Katz family history in East Prussia leads to a cemetery in the Polish village of Paslek

Katz family history in East Prussia leads to a cemetery in the Polish village of Paslek

Tracing back on our great-grandmother Betty Katz's side, we knew that her father Louis Levin Katz was a businessman and banker in the Baltic coastal town of Kolberg, today Kolobrzeg. From Betty's marriage record with Isaak Wohlgemuth, we knew that Louis's parents were Hirsch Levin Katz and Taube Katz, nee Conrad. Also, we knew Louis's birthplace was the town of Heilsberg in East Prussia, today the Polish town Lidzmark Warminski. 

So I had a general idea that the family had arisen in or around Heilsberg and then resettled later in Kolberg. Now I have spent a few days digging deeper into the history and the story turns out to be a little more complicated.

Instead of just Heilsberg, we find that Hirsch and Taube Katz lived and/or had children in two other East Prussian communities, Marienburg (today Malbork) and Preußisch Holland (Paslek), as well as in the Pomeranian town of Krojanke (Krajenka), across the Vistula and well to the west of the other three places. 

There were three sons, and they are the only children I have found so far, though there could be others. The first was Isidor Victor Katz, born in 1826 in Krojanke. By the time he married Caroline Lichtenstein from Marienburg in the early 1850s, he was already settled in Berlin. There, they raised five Katz children, first cousins to our Betty Katz. I will return for a deeper look that branch in a later post. 

There is much less information to be found about the second son, Jacob Katz. But from his 1897 interment notice at Weißensee Cemetery, we learn that he was born in 1829 and that he was survived by a wife, children and grandchildren. Further digging reveals a wife Ida Liedemann Katz, who died in Preußisch Holland, and possible a second wife Yette Itzig Katz, who might be the surviving wife who placed the notice. There is nothing definitive about children, however.

There is one person we know of from earlier installments on the blog who might well be Jakob's daughter. That is Amalie Katz, the unmarried first cousin of Betty Katz who arranged for her burial at Weißensee in February 1942, months before her deportation to Theresienstadt and Treblinka. Amalie is not one of the children of Isidor or of the third son Louis Levin, so it makes sense to me that her father would be Jakob, though she might also have issued from an unknown other brother. If Jakob is Amalie's father then her mother would have been Ida Liedemann, who is buried in Paslek. 

The third son of Hirsch and Taube Katz was our ancestor Louis Levin Katz, born 1836 in Heilsberg (Lidzmark), 50 miles east of Preußisch Holland, where the parents ultimately settled down. As we know, Louis went to Kolberg where he prospered and raised two daughters, our ancestor Betty Katz and her sister Klara who married but did not have children. Their mother died young and Louis had two subsequent wives. 

There is a lot of wonderful information online about the Jewish community and especially the Jewish cemetery in Preußisch Holland. I'll cover that in a followup post. For now I will note that the names of Hirsch Levin Katz, Tobine Conrad Katz, and Ida Liedemann Katz are among the 120 or so entries in a cemetery register.

Moreover, Tobine's well-preserved headstone, pictured, is one of just 21 matzevot that can be positively matched to a registry entry. Have a look at that marker and say a blessing to the memory of our great great great grandmother, Taube (Tobine) Conrad Katz.