My Great-Grandmother Hilda

I have now written about all of the siblings of my great-grandmother, Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, as well as about her parents and some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I still have more of the Katzenstein extended family to discuss, but first I want to look back at the life of my great-grandmother.  Her story has been covered only in bits and pieces through the stories of her husband and children and through the stories of her parents and siblings.  Isn’t that all too often the case with women—that their stories are seen only through the stories of those who surrounded them? Especially since this is Women’s History Month, I wanted to be sure to give my great-grandmother her own page, her own story.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, my great-grandmother

Hilda was the third daughter and sixth and youngest child of her parents, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt.  She was the third of the six to be born in the United States—in Philadelphia on August 17, 1863.

When Hilda was three years old, her sibling closest in age, Hannah, died at age seven from scarlet fever. Hilda was seven years younger than her brother Perry, who was the second closest to her in age, and so there was a big gap between Hilda and her surviving older siblings. Joe was fifteen years older, Jacob thirteen years older, and Brendena was ten years older than Hilda. My great-grandmother was the baby of the family, and I would imagine that after losing their daughter Hannah, her parents must have been very protective of her.

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-1

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1870 census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 Dist 48 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1429; Page: 708B; Image: 96949; Family History Library Film: 552928

Her sister Brendena married Jacob Schlesinger in 1871 when Hilda was just eight years old. By the time Hilda was ten years old in 1873, her oldest brother Joe had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and within a few years after that her other two brothers, Jacob and Perry, had also moved to western Pennsylvania.  Thus, Hilda was still quite young when her older siblings left home, leaving her to live with just her parents.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Katzenstein family Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

But her brother Joe’s move to Washington, Pennsylvania proved fateful for Hilda and for my family as it was there that she met her future husband, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, who had only arrived in the US a few years earlier from Sielen, Germany.

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

Hilda married him in 1888 when she was 25 years old and settled with him in Little Washington where he was a china dealer.  Their first son, Lester, was born that same year.

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

Then a series of tragic events hit the Katzenstein family. In the spring 1889, Hilda’s brother Jacob lost his wife Ella and both of his sons, one before the Johnstown flood and two as a result of the flood. The following year, my great-grandfather Gerson died at age 75.  Hilda named her second child for her father; Gerson Katzenstein Schoenthal was born on January 20, 1892. A year later Hilda lost her mother, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, on September 6, 1893; she was 66.

Hilda did not have another child until August, 1901, when my great-uncle Harold was born—more than nine years after Gerson.  Just a few months after Harold’s birth, Hilda’s brother Joe died in December, 1901; just over a year and a half later, her brother Perry died in August, 1903.  Hilda was forty years old and had lost her parents and three of her five siblings.  Only Jacob and Brendena remained.

In March, 1904, my great-grandmother Hilda gave birth to her last child and only daughter, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal, named for Hilda’s mother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

eva-schoenthal-cohen-watermarked

My grandmother, Eva Schoenthal

When my grandmother was just a small child, her parents decided to leave Washington, Pennsylvania, and move to Denver, Colorado, believing that the mountain air would be better for their son Gerson, who had developed asthma.

Thus, Hilda packed up her children and belongings and moved far away from her two remaining siblings: Brendena, who was living with her husband Jacob and family in Philadelphia, and Jacob, who by that time had remarried and was living with his second wife Bertha and their children in Johnstown.  I don’t believe Hilda or Isidore knew anyone in Denver, but somehow they started their lives over in this city far from their families back east.

They remained in Denver for at least twenty years, raising my grandmother and my great-uncles. During the many years that Hilda lived in Denver, her brother Jacob died, and her sister Brendena lost her husband as well as both of her daughters.  It must have been hard to live so far away from all of her family during those painful times.

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal in Denver

After many years in Denver, Hilda and Isidore moved back east. Their son Harold had gone back east for college, and my grandmother had moved to Philadelphia after she married my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, in 1923.  She had met him when, after graduating from high school, she’d gone to visit relatives in Philadelphia, probably Brendena’s family.

My father and aunt were born in the 1920s, and they were my great-grandparents’ only grandchildren at that time.  I assume that they were part of the reason that by 1930, my great-grandparents returned to the east and settled in Montclair, New Jersey, where their son Harold lived and not far from my grandmother and my aunt and father.

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva HIlda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda and Isidore lived in Montclair until 1941 when they moved to Philadelphia so that my grandmother could take care of them, both being elderly and in poor health by that time. Hilda died from pneumonia  on August 17, 1941, just seven months after the move to Philadelphia; she died on her 78th birthday. Her husband Isidore died eleven months later on July 10, 1942.  They were buried at Restland Memorial Park in East Hanover, New Jersey.

Looking back over my great-grandmother’s life, I have several thoughts.  Although she was the baby of the family, she was also the only one who ventured far from where her family lived.  Her brothers left Philadelphia, but never left Pennsylvania; her sister lived in Philadelphia for her entire life after arriving as a child from Germany. Hilda moved across the state to marry Isidore Schoenthal, and Hilda was the only Katzenstein sibling to leave the east, moving with her husband and four children all the way to Colorado.

Her life was also marked by many losses, some quite tragic: a sister died as a young child, her parents died before Hilda was thirty years old, and two of her brothers died before Hilda was forty.  Several nieces and nephews also died prematurely.  Her brother Jacob also predeceased her; she was 52 when he died. So many losses must have had an effect on her perspective on life.

On the other hand, she had a long marriage and four children who grew to adulthood.  She lived to see two of her grandchildren, my father and aunt, grow to be teenagers. My father remembers her as a loving, affectionate, and sweet woman; she loved to cook, and when for a period of time he lived near her in Montclair, she would make lunch for him on school days.

Hilda saw more of America than her parents and siblings, and she lived longer than any of them except for her sister Brendena, who survived her. She endured many losses in her life, but the love she received from her family must have outweighed all that sadness, for my father recalls her as a very loving and positive woman.

Jacob Katzenstein’s Second Family: Conclusion

As I wrote in my last post, as of 1940 my great-great uncle Jacob Katzenstein’s second family was still centered in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Although his daughter Helen was living in New Rochelle, New York with her husband John A. Rodgers, a career Army officer, and their three children, and his son Maurice and his wife Grace were living in Michigan, Jacob’s widow Bertha and their other four children (who were all in or close to their forties by then)—Gerald, Eva, Leo, and Perry—were all still in Johnstown. Gerald, Eva, and Leo were unmarried and living with their mother Bertha.  Perry was married and had two children; he and his wife lost their almost-four month old daughter Judith in March 1940.

Then on November 10, 1940, Helen Katzenstein Rodgers died; she was only 48 years old and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery where her husband John would later be buried.  I could not find an obituary or a death record for Helen.  She was survived by her husband and three daughters as well as her mother and five siblings.

Ancestry.com. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962. Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

Ancestry.com. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962. Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

The only Katzenstein brother for whom I found a World War II draft registration was Gerald because the online databases only include the cards for the so-called Old Man’s Draft, i.e., for those born between April 28, 1877 and February 16, 1897. Leo, Maurice, and Perry were all born after February 16, 1897, and so are not in the database.  Gerald’s card shows that he was working at Lee’s Clothing and that he was living at 221 Haynes Street where his mother, his emergency contact, also resided.  Also, the draft card states that Gerald was missing the first joint on the index finger of his right hand.

Gerald Katzenstein World War 2 draft registration The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Pennsylvania, 04/27/1942 - 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 563728; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Gerald Katzenstein World War 2 draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Pennsylvania, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 563728; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

On February 12, 1943, Bertha Miller Katzenstein died from a coronary occlusion and generalized arteriosclerosis; she was 75 years old. She was survived by her remaining five children and was buried with her husband Jacob at Grandview cemetery in Johnstown. She had outlived him by 27 years.

Bertha Miller Katzenstein death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 010551-013400

Bertha Miller Katzenstein death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 010551-013400

Headstone for Bertha Miller Katzenstein "courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867)

Headstone for Bertha Miller Katzenstein
courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867)

Sometime after 1942 when he registered as single for the draft, Gerald Katzenstein married Florence Mae Lint. Gerald would have been in his early fifties; Florence, who was born in 1902, would have been in her forties. Florence was, like Gerald, a native of Johnstown, the daughter of Joseph Lint, who worked as a brakeman in a steel mill, and Eva Ann Thomas, another Johnstown native. Eva Ann Thomas Lint died in 1938, and in 1940 Florence and her father were living with Florence’s sister Gussie Henton and her husband.  Florence was a milliner working in a retail hat store called Keyser-Lint Hats, a business in which she presumably had a partial ownership.

Florence Lint on 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3455; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 11-97

Florence Lint on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3455; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 11-97

Gerald and Florence must have married by 1945 because Florence is listed in the Johnstown directory of that year as the wife of Gerald Katzenstein; she was still working at Keyser-Lint Hats.  Her father died March 21, 1945, and Gerald’s mother had died two years before.  Had Florence and Gerald waited until their parents were gone to marry? Gerald was now working as a division manager for Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Katzensteins in the 1945 Johnstown directory Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1945 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Katzensteins in the 1945 Johnstown directory
Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1945
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Leo Katzenstein was living with Gerald and Florence at 303 Franklin Ave in 1945, and he was working as the manager of P & Q Clothes. Eva Katzenstein continued to work as a bank teller and also continued to live at 221 Haynes Street where her mother and brothers had once lived.  The youngest sibling Perry continued to do advertising sales for the Johnstown Tribune and lived with his wife and family on Vickroy Avenue.  Two years later in 1947, the only change in the listings for any of the Katzenstein siblings was that Leo was now living with Eva at 221 Haynes instead of with Gerald and Florence.

Maurice, the only surviving sibling not living in Johnstown, worked as an electrician for Nash Kelvinator at their defense plant in Lansing, Michigan from 1942 until 1945, and then in 1946 he became a design engineer for the State Highway Department in Lansing, where he lived with his wife Grace.  “Highway Design Engineer Retires After 20 Years,” Lansing State Journal (March 3, 1966, p. 11).

Two years later, Grace died on Christmas Day, 1948; she was 49 years old. She was buried in Mount Hope cemetery in Lansing, Michigan. She had been married to Maurice for only ten years when she died.

Headstone for Gladys Weixenbaum Katzenstein https://billiongraves.com/grave/person/11198057#/

Headstone for Gladys Weixenbaum Katzenstein
https://billiongraves.com/grave/person/11198057#/

Seven months later, Maurice remarried.  On July 20, 1949, he married Sara Bailey in Angola, Indiana.  Maurice must have gone home to Johnstown to court Sara because she was born in Johnstown and was living there when they married.  She was a school teacher, like Grace had been, and she was the daughter of William Bailey, a plumber, and Harriet Carthew, both of whom were also Johnstown natives.

Indiana marriage record of Maurice Katzenstein and Sara Bailey Ancestry.com. Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013

Indiana marriage record of Maurice Katzenstein and Sara Bailey
Ancestry.com. Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013

The Johnstown directory for 1949 shows little change for the Katzenstein siblings living there.  Lee was now working for Glosser Brothers, another clothing store, and living with Eva at 221 Haynes; Eva was still a bank teller.  Gerald had no occupation listed, but his wife Florence was still listed as working at Keyser-Lint Hats; they were still living at 303 Franklin.  Perry was still an advertising solicitor for the Johnstown Tribune, living with his family on Vickroy Avenue.

Katzensteins in 1949 Johnstown directory Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1949 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

Katzensteins in 1949 Johnstown directory
Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1949
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

The 1950s brought two major developments. Sometime after 1953 and before 1957, Leo Katzenstein moved from Johnstown to Miami, Florida, and married for the first time; he was in his mid-fifties.  He married Mary Driscoll, who, although born in Kentucky, had spent most of her childhood in Johnstown.  She had been previously married to Henry Rossman Smith, a Johnstown native, who had died in 1951. She had three grown children from her first marriage. I inferred the date range of her marriage to Lee based on the fact that he is last listed in Johnstown in 1953 without a wife’s name and first appears in Miami with Mary as his wife in 1957.  In 1957, Lee (as he is listed there) was working as a branch manager for Wells, which I assume, given his past experience, was a clothing store.

Mary Driscoll and family in Johnstown on the 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 7, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1323; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0126; FHL microfilm: 1375336

Mary Driscoll and family in Johnstown on the 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 7, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1323; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0126; FHL microfilm: 1375336

Thus, as of the mid-1950s, only three of the Katzenstein siblings remained in Johnstown: Eva, who continued to work at the bank; Gerald, who is once again listed as a division manager for Sears; and Perry, who still worked for the Johnstown Tribune.

Gerald Katzenstein died on November 9, 1957; he was 64 and had suffered from coronary artery disease for a year before his death from a heart attack.  He was buried at Richland cemetery in Geisland, a town near Johnstown; he was survived by his wife Florence, who was buried beside him when she died in 1991. Gerald and Florence had no descendants.

Gerald Katzenstein death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 099301-102000

Gerald Katzenstein death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 099301-102000

Headstone for Gerald and Florence (Lint) Katzenstein FindAGrave memorial by JM https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=169359892&PIpi=145414417

Headstone for Gerald and Florence (Lint) Katzenstein
FindAGrave memorial by JM
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=169359892&PIpi=145414417

As the 1960s began, the status of remaining two Johnstown Katzenstein siblings was much the same as it had been: Eva was still a bank teller and Perry was still an advertising solicitor for the Johnstown Tribune.  One of his sons was also working in advertising in Johnstown.  Lee Katzenstein and his wife Mary were still living in Miami, where Lee was now a salesman at the Golden Gate Men’s Shop.

Maurice Katzenstein retired from the Michigan State Highway Department in March, 1966, as reported in this article from the Lansing State Journal of March 3, 1966 (p. 11):

Lansing State Journal, March 3, 1966, p. 11

Lansing State Journal, March 3, 1966, p. 11

Perry Katzenstein, the youngest sibling and the first to marry, was the third sibling to die; he died on February 28, 1972.  He was 67 years old and was survived by his wife Helene and their four children. He was buried at Grandview cemetery in Johnstown, where his infant daughter Judith had been buried 32 years before and where his wife Helene would also be buried in 1986, when she died.

That left only Eva, Leo/Lee, and Maurice, all of whom lived into their eighties. Lee died on November 15, 1979, in Miami; he was eighty, and his wife Mary had died the year before. I don’t know where they are buried.

Eva died at age 92 on April 22, 1987, in Johnstown, and is buried with her other family members in Grandview cemetery.  She had never married, but family lore is that she was in a long term relationship with a local man, according to research done by David Baron.

Eva Katzenstein headstone "courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867)

Eva Katzenstein headstone
“courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867)

Maurice died on May 20, 1990, when he was 89.  He was buried in Miami; his second wife Sara died in 2003.

When I look back on the lives of Jacob Katzenstein’s second family, I am struck by a number of things. One, it is striking how many of his children not only lived in Johnstown for most of their lives, but married people from Johnstown; Helen, Gerald, Lee, Maurice (his second wife) and Perry all married people from Johnstown.  It also appears that not one of the siblings married someone Jewish, except for Maurice’s first wife Grace.

Second, out of six children, only two have descendants. Gerald, Lee, and Maurice married relatively late in life and did not have children; Eva never married. Thus, of the six siblings, only Helen and Perry had children and thus any living descendants.

Finally, all the siblings except Maurice had remarkably consistent jobs throughout their adult lives.  Eva started her career as a bank teller and stayed in that job for over forty years.  Gerald and Lee worked in the clothing business all their lives, following in the footsteps of their father Jacob. Perry started and ended his career selling advertising for the local newspaper. Only Maurice moved around a lot—not only from place to place, but also from job to job.  But he outlived all his siblings, so perhaps that was a healthy thing.

Overall, there is a consistency to the lives of most of the children of Jacob and Bertha (Miller) Katzenstein—in their careers, their personal lives, and their choice of staying in Johnstown for at least a substantial part of their lives.

 

 

Jacob Katzenstein’s Second Family

When Jacob Katzenstein died in 1916, he left behind his second wife, Bertha Miller, and their six children: Helen, who was then 24, Gerald (23), Eva (22), Leopold (18), Maurice (16), and Perry (12). His wife Bertha was 49 years old.  As I learned from Leonard Winograd’s book, The Horse Died at Windber: A History of Johnstown’s Jews of Pennsylvania (Wyndham Hall Press, 1988), Bertha’s brother Maurice Miller had been in business with Jacob as owners of a clothing store. That business continued to support the family, as we will see.

In 1917, the oldest child, Helen Katzenstein, married another Johnstown native, John Augustus Rodgers.  John had been the captain of the football team at Greater Johnstown High School in 1909 and went on to Penn State for college, according to the 1909 Greater Johnstown High School yearbook, The Spectator, found on Ancestry.com.

In June 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft, John was a physical training teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was still single at that time, so Helen and he must have married sometime after June.

John Rodgers World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893244; Draft Board: 1 Description Draft Card : R Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

John Rodgers World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893244; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : R
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

He started his service in the US Army in August, 1917, in the Officer Reserve Corps, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in November, 1917.  He was stationed stateside during World War I, serving at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia first, then at the Springfield (MA!) Armory, and then in Camp Meade, Maryland.  He was promoted to first lieutenant in September, 1919.

John Rodgers application for Veterans Compensation Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

John Rodgers application for Veterans Compensation
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, Helen’s younger brothers were also dealing with the impact of World War I. Gerald, the oldest son, was working as a clerk at M.Miller & Son, the store owned by his uncle Maurice Miller and, until his death, his father Jacob Katzenstein.  Gerald claimed an exemption from service because he was supporting his dependent widowed mother, as seen on his draft card.

Gerald Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1 Description Draft Card : K Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Gerald Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Leopold or Leo Katzenstein, as he was then known, was in high school in 1917; he was a senior at Greater Johnstown High School and vice-president of his class.

Leo Katzenstein, 1917 Greater Johnstown High School yearbook Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

Leo Katzenstein, 1917 Greater Johnstown High School yearbook
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

When he registered for the draft in September, 1918, he was a student at Lehigh University, studying to be a metallurgy engineer.  He joined the service on October 2, 1918. He served in the Student Army Training Center at Lehigh until December 11, 1918.  He never served overseas during the war.

Leo Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1 Description Draft Card : K Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].

Leo Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].

Maurice, the third son, was still in high school when he registered for the draft in September, 1918. From his 1919 high school yearbook entry, it seems he was interested in music as he sang in an operetta, was in the spring concert, and was a member of the Lost Chord Club.  As far as I can tell, he never served in the military.

Maurice Katzenstein, 1919 Greater Johnstown High School Yearbook http://usgwarchives.net/pa/cambria/images/spectator-19/p031.jpg

Maurice Katzenstein, 1919 Greater Johnstown High School Yearbook
http://usgwarchives.net/pa/cambria/images/spectator-19/p031.jpg

Maurice Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1 Description Draft Card : K Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

Maurice Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Cambria; Roll: 1893243; Draft Board: 1
Description
Draft Card : K
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]

Helen (Katzenstein) and John Rodgers had a baby in November, 1919, but Helen and the baby were not living with John in 1920 when the 1920 census was taken.  At that time he was stationed in Koblenz, Germany, and Helen and her child were living in Johnstown with Helen’s mother and her five younger brothers.

John Rodgers 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Coblenz, Germany, Military and Naval Forces; Roll: T625_2040; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: Infantry Barracks; Image: 304

John Rodgers 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Coblenz, Germany, Military and Naval Forces; Roll: T625_2040; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: Infantry Barracks; Image: 304

Bertha Miller Katzenstein and children 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 6, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1546; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 176; Image: 851

Bertha Miller Katzenstein and children 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 6, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1546; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 176; Image: 851

As the census report indicates, in 1920 Gerald Katzenstein, the oldest son, was working as a clerk in a clothing store, presumably the store once owned by his father and uncle, M. Miller & Company.  Eva was working as a bookkeeper in a bank.  The other family members, including Helen, were not employed outside the home.

But by 1922, Bertha had taken on an official role in the family business.  She is listed in the Johnstown city directory for that year as the Vice-President and Treasurer of M. Miller & Co; Gerald and Leo were employed as salesman in the store.  Eva was working as a teller in the bank, and Maurice and Perry were in school. (I assume Maurice was in college, but I don’t know where.) They were all living together at 838 Franklin Avenue in Johnstown.

Katzensteins in 1922 Johnstown directory Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1922 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Katzensteins in 1922 Johnstown directory
Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1922
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Helen and her husband John were listed in the same directory as residing at 227 Locust Street, but John was still in the US Army, and according to his obituary, he served in Germany from 1919 until 1923. “Col. Rodgers, 82, Army Veteran of 2 World Wars,” Washington DC Evening Star (August 25, 1972, p. 26).

Perry, the youngest sibling, graduated from Greater Johnstown High School in 1922.  He was on both the varsity football and basketball teams. I wonder how accurately the quote reflects his personality—“Happy I am, from care I am free.”  According to the yearbook, he was known as Puz, was always in a hurry, and had a weakness for “the ladies.”

Perry Katzenstein, 1922 Greater Johnstown High School yearbook Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

Perry Katzenstein, 1922 Greater Johnstown High School yearbook
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

As listed in the 1925 Johnstown directory, the whole Katzenstein family other than Helen were all still residing together at 838 Franklin Avenue, and they had the same occupations as in 1922, except that Maurice was now working as a window trimmer for a store called Nathan’s.  I assume this means he did the window displays for the storefront.  The 1929 directory also shows no changes, except that Maurice is missing and Perry is now employed as an advertising solicitor for the Johnstown Democrat, a newspaper.

Katzensteins, 1929 Johnstown directory Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1929 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]

Katzensteins, 1929 Johnstown directory
Title : Johnstown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1929
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]

Helen and John Rodgers were no longer listed in the Johnstown directory in 1925. John had made the Army his career, and in 1930, he was stationed in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and living with Helen and their three children. According to his obituary, John directed the Reserve Officers Training Corps at City College in New York City during the early 1930s.  “Col. Rodgers, 82, Army Veteran of 2 World Wars,” Washington DC Evening Star (August 25, 1972, p. 26)

As for Helen’s siblings and mother, they were all still living together in Johnstown in 1930. Gerald and Leo were salesmen in a clothing store, Eva was a bank teller, Maurice was now working as a salesman for the newspaper, and Perry had no occupation listed. I wonder whether the last two entries are accurate, as Perry was the one working for a paper in 1929 and Maurice had no listing; I think the enumerator must have switched the occupation entries for the two brothers.

Bertha Katzenstein and family 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2012; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0056; Image: 201.0; FHL microfilm: 2341746

Bertha Katzenstein and family 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2012; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0056; Image: 201.0; FHL microfilm: 2341746

That is even clearer when the 1931 city directory is examined: Maurice was working as a collector for a clothing store (Eagle Clothing), and Perry was still an advertising solicitor for the Johnstown Democrat. Gerald and Leo were still clothing salesman, and Eva was still a bank teller.

Interestingly, the first of the Katzenstein brothers to marry was Perry, the youngest.  On July 30, 1930, he was engaged to marry Helene Haws, also a Johnstown native.  Although I don’t have a date for their wedding, their first child was born in 1932.

engagement-of-perry-katzenstein

Other changes started to occur as well.  Maurice became the first of the brothers to leave Johnstown.  (Helen had obviously left some years before with her husband John.) In 1931, Maurice is listed in both the Johnstown directory, as noted above, and also in a directory for Springfield, Illinois, which listed him as an advertising manager for the Famous Department Store.  He is also listed in Springfield in 1934 and 1935.  Then in 1936, he is working as a window trimmer again, now in Lima, Ohio.

While working there, he met Gladys Weixelbaum, a Baltimore native who had lived most of her life in Ohio and who was working as a school teacher in Lima in 1930.  Maurice, the second youngest brother, became the second to marry when he married Gladys in Lima in 1938.  He was 38, and she was 39.

Engagement of Maurice Katzenstein and Grace Weixebaum Lima (Ohio) News, June 5, 1938, p. 20

Engagement of Maurice Katzenstein and Grace Weixelbaum
Lima (Ohio) News, June 5, 1938, p. 20

The remaining siblings continued to live in Johnstown.  In 1938, Gerald, Leo, and Eva were living with their mother Bertha at 221 Haynes Street.  Leo was the manager of a store called Lee’s, perhaps his own store, and Gerald was a salesman there; Eva continued to be a bank teller.  The 1940 census report reflects these same facts:

Bertha Katzenstein and family 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3454; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 11-65

Bertha Katzenstein and family 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3454; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 11-65

Perry was also still in Johnstown. Although I cannot find him on the 1940 census, in both 1938 and 1941 he and his family were living at 415 Vickroy Street, and he was working as a clerk and then a solicitor for the Johnstown Tribune.  By 1940, Perry and Helene had had three children, but tragically their daughter Judith died just before she was four months old from pneumococcal meningitis.  She died on March 1, 1940, which might explain why Perry and Helene are not on the 1940 census; perhaps they were out of town, perhaps the enumerator knew they were grieving and skipped their home.

Judith Katzenstein death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 025901-028900

Judith Katzenstein death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 025901-028900

Maurice and Grace were living in Marion, Indiana, in 1940; Grace’s mother was also living with them.  Maurice was working as a display manager for a department store.  A year later they had moved to Flint, Michigan, where Maurice was the advertising manager for a business called The Fair.

Maurice and Grace Katzenstein 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Marion, Grant, Indiana; Roll: T627_1047; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 27-9

Maurice and Grace Katzenstein 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Marion, Grant, Indiana; Roll: T627_1047; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 27-9

Helen and John Rodgers and their children were living in New Rochelle in 1940; John had no occupation listed on the census.  Perhaps by then he had retired from the army.  He would have been fifty years old in 1940.

John and Helen (Katzenstein) Rodgers on 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: New Rochelle, Westchester, New York; Roll: T627_2809; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 60-213B

John and Helen (Katzenstein) Rodgers on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New Rochelle, Westchester, New York; Roll: T627_2809; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 60-213B

Thus, as of 1940, four of Jacob and Bertha (Miller) Katzenstein’s children were still living in Johnstown; three were still unmarried and living with their mother, and two were following in their father and uncle’s footsteps in the clothing business.  Perry was still living in Johnstown, working in newspaper sales, and married with children.  The other two siblings had moved away from Johnstown: Helen had left years before with her husband and children and was living in New Rochelle, New York, and Maurice had moved to the Midwest where he had gone from Illinois to Ohio to Indiana to Michigan.  He and Grace did not have children.

The 1940s would present some changes and some losses.  More on that in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Katzenstein: Before, During, and After the Flood

My great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein was, like his sister Brendena, a man who faced a great deal of tragedy but managed to survive and, in his case, start all over with a new family.  In 1889, he lost first born child, Milton, at age two and a half, and then both his wife, Ella Bohm, and his other young son Edwin in the devastating Johnstown flood.  I’ve written about Jacob and these events in prior posts.

In one of those posts, I also described my search for more information about Ella Bohm and my hypothesis that she was the daughter of Marcus Bohm and Eva Goldsmith; I assumed Eva was her mother as Ella is listed on the 1880 census as the niece of Jacob Goldsmith, Eva’s brother.  Eva Goldsmith was also my distant cousin—her mother was Fradchen Schoenthal, my great-grandfather Isidore’s sister; her father was Simon Goldschmidt, my great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt’s uncle.  And if I am right that Ella Bohm was Eva Goldsmith’s daughter, then Ella married her cousin when she married Jacob Katzenstein, as he was Eva Goldschmidt’s son.

jacob-katzenstein-to-jacob-goldsmith

But I had no definitive proof that Eva Goldsmith was Ella’s mother.  I also had not been able to find out when Jacob Katzenstein married Ella or why their first-born son Milton died.  On my cousin Roger’s old genealogy website, he had included a quote about Jacob from a book called The Horse Died at Windber: A History of Johnstown’s Jews of Pennsylvania by Leonard Winograd (Wyndham Hall Press, 1988).  I decided to track down this book to see if it revealed any more information about Jacob Katzenstein and Ella Bohm and their lives.

I was able to borrow a copy of the book through the Interlibrary Loan system from my former employer, Western New England University, and have now read the book.  Unfortunately it did not answer my two principal questions.  I still don’t know for sure who was Ella Bohm’s mother, and I still don’t know what caused the death of little Milton. I did, however, learn more about Ella’s father Marcus Bohm, about Jacob Katzenstein and his second wife Bertha and their children, and about the Johnstown Jewish community at that time and its history.

According to Winograd, in the second half of the 19th century when many Jewish immigrants started arriving from Europe, many made a living as peddlers, as I’ve written about previously. Pittsburgh was a popular hub where these peddlers would obtain their wares and then travel by foot or horse and wagon or train to the various small towns in western Pennsylvania. Winograd states that by 1882 there were 250 to 300 peddlers operating this way out of Pittsburgh. (Winograd, p. 12)

Eventually these peddlers would find a particular town to settle in and would set up store as a merchant in the town. But Pittsburgh remained the center for Jewish life.  These merchants and peddlers would attend synagogue there, participate in Jewish communal life there, and be buried there. Often they would move on from one town to another or return to Pittsburgh itself. (Winograd, p. 12-13)

Johnstown was a bit too far to be part of this greater Pittsburgh community (65 miles away), and although peddlers and merchants did come through there and even settle temporarily there, it was a more isolated location than the towns that became satellites of Pittsburgh.  Thus, its social, economic, and religious life was independent of the Pittsburgh influence.

 

Winograd reported that Johnstown had a population growth spurt between 1850 and 1860, jumping from 1,260 to 4,185.  In 1856, there were nine churches in Johnstown, but no synagogue (although there was apparently an attempt to start one in 1854).  The Jewish families in the town had services in their homes; there was not a large enough population to support the establishment of a synagogue at that time. (Winograd, p. 26) In 1864, the Jewish merchants in town formed a merchants’ association regulating store hours. Most of these merchants came from the Hesse region of Germany, as did Jacob Katzenstein. (Winograd, p. 48)

Two of those early merchants in the 1860s were Sol and Emanuel Leopold. (Winograd, p.56)  It was their sister Minnie Leopold and her husband Solomon Reineman with whom Marcus Bohm was living in 1910; Solomon Reineman came to Johnstown in 1875. (Winograd, pp. 77-78) Sol and Emanuel Leopold’s other sister Eliza Leopold Miller was Bertha Miller’s mother—that is, Jacob Katzenstein’s mother-in-law when he married Bertha Miller. As Winograd points out in Appendix C to his book (pp. 281-283), many of the Jewish merchants in town were related either directly or through marriage.

According to Winograd, both Marcus Bohm and Jacob Katzenstein came to Johnstown in the 1880s. Here’s what he wrote about Marcus Bohm:

marcus-bohm-in-winograd-book

(Winograd, p. 78)

Winograd wrote that Jacob Katzenstein first came to Johnstown in 1882 as a clerk for another merchant. He married Ella Bohm on March 26, 1883, (Johnstown Daily Tribune, May 16, 1883, p. 4, col. 7).  Winograd even mentioned their wedding.  In discussing what he described as “the first public Jewish wedding” in Johnstown, which took place in 1886, Winograd says, “There had been an earlier Jewish wedding, that of Jacob Katzenstein to Ella Bohm on March 26, 1883, a private ceremony conducted by J.S. Strayer, Esquire.” (Winograd, pp. 93-94)  The implication appears to be that Jacob and Ella might have been the first Jewish couple married in Johnstown. Based on the date, I was able to locate a marriage notice from the May 16, 1883, edition of the Johnstown Daily Tribune (p. 4, col. 7).

According to Winograd, Jacob and Ella lived in rooms over the store of another Johnstown merchant, Sol Hess. Sol Hess was the brother-in-law of Emanuel Leopold, who had married Sol’s sister Hannah. In March 1884, Marcus Bohm moved in with Jacob and Ella and soon thereafter, Marcus lost his own store when an Eastern dealer executed a judgment of $2,625 dollars against him. (Winograd, pp.78-79)

According to Winograd, Jacob moved back to Philadelphia for a few years.  This must have been when Jacob and Ella’s first son Milton was born in 1886, but by June 1887 when Edwin was born, they must have returned to Johnstown. Here is a photograph of Johnstown in 1880s, showing what it must have looked like when Jacob Katzenstein first settled there:

As noted, 1889 was a tragic year for Jacob.  First, there was the tragedy of Milton’s death on April 18, 1889 (Johnstown Daily Tribune (April 18, 1889, p. 4, col. 2), and then the deaths of Ella and Edwin on May 31, 1889, during the flood.  According to Winograd, Ella and little Edwin were in their house on Clinton Street when the flood waters rushed into the city, causing the house to collapse.  After the flood, Jacob lived in one of the temporary structures erected in Johnstown’s Central Park. (Winograd, p. 79)

In March 1891, almost two years after losing his two sons and his first wife, Jacob married Bertha Miller, the daughter of Eliza Leopold and Samuel Miller of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Jacob and Bertha had six children: Helen (1892), Gerald (1893, presumably named for Jacob’s father Gerson Katzenstein), Eva (1894, presumably named for Jacob’s mother Eva Goldschmidt), Leopold (1898), Maurice (1900), and Perry (1904)(named for Jacob’s brother Perry). Jacob was still a clothing merchant.

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

It was during the 1880 and 1890s that formal, organized Jewish life really developed in Johnstown. Before that time, the primarily German Jewish residents of the town, who came from a Reform background and, as Winograd observed, identified more as German than Jewish in many ways, had services in their private homes and holiday celebrations with their families, but there were no official synagogues or rabbis in the town. (Winograd, pp. 77, 87-88, 103-107)

Then, with an influx of Russian Jewish immigrants in the 1880s who came from a more traditional, Orthodox background, there was a demand for more of the organized elements of Jewish communal life, including a synagogue, Hebrew school, and kosher butcher.  (Winograd, pp. 76-77) In the 1890s, two synagogues were organized: Rodeph Shalom for the more Orthodox Jews in town and Beth Zion for the Reform Jews.

Beth Zion grew out of a Jewish social club, the Progress Club, of which Jacob Katzenstein was an organizer and founding member in 1885. (Winograd, pp. 80, 148). The group used their building (known as the Cohen building) for services, but it was not until 1894 that they had their first Reform High Holiday Service; there was still no full time rabbi, and lay people often led services. (Winograd, pp. 148-151)

Beth Zion synagogue in Johnstown Courtesy of Julian H. Preisler. The Synagogues of Central and Western Pennsylvania: A Visual Journey (Fonthill Media 2014), p. 74 Courtesy of Beth Shalom Synagogue and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Beth Zion synagogue in Johnstown
Courtesy of Julian H. Preisler. The Synagogues of Central and Western Pennsylvania: A Visual Journey (Fonthill Media 2014), p. 74
Courtesy of Beth Shalom Synagogue and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association

Jacob was an officer in Beth Zion Temple. (Winograd, pp. 79-80)  In 1905 he donated five dollars to a fund to provide assistance to Jews in Russia who were being persecuted. (Winograd, pp. 114-116) In 1907, his son Gerald celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah the evening before Rosh Hashana; in 1912 when Gerald’s brother Leo became a bar mitzvah, it also was celebrated during the high holidays. Winograd described the Beth Zion congregation at that time as small, but tightly knit.  (Winograd, pp. 150-151) Obviously, Jacob Katzenstein and his family were active members in this community.

By 1910, Jacob and Bertha’s children ranged in age from five to eighteen and were all still living at home. Jacob listed his occupation as a retail merchant, the owner of a clothing store:

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0118; FHL microfilm: 1375336

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1910 US census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0118; FHL microfilm: 1375336

Six years later on October 4, 1916, Jacob Schlesinger died at age 65 from chronic myocarditis and acute cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gall bladder. Rabbi Max Moll, a rabbi from Rochester, New York who was in Johnstown for the high holidays, presided at Jacob’s funeral. (Winograd, p. 80) Jacob left behind his wife Bertha and his six children ranging in age from 12 (Perry) up to Helen, who was 24.  In his will, executed on September 6, 1916, a month before he died, he appointed his wife Bertha to be his executrix and left his entire estate to her. Jacob was buried at the Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown.

Jacob Katzenstein death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 102541-105790

Jacob Katzenstein death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 102541-105790

My next post will address what happened to his six children.

Jacob Katzenstein headstone courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867).

Jacob Katzenstein headstone
courtesy of Find-A-Grave Member Brian J. Ensley (#47190867).

(Does anyone know why that World War I sign would be posted near Jacob’s headstone? He died before the US entered the war so was not a veteran.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Katzenstein to Kay: America, the Land of Immigrants

This is the story of how the grandchildren of my great-great-grandparents became assimilated into American society. Their father, S. J. Katzenstein, was born in Germany and came to the US as a young boy; he became a successful business man in Washington, Pennsylvania, where his sister, my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein, had also lived after marrying my great-grandfather, Isidore Schoenthal.  His children, born in Washington, Pennsylvania, like my grandmother, grew up to become full-fledged Americans.

S.J. Katzenstein had died in 1901 when he was only 53 years old. He and his wife Henrietta Sigmund had six children: Moynelle (1879), Milton (1881), Howard (1882), Ivan (1884), Earl (1885), and Vernon (1892).  Moynelle, the oldest child, had married Bert Spanye on October 10, 1900, in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye marriage record Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye marriage record
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Bert was born September 24, 1868, in what was then a town in Hungary called Giralt. (Today it is known as Giraltovce and is in Slovakia).  According to a family genealogy website, Bert came to the US in 1887 with his uncle, CK Sunshine.  His parents, Emanuel and Rose Sonnenschein, did not emigrate.  Bert changed his surname from Sonnenschein to Spanye, unlike much of the rest of his extended family in the US who changed it to Sunshine.

According to an article written in the December 20, 1924 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p.15), when he first came to the US, Bert taught Latin, Greek, and German at Farmington College in Hiram, Ohio.  Then his uncle started him in business in a small Ohio town, and a few years later in February, 1899, Bert along with his uncle and another partner, Louis Black, started the Bailey & Company department store in Cleveland.  It became very successful.

When he and Moynelle were engaged,  the news was was written up in the June 17, 1900 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p. 10):

to-wed-pennsylvania-girl-mr-b-a-spanye-page-002

to-wed-pennsylvania-girl-mr-b-a-spanye-page-003

 

Then the company threw a surprise reception in his honor as described in the October 5, 1900 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p. 8):

an-employer-surprised-mr-bert-a-spanye-of-the-bailey-co-page-002

an-employer-surprised-mr-bert-a-spanye-of-the-bailey-co-page-003

After they married, they settled in Cleveland; their first child, Edward, was born on September 19, 1902. On the 1910 census, Bert, Moynelle, and their son Edward were living at 11338 Belleflower Road and Bert’s uncle Charles (CK) and Moynelle’s mother (listed as Hattie here) were living with them as well as two servants.

Bert and Moynelle (Katzenstein) Spanye 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 26, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T624_1176; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0388; FHL microfilm: 1375189

Bert and Moynelle (Katzenstein) Spanye 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 26, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T624_1176; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0388; FHL microfilm: 1375189

By that time at least three of Moynelle’s brothers had also relocated to Cleveland. Her brother Earl appears in the 1907 Cleveland directory, listing his occupation as a salesman (perhaps for his brother-in-law’s store).  Ivan Katzenstein is listed in the 1909 Cleveland directory as a department manager, and Earl as a clerk.  They and their mother Henrietta were all living at 11338 Belleflower Road, the home of Moynelle and Bert Spanye.

Katzensteins in 1909 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1909 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Katzensteins in 1909 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1909
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

In 1910, Vernon, the youngest brother, and Ivan were living together as boarders. According to the 1910 census report, Vernon had no occupation listed (he was 18), and Ivan reported that he was a manager in a department store, again presumably the one owned in part by his brother-in-law Bert.

On June 26, 1911, Moynelle and Bert had their second child, Margaret.

Moynelle’s brother Howard had moved to Cleveland by 1912.  In the 1912 Cleveland directory, Howard is listed as a buyer for Bailey & Company, Earl as a department manager for Bailey & Company, and Ivan as a commercial traveler. They were all living together at 1946 East 71st Street NE in Cleveland.

Katzensteins in 1912 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1912 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Katzensteins in 1912 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1912
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

At that time, the youngest brother, Vernon, was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 1913. I was able to find this class photo and a legend that helped me find Vernon in the photo:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 1913 Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 1913
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

vernon-katzenstein-in-mit-photo

Vernon Katzenstein, MIT Class of 1913

The only brother who did not move to Cleveland was the oldest, Milton. Milton was a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, and a member of the class of 1905 at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein, 1904 yearbook for the UPenn Medical School Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein, 1904 yearbook for the UPenn Medical School
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

In 1910, he was practicing medicine in Pittsburgh and boarding with a family there.

Milton enlisted in the US Army in May, 1917, as a first lieutenant.  He served in the medical division from June 5, 1917 until March 28, 1919, including almost two years overseas in France during World War I.  He was promoted twice—to captain on November 24, 1917 and to major on November 19, 1918.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein military record Box Title : Kapp, Edward B - Kauffman, Frank (221) Source Information Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein military record
Box Title : Kapp, Edward B – Kauffman, Frank (221)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Box Title : Kapp, Edward B - Kauffman, Frank (221) Source Information Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Box Title : Kapp, Edward B – Kauffman, Frank (221)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

He was not the only Katzenstein brother to serve in World War I.  According to The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War (Volume 9), Ivan Katzenstein joined the Ohio National Guard on August 13, 1917. He served in the field artillery in the Guard until August 31, 1918.  He then was sent to France where he served in the 135th Field Artillery, Company C, until July 5, 1919, and fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.  He was honorably discharged on July 11, 1919.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (A) General Files, Army and Navy (Boxes 2-4); Box #: 3; Folder #: 9; Box Info: (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P Description Folder Content Description : (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P

Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (A) General Files, Army and Navy (Boxes 2-4); Box #: 3; Folder #: 9; Box Info: (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P
Description
Folder Content Description : (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P

Vernon also served during World War I.  He was a first lieutenant in the Officers’ Reserve Corps beginning July 6, 1917, serving in the Ordnance Corps. He served in the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I from December 3, 1917 until June 17, 1919, and was honorably discharged on June 25, 1919.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

When the US entered World War I, Howard Katzenstein was working as the assistant field director for the American Red Cross at Camp Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, according to his draft registration card:

Howard Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Howard Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Earl Katzenstein was living in Cleveland and working as a traveling salesman for the S & S Shirt Company of Phillipsburg Center, Pennsylvania, according to his draft registration:

Earl Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Earl Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

By 1920, all of the Katzenstein brothers had adopted the surname Kay instead of Katzenstein.  Had they all decided that Katzenstein was too Jewish? Too German sounding after World War I? Too long? I don’t know. But like so many other children of immigrants, they changed their name and shedded part of their original identity.

Three of the Kay brothers were living in Cleveland.  According to the 1920 census, Howard and Vernon were living together in a boarding house at 1946 71st Street; Howard was working as a buyer in a dry goods store, and Vernon was a manager in an electric washing machine manufacturing business.

Howard and Vernon Katzenstein 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 22, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1371; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 433; Image: 988

Howard and Vernon Katzenstein 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 22, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1371; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 433; Image: 988

Interestingly, the 1920 Cleveland directory shows both Ivan and Vernon living at 1943 East 107th Street, but Howard is not listed; the 1921 directory lists all three brothers. Ivan and Vernon were both still living at 1943 East 107th Street; Ivan had no occupation listed, and Vernon was the vice-president of the Bell Washer & Wringer Company (a laundry business, I’d assume). Howard was living at 7100 Euclid Avenue; he had no occupation listed. I cannot find Ivan on the 1920 census.

Howard, Ivan, and Vernon Kay 1921 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1921 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Howard, Ivan, and Vernon Kay 1921 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1921
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Meanwhile, in 1920 Earl was living in a boarding house in St. Louis, working as a traveling salesman.

By 1920, Milton was again boarding with a family in Pittsburgh and practicing medicine. Here is his listing from the UPenn alumni magazine for 1922:

1922 Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania Ancestry.com. U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: College Student Lists. Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society.

1922 Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania
Ancestry.com. U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: College Student Lists. Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society.

 As for Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye, in 1920 they and their children were living with Moynelle’s mother Henrietta and four servants in their home at 11338 Belleflower Road.  Then in 1924, Bert retired from Bailey & Company after 25 years, as reported in the December 20, 1924 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p. 15):

bert-spanye-retires-page-002 bert-spanye-retires-page-003 bert-spanye-retires-page-004

Thus, by 1925, the children of S.J. Katzenstein and Henrietta Sigmund had in many ways achieved and perhaps exceeded the dreams their grandparents Gerson and Eva must have had when they left Germany in the 1850s. Moynelle had married an immigrant who had quickly become a highly successful businessman.   Two of the Kay/Katzenstein sons were graduates of two of America’s elite universities, one an engineer, the other a doctor.  Three had served their country in World War I, fighting against the country where their parents and grandparents were born.

All of them were giving back to America whatever America had given them. As immigrants have always done and will continue to do.

Continued in my next post.

My Grandmother’s Cologne Cousins: More New Records

Aaron Knappstein, our Cologne guide, really pulled the rabbit out of the hat when he found the Schopfloch death records for my four-times great-grandparents, Amson Nussbaum and Voegele Welsch, but his magic tricks did not end there.  He also was able to locate birth records for a number of the children of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld.

My great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal had two siblings who did not immigrate to America, and his older brother Jakob was one of them.  Jakob married Charlotte Lilienfeld and was a merchant in Cologne.  He and Charlotte had five children: Johanna, Lee, Meyer, Henriette, and Erna. They were my grandmother Eva’s first cousins.

I’ve told their stories in prior posts.  Four of the children survived the Holocaust.  The two sons, Lee and Meyer, immigrated to the US long before Hitler came to power, and Erna escaped with her son Werner during the 1930s.  Johanna and her husband spent time in the Gurs concentration camp and came to the US after the war.  Tragically, Henriette and her husband were murdered by the Nazis.

Thus far Aaron has located birth records for four of the children: Johanna, Lee, Meyer, and Erna.  I hope that he is able to find the record for Henriette as it would indeed be tragic if her record was the only one that did not survive, just as she was the only sibling who did not survive.

Here are the records that Aaron has thus far located:

Birth record of Johanna Schoenthal (Nr. 3030/1880)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113

June 5, 1880

 

birth-record-johanna-schoenthal

Birth record of Lee (Leo) Schoenthal (Nr. 5717/1881)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113

December 6, 1881

 

birth-record-of-lee-schoenthal

Birth record Meier Schönthal (no. 606/1883)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113
February 7, 1883
05.15 in the morning

 

meyer-schoenthal-birth-recod

Birth Record Erna Schönthal (no. 577/1898)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 85
March 27, 1898
08.15 in the morning

erna-schoenthal-birth-record

A Special Photograph

While taking a short break from research, I want to share a few photographs and records I’ve received recently, but did not have a chance to post on the blog.

You may recall the series of blog posts I did about Amalia Hamberg and her family.  Amalia, born Malchen, was my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s first cousin:

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

 

She acted as the administratrix of the estate of Charles Hamberg, the cousin who lived in South Carolina whose first wife had been murdered and whose son Samuel Hamberg ended up living with Henry Schoenthal in Washington, Pennsylvania after his father died as well.  Amalia had married Jacob Baer, with whom she had nine children, many of whom ended up working for the family jewelry business founded by the oldest brother, Maurice, in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Well, one of the descendants of Amalia and Jacob Baer found my blog and connected me with his siblings, one of whom graciously shared with me this wonderful photograph of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer. Both Amalia and Jacob lived long lives.  Amalia lived from 1851 until 1931; Jacob from 1847 to 1932. Imagine all the changes they saw—starting in Germany in the middle of the 19th century and living through the Industrial Revolution, the first World War, and the Roaring Twenties.  They raised nine children in western Pennsylvania and must have seen Pittsburgh grow from a small fairly rural area to the home of steel manufacturing.  They lived to see the invention and development of cars and telephones, even airplanes.

amalia-hamberg-and-jacob-baer-from-celena-adler-watermarked

I don’t know when this photograph was taken.  Although Amalia and Jacob may look old because of their attire and Jacob’s seemingly gray hair, their faces have no wrinkles, and the style of dress does not look 20th century to me.  I would guess that they were in their 40s, so perhaps the picture was taken in the 1890s.  What do you think?

I am so excited to have this photograph. Thank you so much to the Adler siblings who shared this with me.

After the Flood, More Tears

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.

family-group-sheet-for-gerson-katzenstein

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.

gerson-katzenstein-death-cert

Gerson Katzenstein death certificate “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-68NW-375?cc=1320976&wc=9FR3-SP8%3A1073244201 : 16 May 2014), > image 340 of 1712; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 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.

Jacob Katzenstein wedding to Bertha Miller PHiladelphia Times March 12 1891 p. 3

Jacob Katzenstein wedding to Bertha Miller
PHiladelphia Times March 12 1891 p. 3

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.

eva-goldschmidt-katzenstein-death-cert

Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein death certificate “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DY6W-VS?cc=1320976&wc=9FRF-GP8%3A1073237701 : 16 May 2014), > image 1467 of 1730; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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.

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

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.

SJ Katzenstein and family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1494; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0173; FHL microfilm: 1241494

SJ Katzenstein and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1494; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0173; FHL microfilm: 1241494

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.

Brendina and Jacob Schlesinger 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1463; Enumeration District: 0421; FHL microfilm: 1241462

Brendina and Jacob Schlesinger 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1463; Enumeration District: 0421; FHL microfilm: 1241462

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.

Perry and Rose Katzenstein 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1474; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0830; FHL microfilm: 1241474

Perry and Rose Katzenstein 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1474; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0830; FHL microfilm: 1241474

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.

HIlda Katzenstein and Isidore Schoenthal 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1495; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0175; FHL microfilm: 1241495

HIlda Katzenstein and Isidore Schoenthal 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1495; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0175; FHL microfilm: 1241495

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.

sj-katzenstein-obit

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.

Perry Katzenstein obituary Canonsburg PA Daily Notes August 8, 1903 p.2

Perry Katzenstein obituary Canonsburg PA Daily Notes August 8, 1903 p.2

perry-katzenstein-death-cert

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.

rosa-elias-katzenstein-death-cert

Rose Elias Katzenstein death certificate “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-67QH-3T?cc=1320976&wc=9F5B-VZS%3A1073109202 : 16 May 2014), > image 232 of 538; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Rose Elias Katzenstein obituary Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 26, 1904, p. 5

Rose Elias Katzenstein obituary
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 26, 1904, p. 5

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.

eva-schoenthal-cohen-watermarked

Eva Schoenthal Cohen, my grandmother

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.

 

 

 

Who Was Ella Bohm Katzenstein? A Genealogy Adventure

This was truly a genealogy adventure. I’d written most of this post before I made two surprising discoveries that required me to rewrite substantial parts of it. The story of Jacob Katzenstein’s first wife Ella is heartbreaking. She was only 27 when she died in the 1889 Johnstown flood, and for a long time I knew almost nothing about her.  I’ve finally made some headway in learning more about her.

Here’s what I now know about her from various sources, more or less in the order I found them. Her first name was Ella, as seen from the birth record indexed on FamilySearch for her son, Milton B. Katzenstein.

milton-b-katzenstein-birth-record

Her birth surname was Bohm, as seen in a newspaper report of her death and as implicitly confirmed by the fact that Milton’s middle name was Bohm; that fact I learned from Milton’s burial record at Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,, June 7, 1889, p. 3

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,, June 7, 1889, p. 3

I know that Ella was probably born in February 1862, as indicated on the memorial stone placed at Eastview Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland.   Her father’s name was apparently Marcus Bohm; that fact I inferred from the fact that Ella’s widower Jacob Katzenstein included Marcus in his household on the 1900 census and described him as his father-in-law (even though by that time Jacob had remarried). Ella presumably married Jacob sometime before or around January, 1886, since their son Milton was born in September, 1886. Milton died on April 18, 1889.  I also know that a second child, Edwin, was born June 5, 1887, and that he and Ella were killed in the Johnstown flood on May 31, 1889.

ella-katzenstein-and-edwin-katzenstein-headstone-from-findagrave

But where was Ella before marrying Jacob and having these two little boys?

For the longest time, I could not find her on the 1870  census, no matter how many ways I tried to spell her name, with and without wildcards. And then somehow she popped up after I’d just about given up.  I decided to search for any Ella with a surname starting with Bo born anywhere in about 1862 living in Pennsylvania or any state bordering it.  And there she was, listed as Ella Bohn, living in Philadelphia, an eight year old child born in Pennsylvania.  Her father was not living with her, nor was there anyone else in the household named Bohn or Bohm. So who was she living with?

Ella Bohm (Bohn) on the 1870 census Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ella Bohm (Bohn) on the 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I took a deep breath when I saw.  She was living with Jacob Goldsmith. Who was he? The son of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal.  Simon Goldschmidt was the brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt, the father of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, whose son Jacob would later marry Ella Bohm.  And Fradchen Schoenthal was the sister of my three-times great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, father of Isidore Schoenthal who would later marry Hilda Katzenstein, daughter of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein and brother of Jacob Katzenstein, who would later marry Ella Bohm.

jacob-katzenstein-to-jacob-goldsmith

So little Ella Bohm was for some reason living with the first cousin, once removed, of her future husband Jacob Katzenstein.  And with in-law relatives of her future sister-in-law, Hilda Katzenstein, my great-grandmother. And they were all related to me.  Yikes.

But where was her father? Why wasn’t Ella living with him? Why was she living with Jacob Goldsmith? Unfortunately, the 1870 census did not include information about the relationships among those in a household, so I couldn’t tell.

A search for information about Ella’s father Marcus Bohm turned up nothing explicit connecting him to Ella, though I was able to piece together some information about Marcus. He was born November 9, 1834, in Warsaw, Poland, and immigrated to the United States in 1849, arriving in Baltimore.

marcus-bohm-manifest-from-family-search

Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897J-P6W?cc=2018318&wc=MKZ4-GPF%3A1004777901%2C1004778901 : 25 September 2015), 1820-1891 (NARA M255, M596) > image 404 of 688; citing NARA microfilm publications M255, M596 and T844 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

One document indicates that he was living in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1853, which, of course, is where many members of my extended family also settled, including Jacob Goldsmith, who was a clothing merchant there as early as 1850, and Jacob Katzenstein’s brother SJ, who arrived around there in about 1871.

It appears that Marcus Bohm owned a clothing store there from at least 1853 from ads I found online in the Washington newspaper.  There was a fire at his store in April, 1860:

Washington Reporter, April 12, 1860, p. 3

Washington Reporter, April 12, 1860, p. 3

I also found an advertisement for Marcus Bohm’s clothing store in the Washington Reporter of August 30, 1860 (p.3):

ad-for-marcus-bohm-1860

 

But by November, 1860, Marcus was closing down his Washington store:

marcus-bohm-closing-down-store-in-wash-pa-page-001

It seems he then left Washington, Pennsylvania, because according to a New Jersey index of the 1860 census, Marcus was living in Hudson Township, New Jersey, in 1860, although I cannot find him on the actual 1860 census records.  He is listed in the 1867 Trenton, New Jersey, directory as working in the clothing business and living at Madison House. On the 1870 census, he is listed as living in a hotel in Trenton and working as a clothier. There is no wife or child living with him.

Marcus continued to be listed in Trenton city directories in the 1870s up through 1876, and he is consistently listed as a clothing merchant and tailor and living in various hotels in Trenton. But in 1878, he declared bankruptcy in Trenton:

marcus-bohm-bankrupt

Why was his daughter Ella  living with the Goldsmiths in Philadelphia in 1870 and not with her father in Trenton? I decided to dig deeper into the background of Jacob Goldsmith, someone I had not yet really researched as I am (ahem) not yet focused on my Goldschmidt line (yet somehow they keep popping up everywhere).  I searched for him on the 1880 census, and this is what I found:

Jacob Goldsmith's family on 1880 census with Ella "Baum" Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 158D; Enumeration District: 210; Image: 0325

Jacob Goldsmith’s family on 1880 census with Ella “Baum”
Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 158D; Enumeration District: 210; Image: 0325

Jacob, Fanny, and their many children were living in Philadelphia, and living with them was a niece named Ella Baum, age 17.  This had to be Ella Bohm, who would have been turning 18 in 1880.  She was living with Jacob and Fanny Goldsmith because she was their niece! So her mother had to be either Fanny’s sister or Jacob’s sister. For reasons described below, I believe she was the daughter of Jacob’s sister Eva.

Jacob had several sisters, but for all but one, I’d found married names, and they had not married Marcus Bohm.  But there was one sister for whom I’d been unable to find anything more than her name on the passenger manifest with her father Simon and stepmother Fradchen in 1845 and her listing on the 1850 census with her father Simon and stepmother Fanny and several siblings. Her name was Eva Goldschmidt/Goldsmith.

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

On the 1850 census, the names seem confused. It shows Simon’s wife’s name as Lena. Her name was Fradchen or Fanny in the US. Simon had a daughter Lena, who is also listed on the census.  And then there is a daughter named Fanny.  I think that daughter was really Eva, and the enumerator somehow thought Fanny was the daughter’s name instead of the wife and heard “Lena” instead of “Eva” for the other daughter’s name and thought that was the wife’s name. (Remember these were recent immigrants whose English might not have been very understandable.)

Simon Goldschmidt and family 1850 census Year: 1850; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 3, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_745; Page: 135A; Image: 274

Simon Goldschmidt and family 1850 census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 3, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_745; Page: 135A; Image: 274

But Eva is not listed as living with Simon in 1860 when he and two of her younger half-siblings had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, to live with her older brother Jacob. So where was she then?  I don’t know, but here’s my theory.

My guess is that Marcus Bohm and Eva Goldsmith, Jacob’s sister, were married sometime around 1860. After their daughter Ella Bohm was born in 1862, Eva either died in childbirth or sometime shortly thereafter and before 1870. Supporting the theory that Eva had died is the fact that her brother Jacob named a child born in 1871 Eva.

I believe that Ella’s widowed father Marcus Bohm moved to New Jersey after losing his wife and his business in Washington, and he left his little daughter to be raised by her uncle, Jacob Goldsmith. That little girl then grew up and married Jacob Katzenstein, who was her second cousin.

I don’t know when she married Jacob. I cannot find Jacob or Ella on the 1880 census, although Jacob was listed in the Pittsburgh directories for 1879 and 1881, the Johnstown directory in 1884, both the Philadelphia and Johnstown directories for 1887, and the Johnstown directory in 1889. When their son Milton was born in 1886, Jacob and Ella must have been living in Philadelphia. And by 1889 they were living in Johnstown.

Where was Ella’s father Marcus in the 1880s? The 1880 census report shows that he was then living in Washington, Pennsylvania, boarding in a hotel there and working in a clothing store.  But by 1884, Marcus had moved to Johnstown, as the 1884 Johnstown directory lists Marcus living at 251 Main Street and working at 272 Main Street in the clothing business. That same directory lists Jacob Katzenstein as a commercial traveler living at 241 Main Street, just a few houses away from Marcus. I assume that Marcus moved to Johnstown because his daughter Ella had by that time married Jacob and was living there, but I don’t know for sure.

After the tragic deaths of his daughter Ella and his two grandsons Milton and Edwin in 1889, Marcus seemed to disappear for some years and does not appear in any city directories. The next record that does include Ella’s father Marcus is the 1900 census where, as noted above, he was living in Johnstown with Jacob Katzenstein and Jacob’s second wife Bertha Miller, their three children, Bertha’s brother Maurice, and a servant.  Marcus is described as Jacob’s father-in-law, widowed, and retired.

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

Jacob Katzenstein and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Johnstown Ward 1, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1388; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241388

I find it rather heartwarming that Bertha Miller took in the father of Jacob’s first wife.

Ten years later Marcus was still living in Johnstown, boarding in the household of Solomon Reineman, according to the 1910 census. I thought perhaps Solomon was a relative or married to a relative, but Solomon was born in Germany, not Poland. In 1880, Solomon had been living in Johnstown, so I assume that Marcus had become friendly with him during the 1880s when both were living in Johnstown.

And then I found a connection to Solomon’s wife, Minnie Leopold, though not directly. While researching Jacob’s second wife, Bertha Miller, I saw that her mother was named Eliza Leopold.  The name jumped out at me, and I thought—could there be a connection to Minnie Leopold? A few more steps of research, and lo and behold, I learned that Eliza and Minnie Leopold were sisters! So somehow Marcus Bohm ended up living with his son-in-law’s second wife’s aunt and her husband.

Two years later, however, Marcus had moved to Philadelphia. The 1912 Philadelphia directory lists Marcus Bohm living at 3333 North Broad Street. Four years later on February 25, 1916, Marcus died in Philadelphia.  He was 81 years old and died of chronic emphysema.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 021751-024880

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 021751-024880

He’d been living at the Masonic Home of Pennsylvania, and the informant was William H. Sivel, the superintendent at 3333 North Broad Street, which I assume is the location of the Masonic Home and where Marcus had been residing.  There is no other personal information on the certificate except for Marcus Bohm’s birth date, birth place (Poland), age, and occupation, which the informant described as “gentleman.”  I was unable to find an obituary or any other document that would reveal family information for Marcus, only this death notice.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 1916, p. 18

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 1916, p. 18

Thus, I was lucky enough to learn a little more about Ella Bohm Katzenstein and can only speculate that her mother was Eva Goldsmith, that Eva Goldsmith Bohm had died, and that Ella had been left to live with the family of Jacob Goldsmith while her father tried to recover from losing his wife and his store in Washington, Pennsylvania.

If I am right in this speculation, it makes her short life even more tragic. It was heartbreaking enough to know that she’d lost her first son Milton and then was killed along with her other son in the Johnstown flood of 1889 when she was only 27. But adding to that the loss of her mother and in some ways her father as a young child makes her story especially poignant.

 

The Flood

As we saw in my last post, by 1880, four of the five surviving children of Gerson and Eva (Goldschmidt) Katzenstein were on their own.  SJ, their oldest child, was married to his second cousin Henrietta Sigmund and living in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he was a merchant.  Brendina, the older daughter, was married to Jacob Schlesinger and living in Philadelphia, where Jacob worked as a butcher.   Jacob and Perry Katzenstein, the second and third sons of Gerson and Eva, were living together in Pittsburgh and working as salesmen.  Only my great-grandmother Hilda, who was seventeen in 1880, was still living at home with her parents in Philadelphia.

During the 1880s, Gerson and Eva were blessed with many grandchildren. SJ and Henrietta, whose first child Moynelle was born in 1879, had four sons in the 1880s: Milton (1881), Howard (1882), Ivan (1884), and Earl (1885).  Brendina and Jacob already had four children by 1880, Heloise (1874), Solomon Joseph (1875), and Alfred (1879), and a fourth child, Sidney, was born in 1880.  Their daughter Aimee was born seven years later in 1887.

In 1884 or 1885 (sources vary), Perry Katzenstein married Rose Elias, daughter of Samuel Elias and Fanny Greenwald.  Rose was born in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, which is, strangely enough, nowhere near the New Jersey shore.  In fact, it’s about 250 miles west of the Atlantic and about 190 miles west of Philadelphia and 180 miles east of Pittsburgh.   Rose’s parents were both German immigrants, and her father was a merchant. In 1880, her father was selling liquor; in 1870, he’d been selling clothing. In 1887, Perry is listed in the Philadelphia directory at the same address as his father, Gerson—870 Marshall Street.

His brother Jacob is listed right down the street at 919 Marshall Street in that same directory for 1887. Sometime before September 16, 1886, Jacob Katzenstein had married Ella Bohm, daughter of Marcus Bohm.  I cannot find any official records for Ella, except for this birth record indexed on FamilySearch:

milton-b-katzenstein-birth-record

Unfortunately, it did not reveal Ella’s original surname or anything else about her.  But it does show that their son Milton was born in Philadelphia in 1886, suggesting that they were all living there at that time.  I found her original surname and her father’s name from other sources, discussed below.

Jacob’s residence during the 1880s is a bit of a mystery.  I cannot find him on the 1880 census.  In 1881, he is listed in the Pittsburgh directory, living with Perry.  In 1884, he is listed in the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, directory, and in 1887, he is listed in both the Johnstown and Philadelphia directories.  I have no idea whether Ella was from Philadelphia, Johnstown, or someplace else. I don’t know where or when she and Jacob were married. I did find this quote about Jacob on my cousin Roger’s old website:

[Jacob] came to Johnstown in 1882, as a clerk for Louis Cohen.  He returned to Philadelphia for a few years but then came back to take charge of the Economy clothing Store which belonged to Amos Sulka and himself. (quoting Leonard Winograd, The Horse Died at Windber: A History of Johnstown’s Jews of Pennsylvania (Wyndham Hall Press, 1988)).

Jacob and Ella had a second son named Edwin born apparently on June 5, 1887, a date I determined from his headstone, as discussed below.  But June 5, 1887 is less than nine months after Milton’s birth date of September 16, 1886.  It seems highly unlikely that a woman could have had two children less than nine months apart. I assume one of those birth dates is off by at least a few months, or that Edwin was premature, or that Ella conceived almost immediately after Milton was born. Or that Ella was not the biological mother of one of those two children.

In 1888, Gerson and Eva saw their youngest child get married.  Hilda, my great-grandmother, married Isidore Schoenthal in Philadelphia. As I’ve written previously, Hilda and Isidore first lived in Pittsburgh, where on December 3, 1888, their first son was born, my great-uncle Lester Schoenthal.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Thus, by 1888, Gerson and Eva’s children were all married, and there were twelve grandchildren.  Things must have seemed quite good for them all, but in 1889, their fortunes began to change.  First, on April 18, 1889, Jacob and Ella’s son Milton died; he would have been only two and a half years old.  I learned of his death from an entry on FindAGrave showing his headstone at Grandview cemetery in Johnstown:

But the headstone says he was born in 1888, not 1886 as the Philadelphia birth record stated. So I searched the interment database for Grandview cemetery in Johnstown and saw that the interment record indicates that Milton was two when he died in April, 1889, suggesting that the headstone is wrong and the birth record and interment record are right.  Very odd.  I also learned from the interment record that Milton’s middle name was Bohm, his mother’s birth name.

A little over a month after Milton’s death in Johnstown, one of the most tragic events in American history occurred: the Johnstown flood of May 31, 1889. Over two thousand people died that day.  According to the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) website, that was the largest loss of civilian life in America in one day until September 11, 2001.

The JAHA website and several other sources describe how after several days of heavy rain, the South Fork dam, which was in need of repairs, collapsed, causing havoc and death as the rushing waters swept everything in its path under and aside.

 

The aftermath of the Johnstown Flood (Johnstow...

The aftermath of the Johnstown Flood (Johnstown, Pennsylvania). “The Debris above the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge.” In: “History of the Johnstown Flood”, by Willis Fletcher Johnson, 1889. P. 199. Library Call Number M79.4 J71h. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is how the JAHA described it:

20 million tons of water rushed down the narrow Conemaugh Valley like a moving mountain of water at an average speed of 40 miles per hour. The “terrible wave” picked up houses, trees, and even trains on its way down the valley. It flattened a railroad bridge. It swept whole towns away as it made its way to the city of Johnstown.

By the time it reached Johnstown the flood didn’t even look like water anymore. People who saw it coming said it looked like a moving, boiling black mountain of junk. 35 feet high at its crest, it had the force of Niagara Falls. Even the best swimmers couldn’t swim in that mess. Many people drowned. For most, the only warning was a thunderous rumble before the water hit.

In minutes, most of downtown Johnstown was destroyed. Survivors clung to roofs, debris, and the few buildings that remained standing. Others who weren’t killed instantly, were swept down the valley to their deaths.

Just when it seemed like it couldn’t get worse, it did. All that wreckage piled up behind the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Stone Bridge. People who managed to survive so far became trapped in the huge pile of debris, all wrapped in a tangle of barbed wire from destroyed Gautier Wire Works. Then the pile, which was 40 feet high and 30 acres across, caught fire!

Four square miles of downtown Johnstown was completely leveled, including about 1600 homes, 280 businesses, and much of the Cambria Iron Company. Even more tragic was the loss of life. 2,209 people are known to have died in the flood waters. 99 whole families perished. 400 children under the age of ten were killed.

Among those who lost their lives in the flood were Ella Bohm Katzenstein, Jacob’s wife, and their younger son, Edwin, who was just five days short of his second birthday.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,, June 7, 1889, p. 3

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,, June 7, 1889, p. 3

Note that this list includes Ella (identified by her birth name incorrectly as Ellen) and her son among those who were killed and Jacob on the list of those who survived.

Jacob Katzenstein had lost his entire family starting with Milton on April 18 and then, 43 days later, he lost Ella and Edwin in the flood.

ella-katzenstein-and-edwin-katzenstein-headstone-from-findagrave

Headstone of Ella and Edwin Katzenstein, FindAGrave, courtesy of Byron http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=118211407&ref=acom

The headstone allowed me to infer the birthdates for Ella (February 1862) and Edwin (June 5, 1887), as it says Ella was 27 years, six months, and zero days old at her death on May 31, 1889, and that Edwin was one year, eleven months, and six days old that day.

The odd thing is that this headstone is located at Eastview Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland, not at Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown where Jacob and Ella had buried Milton the month before.  Also, note that the stone says “In Memory of,” an indication to me that it is not marking a grave, but is just operating as a memorial.  Maybe the bodies of Ella and little Edwin were never found. (I’ve contacted the Eastview Cemetery to see if they have more information, but so far they’ve not found any information about the stone, who put it there, or whether Ella and Edwin are in fact buried there.)

But why is this memorial in Cumberland? Jacob was living in Johnstown; his parents were living in Philadelphia. The only Katzenstein family members I know of who were living in Cumberland at that time were some members of the family of H.H. Mansbach, Jacob Katzenstein’s first cousin.  Did the Mansbach family install this memorial?  I am still trying to figure this one out.

It is hard to imagine the devastation caused by this flood. Over two thousand lives lost as well as all the injuries and the destruction of the town itself.  Just as we cannot really grasp the full meaning of  the more than two thousand people who died on 9/11, we cannot truly understand the impact of this tragedy unless we focus on one life at a time and the story of that life. Trying to imagine what this must have been like for Jacob Katzenstein gives me a better sense of how horrifying and devastating the flood must have been, multiplying his story over two thousand times.

English: After the Flood at Johnstown -- Main ...

English: After the Flood at Johnstown — Main Street, a wood engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It also makes me want to know more about Ella Bohm, the woman he married.  I am still trying to learn more about her.  All I know now is that she was born in February, 1862 (based on that headstone), that her father’s name was Marcus Bohm, that she had two sons, Milton and Edwin, and that both of them died as toddlers.  She was only 27 on May 31, 1889, when she died along with her son Edwin and the 2,207 other people who were killed in the Johnstown flood.

I will write more about her in my next post.