Meyer Goldsmith Moves to New York: Weddings, Births, and Deaths 1891-1911

As seen in my last post, after immigrating from Oberlistingen, Germany, my three-times great-uncle Meyer Goldsmith became, like his older brothers Jacob, Abraham, and Levi, a clothing merchant in Philadelphia for many years. He and his wife, Helena Hohenfels, had six children born between 1859 and 1872, and as of 1888, he and his family were still living in Philadelphia at 705 Marshall Street.

But as of 1889, they were no longer listed in the Philadelphia city directories. Their oldest daughter Heloise had married Simon Bernheim Hirsh in 1886 and was living with him and their children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the 1890s. But where was the rest of the family?

It appears that Meyer and Helena and their five other adult children had all relocated to New York City by around 1890. Meyer appears in the 1891 New York City directory as residing at 220 East 69th Street, and Meyer and his sons Eugene and Maurice appear as residing at that same address in the 1892 New York City directory. Meyer is listed as a clothier at 648 Broadway, Eugene as in the trimmings business at 236 Church Street, and Maurice as in the clothing business at 722 Broadway. Perhaps after the failure of Goldsmith & Bros. in 1887, the family decided to leave Philadelphia behind and take their chances on New York instead. 1

Thanks once again to Meyer and Helena’s descendant for this photograph, which we believe is a photograph of Meyer and Helena taken some years after the one I shared in my last post. What do you think?

Helena Hohenfels and Meyer Goldsmith possibly.  Courtesy of the family

In 1896, Meyer and Helena’s second oldest daughter Rose married Hans (sometimes Harry) Morgenstern.2 Hans was born on April 23, 1859; although some of the documents indicate that he was born in Austria, his 1904 passport application states that he was born in Beuthen, Prussia, Germany.3 According to this website, Beuthen is one of those towns that was once within the borders of Germany, once within the borders of Austria, and today is located in Poland and known at Bytom, located about 60 miles west of Krakow. In his 1904 passport application, Hans stated that he had arrived in the United States in 1892 and settled in New York City.

Two years after Rose’s wedding, Meyer and Helena’s youngest child, Florence, married Leo Levy on June 8, 1898, in New York City.4 Leo was born in Flushing, Queens, New York, on October 20, 1871. I was unable to find out any information about Leo’s family of origin until I located this wedding announcement from the June 9, 1898 issue of the New York Times (p. 7):

The New York Times, June 8, 1898, p. 7

Although the announcement did not reveal Leo’s parents’ names, it did reveal those of three of his siblings: Rosalie, Jacob, and Sidney. With that information, I was able to locate the family living in Flushing, Queens, on the 1880 US census and learned that Jacob’s parents were Simon Levy and Caroline Hirsch, both born in Baden, Germany; Simon had immigrated in 1857 as a teenager; Caroline had immigrated with her parents in about 1854. Leo’s father Simon was a clothing merchant.

Leo Levy 1880 US Census, Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Roll: 917; Page: 182D; Enumeration District: 263
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

From the wedding announcement I also learned that Leo was a lawyer practicing with the firm of Erdman, Levy and Mayer.

Thus, by 1900 all three of Meyer and Helena’s daughters were married. Nevertheless, the 1900 census shows that Meyer and Helena still had all three of their sons, two of the daughters, and two of their sons-in-law living with them as well as two servants. They were all living at 129 East 60th Street. Meyer’s occupation was salesman; Eugene was a merchant; Maurice was a traveling salesman; and Samuel, the youngest son, was a dentist. All three sons were single. Meyer’s son-in-law Hans Morgenstern was a “commission merchant,” and his son-in-law Leo Levy was a lawyer.

Meyer Goldsmith and family, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0780
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Here are photographs that we believe are Eugene, Maurice, and Samuel:

Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith (possibly). Courtesy of the family.

Samuel Goldsmith (possibly). Courtesy of the family.

By 1905, the two married daughters and their husbands had moved out. I was unable to locate either Rose Goldsmith Morgenstern or Florence Goldsmith Levy on the 1905 New York State census, but they were no longer living in the same household as their parents. Florence and Leo had had two children by 1905; their daughter Helen was born on October 14, 1900,5 and their son Richard was born on November 18, 1903, both in New York City.6

Another child was born to Florence and Leo on July 24, 1908, in Queens; birth records have her name as Edith Catherine,7 but no child with that name appears on the 1910 census or any later census. The 1910 census reports a third child named Eleanor, aged  one year, six months. At first I was quite confused, but one of Florence and Leo’s descendants explained that Florence and Leo decided that they preferred the name Eleanor to Edith after the baby was born and changed her name.

Leo Levy and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Queens Ward 5, Queens, New York; Roll: T624_1068; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1250; FHL microfilm: 1375081
Description
Enumeration District: 1250
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, according to one 1905 New York State census record, all three sons of Meyer and Helena were still living with them at 229 West 97th Street in New York City in 1905. Meyer was a clothier, Eugene an importer, Morris (Maurice) a clothier partner, and Samuel a dentist.

Meyer Goldsmith and family 1905 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 45; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 20
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

Samuel, however, is also listed with his wife Helen on another page from the New York State 1905 census as residing at 113 East 60th Street in New York City. That he was listed twice on the 1905 New York State census is another example of census inaccuracies.

Samuel and Helen Goldsmith, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 29 E.D. 10; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 19
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

Samuel Goldsmith had married Helen Rau on April 20, 1904, in New York.8 (That meant that there was one Helena, one Heloise, and two Helens now in the extended family.) Helen Rau was born on September 9, 1877, in Englewood, New Jersey, to John Rau and Clementine Kayser.9  On July 28, 1906, Helen gave birth to their daughter, Catherine Goldsmith, in Norwood Park, New Jersey.10

Tragically, Samuel died before Catherine was fourteen months old.  He died in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 25, 1907; he was only forty years old.11  According to his obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent of September 27, 1907 (p.11), Samuel and his family had moved to St. Paul for his health on the advice of his doctor. Can anyone suggest why Minnesota would be good for one’s health? I’ve heard of people moving to drier or warmer climates for their health, but why Minnesota? Perhaps it was to be near the Mayo Clinic, which had opened in 1889 in Rochester, Minnesota? I did notice that Helen had a sister living in St. Paul at that time, so perhaps Helen was looking for support due to Samuel’s poor health.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, September 27, 1907, p. 11

The obituary described Samuel as a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and as “one of the foremost dentists in New York.” Samuel provided in his will that “[a]ll of my property I give to my beloved wife, Helen Rau Goldsmith, absolutely and forever, appointing her sole Executrix.”

Samuel L. Goldsmith will, Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York. Ancestry.com. New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Sadly, this was only the beginning of heartbreaking news for the family. The family suffered another loss on February 18, 1910, when Helena Hohenfels Goldsmith died at age 73. She was buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Hasting-on-Hudson, New York.12

When the 1910 census was taken two months after Helena’s death, Meyer was still living at 229 West 97th Street, with his two surviving sons, Eugene and Maurice, and his daughter Rose and her husband Hans Morgenstern (as well as two servants).  Meyer was no longer working. Eugene was still in the importing business, and Maurice was a department store salesman. Hans was also working for an import house, presumably with Eugene, his brother-in-law. Rose and Hans did not have children.13

In 1910, Florence and Leo Levy were living with their children, a servant, and a nurse in Queens, and Leo was practicing law.13 I was delighted to receive from Florence’s descendant this beautiful photograph of Florence and her three children, probably taken around 1910.

Helen Levy, Florence Goldsmith Levy, Eleanor Levy, and Richard Goldsmith Levy. Courtesy of the family.

Heloise and Simon Bernheim Hirsh continued to live with their two daughters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Simon was a clothing merchant.14

I could not find Samuel Goldsmith’s widow Helen Rau Goldsmith or their daughter Catherine Goldsmith on the 1910 census, but I believe they may have been out of the country.  Helen’s sister Emma Rau had been living abroad beginning in 1904, and I have a hunch that Helen and Catherine might have been visiting her at the time of the 1910 census. From several passport applications starting in 1918, it appears that Helen and Catherine also lived abroad for many years.15

There was another tragedy in the family on January 9, 1911, when Meyer’s oldest daughter Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh died from acute dilatation of the heart and diabetes at age fifty. She was survived by her husband, my cousin Simon Bernheim Hirsh, and their two surviving daughters, my double cousins Irma and Dorothy Hirsh, as well as her father Meyer and her remaining siblings.

Death certificate of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 004931-008580. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

It was only a few months later that her father and my 3x-great-uncle Meyer also passed away. He died on May 26, 1911, when he was 76 years old and was buried with his wife Helena at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Perhaps losing a son, a wife, and a daughter in just a few years was too much for Meyer to bear.16

Although he had not lived in Philadelphia for about twenty years at the time of his death, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent ran this obituary when Meyer died:

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, June 2, 1911, p.11

Thus, as of May 26, 1911, Meyer and Helena and two of their children, Heloise and Samuel, were deceased. Meyer and Helena were survived by two of their sons, Eugene and Maurice, and two of their daughters, Rose and Florence, all of whom were living in New York City. They were also survived by six grandchildren, Heloise’s two daughters Irma and Dorothy Hirsh, Samuel’s daughter Catherine Goldsmith, and Florence’s three children, Helen, Richard, and Eleanor Levy. Their stories will follow.

 


  1.  New York, New York, City Directory, 1891, 1892. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2.  Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 6656. 
  3. Hans Morgenstern passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 647; Volume #: Roll 647 – 01 Apr 1904-11 Apr 1904. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  4. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 9123 
  5. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWV-ZK5 : 11 February 2018), Helen Coroline Levy, 14 Oct 1900; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 42281 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,953,853. 
  6. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24WP-VL4 : 10 February 2018), Richard G. Levy and Malvene Frankel, 26 Mar 1928; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,653,341. 
  7. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27YD-M2D : 11 February 2018), Edith Catherine Levy, 24 Jul 1908; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference v 9 cn 4359 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,022,365. 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 13130 
  9. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 071368415. 
  10. Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  11.  Minnesota Deaths and Burials, 1835-1990,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FD8M-Z3K : 10 March 2018), Sam Goldsmith, 25 Sep 1907; citing St. Paul, Minnesota, reference ; FHL microfilm 2,117,569. 
  12.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:271F-D9G : 10 February 2018), Helena Goldsmith, 18 Feb 1910; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,323,239. 
  13. Leo Levy and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Queens Ward 5, Queens, New York; Roll: T624_1068; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1250; FHL microfilm: 1375081. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  14. Simon Hirsh and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1354; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1375367. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  15. Emma Rau 1923 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2159; Volume #: Roll 2159 – Certificates: 240976-241349, 04 Jan 1922-05 Jan 1922. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Also, e.g., Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. More on Catherine in a post to come. 
  16.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WMM-M68 : 10 February 2018), Meyer Goldsmith, 26 May 1911; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,323,280. 

18 thoughts on “Meyer Goldsmith Moves to New York: Weddings, Births, and Deaths 1891-1911

  1. I looked at the the two sets of photos believed to be those of Helena and Meyer. As to Helena’s portraits I see some very distinct similarities in the features of the mouth, eyes and nose. It was a lot harder to decide for Meyer’s photos. His face is turned sideways on one photo, so it is extremely difficult to make definite comparisons.
    I also like the family picture very much. It is rare to see children smile on old photos.
    Best wishes for your continuing research on your family, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input. I agree that it is easier to tell with Helena, but I also know how those two photos were placed next to each other in the album, so I do believe it’s both Helena and Meyer. Thanks as always for reading, Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m guessing that Meyer and Helenas family were part of the mid-nineteenth century German Jewish migration? They look to me in their portraits to be quite well-established unlike folks in the Eastern European migration in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early Twentieth Century.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Despite all the financial troubles that Meyer experienced he certainly seemed to do well in N.Y.. It was obviously a good move. I was struck by the family sticking together through the hard times too. I was actually wondering if Meyer might have had a hidden nest egg squirreled away to help the family with the move. Loved all the photo’s, always welcomed treasures. I also think the photo’s of Helene and Meyer are the same couple. Great read Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also think that both portraits are of Meyer and Helena. Despite the different angle of Meyer’s head in each, I thought that the facial structure, ear shape and hairline were the same — not to mention that rather magnificent moustache (although I know that doesn’t really mean much). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Like Peter Klopp, I also compared the two sets of photographs. I think they are Helena and Meyer in both sets. Because the first of Meyer was taken from the side and the second is not completely from the front, you can still see his ear in both and they look similar.
    I love how you figured out the parents from the wedding announcement!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cathy—I agree. And I do love wedding announcement. So often I have learned the names of family members from those announcement—more so than from obituaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith: Together at Home and at Work | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  7. Pingback: Rose Goldsmith Morgenstern and Florence Goldsmith Levy: Two Sisters under One Roof | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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

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