Rebecca Goldsmith Levy: A Shattered Life

In so many ways, Rebecca Goldsmith seemed to be living a charmed life up through the 1920s. She had married a successful doctor, Robert Levy, had two daughters, Leona and Marion, and was able to provide a home in Denver for many years for a number of her sisters and her father Jacob. She seemed to be a generous and loving sister and daughter. She’d hosted weddings for three of her sisters—Eva, Florence, and Gertrude.

In 1914 her older daughter Leona had married a doctor—Stanley Eichberg—and in 1915, Rebecca and her husband Robert Levy were blessed with a granddaughter, Betty. And on January 16, 1920, a second grandchild was born, Robert Levy Eichberg, named in honor of his grandfather. As Rebecca neared her 50th birthday, she must have been filled with gratitude for her wonderful life.

But then everything was shattered. Her son-in-law Stanley developed a mysterious illness:

“Denver Physician Suffering from Strange Ailment,” Denver Post, February 1, 1921, p. 6

Eventually he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and after enduring multiple unsuccessful surgeries, Stanley died on May 31, 1921, in Philadelphia, where his father-in-law Robert Levy had taken him for expert care:

“Denver Physician Is Dead in East,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, March 27, 1921, p. 3

Denver Post, March 26, 1921, pp. 1, 7

Leona was a 29-year-old widow with a five-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. She must have been devastated.

But more tragedy was yet to come. Just five weeks later, Leona’s daughter Betty, just five years old, died due to complications from the whooping cough.

Denver Post, July 1, 1921, p.23

Betty Eichenberg, Denver Rocky Mountain News, October 29, 1916, p. 17

Leona had lost both her husband and her young daughter within weeks of each other.

That would seem like more than enough suffering for any family to bear. For perhaps a brief moment, there was a reason to celebrate. On March 18, 1924, Rebecca and Robert Levy’s younger daughter Marion married Harold Herman Aarons. Harold was, like Marion, a native of Denver, born on February 5, 1898, to Harry and Mary Aarons. 1 He was in the printing and stationery business with his father and had been living at home with his parents and siblings in 1920 before marrying Marion.2

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

Exactly one year later, Marion was burying her husband Harold. According to his obituary, the 27-year-old died from a “strange malady” on March 17, 1925.

Denver Post, March 18, 1925. p. 12

Rebecca Goldsmith Levy now had two widowed daughters. Her blessed life had become unraveled. In 1930, both of these two young widows, Marion and Leona, were living with their parents as was Leona’s son, Robert Levy Eichberg, just ten years old.

Levy family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0108; FHL microfilm: 2339972
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

This all seems to have broken Rebecca’s spirit as well as her heart. According to the 1940 US census, by 1935, Rebecca was a patient at the Colorado Springs Psychopathic Hospital in Colorado Springs, and she was still residing there when the 1940 census was enumerated.

Rebecca Goldsmith Levy, 1940 US census, Census Place: El Paso, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00462; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 21-86B,  ELECTION PRECINCT 68, COLORADO SPRINGS PSYCHOPATHIC HOSPITAL, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

She died not long afterwards on November 8, 1940, at the age of 74.3 I could not find any obituary or death notice or death certificate for Rebecca, only the burial record on the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry and FindAGrave.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 05 March 2019), memorial page for Rebecca G Levy (1866–1940), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50939404, citing Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) .

Meanwhile, her family continued to live in Denver. By 1940, Rebecca’s daughter Marion had married for a second time. Her second husband was Samuel Rose, who was born on September 3, 1902, in Richmond, Virginia, to Michael Rose and Etta London.4 Samuel’s parents, both immigrants, died when he was quite young, his mother in 1914, his father in 1918, so like Marion, Samuel had suffered serious loss in his life.5

In 1920, Samuel was living with his siblings in Richmond, but something then brought him to Denver by 1932, when he was working as bookkeeper at Temple Emanuel; by 1933 he is listed in the Denver directory with Marion as his wife.6 On the 1940 census it says that he was working as a secretary for a laboratory technician, but since he was still working at Temple Emanuel in 1945, I think the enumerator must not have heard him correctly.7

In 1940, Robert Levy, Rebecca’s widower, was living with his other daughter, Leona Levy Eichberg, and his grandson Robert in Denver, where Robert (the elder), now 76, continued to practice medicine.8 In fact, it seems that Robert continued to practice up until his death at 81 on July 1, 1945. He received a wonderful obituary in the Intermountain Jewish News on July 5, 1945, pp.1, 14.

Robert Levy Eichberg, Leona’s son and the grandson of Rebecca and Robert Levy, attended the University of Colorado, as seen in this photograph from the 1940 yearbook. According to his obituary, he also attended the US Naval Academy.9 Robert married Marion Belle Tohrner on February 9, 1944, in Miami Beach, Florida. He and Marion had three children.10

Yearbook Date: 1940, School: University of Colorado, School Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
Yearbook Title: Coloradan, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990

Leona Levy Eichberg never remarried and died in Denver on October 5, 1964; she was 73 years old.11 Her sister Marion Levy Aarons Rose almost made it to her 96th birthday; she died on May 11, 1996, in Denver.  She did not have children.12

Rebecca Goldsmith and Robert Levy’s only grandchild, Robert Levy Eichberg,  died at 75 on March 24, 1995, in Riverside, California. His wife Marion died on December 13, 2013. They were survived by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.13

Knowing that Rebecca Goldsmith and Robert Levy’s daughter Marion lived to 95 and that their daughter Leona and grandson Robert Eichberg have numerous living descendants took some of the edge off the tragedy that this family endured in the 1920s. But even so, it is still a heartbreaking and unfair chapter in the life of Rebecca Goldsmith.


  1. Harold Aarons, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561842; Draft Board: 6, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; Aarons family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0002; FHL microfilm: 1240117, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Harold Aarons, 1920 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: T625_162; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 233, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  4.  Certificate Number: 1902028564, Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia, Ancestry.com. Virginia, Birth Records, 1912-2014, Delayed Birth Records, 1854-1911 
  5. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/51540123, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/51540109/michael-rose 
  6. Sam Rose, 1920 US census, Census Place: Richmond Madison Ward, Richmond (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T625_1911; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 148, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1932, 1933, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Samuel Rose, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 16-146, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census; Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1945, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  8. Robert Levy and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 16-149, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Denver Post, The () , obit for Robert L. Eichberg, Real estate agent, 75, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/0F97FAFC4F54F9B1-0F97FAFC4F54F9B1 : accessed 22 January 2019) 
  10. Film Number: 002115775, Ancestry.com. Florida, County Marriage Records, 1823-1982 
  11. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  12. SSN: 524607495, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Denver Post, The () , obit for Robert L. Eichberg, Real estate agent, 75, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/0F97FAFC4F54F9B1-0F97FAFC4F54F9B1 : accessed 22 January 2019);  Denver Post, The () , obit for Marion Eichberg, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/14FFCFB386CB0F38-14FFCFB386CB0F38 : accessed 24 January 2019) 

32 thoughts on “Rebecca Goldsmith Levy: A Shattered Life

  1. I haven’t paid much attention to where you are getting your newspaper clippings in previous posts. How long have you been using GenealogyBank and are you getting as much use out of it as you hoped? Is this the only newspaper site you use?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I subscribe to both newspapers.com and genealogybank. I also use (for free) Chronicling America and various databases for Jewish newspapers in different places. And I also will write to newspapers and local libraries for newspapers I can’t otherwise find. I subscribed briefly to newspaperarchives.com, but found their service not very user friendly, unfortunately.

      I love newspapers as a family history resource and have found that paying for those two subscriptions is worth every penny.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Amy. Years ago I subscribed to newspaperarchives.com but did not get as much out of it as I thought I would. I honestly don’t have the time to invest in searching newspapers as I tend to get distracted. I love seeing what you are able to do with them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is interesting how different people find different resources important. I could never imagine searching through land records the way you do!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never imagined I would be searching through land records either. But since they have been added to FamilySearch and are in the right time period I had to try working with them. It all depends on the research we are doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It really depends on where your ancestors and relatives lived. Check out their database. The two services offer different papers (and many of the same). I often find articles on one that is not on the other.

        Like

  2. That certainly was quite a punch in the stomach for one family ~ I lost my breath reading that Leona’s daughter passed as well those few weeks later. The newspaper articles truly rounded out and added great dimensions to this post. Beautifully written-Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also find newspapers a great source of information in family history. They add so much information and detail in the life of our family. I am lucky in one way that New York has a large free collection of online newspapers by county.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The many tragedies including the one of Rebecca Goldsmith as recorded must fill your heart with sadness as they do to me even though I am not related. They remind me of the year 1900, when the eldest son of Peter and Emma Klopp (my grandparents) married, my grandfather died, and my grandmother Emma gave birth to my father, her 16th child. Joy and sadness have never been that close together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I learned about the two sons-in-law and granddaughter, I just was stunned. How can life be so unfair? And how do human beings go on after three losses like that? Losing my father at 92 has been hard enough, and he lived a good long life. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a young husband or a five year old daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I guess somehow I avoid getting sidetracked! I am pretty focused when I am looking for articles and generally not tempted to read things that are not relevant.

      Thank you, Debi!

      Like

    • I know—I cannot begin to imagine how her family felt. I don’t want to.

      And yes—those who have numerous descendants can make up for all those who don’t.

      Like

  5. One of the rewards from all the research for this posting lies in the many photos. Betty and Robert resembled each other. There is something about having the photos plus all this info that turns the post into a very vivid experience for the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Jacob Goldsmith, The final chapter: What happened to his son Frank? | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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