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 for more information.  (Not my account- I’m just a member, but the group is great!)

Alright, now that I’ve been home from Chicago for a few days, it’s time to write about the fun genealogy things I was able to do on my trip!  There were really two things, since I did spend most of my time there doing touristy stuff and hanging out with the friend I was staying with

1) Visited the research center at the Chicago Historical Society.  Since a lot of my family is from Chicago, and were prominent members of the society there, I figured I would be able to find information about them at the Historical Society.  I was mainly focused on the Cowens, but some descendants of the Cohn family lived there too, including my great-grandma Helen (Schwartzmann) Weinstein and her siblings (who I was able to find information about- more in a sec).

I looked through Chicago City Directories and found Israel Cowen and his father, Bennett Cowen, in directories from a few different years.  Interestingly, Israel was mentioned in the 1879 directory, even though every other record I have of him doesn’t place him in Chicago until 1882, I believe.  I’ll have to look into that further!  I did learn earlier in the week from a cousin I met (again- more later!) that Israel was probably involved with the Jewish Home for the Aged in Chicago, and while I was at the Historical Center, I came across a box of pictures from the (Orthodox) Jewish Home for the Aged (“Orthodox” in parentheses because the name changed to include and exclude that word at different points).  The pictures were from after his death- the 1950s and 60s- but still, it was cool to find out about this aspect of his life and see these pictures all in the span of less than a day!

I tried to find Bayard Cowen in his college yearbooks, but was unsuccessful at that.  I either had the incorrect year or school, and since the research center was only open for 3 1/2 hours, I didn’t end up with enough time to check my information and get my hands on the correct yearbooks.  Something for another trip!  I also had been hoping that a photo of Bayard that I’d found on line a while back, that had been taken by a newspaper photographer, was published in the newspaper, but it turns out that it wasn’t.  It was just taken as a potential photograph for a story, but it was never used.

The last, really cool thing that I found was the obituary of Adeline Horwitch, sister of my great-grandma Helen, who passed in 2002.  I already had the text of her obituary, but I wanted to see it in its original context in the newspaper.  They had that day’s paper on microfilm, and so I printed out the page her obituary was on- so cool!  I think it makes so much more sense to have things like that in context.  I wish I could share the pictures I took of the documents I found but unfortunately I had to sign away my life to be able to use my camera, so, I can’t  😦

2) met Dorr and her daughter Kaitlyn.  I’ve been emailing Dorr for a little while; she does the genealogy for her entire family and has shared the information she has related to the Cowen, Herzog, and Schwartz families.  (To be honest, I’m kind of envious of all the primary information she has access to, pictures especially.  I don’t have any that go back past my own grandparents, to my knowledge; a lot of stuff has gotten thrown away over the years when it most certainly should not have been!)  Anyway, since I was going to be in Chicago anyway, I thought it would be nice if we could meet up- and it was!!  I met Dorr and her daughter, Kaitlyn, who is exactly my age.  They were super nice and we chatted for almost 2 hours.  We all shared genealogy information with each other and I came back with some new leads about the Cowens to research- most notably, the lead on Israel Cowen’s involvement with the Jewish Home for the Aged, which I mentioned earlier.  I shared a journal entry I came across that was written by Elmer Eppstein (grandson-in-law of Michael Cowen- so, more closely related to Dorr’s family than mine).  I plan on posting that on here soon, too.  Anyway, it was really cool to actually meet them in person!

Next time I make it back to Chicago, these are the things I’d like to do:

  • visit the addresses that my ancestors used to live at
  • spend more time at the Historical Society research center, and look up more about the Cowens, as well as research the Cohns and any other relations that spent time in Chicago
  • visit the Jewish Home for the Aged and other organizations that my ancestors were involved with; find out if they have any documents or information there; and take pictures!
  • meet up with more of the cousins I have out there
  • make it out to the graveyards I have ancestors buried at and take pictures and/or rubbings of their graves

Anyway, that’s a quick overview of what I did in Chicago; I’ll elaborate more on some of the interesting information at a later date.

Edit 7-11-13:  Got a clearer print of the news article; updated my transcript.

I will post about some of the cool genealogy things I found on my Chicago trip later on… it’s really too late to be writing now but I’ve found something quite exciting that I just don’t wait to wait to share!

I’ve been searching for Bayard Desenberg Cowen, the mysterious brother to my great-grandma Liz, who, until about 15 minutes ago, I was only able to trace until 1922.  After then, he seems to just disappear.

Well, not any more!

I’ve found a newspaper article from Iowa that depicts his arrest there in 1929 for forgery.

To be honest, I expected that I would find something along those lines once it became apparent to me how difficult he was to trace compared to every other relative I’m researching.  What probably threw me off from finding this sooner, aside from the fact that this article seems to be in just one place online, is that based on the known family history, I’ve never had a reason to be researching Iowa!  Just shows what searching on a whim can turn up…

Below I’ve pasted a transcript of the article, followed by the link to the site I found it on.

Mason City Globe-Gazette “North Iowa’s Daily Paper Edited for the Home”

Vol. XXXVI, No. 10

Mason City, Iowa

Monday, October 21, 1929

Cowan Pleads Guilty at C.R.

Bayard Cowan to Be Sentenced on Forgery Charge.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Oct. 21 (AP) – Bayard D. Cowan, 29, bond salesman arrested here on Oct. 12 charged with defrauding bankers in this section of the state, today pleaded guilty to three counts for uttering forged instruments before Judge John T. Moffitt in district court.  He will be sentenced tomorrow.

Cowan may be sentenced to 15 years in each count.

It was charged he organized fake companies under the laws of Delaware, and disposed of their bonds to banks in this section, including two in Cedar Rapids.  He sold the bonds only to bankers whose friendship he had gained when he was a salesman for a bond company.

Cowan owned two airplanes, several automobiles, and was known as a liberal spender.

One really fun part of doing all this genealogy research is getting in touch with distant relatives who have their own information on parts of the family tree. There’s a lot you can find on the Internet, but there’s a lot that’s special about talking to people who can provide information first-hand; people who either are or knew the people you’re researching. This picture is of Sanford J Herzog (who is my first cousin 3x removed-in-law…if you were wondering). I’ve been writing to his granddaughter-in-law, and she sent me this picture. So cool! Even though we’re not related by blood, I always love to see old pictures of people on my family tree- especially since I have so few pictures of the people I’m directly related to. Thanks, Dorr!

Sanford J. Herzog at the Drexel Fountain, Hyde Park (Chicago) Illinois.  May 1917

Sanford J. Herzog at the Drexel Fountain, Hyde Park (Chicago) Illinois. May 1917

In 2 weeks, I’m heading off to Chicago!  It’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and have heard great things about, so I’m super excited for this trip!  I can’t wait to see all the architecture, museums, and sites and- most importantly- taste all the delicious food I’ve heard about ever since I decided that this was a trip I wanted to take.

How does this at all relate to genealogy?  Let me start by saying, this trip did not originate as a research trip.  (If you’re wondering how it did originate, years ago, I decided that I wanted to go to Chicago to try iCream, which I heard about on the Food Network- you make your own ice cream flavor & freeze it with liquid nitrogen!  But I digress…)

It turns out that I have a lot of family history based in Chicago.  My dad’s father’s parents (Meyer J Weinstein & Helen Schwartzmann) and great-grandparents (Samuel Schwartzmann and Sarah Cohn) are buried there, as are my dad’s mother’s grandparents (Israel Cowen & possibly his wife Alma Desenberg) and their siblings (probably Michael and Carlos K Cowen).  Other family members held important roles in Chicago’s history, including two who were influential Rabbis (Samuel Disraeli (SD) Schwartz and Frederick (Fritzie) C Schwartz).  Yet others went to universities in Chicago.

On my trip, I’m hoping to make it to a bunch of places to gather more genealogy-related information.  I’d like to make it out to the cemeteries where people are buried to do some rubbings.  There’s the Jewish Genealogical Society, which might have some historical gravestone information, as well as the library at the Spertus Institute, which has books and old newspapers that I know my ancestors are mentioned in.  Apparently, the Chicago History Museum’s library has books that mention some of my Chicago ancestors.  (Thanks, Dorr!)  And if I can make it to any of the university libraries, then I’ll go through old school records to find people as well.  A daunting task, since I’m also hoping to see the rest of Chicago! 😉

Anyway, I will update again about this trip, either while I’m there (since I put the WordPress app on my phone!) or once I get home to share the information I found.  I just have to find a way to sit tight until May 6!

One of the coolest things, that I’ve only been able to experience recently, is actually making contact with people you come across as a name on paper in the process of doing this genealogy research.  Of course I know my siblings, first cousins, aunts/uncles, and grandparents- they don’t count for this, even though they’re included on the tree.  I’m talking about finding relatives you didn’t even know existed, down a branch of the family tree that nobody’s thought about for generations!

I recently got in touch with a man named Art Zemon.  As briefly as possible, here’s how the two of us are related:  Art’s great-uncle (by blood) was married to the niece of my great-great grandfather.  Confusing?  I completely understand!  I will be posting that portion of the family tree soon so that it’s easier to visualize the connection.

I actually came across Art’s genealogy website when trying to find out more information about the family of that niece I mentioned above.  (Her name is Amy (Cowen) Herzog.)  It turns out that Art has been very involved in researching his family’s genealogy, and we both went out just far enough on our own family trees to make this connection.  I reached out to him by e-mail, and he wrote back!  It was by far the coolest moment I’ve had so far throughout this process.  Hearing from someone who was just a name on paper?  Amazing!!  Genealogy becomes so much more worthwhile once you realize that there are people out there who you’re related to that you can contact & talk to!  I’m hoping that in the future I can continue to correspond with Art as well as find more people to get in touch with.

(Art’s website has a lot of information about the following surnames:  HERZOG, LEVY, SERBY, ZEMON.  Some of his information is replicated here- mostly the HERZOG line- but not nearly all of it.  If you’re looking for more on those lines, I suggest checking out Art’s website.)