This chapter originally emailed to “Wonderful Cousins” on March 16, 2016
Isaac Korn (a.1818 – 1893)
There are many documents that name Isaac Korn and Esther Korn as the father and mother of great grandfather Rabbi Jacob Korn. I have always aspired to continue the Korn genealogy research one more generation back in time to the world of Isaac and Esther. But success would mean researching back into Poland, Germany, and to old Prussia. And, when you leave the data heavy United States, when you cross the ocean, the research gets much more difficult. For years I tried every source that I could think of for “Isaac Korn”, even different spellings, e.g., Isaac in Polish can be “Icek”. I even tried “Corn”. I joined Ancestry.com. But I found nothing but frustration…until recently.
The breakthrough came one night with Ann’s family notes lying open on my desk. This is awkward to explain, but here goes… In Ann’s notes is a comment that reads, “Moved to London to escape the purge.” Since it is well documented that Rabbi Jacob and Anna moved to London from Neustrelitz, Germany with Rosa, Montague and Hyman (later Abe born in London and Judith born in Canterbury), I always assumed that “Moved to London to escape the purge.” referred to Jacob, Anna and their children.
But that “Moved to London to escape the purge” appears in Ann’s notes on the same page that mentions Isaac and Esther, Jacob’s parents. Wow. Was it possible that Isaac and Esther made the move to London even before their son Jacob and his family? Ann’s notes mention Jacob’s two brothers, “Benjamin – a professor of English at Oxford University” and “Abraham – an artist in Venice, Italy…was very tall”.
Yes. It all fit.
But I needed proof. I needed documentation, and for the first time started to search for Isaac and Esther Korn in old records of England.
Success came quickly. Although I have not yet found anything about Esther, I found two documents for Isaac. First, the 1891 County of London Census, Whitechapel Parish, St. Mary District (see attached) with the listing, “Isaac Korn, #4 Hope Street, head of household, Married, 70 years old, General Dealer, born in Poland. This all matches Esther/Ann’s family notes, “Jacob’s father had a store – with food and imported wines, teas, coffees, French delicacies, etc.” To me this fits the census stated occupation of “General Dealer”. His age of 70 would calculate his birth around 1821 (which would make him about 30 at Jacob’s 1851 birth).
But the 1891 census does not list Esther as Isaac’s wife. In fact it lists a female name that I cannot read. There are many possible explanations. Esther may have passed and Isaac remarried. But note the heavy double scratch on the second line, and also the scratch through her age. Nevertheless I am sure that this Isaac Korn is my/our great great grandfather.
Whitechapel would have logically been the area that Isaac and Esther would choose to reside. It was the settling place of thousands of Jewish immigrants escaping persecution in Poland and Russia.
Part of London’s East End (see map) which had 150 synagogues, Whitechapel included the Hope Street Synagogue, alternatively named ‘Sons of Covenant’ Friendly Society. It was founded in 1880, was Orthodox-Ashkenazi, and closed around 1905. Hope Street no longer exists. The street was initially renamed Monthope, but the area no longer exists. Since Hope Street was only 150 feet long, it is interesting that Isaac lived at #4 Hope Street. Was it his shul?
There is further evidence in the England & Wales Death Index for April, May, June of 1893 (see below) with the listing, “Korn, Isaac, 75….Whitechapel, Vol. 1, page 205.” His age of 75 would calculate his birth around 1818.
Besides Esther, I did not find any firm references for their sons Abraham or Benjamin. Indeed, I did find many, many Korns, hundreds, thousands, with the given names of Esther, Abraham and Benjamin, but none that I can definitively connect to our known family members. Maybe one day I will. But the recurring problem is that the Korn name and those given names were very common and very, very often used together.
We do know that Isaac, wife Esther and their son Jacob were born in Poland as testified in aunt’s Esther/Ann’s notes and in census documents. So, it is very likely that there were, in fact, two family immigrations to England. The first was from Poland by Isaac with wife Esther and son Jacob. This move may have also included sons Abraham and Benjamin, though either might have been born in England.
The second, later, Korn family immigration to England was by then Rabbi Jacob with his wife Anna Bernstein Korn and their children Rosa, Montague, and Hyman from Neustrelitz, Germany. Daughter Helene died in infancy. She might have been Hyman’s twin.
We don’t know why great grandfather Rabbi Jacob Korn left Germany with his family, but if he hadn’t, our American Korn family might not exist today.