My Great-Grandmother Hilda

I have now written about all of the siblings of my great-grandmother, Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, as well as about her parents and some of her aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I still have more of the Katzenstein extended family to discuss, but first I want to look back at the life of my great-grandmother.  Her story has been covered only in bits and pieces through the stories of her husband and children and through the stories of her parents and siblings.  Isn’t that all too often the case with women—that their stories are seen only through the stories of those who surrounded them? Especially since this is Women’s History Month, I wanted to be sure to give my great-grandmother her own page, her own story.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, my great-grandmother

Hilda was the third daughter and sixth and youngest child of her parents, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt.  She was the third of the six to be born in the United States—in Philadelphia on August 17, 1863.

When Hilda was three years old, her sibling closest in age, Hannah, died at age seven from scarlet fever. Hilda was seven years younger than her brother Perry, who was the second closest to her in age, and so there was a big gap between Hilda and her surviving older siblings. Joe was fifteen years older, Jacob thirteen years older, and Brendena was ten years older than Hilda. My great-grandmother was the baby of the family, and I would imagine that after losing their daughter Hannah, her parents must have been very protective of her.

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-1

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1870 census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 Dist 48 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1429; Page: 708B; Image: 96949; Family History Library Film: 552928

Her sister Brendena married Jacob Schlesinger in 1871 when Hilda was just eight years old. By the time Hilda was ten years old in 1873, her oldest brother Joe had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and within a few years after that her other two brothers, Jacob and Perry, had also moved to western Pennsylvania.  Thus, Hilda was still quite young when her older siblings left home, leaving her to live with just her parents.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Katzenstein family Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

But her brother Joe’s move to Washington, Pennsylvania proved fateful for Hilda and for my family as it was there that she met her future husband, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, who had only arrived in the US a few years earlier from Sielen, Germany.

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

Hilda married him in 1888 when she was 25 years old and settled with him in Little Washington where he was a china dealer.  Their first son, Lester, was born that same year.

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

Then a series of tragic events hit the Katzenstein family. In the spring 1889, Hilda’s brother Jacob lost his wife Ella and both of his sons, one before the Johnstown flood and two as a result of the flood. The following year, my great-grandfather Gerson died at age 75.  Hilda named her second child for her father; Gerson Katzenstein Schoenthal was born on January 20, 1892. A year later Hilda lost her mother, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, on September 6, 1893; she was 66.

Hilda did not have another child until August, 1901, when my great-uncle Harold was born—more than nine years after Gerson.  Just a few months after Harold’s birth, Hilda’s brother Joe died in December, 1901; just over a year and a half later, her brother Perry died in August, 1903.  Hilda was forty years old and had lost her parents and three of her five siblings.  Only Jacob and Brendena remained.

In March, 1904, my great-grandmother Hilda gave birth to her last child and only daughter, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal, named for Hilda’s mother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

eva-schoenthal-cohen-watermarked

My grandmother, Eva Schoenthal

When my grandmother was just a small child, her parents decided to leave Washington, Pennsylvania, and move to Denver, Colorado, believing that the mountain air would be better for their son Gerson, who had developed asthma.

Thus, Hilda packed up her children and belongings and moved far away from her two remaining siblings: Brendena, who was living with her husband Jacob and family in Philadelphia, and Jacob, who by that time had remarried and was living with his second wife Bertha and their children in Johnstown.  I don’t believe Hilda or Isidore knew anyone in Denver, but somehow they started their lives over in this city far from their families back east.

They remained in Denver for at least twenty years, raising my grandmother and my great-uncles. During the many years that Hilda lived in Denver, her brother Jacob died, and her sister Brendena lost her husband as well as both of her daughters.  It must have been hard to live so far away from all of her family during those painful times.

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal

Isidore, Hilda (Katzenstein), and Eva Schoenthal in Denver

After many years in Denver, Hilda and Isidore moved back east. Their son Harold had gone back east for college, and my grandmother had moved to Philadelphia after she married my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, in 1923.  She had met him when, after graduating from high school, she’d gone to visit relatives in Philadelphia, probably Brendena’s family.

My father and aunt were born in the 1920s, and they were my great-grandparents’ only grandchildren at that time.  I assume that they were part of the reason that by 1930, my great-grandparents returned to the east and settled in Montclair, New Jersey, where their son Harold lived and not far from my grandmother and my aunt and father.

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva HIlda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

HIlda (Katzenstein) Schoenthal, Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen, Eva Hilda Cohen, and Harold Schoenthal

Hilda and Isidore lived in Montclair until 1941 when they moved to Philadelphia so that my grandmother could take care of them, both being elderly and in poor health by that time. Hilda died from pneumonia  on August 17, 1941, just seven months after the move to Philadelphia; she died on her 78th birthday. Her husband Isidore died eleven months later on July 10, 1942.  They were buried at Restland Memorial Park in East Hanover, New Jersey.

Looking back over my great-grandmother’s life, I have several thoughts.  Although she was the baby of the family, she was also the only one who ventured far from where her family lived.  Her brothers left Philadelphia, but never left Pennsylvania; her sister lived in Philadelphia for her entire life after arriving as a child from Germany. Hilda moved across the state to marry Isidore Schoenthal, and Hilda was the only Katzenstein sibling to leave the east, moving with her husband and four children all the way to Colorado.

Her life was also marked by many losses, some quite tragic: a sister died as a young child, her parents died before Hilda was thirty years old, and two of her brothers died before Hilda was forty.  Several nieces and nephews also died prematurely.  Her brother Jacob also predeceased her; she was 52 when he died. So many losses must have had an effect on her perspective on life.

On the other hand, she had a long marriage and four children who grew to adulthood.  She lived to see two of her grandchildren, my father and aunt, grow to be teenagers. My father remembers her as a loving, affectionate, and sweet woman; she loved to cook, and when for a period of time he lived near her in Montclair, she would make lunch for him on school days.

Hilda saw more of America than her parents and siblings, and she lived longer than any of them except for her sister Brendena, who survived her. She endured many losses in her life, but the love she received from her family must have outweighed all that sadness, for my father recalls her as a very loving and positive woman.

From Katzenstein to Kay: America, the Land of Immigrants

This is the story of how the grandchildren of my great-great-grandparents became assimilated into American society. Their father, S. J. Katzenstein, was born in Germany and came to the US as a young boy; he became a successful business man in Washington, Pennsylvania, where his sister, my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein, had also lived after marrying my great-grandfather, Isidore Schoenthal.  His children, born in Washington, Pennsylvania, like my grandmother, grew up to become full-fledged Americans.

S.J. Katzenstein had died in 1901 when he was only 53 years old. He and his wife Henrietta Sigmund had six children: Moynelle (1879), Milton (1881), Howard (1882), Ivan (1884), Earl (1885), and Vernon (1892).  Moynelle, the oldest child, had married Bert Spanye on October 10, 1900, in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye marriage record Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye marriage record
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT.

Bert was born September 24, 1868, in what was then a town in Hungary called Giralt. (Today it is known as Giraltovce and is in Slovakia).  According to a family genealogy website, Bert came to the US in 1887 with his uncle, CK Sunshine.  His parents, Emanuel and Rose Sonnenschein, did not emigrate.  Bert changed his surname from Sonnenschein to Spanye, unlike much of the rest of his extended family in the US who changed it to Sunshine.

According to an article written in the December 20, 1924 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p.15), when he first came to the US, Bert taught Latin, Greek, and German at Farmington College in Hiram, Ohio.  Then his uncle started him in business in a small Ohio town, and a few years later in February, 1899, Bert along with his uncle and another partner, Louis Black, started the Bailey & Company department store in Cleveland.  It became very successful.

When he and Moynelle were engaged,  the news was was written up in the June 17, 1900 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p. 10):

to-wed-pennsylvania-girl-mr-b-a-spanye-page-002

to-wed-pennsylvania-girl-mr-b-a-spanye-page-003

 

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

an-employer-surprised-mr-bert-a-spanye-of-the-bailey-co-page-002

an-employer-surprised-mr-bert-a-spanye-of-the-bailey-co-page-003

After they married, they settled in Cleveland; their first child, Edward, was born on September 19, 1902. On the 1910 census, Bert, Moynelle, and their son Edward were living at 11338 Belleflower Road and Bert’s uncle Charles (CK) and Moynelle’s mother (listed as Hattie here) were living with them as well as two servants.

Bert and Moynelle (Katzenstein) Spanye 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 26, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T624_1176; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0388; FHL microfilm: 1375189

Bert and Moynelle (Katzenstein) Spanye 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 26, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T624_1176; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0388; FHL microfilm: 1375189

By that time at least three of Moynelle’s brothers had also relocated to Cleveland. Her brother Earl appears in the 1907 Cleveland directory, listing his occupation as a salesman (perhaps for his brother-in-law’s store).  Ivan Katzenstein is listed in the 1909 Cleveland directory as a department manager, and Earl as a clerk.  They and their mother Henrietta were all living at 11338 Belleflower Road, the home of Moynelle and Bert Spanye.

Katzensteins in 1909 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1909 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Katzensteins in 1909 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1909
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

In 1910, Vernon, the youngest brother, and Ivan were living together as boarders. According to the 1910 census report, Vernon had no occupation listed (he was 18), and Ivan reported that he was a manager in a department store, again presumably the one owned in part by his brother-in-law Bert.

On June 26, 1911, Moynelle and Bert had their second child, Margaret.

Moynelle’s brother Howard had moved to Cleveland by 1912.  In the 1912 Cleveland directory, Howard is listed as a buyer for Bailey & Company, Earl as a department manager for Bailey & Company, and Ivan as a commercial traveler. They were all living together at 1946 East 71st Street NE in Cleveland.

Katzensteins in 1912 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1912 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Katzensteins in 1912 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1912
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

At that time, the youngest brother, Vernon, was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 1913. I was able to find this class photo and a legend that helped me find Vernon in the photo:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 1913 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.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 1913
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.

vernon-katzenstein-in-mit-photo

Vernon Katzenstein, MIT Class of 1913

The only brother who did not move to Cleveland was the oldest, Milton. Milton was a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, and a member of the class of 1905 at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein, 1904 yearbook for the UPenn Medical School 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.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein, 1904 yearbook for the UPenn Medical School
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.

In 1910, he was practicing medicine in Pittsburgh and boarding with a family there.

Milton enlisted in the US Army in May, 1917, as a first lieutenant.  He served in the medical division from June 5, 1917 until March 28, 1919, including almost two years overseas in France during World War I.  He was promoted twice—to captain on November 24, 1917 and to major on November 19, 1918.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein military record Box Title : Kapp, Edward B - Kauffman, Frank (221) Source Information 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.

Milton Boyd Katzenstein military record
Box Title : Kapp, Edward B – Kauffman, Frank (221)
Source Information
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.

Box Title : Kapp, Edward B - Kauffman, Frank (221) Source Information 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.

Box Title : Kapp, Edward B – Kauffman, Frank (221)
Source Information
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.

He was not the only Katzenstein brother to serve in World War I.  According to The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War (Volume 9), Ivan Katzenstein joined the Ohio National Guard on August 13, 1917. He served in the field artillery in the Guard until August 31, 1918.  He then was sent to France where he served in the 135th Field Artillery, Company C, until July 5, 1919, and fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.  He was honorably discharged on July 11, 1919.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (A) General Files, Army and Navy (Boxes 2-4); Box #: 3; Folder #: 9; Box Info: (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P Description Folder Content Description : (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P

Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (A) General Files, Army and Navy (Boxes 2-4); Box #: 3; Folder #: 9; Box Info: (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P
Description
Folder Content Description : (Box 3) Cleveland: Privates, H-P

Vernon also served during World War I.  He was a first lieutenant in the Officers’ Reserve Corps beginning July 6, 1917, serving in the Ordnance Corps. He served in the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I from December 3, 1917 until June 17, 1919, and was honorably discharged on June 25, 1919.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Title : The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War Volume 9
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

When the US entered World War I, Howard Katzenstein was working as the assistant field director for the American Red Cross at Camp Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, according to his draft registration card:

Howard Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Howard Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Earl Katzenstein was living in Cleveland and working as a traveling salesman for the S & S Shirt Company of Phillipsburg Center, Pennsylvania, according to his draft registration:

Earl Katzenstein World War I draft registration Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

Earl Katzenstein World War I draft registration
Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831766; Draft Board: 07

By 1920, all of the Katzenstein brothers had adopted the surname Kay instead of Katzenstein.  Had they all decided that Katzenstein was too Jewish? Too German sounding after World War I? Too long? I don’t know. But like so many other children of immigrants, they changed their name and shedded part of their original identity.

Three of the Kay brothers were living in Cleveland.  According to the 1920 census, Howard and Vernon were living together in a boarding house at 1946 71st Street; Howard was working as a buyer in a dry goods store, and Vernon was a manager in an electric washing machine manufacturing business.

Howard and Vernon Katzenstein 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 22, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1371; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 433; Image: 988

Howard and Vernon Katzenstein 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Cleveland Ward 22, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1371; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 433; Image: 988

Interestingly, the 1920 Cleveland directory shows both Ivan and Vernon living at 1943 East 107th Street, but Howard is not listed; the 1921 directory lists all three brothers. Ivan and Vernon were both still living at 1943 East 107th Street; Ivan had no occupation listed, and Vernon was the vice-president of the Bell Washer & Wringer Company (a laundry business, I’d assume). Howard was living at 7100 Euclid Avenue; he had no occupation listed. I cannot find Ivan on the 1920 census.

Howard, Ivan, and Vernon Kay 1921 Cleveland directory Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1921 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Howard, Ivan, and Vernon Kay 1921 Cleveland directory
Title : Cleveland, Ohio, City Directory, 1921
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Meanwhile, in 1920 Earl was living in a boarding house in St. Louis, working as a traveling salesman.

By 1920, Milton was again boarding with a family in Pittsburgh and practicing medicine. Here is his listing from the UPenn alumni magazine for 1922:

1922 Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania Ancestry.com. U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: College Student Lists. Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society.

1922 Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania
Ancestry.com. U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: College Student Lists. Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society.

 As for Moynelle Katzenstein and Bert Spanye, in 1920 they and their children were living with Moynelle’s mother Henrietta and four servants in their home at 11338 Belleflower Road.  Then in 1924, Bert retired from Bailey & Company after 25 years, as reported in the December 20, 1924 Cleveland Plain Dealer (p. 15):

bert-spanye-retires-page-002 bert-spanye-retires-page-003 bert-spanye-retires-page-004

Thus, by 1925, the children of S.J. Katzenstein and Henrietta Sigmund had in many ways achieved and perhaps exceeded the dreams their grandparents Gerson and Eva must have had when they left Germany in the 1850s. Moynelle had married an immigrant who had quickly become a highly successful businessman.   Two of the Kay/Katzenstein sons were graduates of two of America’s elite universities, one an engineer, the other a doctor.  Three had served their country in World War I, fighting against the country where their parents and grandparents were born.

All of them were giving back to America whatever America had given them. As immigrants have always done and will continue to do.

Continued in my next post.

My Grandmother’s Cologne Cousins: More New Records

Aaron Knappstein, our Cologne guide, really pulled the rabbit out of the hat when he found the Schopfloch death records for my four-times great-grandparents, Amson Nussbaum and Voegele Welsch, but his magic tricks did not end there.  He also was able to locate birth records for a number of the children of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld.

My great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal had two siblings who did not immigrate to America, and his older brother Jakob was one of them.  Jakob married Charlotte Lilienfeld and was a merchant in Cologne.  He and Charlotte had five children: Johanna, Lee, Meyer, Henriette, and Erna. They were my grandmother Eva’s first cousins.

I’ve told their stories in prior posts.  Four of the children survived the Holocaust.  The two sons, Lee and Meyer, immigrated to the US long before Hitler came to power, and Erna escaped with her son Werner during the 1930s.  Johanna and her husband spent time in the Gurs concentration camp and came to the US after the war.  Tragically, Henriette and her husband were murdered by the Nazis.

Thus far Aaron has located birth records for four of the children: Johanna, Lee, Meyer, and Erna.  I hope that he is able to find the record for Henriette as it would indeed be tragic if her record was the only one that did not survive, just as she was the only sibling who did not survive.

Here are the records that Aaron has thus far located:

Birth record of Johanna Schoenthal (Nr. 3030/1880)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113

June 5, 1880

 

birth-record-johanna-schoenthal

Birth record of Lee (Leo) Schoenthal (Nr. 5717/1881)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113

December 6, 1881

 

birth-record-of-lee-schoenthal

Birth record Meier Schönthal (no. 606/1883)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 113
February 7, 1883
05.15 in the morning

 

meyer-schoenthal-birth-recod

Birth Record Erna Schönthal (no. 577/1898)

father: Jakob Schönthal (tradesman)
mother: Charlotte Lilienfeld
both jewish religion
Köln, Breitestraße 85
March 27, 1898
08.15 in the morning

erna-schoenthal-birth-record

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.

 

 

 

Of Rabbit Holes and Twisted Trees and the Curse of Endogamy

Now that I have emerged from the Mansbach rabbit hole I dove into weeks ago, I can return to the story of my direct ancestors, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt and their children, including my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein.  As I wrote previously, Gerson was one of eight children of Scholum Katzenstein, including four full siblings, two of whom died as children, and three half-siblings, one of whom died as a child. As best I can tell Gerson was the only one of the eight to leave Germany and come to the United States.

Gerson and Eva were married in Oberlistingen in June 1847, and then settled in Gerson’s home town of Jesberg, where they had three children: Scholum (1848, named for Gerson’s father), Jacob (1851), and Brendina (1853, named for Gerson’s mother, Breine Blumenfeld).

marriage-record-of-gerson-katzenstein-and-eva-goldschmidt

Marriage record of Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt HHStAW fonds 365 No 673, Arcinsys Hessen

Gerson and Eva immigrated to the US in 1856 with Scholum, Jacob, and Brendina. A fourth child Perry was born a few months after they had settled in Philadelphia. In 1858, they had a fifth child, Hannah, and in 1860 they were all living in Philadelphia where Gerson was working as a salesman.  As noted in an earlier post, there were three others living in the household, Abraham “Anspach,” who I believe was actually Abraham Mansbach (III), David Frank, a bookkeeper, and Marley Mansbach, who I believe was Abraham Mansbach’s cousin and only related to Gerson through his sister Hannchen’s marriage into the Mansbach family.

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1856 Philadelphia directory

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1856 Philadelphia directory

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

On August 17, 1863, Gerson and Eva had their sixth and final child, my great-grandmother Hilda.

The family suffered a terrible loss on December 17, 1866, when their eight year old daughter Hannah died from scarlet fever.  She was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery in Philadelphia. I have to wonder what impact that had on the family, especially little three year old Hilda, who must have been very frightened and confused.

Hannah Katzenstein death certificate "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DTXQ-JWY?cc=1320976&wc=9FRX-W38%3A1073285701 : 16 May 2014), > image 316 of 1079; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Hannah Katzenstein death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DTXQ-JWY?cc=1320976&wc=9FRX-W38%3A1073285701 : 16 May 2014), > image 316 of 1079; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In 1870, Gerson and Eva were living with their five surviving children.  Scholum was listed as Joseph and was 22; Jacob was 18, Brendina 15, Perry 14, and Hilda was seven.  The 1870 census was taken twice because there were felt to be errors in the first enumeration.  For the Katzenstein family, the first enumeration is barely legible and is missing some of the children, but indicates that Gerson was working as a clerk in a store.  The second enumeration is quite clear and includes all the children, but has no information about occupations.

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-2

Gerson Katzenstein on 1870 census, first enumeration Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 District 48, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-1

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1870 census, second enumeration Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 Dist 48 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1429; Page: 708B; Image: 258; Family History Library Film: 552928

Brendina Katzenstein, the oldest daughter and third child of Gerson and Eva, was the first to marry.  According to the 1900 census, she married Jacob Schlesinger in 1871 when she was only eighteen years old.  It took some serious digging and the help of the German Genealogy Facebook group to find some background on Jacob.  First, from his death notice, I saw that he was born in “Epplagan” in Germany.

jacob-schlesinger-death-notice

Nick in the German Genealogy group figured out that that was Eppingen.  I then searched the Landesarchiv for Baden Wurttemburg and found Jacob’s birth record, which Nick helped me translate:

Jacob Schlesinger birth record from Eppingen

Jacob Schlesinger birth record from Eppingen,  Landesarchiv Baden-Wurtenberg, 390 Nr. 1320, 1 Band Gliederungssymbol Eppingen, israelitische Gemeinde: Standesbuch 1811-1870 Bild 235

The child was born on March 3rd, 1843 and named Jacob. The father was Jacob (?) Schlesinger, a schützbürger (see note below) and hand[e]lsmann (merchant) and his wife Guste? born Sülzberger.

[UPDATE: Thanks to Dorothee Lottmann-Kaeseler for explaining the word “schutzburger” and providing a cite with this explanation: The “Law on the Situation of the Jews” (“Gesetz über die Verhältnisse der Juden”) from 1809 recognized the Jewish religious community as a church. Constitutionally, Jews were to be treated as free citizens. Their position in the municipalities did not change however, they remained only “protected citizens” (“Schutzbürger”) who did not have the right to be elected to a local council and did not have rights of usage of the common land.]

Nick wasn’t sure whether Jacob’s father’s name was Jacob, and I was skeptical of the fact that his father would also have been a Jacob.  Looking at the record itself, it certainly looks like “Jacob” was crossed out and something else was written over it.  Perhaps the scribe who entered the record confused the child’s name and the father’s name.

Although I could not find Jacob Schlesinger on any US census record before 1880, I was able to locate him in a number of Philadelphia directories where he was living at the same address with men named Abraham, Israel, and Myer Schlesinger, all of whom, like Jacob, were working as butchers.  I assumed these were his relatives, and so I searched for information about them.

I found a passenger manifest that shows an Israel Schlesinger and his family arriving in the US in 1860; along with Israel was his wife Gustel or Gurtel, sons Maier (26) and Abraham (11), and two daughters, Fanny (20) and Malchen (15).  There was no son named Jacob on this manifest.

Family of Israel Schlesinger 1860 ship manifest Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 205; Line: 1; List Number: 918 Description Ship or Roll Number : Roll 205 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Family of Israel Schlesinger 1860 ship manifest
Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 205; Line: 1; List Number: 918
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 205
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Then I found another manifest listing a fourteen year old named Jacob Schlesinger arriving in 1857 with what appears to be an older sibling named Hagar.  Since my Jacob Schlesinger reported on the 1910 census that he’d arrived in 1857 (and in 1855 according to the 1900 census) and he would have been fourteen in 1857, I assumed that this was the right Jacob.  Further research uncovered a Hagar Schlesinger, a woman of the right age, who was living in Philadelphia in 1885, so she was probably his sister.

Jacob and Hagar Schlesinger 1857 ship manifest Year: 1857; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 173; Line: 1; List Number: 497

Jacob and Hagar Schlesinger 1857 ship manifest
Year: 1857; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 173; Line: 1; List Number: 497

But I still had no proof that this Jacob was the son of Israel Schlesinger.  He could have been just a nephew or a cousin.  So I searched for a birth record for one of Israel’s sons and found this one for Myer, as translated by Nick:

Myer Schlesinger birth record landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_1320_bild_174_4-1128670-174.jpg

Myer Schlesinger birth record
landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_1320_bild_174_4-1128670-174.jpg

The child was born June 4th, 1834, named Mozes and the parents are Israel Schlesinger and Geitel Si?lzberger.

Myer was also the son of Geitel Sulzberger and Israel (not Jacob) Schlesinger.  Looking back at Jacob’s birth record, it does seem that “Israel” was written over “Jacob” and that thus Jacob’s father was also Israel Schlesinger.  I also found a birth record for Hagar Schlesinger; she also was the daughter of Israel and Geitel.

Thus, I feel fairly comfortable concluding that my Jacob Schlesinger was a son of Israel Schlesinger from Eppingen, especially since he and Israel were living at the same address in 1865, according to the Philadelphia directory for that year. In addition, Jacob, like Israel, Myer, and Abraham, was a butcher in Philadelphia, as seen in numerous entries in the Philadelphia city directories as well as census reports.

Brendina and Jacob Schlesinger had three children listed on the 1880 census: Heloise (5), Solomon (4), and Alfred (1). Jacob was still working as a butcher.  Brendina and Jacob would have a fourth child, Sidney, in 1880, and a fifth, Aimee, born in 1887.

Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1176; Family History Film: 1255176; Page: 156A; Enumeration District: 301; Image: 0314

Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger and family
1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1176; Family History Film: 1255176; Page: 156A; Enumeration District: 301; Image: 0314

 

The 1870s were also active years for Brendina’s three brothers. The oldest brother, Scholum Joseph, had lived in many places since coming with his family to the US.  An 1896 profile of him reported that he had left his family for Leavenworth, Kansas, when he was fourteen to learn how to be a cigar maker, but since he did not arrive until he was eighteen in 1856, that seems more myth than truth.  The profile goes on to state that after being in Kansas for a number of years, he returned to Philadelphia, but eventually gave up the cigar trade because of health concerns.  The article continues by saying that he then “went to Winchester, VA., and took a clerkship, remaining for five years. Thence he went to Uhrichsville, Ohio, thence to New Castle and on the nineteenth of April 1871, he came to Washington [Pennsylvania].”  “The Saturday Evening Supper Table,” Washington, Pennsylvania, June 27, 1896, found here (my cousin Roger Cibella’s genealogy website).

The U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, database on Ancestry, confirms that by 1873, Scholum, also known as S.J. or Joseph Katzenstein, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania.  That is, he moved to the small town in western Pennsylvania where his mother’s uncle Simon Goldschmidt and his children were living at that time.  Readers with excellent memories may recall that Simon Goldschmidt was married to Fanny Schoenthal, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s sister. By 1881 Isidore was also living in Washington, Pennsylvania.

S.J.’s move to Washington, Pennsylvania, may have had long lasting repercussions for my family, as I am fairly confident that he was the one who engineered the introduction of his younger sister, my great-grandmother Hilda, to Isidore Schoenthal, my great-grandfather.

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) 11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

S.J Katzenstein married Henrietta Sigmund in 1875.  Henrietta was born in 1851 in Baltimore to Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund. That added yet another twist to my family tree because Ella Goldschmidt was the daughter of Meyer Goldschmidt whose brothers were Seligmann Goldschmidt, father of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, and Simon Goldschmidt, husband of Fanny Schoenthal.  In other words, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein was Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s first cousin, meaning that S.J. Katzenstein married his maternal second cousin, Henrietta Sigmund.

ella-goldschmidt-to-eva-goldschmidt

But let me stay focused on the Katzensteins rather than diving into the Goldschmidt rabbit hole.

S.J. and Henrietta, who was also known as Dot or Dottie, had a daughter Moynelle in 1879.  S.J., who is listed as Joseph on the 1880 census, was working as a clothing merchant in Washington, Pennsylvania. He and Henrietta would have five more children: Milton (1881), Howard (1882), Ivan (1884), Earl (1885), and Vernon (1892).

S. Joseph Katzenstein and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 577A; Enumeration District: 270

S. Joseph Katzenstein and family 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 577A; Enumeration District: 270

S.J. was not the only child of Gerson and Eva Katzenstein to leave Philadelphia for western Pennsylvania in the 1870s.  In 1878, Perry Katzenstein, the third brother, was listed in the Pittsburgh directory as a clerk; the following year his brother Jacob joined him.  Both were living at 25 Second Avenue and working as salesmen.  Although I cannot find either of them on the 1880 census, both were listed in the 1881 Pittsburgh directory, still working as salesmen and still living together, though now at 188 Wylie Avenue. (Perry also appears in the 1880 directory, but Jacob does not.)

As for their parents and little sister Hilda, they were still living in Philadelphia in 1880.  Gerson continued to work as a clerk in a store.  Living with them, in addition to a number of boarders, was Louis Mansbach, listed as Gerson’s nephew, age 31, and born in “Prussia.” At first I thought this was Louis Mansbach, son of H.H. Mansbach, who would have been Gerson’s great-nephew.  But that Louis Mansbach was far too young and born in the US. So who was this Louis Mansbach?

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Well, remember that post where I was trying to sort out all the different men named Abraham Mansbach? One of them, whom I called Abraham II, was the son of Leiser Mansbach and grandson of Abraham Mansbach I.  Abraham II was the brother of Marum Mansbach who married Hannchen Katzenstein, Gerson Katzenstein’s half-sister.  And Abraham II had a son in 1849 who was named for his grandfather: Leiser Mansbach II. He was therefore the nephew of Marum Mansbach and Hannchen Katzenstein.  Leiser became Louis, and he was living with Gerson and Eva Katzenstein in 1880, working as a veterinary surgeon.

And so you might be thinking, “Well, he wasn’t Gerson’s nephew.  He was Gerson’s brother-in-law’s nephew.” And you might be thinking, “Perhaps Gerson was just being liberal in using the term ‘nephew.’”

But, alas, it’s not that simple. Once again there is a twist in the tree.  Louis Mansbach’s mother was Sarah Goldschmidt, Eva Goldschmidt’s sister.  So Louis Mansbach was in fact Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein’s nephew as well as Gerson’s brother-in-law’s nephew.

leiser-mansbach-to-gerson-katzenstein

 

And on that confusing note, I am going to go get a breath of fresh air and curse the endogamy gods who make using DNA results so utterly pointless in my family research.

 

Passover 2016: The Exodus

In many ways Jewish history is about one exodus after another.  The Jewish story begins when God tells Abra(ha)m, “Lech Lecha,”  or “Go, Go out.”  He instructs him to leave his father’s land and go to a new land where his children would be as numerous as the stars.

There are many journeys throughout the Bible—Noah’s journey, Jacob’s journey, Joseph’s journey, and, of course, the exodus from Egypt led by Moses, which is recalled and re-enacted every year on Passover.

This Friday evening we will once again remember and re-enact that journey.  We will read the story of the Exodus.  We will drink wine, recline like free people, and eat matza to remember that our ancestors had no time to wait for the dough to rise before exiting from Egypt.  We will eat the bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery, and we will eat the charoset—a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine—to embrace the sweetness of freedom from slavery.

English: Passover Seder Table, Jewish holidays...

English: Passover Seder Table, Jewish holidays עברית: שולחן הסדר, Original Image Name:סדר פסח, Location:חיפה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But that exodus was not the last journey our people took to freedom.  Over the centuries Jews kept moving from one land to another, either having been expelled or deciding on their own to seek freedom from oppression, violence, and hatred.  They moved to Babylonia, to Spain, to eastern Europe, to Germany, to places all over the globe, including eventually to the Americas.

I have spent much of the year since last Passover studying the journeys of my paternal relatives from Sielen, Germany—my father’s maternal grandfather’s family, the Schoenthals.  Although I still have a few more stories to share about my Schoenthal cousins, now that I have written about all the children of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg, I want to spend this Passover looking back over the story of this particular family.

Levi and Henriette Schoenthal had ten children who survived to adulthood, all born in Sielen, Germany.  Of those ten, eight settled permanently in the US, and all but one of those eight started their lives in America in western Pennsylvania—either in Pittsburgh or the town thirty miles away, known as Little Washington.  Henry, the oldest son, arrived first in 1866, and by 1881, eight of the siblings were living in the US.  Henry over the years was a book seller and a china dealer, but underneath was a deeply religious and well-educated man.

His youngest brother was my great-grandfather Isidore, who arrived in 1881, also settled in Washington, and also worked as a china dealer.

Isidore Schoenthal

Isidore Schoenthal

In between Henry and Isidore were four other brothers in the US plus two sisters.  Over the years almost all of them prospered.  Some moved away from western Pennsylvania.  Simon ended up in Atlantic City, where he and his wife raised nine children, many of whom ended up in the hotel business there; Felix and his wife and two daughters ended up in Boston, where he became successful in the typewriter repair business. Julius lived in Washington, DC, worked as a shoemaker and had four children.  Nathan lived in many different places.  And even Isidore and Henry eventually left Pennsylvania, Isidore for Colorado and Henry for New York.  The two sisters, Hannah and Amalie, stayed in Pittsburgh for most of their lives.  Both were married and had children.

Felix and Margaret Schoenthal from 1919 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 728; Volume #: Roll 0728 - Certificates: 70500-70749, 19 Mar 1919-20 Mar 1919

Felix and Margaret Schoenthal from 1919 passport application,
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 728; Volume #: Roll 0728 – Certificates: 70500-70749, 19 Mar 1919-20 Mar 1919

 

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

 

The next generations wandered even further afield, although many ended up not too far from where their parents had originally settled.  My grandmother, who was born in Washington, PA, and grew up in Denver, spent her whole adult life in Philadelphia and New Jersey.

My Grandma Eva

My Grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen

Martin Schoenthal, Gertrude Sch., Hettie Sch Blanche Walter

Walter Schoenthal, Gertrude Schoenthal, Hettie Schoenthal, Blanche Stein and Walter Stein in Arizona

 

Arthur Schoenthal promoted 1942-page-003

 

Washington Evening Star, September 14, 1928, p. 9

Washington Evening Star, September 14, 1928, p. 9

 

 

Washington Star, December 2, 1928 p. 64

Washington Star, December 2, 1928 p. 64

Washington Evening Star, February 18, 1963, p. 24

Washington Evening Star, February 18, 1963, p. 24

 

Overall, the Schoenthals in the US prospered; most were successful business owners.  Most of these people appeared to have full and happy lives, although there were some who struggled.  Today there are numerous living descendants of those eight siblings, myself included.

On the other hand, the two siblings who stayed in Germany did not have as happy a legacy.  Jakob died young, and his daughter Henriette was killed in the Holocaust.  His four other children survived and, like their aunts and uncles, ended up in western Pennsylvania. Lee, Meyer, and Erna came before the war.  But Johanna was deported to a camp in Gurs, France, during the war and did not come until 1947.   From these five children, there were just two grandchildren: Helmut Levi, son of Henriette and Julius Levi, and Werner Haas, Erna’s son.  Both grandsons made it to the US before World War II.  Neither had children, however, so there are no living descendants of Jakob Schoenthal and his wife Charlotte Lilienthal.

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23 ewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18 Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook. http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23
ewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18
Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook.
http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

 

And finally Rosalie, the youngest child of Levi and Henriette, after living in the US for a few years made the fateful decision to return to Germany to marry Willy Heymann.  They had six children.  Four survived the Holocaust.  The three sons, Lionel, Max, and Walter, settled in Chicago before the war, where Lionel became a well-regarded photographer.   One daughter, Johanna, who was widowed at a young age, followed her stepdaughter Else Mosbach to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to escape the Nazis.

The other two daughters, Helene and Hilda, were murdered in the Holocaust as were Helene’s two daughters, Liesel and Grete.  From Rosalie’s six children, only one grandchild survived, the son of Max Heymann.  I am still hoping to find him.

Stolperstein for Julius Mosbach and family

The Schoenthal story illustrates how one fateful decision can alter the future irrevocably. One decision to take a chance and leave what you know—to listen to the call of Lech Lecha, to venture out to a new land—can make all the difference.  By taking a chance that the sweet charoset of that new land would outweigh the bitterness of leaving a land they knew, my great-grandfather and seven of his siblings changed their own fates and those of their descendants.

What if Jakob and Rosalie had left Germany when their siblings did?

And what if the other eight siblings had never left at all?  This story would have a very different ending.

In fact, it never would have been written.

 

The Final Chapter for Jakob Schoenthal and His Descendants

As of 1947, the four surviving children and two grandchildren of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld were all settled in western Pennsylvania, living close to each other, Johanna and Erna in Pittsburgh and Lee and Meyer nearby in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Johanna and Erna had survived the Holocaust, as had Erna’s son Werner Haas and the son of their sister Henriette, Helmut Levi.

The next two decades were, however, not kind to the children of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld.  First, on February 7, 1956, Johanna’s husband Heinrich Stern died at age 79; he’d been suffering from arteriosclerosis for years, according to his death certificate, and had been residing in the Jewish Home for the Aged in Pittsburgh.  His doctor had been caring for him since 1953, so Heinrich must have been in poor health for much of his time in the US.

 

Heinrich Stern death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Heinrich Stern death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Then the following year, the oldest sibling, Lee Schoenthal, died at age 75 on May 11, 1957.  He also suffered from arteriosclerosis and died from congestive heart failure.  His doctor had been caring for him since 1949, according to the death certificate.  Lee appears to have been the backbone of the family, the one who employed and housed his younger brother Meyer for some years and who also helped his two younger sisters Johanna and Erna as well as his nephew Helmut Levi come to and settle in the US.

 

Lee Schoenthal death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lee Schoenthal death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

It was almost three years later that Meyer himself died.  He was 76 years old, and the principal cause of death was a coronary occlusion.  But looking more closely at the death certificate revealed information that might have explained why Meyer had not appeared in any city directories after 1931 and why his sisters and nephew all listed only Lee as the person they knew in the US and not Meyer. It also explains why Lee had not listed Meyer on his World War II draft registration as the person who would always know his address.

 

 

Meyer N Schoenthal death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Meyer N Schoenthal death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Meyer suffered from manic depression (more commonly referred to as bipolar disorder today), which the doctor described as a contributing factor in his death.  Meyer had been living at Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, for over two and a half years at the time of his death on January 10, 1960.  In other words, he had been hospitalized shortly after his brother Lee’s death in May 1957.  Lee must have been caring for him up to that point.

Lee and Meyer were buried next to each other in Beth Israel cemetery in Washington, Pennsylvania.

 

 

The family’s heartbreak continued two years later when young Werner Haas died from Laennec’s cirrhosis of the liver, a form of cirrhosis associated with alcoholism.  According to the death certificate, he had been suffering for months and died after 48 hours in a hepatic coma.  He was only 36 years old.

 

 

Werner Haas death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Werner Haas death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

His life had not been an easy one.  He had lost his father before he was five years old, and he had been uprooted from his home in Darmstadt, Germany, and brought to the US.  Then he had served in the US Navy as a fireman, a skilled technician, during World War II.  After the war he had been briefly married to Lillian Angeloff; at the time of his death he was married to Margaret Rusnack, who was more than ten years older than Werner and had a son from a prior marriage.  He had worked as a salesman before and after the war, but in 1950 he had changed occupations and was a driver.  In 1952 he was a construction worker, and then in 1958 and 1959 he was again a driver.  After that he does not appear in the Pittsburgh directories.

It’s hard to imagine what those years between 1953 and 1962 must have been like for the two remaining siblings.  Johanna lost a husband, two brothers, and a nephew, and Erna also lost her brothers, her brother-in-law, and her son.

Erna then lost her remaining sibling, Johanna, on February 23, 1967.  The only close relative who was left was her nephew Helmut Levi (who by that time was named Henry Lyons).  Henry and his wife Pauline continued to live at the same address in Rego Park, New York, until Henry’s death on December 18, 1986.  He was only 67 years old when he died.

 

Aufbau February 13, 1987 p. 41

Aufbau, February 13, 1987 p. 41

 

Erna Schoenthal Haas, the youngest child of Jakob and Charlotte, had outlived her parents, her husband, her siblings, her nieces and nephews, and even her son.  Despite all the terrible losses she had suffered including being widowed at a very young age, escaping from Nazi Germany, and losing her only child, she had persevered and even maintained a positive outlook, as this June 14, 1984 article from the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh reveals:

 

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23 ewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18 Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook. http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, June 14, 1984, p. 23
Jewish+Chronicle+Vol.+23+No.+18
Formed+by+the+union+of:+Jewish+criterion+;++and:+American+Jewish+outlook.
http://doi.library.cmu.edu/10.1184/pmc/CHR/CHR_1984_023_018_06141984

 

Notice that Erna only mentioned one brother, presumably Lee, and also explained how her family knew Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the renowned art dealer and collector.

Erna died on January 17, 1989, the only sibling to make it to eighty years old, let alone ninety.  She is buried not where her brothers or her sister or even her son is buried, but at Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery near Pittsburgh.

Writing about the lives of Jakob Schoenthal and his children provided a stark contrast to the experience I had writing about Simon Schoenthal and his children.  These two brothers, born just a year apart, had such different lives and legacies. Both died too young and also just a year apart, Jakob in 1903, Simon in 1904. But although Simon and his wife Rose had suffered heartbreak when their daughter Ida died at a young age, overall their lives and their legacy were happy ones.  Simon’s nine surviving children almost all lived very long and happy lives filled with adventures, long marriages, children, and close relationships with each other.

 

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal
Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

 

Jakob’s five children, on the other hand, were not so fortunate.  Henriette was killed in the Holocaust along with her husband.  Johanna was deported from her home to a camp in France and then somehow survived, probably hiding in France.  As far as I know, Johanna never had children.   Lee Schoenthal and Meyer Schoenthal never married or had children, and Meyer spent some part of his life struggling with mental illness.

I know of  only two grandchildren of Jakob and Charlotte Schoenthal.  Erna had one son, Werner, who died from liver disease, presumably caused by alcoholism, when he was only 36.  Henriette had a son Helmut, who married but had no children. Thus, neither of Jakob’s two grandsons had children.  There are no descendants to carry on that particular family’s line.

I can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out differently for Jakob and Charlotte and their children if they, like their siblings, had chosen to come to the US instead of staying in Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

The Children of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld, Part III: Lee and Meyer Come to America

As I wrote in my two last posts, after following a rather convoluted research path, I had discovered that  my great-great-uncle Jakob Schoenthal and his wife Charlotte Lilienfeld had had five children born in Cologne, Germany: Johanna, born in 1880; Lee, born in 1881; Meyer, born in 1883; Henriette, born in 1885; and Erna, born in 1898.[1]   Their father Jakob had died in 1903 when Erna in particular was quite young.  Their mother Charlotte died in 1935.

Four of their five children immigrated to the US: the two sons Lee and Meyer arrived in Washington, Pennsylvania, in the early decades of the twentieth century.  Erna arrived in 1938 with her son Werner; she was a young widow when she arrived. (I am still looking for information about her husband Arnold and hope to have an update soon.) Johanna and her husband Heinrich Stern arrived in 1947, having somehow survived the war and last residing in Lyons, France.

Tragically, Jakob and Charlotte’s remaining child, Henriette, had been murdered by the Nazis along with her husband Julius Levi.  Their son Helmut, however, had left in time.  He came to the US in 1939 and eventually changed his name to Henry Lyons.  He and his wife Pauline nee Schwartz lived for many years in Rego Park, Queens, New York.

Rego Park, Queens, NY By Frank Hindimith [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rego Park, Queens, NY
By Frank Hindimith [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In the next few posts I will address these four children, Lee, Meyer, Erna, and Johanna, as well as the two grandsons Werner and Henry. Who were these people? What were their lives like once they got to the US?  I will discuss Lee and Meyer first and their early years in the US and then their sisters and nephews and what happened to them all during and after World War II.

Lee and Meyer were not the easiest to research.  Not only did I have the problem of distinguishing them from their first cousins with the same names, Lee and Meyer, the sons of Henry Schoenthal, I also had a very difficult time finding them on census reports.   Lee only appears on the 1920 census, Meyer only on the 1930 census.  I have no idea how they evaded so many census enumerators.

Figuring out when each of the brothers arrived was also a puzzle. I can’t find an early passenger manifest for either of them. The 1920 census reports that Lee arrived in the US in 1899, when he would have been eighteen years old, but Lee does not appear on the 1900 census nor does he appear in any of the available Washington, Pennsylvania directories until 1909, when he is listed as a tailor working at 12 East Cherry Avenue in Washington.

In 1911, Lee went back to Germany, presumably to visit his family.  On the ship manifest for that trip (line 26), Lee stated that he had been living at 18 East Cherry Avenue, Washington, Pennsylvania, from 1907 through 1911, but I cannot find him on the 1910 census.

 

1911 ship manifest for Lee Schoenthal page 1

1911 ship manifest for Lee Schoenthal, line 26 Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

1911 ship manifest for Lee Schoenthal, line 26
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

He does, however, appear in the Washington directories throughout the 1910s beginning in 1911, and he registered for the World War I draft in 1918.  Throughout, Lee was working as a tailor.  My best guess is that he had arrived in the US between 1907 and 1909.

 

Lee Schoenthal World War I draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Lee Schoenthal World War I draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Meyer, on the other hand, appears in the 1903 and 1905 Washington directories, working as a clerk for Rudolph Hanau and residing at 19 Sherman Avenue, as listed in both directories.  Lee does not appear in either of those directories.  Meyer, like Lee, is not on the 1910 census nor the 1920 census, nor does he appear in the 1909 directory or any other available Washington, Pennsylvania, directory between 1906 and 1928.  According to the 1930 census, the one census which includes Meyer, he arrived in the US in 1923.  But then how explain his listings in 1903 and 1905?  Had he left the US and returned to Germany for all those years, not returning until the 1920s?

I have two ship manifests showing Meyer traveling between Germany and the US, once in 1927 and once in 1929.  The 1927 manifest listing for Meyer states that his occupation was a merchant, that he was 44 years old, born in Koln, and last resided in Washington, Pennsylvania.

 

Meyer N Schoenthal 1927 ship manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4123; Line: 1; Page Number: 134

Meyer N Schoenthal 1927 ship manifest
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4123; Line: 1; Page Number: 134

 

The second page states that his contact in Germany was his brother-in-law, Julius Levi, and that his contact in the US was his cousin, the above-mentioned Rudolph Hanau of 26 Sherman Avenue, Washington, Pennsylvania.

 

Meyer N Schoenthal 1927 ship manifest, page 2 Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4123; Line: 1; Page Number: 134

Meyer N Schoenthal 1927 ship manifest, page 2
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4123; Line: 1; Page Number: 134

 

Of course, when I saw that Rudolph Hanau was Meyer’s cousin, I had to figure out the connection.  After a few hours of looking at Ancestry and the Hessen archives online, I learned that Rudolph’s wife was Johanna Levi, daughter of Moses Levi and Rechel Lilienfeld.  Yep, Lilienfeld.  Rechel Lilienfeld was the sister of Helen and Charlotte Lilienfeld.  Thus, Johanna Levi was Meyer’s first cousin (and also, obviously, a first cousin to Lee, Johanna, Henriette, and Erna Schoenthal).

Her husband Rudolph Hanau was, like my great-grandfather Isidore and his brother Henry, a merchant in the china business in Washington, Pennsylvania. He must have known my great-grandfather well.   Thus, there were a number of other members of the extended family living in Little Washington whom I had not located earlier.

The second page of the 1927 manifest for Meyer’s trip to Germany notes that he had previously been in the US from 1911 through 1927.  This would explain why he is not on the 1910 census, but it doesn’t explain his absence from the 1920 census, unless he had been out of town then also.  It also is inconsistent with the fact that he appears in the 1903 and 1905 directories as well with the information on the 1930 census stating he had arrived in 1923.

The 1929 manifest for Meyer is similar in content to the 1927 manifest, but he now lists his mother Charlotte as his contact in Germany and his brother Lee as his contact in Washington.  Here he claims he had previously been in the US only since 1923, consistent with what he later reported on the 1930 census, but inconsistent with both the directory listings in 1903 and 1905 and the passenger manifest from 1927, just two years earlier.  Could the time periods listed on these manifests report times lived at a very specific address in the US, not time periods in the US generally?

Meyer N Schoenthal 1929 ship manifest page 1

Meyer N Schoenthal 1929 ship manifest page 2

Lee Schoenthal 1929 ship manifest Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Thus, both Lee and Meyer likely arrived in the US in the first decade of the 1900s, but may have spent time back in Germany for various periods.  Lee seems to have been permanently settled in the US by the 1910s, Meyer by the 1920s.

The 1929 directory for Washington, Pennsylvania, lists both Lee and Meyer as tailors, living at different addresses, Lee at 321 Burton Avenue, Meyer at 143 North Avenue, but only about a half mile apart.  As reported on the 1930 census, Meyer was living as a lodger in someone’s home.  In 1931, both Lee and Meyer are again listed as tailors in the directory and both residing at the same addresses provided in 1929.  But for some reason, Lee does not appear on the 1930 census.  (Residing at 321 Burton Avenue on the 1930 census was a couple named Jacob and Ruth Weber, owners of a grocery store; Lee is not listed as living with them.)

 

1931 Washington PS directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

1931 Washington PS directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Lee is listed on several Washington directories in the 1930s, but Meyer is not in any directory after the 1931 issue.  Where was Meyer, and why isn’t he included in the directories after 1931? I was puzzled by his absence.  More on that in a later post.

Thus, by the early 1930s, both Lee and Meyer had been settled in the US for quite some time.  Their sisters were all still living in Germany as was their mother.  That, of course, would all change once Hitler came to power.

 

 

[1] The thirteen year gap between Henriette and Erna and the fact that Charlotte would have been 43 in 1898 made me somewhat skeptical of Erna’s birth year, but three sources corroborate that as the correct year, so I have to assume it’s correct. Plus there was a gap of twelve years between my mother and her sibling closest in age, so I know it happens.

Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld, Part II: Finding Their Children and Grandchildren

In my last post, I talked about the twisted path I took to find my great-great-uncle Jakob Schoenthal and his wife Charlotte Lilienfeld.  After discovering that their daughter Henriette Schoenthal and her husband Julius Levi had been killed in the Holocaust, I was determined to find out what had happened to Henry Lyons, who was the son of Henriette and Julius Levi and who had filed Pages of Testimony for his parents with Yad Vashem.

I thought that would be easy.  After all, I had a name and a specific address from the Pages of Testimony—99-30 59th Avenue, Rego Park, New York.  And I did almost immediately find a Public Records listing with his name at that address that provided me with his birthdate, October 17, 1919.  But that didn’t tell me much more than what I knew from the Pages of Testimony.

Yad Vashem page of testimony for Henriette Schoenthal Levi

 

Searching a bit further using the Rego Park address listed on the Pages of Testimony, I found a Pauline Lyons listed at that same address; I assumed that she was Henry’s wife.  Having both names made the search a bit easier since Henry Lyons itself is not exactly a unique name. I was able to use their two names together to find that they are both buried at Calverton National Cemetery and that Henry had died on December 18, 1986, and Pauline on November 30, 2007.  Henry had served in the US military during World War II, beginning his service on November 28, 1942, and thus was entitled to a military burial.  Imagine coming to America as a young man to escape Hitler and then fighting against the country of your birth.

When had he come to the US? Had he and Pauline had children? I wanted to know more.  I assumed Henry had arrived in the US sometime in the mid-to late 1930s.  I also assumed that he had arrived under the surname Levi, not Lyons.  After I wasted a lot of time searching for him under the wrong name, a member of the NYC Genealogy Group found a record for a man named Helmut Levi who had changed his name to Henry Lyons on October 5, 1953, in the city courts in New York.

 

Helmut Levi change of name to Henry Lyons Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com

Helmut Levi change of name to Henry Lyons
Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com

Armed with the information about what was probably his original name, I was able to find Helmut Levi on the 1940 census, living as a lodger at 204 West 87th Street in NYC and working as a watchmaker.  I was pretty certain I had found the right person when I saw on the census record that he had been living in Cologne, Germany, in 1935.

I also then found him on a passenger manifest (see line 26 on each page below):

Helmut Levy ship manifest p 1

Helmut Levi ship manifest Henry Lyons

Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6293; Line: 1; Page Number: 188

 

Helmut Levi had arrived in NYC on February 25, 1939.  According to the ship manifest, he was a nineteen year old merchant born and last residing in Cologne, leaving behind his father Julius Levi of Breitstrasse in Cologne and going to his uncle Lee Schoenthal of Washington, Pennsylvania.  This was obviously my cousin, the man later known as Henry Lyons.

I also found him on a second passenger manifest dated July 4, 1948, arriving in NYC from Bremerhaven, Germany.  Henry had returned to Germany after the war.  What a devastating trip that must have been.  The photo below shows what his home city of Cologne looked like after Allied bombing during the war.  Henry had not only lost his parents, but the place where he had lived as a child and a teenager.

 

By U.S. Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. [2] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. [2] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From that 1948 passenger manifest (line 10), I saw that Helmut Levi was then living in Washington, Pennsylvania, where his two uncles, Lee and Meyer, were also living, that is, his mother’s brothers, the two sons of Jakob and Charlotte mentioned in my last post.  Like so many Schoenthal relatives before him, Helmut had spent time living in western Pennsylvania.  The ship manifest also indicated that by 1948, Helmut had married, although Pauline is not listed as traveling with him.

 

Helmut Levi aka Henry Lyons 1948 ship manifest

Helmut Levi 1948 ship manifest Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7624; Line: 10; Page Number: 9

 

But I still didn’t know whether Helmut/Henry and Pauline had had children or whether there were other family members I might have missed.  I called Calverton National Cemetery, but they had no additional information.  I searched in the newspaper databases for articles or obituaries that might reveal more about Henry and Pauline Lyons.  At first I limited myself to New York papers, but then I realized that that was too narrow, given that he had once lived in western Pennsylvania.  I broadened my search and found this obituary from the January 19, 1989, Pittsburgh Press:

 

Erna Schoenthal Haas obit 1989

 

Who was Erna Haas? And was she Henry’s aunt or Pauline’s aunt? And who was Yohana Stern? I had more work to do.  I searched for Erna Haas, an unusual enough name, and was very excited to find this ship manifest (see lines 15 and 16):

 

Erna Haas ship manifest p 1

Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6152; Line: 1; Page Number: 174

 

Erna and her twelve year old son Werner had sailed from Hamburg, Germany on May 4, 1938; Erna was a beautician coming from Cologne.  I assumed that therefore her connection would be to Henry, a native of Cologne, not to Pauline, who was American-born.  Turning to the second page of the manifest, my hunch was confirmed (again, see lines 15 and 16):

 

Erna Haas ship manifest p 2

Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6152; Line: 1; Page Number: 174

 

Who was the person she named as living in the place she had left? Her sister, H. Levy of Breitstrasse in Cologne—that is, Henriette Schoenthal Levi, who had lived on that street as seen in the Köln directories in my last post. And who was she going to be with in the US? Her brother, Lee Schoenthal in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Erna Haas was another child of Jakob Schoenthal and Charlotte Lilienfeld.  She was also my grandmother’s first cousin.  And the aunt of Henry Lyons.  She was born Erna Schoenthal. I had found a fourth child of Jakob and Charlotte Schoenthal.

In 1940, Erna was listed on the census living with her son Werner in Pittsburgh, Erna working in cosmetics sales, Werner in newspaper sales.  Erna was a widow, so I assume that her husband Arnold had died in Germany, as I have no record of him in the US.  Unfortunately I have not yet found a record for him in Germany either.

But what about Yohana Stern, who had been listed in Erna’s obituary as her sister? I found this obituary for her husband Heinrich while searching for more information about Erna Haas:

Heinrich Stern obit

 

And then I located a ship manifest for Johanna Stern and Heinrich Stern (lines 3 and 4):

 

Ship manifest p 1 Johanna Schoenthal and Heinrich Stern

 

Ship manifest p 2 for Johanna Schoenthal and Heinrich Stern

Year: 1947; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7389; Line: 4; Page Number: 107

 

They had not arrived in the US until June 10, 1947, when they were 66 and 70 years old.  Notice that Johanna was born in Cologne, presumably around 1880.  How had she and Heinrich survived the Holocaust?  The manifest lists them as “stateless” and notes that they had last resided in “Lyon, France” and that their visas had been issued in “Marseille, France.”

The second page indicates that the person they were leaving behind at their last residence was a friend named Henry Kahnweiler of Paris (more on him in my next post) and the person they were going to see in the US was Johanna’s brother Lee Schoenthal of Washington, Pennsylvania.  Their final destination was Washington, Pennsylvania.  Yohana or Johanna Stern was born Johanna Schoenthal, a fifth child of Jakob and Charlotte Schoenthal. Another of my grandmother’s first cousins.

 

Thus, Jakob and Charlotte had had five children.  Their two sons Lee and Meyer had emigrated from Germany long before Hitler came to power; they had both settled near their aunt and uncle in Washington, Pennsylvania.    Jakob and Charlotte’s three daughters had stayed behind.  One, Henriette, was murdered by the Nazis with her husband Julius Levi at the Chelmno death camp in 1942, but their son Helmut Levi, aka Henry Lyons, left Germany in 1939 and survived.  Another daughter, Erna, left Germany with her son Werner in 1938.  And finally a third daughter, Johanna, somehow survived the war by going to France, and she and her husband Heinrich Stern came to the US in 1947.

It was a long and twisty road finding these five children, and it was heartbreaking to read of more cousins killed in the Holocaust.  But four of those five children survived and came to the US as did two of Jakob and Charlotte’s grandsons, Henry Lyons and Werner Haas.  More on the lives of these four children and their descendants in my next post.

My Great-great-uncle Henry: The Real Man Revealed

This was a major find, a discovery that has greatly inspired me and uplifted me.

I’ve been researching the Schoenthals in depth for quite a while now, and I’ve been so fortunate to find as much as I have about the family both in German and American records.    As I was preparing a post about Henry and Isidore, my great-grandfather, I decided to see if I could find a picture of Henry.  After all, he was a prominent man in Washington, Pennsylvania for many years.  There had to be a picture of him in a newspaper or archive somewhere.  So I tried Google.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find a photograph of Henry.  But what I found was amazing and did in fact give me a better picture of Henry.  The Jacob Radosh Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, had four entries for Schoenthal in its collection: three labeled Henry Schoenthal, one Hilda Schoenthal.   They were titled as papers, a biography, a diary, and a sermon.  I saw this the other evening and was excited, but had no idea how I could see these papers without going to Cincinnati.   So the next morning I called the Marcus Center and spoke to an extremely helpful man there named Joe.  Joe explained that they would scan all the pages of the documents for me for 25 cents a page and email them to me.  There were forty pages in total, and so in less than hour and for only ten dollars, I had the four files in my email.

The folder of Henry’s papers, which date from 1863 to 1866, are in German.  I am going to have to find someone to help me translate them.  But here’s one that confirms Henry’s  (then Heinemann) birth date and place and his father’s name; I think it is a certificate of his training to be a Jewish teacher at the seminary in Cassel, Germany:

Israelitische Lehrerbildungs for Henry Schoenthal Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Israelitische Lehrerbildungs for Henry Schoenthal
Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

 

The biography is a one page biography of Henry Schoenthal written by his daughter Hilda in 1952.  Although much of it was information I already knew, it adds another dimension to this man, making him come to life for me.  I want to look first at the first section of that biography because it will provide greater background to the diary and to the sermon, the remaining two files I received.

Hilda Schoenthal, Biography of Henry Schoenthal dated January 16, 1952. Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Hilda Schoenthal, Biography of Henry Schoenthal dated January 16, 1952. Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

 

Again, although I knew most of the facts reported here, it was wonderful to read it in words written by Henry’s own daughter. I didn’t know how he met his wife or that her father, Meyer Lilienfeld, was a cantor.  And I did not know that Henry was a shochet (kosher butcher) and a chazzan (cantor) as well as a teacher back in Germany.  I wish Hilda had expanded on the political and economic conditions that drove her father to emigrate.  And I found it interesting that Washington was considered somewhat of a center of culture and intellectual activity because of the presence of Washington and Jefferson College in the town. It also gave me a sense of Henry as someone interested in the life of the mind—someone who preferred selling books to students than selling clothing.

 

English: Western side of on the campus of in W...

Western side of McMillan Hall on the campus of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. .. Built in 1793, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Wikipedia)

The diary, which starts in 1866 when Henry arrived in America, starts out in German, but after the first several pages, Henry began to write in English and to use script which I can read.  Reading those pages was very moving, and I will share some of them below.  Thanks to my friend Matthias Steinke, I was able to get the initial pages translated into English.

The diary begins on July 10, 1866, just a few weeks after Henry had arrived in New York, and says that he had just arrived in Washington, PA, and was working for his cousin Jacob Goldsmith in his clothing store (for some reason “clothing store” is written in English).

Diary of Henry Schoenthal 1866-1868 Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Diary of Henry Schoenthal 1866-1868
Available at the Marcus Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

By the next day he had written to his parents and sent them three gold dollars.  He did not receive his first letter from his parents until August 9th and immediately responded, sending them ten dollars in “greenbacks.”   On August 16th, he described a visit from the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Hiester Clymer, and the fanfare surrounding that.  Then there is a long entry about the some criminal activities going on in the town.  Most of the pages in German report on his correspondence with various people back home.

By January 1867, Henry was writing in fluent English.  Just six months in the US, and he was already comfortable with and even preferring to write in English.  I was impressed.  Much of what he continued to write about was his correspondence— naming those to whom he had written and those who had written to him.   This page, with several entries dated in April, 1867, I found particularly interesting.

Henry Schoenthal diary p 9

 

On Tuesday, April 12,  1867, Henry mentioned that he was beginning to give German lessons to some residents of the town.   On these pages, he also mentioned writing letters not only to his “dear parents” and sending them money, but also writing to his uncle Juda Hamberg from Breuna, who was his mother’s older brother, and to Helene and Recha Lilienfeld.  Helene would later become his wife, and there are numerous mentions of correspondence between Henry and the two Lilienfeld sisters.  On this page he also mentioned that he sent the Lilienfeld sisters his pictures.  I sure wish I could see a copy of those pictures.

Of greatest interest to me on this page, however, is Henry’s comment on Monday, April 22, that he went to Pittsburgh “last Friday and stayed there for the first two days of Passover.”  I was touched that Henry was making an effort to hold on to his traditions and heritage while alone without his parents and siblings nearby.  Of his family members already in the US in 1867, the only one likely to have been in Pittsburgh was Simon Goldsmith, widower of Fanny Schoenthal and thus Henry’s uncle by marriage.

Although Henry may have had his heart set on Helene (also called Helen) Lilienfeld, he was not sitting home.  He mentioned at the bottom of this page that in May 1867 he went to a show with a Miss Emma ? and a Mrs. Flora Conner (?) and did not get home until half past eleven.

One of my favorite diary entries also is dated in May 1867:

Henry SChoenthal diary p 10 A

 

Why do I like this entry?  Because it mentions my great-grandfather and by his original name, Isaac.  Henry referred to all his siblings by their original names.  Malchen was Amalie, Hannchen was Hannah.  Selig became Felix.  I also liked that Julius was listed, confirming once again that Julius Schoenthal was a sibling.  I imagine Henry writing all those names and looking at the pictures his “dear parents” had sent to him and being somewhat homesick.

But there was some news to alleviate that homesickness.  He mentioned on the next page that Malchen wanted to come to the United States.  He said that she was “anxious to come to this country and I expect to let her come by next fall.”  This seems to suggest that the decision was up to Henry, not his parents or his sister Malchen.  Was this about money?  Henry often mentioned sending money home to his family.

Henry Schoenthal diary p 10 B

But on June 18, Henry wrote that his sister Malchen and brother Simon “intend to come over here next fall,” so perhaps he really did not have control over their decisions to emigrate.

Henry Schoenthal diary p 11

 

Although Henry was continuing to correspond with “dear Helene” and her sister, he was also exchanging pictures with a Miss Therese Libenfeld in Frankfort and teaching German to several young women in Washington.

On September 9, 1867, Henry reported that he had received a letter from his parents informing him that his brother and sister, Simon and Malchen, had left Bremen on August 17 to sail on the ship SS Watchen.  This is consistent with the ship manifest I found for Simon and Amalie, which has them arriving in New York on September 23, 1867.  The only inconsistency is that the ship manifest record states that the ship was named Wagen, not Watchen.  Close enough.

Henry Schoenthal diary p 13

After that the diary peters out with very few entries between September 1867 and February 1868, the date of the last entry.  My guess is that Henry was busy with his siblings, helping them to adjust to the new country, and perhaps less in need of keeping track of his correspondence.

The very last entry, dated February 24, 1868, records a piece of US history.  Henry wrote: “The House of Representatives just resolved to impeach President Andrew Johnson.”  Unfortunately Henry expressed no opinion or reaction to this occurrence.  Was it upsetting to him? How did he feel about American democracy?  I wish I knew.

Henry Schoenthal diary p 14

 

I loved reading the diary.  Although it is not terribly intimate or revealing in its content, I can imagine this young man in his early 20s sitting down to keep track of everyone from back home with whom he corresponded.  The fact that the diary ends shortly after the arrival of his sister and brother make me think that the diary’s purpose had at that point been served.  Henry now had some of his family with him and no longer needed the ritual of the diary to help him feel connected.

Returning to Hilda’s biography of her father and her description of his life after 1868:

Hilda bio of Henry Schoenthal p 2

I found Hilda’s final paragraph particularly interesting:

HIlda bio of Henry Schoenthal p 3

This was not the image I had of Henry from the documents I’d found or even the newspaper articles.  Henry wasn’t just a successful businessperson.  He was a committed Jew working hard to create and maintain a Jewish community in this small town in western Pennsylvania.  He was still a teacher many years after leaving Trendelburg, Germany, a man interested in books and students and Jewish traditions.  Now I see a whole new dimension to this man who was my great-great-uncle.

The remaining file that I obtained from the Marcus Center was the so-called sermon. For me, this was the most exciting document of all.  The sermon was written by Henry in 1912, three years after he had moved away from Washington to live near his son Lionel in New York City, as mentioned by Hilda.  Henry was by this time almost 70 years old.  From what I can infer, the sermon or speech was to a fraternal organization in Washington given on the occasion of Henry’s return to Washington for a visit.  I will quote the portions I found most touching and most revealing:

Henry Schoenthal 1912 Sermon p 1

He wrote:

I love to come back to Washington to revisit the scenes of my early manhood. For to this place I had come a stranger and you had taken me in.  Here I have spent the greater portion of my years and Washington has been my real home.  To this place I had brought my bride and here my children were born and educated.  Here I made many, many friends and possibly a few enemies.  Here I have lived many happy days and my full share of the other kind.  The latter I have forgotten long ago, the former are ever present in my memory and help to brighten and to make happy the declining days of my years.

Henry Schoenthal 1912 sermon p 2

I do not know whether I shall pass this way again, for the shades of evening are lengthening and the goal may not be very far off.  I gratefully acknowledge that God has been very gracious unto me and that he has blessed me beyond my merits.  He has guided me with a father’s hand to reach and to pass safely the 3 score and ten of which the Psalmist has spoken, and if it should be his holy will to grant me another short space of years, I may even reach the limit of four scores.

Henry Schoenthal Sermon 1912 p 3

Henry Schoenthal 1912 sermon p 4

But whether this should be the last time it is destined for me to have the happiness to meet with you, you may rest assured that I shall always remember this evening, that I shall never forget the courtesy you have shown, the friendship and the fraternal feelings you have extended to me.  And I shall always pray for your happiness and in parting I shall bless you, bless you not in my own words, but the in the words of the High Priest of old when he stood before the assembled multitudes stretching forth his hand and pronouncing the words:

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

May the Lord cause his light to shine upon you and be gracious unto you!

May the Lord turn his face unto you and grant you peace, now and forever more.  Amen!

I admit that my eyes well up with tears every time I read and re-read these words. I am moved by so much of what he said here: his attachment to Washington, PA, as his home, a place that had welcomed a very young man in 1866 and given him a safe place to settle and work.  He mentioned good times and bad, but overall his memories of this place are filled with love for the people he knew there.  I feel his love for this place and for the people and his joy in being there and the sadness he feels in leaving it and perhaps not being able to return another time.  We all have those feelings about places we have lived–whether it is a childhood home, a college campus, a first apartment.  We move on, but a piece of our heart remains behind.

I am also moved by the beauty of his writing.  It’s hard to believe that English was not his first language, as with my cousin Lotte.  Henry’s writing is so poetic, so evocative.  I read it with wonder.

And then Henry closed with the traditional priestly blessing read even today in Jewish prayer services and used as a blessing on many occasions in Jewish life. A blessing we said to our own daughters on Friday nights when they were children.  A blessing that Jews have said and shared for centuries.  I am moved knowing that my ancestor shared in this tradition as well.

Henry had left the seminary, but that experience had never left him.  He remained, as his daughter said, committed to his heritage and proud of it.  He remained a religious man.

Finding these papers was another one of many highlights in my continuing search for the story of my ancestors.  They inspire me to keep looking for more and to keep telling the stories.  Henry Schoenthal wanted history and traditions to continue, and I want his story to live on as well.