The Family of Lena Goldsmith Basch 1900-1910: A Tight Circle in Columbus

As of 1900, Lena Goldsmith Basch was living with her husband Gustavus and two of her adult children, Jacob and Hinda, in Columbus, Ohio.  Two of her other children—Frank and Joseph—were also still living in Columbus with their families. And the final two of her six children—Joel and Ella—were living with their families in Findlay, Ohio. Gustavus and Lena had five grandchildren in 1900—Frank’s three children and Joel’s two sons.

On June 27, 1901, Gustavus Basch died in Columbus at the age of 76. According to the Franklin County Record of Deaths, his cause of death was gastroenteritis from which he’d been suffering for six weeks.1

A year and a half later on January 24, 1903, the family suffered a tragic loss when four-year-old Robert Basch, the son of Joel and Jeanette Basch, died.2 According to the February 5, 1903 issue of the local Findlay newspaper, The Weekly Jeffersonian (p.7),  little Robert died from Bright’s disease or what we would now call nephritis—kidney disease. Both Gustavus and Robert were buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.

Joel and Jeanette then had another child. Gustavus Mendel Basch was born on April 3, 1904, in Findlay, Ohio.3 He was obviously named for his recently-deceased grandfather. He was not the only grandchild born in this decade. Frank and his wife Freda had a fourth child, Ruth, born May 14, 1905.4 And Joseph and his wife Ida had twins born on April 5, 1906: Elene Rosalie Basch5 and Gustavus Joseph Basch,6 who like his cousin Gustavus Mendel Basch, was clearly named for his grandfather. (Joseph’s son later dropped the first name Gustavus and was known as Joseph, Jr.)

And who was Elene Rosalie named for? Sadly, her grandmother Lena Goldsmith Basch died just two weeks before Elene and Gustavus were born, and Elene must have been named for Lena. Lena was 80 years old and died from cerebral sclerosis from which she’d been suffering for five years, according to her death certificate. She was also buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.

Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Lena Basch, 26 Mar 1906; citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID 1906 v 2 fn 176, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,032,443.

The March 27, 1906 issue of the Findlay (OH) Weekly Courier gave more insight into Lena’s demise:

“Died Friday in Columbus,” The (Findlay, OH) Weekly Courier, March 27, 1906, p. 2

Lena and Gustavus were survived by all six of their children and their grandchildren.

Aside from these births and deaths, the years between 1900 and 1910 were relatively quiet ones for the Basch family.  The directories for 1900-1902 show that Frank and Jacob continued to do business as Basch Brothers and Joseph and the mysterious Louis Basch continued to work at Levy Mendel & Co. In 1903, Frank was now associated with Rosenthal Bros. and Basch, his brother Jacob’s listing merely says “junk,” and Joseph and “Louis” were still at Levy Mendel. The 1904 and 1905 directories are the same, except Louis is missing from the Basch group. In fact, Louis never appears again. Given that Lena was ill for some time before she died in 1906, this seems to support my hypothesis that “Louis” was in fact Lena.7

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1903
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Not long after his mother’s death in March, 1906, Joel moved back to Columbus. He sold his business in Findlay “at a great sacrifice” in order to return to Columbus, as reported in the Findlay Courier-Union on April 13, 1906 (p. 8); his father-in-law Levy Mendel had died just a month before Lena—on February 10, 1906,8 and apparently with the demise of both his mother and his father-in-law, he was needed back in Columbus to help run Levy Mendel & Company.

“National Buys Basch Stock,” The (Findlay, OH) Courier-Union, April 13, 1906, p. 8

Here is an advertisement that reveals the size and extent of Joel’s business in Findlay. He clearly had recovered from his earlier business failure caused by gambling:

Hancock County (OH) Herald, April 20, 1906, p. 10

Joel is listed in the 1906 Columbus directory, working for Levy Mendel & Co.; his brother Joseph was also still working there as he had been for a number of years.9

The 1906 Columbus directory raised another question for me. Frank is no longer listed with Rosenthal Bros. and Basch and in fact has no occupation listed at all. In 1907 he and Jacob now both have “junk” listed as their occupation, but in 1908 Frank again has no occupation listed though Jacob still lists junk as his occupation. The same is true for 1909 and for 1910.10

In fact, on the 1910 census, Frank reported that he had not worked for the entire year. Was he ill? Or had he just retired? He was only 53 years old in 1910. But since he lived another 24 years and listed that he was retired in 1920, I am inclined to think that Frank had just taken an early retirement. His four children were still quite young in 1910—ranging from five to fourteen years old.  How fortunate he was to be able to retire and spend more time with them.

Frank Basch, 1910 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1180; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0057; FHL microfilm: 1375193 1910 United States Federal Census

His brother and long-time business partner Jacob, however, continued to work in the “iron and rags” business, as reported on the 1910 census. Jacob and his sister Hinda were still living in their family home at 438 East Rich Street in Columbus. Neither ever married.11

Joel Basch continued to work at Levy Mendel & Co., the cigar company. In fact, on the 1910 census, he is reported as an employer so he must have had some ownership or management interest in the business.12

Interestingly, Levy Mendel had named Joseph Basch, not his sons or son-in-law, to be his executor of his estate.13 Joseph had worked at the company for many years and was not an heir, so presumably Levy thought he would be a fair and capable executor. On the 1910 census, Joseph is also listed as an employer at Levy Mendel & Co, so perhaps he also was a part-owner of the business.14

I was very fortunate to find an oral history interview that was done by the Columbus Jewish Historical Society with Alan Weiler, grandson of Joseph Basch, on April 8, 2008. There are other interesting parts of this interview that I may refer to in later posts, but for now, I just wanted to quote this small portion that sheds light on the business in which Joseph, Joel, and their parents Gustavus and Lena had been involved and gives a snapshot of Joseph Basch himself.

My grandfather, Joe Basch owned a tobacco and candy company near the old Union Station on North High Street called the Levi Mendel Tobacco Company. He sold candy bars, which was of course was why I went up to see him. He sold cigars, cigarettes, pipes and there was a wonderful smell about his store. …He lived to be 93. He was called “the general.” He was a very handsome man. At least in my family he was called “the general.”

Finally, the remaining sibling, Ella Basch Shatz, was living in 1910 with her husband Isadore in Findlay, Ohio, where Isadore was a clothing merchant.15 With Joel’s return to Columbus in 1906, five of the six Basch siblings were now living in the same community. Only Ella was living outside of Columbus; she and her husband Isadore Shatz were still in Findlay even after her brother Joel and his family left that city.I wonder what it was like for Ella being the only family member not living in Columbus.  And I wonder whether she spent time visiting her siblings and nieces and nephews who were living about ninety miles away.

She would, however, be moving back to Columbus in the next decade.



  1. “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 30 September 2014), Franklin > Death records, 1899-1903, vol 3 > image 173 of 402; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  2. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010. 
  3. FHL Film Number: 961484, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973. 
  4. FHL Film Number: 285137, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 
  5.  Number: 277-34-4589; Issue State: Ohio; Issue Date: 1955, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. SSN: 365167257, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Gustavus J. Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1180; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0059; FHL microfilm: 1375193, 1910 United States Federal Census. 
  7. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1901-1905, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  8. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010 
  9. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1906, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1906-1910, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  11. Jacob Basch and Hinda Basch, 1910 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1181; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0098; FHL microfilm: 1375194, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  12. Joel Basch, 1910 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1180; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0060; FHL microfilm: 1375193, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13.  Case Number: 19766, Item Description: Will Records, Vol Z, 1904-1905, Will Records, 1805-1918 ; Index, 1805-1905; Probate Place: Franklin, Ohio, Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 
  14. Joseph Basch, 1910 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1180; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0060; FHL microfilm: 1375193, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  15. Ella and Isadore Shatz, 1910 US census, Census Place: Findlay Ward 4, Hancock, Ohio; Roll: T624_1187; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0075; FHL microfilm: 1375200, 1910 United States Federal Census 

17 thoughts on “The Family of Lena Goldsmith Basch 1900-1910: A Tight Circle in Columbus

  1. I find it so irritating that in the early death notices in newspapers the women were listed only with their husbands’ names or initials. Lena’s death and Louis’ being missing thereafter do support your theory they were one and the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If Frank had taken an early retirement, it was definitely unusual for the time period he lived in. But if he could afford to do so, it was the right thing to do, as he could focus on his family and the enjoyment that comes with early retirement. Interesting post as always, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Amy. Loved all the news coverage and ads. They bring a real feeling of the times to your readers. Lena’s onit says her loss was felt by a wide circle of people in Columbus. The title of your posting is the opposite: a tight circle. Did you choose this to emphasize your focus was just on Lena and her immediate family?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t even thinking of Lena’s obituary when I wrote the title. It was more a reference to the fact that their children (5 out of the 6 and soon all of them) were living in Columbus, something that seems so remarkable in today’s world. Also, several were working together–either in the junk business or in the cigar business. Thanks, Emily!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Brother’s Will: A Caring Sibling | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  5. Pingback: Photographs of Helen Goldsmith: From Toddler to Young Woman | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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