When Images & Dates of Family Photographs Don’t Synch

When Images & Dates of Family Photographs Don’t Synch

I was excited today to be able to provide a visual introduction to some of the major players in the family of Viktor Kornmehl, the soon-to-be subject of my family history writing challenge. The picture below, I thought, was of  Viktor’s mother, Kamilla Bergmann Kornmehl; Viktor’s father, Ferdinand/Fischel Kornmehl; and their grandchildren, Hesi, Viktor’s nephew, and baby Hillel, Viktor’s son.

I thought so because that’s how the picture was labeled.

Then I realized that wasn’t possible.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Here are a few things to ponder:

Kamilla, Viktor’s mother, was born in 1884 and died in 1920 at age 35 (there’s plenty of documentation of her death — and especially of the people with whom she shared her grave).

Ferdinand, Viktor’s father, was born in 1876.

Hesi, the boy, was born in 1937 in Vienna, after which the family moved to Palestine. Hillel, the baby, was born in Palestine in 1943. That would make Ferdinand 67 in the picture, which seems about right.

Here’s another picture that’s identified as being of Kamilla:

Kamilla -- or notShe looks like the woman in the photograph with the grandchildren. She does not, however, look like someone who died at age 35. And a woman who died in 1920 can’t be in a picture with a baby born 23 years later.

Conclusion: The woman in the two photographs is not Kamilla.

Who Is That Mystery Woman?

I think it’s logical to assume that the woman is Dora/Dine Weitz, Ferdinand/Fischel’s second wife, whom he married in 1920, the same year Kamilla died. The fact that he didn’t wait very long is a whole other topic that I don’t want to get involved with on Valentine’s Day.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, he had two young sons, Viktor, born in 1908, and Bertschi, born in 1911. They needed a mother.

The picture was probably taken in Israel, not Vienna, where Viktor changed his last name to Koren and his brother Bertschi changed the family name to Carmel (and where they had another daughter whom they named Carmella, which seems deeply wrong — Carmella Carmel? — but that’s a whole other story, too).

I don’t know who identified the group photo and when, but it’s easy to misidentify people years later, when you’re not in a genealogical frame of mind. Who, when trying to put names on dozens of family pictures, stops to pore over every person and compare them with the dates of birth on a family tree — assuming a family tree exists?

Put another way, who fact checks family photos?

That’s a job for a genealogy geek — and the subject of Day 14 of the Family History Writing Challenge.

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