The last child born to Abraham Goldsmith and his first wife Cecelia Adler before Cecelia’s untimely death in 1874 was their daughter Estelle. Estelle was born on January 20, 1870, in Philadelphia,1 and was only four when her mother died. Estelle was born in time to be listed on the 1870 census with her parents, her five older siblings, and her maternal grandparents, Samuel and Sarah Adler. (Her name is misspelled here as Estella.)
And in 1880 she is listed with her father, her stepmother Frances Spanier, her four surviving full siblings (Milton, Edwin, Rose, and Emily) and her two younger half-siblings, Alfred and Bertha.
Estelle graduated from the Philadelphia Normal School in 1890. On January 27, 1895, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Estelle had been selected to become the eighth grade teacher at the Madison School in Philadelphia. She remained there for 25 years.2
The Philadelphia newspapers, the social media of that era, published a number of articles in the 1890s in which Estelle is mentioned as one of many attending various social and cultural events in Philadelphia. The papers also reported on Estelle’s travels. In 1896, the Philadelphia Times reported that she and three other women were traveling to New England together,3 and in 1897, she traveled to Europe with one of those same three, Julia Friedberger, who was her brother Edwin’s sister-in-law.
The 1900 census reported that Estelle, who was working as a school teacher, continued to live in Philadelphia with her father, stepmother, and her four younger half-siblings, Alfred, Bertha, Alice, and Louis. Her older siblings were by that time all married.
Estelle is not listed in the Philadelphia directories between 1900 and 1910, but the Philadelphia newspapers reported some of her activities, including her attendance at various social events and her trip in 1906 to visit her brother Milton in New York City.
In 1910, her parents now both deceased, Estelle was living with her older sister Rose and Rose’s husband Sidney Stern and their three sons. Estelle continued to be employed as a public school teacher. In June 1913, she traveled on a steamer to Plymouth, England, Cherbourg, France, and Bremen, Germany, with many others from Philadelphia.4 I wonder whether in her travels she visited Oberlistingen and the Goldschmidts who still lived there.
In February 1920 she and three other women traveled to Puerto Rico. One of those women, Carrie Teller Kuhn, was connected to Estelle in two different ways. First, she was the step-aunt of Gladys Fliegelman, the young woman who would marry Estelle’s nephew, Allan Goldsmith Stern, in 1929. Second, in 1930, Carrie Teller Kuhn was a lodger in the household of Sidney Goldsmith Rice, who was Estelle’s first cousin, once removed. Sidney was the grandson of Jacob Goldsmith, who was the brother of Estelle’s father Abraham.
In 1920, Estelle was still living with her sister Rose Goldsmith Stern and her family, but Estelle had changed careers. She was now the director of a girl’s camp, which, according to her obituary, was Camp Woodmere for Girls in Paradox, New York, a camp that Estelle had co-founded in 1916.5
Estelle continued to travel in the 1920s. In 1922 she traveled to China and Japan for several months with Carrie Teller Kuhn, as reported in the Philadelphia Evening Ledger on December 4, 1922. Here is her passport photograph from her passport application before that trip:
And in 1925 she and Carrie again traveled together, this time to Le Havre, France; in 1928, they traveled to Naples, Italy.6
In 1930, Estelle continued to live with her sister Rose and brother-in-law Sidney Stern; now her occupation was recorded as director of a hosiery mill. I was surprised by this change in career, given that Estelle was now sixty years old. Perhaps she was working for Thomas Holmes Manufacturing, the company founded by her nephew Henry Friedberger Goldsmith. Or perhaps this is a mistake and she was still the camp director, as her obituary seems to suggest.7
By 1940, Estelle’s situation had changed. Her sister Rose Goldsmith Stern had died in 1931, and her sister-in-law Jennie, wife of Estelle’s brother Edwin, had died in 1933. In 1940, Estelle, her brother Edwin, and her brother-in-law Sidney Stern were all living at the Majestic Hotel in Philadelphia.
In March 1944, Estelle and her brother Edwin were among 400 hundred residents evacuated from the Majestic when a six-alarm fire broke out in the upper levels of the hotel.8 Edwin died just seven months later. (Sidney had died in 1942.) At that point Estelle had outlived four of her siblings: Hilda (who had died as a child), Emily (1917), Rose (1931), and Edwin (1944).
In fact, Estelle outlived all nine of her siblings, including her four younger half-siblings. She died on May 7, 1968, at age 98.9 According to her obituary she was at that time the oldest member of her synagogue, Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, an honorary vice-president of the Friends of the Deaf, and a member of the Council of Jewish Women.10
Estelle had lived a long life and a full life, a life that was not typical of women of her times. She had not married or had children, but instead had had two careers. She had been a teacher for 25 years, then a camp director for another 25 years. She had traveled all over the world. She had lived from shortly after the Civil War, through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the upheaval and many social changes of the 1960s.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit down with Estelle and ask her about her life and her observations over nearly a century of living? What questions would you ask her?
I will be taking a short break from blogging over the next two weeks. When I return, I will be writing about Abraham Goldsmith’s four children with his second wife, Frances Spanier. See you then!
- Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VB13-5S4 : 9 March 2018), Estelle Goldsmith, 20 Jan 1870; citing bk 1870 p 231, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,312. ↩
- The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 27, 1895, p. 3; “Estelle Goldsmith Dies; Ex-Teacher, 98,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1968, p. 31. ↩
- The Philadelphia Times, July 19, 1896, p. 27. ↩
- The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 21, 1913, p. 3. ↩
- Estelle Goldsmith, 1920 Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1646; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1791. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. “Estelle Goldsmith Dies; Ex-Teacher, 98,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1968, p. 31. ↩
- Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3591; Line: 30; Page Number: 7; Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4398; Line: 24; Page Number: 48. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 ↩
- Estelle Goldsmith, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0397. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. ↩
- “Majestic Hotel Swept by Six-Alarm Fire,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 1944, p. 1. 9. ↩
- Number: 183-36-9987; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: 1962. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. ↩
- “Estelle Goldsmith Dies; Ex-Teacher, 98,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 9, 1968, p. 31. ↩