Until now, my blog has been significantly more informative than my Ancestry tree. I’m proud to say that I’ve spent the past two days going through the bulk of my information and I’ve nearly tripled the number of people who are listed on my Ancestry tree, which you can find here. It’s now as up to date as my blog, and in the future I will be keeping both the Ancestry tree and this blog updated in parallel.


So, this post is a little bit strange.  Normally I try to put together family trees that go as far back as I can possibly trace.  In this case, I’m coming at this tree a bit differently.  If you remember back to an old post on this blog, I mentioned looking for Bayard Desenberg Cowan, the mysterious, rarely-mentioned uncle of my Grandma Mirrel.  It turns out that he was arrested in 1929 for bond forgery.  Not much is known about Bayard- my grandmother refuses to mention him, and there’s little public information about him after the 1920s.  However, I refuse to give up tracing this branch of the tree and my persistence has paid off.  I’ve been able to trace his line up through his grandkids, and I’m still working.  So for now, his tree is separate from the rest of the family because of what a mystery it’s been.

I. Bayard Desenberg Cowan b. 1901, IL

m. Edith Irene Sturtevant

            A. Richard Sturtevant Cowan, b. 1925

            m. Lois Marcelia Hildreth* b. 1927, m. 12/26/1949, Los Angeles CA

                        1. Dennis Hildreth Cowen, b. 8/1950

                        2. Melissa Cowen, b. 10/14/1951

                        3. Kathleen Cowen, b. 3/7/1957


I. Ernest Lee Hildreth

m. Margaret M. Monahan

            *A. Lois Marcelia Hildreth


I’m very excited to announce that because of all the recent developments that’ve been made in tracing the Sosna family tree lately, I’ve decided to create a “Sosna Family Genealogy” Facebook group!  This group is for all descendants of Beril (Benjamin) and Mochala Sosna and their children Rebecca (m. Lewis Cohn), Phillip, Bessie (m. Joseph Tartakowsky), Max, and Leib.  If you’re related through any of these lines please add yourself to the group.  I want to get as many people connected as possible- and this line of the family is huge!  And please share with your Sosna relatives, too 🙂

To put this tree into framework:  The goal of this tree is only to display the lineage of Bessie and Joseph Tartakowsky, who I’ve bolded in the tree below.  The rest of the tree- Bessie’s parents and siblings- is just to frame the tree within the rest of the family history that I know.  Rebecca’s name is a link to a tree of her descendants; and I am working on the lineages of Phillip, Max, and Leib.  The last tree to name many of these relatives (Beril and Mochala and their children) is found in the second tree in this post, however it’s quite out of date by now.

I. Beril (Benjamin) Sosna

m. Mochala

            A. Rebecca

            B. Phillip

            C. Pessil (Bessie) 1867-1945

         m. Joseph Tartakowsky 1867-1926

                        1. Anna G.

                        m. Gilmann

                        m. Paul Holzman

                                    a. Helen

                                    m. Charles Nudelman b. 1905

                                    b. Sylvia

                                    m. Bernard “Bernie” Cohen

                                                i. Neil

                                                ii. Nancy

                                                m. Jack Lampert

                                                            I. Amy M.

                                                            II. Andrew J.

                                    c. Bernard S. d. 4/20/2012

                                    m. Ruth E. Given

                                                i. Michael

                                                m. Maria

                                                            I. Kevin

                                                            II. Patrick

                                                ii. Nancy H.

                                                m. Kevin A. Rhein

                                                            I. David R.

                                                            II. Jennifer

                                                            III. Julie E.

                                                iii. Patricia “Patty”

                                                m. John A. Rosenbaum

                                                            I. Brian

                                                            II. Sarah

                                                iv. Richard

                                                m. Jane

                                                [m. Sue Ellen Fleschman]

                                                            I. David

                                                            II. Laura

                                                v. Rob

                                                m. Renee Kastar

                                                            I. Alex

                                                            II. Olivia

            D. Max

            E. Leib


My dad unearthed a bag of old postcards while I was home over winter break.  Most of them are addressed to David Davis, Joseph Davis, and the “Titusville Aunts” (a number of the Davis siblings who never married, **more info coming).  I’m posting the pictures of some of them up here for public access.  This is not all of the postcards, just the ones I got pictures of, and one of my projects for this year is to identify the people who mailed the postcards and other people who are mentioned in the notes.  Anyone who recognizes any info on the postcards, please comment or e-mail me!!

These are my primary questions related to this set of postcards:

  1. Who is Uncle Block?
  2. Who are Cousin Ben and Cousin Gertrude?
  3. Who is S. E. Davis?

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Apologies for not having updated the blog in a while; I was swamped with schoolwork for the past few months, but now I’ve survived my first semester of grad school and have some more free time on my hands!

One of my goals when I started out on this genealogy journey was to get in touch with living people on other branches of my family tree.  To that end, I’ve been using a lot of social media outreach to try and find people as well as to have them find me.  I wrote a while back about meeting up with some distant cousins in Chicago when I was there in May, but boy have things come a long way since then!

The nice thing about having a genealogy blog, I’ve found, is that other people looking for their family members often come across it.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of them reach out- hi, Mark & Bob!

Mark’s great-great-grandmother Sarah was the first cousin of my great-great-grandmother Bertha Semmel Cowen.

I. Semmel parents
	A. Casriel (Charles), 1817-1891, Jarocin, Poland
	m. 3 times
		1. 9 children
	B.  male child
	m. ?
		1. Bertha
		m. Bennett Cowen
		…4 generations down:  me!
	C. female child
	m. male Schackman
		1. Sarah
		m. male Morris
			a. Hattie Morris, 1871-1955
	 		m. male Freyberg
				i. Harold
				…2 generations down:  Mark Mandle

Mark is a genealogist in Chicago, and has sent me a plethora of information to sort through.  Once I do, it’s more than enough for multiple other posts!

Bob is related through a different branch of the tree, the Cohns.  Louis and Rebecca Cohn, the patriarch and matriarch of that branch of the family tree, apparently were instrumental in bringing over a lot of Rebecca’s family from the old country.  Rebecca was born Rivka Sosna, and had a number of siblings and half-siblings.  Bob’s wife is the great-granddaughter of one of Rebecca’s brothers or half-brothers (still trying to do work on that side of the family to figure it out!)

I. Beril (Benjamin)
m. Machala/Mochala
	A. Rebecca
	…5 generations down:  me!
	B. Phillip
	…3 generations down:  Saraann (m. Bob)
	C. Pessil (Bessie)
	m. male Tartakowsky
	D. Max
	* missing ~3 other siblings & some may be half-siblings

For more information on this branch of the family, Bob’s Ancestry Tree is the best source of information (though I’m not sure whether the link will work if you are not “invited” to see the tree).

Anyhow, those are the two new major findings I’ve had recently, and it really is great to be getting in touch with so many people.  This blog is working wonders & doing exactly what I set out for it to do 🙂

So I’ve been looking for things to do in the community now that I’m getting into the swing of things in Pittsburgh, and a few weeks ago I found a genealogy club that meets at the library just down the street from my apartment!  It’s a good group of people and it’s small, which means we all get to talk every week.  For being a small group- only ~6 people, depending on the week- a lot of us are researching similar genealogy backgrounds.  There are a few people of African American descent who share similar difficulties in finding information, as do me and the other people researching Jewish genealogy.  It’s  been good to have people who understand my genealogy “crazy speak” when I talk about my third cousin once removed-in-law 😉  As much as my family is interested in what I’m saying, sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly how specific people are related and why they should care.  Everyone in the club just wants to talk about genealogy!  Also, everyone is going about their research in different ways, so it’s both interesting and helpful to hear about different ways to find information.  I’ve quickly become the “social media” person so in a few weeks I’ll be giving a presentation on how to use social media to do genealogy research.  (Hint- It works!)  I’ll post my presentation on here once it’s finished, too, because I think it’s a useful avenue that a lot of people don’t go down.

If you live in Pittsburgh, the Squirrel Hill Genealogy Club meets Sundays at 3:00 at the Squirrel Hill Library!  Email SqHillGenClub@gmail.com for more information.  (Not my account- I’m just a member, but the group is great!)