The Things You Can’t Learn from Genealogy Records Alone: Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XVIII

A few years after Milton Goldsmith’s mother died in 1874, his father Abraham remarried, as I have written about here. With his second wife Frances Spanier, Abraham had four more children, Milton’s half-siblings. Milton dedicated four more pages in his family album to these siblings. From Milton’s biographies I learned a great deal more about each of these siblings than I’d been able to learn from traditional research.

Alfred was the oldest, and he became a well-known rare book dealer in New York City, as discussed here. What I didn’t know until reading Milton’s biography of his brother was that Alfred had at first enrolled in dental school. In addition to the biography Milton wrote about his brother Alfred, this page includes a photograph presumably of Alfred and two women who are not identified and a brief news story about Alfred.

Alfred Goldsmith and two women

The article below reveals a bit about Alfred’s personality. Apparently he was quite a literary snob and refused to stock books in his store that he considered “trash.” Good for him for having standards!

Bertha was the next child born to Abraham and Frances. Milton focused on her two marriages in his biography of Bertha. As I wrote about here, Bertha first married Sampson Weinhandler and then married his first cousin Frederick Newman. Milton’s insights into both men added an additional dimension to what I had learned through my research:

Imagine Bertha traveling all the way to Reno to divorce Sampson for incompatibility. Milton described him as “spoiled.” I sure wish Milton had described how Sampson and his family responded to Bertha’s marriage to his cousin Frederick the following year. Milton obviously much preferred Frederick to Sampson, describing the former as “a genial, well-informed man with a host of friends.”

I am not sure whether this photograph is of Bertha and Sampson or Bertha and Frederick, but given Milton’s description of Sampson, I am going to assume this is Sampson.

Bertha Goldsmith and one of her husbands, probably Sampson Weinhandler/Wayne.

The third child born to Abraham and Frances was their daughter Alice. Milton’s biography of Alice is quite fascinating and revealed far more about Alice than I’d been able to learn through my research. In fact, Alice had been a very elusive subject, rarely appearing on census records or elsewhere.

Now that I’ve read Milton’s story about her, I understand better why I had so much difficulty learning about her. She traveled extensively and was stranded in Italy at the start of World War I. She helped the American Consul in Genoa deal with other stranded travelers and was rewarded with a free trip back to the US.

Alice was an educated and scholarly woman who took courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Harvard and had a career with two different doctors, one in Philadelphia and one in New York. I searched for a Dr. Tinley, but had no luck locating him. I also learned how Alice had met her husband playing bridge with mutual friends. She was 43 when she married Louis Margulies, whom Milton described as “a fine, outstanding, genial man” whose business was real estate and who had immigrated from Romania at the age of 14. I love this photograph of them—they look so happy.

Alice Goldsmith and Louis Margulies

Finally, Milton included a page for his youngest sibling, Louis Goldsmith. Like his sister Alice, Louis traveled extensively and married later in life (he was 53). He was very successful in the advertising business, handling the Palm Beach Cloth account.

What I had not already learned about Louis was that he had worked at Friedberger Mills and almost died after an operation for an injury to his hand. He then worked with his brothers Milton and Edwin at the Snellenburg Company in Philadelphia where he learned the art of advertising before he moved to New York to become “a very capable advertising man.” Milton described his youngest sibling Louis as “very much a recluse in his habits, living at the Plaza Hotel, and is very generous.” He also was a very snazzy dresser, as my father would have said.

Louis Goldsmith

Louis Goldsmith

It’s wonderful to have photographs of nine of the ten children of my three-times great-uncle Abraham Goldsmith1 and more details about their lives from someone who knew and loved them well, their brother Milton.

This is Part XVIII 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, Part XVI,  and Part XVII at the links.


  1. Only Hilda is missing; she died as a teenager. 

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.

 

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Album, Part XVI: His Beloved Sister and Fellow Author, Emily

Most of the remaining pages of the Milton Goldsmith’s album are devoted to his many siblings and their spouses. For example, this page includes photographs of and news clippings about Milton’s sister Emily, who was also a writer, and her husband Felix Gerson, who was a writer and one of the founders of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

I want to highlight the photographs of Emily and Felix, as seeing the faces of those about whom I have written is always a thrill for me:

Emily Goldsmith as a child

Emily Goldsmith Gerson

Emily and Felix Gerson

I will also quote a bit from the news article about Emily. Unfortunately I don’t know when or where it was published.

Mrs. Gerson was most widely recognized as a writer for children. In addition to writing books and editing pages for children, she is the author of a number of playlets, published in pamphlet form, for holiday entertainments in Jewish religious schools. In the last few years adult stories from her pen have appeared frequently in Jewish papers and magazines…

Yet, perhaps in the Young Readers’ Department of the Jewish Exponent, which she originated in 1892, Mrs. Gerson came closest to the hearts of her little readers. The children themselves had a hand in building up this department, and feel that it really belongs to them. They write prize poems and stories, articles and jokes; they give entertainment for charity and send the proceeds to Mrs. Gerson in prettily worded notes; and they contribute about a thousand dollars every year to the Country Week Fund in the department for sending poor Jewish children to the country during the summer.

This page also includes an obituary of Emily’s husband Felix, who died in 1945, almost thirty years after Emily’s death.

The page that follows in Milton’s album includes a biography of Felix Gerson, written presumably by Milton:

Finally, the page below includes several obituaries of Emily, who died in 1917 when she was only 49 years old.

There is also an article about the farm that was named in her honor and used as a summer retreat for poor Jewish children from Philadelphia as well as another photograph of her.

Here are some excerpts from this article and one more photograph of Milton’s beloved sister Emily:

Emily Goldsmith Gereson

In one of the other albums, I found this additional photograph of Felix.

These pages demonstrate how proud Milton was of his sister Emily and how devastated he must have been when she died in 1917.

This is Part XVI 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 and Part XV at the links.

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XV: Childhood Memories

Last spring I began a series of posts1 that were devoted to a family album created by my first cousin, three times removed (my great-grandmother Hilda Schoenthal Katzenstein’s first cousin), Milton Goldsmith. Milton became a well-known author of both adult and children’s books and is perhaps best known for his novel, Rabbi and Priest, which was adapted into a play, The Little Brother, and produced on Broadway as well as many other places. I wrote extensively about Milton and his works on the blog here, here, and here, for example.

Milton’s granddaughter, my cousin Sue, kindly scanned numerous pages from Milton’s family album and shared them with me. The last page I received from her last spring was about Milton’s brother Edwin. Sue told me that there were many more pages and that instead of scanning them, she thought it would be better to loan me the album so I could select what I wanted to scan.

In October, Sue traveled to Massachusetts to visit other family members (unrelated to me) and came to my house with three or four shopping bags filled with albums that were stuffed with photographs, letters, poems, and other documents about her grandfather Milton and his family. I was overwhelmed, to say the least. Some of the letters were written by Milton’s father Abraham—my three-times great-uncle—in the 1870s and 1880s. These are letters handwritten in the old German script; I cannot read them, but I hope eventually to scan them and to ask someone familiar with that script to help translate them for me. I have to return all these albums to Sue, so I need to find the time to scan. And there is a ton to scan and not much time to do it. But I will do my best.

I have scanned the rest of the family album compiled by Milton Goldsmith and some of the pages in the other albums, and I want to share some of those pages on the blog and continue the project I began last spring. I want to start with some of the pages devoted to Milton’s recollections of his childhood.

As discussed in earlier posts, Milton was the first-born child of Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler; he was born on May 22, 1861, in Philadelphia, where he lived for his entire childhood until marrying Sophie Hyman in 1899 and then moving to New York City. Milton’s mother Cecelia died when he was thirteen years old, and his father remarried two years later. Altogether, Milton had nine younger siblings—five full siblings and four half siblings.

The page depicted below, labeled “First Experiences—Random Shots,” describes some of Milton’s earliest memories—the cries of the patients of the dentist next door, the move to a new home when he was four years old, and the amusing story of how a veil covering his face as a baby combined with the moisture from his “pacifier” and caused his face to turn green. (You may have to click on the photos or zoom in on your screen to read these entries.)

As I read about using a cake-filled cloth to pacify a baby, I couldn’t help but think about the scary dentist next door who must have benefited from those sugar-filled pacifiers.

The final anecdote on this page requires some explanation. Milton talks about being insulted when he is caught eating cake by the family nurse, Maggie, and called a “Fresser.” In German, the verb “to eat” has two different versions. Human beings “essen,” and animals “fressen.” So Maggie was basically calling Milton an animal because of the way he was eating.

Milton shared several anecdotes involving his younger brother Edwin, who grew up to be a successful inventor, as I wrote about here. Edwin was the third oldest child in the family and three years younger than Milton.  You may recall that Edwin’s birth record indicated that he was a girl, a source of some amusement to his big brother Milton. Here is that record; he is the first entry on the page and yes, he was labeled a girl, obviously by mistake:

Despite the teasing, it appears that Milton and Edwin were quite close. Milton wrote about the theatrical performances he and his brother Edwin put on for the neighborhood children. It seems that even as a young boy, Milton had a creative imagination and a love of stories and theater.

Milton and Edwin were involved in several misadventures, as this page describes:

You can see in these anecdotes that Milton was very fond of his younger brother.

There is, however, evidence of more teasing in Milton’s third story about wanting to be a doctor and using a skeleton to scare his brother.

I found it interesting that Milton had at one time aspired to be a doctor. After all, the “other” Milton Goldsmith, his second cousin, did grow up to be a doctor. Given Milton’s success as an author, I doubt he had any regrets about not pursuing the medical profession. On the other hand, Milton’s interest in magic apparently stayed with him for the rest of his life, as reported in his obituary.

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, October 4, 1957, p.43.

These delightful recollections reveal another side to Milton—the fun-loving, innocent little boy who loved his family. Despite losing his mother at a young age, Milton obviously looked back on his childhood as a very happy time.

This is Part XV 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 and Part XIV at the links.

 


  1. See the links at the bottom of this post. 

Albert Cahn’s Adult Life: More Questions Than Answers

As seen in my last post, the first nineteen years of Albert Cahn’s life were decidedly challenging. He lost both parents before he was five and was raised by his cousin Mollie Sigmund Goldman. He ran away from home twice—once to join the Navy and then to join the Army. He then deserted the Army and was sentenced to ten years hard labor in September 1918, but was granted clemency due to poor health and was released from prison on March 4, 1919.

What happened to him next? There are as many questions as answers about that, I’m afraid. Perhaps some of you can help answer them.

I could not find Albert on the 1920 census. He is not listed in Mollie’s household or in the households of any of his other Baltimore relatives.  I also could not find his cousin, Mollie’s daughter Adele Goldman Weil, or her family anywhere on the 1920 census, so perhaps Albert had returned to Cleveland and was living with the Weils and they somehow were missed by the enumerator. I even had the Weil’s address—2512 Edgehill Road in Cleveland Heights—but there was no census listing for that address or any address with a house number in the 2500s on Edgehill Road.

Thanks to the Social Security Application and Claims Index, I was eventually able to find an Albert F. Cahn listed as the father of two men, Earl Cahn1 and Ronald Vernon Cahn,2 whose mother was Rose (sometimes listed as Rosie) Vrana.  Of course, I couldn’t be sure this was the same Albert F. Cahn, but I hoped that if I kept searching, I’d find some evidence to prove or disprove that this was my cousin Albert.

I found the family first on the 1925 New York State census, where Albert was listed as a salesman, living in Manhattan on Pinehurst Avenue near the George Washington Bridge, with Rose, Earl and Ronald.

Albert F Cahn and family, 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 31; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 16, Description District: A·D· 23 E·D· 31, Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925

I could not find the family on the 1930 census at all, but I did find Albert, Rose, and Ronald Cahn on the 1940 census, living in Manhattan on 68th Street; Albert was an electrical supplies salesman. I was now more persuaded that this was the correct Albert F. Cahn since he was the right age (40) and was born in Maryland. His son Earl was living and working as an attendant at the Central Islip State Hospital in Islip, New York, a town on Long Island.3

Albert F Cahn and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02638; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 31-614
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But I had no marriage record for Albert or any other records for him after his 1919 discharge from the Army except the 1925 New York State census and the 1940 US census. Where was he in 1920? And where was his family in 1930?

I looked more closely at what I could find for Rose Vrana Cahn and for the two sons, Earl and Ronald. Rose was born October 30, 1894, in East Islip, New York, the daughter of Joseph Vrana and Josephine Shimsa.4 She grew up in Islip, where her father was a gardener.5 In 1920 Rose was working and living at the Central Islip Hospital, the same place where her son Earl would be employed twenty years later.6 And on December 18, 1920, a Rose Vrana married someone named James H. Wilson in Islip.7

But according to the Social Security records, Rose gave birth to Earl Cahn in Boston on December 24, 1921,8: a year after her marriage to James H. Wilson. At first I thought that Albert Cahn had adopted an alias, but James H. Wilson proved to be a separate person.  So somehow Rose had a child in Boston with Albert Cahn twelve months after marrying James H. Wilson in Islip, New York.

There was an Albert F. “Cahan” living in Boston in the 1921 directory, listed as a salesman, and an Albert F. Cahn, a salesman, living at the same address in Boston in the 1922 directory.9 But there is no listing in Boston before 1921 or after 1922 for Albert Cahn. I did, however, find this record showing an Albert F. Cahn briefly working as an attendant at a state institution in Binghamton, New York, for a week in September, 1921.

New York State Archives; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Dept. of Civil Service, State Employee History Cards, 1894-1954; Series: 15029, Ancestry.com. New York, State Employment Cards and Peddlers’ Licenses, 1840-1966

So had Rose and Albert run off to Binghamton and then to Boston during 1921? I have no idea. I am just grasping for straws. Maybe it’s not even the same Alfred F. Cahn in Binghamton. Is it just coincidence that Rose and then later Earl worked as attendants in a state hospital in New York State and that Albert F. Cahn also worked as a state hospital attendant, albeit briefly, in New York State? Did Rose and Albert meet while working together at one of these hospitals? I don’t know.

Rose and Albert’s second child, Ronald, was born in New York City on January 3, 1923, 10 so by that date  the Cahns had returned to New York, and we saw that in 1925 they were living in New York.  But I cannot find one record for Albert or Rose or their two sons after the 1925 New York State census until the 1940 US census. Where were they? I have searched every database I can think of with no luck, including newspaper databases, census records, directories, and Google. Nothing.

But, as seen above, Albert, Rose, and Ronald were living together in New York City in 1940, and Earl was living in Islip, which had been Rose’s hometown. Earl was still working at the Central Islip State Hospital when he registered for the World War II draft. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps on April 15, 1942, and served as a pharmacist for the duration of World War II.11

Earl Cahn, World War 2 draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Earl’s younger brother Ronald also served during World War II. He enlisted into the Air Corps on July 9, 1941, and served until January 5, 1946.12 Interestingly, Ronald still had to register for the draft after being discharged from the military:

Ronald Cahn, World War 2 draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Indiana, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 114
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

As indicated on Ronald’s draft registration, his mother was still living in New York City at 225 West 68th Street, the same address Earl listed for Albert on his draft registration and the same address where the family was located on the 1940 census. Was Albert still there in 1946 when Ronald registered? Why is there no listing for Albert in any New York directory during these years? I am befuddled.

Albert Cahn died in March 1974 and was residing in Flushing, Queens, New York, at the time.13 His wife Rosie died January 4, 1990, in Patchogue, New York, not far from Islip where she was born and raised and where her two sons ended up living.14 Ronald died in Islip on April 24, 1995,15 and his brother Earl died in Islip on November 1, 2005.16

Interestingly, both Ronald and Earl were buried at Calverton National Cemetery, the federal military cemetery on Long Island.17 Both had served honorably in World War II. One has to wonder what they thought of their father’s military record and what their father thought of theirs.

Thus ends the story of Alfred Cahn, at least as far I can find it. If anyone has any suggestions for how I can fill the many gaps (1919-1925, 1926-1940, and 1942-1974), please help! Albert’s early life was filled with so much turmoil and tragedy that I would very much like to know more about his adult life.

This is also the final chapter in the story of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund, so I now can return to her siblings in Germany and tell the story of the other children of my four-times great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt.

But first some updates on another member of the Goldschmidt family.


  1. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Vrana, SSN: 066141497, EARL CAHN, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  2. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 072147550,  RONALD VERNON CAHN, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3. Earl Cahn, 1940 US census, Census Place: Islip, Suffolk, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02787; Page: 36A; Enumeration District: 52-129B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4.  Name: Rosie Vrana, Birth Date: 30 Oct 1894, Birth Place: East Islip, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 46459, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Birth Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, Birth Index, 1881-1942. Father: Joseph Vrana, Mother: Josephine Shimsa, SSN: 053524750, Death Certificate Number: 001971, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. Vrana family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Islip, Suffolk, New York; Roll: T624_1082; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 1371; FHL microfilm: 1375095, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  6. Rose Vrana, 1920 US census, Census Place: Islip, Suffolk, New York; Roll: T625_1269; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 128, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7.  Name: Rose Vrana, Marriage Date: 18 Dec 1920, Marriage Place: Islip, New York, USA, Spouse: James H Wilson, Certificate Number: 43940, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Marriage Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 
  8. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 066141497, EARL CAHN, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2000. 
  9. Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1921, 1922, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 072147550,  RONALD VERNON CAHN, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. Name: Earl A Cahn, Muster Date: Oct 1942, Rank: Pharmacist Mate Third Class
    Station: Hqco, 2Dbn,9Thmar,Reinf,Advech,3Rdmardiv,Camp Joseph, Pendleton,Oceanside,Calif., Ancestry.com. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  12. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  13. Name: Albert Cahn, Social Security Number: 215-10-3029, Birth Date: 16 Nov 1899, Issue year: Before 1951, Issue State: Maryland, Last Residence: 11366, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: Mar 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. SSN: 053524750, Death Certificate Number: 001971, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  15. Name: Ronald V Cahn, Service Info.: SGT US ARMY AIR CORPS WORLD WAR II, Birth Date: 3 Jan 1923, Death Date: 24 Apr 1995, Service Start Date: 9 Jul 1941
    Interment Date: 27 Apr 1995, Cemetery: Calverton National Cemetery
    Cemetery Address: 210 Princeton Boulevard Rt 25 Calverton, NY 11933
    Buried At: Section 66 Site 5856, National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2006. 
  16. Name: Earl A Cahn, Service Info.: PHM1 US NAVY WORLD WAR II
    Birth Date: 24 Dec 1921, Death Date: 1 Nov 2005, Cemetery: Calverton National Cemetery, Cemetery Address: 210 Princeton Boulevard Rt 25 Calverton, NY 11933
    Buried At: Section 29 Site 2618, National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 
  17. See footnotes 15 and 16, above. 

The Court-Martial of Albert F. Cahn

I want to start 2020 with a story that is in many ways one of the most disturbing and challenging stories I’ve researched. It’s a story about bullying and military (in)justice and the folly of youth.

Felix Albert Cahn, who was known as Albert, was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Remembering the tragic start to Albert’s life makes his story especially poignant. To recap what I’ve already written about him:

Felix Albert Cahn was the son of May Sigmund and Gerson Cahn. May was the biological daughter of Lena Sigmund and Solomon Sigmund. Her mother Lena died when May was a year old.  Solomon, May’s biological father, seems to have disappeared from her life after Lena died. So May was effectively an orphan from the time she was a toddler, and was raised and seemingly adopted by her grandparents, Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund.

May married Gerson Cahn on April 24, 1898, and their son Albert was born on November 6, 1899 in Baltimore.  His father Gerson died on November 23, 1903, and his mother May died just four months later on March 18, 1904. Albert was only four years old and had lost both his parents. Albert, like his mother, was orphaned as a young child.

Marriage record of Gerson Cahn and May Sigmund, http://guide.msa.maryland.gov/pages/viewer.aspx?page=marriage#goToPage

In 1910 when Albert was ten, he was living with his biological first cousin and adoptive aunt, Mollie Sigmund Goldman, and her family. Albert engaged in charitable work, collecting money for sick children, when he was thirteen, and he was confirmed at Har Sinai Temple in Baltimore when he was fourteen. He seemed to be growing up just fine.

Harry Goldman and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 15, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: T624_558; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0250; FHL microfilm: 1374571
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Then Albert entered the military. According to a volume compiled in 1933, Maryland In the World War, 1917-1919: Military And Naval Service Records, Albert was inducted into the US Army on June 20, 1917, when he was seventeen. He was promoted to private, first class, on August 3, 1917, and was serving with the Ambulance Corps, but not overseas. Then on December 13, 1917, he went absent without leave and was found guilty of desertion. He was sent to prison at Fort Jay in New York City on August 20, 1918, and was dishonorably discharged from the army on March 14, 1919.1

The only additional information I could initially find about Albert’s military record was this brief news item that was published on September 27, 1918, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 27, 1918, p. 19

I was quite disturbed by this news story and the report in the Maryland in the World War book, and I was determined to learn more about Albert’s case. I sent a request to the National Archives National Personnel Records Center and received this reply:

Thus, it appeared that there was no file about Albert Cahn’s military record that survived the 1973 fire at the National Archives.  I then decided to see if there was a record of Albert’s court-martial that existed separately from his military records. I wrote again to the National Archives asking if there would be a transcript of a court-martial from 1919. And sure enough there was.

The file is 35 pages long, and I won’t reproduce it here in its entirety, but if you are interested, you can find it here; CahnAlbertF_1760263_GCM  I will summarize most of it and share some of the pages. The pages in the citations refer to the page numbers in the file I received from NARA.

Albert was charged with desertion, to which he pled not guilty, as articulated here:

Court Martial file of Albert F. Cahn, p. 14

There were only three witnesses at the trial. The first witness was Harry Goldman, Mollie Sigmund’s husband. Harry described Mollie as Albert’s guardian and as “his mother’s niece,” that is, May Sigmund Cahn, Albert’s mother, was Mollie’s niece (as well as her adoptive sister). (p. 15) Mollie herself was the second witness, and finally Albert testified on his own behalf. Rather than recount the testimony in the order it was given, I thought it would be more helpful to tell Albert’s story in chronological order as described by the three witnesses.

Harry testified that after Albert’s father Gerson Cahn died, Albert’s mother May asked her aunt/adoptive sister Molly if she and Albert could temporarily live with Molly’s family. Then May died a few months after moving in to Molly’s home, leaving Albert an orphan. Harry testified that Albert’s grandfather had no interest in Albert, and Harry and Molly’s children persuaded them to take care of Albert on a permanent basis. Thus, Albert had been living with Harry and Molly since he was four years old. Harry agreed that his relationship with Albert was like that of father and son. (p. 18) Molly’s testimony corroborated these facts. (p.21)

File of Court-Martial of Albert F Cahn, p. 18

I was puzzled by the reference to Albert’s grandfather since Harry did not identify which grandfather he meant when he said that the grandfather had taken no interest in Albert. Was that Gerson Cahn’s father, Felix? He was living in Baltimore in 1904 when Albert was orphaned and in his sixties with grown children. Or did Harry mean Albert’s maternal grandfather, Solomon Sigmund, who seemed to disappear from the family after Lena died in 1875? I suppose neither grandfather was interested in taking care of young Albert.

Being orphaned at such a young age and being abandoned by his grandparents must have had some psychological effect on Albert. Molly’s description of Albert’s personality should probably be seen in that light. She testified:

File of Court-Martial of Albert F. Cahn, p.22

Molly further testified that Albert had not gone to high school or into business and that his employment record was very spotty—that he’d left eight to ten jobs without justification. She agreed that he was “very” excitable and eccentric. But she also testified that Albert was “always extremely honest.” And she agreed that his behavior was “due to lack of serious thought—boyishness.” (p. 23)

Harry testified that in December, 1916, when Albert would have been just turning seventeen, he ran away from home with a friend and ended up in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he (and the friend) enlisted in the Navy without consent from his guardians. After his friend died from spinal meningitis, Albert wrote to Harry and Molly, indicating that he wanted to get out of the Navy. Harry intervened with the Navy, knowing that Albert was underage when he enlisted, and Albert was discharged. (p. 19) Albert himself corroborated these facts in his own testimony. (p. 27)

According to Harry, Albert then went to Cleveland, where Harry and Molly’s daughter Adele was living with her family. In contrast, Albert testified that he returned to Baltimore and stayed home until a little before the “war broke out” (I assume he meant the United States’ entry into World War I in April 1917). In any event, both Albert and Harry testified that sometime in the spring of 1917, Albert ran away again, this time to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he enlisted again on June 20, 1917, this time in the Army. He was still not eighteen years old. (pp.19, 27)

He was first stationed at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia and then at Camp Dix in New Jersey. (p. 19) Harry testified that Albert would come to visit them in Baltimore when he had a furlough and that he seemed to be getting along fine. But Albert’s testimony revealed that things did not go well after some time at Camp Dix.

Court-Martial File, Albert F Cahn, p. 27

Harry testified at length about his efforts to convince Albert to return to the Army. Both Harry and Molly testified that they had not heard from Albert after December 1917 until August 1918 when Harry persuaded Albert to return to Camp Dix. (pp. 15-20)

Albert’s attorney argued in his closing statement that “this fellow is nothing but a mere child and has never really considered his status in the army at all, his military status. … I really think he did not consider the consequences of his act in going away from here.” (p. 29)

The court was not convinced and on September 16, 1918, found Albert guilty of the charge of desertion and issued the following sentence: “To be dishonorably discharged the service, to forfeit all pay and allowance due or to become due, and to be confined at hard labor, at such place as the reviewing authority may direct for twenty (20) years.” (p. 29)

I don’t know anything about military justice, but sentencing a young man–a teenager–for twenty years hard labor because he ran off after being bullied by his fellow soldiers seemed awfully harsh. I realize that desertion is a very serious offense, but Albert was not in a war zone, no one was endangered by his desertion, and he had had a hard life. Some mercy could have been shown.

Eight days later, on September 24, 1918, Major General Scott reduced the sentence to ten years hard labor and designated Fort Jay in New York as the place of confinement.

File of Court-Martial of Albert F Cahn, p. 31

But Albert did not serve even a year of that sentence. On February 13, 1919, Harry Goldman submitted a request for clemency supported by affidavits from a doctor and from Molly regarding Albert’s poor condition .

Court-martial file of Albert F Cahn, p. 2

Unfortunately, there were no copies of those affidavits in the file. But Harry’s request was granted, and Albert was released from imprisonment on March 4, 1919.

Court-martial file of Albert F. Cahn, p. 3

Court-martial file of Albert F Cahn, p. 1

Thus, in the end Albert served less than six months. What did Albert F. Cahn do after his release? What was the rest of his life like? Did he learn from this experience? Did he mature? That is a story for another post.

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Maryland. War records commission, Karl Singewald, and Stuart Symington Janney. Maryland In the World War, 1917-1919: Military And Naval Service Records. Baltimore: Maryland War Records commission, 1933, p. 303. 

Where Is My Cousin Really Buried?

In 1940, Donald Weil, my fourth cousin, once removed, was living with his parents, Adele Sigmund and Raymond Weil, working as the assistant manager of the lamp department in a store in Cleveland.1 When his father died in 1943, Donald was a lieutenant in the US Army, stationed in England.2 There is a record on Ancestry showing that a Donald J. Weil enlisted on October 15, 1940 and served in the Army Corp of Engineers; I am certain that this is the same Donald Weil as the record indicates that he was from Cleveland and that his civil occupation had been as a purchasing agent or buyer.3

Donald married Jane Weingarten in 1954 in New York City,4 and they had two children. By 1970, the family was living in the Orlando area of Florida. Jane died there on December 21, 1992, at the age of 67.

Death notice for Jane Carol Weil, The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida
23 Dec 1992, Wed • Page 28

And that brings me to the mystery of Donald Weil. There are two FindAGrave memorials for Donald J. Weil with the same birth and death dates, both in Florida, but not in the same cemetery.

The first can be found here:

It shows that Donald J Weil was born on August 28, 1916, which is consistent with the birth record I have for the Donald who was the son of Raymond Weil.5 This FindAGrave memorial reports that Donald died at age 93 on April 26, 2010, in Longwood, Florida, which is where Jane Weingarten Weil was living in 1992 when she died. It also indicates that Donald was buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, in Gotha, Florida.

Most importantly, there is a long biography written by Donald’s daughter on this FindAGrave page. It provided the best clues as to Donald’s life after World War II—that he ended up working in a large retail store in Detroit. Searching for Donald Weil in the Detroit newspapers, I learned that Donald had purchased a store in Detroit in June, 1960. In 1970 the family relocated to Florida, as noted above.

Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, 19 Jun 1960, Sun • Page 38

I also was able to locate a death notice for Donald J. Weil in the Orlando Sentinel of May 6, 2010, reporting that Donald had died on April 26, 2010, in Longwood, Florida.6

So what is the mystery, you ask?

Look at this FindAGrave memorial here:

A Donald Jay Weil—with the same exact birth and death dates as “my” Donald. This one is also buried in Florida, but at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida, which is 80 miles west of Longwood, Florida. This Donald is definitely not Jewish. There is a cross on his headstone. Remember that Jane Weil’s death notice specifically mentioned that she was Jewish. But perhaps Donald was not. I have no record indicating his religious identification.

The headstone for this Donald shows he served in World War II and Korea; I don’t know if my Donald served in Korea, but we know he served in World War II. And the dates on the headstone are 1916 to 2010, same as my Donald. If not for those engraved dates, I would have just assumed that whoever created the FindAGrave memorial had confused this Donald with my Donald.

There is only one Donald Weil in the Veteran’s Affairs, BIRL database on Ancestry who was born in 1916 and died in 2010.7 I searched on Fold3.com for any Donald Weil who served in World War II. There were a number of men with that name, but no one else born in 1916 other than my Donald Weil.

A search of Ancestry for any record of any Donald Weil born in 1916 anywhere in the US turned up one, a marriage record for a Donald G. Weil born in about 1916, son of John Weil and Margaret Kuper, who married Helen Kennedy in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on June 24, 1952.8 But further research revealed that in fact that Donald Weil was born October 3, 1925, in Kentucky, not in August of 1916.9 So that can’t be the Donald Weil buried in the Florida National Cemetery. In fact, that Donald Weil died in 1997, not 2010.

So who is the Donald Jay Weil buried at the Florida National Cemetery? Is he my cousin Donald with just a military memorial placed at that cemetery with his body buried at the Woodlawn cemetery? Or perhaps the opposite?

I called the Florida National Cemetery, and their representative said that Donald J. Weil is definitely buried there and that perhaps his body had been moved from Woodlawn cemetery and reinterred at Florida National. So next I called Woodlawn cemetery. Their representative searched for Donald and did not find him. Thus, I believe that Donald was moved to the Florida National Cemetery sometime after his daughter created the memorial at FindAGrave and that both FindAGrave memorials are for the same man, my cousin Donald Jay Weil.

 

 

 


  1. Raymond Weil family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Raymond M. Weil,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 3, 1943, p. 9. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A. 
  4.  License Number: 28246, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  5. Name: Donald J Weil, Birth Date: Aug 1916, State File Number: 1916067870
    Additional Information: Raymont, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  6. The Orlando Sentinel – 6 May 2010 – Page B8 
  7. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  8. Film Number: 002251850, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 
  9. SSN: 299168233, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

It’s Time for Romper Room! Do You Remember the Magic Mirror?

Do you remember Romper Room? If you are a baby boomer of a certain age, you probably do. Especially if you were a good Do Bee.

Well, one of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s great-granddaughters was one of the creators of Romper Room, Nancy Goldman Claster, the granddaughter of Mollie Sigmund. She was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Mollie Sigmund and her husband Harry Goldman both died in 1941, leaving behind their three children: Leman Edwin Goldman, Marguerite Goldman, and Adele Goldman Weil. Marguerite died on April 29, 1953; she was 68. Marguerite had never married or had children.1

L. Edwin Goldman died the following year on February 7, 1954. He was seventy.2 His wife Rita Strauss Goldman had predeceased him; she died on October 10, 1952.3 Edwin and Rita were survived by their three children, Nancy, Robert, and Sue.

Nancy achieved a fair amount of fame along with her husband Bert Claster for creating the Romper Room children’s television show in the 1950s, in which Nancy starred as the first ever Romper Room teacher, Miss Nancy. The show started in Baltimore and then was syndicated all over the US with different women playing the teachers.

Since I grew up in the 1950s and watched Romper Room religiously as a preschooler, I was very excited to learn that my cousin Nancy had been one of the creators and stars of the program. You can read more about Nancy and Bert Claster and Romper Room in Nancy and Bert’s obituaries4 and here and here. 

And here is a wonderful video of my cousin Nancy being interviewed about Romper Room with some clips from her on Romper Room back in the 1950s:

Bert Claster died March 11, 1984; he was 73.5 Nancy died on April 25, 1997, at age 82.6 They were survived by their three children.

L. Edwin and Rita Goldman’s son Robert became a lawyer like his father. Here is just a small excerpt from the lengthy obituary written about “Robbie” Goldman when he died in May, 2015, at the age of 98:

Mr. Goldman earned a law degree in 1941 from the University of Maryland School of Law where he was first in his class and served as editor of the law review. He was also a member of the Order of the Coif at Maryland.

After completing the Naval Reserve training program at Columbia University in 1942, the young lieutenant joined the crew of the light cruiser USS St. Louis, assigned to the Pacific Theater.

As the ship’s communications officer, Mr. Goldman participated in some of the most historic battles of the Pacific, including the invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Saipan and Tinian.

He survived the torpedoing of the St. Louis during the Battle of Kolombangara, which damaged the vessel’s bow but caused no loss of life or serious casualties. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, the ship was attacked by kamikaze pilots that resulted in 15 crew members being killed.

Discharged in 1945, Mr. Goldman returned to Baltimore and joined his father’s law firm, Nyburg, Goldman & Walter, which in 1966 merged and became Frank, Bernstein, Conaway and Goldman. From 1966 to 1983, he was managing partner, and then of counsel from 1987 to 1992, when the firm was dissolved, and he joined DLA Piper, where he was of counsel until 2000.

The full obituary, which is filled with wonderfully laudatory quotations about Robert’s career as a lawyer and his personal attributes, can be found here.

L. Edwin and Rita’ Goldman’s third child was their daughter Sue. Although I could not locate a marriage record for Sue, her parents announced her engagement to Lee Norman Baker in the March 17, 1946, Baltimore Sun.7

Sue and Lee married and had three children together. Lee was a native of Baltimore also, born on May 30, 1915, to Charles and Nellie (Silberstein) Baker. In 1940, Lee was living with his parents and siblings in Baltimore where his father was a clothing manufacturer. Lee was working as a salesman in his father’s business. He then served as a captain in the US Army in Europe during World War II.8

Lee Norman Baker, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Maryland, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 18
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Lee became involved in the production of Romper Room with Bert Claster and Nancy Goldman Claster, as indicated by his listing in the 1959 Baltimore directory.9 He then went into the employment agency business, serving as an executive in one in Washington until 1965 when he formed his own agency. Sadly, Lee died six years later at the age of 55 on April 10, 1971.10 He was survived by his wife Sue and three children. Sue outlived him by 33 years; she died on February 29, 2004, when she was 83.11

Mollie Sigmund and Harry Goldman’s youngest child, Adele, had moved to Cleveland with her husband Raymond Weil and raised their children there. In 1940, they were living with all three children and two of their sons-in-law, as seen here.

Raymond Weil, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Just three years later Adele lost her husband Raymond on May 1, 1943 when he was only 57; he died from a heart attack while in Baltimore. His obituary described him as a “widely known insurance man.” Raymond was survived by his wife Adele and their three children.12 Adele survived him by 22 years; she died at 77 on June 3, 1965, in Cleveland.13

As for Adele and Raymond’s three children, Robert predeceased his mother. He died on May 14, 1962; he was only 49 years old. Robert had become the president of the insurance agency founded by his father Raymond in Cleveland, Weil-Kaufman, Inc. He left behind his wife Ruth and three children as well as his mother Adele, his twin sister Marjorie, and his younger brother Donald.14

Marjorie and her husband Lester Aurbach continued to live in Cleveland with their children. Lester became the president of Industrial Publishing Corporation, a company that published trade magazines. He had started there in 1935, become an editor, then a vice-president by 1938, executive vice-president in 1952, and finally president in 1960.15Lester died on August 4, 1986. He was 79 years old.16 I could not find a death record for Marjorie, but one tree on Ancestry, owned by someone who appears to have been a close relative, recorded her date of death as August 20, 1999.17 She would have been 86 at that time. Marjorie and Lester were survived by their three children.

Adele and Raymond’s youngest child was Donald Weil. Donald was working as the assistant manager of the lamp department in a department store and living at home in 1940.18 After that, Donald’s story became somewhat confusing. More on that in my next post.

 


  1. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 30 Apr 1953, Thu, Page 25 
  2. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 08 Feb 1954, Mon • Page 18. Name: Leaman Edwin Goldman, Birth Date: abt 1884, Death Date: 7 Feb 1954
    Age at Death: 70, Burial Date: 8 Feb 1954, Burial Plot: Division: 2 Section: 15 Lot: 205 Grave: 2, Burial Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA, Cemetery ID: USA-02900, Other Comments: Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  3. Death notice, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 13 Oct 1952, Mon, Page 19. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/139167229 
  4. “‘Romper’ Star Dies,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 26, 1997, p. 4; “Nancy Claster,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1997, p. 36; “Bertram Claster Dies; Began Romper Room,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 12 Mar 1984, Mon, Page 17; “‘Romper Room’ Creator Dies,” Tulare Advance-Register, Tulare, California, 13 Mar 1984, Tue, Page 8. 
  5.  Name: Bertram Claster, Social Security Number: 172-01-3290, Birth Date: 14 Mar 1910, Death Date: Mar 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. SSN: 220050059, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7. The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 17 Mar 1946, Sun, Page 76 
  8. Charles Baker and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: m-t0627-01522; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 4-364, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. “Lee N. Baker,” The Baltimore Sun
    Baltimore, Maryland, 14 Apr 1971, Wed • Page 13 
  9. Baltimore, Maryland, City Directory, 1959, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. “Lee N. Baker,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 14 Apr 1971, Wed • Page 13. SSN: 215036933, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. SSN: 220127765, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. SSN: 272054468, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Raymond M. Weil,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 3, 1943, p. 9. 
  13.  Certificate: 42719; Volume: 18091, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
  14.  Certificate: 34818; Volume: 16898, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007. “Robert H. Weil of Insurance Firm Dies,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 18, 1962, p. 46. 
  15. “Publisher Spins Web, Catches Business,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 29, 1964, p. 31. “Penton Publisher Lester Aurbach,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 5, 1986, p. 44. 
  16. “Penton Publisher Lester Aurbach,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 5, 1986, p. 44. Certificate: 059200; Volume: 26549, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007 
  17. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/4598404/person/-1578130104/facts 
  18. Donald Weil, 1940 US census, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 

Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s Last Three Children: Henrietta, Joseph, and Mollie

After Simon’s death in 1927, only Henrietta, Joseph, and Mollie were left of Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund’s ten children. By the end of 1941, they were all gone. Henrietta’s story is told here. She died in 1936.

Joseph was still working in advertising in Denver as of the 1930 census1 when he was 74, but he died a few months later on October 30, 1930. According to his obituary, he had been ill with an intestinal disorder for a few weeks before his death.

The Denver Post, October 28, 1930, p. 8

Joseph was clearly well-regarded in Denver.  His obituary describes his success as an advertising writer:2

Mr. Sigmund was one of the first writers of advertising ‘copy’ to appreciate the vast possibilities of modern advertising. A business motto signed by “Sigmund the Ad Man,” which he adopted, became known far and wide. He employed enterprising, novel advertising to make his own business known to the public, as well as to promote the business of his clients.

Joseph was survived by his wife Emma and his two daughters Lenore and Celeste. Emma died six years after Joseph on October 7, 1936, in Denver. She was 76.3

Lenore, who had lost her first husband Henry Isaacs in 1912 and had married Edwin Weinberg in 1919, had a child in 1923. Lenore did not outlive her parents by many years; she died in Denver at the age of 59 on November 12, 1940.4 In addition to her husband and child, Lenore was survived by her sister Celeste.

Celeste and her second husband Hugo Rothenberg were living in Denver in 1940. Celeste’s daughter Marjorie, child of her first marriage to Abe Diamond, had married Edward Cowen on June 4, 1933; he was a salesman, born in New York.  Marjorie and Edward had one child in the 1930s, and in 1940 they were living together along with Celeste and Hugo. Edward and Hugo were both selling women’s lingerie.

Film Number: 001690066, Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Edwin Cowen household, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00487; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 16-134A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Hugo died the following year in February 1941; he was 62 years old.5 Celeste had now outlived not only her parents and her sister, but also two husbands. She herself died nine years later on August 30, 1950, at the age of 64.6

With the deaths of Henrietta and Joseph in the 1930s, Mollie was the one remaining child of Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund still living after 1936. In 1930, Mollie was living with her husband Harry Goldman in Baltimore where he was selling insurance. Their daughter Marguerite was also living with them, working as an accountant for an automobile business.7

Mollie and Harry’s son Leman Edwin Goldman was practicing law and living with his wife Rita and their three children, Nancy, Robert, and Sue, in 1930.

L Edwin Goldman and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0520; FHL microfilm: 2340605
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

By 1940 L.Edwin and Rita’s oldest child Nancy was married to Bertram Hugh Claster; I could not find a marriage record for them nor could I find them on the 1940 census, despite having two addresses that were listed on Bert’s World War II draft registration from October 16, 1940. But according to the draft registration, Bert was already married to Nancy and was working at that time for the Standard Beauty Supply Company in Baltimore. His obituary reported that at his death in 1984, he and Nancy had been married for 45 years, meaning they were married in around 1939.8

Bertram Claster, World War 2 draft registration, WWII Draft Registration CardsMarylandCClClaster, Bertram Hugh (1910)

Bert Claster was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on March 14, 1910, to Joseph Claster, a Russian immigrant, and Beatrice Aaronson, who was born in New York.9 Bert and Nancy would have three children. More on Bert and Nancy in a post to follow.

Mollie and Harry’s daughter Adele continued to live in Cleveland with her husband Raymond Weil, an insurance agent, and their three children, Marjorie, Robert, and Donald, in the 1920s and 1930s.10

By 1940, two of those children had married. Marjorie Weil married Lester P. Aurbach on September 10, 1933, in Cleveland; Lester was another Cleveland native, the son of Alexander Aurbach and Della Zuckerman, both immigrants from Poland, and Lester was born December 11, 1906. In 1930 he was working in the advertising department of General Electric in Cleveland and living with his parents; his father owned a hardware store.11

Marriage record of Marjorie Weil and Lester Aurbach, Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 169-170; Page: 64; Year Range: 1933 Feb – 1934 Jan, Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973

Marjorie’s twin brother Robert married Ruth Steinbrenner on January 14, 1938, in Cleveland; she was born in Cleveland on December 9, 1915, to Philip Steinbrenner and Hulda Hoernig, both of whom were natives of Cleveland. Ruth’s father died from tuberculosis when she was just a young girl, and in 1930 she was living with her mother, stepfather Edward Donahue, and siblings.12

Marriage record of Robert Weil and Ruth Steinbrenner, Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 182-183; Page: 144; Year Range: 1937 Aug – 1938 May, Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973

In 1940, Adele and her husband Raymond were housing all three of their children plus Marjorie’s husband Lester and Robert’s wife Ruth in their home in Cleveland Heights. In addition, there were two young grandchildren living in the household. Raymond was working in his insurance business, Donald was the assistant manager in the lamp department of a department store, Robert was the assistant manager in an insurance office (presumably his father’s), and Lester was the vice-president of a magazine publishing business.

Raymond Weil, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03049; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 18-56
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Sadly, Adele and her siblings L. Edwin and Marguerite Goldman lost both their parents the following year. Mollie Sigmund Goldman died on November 1, 1941, in Cleveland; she was 79.13 Just seven weeks later, Mollie’s husband Judge Harry Goldman, one of the founders of the Baltimore Orioles, died on his 84th birthday, December 22, 1941. According to his obituary, he had been ill since Mollie’s death the month before.14

Mollie and Harry were survived by their three children and six grandchildren. More on them in my next post.

Thus, at the end of 1941, all ten of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s children were gone. She had outlived four of them before her own death in 1904. There were nineteen of her grandchildren still living in 1942 as well as numerous great-grandchildren already born or to come in the years that followed. Her legacy lived on.

 

 

 


  1. Joseph and Emma Sigmund, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0136; FHL microfilm: 2339973, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Joseph Sigmund, Advertising Man, Dies at Hospital,” The Denver Post, October 28, 1930, p. 8. 
  3. Name: Emma Sigmund, Birth Date: 1860, Death Date: 7 Oct 1936, Age at Death: 76, Burial Plot: 05-03-NS, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States,
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  4. Name: Lenore Weinberg, Birth Date: abt 1881, Death Date: 12 Nov 1940, Age at Death: 59, Burial Plot: 05-03-SN, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  5. Name: Hugo Rothenburg, Birth Date: 7 Jun 1878, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 20 Feb 1941, SSN: 521016969, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  6. Name: Celeste Rothenburg, Birth Date: 16 Mar 1886, Death Date: 30 Aug 1950
    Age at Death: 64, Burial Plot: 05-11-SS, Burial Place: Denver, Colorado, United States
    JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  7. Harry Goldman and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0207; FHL microfilm: 2340592, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. “Bertram Claster Dies; Began Romper Room,” The Baltimore Sun
    Baltimore, Maryland, 12 Mar 1984, Mon • Page 17 
  9. Bertram Claster birth certificate, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1910; Box Number: 307; Certificate Number Range: 033576-036509, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1911. Joseph Claster and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Harrisburg, Dauphin, Pennsylvania; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0022; FHL microfilm: 2341760, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  10. Raymond Weil and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 0571; FHL microfilm: 2341518, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  11. Name: Lester Philip Auerback, Birth Date: 11 Dec 1906, Birth Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, Father: Alexander Auerback. Mother: Adella Zuckerman Auerback
    FHL Film Number: 1877981, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973. Aurbach family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0449; FHL microfilm: 2341510, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6Q6S-BBR?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-BNG%3A287600101%2C293615301 : 21 May 2014), 1918 > 14591-17590 > image 512 of 3228. Donahue household, 1930 US census, Census Place: Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0701; FHL microfilm: 2341522, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  13. Death notice, The Baltimore Evening Sun – 1 Nov 1941 – Page 12. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7890080 
  14. “Harry Goldman, 84, Baseball Figure Here Since ’90s, Dies,” The Evening Sun,
    Baltimore, Maryland, 26 Dec 1941, Fri • Page 38 

Was “Etta” Henrietta Iskowitz or her sister Esther Iskowitz? A Genealogy Adventure

Did Simon Sigmund’s son Harold marry Henrietta or Esther Iskowitz?

As of 1920, only four of Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s ten children were still living: Henrietta, Joseph, Simon, and Mollie. And before the decade was over, one more would be gone. Simon Sigmund died on May 6, 1927, in Baltimore.1 He was 74. He was survived by his wife Helen and their son and only child, Harold.

Harold Sigmund married “Etta Iskowitz” in New York City on August 21, 1925.2  Their marriage record on FamilySearch showed Etta’s parents’ names as Abraham Iskowitz and Ray Guernsey. Her record with Social Security reports that she was born on February 25, 1900.3 But tracking Etta through the years on the census records presented some challenges because her parents had two daughters, one named Henrietta and one named Esther. Which one was Etta? The census records were quite confusing.

On the 1905 New York State census, I found Abram Ichkowitz living in the Lower East Side on Forsyth Street with his wife Ray and four children: Etta (8), Esther (4), Issi (2), and Joe (one month). All but Joe were born in Romania; Joe was born in the US. That would mean that the family emigrated after 1903 if Issi (the third child) was born in Romania two years before the 1905 New York census. Abram was a plasterer. I assumed the oldest daughter, Etta, was the one who married Harold.

Ichkowitz family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 08 E.D. 11; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 68, Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

Five years later the “Ichkowitz” family appeared on the 1910 US census, living on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. Abraham and his wife Rachel (presumably Ray) reported that they had immigrated in 1904. Abraham was working in building construction. They had six children now: Henrietta (Etta?) (12), Ettie (Esther?) (10), Isidor (7), Joseph (5), Solomon (3), and Mildred (nine months old). The first three were born in Romania, the younger three in the United States.  Which one was Etta, Henrietta or Ettie?

Ichkowitz family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 10, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1010; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0213; FHL microfilm: 1375023
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

That got even more confusing with the 1920 census. The family, the surname now spelled Iskowitz, had moved to the Bronx and out of the Lower East Side. Abraham was now a janitor. He and Rachel now had five children at home: Etta (19), Isadore (17), George (15), Jacob (13), and Mildred (10). Had Joseph changed his name to George? And Solomon his to Jacob? Obviously the Iskowitz family liked to change their names.

Iskowitz family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 1, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1131; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 71, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

And was the nineteen year old Etta living at home in 1920 Henrietta or Esther from the 1905 and 1910 census records? The age lines up better with Esther, who was ten in 1910 and four in 1905, but then what had happened to Henrietta?

The 1925 New York State census helped clarify matters. Abraham had died before the census was taken,4 and Ray is listed as a widow. Living with her are Etta (24), Irvin (presumably Isadore) (22), George (presumably once Joseph) (20), Jack (presumably Solomon/Jacob)(18), Mildred (15), and another daughter named Edith Shapiro (26) with her two children. I assume that Edith was formerly known as Henrietta and was the oldest daughter born in 1899 or so and that “Etta” was formerly Esther and was born in about 1901. Later in 1925 Etta/Esther, the second oldest daughter of Abraham and Rachel/Ray, married my cousin Harold Sigmund.

Iskowitz family, 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 13; Assembly District: 03; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 46,  Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925

Well, that was quite the rabbit hole, wasn’t it?

In 1930, Harold and Etta were living in Manhattan with Harold’s mother Helen;5 Harold and Etta had a business manufacturing cleaning fluids called Afta Chemical Corporation.

That company and Harold and Etta themselves were sued by their former employer, Nacto Cleaner Corporation in 1931. According to an affidavit submitted by Laval A. Cowan, the president of Nacto, in support of the complaint filed by Nacto against the Sigmunds and their company Afta:6

The defendant, Harold Sigmund… was formerly the president of plaintiff corporation. The defendant, Etta Sigmund, was formerly a director and employee of the plaintiff corporation and the defendant, Afta Chemical Corporation, is a corporation owned and controlled by Harold Sigmund one of the defendants. 

The plaintifl’ corporation is engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling a cleaning fluid known as Nacto. The defendant, Afta Chemical Corporation, is also manufacturing a cleaning fluid known as Afta. …[P]laintiff is seeking to have certain resolutions of its Board of Directors set aside on the ground that they were not passed at legal meetings. These resolutions, as the complaint alleges, having been illegally concocted by the defendant, Harold Sigmund, to authorize an increase in salary to himself and to bolster illegal expenditures amounting to $34,000.00.

…. The complaint alleges that defendant impoverished the corporation by illegal payments to himself in the guise of salary and in large and wasteful payments to others so that the business of plaintiff would be placed in such a condition that the defendant could obtain control thereof at his own price. …

After defendant, Harold Sigmund, was unsuccessful in wrecking the plaintiff corporation and had been found out and discharged, he started a competitive business dealing in a cleansing fluid known as Afta. That while defendant, Harold Sigmund, had still been president of plaintiff corporation he had hired a chemist named Foster D. Snell to make investigation and report to plaintiff corporation improvements in cleaning fluids in order to strengthen the position of plaintiff corporation in the field in which it was engaged in business.

That when Sigmund was unsuccessful in his attempt to wreck plaintiff corporation he took from the files of plaintiff corporation all the information received from said chemist and which he had not disclosed to any other persons interested in plaintiff corporation, tried to hire salesmen of plaintiff corporation and then started doing business under the trade name of Afta Chemical Corporation and used the formulae belonging to plaintiff to manufacture his cleaning fluid.

That thereafter he caused to be organized the Afta Chemical Corporation which he owns and controls. That after defendant, Harold Sigmund, had placed himself in business through use of plaintiff’s formulae, he immediately started a campaign of unfair busines methods in which he caused to be represented to customers of the plaintiff corporation that said corporation was out of business and that his company was the successor to the plaintiff. That said defendant, Harold Sigmund, also copied the language and form of plaintiff’s labels and containers.

Harold and Etta denied the allegations made against them. Unfortunately I was unable to learn the outcome of the lawsuit as there is no reported decision. But whether or not the Sigmunds were successful in defending themselves against these allegations, they were still in the cleaning fluid business ten years later and still living in Manhattan.7

Harold died in 1987 at the age of 95; Etta died at 94 in 1995. I guess working with cleaning fluids did not affect their lifespan.8

Harold and Etta did not have children, so there are no descendants for them or for Harold’s parents, Simon and Helen (Hirshberg) Sigmund.


  1. The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 07 May 1927, Sat • Page 18 
  2.  License Number: 21452, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:247H-5W9 : 10 February 2018), Harold Sigmund and Etta Iskowitz, 21 Aug 1925; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,643,402. 
  3. SSN: 109122202, Death Certificate Number: 109882, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Certificate Number: 3708, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  5. Harold Sigmund and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 27B; Enumeration District: 1136; FHL microfilm: 2341316,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6. Affidavit of Laval A. Cowan in connection with Nacto Cleaner Corporation v. Sigmund filed in the Appellate Division, New York Supreme Court, December 30, 1931, found at https://books.google.com/books?id=t-F6gRKk77EC&pg=RA12-PA17&lpg=RA12-PA17&dq=nacto+cleaner+v+afta+chemical+corporation&source=bl&ots=XOaFVU1dOU&sig=ACfU3U1-Epx39uuGvkeOh-dgpeg_6ghflw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiUvLWfk5PmAhXDPn0KHYz2AzgQ6AEwAHoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=nacto%20cleaner%20v%20afta%20chemical%20corporation&f=false 
  7. Harold and Etta Sigmund, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02646; Page: 61A; Enumeration District: 31-930, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8.  Name: Harold Sigmund, Social Security Number: 093-12-2485, Death Date: Jun 1987, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Etta Sigmund, SSN: 109122202, Death Certificate Number: 109882, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007