Henry Goldsmith,1910-1920: Obstacles Faced and Overcome

On August 10, 1911, Henry Goldsmith, then 64 years old, suffered a stroke, rendering him paralyzed and unable to speak.  His condition was reported in the Connellsville paper, as was his continuing improvement.

“Henry Goldsmith Suffers a Stroke,” The Daily Courier, 12 Aug 1911, Sat, Page 1

But Henry had a full recovery. A week later the paper reported that he was able to sit up in bed,1 and by September 18, 1911, he was able to go out and was reported as “recovered” by the newspaper.2 In October, he was re-elected to be president of the board of the People’s Building and Loan Association,3 and the following June he traveled with members of his family to Europe.

The Daily Courier, 02 May 1912, Thu, Page 1

By this time even Henry’s youngest child, Helen, was earning a living. Just days after her father’s stroke, she was appointed to be a primary teacher in Connellsville, selected from a field of eight candidates. Like her older siblings, Helen had been an excellent student, graduating from the Connellsville school as valedictorian as had her brother Milton.

The Daily Courier, 22 Aug 1911, Tue, Page 6

I could not post this article without commenting on the paragraph that follows the one about Helen. It so clearly reflects the discriminatory social attitudes of those times by referring to the teacher by his race and to the class by their ethnic background.

Helen’s teaching career in Connellsville did not last very long. On January 20, 1914, she married Edwin Tanzer Meyer; she was 24, he was 23. Edwin was born in Piedmont, West Virginia, on February 28, 1890, to Sigmund Meyer and Anna Tanzer, who were German immigrants. After living for some time in Lonaconing, Maryland, the family moved to Pittsburgh, where in 1910, Sigmund was a salesman in a department store and Edwin was a floor manager in a department store.4

Helen Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Press – 25 Jan 1914 – Page 45

Helen and Edwin settled in Pittsburgh, where they had two children: Edgar J. Meyer, born on March 31, 1915,5 and Malcolm G. Meyer, born January 17, 1918.6 Edwin had become an optometrist in the years between the 1910 census and his registration for the World War I draft. On that registration he reported that he had already served in the ambulance corps in the DC militia. In 1920 Helen, Edwin, and their two young sons were living in Pittsburgh, and Edwin was practicing optometry.7

Edwin T Meyer, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1909239; Draft Board: 11
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Helen was not the only one of Henry’s children to marry in 1914. Her brother Walter married Ella Rosenberg six months after Helen married Edwin—on June 17, 1914. Ella was the daughter of Herman Rosenberg and Bertha Moskovics. She was born on January 13, 1887, in Csorgo, Hungary. 8 Her family had immigrated to the US in 1890, and in 1900 they were living in Pittsburgh where her father was a liquor salesman. Ella was still living in Pittsburgh in 1910.9

“Rosenberg-Goldsmith,” The Daily Courier, 18 Jun 1914, Thu, Page 2

She and Walter settled in Connellsville, where Walter had a dentistry practice. On May 25, 1915 their first child was born; he only lived for 22 days, dying on June 16, 1915, from acute bronchitis and septicemia from a skin infection. Since there was no name given for this child on his death certificate, I imagine he was either premature or very sick right from birth:

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 054101-057320
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Walter and Ella’s second child was born on October 2, 1916. She was named Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith in memory of Walter’s mother.10

At the time of his registration for the World War I draft in 1918, Walter and his family were still living in Connellsvile,11 but by 1920, Walter, Ella and their daughter Sarah were living in Pittsburgh where Walter had a general dentistry practice.12

1914 was also a big year for Florence Goldsmith, though for different reasons. That year she debuted her operetta, “The Pilot of Tadousac,” for which she had written the book, the lyrics, and the music. Unfortunately, I do not know anything about this operetta. Tadoussac is a village in Quebec. I did find this story on a CBC Canadian history website, so perhaps this is the “pilot” that inspired Florence’s operetta:

In the spring of 1608, two vessels crossed the Atlantic, the Lévrier, under the command of Dupont-Gravé, and the Don de Dieu, under the command of Champlain.

On June 3, when Champlain arrived in Tadoussac, Dupont-Gravé’s pilot came to greet him in a rowboat. The pilot informed him that Dupont-Gravé had tried to impose his monopoly on the Basque and Spanish captains who were already there, but they had answered him with their muskets and cannons. He took Champlain to the bedside of Dupont-Gravé, who was still alive but seriously wounded.

Together, they negotiated a truce with Darache, the leader of the Spaniards, which allowed Dupont-Gravé’s men to start trading with the Montagnais.

Aside from this reference, I found nothing that revealed the story behind Florence’s operetta. The operetta itself was generally well-reviewed by the local newspaper as seen in this excerpt from a longer article (I excluded the parts describing the cast):

“Pilot of Tadousac is Quite A Clever Operatta [sic],” The Daily Courier, 29 May 1914, Fri, Page 2

It also was performed in two other locations in Pennsylvania over the next several years. 13 Florence also continued to teach music.14

The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10

Then on March 11, 1920, she married Lester Bernstein in New York City.15 He was 38, she was 36. Lester was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 1881, to Sigmund Bernstein and Marie Omann, who were both immigrants from Germany.16 In 1900, Lester’s father Sigmund was working as a jeweler in Philadelphia, and Lester was a “rodman.”17 According to this website, a rodman was a surveyor’s assistant.

Lester was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehigh University. In 1910, he was living on his own as a lodger in Baltimore and working as a civil engineer for the railroad. He was still living in Baltimore and working for the railroad when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918, although now he reported his title as statistician. The article about his marriage to Florence reported that he had at one time worked for the railroad in Connellsville as a field engineer, which is probably when he met Florence.

The Daily Courier, 11 Mar 1920, Thu, Page 2

After marrying, Florence and Lester settled in Pittsburgh.  I could not find them on the 1920 census, perhaps because they were still on their “extended honeymoon trip” when the enumeration was done.

Thus, Walter, Helen, and Florence all married between 1910 and 1920. Their other siblings—JW, Benjamin, Milton, Samuel and Oliver—were also busy in those years. More on that in my next post.





  1. “Henry Goldsmith Improved,” The Daily Courier – 14 Aug 1911 – Page 1 
  2. “Henry Goldsmith Well Again,” The Daily Courier, 18 Sep 1911, Mon, Page 1 
  3. “Peoples B&L Elects Officers,” The Daily Courier, 11 Oct 1911, Wed, Page 1 
  4. Sigmund Meyer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Lonaconing, Allegany, Maryland; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1240604, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Sigmund Meyer family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1303; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0446; FHL microfilm: 1375316, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. Edgar Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  6. Malcolm Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  7. Edwin T. Meyer, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 521, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Ella Rosenberg birth record, Source: LDS 642954, Page # – Item #: 301-014, JewishGen Hungarian Special Interest Group volunteers, comp. Hungary, Birth Records collected by Rabbis in Various Counties, 1789-1921 
  9. Rosenberg family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Allegheny Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0048; FHL microfilm: 1241355,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census; Rosenberg family, 1910 US census,Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1302; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0422; FHL microfilm: 1375315, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10. Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith death certificate, Certificate Number: 22703
    Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020501-023500,
    Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  11. Walter Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  12. Walter Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 550,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  13. “The Pilot of Tadousac,” The Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald, 16 Sep 1915, Thu, Page 5; “Amateurs Will Stage Benefit Play,” The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10; 
  14. “Students Give Recitals,” The Daily Courier, 11 Jun 1919, Wed, Page 5 
  15.  License Number: 7069, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  16. Lester Bernstein, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942. Lester Bernstein death certificate, Certificate Number: 121500-65, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906-1963; Box Number: 2459; Certificate Number Range: 121201-124000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  17. Sigmund Bernstein and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 17, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0327; FHL microfilm: 1241459, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

27 thoughts on “Henry Goldsmith,1910-1920: Obstacles Faced and Overcome

  1. The newspapers were sure the social media of the time – the details included were much like you’d see today on Facebook. Interesting to read that Helen was “elected” to be the new teacher. I wonder how common that sort of selection process was?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read that as the school board voting to hire her, but I am not sure. And I do love all the details you can find in those papers. So much fun!


  2. It’s always a disappointment when you write a comment, WP cannot submit it and you have to write again. So here it is again.
    I tried a thorough Google search on the operetta by Florence Goldsmith, but found no more than what you had already stated on your post. I find it sad when something so valuable at a given time should be lost for ever. Perhaps to realize how ephemeral our lives are gives us the incentive to carry on with our work of writing our family history. In this regard we are facing the same challenges. Best wishes! Peter

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for re-writing your comment—I know how annoying it is when WP loses a comment, though I’ve only had that happen on my phone, not my laptop.

      And thank you for also searching for Florence’s elusive operetta. It is sad that it seems to have disappeared. Obviously it wasn’t Puccini or Gilbert & Sullivan, but it was someone’s creative work and at one time cherished. It is yet another reminder, as you say, of just how impermanent everything and everyone is. Best to enjoy life while we can and be grateful for all that we have. Thank you, Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What do you think about Henry’s stroke from today’s medical knowledge? it seems odd he would recover so completely without the kind of treatment people get today. And he had a “cold” for a week first? How odd.
    And two daughters married the same year, but the weddings so different. What do you make of that?
    Yay for Florence. That is so cool to compose an operetta, which I take to be really a musical (?)!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would be wonderful if you could fond any of Florence’s sheet music , a list of het compositions and then track down recordings that might have been made. I have a second great uncle who recorded for RCA Victor in this period. We found his name in a catalog but no number for the recording. Luckily his granddaughter inherited the sheet music and sent me copies. I hope you can make such a connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, I am not an expert in today’s medicine or the medicine of a hundred years ago. Maybe my brother would have a theory. Maybe it wasn’t really a stroke at all but some infection that temporarily paralyzed him—like Guillain-Barre syndrome? That seems to make more sense. Thanks for making me think about that!

    As for the two weddings in 1914, one was a daughter, the other a son. Different strokes for different folks, I think. Florence was married in 1920, and she also had a very different wedding from Walter and Ella, but more understated like Helen and Edwin. My impression is that Henry’s daughters were not as extravagant in their taste as their sister-in-law Ella. Also, Florence was considerably older as a bride for that era.


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