MyHeritage.com user Mr. Howard Coblentz began researching his family history over 5 years ago and now has, incredibly, over 4000 people in his family tree. Howard has unraveled the mystery of his family's past, revealing a long line of adventurous and successful ancestors whose legacies last to this day. While his search led him to far-flung destinations - one of the biggest discoveries was in his very own hometown of Sacramento. They could have passed each other on the street many times - but the family resemblance between Howard and his cousin Margo Coblentz (reunited via a Smart Match on MyHeritage.com) and the incredible similarities between their daughters, are plain to see. Read on to find out more about this incredible story.
Curious about his father's history, Howard Coblentz simply wanted to get a copy of his father's war medals from World War 2. More than five years later and boasting a family tree of over 4000 people, it's fair to say that Howard has caught the genealogy bug. Together with the help of his wife, Yvette, they managed to trace his family back to the 1400s, and more recently to the sleepy village of Lixheim in the Lorraine region of north-eastern France. Refusing to be conscripted into the Prussian army against France, his ancestors were forced to flee. A total of twenty one Coblentz men, a combination of brothers and cousins, migrated to the Americas. They scattered out across South, Central, and North America, each to begin a new life.
The communities that stemmed from the settlement of the Coblentz immigrants have left lasting legacies to this day. They were amongst the first Jewish settlers in both Canada, having founded the Jewish presence in the town known today as Manitoba. There are over 250 Coblentz's present today in Peru, 200 in Mexico and 150 in Costa Rica, the rest in USA, France, Germany and other nations. And the existing rubber business to this day - established by apparently the first Jewish person in the Amazon - established by no other than the Coblentz family. In El Paso, Texas his ancestors established the White House Store, in Mexico City, La Ciudad de Paris Stores and La Ciudad de London, The French Cultural Alliance in Guatemala, General Stores in Canada, all types of businesses in California, and were always traveling back and forth all over the world promoting business, increasing exports, and the delivery of goods. The Coblentz always exhibited professionalism and reached to be the best at their trade. For example, the White House Store in El Paso was the first in the USA to have electrical escalators with several floors.
Howard, a direct descendant of one of the Coblentz from Lixhem, that landed in Costa Rica, was born in Costa Rica and moved to Hollywood in 1962 and later to Sacramento . Unbeknown to him at the time, he was in fact following a family tradition by enrolling and completing law school receiving his Juris Doctor Degree. From family research, there are a long line of extremely successful attorneys - notably distant cousins Herbert C. Coblentz, William K Coblentz, and Edmund Coblentz – famous lawyers who practiced in the San Francisco and Stockton, California area and Canada.
Some of Howard's other ancestors were Bankers - dating all the way back to Lixheim, France. The Felix Coblentz Bank was established in France. Later Howard’s distant relatives were the owners of the National Bank of Sanger Bank in Fresno County, California (sold to AP Giannini – Bank of Italy, later Bank of America). The Coblentz line also excelled in Journalism. Felix Coblentz, Gaston Coblentz, Stanton Coblentz, Edmond Coblentz, and Paul Coblentz are just a few examples. In medicine, art, music, and science there are too many to mention.
Just as the pieces of his family history puzzle were coming together, Howard received a Smart Match informing him about a cousin, Margo, who coincidentally also lived in Sacramento. Howard and Margo's great-great grandfathers were brothers. Having lived near each other for the best part of their life - neither had any knowledge of the other. A meeting between the two would put to rest all doubt about their relation. Howard is the father of three daughters and Margo also the mother of three daughters. Their daughters, of similar ages, bore such resemblance to each other that both Howard and Margo were flabbergasted. Sharing the same height, weight and facial features - the girls could all be sisters. Moreover – the three girls are similar in personality. So from Lixheim to Costa Rica – and from Lixheim to USA and finally to Sacramento, what a revelation that the living descendants of the Coblentz family were found in the same town! Since the initial meeting, arranged by Margo's daughter, Alessandra Soto Coblentz, the Coblentz families have been calling and visiting each other as regular families do everywhere.
Whilst writing this story, Howard received another Smart Match informing him of a new Coblentz cousin named Geraldine M. Coblentz, also living in Sacramento, California. He is very excited and looking forward to meeting this new family member and introducing her to Margo Coblentz. In another coincidental twist of fate, Geraldine happens to have a sister named Arlette whose son fell in love with a woman during a visit to Costa Rica. Arlette Coblentz is now the proud grandmother of two children and the mother of the children is Costa Rican.
It just goes to show that you can go a long way back into the past, across oceans and continents, only to find that what you're looking for is right next door.
Howard will be publishing his book tentatively titled “The Confluence of the Coblentz in the Americas”. The Coblentz book will be available later this year and will include the full history of his family. Such title coincides with the standard acceptable meaning of the word Coblentz: Jewish (Ashkenazic): habitational name from the German city of Koblenz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel. It was founded in 9 bc as a Roman town, Latin name Confluentes (fluvii) ‘confluent rivers’, from which the modern name derives.
We thank Howard for sharing his wonderful family history journey with us.