Another Small World Story, Another Twist in the Family Tree

In my last post I described my discovery that Rose Mansbach Schoenthal was not only related to me by her marriage to Simon Schoenthal, the brother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, but that she was also related by marriage to my other great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein through her Mansbach cousins.   This post is about another discovery of a strange twist in my family tree, but this one involving two living cousins.

Last week I received a comment on an old blog post about Elizabeth Cohen, who was the sister of my other great-grandfather, Emanuel Cohen.  The man who left the comment on my blog, Joel Goldwein, is the great-grandson, through his mother’s side, of Elizabeth Cohen.  He is thus my third cousin.  I was, of course, delighted to make this connection, and I emailed Joel to learn more about him and our mutual family.

In the course of the exchange of emails, Joel shared information not only about his mother’s family, but also about his father, Manfred (Fred) Goldwein, who had escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport to England.  His father’s parents and other family members, however, were murdered by the Nazis.  Joel sent me a link to a website about his son’s bar mitzvah in Korbach, Germany, the town where his father was born and had lived until he left Germany.  I was very moved by the idea that Joel’s family had returned to this town to honor the memory of his father’s family.

I mentioned that I was going to be in Germany, not far from Korbach, because I had Hamberg ancestors from Breuna.  Joel then mentioned that his paternal great-grandparents are buried in Breuna and that he had visited the cemetery there.  He sent me a link to his photographs of the cemetery, and I looked through them in search of anyone named Hamberg.

Imagine my surprise to find this photograph:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein

Baruch Hamberg was the second cousin of my great-great-grandmother, Henrietta Hamberg Schoenthal.  More importantly, he was the great-grandfather of my fifth cousin, Rob Meyer.

Some of you may remember the story of Rob.  He and I connected through JewishGen’s Family Finder tool about a year and a half ago, and we learned that not only did Rob live about a mile from where I had once lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, we also had very good mutual friends.  It was one of those true goosebump moments in my genealogy research, standing in a cemetery in Longmeadow and talking to Rob as we realized that we both had the same close friends.

Rob’s mother had, like Joel’s father, escaped from Nazi Germany, and she also, like Joel’s father, had lost most of the rest of her family in the Holocaust. I sent the headstone photograph to Rob, and I asked whether he might be related to Joel.  Rob answered, suggesting that perhaps he was related to Joel not through Baruch Hamberg, but through Baruch’s mother, Breinchen Goldwein.  A little more digging around revealed that in fact Joel was related to Breinchen: her brother Marcus Goldwein was Joel’s paternal great-grandfather.

Thus, Joel and Rob are third cousins, once removed, through Rob’s mother’s side and Joel’s father side. And although they did not know of each other at all, Joel also had a photograph of the street in Breuna named in memory of Rob’s aunt:

Courtesy of Joel Goldwein

.

It gave me great pleasure to introduce Rob and Joel to each other, who soon discovered that not only are they third cousins through their Goldwein family line, they are also both doctors and both graduates of the same medical school.

And they are both my cousins, Rob through his mother’s Hamberg side and Joel through his mother’s Cohen side.

There truly are only six degrees of separation.

Jacob Katzenstein’s Second Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

engagement-of-perry-katzenstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Katzenstein: Before, During, and After the Flood

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

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

jacob-katzenstein-to-jacob-goldsmith

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

marcus-bohm-in-winograd-book

(Winograd, p. 78)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Who Was Ella Bohm Katzenstein? A Genealogy Adventure

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

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

milton-b-katzenstein-birth-record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jacob-katzenstein-to-jacob-goldsmith

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

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

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

marcus-bohm-manifest-from-family-search

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

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

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

Washington Reporter, April 12, 1860, p. 3

Washington Reporter, April 12, 1860, p. 3

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

ad-for-marcus-bohm-1860

 

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

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

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

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

marcus-bohm-bankrupt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 1916, p. 18

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 1916, p. 18

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

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