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The Stumbling Stones on the cobbles outside of Gustav Kahn’s House:

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The Jewish Cemetery:

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Gustav Kahn’s House, Freudenburg, Germany: as it is now above (2011); and then (undated but source “Fast vergessene Zeugen”) below:

 

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Time to revisit grandparents: Gaston Victor Kahn and Amy Dubber, an unlikely pairing. Granddad Kahn was born a Jew in 1858 in Liverpool; Grandma Amy Dubber (gentile) was born in 1874 in Pimlico, London. In 1902, roughly when they met, Gaston was 44 and Amy a mere 28. That early Edwardian date is a guess because we still can’t find any record of a marriage between the couple. Perhaps they were living together or possibly they married overseas. In the 1901 census, granddad was living at 1 Kempsford Gardens, London SW5 and Amy lived at 44 Ifield Road, the addresses being about ½ km apart adjacent to Brompton Cemetery. When their first son, Philip, was born in late 1903 at Isleworth, Amy recorded her surname as Brown, formerly Dubber, and the father was shown as Philip Brown. All details are correct except the names so we are confident this is our Amy. But why the phoney name?

 A few years earlier, Gaston’s brother Charles lived under a pseudonym for a while. He and his wife used the name Wigdor for an unknown reason. Name change is unlikely to be genetic, but the coincidence is compelling. Both Charles and his younger brother Gaston appear to have used pseudonyms at around the same time, probably following their migration from Liverpool to London. Incidentally, why did they move from the north-west to the capital? We don’t know.

If pseudonyms run in the family, one reason could be religious: both Granddad Gaston and Great Uncle Charles were Jews and both married non-Jews. But as far as we can trace, our lot were not orthodox or especially conformist to Jewish tradition, so, realistically, fear of family ostracism is an unsatisfactory conclusion to draw. It’s a mystery still.

Eventually Gaston and Amy gave birth to a second son, Gaston Bernard, born in Hammersmith, London on 20 November 1911, 7 months and 11 days after Gaston Victor died in a hospital in Beaumont Street, Marylebone. Within a few years, Amy moved the entire family to Cassiobury Road, Weymouth, where she died in 1960.

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We’ve been contacted by Stephen Evans, a theatre music researcher in the process of collecting information on ensembles and group acts during the Music Hall era with a view to developing an online database and perhaps eventually publishing his findings. As part of this, he’s interested in learning more about Beatie & Babs and seeks biological facts, anecdotal gems from both on and off stage, and any material relating to how they delivered their acts and sketches. Photos, notes, diary entries, newspaper cuttings, movie film and personal reminiscences are all of interest.

Our own genealogical researches over the past 30 years have turned-up a modicum of stuff and we’ve given the author access to our records about the duo. But of course much more information remains to be uncovered – we know quite a lot of ‘what happened’ about the family but we’re a bit short on the ‘whys.’

Stephen would welcome your contributions to this project. If you can help, contact him direct at: s.evans16@ntlworld.co.uk or if you prefer send them to us as contactus@kahngene.org.uk and we’ll forward them to Stephen.

Needless to say, we have a vested interest in this. We’ll be sharing the stories about Beatie & Babs so the more Stephen finds out, the more we can fill in some of the many blanks in our family history. Please help if you can.

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Thanks to PR of the Wirral and AL of Liverpool, we’ve now received new images of Tuebrook’s neglected Jewish cemetery. If you’re interested, please follow the link under BLOGROLL to the norfolkkahns gallery FLICKR page.

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not forgotten

As evinced by the lack of activity on this blog, research has temporarily hit the buffers. A few new snippets of information about Beatie & Babs were uncovered thanks to the Newspaper Archives website: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk but other ancestors remain obstinately elusive.

After our initial euphoria over Victor’s siblings, we’ve made no further progress to identify what happened to them – or where their descendants are now.

This post, therefore, adds nothing new. It serves only as a sort of musical interlude while the main programme is wound onto new reels ready for us to focus on the big picture again. A poor metaphor, true, but in its utilitarian and perfunctory way must suffice for now. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Please don’t go away.

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Great grandfather Victor in Uniform Liverpool REVERSE_1

By the kind diligence of cousin Viv, we were able to obtain a facsimile of the rear of the card on which Victor’s photograph was mounted. A copy was sent to Ron and he has dated the image to between 1880 and 1886, which would make Victor at least  57 years old. Not a great leap for Kahnkind but every snippet offers potential benefits. Thanks to all concerned.

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Academic genealogy has taken a back seat lately. That’s because we moved home for the second time in as many years. We hadn’t even opened every box from the last relocation before we started packing again. Now we’re ensconced in an old converted Primitive Methodist chapel in rural Lincolnshire, ‘out on the marsh’ as we like to call it. The walls are damp in places, drainage is dubious, heating clamours, hedges are overgrown and the sugar beet campaign has started – beware mud on road. But from all windows we have views over fields; Gedney Church is just visible on the southern edge and Boston Stump is just invisible to the north-west. To the north and east the sea wall forms a pencil-straight horizon worthy of any draughtsman.

So far within our extended curtilage we’ve enjoyed the antics of a covey of about 50 French partridge, a flock of some fifteen tree sparrows, a thieving magpie, several pheasants, lots of tits and finches, a lone muntjac and Lenny. We’ve exchanged the close social accessibility of village life for the bucolic isolation of the countryside. Here we’d like to stay for a while; my next change of address will include the words ‘late of…’.

Within a few days of moving in, with unopened boxes piled in various rooms and the air still redolent of perspiring removal men, cousin David and his wife Anne arrived. They were just finishing a whistle-stop tour of Great Britain as part of their vacation from Canada. We tried to recall when we last met and came to the conclusion it was in 1959 when my sister Maxine married. Half a century ago! After such an interval, perhaps it’s not surprising that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not chatting to Uncle Phil but to his son. Thus can be implied several definitions of ‘distant relations.’

We had a grand if brief time. Now we’re all settling back into the mellowness of autumn with inevitable long nights becoming longer. This is the time for renewed research into the family’s history. After an instant of stirring excitement over a potential USA far-cousin, we were disappointed to find the link was an inadvertent red herring dropped by a misinterpreted coincidence of name and dates. But the search continues with no waning of enthusiasm.

All new developments will be reported here. (AK)

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We would like to know more about Lucy Kahn (daughter of Victor and Mathilde/Madeline) and her descendants.

She was born on 7th June 1861 at 78 Elizabeth Street, Liverpool. Her birth certificate records her name as Luci Henrietta Kahnn (with the double-n). Her name is cited as Lucy in the 1871 census (at 15 Crown Street, West Derby) and changes to Lucea for the 1881 census.

In 2Q 1882, Lucy married David Matthews, a shop fitter born in Liverpool about 1858.  By the 1891 census they were living in Tollemache Street, Southview Drive, Liscard, Cheshire (Wallasey) and had three children: Esther (Hettie) b. Liverpool 1883, Madeline (Mattie) b. Liverpool 1885 and Louis b. New Brighton 1890. Lucy’s father, Victor, lives with the family, his wife having died eight years earlier. In 1901 Lucy and family were still in Liscard and in 1911 were at 57 Rowson Street, New Brighton. 

There the trail ceases, although we do have a few potential records subject to verification: 

  • David Matthews probably died in 1916 at Birkenhead (Wallasey) and Lucy appears to have died in 1936 similarly at Wallasey.  
  • Esther could have married James Titterton in Stockport at the end of 1901 and probably had three children, Harold (1901), James Allan (1907) and Ettie (1909). 
  • Madeline was reputed to have married Courtenay Taylor, but perhaps she married Charles Soden in 1910 (in Croydon) and had two children: Victor W. Soden (b. 1911) and Irene G. Soden (b. 1912) – both born in Somerset.
  • Lucy probably died in 1936 at Wallasey.

The details in these four bullet-points are tentative. We need to find further sources to be able to either confirm or reject the records.

We’d be delighted to hear from any descendants of Lucy – or indeed from anyone able to cast a little light into our darkness. Our email address is: contactus@kahngene.org.uk

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Schweich is a small German town on the meandering River Moselle, about 6 miles from Trier. A few weeks ago, I visited and spent a couple of sunny days motor homing in the shadow of lush terraces of grape vines growing on the sides of the steep river valley.

My aim was to visit our homeland and, perhaps, find out more about family origins. The first I achieved easily – the motorway from Luxembourg flies (almost literally) past the door. I failed dismally in the second objective.

On Saturday, the town prepared for an al fresco party; Schweich Week was drawing to a close. Amid the haste and the bustle, I ambled into the synagogue. By pure serendipity, I collided with a local elder. He showed me around and listened to my story. He had patient English, far superior to my wavering German. Then he promised to carry out some private research into the Kahn family tree – and directed me towards the cemetery.

Unfortunately for my researches, I found only the Christian cemetery. Later I drank beer outside a bar at a fork in the road which was, unbeknown to me, no more than a few hundred metres from the entrance to the Jewish burial ground. Believe it or not, I had researched Schweich before I left for Luxembourg, yet somehow I hadn’t discovered the existence of the Jewish cemetery. My own pathetic searches are to blame.

Only after I returned home did I discover that the cemetery not only existed, but was catalogued by one Hans-Peter Bungert. Over ten years ago, he produced a booklet with the explicit title: “Die judische Bevolkerung im Einwohnerbuch Schweich 1669 bis 1880 (bzw 1938) mit Issel (ab 1803) & Haardthof.” I sent for a copy.

Herr Bungert painstakingly researched all officially recorded Jewish deaths in Schweich from 1851 to 1937, producing a chronological list. He then cross-referenced the records against existing gravestones and burial plots in the actual cemetery, where interments were made in strict date order. Thus, he achieved a record of all 88 burial plots.

The names are familiar. Kahn seems to be the most frequent. No fewer than 45 interments have a direct or marital relationship with a Kahn. Isay is another prominent name, as is Israel – both featuring in our family tree in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We have yet to trace the connection between our Raphael (born about 1725) and other Kahns in Schweich. In Herr Bungert’s listings appear another Raphael (born 1727 Freudenburg); Abraham (married Rachel in 1760); Joseph (born 1747 Freudenburg) and various other Kahns possibly part of the family, in addition to those we know already. So the tree can probably be expanded – if only we find the missing link.

With a fair northerly wind, I’ll make another visit to Schweich next year and this time go armed with better advance research and clues as to where to look for answers. And I’m now a card-bearing researcher at the Luxembourg archives – I think. I can’t be sure because my translations leave a lot to be desired. I suspect more answers to the questions about Victor’s immediate kinfolk are hidden within the Duchy’s national archives.

The quest continues. In the meantime, I’ve posted a few images of Schweich – follow the link to norfolkkahns’ Flickr page.

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