Rebekka and Regina: Sisters with Intertwined Lives

The last two children of Mina Katzenstein and Wolf Katzenstein were Rebekka and Regina, and because their fates are intertwined in several ways, I will discuss both in this post.

Rebekka was born on August 28, 1865, in Frankenau. Regina was born two years later on September 24, 1867.

Rebekka Katzenstein birth record Arcinsys
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174

Regina Katzenstein birth record arcinsys
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174, p. 8

Rebekka married her cousin Salomon Schalom Kneibel Katz (apparently known as Kneibel) on April 30, 1889, as discussed previously.

Marriage of Rebekka Katzenstein and Salomon Kneibel Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3844

Two and a half years later, on November 25, 1891, Regina Katzenstein married Selig(mann) Alexander in Frankenau. He was born on September 20, 1861, in Momberg, the son of Joseph Alexander and Fradchen Frank.

Marriage of Regina Katzenstein to Selig Alexander
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Standesamt Frankenau Heiratsnebenregister 1891 (Hstamr Best. 922 Nr. 3226); Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 922

Rebekka and Salomon Kneibel Katz had four children, three sons and one daughter. Their first child was Berthold; he was born on May 15, 1890, in Jesberg.

Berthold Katz birth record
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3821 Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1890, S. 36

Then came Rebekka and Salomon’s only daughter, Therese. She was born November 11, 1891, in Jesberg.

Therese Katz birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3822

Two sons followed Therese. Julius was born May 30, 1893, in Jesberg.

Julius Katz birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3824

And Jakob Katz was born April 14, 1895, in Jesberg.

Jakob Katz birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3826

Meanwhile, Regina and her husband Selig Alexander were also having children in the 1890s. Regina gave birth to seven children, but only four survived infancy. The first child, a girl, was stillborn on January 9, 1893.

Stillborn daughter of Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6560

Less than a year later, Regina gave birth to Bertha on December 28, 1893, in Momberg.

Bertha Alexander birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6476

Regina and Selig’s third child was Rosa. She was born in Momberg on January 18, 1896.

Rosa Alexander birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6479

Almost two years after Rosa’s birth, on December 22, 1897, Regina gave birth to her fourth child, Mina, named for Regina’s mother Mina Katzenstein, who had died on September 5, 1896.

Mina Alexander birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6480

After giving birth to Mina, Regina and Selig lost two sons in infancy. Little Joseph Alexander lived only thirteen days, dying on January 24, 1902. His brother Manus lived for two months, dying on March 23, 1903.

Joseph Alexander death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6569

Manus Alexander death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6570

The seventh and last child I have for Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander was a son named Samuel, born January 1, 1906, according to a source provided by Barbara Greve, Barbara Haendler-Lachmann’s Schicksale der Juden im alten Landkreis Marburg 1933-1945, Hitzeroth, Marburg 1992, p. 125. Without Barbara Greve’s help, I never would have known about this seventh child as there was no available birth record for him online.

Thus, of the seven children born to Regina and Selig Alexander, only Bertha, Rosa, Mina, and Samuel lived to adulthood.

In many ways the two Katzenstein sisters were following similar paths at the same time, Rebekka in Jesberg, Regina in Momberg, fifteen miles apart. Their lives became even more intertwined on August 21, 1923, when Rebekka’s son Jakob married Regina’s daughter Rosa.

Marriage record of Rosa Alexander and Jakob Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6208

That is, Rosa Alexander married her first cousin, Jakob Katz. They had three daughters who were not only sisters but also second cousins to each other. Rebekka and Regina shared granddaughters who were also their great-nieces. Remember also that Rebekka and her husband Salomon Kneibel were also cousins to each other, so Salomon Kneibel was not only his children’s father but also their cousin and the same for Rebekka.

As for Rebekka and Regina’s other children, they made my life easier by marrying outside of the family.

The first to marry was Rebekka’s daughter Therese. On June 16, 1919, she married Hermann Blum, who was born in Kuelsheim on July 7, 1883, son of Abraham and Sophie Blum. I have not been able to identify any children born to Therese and Hermann.

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3872

Rebekka’s oldest son Berthold married Ida Blumenstiel on January 20, 1920. Ida was the daughter of Hugo Blumenstiel and Bertha Weinberg of Mansbach, Germany. She was born July 9, 1893.

Marriage record of Berthold Katz and Ida Blumenstiel
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Standesamt Hersfeld, Bad Heiratsnebenregister 1920, Eintrags-Nr. 1 – 78; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 907

Berthold and Ida would have two children born in the 1920s, Senta (1921) and Ludwig (1924).

I have not found any marriage record for Rebekka’s son Julius, and, as discussed above, her son Jakob married his cousin Rosa on August 21, 1923, and they had three daughters.

As for Regina’s children, Bertha Alexander married Julius Simon on June 26, 1922, in Momberg. He was the son of Moses Simon and Fanni Katz and was born in Pohl-Goens on May 29, 1891.

Marriage record of Bertha Alexander and Julius Simon
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6207

I have not been able to locate any record of children born to Bertha and Julius, nor do I have any records for them after their marriage, but I am still looking. Thank you to Aaron Knappstein for finding this photograph of Julius Simon on the Vor dem Holocaust – Fotos zum jüdischen Alltagsleben in Hessen website. According to the website, this was taken in 1916 when Julius was a soldier in the Germany army during World War I.

I am still hoping to locate some records that will reveal what happened to Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander.

Bertha’s younger sister Rosa Alexander married Jakob Katz, as discussed above. The third sister Mina Alexander married Leo Wachenheimer in Momberg on December 25, 1927. Leo was the son of Meier Wachenheimer and Klara Rothschild; he was born on March 23, 1897, in Biebesheim, Germany. Mina and Leo would have two children.

Marriage record of Mina Alexander and Leo Wacheneimer
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6212

According to Barbara Greve, Regina and Seligmann’s only surviving son, Samuel, married Lottie Weiler in July 1933; Lottie was born in Marburg on January 10, 1913, according to the JOWBR. I do not have names for her parents. Samuel and Lottie had one son, Hans-Joseph Alexander, according to Barbara Greve.

Rebekka Katzenstein Katz died in Jesberg on March 2, 1927; she was only 61 years old. Her husband Salomon Scholum Kneibel Katz died two years later on May 2, 1929.  He was 69.

Death record of Rebekka Katzenstein Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3918

Here is the photograph I took in the Jesberg cemetery of Rebekka’s grave long before I knew the whole story of their family; sadly, I do not have a photograph of her husband’s gravestone:

The rest of the families of Rebekka and Regina Katzenstein survived into the Nazi era, and it appears that every single one of them left Germany in time—all of Rebekka and Salomon Kneibel’s children and spouses and grandchildren as well as Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander and at least three of their four children and spouses and grandchildren. The only couple I’ve been unable to find in any later record or index are Regina’s daughter Bertha and her husband Julius Simon.

Almost all the rest of the families of Rebekka Katzenstein and her sister Regina Katzenstein ended up in Johannesburg, South Africa. Unfortunately, I don’t have any actual records or documents that reveal when the family arrived there or any other information aside from their deaths and burials.

But I was fortunate to connect with John Leach, a relative by marriage of Leo Wachenheimer, husband of Mina Alexander. From John I learned that Leo had been a cattle dealer in Germany and had also worked in his father’s kosher butcher business. Leo was arrested by the Nazis in 1935 for doing business with a non-Jew; when he was released, he escaped from Germany to South Africa, where he opened a kosher butcher shop. Soon many family members followed him, including his wife Mina and their children, his in-laws Regina and Selig Alexander, his sister-in-law Rosa Alexander Katz and her husband Jakob Katz and their three children, and Jakob Katz’s sister Therese Katz and her husband Hermann Blum and Jakob’s brother Julius Katz. They all appear to have spent the rest of their lives in Johannesburg.

The only descendants of Rebekka or Regina who did not go to South Africa were Rebekka’s son Berthold and his wife Ida and their children, Senta and Ludwig. Instead, they went to the United States. Their daughter Senta arrived first on October 8, 1938, and Berthold, Ida, Ludwig, and Ida’s mother Bertha Blumenstiel arrived on November 25, 1938; they were all going to a cousin, Leo Katzmann in the Bronx:

Senta Katz 1938 passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6238; Line: 1; Page Number: 176
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Berthold Katz and family passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6254; Line: 1; Page Number: 68
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

By 1940, they had settled in Philadelphia where Berthold was working as a salesman for a paper bag company and Senta was working as a packer for a children’s dress company. Bertha’s mother-in-law Bertha Blumenstiel was also living with them.

Berthold Katz and family 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3733; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 51-1446

That same year Senta married Julius Idstein, who was also a refugee from Germany. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951)  Julius was born on August 6, 1906, in Bad Homburg, and came to the United States on October 20, 1938. On his World War II draft registration, he reported that he was a partner in business with Berthold Katz, his father-in-law. On Berthold’s registration, he reported that he owned a paper products business. So between his arrival in 1938 and 1942, Berthold had become a business owner in partnership with his son-in-law Julius.

Julius Idstein World War II draft registration
Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations

World War II draft registration for Berthold Katz
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1951

Sadly, Berthold’s wife Ida died at age 48 of liver cancer on December 29, 1941.

Ida Blumenstiel Katz death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 109451-112000

Their son Ludwig was in college at Temple College (now Temple University) in Philadelphia in 1942:

Ludwig Katz World War II draft registration
Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Multiple Registrations

In 1943, Berthold remarried; his second wife was Betty Nussbaum, and she also was a German native, born in Mansbach on February 4, 1893. She had come to the US in 1925 on her own; her parents stayed behind where her mother died in 1939 and her father died in the Theriesenstadt concentration camp in 1942. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951)

Berthold died from stomach cancer on March 5, 1959; he was 68 years old; his second wife Betty died in 1977:

Berthold Katz death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 026551-029250

Meanwhile, Berthold’s siblings and first cousins and aunt and uncle were all living in South Africa.  His aunt Regina Katzenstein Alexander died on October 14, 1942, and her husband Selig Alexander died on May 5, 1949; they are buried at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg. (JewishGen Online World Burial Registry (JOWBR)). Charmaine Rosenberg of the Johannesburg Chevra Kadisha kindly sent me the following photograph of Regina’s headstone:

Headstone of Regina Katzenstein Alexander

Berthold’s daughter Senta and her husband Julius Idstein had five children. Julius died in 1981, and Senta lived until 2003. She was 82 when she died.

Berthold’s son Ludwig became a nuclear physicist and was a senior scientist for Visidyne, Inc. in Burlington, Massachusetts, when he was killed in a car accident on March 18, 1981. He was 57 years old and was survived by his wife and two children. “Ludwig Katz, Swampscott,” Boston Herald (March 25, 1981), p. 40.

As for the family in South Africa, I have no information other than their dates of death and burial place. All those named below are, like Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander, buried at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, and all this information comes from the JOWBR on Jewishgen.org and from Charmaine Rosenberg of the Chevra Kadisha in Johannesburg. I am very grateful to Charmaine for providing me with these photographs of the headstones.

Julius Katz died on November 11, 1958, when he was 65. As far as I know, he never married or had children.

Headstone of Julius Katz

Therese Katz died on September 28, 1964, eight years after her husband Hermann Blum, who died on December 23, 1956. She was 73, he was also 73 when he died. As far as I have been able to determine, they did not have children.

Headstone of Therese Katz Blum and Hermann Blum

Jakob Katz died on August 24, 1974; he was 79. His wife and first cousin Rosa Alexander Katz outlived him by 23 years. She was almost 101 when she died on June 14, 1997.

Headstone of Jakob Katz

Rosa’s sister Mina Alexander Wachenheimer also outlived her husband by many years. Leo Wachenheimer died on January 23, 1969, when he was 72. Mina survived him by over twenty years, dying on December 23, 1989, when she was 92.

Headstone of Mina (Minna) Alexander Wachenheimer

Headstone of Leo Wachenheimer

Samuel Alexander died on June 21, 1989; he was 83. He had outlived his wife Lotte by seventeen years; she died on January 11, 1972, when she was 59.

Overall, the children of both Rebekka and Regina Katzenstein, daughters of Mina Katzenstein and Wolf Katzenstein, were fortunate to escape from Nazi Germany when they did. Perhaps Leo Wachenheimer’s arrest in 1935 was the key that opened the door to the survival of all of them.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Back into the Rabbit Hole…But for a Good Reason!

I thought I had moved on from the story of Marie Wetherill, the woman who married my cousin Joe Schlesinger, but then Janice Webster Brown, creator of the Genealogy Bloggers group on Facebook and the author of the wonderful blog Cow Hampshire Blog, found this incredible article about Marie’s family. And I decided to write this blog post both to honor Marie and her family and to honor Women’s History Month, a tradition I started a year ago after being inspired to do so by Janice herself.

Although the article does not reveal any additional information about Marie’s elusive father Francis Wetherill, it does reveal a great deal about Marie’s own background and the amazing line of women from whom she is descended. The article, “Fourteen Years Over A Century,” appeared in the February 4, 1892 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer (p. 5) (transcription below):

the_philadelphia_inquirer_thu__feb_4__1892_

On Saturday next Mrs. Anna Catharine Sharp, the oldest inhabitant of Pennsylvania, will celebrate her one-hundred-and fourteenth birthday at her little home, 1226 Fleetwood avenue.  The interest of this remarkable case of longevity is heightened by a series of attending circumstances that mark it as unique.  Not only does this remarkable woman live here, but there are living under the same roof her daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter, making in all representatives of five generations living together.

Mrs. Sharp’s history is interesting.  Her maiden name was Dowell, and her mother was of German extraction.  She was born February 6, 1778, in Cherry alley, and at 15 years of age was confirmed in the German Protestant Church at Sixth and Spruce streets.  When she was 22 years old she married John Sharp, a native of this city, and lived with him at Bush Hill, which though now a thickly built-up portion of the town, was then a farming district.  This was the first change of residence that she ever made.

Her husband was in the war of 1812, and died in 1849. Some years before his death they moved to Knight’s court, and in 1850 she settled in her present home, thus making only three changes of residence and never living outside of this city.

A 73-Year-Old Baby

Her youngest child, Mrs. Smith, was born in 1819, and is consequently 73 years old.  She is living with her mother and takes care of the house for her.  Her grand-daughter, Mrs. Anna E. Wilson [Marie’s grandmother]. a professional nurse, is 43 years old.

Connected with Mrs. Frank Wetherill [Marie’s mother], the great-granddaughter, are also some peculiar circumstances. She is 23 years old, and was born in their present home.  Her oldest child was born in the same room as she was, and her great-grandmother was the nurse who take care of her husband [Frank Wetherill] when he was born.  There is a difference of 112 years between the ages of old Mrs. Sharp and the baby, Florie Wetherill.

Mrs. Sharp retains all her faculties with singular clearness, though in the last six months she has grown slightly deaf. Her hair is still black, with only a slight streak of gray running through it.  Her appetite is good and so are her teeth—which she keeps at night in a tumbler upon the bureau–and she can eat any kind of food that is prepared for the family.  She has never been sick, with the single exception of a slight illness a few years ago.

After her husband’s death she labored as a nurse for thirty-three years, principally among the better class of people.

There will be a quiet reunion of the five generations on Saturday to celebrate the good old lady’s birthday.

This article shed so much more light on how Marie Wetherill, the woman my father remembers so warmly, turned into such a devoted caretaker of her mother-in-law, my great-great-aunt Brendena Katzenstein Schlesinger.  Marie came from a long line of caretakers and women who were devoted to their families. Both Marie’s great-great-grandmother Anna Catharine Dowell Sharp and her grandmother Anna Smith WIlson were nurses. And how strange that Anna Catherine was the nurse who delivered Francis Wetherill, who would later marry her great-granddaughter, Mary Wilson.

They all lived together under one roof for so much of their lives in this little house supposedly at 1226 Fleetwood Avenue in Philadelphia, an address I could not find; however, I think it was at one time called 1226 Nagels Avenue, as Anna Catharine is listed there as John’s widow in the 1861 Philadelphia directory, and then in 1900, Marie, her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were living at 1226 Jessup Street.  I believe that the street name was changed, but that Anna Catharine and her family continued to live in the same house, as the article reports.

In fact, by searching on stevemorse.org on the 1880 census for 1226 Jessup Street, I found Anna Catharine’s family living at 1226 Fleetwood Street, so the street name must have been changed from Fleetwood to Jessup sometime after 1892 when the article was written:

1880 census for the family of Anna Catherine Dowell Sharp Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1179; Family History Film: 1255179; Page: 116D; Enumeration District: 391; Image: 0430

1880 census for the family of Anna Catherine Dowell Sharp
Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1179; Family History Film: 1255179; Page: 116D; Enumeration District: 391; Image: 0430

Not surprisingly, the relationships as listed are confused on this census report.  First listed is  Anna (Smith) Wilson, Marie’s grandmother, a 32 year old widowed housekeeper. Below her is Jeremiah Smith, a single unemployed 28 year old man, presumably Anna’s brother. Then comes Catherine Sharp, Marie’s great-great-grandmother, then an 82 year old widow.  Following the boarder listed below Catherine is Mamie Wilson, Marie’s mother (also known as Mary), then eleven, and finally a four year old boy named Jeremiah Wilson.  Although it looks like Mamie and Jeremiah are listed as the children of the boarder, quite clearly they are the children of the head of household, Anna (Smith) Wilson. Then I noticed that above Anna Wilson is a listing for Mary Smith at 1226 Fleetwod, this being Marie’s great-grandmother, Mary Ann (Sharp) Smith, a 61 year old widowed dressmaker.

Thus, as of 1880, Marie’s grandmother was a widow raising two children and living with her own mother, a widow, and her grandmother, a widow.  It appears that Mary Ann Sharp Smith, Marie’s great-grandmother, was the only one employed outside the home.

Anna Catharine Dowell Sharp lived almost another full year after her 114th birthday, dying on January 22, 1893.  Her daughter Mary Ann Sharp Smith lived until January 30, 1909; she was 89 when she died.  Anna Catharine’s granddaughter, Anna Smith WIlson (Marie’s grandmother) died just two years after her mother on June 5, 1911; she was only 64. Marie’s mother, Mary/Mamie Wilson Wetherill Pierson, died on June 13, 1948, when she was 78.  And Marie lived to age 93, dying on August 31, 1981. No one came close to reaching Anna Catherine’s almost 115 year long life span.

So in honor of Women’s History Month, I salute Anna Catherine Dowell Sharp.  She was born during the Revolutionary War, married a man who fought in the War of 1812, was a nurse, and was the foremother of a long line of women devoted to their families, including Marie Wetherill Schlesinger, who married my cousin Joe. Anna Catharine Dowell Sharp lived from the early days of our country’s founding through the civil war and almost made it to the 20th century.  What stories she would have to share if we could talk to her today.

But now it really is time to turn back to my own family!

The Blessings and Curses of Census Records: Was Francis Wetherill Still Alive?

In my last post I described how I found my cousin Marie on the 1900 census. Marie was born August 15, 1888, to Francis M. Wetherill, a driver, and Mary Agnes Wilson, in Philadelphia.  Her parents were Philadelphia natives who had married in 1887, and according to Marie’s marriage license for her marriage to my cousin Joe Schlesinger in 1915, her father was deceased by that time.

The 1900 census showed Marie living with her great-grandmother Mary Ann Smith, her grandmother Anne Wilson, her great-uncle Jerry Smith, her mother Mamie Wetherill, and her four siblings: Frank (1883), Florence (1890), Catherine (1893[sic]), and Harry (1897).  (Mary Wilson Wetherill is sometimes listed as Mary, sometimes as Mamie.)

Marie Wetherill and family on 1910 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1461; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0416; FHL microfilm: 1241461

Marie Wetherill and family on 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1461; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0416; FHL microfilm: 1241461

There was one other odd thing about this census record. The child Frank Wetherill was seventeen on this report and born in 1883.  Mamie/Mary Wilson had not married Francis Wetherill until 1887. Was the child Frank really her son?

Then I noticed that although Mamie/Mary reported on the 1900 census that she had only four living children, there were five Wetherill children listed on the census report.  I assume therefore that the seventeen year old Frank Wetherill must not have been Mamie/Mary’s biological son.

I did find a birth record for a Frank Wetherell born April 6, 1883, in Philadelphia to a Frank Wittersall [sic, I assume] and Angelina. I assume this was the same child as the one living with Marie’s family in 1900. Francis Wetherill, Mamie/Mary’s husband, must have been married previously, and the younger Frank must have been his son from that marriage. But why had young Frank stayed with his stepmother Mamie/Mary? Had both his biological parents died by 1900?

Now that I had other family names to use in my search parameters, I was able to locate Marie and her family on the 1910 census.  Again, the census report had some confusing entries. Anna Wilson, Marie’s grandmother, was a head of household, but there was a second head of household listed beneath her: Harry Pearson. He was 44 and worked as a driver for “stove works.”

Marie Wetherill and family on the 1930 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1394; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0342; FHL microfilm: 1375407

Marie Wetherill and family on the 1930 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1394; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0342; FHL microfilm: 1375407

I would have thought that these were two unrelated households, but then I saw the other names in Harry’s household.  His wife was Mary A., a 44 year old woman who had had six children, five of whom were still living. Listed below her was Marie E. Pearson, a twenty-one year old woman born in Pennsylvania.  Although she is listed as a Pearson here, I believe this is my Marie Wetherill.  The age fits, the birth place fits, and her mother’s name was Mary (or sometimes Mamie).  The listing of Anna Wilson, her grandmother, also supports that assumption.

In addition, two other children listed below Marie had the Wetherill surname, and their ages and names match those of Marie’s siblings from the 1900 census: Florence (20) and Catherine (17). Harry (13), who had been listed as a Wetherill in 1900, here is listed as a Pearson.  In addition, there was a new sibling, Annie Pearson, who was only seven years old. My guess is that the enumerator entered Marie’s surname incorrectly; like Florence and Catherine, she should have been listed as Wetherill. In 1910, Marie was working as a saleswoman at Gimbels; her sister Florence was a dressmaker, and her sister Catherine was doing ironing at a laundry.

Occupations listed for Marie and her sisters on the 1930 census

Occupations listed for Marie and her sisters on the 1930 census

There are a few other confusing things about this census report.  The last entry in the household is for Jerrie E. Wilson, a 34 year old man born in Pennsylvania, listed as the son of Harry Pearson. This must be Anna Wilson’s son, not Harry and Mary (Wilson Wetherill) Pearson’s son. (Or maybe it’s really Jerry Smith, Anna’s brother?)

The census record indicates that Mary and Harry Pearson[1] had been married for sixteen years, meaning since 1893 or 1894. That means that Marie was no more than five or six when her mother remarried.  But on the 1900 census Mary had not been living with a husband, and her name was still given as Wetherill at that time. I don’t know why Mary was listed as a Wetherill in 1900 nor do I know why her son Harry was listed as a Wetherill in 1900 when he was clearly the son of Harry Pearson and, in fact, his junior. [2] I assume just another enumerator mistake.

Thus, Marie’s mother Mary aka Mamie Wilson Wetherill had remarried by 1894 and had had two more children, Harry, Jr., and Annie, with her second husband Harry Pearson. Why Mary and her children were living without Harry and with her mother and grandmother in 1900 remains a mystery.

I also remain perplexed as to why the seventeen year old boy named Frank Wetherill was living with Marie and her family in 1900. If he was not the biological son of Mamie/Mary Wilson Wetherill Pearson, why wasn’t he living with his biological parents?  I’ve had no luck finding the “Angelina” named on the birth record. And I had assumed that Francis, Sr., must have died by 1900, but then I found evidence suggesting otherwise.

First, there is a listing for a Francis M. Wetherill, a driver, in the 1895 Philadelphia directory; this had to be the same man: same exact name, same occupation as that listed on Marie’s birth certificate.  But Mary/Mamie had married Harry Pearson before 1895, so Francis was not deceased when she remarried; they must have divorced.

Marie Wetherill birth record

Marie Wetherill birth record

Then I found a marriage record for a Frank Wetherill to a Maggie Schramm in Camden, New Jersey, dated March 18, 1895. Although I could not find them on the 1900 census, the 1910 census for Camden has a listing for a Frank M. Wetherill married to Margaret, aged 31, married for 14 years; this must be the same couple as that on the marriage record. Frank was a hostler in a livery stable on that census.

Frank Wetherill marriage to Maggie Schramm Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

Frank Wetherill marriage to Maggie Schramm
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

There is also a listing for a Frank Wetherill in the 1902 Philadelphia directory working as a hostler.

As of 1910, Frank Wetherill (the elder) and Maggie/Margaret were living in Camden and had seven children, including a daughter named Katherine, aged 4.  How odd that Frank named a daughter Katherine in his second marriage when he already had a daughter Catherine from his first marriage. There was also a daughter named Emma, the same name given to Marie on her birth certificate.

Perhaps this is not the same man who was Marie’s father? Maybe it is just another man with the same name, same age, and also born in Pennsylvania? What do you think? Maybe a cousin? But since I’ve found no death record for any Francis/Frank Wetherill before 1915, I am inclined to think that this was in fact Marie’s father.

frank-wetherill-on-1910-census

Frank Wetherill and family on 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 5, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_873; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0033; FHL microfilm: 1374886

Frank Wetherill and family on 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 5, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_873; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0033; FHL microfilm: 1374886

This Frank M. Wetherill remained married to Margaret/Maggie and lived with her and their children in Camden until his death in 1942. If he was in fact Marie’s father, it is rather sad that she either believed or at least considered him dead back in 1915 when she married Joe.

There are many unanswered questions remaining about this family, and I could get buried in searching for more about the two men named Frank/Francis M. Wetherill. I cannot find any later record for the younger Frank Wetherill after the 1900 census (although there was another man born in Philadelphia in 1883 named Francis M. Wetherill, but after researching him, I’ve concluded he was from an entirely different family.)  I also remain unsure about whether the Frank Wetherill who married Maggie Schramm was the same Frank Wetherill who had married Mary Wilson and fathered Marie.

But the Wetherills are not my blood relatives, and I’ve unwound enough yarn to get a sense of what Marie Wetherill’s life was like before she married my cousin Joe Schlesinger. So I am making myself stop before I unravel so much yarn that I can’t untie the knots!

Putting together the pieces I now have, it appears that Marie Wetherill Schlesinger did not have an easy childhood.  Before she was six years old, either her father had died or her parents had divorced.  Her mother remarried and had two more children with her second husband, Harry Pearson. Perhaps her mother started calling the child born Emma Virginia Mary/May by the name “Marie” after starting her life over.  One record I found suggests that Francis M. Wetherill’s mother was named Emma; maybe Mary Wilson Wetherill Pearson did not want to carry that name forward.

Marie’s father Francis M. Wetherill may have died, but it seems more likely that he remarried and moved to Camden, where he and his second wife had a large family.  Who knows whether Marie had any contact with him after the divorce. Maybe that’s why she reported that he had died.

When she was 27 in 1915, Marie married my cousin Joe Schlesinger and remained married to him until he died in 1936. Then she lived with her mother-in-law Brendena until she died in 1945. Marie was 57 by then.  Eventually she retired to Bradenton, Florida where her sister Catherine as well as her half-sister Anna Pierson also were living. Marie had thus remained close not only with the family she married into but also with her family of origin.  Despite her interrupted childhood, she is remembered by my father as a loving woman who spent much of her life caring for others.

 

[1] Some records spell Harry’s surname as Pearson; others as Pierson. I don’t know which is correct. I’ve chosen to use Pearson here just for clarity’s sake.

[2] Three records establish that Harry was the child of Mary/Mamie Wilson and Harry Pearson: a Philadelphia birth record indexed on FamilySearch shows Harry Pearson born on May 20, 1897, son of Harry E. and Mame Pearson; a 1903 baptism record for both Harry, Jr. and Anna Pierson lists their parents as Harry Pierson and Mary A. Pierson; and Harry, Jr.’s military record identifies his parents as Harry Pierson and Mary Wilson.

Unraveling A Mystery and Deciphering Census Reports: Cousin Marie

You know how you can pull one small thread and a whole sweater unravels? That’s a bit like what my experience was in researching Marie Wetherill Schlesinger. I started and couldn’t stop.

In my earlier post about the Schlesinger family, I wrote that I was disappointed that I had not been able to find any information about the background of Cousin Marie, the woman who married my cousin Joe Schlesinger and who cared for his mother Brendena for many years even after Joe died.  She was a kind and loving person, according to my father, and she lived until she was 93, dying in Bradenton, Florida in 1981.

The only possible document I’d found about Marie from before she married Joe was a birth record listed on FamilySearch for a baby girl born in Philadelphia on August 15, 1888, the same place and date that Marie was born.  That baby was listed on FamilySearch as Emma Virginia M. Wethcrell, but her father’s name was Francis M. Wetherill, making me think that “Wethcrell” was a mistake in transcription by the indexer. The baby’s mother’s name was listed as May Wetherill.  I had speculated that the M in the baby’s name might have been for Marie or Maria (some documents from after Marie’s marriage to Joe spell Marie’s name as Maria).

possible-birth-record-for-marie

I thought that perhaps the actual birth record might have more information; I also wondered if the marriage certificate for Joe and Marie would include more information about her parents’ names. I went to the Philadelphia genealogy group on Facebook and asked for advice on obtaining copies of the actual documents.  I was very, very fortunate that a member named Jo Schwartz volunteered to go to the city archives in Philadelphia to obtain copies.

The birth certificate did not add a lot of new information.  It did, however, reveal that the baby’s name was Emma Virginia May (or is it Mary?) Wetherill, born to Francis M. and Mary Agnes Wetherill.  Thus, the M was for May or Mary, not Marie or Maria.  The record also revealed that Francis made his living as a driver. (Please click through and zoom to see the fifth entry.)

Marie Wetherill birth record

Marie Wetherill birth record

The marriage record for Joe  Schlesinger and Marie Wetherill was more helpful. It was dated July 11, 1915, and it included Marie’s parents’ names, including her mother’s birth name—Francis Wetherill and Mary Wilson. The parents’ name matched those on the birth certificate for Emma Virginia May/Mary Wetherill, so I am reasonably certain that the birth certificate is in fact the record for the Marie Wetherill who married Joe Schlesinger. The marriage license also revealed that Marie’s parents were both born in Philadelphia, that her father was dead, and that Marie was working as a “saleslady.”

joe-and-marie-schlesinger-marriage-1

marie-and-joe-schlesinger-marriage-2

Marriage license and certificate of S. Joseph Schlesinger and Marie Wetherill

Marriage license and certificate of S. Joseph Schlesinger and Marie Wetherill

Armed with the additional information regarding Marie’s parents’ names, I went back to see if I could find out more about her background.  The first document that popped up was an entry in the Social Security Applications and Claims Index on Ancestry:

Catherine Wetherill Welch on SSACI Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Catherine Wetherill Welch on SSACI
Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

This had to be Marie’s sister—Catherine Wetherill Welch. The parents’ names were the same, and she was born in Philadelphia four years after Marie.  Further research revealed that Catherine Wetherill married Talbot Welch in 1915, that, like her sister Marie, Catherine had not had children, and that, like Marie, she had died in Bradenton, Florida in 1981.  My guess is that Catherine and Marie, both widowed, were living together in Bradenton and died within months of each other.

I figured it would be easy to find Marie on the 1900 and 1910 census records now that I had the names of her parents and sister. But I was wrong. I focused first on Philadelphia since both Marie and Catherine had married men from Philadelphia and both had married in Philadelphia. I could not find a Francis or a Frank Wetherill on the 1900 census in Philadelphia.  I did find a Francis M. Wetherill in several Philadelphia directories, but he was a student in 1895, and that made him too young to be Marie’s father.  I also found a Frank Wetherill in a Philadelphia directory, but when I found him on a census based on the address, it was not with the same family.

Then I found a marriage record for a Francis M. Wetherill and a Mame A. Wilson who were married in 1887 in Camden, New Jersey. Camden is right across the river from Philadelphia, so this seemed a likely match for Marie’s parents.  Maybe Mame was a nickname for Mary or vice versa.  Maybe that’s why that birth record said May.  At any rate, I decided to search Camden as a possible residence, but still came up empty handed for 1900.

marriage record for Francis Wetherill and Mame Wilson Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

marriage record for Francis Wetherill and Mame Wilson
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

And then the light bulb finally went off.  What if Marie’s father had died before 1900? Maybe I was searching for Marie with the wrong family. I searched the 1900 census again, but instead of searching for Francis or Frank, I searched for any Wetherill born 1860-1870 in Pennsylvania with a daughter named Catherine (since I wasn’t sure which name Marie might have been using as a child). And lo and behold, I found Marie and her family:

Marie Wetherill and family on 1930 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1461; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0416; FHL microfilm: 1241461

Marie Wetherill and family on 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1461; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0416; FHL microfilm: 1241461

But, boy, this census report was confusing.  The head of household was Mary Ann Smith, an 81 year old widow. Next listed was her daughter Annie Wilson, a 52 year old widow, and then Mary Ann’s son, Jerry Smith, age 49 and single.  Annie listed that she had had four children, two of whom were still living.

The fourth person in the household was a 30 year old woman named Mamie Wetherill; this seemed like it could be Marie’s mother, who had been listed as Mame A Wilson on the marriage record with Frank Wetherill in 1887.  On the 1900 census, Mamie is listed as Mary Ann’s granddaughter.  Since I knew that Marie’s mother’s maiden name was Wilson, I figured that Mamie was Annie Wilson’s daughter and thus Mary Ann Smith’s granddaughter.  Although Mamie listed her status as married, there is no husband listed as living in the household. Mamie reported that she had had four children, four of whom were still living. Not one of the adults in the household listed an occupation on the census.

There are then five children with the surname Wetherill listed after Mamie, but they are listed as the grandchildren of the head of household.  This must be wrong; these are clearly Mamie’s children, given their ages and surname. They are the great-grandchildren of the Mary Ann Smith, the head of household. The five children are Frank (17), Marie (12), Florence (10), Katherine (6), and Harry (3).

I had found Marie, and now I knew that by 1900 she was living with her four siblings, her mother, her grandmother and great-uncle, and her great-grandmother.

But there were so many questions left to answer. Was her father still alive?  And if her father was still alive, where was he?

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

 

Cousin Jane’s Parents

In my last post I shared the photograph of my second cousin, once removed, Jane Schlesinger Bruner—the woman my father called the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen when he met her the first time when he was a young boy.

Today I received this photograph of Jane’s parents—Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger.

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

I have already written about Sidney and Nan in my earlier posts, but just to recap here. Sidney was the fourth child and third son of Jacob Schlesinger and Brendina Katzenstein, my great-grandmother’s older sister.  He was born in Philadelphia in 1880 and lived his whole life there.  He was a successful furniture salesman.

In 1911, Sidney married Anna Levis, who was known as Nan. Nan was born in Philadelphia in 1886 to William Levis and Caroline Bopp; her father died when she was eleven years old. She had been working as a stenographer in a bolt factory before marrying Sidney.  Sidney and Nan’s daughter Jane was born in 1913.  She was their only child and the only grandchild of Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger.

Sidney died in 1935 when he was 54.  Nan survived him by forty years, dying at age 89 in 1975.  As I wrote earlier, she was the first member of my father’s family to meet my mother after my parents were engaged.

I am once again so grateful to Jane’s granddaughter for sharing this photograph and allowing me to see the faces behind the stories.

 

My Father Wasn’t Wrong

In a prior post, I told the story of my father’s first impression of his second cousin Jane Schlesinger whom he met her for the first time when he was a young boy.  He thought Jane was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and told her so.  Jane, who was thirteen years older than my father, must have been quite charmed by this little boy, who was quite adorable himself.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

When I heard the story and wrote the post, I wished that I had a photograph of my cousin Jane.  Now, like manna from heaven, I do.  I’ve been in touch with one of Jane’s grandchildren, and she sent me these two photographs of Jane and her husband Marvin.

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner

jane-schlesinger-and-martin-bruner-2-edit

Jane (Schlesinger) and Marvin Bruner

My father was not wrong.  She was indeed a stunning woman.

 

Aunt Dean: A Long and Difficult Life

It’s hard to imagine all the losses my great-great-aunt Brendena Katzenstein Schlesinger had already suffered by 1920 when she was 67 years old.  She had already lost her parents, one sister and all three of her brothers, her husband, and both of her daughters. Only her sister Hilda and her three sons were still living. She was living with her son Alfred in Philadelphia, and her two other sons, Joe and Sidney, were married and also living in Philadelphia. Brendena had one grandchild, Jane, the daughter of her son Sidney and his wife Nan.  Life had not been easy for her, and sadly, she had more heartbreak ahead.

(After reviewing several documents, I concluded that the family’s preferred spelling was Brendena, not Brendina, and have made that adjustment in this post.)

Fortunately, the 1920s did not bring further losses for the family.  In fact, 1923 brought two marriages to the family. First, on January 7, 1923, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal, Brendena’s niece, married my grandfather John Cohen and settled in Philadelphia.  Eva’s parents were still in Denver at that time, so I would imagine that Eva and Brendena became close to each other as Brendena and her sons were my grandmother’s only maternal relatives in Philadelphia at that time.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. 1923

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. 1923

Also, in 1923, Alfred Schlesinger married Dorothy D. Steel; he was 44, she was 31. Dorothy was born in Philadelphia on May 16, 1892, the daughter of Clarence Steel and Lurline Oehlschager.  Her father, a flour merchant, died from heart failure brought on by typhoid fever in 1899 when Dorothy was only seven.  Her mother died seven years later in 1906 from tuberculosis. Dorothy was only fourteen and an orphan.  In 1910 she was living with her older married brother Richard and his family and working as a cashier in a department store. Ten years later in 1920 when she was 27, she was a boarder in someone’s home and working as a bookkeeper in an instrument factory.

Then three years later, Dorothy married Alfred Schlesinger.  My father remembers Dorothy as a no-nonsense woman who was very independent minded and serious.  It’s not surprising, given what her childhood was like. In 1930, Alfred and Dorothy were living in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia, and Alfred was an advertising executive.  My father remembers him as a very successful man who commuted to New York City for work.  What he most remembers about Alfred was that he drove a yellow convertible, smoked cigars, and had a gravelly voice. He was also very entertaining.

Alfred and Dorothy (Steele) Schlesinger 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Cheltenham, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2081; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0024; Image: 285.0; FHL microfilm: 2341815

Alfred and Dorothy (Steele) Schlesinger 1930 US census, lines 12 and 13
Year: 1930; Census Place: Cheltenham, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2081; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0024; Image: 285.0; FHL microfilm: 2341815

Alfred’s brother Sidney was also quite successful.  In 1930, he was an executive manager for a furniture company.  He and his wife Nan and daughter Jane as well as Nan’s mother were living on Ruscomb Street in Philadelphia.  My father has no memories of Sidney, who died when my father was a young boy, but from photographs he recalled that Sidney was an elegant dresser and had a waxed mustache.  My father knew Nan well; in fact, when my parents got engaged, Nan was the first of my father’s relatives to meet my mother, as Nan was living in New York City at that time as were they. My father described Nan as very perceptive about people and as a very self-possessed and good person. He described her as tall and gracious with classic features.

Sidney Schlesinger and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2136; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 1077; Image: 188.0; FHL microfilm: 2341870, lines 59-62

Sidney Schlesinger and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2136; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 1077; Image: 188.0; FHL microfilm: 2341870, lines 59-62

As for Sidney and Nan’s daughter Jane, my dad distinctly recalls his first impression of her, whom he met when he was quite a young boy.  Jane, he said, was stunning—she looked like a model.  He even recalls what she was wearing—jodhpurs or horseback riding pants.  He promptly told her that she was beautiful, even more beautiful than his mother.

Jodhpurs By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jodhpurs
By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joe, the oldest Schlesinger brother, was living with his wife Marie and his mother Brendena on 19th Street in Philadelphia in 1930.  Joe was working in retail furniture sales. My father remembers him as a funny man who liked to tell jokes and Marie as a sweet, gentle, and caring woman with an open face and chiseled features.

S. Joseph Schlesinger and family 1930 US census, lines 3-5 Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2125; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0778; Image: 1013.0; FHL microfilm: 2341859

S. Joseph Schlesinger and family 1930 US census, lines 3-5
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2125; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0778; Image: 1013.0; FHL microfilm: 2341859

Although the 1920s had been a good decade for the Schlesinger family, the 1930s brought further heartbreak.  Sidney Schlesinger died on December 19, 1935, of rectal cancer and bronchial pneumonia.  He was only a few days short of his 55th birthday. His wife Nan was only 49, and their daughter Jane was 22 when he died, and his mother Brendena had outlived yet another child.  Sidney was cremated at the Cheltenham crematorium.

Sidney Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 112501-114537

Sidney Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 112501-114537

And then, to compound that heartbreak, four months later Brendena lost another son.  S. Joseph Schlesinger died on April 22, 1936, when he was 60 years old.  He died from Hodgkin’s disease.  Joe was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery.  He was survived by his wife Marie, who was 46 years old when Joe died. They had had no children.

S. Joseph Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 036501-039500

S. Joseph Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 036501-039500

joe-schlesinger-death-notice

Brendena had thus outlived four of her five children.  Only her son Alfred was still alive as well as her daughters-in-law and her granddaughter Jane.  It’s really no wonder that my father recalls Brendena as an unapproachable woman who often said she wished she were dead and that her life was miserable.  It’s hard to imagine how she kept going.

Fortunately by then, my great-grandparents Hilda (Katzenstein) and Isadore Schoenthal had moved back to the east coast and were living in Montclair, New Jersey.  I would imagine that having her younger sister Hilda nearby must have been of some comfort to Brendena.

Brendena continued to live with her daughter-in-law Marie, Joe’s widow.  In 1940, they were living together on Erie Street in Philadelphia.  Interestingly, the census enumerator recorded Marie not as Brendena’s daughter-in-law but as her daughter.  Brendena was the one who provided the information, and although it might have just been that the enumerator didn’t hear her correctly (my father said she was quite hard of hearing and did not wear hearing aids), I’d like to think that that is how Brendena described her—as her daughter.

Brendina Schlesinger and Marie Wetherill Schlesinger 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3733; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 51-1441

Brendena Schlesinger and Marie Wetherill Schlesinger 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3733; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 51-1441

Alfred and Dorothy were still living in Cheltenham in 1940, and Sidney’s widow Nan continued to live with her mother on Ruscomb Street at that time.  Her daughter Jane had married and was living in New York in 1940.

The following year on August 17, 1941, Brendena lost her remaining sibling, my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal.  As I wrote here, my great-grandmother was 77 years old when she died. Brendena was ten years older and had outlived her youngest sibling.  My father recalls that there was a resemblance between the two sisters, although Brendena was a larger woman.  Since I don’t have any photographs of Aunt Dean, I am including two of my great-grandmother Hilda:

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal

Brendena, the matriarch who had suffered so many losses, herself died at age 91 on January 21, 1945.  She was buried with her husband and three of the children who had predeceased her at Adath Jeshurun cemetery.

Brendina Katzenstein Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 008251-010950

Brendena Katzenstein Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 008251-010950

brendina-schlesinger-death-notice

Brendena was survived by her one remaining son, Alfred, her granddaughter Jane, and her three daughters-in-law as well as many nieces and nephews.  But Alfred did not survive her by many years. He died four years later on March 10, 1949. He was 69 years old and died from multiple myeloma; he also was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery.

Alfred Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 024151-026700

Alfred Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 024151-026700

alfred-schlesinger-obit

His wife Dorothy died two years later at age 59 on November 27, 1951.  She died of coronary occlusion, and her body was found in her home. Alfred and Dorothy had not had children, so there were no descendants.

Dorothy Steele Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 095401-097950

Dorothy Steele Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 095401-097950

Brendena’s two other daughters-in-law lived longer lives. Nan died in New York in July 1975 when she was 89 years old. Marie, who had taken care of her mother-in-law Brendena for nine years after her husband Joe died in 1936, retired to Florida, where she died at age 93 on August 31, 1981.

My great-great-aunt Brendena was the third of six siblings; she outlived them all.  She was the mother of five children; she outlived four of them.  From those five children, she had one grandchild, her granddaughter Jane.  I have just located one of her descendants and am hoping to learn more.

My Great-Great-Aunt Dean: The Story of A Strong Woman

Having completed the story of my great-great-uncle S.J. Katzenstein and his family, I am now going to turn to my great-grandmother’s sister, Brendina, who was the third child of Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt and just three years old when the family immigrated to the US.[1]  I have been looking forward to writing about Brendina because my father knew her (he refers to her as Aunt Dean, which is how she was known in the family), and he knew some of her children and her granddaughter.  He has been able to bring them to life for me in a way that has not been possible with so many of my other ancestors and their families.

As I wrote previously, Brendina was married to Jacob Schlesinger, a butcher who had, like Brendina, emigrated from Germany with his family.  Brendina and Jacob had five children: Heloise (1874), Solomon Joseph (known as Joe, born 1875), Alfred (1879), Sidney (1880), and Aimee (1887). As of 1900, they were all still living together in in Philadelphia, and 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

Ten years later, all five children were still living at home, ranging in age from 23 to 35.  Jacob had retired, but the three sons were all employed as was the younger daughter, Aimee.  Joseph was working as a salesman in a department store as was Sidney, and Alfred and Aimee were both working in advertising—Alfred as a manager, Aimee as a clerk. Heloise was not working outside the home.

Brendina Katzenstein Schlesinger and family 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 37, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1407; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0912; FHL microfilm: 1375420

Brendina Katzenstein Schlesinger and family
1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 37, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1407; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0912; FHL microfilm: 1375420

The years between 1910 and 1920 were eventful years for the Schlesinger family, some joyful, some quite tragic.

In 1911 Sidney Schlesinger was the first of the Schlesinger children to marry; he married Anna Levis.  My father remembers her fondly as his cousin Nan, as she was called.  Nan was the daughter of William R. Levis and Caroline Bopp.  Her father William, a plumber and son of a bricklayer, was born on December 25, 1860, in Philadelphia.  He married Caroline Bopp, daughter of Moritz Bopp, a liquor dealer, on December 25, 1882, in a Methodist church in Philadelphia.  Nan was born May 19, 1886, in Philadelphia.  Sadly, Nan’s father died on March 15, 1898.  He was only 37 years old and died from heart disease.  Nan was only eleven years old.

William Levis death certificate "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-678Q-WCM?cc=1320976&wc=9F51-DP8%3A1073236401 : 16 May 2014), > image 1267 of 1772; Philadelphia City Archives

William Levis death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-678Q-WCM?cc=1320976&wc=9F51-DP8%3A1073236401 : 16 May 2014), > image 1267 of 1772; Philadelphia City Archives

Before marrying Sidney in 1911, Nan had been living with her mother, her uncle, and her grandfather Moritz Bopp.  She was working as a stenographer in a bolt factory where her uncle attended the furnace.   Nan was 25 when she married Sidney; he was 31. Sidney and Nan had a daughter Jane born on May 13, 1913, in Philadelphia.

Just a few months before Jane was born, the family suffered a loss on February 23, 1913, when Jacob Schlesinger died a few weeks before his seventieth birthday; he died from cerebral softening and myocarditis.  He was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery in Philadelphia.

Jacob Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 019891-023570

Jacob Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 019891-023570

Joe Schlesinger was the second child to marry; on July 11, 1915 he married Marie Wetherill in Philadelphia.  My father also has fond memories of his cousin Marie as a very sweet woman who cared for her mother-in-law Brendina for many years.  Marie was born on August 15, 1888. She was 27 when she married Joe, and he was 40.

I am sad that I’ve been unable yet to find out anything about Marie’s background or family history.  I did find a record of a Philadelphia birth certificate for a child born to a Francis M. Wetherill and his wife May on August 15, 1888, the same date given as Marie’s birth date on the SSDI and the Florida Death Index, but that child’s name was Emma Virginia M.  Wetherill.  Perhaps the M stood for Marie, but I can’t be sure.  Plus when I went to find the Wetherill family on the 1900 census, I could not find them, even though Marie would only have been twelve years old at that time.  If anyone has any suggestions for how I might learn more about Marie, please let me know.

possible-birth-record-for-marie

On October 29, 1915, the family suffered a terrible loss when Brendina’s oldest child Heloise died at age 41 of complications from diabetes.  Heloise had never married or worked out of the house so perhaps she had been suffering from diabetes for a long period of time. Like her father, Heloise was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery in Philadelphia.

Heloise Schlesinger death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 102051-105290

Heloise Schlesinger death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 102051-105290

As this obituary notes, “Her death caused great sorrow among a large circle of friends.” How very sad this must have been for her family and her friends.

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, November 5, 1915, p. 12

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, November 5, 1915, p. 12

 

Meanwhile, World War I was raging in Europe, and all three of Brendina’s sons registered for the World War I draft.  Joe was working for the Pennsylvania Furniture Company as a salesman and an inspector of some kind—can anyone decipher what that says?

S. Joseph Schlesinger World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907753; Draft Board: 29

S. Joseph Schlesinger World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907753; Draft Board: 29

Alfred was the secretary of a car advertising company:

Alfred Schlesinger World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907753; Draft Board: 29

Alfred Schlesinger
World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907753; Draft Board: 29

And Sidney was, like Joe, a furniture salesman but for Stern & Company:

Sidney Schlesinger World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907952; Draft Board: 43

Sidney Schlesinger World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907952; Draft Board: 43

Given that the three brothers were in their late 30s and early 40s during World War I, I do not believe any of them actually served in the war.

That was probably very fortunate as Brendina had already lost her husband and her daughter in less than three years. But the heartbreak did not end there.  On April 20, 1920, the youngest Schlesinger child, Aimee, died of breast cancer at age 33.

Aimee Schlesinger Steinberg death certificate Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 043501-046500

Aimee Schlesinger Steinberg death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 043501-046500

Aimee was married to Samuel Steinberg, a Russian immigrant who had immigrated to the US with his parents, Menashe and Deborah, in 1890 when he was just a baby.  His father was in the butter and eggs business in Philadelphia in 1900. By 1910 Menashe owned a store in Philadelphia where Samuel and his brother both worked.

When he registered for the World War I draft in June, 1917, Samuel was still single and working as a presser. Thus, he and Aimee could not have been married very long at the time of her death.  They were living in Philadelphia with Brendina and her son Alfred in 1920.  Samuel was a commercial traveler in the jewelry business at that time.

Aimee Schlesinger Steinberg and family 1920 census

Aimee Schlesinger Steinberg and family 1920 census

Philadelphia Inquirer April 22, 1920 p. 18

Philadelphia Inquirer April 22, 1920 p. 18

After Aimee died, Brendina was left with her three sons, Joseph, Alfred, and Sidney, who were all living in Philadelphia.  As noted above, in 1920 she was living with Alfred, who was still single and was in the advertising business.  Joe, like Alfred, was in advertising and living with his wife Marie in 1920. Sidney and Nan were living with their daughter Jane and Nan’s mother Caroline in 1920; Sidney was working as a furniture salesman.

Sidney Schlesinger and family 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 42, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1643; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 1563; Image: 705

Sidney Schlesinger and family 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 42, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1643; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 1563; Image: 705

Thus, after losing her parents in the 1890s and two of brothers in the 1900s, Brendina lost her husband and two of her daughters (as well as her last surviving brother Jacob) between 1910 and 1920.   Her only surviving sibling was my great-grandmother Hilda, who had moved all the way to Denver by 1910.  It’s hard to imagine how Aunt Dean endured so many losses.  And yet she did, for she lived long enough for my father to have clear memories of her. More on that in my next post.

 

[1] I am skipping over Jacob Katzenstein for now because I have ordered a book about the Jewish community in Johnstown and am waiting until I’ve read it before I continue the story of his life after the 1889 flood.

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.