Henry Goldsmith, Part VII: The Westward Migration

For many of Henry Goldsmith’s children and grandchildren, the 1930s were years of westward movement. I don’t know what motivated this migration to California. Was it inspired by the ill-fated Jack Goldsmith, who went there in 1932 to study law at the University of Southern California and died in 1933 when he was just 24? Or was it the promise of greater opportunities in the years of the Great Depression? Perhaps that was what had inspired Jack Goldsmith to move to California in the first place. I don’t know.

Jack’s parents SR and Rae Goldsmith were possibly the first of Henry Goldsmith’s children to relocate. By 1935, SR and Rae Goldsmith had moved to Los Angeles. In 1936, SR was practicing law there, and in 1940 he was working as a stockbroker.1

But by 1940 three more of Henry Goldsmith’s eight surviving children were living in Los Angeles as well as two of his grandchildren. In fact, it appears that those two grandchildren may have led the way.  By March 13, 1934, Eleanor Goldsmith, JW’s daughter, and her husband Julian Rosenbaum and their children were living in Los Angeles, as reflected in Julian’s application for veteran’s compensation:

Box Title: Rooney, Andrew – Rosentall, Sam (369), Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948

Eleanor’s brother J. Edison Goldsmith soon joined her in California. He graduated from medical school in 1935 and then took an internship at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles:

“Edison Goldsmith Medical Graduate,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, June 13, 1935, p. 2.

By July 1937, Eleanor and J. Edison’s parents, JW and Jennie Goldsmith, had also relocated to Los Angeles, as revealed in this news article about J. Edison’s engagement to Eleanor Heineman:

“Dr. J. Edison Goldsmith, Former Local Man, Is Engaged to Marry,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, July 24, 1937, p. 2.

J. Edison must have met his wife Eleanor while she was spending winters with her grandfather in Los Angeles. She was the daughter of Harry H. Heineman and Grace Livingston and was born on March 14, 1912 in Merrill, Wisconsin, where she was raised. Her father was a lumberman there.2 She and J. Edison were married on October 14, 1937, in Merrill, Wisconsin,3 and then settled in Los Angeles. In 1940 they were living with Eleanor’s mother Grace, and J. Edison was practicing medicine.3

“Merrill Girl Wed to California Man At Home Ceremony,” Wausau (WI) Daily Herald, October 15, 1937, p. 7

“Merrill Girl Wed to California Man At Home Ceremony,” Wausau (WI) Daily Herald, October 15, 1937, p. 7

In 1940, J. Edison’s parents JW and Jennie were sharing their household with yet another Goldsmith sibling, JW’s brother and long-time business partner Benjamin. That meant that there were now three Goldsmith brothers living in Los Angeles, SR, JW and Benjamin.

Benjamin and JW Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00404; Page: 64B; Enumeration District: 60-200
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

And at some point before the 1940 census was taken, the Los Angeles Goldsmith brothers were joined by their sister Florence and her husband Lester Bernstein. Interestingly, Lester was enumerated twice on the 1940 census. On April 10, he was enumerated in Pittsburgh, living as a lodger with his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Helen and Edwin Meyer; he was working as a real estate salesman. And then on May 1, he was enumerated in Los Angeles, living with Florence and working as a business analyst in the oil industry. Perhaps he’d been waiting for a job to come through before relocating.4

The following year the family lost their oldest sibling when JW Goldsmith died on October 9, 1941, at the age of 69. He was survived by his wife Jennie, his two children Eleanor and J. Edison, and two grandchildren with one yet to come.5

The last of the Goldsmith siblings to relocate to Los Angeles was Oliver, but he did not relocate until after the 1940 census. Oliver’s reasons for moving may have stemmed from the loss of his wife Sally on September 30, 1937, in Reading, Pennsylvania,6 where they had been living since about 1930 and where Oliver was practicing law. Sally died from a fulminating streptococcal infection of the throat and larynx and from septicemia. She was only 47. Oliver stayed in Reading for several more years, and in 1940 he was living alone and practicing law there.7

But by 1942 Oliver had followed his other siblings to Los Angeles. When he registered for the World War II draft, he was living with his sister Florence Goldsmith Bernstein and working for New York Life Insurance Company in Los Angeles. There were then only three siblings left in Pennsylvania: Milton, Walter, and Helen.

Oliver Goldsmith, 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

The 1940s brought three more deaths to the family in Los Angeles. JW’s wife Jennie died on September 1, 1945, after suffering a heart attack; she was 72. JW and Jennie were survived by their two children and their grandchildren.8

Then Samuel Reginald “SR” Goldsmith died on June 1, 1948, in Los Angeles; he was 69.9 He was survived by his wife Rae, who died on April 26, 1972, at age 89 in Los Angeles.10 Their son Jack had predeceased them, as we saw.

Benjamin Goldsmith was the next to die; he died on September 25, 1955, in Los Angeles. He was 82.11

The Connellsville Daily Courier, October 25, 1955, p. 2

And he was followed three years later by his younger brother Oliver, who died on December 2, 1958.  He was only 71. Oliver had still been living with his sister Florence when he died. Neither Benjamin nor Oliver had children who survived them.12

Thus, by 1959, all four of the Goldsmith brothers who’d moved to Los Angeles had passed away. They were survived by the other four siblings: Florence in Los Angeles, and Milton, Walter, and Helen back in Pittsburgh. It’s interesting that the three siblings who stayed behind in Pennsylvania outlived the four brothers who’d moved west. Perhaps moving to California had been more stressful for the family than they expected.

More on the three who stayed behind—Milton, Walter, and Helen—in my next series of posts.


  1. California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968; S.R. and Rae Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00221; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 19-43, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. Eleanor Heineman, Number: 560-56-6368; Issue State: California; Issue Date: 1957, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Pedro/Wilmington/Los Angeles, California; NAI Number: 4486355; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Description NARA Roll Number: 058, Ancestry.com. California, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1959. Harry Heineman and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Merrill, Lincoln, Wisconsin; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0008; FHL microfilm: 2342314, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. Grace Livingston birth record, FHL Film Number: 1287900, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922. 
  3. Edison and Eleanor Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00221; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 19-40, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. Lester and Florence Bernstein, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00405; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 60-205, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census; Lester Bernstein, 1940 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03663; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 69-388, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 
  6.  Certificate Number: 85944, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 083001-086000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  7. Oliver Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03679; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 70-35, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. “Mrs. J.W. Goldsmith,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, September 4, 1945, p. 2; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/120802115 
  9. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 
  10.  Number: 549-66-0941; Issue State: California; Issue Date: 1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-201 
  11. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997. 
  12. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997; “Oliver Goldsmith,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, December 30, 1958, p. 3. 

18 thoughts on “Henry Goldsmith, Part VII: The Westward Migration

  1. The true motives for leaving one’s home turf will be forever a mystery. Often the fact that someone in the family has relocated causes others to follow. It seems that those members of your family who ventured to move to California fared less favourably than those who stayed behind. Have a great day, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if the three brothers who left no children may have felt freer to move across the country. The three siblings in Pennsylvania may have had family attachments which kept them from moving cross country. A guess on my part and something I’m sure you’ll answer in the next post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Amy, The Goldsmith relocation seemed too much an upheaval spanning thousands of miles, Florence survived in Los Angeles but not her brother’s. For a moment when reading your blog I thought of Mr. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath novel. I’m looking forward to reading about the siblings who remained in Pennsylvania.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Shirley. I believe that the Goldsmiths had an easier trip out west than the Joad family! But I am happy that your Brits read Steinbeck. After all we Americans read so much English literature!!


  4. Always love reading the wedding descriptions which your so lucky to find. I can picture that wedding beside the fireplace banked with chrysanthemums, the white silver brocade dress and shower of orchards…totally romantic! Enjoyed the whole post too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are quite something. It’s funny—I am always so focused on the names that often I miss these details, so I am always glad when you point them out! Thanks, Sharon!


  5. Hi Amy, I agree about the Joads! American literature was incorporated as part of the school curriculum here a while ago. Harper Lee and JD Salinger very popular too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thus always with families. I find migration patterns fascinating–from Pilgrims whose families dribbled across the ocean a little at a time, to the North West Territory, to the Oregon Trail and Gold Rush to the Great Depression to post-war movements.
    When I see a person migrating a distance, I always look to see what other relatives might have preceded or followed. Am doing that right now for my great-great-grandfather who went from New Jersey to Ohio at the age of 17 (not with immediate family) in the 1840s. I am finding his uncles and great uncles and cousins who settled towns in the NW territory after the Revolutionary War.
    In 1963 my husband and I left Ohio (just because we could) and a company decision led us to AZ. Later my parents and my sister and her husband followed. My brother settled in California when after Vietnam the AF dropped him off there.
    My husband’s parents and most of his extended family were more inclined to stay put and stayed in Ohio, although his sister wound up in Texas–closer to her husband’s origins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In my own closer family, everyone more or less stayed put in my parents and grandparents generation. My mother’s family stayed in NYC, my father’s in Philadelphia. My father moved to Philadelphia to marry my mother and go to college. And then they moved to the suburbs, as did my mother’s sister. Her brother moved to Connecticut, and my father’s sister stayed in Philadelphia. So everyone was still pretty much within two hours of their home. And my generation—we are more widespread—MA, DC, PA, NY—and yet still on the eastern seaboard. My kids’ generation also has stayed between NY and MA. So we are pretty home bound!

      Thanks for sharing, Vera!


  7. Great post! Many of my people went west to Calif too. The state seemed to offer lots of opportunities, and what’s not to love about the weather, eh? Where do you find your great newspaper articles? Do you have a favorite online resource or are those from your personal files?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      I get my newspaper articles primarily from newspapers.com (through my Ancestry subscription) and genealogybank. But also some from other databases. E.g., Philadelphia has a Jewish newspaper that goes way back available through Temple U, Pittsburgh has an online Jewish newspapers database, and so on. There’s also Chronicling America, and I check the archives of the New York Times.


  8. I always love reading the accounts of weddings. We had something similar, although not nearly as detailed, when we were married in 1974. I don’t think those exist today – although I don’t read the newspaper so what do I know?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Henry Goldsmith, Part VIII: Milton Goldsmith’s Second Marriage NEXT | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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