Hannah Goldsmith Part IV: Her Granddaughters

We saw in the last post the academic accomplishments of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s two grandsons, Manson and William Benedict, the sons of her son C. Harry Benedict. Both had degrees from Cornell and MIT and were working as research chemists for different corporations in the New York City metropolitan area in 1940.

Meanwhile, Hannah’s granddaughters, Helen and Marian Benedict, the daughters of Jacob Benedict, were also growing up between 1920 and 1940. Helen graduated from Schenley High School in 1924 and went on to graduate in 1928 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, where she studied social work.1 In 1930, she was living in Cleveland, Ohio, working as a “girls’ worker” in a social agency.2

“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Schenley High School; Year: 1924
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

Marian Benedict was a member of the class of 1929 at the University of Pittsburgh, where she was a member of the Women’s Debating Association.3 In 1930 she was living in Pittsburgh with her father Jacob; she was working as a lab technician in a doctor’s office, and Jacob was working as an insurance agent.4

In 1930, Helen Benedict married John Engstrom Booher, the son of Wayne Booher and Dora Engstrom, who was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on May 28, 1908. Helen and John had two children, one of whom was stillborn,5 before John’s tragic death from carbon monoxide poisoning on August 30, 1936, at the age of 24.6

Helen and her surviving child were living in Pittsburgh with her father Jacob and sister Marian in 1940, and Helen was working as a probation officer in juvenile court. Marian was working at the US Marine Hospital as a lab technician, and Jacob continued to work in the life insurance business.7

As for Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, she continued to live with her youngest son, C. Harry Benedict, in Lake Linden, Michigan. Hannah died there on November 30, 1939, at the age of 91. Every time I look at her death certificate, I am taken aback to see two of my ancestral names—Goldsmith and Schoenthal—and reminded again that Hannah and her brother Henry were my double cousins. Hannah was buried back in Pittsburgh at West View Cemetery with her husband Joseph Benedict.

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict death certificate, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records
Description: 167: Houghton, 1938-1943, Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1952

Herschel Benedict and his wife Mary remained in Pittsburgh between 1920 and 1940. In 1929 Herschel was working as a department manager for Shipley-Massingham Company, a wholesale drug company in Pittsburgh; he continued in that occupation in 1930. Later Pittsburgh directories in the 1930s listed Herschel without any occupation so perhaps he retired shortly after 1930 or lost his job due to the Depression.8

By 1940, Herschel and Mary had moved to Los Angeles, California, where he is listed on the 1940 census again with no occupation.9 But unfortunately, Herschel became embroiled in some controversy in the years after World War II. He was working as the associate deputy administrator of the aircraft and electronics disposal division of the War Assets Administration agency and was forced to resign when he and the deputy administrator of the division admitted that a sales agent of the WAA in Florida had helped them procure new cars for their personal use.10

Herschel Benedict died in Los Angeles on July 31, 1957, at the age of 86.11 His wife Mary had predeceased him. She died in Los Angeles on May 28, 1951, when she was 74.12 Both Herschel and Mary were buried back in Pittsburgh.13 They had no children and thus no descendants.

Jacob Benedict, the oldest son of Hannah and Joseph Benedict, died on January 19, 1953, in Pittsburgh; he was 82 and died from coronary thrombosis and arteriosclerosis. His first cousin Milton Goldsmith, son of Hannah’s brother Henry, was the doctor who signed the death certificate. His daughter Helen was the informant. Jacob was survived by his two daughters and grandchild.

Jacob Benedict death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 000001-002250, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

His daughter Marian only outlived him by twelve years. She was only 56 when she died on March 24, 1965, from bilateral pleural effusion due to reticulum cell sarcoma, a form of cancer. Her death certificate and obituary indicate that Marian was an x-ray technician.14 I wonder whether her illness was due to overexposure to radiation. Marian had never married and has no descendants.

Marian Benedict death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Box Number: 2424; Certificate Number Range: 020251-023100, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

Marian’s sister Helen lived a much longer life.  She was 82 when she died on July 1, 1989, in Pittsburgh. According to one obituary, she died from complications of Crohn’s disease. Helen was survived by her child and grandchildren.15

In my next post, the last one about the family of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, I will discuss the post-1940 lives of Hannah’s youngest son, C. Harry Benedict, and his two sons, Manson and William.






  1.  “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Carnegie Institute of Technology; Year: 1927, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  2. Helen Benedict, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0479; FHL microfilm: 2341512, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: University of Pittsburgh; Year: 1928, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  4. Jacob Benedict and daughter, 1930 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0233; FHL microfilm: 2341713, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  5. The exact date of the marriage is somewhat unclear. A marriage license was taken out in March, 1931. New Castle (PA) News, 16 Mar 1931, p. 7. But Helen’s father Jacob placed an announcement in the The Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph on April 9, 1931 (p. 26), stating that the marriage had taken place in the fall of 1930. Their first child was born October 1, 1931.  I will leave it to you to make whatever inferences you wish about why Jacob might have wanted to “backdate” the wedding date. The second child was stillborn on June 27, 1934. Certificate Number: 56394, Search for Infant Booher in Pennsylvania Wills & Probates collection, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 054501-057500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  6. John E. Booher death certificate, Certificate Number: 74864, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 072501-075500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  7. Jacob Benedict and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03663; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 69-390, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directories, 1929-1934, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Herschel Benedict, 1930 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0231; FHL microfilm: 2341713, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Herschel Benedict, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00401; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 60-278, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. “Two WAA Officials Quit after Criticism,” Fresno (CA) Bee Republican, December 17, 1947, p. 15. 
  11. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 
  12. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 
  13. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/169508860/herschel-newton-benedict 
  14. Obituary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 26 Mar 1965 – Page Page 19 
  15. SSN: 182329199, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Obituaries, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 06 Jul 1989, p. 10 

22 thoughts on “Hannah Goldsmith Part IV: Her Granddaughters

  1. I nearly missed that interesting little tidbit in the sources about the marriage date as I usually only skim through them. I was reminded of my father-in-law who insisted there must have been an error in his parents’ “family book” as his brother was born less than nine months after the marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The yearbook poem for Helen was really sweet. They sure don’t write or design the yearbooks like this any more – what a shame. Her choice of careers was interesting from the ‘girls worker’ to juvenile probation officer, the lose of 1 baby and then her husband so tragically young – I imagine she was a very strong confident woman. She was the highlight of your post for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A relatively uneventful part of your family history, Amy! This often means that family members were spared the horrors of personal tragedies, as it happened so frequently in some of the other branches of your family. Looking forward to the next post, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Amy, I like the poem dedicated to Helen Benedict. What a tragedy for her to have lost her husband at such a young age and have a stillborn child.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I did not know that one could die from Crohn’s disease. I wonder if that is true. How sad if Marian did die from her job as an x-ray technician. Carbon monoxide poisoning is another terrible tragedy. Life is a dangerous enterprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy,

    Thanks so much for posting this. I am Hannah Goldsmiths great-great grandson through Jake Benedict (great-grandfather), Helen Benedict Booher (grandmother) and Claire Booher Velzy (mother). Learned lots of new things. Didn’t know the details about my great great Uncle Hershel and Mamie, though I know a fair amount about C. Harry Benedict and his sons, Manson & Bill. I actually knew Manson a little.

    Also interesting are the posts about Crohn’s Disease, which I also have. Thankfully not too bad. Technically, Crohn’s Disease probably can’t kill you, though I know it was mentioned as the cause of death for Helen Booher, but it can contribute to other health problems. She lived a full life, taught me to become a Pittsburgh Pirates fan and was always a joy to be around. Will try to fill in more details when I get a chance.

    Bruce Velzy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bruce, thank you so much for reading and commenting. I would love to be in touch, so I will email you a bit later today. Your fourth cousin, once removed, Amy


  7. Hi Amy, I’m Bruce’s sister, granddaughter of Helen (Kaufman) Benedict Booher. I remember my grandmother well, I even stayed with her awhile after college in the 1980s in her Squirrel Hill apartment. She did indeed have a twinkle in her eye and a crinkle in her lip – that little poem captures her well! My “Grandmommy Booher” was what’s now known as a social worker, one of the professions that grew out of the Jane Addams Hull House movement and the professionalization of women workers who helped to socialize new American immigrants in the 1920s and 30s. One aspect of this was the desire by members of the earlier (and more prosperous) German Jewish immigrant waves to give a leg up to, and help “Americanize” the (mostly poorer) Jewish immigrants from the later eastern European waves. To that end, the new immigrants were taught hygiene, cooking, language, ‘manners’ (American ones anyhow), and comportment. One of my dearest possessions is my grandmother’s bound copy of The Settlement Cookbook, which was a German-Jewish cookbook meant to teach a new immigrant Jewish housewife all the ways she should “be American”, from translating her old world dishes to new world methods and ingredients, to introducing her to “modern” culinary ideas, how to use unfamiliar kitchen implements, how to keep a clean house (by American standards), and a million little details about “life in America”. As a historian, I find it an invaluable window through which to understand my grandmother’s generation and the immigrant assimilations that characterized that period in our national history.

    We heard lots of stories about C. Harry Benedict, including recounting his name and how he came by it (he was born on the centennial, as I’m sure you’ve covered elsewhere). And my grandmother and mother would tell us tales of meeting her cousin Manson Benedict at the Pittsburgh train station during WWII as he would come through on trains bound for New York City, on his way from Oak Ridge or some other secret location, with a briefcase shackled to his wrist holding top-secret information from his work on the Manhattan Project, for which I believe he later won a Fermi prize.

    Please forgive me if you’ve covered this elsewhere in your blog, it’s such a pleasure to read about them and to have an opportunity to recount my own memories and tales I’ve been told. Thank you for your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, cousin! I wrote to your brother by email yesterday, and I will forward that to you also. Thank you so much for bringing your family members to life, especially your grandmother. What an amazing woman she must have been, especially for her time, and especially after all she lost—a baby and her husband. I’d love to know more.

      Yes, Manson did win a Fermi—and it’s in one of the other blog posts about the Benedict branch of the family. And I did write about the C in C Harry also! But I am always delighted to have first hand info from family members. 🙂 Thank you!


  8. Pingback: Hannah and Henry Goldsmith, My Double Cousins: An Update | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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