Final Chapter for Joel Basch and His Family: Tragedy and Generosity

In 1930, Joel Basch was still in the tobacco business and living with his wife Jeanette and sons Sidney and Gustavus in Columbus, Ohio. Sidney was working as a clerk in a finance company and Gustavus as a salesman in a furniture store.

Joel Basch, 1930 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0042; FHL microfilm: 2341530 1930 United States Federal Census

In the 1930s, Gustavus moved to Miami. In 1940, he was still living in Miami, where he was the manager of a tourist camp.1 I wondered what that meant and searched for Gustavus in the newspaper databases and found this advertisement from the December 6, 1936, Miami Herald (p. 72):

Apparently a “tourist camp” was a place for tourists to stay while vacationing in Miami—a place to park a trailer or rent a cottage. As indicated in the advertisement as well as on Gustavus’ World War II draft registration, this was his own business.

His parents, Joel and Jeanette, were listed right above him on the 1940 census, but they were enumerated twice in 1940—once in Columbus living with their older son Sidney, once in Miami with their younger son Gustavus. The Columbus enumeration was done on April 11, 1940, and the Miami enumeration was done on April 30, 1940. The Columbus enumeration reported that Joel, now 73, was retired, and that Sidney, 43, was a clerk at an insurance company.

Joel and Jeanette Basch, 1940 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03243; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 93-77 1940 United States Federal Census

Joel and Jeanette Basch and Gustavus Basch, 1940 US census, Census Place: Dade, Florida; Roll: m-t0627-00580; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 13-22 1940 United States Federal Census

Gustavus enlisted into the US Army on August 11, 1942,2 when he was 38 years old. He was serving as the “chief of the radio nets for his fighter squadron in 1943.” According to Wikipedia, a radio net is “essentially a moderated conference call conducted over two-way radio…. A net manager is the person who supervises the creation and operation of a net over multiple sessions. This person will specify the format, date, time, participants, and the net control script.”

“Visits Parents,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, October 8, 1943, p. 14

The family suffered a terrible loss on January 10, 1945, when Sidney Basch had a cerebral hemorrhage and died in the family’s garage in Columbus.  According to his death certificate, his body was not discovered until ten hours later. The newspaper reported that a neighbor found Sidney’s body, lying between the garage door and the rear bumper of his car; the paper also reported that Sidney had a history of heart attacks. He was 48 years old when he died.3

Sidney Basch, death certificate, Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 1945 > 00001-03300 > image 1423 of 3510.

His brother Gustavus was serving in Europe at the time of Sidney’s death, but must have been discharged not long afterwards. He spent several months with his parents in Columbus after his discharge before returning to Florida in October of 1945.4

Two years later Jeanette Mendel Basch died on December 26, 1947. According to her obituary, she had been ill for a year. Jeanette had outlived two of her sons—Robert, who’d died as a young child, and Sidney. She was survived by her husband Joel and son Gustavus.5

But Joel only outlived Jeanette by three years. He died on December 8, 1950, from a heart attack and arteriosclerosis. He was 87.

Joel Basch, death certificate, Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 1950 > 74601-76700 > image 303 of 2329.

Gustavus, who according to Joel’s obituary 6 was the secretary-treasurer of Tourist City Corporation in Miami when his father died in 1950, continued to live in Florida for the rest of his life. He died on November 13, 1989, in Miami, at age 85. Gustavus had not married or had children.7

An article that ran in numerous Florida newspapers revealed that Gustavus had died a wealthy man. In his early years he had invested in real estate in Miami that he sold after World War II; he had successfully invested his profits in the stock market and died with an estate worth five million dollars. He left two million dollars to the Miami Metrozoo and smaller amounts to his alma mater, Ohio State University, the United Negro College Fund, and South Miami Hospital. I found it ironic that Gustavus had done so well “gambling” on the stock market, given that his father Joel had lost his business as a young man due to gambling debts.8

As neither of Joel and Jeanette’s sons had children, there are no living descendants of Joel and Jeanette (Mendel) Basch. But their stories are not forgotten.

  1. Gustavus Basch, 1940 US census, Census Place: Dade, Florida; Roll: m-t0627-00580; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 13-22, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  3. “Solicitor’s Body Found in Garage,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, January 10, 1945, p. 1. 
  4. “To Miami,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, October 2, 1945, p. 12. 
  5. “Mrs. Jeannette Basch,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, December 27, 1947, p. 3. 
  6. “Joel Basch,” Columbus (OH) Dispatch, December 9, 1950, p. 11. 
  7. SSN: 265019585, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. “Frugal Man Leaves $2 Million to Zoo,” The Tampa Tribune, 25 Nov 1990, p. 29. 

14 thoughts on “Final Chapter for Joel Basch and His Family: Tragedy and Generosity

    • I thought it was an interesting mix also, especially the inclusion of the United Negro College Fund. I was proud to see that my cousin (distant as he was) was so progressive in his thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well ‘gambling’ on the stock market is different from gambling in the casino. With knowledge and experience you can become wealthy dealing with shares, but all the expertise of the world does not make you rich in the casino. Great post on the final chapter for the Joel Bash family, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are, of course, right. But there is still a certain type of person who enjoys the risks of “gambling,” be it educated gambling like stocks and other investing or playing poker. For me, neither is at all tempting as I am such a risk averse person. I think Gustavus may have enjoyed risk taking—moving all the way to Florida, starting his own business, investing in real estate—just as his father had, but not as successfully. Thanks, Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. He was very generous! It was interesting that he so freely engaged in the stock market – after seeing his father’s financial situation. I know the depression era made my own father very hesitant to risk his money in the market.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve found people listed twice in a census, too. I wonder why they didn’t say that they had already been counted? Gustavus did very well, first for himself, then for so many others. You’ve done well to honor him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have seen it a number of times. I think that there are a number of reasons that people were counted twice. First, the person answering the enumerator’s questions might have had no idea that someone in the household had already been counted. But more importantly, the question asked who was living in the household at that particular time, so since different places were enumerated at different times, as in the case of Joel Basch, someone like Joel could be in two different places at those two different times. Thanks for your thoughts!


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