Almost back on schedule!
This week’s prompt is about a discovery that was close to home. There are a few instances that come to mind.
Meier Krochmal This is not really my discovery, rather my grandfather’s from when my mother was in grade school at Sunnyside Elementary. A little bit of backstory first. My grandfather, Harry Rothstein, was born in Vienna in 1924 to Markus Rothstein and Bertha Tillinger. Markus and Bertha’s families moved to Vienna after 1910 when they were teenagers (by my estiamte). Bertha was from Stanislwow and Markus was from Tarnopol, two centers of Jewish life in the part of Western Ukraine that was part of the Austrian Province of Galicia. Markus’ parents were Laura Krochmal and Joseph Rothstein. So back to my mother. When she was in grade school she had a teacher, Mrs. Krochmal who was the wife of one of Meier’s sons. From what I have been able to gather, my grandfather recognized the surname and after some discussions. determined they were family. Since this was in the 50’s Markus was still alive as was Meier so I can only assume they were able to verify things with them. Meier and Markus would have been second cousins. Meier was the son of Solomon/Shlomo Krochmal/Lehrer and Jente Golde Schapira. Supposedly Jente Golde is related to the Shapira family that started Giant Eagle but I have yet to see any confirmation of that. Meier and Hirsch Leib’s fathers were brothers. A few years after Meier was born Solomon and Jente Golde divorced (maybe – haven’t found a civil marriage record, Jewish marriages in Galicia are tricky). I can only guess that once Shlomo remarried to a Rachel Lehrer Meier stayed with his mother and was not close with his father, step mother and half brother based on what I have read. It does appear that when Meier came to Pittsburgh he stayed with the Shapira, and possible step cousin. Strangely enough this possible step cousin is the father of one my aunt’s closest friends.
Kaufmann’s So one of the more famous families in Pittsburgh is the Kaufmann family. In 1871 three brothers from the town of Viernheim in the then German state of Hesse ; Morris, Jacob and Isaac founded the store initially as a small mens store in what is now known as the South Side. At the time that area was known as Birmingham and was known for it’s glass factories. In 1877 the store was moved to the downtown area and from then on was known as The Big Store. The three brothers along with other siblings and cousins came to the US in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Kaufmann’s Department store, at the height of it existence there were 59 stores in 5 states. In 1913 Morris and his son Edgar bought out his brothers and they along with their cousin Julius Baer founded the Kaufmann & Baer Co. which was eventually bought out by Gimbels. Eventually after declining sales in Pittsburgh various mall locations of Gimbels were rebranded as Kaufmann’s. Edgar and his wife (also 1st and 2nd cousin) Lilliane were responsible two of the most recognized landmarks of architecture in the 20th century. The Kaufmann Dessert House is one. Fallingwater, in nearby Fayette County at the company’s Bear Run Camp is the other. The Kaufmann family also supported many philanthropic causes in the area. So what makes this all genealogically significant to me. So my grandmother’s brother in law, Alfred Cohn, is also her second cousin, so some of his ancestors are my ancestors. Alfred had an Aunt Hedwig who married a Karl Lehmann from the town of Darmstadt, also in Hesse. Karl was the sone of Pesach and Berta Neu. Pesach was the son of Isaak Meyer and Jeve Abele David. Isaak and Jeve had another son Meier who married a Hindele Reis. Here is where the magic happens… Meier and Hindele had a daughter Jeanette who married Nathan Kaufmann from Viernheim. Nathan just happens to be the uncle of the aforementioned Morris, Jacob, and Isaak who founded Kaufmann’s. As I also mentioned earlier Edgar married his 1st/2nd cousin Lilliane who was the grand daughter of Nathan and Jeanette. From what I understand they would hire family to work at the stores and in various levels of management. On such family member was Nathan’s grandson-in-law Sidney Bachman, husband of Lilliane’s first cousin Jeanette. Growing up my best friend would tell me his family is related to the Kaufmann family but I never asked how. I did know that his mother’s maiden name was Bachman, since their family recreational farm is called the Bachman family farm. Once I got into genealogy I found how exactly they are related – Sidney is my friend’s great grandfather. I also eventually did a little digging in real estate records and found that the Bachman Family Farm land is right next to the land owned by the Kaufmann’s – coincidence, I think not…