me share what these sources reveal about Breine Blumenfeld’s family. Her father was Abraham Katz, born in about 1750 and only 57 when he died in Neustadt bei Marburg, Germany, on December 21, 1807. Breine’s mother was Geidel (or Judith according to Rev. Bach), daughter of Gerson Moses and Fradchen Haas, according to some trees on Ancestry. 1 Geidel2 was about eighty years old when she died in Momberg on July 19, 1834, so born in about 1754. Abraham and Geidel were my four-times great-grandparents, and Geidel’s parents Gerson Moses and Fradchen Haas were my five-times great-grandparents.
I was able to locate Geidel’s gravestone online and learned from that site that it was not until after Abraham died in 1807 that she and her children adopted the surname Blumenfeld as required by the government. (Jews generally did not have surnames before the early 1800s—they used patronymics. Then European countries began requiring Jews to take surnames so they could identify them for tax and other purposes.)
The inscription is translated as “Here rests Geidel, wife of venerable Abraham ha-Kohen. she died on Sunday the 13th of Tamus, and was buried on Monday of the year  594 AD (= July 20, 1834). Her soul is part of the bond of life.”
My four-times great-grandparents Abraham and Geidel Blumenfeld had six children, all born in Momberg, Germany: Moses (c. 1778), Sprinz (c. 1783), Hanna (c. 1788), Breine (c. 1784), Maier (c. 1795), and Jakob (c. 1800).2 Given the gaps between many of these births, I wonder whether there were other children born who did not survive and for whom there are no records; alternatively, perhaps Geidel suffered multiple miscarriages. These six children are the only ones for whom I can find any sources, primary or otherwise.
UPDATE: Thank you so much to Jason Hallgarten of the JEKKES group on Facebook for finding Hanna Blumenfeld, a child I had missed in my search.
As noted, Breine’s story has already been told, and thus the posts to follow will focus on her four siblings and their descendants, starting with Moses Blumenfeld, my four-times great-uncle.
- There is no actual record of Abraham’s birth, marriage, or death. This information comes from Schneider, p. 129, and from the entry on the Lagis-Hessen gravestone site for Abraham’s wife Geidel. It also appears in numerous Ancestry trees as does the information about Geidel’s parents. The Strauss Family Tree at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/113124712/person/240106312930/facts seems to be the tree upon which all the other trees relied to come up with these names and dates. ↩
- Citations and images to follow for birth dates. ↩ ↩