Time for A Break

I started writing about my Blumenfeld family back in August of 2021—almost a year and a half ago. In my first post about the Blumenfelds, I pointed out that my four times great-grandparents Abraham Katz Blumenfeld and Geitel Katz had six children, one being my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein, whose descendants I covered in my work on the Katzenstein family several years ago.

Abraham and Geitel’s first-born child was their son Moses, who had three children, Abraham II, Isaac, and Gelle. So far, in the seventeen months or so that I’ve been posting about the Blumenfelds, I’ve not even reached Gelle or finished Isaac, let alone any of the other children of Abraham I and Geitel, the other four siblings of Moses and Breine: Sprintz, Hanna, Maier, and Jakob.

Sometimes it just feels overwhelming, and I wonder how many more years it will take before I reach Abraham and Geitel’s youngest child, Jakob. I believe each and every one of these relatives should be remembered, and my goal remains to do my best to honor their memories. But at times I feel like I am in an endless maze from which I will never emerge.

And so it’s time to take a break from blogging. I need to reinvigorate myself and clear my head so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed. I will be back—maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe longer. And when I am, I will be writing about Isaac Blumenfeld I’s eighth child, his daughter Rebecca Blumenfeld Rosenberg, one of the over 80 great-grandchildren of my four-times great-grandparents, Abraham Blumenfeld I and Geitel Katz.

Until then I will be enjoying a break from screens and getting outside as much as possible, reading books, and seeing friends and family. I will keep up with blogs and emails, of course, but otherwise hope to limit my time on the computer.

See you all soon! Have a good couple of weeks or whatever it takes until I am ready to return to the blogiverse!

 

Quick Blog Update


I am deep into researching both the Schoenthals and the Hambergs, and I am not sure which way to turn first.  The resources are so rich, and I keep stepping further into both lines, going backwards, forwards, and sideways!  I've been so fascinated with the research that I've not had much time to write about what I am finding, but I will get there.  Right now my biggest question is---do I finish researching the Hambergs or spend time writing about the Schoenthals?  I am not good at being torn in two different directions.  I've got one post ready to go for tomorrow about the Hambergs, but I think after that I will go back to the Schoenthal side.

Anyway, in between digging through German birth, marriage, and death records, I realized that I had neglected to update the family tree pages on the blog.  I’ve now updated the Seligmann family tree page and added a family tree page for the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss lines.  I have also added a Schoenthal page, subject to more updating (as are they all), and eventually I will also add a Hamberg page.  These pages can all be found in the header at the top of the page.

Now back to struggling between more research or some writing….

 

The Cohens: Questions Left to Answer

Now that I have gone through all the lines descending from Hart Levy Cohen and Rachel Jacobs through their children and grandchildren up to current descendants, I have to look back and see what I missed.  What are the big questions and small questions that remain unanswered?  Otherwise, I may leave some things unsolved and accept gaps in my research.  So this blog post is my attempt to outline those unanswered questions as a way to remind myself not to be too self-satisfied with what I have done.

File:Questionmark.svg

 

Overall, I am quite amazed by how much I was able to find.  It really helped that (1) there were generations in the US going back as far as 1848 because US records are much more accessible to me and (2) that most of my Cohen relatives lived in Pennsylvania, a state that has made many of its records available online.  It also helped that both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Washington Evening Star covered society happenings like parties, engagements, and weddings because it was through those resources that I was able to find a lot of the married names of the Cohen women.

So what is there left to research?  First and foremost, I would love to be able to find the parents and grandparents and other ancestors of Hart Levy Cohen.  I don’t know that I will ever be able to do this, given how little luck I had at the archives in Amsterdam and also given that surnames were not adopted by Jews until the early 1800s.  But new records are uncovered all the time, so I will not give up hope yet.  Related to that, of course, is finding the ancestors for my great-great-great grandmother Rachel Jacobs.

As for the next generation after Hart and Rachel, the big questions left unanswered relate to Hart and Rachel’s son Moses.  Although I do not have DNA proof that the Moses who married Adeline Himmel was their son, I am confident that he was based on the weight of the circumstantial evidence.  Maybe a descendant of Isadore Baer Cohen will come along, but even without that, I am convinced that this was the right Moses.  Rather, the real unanswered question for me is when and where did Moses meet and marry Adeline Himmel?  When did she come to the United States from Baden?  I have no evidence yet relating to either of these questions.

The remaining questions are not as important to me in terms of the overall story of the family.  They almost all relate to the absence of death records.  Among those for whom I have no death records are: Joseph Cohen’s daughter Fannie; Abraham’s son Arthur; Harry Selinger, Augusta and Julius Selinger’s son; Rachel Cohen Selinger; Aaron Hartstall; Monroe Selinger; JM Cohen’s son Arthur; Hart DC’s son Jacob Cohen; Estelle Spater Cole, Sol’s wife; Gary Cole, Jacob G. Cole’s son; and Lewis Cohen, son of Reuben Cohen, Sr.

Then there are a number of people for whom I have a date of death from an index, but no death certificate, like Simon L.B Cohen—why did he die so young?  There are also many for whom I have a marriage record from an index, but no marriage certificate.  I am not sure how important it is to see the actual document where I am otherwise certain of the identity of the individuals who married or died, but eventually if those documents become available, I should obtain them.

And there are also a few cases where I could not determine whether a person had any children—such as Violet Cohen, daughter of Reuben Cohen, Sr.; Jonas Cohen, Jr.; and Morton and Kathryn Selinger. I was unable to find out whether Caroline Hamberg married Robert Daley or anyone else. Finally, there are the two children of Sallie R. Cohen who were orphaned after Sallie and her husband Ellis Abrams died; I do not know what happened to them.

Listing all those names makes me feel like there is so much more to do, but I also have to remind myself of how much I’ve already done.  I realize that this is perhaps not the most exciting blog post for those reading it, but it will serve as an important post for me to return to when I need to remember the questions that I still have to answer.

My next post will be more reflective; I need to step back, look at the story of my Cohen relatives, and think about what I have learned about them and about history and about myself by doing this research.

So Many Cohens, So Many Stories to Tell

Alone and drowning

 (Photo credit: wok)

I am feeling a little overwhelmed.  I thought there were a lot of Rosenzweigs; after all, Gustave had nine children and Tillie had seven.  But my great-great-grandparents Jacob and Sarah Cohen had THIRTEEN children, and Jacob’s brother Moses had five more. And they are only the first generation of American Cohens.  There are two more to go before I get to my generation, and each generation gets bigger.  Fortunately, Jacob’s other siblings did not have children, or I would really be drowning in Cohens.

As is it, I am not sure where to start or how to tell the story of Hart Levy and Rachel Cohen’s grandchildren.  Do I keep doing it by decade, jumping from one of those descendants to another?  Do I take each one and discuss his or her life separately?  Doing it the first way gives me more of an opportunity to see and describe the big picture, but it could make each post very long if I tell the story of all the grandchildren’s lives in a particular decade.  Doing it one by one would be simpler, but would mean losing the chance to see overall trends in the family.

I am also still researching each one of these eighteen grandchildren and looking ahead to see how many children each one of them brought into the world.  I haven’t even begun to research that generation—the great-grandchildren of Hart and Rachel, many of whom lived far into the 20th century.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  One thing at a time.  First, the children of Jacob and Sarah.  Then the children of Moses and Adeline.

Since Jacob and Sarah’s children were born over a twenty year span from Frances (1846) to Abraham (1866), I think it makes sense to take a few of these children at a time in chronological sets.  I will do first the four oldest, then the middle five, and then the last four.  Some of these people, especially the women, I have not been able to track completely, but amazingly for most of them, I have been able to go from birth to death.

Once I have done Jacob and Sarah’s children, I will turn to the five children of Moses and Adeline Cohen.  I am still researching the question of whether or not the DC Cohens were in fact related to the Philadelphia Cohens, but I am operating under the assumption that they were in fact all descendants of Hart and Rachel.  I am even having my brother take a DNA test to see if we can make the linkage.  Only time will tell, but meanwhile I am going with my hunch that Moses and Jacob were brothers.

So that’s where I am.  Thanks for letting me think out loud and get organized.  It may take a bit longer to get each of these posts researched and written, so I may be posting a little less frequently. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the Cohen clan.

If you think my plan makes no sense, let me know.  I am more than open to suggestions on how to tell the story.

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Assessment time

It’s time for my periodic review of what I have learned and where I am going in my research.  I keep a Word document with lists of things I need to do, but sometimes I need to step back and see the whole picture, then step forward and see the details.

English: Forest trees Part of the forest which...

English: Forest trees Part of the forest which is a bit more mature than some of the other parts along the path here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Brotman side, I think I am in fairly good shape.  I have found descendants of all but one of Joseph and Bessie Brotman’s children, although I am not in touch with all of the descendants.  The only missing link is Sophie Brotman; I’ve had absolutely no luck finding any records for her.  I don’t know when she arrived, whether she married and, if so, who she married, where she lived, where she died.  And sadly, I don’t think I ever will.  There is no one left alive to ask about Sophie; none of the descendants I’ve spoken with know anything about her.  Perhaps one of Abraham’s descendants might know something, so I will contact Paula, the one Abraham descendant I’ve been in touch with, and see if she has ever heard of an aunt named Sophie.

Bessie

Bessie

The big research area remaining for me on the Brotman side is finding out whether we are related to any other Brotmans, in particular the Brotmans who settled in Brotmanville.  I am in touch with a few of Moses Brotman’s descendants, and one is a genealogist, so we plan to collaborate and see whether we can find the connection between our families.  If we can, that may also lead me to other clues about where in Galicia Joseph and Bessie lived and to clues about other family members.

Moses Brotman

Moses Brotman—Joseph’s brother?

On the Goldschlager branch, I think I am also in fairly good shape.  I have found the descendants of Moritz, my great-grandfather, and of Betty and David Goldschlager, my grandfather’s siblings, and I know about the lives of Betty and David and their children.  I’d love to go back and research Moritz Goldschlager’s family, but since his parents died when he was a young child, there does not seem to be too much more I can learn.  My Romanian researcher did not find anything more related to my Goldschlager relatives, so I may have reached the brick wall with respect to that line.

Moritz Goldschlager

Moritz Goldschlager

On the other hand, the Rosenzweig branch, my great-grandmother Ghitla’s family, still has a number of unanswered questions.  I have been able to learn a great deal about most of the children of David and Esther Rosenzweig, my great-great-grandparents, but Zusi Rosenzweig remains a mystery.  Her descendants were not responsive to my inquiries, so I may have to find another way to get closure on Zusi and her son Nathan and her husband Harry Mintz.  I’ve had better luck with Tillie Rosenzweig Strolowitz Adler and her children and grandchildren and have been in touch with two of her great-grandchildren.  There are still some loose ends there, but for the most part I have been able to find a fair amount about the children of Tillie and Jankel and even about their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

As for the family of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig, I still have some open questions, mostly about the daughters Lillie, Lizzie and Ray.  This week I spoke with one of Sarah’s granddaughters, and I am hoping that she will also be able to help me find out more about her grandmother’s sisters, but as of right now, I have not been able to find any of the descendants of Lillie, Lizzie or Ray.

So that’s where I am in this journey to find my mother’s family.  I feel as though I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, though there is still plenty of tunnel to get through.

Tunnel

What do I do now besides continue to search for answers to the remaining questions?  I have a number of thoughts.

For one, I want to continue to build the relationships I’ve made with all my new cousins on both sides of my mother’s family—the Brotmans and the Goldschlager/Rosenzweigs.  Having found them, I don’t want to lose them again.  Facebook and email make this so much easier, but it will still take effort.  I also want to see if I can organize a meeting for the Rosenzweig/Goldschlager cousins like we had for the Brotmans earlier this month.

I also want to pull all my research together into a format that will make it more easily accessible.  I’d like to tell the story of the Brotmans, Goldschlagers and Rosenzweigs as a chronological story so that someone can pick it up and get the whole story without having to jump from blog post to blog post, searching for the next discovery.  That is a larger project, and I don’t even know how to start it, but that is what I see as my ultimate goal—to write the book that tells the stories so that our descendants will have it and know who their ancestors were.

And then there is the next huge research task: my father’s side.  That will be a very different research experience.  His family has been in this country for about fifty years longer than my mother’s family.  They came from Germany and from England.  They settled and lived in other places: Philadelphia, western Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Mexico, among other places.  There will be a lot more American and European records available, which will make the task both easier and harder.  I’ve already traced one of my father’s lines back to the 1750s or so in Amsterdam, a full century earlier than I’ve been able to trace any of my mother’s relatives.  I look forward to this research with some trepidation because of the size of the task ahead.  But I am also excited by the idea that I have more discoveries, more stories, more understanding of my family and of myself ahead of me.

 

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Blog Update

Just a quick note to let you know that I have updated the page for David and Esther Rosenzweig’s Descendants to include the newly found children and other descendants of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig.  There is also an updated family tree (see the link) and some new photos, so check it out when you get a chance.  The page is found by clicking on the appropriate title at the top of the blog page under the main title.

Enjoy!

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Blog updates

I’ve made some updates to the blog to reflect my new findings and also to create pages for the Goldschlager/Rosenzweig side of my family.

On the top menu you will now see pages for the Descendants of Ira and Beila Goldschlager and for the Descendants of David and Esther Rosenzweig.  I’ve also added a page for David and Sophie Brotman under Joseph and Bessie Brotman’s descendants.

In addition, I’ve updated the text on some of the pages to reflect my new findings.  For example, Abraham Brotman’s page now includes his arrival and ship manifest information.  I’ve also added new pictures to several pages including to the Newer Generations page.  That page, as well as the Brotman family tree pages, are password protected to ensure the privacy of living individuals.  If you need the password, please email me, and I will provide you with the password (sorry, family only).

I still need to create family trees for the Goldschlager/Rosenzweig side and update the family trees on the Brotman side.

That’s today’s updates.  More pictures tomorrow!

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Looking forward: Skiing on the Blue Trails

Having looked back to see what I have learned, I have also gained some insight into to what I still want to learn and what I need to do to get there.

There are a number of unresolved questions.  For me, the most important issue remains determining where our family lived in Galicia.  I am currently assuming that our family came from Dzikow Tarnobrzeg, but it’s only based on two forms completed by Hyman, one referring to Jeekief as his birthplace, the other referring to Giga as his birthplace.  Hyman’s forms had so many inconsistencies in terms of birth date and other facts that I do not want to rely too heavily on it being Dzikow Tarnobrzeg since, as my last post said, forms are not necessarily reliable.  Plus I am speculating that Jeekief/Giga is a phonetic spelling of Dzikow.  Plus there was another Dzikow in Galicia.  But I have to start somewhere, so that’s my current focus.

I am just starting to work with the sources available for documents from Galicia, and I need to devote a lot more time to learning how to search and how to interpret those forms.  I am networking with some other researchers who are also searching in that region or who are also searching for the surname Brotman.  So far nothing relevant has turned up.  I plan to take an online course in May that may help me become a better researcher with respect to these resources and documents.

The second goal I have for my research is trying to locate any other children or siblings of Joseph and/or Bessie.  My brother recalls that my aunt thought that Joseph had four older children in the United States—that is, four who were older than the five children he had with Bessie.  We have found two of those four—Abraham and Max.  There is another Brotman family from Passaic, New Jersey, that I am trying to learn more about.  From what I can tell, it seems there were two brothers, Jacob and Benjamin, who could possibly be sons of Joseph, born after Abraham but before Max.  I have been in touch with relatives of theirs, but as with the Brotmanville Brotmans, I can’t seem to find anything that links their family to ours.  I need to learn the name of the Passaic brothers’ parents before I can begin to determine if there is a connection.  I have the same goal with Brotmanville Brotmans, but without more research of European records for Moses Brotman, I cannot get any further.

So those are my two research goals: go further back in time to learn more about Joseph and Bessie’s families and to find links to other possible families in the United States or elsewhere.

I think that this process has a learning curve similar to learning many other new skills.  It reminds me of learning to ski.  At first it goes very slowly; you don’t know what you are doing and figure that you never will.  You find yourself on the ground as much as you are moving on the skis.  It seems like you will never make progress.  Then suddenly you figure it out—you know how to get down a novice trail pretty easily.  You even start to look like you are skiing, and you think, “Wow, I am actually making progress.  I am skiing.”

But then you decide to try a steeper trail, a blue trail.  If you are a skier like I was, you suddenly find you are stuck somewhere on that trail, staring down and thinking, “Whoa! That’s really scary.  I can’t do that!” And you feel like a beginner all over again.  You start falling, your turns get more awkward, and you look like a klutz compared to everyone else.  You start to think that maybe you will never get off those easy green trails.[1]

That’s what I feel like now.  I am standing at the top of a steeper trail, knowing that getting to the bottom will take a lot longer than it did with the green trail.   I don’t expect to find as many pieces of evidence as quickly as I did while looking for US documents.  But I have to start down this trail—I can’t just stay at the top or return to the green trails.  I need to jump off and start the next part of the adventure.  The rewards may not come as quickly, but when they do, I will once again have that feeling of accomplishment.

I hope you will follow me as I go.  I am not sure what I will find or whether I will find anything, but I am ready to try.


[1][1] I have to admit that as a skier, I never actually made much progress getting off the green trails.  I am hoping that I can get further in my genealogy skills than I ever got with skiing.  At least I won’t have to worry about breaking any bones.

What’s next?

I am currently waiting for three more documents that I am hoping will provide some clues to where our family lived in Galicia: Hyman and Sophie’s marriage certificate, Tilly’s death certificate, and Max’s naturalization papers. It may be quite a while before I get these three documents since (1) the FHL is currently not processing requests because it is upgrading its system; (2) I just ordered Tilly’s death certificate from NYC, and that will take at least a few weeks, and (3) USCIS estimates a 90 day wait for naturalization records, and I only made that request four weeks ago.  Thus, I may not have any new information for quite a while. From my experience with marriage and death certificates, I am not too hopeful that I will get anything too helpful from the first two; I have no idea what the naturalization papers may provide, but they may be our best chance for finding another clue as to the hometown.  I remain determined to find the answer to the question of where our family lived.

I also may not soon have an answer for the other big question: are we related to the Brotmanville Brotmans, and if so, how? Without some way to learn more about Moses Brotman’s parents, I can’t make a connection between Moses and Joseph. Even though I was able to find two of Moses’ living descendants, neither can answer any questions about his parents, and the other living descendants have been unwilling to respond to my inquiries.  To be honest, I doubt they would have that information anyway.

To answer either of these questions will require access to documents from Galicia that date back before 1890, documents that are obviously not in English.  Although many Galician records exist and are indexed on various websites, I have not been able yet to find anything that relates to our ancestors or Moses’ Brotman’s ancestors.  I need more help, more training, more experience before I can do that effectively.  I will be consulting with some others with more experience to see how to get the education I need. I have just joined a Yahoo Group for people interested in genealogy research in the Tarnozbreg region of Poland, which is where Dzikow is located, the town I think may be the most likely place our family lived in Galicia. I just have to be patient and willing to work hard, and I believe I will find the answers to these questions.

That does not mean that there is nothing to do until then.  There is still a lot to do to make the blog a real resource for our family and for future generations.  I need your help for that.  Yes, more photos and documents would be great.  But I’ve been thinking that it would also be nice to add more personal information about some of the family members I never knew. I’ve added some personal touches to the descriptions of my grandparents, aunt and uncle, but I didn’t know Abraham, Max, Hyman, Tilly or any of their children.  I need help from the rest of you to add a personal dimension to their portraits. Right now I am working on a portrait of Tilly and her life, for example.  Even a brief description of a person’s career, interests, or personality will add some “flesh” to the facts and dates that are currently reported on the blog pages. Are any of you are interested in writing either a “guest post” or in providing a few words to add to the page about your parents or grandparents?  What would you like future generations of Brotmans to know about their ancestors?

Family Trees: Blog Tip

It seems that some people are having trouble locating the family trees on the blog.  If you click [1]on the words “Joseph’s Descendants: Family Trees” near the top of the page (under the blog title), a page will open that has a list of family trees. There is one for Joseph, which goes only to the third generation (Joseph’s grandchildren).  Then there are separate trees for each of Joseph’s children, following through a few more generations.  The trees are all quite large, so you will need to zoom in to read the names, but then you can move around that page to see the various relationships.  You can also save the trees to your own computer.  They are in PDF format.

Hope that helps.


[1] If you just let your mouse hover over those words, a dropdown menu displays the names of Joseph’s seven children.  If you click on one of those names, it will open that person’s page.  You need to click on “Joseph’s Descendants: Family Trees” to open the family tree page.