Jacob Goldsmith’s Will and His Legacy

The 20th century did not start well for the family of Jacob Goldsmith. As the new century dawned, the family lost its patriarch; Jacob Goldsmith died in Denver on January 31, 1901, at the age of 76. His body was returned to Philadelphia where he was buried alongside his wife Fannie at Mt. Sinai cemetery:

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-676K-YG?cc=1320976&wc=9F51-VZ9%3A1073329301 : 16 May 2014), 004050474 > image 633 of 1820; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Like his father Simon, Jacob Goldsmith had lived a rich and interesting life. He was born in Oberlistingen, Germany, and after his mother died in 1840 when he was just a teenager, he immigrated all alone to the United States. He was the first of the Goldschmidt clan to come to America. He settled in Washington, Pennsylvania and established himself as a clothing merchant there. He and his wife Fannie started their large family there in 1853.

After his stepmother Fradchen passed away, Jacob opened his home to his father Simon and his two half-siblings Henry and Hannah. Then in the 1860s, Jacob and Fannie and their many children moved to Philadelphia where Jacob was again a clothing merchant; he lived there until Fannie died in 1881. After her death Jacob joined his half-brother Henry back in western Pennsylvania where he established yet another clothing store in Connellsville. Jacob’s final move was to Denver, Colorado, when he was already in his sixties.

Jacob Goldsmith was survived by thirteen of his fourteen children and seventeen grandchildren, plus three more who were born after he died.  His love and care for them all was revealed in his will. Six of his daughters—Emma (47), Rachel (44), Celia (40), Florence (31), Gertrude (29), and Eva (29)—were unmarried when Jacob died, and they were the primary focus of his will.

Jacob had executed the will on March 2, 1899, in Denver:

 

Jacob Goldsmith will, Probate Records, 1900-1946; Author: Denver County (Colorado). Clerk of the County Court; Probate Place: Denver, Colorado
Ancestry.com. Colorado, Wills and Probate Records, 1875-1974, Case Number: 6521

I Jacob Goldsmith of the City of Denver County of Arapahoe State of Colorado being of sound mind, memory and understanding, do make this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and testaments made by me. I give, devise and bequeath unto my executors hereinafter named all my estate, effects and proceeds of Life Insurance that I may die possessed of or be entitled to: upon trust to be invested according to their discretion and judgment and all interest and income arising therefrom to be applied for the maintenance of a home for my unmarried Daughters. And it is my express wish and desire that my unmarried Daughters remain together and the money derived in the way of interest or other [?] off the principal to be paid to them in regular installments as often as practicable quarterly if possible to defray the expenses of their home. In the event of marriage of any of my Daughters or other emergency arising when in the judgment of my executors it may be advisable to use any part of the principal he shall have the power to draw upon it for such an emergency.

Otherwise the Capital or principal shall remain intact until each and everyone of my unmarried children are provided for by marriage or otherwise and in the event it is found better to no longer keep up a home and any of the unmarried children may live with their Relations or otherwise provide themselves with a home then the Interest or income derived off the principal shall be divided between the unmarried children as long as any of them live and remain unmarried. After all of them have by marriage, death or otherwise so provided for that they do not any longer require that the income for their maintenance as herein provided for then the principal or Capital shall be divided share and share alike between all of my children or their heirs. I nominate and appoint my son at laws Robert Levy of Denver Colo and Sol Jaffa of Trinidad Colo as executors of this my will, and they shall not be required to give any bond or surety for the execution of this trust. In case of the death of either of them, the children shall chose [sic] another to act in his place and in case of the deaths of both, two others shall be chosen by the surviving children.

I the said Jacob Goldsmith to this which I declare to be my last will and testament set my hand and seal this the Second day of March 1899.

Signed by the said testator Jacob Goldsmith and acknowledged by him to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, present at the same time and subscribed to us in the presence of the said testator and of each of them.

                                             Jacob Goldsmith [seal]

Attest

Chas A Ferris

Helen F Jaffa

The will certainly reflects its times. The assumption was that a woman would have no means of support unless and until she married, and thus, Jacob’s will provided that the interest and income from the estate would be distributed to his unmarried daughters unless and until they married or died or found some other means of support. I also found it interesting that the will expressed his desire that these daughters would share a home together.  Finally, the will stipulated that once all his daughters were married or deceased or otherwise supported, then the principal of the estate would be distributed to all his children.

One thing that struck me as odd about this was that Jacob made no special provision for his widowed daughter Annie Goldsmith Frank or for the widow of his son George Goldsmith. Both had children, Jacob’s grandchildren, and no longer had a husband to support them. I would have thought that Jacob would have included them with his unmarried daughters in providing for distributions of the estate’s income.

The will was presented for probate on February 2, 1901, by the two executors Jacob had named in the will: his sons-in-law Robert Levy (Rebecca’s husband) and Solomon Jaffa (Leonora’s husband). At that time they reported that the estate was worth $7000.  According to an inflation calculator, $7000 in 1901 would be worth about $207,000 in 2018 dollars. In their probate petition, they also named Jacob’s thirteen living children as the heirs:

The executors later filed a request to amend the petition to include two heirs who had been omitted from the original petition, the children of Jacob’s deceased son George:

Notice, however, that the executors identified George’s children as Fanny and Esther, when in fact George’s children were Fanny and Lester. How could they have made that error? Had someone said “Lester” and Solomon Jaffa and Robert Levy heard “Esther”? I wonder whether that error resulted in any problems if and when the principal of the estate was distributed years later. And it was many years later before all of Jacob’s daughters were either married or deceased.

Sadly, however, it was not long after Jacob’s death that one of those daughters died. Emma Goldsmith died of “double croupous pneumonia” on January 8, 1902, in Philadelphia, where she was buried. She was only 48 years old.

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-665P-M?cc=1320976&wc=9FR3-YWL%3A1073330701 : 16 May 2014), 004056150 > image 1230 of 1777; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Of the five remaining unmarried daughters, three married within the next few years. Eva Goldsmith married Sigmund Uhlfelder on October 25, 1905; she was 34, he 35.1 Sigmund was a recent German immigrant, born in 1870, and in 1900 he was living in Roswell, New Mexico and working as a cigar salesman.2 Eva’s sister Rebecca and her husband Robert Levy hosted the elaborate wedding:

Denver Post, October 29, 1905, p. 9

I also noticed that Joseph Langer was one of the invited guests. Joseph, the Denver Post photographer I wrote about here, was the grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, Jacob Goldsmith’s first cousin, Eva’Goldsmith Uhlfelder’s first cousin, once removed.

Eva and Sigmund had one child, a son named Sidney born on August 27, 1906, in Roswell.3

A year after Eva married Sigmund Uhfelder, two more of Jacob Goldsmith’s daughters married, and their husbands were brothers. They were married in a double wedding. On October 10, 1906, in Denver, Florence Goldsmith, then 37, married Jerry B. Emanuel, and her sister Gertrude, 35, married Jacob E. Emanuel.

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Jacob and Jerry were the sons of Moses Emanuel and Dora Tannenbaum, both of whom were born in Hesse, Germany. Jacob and Jerry were born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1867 and 1869, respectively. Their father was a merchant in Mobile in 1870, but by 1880, the family had relocated to Denver.4 In 1900 Jacob was living with his mother and siblings and working as a salesman of men’s furnishings; Jerry, on the other hand was living in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1900, working as a shoe salesman.5

This double wedding was also written up in the paper and hosted by Rebecca and Robert Levy:

Denver Post, October 14, 1906, p. 32

Thus, as of October 10, 1906, only two of Jacob’s daughters remained unmarried: Rachel and Celia. They were now the only ones entitled to a distribution of the interest earned on Jacob’s estate.

In December 1907, Solomon Jaffa and Robert Levy filed this report of the assets of and distributions from Jacob’s account, covering the period from July 30, 1902, through December 3, 1907:

I am not sure what to make of the inconsistencies in the distributions. While Rachel had only received $33, Eva had received $1031. Emma, who had died in 1902, received more than Celia, who was still alive. My hunch is that Florence, Gertrude, and Eva received a bit more to help pay for their weddings, but that can’t be the only explanation. Jacob did leave it to the discretion of the executors to determine what each daughter would receive, to be determined based on their needs. Maybe the executors responded to requests made by the individual sisters.

The report for the following year—December 1907 through December 1908—showed distributions only to Celia. Although Rachel was also still unmarried, she was not included in the distributions. A note at the bottom of the last page of this report explained that Rachel preferred to leave the money in the hands of the executors for investment.

The last report included in Jacob’s probate file on Ancestry.com covered the period of 1909-1914. It shows that as of 1914, there was $10,789.09 in the estate. During this period, Rachel (Ray) had received $921.96 and Celia $1171.79.

But that was to be the last distribution to Rachel. A year later on October 7, 1915, Rachel Goldsmith died in Denver at the age of 58.6

Philadlephia Jewish Exponent, October 15, 1915

Celia was now the only remaining unmarried daughter of Jacob Goldsmith, and as we will see, she lived until 1933 and never married, meaning that the principal of Jacob’s estate could not be distributed until 1933. By then most of Jacob’s children had passed away, but some were still living, and there were many grandchildren living to inherit their parent’s share. Unfortunately, there are no later documents in the probate file, and I don’t know what was left in the estate at that point or how it was distributed.

 

 


  1. Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006 
  2. Sigmund Uhlfelder, 1900 US census, Census Place: Roswell, Chaves, New Mexico; Page: 32; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240999, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Number: 525-01-6662; Issue State: New Mexico; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 (Jerry Emanuel); Emanuel family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Township 19 Range 1 2 3 and 4, Sumter, Alabama; Roll: M593_40; Page: 220A; Family History Library Film: 545539, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census; Emanuel family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Roll: 88; Page: 137D; Enumeration District: 006, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  5. Jacob Emanuel, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0034; FHL microfilm: 1240117, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Jerry Emanuel, 1900 US census, Census Place: Omaha Ward 4, Douglas, Nebraska; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0040; FHL microfilm: 1240924, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013. FindAGrave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/142381902 

25 thoughts on “Jacob Goldsmith’s Will and His Legacy

  1. Jacob’s Will was very explicit with the concern for his spinster daughter’s but strange there was no inheritance for his widowed daughter or daughter-in-law. I wonder if there was ill-feeling between the female family members? No-one chooses to be widowed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As you described it so well, Amy, the will of Jacob Goldsmith reveals a lot about the cultural context of the early 20th century. The assistance provided to the unmarried daughters given in the will is an indication of how tough it was for a woman to remain unmarried. For most marriage was a means to gain security in a world dominated by men. Another interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It almost makes me wonder whether any of the sisters chose to remain unmarried in order to receive more funds from the estate. That said, most women likely chose to marry if they had the option, since that would guarantee financial security. That Jacob also came to America alone as a teenager speaks to his determination and strength, having started over many times. Glad you found the probate record.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The ones who never married —Rachel and Celia— were already in their 40s when Jacob died, so I don’t think they were avoiding marriage for the income they’d receive from their father’s estate (especially since Rachel didn’t even take her distribution for some of the years). Emma never married, but she died the year after her father died, and she was also in her 40s. But it’s an interesting thought! Thanks, Karen!

      Like

  4. It seems that during his lifetime Jacob’s daughters were not in a hurry to get married. I’ve no doubts that after his death those who got married did so for practical reasons. The weddings described in the news coverage are the enjoyable part of this posting.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I did enjoy that he provided for his daughters. It is just that it seemed to me that they were finally moving on in their life and that the money could not persuade all of them to remain single at home. The social pressure to get mariied could have increased and now that they did nor have to care for an elderly father they would be encouraged to marry. Family was sure to have acted as matchmakers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am not sure that they put off marrying for their father. I think it is more likely that living in Connellsville, PA, there just were not a lot of Jewish men around to marry off six daughters. When they got to Denver, there were probably more eligible bachelors. And I agree—family would likely have been the matchmakers.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Jacob Goldsmith’s Children and Grandchildren: 1901-1910, Celebrations and Mourning | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  6. Pingback: Leonora Goldsmith Jaffa and Her Family: Too Many Lives Cut Short | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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