Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Irish American Genealogy Day at the Irish Heritage Center

Click on this link for more information and to register. We would love to see you there.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cultivating Your Genealogical Roots

Three duplicate sessions will be held at three Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH) branch libraries. Learn how to get started on your genealogy! Resources available at PLCH and the Hamilton County Genealogical Society website will be covered. These sessions are good for beginning or intermediate researchers. These sessions are co-sponsored with PLCH.

Monfort Heights Branch, 3825 West Fork Road, Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m.
Madisonville Branch, 4830 Whetsel Avenue, Tuesday, May 17, 6 p.m.
North Central Branch, 11109 Hamilton Avenue, Tuesday 24, 7 p.m.

Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director, HCGS

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ancestry AARP Discount Ends March 31st


If you're thinking about taking advantage of the AARP discount for the World version of Ancestry - $90 off the regular cost - do it soon. The offer ends on March 31st. No mention of an ending date was included in any of the publicity.

You can call 1-800-514-4645, seven days a week, 9 am to 11 pm. Have your AARP membership number on hand. If you don't have Ancestry, you get a free 14-day trial period and then get billed $209 for an annual World subscription. You also have the option of getting billed $104 for a six-month subscription after the free trial period, followed by another six-month subscription. After one year the discount ends. If you already have an ancestry subscription and want to take advantage of this offer, ask the representative how this can be done.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Why Did Immigrating Jews Choose Cincinnati, Ohio?

By Rick D. Cauthen

Historically, I always used to wonder why my grandparents and great grandparents chose to leave Eastern Europe and settle in Cincinnati, Ohio. I mean, I certainly understand that if they were traveling where family had already existed, it certainly would stand to reason that they would want to choose to live in a destination in the United States where family was already present. However, with regard to my family’s ancestry, it was my great Uncles Benjamin Schear and Leo Schear, who traveled first from Kursenai, Lithuania to Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1890. I can’t tell you how many years I have wondered why on earth they chose Cincinnati to travel to. I mean, couldn’t they have chosen something like Miami, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; or even Los Angeles, California. Of course by now you probably have surmised based on those options that I’m not particularly fond of the winter months that we have to endure here in Hamilton County, Ohio. True, I despise winter, if it had been my choice, I would’ve selected something more like Honolulu, Hawaii. Although when I think about it, that probably would’ve been more challenging, considering Hawaii wasn’t even a state back in 1890.
It wasn’t just the Schear line in my family tree, it was also my Goldhoff line. My great-grandfather Abraham Goldhoff also left his home in what was Courland, now Latvia, back in 1888 to travel to Cincinnati. Of course I have to ask myself the same question. Why did my great-grandfather choose to travel to Cincinnati? Yes, there was a Jewish community that already existed in the Cincinnati region. However, neither Abraham Goldhoff or Benjamin and Leo Schear were coming to a destination where they already had family. In other words, they were the original pioneers in those families. So if you were a pioneer in your family, where would you choose to lay down your roots? Why choose Cincinnati over any other city in the country? That’s what I wanted to know and understand. What was it about Cincinnati that was pulling them here? There always had to be some sort of a drawing card as to why our ancestors made the decisions that they did. Why did they choose one destination over another?
In my ever pursuit of genealogical research I came across what I believed was probably the answer as to why Cincinnati was selected. Although I realize that my answer is somewhat pretentious. I actually believe that they came to Cincinnati because it was in fact “Cincinnati.” In other words, Cincinnati itself became a highly favored destination for Eastern European Jews to settle in much in the same way that travelers might have feelings towards New York City or Chicago. We all understand that those two cities are major travel destinations in the United States. Well, believe it or not, Cincinnati was much the same during the heavy period of Jewish migration to the US, more specifically, the years of 1880 through 1924.
As a child, I couldn’t have imagined that I was living in a city that was perceived by our Jewish ancestors as a destination holding great desirability. I was actually living in a city with a fairly heavy amount of Jews with respect to many other cities in the United States. I was na├»ve to think that all United States cities had had just as large a Jewish population that was located in Cincinnati. Of course there were specific neighborhoods within the greater Cincinnati area that were more heavily concentrated with Jews. During my growing up years, which would’ve been the 60s and 70s, the heaviest Jewish populations were located in Roselawn, Golf Manor, and Amberley Village. Going back to the days of my great grandparents and grandparents, the Jewish populations were located in downtown and then moving out to Avondale, North Avondale and Bond Hill. Additionally, there was a Jewish population located just across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, namely Newport and Covington. It was at least large enough population to support two Jewish congregations back in the early 1900s. However, the Jewish population located in Northern Kentucky eventually shrank to the point that both of those Jewish congregations closed. If you ask me today which neighborhoods have the heaviest Jewish population, I would languish to say that there isn’t such a thing any longer. I believe that as time has marched on the Jewish population has spread over the entire greater Cincinnati region. This is just evidence of how Jews have completely assimilated into American culture as opposed to the shtetls they lived in back in Eastern Europe.
The concept of shtetl life (shtetls were small intimate villages) explains why Jews tended to concentrate in certain neighborhoods. It was important to the Jews that they selected areas that a good amount of Jewish families was already living there. Additionally, they would’ve wanted to be within walking distance of a Jewish synagogue or temple. There aren’t as many observant Jews that have a strong need to be within walking distance of a congregation or even groceries that specialized in kosher foods. Society and culture are not stagnant. They both undergo an evolution as time marches on.
Of course it is a well-known fact that Cincinnati was a very popular for Germans to immigrate to. Another known fact of Jewish history was that Jews that resided in Germany suffered much more severe anti-Semitism earlier than those that lived throughout the rest of Eastern Europe. As a result, German Jews began to immigrate to Cincinnati as early as 1820, but with much greater numbers starting in 1850. It was these early arriving Jews that would fight in the Civil War. Since Jews always tended to follow where there were already communities of Jews residing, consequentially it makes sense that a large number of Ashkenazic Jews followed the German Jews, during the years of 1880 to 1924.
One important issue to note was that the Jews that resided in Cincinnati, did not face the anti-Semitism that Jews would have faced in the southern states of the United States. States that would have been slave states in Pre-Civil War history. It was actually quite the opposite. The Jews arriving early in to Cincinnati were met with much esteem and highly respected by their fellow citizens. Cincinnati was a city of goodwill and understanding where Jews and Christians interacted freely. Jews and Christians in early Cincinnati interacted socially as well. We know this from handwritten letters that have been left behind.
Many of the Eastern European Jews that were still living back in the old country, would hear from the letters sent to family about the city of Cincinnati being a great place to come to. It was through this Jewish grapevine that Cincinnati became more and more well-known as a new home for Jews wanting to immigrate to America. It would be a destination that would be ripe with economic promise and social acceptance. Considering the world of hatred and discrimination, these Jews suffered in their lives within Eastern Europe, is it any wonder that they chose Cincinnati as their new home. I think not.

Recommended Reading

Sarna, Jonathan D., and Nancy H. Klein. The Jews of Cincinnati. Cincinnati: Center for Study of the American Jewish Experience on the Campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 1989 (see esp. pages 1-3)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Irish Heritage Month

In celebration of Irish Heritage Month, two events are planned.

1) Kathe Edwards, Irish Interest Group Chair, is sponsoring a planning meeting for this group on Sunday, March 6th, at 1:15 at the Clifton Library. Additional information, including directions, are here.

2) HCGS is cosponsoring an event with our partners at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 

Saturday, March 12
Living With Your Irish Ancestors: Milestones of Proud Generations, Past and Present!  (Programs)
10:00 am
PLCH - Main Library, Genealogy and Local History Program Space, 3rd Floor
Pat Mallory of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians will present a program on "Living with Your Irish Ancestors." The program will focus on the impact of the Irish in Cincinnati. The program will finish in time for participants to attend the 2016 St Patrick's Day Parade.

We hope to see you at the planning meeting on March 6th.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy including Greater Cincinnati Resources

Presentation Announcement
Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy including
Greater Cincinnati Resources

Have you ever wanted to learn more about researching your Jewish Genealogy? Perhaps you became frustrated too quickly with some of the unusual challenges it may have presented. Would you finally like to break through some of the brick walls standing in your way for genealogical success? Jewish Genealogy certainly does serve up some incredible obstacles but these challenges are not impossible to overcome.

Rick D. Cauthen, the leader of the Jewish Interest Group for the Hamilton County Genealogical Society will be giving a presentation on Monday February 22, 2015 at 6:30PM at the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Libraries located at 502 Scott Blvd, Covington, KY 41011. This presentation is open to the public at no charge.

The presentation will cover:
·        A generalized history of Eastern European Jews
·        Available Greater Cincinnati Resources
·        Overcoming challenges & Techniques of research
·        Most importantly, having success in European Research
·        Case Study demonstrating successful research

So please join us for what promises to be an informative presentation. If you have any questions, you may reach Mr. Cauthen at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"A Day in the Life....Mid-19th Century Daily Life for the Betts Family"

The Betts House

Note: Two members of HCGS are actively involved in the preservation of the Betts house, located in the West End of Cincinnati. The house is owned and operated by the The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Ohio. We thought you might want to plan a visit. The information included below is reprinted from their website.
The Betts House is pleased to present its upcoming exhibit, A Day in the Life…: Mid 19th Century Daily Life for the Betts Family, showcasing the tools, contraptions, and tales of daily life for a Cincinnati family in the mid-1800s. Opening January 16, 2016 from 12:30 til 5 p.m. and on display until May 14, 2016, at 416 Clark Street, Cincinnati, OH 45203. The exhibit is sponsored by the Robert Reakirt Foundation, PNC Bank, Trustee.

The Betts House was built in 1804 by brick maker William Betts as a four-room, two-story brick home in an era of log and wood homes. He and his wife Phebe had moved to Cincinnati with their five children, where he bought 111 acres of land in what is now the West End and parts of Over-the-Rhine.  By 1813, they had seven more children and a fully operational brick making factory William passed away in 1814, leaving Phebe to raise the children and manage the factory with her older children.

When the home was turned over to granddaughter Adeline and her husband in 1863, she began modernizing the home. The exhibit will showcase how Adeline and the women around her lived and worked in their Cincinnati homes during the mid-1800s.

The exhibit will include:

  Cooking in the Past: Chopping, slicing and dicing was accomplished through the use of clever new tools, many of which were invented after the Civil War. Baking with minimal ingredients, storing meats and other food items without refrigeration, brewing home beer and eating a purported healthy meal are all explored in this fun exhibit.
   Lighting & Heating in a Simple Home: Using the latest technologies, the Betts family most likely had better lighting and heating than many others, due to higher financial status from their brickmaking factory. This exhibit will share the devices and processes that the family most likely used.
  Gardening: The world of family management included much home grown foods.  See what an urban garden grew and fruits, vegetables and herbs were used for cooking and for medicinal purposes.
   CleaningA woman’s work is never done especially if she needs to cook for a family of 14, mind children, sew and mend clothing, sweep floors and beat rugs, grow and preserve vegetables and fruits, and perform the never ending cleaning and laundry. See the tools used for laundry including washboards, a hand wash agitator, collar and cuff crimpers, and clothing irons of many sizes.
   Betts Family TreeManaging a brickmaking factory for 50 years, the Betts family helped to establish the West End.  Learn more about one of Cincinnati’s first families!

The exhibit will be on display at 416 Clark Street, Cincinnati OH 45203, from January 16, 2016 through May 14, 2016 during regular museum hours, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. -  2 p.m. and the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 12:30 - 5:00 p.m. Admission is $2 per person.

For more information and special Saturday events and programs, check, call 513-651-0734 or email