Rena Rice’s Wonderful Wedding

Two years after the tragic deaths of Philip and Nellie (Buxbaum) Goldsmith, the family of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith had an opportunity for a joyful celebration. On March 9, 1898, Jacob and Fannie’s oldest grandchild, Rena Rice, daughter of Nathan and Caroline (Goldsmith) Rice, was married to Edwin Sternfels in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Times provided a detailed report of the festivities:1

One of the most important of the many weddings which have taken place this winter was performed after the rites of the Jewish faith last night in the New Mercantile Hall…. It was the wedding of Miss Rena G. Rice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Rice [Caroline Goldsmith], to Edwin Sternfels, of New York.

The guests assembled in the hall and there awaited the entrance of the bridal party. At the hour appointed, to the ever-new strains of the “Lohengrin” Wedding March, played by the orchestra, which was hidden behind the bank of bay trees, palms and exotics of every description, the bridal party entered the hall and moved slowly forward to the dais which had been erected just in front of the stage.

The master of ceremonies, J.J. Rice, led, followed by the ushers….[including] Sid G. Rice [brother of the bride]…of this city, following them coming the groom upon the arm of his mother and then the bride, dressed in a white satin gown, trimmed with duchesse lace, with diamond ornaments, and carrying the bridal Bible and lilies of the valley, upon the arm of her father.


Upon reaching the dais, around which was banked bay trees and palms, while overhead a canopy of exquisite beauty was made with festoons of asparagus vine studded with carnations, they stepped upon this platform, where the rabbi was standing, and the ceremony was performed which made them man and wife.

Following the ceremony a wedding feast was served, followed in turn by a reception and dance in honor of the happy couple.

The article concluded with a very lengthy list of some of those who attended the wedding. Among those listed were the following of my relatives:

Mr. and Mrs. A. Coleman: Emma Goldsmith and her husband Abraham Cohlman (typo in the article); Emma was Rena’s aunt, Jacob’s daughter.

Mr. and Mrs. A. Goldsmith: Abraham Goldsmith, Jacob Goldsmith’s brother, Rena’s great-uncle, and my three-times great-uncle

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Goldsmith: Harry was Jacob’s son and Rena’s uncle

Martin Goldsmith: I think this might be another typo and should be Milton Goldsmith, Abraham Goldsmith’s son and Rena’s first cousin, once removed.  I have no record of a Martin Goldsmith.

Mrs. Fannie Goldsmith: Rena’s grandmother and Jacob Goldsmith’s widow.

Byron Goldsmith, Herbert Goldsmith, and Jerome Goldsmith: the orphaned sons of Philip and Nellie Goldsmith and Rena’s first cousins.

Jeannette Goldsmith: named as the flower girl, so presumably a child, but I’ve yet to find her. A mystery to be solved.

Mrs. I. Levy: Hannah Goldsmith, Jacob Goldsmith’s daughter and Rena’s aunt

Mrs. S. Mansbach: Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, Jacob Goldsmith’s sister and Rena’s great-aunt

Julius Mansbach: Rena’s first cousin, once removed, and son of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach

The Messrs. Raphael and the Misses Raphael: the family of Hulda Goldsmith Raphael, Jacob Goldsmith’s daughter and aunt of the bride

S.G. Rice: the bride’s brother Sidney Goldsmith Rice

In addition, although not included on the list of those attending, Jessie G. Rice, the bride’s sister, was named in the article as the maid of honor.

This was obviously quite an expensive affair, evidence of the prosperity of Nathan and Caroline (Goldsmith) Rice. According to the 1900 census, Nathan was still in the clothing business in Philadelphia, and he owned his house free of any mortgage. His son Sidney was “mostly” employed in the lithography business; he was now 27 years old. Also living with Nathan and Caroline in addition to Sidney and their youngest child Jessie was Nathan’s brother, Jacob J. Rice (presumably the master of ceremonies named as J.J Rice in the wedding article), Caroline’s widowed mother, Fannie Goldsmith, and two servants.

Caroline and Nathan Rice and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0710

Caroline’s sister Emma and her husband Abraham Cohlman were also living in Philadelphia in 1900 where Abraham was employed as a salesman; their home was subject to a mortgage. They had no children, but two boarders were living with them.2

A third sibling, Hulda Goldsmith Raphael, was also living in Philadelphia, along with her husband Chapman Raphael and their three children. Chapman was in the wholesale liquor business, and their home was rented. They also had a servant living with them.3

One sibling had left Philadelphia. Hannah and her husband Isaac Levy were living in Circleville, Ohio, a small town of about 6000 people about 30 miles south of Columbus, Ohio, the closest city of any size. What were they doing there and when had they arrived? On the wedding guest list for Rena’s 1898 wedding as reported in The Philadelphia Times, Hannah was reported as Mrs. I. Levy of Circleville, Ohio, so she and Isaac were already living in Ohio by that time. On the 1900 census, Isaac had no occupation listed, but they did own their own home there, free of a mortgage.[^4}


But why Circleville, Ohio? I did find an unmarried man named Isaac Levy on the 1880 census living in Circleville and working in the clothing business, but he was born in France. Was this the Isaac Levy who married Hannah Goldsmith in Philadelphia twelve years later?4

Was the 1880 census just in error in naming his birthplace as France? As I wrote in my earlier post, Isaac Levy is such a common name that I can’t seem to narrow down the possibilities to learn more about the Isaac Levy who married Hannah Goldsmith. Unfortunately, Circleville is so small that I can’t even find directories or newspapers to search.

The other sibling whose 1900 whereabouts are somewhat mysterious is Harry Goldsmith. That is a subject for another post. Or another few.

  1. “Wedding at Mercantile Hall,” The Philadelphia Times, March 10, 1898, p. 7. 
  2. Nathan Rice and family, 1900 US census; 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 28, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1469; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 0674; FHL microfilm: 1241469 
  3. Hulda and Chapman Raphael, 1900 US census; Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0808 
  4. Isaac Levy, 1880 US census; Year: 1880; Census Place: Circleville, Pickaway, Ohio; Roll: 1058; Page: 570A;Enumeration District: 229 

29 thoughts on “Rena Rice’s Wonderful Wedding

  1. Judging from the elaborate details of a rather lavish wedding, I must conclude that the Goldsmith family was doing very well. Today weddings have become so expensive that young couples are even shying away from the ceremonies. Thanks for another great post, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter. I must say that I am always surprised to read these descriptions of such extravagant weddings from so long ago. I thought these kind of excesses were something more recent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read a few articles for weddings which were full of descriptions of the location and decor of the event and/or reception as well as the attire of most of the persons in the wedding party. I wish they had been for one of my ancestors. I’m happy for you being able to share with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Cathy. As I commented above, I am always amazed by these extravagant weddings (and the coverage they get in the newspapers). But it is wonderful to be able to visualize the setting and the clothing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The writer of the wedding piece for the paper was fantastic. I loved the line “played by the orchestra, which was hidden behind the bank of bay trees, palms and exotics of every description” “overhead a canopy of exquisite beauty was made with festoons of asparagus vine studded with carnations” and then the brides satan dress with duchesse lace and diamonds we certainly don’t need a photo to picture this however wouldn’t a picture be spectacular. Wonderful post Amy with so much information. I’m curious about Circleville too and this Jeanette. Can’t wait to see what you uncover.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love those phrases also—so evocative of the extravagance of the wedding! I don’t have much more to say about Circleville (yet), but I will have some theories on Jeanette. Stay tuned!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it great to find such detailed newspaper reports of weddings? I have some for marriages in the Big T’s family (mainly those that took place in small towns) and they are just wonderful. And of course brilliant sources of information about family connections. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wowsa! What a windfall! A society article about a wedding with Full Guest List!!! Is that ever helpful! It sounds lovely, all except of course for the Wagner. I felt a little squeamish about that. But overall the wedding sounds magnificent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I have to admit I used “Here Comes the Bride” at my own wedding, completely oblivious to Wagner’s anti-Semitic beliefs. I am sure in 1898 that was even less known. (I had watched too many television and movie weddings and thought that EVERY wedding used that music!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I am sure in 1898 it wouldn’t have been common knowledge. I am surprised your rabbi didn’t say anything though. Maybe ours just happened to know more about music. The good thing is now so many people do know about the alternative of Mendelssohn’s gorgeous music. If you knew the mistakes I made with my wedding though you would probably laugh yourself silly. Like not signing up for a bridal registry. #1 mistake.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, considering that our rabbi was about 25 and that he met us once before the wedding and had no idea what our plan was for the music, we can hardly blame him! It’s a long story! Oh, and we didn’t have a bridal registry either. I thought it was crass and materialistic. It was, after all, 1976, the Age of Aquarius. (And that’s what we played for the recessional!) So on the one hand, I was very traditional (white dress, Here Comes the Bride, rabbi and cantor, traditional Jewish ceremony) and on the other, I was a flower child (no registry, no showers, no tuxedos, read a new-agey type poem, and played Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine). Go figure!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love it!!! A sign of the times, for sure! I thought it was materialistic, too, and it was a really stupid mistake for me, it turned out. I love that you expressed yourself in that way at your wedding!

        Liked by 1 person

      • When I saw all the stuff my daughter got as wedding gifts—-china, flatware, pots and pans, etc., etc.—stuff we had to buy ourselves many years after getting married—I realized how short-sighted I was! But I still hate bridal showers. 🙂


  6. The newspaper coverage of the wedding is a gem. I’m so happy that this discovery yielded so much for you, Amy. I love the description of the canopy. With a large bouquet of Lily of the Valley, and the spicy fragrance of carnations (I’m assuming they were not the blah kind grown today) the entire hall must have caught a whiff of the florals. It’s like the outdoors came indoors for the wedding when you consider the description of the trees that hid the orchestra from view!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: To Tell the Truth: Will The Real Harry Goldsmith Please Stand Up | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  8. Pingback: Where Did Harry Go? | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

    • LOL! You and millions of other Jews! Someone recently said that Levy and its variations (Levin, Levine, Lavin, etc.) are the most common Jewish names. Not sure if that’s true (Cohen is up there also), but it’s certainly high on the list! Thanks, Debi!


      • Please don’t! We know there is a connection somewhere. In the past year I have found connections to two other genealogy bloggers—one a relative by marriage, the other a close friend of a stepcousin! So you never do know. 🙂


  9. Pingback: The Goldsmith Sisters: A Post for Women’s History Month | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  10. Pingback: Keeping It In The Family 1920-1930 | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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