Meyer Goldsmith: Another Clothier and More Double Cousins

Having now finished the stories of the families of two of my three-times great-uncles, Jacob and Abraham, I am going to turn to their youngest brother, Meyer, because he was the next to immigrate to the United States. I have been very fortunate to connect with one of Meyer’s descendants, who has generously shared photographs and stories with me, as you will see.

Meyer was the youngest son of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents. He was born October 25, 1834, in Oberlistingen, Germany.1

Birth record of Rafael/Meyer Goldschmidt 1834
Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 5

Meyer arrived in the US on July 8, 1852, when he was seventeen years old.

Meier Goldschmidt passenger manifest
Year: 1852; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 116; Line: 1; List Number: 895

In 1859, he married Helena Hohenfels,2 daughter of Jordan Hohenfels and Adelaide Freinsberg. Helena came with her mother and siblings from Berge, Germany to the US in 1846 and settled in Philadelphia. 3 Meyer and Helena’s descendant shared these amazing photographs of Jordan and Adelaide Hohenfels:

Adelaide Hohenfels Courtesy of the family

Jordan Hohenfels. Courtesy of the family

We also believe that these photographs may be of Meyer and Helena:

Possibly Helena Hohenfels and Meyer Goldsmith


Meyer and Helena’s first child Eugene was born on October 6, 1859,4 in Newton, New Jersey, which is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia and sixty miles west of New York City. In 1860 Meyer, Helena, and their infant son Eugene were living in Newton, New Jersey; Meyer was working as a “merchant tailor” and had $4000 worth of personal property. Also living with them were a servant and a thirteen-year-old boy named George Stone from the Hesse region, whose relationship to the family I’ve not determined. Like Jacob and Abraham, by this time Meyer had changed the spelling of his surname to Goldsmith.

Meyer Goldsmith and Helene Hohenfels 1860 census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Newton, Sussex, New Jersey; Roll: M653_709; Page: 605; Family History Library Film: 803709

By 1863 or so, Meyer and his family had relocated to Philadelphia where Meyer continued to be a clothing merchant. In 1867, Meyer filed a complaint and charges were brought against a man named John L. Rich, who apparently took delivery of $2809 worth of merchandise and failed to pay Meyer for those goods.

“An Absconding Merchant Takes $2800 Worth of Goods With Him,” The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, December 28, 1867, p. 5.

As of 1870 Meyer and Helena had five children: Eugene (1859), Heloise (1860), Maurice/Morris/Murray (1863), Samuel (1867), and Rosa (1869). Helena’s mother Adelaide was also living with them in 1870. Meyer was working as a wholesale clothier and claimed $2000 in personal property. (I guess all those children ate into the $4000 worth of savings they’d had in 1860!) A sixth child, Florence, would be born in 1872.

Meyer Goldsmith 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13 District 39, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1397; Page: 465A; Family History Library Film: 552896

In 1880, Meyer was still in the clothing business in Philadelphia, and his son Eugene, now 20, was working as a salesman. His second son Morris, seventeen, was employed as a clerk.  Their daughter Heloise was not employed, and the three younger children were all in school. Meyer’s mother-in-law Adelaide Hohenfels was still living with them as was a nephew named “Julius Stein” (actually spelled Stine); Julius was sixteen and working as a stock clerk. He was Helena’s sister’s son. I assume that Eugene, Maurice, and Julius were all working with Meyer in the clothing business.

Meyer Goldsmith and family 1880 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Page: 276B; Enumeration District: 219 and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

As I wrote about here, in the early 1880s, Meyer’s brothers Abraham and Levi ran into financial problems in their clothing business, and in 1883, they joined with their brother Meyer in the clothing business, using the name Goldsmith Brothers. The three brothers continued in business together for several years, but Levi died on December 29, 1886, and the business failed soon afterwards.

Two months after Levi’s death, Goldsmith Brothers was forced to make an assignment of its assets to another clothing business. The paper reported that at that time Goldsmith Brothers had assets of almost $70,000 but liabilities of over $142,000. From this report it appears that the creditors of Goldsmith Brothers were prepared to take 33 1/3 cents on the dollar for the money owed to them.

“The Creditors of Goldsmith Brothers,” The Philadelphia Times, February 13, 1887, p. 2.

Three days later there was a detailed update on the appraisal of the assets of the business, showing that the company had net assets of $69,306.73:

“Goldsmith Brothers’ Estate,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 1887, p. 2.

And two days after that the creditors agreed to accept 37 ½ cents on the dollar for the money owed to them by Goldsmith Brothers.

“The Goldsmith Failure,” The Philadelphia Times, February 18, 1887, p. 1.

In 1888, Abraham went into business with his sons, and Meyer continued alone in his own clothing business. His oldest son Eugene was in the button business with someone named David Jonger Lit in 1888.5

Meanwhile, Meyer and Helena’s oldest daughter Heloise married Simon Bernheim Hirsh in 1886.6 As soon as I saw Simon’s name, I had a feeling that he was also somehow related to me, and indeed, he was my second cousin, four times removed. Simon’s great-grandfather was Samson Bernheim, my five times great-grandfather:

Thus, Simon Bernheim Hirsh was part of my Bernheim branch, and his wife Heloise was my first cousin, three times removed, on the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith branch of my family tree. These are two otherwise unrelated branches; the Bernheims came from Hechingen in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region of Germany and the Goldschmidts from Oberlistingen near Kassel in Hesse.

Simon was born  on September 3, 1859, to Herman Hirsh and Auguste Bernheim in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.7 Lancaster is about eighty miles west of Philadelphia.  His parents were both born in Germany, and his father Herman was a merchant in Lancaster when Simon was born.8  The 1870 census reports that Herman was in the notions business,9 and in 1880 he was in the clothing business, and Simon was a clerk, presumably in his father’s store in Lancaster. Perhaps Simon and Heloise’s fathers knew each other from the clothing business.10

After marrying, Heloise and Simon settled in Lancaster, where their first child Irma was born on June 4, 1888.11  They would have two more daughters in the 1890s, both born in Lancaster; Helen was born on February 27, 1895, but only survived a few months, dying on May 29, 1895.12. The third daughter Dorothy was born on March 21, 1898.13 The Hirsh children were my double-cousins, related to me through these two otherwise completely unrelated lines. Endogamy, endogamy, endogamy.

Meanwhile, the 1890s brought many other changes to the family of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith, including a move from Philadelphia to New York City. More on that in my next post.


  1. As I wrote here, although this record shows a baby registered with the name Rafael, I believe that this was the same child later known as Meyer, based on his age on several US records and the fact that the 1900 census says that he was born in October 1834, and that there is no other birth registered to Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander for that month and year. Birth record of Rafael/Meyer Goldschmidt 1834, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 5. 
  2. Helena and Meyer Goldsmith and family, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0780. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3.  The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85. Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964 
  4. Eugene Goldsmith passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2421; Volume #: Roll 2421 – Certificates: 367850-368349, 29 Jan 1924-31 Jan 1924. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  5. 1888 Philadelphia City Directory, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
  7. Simon Bernheim Hirsh death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 006501-009500. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Herman Hirsh and family, 1860 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, South West Ward, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1126; Page: 582; Family History Library Film: 805126. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  9. Herman Hirsh and family, 1870 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1356; Page: 195B; Family History Library Film: 552855. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  10. Herman Hirsh and family, 1880 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1142; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 148. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. 
  11. Irma Hirsh Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 069751-072450. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. 
  12. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  13. Number: 204-03-8654; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

20 thoughts on “Meyer Goldsmith: Another Clothier and More Double Cousins

  1. I wonder if George Stone and Julius Stine were related, perhaps siblings, who came at different times to stay with the family. As for the double cousin, I am finding that to be somewhat common!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The photos so fortuitously obtained from Meyer’s descendants add a new dimension to your post. One can now visualize what Helena’s parents looked like. Also I noticed the change of several names perhaps to cover up their German origin: Goldschmid to Goldsmith, Stein to Stine (pronounced the same way), Hirsch to Hirsh.
    I continue to be fascinated by your tenacity and determination to dig up the buried details of the amazing story of your ancestry, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, even as early as the 1850s Jewish immigrants and likely all German immigrants were Americanizing their names—I am not sure whether at that point it was just to assimilate or whether they also feared some negative treatment as German-born. Thank you, Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My first thought when seeing Julius Stine’s name was to check on George and wondered- census error Stone/Stine. The photo’s are fantastic! It is so hard to read about all the financial trouble the family suffered. It really makes you think about what life was like back then in that situation. Had they a mortgage? Would they lose their home? And the amounts of money for that time period was large. Their wives must have been very worried to say the least of their situation. I really enjoyed this post Amy – great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are such good questions, Sharon—I wish I knew how to find the answers. But since they did move to NYC, I don’t think they were destitute. Even then I’d imagine NYC was more expensive than Philadelphia. Thanks, Sharon!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reminded of when I had a subscription to a newspaper site whenever you find interesting pieces to include in your posts. The searches were not always easy but after a while, I had figured out how to get the best results. Unfortunately, there were not many newspapers for the period I am now researching.
    It’s always interesting to see when you make yet another connection, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Why do you think the business failed because of Levi’s death? My early morning brain can’t handle the thinking! Brilliant research, as usual, Amy. And you were lucky with those portraits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The articles made it seem that once Levi died, the business failed. Perhaps he was the key person that suppliers and creditors trusted for payment, and once he was gone, they no longer were as willing to do business? I don’t really know. Thanks, Luanne! And yes—I feel so lucky to have found this new cousin who so generously is sharing the photographs of her ancestors.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Meyer Goldsmith Moves to New York: Weddings, Births, and Deaths 1891-1911 | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  7. Pingback: The Children of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh and Samuel Goldsmith | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  8. Pingback: Levi Goldsmith: The Last Brother to Arrive from Oberlistingen | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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