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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.

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.

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.

Eureka! That’s probably the wrong word to use, but we’ve done it! Thanks to Stefan Roos of Trier in Germany, we’ve achieved a major breakthrough in our researches. Victor’s missing siblings have been traced.

Now we know that Victor’s parents Lazarus and Jeanette had six children: Raphael Louis (1818) and his twin sister who was stillborn; Salomon (1822); Joseph (1824); Victor (1827) and another stillborn daughter (1829) – all born in Luxembourg. Perhaps these siblings were not discovered during our researches at the Grand Duchy’s National Archives because Lazarus was registered in Luxembourg as Cahen, the French spelling of Kahn. I can feel another visit to Luxembourg coming on.

As a result of the email from Stefan, we also know that Lazarus and his wife (Jeanette Isaac Lazard) were first cousins, Jeanette being the daughter of Lazarus’s mother’s brother. This was an unsuspected link.

Furthermore, we now know that Lazarus died in Luxembourg in 1873. Perhaps we missed the record of his death because it was recorded under the name of Cahen while we were concentrating on Kahns. In fact, Lazarus appears to have used both spellings of his name, as evinced in the on-line listings of recipients of St Helena medals, the Napoleonic (and hence French) campaign award for those fighting as part of the Grand Armee. (www.stehelene.org/php/accueil.php?page=4&lang=en).

And yet more information: Stefan introduced us to an entirely new family: that of Elisabeth Alexander. She married Ralph Louis Kahn (Victor’s brother) in 1859 in Saarlouis. They had three surviving children: George (1861), Paul (1863) and Henriette (1864), all registered under the name of Cahen and born in Luxembourg. Elisabeth’s father was Lazard Alexander and her mother was born Fleurette Aron.

Finally, here is that elusive Welschbillig connection: Lazarus’s brother Levy and sister Johanetta both settled there with their respective families. So our last year’s speculative trip to that pleasant part of rural Germany was relevant after all.

When time permits, we’ll add this new data to the biographies section. In the meantime, we are very grateful to Stefan for this invaluable information. Of course, the search continues and we’d be delighted to hear from any descendants of Victor’s brothers, no matter how distant.

Victor’s son Gaston Victor (or Alexander Gaston according to his birth certificate) joined the army. The sole proof is the photograph above; grandfather is second from the right. We have no information about the regiment or the location and searches through the usual sources have drawn a blank.

A contact of David’s has suggested that the men are gunners in an artillery unit, the main clues being the foreground cannon, insignia above the sergeant’s stripes, shape of the caps and the buttons. Now we’d like to know to which regiment this unit belonged.

Gaston was born in 1858 in Liverpool. The photograph was, therefore, probably taken any time from about 1875 onwards. Any ideas please?

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.

Genealogical research doesn’t have to be purely about members of our specific family tree. Fascinating perspectives can occasionally be uncovered through researches into dimly related subjects. For example, DK has looked into the history of a Liverpool photographer named Vandyke, the one for whom our Victor posed so proudly in his ‘Cunard’ uniform.

Like Victor, Aaron Vandyke was a German Jew, being born about 1843 in the Hanover district. Perhaps around the same time as Victor, Aaron arrived in Liverpool and in 1867 established a photography studio in partnership with a Richard Brown. The business seemed successful, although the partnership was dissolved 10 years later and each partner set up his own studio in the city.

Vandyke traded from Bold Street and his business expanded until 1892 when Aaron died at the age of 49. The studio continued under the name of Vandyke until at least 1902, probably operated by Aaron’s son Sidney before the allure of migration to the USA became irresistible.

What this tells us is that the photograph of Victor Kahn was certainly taken between 1877 and 1899 (when Victor died). The image we possess clearly blazons the studio as Vandyke and for the first ten years the business was known as Vandyke & Brown. Using the expertise of Ron at the cartedevisite website, we narrowed the dating of Victor’s pose to sometime after 1880. If we possessed the original card-mounted photograph, we could undoubtedly have defined a much narrower spread of dates, perhaps even pinpointing the precise year.

However, Ron didn’t give up at that point. He consulted a contact, a fashion historian. She ventured that judging by the neat trim of the beard, the photograph could well have been taken in the late 1880s or even 1890. How much can be gleaned from a modest image!

This is hardly a major breakthrough in our research, but we welcome every mote of information to help us eliminate supposition or guesswork and instead focus on hard facts supported by evidence. A few tiny pieces combined can add up to a significant event. Every brush stroke enhances the painting.

If you’d like to know more about Aaron Vandyke, or other contemporary photographers, or have a Victorian image you’d like to be able to date accurately, take a look at Ron’s excellent website: www.cartedevisite.co.uk. And if you have anything to add, please leave a comment or contactus@kahngene.org.uk. (AK)

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