One Thousand Posts

This is the 1000th post I’ve published on this blog. It all started almost eight years ago when my cousin Judy Ruzicka, a Brotman second cousin, suggested that instead of emailing my research discoveries to all the Brotman cousins, I create a blog where people could subscribe and see my research. I had at that time read and followed a few blogs, but had never thought about creating one. Judy did the initial setup on WordPress, and I started to publish. Haltingly at first. Posting one census record or death record and adding a few words.

This was my first post. No commentary or analysis, just an image.

Bessie was Joseph's second wife and mother of five children

Bessie Brod Brotman Moskowitz—the first image I posted back in September 2013

And then it grew. I started realizing that I could tell stories about the relatives I was researching. I could put together narratives, and when I started doing that, I could see where I had holes in my research or where I needed more sources. And suddenly I found that I had more than my Brotman cousins reading along. I had other bloggers reading as well. And I started reading their blogs, and that gave me ideas for my own research and my own writing.

From there I discovered I could share my blog on Facebook and connect with more researchers and learn even more about family history research. The blog became a bigger and bigger part of my life. I at one point was posting three or four times a week and writing posts that were sometimes 3000 words. But I then learned that sometimes too much is too much. People didn’t want to read that much in one day or that often. So I cut my publishing schedule to twice a week and my post lengths to about 1000 words.

Then the best part started to happen. Cousins started to find me through my blog. Someone would Google their grandfather’s name or their great-grandmother’s name and find them mentioned on my blog. They would contact me, and I would learn more about that part of my family—often leading to photographs, letters, documents, and memoirs and memories. The blog itself became a way of advancing my research. Today I have connected with well over 200 living cousins, many because they found my blog.

Joseph Brotman’s headstone, the avatar I use for WordPress and for my blog

So as I post Number 1000, I wanted to stop and recognize and thank all those who have supported this endeavor by reading, commenting, sharing, and finding my blog. From Judy Ruzicka, who started it all, to all the family members, friends, and fellow genealogy and other bloggers who read the blog—whether periodically or regularly—thank you for giving me this platform to share and expand my family history project.

Now—on to post 1001! I will be taking a break to spend some time with my kids, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

 

Where Am I? At A Crossroads

I am once again at a crossroads in my genealogy research.  I have, for now, found as much as I can find about the children of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  And I have also exhausted, for now, the resources available for learning about the family of Amalia Hamberg.  There are more Hambergs and Schoenthals to research, however.  Levi Schoenthal had (at least) two sisters—Mina who married Marcus Rosenberg and Fradchen (Fanny), who married Simon Goldschmidt.  Both sisters immigrated to the US and settled at least for some time in western Pennsylvania.  I have written about them some, but there is much more to do.

There is also a lot more to do with the family of Henriette Hamberg, my great-great-grandmother.  Although I have written about some of the other Hambergs—Amalia, Charles/Baruch, Abraham, and Moses—who came to the US in the 19th century, there were many more who stayed in Germany, and their family story is one I need to research more deeply and write about.  It won’t be an easy one to research or to share.

And then there is also some additional information about my Seligmann relatives that has more recently come to light.

On my mother’s side, I have done a fair amount of work on the Goldfarb family, but have yet had a chance to write about them.  They were the cousins I discovered when my cousin shared with me my aunt’s baby book and my grandfather’s notebook.  I have been hoping to get to their story for quite a while, but wanted some closure on the Schoenthal family first.

And then there are my remaining two great-great-grandparents on my father’s side—Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt, parents of my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein, who married Isidore Schoenthal.

First, I have a few sad notices to post about recent losses in the family.  And then? Where do I go next?

crossroads-303896_1280

Do I finish the Schoenthals by focusing on Fanny and Mina? Do I complete the Hamberg line?

Do I turn back temporarily to the Seligmanns and fill in a few gaps?

Or should I move on to my next two paternal lines, the Katzensteins and Goldschmidts?

Or do I turn to something on my mother’s side—-the Goldfarbs?

This is why people say you are never finished with your family history.  As for where I turn next, I am going to give it some thought and see where I land.  The compulsive side of me says stick with the Schoenthals until I am done.  The less compulsive side (there is no non-compulsive side) says break free, don’t be so logical, jump to something else.  Let’s see which side wins.

 

My Grandfather’s Notebook: A Post-Script, And Merry Christmas to All Who Celebrate!

Although I do not celebrate Christmas, I always enjoy the lights and trees and music and spirit of these days, and it struck me as entirely consistent with that spirit when I received the following comment on my last post from TK, a fellow genealogy blogger:

Amy, I enjoyed your post, and I’ve staged a little concert for you based on your grandfather’s list of musical pieces. It’s on my blog, Before My Time. It’s video-intensive, so it takes time to load. I found videos for all but four of the songs. Enjoy!

You can see TK’s blog post here and listen to all the music yourself. What a truly generous and kind gift this was—a compilation of the music listed in my grandfather’s little pocket calendar.  Thank you so much, TK!  I truly enjoyed listening to every piece of music.

One thing that struck me after reading TK’s blog post and listening to the music was that many of these pieces of music seemed to be student pieces, fairly short and simple pieces of music that a student taking piano lessons might play. But my grandparents certainly did not have a piano in the house, nor had I ever heard of anyone in the family playing the piano.

But I then thought about my cousin Beth’s comment on Facebook that her father, my uncle, had played the violin for many years and was quite accomplished.  Were these pieces that he played?

I decided to go back and examine the handwriting more carefully.  After comparing the writing to that of my grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and mother, I now think that my uncle probably wrote the list.  What do you all think?

Here is the music page (you will have to click and zoom to see the handwriting clearly enough):

Grandpa notebook music

Here is my grandfather’s writing:

Grandpa notebook page 7 more notes about Maurice and hospital

This is what I thousht was my aunt’s handwriting as a child, which also looks somewhat like that on the music page: adult:

Grandpa Notebook 3 aunt elaine playing school

But this is her handwriting as an adult, and it’s very different, so maybe that’s not my aunt’s writing above?

 

Grandpa notebook Aunt Elaine names 1

 

My uncle wrote this page:

Grandpa notebook 8 maurice hunting notes 1934

This is my mother’s handwriting as a young child:

Grandpa Notebook 2 Mom note about teacher

And my grandmother wrote this page later in life in her 60s and probably wrote some of the entries on the page below it when she was in her 40s:

Grandpa notebook 1964 notes by Grandma

Grandpa Notebook 5 more addresses

So who wrote the page with all the pieces of music listed?  Anyone care to venture an opinion?

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For all of you who celebrate, I wish you a wonderful and joyous Christmas.  And if I may borrow and paraphrase the traditional saying, may there be peace on earth and good will to all.