Monday, April 4, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: The Obituary and Will of Louis Cohen

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at the obituary from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and an article about the will for Louis Cohen (1867-1926), the husband of my great grandmother's first cousin.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 13, 1926, Page 11

Was Director of Jewish Organizations; Funeral To Be at 2 p.m. Tomorrow.

The funeral of Louis Cohen, 59 years old, president of the L. Cohen Wholesale Grocery Co., who died yesterday at his home, 5129 Vernon Avenue, following a heart attack, will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow from B'Nai Amoona Congregation, Academy and Vernon avenues.

Mr. Cohen was born in Lithuania. In 1890 he established a retail grocery at Seventh and Wash streets, later changing to wholesale. He was a member of the directorates of the Federation of Jewish Charities, Hebrew Free School Association and Jewish Old Folks' Home. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Sarah Cohen; three sons, Nathan, Samuel and Ralph Cohen, and five daughters, Mrs. Anna Rosinsky, Mrs. Esther Lippman, Mrs. Jennie Franzel, Mrs. Blanche Steele and Miss Goldie Cohen.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sept 21, 1926, page 19

$3000 Left to Jewish Charities

The will of Louis Cohen, pioneer grocer, who died Sept. 13 at his home, 5129 Vernon avenue, was filed in Probate Court yesterday. He bequeathed $3000 to Jewish charities and the remainder of his estate to the widow and two sons and six daughters after making bequests of $1000 to a sister, Hannah Kruvant, living in Russia; $2500 to each of four grandchildren, and $500 each to two nieces. Mrs. Cohen gets one-half of the residue, the other half going to the sons and daughters.


1) Louis Cohen was married to Sarah Kruvand, a first cousin of my great grandmother, Bertha Cruvant. Sarah was a minor (17) at the time of marriage, and with the marriage documentation there was a note saying her parents were in Europe and approved the marriage. Family lore suggested that they didn't know each other prior to her arrival in the United States, and that it might have been an arranged marriage.

2) When reading the newspaper article about the will, my first thought naturally was that the 'sister' Hannah Kruvant, was a sister-in-law. But wills are usually quite specific about relationships. So I checked if the will was part of's collection, and it was. The will also mentioned a nephew, Archik Kruvand. He wasn't mentioned in the newspaper, since he was already deceased. (I transcribed his will previously.) That told me exactly who Louis's sister married. Past research had identified her as "Hannah Kaplan." However, the surname Kaplan is an alternative form of Cohen.

3) David Kruvand had six sons, three of whom were Girsh, Samuel, and Moshe Leyb. Girsh remained in Lithuania, but his son, Archik immigrated to America. Samuel immigrated to America after his daughter, Sarah, travelled alone prior to marry Louis Cohen. (The marriage was in 1886, and Samuel was in St. Louis by 1889) Louis Cohen's sister was Archik's mother. Moshe Leyb was my second great grandfather.

4) Interestingly - Some of the Kruvant family branches have changed their surname to Cohen, believing themselves to be Cohanim (male-lineal descendants of Aaron.) It is not surprising that Cohanim would want their daughters to marry other Cohanim such that marriages would be arranged. Since Cohanim status is determined through male-lineal descent, it would be the only way to keep the grandchildren Cohanim.

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