About Amy

I am interested in genealogy and family research, books, movies, cats, dogs, and baseball.

(Re)-introducing the Goldfarbs

Although I wrote a great deal several years ago about how I discovered my great-grandmother’s sister Sarah Brod Goldfarb, and although I told much of their story, I told it in piecemeal as I was trying to put together the pieces of a mystery. How was Sarah Goldfarb related to me? I solved that mystery and know now that she was my great-grandmother Bessie Brod Brotman’s sister, but I never fully told the stories of those Goldfarb cousins.

Now that I have discovered through DNA testing several more of my Goldfarb cousins, confirming by science that my research was correct, I am returning to Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb and their children to tell the fuller story of their lives.

What do I know about the life of my great-grandmother’s sister Sarah Brod Goldfarb before she came to the US? Not very much. Because I have no European records for Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb, I need to rely on information from US records to tell the little I can report about their lives before arriving in the US.

According to the 1900 US census, Sam  (going by Solomon at that time) was born in April 1860, and Sarah was born in May 1866. They were thus reported as being forty and thirty-six at that time. The census indicated both were born in “Austria,” but in fact they were born in or near Tarnobrzeg in what is today Poland in what was then part of the Austria-Hungary Empire.1 That is the same town where my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie (Brod) Brotman lived.

But Sam and Sarah’s ages on the 1900 census appear to be debatable. Sam’s death certificate says he was born on August 2, 1856,2 not in 1860. In 1910, he reported his age as 56, meaning he was born in 1864.3 In 1920, he said he was 64, giving him a birth year of 1856, same as that on his death certificate.4

Sarah’s age also jumps around, though not as wildly as Sam’s. In 1910, she is reported as 45, meaning she was born in 1865.5 In 1920, she is listed as 54, meaning she was born in 1866,6 but in 1930 her age is given as 60, meaning she was born in 1870.7 And her 1937 death certificate indicates she was 70 when she died, meaning a birth year of 1867.8 Overall, Sarah seems likely to have been born in 1866 or so, and Sam was likely born in about 1860 or maybe earlier.

One date that is consistent across several census records is the date of Sam’s immigration—1892. He reported that year not only on the 1900 census, but also on the 1910 and 1920 census records.9 Yet I could not find him on any ship manifest for 1892 or even within several years of 1892. There were some names that were close, and I found one Samuel Goldfarb who arrived in Philadelphia in 1891, born 1865, but I’ve no way to verify if that was the right person, though it seems possible.10

I did, however, find Sarah Brod Goldfarb’s ship manifest. She arrived with four of her children—Joel (later Julius), Moische (later Morris), Gitel (later Gussie), and Pesie (later Bessie)—on July 13, 1896, in Philadelphia. She reported her age as 32 (meaning born in 1864). Joel was 10, Moische 8, Gitel was 4, and Pesie was 2. Can you imagine traveling with four young children for weeks on a ship overseas?

The manifest indicated that they were headed to Philadelphia, that their prior residence was Grembow, “Austria” (now Poland), and that her husband Schmuel Goldfarb had paid their fare.

Sarah Goldfarb and her four children, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series: T840, Roll Number: 25, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800-1962

Thank you to Frank of Tracing the Tribe for locating this record showing that Sam (Solomon) Goldfarb purchased the tickets in Philadelphia for Sarah and his four children to sail to the US from Grembow via Tarnobrzeg to Philadelphia on the Am(erican?) Line for $75. Note also that Sam was living in Alliance, New Jersey. More on that in my next post.

Steamship ticket registry, Rosenbaum Volume 04, Date 1895, Steamship Agent
M. Rosenbaum and Co., Volume 4, Order Number Range, 1-32451, Number of Pages
171, Alphabetical index of passenger names at beginning of volume; Page 1-135, order #1-1736. Page 136, order #17856-17860, 32439. Page 137, order #18557, 32445-32451. Pages 138-141 are blank. Page 142, order #17321-17322, Manuscripts, Ledgers (account books),  Repository:
Temple University Libraries, Special Collections Research Center, Repository Collection
HIAS Pennsylvania, Collection ID, SCRC 94, Digital Collection, Steamship Ticket Purchase Ledgers, Digital Publisher Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Libraries, found at https://digital.library.temple.edu/digital/collection/p16002coll16/id/5045/rec/4

The manifest indicated that Sarah and her children were detained. There are no records to explain why they were detained, but members of Tracing the Tribe explained that it likely only meant that they were being held until someone, presumably Sam, met them at the port of entry in Philadelphia.

Thus, we know that by July, 1896, my great-grandmother’s sister Sarah and four of her children had arrived in America. In the posts to follow I will talk about their lives in the US.

 


  1. Solomon Goldfarb and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. According to his death certificate, Sam was born in Tarnobrzeg in what is now Poland, and Sarah was born in Dzikow (now part of Tarnobrzeg), according to family records provided by my cousin Sue Wartur. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W5B-2M4 : 3 June 2020), Samuel Goldfarb, 1926. 
  2. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W5B-2M4 : 3 June 2020), Samuel Goldfarb, 1926. 
  3. Samuel Goldfarb and family, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sam Goldfarb and family, Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  5. See note 3. 
  6. See note 4. 
  7. Sarah Goldfarb, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; FHL microfilm: 2341228, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WT7-T1D : 3 June 2020), Sarah Goldfarb, 1937. 
  9. See notes 1, 3, and 4 above. 
  10. Samuel Goldfarb, age 26, Place: New York, New York; Year: 1891; Page Number: 250, Ancestry.com. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s 

Of DNA Testing and The Magic of Photographs: Who is That Woman?

As many of you know, I have not had much success using DNA as a genealogy research tool. Because I have thousands of matches on each of the major DNA testing sites (Ancestry, 23andme, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage), finding a true match—not one just based on endogamy—is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Over time I have found some “real” matches, but I usually only know they’re real because I’ve already found those cousins through traditional genealogical research. Finding that the DNA confirms what I already knew is nice, but not really helpful in terms of advancing my research. Even when I look at the matches that cousin shares with me, I am not making progress because our shared matches also number in the hundreds if not thousands.

Nevertheless, I periodically check my matches on each of the sites to see if any truly close matches have appeared. A couple of weeks ago I checked with 23andme and discovered a new third cousin match, Alyce, who also shared a family surname that appears on my tree—Goldfarb. Since the Goldfarbs are related to my Brotman line, I was quite excited. My Brotman line is one of my biggest brickwalls. I cannot get beyond the names of my great-great-grandparents.

Some background: my maternal grandmother’s parents were Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod. But sometimes Joseph’s surname is listed as Brod, sometimes Bessie’s is listed as Brotman. Family lore is that Bessie, Joseph’s second wife, was his first cousin. Various US records revealed that Joseph’s parents were Abraham Brotman and maybe Yette Sadie Burstein; Bessie’s parents were Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz. But I have no records from Poland where they once lived to verify those names, nor can I get any further back to determine if Joseph and Bessie were in fact first cousins.

Then years later I discovered the Goldfarb cousins after seeing the names Joe and Julius Goldfarb and Taube Hecht in my grandfather’s address book and my aunt’s baby book.

After much digging, I learned that my great-grandmother Bessie Brod had a sister Sarah Brod (or Brotman) who married Sam Goldfarb. Joe and Julius Goldfarb were two of their sons, my grandmother’s first cousins. And Taube Hecht was my grandmother’s half-sister Taube Brotman, daughter of Joseph Brotman and his first wife. Taube’s daughter Ida had married Julius Goldfarb.

Through more research I was able to locate cousins descended from the Goldfarb line and from the Hecht line—Sue, a granddaughter of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, and Jan, a descendant of Taube Brotman Hecht line through her son Harry. They tested, but the results didn’t help me advance my research. I still couldn’t determine if my great-grandparents were in fact first cousins, and I still hadn’t found anything to expand the reach of my Brotman/Brod family tree.

Then a few weeks ago I found Alyce, a granddaughter of Joe Goldfarb and his wife Betty Amer and thus a pure Goldfarb (non-Hecht) cousin. She connected me with a few other Goldfarb cousins—descendants of Joe or one of his siblings. That’s a lot more DNA to work with, and I am hoping that I can get someone who’s more expert at parsing these things to help me use the DNA of these new cousins to advance my research. So far all I can do is stare at chromosome browsers and see overlaps, but I have no idea how to parse out the Goldfarb (Brod) DNA from the Hecht (Brotman) DNA to get any answers.

All of this I will return to at some point when I have more to say about what the DNA reveals. For now I want to talk about the photographs that Alyce shared with me of my Goldfarb relatives. Alyce sent me over twenty photographs. She was able to identify the people in many of them, but unfortunately a number are unlabeled. Also the quality of some of the photos is quite poor. I won’t post them all, but I will post a few today and more in a later post.

First, in Alyce’s collection was this photograph she labeled “I think this is Grandpa’s mother Sarah Brothman. I could be wrong.” (Brothman was yet another variation on how Joseph, Bessie, and Sarah spelled their surname.)

“Sarah Brothman” Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

I almost fell off my chair. I had that exact same photograph, but in our collection the photograph was said to be of my great-grandmother Bessie Brod Brotman.

My great-grandmother Bessie Brotman (or so I was told)

I wasn’t sure who had the right label for the photograph, but just the fact that Alyce and I had in our possession copies of the same photograph seemed to confirm what the DNA and all my research had already told me—we were cousins!

Alyce had other photographs of her great-grandmother Sarah, and when I saw those I thought that in fact that first photograph was of Sarah, not Bessie. Here are her other photographs of Sarah, all courtesy of Alyce, and then another photograph I had of my great-grandmother Bessie.

Sarah Brod/Brotman Goldfarb and her son Leo Goldfarb. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

It seems to me that Bessie had a rounder and softer edged face than the woman seated in front of the grocery store, so I think that woman was indeed Sarah, Bessie’s sister.

So somehow my family ended up with a photograph of Bessie’s sister Sarah. And we never would have known if I hadn’t found Alyce and she hadn’t shared her copy of the photograph.

I slowly flipped through the rest of Alyce’s photos, noting the faces of my grandmother’s Goldfarb first cousins Joe and Leo and their wives and children, hoping I could identify some of the unknowns in Alyce’s collection, when I came to this photograph. This time my jaw dropped.

Rose Goldfarb, Joe Goldfarb, Gussie Brotman

Alyce labeled this photograph, “Grandpa Joe. I think that could be Aunt Rose [the youngest child of Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb] on the left. Not sure who’s on the right.”

But I knew who was on the right. I had no doubt. That woman was my grandmother, Gussie Brotman Goldschlager, posing with two of her first cousins, Joe and Rose Goldfarb. I was blown away. How could Alyce, who until just a few days earlier was unknown to me, have a photograph of my grandmother—a photograph I’d never seen before?

I sent the photograph to my brother for confirmation, and he agreed. I ran the photograph through Google’s face identification software, and Google agreed. Here are some other photographs of my grandmother.

Gussie Brotman

Goldschlagers 1935

Jeff and Gussie c. 1946

I think you also will agree.  Alyce, my third cousin, had a photograph of her grandfather Joe and my grandmother Gussie together. Wow.

More Photos of My Double Cousin Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Her Family

I recently posted photos that my cousin Bruce Velzy sent me of his great-great-grandmother Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah is one of the relatives whose lives most fascinate me. Her parents were both related to me. Her father Simon Goldschmidt was my four-times great-uncle, and her mother Fradchen or Fanny Schoenthal was my three-times great-aunt. Simon and Fanny were recent immigrants from Germany to the US when Hannah was born in 1848. And then Hannah lost her mother shortly after Hannah’s second birthday.

Hannah and her brother Henry then moved with their father Simon to Washington, Pennsylvania, where they lived with Hannah’s half-brother Jacob Goldsmith and his wife and children. Then when she was just eighteen, Hannah married Joseph Benedict, a rag dealer who was fourteen years older, and moved to Pittsburgh; her father moved with her. Hannah and Joseph had five children, but only three survived infancy: Jacob (1870), Herschel (1871), and C. Harry (1876).

Bruce is descended from Hannah’s son Jacob and shared these photos, which I’ve previously posted:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of the family and edited by the Photo Restoration Facebook group.

Sons of Hannah Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict, c. 1890. Courtesy of the family

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

One of the things that makes Hannah’s story so remarkable is the success of her son C. Harry Benedict and of his two sons, Manson Benedict and William Benedict, as I wrote about here and here. They all were Ivy League graduates who pursued highly successful careers in science and engineering.

A few weeks ago I heard from Manson’s Benedict’s daughter Mary, She found my blog and commented as follows:

My father was Manson Benedict, son of C.Harry Benedict. Manson played a large part in the successful development of the atomic bomb. His contribution was developing a process to separate the isotopes of Uranium at a plant in Oak Ridge Tennessee. After the war he became the first professor of nuclear engineering at MIT, and was active in research on peaceful uses for atomic energy, such as nuclear power. I got a Master’s degree in chemistry, doing research on radiation chemistry. My granddaughter, Kirsten Benedict Sauer, earned a PhD in geology and is now employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she is developing ways to safely dispose of radioactive waste from reactors.

I emailed Mary and learned that she and her granddaughter are not the only ones carrying on the Benedict tradition in the sciences. Both of Mary’s sons are scientists as are her daughter-in-law and some of her grandchildren, and her daughter majored in psychology. It’s amazing to see how the DNA carries certain interests and skills from one generation to another.

Mary also shared three photographs with me, including this one taken at the celebration of Hannah Goldsmith’s 90th birthday in 1938. The photo includes Hannah’s three sons Jacob, Herschel, and C. Harry, her grandsons Manson and William, her daughters-in-law and granddaughter-in-law, and her great-granddaughter Mary.

Celebration of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s 90th birthday in 1938. Standing in rear Jake, C. Harry, Manson, Herschel, and William Benedict. Seated Marjorie Allen Benedict, Lena Manson Benedict with Mary Benedict Sauer, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

Mary also sent me two wedding photographs. This one is of her grandparents C.Harry Benedict and Lena Manson on their wedding day, February 7, 1902.

C. Harry Benedict and Lena Manson, 1902. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

And this one is from Mary’s own wedding in 1959. Mary and her husband Myran Charles Sauer, Jr. are standing with Mary’s grandparents, C Harry Benedict and Lena Manson Benedict.

Mary Benedict, Myran Charles Sauer, Jr., Lena Manson, and C.Harry Benedict, 1959. Courtesy of Mary Sauer.

Once again, I am so drawn to the story of Hannah Goldsmith and so grateful to her descendants for sharing the stories and photographs they have of her.

People Read Footnotes! Another Twist in the Family Tree

Last month when I wrote about the end (for now) of my Goldschmidt family research, I included this footnote on my blog post:

I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenewald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenewald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog.

I admit that I never expected anyone to read the footnote. After all, it was a footnote, and I wrote it just to be forthcoming and thorough in reporting an area of the Goldschmidt family story that I had not included on my blog.

But much to my surprise and delight, my cousin Ruth read the footnote and emailed me to say she thought we might be related through the Gruenewald family of Poembsen. Ruth is my fourth cousin through my Seligmann family line. Her great-great-grandfather Hieronymous Seligmann was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, the subject of my latest novel. We are both descended from Moritz Seligmann and Babette Schoenfeld. As far as I knew, Ruth was not related to me through my Goldschmidt family.

So when I received Ruth’s email, I wanted to know whether we were also related through the Gruenewalds of Poembsen. Ruth had a family tree prepared by memory by her grandfather Simon Gruenewald near the end of his life. I had only the work compiled by Alex Bernstein. Ruth sent me a copy of her grandfather’s tree, and I studied it and compared it to the information I had from Alex Bernstein’s book. I then sent it to David Baron, who had first told me about Alex Bernstein’s book. And he also studied and compared the two trees.

 

 

There were a few inconsistencies in the two trees, including most importantly that Ruth’s tree did not list Jette Goldschmidt as David Gruenewald’s first wife. I have written to a contact in Oberlistingen, hoping that there will be a marriage record for Jette and David. Alternatively we hope that there may be records of Jette’s death or of the birth or marriage of her son Jacob that will help us verify that Jette Goldschmidt was married to David Gruenewald and was the mother of Jacob Gruenewald.

Because we assume that Alex Bernstein relied on actual records whereas Ruth knew that her grandfather relied only on his memory. we think for the most part that the Bernstein tree is more reliable than Ruth’s grandfather’s tree.  And it wouldn’t be surprising if Ruth’s grandfather was confused, given that there are at least two Davids, two Simons, two Jacobs, and several Minnas on the Gruenewald tree.

So what did we conclude regarding the relationship between Ruth and Jette Goldschmidt, assuming that David Gruenewald was married to my four-times great-aunt Jette?

There is no genetic connection, only one by marriage. Here is an abbreviated family report for the Gruenewalds of Poembsen.

As you can see, Levi Jehuda had a son Moses. Moses had two sons—David Gruenewald I, who married (we believe) Jette Goldschmidt, and Ruth’s great-great-grandfather Simon Gruenewald I.

But it gets more complicated.  Simon Gruenewald I had a son David Gruenewald II. David Gruenewald II married his first cousin, Minna Gruenewald, the daughter of David Gruenewald I with his second wife, Klara Karenmeyer. Minna Gruenewald was Ruth’s great-grandmother and also the half-sister of my relative Jacob Gruenewald I, David Gruenewald I and Jette Goldschmidt’s son.

Here are some charts, though I am not sure they really help. The first chart shows how Ruth’s great-grandparents were first cousins, Minna the daughter of David Gruenewald I, her husband David Gruenewald II the son of Simon Gruenewald I.

The second chart shows how Ruth is the step-great-great-granddauaghter of Jette Goldschmidt, my three-times great-aunt.

Thus, it appears that my four-times great-aunt Jette Goldschmidt was Ruth’s step-great-great-grandmother. Crazy, isn’t it?

And then David Baron discovered yet another connection. He wrote: “I found another connection with your families. In our Katz/Katzenstein trees we have Bertha Pes Katz daughter of Bonum Katz and Zerline Nussbaum of Jesberg who married Feist Joseph LInz. Pes and Feist Joseph had Betty LInz and Berthold Linz. Betty LInz married Albert Gruenwald and Berthold married Albert’s sister Rebecca Paula Gruenwald, Both Albert and Betty were the children of Hirsch Gruenwald and his wife Mina Gruenwald (born 1834) According to a family tree I found on My Heritage at https://www.myheritage.com/site-family-tree-550062631/fastre – Mina was the daughter of Simon Grunewald and Malchen Rose.”

I admit that I am still working on sorting through that one!

So Ruth is related to me genetically through our shared Seligmann line and also related to me by marriage, albeit distantly, through my Goldschmidt/Gruenewald line and through my Katzenstein/Katz line.

And who knows where else our family lines may have crossed.

In the meantime, Ruth’s grandfather’s tree has provided  clues as to what happened to the descendants of Jette Goldschmidt and David Gruenewald I. I have just connected with one of those descendants and hope to be able to fill out the family tree so that my four-times greataunt Jette Goldschmidt Gruenewald will no longer be relegated to just a footnote.

 

Family History in Truth or Fiction

Thanks so much to Linda Austin of Moonbridgebooks for interviewing me about my novel, Santa Fe Love Song.

moonbridgebooks

Back in May 2017 I posted “Writing the Immigrant Story in Truth or Fiction” about Amy Cohen and her family history novel Pacific Street based on her immigrant ancestors’ stories. She explained why she decided to write her family history as fiction. There are a number of other reasons for writers to do this—to avoid hurting family or to protect the guilty and not have to worry about a lawsuit or being disowned, because there’s a bigger story to tell outside the confines of one true story, or just because they want to.

Amy recently published another family historical fiction book based on another set of ancestors. Santa Fe Love Song is about a young Jewish immigrant to the US who became a pioneer on the Santa Fe Trail and settled in Santa Fe. But he wanted to marry a Jewish woman, so he had to go back…

View original post 1,069 more words

Things People Find on eBay

Back in May 2020, I wrote about Ferdinand Meyer, my third cousin, twice removed, a great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt.

As I described in that post, Ferdinand and his two children, Eleanora and Erich, both left Germany in the 1930s to escape from the Nazis. But Ferdinand’s wife Friedericke Jaenecke Meyer stayed behind and did not leave Germany until the summer of 1941, when she came to the US and settled with Ferdinand in the Boston area.

Friedericke was not born Jewish, and I wondered whether she had stayed behind to protect the family’s assets, assuming that she would be safe (though she faced some persecution in Germany for being married to a Jew or perhaps for converting). I still have no answers to that question.

Nevertheless, I was quite tickled when a blog reader commented that he had found on eBay an envelope for a letter sent by Friedericke to Ferdinand, postmarked January 24, 1941.

As you can see, Friedericke was still living in Frankfurt at the time she sent this letter to Ferdinand, who was living on Beacon Street in Boston.

Unfortunately, there was no letter inside the envelope to reveal what was going on in Friedericke’s life and what her thoughts were about what was happening in Germany. By that time the war was raging across Europe, but the US was still a year away from entering the war. What were Friedericke and Ferdinand feeling and thinking? How was Friedericke able to escape when so many Jews were trapped inside Germany by that time?

And how in the world did this envelope end up on eBay?

Life is just filled with mysteries.

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Etta Wolfe Wise: Photo Analysis Part III

In this third and final post devoted to photographs of Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and her daughter Etta, I will look at two more photographs that my cousin Alan sent me and try and identify the others in the photo.

In this photograph, I’ve assumed Amalie is on the left and possibly Etta on the right. Then who are the three young women?

I don’t know. But Amalie had four granddaughters: Flora’s daughters Helen and Marjorie, Lee’s daughter Ruth, and Etta’s daughter Florence. My guess is that this is three of those four.

Here are some photos of Florence. This one is of Etta and her six children; Florence, her only daughter, is seated on our right.

Etta and her children. Courtesy of the family.

Here are another two of the children of Etta and Max Wise:

Do you see Florence in the photo above? Is she the tall girl standing between Amalie and Etta? I don’t think so, but am not sure. And as for the other two girls in the forefront? I have no idea. So maybe they are Helen, Marjorie, and/or Ruth. Or maybe not!

Finally, there is this photograph, which I will refer to as the living room photo:

The Wise Family Courtesy of the family

Seated in the middle rear are Etta, Amalie, and Max. The girl sitting right in front of Etta is her daughter Florence, and the four little boys on the floor and the little boy sitting on the lap of the man next to Max are the five sons of Etta and Max: Irving (Bud), Richard, Max, Jr., Robert, and Warren. From the ages of the children, I would guess that this photograph was taken in the early 1920s since Warren was born in 1920, Robert in 1919. You can compare the children to those in the photo of Etta surrounded by her children, probably taken a year before, and see the similarities.

So who are the other people in the living room photograph? Are they other relatives of Amalie and Etta? Or are they relatives of Max Wise? This photograph of Etta and Max with Max’s brothers and their wives shows what two of his brothers looked like. Alan agreed with me that the Wise brothers are not in the living room photograph with Etta’s children.

I think therefore that these are Etta’s relatives in the living room photo. Maybe the three older men are three of Etta’s four brothers: Maurice, Lee, Ira, and Herbert.  Maurice was living in Middletown, Ohio in 1920, as were Etta and Max, so it’s likely he is in the photograph.In 1920 Lee was in Pittsburgh, and Herbert in Detroit. Ira was living in Illinois in 1920 and died in 1924.

As for the two women sitting to Etta’s right, perhaps one is a sister-in-law, maybe both are. Perhaps one is Flora’s daughter Helen or her daughter Marjorie. And maybe the younger man perched on a table on our far left is Flora’s son Leroy. Or maybe her son Donald.

At this point it’s far too much speculation, but perhaps a cousin will find me who knows the answers. I am open to suggestions!

And please, everyone, label your photographs and spare some future family member from doing all this impossible guesswork.

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Etta Wolfe Wise: Photo Analysis Part II

Looking back at my prior post, let’s assume for purposes of this post that I have correctly identified Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and her daughter Etta Wolfe Wise in the two photographs below.

Etta Wolfe Wise to far right, upper. Courtesy of the family

Courtesy of the Family

Then who are the other people in these two photographs? Are they other relatives of mine, relatives of Amalie and Etta?

Starting with the first photograph, which I will refer to as the porch photo, I am assuming that the older woman standing on the porch is Amalie and Etta is to her left. Who is the woman on the other side of Amalie, and who are those five adorable little children in front of them?

Looking at the second photograph, which I will refer to as the formal photograph, I identified the older woman as Amalie and the woman standing in the rear next to her as Etta. So who is the other woman? Is she the same woman as the woman standing on the porch with Amalie and Etta in the other photo?

When I compare those two women, I believe they are the same woman, and my guess is that she is Etta’s only sister and Amalie’s only other daughter, Flora Wolfe Goldman.

The hair and how it is parted and the mouth seem so similar that I think they are the same person. What do you think?

I think the formal photograph was taken some years before the porch photograph, and that the two children in the formal photograph are mostly likely two of Flora’s children. Flora had four children: Leroy (1901), Helen (1903), Donald (1905), and Marjorie (1908). I am guessing that the little boy in the photo is Leroy and the little girl is Helen. My guess is that the photo was taken between 1904 and 1905 and perhaps Flora was pregnant with Donald when it was taken.

So that brings me to the next question: Who are those five little children in the porch photograph?

Assuming that is Flora in the porch photograph, it had to have been taken before September 30, 1910, when Flora died. She died from puerperal fever—a fever caused by a uterine infection after childbirth.1 Since Flora does not look obviously pregnant in the porch photograph and since it looks like the weather must have been relatively warm or at least not wintry, I am going to assume that the photograph was taken no later than the fall of 1909, but after 1905 or so when the formal photograph was taken.

At the time Flora died, her mother Amalie had six grandchildren. Flora’s four, Leroy, Helen, Donald, and Marjorie, and Amalie’s two grandchildren through her son Lee: Lloyd, born in 1902, and Ruth, born in 1905.

I would guess that the children in the photograph range in age from about fifteen months old to four years old. If the photograph was taken in 1906 or so, Flora’s children would have been five, three, and one (Marjorie would not yet have been born).  Lee’s two children would have been four and one in 1906.  Since there are only five children in the photo, maybe they are Flora’s older three (Leroy, Helen, and Donald) and Lee’s two (Lloyd and Ruth). And although they all look like girls, I know that little boys often wore dresses back in those days.

So I have no idea. Maybe they’re cousins from another branch of the family or neighbors. Without more photographs and information, I am grasping at straws!

But I do feel pretty comfortable identifying Etta, Flora, and Amalie.

I have a few more Etta/Amalie photographs to analyze. Maybe they will shed more light.

 

 

 


  1. There was no death certificate for a baby born in 1910 to Flora Wolfe Goldman so I assume the baby was stillborn or perhaps was miscarried. If Flora had an early miscarriage that led to a uterine infection, I suppose the photograph might have been taken in the spring of 1910. 

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Her Daughter Etta Wolfe Wise: Some Photo Analysis

I have already written about Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe, the sister of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. Amalie was born in Sielen, Germany, in 1847, and came to the US as a young woman in 1867. In 1872 she married Elias Wolfe, and together they had six children, including her daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1883.

A few weeks ago I heard from Alan, one of Etta’s descendants, and he shared with me numerous photographs of the family, including two that were labeled in part “Etta’s mother.” I was excited to see photographs of Amalie.

Alan said this one was labeled as Etta’s mother Amalie on the right:

And that this one labeled Etta’s mother Amalie as the woman on the left:

I can see that the two older women in these two photos are the same person—do you agree? The shape of their chins and their cheekbones are the most obvious similarities.

This is Amalie’s daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin. It might have been taken on her wedding day, June 2, 1910:

Etta Wolfe Wise, c. 1910. Courtesy of the family

And this is her husband, Max Wise, perhaps taken around the same time:

Max Wise Courtesy of the family

Knowing what Etta looked like made it easy to identify her in other photos, such as this one. That looks like Etta standing in the rear to our right.

Etta Wolfe Wise to far right, upper. Courtesy of the family

I think that the older woman standing next to Etta is the same woman as the older woman in the first two photos above and so presumably Amalie.

And I think Amalie is also the woman sitting between Etta and Max Wise in the next photo, Max sitting highest on the chair fourth from the left, then Amalie to his right, and then Etta to Amalie’s right.

The Wise Family Courtesy of the family

Here are closeups of the four faces of the older woman cropped from those photographs:

What do you think? Are these all the same woman?

That left me puzzled about the people in the other photos of Amalie. For example, in this one, is that Etta standing next to her? At first glance I thought so, but then I wasn’t sure.  Etta has such distinctive deep-set eyes, and the eyes of the woman in this photo looked different.

Here are some closeups of Etta from the known photos and from this one:

The more I look, the more I think it is Etta. And is this Etta in the more recent photo showing Amalie on the far left?

I think so, although the glasses and her squint make is hard to be sure. She certainly looks like the woman in the last of the cropped photos above.

So…what do you think? Is that Amalie in all those photos? Have I correctly identified Etta in the photos?

If so, then I need to figure out who the other people are in those photographs. To be continued…