Yet More Responses From The Mendes Question Box!

Posted on January 7, 2015 by

The fantastic and thoughtful questions about Mendes and his life continue to pour in through our little question box at the end of the exhibit. Some of the questions have even stumped our Mendes experts!

Without further ado, I present our best answers to your burning questions about the Amazing Mendes Cohen…

 

1)  To how many places in total did he travel?

This is a very tricky question to answer! First of all, if we are talking about countries, a world map from the 1830s looks very different from a world map today. Second, we don’t have all of his travel journals, so we can’t know for sure exactly how many cities he visited. Going by modern day national borders, and looking just at the travel journal we do have, Mendes visited 10 countries, but this is not a complete count.

maps_countries_world

World Map

2) What did he die of?

We don’t know exactly what Mendes died of, but he lived a long life and was suffering from blindness towards the end of his life.

Entrance to the Cohen Family Plot at Baltimore  Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road.

Entrance to the Cohen Family Plot at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road.

3)  What drove Mendes to do all the things he did?

From what we can tell, Mendes was driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to experience new things.  He was also driven by his deep belief in American democratic principles and seeing how his beliefs contrasted with the ways that people lived in other parts of the world.

Panel 44.Raise Flag on Nile

Sailing Down the Nile

4)  Where was Mendes Cohen’s bar mitzvah held?

Great question! Mendes turned 13 shortly after moving to Baltimore. There were no formal synagogues in Baltimore at this time, so he most likely would have celebrated the occasion at his home.

drake bar mitzvah

Even celebrities have Bar Mitzvah parties!

5)            One of the travel documents on display is written in Russian, but the map doesn’t show him going to Russia. Where did he go that he needed a Russian travel document?

We have travel permits and customs documents that would put Mendes in Russian cities such as Odessa and St. Petersburg during the summer of 1833. However, we do not have all of his travel journals, so we don’t have much detail about his journeys in that region. Our map is based upon the travel journal that we do have, which is why Russia is not included.

European Russia 1833: Stieler, via.

European Russia 1833: Stieler, via.

6)  Are the current movie-making Cohen’s related?

Perhaps you mean the Coen brothers? Apparently there are about 100,000 people currently living in the United States with the last name “Cohen,” so I doubt that Mendes is related. We are also pretty certain (though not 100% certain) that there are no living descendants of his family tree.

coen_brothers

The Coen Brothers

 

What questions were still burning in your mind when you got to the end of the maze?

Let us know!

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