A great family portrait of my grandmother Esther, her brother Sidney and their parents, Max and Anna Kronenberg circa 1910.

My father’s mother was Esther Kronenberg. That’s her with the big bow in her hair. She was born in 1904 and her little brother Samuel (Sidney) was born in 1908 so I suspect this photograph was taken around 1910. Her parents, my great-grandparents, were Mendel and Anna (born Genendel Szerman) Kronenberg. Max and Anna were both born in Poland but because Poland was partitioned for 123 years and didn’t geographically exist again until 1918, their documents all claimed to be from Russia.

I didn’t know much when I started out working on this line but I had a huge box of photographs that had belonged to my grandmother and her parents prior.  Many were old cabinet cards from the late 1890s through the early 1910s. Most were not identified although my father later went through and wrote some names on the back, some which I’ve now learned were correct, many weren’t.

Shlomo Zelman Kronenberg and wife Chana Szerman

This photograph is the patriarch, Shlomo Zelman Kronenberg and his wife Chana Szerman, my great-great grandparents, parents of Max Kronenberg. The photograph was taken in Brest, which is now part of Belarus, dated to the late 1890s. Zelman was born in 1833 so he’s probably about 70+ in this photo. I don’t know Chana’s birth date but she appears a bit younger than her husband. I have learned that other cousins have this photograph as well so it may have been taken and given to all the Kronenberg children that left Poland, the last keepsake from their parents.

Zelman and Chana’s first child, Herz Ber (he later went by Harris), was born October 1855. At 20 Harris married Chana Ruchla Lustig and they emigrated to NY in 1890. Their second son, Mojsze Jankiel, was born in 1850, married Rojza (Rosie) Baum and many of their children managed to come to the US. I don’t know what happened to Mojsze but sadly Rojza died in the Lodz Ghetto in Sept of 1940, murdered during the Holocaust. Next they had a daughter Cywia who lived a year and then succumbed to whatever childhood illness was going around in 1861. Their next child was Lajzer Leib, born Oct 1863. He married Alta Chana Rapaport and in 1891 they came to America with their 3 daughters and went on to have 3 more children in the US. The next child was Mejer Kronenberg born in 1869. Meyer married Ethel Stanasowska, also from Koden, in 1887 and together they came to the US. They had one daughter Amelia born in 1900 who died in 1930. Ethel died in 1940 and Meyer died in 1943.  The next and last son was my great-grandfather Mendel (Max) Kronenberg, born in Koden in 1874. Learn more about Max Kronenberg.

A few years ago I found “Kodeń, A Shtetl No More,” a Yizkor book on the Jews from the town of Kodeń, Poland. In this book I found a long line of Kronenbergs, many married to Szermans going back to early 1700s. There was a Mendel Kronenberg with a brother Hersh Ber so I thought I had found the right family and believed that for quite awhile. Then after I found Harris B.’s records, I re-examined all my records and realized I had made a couple of errors. First, the birthdates of Harris B. and Mendel in the Kodeń list, while close, were not exactly the same. This is not that unusual in genealogy research. Many records often have different dates and different name spellings. But a more important mistake was  that on my documents, the father for Harris B., Meyer and Max was listed as Solomon Zalman Kronenberg (his wife was Hannah Szerman) and that all 3 men claimed to have come from Brest Litovsk which is in present day Belarus. In the Kodeń family, there was no Meyer (which could have been a missing record or omission), but Mendel and Hersh Ber’s father was listed as Fiszel Leyzor Kronenberg. Fiszel’s wife was also Chana Szerman (have I mentioned there was a long history of Kronenbergs marrying Szermans) but still, Fiszel Leyzor didn’t sound anything like Solomon Zalman. So that had me thinking we had two distinct Kronenberg families now. But since Kodeń is only 18 miles to the south, making it literally a subdivision of Brest, it’s possible that when emigrating, the Kronenberg brothers said they were from the closest big city. Working with researchers in Poland, I have distinctly identified the descendants of Shlomo Zelman as well as the descendants of Fiszel Leyzor and know them to be related. Fiszel Leyzor’s grandfather was Aron Kronenberg and while I still haven’t tied Aron in as the father or grandfather of Shlomo Zelman, I am DNA matching descendants of FL so hopefully I will be able to tie them together.

There is also another branch of Kronenbergs from Warsaw related to Leopold Kronenberg, who took part in the foundation of the Warsaw Credit Union in 1869 and the following year established the first joint stock bank in Poland, Bank Handlowy at Warsaw. Bank Handlowy became what is now Citibank.