Milton’s Family Album, Part XIV: Teasing His Little Brother

Having created pages about his grandparents, his parents, and himself, Milton Goldsmith turned to his siblings, starting with his brother Edwin.

Here is Edwin with his wife Jennie Friedberger:

And here is the biography that Milton wrote about Edwin:

A couple of observations about this biography:

First, I had to look up “caul” as I’d never heard of this before or the superstition associated with it, but this website confirmed what Milton said. A baby born with the amniotic sac on its head or even its whole body is said to have been born with a caul. Here’s a video showing such an occurrence:

 

As for Milton’s remarks about Edwin being registered as a girl at birth, I recalled that when I was researching Edwin, I saw on the Philadelphia birth index that he was identified as a girl. I assumed that that was just an indexing error, but apparently as Milton notes, Edwin was in fact registered as a girl at birth. Unfortunately, I cannot access the image of the actual birth record through FamilySearch; they are only viewable at a Family History Center, and I do not have easy access to one. If anyone lives near one and can retrieve it, please let me know.

I found Milton’s tone here that of the teasing older sibling as opposed to the serious, almost reverential tone of his other biographies. It is clear that Milton found it humorous that his little brother was registered as a girl.

But the remainder of this biography is obviously written with respect and admiration for his brother and all his accomplishments. This biography must have been written sometime after 1935 when Edwin retired, as mentioned in the essay, and before Edwin’s death on November 15, 1944, because Milton added that fact by the handwritten note above the biography. I think this also is a clue as to when Milton compiled the album—sometime between 1935 and 1944.

The only other article on this page is the obituary for Edwin’s wife Jennie Friedberger Goldsmith:

I won’t quote the entire obituary, but just this excerpt:

The death of Jennie Friedberger Goldsmith … after an illness of six weeks, brought sorrow to the family’s large circle of friends throughout the community. Mrs. Goldsmith, who was 67 years of age, was stricken with a heart ailment on June 5, while attending to some business matters at the offices of the Pennsylvania Company, and her condition became so serious that she was removed to the Jefferson Hospital.

…She was active in social and charitable work in Philadelphia and in Atlantic City….She possessed a wide circle of friends and was esteemed and beloved for her sterling qualities of heart and mind. Her abilities and energies were of an unusually high order. At her summer home in Longport as well as in her beautiful home in Philadelphia, she was a gracious hostess to her numerous friends for many years. Her passing is widely mourned….

The page following this contains a long article about Milton’s brother-in-law Felix Gerson, husband and widower of Emily Goldsmith and editor of The Jewish Exponent newspaper, on the occasion of his retirement. I won’t excerpt this one, but if you click on the image, you can zoom in and read it. I have already written about Felix elsewhere.

This is Part XIV of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX,  Part X, Part XI, Part XII and Part XIII at the links.

I will be taking a break for the next couple of weeks, so see you all in June! 

Milton’s Family Album, Part XIII: The Creative Talent of Milton Goldsmith Himself

Milton Goldsmith devoted the next three pages of his family album to himself and to his wife Sophie. The first page includes photographs and two biographies of Milton.

I wonder how they made this photograph of Milton taken from numerous angles—anyone know how they did this?

UPDATE! According to Ava Cohn, aka Sherlock Cohn the Photo Genealogist, these photographs were done with a folding mirror and were quite common. In fact, Ava shared another one as did another Facebook reader who saw my post.

I don’t know where this biography of Milton was published or when, though it was written no earlier than 1891 as it refers to the publication of his book, Rabbi and Priest, in that year. The biography also appears to have been written while he was still living and working in Philadelphia and before he moved to New York City and married Sophie Hyman in 1899. So it was written some time in the 1890s.

I would think that this photograph of Milton was taken about the same time as the publication of that biography, sometime in the 1890s when he was in his thirties:

This entry about him in Who’s Who was written many years later as it references some of his later publications, including his play, The Little Brother, which was published in 1918.

What I really love about this Who’s Who entry are the insights into Milton’s appearance and personality—that he had blue eyes, a fair complexion, and graying hair, that he was cheerful and optimistic, and that he was a moderate drinker and did not smoke. Most of the other biographical and professional information I had already gleaned from other sources. (There are a fair number of blog posts about Milton’s life and career, e.g., here, and here and here and here and here.)

Speaking of The Little Brother, the next page in Milton’s album is a copy of the program from a performance of that play in 1918:

I had previously written about this play and Tyrone Power’s starring role in it.

Finally, the third page compiled three reviews of a play (undated) in which Milton’s wife Sophie had an important role. The play, The Flight of the Duchess, by Henry Hanby Hay, was an adaptation of a “poetic romance” by Robert Browning and performed by the local Browning Society, a amateur group.

In the article on the left side of the page, the reviewer did not like either the play or the performers, but did praise Sophie’s acting, saying, “Mrs. Goldsmith’s reading of her lines was marked by a distinction and sense that had been welcomed in her associates….”

The second review, at the middle bottom of the page, was overall much kinder and also praised Sophie’s performance as “a striking piece of work.” And the third review, on the right side of the page, was more mixed, but again praised Sophie, saying that “The chief individual honors of performance fell to Mrs. Milton Goldsmith.”

These three pages about Milton and his wife Sophie are appropriate reminders of their many talents. Here is one final photograph of Milton, taken in 1941 when he was eighty years old:

This is Part XIII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX,  Part X, Part XI and Part XII at the links.

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XII: The Mystery of His Stepmother Francis

Will you help me solve a mystery?

The next page in Milton Goldsmith’s family album was devoted to his stepmother, Francis (sometimes spelled Frances) Spanier Goldsmith. But his story about her background and childhood left me with quite a mystery.

Milton was fifteen when his father remarried, and from this tribute to Francis, it is clear that he was extremely fond of and grateful to her.

Francis Spanier Goldsmith, the second wife of Father, Abraham Goldsmith, was born in Germany in 1854. Left an orphan at an early age, she was brought up in the home of Rabbi Krimke of Hanover, Germany. At the age of 20 she came to America, and having an Uncle, Louis Spanier, living in Washington, D.C. she went there for a while but soon settled in Baltimore, and became friends with our cousins, the Siegmunds. It was there that father met her, having been introduced by Mr. S. Father had been a widower for two years with five young children to bring up, and was looking for a wife, a lady with no relatives. He fell in love with Miss Spanier, proposed after two days and married within two months. She was 22 and he past forty. She was an attractive girl, dark-eyed, brunette, speaking a cultivated German but very little English;- of an amiable disposition. Father’s greatest mistake was to keep the parents of his first wife in the house. This naturally led to friction. A brother, Julius Spanier soon came in our home and lived there for a while. Later a sister, Rose, came from Hanover and also lived with us for several years. She eventually married and lived in Birmingham, Ala, where her brother also made his home. Within a year the oldest son, Alfred was born, and within five years there came Bertha, Alice and Louis. The later years of father’s life were embittered by sickness, loss of money and finally a stroke, rendering him helpless. He suffered for 12 years before he passed away in 1902. During that time Francis was an untireing [sic] nurse and faithful companion. She died of a stroke in Philada, 1908.

[handwritten underneath] She was distantly related to Heinrich Heine.]

I found this essay heartwarming, but also sad. Francis was orphaned, married a man  with five children who was more than twenty years older than she was, had to put up with his first wife’s parents, raise five stepchildren plus four of her own, and tend to Abraham when he suffered financial and medical problems. What a hard life! But how much of Milton’s essay was true?

When I first wrote about Francis over a year ago, I noted that I’d been able to find very little about her background, so finding this essay was very exciting because it provided many clues about Francis’ background. I’ve placed in bold above the many hints in Milton’s essay about people and places that I thought might reveal more about Francis.1

For example, who was Rabbi Krimke who allegedly brought up Francis? Was he just some rabbi from Hanover, or did Milton provide such a specific name because he was a well-known rabbi? It turns out that it was the latter. In Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und großpolnischen Ländern 1781-1871 (Michael Brocke, Julius Carlebach, Carsten Wilke, Walter de Gruyte, eds. 2010)( p. 549), there was this short biography of Rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke of Hanover:

Here is a partial translation:

Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, born in Hamburg in 24 June 1824, died in Hannover 20 Nov 1886. From orthodox school, 1857 third foundation rabbi at the Michael Davidschen Foundation School in Hannover, at the same time teacher at the Meyer Michael Foundation School and lecturer at the Jewish Teacher seminary, around 1869 first Foundation Rabbi. at the Michael Davidschen Foundation. Married to Rosa Blogg (died 1889), daughter of the Hebrew scholar Salomon Ephraim B.  ….  Was buried in the Jewish cemetery An der Strangriede. The tombstone for the foundation rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke is preserved; it is adorned with a Magen David and also decorated with strong oak leaves….

I then fell into a very deep rabbit hole when I tried to track down Louis, Julius, and Rose Spanier, Francis’ uncle, brother, and sister, respectively. I was able to find a Joseph Spanier living with his wife and family in Birmingham, Alabama, on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census reports.2  But Joseph Spanier was born in England, according to all three census records. I was skeptical as to whether this was Julius Spanier, the brother of Francis Spanier Goldsmith living in Birmingham, as mentioned in Milton’s essay.

Jos. Spanier and family, 1910, US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

But when I searched further for Julius Spanier, I found this page from the 1861 English census:

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census

This certainly appears to be the same man described in Milton’s essay and found on the census records for Birmingham, Alabama, as he was the right age, born in England, and had two sisters, one named Frances, one named Rose. Could it just be coincidence? Also, my Francis was the same age as the Frances on the 1861 English census. This certainly appeared to be the same family as the Spanier family described in Milton’s essay about his stepmother.

What really sealed the deal for me were the names of Joseph Spanier’s children in Birmingham, Alabama. His first child was Adolph; Julius Spanier’s father on the 1861 census was Adolphus. Julius Spanier’s mother was Bertha. Joseph Spanier also had a daughter named Bertha.

And consider the names of the first two children Francis Spanier had with Abraham Goldsmith: a son named Alfred, a daughter named Bertha. It all could not simply be coincidence. I hypothesized that Joseph Spanier was born Julius Spanier in England to Adolphus and Bertha Spanier and that Francis Spanier Goldsmith was his sister.

But then things got murky. Look again at the 1861 English census. It shows that Frances was not born in Germany, but in Boston—in the US. Every American record I had for Francis indicated that she was born in Germany, not the United States. How could I square that with the 1861 English census and the connection to the siblings mentioned in Milton’s essay—Julius and Rose?

And if Frances was born in Boston and living in England in 1861, is it really possible that she did not speak much English when she met Abraham in 1876, as Milton claimed in his essay?

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census

Then I found a birth record for Frances Spanier born in Boston to “Radolph” and Bertha Spanier on September 10, 1854. “Radolph” was clearly a misspelling of Adolph, and this had to be the same Frances Spanier who appeared on the 1861 English census.  Francis Spanier Goldsmith had a birth date of September 13, 1855, on her death certificate, so just a year and few days different from this Boston birth record (though the death certificate said she was born in Germany.)

“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XHB7-DJH?cc=1536925&wc=M61J-KNL%3A73565601 : 1 March 2016), 004023162 > image 102 of 857; Massachusetts Archives, Boston.

Frances Spanier Goldsmith death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 006001-010000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

I also found records showing that Francis Spanier Goldsmith’s uncle Louis was living in Boston in the 1850s.3 It certainly seemed more and more like Francis Spanier Goldsmith was born in Boston, not Germany, as Milton had written and American records reported.

What about the story that she was an orphan and raised by Rabbi Krimke? Francis’ mother Bertha died in England in 1862,4 when Francis was seven or eight years old, so she was partially orphaned as a child. But her father Adolphus died in England in 1873, so Francis was eighteen or nineteen when he died.5 But when Francis immigrated to the US in 1876, the ship manifest stated that she was a resident of Germany, not England.

Franziska Spanier, Year: 1876; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 403; Line: 1; List Number: 344, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Was Milton’s story just a family myth, or was there some way to reconcile it with these records?

Here is my working hypothesis:

After Bertha Spanier died in 1862, Adolphus was left with five  young children. Francis (then seven or eight) and at least some of her siblings were sent to Hanover, Germany, to live with Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, as the family story goes. By the time Francis immigrated to the US fourteen years later, she might have forgotten most of the English she once knew, so she was speaking only German, and the Goldsmith family only knew that she was an orphan who had come from Germany so assumed she was born there, and the family myth grew and stuck.

How ironic would it be if Francis was, like Milton and his siblings, a child whose mother died, leaving her father with five young children? After all, Francis also ended up marrying a man whose first wife died, leaving him with five young children. Francis may have saved her stepchildren from the fate she might have suffered—being taken away from her father after her mother died and sent to live in a foreign country  with a stranger, who happened to be a well-known rabbi.

What do you think? Am I missing something here? Where else can I look to try and solve this mystery?

This is Part XII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX,  Part X and Part XI at the links.

 


  1. I also spent far too much time trying to track down the Siegmund family of Washington, DC, whom Milton described as his cousins. I had no luck figuring this one out and finally forced myself to stop looking. I also resisted the temptation to try and track down the distant connection between Francis Spanier and Heinrich Heine, the great nineteenth century German-Jewish poet. 
  2. Jos. Spanier, 1910 US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census; Joe Spanier, 1920 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T625_25; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 99, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census; Joseph E. Spanier, 1930 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Page: 32B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 2339762, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. Birth record for Clara Spanier, daughter of Louis Spanier, Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXDT-91R : 11 March 2018), Clara Spanier, 01 Oct 1855, Boston, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #p72 #3222, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,428,236. 
  4. Bertha Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1c, Page: 147, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 
  5. Adolphe Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1d, Page: 577, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XI: Tributes to His Father Abraham

This is Part X 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 IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX and Part X at the links.

The next two pages in Milton Goldsmith’s family album focus on his father Abraham. The first of those two pages consists of newspaper articles about Abraham.

Unfortunately I do not know the actual papers from which these articles were clipped, but this obituary was dated within the week after Abraham’s death on January 27, 1902, in Philadelphia:

Abraham was certainly active in his community.  How he had the time while raising all those children and earning a living is bewildering.

The next article that appears on this page relates to a tribute paid to Abraham by United Hebrew Charities at the time of his death:

The next article must have been published while Abraham was still alive. It relates to a resolution adopted by United Hebrew Charities to honor Abraham at the time he resigned from his position as secretary of that organization. Unfortunately the clipping is not in good condition and some of the words are not legible.

The second page of Milton’s tributes to his father Abraham has some items that are more personal.

This biography appears on that page. Again, Milton did not indicate where or when this was published:

This note written by Abraham when his wife Cecelia died seems almost journalistic in tone except for the opening and the last sentence:

My dear Cecilia died on Nov 8th 1874 after a short illness.

She complained of not feeling well on Monday evening the 2nd [?] but did not get [?] sick until the 5th in the PM. 

She was buried on Thursday the 12th November 11 o’clk am at Mount Sinai Cemetery.

Peace to her asked.

To the left and under Abraham’s note about his wife’s death, there is a poem by Milton written sometime in the 1890s, long after his mother died:

I assume this poem was somehow inspired by Milton’s experience losing his mother when he was just thirteen.

Under the poem he pasted this note written by his father Abraham in 1877:

My son Milton left from New York for Europe on the City of Richmond on Saturday morning Sept [?] 11:25

I do wonder whether there is some connection between the poem and the note. Anyone have any ideas?

The remaining two notes are in German.  I turned to the German Genealogy group for help.

The first note is dated around the same time as the note about Milton’s trip to Europe, September 1877:

The members of the German Genealogy group transcribed this as follows, “Gott sei mit dir! Der liebe Gott behüte und beschütze dich und gebe dir seinen Segen. Amen”

And translated it as, “May God be with you! May the good God keep and protect you and give you His blessing. From your father, Abr(aham) Goldsmith.”

Alfred, Abraham’s first child with Francis, his second wife, was born on August 11, 1877, just 20 days before Abraham wrote this note. I assume this was a prayer for his newborn son. I wonder where it had been kept that Milton found it and preserved it for posterity.

And then finally there is this note:

This one was transcribed by a German Genealogy group member as, “Auf Alle deiner Wegen, bleib Tugendhaft und rein; dann wird der himmlische Segen, stets deine Begleiter sein. Dein Papa, Abr. Goldsmith”

That translates to, “In all your ways, remain virtuous and pure, then heavenly blessings will always be your companions. Your papa, Abr. Goldsmith.”

As this one is dated 1880, I think Abraham wrote this blessing for his daughter Alice, who was born on August 29, 1880.

I wonder whether Abraham wrote these notes of blessing for each of his many children and if so, why only these two have survived. And where did he keep them that Milton found them and preserved them so that they could be read on the internet almost 140 years later?

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part X: A Son’s Loving Tribute to His Mother

This is Part X 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 IIIPart IVPart VPart VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  and Part IX at the links.

This is by far the sweetest and saddest page in Milton Goldsmith’s album, a page dedicated to his beloved mother, Cecelia Adler Goldsmith, who died in 1874 when Milton was thirteen years old:

It reads:

Our beloved Mother, who alas, passed away too early and whose death brought not only sorrow, but all kinds of misfortune.

She was the only child of Samuel and Sarah Adler, was born in Germany, but arrived in Philadelphia at the age of one year.  She grew to womanhood, a very beautiful girl;- rather short in stature, round in figure, a head of brown ringlets, – a belle among the Jewesses of her day and circle. She had many admirers.  Father proposed to her over a plate of ice-cream on “Simchas Torah”, a Jewish holiday.  It was in every way a “Love-match” which was only terminated at her death.  She died of peritonitis, which to-day would be called Apendicitis [sic]. A perfect wife, – a wonderful mother, – A woman whose children call her blessed.

She died Nov. 8th 1874, at the age of 35 years. I was 13 at the time of her death, the oldest of six children.

It’s interesting to read what Milton thought was the cause of his mother’s death, which conflicts with her death certificate. According to the death certificate, she died from apoplexia nervosa:

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-69HW-K75?cc=1320976&wc=9F52-L29%3A1073307201 : 16 May 2014), 004010206 > image 874 of 1214; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In the upper left corner, Milton inserted a piece of Cecelia’s wedding veil:

In the lower right corner, he inserted a piece of fabric from one of her ball gowns.

What a sweet and sentimental thing for a son to do. How devastated he and his father and siblings must have been when Cecelia died.

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part IX: The Missing Babies

This is Part IX 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 IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII,  and Part VIII at the links.

After reading last week’s post about the birth records found in her grandfather’s family album and the speculation as to why only five of Abraham Goldsmith’s ten children were listed, my cousin Sue went back to the album and realized that she could remove the page with the birth records. On the back were not only birth records for Abraham’s other five children; there was also a sad entry for the death of his first wife Cecelia:

All of the birth entries again confirmed what I’d found in the official records, and once again Abraham entered not only the dates, but the times the babies were born.

For Estella, who often was referred to in records as Estelle, he introduced her as “our sixth baby.”

Then there is the heartbreaking entry for Cecelia:

My beloved wife Cecelia Goldsmith died on Sunday the 8th day of November 1874 at 6 o’clock PM after an illness of 6 days. Hebrew date [inserted in Hebrew]

May she rest in peace.

Abr.Goldsmith

Abraham’s signature here confirmed my hunch that he was the one who wrote all these entries (except the dates of death that occurred after his own death).

The next entry is for Alfred, who was Abraham’s first child with his second wife, Frances Spanier, But there is no break in the record to reflect that Alfred had a different mother from the first six children. He is introduced as “Our seventh boy” [emphasis added], despite the fact that he is the first child of Frances. You may notice that Alfred is the only one on this page who has a date of death.  That’s because those dates were entered by Milton, and the other four on this page—Estella, Bertha, Alice, and Louis—all outlived Milton.

Similarly Bertha is introduced as “Our Baby Bertha.” Then Abraham records the birth of “Baby Alice,” and finally the last child, Louis Seligman. At the end of the entry for Louis, Abraham wrote, “Louis Spanier his [?].”

Can anyone decipher what that says? From a later page in the album I learned who Louis Spanier was—Frances Spanier’s uncle—so Louis Goldsmith’s great-uncle. But that does not say “great-uncle” or “namesake” as far as I can tell.

And I got quite a kick out of the last word on this page: Finished. I don’t know whether Abraham wrote that to indicate the records were now completed or to emphasize that he was ready to be done having children after Number 10!

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part VIII: Birth Records

This is Part VIII 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 IIIPart IVPart VPart VI and Part VII at the links.

This record of the births of five of the children of Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler touched my heart.

I love the florid old script.  Who wrote these entries? Was it Abraham or Cecelia? I wasn’t sure at first, but I was reassured by this record that all the dates I had for the births (and deaths) of these five children were correct.  I loved that the writer added the time of birth, giving a personal touch to the facts.

For the first two entries, there are also Hebrew inscriptions. Thank you to Tracing the Tribe for helping me with these.  For Milton, it says “Mendel Goldsmith born 12 Sivan  5621.” Milton had mentioned on an earlier page that Mendel was his Hebrew name given to him in memory of his maternal grandfather.

The second entry is for Hildegard or Hilda, as she was called on the records I found. How sweet to see the formal name her parents gave her. Hilda died two months before her fourteenth birthday, as I wrote here and as noted on this record. Looking at this entry more carefully, I noted that whoever wrote the entry for her death had also written the entry for her birth.  It is the same handwriting.  And since her mother Cecelia had died in 1874, two years before Hilda died on June 7, 1876, that means that Abraham wrote this entry and all the other birth entries on this record.

No one on Tracing the Tribe was able to translate the Hebrew inscription for Hildegard except to say that it also states her birth date. Her Hebrew name was not legible. I guess Abraham’s Hebrew writing had deteriorated between Milton’s birth and Hilda’s. And the fact that he did not include any Hebrew for the next three children’s birth records may be a sign of his assimilation into secular American society.

It’s also interesting to see how Abraham introduced these entries.  Milton was “our boy.”  Hildegard was “our daughter.” Edwin has no descriptive introduction, nor does Emily, but Rosalinda is “our fourth baby.” (I also never knew that Rose was formally named Rosalinda—what a beautiful name!) I wonder whether Abraham wrote each of these at the time the baby was born or all at once. Since some of these have introductions and others do not, I think each was done separately when each baby was born.

For the last three entries—for Edwin, Rosalinda, and Emily—someone other than Abraham inscribed the information about their deaths. I assume Milton added this information as he outlived all three of those siblings. And there is no death date added to the entry made for Milton.

What is perhaps most perplexing about this page from Milton’s album is the absence of an entry for Abraham and Cecelia’s sixth child, Estelle. Estelle was born on January 20, 1870. Had Abraham lost interest in recording his children’s births by the time his sixth child was born? Or was there a second page that included Estelle (and perhaps Abraham’s four children with his second wife Frances Spanier) that somehow was lost and thus not included in Milton’s album?

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part VII: Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler Get Married

This is Part VII 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, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI at the links.

On the page following the photographs of his parents Abraham and Cecelia, Milton included a letter written by his mother on November 5, 1857, which, according to Milton, was shortly before their engagement.

Reading this reminded me of what it was like before cheap phone calls and email made handwritten letters obsolete. When my husband and I were dating the year before our engagement, we also wrote letters back and forth. Of course, we were living several hundred miles apart (but still tried to see each other every weekend) whereas Abraham and Cecelia both were living in Philadelphia. But perhaps letters were the only places they had any ability to communicate privately.

Here is Cecelia’s letter:

Some words were cut off on the right margin and at the bottom, but I have tried to transcribe it as best I can and added some punctuation and capitalization for purposes of clarity. Cecelia was a few weeks short of her nineteenth birthday when she wrote this letter, and Abraham was twenty-five.

 

                                                                                                         Phil. Nov. 5th

Dear Ab,

The few lines you have written to me give me a great deal of pleasure, for informing me of your health & good night’s rest. I passed an excellent night as[?] my cold is a great deal better though I am rather hoarse yet.  My Dear, I forgot to give you Henrietta’s [?] shawl last night, but it will and[?] as well tonight. I would send over the boy with it, but I am afraid he can not find the place. I am obliged for sending me the book & will look through it as soon as possible. Come early this evening, if you can.

I remain yours forever,

                                                                                                         Cely

If you hear of any thing important & have time, write me a note this [?].

 

If anyone can read it any better than I did, please let me know.

Appropriately, Milton placed the invitation to his parents’ wedding on the page that followed:

Note that the invitation is dated January 1, 1858, for a wedding to take place on January 27, 1858—less than four weeks later. Today it seems that wedding invitations arrive at least two months in advance (often preceded by Save the Date cards). Also, the wedding was to take place at Cecelia’s parents’ home at 440 North Second Street in Philadelphia, not in a fancy catering hall or hotel or resort, as many are these days. Life was so much simpler back then.

But life was also so much harder. Cecelia died less than seventeen years later on November 8, 1874, from apoplexia nervosa, or a stroke. She was only 35 and left behind her husband Abraham and six children ranging in age from Estelle, who was four, to Milton, who was thirteen.

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part VI: His Parents, Abraham and Cecelia

This is Part VI 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, Part IV and Part V at the links.

Now that we have seen the pages Milton devoted to his maternal and paternal grandparents, we can turn our attention to those devoted to his parents, Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler.

First, there is this page:Although they are not labeled, the paired photographs at the bottom must be Cecelia Adler and Abraham Goldsmith. I know this because the photograph on the upper right is one I’ve seen before—I received it from my cousin Julian Reinheimer over a year ago,  labeled as Julian’s great-grandfather, Abraham Goldsmith. So I know that the upper photograph is Abraham, and he is certainly the same man as the man in the photograph at the lower right.

Abraham Goldsmith, courtesy of Julian Reinheimer

I also know that the woman on the left is Cecelia because Julian also sent me this photograph of his great-grandmother Cecelia, and she is the same woman as the woman on the left in the photograph above:

Cecelia Adler, courtesy of Julian Reinheimer

Could the two framed photographs be their wedding photographs?

Cecelia was only nineteen in 1858 when they married, Abraham was six years older or twenty-five. Somehow they look older than that in these photographs, but I am terrible at determining age in these old photographs when people dressed so formally and posed so stiffly without smiling. It’s obvious, however, that these two photographs were taken at the same studio and likely at the same time, given that the same table appears in both. I wonder if there was a date on the reverse, but it is not worth trying to remove the photograph from the album to check.

According to Milton, his grandfather Samuel Adler was not successful in business, but Cecelia certainly is dressed very well in this photograph and is wearing what appears to be a large cameo pendant, similar or perhaps the same as the one in the photograph I received from Julian, seen above. Was this taken after she married Abraham, who was in fact very successful in business? Which photograph appears to be earlier?

Cecelia Adler Goldsmith, courtesy of Sue Jacobson

Finally, there is the photograph labeled “The Homestead in Oberlistingen.” This must have been the house where Abraham and his family lived before he and almost all his siblings immigrated to the United States beginning in the 1840s. So who is the woman standing on the stairs in front of the house? My first hope was that this was Hinka Alexander Goldschmidt, my three-times great-grandmother and Abraham Goldsmith’s mother, Milton’s paternal grandmother.

But then I realized this could not be Hinka. She died in 1860. This looks like a casual snapshop, and thus not something that could have been taken in those early days of photography. In fact, according to the Smithsonian:

Photography emerged in the early 19th century, but well into the 1880s it was a difficult, ponderous thing to do. The reigning forms of photography recorded onto chemically treated plates and paper. Taking a picture required the subjects to sit still for a half minute or more—“torture,” as the social critic Walter Benjamin recalled. Families trooped into studios to get portraits taken, but they were a study in stiffness: everyone sitting ramrod straight, afraid to move—or even to change their expression—for fear of blurring the photo.….Things changed dramatically in 1888 when George Eastman introduced the Kodak camera. A small hand-held box, it cost only $25—about the price of a higher-end iPad in today’s money, which put it in the range of the well-off middle class. And it offered simplicity…

So much to my disappointment, I concluded that this was not Hinka, but some other woman posing on the front steps of what had been the Goldschmidt home in Oberlistingen.

Milton did not write much about Hinka, mentioning her only to say that several girls in the family were named for her (including my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal, who was the daughter of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein and granddaughter of Hinka Alexander Goldschmidt). Milton obviously never met his grandmother Hinka, who never left Germany and died a year before Milton was born. And unlike the heroic war stories passed down about his grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt, there were likely no such stories shared about his grandmother. Like women of those times, her life was not in the public sphere, but in the home. So all we know about her is when she was born, who she married, what children were born to her and raised by her, and when she died.

It’s thus not surprising that my heart wanted that to be a photograph of Hinka standing in front of her home, but alas, my brain knew otherwise. I do, however, have this photograph or drawing of Hinka, provided by David Baron and Roger Cibella, who is also her descendant:

Hinka Alexander Goldschmidt. Courtesy of David Baron and Roger Cibella

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