New Light Shed on Eden Ahbez’s Birth Family

As anyone who’s followed the Eden Ahbez story knows, his origins are quite the mystery. Alas, these many years later, many gaps still remain. There has, however, been a recent breakthrough.

In November, I was contacted by a Pat Gulino of Santa Fe, NM, who claims to be the great-granddaughter on his mother’s side of Gretchen Aberle Palmer (shown below). The late Ms. Aberle-Palmer was the sister of Eden Ahbez’s father, George P. Aberle. (NOTE: George Alexander Aberle was the birth name of Eden Ahbez.)

Gretchen Aberle Palmer, the aunt of eden ahbez (nee George A. Aberle), c. 1951. According to Palmer's great-grandson, Pat Gulino, she was the sister of George P. Aberle, eden's birth father. (Courtesy Pat Gulino)

Gretchen Aberle Palmer, the aunt of Eden Ahbez (nee George A. Aberle), c. 1951. According to Palmer’s great-granddaughter, Pat Gulino, she was the sister of George P. Aberle, Eden’s birth father. (Courtesy Pat Gulino)

I am a first cousin twice removed of eden (Nature Boy) ahbez,” Gulino wrote in an introductory email. “When I was young, my grandmother used to randomly say, ‘My cousin wrote “Nature Boy.”’ It seems then that the Aberle family of Brooklyn kept tabs on Ahbez, despite his being orphaned by them in 1917 at the age of 9.

Gulino, now 65, remembers watching Nat King Cole on television when her family still lived in the NYC borough. She later worked in the music business, including for RSO (the Robert Stigwood Organization), whose most famous act was the Bee Gees.

The photograph sent by Gulino of her great-grandmother Gretchen (Ahbez’s aunt) dates from 1951. The resemblance between Ahbez and her is uncanny. According to Gulino, the Aberle family has a number of other musically-inclined relatives.

Songwriter Harry Warren, who wrote “That’s Amore,” “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “Jeepers Creepers,” was also related on Gulino’s mother’s side of the family. Her grandmother (Lillian) auditioned for the Tommy Dorsey Band in the 1940s, as well.

“I have a niece,” continues Gulino, “in San Francisco who is a musician (contemporary music), and she has a picture of ahbez riding a bicycle hanging over her piano.”

Detail of a 1910 census record, where the Aberle family is still all together in Brooklyn. Note: George A. (later

Detail of a 1910 census record, where the Aberle family is still all together in Brooklyn. Note: George A. (later “Eden Ahbez”) has a twin sister, Adatha. They are two years old here. The twins would be orphaned in 1917, age 9.

Gulino says that she has an uncle in Phoenix that has additional family photos and a family tree. Gretchen, her great-grandmother (and Gulino’s great-grandfather), apparently died young, leaving her grandmother and siblings without parents.

“Therefore,” she concludes, “my mother never knew her grandparents.” It seems the Aberle family history remains a mystery even to its own bloodline. Hopefully things become more clear as time goes by.

Stay tuned for updates.



2 thoughts on “New Light Shed on Eden Ahbez’s Birth Family

  1. hello- I got really curious and fell into a rabbit hole and found this gem from the Lawrence journal 3 February, 1949- It appears that Eden (George) and three siblings (Edith/Editha/Adatha, Eben/George, Lester, and unknown female Abelre child) were transported by the Children’s aid society from the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum to Lawrence Kansas, where Eben and Edith were adopted by the mcGrew family and Lester was adopted by a family Monroe (I saw a webpage that notes the death of a Lester Aberle who was born about 1906 in Brooklyn- who in 1940 census was listed as living in Camarillo, Ventura, CA). The kids had good manners. Eben/George was always seeming different. He arrived at abotu age 8 and began to travel at age 12. Appears that Edith stayed and at some point married a fellow named Conwell and was living in Whittier CA (near Los Angeles)- (as I researched it seems at some point she dropped the A at the end of her name- and that while in 1910 the census has listed Adatha, elsewhere it was Editha and maybe she lost the A along the way). the article says that Mrs. Mcgrew noted Edith had two kids of her own and had begun to think about going back to Lawrence Kansas. Though my search found a death registry of Edith Conwell in Compton Los Angeles in 1977. Mrs. McGrew notes that she had not heard from Eben/George in 10 years and that to her knowledge he was not in contact with his Aberle family either- except for his twin Edith.,2528326&hl=en

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