Martha Loewenthal Wolff’s Family: An Update from Israel

One of the more elusive Goldschmidt family members to research has been Martha Loewenthal Wolff and her family. Martha was the daughter of Kiele Stern and Abraham Loewenthal, the granddaughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, and my third cousin, twice removed. Thanks to my friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have more information and documents and even photographs of Martha and her family.

Martha was married to Jakob Wolff, as discussed here, and they had three children: Anna, Hans Anton, and Walter. I was missing birth records for all three children, and Aaron was able to locate all of them.

Birth record of Anna Wolff

Birth record of Hans Anton Abraham Wolff

Birth record of Walter Wolff

Martha died in 1930, and I could not find a death record for her until Aaron located it, as I wrote about here.

After Martha’s death and the Nazi takeover of Germany, Jakob Wolff and all three of their children immigrated to Israel, as I wrote about here.

But I did not know what happened to Jakob or his children after their immigration. And then Aaron came through for me again and located Hans Anton Wolff’s son Benjamin in Israel and connected me to him and his daughter Ravid. Now I have firsthand information about Martha’s family as well as photographs, thanks to Ravid Wolff, my fifth cousin, once removed.

First, some photographs of the family taken before they left Germany.

Jacob and Martha Wolff and their first car Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff and her mother Martha Loewenthal Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff as a child Courtesy of the Wolff family

Hans Anton and Walter Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Ravid shared with me that her great-grandmother Martha was a very talented artist and sent me this image of a painting that Martha did while traveling with Jakob in what was then Palestine in the 1920s.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

According to Ravid, her great-grandparents Martha and Jakob Wolff owned two banks in Frankfurt, Germany, and were quite wealthy. After Martha died from ovarian cancer in 1930, Jakob married Ilse Gruenebaum. When Hitler came to power, Jakob recognized how dangerous he was and, as a Zionist, decided to leave Germany for Israel (then Palestine) before it was too late. He was able to obtain visas to immigrate for a thousand pounds each, an exorbitant amount of money at that time, but had to leave all his other property and possessions behind. All of it including their home in Frankfurt was confiscated by the Nazis and never returned to the family.

Ravid shared two letters with me that show that the requests for restitution of their property in Frankfurt were denied:

Google Translate helped me translate these letters. The one above translates as:

Upon your request of 17 December 1956, we will inform you: The property Leerbachstrasse 36 was registered until 17 September 1937 on:
Banker Jakob Wolff on the ideal half
Instead of his wife Martha Wolff [names of children] for ideal half in undivided community of heirs. [I am not sure what “ideal half” means.]
In the way of the forced auction, this plot of land on 17 9 1937 is given to Frau Therese Ried geb Stromer, [address]. It is still owned by them.
The owner of the Paulsplatz 14 property was the merchant Carl Seitz in Baden near Vienna in 18 1 1923 and the owner of the Paulsplatz 16 property was the Jakob Wolff & Co., Open Trade Company since 18 March 1922.
The current owner of both properties has been the municipal district of Frankfurt since August 10, 1934 bze, October 15, 1935. A piece of land at Paulsplatz 18 does not exist.

The second letter translated as:

The aforementioned property became the property of the City of Frankfurt on the basis of an additional resolution dated 2 4 1935. The compulsory auction had already started in 1932. The JRSO, which had previously asserted claims for reimbursement for the aforementioned property, accepted its application on Feb. 1, 1951. For your further information, we would like to inform you that the city has always contested a claim for reimbursement.
We hope to have served you with the above statements.

As for Martha and Jakob’s three children, Anna, the oldest, was married to Simon Wittekind when she immigrated, and they had two sons, Aharon and Baruch (as they were known in Israel) who were born in Berlin. Simon was a doctor who wanted to move to South Africa, but Anna felt safer in Israel, so she stayed there with her children.

Anna later married Herbert Feige. According to Ravid, Anna hated Germany and suffered great trauma because of what had happened there and unlike her brother Hans Anton refused to reclaim her German citizenship when that right became available to her. Her sons changed their surname to Yardeni (for the Jordan River) to identify with their new homeland. Ravid did not know exactly when Anna died, only that like her mother Martha, she died young and from cancer.

Ravid’s grandfather was Hans Anton Wolff, the second child of Martha Loewenthal and Jakob Wolff.  He married Susana Meseritz, another refugee from Germany, whom he met in Palestine. They had one child, Ravid’s father Benjamin. Hans had a doctorate in chemistry. He died from colon cancer in 1974, and his wife Susana died in 2002.

Walter, the youngest of the siblings, also married in Palestine/Israel. He owned a hotel in Jerusalem for many years. He and his wife Hedy Buller had two children. Walter died in 1968 in Jerusalem, also from cancer.

I am so indebted to Aaron Knappstein for finding the missing records of the Wolff children and even more so for connecting me to my cousin Ravid. And I am very, very grateful to Ravid for sharing her family’s story with me. Ravid, like her great-grandmother Martha and so many others in the extended Goldschmidt family, has a great interest in and great talents in art. Her photography captures in simple and yet complex ways the beauty of the world around us by using unusual perspectives and contrasting light and colors.

A Photo Essay of the Family of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher

Another cousin who found my blog during these pandemic days is my fifth cousin, once removed, Carrie Schwabacher. She is the granddaughter of Gerhard Schwabacher, the great-granddaughter of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher, great-great-granddaughter of Kiele Stern Loewenthal, three times great granddaughter of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern, and four-times great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt.

Carrie kindly shared with me these wonderful photographs as well as some heartwarming stories about her family. They start with her great-great-grandmother, Kiele (Caroline) Stern Loewenthal, the daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, wife of Abraham Loewenthal. I wrote about Kiele here and here.

Kiele Stern Loewenthal.
Courtesy of her family

Here is a lovely photograph of Kiele and Abraham Loewenthal’s daughter, Selma, as a young woman; I see a strong resemblance to her mother.

Selma Loewenthal
Courtesy of her family

Selma married Nathan Schwabacher:

Nathan Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

And they had three children. Their daughter Alice was the oldest:

Alice Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

Alice was followed by Julius Alfred Schwabacher:

Julius Alfred Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

Gerhard Schwabacher, Carrie’s grandfather, was Selma and Nathan’s youngest child:

Gerhard Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

The two sons look remarkably similar to each other and to their father Nathan.

Alice Schwabacher married David Weinstein (later Wenten) and had one child, Wolfgang, depicted here as a young boy with his dog:

Wolfgang Weinstein and dog

Julius Schwabacher married Margaret Wuertenberg and had one child, Eva Lore, the adorable little girl shown here:

Eva Lore Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

This photograph of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher and her brother Julius Loewenthal is undated, but must have been taken before 1936 when Julius left for the United States. Selma died in 1937 in Berlin.

Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher and brother Julius Loewenthal
Courtesy of the family

Here is a closer one of Selma, probably taken around the same time:

The remaining photographs that Carrie shared with me appear to have been taken after the family immigrated to the United States. Their full story has been told here, so I won’t tell it again, but will share these photographs of the Schwabacher family in their new country and some of Carrie’s memories of her extended family.

She has wonderful memories of her grandparents, as she shared with me: “I have such great memories of my grand parents even though they died when I was 7. Christmas was a very special time – like a scene from the Nutcracker. As children, we celebrated Hanukkah, Christmas and Epiphany ( my mom’s side of the family is Russian Orthodox). We got presents for months, or it seemed like it.” She also wrote that her Opa, Gerhard Schwabacher, always gave each of his grandchildren a quarter every time he saw them.

Other holidays were spent with her great-uncle Julius Schwabacher, who became Fred Wenten in the US, and his wife Else in Proctor, Vermont: Fred and Elsa owned an Inn in Proctor Vt. The entire family spent a few holidays there as well. The toasts would go on for so long that someone would finally say “let the children eat their fruit cocktails before they fall asleep”. And then, dinner would start.”

Here’s a photograph of Fred Wenten in the US:

Fred Wenten (born Julius Alfred Schwabacher)
Courtesy of the family

Fred’s daughter Eva Lore was also a favorite of Carrie. Eva Lore married Henry Corton in 1951. Carrie wrote this about them:

“Henry was a fabulous dancer and would sometimes break into buck and wing ( tap dancing) in the kitchen even when he was old. We visited then often when they lived in Jamaica, Queens. We always went out for walks. We met Bella Abzug at the Cloisters in NY. He was very fond of Pavorotti and considered him a “distant cousin“. It got him back stage at the Met many times. Eva and Henri took us to Ringling Bro’s. And Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ice Capades when we were little. We visited Eva Lore in LaGuna Hills, helped her pack and move to Baltimore, and took her to her first McDonalds meal. The “Apple Strudel “ was her favorite. Apple Pie. Even at 79, she was booking her own travel on her computer. They never had children, but spoiled us.”

Here are some of the photographs of Eva Lore and Henry that Carrie shared with me:

Eva Lore Schwabacher and Henry Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore Schwabacher Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore Schwabacher Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore and Henry Corton Courtesy of the family

Carrie also has warm memories of her great-aunt Alice Schwabacher Weinstein (Wenten in the US):

“We went to visit Tanta Alice for the holidays every year in Washington Heights, NY. I always wanted to take a nap, because I loved the big square Feather pillows on the bed. She always had such great treats for us, German delicacies. She was extremely socially active. Wolf would remark that he had to make an appointment just to visit his mother. We had her 90 th birthday party at window on the worlds – top of the World Trade Center. It was incredible to meet so many people originally named Schwabacher.”

This photograph shows Alice with her son Wolfgang and his wife Ruth.

Alice Schwabacher Wenten Kingsley, Wolfgang Wenten, Ruth Pollinger Wenten
Courtesy of the family

Finally, this is a photograph of the three Schwabacher siblings and their spouses taken in the US:

Arthur Kingsley, Alice Schwabacher Kingsley, Julius (Fred Wenten) Schwabacher, Else Wenten, Alice Ferron Schwabacher, Gerhard Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

I am extremely grateful to my cousin Carrie for sharing her memories and these photographs. She really has brought to life this strong and loving family who escaped from Germany and started a wonderful new life in the United States.

Hannah and Henry Goldsmith, My Double Cousins: An Update

I have been working on the family of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, the oldest son of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle, for months. We have already discussed four of Jacob’s five children: Helene, Regina, Julius, and Mayer/Marcel, and there is one more child to discuss. Then I can move on to Jacob’s sister Malchen and his two younger brothers, Selig and Falk. As you can see, there are still a lot of Goldschmidts to discuss. Given that I started writing about the Goldschmidts almost two and a half years ago, it looks like I will still be writing about them at least until the end of 2020 if not into 2021. That’s more time than I’ve spent on any of my other family lines. Wow.

But before I go on to Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child, I need to do some catching up. It seems that the COVID19 pandemic has led many people stuck at home to research their family history. And I’ve heard from quite a few new Goldschmidt/Goldsmith cousins who Googled an ancestor’s name and found my blog. I’ve gotten new photographs, new stories, and new names to add to the family tree. So for the next few weeks, I am going to post this new information and update the posts where I first wrote about the relevant family.

Today’s post is about the families of two of Simon Goldschmidt’s children, the two born in the US, Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Henry Goldsmith, who were my double cousins as their mother was my three-times great-aunt  Fradchen Schoenthal, my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal’s sister.

First, I want to share some photographs and documents and a story about the family of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, my first cousin, three times removed.  She was born in Baltimore in 1848 and had three sons who survived to adulthood, Jake, Herschel, and Centennial Harry Benedict.

In April, 2020, I heard from Hannah’s great-great-grandson Bruce Velzy, who is also the great-grandson of Jake Benedict; he had found my blog posts about his ancestors and wanted to share some photographs, including this one of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict that I posted earlier and had restored by the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook.

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, restored photo. Courtesy of her family

This is Hannah’s husband, Joseph Benedict:

Joseph Benedict, courtesy of Bruce Velzy

Bruce also shared a photograph of Hannah’s three sons. We weren’t completely sure who was who, but since Harry was the youngest, six years younger than Jake, five years younger than Hershel, I think he is the boy in the center.

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

Bruce also had some very interesting documents, including this application for a Civil War pension filed by Joseph Benedict:

I learned several things from this document—that Joseph and Hannah were married by Rabbi Naumberg on April 17, 1867, in Pittsburgh. Even more important is the fact that Joseph and Hannah had two children who died as infants whom I’d not discovered. Their first child Emily, born October 19, 1868, died just three months later in December, and their fifth child Sydney was born on March 29, 1889, and died two months later in May, 1889. I am so glad I can add them to the family tree and preserve their memory for I am sure they were loved and mourned by their family.

I looked for birth and death certificates for Emily and Sydney, but did not find any. I did, however, find their gravestones on FindAGrave and also a death notice for Sydney on his FindAGrave memorial.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Emilie Benedict (Oct 1868–Dec 1868), Find a Grave Memorial no. 109102550, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Corey & Douglas Marshall-Steele (contributor 47477063) .

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Sidney G. Benedict (29 Mar 1889–17 May 1889), Find a Grave Memorial no. 90777547, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by DGG (contributor 47020054) .

 

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Sidney G. Benedict (29 Mar 1889–17 May 1889), Find a Grave Memorial no. 90777547, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by DGG (contributor 47020054) .

Death: Benedict—on May 17 at 10 in the evening, Sidney G., youngest son of Joseph and Hannah Benedict. Funeral to be held at the parents’ home, [address], on Sunday, May 19, at 2 in the afternoon. Please no flowers.

(Note that the spelling of their first names on the gravestones and in the death notice is different from that used on the pension application written years later.)

In order for Hannah to receive the Civil War pension benefits as a widow after Joseph died, she had to prove her marriage. The pension application asked for a marriage record, and Joseph had written there was none as no records were kept at the time.

So in 1918 after Joseph died, Hannah applied for widow’s benefits and submitted this affidavit to prove her marriage:

Notice that Julius J. Streng, the witness, was 63 in 1918, meaning that at the time of the wedding in 1867 he would have been only twelve years old. So who was he and why was he at Hannah and Joseph’s wedding?

Well, I found his death certificate, and his mother’s birth name was Jenetta Benedict. I haven’t yet found evidence to prove it, but my hunch is that Jenetta was Joseph Benedict’s sister and that young Julius was his nephew.

UPDATE: My hunch was confirmed when I found Jeanette/Jenetta’s obituary in 1913 and it described Joseph Benedict as her brother.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 066001-069000
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

Bruce also had a copy of Hannah’s death certificate:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict death certificate

Of course, I love this because it is evidence of my double connection to Hannah as a Goldschmidt and as a Schoenthal.

Bruce shared with me that Joseph and Hannah’s two older sons, his great-grandfather Jake and great-great-uncle Herschel, dropped out of school in ninth grade in order to earn money so that their youngest brother Harry, who was an excellent student, would be able to attend college. Harry, as I wrote about here, ended up graduating from Cornell University as did his two sons Manson and William, and all three became highly successful and brilliant engineers.

In addition, Bruce’s sister Suzanne Midford left this comment on my blog post about her grandmother Helen Benedict Booher, Jake Benedict’s daughter:

My “Grandmommy Booher” was what’s now known as a social worker, one of the professions that grew out of the Jane Addams Hull House movement and the professionalization of women workers who helped to socialize new American immigrants in the 1920s and 30s. One aspect of this was the desire by members of the earlier (and more prosperous) German Jewish immigrant waves to give a leg up to, and help “Americanize” the (mostly poorer) Jewish immigrants from the later eastern European waves. To that end, the new immigrants were taught hygiene, cooking, language, ‘manners’ (American ones anyhow), and comportment. One of my dearest possessions is my grandmother’s bound copy of The Settlement Cookbook, which was a German-Jewish cookbook meant to teach a new immigrant Jewish housewife all the ways she should “be American”, from translating her old world dishes to new world methods and ingredients, to introducing her to “modern” culinary ideas, how to use unfamiliar kitchen implements, how to keep a clean house (by American standards), and a million little details about “life in America”. As a historian, I find it an invaluable window through which to understand my grandmother’s generation and the immigrant assimilations that characterized that period in our national history.

I am so happy that my cousins Suzanne and Bruce, my fourth cousins, once removed, found my blog and so generously shared with me these photographs, documents, and family stories that add new and important dimensions to their personalities and their lives.

One final addition, this one about Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s sister-in-law, Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, wife of Henry Goldsmith, Hannah’s brother. This photograph of Sarah was sent to me by my cousin Christian, Sarah and Henry’s great-great-grandson.

The story behind this photograph is that Christian received it in the mail from someone who found it in an antique shop in Portland, Oregon. Given that Sarah lived in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, her entire married life and that, as far as I know, none of her children or grandchildren or other descendants ended up near Oregon, it’s a mystery as to how this photograph traveled all the way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in an antique shop in Portland.

These little windfalls, these gifts, have brightened my days during the dark and scary time we’re living in.

 

Sarah Goldschmidt’s Sons 1910-1930: Years of Comfort, Years of Loss

We saw that the family of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern’s daughter Keile Stern Loewenthal experienced much growth and prosperity during the 1910s and 1920s. This post will focus on their two sons, Abraham and Mayer, and their lives between 1910 and 1930.

As of 1910, Abraham (known as Adolf) Stern and his wife and first cousin Johanna Goldschmidt had four grown children: Siegfried, Clementine, Sittah Sarah, and Alice. I am so grateful to Siegfried’s grandson Rafi Stern, my fifth cousin, who kindly shared the photographs that appear in this post.

This photograph shows the house where Abraham and Johanna lived and raised their children in Frankfurt. As you can see, the family was quite comfortably situated as Abraham was a successful merchant in Frankfurt.

Home of Abraham Adolf Stern and Johanna Goldschmidt in Frankfurt. Courtesy of their great-grandson, Rafi Stern.

Their son Siegfried Stern married Lea Hirsch on June 4, 1912, in Frankfurt.1 She was born in Halberstadt, Germany, on April 10, 1892, to Abraham Hirsch and Mathilde Kulp.2 Siegfried and Lea had two sons, Erich Ernst Benjamin Stern, born March 27, 1913, in Frankfurt,3 and Gunther Stern, born May 5, 1916, in Frankfurt.4

Siegfried Stern, courtesy of Rafi Stern.

Siegfried, Lea, and Erich Stern c.

Siegfried, Lea, and Erich Stern, 1913. Courtesy of Siegfried’s grandson, Rafi Stern.

Home of Siegfried Stern as it looks today. Courtesy of his grandson, Rafi Stern.

Abraham and Johanna’s second child Clementine Stern was married to Siegfried Oppenheimer, a doctor, and had a daughter Erika, born in 1909, as seen in my earlier post. Clementine would have two more children, William Erwin Oppenheimer, born on October 29, 1912, in Frankfurt,5 and Sarah Gabriele Oppenheimer, born July 20, 1917, in Frankfurt.6

Clementine’s sister Sittah Sarah Stern married Abraham Albert Mainz on October 3, 1911, in Mainz. He was born in Paris, France, on May 31, 1883, to Leopold Mainz and Hermine Straus.

Marriage record of Sarah Sittah Stern and Abraham Mainz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Sittah Sarah and Abraham Mainz would have two children, Marguerite Wera Mainz, born in Frankfurt on October 22, 1913,7 and Helmut Walter Solomon Mainz, born April 13, 1918, in Frankfurt.8 The photograph below depicts their home in Frankfurt on the first and second floors of the building.

Building in Frankfurt where Sittah Sarah and Abraham Mainz lived. Courtesy of Rafi Stern.

Abraham and Johanna would lose their two oldest children in the next several years. First, Clementine Stern Oppenheimer died on January 18, 1919, in Frankfurt. She was only 29 years old and left behind three young children, Erika (ten), William Erwin (seven), and Sarah Gabriele (two). Like millions of others, Clementine died from the Spanish flu epidemic, according to her great-nephew, my cousin Rafi.

Clementine Stern Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10812, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

A year later, as so often happened in Jewish families back then, Clementine’s younger sister Alice Lea Stern married Clementine’s widower Siegfried Oppenheimer. They were married on October 6, 1920, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Alice Lea Stern to Siegfried Oppenheimer, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Siegfried would have five children together in the 1920s.

Just two years after losing Clementine, Abraham and Johanna lost their first born, Siegfried Stern. He died on July 9, 1921, in Oberursel, Germany. He was only 32.  He died at the Frankfurter Kuranstalt Hohemark, a psychiatric hospital.  According to his grandson Rafi, Siegfried had suffered a business failure and become despondent. He was hospitalized and tragically took his own life. He left behind his wife Lea and their two young children Erich (eight) and Gunther (five).

Siegfried Stern death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 908; Signatur: 3821, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Below is Siegfried’s gravestone, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and the inscription is heartbreaking to read, knowing Siegfried’s story. I am grateful to the members of Tracing the Tribe for this partial translation:

Here lies buried Mr. Shlomo son in Mr. Asher Avraham STERN “shlita” (indicates that his father was alive at the time of the sons death).
A man who feared G-d, he revived the hearts of the downtrodden in secret.

He was pure in his thoughts and pure in his body, and all his purpose was the returning of his soul, pure, to his maker.

He respected his father and his mother with all of his ability.

He respected his wife more than his own body.

He died with a good name at the age of 32 to the sorrow of all that knew him, on the holy day of Shabbos, 3 Tamuz, and was buried with crying and eulogies on Monday the 5th of the same month. (5)681 (according to the small count) (1921).
May his soul be bound in the bonds of life.

 

Gravestone of Siegfried Stern, courtesy of his grandson Rafi Stern.

Siegfried’s widow Lea remarried a few years after Siegfried’s death and would have two more children with her second husband, Ernst Sigmund Schwarzschhild.9

Not long after losing his children Siegfried and Clementine, Abraham Adolf Stern himself passed away. He died on December 29, 1925, at the age of 67. He was survived by his wife/cousin Johanna and his two remaining children, Sittah Sarah and Alice Lea, and his grandchildren.

Abraham Stern death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The kind people at Tracing the Tribe translated Abraham’s gravestone for me:

Here is buried
Asher Avraham son of Shlomo called Adolf Albert Stern
a great man and a leader of his people
complete in his deeds and of good discernment.
The beginning of his wisdom comes from his belief in God

He oversaw his children and descendants

His house was a house of the righteous and a dwelling place of Torah
His soul is entwined in that of his humble wife.
You are gone and caused the middle of the day to turn dark. From heaven you are alive with us.

Died 12 Tevet and buried 14th of the month, [year] 5686 / [abbreviation]

May his soul be bound in the bond of life.

 

Abraham Adolf Stern gravestone. Courtesy of his great-grandson, Rafi Stern.

Abraham’s brother Mayer Stern and his wife Gella Hirsch had two children born in the 1890s, Elsa and Markus. Elsa married Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild on January 22, 1911, in Frankfurt. Jacob was the son of Alfred Isaac Schwarzchild and Recha Goldschmidt and was born February 12, 1885 in Frankfurt.  Jacob was Elsa’s second cousin. His mother Recha was the daughter of Selig Goldschmidt, and Elsa’s father Mayer was the son of Sarah Goldschmidt, Selig’s older sister. Once again, the family tree was bending around itself.

Marriage record of Elsa Stern and Jacob Schwarzschild, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Elsa and Jacob had one child, Elizabeth, reportedly born July 26, 1915, in Frankfurt.10

Elsa’s marriage to Jacob did not last, despite the cousin relationship. The marginal comment on their marriage record attests to their divorce. Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group who provided the translation of this comment:

Certified transcript
By decree nisi of the Regional Court at Frankfurt on Main, which became final at the end of 27 June 1920, the marriage between the banker Jakob Alfred Schwarzschild and Else Sara Schwarzschild née Stern has been divorced.
Frankfurt on Main, 13 October 1920
Civil Registry Clerk
pp. Dippel
Certified
Frankfurt on Main, 9 February 1921
[Signature]
Court Clerk

On August 18, 1920, just months after the divorce became final, Elsa Stern Schwarzschild married Alfred Hirsch.  Alfred was born in Hamburg to Esaias Hirsch and Charlotte Wolf on May 19, 1890.  Together, Alfred and Elsa had three children born in the 1920s.11

Marriage record of Elsa Stern to Alfred Hirsch, Year Range and Volume: 1920 Band 03
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1920

Mayer and Gella’s son Markus married Rhee (Rosa) Mess on August 25, 1923, in Frankfurt. She was born in Radziwillow, Poland on July 25, 1898, to Samuel Mess and Ester-Raza Landis.12

Thus, as the family approached the 1930s, Sarah Goldschmidt’s surviving descendants were living comfortable lives, but had suffered a number of terrible losses between 1910 and 1930, including two of Sarah’s children, Keile and Abraham, and three of her grandchildren, Abraham’s children Clementine Stern Oppenheimer and Siegfried Stern, and Keile’s daughter Martha Loewenthal Wolff.

But Lina and Mayer were still living as of 1930 as were eight of Sarah’s grandchildren. All of them would see their comfortable and prosperous lives as German Jews upturned by the rise of Nazism in the coming decade.

 


  1. The marriage date comes from the Cibella/Baron research; I have no primary source for this specific date, but it is clear that Siegfried and Lea married before 1913 when their son Erich was born. 
  2. Certificate Number: 98, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930. 
  3.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/197, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945  
  5. Application for Palestinian Citizenship, Israel State Archives website found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b071706810638e5 
  6. SSN: 121546243, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/222, Description
    Piece Number Description: 222: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Eastw-Fey, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  8.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/58, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  9. Marriage record of Ernst Schwarzschild and Lea Hirsch Stern, Certificate Number: 98, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  10. This is the date provided by Cibella/Baron. I also found one record for an Isabel Schwarzschild Weil born on that date: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 701, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967. I believe this is for Elsa and Jacob’s daughter. I am still looking for additional records. 
  11. Application for Palestinian Citizenship, Israeli State Archives, at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd6abf 
  12.  National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description
    Description: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350, Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 

My Vogel Cousins: From Germany to Argentina

Before I return to the family of Meyer Goldschmidt, I have two more posts to share relating to other family members.

Today I want to share some wonderful photographs I received from my fourth cousin, once removed, Patricia, the daughter of Heinz Vogel, granddaughter of Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, great-granddaughter of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz.

On September 10, 2019, I wrote about this family and told the story of the escape of Sophie and Isaak and their sons Heinz and Carl to Argentina from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. It was due to the generosity of Patricia and also Carl Vogel’s daughter that I was able to share details of the Vogel’s story and how they rebuilt their lives in Buenos Aires as well as many wonderful photographs.

In November, Patricia shared several more wonderful family photographs.

This is a photograph of Rosa Katzenstein in 1887 when she was 28 and married to Salomon Feist Katz for six years. (I’ve edited these photographs a little to improve clarity.) Rosa was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s second cousin, once removed. I see a resemblance to Hilda. What do you think?

Rosa Katzenstein Katz, 1887

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Taken that same year is this photograph of Salomon, who was 35 at that time. Salomon was also my cousin (and Rosa’s cousin). He was my third cousin, three times removed, through our shared ancestors, Schalum and Brendelchen Katz, my fifth great-grandparents. He was Hilda’s third cousin.

Salomon Feist Katz, 1887

Patricia also sent me images of what was on the reverse of these photographs. Can anyone read the words above their names?

UPDATE: Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the top words as Grossmutter (grandmother) and Grossvater (grandfather).

This photograph of Rosa and Salomon’s daughter Sophie Katz and her husband Isaak Vogel was taken in July, 1948, after they had immigrated to Argentina; the inscription on the reverse appears below it. Can someone decipher what it says? The second line says “63(?) Geburtstag 10 Jul 1948.”  Sophie was born on July 10, 1885, so this would have been her 63rd birthday. She and Isaak don’t look very happy, however.

UPDATE: Thank you again to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the first word in the top line as aufgenommen, meaning “taken.” She wasn’t certain whether the next word was “bei,’ indicating where the photo was taken, or “von,” indicating who took the photo. And the third word was not legible.

SECOND UPDATE: Thank you to Eric, who commented below and was able to read that last word. It says Aufgenommen bei meinem 63rd geburtstag or Taken at my 63rd birthday. Thanks, Eric!

Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, 1948

Finally, Patricia shared a photograph taken at Sophie and Isaak’s 50th anniversary celebration on June 9, 1959. That adorable little girl in the center of the photograph is Patricia herself.

In the front row from left to right are Sophie Katz Vogel, Isaak Vogel, and Rosa Hamburger, Carl Vogel’s mother-in-law. Standing behind them from left to right is Carl Vogel, Gertrud Lippman Vogel (Heinz Vogel’s wife), Heinz Vogel, and Beate Hamburger Vogel (Carl’s wife).

When I look at this photograph and see the love and the smiles that permeate it and compare it to the stern expressions on the faces of Sophie and Isaak in 1948, it makes me think of how hard their adjustment to Argentina must have been, but also how fortunate they must have felt to have left Germany behind and to have made a whole new life for themselves in their new homeland.

I am so grateful to Patricia for sharing these with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family: The Final Chapter

I have written a great deal about Milton Goldsmith on this blog, probably more than I’ve written about any other relative, in part because he lived such an interesting life and in part because of the extensive record he left behind—his books and poetry and letters, his photograph albums, and the many news articles about him and his work. I’ve already posted a number of photographs of Milton. But in this final post devoted to the papers of my cousin Milton, I want to focus on his life after he married in 1899, as reflected in the family photographs displayed in the second family album he collated.

This second album included two photographs of Milton as a young man.

Milton Goldsmith at 16

Milton Goldsmith as a young man

Milton Goldsmith and Sophie Hyman were married on February 15, 1899. The album contains many letters written by Milton to Sophie as well as the love poem I posted in an earlier post. I have decided not to post those letters. To be honest, there are so many that I just couldn’t decide where to begin. And I just don’t have time to scan them all.

Milton included this announcement of his engagement to Sophie in his album. Unfortunately it is not dated, nor do I know where it appeared although it is obviously from a New York newspaper, perhaps the New York Times, which also published a wedding announcement.

“Weddings of A Day. Goldsmith-Hyman,” The New York Times, Februaru 15, 1899, p. 7

Here are two photographs of Milton and Sophie that may reflect how they looked when they married:

Milton Goldsmith at 28 in 1889

Sophie Hyman Goldsmith

Their daughter Rosalind was born two years later on February 1, 1901. Her sister Madeleine arrived three years later on May 29, 1904. Here are a selection of the beautiful photographs of these girls.

Rosalind Goldsmith c. 1901

Madeleine Goldsmith c. 1906

Milton, Sophie, and their two daughters c. 1909

Rosalind and Madeleine Goldsmith, c. 1911

Milton labeled this photograph of Sophie as his favorite:

Sophie Hyman Goldsmith at about 40, c. 1907

Skipping ahead a few decades, this photograph of Sophie and Milton was taken in 1930 when Milton would have been 69, Sophie 63. Sadly, Sophie died just four years later on June 18, 1934.

Sophie and Milton Goldsmith, 1930

Eleven years later on May 22, 1941,  there was a big celebration of Milton’s 80th birthday, as marked by this page in the album:

It includes the invitation—a poem written by one or both of his daughters:

Milton also wrote a poem for the occasion:

As did his brother Louis (included on a separate page):

This photograph must have been taken not long after or perhaps at Milton’s 80th birthday celebration. It includes (from left to right) Milton’s brother Edwin, who died in 1944, and his brother-in-law Sidney Stern, who died in 1942, and Milton.

There’s one final page I’d like to share—the most recent pictures in the album—a page devoted to Milton and Sophie’s daughter Madeleine, her husband Charles Jacobson, and their daughter, my cousin Sue, who so kindly and generously shared all these albums with me. Thank you once again, Sue!

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Album, Part XVII: The Contrasting Lives of His Sisters Rose and Estella

In his family album, Milton devoted several pages to his sisters Rose and Estella. Their life stories show a contrast between the more traditional path of wife and mother taken by Rose and the untraditional path chosen by Estella and give us insights into how women lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rose was five years younger than Milton, born in 1866. She married Sidney Morris Stern in 1892 and had three sons. Here is the page Milton dedicated to his sister Rose and her husband Sidney.

It includes a biography of Sidney written by Milton that fills in some background to Sidney’s life that I had not previously known.

There is also an obituary for Rose, who died in 1931 at the age of 64.

Here is a closer view of the biographical information in her obituary:

The Beth Israel Association of the Deaf honored Rose for her volunteer efforts on behalf of the deaf and presented a portrait to hang in her honor at their meeting place. It’s a shame that we don’t have a photograph of the portrait.

But my favorite part of this page is the photograph of Rose and Sidney, which I edited a bit to enhance the clarity of the photograph, as I have with several of the photographs below:

 

In one of the other albums, I found this lovely photograph of Rose on her graduation day:

Rose lived a comfortable and meaningful life, raising three sons and making a difference in the lives of many through her various volunteer activities.

As noted above, whereas Rose lived a fairly traditional life for a woman of her times, her younger sister Estella chose a road less traveled. Milton created two pages for his youngest full sister Estella (also known as Estelle and Stella). Here is the first:

Milton wrote a sweet biography of Stella that mentions not only her work as a teacher but also the camp she created for girls in the Adirondacks.

The page includes several photographs of the camp as well as two photographs of Stella, who does not look at all fat, despite Milton’s description in the biography.

 

 

The second page dedicated to Stella has a childhood photograph of her, a handwritten description of her 80th birthday celebration as well as a photograph of that celebration, and her obituary.

 

Here is the note describing the 80th birthday party and the photograph. I assume that is Milton reading a poem he wrote for his little sister and that sitting to his right is “Stella” herself.

Stella, Celebrated her 80th birthday, Jan’y 20, 1950. A large gathering (41) of relations, cousins, nieces, &c assembled at the Hotel Warwick in Phila to honor her. Speeches, toasts were given. At 80, Stella is well preserved and still active. Her hearing is bad, and she has difficulty in walking. She has a host of devoted friends. Milton, Rosalind & Mickey attended the festivities. She lives at the Majestic Hotel, Phila, and has a companion to look afer her.

Although Milton focused on Estelle’s career and volunteer activity, there was much, much more to tell about her life. I located an additional photograph of Estelle in one of the other albums and these clippings from a news article about her. You have to read that article. It belies the old myth that a single woman is an “old maid” to be pitied.

 

What an incredibly exciting and interesting life Estelle lived! She traveled all over the world, including to China, India, Egypt, and what was then Palestine, now Israel. She met the Pope, climbed mountains, rode an elephant and a camel, and observed Yom Kippur at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. She was a woman of many interests and with many friends. Hers was no ordinary life.

And finally, here is Stella’s obituary.

What is intriguing about the inclusion of this obituary is that Stella did not die until 1968, eleven years after Milton’s death in 1957. Who added this to the album? It had to be one of her many nieces and nephews and probably one of Milton’s daughters. But it is, as far as I can tell, the only thing added to the album after Milton’s death.

I am so grateful to my cousin Milton for preserving for posterity so much of the Goldsmith family history so that the stories of Rose and Estelle and the different choices they made can live on forever.

This is Part XVII 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 Part XIII , Part XIV , Part XV  and Part XVI at the links.

 

 

The Man with the Mustache: Are You My Grandfather?

For Thanksgiving week, I am only posting once, so let me wish all of you a wonderful holiday (for those in the US, anyway). May we all be thankful for all the good we have in our lives—those ancestors and parents who paved the way for us, those we now share our lives and love with, be they spouses, relatives, or friends, and those who will come after us—our children, grandchildren and all our descendants.


For today, I want to update an earlier post where I reported on Ava aka Sherlock Cohn’s analysis of this photograph, taken in 1923, probably in Atlantic City. I am curious about your reactions to our thoughts on the man with the mustache. Is he my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen?

Based on earlier research and photographs along with Ava’s report, I am now fairly certain of the identities of most of those in the photograph, as I discussed here.  In the front row are Bessie Craig Cohen, probably her mother Sarah Tadley Craig, and Maurice Cohen, Jr. In the middle is Bessie’s niece Margaret Craig and behind Maurice Cohen Jr is his mother, Edna Mayer Cohen. Kneeling behind Edna is her husband, Maurice Cohen, Sr., my great-uncle. I also assume that the photograph was taken by my great-uncle Stanley Cohen based on the fact that he appears in a separate photograph quite obviously taken at the same time and place.

But who is the man kneeling on the left in the top photo, the man with the mustache? How does he connect to the rest of this group? It could not be Bessie Craig Cohen’s brother James because he died in 1918.1 It also could not be her brother Christopher if the photograph was taken in 1923 because he died in 1922.2 Edna Mayer Cohen had a brother Eugene born in 1893 who is the right age to be the man with the mustache. He was living in the Philadelphia area in the 1920s,3 so he is one possibility, but I have no photographs of Eugene.

Ava at first had a much more intriguing conjecture with respect to the man with the mustache. She saw “a resemblance also to the young man holding a hat in the Cohen & Co. Money Loan Office photograph from ten years earlier. If we are to assume that the young man in that photograph is John Nusbaum Cohen, born 1895, then we can assume that the man on the beach is also John Nusbaum Cohen who I estimated to be born circa 1893-1895.” Ava had done a previous report for me on the Cohen & Company photograph and had tentatively identified the young man holding the hat as my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr.

Cohen & Company photograph

That is, Ava speculated that the man with the mustache could also be my grandfather because he resembled that boy holding the hat. I can definitely see the resemblance. Look at the chin and lips, the deep set eyes, the angles of the ears, and the high forehead:

It would make sense for my grandfather to be in the 1923 beach photograph.  He was the right age (born in 1895 so 28 in 1923), and he would have been with his two brothers and their wives.

But my grandfather did not have a mustache in any of the photographs I have of him. Also, my grandfather definitely had attached earlobes. It’s hard to see in the beach photograph, but that man does not appear to have attached earlobes.

And where is my grandmother? They married in January, 1923, so if the beach photo is correctly dated as 1923, my grandparents were already married by then. My grandmother would have been pregnant in the summer of 1923 as my aunt was born in January, 1924. Why wouldn’t she have been at the beach with her husband and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law?

So I was not convinced that the man with the mustache in the photograph was my grandfather, but I also wasn’t willing to dismiss the possibility.

Then I received a whole box of photographs and other papers and books from my cousin Marjorie Cohen’s cousin Lou. Inside that box was this treasure, my grandfather’s 1921 passport including this stunningly clear version of his passport photograph:

The beach photograph was taken two years later in 1923. I definitely see similiarities—in the shape of the face, the lips, the forehead and eyebrows, the chin, and the nose. The eyes are so hard to see in the beach photograph, but they are definitely deep-set. But that mustache threw me off, and I could also see differences. My grandfather’s ears looked smaller and seemed lower set on his face, the top of his ears set below his eyes rather than at the same level.

Later, while doing a search on my computer for pictures of my father, I tripped on this photograph. I have no idea where I got this photograph. And I had no memory of seeing it before. But it had been saved to my computer three years ago. Hmmm. Why didn’t I label it when I got it?

Anyway, it’s another photograph of my paternal grandparents, Eva Schoenthal and John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., taken some years later than the other two I have of them together. My grandfather was wearing glasses, so I wonder whether he was already having some of the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Sr.

Does this help to identify the man with the mustache on the beach?

I sent these two additional photographs to Ava to see what she thought, and interestingly, she concluded that although she now believed that the young man holding the hat in the Cohen & Company photograph was my grandfather John Nusbam Cohen, Sr., she did not think that the man with the mustache on the beach was my grandfather. Ava wrote:

He does look similar and, as you know, I initially said that the man with the hat in Cohen & Co. is the same man with the mustache in the beach photo. But as I said, the man in the beach photo is about the same age as John in the [recently added] photo taken with Eva and the two look different. I’m figuring the John and Eva photo is circa 1928-1931. So John would be in his early 30s. I’m quite certain John is in Cohen & Co. and the fact that his hair was parted in the center in 1921 for his passport picture and again in about 1928 would make the 1923 beach photo an anomaly if he had grown a mustache and changed his hairstyle two years after his passport photo and then changed it back by the end of the twenties.

That mustache is the real problem for me. The change in hair style is less concerning—he was at the beach. Maybe he went swimming? But that mustache. Facial hair often makes a man look older, so maybe that’s why he looks more like he’s in his early 30s and not 28, as my grandfather would have been in 1923.

But as Ava said, none of the other photos I have of my grandfather show him with a mustache—not the passport photo from 1921, not the one taken with my grandmother in 1923, and not the two later photographs. In fact, the 1923 photograph of my grandparents is dated July 1923 on its reverse, as I discovered when Lou sent me Marjorie’s collection:

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. July 15, 1923

Did my grandfather grow a mustache sometime that summer after the July 1923 photograph was taken, or maybe before and then quickly shaved it off? Neither of his brothers ever had mustaches. Were they even in style then?

Ava and I decided we both needed to get some distance from the photograph and come back with fresh eyes.  So for over a month, I put this all aside as did Ava. Then we both returned to it.

I asked the Photo Restoration Free Service group on Facebook to help by adding some clarity to the photograph and removing the mustache. Here was the result:

We then studied all the photographs again, adding this new one to the mix.

As I looked over every adult photo of I have of my grandfather, I began to see that he looked different in every single one of them. I was totally befuddled, but now thought that the man on the beach wasn’t my grandfather.

Ava was also convinced that the man with the mustache was not my grandfather. She wrote:

I took a long look at John’s passport photo and compared it to the man on the beach. I still don’t believe the two are the same person. Besides the obvious clues like hairstyle and mustache, it appears that John’s ears and the ears of the man in the beach photo are not the same shape and even though they both seem to have attached earlobes, the pattern of the “shell” is different. … I looked at all the identified pictures of John that I have from you, including his baby picture. I don’t think the man on the beach is your grandfather. I also don’t think that the man on the beach is the person holding his hat in the storefront photo.

I responded that I agreed with her and wrote:

So here’s the $64,000 question—do you think the boy holding the hat in the Cohen & Company photo is my grandfather? 

Ava responded that she thinks it is likely that the boy holding his hat in the Cohen & Company photograph is my grandfather, but without more photographs, it’s impossible to be certain, especially given the blurriness of that photograph and the fact that the boy is squinting, making it difficult to see his eyes.

As I looked over the photographs yet another time, I made a new observation. My grandfather’s hairline, even as it receded, always seemed a bit further back along the temples, a bit more forward in the center. The man with the mustache seems to have a hairline that did not curve backwards in this way.

So in the end, Ava and I both concluded that the man with the mustache was not John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., but that the boy holding the hat likely is.

What do you all think? Here for your final review are all the photographs that I know are of my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr. as well as the beach photo.

 


  1. James Craig, death certificate, Certificate Number: 140783, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 140251-143500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  2. Christopher Craig, death certificate, Certificate Number: 23826, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 023001-026000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  3. Eugene Mayer, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cheltenham, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 2341815, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 

Cohens on the Beach: Another Case for Sherlock Cohn, The Photogenealogist

This photograph and the analysis of it will stick with me for a long time, probably forever. Why? Because it’s the last photograph that I asked my father about before he died in February, 2019.

A little background. A scan of that photograph and many others had been sent to me several years ago by a cousin-by-marriage named Lou; he and I were connected through my our mutual cousin, once removed, Marjorie Jane Cohen, the daughter of Bessie Craig, Lou’s great-aunt, and Stanley Cohen, my great-uncle.

In addition, in the summer of 2018 I connected with another Cohen cousin, Marcy, the granddaughter of Maurice Cohen, Sr., who was also my great-uncle, my grandfather John’s other brother. Marcy sent me several photographs including this one of Maurice, Sr., and his sons, Buddy and Junior, my father’s other first cousins.

Emanuel (Buddy), Maurice, Sr., and Maurice, Jr. (Junior) Cohen

Emanuel (Buddy), Maurice Sr., and Maurice Jr. Cohen

I already had the photographs below from Lou and used this one from Marcy to identify the people in these two. The bottom one was obviously Maurice Cohen, Sr., and looking at these two photographs with my father in the summer of 2018, we identified the woman as Maurice’s wife, Edna Mayer Cohen, the baby as their son Emanuel (Buddy) Cohen, born in 1922, and the little boy as their older son, Maurice Cohen, Jr., born in 1917.

Edna Mayer Cohen holding Buddy Cohen, 1922

Maurice Cohen Jr. and Maurice Cohen Sr., 1922

Based on these photographs, I could identify  the man kneeling in the right rear of the beach photograph as Maurice Sr. with his wife Edna sitting in front of him. Here are close-ups of the man and woman on the right side of the beach photograph; you can see they are the same people as the adults depicted in the three photos above:

It was also clear that the woman on the left side of the beach photo was Bessie Craig Cohen, Stanley Cohen’s wife, as you can see from these photos of Bessie that Lou had sent me from  Marjorie’s collection:

Stanley and Bessie (Craig) Cohen

Bessie Craig Cohen

Bessie Craig Cohen

Here is a closeup of the woman I believe is Bessie Craig Cohen in the beach photo:

But who who were the two children and the older woman in the center? And who was the man with the mustache in the rear left side of the photograph?

Although the back of the  beach photograph is dated 1923, I wondered if that was a mistake. I thought that perhaps the photo was really taken in 1933 because the girl in the middle resembled pictures I had of Marjorie when she was a girl:

 

Marjorie 1933

But Marjorie was born in 1925, meaning the photograph could not have been taken in 1923. I also speculated that the little boy could be my father, who was born in 1926. And perhaps the woman in the middle was Eva Seligman Cohen, my great-grandmother, Marjorie and my father’s paternal grandmother. I speculated that the photograph had been incorrectly dated 1923 when 1933 would have been more accurate.

So I showed the photograph to my father. He agreed with me about my identifications of Maurice, Sr., Edna, and Bessie. But he was adamant that the woman in the middle was not his grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen and that the little girl was not Marjorie. He pointed out that Marjorie did not have the high forehead of the little girl on the beach, as you can see above. He wasn’t as certain about the little boy since his face is partially hidden in the photograph. Nor could he identify the man with the mustache.

I knew this was another case for Ava “Sherlock” Cohn, who has done such outstanding work for me before. I recently received Ava’s report on the beach photograph, and once again she has done an incredibly thorough job of research and analysis and written a persuasive report on her conclusions. I wish my father was still alive because he would be so happy to read Ava’s report. She agreed with him that that is not Marjorie on the beach and that the woman is not my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, and my father loved to be right.

So who are these people? Thanks to Ava’s expert analysis, I believe I now have some of the answers. In order to explain, I will share, with Ava’s permission, some of her report.

First, Ava concluded that the photograph was correctly labeled as having been taken in 1923, not 1933 as I had hoped:

In order to properly date this photograph, it is important to look at the clothing of the beach-goers.

In general, the beachwear is appropriate for the time period of the early 1920s. The woman on the left side of the photograph (who has been identified as Bessie Craig, wife of Stanley Cohen) is wearing the most recognizable twenties bathing suit and swim cap. Below, left, is an example from around 1920 of a swim cap very similar to Bessie’s cap that covers her forehead to the eyebrows.  On the right is an example of a suit and cap from a 1919 advertisement for Tom Wye of Winchendon, Massachusetts, a knitting plant. Notice the white sash that is similar to the one on Bessie’s suit.

Likewise, the same type of white sash/belt can be seen on the man on the right in the back. Bessie’s dark stockings are a little old-fashioned for 1923 as stockings were generally worn pre-1923 when bare legs were the preference of style setters. The swimwear/streetwear worn by the others in the photograph is less revealing of the date but within the same time period of the early 1920s.

… Given all of the clothing/bathing suit styles being worn in the photograph, the date of the photograph is clearly closer to 1923 than to 1933 as Amy had speculated.

Once the photograph was dated in the early 1920s, it was clear that Marjorie and my father could not be the children in the photograph as they weren’t yet born.

Ava then estimated the ages and birth years of the people in the photograph:

 I am estimating the following age and approximate birth year (based on a 1923 photo date) of those in the photograph as follows:

    1. Woman seated in front—early to late 60s; birth year (approx.1854-1863)
    2. Young boy seated in front on the right—5-6 years old; birth year (1917-1918)
    3. Woman behind young boy—early 30s; birth year (1890-1891)
    4. Man kneeling on the right—early 30s; birth year (1890-1891)
    5. Young girl in middle—5-7 years old; birth year (1916-1918)
    6. Man kneeling on left—28-30; birth year (1893-1895)
    7. Woman seated on left (identified as Bessie Craig)—29 years old; birth year 1894

Based on these ages and birthdates and other photographs that I had shared with Ava as well as her own research, she made several possible identifications of the people in the photograph.

First, she concluded that the young boy was Maurice Cohen, Jr., the son of Maurice Sr. and Edna, who are right behind him in the photograph. Ava wrote;

Maurice’s eldest son, Maurice, Jr., was born in 1917 and would be age 6 in 1923. Though he resembles Amy’s father, John, Jr., (particularly his haircut) he has been identified in the photograph of Eva Seligman Cohen and Emanuel Cohen also taken in Atlantic City in 1922 as Maurice, Jr. (known as “Junior”) and, therefore, I believe the boy on the beach is Maurice, Jr.

Here is that 1922 photograph:

Emanuel Cohen, Eva Seligman Cohen, and Maurice Cohen Jr. 1922

Here is a closeup of the boy on the beach taken a year later:

As for the young girl, Ava’s hypothesis is that she is a niece of Bessie Craig Cohen, one of the two daughters of Bessie’s brother Christopher, Margaret or Mary Rita.  Ava located some photographs online of Christopher Craig’s daughters that show a resemblance. Margaret was born in 1918 and thus would have been about five in 1923 when the photograph was taken.

 

When I received Ava’s report, I contacted Lou, who is the son of one of those daughters and the nephew of the other.  He sent some additional photographs of his mother and aunt that support Ava’s conclusion that the girl in the photograph is Christopher Craig’s daughter. The girl in this 1934 photograph is Lou’s mother Mary Rita Craig. Note the resemblance to the girl on the beach, who was probably her older sister Margaret:

Mary Rita Craig, 1934

That brings me to the older woman in the center of the photograph. Ava agreed with my father that this woman was not his grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen. Ava based her conclusion on comparisons to other photographs of my great-grandmother Eva and noted the differences in their facial structure and appearance.

Eva Seligman Cohen

Then she considered other women in the extended family who might have been in the photograph. She narrowed the possibilities to Sarah Jane Tadley Craig, Bessie Craig Cohen’s mother, or Edna Mayer Cohen’s mother, Ella Stern Mayer. Ella was born in about 1860 (sources conflict), making her about 63 in 1923; Sarah was born in 1869, so would have been 54 in 1923.

Although Ava thought the woman on the beach appeared to be closer to 63 than 54 in age and also found some resemblances between that woman and Edna Mayer Cohen, she was not willing to rule out the possibility that the woman on the beach was Sarah Jane Tadley Craig.

In fact, when I sent Ava additional photographs of Marjorie, Sarah’s granddaughter, Ava was struck by the resemblance between the shape of Marjorie’s face, her chin in particular, and that of the woman on the beach. We hope to receive a photograph of Sarah Jane Tadley Craig from Lou that may make a final identification easier.

One other hint that that woman may be Sarah Craig came from an additional photograph Lou sent after receiving Ava’s report—a photograph that was obviously taken at the same time as the photograph we are analyzing:

Note that in this photograph Stanley has replaced the man with the mustache and only Stanley, Bessie, the young girl, and the older woman are in the photograph (with Edna in the background). After thinking about this, it occurred to me that this photograph was intended only to show the members of the Craig family: Bessie, her niece, and her mother, plus her husband, Stanley. Look how the older woman has her hand affectionaltely placed on Bessie’s leg, something a mother would do, but probably not the mother of a sister-in-law. That seems to corroborate the theory that the older woman was Sarah Craig, not Ella Mayer.

But who was the man with the mustache? How does he connect to the rest of this group? That is the subject of post to come at a later time. Ava and I were going back and forth, both of us somewhat uncertain about that one, so she suggested we get some distance from it and revisit “in a while.” So I am heeding her advice and will postpone that discussion after a break from staring at that man with the mustache over and over and over.

Helen Goldsmith and Edwin Meyer and Their Family

My last post shared photographs of Helen Goldsmith as a child and as a young woman. In this post I will share photos of Helen and her family from the time of Helen’s marriage to Edwin Meyer in 1914 through her adulthood. Once again, I am grateful to my cousin Marilyn, Helen’s granddaughter, for sharing these wonderful photographs with me. Most of the identifications of the people in these photograph came from Marilyn based on information she had.

To start, here is a photograph of the place cards that were used at Helen and Edwin’s wedding:

Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

As Helen noted, the wedding was on January 18, 1914 (the date is cut off on the photograph so it may look like it says 1912 or 1917, but it was definitely 1914). Helen was 24, and Edwin was 23. I wrote about Edwin and his background here.

Helen Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania

A little over a year later, Helen gave birth to Edgar on February 27, 1915;1 a second son Malcolm was born three years later on January 17, 1918.2 This photograph of the two little boys must have been taken some time in 1918 as Malcolm looks about six to nine months old:

Edgar and Malcolm Meyer, c. 1918. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

“Uncle Art,” to whom this photo must have been sent, was Edwin Meyer’s younger brother.

UPDATE: Peter Klopp kindly edited this photo to fix poor Edgar’s face:

edgar-and-malcolom-meyer-Edited by Peter Klopp

Here is Edwin Meyer with his two young sons about a year later, I’d guess.

Edwin, Malcolm, and Edgar Meyer, c. 1919. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

This one skips ahead to about 1923; Edgar looks about eight, Malcolm five.

Malcolm and Edgar Meyer, c. 1924. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In the next one Malcolm is a teenager so taken perhaps around 1935. This was a family golf outing, but not all the people in the photograph could be identified by Marilyn. Standing in the back from left to right are Helen Goldsmith Meyer, then two unidentified people, then Helen’s brother Walter Goldsmith, Edwin Meyer, and an unknown man on the far right. Kneeling in front are Edison Goldsmith (Walter’s son) and Malcolm Meyer.

Meyer family and others, c. 1935. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

I don’t know when this next photograph was taken, but I’d guess it was taken around the same time as the golf photograph based on a comparison of Helen’s face in the two photographs. This is a photograph of Helen (right) with her sister Florence. I love Helen’s comment: “Just sisterly affection brought out in the sunshine.”

Florence and Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

We skip ahead now to the 1940s and this sweet photograph of Helen hugging her son Malcolm, who was in uniform. Malcolm served in the US Army from May 4, 1942 until March 2, 1946, including serving overseas from August 20, 1943 until January 24, 1946.3

Helen Goldsmith Meyer and Malcolm Meyer, c. 1942. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In 1948, Helen and Edwin became grandparents when both of their sons had daughters. Here is a picture of the whole family showing off the two granddaughters. From left to right, standing: Esther Orringer Meyer (Edgar’s wife), Helen Goldsmith Meyer, Carolyn Schnurer Meyer (Malcolm’s wife). Front, Edgar Meyer holding his daughter, Edwin Meyer, and Malcolm Meyer holding his daughter.

Meyer family, 1948. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Finally, Marilyn shared these three photographs from the 1950s. In the first, we once again see the family playing golf. Dated October 19, 1952, from left to right are Milton Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith’s brother, about whom I wrote here, here, and here; Milton’s second wife and cousin Fanny Goldsmith Goldsmith, about whom I wrote here; Helen Goldsmith Meyer; and Edwin Meyer’s sister Leah:

Milton Goldsmith, Fanny Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith Meyer, and Leah Meyer. 1952. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

I was excited to see a photograph of Milton and Fanny. And here is another one, taken in June 1958:

Fanny and Milton Goldsmith, June 1958. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

And finally, this is a photograph of Florence and Oliver, the same two siblings depicted on either side of Helen in the earliest photograph I have of her, so I am posting them together.  Despite the changes that aging carved in their faces, you can still see the same expressions sixty plus years later:

 

 

Thank you again to my cousin Marilyn for sharing this wonderful collection of photographs.


To all who celebrate, I wish you an easy and meaningful fast. May you be sealed in the Book of Life for another year. G’mar tov!

 

 

 

 


  1. Edgar Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Malcolm Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Malcolm Meyer, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Veteran Compensation Application Files, WWII, 1950-1966