In 1910, the three sons of Fanny Wiler were still living with their father Joseph Levy and stepmother Bella Strouse Levy as well as their half-sister Miriam, who had married Arthur Hanff. Alfred, Leon, and Monroe Levy were all single and all employed in sales. Alfred was in lumber sales, and Leon and Monroe were selling clothing.
Five years later Monroe succumbed to the same awful disease that had taken the life of his cousin Leon Simon the year before: tuberculosis. Like Leon Simon, Monroe had been living at a sanitarium, the Dermady Cottages Sanitarium in Morton, Pennsylvania, ten miles outside of Philadelphia. Monroe had been there since November 24, 1913, and he died on October 28, 1916, almost three years later. Like his cousin Leon, he did not have a family member sign the death certificate as the informant; in Monroe’s case, it was the undertaker who took on that responsibility. Monroe was 42 years old. He was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery, another young man whose life was cut short by TB.
His two older brothers fared much better. Leon J. Levy married Minnie Howell in Philadelphia in 1910, apparently after the 1910 census had been taken. Minnie was a Pennsylvania native and was 35 when she married Leon; he was 38. On his World War I draft registration, Leon recorded his occupation as the manager of Walter D. Dalsimer, which was a dry goods and clothing merchant in Philadelphia. In 1920, he was still the manager of a clothing store, and Minnie was working as a chiropodist. Minnie’s parents were living with them at 5214 Spruce Street. There were no children.
On February 11, 1929, Leon died from complications from an intestinal obstruction that led to general peritonitis and a ruptured and gangrenous appendix. He was not yet 57 years old. His brother Alfred J. Levy was the informant on the death certificate. Leon’s wife Minnie died just three years later from coronary thrombosis and hypertension. She was also only 57 years old. They are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, a non-sectarian cemetery.
The oldest of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons, Alfred, married Josephine B. May in 1916. He owned his own business, A. J. Lumber Company, and in 1917 was living in the Majestic, a grand hotel catering to the wealthy in those days. Alfred and Josephine were still living there in 1918 as well, and on the 1920 census, they were still living there. Alfred was then 51 years old, and his wife Josephine is listed as 22. That means she was 18 when she married him, and he was 47. (This family certainly liked to marry people who were significantly older or younger than they were.) Alfred continued in the lumber business for many years. In 1930 census, he was now 62, Josephine was 33, and there were no children, so it does not appear that the couple had any children.
Ten years later, Alfred was listed a widower on the 1940 census; he was living with his sister Miriam and her family, and he was still engaged in the lumber business. Two years later, Alfred Levy died from liver cancer at 74 on November 15, 1942. Contrary to the 1940 census, the death certificate indicates that Alfred was divorced, not a widower, at the time of his death. Since I cannot find a death certificate for Josephine, I assume that the death certificate is more accurate. His last residence was with his sister Miriam and her husband Arthur Hanff, the informant on his certificate.
Like his brother Monroe, Alfred was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery.
Thus, none of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons had children, and there are no descendants. From the three oldest children of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, there would be only one great-grandchild: Lester Strouse, the son of Flora Simon. Lester was the only grandchild (of two) of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon to survive to adulthood. Fanny Wiler had no grandchildren. Simon Wiler had no children.
Which brings me to Clara Wiler Meyers, the youngest child of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler and the mother of thirteen children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood. As of 1910, none of those children had married, although nine of the eleven were already in their 20s and 30s. Only two of the eleven had moved out of the house. In the next ten years most of those children moved out and on with their adult lives. In addition, there were several losses.
First, Clara Wiler Meyers, the mother of all those children and widow of Daniel Meyers, died on November 7, 1918, from fatty myocarditis. She was living at 1905 Diamond Street, an address where at one time or another during the 1910s several of her children resided. Clara was 68 years old when she died. She had outlived one child, Bertha, and her husband, Daniel. She had weathered the financial and legal problems he had faced in the late 1890s. She had given birth to thirteen babies, one stillborn, and she had raised eleven of those babies to adulthood. Like so many women of her times, she did remarkable things but things that history would not have noticed.
Leon, her oldest surviving child, had moved out before 1910 and was working as optician and living at 1904 Somerset Street in 1911; the following year he was living and working on Market Street. On his World War I draft registration form in 1917, Leon’s address was now 1905 Diamond Street, the address where his mother was living, and he now described his occupation as a self-employed optometrist working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, almost 50 miles from Philadelphia, where his younger brother Franklin had been an optician/optometrist since at least 1914. In the 1918 directory which covered Pottstown, Leon is listed at the same business address as his younger brother Franklin, working as the manager of the optometry practice and residing at the YMCA. The strangest thing about his draft registration is Leon’s entry for his nearest relative: Bessie H. Meyers, address unknown. Had Leon married since 1910? How could he be married to someone whose address he did not know? And doesn’t the name look more like MYERS than MEYERS?
The 1920 census may answer some of those questions. Leon is listed as divorced and living in the household of his younger sister Charlotte and her husband, J.A. Field, at 1905 Diamond Street back in Philadelphia, along with his younger brother Milton. Leon’s occupation is reported to be drug salesman. What happened to being an optometrist?
By 1923 Leon had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and resumed practicing optometry, as discussed below, after his brother Samuel died. Leon is also listed in the Bethlehem directory with the same occupation in 1927. Leon Meyers died from colon cancer at age 55 on February 14, 1930. His brother Clarence was the informant on his death certificate. His marital status was single, not divorced or widowed, so it would seem Leon had never married. I still don’t know who Bessie Meyers was.
Leon’s next oldest brother Samuel followed in his steps professionally, becoming an optometrist. In 1912, Samuel was an optician in Philadelphia, living at 1906 Diamond Street, across the street from his mother and siblings Leon and Charlotte and Milton. By 1917, he had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and was married to Mary Potts Hamilton, another Philadelphian. They would have both been in their thirties when they married. Samuel was an optometrist in Bethlehem, according to both the 1920 census and the 1920 Bethlehem directory. There were no children.
Samuel died May 10, 1922, from tubercular peritonitis, an infection caused by the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis but that manifests outside of the lungs (at least that’s what I think I understood from what I read online). Another family member thus succumbed to the deadly bacteria that causes TB. Samuel was 46 years old. It would seem that Leon moved to Bethlehem after Samuel died, perhaps to take over his optometry practice. Samuel’s widow Mary lived another 14 years, and Samuel and Mary Hamilton Meyers are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
Harry Meyers, the next brother, also died young. He was a tailor, and in 1912 he was living at 1906 Diamond Street, the same address as his brother Samuel that year and across the street from his mother and Leon, who were at 1905 Diamond Street. On his World War I draft registration, Harry was living at 1905 Diamond Street and said he was an unemployed tailor. He gave his mother’s name as his closest relative. Harry died a year after his mother on July 4, 1919. Like his brother Samuel and his cousins Leon Simon and Monroe Levy, he died from tuberculosis. He had been sick for over five years, according to his death certificate, having been treated since January, 1914. That would explain why he was unemployed in September, 1918, when he registered for the draft. Harry was 41 when he died. He never married; he had no descendants.
Thus, two of Clara’s three oldest children died from tuberculosis before they were fifty years old. Leon, the oldest, made it to 55. These three oldest sons did not leave behind any descendants. Fortunately, the family’s luck changed with the remaining siblings, all but two of whom lived until at least 1956. For these siblings, I will write about their lives until 1920 and then will write a separate post for the future years.
Isadore was the fourth brother, and he had been working as a traveling salesman in 1910, selling men’s clothing. In 1915 he married Elsie Goodman, also a native Philadelphian and the daughter of a salesman, Beno Goodman. Elsie and Isadore had a baby boy on May 1, 1916, who died that same day from atelectasis, a complete or partial collapse of the lungs. This is often associated with premature birth.
In 1918 when he registered for the draft, Isadore’s occupation was a manufacturer. He and Elsie were living at 812 North 15th Street, and they had a son born that year, Robert. On the 1920 census, they were living on Camac Street, and Isadore’s younger brother Milton was also living with them. They also had a servant living with them. On June 19, 1920, not long after the census was taken, Elsie and Isadore had another son, David.
The brother who followed Isadore in birth order was Maxwell or Max. In 1910 Max had been employed as a draftsman for a machine works company. In 1912 Max was, like his older brothers, living at 1905 Diamond Street with his mother, and he continued to work as a draftsman. In 1917 Max married Henrietta Klopfer, a Pennsylvania native and daughter of a millinery merchant. On his World War I draft registration, Max reported his occupation to be a mechanical engineer for Newton Machine Tool Works in Philadelphia. He and Henrietta were living at 1311 Ruscomb Street in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1918, their son Donald was born. Their second child Dorothy was born five years later on September 3, 1923. Here is a photo of one of the many machines made by Newton Machine Tool Works.
The sixth son was Benjamin Franklin Meyers. (I do love that name.) He was one of the earliest of the children to move away from home; in 1910, he was living in Trenton, New Jersey, working as a watchmaker. He remained in New Jersey during the next decade, and he married Leona Faulcher, a Richmond, Virginia, native and daughter of a machinist who had been living in Camden, New Jersey in 1900 and 1910. They were married as of September 1918 when Benjamin registered for the draft, and they were living in Collingswood, New Jersey. Benjamin was now involved with aircraft production for the Victor Talking Machine Company, the company famous for the Victrola phonographs. In September 1918, just when Benjamin was registering for the draft, the company converted to the production of aircraft parts as part of the war effort.
In 1920, Benjamin and Leona were living with her parents in Collingswood along with her two sisters and their husbands. Interestingly, Benjamin was now working as an optometrist like several of his brothers. Benjamin and Leona would have two daughters in the 1920s, Margaret and Clara, the second obviously named for Benjamin’s mother, Clara Wiler Meyers.
Clarence was the next son in line after Benjamin. In 1910 when he was 24, he was already engaged in the cotton yarns business, an industry to which he dedicated his entire career. Despite being the seventh child, he was the first to marry. He married Estelle Seidenbach in 1911; she was just 21, and he was 24. She was also a Philadelphia native; her father was already retired at age 50 in 1900, according to the census. In 1912, they were living at 2251 North Park Avenue. On October 23, 1919, their daughter Nancy was born. On the 1920 census, the family was still residing at 2251 North Park Avenue, and Clarence was still a cotton yarns merchant. Googling his name brings up a number of results regarding his business and the patents they owned and/or developed.
Here’s one little news item from the November 1919 Underwear and Hosiery Review:
Next in line was Franklin, born just a year after Clarence. He was, like some of his older brothers, an optometrist. In 1912, he was also still living with his family at 1906 Diamond Street. By 1914, he named his occupation as an optician in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, but by 1918 when he registered for the draft, he gave his occupation as optometrist. At that time he was living and working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was still single. Sometime between 1918 and 1920, however, Franklin married Mae Gross, a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and daughter of a clothing salesman. Bloomsburg is 114 miles northwest of Pottstown, so it would be interesting to know how these two met. In 1920, they were living in Pottstown, where Franklin continued to practice optometry. They would have one child, Carolyn, born in 1922.
Finally, after having eight boys in a row, Clara and Daniel had a daughter, Miriam, born in 1892, five years after Franklin was born. In 1910, Miriam had been only eighteen and was still at home. In 1914, she married Abram Strauss. He was born in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, in 1887; he was 27, and Miriam was 21 when they married. Abram was a physician, and in 1916 he and Miriam were living at 600 Butler Avenue in Philadelphia. Their first child, Daniel, was born that year. They were still living at 600 Butler as of June, 1917, when Abram registered for the draft. In 1920, Abram, Miriam and Daniel were living at 1848 North 16th Street, and Abram’s mother Mary, sister Helena, and aunt Clara were also living with them. Only Abram and his sister were working outside the home. By the next year Miriam, Abram, and Daniel were living at 1836 North 17th Street. I am not sure how many of those in the 1920 household moved with them. Miriam and Abram also had another child Richard in September, 1921.
The penultimate child of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers was Charlotte or Lottie, born a year after Miriam. She married J. Albert Field in 1914 when she was 21; he was 33. He was an assistant manager of a department store and the son of a salesman born in Northern Ireland and a woman born in New York. In September 1918 when he registered for the draft, Albert and Miriam were living at 1905 Diamond Street, and Albert was a manager at John Wanamaker’s Department Store. They were still living there in 1920, as mentioned above, along with Miriam’s oldest brother Leon and her youngest brother Milton.
Which brings me to Milton, the youngest of the children, born in 1896, so only fourteen in 1910. He was living with his mother and siblings in 1918 when he registered for the draft and was working for his brother Clarence in the cotton yarns business. Milton served in the Navy from December 1917 until December 1918 during World War I. He was living at 1905 Diamond in 1920, as stated above, and working with Clarence.
Thus, by 1920, Clara Wiler Meyers and two of her adult children, Samuel and Harry, had died. Several of the other sons had gone into optometry; one son was an engineer, one was a clothing manufacturer, one was a cotton yard manufacturer, and one was working in the production of aircraft parts. One daughter had married a doctor, and one a department store manager. All of the children alive in 1920 other than Leon and Milton had married between 1910 and 1920; there were also a number of grandchildren born during the decade. So although there were some terrible losses during this decade, for many members of the family the decade brought both some professional and personal successes. Certainly Clara’s family overall fared better than the families of her siblings Fanny and Eliza.
Here is a Google Street View shot of 1905 Diamond Street today:
I will bring the Caroline Dreyfuss story to an end in my next post before moving on to the last of the extended Dreyfuss/Nusbaum clan, the family of Ernst Nusbaum.
 I did find a Josephine Levy, born in Pennsylvania, living in New York City on the 1940 census, of the approximate age. She was listed as married, but living as a lodger and not with a husband. That could be Alfred’s ex-wife, but I can’t be sure.
 This is the same address found on Simon Wiler’s death certificate in 1911. I cannot (yet) explain whether that is a coincidence or not.
 It appears that before the 20th century, the term “optician” was used to refer both to those who made glasses and those who evaluated eyesight for the need for those glasses. According to Wikipedia, “Although the term optometry appeared in the 1759 book A Treatise on the Eye: The Manner and Phenomena of Vision by Scottish physician William Porterfield, it was not until the early twentieth century in the United States and Australia that it began to be used to describe the profession.” All of the Meyers brothers who started out as opticians eventually switched from the term optician to the term optometrist to describe their occupation.