Keeping It In The Family 1920-1930

By 1920, only two of the children of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith were still living, their two oldest children, Caroline and Emma. Caroline was a widow, and Emma was divorced; both were living in Philadelphia. How did these two women, now in their seventies, survive without their husbands? A woman without a husband in the 1920s was unusual. The marriage rate in 1920 was the highest ever—92% of women over 15  were married. How did a divorced or widowed woman cope in those times?That is one part of the story in this post.

Jacob and Fannie were also survived by ten grandchildren: Caroline’s three children (Rena, Sidney, and Jessica); Philip’s three sons whose lives I wrote about here; Harry’s son Stanton, whose story is here; and Huldah’s husband Chapman Raphael and their three children, Herbert, Arthur, and Adelaide. This post will report on what happened to Caroline and Emma and the children of  Caroline and Huldah during the 1920s.

I had a hard time finding both Caroline and Emma on the 1920 census. I finally found Emma listed as Emma Coleman, a misspelling of her ex-husband Abraham Cohlman’s surname. At least I think this is Emma. She was living as a lodger in Philadelphia. The age is correct as is her birthplace of Pennsylvania, but her marital status is single, and the record reports her parents were born in Pennsylvania, when in fact Jacob and Fannie were both born in Germany. My assumption is that someone else in the household answered the enumerator’s questions and did not know where Emma’s parents were born, that she was divorced, or even how she spelled her surname.

Emma Goldsmith Cohlman 1920 census
1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1623; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 597
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

As for Caroline, she also eluded me for quite a while because I was searching for a woman who was widowed, not married. But then I found a Caroline Rice married to a Jacob Rice who was a woolens salesman, and the light bulb lit up.

Caroline Goldsmith Rice 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 14, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1620; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 278
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

(And yes, that is one of my Abraham Mansbachs living next door; that’s Abraham Mansbach V, who was related by marriage to Caroline; Caroline’s aunt Sarah Goldschmidt was married to Abraham Mansbach II, who was Abraham Mansbach V’s first cousin once removed.)

Nathan Rice, Caroline Goldsmith’s husband who died in 1913, had a brother J.J Rice; that brother had been the master of ceremonies at Rena Rice’s wedding. He had been living with Nathan and Caroline in 1900 when he was a wool salesman1 and in 1910 when he listed his occupation as a cloth salesman.2 In fact, in 1870 when Nathan and Caroline were living in Dubuque, Iowa, with Nathan’s parents, Nathan’s brother, Jacob J. Rice, was living in the household as well.3 In other words, Jacob J. or J.J. Rice had been living with his brother Nathan and sister-in-law Caroline for most if not all of their marriage.

A search of the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951, database on FamilySearch confirmed that in fact Jacob J. Rice married Caroline G. Rice in 1915 in Philadelphia.4 So Caroline had married her brother-in-law J.J. Rice two years after the death of her husband (and J.J’s brother) Nathan.

In 1920 Caroline’s daughter Rena and her husband Edwin Sternfels were still living in New York City, where Edwin was in advertising.5 Caroline’s son Sidney and his wife were living in Philadelphia, and Sidney was also in advertising, working as a traveling salesman. 6 Jessica, Caroline’s youngest child, was still living in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband Philip Sondheim, the lawyer, and their daughter Ruth, who was now seventeen.7

As for Huldah’s children, her younger son Arthur Seligman Raphael and his wife Josephine Isaacs were living in Philadelphia in 1920; Arthur’s father Chapman and older brother Herbert were also part of that household. Arthur was a shoe salesman, and his brother Herbert sold shoe polish. Arthur and Josephine’s son Ross was born on March 10, 1920, in Philadelphia.8

Raphael family 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 42, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1643; Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 1559
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

Huldah’s daughter Adelaide and her husband Harry Hahn were living with their sons in Washington, DC, in 1920; Harry was still a shoe merchant.9

The 1920s were a relatively quiet decade for the family, at least in terms of major lifecycle events.  In 1924, Ruth Sondheim, daughter of Jessica Rice and Philip Sondheim and granddaughter of Caroline Goldsmith Rice, married Adrian Kramer in Brookline, Massachusetts.10 Adrian’s background is a mystery.   According to his military record from World War I (see below),  and his World War II registration card, 11 he was born in New York City on December 14, 1896. But despite searching in numerous places for all Kramers and all Adrians within two years of that date, and all boys born on that date, I have not found his birth record. Perhaps he was born with a different name.

I also cannot find Adrian on the 1900 census; the first record I have for him is the 1905 New York State census, when he was living on West 88th Street in the household of Maier Kramer. Adrian was eight years old and listed as Maier’s son, but there was no wife. Also living in the household were six of Maier’s siblings: Sandilla, Joseph, Leo, Eva, David, and Minnie. At first I thought Sandilla or Eva might have been Maier’s wife, but earlier records show that they were in fact his sisters.

Adrian Kramer 1905 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 03; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 12
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

The 1910 census also shows the six Kramer siblings living with Adrian on West 88th Street, but now Adrian is identified as their brother.  That seems like an error—he was fifteen and the youngest of the other “siblings” was thirty. And earlier census records show that Maier’s father was born in about 1837 and his mother was born in 1845; it seems quite unlikely that they had a child in 1896. According to the 1910 census, all of the Kramer siblings were single, except for Sandilla, who was divorced. I can’t find them on the 1920 census, but in both 1930 and 1940, the siblings were still living together, and all were unmarried, except Sandilla, who now reported on both that she was a widow.

Adrian Kramer 1910 US census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1023; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0580; FHL microfilm: 1375036
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

So who was Adrian? I don’t know who his parents were, but I do know that he was in the United States Marine Corps during World War I, serving overseas in France from August 26, 1918, until January 13, 1919.

Military record of Adrian Kramer, World War I
Ancestry.com. New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919. Adjutant General’s Office. Series B0808. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.

By 1921 he was living in Boston, working as a salesman.12 And in 1924, he married my cousin Ruth Rice Sondheim. Two years later they had their only child, a daughter named Natalie.13

On December 3, 1925, Hulda Goldsmith’s husband Chapman Raphael died in Washington, DC. He was 75 and had been sick for some time.

“Chapman Raphael Dies, Washington (DC) Evening Star, December 4, 1925, p. 4.

The last family lifecycle event in the 1920s came on July 10, 1928, when the oldest of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith’s children passed away.  Caroline Goldsmith Rice died from bronchopneumonia at age 79. The informant on the death certificate was her husband/brother-in-law, Jacob J. Rice. And the doctor who signed the death certificate was S. Byron Goldsmith, her nephew and the son of her long-ago deceased brother, Philip Goldsmith. I was heartened to see that Philip’s son had stayed in touch with his father’s family even though he had been taken in and cared for by his mother’s family when his parents were killed in 1896.

Caroline Goldsmith Rice death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 068501-071500
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Thus, by 1930, Emma Goldsmith Cohlman was the only surviving child of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith. Unfortunately, the 1930s would bring the family more heartbreak.

 


  1. Jacob J. Rice, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0710,  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Jacob J. Rice, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1414; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 1200; FHL microfilm: 1375427, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  3. Jacob J. Rice, 1870 US Census, Census Place: Dubuque Ward 1, Dubuque, Iowa; Roll: M593_389; Page: 61A; Family History Library Film: 545888, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  4.  Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JV85-N6R : 26 September 2017), Rice and Caroline G Rice, 1915; citing license number 335782, Clerk of the Orphan’s Court. 
  5. Rena and Edwin Sternfels, 1920 US Census, Manhattan Assembly District 21, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1224; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 1427, 1920 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com 
  6. Sidney and Martha Rice, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 38, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1636; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 1344,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Jessica and Philip Sondheim, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_721; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 167, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007. 
  9. Adelaide Goldsmith Hahn and family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_210; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 166, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  10. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Marriage Index, 1901-1955 and 1966-1970 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
    Original data: Department of Public Health, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Massachusetts Vital Records Index to Marriages [1916–1970]. Volumes 76–166, 192– 207. Facsimile edition. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. 
  11.  The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2090 
  12.  Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1921, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  13. Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1901-1960 and 1967-1970, Ancestry.com 

22 thoughts on “Keeping It In The Family 1920-1930

  1. Hi Amy. I noticed there was an obituary for Adrian Kramer in 1950 and it says he was the son of “Della Kramer”. Could this be Sandilla? There is a marriage for her in New York on 26th June 1895 (cert #9969) but Ancestry doesn’t give a spouse and all the others with the same cert # have a corresponding spouse. However on Findmypast they have the details – down as Sundilla Kramer:

    First name(s) Sundilla
    Last name Kramer
    Sex Female
    Marital status Single
    Age 27
    Birth year 1868
    Father’s first name(s) Abraham
    Father’s last name –
    Mother’s first name(s) Miriam
    Mother’s last name Rosenfeld
    Event Marriage
    Year 1895
    Event date 26 Jun 1895
    Location Manhattan
    County New York
    State New York
    Country United States
    Spouse’s first name(s) Jacob
    Spouse’s last name Baruch
    Spouse’s sex Male
    Spouse’s marital status Single
    Spouse’s age 30
    Spouse’s birth year 1865
    Spouse’s father’s first name(s) Henry
    Spouse’s father’s last name –
    Spouse’s mother’s first name(s) Theresa
    Spouse’s mother’s last name Binwanges
    FamilySearch film number 001493183
    Record set United States Marriages
    Category Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)
    Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce
    Collections from Americas, United States

    So it is possible Adrian was the son of Jacob Baruch. But not seen a birth for him but there is an Abraham Baruch but date of birth is 7th Dec 1896. I noticed Adrian’s dob was given as 14 Dec 1896 in the army record but there was a New Orleans passenger list that gave it as 14 Dec 1895.

    Not seeing them on the 1900 census either.

    Not sure if the info helps!

    Liked by 4 people

    • WOW! Thanks so much, Alex! I will go back and check what I have, but this sure sounds right. I did wonder if Sandilla (who was divorced) was his mother since she was the only one who’d ever married. Interesting that he took her birth name, not his father’s. THANK YOU!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Sandilla and her siblings were living with their parents Abram and Miriam in 1870 and 1880, so that is Sandilla! And I bet Abraham was Americanized to Adrian. I will keep looking. THANK YOU AGAIN!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, obviously you are very good at it even without many opportunities to search in US records! I am going to update my post once I pull together all the information you’ve found and search for a bit more to confirm that Adrian was Abraham!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Amy, regarding Caroline marrying J.J. her brother-in-law. Was that a regular thing back then?
    I find it an interesting point about 92% of women being married in the 1920’s. Both my mother and mother-in-law were widowed young and neither of them remarried.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that statistic was for the US—and to be honest, I am not sure how they counted widows or divorcees in their count, But it was the hightest percentage for the US and has been dropping ever since.

      There is some biblical tradition about marrying your husband’s brother, and I know of at least two other situations in my family where a man married his sister-in-law after her sister/his first wife died, though that was in Germany, not in the US. My guess is that although not common, it happened occasionally. In this case it’s a bit stranger since it’s not like they had young children who needed caring. Maybe they’d secretly been in love for years!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kudos to Alex for doing the lookup and finding the possible mother for Adrian.
    I had to click over to see where you got the marriage statistics. It looks like WWI and WWII may have had something to do with the spikes in 1920 and 1950. You find the most interesting facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex did an amazing job–and now I am able to fill in some of the other gaps. I will post a full update soon.

      So you think that men coming back from war were ready to settle down and have kids? Or maybe it was that there was a backlog because of the war so suddenly there was a surge when the men returned. But those percentages have sure dropped since the 1970s. The fact that that was the decade of the explosion of the women’s movement can’t be a coincidence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it may have been the other way around (or one step in between). The women were looking for stability soon after the war.
        I once looked into women’s ages vs men when marrying after the Civil War. There were a lot of young men marrying older women.
        In my mind I see a caricature of young men barely making it home (supporting each other) and women on the other side (pushing and pulling hair) yelling “It’s my turn!” The picture sounds insulting to women but I think the instinct to protect their young and want to once again have a family life may have influenced both the men and women.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That could be. Probably there is some instinct in humans to replace life after a war. Don’t birth rates also go up after a war? Certainly we know there was a huge baby book after World War II. (Yay for boomers!) And your description made me laugh! I see hordes of women at port cities waving signs, “Pick me!” like some pre-reality tv version of The Bachelor! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. At the risk of repeating myself too often, I say it again. I find your determination to uncover your family roots most impressive. Also I admire your mind for not getting all muddled up in the light of the fact that there is almost an infinite mass of data to wade through. I am looking forward to read more of the continuing saga of your family, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter! I never get tired of hearing those kind words, so repeat them as much as you like. 🙂 I love wading through the data—it’s like being a detective, but with no blood or gore. And it keeps my brain working.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I need Alex, lol – I am really enjoying the the way you are posting by decade, I don’t think I noticed that before. It really flows nicely for reading. Your post had me thinking about woman (in general and those I know) who are widowed or divorced with children today and how they survive. Their story/our story isn’t so much different today…I love your posts; they always get me thinking!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Sharon! Yes, I think we all need Alex! She helped me years back when I was researching my English ancestors, and I’ve always been grateful.

      I don’t know if it’s harder or easier today to be divorced or widowed with children. Certainly divorce has lost its stigma, but it must still be very hard for the parents and children. And women have an easier time getting jobs, but it sure isn’t yet society that is free of discrimination in the workplace.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Thank you, Alex from Root to Tip: A Mystery Solved and A Question about Ancestry.com | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  7. Pingback: Til Death Do Us Part | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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