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