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Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

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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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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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?

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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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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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Three of our Kahns are buried in the Green Lane Jewish Cemetery in Tuebrook, Liverpool. Perhaps it’s four, but the gravestone for Philipp has not been found. As mentioned in an earlier posting, the cemetery has not been used for over half a century, is sadly neglected and has fallen into decay – it’s overgrown, vandalised and damaged almost beyond repair.

But perhaps all is not lost. The cemeteryscribes website has taken an interest in the place. They’ve posted a listing of all identified plots, giving names where known and appealing for subscribers to come forward with more information about those interred at Green Lane. This is good news for descendants and genealogists.

The link is: http://synagoguescribes.com/blog/2011/08/green-lane-cemetery-liverpool/

Nobody is suggesting that the cemetery will be refurbished. All local effort is going into the Deane Road project and presumably little is available for an undistinguished cemetery such as Green Lane. And I’m in two minds anyway – part of me says leave the dead alone; they’ve earned their rest and the living have enough on their plates without raising yet more monuments in need of upkeep.

Another part of me would like to see Green Lane Cemetery rejuvenated. But I think that’s just me being selfish and wanting somewhere to go once in a lifetime. Perhaps a more fitting tribute to our forebears would be to allow Nature to reclaim her dominion after the behaviour of man has induced us all to mourn so much. I still believe Nature does things much better than man ever has.

Please take a look at the website above, especially if your forebears became adoptive (or were born) Scousers. And as a final appeal, does anyone have a photograph of Green Lane Cemetery, old or modern? We, and cemeteryscribes, would like to have one. contactus@kahngene.org.uk or leave a comment. Thank you – and please note that the above views are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else, living or dead. (AK).

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Jewish migration from the European mainland reached a peak during the last quarter of the 19th century. Desperate to escape religious persecution, prejudice and poverty, many thousands of Jews left their countries of birth to seek a better future overseas.

They travelled from all over Europe – Russia, Germany, France and many central Continental nations. Most had in their sights the USA where they expected to find (and found) a welcome in a more enlightened culture of tolerance and acceptance. Other favoured destinations included Canada, South Africa and South America.

The most popular routes brought the migrants across Europe to seaports on the north-western fringes of the continent. Hamburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam and various Baltic ports were often staging posts from where ships were taken to England, usually the Hull area or London.

After landing on the eastern coast of the UK, they travelled overland to Liverpool, the main port of embarkation for migrants going on to the Americas. A few of them were relatively well-off; many had enough to pay their way. Most travelled with poverty as a constant companion. But help was on hand for the poor, primarily through local Jewish communities.

One form of assistance came for the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in London, where migrants were provided with accommodation for up to two weeks while they found their feet after the crude and exhausting journeys from their original homelands. More help came from agents employed by transatlantic shipping companies. Their role was to make arrangements for transfers to the port of embarkation and the booking of eventual sea passages. These agents were multi-lingual and usually migrant Jews themselves; they therefore had an understanding of the needs and feelings of their charges.

Great-grandfather Victor Kahn was an early arrival. He settled with his family in Liverpool about 1856, having been born in Luxembourg and living for a while in Paris. He became a mercantile agent and an interpreter, working for the Cunard Steamship Company. The scant evidence that’s available points to Victor being one of the agents facilitating the movement of Jews across the landbridge from the east coast UK to Liverpool. But really that’s no more than conjecture based on census reports, birth certificates and the occasional snippet of contemporary news.

We’d like to know what persuaded Victor to adopt England as the family’s new country and Liverpool as his city of residence. Did he travel to the Mersey port intending to stay and work there, or did he simply seize an opportunity while en-route to the USA? Answers please on an electronic postcard to: contactus@kahngene. org. uk.

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We have posted a page for Emily Victor Kahn under biographies. Please take a look.

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At least three generations of Kahns embraced freemasonry.

As far as we’ve discovered so far, Victor Kahn was the first to join. He became a member of St. John’s Lodge No. 461 (Liverpool) in 1862. On the Grand Lodge certificate he signed his name as Kahnn and described himself as an interpreter, born in ‘Luxemberg, Germany.’ According to our researches, he remained a member until only 1868 when he apparently resigned.

Victor’s three surviving sons all followed in father’s initial footsteps.

Charles Jasmine Kahn was initiated into Willing Lodge No. 2893 (London) on 1st May 1902. He was passed on 17th July 1902 and raised on 11th September 1902. Then he gave his age as 44 and described himself as an optician residing at 108 The Strand, London. In 1911 he became Master of the lodge and he resigned freemasonry in 1924, a year before his death.

Arthur Kahn was initiated into Samson Lodge No. 1668 (London) on 11th February 1896, passed on 12th March and raised 12th May of the same year. Then his address address was given as 19 Ludgate Hill, London EC and his employment as optician. On 24th November 1902, Arthur joined also the Joppa Chapter No. 188 (London) and was ‘First Principal’ in 1907, 1908, 1913 and 1915, then ‘Scribe E’ from 1919 until his death in 1925. He was also awarded the LGCR, but we don’t know when or what it is. Perhaps some kind Freemason will enlighten us?

Gaston Victor Kahn joined the Egerton Lodge (Egremont, Liverpool) in 1898. Then he was describing himself as an oculist living in New Brighton, Lancashire. He resigned this lodge in September 1901, presumably when he moved to London. Like his brother Arthur, Gaston joined the Joppa Chapter  No. 188 on 24th November 1902 and in 1904 he joined the Samson Lodge 1668 (London) in 1904. Then his address was shown as 57 Oxford Street, London and his occupation as optician. We believe he remained a mason until he died in 1911.

The third generation freemason is represented by Leslie Kahn-Rein, the son of Charles. Leslie changed his name at some stage, we believe for business reasons (more about this in another blog). He joined his father’s lodge, Willing No. 2893 (London) on 6th November 1919. At the time he described himself as an artist with an address in Barnes and his age was given as 23. As far as we’ve discovered, he held no formal offices and resigned from freemasonry on 3rd April 1951, five years before he died.

This gives us the skeleton; we’d like to add some flesh. If you can help with any information at all we’d love to hear from you, so please: contactus@kahngene.org.uk

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We now have a new contact in Amsterdam, a distant relation of ours through the Freudenburg and Schweich branch lines. She is an enthusiastic genealogist and communications have proven to be immensely useful in filling in a few of the gaps in our tree. I hope what we’ve been able to provide in exchange has been equally useful. Thanks to MD of Amsterdam for making contact.

Thanks also to JM of Florida, USA. We found a link to him through Ancestry.co.uk. Included in his family tree was a reference to Moses Marks Samuels who married our Emily and is the starting point for a whole new branch line.

And I mustn’t forget RS in Paris. Thanks for the superb family tree schematic and batch of information which I hope I’ve now correctly incorporated into our mob’s tree.

That’s enough eulogies for now. I’m beginning to sound as tedious as an Oscar winner. (AGK)

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Our Kahn line is about movement. Our earliest known origins are in Schweich, where at least three generations were born. For some reason, a grandson of Raphael, Lazarus (or Lazar) Kahn, married in Luxembourg and had a child, Victor.

Victor eventually moved on to Paris, where he married Mathilde Cahen and had two children, Pauline and Arthur. In 1856, the family uprooted and arrived in Liverpool where more children were born.

The family was not alone in their journey. Around that time, thousands of Jews from Germany, Poland and Russia were heading for the Mersey, often via Hull, usually en-route for the USA. Victor settled in Liverpool.

Victor’s motives are unknown.  We can but speculate that perhaps he arrived in Liverpool with the intention of staying, or maybe he was diverted by a job offer. We know he worked as an interpreter. There are strong suggestions that he was an agent for Jewish migrants, helping to smooth their transit through England and on to trans-Atlantic ships.

The one image we have of Victor was taken by a Liverpool-based photographer’s studio. He is posing proudly, but we can’t be certain what uniform he is wearing. One suggestion is that it is maritime, probably the Cunard Steamship Company. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to access Cunard’s records of the day to seek clarification. But as we’ve said elsewhere, Victor seems to have been quite well-known locally, so we hope to be able to uncover references to his life up to his death in 1899.

More information about Victor can be read under ‘biographies.’ If you’ve anything to add, please leave comments, or e-mail us at contactus@kahngene.org.uk if you can fill in gaps or would like more information.

AGK

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Amateur genealogists in our family have an aggregate of about 100 years’ worth of research into the Kahn line. In that time, we’ve had to attempt to unravel various mysteries, many of which remain unresolved. Perhaps we’ll never have the answers to some of them.

Throughout our researches, a repeated theme is name change. In itself this is not necessarily unusual, because Jews tended to adopt surnames which were more indigenous to the areas in which they eventually settled, thus hoping to speed integration.

But our branch of the tribe retained the surname, except for one generation. Victor Kahn signed his name with a double n. At first we thought the signature was a mere slip of the pen, but the name Kahnn occurs too often for it not to be deliberate.

Victor’s forebears all used the more common spelling of Kahn, as did his children and subsequent generations. Yet for some reason, Victor wanted to be different. Oddly, when research started to uncover traces of Victor in newspapers and registers, his name was invariably reported with the traditional spelling of a single n. So where did Kahnn come from?

Perhaps the issue is one of those unintentional red-herrings all amateur family sleuths must deal with. We are now confident that our Kahn product is as it declares on the packet – Kahn.

So what about his son, Gaston Victor? For years we’d never doubted his name. That is, until his birth certificate came through and we found that Victor and Mathilde (or is it Madeline?) had registered the baby in the name of Alexander Gaston.

And Gaston’s brother is even more enigmatic. Charles Kahn had the unusual middle name of Jasmine. We can find no family affinity to such a forename, yet Jasmine is clearly scribed on his birth certificate and is even carved on his gravestone in a London cemetery. But that’s just unexpected; it’s not the true mystery. That follows.

For years Charles’s marriage eluded us. We knew he had children; we knew the name of his wife. Yet we could find no trace of a marriage. Then, serendipity intervened. A friend made a chance encounter with the record for a Charles Wigdor. Subsequent research revealed that Mr Wigdor had to be our Charles – he married Charles’s wife, for example, and had his son. We’re now (almost) confident that Charles moved from West London to Mile End in the east, married Blanche under an assumed name and travelled west again a little later where the couple lived a long and fruitful life as Mr & Mrs Charles Kahn.

Why? Is this an example of expediency to overcome religious bigotry? Or did other influences put pressure on the pair to disguise the truth?

Charles had a son, Leslie. A few years later he emerged in records as Rein-Kahn, having changed his name for, we assume, business reasons through links with F. C. Rein, a pioneer in the development of hearing aids.

Incidentally, we can find no record of Gaston Victor’s wedding to Amy. Their time together was short because he died in 1911, probably little more than eight or nine years after they met for the first time. Could they have followed in the footsteps of Gaston’s brother and married under an assumed name? Perhaps they never married, of course, in which case why?

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Until recently, Victor was our earliest known ancestor. For many years, we knew he was born in “Luxemberg, Germany” but were unable to find any trace of him in what is now Luxembourg. Today, thanks to an unexpected brief e-mail from a contact there, we’ve found him.

 Victor Kahn was born in Luxembourg-Town on 17th July 1827. His parents were Lazar(d) Kahn and Jeanette Isaac Kahn (née Lazard). Lazar was born in Schweich (now Germany) in 1791 and Jeanette in Haute-Yutz, France, in 1794

 Nothing is known of Victor’s early years. The next record we have is his c.1851 marriage in Paris to Madeline (sometimes Mathilde) Cahen, born in Paris in 1833. They had two children, Pauline (1852) and Arthur (1854) before moving to Liverpool, England, where they had another five children, Charles Jasmine (1856), Gaston Victor (1858), Lucea (or Lucy – 1861), Elmelia (or Emily – 1863) and Phillip (born 1866 but died seven years later).

 Victor, his wife and his parents were all Jewish. We don’t know how involved he was with his religion; most known information relates to his secular activities. He was, for example, an interpreter for Cunard Steamship Company, we believe aiding the passage of Jewish migrants from Europe to the USA. He’s recorded in the Mersey area as being ‘a well known character’ to the extent that Reynold’s Amusements in Lime Street (Liverpool) displayed a wax work effigy of him. His wife died in 1883 and Victor moved to Liscard to live with his daughter, Lucy. He died in 1899 (age 72) and is buried alongside his wife and daughter Pauline in the old (and now sadly neglected) Jewish cemetery in Green Lane, Liverpool.

 We have more anecdotes about Victor and his family. They’ll slowly be added to sundry pages of this blog. New stories and snippets of his life will be very welcome.

 Having made the break-through to discover our German and Luxembourg origins, our next aim is to trace Victor’s siblings. We doubt he was an only child. Part of the story suggests we could have relations in the USA. Are they descendants of brothers and sisters of Victor? We’d like to know.

 If you have any thoughts, please contactus@kahngene.org.uk

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