A Star in the Morning

Mary Morningstar Loeb - cropped


Abraham Loeb’s mother Marie (or Mary) Loeb

A revolt in the Austrian Empire may have sent Emmanuel Loeb’s future wife to the United States.

The year 1848 was a turbulent time in Europe, as popular protests sought to upend the existing political order in France, Italy, and Germany among other places. Among the continent-wide rebellions, the people of Hungary attempted to win independence from the Austrian Empire, but the fight was unsuccessful. Those activists and leaders who were able fled to avoid retribution from Austrian Emperor.

In 1849, the family of Ignatz Morgenstern from Hungary appeared in the United States. Ignatz was a German-speaking Jewish surgeon who – by some family accounts – was a personal physician to Austrian nobility. His arrival in the U.S. in 1849 seems to place him squarely within the historical context of the failed Hungarian revolt, which many Hungarian Jews supported. Once settled in the U.S., the family turned their surname “Morgenstern” into the English equivalent, “Morningstar.” Ignatz — or “Isaac”as his Americanized name became — settled initially in Shawneetown, Illinois, on the Ohio River. But much of the family was ultimately drawn upstream to Louisville, Kentucky, including his daughter Marie.

Marie married Emmanuel Loeb in 1855 when she was 18 years old. The couple had 8 children over the next two decades, the last born two months after Emmanuel’s death in 1873. Times were very difficult after her husband’s death: her two youngest children Mabel and Hattie died just before their 8th and 13th birthdays respectively. Ben Loeb, Jr., recalled hearing that his grandfather Abraham (Marie’s son)  spent some time in an orphanage, perhaps because the family lacked the means to care for all the children.

Marie lived for almost another 60 years until 1931, but never remarried. Family members remembered that later in life she liked to travel back to Europe where she would visit the hot spring baths at Baden-Baden in Germany. Marie’s ability to travel was no doubt an indicator of the improved economic fortunes of the family as her children married and developed careers. Eldest daughter Rachel married August Straus, a businessman who rose to vice president of the Courier Journal Job Printing Company and president of the Insurance Field Company. Son Jacob was a fireman for the Louisville Fire Department. Isaac worked for his brother-in-law at the printing company. Abraham moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked in a dry goods store. Youngest daughter Esther married Henry Benas – a merchant and bank clerk. The middle daughter Josephine never married and lived with various family members throughout her life.

Loeb Siblings

Loeb Siblings (left to right): Esther, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Josephine, Abraham

Margaret Rummens has diligently tracked down information on the Morningstar family, and has published her findings both on Ancestry.com and a personal site on TribalPages.com.

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