Wednesday, October 3, 2012

101, 102, 103, 104, 105. The Cohens

There were five students named Cohen in the Mordecai rolls:
Cornelia Cohen (1805-1886) was a student at the school for five years, from early 1814 to the end of 1818.  Her parent was Mordecai Cohen, in Charleston SC.
David Cohen (1802-1860) was a student at the school for three sessions, mid-1815 to the end of 1816.  He was also from Charleston, also one of Mordecai Cohen's children.

Eleanor Cohen (c1803-1871) was a student at the school for three years, early 1814 to the end of 1816.  She was from Georgetown SC, daughter of Solomon Cohen.

Lucretia Cohen (1807-1888) was a student at the school for two years, 1817-1818.  She was from Charleston SC, another child of Mordecai Cohen.

Henrietta Cohen (1799-1886) was a student at the school for on year, 1814 (both sessions).  She was from Georgetown SC, daughter of Solomon Cohen.
A few things jump out from that list.  First, I already have the birth and death dates for all these students--unlike most students covered so far here at the blog.  Southern Jewish family history is quite well documented, and the Mordecais would have known more about the lives of these students (through their mutual networks) than about most of their farflung alumnae.    Second, we have two families represented--the children of Mordecai Cohen of Charleston, and the children of Solomon Cohen of Georgetown.

The Cohens appear throughout the Mordecai's ledger from 1814 to 1818; there's a mention of a Mr. Gregg being paid for Henrietta's travel expenses in 1814; David Cohen apparently boarded with Dr. Gloster in town.  They're also featured in family correspondence:  Rachel reports to Samuel that "Today Mr. Myers leaves George Town with his daughter & two of Mr. Cohen's, who in a letter yesterday morning informed papa that the indisposition of one of the children had prevented their being with us earlier.  I hope your next will tell us that the other two have changed their mind." (15 May 1814, in the Mordecai Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection)  A somewhat longer report came the next week: 
 Last night Mr. Cohen, who left his little girl here, as he passed through to carry his son to Mr. Girardins paid us a late & unexpected visit.  Today he dined here, he is one of the witty Familikin sort.  The other two Miss C's are not his daughters, the eldest is as I told you before handsome enough and a very charming girl -- she is only to remain 6 months at school and then, take my advice, and turn thy face to the south, wifeless brother of Rachel, look on those eyes of blue, that smile of ingenuous sweetness, and resign thy heart a willing captive. (same correspondents, 29 May 1814, Mordecai Family Papers)
Note that in 1814, Henrietta Cohen turned 15 years old.  Further speculation on Henrietta's marriage plans followed a couple years later:  "I believe that Mr. Cohen is going on a fruitless expedition," confided Julia in a letter to Samuel, "for it is said that Henrietta is engaged to a cousin of hers, Mr. Mordecai Myers."  (30 October 1816, Mordecai Family Papers) 

The Mordecais certainly had ongoing connections with these students, past school days.  In 1825, Ellen mentions that "Cornelia Cohen to spend the winter here," with here being Warrenton (Ellen Mordecai to Solomon Mordecai, 7 December 1825, Jacob Mordecai Papers, Duke).  Julia Mordecai had a "commonplace book" (now in the Virginia Historical Society) with various details of family history, including the tidbit that Lucretia Cohen had eighteen babies born, with nine of them dying in infancy (p. 27).  David Cohen's engagement to a Miss Hart, and his marriage in 1830, are also subjects of discussion among the Mordecai siblings.

Because of all this discussion, I have married names and spouse names for all five Cohens, which makes tracking them down in the online genealogical resources pretty easy.

1.  The children of Mordecai Cohen and Leah Lazarus of Charleston:
David Daniel Cohen (1802-1860) married Mary Hart in 1830.  They had six children together.
Cornelia Cohen Lazarus (1805-1886) married her uncle Benjamin Dores Lazarus (1800-1875), brother-in-law of Rachel Mordecai's, in 1840, and had six children (five sons and a daughter, who all lived into adulthood) all born after her 35th birthday.  She was widowed in 1875, lost her son Albert to suicide in 1879, and died in 1886. 

Lucretia Cohen Mordecai (1807-1888) married Thomas Whitlock Mordecai, a nephew of Jacob Mordecai's.  They had eighteen children born, and half died in infancy.  Her youngest child, Thomas Moultrie Mordecai, was born when Lucretia was 48 years old.  (Her oldest son, also named Thomas, died in 1861, age 22, at Sullivan Island, a member of the Confederate army.) When Lucretia was 58, she was widowed.  Her surviving son Thomas was a successful Charleston attorney who remained close to his mother until her death at 81.   Here's a photo of her daughter Lucretia (1837-1922).
Note:  Mordecai Cohen was born in Poland.

2.  The children of Solomon Cohen and Belle Moses of Georgetown:
(Sarah) Henrietta Cohen Myers (1799-1886) married Mordecai Myers (1794-1865) in 1820, though they were rumored to be engaged as early as 1816.  They had twelve children born, most of whom lived into adulthood.  Henrietta was widowed in 1865, and died in 1886, age 87.  She is buried with her husband in Savannah GA.
Eleanor Cohen Lopez (c1803-1871) married Dr. Aaron Lopez (1800-1873) in 1818, and they had eleven children born.  She died in 1871, in Memphis TN, survived by her husband and at least one daughter.  



  1. Solomon Cohen (1757-1835) was not born in London, England. His father a Portuguese Jew named Moses Cohen (1709-1762) however is documented as born in London, England and arriving in Charleston District, South Carolina circa 1750. His children Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Esther Cohen all born before 1749, were more than likely born in London before Moses Cohen's arrival.

  2. Got it, thanks! I deleted the sentence about Solomon being born in England.