The Goldschmidts Come to America

I was all set to be logical and sequential and report on each of the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann and Hincka (Alexander) Goldschmidt, starting with their oldest child Sarah Goldschmidt and her husband Abraham Mansbach II. I began their story in this post, but then I realized that I could not tell the rest of the story of the children of Sarah and Abraham without some background regarding the other members of the Goldschmidt family.

What triggered this realization was this ship manifest:

Henry Schoenthal and Helene Lilienfeld with Analie Mansbach on 1872 ship manifest lines 95 to 98
Year: 1872; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 359; Line: 1; List Number: 484

Notice that this is the 1872 manifest for Henry Schoenthal, the brother of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. Henry had settled in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1866, but then returned to Germany to marry Helen Lilienfeld. Then on May 24, 1872, Henry and Helen returned to the US, as shown on this manifest.

Why am I talking about a Schoenthal in the context of telling the story of the Goldschmidts?

Because on that manifest (lines 6 and 7, above) were two eighteen-year-old women both named Amalie Mansbach who were apparently sailing with Henry and Helen (lines 5 and 8). I believe that one of those two Amalie Mansbachs was Merla Mansbach, the daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach II. Merla Mansbach was born on December 10, 1853, meaning she would have been eighteen in May, 1872.

Birth record of Merla Mansbach
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 384, p. 55

But why would Merla Mansbach be sailing with Henry Schoenthal? He was from Sielen, his wife Helen was from Gudensberg, and Merla was from Maden—all towns within a reasonable distance of each other in the Hesse region of Germany, with Maden and Gudensberg being very near each other. There had to be a connection.


And that drove me back to my earlier posts about Henry Schoenthal and how he ended up in Washington, Pennsylvania, a small town in western Pennsylvania about 30 miles from Pittsburgh. And those posts reminded me that Henry was not the first Schoenthal to settle in western Pennsylvania—his father Levi’s sister (my three-times great-aunt) Fradchen Schoenthal had preceded him some twenty years before.

And Fradchen Schoenthal was married to Simon Falcke Goldschmidt, the brother of Seligmann Goldschmidt and great-uncle of Merla/Amalie Mansbach:


So I am going to digress a bit from the story of the family of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt to tell the story of his younger brother Simon Falcke Goldschmidt because telling the story of the Goldschmidt’s immigration to the United States has to start with Simon, who was the first to arrive.

Simon was the youngest of the four sons of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann; according to numerous US records, he was born in 1795. In 1822, he married Eveline Katzenstein of Grebenstein (no known familial connection to my Katzensteins). Together they had five children: Jacob (1825), Lena (1828), Hewa “Eva” (1836), Joseph (1837), and Jesajas (1839), all born in Oberlistingen.

Notice the large gap between Lena, born in 1828, and the next child Hewa born in 1836.[1]

David Baron located a record that perhaps provides a reason for that gap; it seems that in 1826 Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery. (HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40.) I requested a copy of the file from the Marburg archives and learned that the file covers Simon’s appeal of a ten year sentence for his criminal activity. The listing online indicates that the date of appellate decision was December 24, 1830.

The contact person at the Marburg archives did not reveal the outcome of the appeal, so I am now hoping to find someone who might be able to go to Marburg and provide me with a summary (in English) of the judgment. (I could order a copy, but it would be costly and in German. My German has improved, but 130 pages of a legal decision would be too great a challenge!)

Since Simon and Eveline had three more children beginning in 1836, I suppose it’s possible he served some of that ten year sentence. Sadly, Simon and Eveline’s last two babies did not survive. Both Joseph and Jesajas died in infancy.

Joseph Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 6

Josajas Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 7

And then Simon lost his wife Eveline as well. She died on August 19, 1840, in Oberlistingen:

Eveline Katzenstein Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 8

Simon was left on his own to raise his fifteen year old son Jacob, twelve year old daughter Lena, and four year old Hewa/Eva.

Four years after Eveline’s death he married my three-times great-aunt Fradchen Schoenthal on September 10, 1844. Fradchen, the daughter of my three-times great-grandparents Heinemann Schoenthal and Hendel Berenstein, was 37 years old when she married Simon. Thus, as early as 1844, my Schoenthal and Goldschmidt lines had merged, explaining why Merla/Amalia Mansbach would have been sailing with Henry Schoenthal in 1872.

Marriage of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 11

A year after marrying, Simon and Fradchen left Germany for the United States, arriving in Baltimore with Simon’s youngest daughter Eva on September 20, 1845.

Passenger manifest for Simon Goldschmidt, Fanny Schoenthal and Eva Goldschmidt Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: Selected Passenger and Crew Lists and Manifests. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

They must have settled first in Baltimore because Simon and Fradchen had two children who were born there, Henry on January 10, 1847, and Hannah on June 5, 1848. I assume that Henry was named for Heinemann Schoenthal and Hannah for Hendel Berenstein Schoenthal, their maternal grandparents and my three-times great-grandparents.

By 1850, Simon and Fradchen (also known as Fanny) were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well as two of Simon’s children from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Simon was working as a tailor and had Americanized his surname to Goldsmith.[2]

Simon Goldschmidt and family 1850 census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 3, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_745; Page: 135A; Image: 274

Simon lost his second wife Fradchen/Fanny soon thereafter; she died on August 11, 1850, at age 43. (The year on the headstone appears to be incorrect; based on the age given on both the marriage record and manifest, Fradchen’s birth year would have been 1807, not 1800. The 1850 census said she was then 39, not 50. Plus it’s unlikely she had children at ages 47 and 48.) She left behind two very young children, Henry and Hannah, as well as her three stepchildren, Jacob, Lena, and Eva, and her husband Simon.


Meanwhile, Simon’s son Jacob from his first marriage had settled in Washington, Pennsylvania, by 1850; he was working as a tailor and living with two other men who were tailors. Like his father Simon, Jacob had changed his surname to Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith (Simon’s son) 1850 US census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_834; Page: 363A; Image: 244

Sometime after 1850 Jacob married Fannie Silverman. (The 1900 census reports that Jacob, who was then widowed, had been married 51 years, but given that he was still single in 1850, that seems unlikely).

Jacob and Fannie had thirteen children between 1853 and 1871—first, six daughters, then three sons, then another four daughters. Wow. I will report on them in more detail in a later post.  For now, I will only name those born between 1853 and 1860: Ellena (1853), Emma (1854), Anna (1855), Rachel (1857), Leonora (1858), and Celia (1860). Six daughters in seven years.

Sometime after Fradchen died, Simon moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, to be with his son Jacob. In 1860, Simon and his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, were living with Simon’s son Jacob and Jacob’s wife Fannie and their six daughters. Henry and Hannah were only five and six years older than their oldest nieces, Emma and Anna. I assume that Simon needed Fannie and Jacob’s help in raising Henry and Hannah.

Jacob Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Simon’s other two children, Lena and Hewa/Eva, were married and on their own by 1860. Lena had married another German immigrant, Gustave Basch in 1856. In 1860, they were living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with their first two children, Frank (1858) and Jacob (1859).

Lena Goldschmidt and Gustave Basch and sons 1860 census Year: 1860; Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 422; Family History Library Film: 805110


The story of Simon’s other daughter Eva has already been told. She married Marcus Bohm, an immigrant from Warsaw, Poland, and they had a daughter born in 1862 named Ella who married my great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein (son of Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt and thus also Ella’s cousin). Ella and one of her sons died in the Johnstown flood in 1889.  With Ella Bohm’s marriage to Jacob Katzenstein, my Goldschmidt and Katzenstein lines had merged.

I won’t repeat the research and story of Eva Goldsmith and Marcus Bohm, but despite further searching, I unfortunately have not yet found any record for either their marriage or Eva’s death. What I have concluded, however, is that Eva had died by 1870 because by then her daughter Ella was living with Eva’s brother Jacob Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith and family on the 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thus, by 1860, all the members of the family of Simon Goldschmidt were living in western Pennsylvania, most of them in Washington, Pennsylvania, where Fradchen’s nephew Henry Schoenthal would arrive six years later, soon followed by his siblings.

By the 1880s, there were thus familial connections between the Goldschmidt family and the Schoenthal family and also between the Goldschmidt family and the Katzenstein family.  These overlapping connections laid the groundwork for the 1888 marriage of my great-grandparents, Isidore Schoenthal and Hilda Katzenstein, whose mother was a Goldschmidt. It’s amazing to see how the many lines in the family came together in the pairing of two of my direct ancestors.


[1] I do not have German birth records for Jacob or Lena, only US records. For the last three children, I was able to locate Oberlistingen birth records.

[2] The names on this census are switched around. Simon’s wife was Fanny, not Lena, and his daughter was Eva, not Fanny. Another reminder of how unreliable census records can be.

43 thoughts on “The Goldschmidts Come to America

  1. It’s amazing you have been able to keep track of the many lines of the family. I know you use genealogy software to keep everything organized. Still, I sometimes wonder how you can see the “big picture” when at every turn you come up with a new connection.
    I hope you are able to get those Marburg records. That’s going to be a fascinating story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does get confusing at times, but using pen and paper also helps to chart out the connections.

      Do you know anyone near Marburg who might be able to help? I am happy to pay someone to go and read it and report to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Amy and Cathy, I agree! Keeping track of all the names can make one dizzy no matter whose family it is. I don’t know what Amy’s secret is. Still whatever it is she can present many layers of events happening in a logical manner. That’s what I find so good about her technique. For myself, I have to focus on just one or two people at a time. To compensate I get into the nitty gritty of the event and do some research into the background factors at work. Still that is about it for me. Maybe Amy’s experience with law and teaching have provided this ability to present so many details at one time.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think we all research and write in the ways that mean the most to us. I love how you dive into the details of the lives of your relatives—including the social history of their communities. We all find the style that suits us. For me digging back to the European roots and seeing how my ancestors adapted to life in America as immigrants has been so rewarding and exciting and given me a real sense of not only my history but the history of immigration—especially Jewish immigration—in the US. I think it’s great that we all have different approaches and emphasis because then we can all learn from each other.

        As for keeping track of the names—that’s why I write! If I just had them on a family tree on software somewhere, it would be a meaningless mess of names!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful connections. I am amazed how you have found all the connections! I found a DNA connnected distant cousin. He has researched back to the year 800 and found all the Scandenavian connections -back to the viking kings and rulers. I suspected I was related to some of these men and women. Back to Charlemagne and some Scottish kings or Celtic rulers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another detailed and comprehensive report establishing a link to the main branch, the Goldschmidt family! If Simon had not been involved in some criminal activity and served time in a Marburg prison, I still would not been surprised to see a six-year gap in the children. His wife could have had a miscarriage or two, which was not all that unusual for the time in the early 1800’s. If you ever get a hold of the report, I would be willing to help with the translation. Not the whole thing of course, but a summary, which is normally added at the end of the main report. Good luck with the continued search in your family research, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Peter! I just might take you up on that if I can’t find someone in Germany to help. I also am taking German, and maybe my German instructor will help me. And I have several contacts in Germany—I’ve written to them to see if they know anyone who would be able to get to Marburg. I will keep you posted, and thank you again!

      Yes, there certainly could have been another reason for the gap. But it does seem to coincide with his legal troubles, so it also could be that he was in prison. We shall see!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy, You are a marvel! Every time you find a new family connection it is like they come back and watch over your shoulder. My Polish grandparents also came to Washington County, PA in the early 1900s. They had an arranged marriage. I wonder if some of your ancestors did too? Possibly it would explain the close relationships. It was very common in Poland back then, so that cousins didn’t marry, but distant cousins could. These matchmakers must have had good memories to sort everyone out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Maryann! I don’t think there were arranged marriages in the sense that children had no choice and spouses were chosen for them even years before they married, but I am sure that family connections and pressure were factors. I know that my mother’s maternal grandmother was supposedly pressured or coerced into marrying her first cousin, my great-grandfather, after his first wife died leaving him with four young children. (So at least in my family, the arrangement did not prevent cousins from marrying!) Now wouldn’t it be interesting to know whether your Washington PA ancestors ever shopped in my ancestors’ stores? 🙂


  5. Amy,
    More amazing research on your part. You are such an inspiration! Now tell me how you knew these were two different girls? i would have been certain that it was just a typo–the same girl repeated. I have seen that on a census report before.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Great post, Amy. When I got to this, “Six daughters in seven years.” I thought, “ouch, poor thing”. I seriously don’t know how women did that. Of course, my pregnancies were hard and filled with lots of complications so I am not the best judge, but even for someone with easy pregnancies, the sleep deprivation alone would be rough having six babies in seven years.

    It’s so interesting to me how often you are finding multiple connections in your family branches. I have that in just a few places, but you seem to have it in lots and lots of places. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should be used to the fact that people had so many children close in age back then, but it still boggles my mind. My two were four years apart, and I am still not sure how any of us survived it! Maybe they just didn’t mind the crying as much, or maybe they had lots of help from nearby family and servants? I don’t know.

      As for the multiple connections, it’s probably more common among Jewish families than otherwise. Especially those who lived in rural areas like Hesse in Germany—there just weren’t that many Jewish families, and so choices were limited. So cousins married each other, and children of one family might marry siblings in another family or the cousins of the siblings and so on. Strange to think of today with people finding dates online, but back then you accepted the limitations!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel exactly the same way about the birth rates and spaces. I see it over and over again and it still is difficult to wrap my mind around. I suppose part of our problem is we are considering it all from our own perspective where you and I have an expectation to be accomplished in our own personal lives and back then most women only had the option to be wives, mothers, and as industrious as possible in domestic matters. If I didn’t read, write, research, organize, lead (in church and school settings), teach, practice the piano and so on, I would probably have lots of time to have six babies in seven years. There’s no going back though, is there? I am much happier trying to balance family with all of my rich and rewarding opportunities than having family life be my only experience. Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids and love being a mom, but I need more than just domestic life.

        That makes lots of sense, of course. I can see that in one of my inter-connected areas. The other one is just a hot mess of weird choices. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree—I needed more than being home full-time for my adult life, but I also know that even if I had been home full time, I never could have dealt with that many kids! I am just not patient enough, and I need QUIET and time to myself. Six kids—even with help, even without any outside commitments—is more than I could handle under any circumstances. Maybe three, but not more than that! And not every 18 months or so.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel the same way right now, but years ago we were a foster family and had our 2 older boys, plus 3 foster children, the ages were 6, 5, 4, 2, and baby. I loved it! It was so much easier because everyone helped and played with each other, they needed less of me which sounds weird, but that’s how it was. Of course, I don’t want to assume that would always be the case, plus giving birth to kids that close together would completely change the dynamic and energy level of mom. But, I loved it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t even begin to imagine it! But we are all made differently, and some people are just capable of being more patient and more present with a number of children. Good for you!


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