Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part V: A Love Letter

This is Part V of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV at the links.

As promised, today I am sharing a letter that Samuel Adler wrote to his beloved fiancée, Sarah Kargau, shortly before their marriage in 1837.

Once again, I am indebted to Matthias Steinke for his generous help in transcribing this letter:

Würzburg, den 6ten November 1837

Meine Geliebte!
Voll unbeschreiblicher Sehnsucht zähle ich mit dir jede Stunde. Ja, mit heisser Sehnsucht sehe auch ich dem heiligen Momente unserer Einsegnung, unserer ewigen Verbindung entgegen. Nur noch wenige Tage und wir haben das Ziel unserer Wünsche erreicht. O, wie freue ich mich darauf! Schneller durchströmt bei diesem Gedanken das Blut meine Adern, heftiger schlägt bei diesen Gefühlen mein Herz. Ja, dieses Blättchen würde nicht hinreichen, die alle meine dieshaltigen(?) Gefühle zu schildern, und ich will daher davon abbrechen. Ich habe nun noch eine Bitte: Wir werden nämlich an unserem Hochzeitstage nur eine Vase (Chaise?) mit nach Fürth bringen,

The letter must have continued on the back of the page, as Sue could see there was writing on the reverse side. But she did not want to risk damaging this 182-year-old letter by trying to remove it from the album, so we don’t know how Samuel closed out the letter.

Using Google Translate and my rudimentary knowledge of German, I was able to translate the letter as follows:

Würzburg, November 6, 1837

My beloved! Full indescribable longing I count with you every hour. Yes, with a hot longing I too see the holy moments of our consecration, our eternal connection. Only a few days left and we have reached the goal of our wishes. Oh, how happy I am! The blood rushes through my veins faster at this thought, my heart beats harder with these feelings. Yes, this leaflet would not suffice to describe all of my heartfelt (?) Feelings, and I therefore want to stop it. I have one more request: we will bring only one vase (chaise?) to Fürth on our wedding day,

What a passionate letter! This was no marriage of convenience arranged by parents or a matchmaker. This was a true affair of the heart. I admit to being surprised by the ardor expressed so openly in this letter—the desire is palpable. Samuel was certainly a man in love (or at least in lust). But what was the vase or chaise reference all about? I guess some things are best left to the imagination.

Samuel Adler



Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part IV: His Mother’s Parents

This is Part IV of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, and Part III at the links.

In addition to the biographies of his father Abraham and paternal grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt, Milton Goldsmith wrote about his mother’s family. His mother was Cecelia Adler, Abraham’s first wife, and she was the daughter of Samuel Adler and Sarah Kargau. Although Cecelia’s family is only related to mine through her marriage to Abraham, it is nevertheless fascinating to read about her parents.

Here is Milton’s page about his maternal grandfather, Samuel Adler:

Samuel Adler,–my grandfather, was born in Biebergau, Germany in 1814. He had the usual school education, but was never much of a scholar.  He was a stout, benevolent looking gentleman, hearty and genial, with a host of friends.  He married Sarah Kargau, and we have letters from him to her, also their marriage settlement. A year after my mother was born, they came to American in a sailing vessel, and settled in Philadelphia. For a while he manufactured Mantillas, but was not over-successful. He was one of the founders of the first Reform Temple, the Rodef Scholom in Philada, and became its president. Later, he was one of the founders of the Keneseth Israel Congregation, to which he belonged for the rest of his life.

After the marriage of his daughter, to my father, he came to live with them, until he died of ptomaine poisoning in 1886 at the age of 72. During the later years of his life, he went into the haberdashery business, but it was not successful, my father helping him along and providing for his needs.  Neither he nor my grandmother ever mastered the English language properly, which proved a great handicap. His sister, Mrs. Greenbaum, lived in Burlington, Ia. and died at 90 years of age.

I was left with the impression that Samuel was a wonderful man and well-loved by his family and his community, but not much of a businessman. Certainly he did not measure up to Abraham’s success in business in Milton’s eyes, but this is nevertheless a very loving tribute to his grandfather.

Milton also included this photograph of his grandfather Samuel.

Samuel Adler

But is the man depicted on the lower left side of the page supposed to be Samuel looking like a young George Washington? Or someone else? Any ideas?

As for his maternal grandmother and her family, Milton provided this page:

From looking at this page, I realized that some of the decorative art in this album was probably supplied by whoever manufactured the album. The inserted article at the top overlaps some of that decoration. It is a short biography of Mendel Kargau, Cecelia Adler’s maternal grandmother and Milton’s maternal great-grandmother:

This short biography (taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia, according to Milton) shows that unlike her father Samuel Adler, Cecelia’s maternal grandfather was quite scholarly. In his essay about Mendel Kargau and his daughter Sarah Kargau Adler, Milton wrote:

Mendel Kargau, as the attached biography taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia shows, was an eminent Rabbi in Fuerth, Bavaria. I was named for him, Milton being the English equivalent of Mendel.  He lived and died in Europe.

His only daughter, SARAH, was my maternal grandmother. She emigrated to America about two years after her marriage with SAMUEL ADLER, my grandfather. My mother, Cecelia Adler was a baby when they sailed, and during their sixty day voyage in a sailing vessel, she learned to walk. There were several brothers, one of them Moritz, was still living in Fuerth a few years ago. A nephew, Emanuel Kargau, is a dentist in Chicago. Grandma Adler, was a unique person. She was small in stature and not good looking, but must have been very sprightly in her youth. She was witty, and read a great deal. Her preference was for spicy books.  She lived with us for many years, later in life when the family grew too large, she lived near-by. She outlived her husband by many years, died in 1907 at advanced age of 93, retaining her faculties to the end, although she was always hard of hearing. After mother died, she helped to raise our family of 6 children.

When I researched Milton’s family, I noted that after his mother Cecelia died, his maternal grandparents Samuel and Sarah Adler lived with the family, and I’d assumed that Sarah had taken on part of the responsibility of caring for her daughter’s motherless children. Milton’s essay confirmed that assumption and painted a picture of a grandmother who was lively, interesting, and, his words, unique. I found it amusing that he said she wasn’t good looking. Maybe at 93 she wasn’t or even in her fifties when Milton was a child. Like most children, he probably just saw his grandma as an old lady.

I love this photograph of his grandmother. I have zoomed in on it here so that we can see Sarah Kargau Adler more clearly. I bet she was attractive as a young woman when she swept Samuel Adler off his feet. The letter he wrote before their wedding certainly reveals a man deeply in love. I will save that for my next post.


Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part III: Finding Hettie Steele

Before my father died, I had started posting images from the pages of Milton Goldsmith’s family album. Because my father had a memory of Milton—he was his first cousin, twice removed, his grandmother Hilda’s first cousin—this project was and is special to me. So today I will return to my Monday postings about Milton’s album.

In my last post about Milton Goldsmith’s album, I highlighted this sentence from his family report about his aunt Betty Goldschmidt because it led me to the discovery of a new cousin:

BETTY: married to Jacob Goldschmidt, (a cousin,) with several children, all of whom except Hettie Steele lived in Germany

In my research of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt, I had not found any living descendants. Their story was among the saddest I’d researched. Betty and Jacob had eight children, but I’d only been able to find adult records for one of those eight, their son Berthold. Berthold and his first wife Mathilde had seven children, and all but one of those children died before reaching adulthood. Only their son Siegfried lived to adulthood, and he and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless were murdered in the Holocaust. Their only child Max survived, but Max died without descendants. In addition, Berthold had a second wife, Rickchen Geissberg, with whom he had two more children and a grandson. All were killed in the Holocaust.1

So I was excited to read in Milton’s family report that Betty and Jacob had had a child—Hettie Steele—who had left Germany and presumably survived. But who was she?

I looked back at my posts and notes on Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt (Lehmann’s son) and saw that they’d had a daughter named Hedwig for whom I had a birth record, but no subsequent records. She was born on August 21, 1868, in Oberlistingen  Could this be Hettie Steele?

BIrth record of Hedwig Goldschmidt, Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 18

Milton had written under Hettie Steele the name “Adolph,” so I set off to research Adolph and Hettie Steele and found a couple with those names on the 1900 census living in Butler, Pennsylvania. From there I was able to work forwards and backwards in time to learn a great deal about Hettie.

According to the 1900 census, Hettie arrived in the US in 1883, when she was only fifteen years old.2 A number of her mother Betty’s siblings were then living in Philadelphia, including my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein. Presumably that is where young Hettie was headed, though I have no record of her living in Philadelphia after she arrived.

Hettie married Adolph Steele in Philadelphia in 1889.3 He was born in Germany in November, 1856. Records conflict as to when he immigrated, but the 1900 census as well as the 1930 census say he arrived in 1872, and the 1920 census says 1877, so my guess is that he arrived sometime in the 1870s.4 (The 1910 census says 1864, but that seems less likely to be reliable.) It appears that Adolph settled in Baltimore and lived and worked with his brother Louis, a clothing merchant.5

Adolph and Hettie’s first child Florence was born on September 23, 1890, in Washington, Pennsylvania. 6 Their son Leighton was also born in Washington; he was born on April 15, 1895. 7

Prospect Avenue, Washington, PA 1890

Of course, several other members of the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith clan had lived in Washington, but in 1890, the only member of Hettie’s extended family who was still living there was my great-grandmother, Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal. Hilda was Eva Goldschmidt’s daughter, Betty’s Goldschmidt’s niece, and thus Hilda and Hettie were first cousins living in the same small town together in the 1890s.  They were also having children at the same time; my great-uncle Lester was born in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1888, his brother Gerson in 1892. These cousins were thus all close in age. They must have known each other, and yet I had never known of Hettie until I read Milton’s family report in his album.

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, my great-grandmother

But by 1900, Hettie and Adolph and their two children had left Washington and moved about sixty miles north to Butler, Pennsylvania, where Adolph was working as a clothing merchant. A boarder named Leopold Goldsmith was living with them, but I wasn’t sure whether he was connected to the family.

Adolph Steele and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Butler Ward 3, Butler, Pennsylvania; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 0057; FHL microfilm: 1241386 1900 United States Federal Census

On the 1910 census, Adolph and Hettie were still living in Butler, and Adolph continued to work as a merchant. Their daughter Florence, now nineteen, was working as a public school teacher. Leopold Goldsmith was still living with them, and this time he was identified as Adolph’s brother-in-law. My eyes lit up. Leopold Goldsmith had to be Hettie’s brother, meaning another child of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt had made it to adulthood.

Adolph Steele, 1910 US census, Census Place: Butler Ward 3, Butler, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1321; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0066; FHL microfilm: 1375334 1910 United States Federal Census

Betty and Jacob’s youngest child was named Lehmann on his birth record, and he was born on October 22, 1872. I looked back at the 1900 census and saw that on that census Leopold Goldsmith reported a birth date of October 1872. Leopold had to be Betty and Jacob’s son who was born Lehmann.

Birth record of Lehmann Goldschmidt aka Leopold Goldsmith, Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 19

I searched a bit more and found Leopold living in 1897 with Hettie and Adolph in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he was working for Adolph.8

But alas, Leopold’s life was cut short like so many of his siblings. He died on March 24, 1914, in Butler, Pennsylvania, at the age of 40. According to his death certificate he died from exhaustion from chronic heart disease. His brother-in-law Adolph Steele was the informant on his death certificate.

Leopold Goldsmith, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020581-024050, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

The Butler (PA) Citizen published this lovely obituary on March 25, 1914 (p.3):

Seeing the mention of only Hettie and “a brother in Germany” as survivors confirmed my conclusion that all of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt’s five other children had died. The brother in Germany must refer to Berthold.

But Hettie’s family survived and grew. On February 15, 1915, Hettie’s daughter Florence married Herman Wise, a German immigrant born on July 1, 1878, making him twelve years older than Florence.9 Herman had immigrated in the 1890s and was working as a clothing merchant in Ottawa, Ohio, when he married Florence. Florence and Herman settled in Ottawa, where their first child Martha was born on February 22, 1916. 10 In 1920, they continued to live in Ottawa, where Herman was still a clothing merchant.11

Butler (PA) Citizen, February 16, 1915, p. 5

Hettie and Adolph’s son Leighton graduated from the dental school at the University of Michigan in 1916. In 1917 when he registered for the draft in World War I, he was a self-employed dentist working in Detroit, Michigan. The 1923 University of Michigan alumni directory lists Leighton as a first lieutenant “D.R.C. 1918-1919;” D.R.C. stands for Dental Reserve Corps. In 1920 he was practicing dentistry in Detroit.12

Leighton Steele, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 2032496; Draft Board: 18
Source Information U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Hettie and Adolph were still living in Butler, Pennsylvania, in 1920, but Adolph was no longer a clothing merchant. It looks like it says he was an employment agent for “car works” or maybe “gas works.” Anyone have any idea what that means?

Adolph and Hettie Steele, 1920 US census, Census Place: Butler Ward 3, Butler, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1543; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 16 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1923, Hettie’s daughter Florence had a second child, a son Robert born on September 9 in Ottawa, Ohio.13 Hettie’s son Leighton married Rae Finsterwald on December 27, 1924, in Detroit. She was born in Marion, Wisconsin, on November 8, 1897, to Charles Finsterwald and Selma Goldberg. She grew up in Wisconsin, but in 1920, she was living with her parents and siblings in Detroit where she must have met Leighton. Leighton and Rae would have two children, one born in 1926 and another in 1935.14

By 1930, Hettie and Adolph had moved from Butler, Pennsylvania, to Highland Park, Michigan. Adolph was now 73, but still working, now as a storekeeper for a carpet business.15 He died just three years later on January 18, 1933, in Ottawa, Ohio, where their daughter Florence was living. According to his death certificate, he died from acute pulmonary edema after suffering from chronic hypertension and myocarditis since 1931. He was 77.

“Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 1933 > 06001-09000 > image 1083 of 3247.

Hettie died six and a half years later on June 13, 1939, in Ottawa, from acute coronary occlusion; she was seventy. She was the longest surviving child of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt. And she was survived by her children Florence and Leighton and four grandchildren.

“Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 1939 > 38901-41800 > image 298 of 3242.

Florence continued to live in Ohio with her husband Herman Wise, until his death there on October 23, 1954.16 Her brother Leighton lived in the Detroit area and practiced dentistry there until about 1952 when he moved to Los Angeles, where he died in 1956.17 His wife Rae died in 1986, as did his sister Florence.18

Florence was 95 when she died on April 9, 1986.19 She and her brother Leighton were survived by their children and grandchildren and have a number of living descendants today.

How grateful I am for that one little comment on Milton Goldsmith’s family report mentioning Hettie and Adolph Steele. It led to the addition of a whole new branch on my Goldschmidt family tree. More importantly, I learned that Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt have living descendants, contrary to what I’d thought before Milton’s report enlightened me.







  1. Death record of Rickchen Geissberg Goldschmidt, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958. Hedwig Goldschmidt Starksy, Yad Vashem entry, Jacob Julius Goldschmidt, Yad Vashem entry, 
  2. Hettie Steele, 1900 US census, Census Place: Butler Ward 3, Butler, Pennsylvania; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 0057; FHL microfilm: 1241386, 1900 United States Federal Census. 
  3. Film Number: 004141925, Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 
  4. Adolph Steele, see census records depicted below. 
  5. Adolph Steele, 1880 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: 498; Page: 105B; Enumeration District: 047, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. 
  6. Florence Steele Wise, Number: 295-40-7386; Issue State: Ohio; Issue Date: 1962, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. “Florence Wise,” Lima (OH) News, April 11, 1986, p. A4 
  7. Leighton G. Steele, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 2032496; Draft Board: 18, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  8. Washington, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1897, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  9. Herman Wise, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Putnam; Roll: 1851085, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  10.  FHL Film Number: 915768, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 
  11. Herman Wise and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Ottawa, Putnam, Ohio; Roll: T625_1429; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 107, 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12.  Catalogue of graduates, non-graduates, officers, and members of the faculties, 1837-1921. University of Michigan, U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924; Leighton Steele, 1920 US census, Census Place: Detroit Ward 4, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_805; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 138, 1920 United States Federal Census 
  13. State File Number: 1923091889, Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964 
  14. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 180; Film Description: 1924 Wayne – 1925 Calhoun, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Name: Ray Finsterwald, Birth Date: 8 Nov 1897, Birth Place: Waupaca, Wisconsin, USA, Reel: 0304, Record: 000972, Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1820-1907; Finsterwald family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Detroit Ward 4, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_805; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 158, 1920 United States Federal Census 
  15. Adolph and Hettie Steele, 1930 US census, Census Place: Highland Park, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0983; FHL microfilm: 2340809, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  16. “Herman Wise Dies in Lima Hospital,” Washington C.H. Record-Herald, 25 Oct 1954, Mon, Page 10. 
  17. California, Death Index, 1940-1997. “Dr. Leighton Steele,” Detroit Times Monday, Mar 12, 1956 Detroit, MI Page: 16. 
  18. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 
  19.  Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records. Michigan, Death Index, 1971-1996. “Florence Wise,” Lima (OH) News, April 11, 1986, p. A4 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part II: Loving Tributes to His Grandfather and Father

Last week I introduced the precious gift that my cousin Sue shared with me—her grandfather Milton Goldsmith’s family album. Today I will share the second and third pages in that album.

The second page of Milton Goldsmith’s family album tells about his grandfather and my three-times great grandfather, Seligmann Goldschmidt:

Milton wrote this about his grandfather:

My father’s father, was Seligman Goldschmidt. He was born and lived for the greater part of his life in Oberlistingen, near Hessen Kassel. He was a dealer in spices and general goods. At that epoch Jews could not engage in the higher professions. When Napoleon over-ran Europe, he was drafted into the army, and served under Blucher at the Battle of Waterloo, where he acquitted himself with such bravery that a memorial tablet bearing his name and that of two other Jews of Oberlistingen was erected in one of the public halls. His wife was named Hinka, after whom the several girls named Hildah in our family were called.

How wonderful to learn about Seligmann’s occupation and his brave service in the Battle of Waterloo, facts that were not revealed in any records I’d found.

At the bottom of this page and over to the next page in the album is Milton’s outline of the children of his father’s parents, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander:

As I noted last time, I found this report reassuring in part because it backed up the research I had done on Seligmann and Hinka and their children.

There is also a loving tribute to Milton’s father Abraham on this page. Milton wrote:

Our father, Abraham, came to America at the age of 17 and married at the age of 24. He was a very clever, well educated man, with a thorough knowledge of both German and English, and an omiverous reader of good books. He was successful as a merchant, but failed whenever he undertook any venture outside of his legitimate business. He was at the head of many civic organizations, and highly esteemed by a great circle of friends. In 1878, in consequence of a depression, he retired from the cloth business, and was worth a quarter of a million dollars. Most of this was eventually lost. His declining years were very unhappy, and he lingered for 12 years with an incurable malady. He died at the age of 72.

My blog posts about Abraham mention his business successes and failures, the stroke in 1890 that left him disabled for the last twelve years of his life, and his impressive library of books. But having his son Milton’s affectionate and admiring words adds another layer to the story of this man, my 3x-great-uncle.

But perhaps the most helpful part of this page in Milton’s album was the sentence about his father’s sister, Betty:

BETTY: married to Jacob Goldschmidt, (a cousin,) with several children, all of whom except Hettie Steele lived in Germany.

Who was Hettie Steele? She was not on my family tree. This little sentence led me to a very fruitful and uplifting search.  I will save that for my next post about Milton’s album.


My Cousin Sue and Her Grandfather’s Amazing Album

A few weeks back I connected with my third cousin, once removed, Sue Jacobson. Sue is the granddaughter of Milton Goldsmith, and I had been hoping to connect with her for a long time.

Some of you may remember the long series of posts I wrote about my cousin Milton Goldsmith, the author. Milton, the son of Abraham Goldsmith, was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s first cousin; both were the grandchildren of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander. And my father recalled meeting Milton when he was growing up, remembering him as the author of children’s books. So I was fascinated by Milton and his life for many reasons, and finding Sue has been a true gift.

Not only has Sue answered some of my lingering questions and commented on my blog posts to update and respond to those questions, she has shared with me an incredible album that her grandfather Milton compiled in 1936 when he was 75 years old. It includes biographical information, some photographs, and family trees created by Milton. Sue has generously given me permission to post images from this album, and I have decided to add a third day a week to my blogging schedule to post this wonderful material a page or two at a time.  I plan to post these each Monday, keeping my regular posts on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Today I am posting the cover of the album and its inside cover, which is a beautiful rendition of Abraham Goldsmith’s family tree, showing all his children and grandchildren from both his first marriage to Celia Adler and his second marriage to Frances Spanier.

I am very curious about the illustrations. Did Milton buy this album with the illustrations already printed on the cover and on the pages that follow? Or did he have someone do these illustrations? They look not dissimilar to some that appeared in his books. Has anyone ever seen an album like this before?

Next time I will post the page that follows these in the album where Milton reported on the children of Seligmann Goldschmidt, his father’s father. I was delighted that Milton’s report corroborated the research I had done on Seligmann’s family. But I was even more delighted when I learned about a cousin I had not known about before. I am excited to share that discovery next week. Stay tuned.