The author, Peter Zheutlin spoke at Congregation Beth Israel tonight about his book, "Around the World on Two Wheels". It's about the first woman to cycle around the world, and did it on a bet. She happened to be Jewish and was his great grand Aunt, Annie Cohen Kopchovsky. This occurred in 1894. Can you imagine a woman on a 54 pound bike with no brakes and one-speed who traveled with a change of underwear and a pistol?
The author was a lawyer who had a fantastic ability to search and find records about this aunt that was not talked about in his family. He did a fantastic job of finding facts, but it took him over four years to collect enough data to write his book. Every genealogist in town should have been to his program. He used foreign and domestic newspapers, found personal leetters and family artifacts. In his search he found the only granddaughter of Annie who happened to have much of her aunt's things.
This woman was far ahead of her time. She didn't like staying at home with children and had so many things to accomplish. She was into her own publicity, created businesses after her adventure, and was an amazing storyteller. I'm so glad that Hadassah sponsored Zheutlin's talk.
In the picture above is a childhood friend of Peter Zheutlin. It's Barbara Hershey, program director for Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon. Peter had obtained the help of the head of Jewish Genealogical Society of all the states in finding material for his book.
Most of us just stop after finding names and dates of birth and death. Peter wanted to flesh out the life of this great grand aunt that he never knew about, and he found out enough to make a most interesting story.