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, 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 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, 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, 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 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, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  2. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 072147550,  RONALD VERNON CAHN, 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, 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, New York State, Birth Index, 1881-1942. Father: Joseph Vrana, Mother: Josephine Shimsa, SSN: 053524750, Death Certificate Number: 001971, 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, 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, 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, New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 
  8. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 066141497, EARL CAHN, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2000. 
  9. Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1921, 1922, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Father: Albert F Cahn, Mother: Rose Viana, SSN: 072147550,  RONALD VERNON CAHN, 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., U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  12. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 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, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. SSN: 053524750, Death Certificate Number: 001971, 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. 

Meeting New Cousins

There is one more sibling of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein to research and write about—his half-brother Jakob.

But before I move on to the next step in the Katzenstein research, I have several other topics to discuss—updates and items of interest that have accumulated over the months but that were put on the back burner. So the next few posts will be about these varied topics including some interesting discoveries and meetings with cousins. Today I want to talk about two recent meetings with “new” cousins.

On August 4, my cousin Jan and her husband Richard made a trip to Provincetown to meet Harvey and me and spend the day together. We met them at the wharf where the ferry from Boston arrives, walked around Provincetown, and had a wonderful lunch overlooking Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown Harbor. We had a great time together—the conversation flowed naturally, and we all hit it off very easily.

Jan and me and a new friend in Provincetown

Jan is my second cousin, once removed. Her great-grandmother Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht was the half-sister of my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager. I had “discovered” Jan after the amazing breakthrough I had finding my grandmother’s long missing half-sister Toba through the pure serendipity of a list of names in my aunt’s baby book from 1917.

Aunt Elaine’s baby book. Note the last name in the list on the left—Mrs. Taube Hecht; that is my grandmother’s half-sister Toba/Tillie/Taube Brotman Hecht and Jan’s great-grandmother.


While we were together, Jan completed a DNA testing kit, which I mailed the next day.  I am hoping that her DNA results will help me with my Brotman research since Jan is descended  from Joseph Brotman and his first wife and not from Bessie, my great-grandmother. Perhaps her results will help me identify which genes came from Joseph and not Bessie as I search for more answers to the many questions that remain about the Brotmans, for example, about the relationship between Joseph and Bessie.

Then on Tuesday, August 8, we had dinner with another “new” cousin, Mike and his wife Wendy. Mike is my fourth cousin through my Hamberg line. We are both the three-times great-grandchildren of Moses Hamberg of Breuna. Mike’s great-grandmother was Malchen Hamberg, who married Jacob Baer; Mike’s grandmother was Tilda Baer, who married Samuel Einstein/Stone, the co-founder with Maurice Baer (Tilda’s brother, Mike’s great-uncle) of Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the jewelry company now known as Swank.

Samuel Einstein/Stone, Sr., Samuel Stone, Jr. standing Sitting: Harriet, Stephanie (Mike’s mother), Tilda, and Babette (Betty) Stone Courtesy of the family


Mike and I found each other back in March, 2017, as a result of a comment left on my blog by a man named Dr. Rainer Schimpf. Dr. Schimpf wrote then:

I am so excited to read your blog! We are doing research on Samuel Einstein, born in Laupheim, Wuerttemberg. He was connected to Carl Laemmle, founder and president of Universal Pictures, who was also born in Laupheim. Could you please get in contact with me? Thank you so much!

Best, Rainer

I contacted Rainer immediately, excited by this connection to Hollywood since I’ve always been a movie fan and trivia nut. Rainer told me that he was curating an exhibit about Carl Laemmle for the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is the state museum in Stuttgart for the history of southwest Germany. Laemmle was born in Laupheim, Germany, and had immigrated to the United States in 1884. The story of his career in the United States is quite fascinating (though beyond the scope of my blog). You can read it about it here and here.

Carl Laemmle
From Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Rainer said that in the course of his research about Laemmle, he had found a newspaper article describing a party celebrating Laemmle’s fiftieth birthday in 1917; one of the guests mentioned in the article was Samuel Einstein from Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Einstein had not yet changed his surname to Stone.)

Motion Picture Weekly, January 1917

Rainer had been trying to learn more about Samuel Einstein and had learned quite a bit, including that Einstein was one of the founders of Attleboro Manufacturing, now known as Swank.  He also had learned that Samuel Einstein was “one of four Jewish boys of Laupheim, who made unique careers in the US. All four were meeting at the birthday party of Laemmle in 1917 (Leo Hirschfeld [inventor of the Tootsie Roll] and Isidor Landauer [of International Handkerchief Manufacturing] are the other two boys).” (email from Dr. Rainer Schimpf, March, 2017)

Rainer wanted to learn more about Einstein, his family, and his connection to Laupheim, Germany, and to Laemmle. I shared with Rainer what I knew, and then I searched for and contacted as many of the Baer/Stone family members as I could, and one of them, Faith, a great-granddaughter of Tilda and Samuel Stone, responded with great interest and then connected me to her cousin, Mike. Thanks to that one comment by Rainer on the blog, I now not only know more about Samuel Einstein/Stone, I also am connected to many more of my Hamberg cousins.

Together Rainer, Mike, and I were able to pull together a fuller picture of Samuel Einstein, his family of origin, and his life in Germany and in the United States.  Although I won’t go into complete detail here about the Einstein family, I will point out one interesting bit of information we learned that answered a question I’d had while researching the Baer family: how did Maurice Baer and Samuel Einstein end up as business partners?[1]

The Baers lived in Pittsburgh, and Samuel Einstein lived in Attleboro, Massachusetts. How could they have met each other? Even today, it would take almost ten hours to drive the more than 500 miles between the two cities. It would have taken days to get from one to the other back then.


Well, Rainer discovered that Samuel Einstein had three uncles who lived in Pittsburgh who had been in the US since the mid-19th century. Perhaps Samuel met Maurice Baer when he visited his relatives in Pittsburgh; maybe the Baers and Pittsburgh Einsteins were well-acquainted. If and when I have time, these are questions I’d like to pursue.

When Mike learned that I spend the summer on the Cape where he would be visiting this summer, we arranged to have dinner together. It was a lovely evening with Mike and Wendy with lots of stories and laughs and good food.  We felt an immediate connection to these warm and friendly people. Mike shared some old photographs and even showed me Maurice Baer’s walking stick. It was a lot of fun.

Harvey, me, Mike, and Wendy

It is always such a pleasure to meet new cousins—whether they are as distant as fourth or fifth cousins or as close as a second cousin.  It reinforces the idea that we are all connected in some ways to everyone else, and it inspires me to keep looking and researching and writing.

There are so many more cousins I’d like to meet in person—or as Jan said, IRL FTF. Some live nearby, and I hope to get to see them within the next several months. Others live much further away, making it harder to get together. But I’ve gone as far as Germany to meet a cousin, so eventually I hope I can meet many of those who live in the United States.


[1] Since Samuel is only related to me by his marriage to Tilda Baer, I had not previously researched his background too deeply. For the same reason, I won’t go into detail here on all that we discovered about his family.

More Gifts of Photographs

In my last post, I shared the wonderful photograph I received of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer from one of their descendants.  Before posting it here, I shared it with other descendants of Amalia and Jacob, and that prompted some of those descendants to share some other photographs. Thank you to the extended Baer family for allowing me to publish these photos.

First is a photograph of Lawrence Baer, Amalia and Jacob’s youngest child, born in 1891 in PIttsburgh.  Lawrence became one of the principal innovators and executives at the family-owned jewelry business, Attleboro Manufacturing.  This photograph was taken in 1924.  The little boy in the center is John Degen Baer, Lawrence’s son.  He would have been three years old in this photograph. The individual on the right is not known.

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Here is a photograph of Lawrence Baer’s first wife and John Degen Baer’s mother, Donna Degen.  This photograph was not dated, but it looks like the 1920s to me.

Donna Degen

Donna Degen

This is another picture of their son John, dated 1924:

John Baer, summer of 1924

John Baer, summer of 1924

How adorable is he!

Finally, here is a photograph of Olivia Ganong Baer, Lawrence Baer’s second wife, and Minette Brigham Baer, John Degen Baer’s first wife, with Lawrence in the background.

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

Olivia Ganong Baer, Minette Brigham Baer, and Lawrence Baer

John Degen Baer grew up to be a very accomplished business leader like his father.  He died just a little over a year ago on November 3, 2015.

According to his obituary,

Baer attended both Yale and Brown Universities, graduating from the latter in 1943. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, having been attached to the Second Marine Division in the Pacific theater and int he Occupation of Japan. He resigned his commission in 1950. He was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970. Mr. Baer established a consulting company in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 1970 joined the Edwards Baking Company as Executive Vice President. He retired from Edwards in 1978. While residing on Sea Island, Georgia, he participated in the construction and management of the Island Retreat and the Island Square apartments.

Baer and his family moved to Blairsville in 1985 where he and his wife founded and managed the Truck & Gas Market. The business closed in March 1992. Baer then retired from all activity. While residing in Massachusetts, Baer served as a member of the Attleboro Zoning Board of Appeal for 12 years. He was also a Director of a local Bank and the Chamber of Commerce. For several years he served as a director of the Optical Manufacturers Association, located in New York City. While living in Oxford, Georgia, Baer was elected and served on the town Council.

Thank you again to his children for sharing these photos and allowing me to see the faces behind the names of these cousins of mine. Here’s a chart showing how we are related.


A Special Photograph

While taking a short break from research, I want to share a few photographs and records I’ve received recently, but did not have a chance to post on the blog.

You may recall the series of blog posts I did about Amalia Hamberg and her family.  Amalia, born Malchen, was my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s first cousin:

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg


She acted as the administratrix of the estate of Charles Hamberg, the cousin who lived in South Carolina whose first wife had been murdered and whose son Samuel Hamberg ended up living with Henry Schoenthal in Washington, Pennsylvania after his father died as well.  Amalia had married Jacob Baer, with whom she had nine children, many of whom ended up working for the family jewelry business founded by the oldest brother, Maurice, in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Well, one of the descendants of Amalia and Jacob Baer found my blog and connected me with his siblings, one of whom graciously shared with me this wonderful photograph of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer. Both Amalia and Jacob lived long lives.  Amalia lived from 1851 until 1931; Jacob from 1847 to 1932. Imagine all the changes they saw—starting in Germany in the middle of the 19th century and living through the Industrial Revolution, the first World War, and the Roaring Twenties.  They raised nine children in western Pennsylvania and must have seen Pittsburgh grow from a small fairly rural area to the home of steel manufacturing.  They lived to see the invention and development of cars and telephones, even airplanes.


I don’t know when this photograph was taken.  Although Amalia and Jacob may look old because of their attire and Jacob’s seemingly gray hair, their faces have no wrinkles, and the style of dress does not look 20th century to me.  I would guess that they were in their 40s, so perhaps the picture was taken in the 1890s.  What do you think?

I am so excited to have this photograph. Thank you so much to the Adler siblings who shared this with me.

Tilda Baer Stone and Her Children: Massachusetts Cousins

Like Amanda and Josephine, her two older sisters, Tilda Baer lived a long life (a few months shy of ninety) and outlived her husband by close to twenty years.  But she didn’t live in a big city like Philadelphia or New York; she spent her entire adult life in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where she raised her four children.

As written about here, Tilda married Samuel Einstein in about 1907, according to the 1910 census, and their first child, Stephanie, was born in June 1908 in Attleboro.  They had three additional children, Samuel, Jr. (1910), Harriet (1913), and Babette (known as Betty, 1919).  By 1927, the family name had been changed to Stone, which was the name used by all family members thereafter (until the daughters married and adopted their husbands’ surnames, that is).  Samuel was by 1930 the President of Attleboro Manufacturing, and he and Tilda remained in Attleboro for the rest of the lives, living almost all those years at 224 County Street in that town.

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 - Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 – Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Their daughter Stephanie graduated from the National Park Seminary in Washington and the Garland School of Homemaking.  She married “the boy next door” on November 14, 1936—or at least the boy down the street. Her husband was Royal Packer Baker, who was a native of Attleboro like Stephanie and whose family also had lived on County Street (#148) as of 1920.  Royal was four years older than Stephanie, and he came from a family with a long history in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Boston Herald, November 15, 1936. p. 61

Boston Herald, November 15, 1936. p. 61


Royal’s father, Harold Baker, was the owner and co-founder of Attleboro Refining Company, a gold, silver, and copper refining business.  According to the website for the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum, which is housed in what was once the Attleboro Refinery Company building:

In 1899, Harold D. Baker and his brother George W. Baker, both of Providence, Rhode Island, formed a partnership to establish the Attleboro Refining Company in Attleboro, Massachusetts. It specialized in the refining of gold, silver and copper byproducts. The refinery followed established refining methods used at that time known as a stripping process. The process dated back to the late 18th Century. Base metals such as copper and zinc were eaten by a compound-acid solution. The precious metals underwent succeeding operations where they were reduced to a certain degree of fineness.

By 1907, however, the Bakers were convinced that better methods were available that would involve lower costs. They experimented with the then-existent electrochemical equipment available and finally succeeded in adapting the ELECTROLYTIC process to jewelers’ scrap. Theirs was the first refinery in New England to do so. The process underwent continuous improvement and development where gold was finally purified to .9991/2 fine and every trace of silver or other precious metal was re-claimed in the chlorination and succeeding copperas processes.[1]

Although his older brother Harold Jr. worked at the family business from the start of his career, Royal started his career taking a different path.  He was a graduate of Dartmouth as well as the University of Virginia, according to the wedding announcement.   By 1935 he was a lawyer practicing in Attleboro.

According to the 1940 census and their wedding announcement above, like their parents Stephanie and Royal also lived on County Street in Attleboro (#170), and Royal was working as an attorney in private practice.  In 1941, their son was born.  In 1946, Royal was listed along with his father and older brother Harold Jr. as an owner of Attleboro Refining, but was still practicing law.  By 1949, however, he was the treasurer of Attleboro Refining and no longer listed himself as a lawyer in the Attleboro directory. (His brother was now the president of the company; their father had died in 1947.)

Former building of Attleboro Refining Company

Stephanie’s younger brother Samuel Stone, Jr., graduated from Michigan State University and Babson Institute. In the 1935 Attleboro directory, he is listed as married to “Ruth M” and working as the treasurer of Quaker Silver Company, a company in North Attleboro that manufactured silver products such as flatware, bowls, and salt and pepper shakers.

Ruth M was Ruth Mills, born in Massachusetts on February 5, 1913.  Samuel, Jr. and Ruth had two daughters born in the 1930s, according to the 1940 census, which lists Samuel’s occupation as a jewelry manufacturer.  On the 1939 Attleboro directory, he is listed as the president of C H Eden Co., another jewelry company originally created by his father in 1901 that was acquired in substantial part by Charles Eden in 1903.  (Apparently, Samuel Stone, Sr. and Maurice Baer established a number of separate companies in Attleboro, all engaged in some aspect of jewelry manufacturing.)

By 1946, however, Samuel Jr’s marriage to Ruth had ended as he married his second wife, Marie Eames, on May 1, 1946.  Unfortunately, that marriage did not last either as they were divorced in 1952.

Samuel Stone Jr wedding to Marie Eames

By 1956, Samuel, Jr was listed in the Attleboro directory as the president of Swank, Inc., the successor to Attleboro Manufacturing Company, the company his father first founded with his uncle Maurice Jay Baer back in the late 1890s.

As for the two younger daughters of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone, Sr., Harriet attended the Northampton School for Girls, then Wheaton College, and received a degree from Simmons College. (Cape Cod Times, September 6, 2002, ( : accessed 13 July 2016))

In 1941 she married Lionel O’Keeffe.  He was the youngest son of Irish immigrants and was born and raised in Boston.  His father had worked in the grocery business, and in 1930 two of his brothers had been working as purchasing agents for First National Stores, a supermarket chain (later known as Finast).  Lionel was a graduate of Boston Latin High School and Dartmouth College. (Boston Herald, December 22, 1987, p. 53.)

On the 1940 census, he was living as the head of household in the house at 61 Pond Street in Jamaica Plain, the same house where he and his family had lived when he was a child.  But in 1940 he was living there without any other family members, but with a maid.  He listed his occupation as an executive of a chain store, which according to his obituary, was First National Stores.  The following year he married Harriet.

Lionel enlisted in the military on May 8, 1942, and he and Harriet had their first child five months later in September, 1942.  Lionel was discharged from the military on January 3, 1946, having served for the duration of World War II.  He and Harriet would have two more children during the 1940s.  In 1948 they were still living at 61 Pond Road in the Jamaica Pond section of Boston, the same house where Lionel’s family had lived, and Lionel was working as a buyer, according to the Boston directory for that year.  He continued to work for First National Stores for the rest of his career.

The youngest child of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone was their daughter Babette, also known as Betty.  She graduated from the Northampton School for Girls in 1937 and then graduated from Smith College, later getting a Masters in Social Work from Simmons College.  In 1944, she married John Saunders Parker, known as Jack.  He became a doctor.  They would have two children. (Boston Globe, February 21, 2013.)

Samuel Stone, Sr., the father of Stephanie, Samuel, Harriet, and Babette, died on February 4, 1957, when he was 84 years old.

Samuel Stone Sr obit February 5, 1957 Boston Traveler p 58-page-001

Boston Traveler, February 5, 1957, p. 58

samuel stone obit His wife, my cousin Tilda Baer Stone, daughter of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, died on August 2, 1974.  She and her husband Samuel are both buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Attleboro, Massachusetts, the place they called home for their entire married life and where they raised their four children, two of whom also spent almost all of  their lives in Attleboro.

As for the children of Tilda and Samuel, Stephanie’s husband Royal Baker continued to work as the treasurer of Attleboro Refining for the rest of his career.  Then on April 3, 1967, Royal died suddenly at age 62.  A year later Attleboro Refining was sold to another company.  According to the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum website, “on June 26, 1968, Handy & Harman Refining Group, Inc. purchased the Attleboro Refining Company. In November 1973, Handy & Harman left 42 Union Street for a new facility located on Townsend Road in the “new” Attleboro Industrial Park.”   Handy & Harman is still in business today engaged in the recycling of metals.

Royal P Baker death notice April 1967

Stephanie Stone Baker died on March 1, 1993; she was 84.

Her brother Samuel Stone, Jr., died at age 70 on December 28, 1980.

Samuel Stone Jr obit 12 31 1980

The third child, Harriet Stone O’Keeffe, lost her husband Lionel on December 20, 1987.  He was 76 years old.  She lived another fifteen years, dying on September 5, 2002, when she was 88.  According to her obituary, “Mrs. O’Keeffe lived in Brookline for many years and was active in volunteer work. She spent summers in Hyannisport and moved there year-round in 1973. She enjoyed gardening and bridge. She was a member of the Hyannisport Club, the Oyster Harbors Club and the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.” (Cape Cod Times, September 6, 2002, ( : accessed 13 July 2016))

The youngest sibling, Babette, died just three years ago on February 19, 2013, at age 93.  Her obituary reported that:

She loved people and was a frequent volunteer in the activities of her children and an outgoing devoted friend to so many. She was an active volunteer in the Wellesley Community including the Service League of Wellesley, the Garden Club of Wellesley and was a past president of the Smith Club of Wellesley. She devoted many hours to the support of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and loved her Investment Club and Bridge Club, as well as her activities at the Wellesley Country Club, Wianno Club, The Country Club and The Moorings and Riomar Clubs of Vero Beach, Florida. She cherished all the interactions with the people that were brought into her life by these varied interests.  (Boston Globe, February 21, 2013, located at

I’ve not yet connected with any of the descendants of Tilda Baer and Samuel Stone, but hope to be able to connect with these cousins whose roots are here in Massachusetts where I now live.  They are descendants of two people who seemed to have achieved the American dream—Samuel, a German Jewish immigrant who came to the US as a young teenager and became a highly successful jewelry manufacturer, and my cousin Tilda, the daughter of two German Jewish [2] immigrants who grew up in Pennsylvania; she raised four children, all of whom received a higher education and lived their lives in Massachusetts.








[1] There was a bitter dispute between the Baker brothers in 1918, which apparently ended in with Harold as the sole owner of the company. See “Attleboro Receivership Granted for Attleboro Refining Co. Decree Handed down by Superior Court, Wednesday,” Pawtucket Times, April 11, 1918, p. 12.

[2] It seems that at some point Tilda and Samuel and their children became members of the Universalist Church and no longer identified as Jewish.


Attleboro Manufacturing Company: My Cousins, the Jewelers

As I mentioned in my last post, the oldest child of Amalia (Hamberg) and Jacob Baer, Maurice Jay Baer, founded a jewelry company in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in the late 1890s when he was in his twenties. The company was originally called Attleboro Manufacturing. The stories of four of Amalia and Jacob Baer’s children are integrally related to the history of Attleboro Manufacturing: two of their sons, Maurice and Lawrence, and two of their sons-in-law Samuel Stone, married to their daughter Tilda, and Jerome Grant, married to their daughter Elsie, were all involved in leadership roles in the company.

At one time, Attleboro, Massachusetts was known as the Jewelry Capital of the World due to the numerous jewelry manufacturers doing business there.  But like most of the manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts, jewelry businesses in Attleboro eventually moved elsewhere to save on labor and other costs.

Attleboro Manufacturing was one of the businesses that eventually moved out of the region; later known as Swank and Company, the company was in business in Attleboro until the closing of its plant there in 2000. Though no longer in Atttleboro, Swank, Inc. is still in business today as a division of Randa Accessories, designing and manufacturing men’s jewelry, belts, personal leather accessories, and gifts. (“Jewelry legacy takes another hit with Swank closing, ” The Sun Chronicle, March 17, 2000.)

The company was founded by Maurice Baer and Samuel Stone.  Samuel Stone was born Samuel Einstein in Laupheim, Germany, on February 25, 1872, the son of Moritz Einstein.  He immigrated to the US in 1885, according to his 1920 passport application, and settled in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  He was only thirteen years old at the time and seems to have come by himself.  According to his 1920 and 1923 passport applications, his father was still residing in Germany at those times.  Other sources indicate that his parents both died in Germany.  This source also concluded that he came by himself to the US.

Samuel Einstein is listed as a jewelry manufacturer as early as 1890 and 1892 in the Attleboro city directories for those years, that is, several years before he and Maurice Baer founded Attleboro Manufacturing together.  How did Maurice, who lived in western Pennsylvania, end up doing business with a young man living in Attleboro? Was there a family connection? Not that I have yet found.  Perhaps they just met through business, Maurice traveling to New England or Samuel traveling to Pennsylvania.

According to this source:

By chance, Einstein had been doing business for a number of years (presumably wholesale jewellery) with a Pittsburg, PA salesman named Maurice Baer. It probably helped that Baer’s parents were German immigrants and both men were also of a similar age so an apparently close bond developed between the two.

That article and several other sources report that in 1897 Samuel and Maurice started Attleboro Manufacturing Company.  Their first year brought an unexpected challenge.

The beginnings of Swank, Inc. can be traced to the year 1897, when Samuel M. Stone [originally Samuel Einstein] and Maurice J. Baer founded the Attleboro Manufacturing Company to produce and sell jewelry for women. The two men took over a building in Attleboro, Massachusetts, that had been constructed decades earlier as a forge to turn precious metals into jewelry.

Unfortunately, less than a year after Stone and Baer began production, one of the largest fires in the town’s history claimed an entire block of buildings, destroying their small enterprise. Many of the company’s employees helped fight the fire and were able to salvage a portion of the machinery and finished jewelry. Therefore, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was able to resume its operations with the remaining equipment and material in another building nearby, which came to be the center of production for the next century.


The local Attleboro newspaper, the Sun Register, also reported on this history in its March 17, 2000, issue (“Jewelry legacy takes another hit with Swank closing, ” The Sun Chronicle, March 17, 2000) :

The company, starting with 10 employees, was located in a factory at Mill and Union streets. The fire of 1898 leveled a good portion of Attleboro’s jewelry plants, including the Attleboro Mfg. Co. However, volunteers managed to save the equipment of Attleboro Mfg. and within a day, the company was back in operation in the basement of a building adjacent to the present plant on Hazel Street.

Although both of these sources report the almost immediate re-opening of the business after the fire, Maurice Baer may not have yet relocated permanently to Attleboro, as he is listed as residing in Pittsburgh in the 1899 Pittsburgh city directory and on the 1900 census.  But soon the company was doing quite well, and in 1908 Maurice and another man named Eben Wilde started a separate division to expand from women’s jewelry to men’s jewelry:

Within ten years, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was enjoying a good deal of success in producing women’s jewelry and decided to begin expanding into new markets. In 1908, [Maurice] Baer formed a new division, called Baer and Wilde, to oversee the production of men’s jewelry, while Stone remained in charge of Attleboro Manufacturing.

Downtown, about 1909

Downtown Attleboro, about 1909 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At some point, Maurice must have introduced his younger sister Tilda to his partner Samuel Einstein because by 1908 they were married and living in Attleboro where their first child Stephanie was born in June, 1908.  They would have three more children, Samuel, Jr. (1910), Harriet (1913), and Babette (or Betty, 1919).  In 1910, Samuel was still using the surname Einstein, as he was in 1920, so all four children were originally given the surname Einstein.

Samuel and Tilda Baer Einstein (Stone) 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

Samuel and Tilda Baer Einstein (Stone)
1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Attleboro Ward 2, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: T625_681; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 794

The family was still using the name Einstein as late as 1923, as that is how Samuel is listed in the Attleboro directory for that year and also the name appearing on his 1923 passport application, but by 1927, they had switched to Stone, as can be seen in this ship manifest for a trip they all took to France that year.

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 - Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Samuel and TIlda Baer Einstein/Stone and children from 1923 passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2295; Volume #: Roll 2295 – Certificates: 304850-305349, 08 Jun 1923-08 Jun 1923

Stone family on 1927 passenger manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4125; Line: 1; Page Number: 28

Stone family on 1927 passenger manifest
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4125; Line: 1; Page Number: 28

The third Baer child whose family was to become involved in the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was Elsie, the seventh child and youngest daughter.  In 1910 she was still living with her parents in Pittsburgh, working as a kindergarten teacher.  She was 24 years old.  Three years later she married Jerome Louis Grant in Philadelphia.  Jerome was born in Cortland, New York, in 1888, and in 1910 he had been living with his parents in Philadelphia where he and his father, Theodore Grant, were both working in the fur business.

Two years after marrying, Jerome and Elsie were living in New York City where Jerome was working as a salesman.

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant and family 1915 NYS census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 60

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant and family
1915 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 60

Jerome Grant’s draft registration for World War I revealed for whom he was working as a salesman: Baer & Wilde, the division of Attleboro Manufacturing Company started by his brother-in-law Maurice Baer.  He was a salesman as well as the manager of their New York office.  The registration revealed something else: Elsie was pregnant.

Jerome Grant World War I draft registration Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 147

Jerome Grant World War I draft registration
Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786805; Draft Board: 147


Elsie and Jerome’s first child was born in 1919, a daughter named Marjorie.  Their second daughter was born two years later and named Elinor.

Although the 1920 census reported that Jerome was a contractor in the building industry, the 1930 census reports that he was still in the jewelry manufacturing business.  Moreover, both the 1920 and the 1925 New York City directories list Jerome as associated with Baer & Wilde, so I believe that the 1920 census is not correct in its reporting of Jerome’s occupation at that time.

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Long Beach, Nassau, New York; Roll: 1461; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0137; Image: 104.0; FHL microfilm: 2341196

Jerome and Elsie Baer Grant 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Long Beach, Nassau, New York; Roll: 1461; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0137; Image: 104.0; FHL microfilm: 2341196

Finally, the other Baer sibling to get involved in the Attleboro business was the youngest child, Lawrence.  Even in 1910 when he was only 18, Lawrence was already involved in jewelry sales.  By 1917 when he registered for the draft for World War I, he was a part owner of Baer & Wilde and living in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  There was a notation on his draft registration saying, “This man employs from 150 to 175 people in jewelry business.”  Was this a basis for exempting him from the draft?

Lawrence Baer World War 1 draft registration Registration State: Massachusetts; Registration County: Bristol; Roll: 1684755; Draft Board: 40

Lawrence Baer World War 1 draft registration
Registration State: Massachusetts; Registration County: Bristol; Roll: 1684755; Draft Board: 40

The company did in fact participate in its own way in the war effort:

By the time the United States became involved in World War I, the Attleboro Manufacturing Company was large enough to handle the production of thousands of metal identification tags, better known as “dog tags,” for the military. While this was the company’s most notable contribution to the war effort, it also profited from the production of numerous other emblems for the U.S. government during those years.

But was that enough to keep a man exempt from the draft? Although it would certainly seem that Lawrence was not essential to the operations of the business, given the involvement of his brother Maurice as well as two of his brothers-in-law, he certainly had a major impact on the success of Baer & Wilde:

[Baer & Wilde} operated with marginal success until 1918, when [Maurice] Baer’s brother, Lawrence Baer, came to them with his newly invented Kum-A-Part “cuff button”. It was an immediate success, to the tune of some four million pairs per year. In 1923, with some improvements made to it by Wilde, the design was patented. Kum-A-Part items remained in production until 1931.

Kum-A-Part cufflinks

Kum-A-Part cufflinks

The tremendous success of the Kum-A-Part cufflinks had a major impact on the future of the company:

[After World War I, the demand for this cuff button was so great that the company stopped making women’s jewelry. By this time Baer & Wilde had absorbed the Attleboro Mfg. Co. facilities.

By the 1920s, Baer & Wilde was selling more than 4 million pairs of cuff buttons a year. The company started to grow with acquisitions and adding other lines such as belt and buckle.

Lawrence Baer’s invention thus changed the fortunes of the company founded by his brother Maurice and brother-in-law Samuel.

Lawrence married Donna Degen on October 20, 1919.  Donna was a Michigan native, and in 1910 she had been living with her parents and brother in Grand Rapids Michigan, where her father was a life insurance agent.

Engagement announcement of Lawrence Baer and Donna Degen, Pittsburgh Jewish Criterion, October 24, 1919

Marriage announcement of Lawrence Baer and Donna Degen,
Pittsburgh Jewish Criterion, October 24, 1919

After marrying, Lawrence and Donna were living in Attleboro in 1920; a year later their son John Degen Baer was born in Attleboro.  The family was still living in Attleboro in 1930, and Lawrence was listed as the owner of a jewelry manufacturing factory.

The 1920s were years of rapid growth for the family’s jewelry business:

After production of the women’s jewelry line was halted, the company focused solely on the manufacture and marketing of its men’s items. Although its men’s products were already in high demand, the company pushed even harder to gain more market share through the implementation of a new marketing plan and increased advertising. The new marketing plan was originated by [Samuel Einstein] Stone in the late 1920s and dictated that the Attleboro Manufacturing Company employ seven wholesale dealers in different major cities throughout the United States to handle the sale and distribution of the men’s jewelry line. This action helped the company more easily distribute its products nationwide and also increased its advertising range.

Thus, by 1930, there were three Baer siblings living in Attleboro and involved in the leadership of the very successful family jewelry business: Maurice, Tilda, and Lawrence.  Another sibling, Elsie, was living in New York, where her husband Jerome was also working for the family’s jewelry business.

As seen in the last post, their three other surviving siblings had no connection to the jewelry business. Josephine was living in New York with her husband Morris Green, who was in the financial industry at that time.  Two of the Baer daughters were in Philadelphia: Amanda, whose husband Meyer Herman was in the clothing manufacturing business, and Flora, whose husband Julius Adler was a successful engineer.  Two of the nine children had died young: Hattie in 1910 and Alfred in 1923.

By 1930, Jacob and Amalia had thirteen grandchildren: Hattie’s two children, Justin and Richard Herman (raised by her sister Amanda, who had married Hattie’s widowed husband Meyer Herman); Josephine’s son Alan Baer Green; Flora’s three children, Stanley, Jerrold, and Amy Adler; Tilda’s four children, Stephanie, Samuel, Harriet, and Babette Stone; Elsie’s two daughters Marjorie and Elinor Grant; and Lawrence’s son John Degen Baer.

In my next series of posts I will describe what happened after 1930 to the seven surviving children and thirteen grandchildren of Jacob and Amalia (Hamberg) Baer and to Attleboro Manufacturing Company.