To Tell the Truth: Will The Real Harry Goldsmith Please Stand Up

My last post ended by alluding to the mysterious whereabouts of my cousin Harry Goldsmith, the younger son of my three-times great-uncle Jacob Goldsmith.

As I wrote here, in the mid-1880s, Harry had been in the fishing tackle business with his father Jacob, but after 1888, Jacob was in business with his other son Philip, and it was hard to determine Harry’s whereabouts because the number of Harry Goldsmiths and their addresses and occupations on Philadelphia directories between 1889 and 1898 was completely befuddling.

In 1889 there was only one Harry Goldsmith, and he was a tobacco dealer who would be charged with fraud that same year, as I wrote about here.

Goldsmiths in 1889 Philadelphia directory
Title: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1889
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

The 18901 Philadelphia directory listed only one Harry Goldsmith, a clerk who was living at 1610 North 12th Street in Philadelphia. There is no Harry Goldsmith in the 1891 directory, but in 1892 there is one, in the insurance business. 2, and in 1894, there were two Harrys, one a salesman and one a clerk,3 and in 1895 there were two Harrys, one a clerk, one a boilermaker.4 Then in 1897, there were three Harrys, a printer, a paperhanger, and a salesman,5 and in 1898 there were three Harry Goldsmiths once again: a paperhanger, a tobacconist, and a salesman.6 Were any of these men my Harry? I am not sure.

In March 1898, according to the Philadelphia Times article describing Rena Rice’s wedding,7 my Harry Goldsmith attended his niece Rena’s wedding, appearing on the guest list as a married man: Mr. and Mrs. Harry Goldsmith. But I have had no luck finding a marriage record for Harry before 1898.

And I’ve had no luck finding him with any certainty on the 1900 census. I searched for any Harry Goldsmith born in Pennsylvania between 1848 and 1868 (my Harry was born in 1858), and I found only four men fitting those parameters on the 1900 census. The first was a printer living in Philadelphia, unmarried, and born in 1862 to English-born parents.8 The second was living in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, and working as a house painter; he was married to a woman named Jennie and was born in 1863. His parents were both born in Pennsylvania.9

The third Harry Goldsmith also had Pennsylvania-born parents, was living in Everett, Pennsylvania, and working as a clothing merchant. He had a wife named Annie and a two-year-old son named Robert. He was born in 1868.10  The fourth Harry Goldsmith was a farmer living in Evesham, New Jersey; he was married to a woman named Marianna, and he was born in 1856. His parents were also born in Pennsylvania.11

None of those four fits my Harry, whose parents were born in Germany. And when I followed up on these four Harrys in other records, it was clear that none of them was my Harry.

But there was a fifth Harry Goldsmith on the 1900 census who might be my cousin. He was born the same year as my Harry, in July, 1858, was living on North 63rd Street in Philadelphia in 1900, was married to a woman named Florence, and had two children, a fifteen-year-old son Stanton and an eight year old daughter Janet. At first I was excited, thinking that “Janet” could have been the “Jeanette” who was the flower girl at Rena’s wedding. The matching year of birth and the fact that he lived in Philadelphia also made me think this might be my Harry. If this was my Harry, then he was the Harry Goldsmith who was in the tobacco business because in the 1899 and 1900 Philadelphia directories, the Harry Goldsmith who was a tobacconist lived on North 63rd Street, just like the Harry Goldsmith married to Florence on the 1900 census.12

Harry Goldsmith and family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 34, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0904

But according to the above census record, the Harry Goldsmith married to Florence was born in Germany and only came to the US in 1885; he’d been married sixteen years, meaning he had immigrated with his wife whom he’d married in 1884. My Harry was most definitely born in Philadelphia in about 1858. Despite this inconsistency, I was still leaning towards thinking that this was my Harry.

The Harry Goldsmith who was married to Florence on the 1900 census was sued for divorce in 1901. Maybe this was the Harry who went bankrupt, leading to the dissolution of his marriage?

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1900, p. 9


Divorce notice of Harry and Florence Goldsmith
The Philadelphia Times, June 4, 1901, p. 7

If my Harry was the one married to Florence, what happened to him, and what happened to his children, Stanton and Janet, after the divorce?

The name of his son—Stanton Goldsmith—struck me as an unusual enough name that he would be easy to find. But alas, he was not. I could not find any records for a Stanton Goldsmith other than that 1900 census record and a birth record in the Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1790-1950 database on FamilySearch, showing his birth date of March 13, 1885, and parents Harry and Florence L. Goldsmith.

Stanton Goldsmith birth record
Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950,” database, FamilySearch ( : 9 December 2014), Stanton Goldsmith, 13 Mar 1885; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,324.

So I searched for any “Stanton” born in Philadelphia in 1885, and records for a Stanton Loeb Dreifus popped up.13 A few more clicks around Ancestry and FamilySearch, and I learned that Florence, Harry’s former wife, was born Florence Loeb, daughter of Joseph and Sophie Loeb. Her father Joseph had been in the tobacco business, just as  Harry had been.14

So where did the surname Dreifus come from? Why was Stanton using that name? Well, Florence remarried pretty quickly after her divorce from Harry. On July 17, 1901, she married Emanuel Dreifus in New York City.15

If you look back at the 1900 census for Harry Goldsmith above, you will notice that living with Harry, Florence, and their children was a boarder named….you guessed it….Emanuel Dreifus. And it seems that not only did Emanuel take Harry’s wife, he took his children as well and they adopted his surname.

Emanuel Dreifus on the 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 34, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0904

Tragically, little Janet died from endocarditis on April 28, 1902, less than a year after her mother remarried. She was only ten years old. Her death record recorded her name as Janet Dreifus and her parents’ names as Emanuel and Florence.

Janet Dreifus death record “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004047863 > image 261 of 701; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The death notice in the Philadelphia Inquirer did not mention Harry Goldsmith; instead it identified Emanuel Dreifus as her father. It would appear that Harry was no longer a part of his children’s lives. Emanuel may have even adopted them.

Janet Dreifus death notice
The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 1, 1902, p. 15

But was this Harry Goldsmith my cousin? Was he the one married to Florence on the 1900 census? Was the 1900 census wrong in saying he was born in Germany and had just immigrated to the US in 1885? What do you think?

I think he was. I found one final clue that convinced me. I reviewed the list of those who attended Rena Rice’s 1898 wedding,16 and this time a new name jumped out at me: Mrs. Sophie Loeb. That had to be Florence Loeb’s mother, Harry Goldsmith’s mother-in-law.  Florence’s father Joseph had died in 1895, so Sophie would have attended alone.16

The Harry Goldsmith who’d been married to Florence Loeb and who had had two children, Stanton and Janet, was, I believe, my cousin. In 1900, he was a married man with two children working as a tobacconist. By 1901, he was divorced, and his wife had remarried and given his children the name of her second husband, a man who had been boarding in Harry’s home in 1900.

Do you think I am right? Please let me know in the comments.

As for what happened to Harry after his divorce in 1901—well, that created a whole other set of research puzzles.

To be continued…..

UPDATE! Thank you to everyone who provided feedback and questions on this post.  I am especially grateful to Renee Stern Steinig, who many of you may recall was my mentor and my inspiration when I first started doing family history research about five years ago.  I shared this post on Facebook, and Randy Schoenberg saw it and suggested that I also share it on the Jewish Genealogy Portal on Facebook. So I did, and within half an hour, Renee saw it and found the article below that somehow despite all my searching, I had missed, probably because Harry is called Henry here.  Now I know for sure that the Harry Goldsmith who was married to Florence Loeb was in fact my cousin.  The big clue—-Rena Rice was one of the maids of honor!

Harry Goldsmith wedding to Florence Loeb Phil Inq Dec 5 1883

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 5, 1883, p. 4


  1. Harry Goldsmith,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1890; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Harry Goldsmith,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1892; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Harry Goldsmith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1894, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  4. Harry Goldsmith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1895, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  5. Harry Goldsmith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1897, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. Harry Goldsmith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1898, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. “Wedding at Mercantile Hall,” The Philadelphia Times, March 10, 1898, p. 7. 
  8. Harry Goldsmith, 1900 US census; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 10, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0180 
  9. Harry Goldsmith, 1900 US census; Census Place: Mount Pleasant Ward 1, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0119 
  10. Harry Goldsmith, 1900 US census; Census Place: Everett, Bedford, Pennsylvania; Page: 16; Enumeration District: 0013 
  11. Harry Goldsmith, 1900 US census; Census Place: Evesham, Burlington, New Jersey; Page: 9; Enumeration District: 0018 
  12. Harry Goldsmith, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory,  1899, 1900, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  13. For example, Stanton’s registration for the World War I draft. Stanton Loeb Dreifus, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907643; Draft Board: 23, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. 
  14. Florence Loeb, 1880 US census; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1180; Page: 379B; Enumeration District: 411 
  15. Marriage of Florence Goldsmith and Emanuel Dreifus, July 17, 1901, Certificate 12494; New York, New York, Marriage Indexes 1866-1937, 
  16. Joseph Loeb, death record, July 13, 1895, Atlantic City, NJ, FHL File No. 589801, New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. 

28 thoughts on “To Tell the Truth: Will The Real Harry Goldsmith Please Stand Up

  1. Wow. There must have been some major trauma for those children. They were old enough to know what was going on. Which makes me wonder what really was going on in that home. Yes I think he is the one you were looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen! Yes, I do wonder also. If Harry was the one accused of fraud and then went bankrupt, that alone would put stress on a marriage. And with a single man living in the house….it doesn’t take much imagination to see what happened to Harry.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have seen several boarders in census records who ten years later were seen as the spouse. So I did not find it at all unusual that Florence and Emanuel were married.
    In my opinion, you are right about this being your Harry. We rely so much on the 1900 census since the 1890 is missing. The 1900 census has information we never got in early years (yrs married & # of children). What the 1900 does not give us is the person who gave the information – something we see in the 1940. Getting back to what the 1900 gives us – immigration information AND naturalization. Notice that someone else wrote in UN for the year of naturalization. It would appear that perhaps neither Harry nor Florence gave the information. Why would the person giving the information not know if they were naturalized? Who else in the household could have given it? Was mother-in-law Sophie still living in 1900 or were there siblings of Florence living in 1900 and do they have the same immigration year?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Every earlier census for Florence shows that she was born in Pennsylvania (1870 and 1880) so I think that the 1900 is just wrong about both Harry and Florence. Where they got the information is a mystery—perhaps some neighbor? Maybe Emanuel? The servant? One was born in Hanover, so perhaps she was answering the question about her own immigration….

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL—yes, to drive us all crazy. It’s funny—I was watching a West Wing episode the other day where the Bartlett Administration was arguing that they should use statistical sampling instead of enumeration to get an accurate census read because the census enumeration as it was being done had always been seriously flawed and not a reliable way to determine electoral districts. So true!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just went back and looked at the page and the page before and after. It does look like the enumerator did not ask that question as the UN seems to be entered for all those who are listed as immigrants. It’s also written so faintly (which is why this first set of eyes didn’t focus on it) on all the pages as if someone went back afterwards and added a separate notation since the actual entries are all written quite clearly and in dark ink.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I double-checked my memory—Florence and all her siblings were born in the US beginning in 1860. Her father was born in Germany in 1831 and immigrated to the US in 1849 according to his passport application in 1890. Sophie was born in Germany around 1844. So no one in the family immigrated in 1885!


      • Never mind about the servant….I was looking in the wrong place. Both were born in Pennsylvania. I have no clue—must have been a neighbor. Or maybe Stanton gave out bad information? Got me!


  3. Great post Amy, I am in agreement that you have the right Harry…however what jumped into my mind was, could Emanuel actually have been/fathered the children in the first place and the truth finally came out? (you can see where my mind goes) Could that account for the total removal of Harry from the family? Just throwing it out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, of course, anything is possible. My research indicates that Emanuel was living in Pittsburgh where he grew up until at least 1896, meaning it’s unlikely he fathered either child. He was an iron and steel broker and seemed to do business in Philadelphia as well and is listed in at least one Philadelphia directory in the late 1890s, but still after both Stanton and Janet were born. Thanks for your thoughts! Good question!

      Liked by 1 person

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

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