A Jaffa Family Postcard

I’ve been posting some of the family photographs that my cousin Marilyn, the granddaughter of Helen Goldsmith and great-granddaughter of Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa, shared with me. In the last post we saw a number of photographs of Helen as a young woman. She also appears in this photograph, sitting at the bottom left of the photograph. Marilyn could not identify the other people in this picture.

But the inscription on the back of the photograph left plenty of clues as to the identities of the other people in the photograph, and I was able to identify almost all of them after some research and analysis.

Ronie Jaffa, who signed and labeled the photo, was the son of Henry Jaffa, who was Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s brother.1 Most of the people in the photo are Jaffas, some of whom are also related to me through their marriages to Goldsmith relatives. Fortunately, that meant that many of the Jaffas were already on my family tree, making the task of identification easier than it otherwise would have been.

Ronie refers to the man second from the left in the top row as “Papa,” so I thought this must be his father, Henry Naphtali Jaffa. Henry died in January 1901,2 so that would have meant that the photo was taken before that time. But as you will see below, I later revised my thinking on the identity of “Papa” and the date of the photograph.

The first person in the top row is labeled Helen J. I assume the J stands for Jaffa, so that must be Solomon Jaffa’s daughter, Helen. Solomon is sitting right in front of her in the photo. He was Henry Jaffa and Sarah Jaffa’s brother. Solomon was also married to a Goldsmith—Leonora.  Leonora was the daughter of Simon Goldsmith’s son Jacob—i.e., Henry Goldsmith’s brother. Leonora lived to 1911, but she does not appear to be in the photo.

Next to Sol in the middle row is Ida Jaffa Mansbach. She was Samuel Jaffa’s daughter. Samuel was also a brother to Henry, Sarah, and Sol.  Ida also married someone from the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family. Her husband was Meyer Mansbach, son of Abraham Mansbach and Sarah Goldschmidt.  Sarah was my 3x-great-aunt. She was the daughter of Seligmann Goldschmidt, my 3x-great-grandfather.

Two of Ida and Meyer’s children are in the photo. In the top row next to Solomon, Ronie labeled the young boy as “Ida’s boy.”  That must be Arthur Mansbach, who was born in 1896. Skipping to the bottom row, Ronie labeled the little girl on his lap as “Ida’s girl,” so that has to be Edith Mansbach. but she wasn’t born until December 1901. That means the photo must have been taken more like 1908 because Edith looks around six or seven to me and Arthur looks about ten or eleven.  Also, Helen Goldsmith at bottom left looks older than she did in the 1904 photo seen in the last post. So 1908 seems a likely guesstimate for the date of the photograph or perhaps a year or so earlier.

That means that the photo had to have been taken after Henry Jaffa died in 1901 and thus “Papa” could not be Henry. So who was “Papa” to Ronie Jaffa if not his father Henry? My best guess is it’s Samuel Jaffa, who died in 1909.3 Perhaps Ronie was labeling the photograph for Ida and her two children, who may have called their grandfather Samuel “Papa.”

Returning to the top row, Aunt Malchia was probably Samuel Jaffa’s wife Amelia.  Malchia or Malchen was a German name that often was changed to Amalia or Amelia in the US.  She would have been Ronie’s aunt, so that makes sense. That also bolsters the conclusion that “Papa” was Samuel Jaffa since Malchia is sitting right near him with her grandson in between.

The person next to Aunt Malchia is labeled Bertha, and I have no idea who that could be.

Now down to the middle row. Next to Ida is a man Ronie labeled as Hirsch Katz. He’s also labeled “Lena’s brother.”  So I looked for a Lena Katz in my family tree and found a Lena Katz who was the daughter of Juetel Jaffa, the oldest of the Jaffa siblings—sister to Henry, Solomon, Samuel, and Sarah. Juetel never left Germany. She married Mendel Katz. Their daughter Lena came to the US in the 1880s and lived with Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa and their children. After more research I was able to confirm that Hirsch Katz was also a son of Juetel and Mendel and also therefore a Jaffa cousin.4

That leaves us just the bottom row. We have Helen Goldsmith, then Ronie Jaffa himself, and then Florence Goldsmith. As for the man with his arm around Florence’s neck, I’ve no idea. Florence wasn’t yet married, so perhaps this was some beau. Since Ronie didn’t label him, maybe he wasn’t really a part of the family.

Thus, to recap, here is a key to the people in the photograph based on my analysis:

Top row: Florence Jaffa (daughter of Solomon Jaffa), Samuel Jaffa, Arthur Mansbach (Ida Jaffa Mansbach’s son), Amelia Sommers Jaffa (Samuel’s wife), “Bertha”

Middle row: Solomon Jaffa, Ida Jaffa Mansbach (Samuel’s daughter), Hirsch Katz (son of Jutel Jaffa)

Bottom row: Helen Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), Ronie Jaffa (Henry Jaffa’s son), Florence Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), and unknown man

Sadly, Ronie Jaffa, who left behind this wonderful key to the people in this photograph, died as a young man.  He was one of the milions of people who died from the flu epidemic. He died on January 28, 1919, at the age of 34.

Albuquerque Journal, January 30, 1919. p. 2


  1. Henry Jaffa and family, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Schedules of the New Mexico Territory Census of 1885; Series: M846; Roll: 1, Ancestry.com. New Mexico, Territorial Census, 1885 
  2. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/160599822 
  3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79951582 
  4. Hirsch Katz birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907; Laufende Nummer: 442, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901; Hirsch Jaffa Katz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561842; Draft Board: 6, Description
    Draft Card: K, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. 

29 thoughts on “A Jaffa Family Postcard

  1. Wonderful job of walking us through your process for labeling the postcard. As I was reading and got to ‘Ida’s boy’, I was right along with you – it couldn’t be Henry. Ronie’s death must have been met with such sadness for his family. This is an amazing postcard, labeled by Ronie’s hand. So glad you have it. Great post Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sharon. This was such a wonderful find, and it was so satisfying to be able to identify almost everyone in this photograph, with Ronie’s help.

      Like

  2. So sad about his flu death. I often wonder why I don’t see those more often in my own family tree and in the blogs I read. After all, so many people died.
    Great investigative work here, Amy! So happy you were able to solve almost all. As to Bertha, although she is standing by herself, could she be someone’s girlfriend, even someone who has passed, and so she became sort of part of the family? Or a really good friend who has become part of the family?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well done Amy, it’s satisfying to put names to photo’s. I know the “Spanish flu” epidemic of 1919 claimed more lives than WW1 did, however my bird-brain didn’t realise the epidemic spread to the America’s. Reading about Ronnie Jaffa has been a history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing that you were able to identify these folks! I had an ancestor die from the flu, as well. My grandmother documented it in the letters she wrote to my grandfather – her aunt contracted the flu on about December 28, 1918 and died on January 15, 1919. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well that just came together like clockwork. 🙂 Great job! The photo captures some wonderful interactions between everyone (like the couple on the left where Solomon holds the woman’s hands and the couple on the right with the unknown gentleman’s arm around the woman).

    Liked by 1 person

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