Simon Goldsmith’s family 1860-1871: Two Dozen Grandchildren

In 1860, Simon Goldschmidt, now Simon Goldsmith, was a two-time widower living in Washington, Pennsylvania, with his oldest child from his first marriage, Jacob Goldsmith. Also living with them were Jacob’s wife Fannie Silverman and their six young daughters, Ellena, Emma, Annie, Rachel, Leonora, and Celia, and Simon’s two children, Henry and Hannah, from his second marriage to my three-times great-aunt Fradchen Schoenthal.  Jacob was a merchant with $4500 worth of real estate and $6000 in personal property. In 1863, Jacob registered for the Civil War draft in Washington, Pennsylvania, but I have no record showing that he served in the war.1

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Jacob and Fannie had many more children in the 1860s; Felix (about 1860)2 and George (1862)3 were likely born in Washington, Pennsylvania, but by the time Frank4 was born in 1863, the family may already have moved to Philadelphia. The next five children were all born in Philadelphia: Edward (born as Oscar, 1864),5 Rebecca (1866),6 Florence (1869),7 and finally a set of twins born early in the next decade, Gertrude and Eva (born January 18, 1871).8 That brought the grand total of Jacob and Fannie’s children to fourteen—four sons and ten daughters.  In 1870, Jacob and Fannie and their children were living in Philadelphia. Jacob was still a retail merchant and now had $20,000 in personal property.

Jacob Goldsmith and family, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 Dist 36 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1424; Page: 589B; Family History Library Film: 552923, Township: Philadelphia Ward 12 Dist 36 (2nd Enum), 
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census

Jacob Goldsmith and family, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ancestry.com

In 1860, Simon’s oldest daughter Lena was living about fifty miles away from her father in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with her husband Gustavus Basch and their three young children, Frank, Jacob, and Hinda. Gustavus was a clothing merchant and had $3100 in personal property, according to the 1860 census.

Lena and Gustav Basch and family, 1860 census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 421; Family History Library Film: 805110 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census

Like his brother-in-law Jacob, Gustavus registered for the Civil War draft in 1863, but I don’t know if he served.9 Lena and Gustavus’ family was also growing in the 1860s, but not as much as Jacob and Fannie’s. They added three more to their family in that decade: Joel (1863),10 Ella (1865),11 and Joseph (1867),12 all born in Connellsville.  In 1868, Gustavus was listed as a clothier in Connellsville in the Pennsylvania State directory, but sometime thereafter he changed occupations and the family relocated.13 By 1870, the family had moved to Pittsburgh, and Gustavus was now working for H. Bier & Company, a brass founders and steam pump manufacturing company.14

Gustavus Basch 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 423A; Family History Library Film: 552794
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census,

As for Simon’s second oldest daughter Eva, as reported here in detail, I cannot find her in 1860, but I believe that sometime around 1860 she married Marcus Bohm, a Polish immigrant who had a store in Washington, Pennsylvania, until 1860. It also appears that Marcus and Eva had a daughter Ella, born in February, 1862. Also, as I wrote about earlier, it seems that Eva died sometime before 1870. Her daughter Ella Bohm was then living with her uncle Jacob Goldsmith and his family in Philadelphia. Ella’s father’s whereabouts are not known, although he appears to have been in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Simon’s two youngest children, my double cousins Henry and Hannah Goldsmith, were teenagers in the 1860s. In 1867, Hannah married Joseph Benedict.15 She was only nineteen, and he was 33. Joseph was born July 3, 1834, in Germany and had immigrated in 1857, according to the 1900 census.16 I cannot find any immigration record for Joseph or a marriage record for Hannah and Joseph.

In 1865 a Joseph Benedict was working as a clerk in Pittsburgh.17 In 1868 he is listed in the Pittsburgh directory as a used furniture dealer, but in 1869 he is listed as a second-hand clothing dealer. The 1870 Pittsburgh directory lists him as a junk dealer, so maybe it was both clothing and furniture.18 The 1870 census merely lists his occupation as “retail.” By that time Joseph and Hannah had a five-month-old son named Jacob, born January 24, 1870, in Pittsburgh.19 Also living with them in 1870 were Hannah’s father, Simon Goldsmith, now a retired tailor, and Amelia Schoenthal, who was Hannah’s first cousin, her mother Fradchen’s niece and the older sister of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. On June 6, 1871, Hannah Goldsmith Benedict gave birth to a second child, Herschel Newton Benedict, in Pittsburgh.20

Joseph and Hannah Benedict, 1870 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 567A; Family History Library Film: 552794
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census

Simon’s son Henry had moved out on his own by 1870. Now 23, he was living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, working as a clothing dealer.21 My hunch is that Henry took over his brother-in-law Gustave’s business when Gustave and Lena moved to Pittsburgh. In 1871, Henry married Sarah Jaffa.22 She was the daughter of Aron Jaffa and Ella Hahn, and she was born in Heinebach, Germany, on October 19, 1851, and immigrated to the US in 1869.23 That marriage brought another twist to my family tree.

Sarah Jaffa had three older brothers who had already immigrated to the US when she arrived.  As I’ve written about previously, the Jaffa brothers would later become business and civic leaders in Trinidad, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. And twenty-five years after Henry Goldsmith married Sarah Jaffa, Sarah’s niece Ida Jaffa married Meyer Mansbach, the son of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach. Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach was Henry Goldsmith’s first cousin as their fathers, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith, were brothers.24

Sarah and Henry had their first child, Jacob W. Goldsmith, on December 24, 1871, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.25 He was the 24th grandchild of Simon Goldsmith, all born in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, three of those grandchildren were named Jacob: Lena’s son Jacob Basch, Hannah’s son Jacob Benedict, and Henry’s son Jacob W. Goldsmith. Since Simon was still living, it appears that three of his children named their sons for Simon’s father, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt.

Thus, by the end of 1871, all of Simon Goldsmith’s children had married. Simon, who had outlived two wives and three children, was 76 years old and had twenty-four grandchildren, ranging from newborns to eighteen-year-old Ellena, with more grandchildren to come in the next decade. In fact, he would live to be a great-grandfather. More on that in the next post.

 


  1.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); NAI: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 3, Ancestry.com. U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 
  2. Felix Goldsmith, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 Dist 36 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1424; Page: 589B; Family History Library Film: 552923, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. I am not certain of Felix’s birthdate. His death certificate says he was born September 25, 1859, and the 1900 census says he was born in September 1859, but he is not on the 1860 census with his family, and in his 1870 his age is reported as nine and in 1880 as nineteen. Thus, I am guessing he was born in about 1860. 
  3. Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915. George Goldsmith, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 Dist 36 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1424; Page: 589B; Family History Library Film: 552923, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  4. Frank Goldsmith, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1396; Page: 179B; Family History Library Film: 552895, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [ 
  5. Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2FR-G9S : 11 February 2018), Oscar Goldsmith, 08 Nov 1864; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,309. 
  6. Rebecca Goldsmith, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 36, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1396; Page: 179B; Family History Library Film: 552895, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. Rebecca Levy, ship manifest, 1926, Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3784; Line: 1; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7.  Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2F1-KDR : 11 February 2018), Florence Goldsmith, 24 Feb 1869; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,312 
  8. Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2FX-1MN : 11 February 2018), Eve Goldsmith, 18 Jan 1871; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,313.  Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2FX-1M6 : 11 February 2018), Gertrude Goldsmith, 18 Jan 1871; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,313 
  9. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); NAI: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 
  10. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6Q67-VC2?cc=1307272&wc=MD9N-9P8%3A287599801%2C294723701 : 21 May 2014), 1950 > 74601-76700 > image 303 of 2329. 
  11. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-D4LQ-GG4?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-DN5%3A287601401%2C287598802 : 21 May 2014), 1930 > 00001-02900 > image 2674 of 3183. 
  12. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 297323868. 
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, Reilly´s Pennsylvania State Business Directory, 1868-69 
  14. Pittsburgh city directory, 1870, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  15. Hannah and Joseph Benedict, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0142; FHL microfilm: 1241359, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  16. Hannah and Joseph Benedict, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0142; FHL microfilm: 1241359, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  17. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1865, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1868, 1869, 1870, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  19. Jacob Benedict, death certificate, Certificate No, 88, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965;Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  20. Herschel Benedict, marriage record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1900; Roll Number: 549738, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, County Marriage Records, 1845-1963 
  21. Henry Goldsmith, 1870 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1342; Page: 79A; Family History Library Film: 552841, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [ 
  22. Henry and Sarah Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0007; FHL microfilm: 1241409,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  23. Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 093741-097660, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966; Henry and Sarah Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0007; FHL microfilm: 1241409,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  24.  And another connection between the Jaffa and Goldschmidt families was made in 1880 when Solomon Jaffa married Leonora Goldsmith, Jacob Goldsmith’s daughter. But that is yet to come. 
  25. Jacob W. Goldsmith, marriage record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1899; Roll Number: 549736, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, County Marriage Records, 1845-1963 

Simon Goldschmidt: From German Criminal to American Grandfather

Before my break, I noted that I had finished writing about the descendants of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents, and the descendants of Seligmann’s brother, Lehmann Goldschmidt.

Now I would like to turn to Seligmann’s youngest sibling, Simon Goldschmidt, whose story I’ve already told in bits and pieces at other times because his second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, was the sister of my Schoenthal great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and because one of his grandchildren, Ella Bohm, married my great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein.

But let me tie together those bits and pieces into one story so that I can continue Simon’s story with some background. Simon was born in Oberlistingen in about 1795 to Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann (no connection to my Seligmanns). In 1822, he married Eveline Katzenstein of Grebenstein (no known familial connection to my Katzensteins). Their first child, Jacob, was born in about 1825 in Oberlistingen. 1

In May, 1826, Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery.2  As I wrote about at length in this post, in 1830 there was a trial, and Simon was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison with his legs shackled. Simon appealed, and on December 24, 1830, the appellate court upheld the verdict, but reduced the sentence from ten years to four years because the victim’s injuries were not dangerous or life-threatening and because Simon had not used any lethal weapons. The court also observed that the delay in trial was not Simon’s fault and took that into consideration in reducing his sentence.

Simon and Eveline had four more children after Jacob: Lena (1828),3 born while he was awaiting trial, and three born after he was released, Hewa “Eva” (1836), Joseph (1837), and Jesajas (1839), all born in Oberlistingen. Sadly, Simon and Eveline’s last two babies did not survive. Both Joseph and Jesajas died in infancy.

Eva (Hewa) Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.7

 

Joseph Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 6

Jesajas Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 7

A year after the death of Jesajas, Simon’s wife Eveline died on August 19, 1840. Simon was left on his own to raise his fifteen-year-old son Jacob, twelve-year-old daughter Lena, and four-year-old Eva.

Eveline Katzenstein Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 8

Simon’s son Jacob left Germany that same year and immigrated to the US.4  By 1850, Jacob was living in Washington, Pennsylvania, working as a tailor and living with two other men who were tailors, and had changed his surname to Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith (Simon’s son) 1850 US census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_834; Page: 363A; Image: 244

On September 10, 1844, Simon married Fradchen Schoenthal, my three-times great-aunt, in Oberlistingen. Fradchen was already 37 at that time, and Simon was 49.

Marriage of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 11

Almost exactly a year later, Simon and Fradchen arrived in the United States along with Simon’s youngest daughter, Eva, who was then nine years old.

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

They must have settled first in Baltimore because Simon and Fradchen had two children who were born there, Henry on January 10, 1847,5 and Hannah on June 5, 1848.6 Since Henry and Hannah’s mother and father were both my blood relatives, they are my double cousins: first cousins, three times removed through Fradchen, and first cousins, four times removed through Simon.

By 1850, Simon and Fradchen (also known as Fanny) were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well Simon’s two daughters from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Simon was working as a tailor and had, like his son Jacob, Americanized his surname to Goldsmith.

Simon lost his second wife Fradchen soon thereafter; she died on August 11, 1850, at age 43. Once again Simon was left with young children—Henry was three, Hannah was two.

Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith Troy Hill Pittsburgh

By 1853, Simon’s son Jacob had married Fannie Silverman, also a German immigrant, and together they had six daughters born between 1853 and 1860: Ellena (1853)7, Emma (1854),8 Annie (1855),9 Rachel (1857),10 Leonora (1858),11 and Celia (1860).12  By 1860, Simon and his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and were living with Jacob and Fannie and their six daughters. Henry and Hannah were only five and six years older than their oldest niece, Ellena.

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Simon’s daughter Lena married another German immigrant, Gustavus Basch in 1856.13 In 1860, they were living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with their first two children, Frank (1858) and Jacob (1859). Connellsville is under fifty miles from Washington, Pennsylvania, where Lena’s father Simon and her brother Jacob were then living.

Basch family, 1860 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 421; Family History Library Film: 805110 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s youngest child with Eveline, his daughter Eva, her whereabouts in 1860 are unknown. I cannot find her anywhere on the 1860 census. More on Eva here and here and in a subsequent post.

Thus, by 1860, all the members of the family of Simon Goldschmidt (except possibly Eva) were living in western Pennsylvania, most of them in Washington, Pennsylvania.  That was as far as I’d gotten with Simon’s story in my earlier posts. Now I can pick up with Simon and his children in the years after 1860.

 

 


  1. I don’t have original birth or marriage records for these facts, but have relied on various US records as well as the research of others to reach these conclusions. 
  2.  HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40. See the linked post for more information about my source for this information. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010 
  4. Jacob Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0072; FHL microfilm: 1240119, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Henry Goldsmith, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  6. Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, death certificate, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan, Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, File Number: 007791. 
  7. Ellena Goldsmith Feldstein, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 061391-064480, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Emma Goldsmith, death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX5B-3PG : 9 March 2018), Emma Goldsmith, 06 Jan 1902; citing cn14552, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,853,338. 
  9. Annie Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  10. Rachel Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  11. Leonora Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  12. Celia Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  13. Lena and Gustavus Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241268, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Catherine Goldsmith Lambert: An Update

Back on July 10, 2018, I wrote about Samuel Goldsmith, the son of Meyer Goldsmith, who died in 1907 when he was just forty years old, leaving behind his wife Helen Rau and toddler daughter Catherine. From my research I knew that after Samuel died, Helen and Catherine lived in France for many years, rarely returning to the US until the Nazis invaded France in 1940. At that point Catherine was married to Gerard Lambert, a Frenchman, with whom she had two children born in the 1930s. Eventually, Helen, Catherine, Gerard, and the two children settled in the US. But there were many unanswered questions. I ended my discussion about Catherine and her family by noting that “I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.”

Well, thanks to the miracle of the internet and Facebook, that point has arrived. I have been in touch with Catherine’s son Alan, who has generously answered my questions and filled in some of the gaps in the story of his family. With his permission, I am able to share his story here. Most of this information came directly from Alan, though some was discovered by additional research. Alan also shared this wonderful photograph of his mother, Catherine Goldsmith Lambert:

Catherine Goldsmith Lambert
Courtesy of Alan Lambert

Alan told me that his grandmother Helen Rau Goldsmith went to France to work as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue after Samuel died and took her young daughter Catherine with her. Helen’s sister Emma Rau had served as a nurse during World War I and had settled in Paris after the war, so Helen and little Catherine joined her there. Alan shared with me this photograph of his great-aunt Emma’s glass and sterling silver hip flask, which she carried throughout her service during the war.

Emma Rau’s World War I glass flask
Courtesy of Alan Lambert

Catherine grew up and went to school in France and married Gerard Lambert sometime before 1934. Gerard was born in 1904 in St. Quentin, France;1 he was a captain in the French army and then served during World War II in the Free French army and the US’s Office of Strategic Services (the OSS).

UPDATE: According to Alan, his parents had both attended the Beaux Arts in Paris as he became an architect (Architecte Diplome par le Gouvernement) and she a skilled sculptress. Alan’s architectural career was interrupted by the war.

Meanwhile, with the rise of Nazism in Germany and the threat of war, the family decided it was time to leave France. Fortunately, Helen had contacts back in the United States to help them escape. Her sister Adelaide Rau had married Julius Rosenwald on January 19, 1930, in Chicago.2 Julius had been one of the founders and the president of the Sears, Roebuck Company. It was a second marriage for both. She was sixty, and he was 67. Sadly, Julius died only two years later on January 6, 1932, leaving Adelaide once again a widow.3

But Adelaide now had the resources and connections to help get Helen, Catherine, and the children out of France in 19384 and to support them once they got to the United States. According to Alan, he and his mother and sister first lived in New Jersey when they left France but then moved to California where Adelaide was living. Emma and Helen were also living there.

After his service in World War II ended, Gerard Lambert joined them in the US, working in Washington, DC, doing import-export work, but then moved to London to work for the US government’s Military Production and Supply Board. Catherine and the children joined him there for some time. Alan left London to attend Stanford University, and soon thereafter Helen and her daughter also returned to California. Catherine and Gerard divorced, and Gerard returned to France and to his career as an architect. One of his projects was the South African embassy building in Paris.  Gerard died in France in 1986.

South African embassy in Paris
By Celette [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

As for Catherine, her son Alan described her as “an intensely intelligent and artistic person.” She developed hearing problems as well as vision problems and became involved in researching and educating others about ways to assist those with hearing impairments, including through lip reading and other means. She worked with Lucelia M. Moore and Boris V. Morkovin, who wrote Through the Barriers of Deafness and Isolation: Oral Communication of the Hearing-Impaired Child in Life Situations (Macmillan Company, 1960), as well as a number of other works on this topic. Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.5

Here is a letter Catherine received in 1948 from Eleanor Roosevelt related to Catherine’s efforts to assist those with hearing impairments:

 

I am very grateful to my cousin Alan for sharing his family’s story and these images with me and for allowing me to share it with all of you.

 

 

 


  1. Gerard Lambert, passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Chicago Tribune, 09 Jan 1930, Thu, Page 1 
  3. FHL Film Number: 1684326, Ancestry.com. Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  4. Catherine Lambert and children, passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 1; Page Number: 30, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5.  Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

As seen in my last few posts, although my cousin Betty Goldschmidt and her husband (and our cousin) Jacob Goldschmidt had eight children, I only have adult records for one of them, their son Berthold. Berthold and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein had seven children, but their son Siegfried Goldschmidt was the only child of the seven to live long enough to marry and have a child of his own; Siegfried and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless had one child, a son Max born November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Siegfried and his wife were among the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but their young son Max, the last known remaining descendant of Betty and Jacob, survived. Max was only eight years old when Hitler came to power and not yet eighteen when his parents were deported in 1942. How had he survived? At first all I knew was that he had immigrated to the US from Israel in 1948, but thanks  to the generous assistance of Elan Oren of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I have been able to piece together much of the story of Max’s life.

Elan located Max’s file in the Israeli archives, which revealed that Max had escaped to Switzerland at some point during the Nazi era. After the war, Max sailed on the ship Plus Ultra from Barcelona, Spain, to Haifa, arriving in Haifa on June 19, 1945.

From Max Goldschmidt Israeli immigration file: Ship manifest for the Plus Ultra from Barcelona to Haifa, arriving June 19, 1945. Max is on line 94. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

Max’s file in the Israeli archives did not reveal how or when he got to Switzerland or to Barcelona, but Max’s A-file—his US immigration file—from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) revealed further details.1 According to a German police certificate included in Max’s application to the US Consul in Palestine for an immigration visa in 1947, Max lived in Warburg, Germany, from April 1927 until September 1936. That is also where his parents were residing during that time, according to records  at Yad Vashem.

On Max’s 1947 US visa application he stated that he’d immigrated to Switzerland in January 1939. He was only fourteen at that time. He lived in Basel, Switzerland, from January, 1939, until May, 1945, when he must then have left for Barcelona and ultimately Palestine. As for how he escaped from Germany in 1939, Elan Oren suggested that a Zionist youth group such as HeHalutz  might have helped him get out of Germany.

After arriving in Haifa, Max was transferred to Atlit, a detention camp built by the British, who were then in control of what was then Palestine. With the help of Elan Oren and his translation of Max’s Israeli naturalization file, I learned that Max left Atlit and first lived in Petach Tikvah and then moved to Tel Aviv to live with the Laks family. (More on them in a bit.)

Document that states that Max moved from Petah Tikvah to Tel Aviv where the Laks family lived. Translated by Elan Oren. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

But Max decided not to settle permanently in Israel. Max left Haifa on January 29, 1948, and arrived in New York on February 14, 1948. The manifest lists Max’s occupation as a gardener, his primary languages as English and Hebrew, his last residence as Tel Aviv, Palestine, and his birthplace as Frankfort [sic], Germany.

Max Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7546; Line: 19; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The second page of the manifest lists a friend named Pinil Laks as the contact person from Max’s prior residence of Tel Aviv and an uncle “Bernh Laks” of Blackwood, New Jersey, as the person he was going to join in the United States.

So who were the Laks? Bernhard Laks, also known as Bernhard Lachs, Berek Laks, and Bernard Laks, was married to Rosa Pless,2 who must have been a sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother, since Max identified Bernard as his uncle and Rosa as his aunt on various documents.  Moreover, Bernard Laks (then spelled Bernhard Lachs) was one of the witnesses on the marriage record for Max’s parents, Siegfried and Frieda.

Bernhard Lachs as witness on the marriage record of Siegfried Goldschmidt and Frieda Fanny Pless. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

When Max arrived at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948, he was denied admission to the United States because he did not have in his possession the immigration visa that he had been granted by the US consul in Palestine on November 17, 1947. A hearing was held on February 18, 1948 before a Board of Special Inquiry, at which Max testified that he had last seen his visa on the day he embarked from Haifa while at customs, that he had left it with his other papers in his baggage, and that while at sea he’d discovered that the visa was missing.

Max also testified that he had no relatives living outside of the US and no money. He stated that he was coming to the US in order to join his relatives, the Laks family of Blackwood, New Jersey, and that his uncle Bernard Laks had paid for his ticket from Haifa. In addition, Max presented an affidavit from Bernard and Rosa Laks in which they, as “his sole surviving relatives,” promised to “receive and care for [Max] and …not permit him to became a public charge.”

Although the Board of Special Inquiry found that Max had a valid Palestinian passport with a stamp indicating that a visa had been issued to him by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, they concluded that he was not admissible without possession of the actual visa. On February 20, 1948, however, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) recommended that the decision to deport Max be deferred for ninety days to give him time to locate the visa or to obtain a certified copy.

On March 3, 1948, the ninety day stay was granted, and Max was also granted parole during that period, meaning that on March 4, 1948, he was allowed to enter the country though he was required to report in writing on a monthly basis to the Deportation and Parole Section at Ellis Island. Max had thus been detained for eighteen days at Ellis Island before his parole.

On March 18, 1948, his attorney wrote to INS to notify them that the American Consulate in Jerusalem had confirmed that Max had been granted a visa on November 17, 1947, and that the Visa Division in Washington, DC, had been so notified.  On April 8, 1948, the State Department submitted a certified copy of the visa. However, it was not until four months later on August 11, 1948, that an order was entered to re-open Max’s case. A new hearing was scheduled for September 15, 1948.  Fortunately, Max had better luck at this hearing, and he was granted legal admission into the country on September 15, 1948, more than seven months after arriving at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948. (I assume Max had received extensions of the 90 day parole period initially granted in March, 1948.)

Then began the next chapter of his life and more experiences with the slowly grinding wheels of American bureaucracy. He started the process of becoming a US citizen on October 1, 1948, just two weeks after entering the country officially.  But before Max’s papers could be processed, he was inducted into the US Army on January 1, 1949, the very day the government had scheduled a meeting to discuss his citizenship application. He amended his address to reflect that he was now stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey as a member of the 9th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 2, 1951, and on March 11, 1955, a certification of his service was issued to INS. His formal petition for naturalization was filed on October 14, 1955, with Bernard and Rosa Laks attesting to his character.

On January 24, 1956, the government received reports from the army that on January 2, 1951, while serving in the army, Max had “stated in substance … that if the Army is an example of democracy, he would take communism” and that on June 4, 1951 while giving a training lecture to his unit, “he introduced the Crusades as an illustrative example in this history of warfare, and then proceeded to interject his own thoughts on the persecution of Jews by Christians at the time of the Crusades, allegedly making rather strong remarks about the Roman Catholic Church. [Max] has at various times in the past tried to turn a topic of conversation into ‘making a case’ for Zionism.”

I suppose Max took the meaning of the First Amendment more literally than the US Army thought appropriate. Whether this had any impact on his citizenship application is not clear. On a page of examiner’s notes dated November 9, 1956, the examiner gave Max a final rating of “deny,” but then that was crossed out, and on May 17, 1957, his application was granted and he was finally issued a certificate of naturalization; he also changed his name to Goldsmith at that time. Despite his service in the US Army, it had taken almost eight years to complete the process of becoming a citizen.

Two months later in July 1957, Max married Shirley Larve in Trenton, New Jersey.3 Shirley was born in Trenton on May 29, 1923, to Joseph and Anna Larve.4 She was 34 when they married, and Max was 32. They did not have any children.

Shirley died at age 70 on July 24, 1993, in Broward County in Florida.5 Her obituary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on August 15, 1993, filled in some of the gaps in their lives between 1957 and 1993.  Here are some excerpts:

…Shirley worked during WWII for the U.S. Army Finance Dept. and later for 25 years for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State of NJ, retired supervisor in 1985. Married Max Goldsmith July, 1957, an immigrant to the U.S.A. They resided at various locations throughout the U.S.A. … Her life was devoted to her husband, being a true companion to him who had lost his family of 68 members during the Nazi era.

She served two terms as President of the Ladys Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 697 in Levittown, PA. A life member in the American Red Star of David for Israel. In 1989 she received the Lady of the Year award of the Star-Faye Post 672. She was very mild mannered, yet forceful. A lady in her own right. Always unpretending with an inherent sense of justice. She had her golds [goals?] and she never let go until accomplished. She had little patience for people who sat around and complained. Although small in stature yet big in ability and courage.

Shirley and Max thus lived in or near Trenton, New Jersey until 1985 when she retired after 25 years working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Levittown, Pennsylvania, is less than eight miles from Trenton.) By 1990, they had moved to Pompano Beach, Florida.6

I am troubled by the reference in her obituary to 68 members of Max’s family being killed in the Holocaust. Who were those 68 people? How were they related to Max? Were they his mother’s relatives? Or were they Goldschmidts I just haven’t found? It haunts me.

Max died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eleven years after Shirley on July 2, 2004, at age 80.7  He’d endured a great deal in his life—fleeing from his homeland and his family as a young teenager, the murder of his parents, the move to Palestine and then to the US, and all the hassles he endured to become first a legal resident and then a  citizen of the United States.

But I was very comforted after reading Shirley’s obituary; I assume that Max wrote it himself. It is clear from his words that he loved her very deeply and that he felt loved and taken care of by her.  It is wonderful to know how devoted they were to each other, especially after all he’d been through in the first 32 years of his life.

Max Goldsmith, my third cousin, once removed, was a true survivor.  As best I can tell, he was the only and last surviving descendant of  his great-grandparents, Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt, two first cousins who married each other, both grandchildren of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents. By remembering Max, I hope to honor not only him, but all those who came before him.

 

 

 


  1. The references in this post to documents relating to Max’s immigration to the US are all from his A-file from USCIS, copies of which are in my possession. References to his immigration to Palestine and his time there are from the Israeli archives here
  2. On the 1937 passenger manifest for Berek and Rosa Laks, the person they named as their closest relative living in their former residence of Frankfurt was E.Pless, identified as Berek’s mother-in-law and Rosa’s mother. From this I inferred that Rosa’s birth name was Pless and that she was the sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother.  Laks family, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6022; Line: 1; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Certificate Number: 21705, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1957; Surname Range: L – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  7.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

The Heartbreaking Story of Berthold Goldschmidt

As seen in my last post, as far as I’ve been able to determine, of the eight children born to Jacob Goldschmidt and Betty Goldschmidt, only their son Berthold survived to adulthood.

Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, and they had seven children: Paul (1893),1 Leopold (1895),2 Siegfried (1896),3 Hedwig (1898),4 Ida (1899),5 Hilda Johanna (1903),6 and Rosa (1906).7

Hilda, Rosa and Ida all died before their first birthdays.8  Thus, of the seven children born to Berthold and Mathilde, it appears that only Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig lived past infancy. It must have been devastating for Berthold and Martha to lose three babies like that. Between 1895 and 1909, Berthold also lost his parents Jacob and Betty. Thus, he suffered five losses in a very short period of time.

Then Berthold suffered four more tragic losses in the 1910s. First his wife Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt died at age 43 in Marburg, Germany, on December 29, 1911. She left Berthold with four teenagers to raise alone. Paul was 18, Leopold was 16, Siegfried was 15, and Hedwig was 13.

Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

But Berthold’s heartbreak was far from over. His daughter Hedwig died on August 5, 1915 in the Elisabeth hospital in Volkmarsen, as attested to by a nurse at that facility; she was only seventeen. Matthias Steinke generously translated Hedwig’s death record, which reports that Hedwig had been residing in Oberlistingen at the time of her death. I have tried to find some document showing the cause of death, but have had no success.

Hedwig Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 11405, 1915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Less than a year after Hedwig’s death, Paul Goldschmidt, Berthold and Mathilde’s first child, died in the state hospital in Haina, Germany, on July 20, 1916, at age 22.  The death record did not reveal a cause of death or the duration of Paul’s time at the state hospital, and I wondered whether, given his age and the year, he had died as a result of injuries suffered fighting for Germany in World War I.

Paul Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 4613
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

I was able to determine that the hospital in Haina was a psychiatric hospital and also that it cared for some soldiers during World War I, but I needed more information to determine why Paul died there. I wrote to the authorities in Haina to learn more, and I received the following response based on the hospital’s records  from Dr. Horst Hecker of the Haina branch of the Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen :

At the age of four, Paul Goldschmidt fell ill with hydrocephalus. He was first treated at the “Idiotenanstalt” (idiot asylum) [in] Idstein. In November 1900 Paul was admitted to the “Hessisches Brüderhaus (Anstalten Hephata”) near Treysa. On September 23, 1914, he was transferred to Haina Hospital. There he died on July 20, 1916, of “Marasmus bei Idiotie”.

Dr. Hecker sent me the entire file, and although I have not been able to translate much of it that is hand-written, I was able to translate one type-written entry that revealed that Paul was developing normally until he was four.  His parents attributed the hydrocephalus to a fall; Paul had hit his head on the corner of their stove and received four to five stitches. Whether that could cause hydrocephalus is beyond my area of expertise. But apparently soon thereafter his behavior and his development regressed, and he was institutionalized. How very sad that this boy spent eighteen years institutionalized before dying at age 22.

UPDATE: My medical consultant tells me that it is extremely unlikely that hydrocephalus would have been caused by a fall.  More likely it had been progressing. Perhaps the fall was caused by the hydrocephalus, not the other way around. On the other hand, one reader told me that her son had hydrocephalus caused when he was elbowed in the head, moving an undetected tumor in such a way as to cause hydrocephalus. Fortunately her son recovered after surgery removed the tumor.  Thank goodness for modern medicine.

But Berthold’s heartbreak was still not over. One of his two remaining children, his son Leopold, was killed just a few months after Paul’s death while fighting for Germany in World War I. He was only 21 years old. With the help of those in the Jekke group on Facebook, especially the incredibly generous help of Andre Gunther and Doris Benter of that group, I believe I have been able to piece together some of what happened to Leopold.

Leopold was injured in the fall of 1915 while serving in the 12th Company of the Reserve Infantry Regiment, No. 256.9 He returned to active duty after recovering from these injuries, and in December 1916 he was listed as missing.10 As seen below, it was reported that he had been missing since the end of October in the West. At that time he had been serving with the 8th Company of Infantry Regiment No. 364, to which he must have been transferred when he returned to duty.

Leopold Goldschmidt, listed as missing, https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/900539/1/2/

In a book published in 1932 that compiled the names of all the Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Germany in World War I, Leopold Goldschmidt is listed with Company 8 of the 364th Infantry Regiment. His date of death is given as October 25, 1916, and the list categorized his death as judicially determined, indicating that his body was not found but that he was declared dead in a legal proceeding. 11

I am not sure how they determined the date when he died, but on the assumption that that is accurate, I checked to see what battles on Germany’s western front occurred in late October, 1916, and whether the 364th Infantry Regiment participated in those battles. Although I have no conclusive evidence, my best guess is that Leopold was killed or taken prisoner during the Battle of Verdun. Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, provided this information:

In September, Gen. Charles Mangin, who had held command of a section of the French defensive line from Fleury to the right bank of the Meuse from June 22, proposed a scheme to liberate the Verdun region. Nivelle approved, and that offensive was initiated on October 21 with an artillery barrage across a broad front. An infantry assault followed on October 24, with three divisions advancing behind a creeping artillery barrage. By that evening the French had retaken Douaumont along with 6,000 German prisoners, and by November 2 the fort at Vaux was once again in French hands.

According to other sources, the 364th Infantry Regiment was among those participating in the October 24 battle for Fort Douamont. Thus, Leopold likely participated in that action and was among the many German soldiers who were either killed or taken prisoner by the French during that battle.

Leopold Goldschmidt died serving his German homeland in 1916. He was survived by his father Berthold and his only remaining sibling, Siegfried Goldschmidt. This fall his hometown of Oberlistigen honored his memory and his service to his country. More on that in the next post.

Thus, by 1916, Berthold Goldschmidt had outlived his wife and seven of his eight children. It’s hard to fathom how someone endures so many losses. Berthold died in Oberlistingen on November 8, 1927, eleven years after his sons Paul and Leopold; he was 69 years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Description
Year Range: 1927
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Siegfried Goldschmidt, the only child of Berthold and Mathilde still living, attested to his father’s death. As we will see, Siegfried’s life ended in tragedy as well.


  1. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  2. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8078, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  3. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  4. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8081, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  5.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8082, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  6. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8172, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  7. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8175, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8169, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958; also, see footnotes 6 and 7. 
  9.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 10082: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/3324952 
  10.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 16803: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/5035892 
  11.  [^9]:Die Judischen Gefallenen Des Deustchen Heeres, Der Deutschen Marine und Der Deutschen Schutztruppen 1914-1918 (Herausgegeben vom Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten, 1932), pp. 38, 309. 

Kissing Cousins: Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt, Married but Buried in Different Towns

I have now written about all the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander who immigrated to the US; their only child who did not immigrate was their daughter Betty (also known as Behla and Beilchen). She was born in Oberlistingen in November 1829, their third daughter and fifth child.

Betty Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Not only did Betty never leave Germany, she never lived anywhere but her birthplace of Oberlistingen because she married her first cousin, Jacob Goldschmidt, who was also from Oberlistingen. Jacob Goldschmidt was the son and apparently the only child of Lehmann Yehudah Goldschmidt and Ranchen or Rinia Frank. Lehmann Goldschmidt was the younger brother of Seligmann Goldschmidt, making Jacob and Betty first cousins. Lehmann was also my 4x-great-uncle, making Jacob my first cousin, four times removed.

So I can in a sense kill two birds with the next set of posts: finish the story of the descendants of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann and Hincka (Alexander) Goldschmidt and tell the story of Seligmann’s brother Lehmann Goldschmidt and his descendants.

I could not find a birth record or marriage record for Lehmann nor for his wife Ranchen/Rinia, but only their death records. According to Lehmann’s death record, he was born in Oberlistingen and died there when he was 80 years old on July 15, 1865, meaning he was born in about 1785. His wife died in Oberlistingen on March 5, 1854, when she was 75 years, two months, and three days old, meaning she was born January 2, 1779.  I don’t know, however, where she was born.

Lehmann Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Rinia Frank Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 4

I also was not able to find a birth record for Lehmann’s son Jacob Goldschmidt. However, I was able to find the record of Jacob’s marriage to Betty Goldschmidt, which reports that Jacob was 28, Betty (Beilchen here) was 22 when they married in July, 1851 in Oberlistingen. That would indicate that Jacob was born in about 1823 and Betty in 1829, as is consistent with her birth record above. That means that Jacob’s mother was in her forties when he was born and may explain why he was their only child.

Marriage record of Betty Goldschmidt and Jakob Goldschmidt, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 15

Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt would have eight children, including a stillborn daughter delivered on April 13, 1853:

Stillborn child of Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt, Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

The other seven children were Levi (1855),1 Pesach Berthold (1858),2 Meier (1861),3 Recha (1863, presumably named for Ranchen/Rinia Frank Goldschmidt, Jacob’s mother who died in 1854),4 Hinka (1866, presumably named for Betty’s mother Hinka),5 Hedwig (1868),6 and Lehmann (1872, presumably named for Jacob’s father, Lehmann, who died in 1865).7 I have birth records for all seven of these children, but unfortunately for five of them, those are the only records I can locate, and I have no information about what happened to them after their births.

The only children for whom I have later records are Pesach Berthold and Hinka. Hinka died on September 27, 1867. She was only one year, two months, and twenty days old.

Hincka Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Thus, Pesach Berthold is the only child of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt for whom I have adult records. Was he the only one to survive to adulthood? What happened to the others? I don’t know.

Pesach Berthold Goldschmidt was born on October 31, 1858, in Oberlistingen:

Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15

From their children’s birth records I know that Pesach Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, daughter of Bernard Freudenstein and Johanna Kugelman. Mathilde was born on June 16, 1868, in Rosebeck, Germany,8 a small town less than ten miles from Oberlistingen. Berthold (as he is named in the children’s birth records) and Mathilde probably married by 1893 because their first child Paul was born on September 1, 1893:

Paul Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Jacob Goldschmidt died on March 6, 1895, according to the inscription on what I think is his gravestone. That gravestone came to my attention after my friend Julia Drinnenberg contacted me in June, 2018, asking if I knew who this Jacob Goldschmidt could be, as he was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Liebenau and there was no Goldschmidt family in Liebenau. Liebenau is almost 120 miles from Oberlistingen where my Goldschmidt family lived.

Julia sent me these photographs of the gravestone.

The German inscription on the gravestone translates as “Here lies Jakob Goldschmidt from Oberlistingen.” The Hebrew transcription refers to him as “Yakov (Jacob) son of Yehudah.”

At first I did not think this was Lehmann’s son since he was referred to as son of Yehuda. But then I found a transcription of Lehmann’s grave which refers to him as Lehmann known as Yehuda.

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 6

Thus, I believe that the gravestone depicted in the photographs from Julia is the gravestone of Jacob Goldschmidt, son of Lehmann and husband of Betty.

What neither Julia nor I nor anyone else I consulted could understand was why Jacob Goldschmidt was buried in Liebenau when he was a resident of Oberlistingen 120 miles away. Unfortunately, neither Julia nor I could locate a death record for Jacob in Liebenau, Oberlistingen or elsewhere. Was he perhaps in Liebenau when he died?  Since traditional Jewish practice required that the deceased be buried within 24 hours of death, maybe getting the body back to Oberlistingen that soon was problematic. Did he therefore have to be buried in Liebenau for religious reasons? And why was he in Liebenau in the first place? I don’t know.

UPDATE: I sent this post to Julia, and she wrote back to tell me that the Liebenau where Jacob is buried is only about 6 km from Oberlistingen; apparently there are two towns with that name. So there goes my theory that they couldn’t get the body home in time to bury him in Oberlistingen….

When Jacob’s wife Betty died on March 16, 1909, in Oberlistingen, she was buried in the cemetery for Oberlistingen Jews, and her gravestone inscription described her as Jacob’s widow. There is no gravestone for Jacob there.

Betty Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8178,  1909
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 9

Thus, Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt were buried 120 miles apart in two different towns. They appear to have been survived only by their son Berthold, who attested to his mother’s death. Berthold’s heartbreak was only beginning in 1909.

To be continued….


  1.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 14 
  2. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15 
  3. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 16 
  4.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  5. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  6. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 18 
  7. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 19 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part II: 1913-1918

In my last post, I shared some excerpts from my cousin Frieda Bensew Loewenherz’s memoir, covering the years from her childhood in Germany, her immigration to the US in 1907, and her life in the US up through 1912. We left off with Frieda’s decision to take a new job, a decision that changed her life. Here is how she described her new workplace:

It was an importing firm, headed by an Austrian, Dr. Sokal, a brilliant man, Dr. of chemistry. . . . My work was interesting especially since a new project was to be worked out. It entailed the representation of a German firm in Cologne manufacturing accumulation plates for lead batteries and the import of them. I carried on the German correspondence, translating into English formulas, etc. and finally the contract.

But perhaps of more interest to her than her work was the man she met at her new job:

After a few weeks a new member of the firm arrived from Europe where he had been traveling and visiting his family in Leinberg and Vienna, etc. He was an engineer, Mr. Emanuel Loewenherz. Little did I think at our first meeting that I had met my destiny!

For a while their outward relationship was “strictly business,” but it seems that from the beginning their feelings were more personal than that.

In those days there was much more formality. We were both European born and reared and the rules were even more strict. Nobody could help being impressed by Mr. L’s bearings, his impeccable manners and old world politeness. And he was startlingly handsome! He was a graduate of the technical University of Berlin, widely travelled and very cultured as was his background. Before going to Europe he had been for many years with the Western Electric Co., also held important positions in New York. Little me was awed by this cosmopolitan man of the world! Now and then we had little conversations not related to business and I thought that would be as far as it would ever go….

Emanuel Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

And then things changed:

But in the spring of 1914 when I was again planning to see my parents and was given a leave of absence, Mr. L. invited me to dinner as a “”farewell party” at the Bismarck Hotel where he was at home, the owners being his friends. I was so excited I could not eat! The excellent dishes, the wines, ordered by a real connoisseur practically remained untouched by me. But we had a fine evening and I was walking on air!

My friend Clara A. and two other girls who were traveling with me had the usual send off at the station, friends, relatives, a regular delegation. “He” arrived with a great bunch of red roses and created quite a sensation. He was also the only one who did not kiss me goodbye — One of the girls whispered to me: “Frieda, red roses, that means something!” All I answered was “don’t be silly.”  I think I even meant it at that time- I was so unsophisticated! And then, on the boat, there was a special delivery letter awaiting me and a little later, a beautiful fruit basket was delivered to my cabin. I was speechless – Of course, I wrote him a warm letter of thanks, but rather formal – it was the trend of the times.

Frieda then went off and spent the summer of 1914 in Germany with her parents and was pursued by at least two other men. But her summer of family and fun was darkened by the threat of pending war. She wrote:

It was June 28, we were sitting at a table of a sidewalk cafe when suddenly [newspaper] “extras” appeared. We grabbed one — the headline said: “Austrian heir to the throne, Prince Ferdinand and wife, assassinated at Seraguro[Sarajevo]!” The shock was terrific, and we knew at once that this would mean war — there was, of course, hope it could be averted….the war clouds grew darker each day — the German press told us very little and only from their angle. Propaganda against Russia was vicious. And then came partial mobilization – and with it the spy craze, suspicion and all ugliness. The railroad, bridges, etc. were guarded by civilians pressed into service and rumors flew around day and night. On July 28 war started by Austria against Russia was declared and on August 2nd England declared war against Germany–World War I was on! Germans were a war loving people, their enthusiasm was boundless, they thought the war would be over that Christmas and, of course, they would be victorious.

My brother [Julius Bensev] and I had our own thoughts and personal concern: how to get back to America! We had return passage on the Hamburg America Line and the British blockade was tight. Our parents were worried for our sakes — we worried about them. Anxious weeks followed: We spent much time at the railroad station, to watch the mobilization. The military trains, westward and eastward bound, rolled in day and night, only about 15 minutes apart….The local women and young girls would meet the trains offering all kinds of food – this happened at every stop. Meanwhile the young men of my hometown had all left — each knowing where to report to his unit — I waved to many as they rode by, some never to return.

This month of August also brought in the first trains of wounded and prisoners of war. Of course the papers only reported the wonderful victories and, as if it were the most logical thing to do, the invasion of Belgium. There was no radio or TV in those days, and the papers brought only the German version, and only the censored.

At last we got word that it was feasible to reach Holland from where we hoped to get passage to the United States. To say goodbye to our parents was even worse this time under prevailing circumstances and they were very worried about our safety.

After several delays and obstacles, Julius and Frieda were able to board a ship from Amsterdam to New York, crowded with many others seeking to leave Europe.

It took us ten days to reach New York — it is hard to describe my emotions when I saw the statue of Liberty! There were tears of joy and I was not ashamed of mine.

After a visit with her relatives in Philadelphia, Frieda returned home to Chicago and to work and to Emanuel Loewenherz:

I did not do much work the first few days, and I must confess that I was rather excited at seeing “Mr. L” again! As he stated much much later when we had become friends that he was concerned when and how I would be able to get out of Germany. …. Our personal relationship kept growing although still rather formal. It was the trend of times and our upbringing! ….

We eventually addressed each other by our first names but with the prefix “Mr.” and “Miss”: how times have changed — I was so careful not to show my feelings and interpreted his as just being friendly. I blushed so easily in those days! During the day it was, of course, all business but when we went out which we did quite often, to dinner, plays, and concerts, I thrilled at the sight of him — but held myself in check and would not for the world reveal my feelings. I knew he was not indifferent either! His looks and attitude spoke volumes and we became better and more intimate friends.

We had a great many interesting discussions and occasional differences which added spice to our friendship. He later confessed that he led deliberately up to those to tease me and to see how well I could control myself! I had a flair for poetry and often after a particularly stimulating evening I would write a little note in verse to him. And so the years passed, filled also with anxiety about our families in Vienna and Germany.

Emanuel Loewenherz at KW Battery. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But things became more difficult for Frieda and Emanuel and many, many others when the US entered the war against Germany and Austria in the spring of 1917:

It is impossible for me to describe the conditions here, hatred of the “Huns” or as the French called the Germans “Boches”– The history books have recorded all and I will contain myself to relating personal events. As “enemy aliens” we were both under suspicion. The amateurish American Protective League did in their zeal more harm than good. My room was ransacked while I was at the U.S. Dept. being questioned about my father’s activities, etc. My “Crime” consisted of getting an occasional note from a friend in Denmark who was in touch with my parents and my answers to them relayed by her. Just a few words to know they were alive. Finally I was released and returned to the office.

Manek [Emanuel’s nickname] was even worse off, he was being shadowed and every so often when he came back to the office after a business call he would tell me about the man following him. Finally he went to see Mr. Herman Paepcke who had financed the KW (and where I went every week for the payroll). He was one of the most prominent German-Americans in Chicago, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. A very cultured, fine man with whom I had many interesting conversations. In fact he would have liked me to be his secretary but for understandable reasons I wanted to stay with KW. Mr. Paepcke arranged a meeting of a member of the Amer. Protective League with Manek at his office and things were explained in a most satisfactory way. Manek’s feelings were completely against Germany from the start of the war and the suspicions that he was a “spy” ridiculous. Mr. P. ended the interview by saying “aren’t we all Americans?” And: “Mr Loewenherz, you shall not be molested any more” –

Although I had learned about the anti-German discrimination that existed in this country during and after World War I, reading about it from the perspective of someone who experienced it directly—a young woman who had been living in the US for ten years and whose brothers had already become US citizens—was much more disturbing than reading about it in history books.

Despite those dark experiences, Frieda and Emanuel’s romance continued and deepened.

So things went on with us in a more normal way. Of course we did not speak German on the street or public places, only when we were absolutely sure that we could not be overheard. And there were things that we felt we could only express in that language. It became more and more intimate! I knew I was madly in love with him and felt that he was not indifferent. (Anything but — his looks and actions, yes, and his kisses when he took me home after an evening date expressed his feelings only too well). As he told me later he was in love with me long before I had any inkling but was not ready to declare himself. We were both mature people and our friendship was not based on Saturday night dates, we faced every day life in all its aspects together, war having a special meaning. Love can conquer all and it did!

On February 5, 1918, the fifth anniversary of their first meeting at KW, they became engaged to marry, and on May 4, 1918, they were married.

Emanuel and Frieda Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Here is Frieda’s alien registration card dated sometime after she married Emanuel as well as a permit issued to her allowing her to live and work in Chicago but with the restriction that she was prohibited from the water front zone:

Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Emanuel became a US citizen in December, 1918, and as his wife Frieda automatically also became a US citizen. The war had ended a month before, and life returned to normal for the newlyweds.

But life would again become more complicated, as we will see in the final post based on Frieda’s memoir.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.

The Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part I: 1885-1912

In the last post I published before Thanksgiving, I wrote about the two daughters of Breine Mansbach and Jacob Bensew, Roschen and Frieda. They were my grandmother’s second cousins, my second cousins, twice removed. They were the great-granddaughters of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents.

After publishing that post on November 16, I received a wonderful treasure trove of pictures and documents and information from Frieda Bensew’s great-grandson, Franz Loewenherz, my fourth cousin, once removed. Among those shared items was an almost 60 page memoir written by Frieda in 1970 when she was in her eighties (with an addendum written in 1972).

Reading that memoir moved me to tears—not because Frieda had a hard or sad life. To the contrary. She wrote about a life filled primarily with love and happiness—parents who adored her, a marriage filled with deep love, an adoring son and his family, and an extended family that she cared for and about and who cared for and about her. Of course, there were heartbreaking losses and difficult challenges, but throughout her memoir, Frieda’s love of live and her gratitude for all she was given came shining through.

With the permission of her great-grandson Franz, I want to share some of this memoir and also photographs of Frieda, her husband Emanuel Loewenherz, and their son Walter.  Not only is this a touching life story, it has value not only for what it reveals of family history but for its insights into the times in which Frieda lived.

As noted in my earlier post, Frieda was the youngest child of Breine Mansbach and Jacob Bensew, born February 21, 1886, in Melsungen, Germany.1 Here are two photographs of Frieda as a young child, one with her brothers Max and Heine and one alone:

Heine, Frieda, and Max Bensew, c. 1890. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Bensew c. 1890. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Her memoir gives a sense of her happy childhood in Melsungen:

[Melsungen] was situated in a valley on the river Fulda, surrounded by beautiful woods. A climb of 15 minutes from my home would take me into the thick of them. Oak, Linden and Pine exuded that spicy fragrance remembered for all time. Of course in the summer when school was out this was my favorite outing. But I had also some duties to perform, not just picnic, and that was berry picking! With my friends I would start out in the morning, provided with sandwiches and a pail. It was blueberry time and our ambition was to come home with a full pail. Sitting under trees in a blueberry patch, with the sun filtering down, bees humming around us, we often had a very extended lunch hour! Our dessert were berries eaten right from the bushes. We had to hurry to finish our work as we had to be home before sundown, picking wild flowers on the way. My mother would be pleased with the crop to be used for cake, preserves and jelly. She was not so pleased with the condition of my white undies, full of squashed blueberry stains!!

Winter’s great recreation was ice skating on the river. The ice was so clear, it looked green and one could see the plant life beneath it, moving according to the current. The surface was like glass and I took many tumbles! In those days there were no snow or skating outfits. I wore woolen petticoats, long knitted black wool stockings, flannel pants. When I got home my petticoats and dress usually would stand out like a ballerina’s lampshade – frozen stiff! My mother would receive me with a warm drink and a piece of black bread after getting into dry clothes and warming myself at the stove. There were many simple pleasures, another sledding down a hill or when my father would take me along in the sleigh drawn by our horse, with hot bricks at our feet. The floor of the sleigh covered thick with straw. When we stopped at a village inn, my father would let me take a sip of his grag!

Frieda Bensew c. 1898
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda seemed to have a special relationship with her uncle, Julius Mansbach, her mother Breine’s brother who had, like all of Breine’s siblings, immigrated to the United States. But Julius returned to Germany and visited Frieda when she was fourteen years old or in about 1900.

My happiest recollections are, from the time I was 14 when my Uncle Julius, my mother’s youngest brother, came to visit us from America. He took me along on so many day trips to historical places, one of them the famous Wartburg, where Martin Luther was imprisoned and where he translated the Bible. And, of course, it is the setting of Wagner’s opera “Tannhaeuser.” I learned history on authentic grounds. With my uncle I saw my first American circus! Barnum and Bailey, with Buffalo Bill and his wild-west show were touring Germany then and we saw the performance in Kassel. The clowns told their jokes in English, naturally, and my uncle would translate them to me. The three ring performances left me breathless, as did the riding skill of the Indians. This was an unforgettable summer. I was so grateful to my uncle, not alone for providing so many pleasures of various kinds for me but he also was the one who taught me quite a few English expressions and the first rudiments of the language.

Frieda’s ongoing relationship with Julius as well as her uncle Louis Mansbach and grandmother Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach as well as her use of English can be seen in the postcard she sent on September 21, 1902. The photograph is of Frieda and, I believe, her uncle Julius, probably taken while he was visiting the family in Melsungen.

Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Some wonderful people in the Jekkes Engaged Worldwide in Social Networking group on Facebook helped me transcribe and translate the German parts of the card:

On the right side: Dated 21-9-02 (September 21, 1902) from Melsungen:

Dearest Grandmama [Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach] and Uncle Julius [Mansbach],

Unsere Karte von Cassel aus habt Ihr bei dieser Zeit hoffentlich erhalten, morgen ist es wieder ein heisser+ nasser Tag, wo Willi + Heine uns verlassen. Was denkt Ihr vom nebenstehendem Bild? Ist es nicht beautiful? Ende dieser Woche erwarte ich sicher einen grossen Brief von dir, sowie die Ansichtskarte.

(Translated: I hope you have received our card from Cassel by this time. Tomorrow will again be a hot and wet day when Willi + Heine leave us. What do you think of the picture on the other side? Isn’t it beautiful? At the end of the week I expect a long letter from you as well as the picture postcard.)

With best love and kisses, your Fritz

I believe Fritz was Frieda’s nickname.

Underneath Frieda’s message in a different handwriting is this note from her brothers Willi and Heine:

Meine Lieben haltet den Jontef Cholent warm.

Translation: My dears, keep the holiday Cholent warm.

Willi & Heine

I believe that Willi and Heine were sailing to the US, Willi to return having lived in the US since 1885 and Heine coming for the first time: his naturalization card states that he arrived on September 30, 1902.2;I had to smile when I checked and saw that Rosh Hashanah that year started on the next night, October 1. So Willi and Heine must have spent the holidays with the family in Philadelphia. (For those who do not know, cholent is traditional Jewish dish—a stew that usually has meat and vegetables. Here is a typical recipe.)

Along the margin of the right side of the card, Frieda wrote:

Hast du die K. abgeliefert? Wenn nicht, bekommst du keine wieder von mir.

Translation: Did you deliver the K? [card, I assume] If not, you won’t get another from me.

The left side is mostly in English; at the top it says “Best regards to Uncle Louis, Aunt Cora, and Rebecca.” This would be referring to her mother’s brother Louis Mansbach and his family.

Under the picture it says: “Im “Fidelio” war es grossartig [“Fidelio was fabulous]. If you, dear uncle, come again, I will sing the “Arien” [arias] for you. Don’t stay long! Otherwise you are well.” I assume this was directed to her dear uncle Julius Mansbach.

Frieda received a good education at a school in Kassel and had a passion for music and art. And, as she wrote, she wanted to see the world, in particular, America. By the time she was 21 in 1907, all her brothers had immigrated to America, and she also decided to move across the world from her birth place:

It was only natural that I wanted to go to America. Most of our family lived here, from three generations back. My grandparents [Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Mansbach] had come to Philadelphia where most of their children lived and some in the west, in Colorado. My mother [Breine] was the only one who remained in Germany as she had a family and my father refused to leave. When the time came for me to investigate, I did so with the promise of my parents that they would follow after I had familiarized myself with my new surroundings. My disappointment was great when my father declared he changed his mind. They did not wish me to return, however, insisting that I had a right to my own life. That is how loving and understanding and unselfish they were.

This paragraph touched me deeply— thinking of Frieda’s courage and determination and her parents’ respect for it. And yet I also could feel how torn both she and they must have been about this separation.

And so, as I wrote before, Frieda left home in 1907 when she was 21 and joined her brothers and other family in the US. First, she settled in Denver where some of her brothers as well other Mansbach cousins were living, and once again she demonstrated her determination and independence:

After a few months of visits with my family in Denver I had acquired quite a vocabulary and felt able to enter an American School of business. There I studied besides English, correspondence, shorthand and light bookkeeping and typing. I knew German shorthand, and the switch was not easy. It required extreme concentration as, in addition, I did not know business language and form either. Well, I made it and kept step with my class, all American born. I finished even ahead of time and got my first job shortly after. And what was the requirement? German shorthand! The irony of it all! 90% of the dictation was in German and 10% in English.

From what I gathered in the memoir and from what I know from the 1910 census, this job was in Chicago, and as we saw, in 1910, Frieda’s brothers Julius, Max, and Heine were also living in Chicago. Frieda wrote about these days as a single young woman in Chicago with great joy—describing activities and trips she took with her friends and also a trip to Philadelphia to see her relatives. This trip probably took place in 1912 because Frieda notes that her cousin Reta Dannenberg was engaged, and Reta was married in December 1912:3

My Aunt Hannah [Mansbach Dannenberg] and Uncle and their three children made our visit of a few days most enjoyable, Rita the oldest was engaged, Arthur a medical student at the U. of Penn. And Katrinka, the youngest, showed us the sights. We had a lot of fun! Then on to New York. My uncle Julius-who was in this country on business from Germany (he had returned there a few years before with his wife, my cousin Frieda on account of her parents’ wishes) entertained us royally.

In this one paragraph I learned three things. First, that Frieda and presumably the other Bensews were very much in touch with their mother’s Mansbach relatives in the US. Secondly, that the Frieda Bensew who married Julius Mansbach was in fact related to this Frieda Bensew and her family (though I still don’t know how). And thirdly, I learned why Julius Mansbach had returned to live in Germany—to satisfy the wishes of his in-laws.

Frieda Bensew as a young woman. Date unknown. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

From New York, Frieda and a friend named Rose sailed to Germany where they spent the summer of 1912. Frieda was delighted to be with her parents and sister Roschen, but the separation at the end of that visit was difficult. Frieda wrote:

And then came the time to say good bye again. It was not easy – My parents were so kind and understanding.They realized that I had outgrown my old environment and that my opportunities for a fuller life were so much better in America, the land which I loved and do to this day. Perhaps, being foreign born, gave me even a deeper appreciation of the freedom and privileges so many seem to take for granted. My parents and I were grateful for the time we spent together and kept up a brave front at parting.

She stopped in Philadelphia on her way home and was invited to stay for her cousin Reta’s wedding that coming December. She had a wonderful long visit there, and then after the wedding she received a letter from her brother Julius about a new job opportunity in Chicago, so she left to start her new job. That decision was life-changing, as we will see in the next post.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.

 

 


  1.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4574, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  2.  “Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939N-FGS7-2?cc=1838804&wc=M6TM-Q6X%3A165129401 : 20 May 2014), B-524 to B-550 Gustov Joseph > image 983 of 6652; citing NARA microfilm publication M1285 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). 
  3. Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951, Marriage Year: 1912, Marriage License Number: 289763