Milton Goldsmith: Final Chapter

In 1940, Milton Goldsmith turned 79 years old. He appears to have retired by then, although a few of his books were re-released in the 1940s. As seen in my last post, his younger daughter Madeleine had married Charles A. Jacobson, Jr., on September 29, 1933, and his older daughter Rosalind married Michael Zale on October 25, 1940.

Rosalind was a commercial artist; and as we saw, illustrated one of her father’s books. I do not know what her husband Michael did for a living. I also could not find any military record for Michael Zale during World War II. Given that Michael would have been 26 when the US entered World War II in December 1941, I find it odd that there is no military record for him. I searched for him as Michael Zale, Michael Zalefsky, Metre Zale, Metre Zalefsky, and other wildcard and Soundex possibilities, but nothing came up.

According to her obituary,1 Milton’s younger daughter Madeleine worked as a dietician. Her husband Charles listed his occupation as a banker on the 1940 census.2 Charles served in the US military during World War II, but I could not find any details about his service. He was 37 when he enlisted in 1942.3

After World War II, Charles and Madeleine moved to Larchmont, New York, a suburb of New York City.  According to several city directories, Charles was at least for some time the treasurer of Voland & Sons, a company that his brother James had purchased in the 1940s that manufactured balance scales.4

A Voland & Sons balance scale

Michael and Rosalind Zale stayed in New York City at least until 1960 according to directory listings, but again, I have no information about Michael’s occupation.5

Milton Goldsmith died on September 21, 1957, at the age of 96. According to his obituary in The New York Times, he had lived in Larchmont with his daughter Madeleine before going to a nursing home in New Rochelle. He was described in the obituary as the author of 24 books and as having been in the advertising business until his retirement 25 years earlier. The only book specifically mentioned in the obituary was Rabbi and Priest and the play that was based upon it, The Little Brother.6 Interestingly, Milton was not buried in New York where he’d lived since 1905, but back in Pennsylvania at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Trevose, Pennsylvania, about twenty miles from Philadelphia where Milton was born.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION:  Thank you to Marla Oxenburg Roth of Huggin’ My Cousins!  for investigating the burial of Milton Goldsmith. I was puzzled that FindAGrave had a listing saying that he was buried near Philadelphia after living in New York for over fifty years, and Marla volunteered to go to Roosevelt Memorial Park to find his grave. Sure enough, there was no marker for Milton Goldsmith there, and when I followed up with a call to the cemetery, they had no record of a Milton Goldsmith buried there. Obviously, the FindAGrave memorial I relied on was incorrect, and I have notified the contributor of the memorial.  I am hoping the contributor will remove the memorial so others are not confused. This is the first time I’ve found such a mistake on FindAGrave. Thank you, Marla!

Marla also found a death notice for Milton from the Philadelphia Inquirer that stated that he had been cremated. So perhaps he is not buried anywhere.

Milton Goldsmith death notice Phil Inq

I learned even more about Milton from his obituary in The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, October 4, 1957, p.43.

For example, from this obituary I learned that Milton could remember when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated although he was not even four years old in April 1865 when Lincoln was shot. The obituary also revealed that Milton had entertained the troops during World War I with his skills as an amateur magician. Another hobby was “medieval wood carvings”—did he make them or collect them? I assume the latter. And not surprisingly, he enjoyed math and word puzzles.

Michael Zale died eleven years after his father-in-law in November 1968.7 As the death notice below indicates, Michael was cremated, and the family asked that donations be made to the New York Association for the Blind. I mention this because several of Michael’s siblings made similar requests—that donations be made to some organization for the blind. It makes me wonder whether a member of the family—perhaps Michael himself—was blind. That might explain why I cannot find any records of his military service or his occupation. Michael was 53 when he died.

UPDATE: Michael Zale was in fact blind at least as a child.  Heather Paxton once again found the answer! She located a news article about a camp for blind children in New Jersey that included this quote:

Snip from Michael Zale article

“Blind Find Zest in Normal Recreation at Camp Lighthouse on Barnegat Bay,” Asbury Park Press, July 22, 1945, p. 3.

New York Times, November 5, 1968.

Rosalind died eleven years after her husband Michael in May 1979.8 She was 78 years old. According to her death notice,9 her family asked that contributions be made to the Vacation Camp and Community Center for the Blind in New York City, another indication that blindness may have afflicted someone in the family. A listing on FindAGrave indicates that Rosalind donated her body to Columbia University for medical research and was later buried in 1981 at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn at a site purchased by Columbia to honor those who had dedicated their bodies to science.

Charles Jacobson, Jr. died in November, 1983. I could not find a death notice or obituary for him, only the entry in the Social Security Index. According to that record, his last residence was in Larchmont, New York. He was 78 years old.10

Madeleine Goldsmith Jacobson far outlived her husband, sister, and brother-in-law. Like her father, she lived into her nineties, dying on August 21, 2001, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  She was 97 years old. According to her obituary, she had worked as a dietician for many years after college and had been active in many charitable and other organizations while living in Larchmont. The obituary reported that “she and her husband always welcomed friends, relatives and sometimes foreign students into their home for as long as they wanted to stay. She will be remembered for her hospitality and as someone who was always helping people and working for organizations that tried to make the community and/or the world a better place.”11

It has been very rewarding and interesting to learn about my cousin Milton Goldsmith and his family; I enjoyed having the opportunity to read some of his books and to understand more about his life and his views through those books. Because of my own interest in and love of reading and writing, those family members who contributed to the world through their published works all hold a special place in my heart.

 


  1. Deaths, The New York Times, September 30, 2001, found at https://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/30/classified/paid-notice-deaths-jacobson-madeleine-madge-g.html 
  2. Charles and Madeleine Jacobson, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02626; Page: 70A; Enumeration District: 31-51; Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A 
  4. E.g., 1952 New Rochelle, New York, City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  5. Manhattan, New York, City Directory, 1960, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  6. “Milton Goldsmith,” The New York Times, September 23, 1957, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1957/09/23/84764059.pdf 
  7.  Number: 114-01-4400; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951; Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. 
  8.  Number: 058-38-2229; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: 1963. Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. 
  9. Deaths, The New York Times, May 14, 1979, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1979/05/14/111025254.pdf 
  10.  Number: 063-09-1238; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951. Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. 
  11.   Deaths, The New York Times, September 30, 2001, found at https://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/30/classified/paid-notice-deaths-jacobson-madeleine-madge-g.html 

40 thoughts on “Milton Goldsmith: Final Chapter

  1. My memory also goes back to the time, when I was four years old. It was a traumatic event. So I can believe that Milton Goldsmith remembers vividly the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, as the event must have been talked about passionately in the family where her grew up. Another fine post on your family history, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter—my earliest memory is from when I was three, but it was traumatic to me! (I fell on a piece of glass. I still have a two inch nasty scar on my wrist all these years later.) I wonder whether a child who was four in 2001 would remember 9/11 or one who was four in 1963 would remember JFK’s assassination. I will have to find some younger people to ask.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if a query to the New York Association for the Blind might turn up more information on Michael Zale. In Milton’s obituary, a granddaughter is mentioned. I don’t remember reading in the previous posts that one of his daughters had a child. Perhaps you left this out if she is still living.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such an interesting post and family Amy. So the resting place of Milton remains a mystery? What I found interesting was while his obit was in New York Time there was also his write in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. The FindAGrave post was for Philadelphia but was incorrect. Could the error be that he is buried in a different Philly cemetery? I am sad your moving on too and I hope you hear something granddaughter too

    Liked by 1 person

    • What I forgot to mention in the Update was that Marla also found a death notice for Milton in the Philadelphia Inquirer that says he was cremated—which doesn’t mean his remains weren’t buried, but at least it’s a possibility. And I doubt very much he would have been buried anywhere by the New York area where his daughters lived and where he also had lived for over fifty years. Thanks, Sharon!

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  5. What a strange thing to find about Find-a-grave! I guess we need to look for plot numbers before we rely on them? I’m surprised about the cremation. What an amazing man. Thank you for sharing his life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad Milton had a long fulfilling life; i’ve grown to like him from your posts. It is. Interesting what children remember. My earliest memory is being woken early and in the dark to “meet” my newborn brother. He is exactly two and a half years younger than me, and was born in February, in the early morning, so i believe the memory is “real.” It wasn’t traumatic, but actually profoundly disappointing. I think I was expecting hi to look cute, like a doll, but instead he was red and wrinkly. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Milton’s obit is pretty great. I wonder if his memory of Lincoln’s assassination and funeral were memories of the original event or retellings of memories of his parents/siblings? And I immediately latched on to your question, too, as I read it – what is a medieval wood carving? I’m very intrigued (what an heirloom that would be!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am working on a post about earliest memories for later this week. I would love to find someone born in 1959 and ask them what, if anything, they remember about JFK’s assassination.

      Well, if I ever hear from Milton’s descendants, I will ask about the wood carvings!

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  8. Amy, Once again I enjoyed learning more about Milton. That he found time and energy to entertain our troops with magic shows touches my heart. It also indicates that he must have been very alert and adept. It’s not easy to perform those magic tricks unless one has dexterity as well as the ability to distract the audience from noticing how you do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised by that bit of information. It just shows that records alone and even books and news articles don’t always tell you enough about the real person behind the data. Thanks, Emily!

      Liked by 1 person

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