Tag Archives: Chicago

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.


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!