Hannah Goldsmith, Final Chapter: My Cousins the Scientists

This final post about the family of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict is about Hannah’s youngest son, C. Harry Benedict, and his two sons, Manson and William, and their lives after 1940. In an earlier post, we saw how both Manson and William went to Cornell and then on to MIT to get a Ph.D. in chemistry.

In the 1940 census, C. Harry Benedict was enumerated not in his longtime home, Lake Linden, Michigan, but in New York City, where he was, at least at the time of the census enumeration, living at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Since his occupation was listed as a metallurgist for a copper mining company and since I know he continued to work at Calumet and Hecla Mining Company for many years after 1940, I assume this was just a temporary residence while doing some work for the company in New York.1

Or perhaps he was just there visiting his sons, both of whom were working as research chemists in the New York City area in 1940, Manson for M.W. Kellogg Company2 and William for General Chemical Company.3

Both Manson and William changed jobs during World War II. In 1942 William moved to Washington, DC, to work for the Carnegie Institution as a theoretical spectroscopist. Spectroscopy is “the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.” After the war William worked for the National Bureau of Standards for six years and then joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University as part of the “infrared group.” (I’ve no idea what that means.) He remained at Johns Hopkins for fifteen years. In 1967 he became a research professor at the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland where he remained until his retirement in 1979.4

Meanwhile, his brother Manson left M.W. Kellogg in 1943 to work for Hydrocarbon Research, Inc. According to his obituary, “Dr. Benedict was well known for his pioneering role in nuclear engineering. He developed the gaseous diffusion method for separating the isotopes of uranium and supervised the engineering and process development of the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge, TN, where fissionable material for the atomic bomb was produced. He received many awards for his work on the Manhattan Project during WW II and for his later career as a scientist, educator and public servant, which focused on nuclear power and other peaceful uses of atomic energy.”5

After the war Manson stayed with Hydrocarbon Research until 1951 when he served for a year as the chief of the Operational Analysis Staff at the Atomic Energy Commission. Soon thereafter he returned to Massachusetts and joined the faculty of MIT as a professor of nuclear engineering. In 1972 he received the Enrico Fermi Award, which was described as follows on the Los Alamos website:

The Fermi Award is a Presidential award and is one of the oldest and most prestigious science and technology honors bestowed by the U.S. Government. The Enrico Fermi Award is given to encourage excellence in research in energy science and technology benefiting mankind; to recognize scientists, engineers, and science policymakers who have given unstintingly over their careers to advance energy science and technology; and to inspire people of all ages through the examples of Enrico Fermi, and the Fermi Award laureates who followed in his footsteps, to explore new scientific and technological horizons.

Manson remained at MIT until his retirement in 1973.6

Both Manson and William must have inherited or developed their love for science from their father C. Harry, who, like his sons, had gone to Cornell for his undergraduate training and then had spent his career devoted to science, in his case to metallurgy. Harry even wrote a book about his long-term employer, Calamet and Hecla, entitled Red Metal. It was published in 1952 by the University of Michigan Press.

After fifty years or so in Michigan, Harry and his wife Lena relocated to Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1961, presumably to be closer to their son Manson and his family.7 C. Harry died at the age of 86 in Brookline on April 3, 1963;8 his wife Lena followed just two years later on October 2, 1965.9 She and Harry are buried in Syracuse, New York, where Lena was born and raised and where she and Harry were married in 1902.10 They were survived by their two sons and three grandchildren.

William Benedict died suddenly at the age of seventy on January 10, 1980, in Washington, DC. He had had a serious heart attack a few years earlier.11 His wife Ruth died on October 2, 1993, in Washington. She was eighty years old. They were survived by their son and grandchildren.

Manson Benedict outlived his younger brother and his wife Marjorie. She died in Naples, Florida, on May 17, 1995; she was 85.12 Manson survived her by over ten years. He died on September 18, 2006, at the age of 98.13 Manson and Marjorie were survived by their two daughters and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I must admit that I have no real understanding of the work that C. Harry, Manson, and William did in their long and distinguished careers. Science has never been my strong suit, to say the least. But obviously each of these men left their marks on those with and for whom they worked and on the world.

That completes my research and writing about not only the children of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, but also the entire family of Hannah’s father, Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith. Could Simon have ever imagined that after spending time in prison in Oberlistingen, Germany, and immigrating to America to start over in a new country, he would have grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would go to some of the most elite educational institutions in the country and become lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers, musicians, business leaders, and scientists?  He may have had hopes that his descendants would rise above his own humble beginnings, but I doubt he could ever have imagined just how high above those humble beginnings his American-born descendants would go.

Next—a number of updates on other matters before I turn to Meyer Goldschmidt, another brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt.

 


  1. C Harry Benedict, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02657; Page: 84B; Enumeration District: 31-1406,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. I don’t know where Harry’s wife Lena was as she was not listed with Harry in New York nor was she enumerated back in Michigan, but I know that she and Harry remained married for the rest of their lives, so perhaps Harry just forgot to tell the enumerator that she was with him in New York. 
  2. Oral History interview of Manson Benedict by James J. Bohning, January 24, 1991, for the Science History Institute, found at https://oh.sciencehistory.org/oral-histories/benedict-manson 
  3. J.-M. Flaud, C. Camy-Peyret, R. A. Toth, Water Vapour Line Parameters from Microwave to Medium Infrared: An Atlas of H216O, H217O and H218O Line Positions and Intensities between 0 and 4350 cm-1, Pergamon, 1981 (dedication). 
  4. J.-M. Flaud, C. Camy-Peyret, R. A. Toth, Water Vapour Line Parameters from Microwave to Medium Infrared: An Atlas of H216O, H217O and H218O Line Positions and Intensities between 0 and 4350 cm-1, Pergamon, 1981 (dedication). 
  5. Naples Daily News, obit for Manson Benedict, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/1143FE1BF2CFFAF8-1143FE1BF2CFFAF8 : accessed 5 May 2019). For more information about Manson’s work on the Manhattan Project as well as the rest of his life and career, please see the wonderful oral history interview of Manson Benedict by James J. Bohning, January 24, 1991, for the Science History Institute, found at https://oh.sciencehistory.org/oral-histories/benedict-manson 
  6. Oral History interview of Manson Benedict by James J. Bohning, January 24, 1991, for the Science History Institute, found at https://oh.sciencehistory.org/oral-histories/benedict-manson 
  7. “Harry Benedict of C & H Dead,” Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, 04 Apr 1963, p. 15 
  8. Number: 369-03-5832; Issue State: Michigan; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Obituary, The (Syracuse, NY) Post-Standard, 04 Oct 1965, p. 23 
  10. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/107277978 
  11.  Number: 143-01-8383; Issue State: New Jersey; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. J.-M. Flaud, C. Camy-Peyret, R. A. Toth, Water Vapour Line Parameters from Microwave to Medium Infrared: An Atlas of H216O, H217O and H218O Line Positions and Intensities between 0 and 4350 cm-1, Pergamon, 1981 (dedication). 
  12. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 
  13. SSN: 122057823, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict 1900-1920: Gains, Losses, and Laws

As of 1900, Hannah and Joseph Benedict’s three sons were all adults, and Joseph had retired from his rag and paper business. Their two older sons, Jacob and Herschel, were still living with their parents in Pittsburgh, and the youngest son, C. Harry, was living in Michigan and working as an engineer after graduating from Cornell University. Soon all three would be married.

Joseph Benedict, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0142; FHL microfilm: 1241359
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Not long after the 1900 census was taken, the middle brother, Herschel, married Mary Ullman on August 7, 1900, in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Mary was born on December 25, 1876, in Titusville to Jacob Ullman and Henrietta Rothschild.1 Jacob was born in the Alsace region of France, and Henrietta in Wurttemberg, Germany. Jacob was in the dry goods business.2

Herschel Benedict and Mary Ullman marriage record, Film Number: 000878594
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968

A year after Herschel’s marriage, the youngest Benedict brother, C. Harry, was engaged to Lena Manson:

Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 21 Jul 1901, Sun • Page 15

As the article reports, Lena was from Syracuse, New York, where she was born on July 21, 1876.3 Her parents, Lewis and Jennie Manson, were immigrants from Russia-Poland, and her father was in the jewelry business in Syracuse.4 Lena, like Harry, had studied at Cornell, she for two years as a special student of English literature, and in 1897 she was working as a teacher in Syracuse. She also taught for three years at a high school in Erie, Pennsylvania.5

Harry and Lena were married on February 7, 1902, in Syracuse, New York.6

The last of the three sons of Hannah and Joseph to marry was their oldest son, Jacob or Jake. He married Clara R. Kaufman on February 14, 1905, in Pittsburgh. Like Jacob, Clara was a native of Pittsburgh, born on September 13, 1874, to Solomon Kaufman and Helena Marks, who were German immigrants. Clara’s father was a livestock dealer.7

Jacob Benedict and Clara Kaufman marriage record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1905; Roll Number: 549855, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, County Marriage Records, 1845-1963

In 1910, Hannah and Joseph were living with their son, Herschel and his wife Mary. Joseph was retired, and Herschel was in the wholesale liquor business. By 1912, Herschel had formed his own liquor distribution business, Benedict & Eberle, of which he was the president.8

Herschel Benedict and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1304; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0465; FHL microfilm: 1375317
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

By that time, Hannah and Joseph  had four grandchildren, but all were living quite a distance from Pittsburgh where Hannah and Joseph continued to live. The first was Jacob and Clara’s daughter, Helen, who was born on January 18, 1907, in Paducah, Kentucky,9 where Jacob and Clara had relocated from Pittsburgh sometime in the prior year and where Jacob was working for Dreyfuss Weil, a liquor distributor.10 Jacob and Clara’s second child, Marian, was also born in Paducah; she was born April 14, 1908.11

Meanwhile, Jacob’s brother C. Harry and his wife Lena also had two children during these years. Their first child, Manson, was born on October 9, 1907, in Lake Linden, Michigan,12 with a second son, William, arriving on July 4, 1909, also in Lake Linden. 13 C. Harry continued to work as a metallurgical engineer in Michigan for a company called Calumet & Hecla, a copper mining company.14

Sometime after the 1910 census, Hannah and Joseph must have decided that they did not want to live so far from all their grandchildren because by December 1912, they had left Pittsburgh and were living in Lake Linden, Michigan, where Harry and his family were residing.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 14 Dec 1912, Page 12

Then just two years after Hannah and Joseph left Pittsburgh, their son Jacob returned to Pittsburgh with his family after the company where Jacob worked in Paducah, Kentucky was sold, as reported in the February 4, 1914, edition of the Paducah Sun-Democrat (p. 5):

“Jacob Benedict Leaves for His New Home,” The Paducah Sun-Democrat, 04 Feb 1914, Page 5

Sadly, just three years after their move to Pittsburgh, Jacob suffered a terrible loss when his wife Clara died on September 17, 1917, from left parotid gland cancer. She had turned 43 just three days earlier, and she left behind her two young daughters, Helen (10) and Marian (9), as well as her husband Jacob.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 101201-104500
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

The family was soon dealt another blow when Joseph Benedict died on December 23, 1917, at Harry’s home in Lake Linden, Michigan. Joseph was 83 and died from fibroid myocarditis. He was buried back in Pittsburgh, his long-time home.

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records
Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1952

Hannah remained in Lake Linden, Michigan, and was living with her son Harry and his family in 1920, where Harry continued to work for Calumet & Hecla as a metallurgical engineer.15

Hannah’s other two sons were living in Pittsburgh in 1920. Jacob was living with his daughters as well as a live-in caretaker for the children; he was employed as a salesman for a food company, though just two years earlier he’d been working for a bottling company.16 Herschel was living with his wife Mary as well as a servant, and he had no employment listed on the 1920 census record.17

At first I was puzzled by the changes in both Jacob’s and Herschel’s occupations, but then the lightbulb went on.

Both Jacob and Herschel had been in the liquor business. By 1920, liquor sales were prohibited throughout the US after the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment on January 29, 1919. In fact, liquor sales had been under severe restrictions even earlier, as discussed on this website:

In 1917, after the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson instituted a temporary wartime prohibition in order to save grain for producing food. That same year, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors, for state ratification. Though Congress had stipulated a seven-year time limit for the process, the amendment received the support of the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states in just 11 months. Ratified on January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment went into effect a year later, by which time no fewer than 33 states had already enacted their own prohibition legislation.

The_Pittsburgh_Press, January 16, 1919, p. 1

So Herschel was forced out of business and Jacob had to change industries as a result of Prohibition. That must have been a difficult transition for both of them.

The first two decades of the 20th century were thus exciting and challenging ones for Hannah and her family. There were marriages and children but also deaths as well as the business challenges created by Prohibition.

 

 


  1. Film Number: 000878594, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968; Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4263; Line: 13; Page Number: 29, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; Jacob Ullman and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Titusville, Crawford, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1121; Page: 220D; Enumeration District: 122, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census; Marriage Registers, Extracts from Manhattan (1869-1880) and Brooklyn (1895-1897), Publisher: Dept. of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, New York, Ancestry.com. New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s. 
  2. Flora Ullman death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 103201-105750, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967. Jacob Ullman and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Titusville, Crawford, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1121; Page: 220D; Enumeration District: 122, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. 
  3.  The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2774842; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963 
  4. Lewis Manson and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Syracuse, Onondaga, New York; Roll: 908; Page: 439A; Enumeration District: 219, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  5.  “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: Cornellian; Year: 1902,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990. Lena Manson Benedict obituary,
    The Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, 04 Oct 1965, Page 23. 
  6.  New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Marriage Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 
  7. Clara Kaufman Benedict death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 101201-104500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967. Solomon Kaufman and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1086; Page: 158A; Enumeration District: 006,
    Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  8.  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  9.  Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4101; Line: 1; Page Number: 187, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; SSN: 182329199, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  10. Paducah, Kentucky, City Directory, 1906, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  11. Marian Benedict death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Box Number: 2424; Certificate Number Range: 020251-023100, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967; Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4101; Line: 1; Page Number: 187, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. “Michigan, County Births, 1867-1917,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBZD-ZS1?cc=1923472&wc=4VWM-MT6%3A218907401%2C219048301 : 8 June 2018), Houghton > Births 1906-1908 > image 229 of 493; various county courts, Michigan. 
  13. “Michigan, County Births, 1867-1917,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-LBZC-55L?cc=1923472&wc=4VWM-MT1%3A218907401%2C219072901 : 7 September 2018), Houghton > Births 1908-1910 > image 169 of 438; various county courts, Michigan. 
  14. C Harry Benedict and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Torch Lake, Houghton, Michigan; Roll: T624_647;Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0135;FHL microfilm: 1374660, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. Title: Calumet, Michigan, City Directory, 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  15. C. Harry Benedict, 1920 US census, Census Place: Torch Lake, Houghton, Michigan; Roll: T625_769; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 173, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census.  I found it interesting that Hannah chose to stay in Michigan rather than return to Pittsburgh. Joseph was buried there, and two of her sons, Jacob and Herschel, were living there, and Jacob must have needed extra help with his daughters. But Hannah must have been very happy where she was living in Michigan and thus stayed put rather than going back to Pittsburgh. She remained in Lake Linden, Michigan, for the rest of her life. 
  16. Jacob Benedict, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 550,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  17. Herschel Benedict, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 546, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, 1848-1900: Litigation and Fires Beleaguer The Family

The youngest of Simon Goldsmith’s children was his daughter Hannah; she was born to Simon’s second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, my three-times great-aunt, making Hannah, like her brother Henry, my double cousin. Hannah was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 5, 1848. Since I have not written about Hannah in quite a while, let me recap what I’ve already written about her.

In 1850, Simon and Fradchen were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well Simon’s two daughters from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Fradchen died later that year, leaving Hannah motherless when she was just two years old.

Simon Goldsmith and family, 1850 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 3, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_745; Page: 135A; Image: 274 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census

Simon then moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, to live with his oldest child Jacob, presumably so that he would have support to raise his two youngest children.

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census, Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

In 1867, Hannah married Joseph Benedict. She was only nineteen, and he was 33. Joseph was born July 3, 1834, in Germany and had immigrated in 1857, according to the 1900 census. Hannah and Joseph settled in Pittsburgh after marrying. The 1870 Pittsburgh directory lists Joseph as a junk dealer. By the time the 1870 census was enumerated Joseph and Hannah had a five-month-old son named Jacob, born January 24, 1870, in Pittsburgh. Also living with them in 1870 were Hannah’s father, Simon Goldsmith, now a retired tailor, and Amelia Schoenthal, who was Hannah’s first cousin, her mother Fradchen’s niece and the older sister of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal.

Joseph and Hannah Benedict, 1870 US census, ensus Place: Pittsburgh Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 567A; Family History Library Film: 552794
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census

On June 6, 1871, Hannah gave birth to a second child, Herschel Newton Benedict, in Pittsburgh. Five years later, Hannah gave birth to her third son, Centennial Harry Benedict, born on September 24, 1876, in Pittsburgh (named for the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence).1 Hannah and her husband Joseph Benedict continued to live in Pittsburgh where Joseph is listed on the 1880 census as a rag dealer.

Joseph and Hannah Benedict and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1092; Page: 508D; Enumeration District: 122,  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

Unfortunately, the 1880s presented some difficult issues for Joseph Benedict and thus his family. In 1882 he became embroiled in litigation against the Antietam Paper Company. Joseph sold this company $813.03 worth of rags for which they had refused to pay, alleging that the rags were infected with the smallpox virus. The company argued that as a result of the infected rags, many people both in the paper company’s employ and in the surrounding area became ill and even died, causing the company to shut down its operations. The lower court rejected the paper company’s defense, and judgment in favor of Joseph was upheld on appeal.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5 Sep 1882, Tue, Page 1

[To my former Contracts students—why do you think Joseph won this case?]

Just two years later in September 1884, the warehouse where Joseph’s rag and paper business was located was severely damaged by fire. Not only was there serious property damage, two firefighters were injured while trying to control the fire. The newspaper reports differed on their coverage of the fire. The Pittsburgh Daily Post wrote:

Pittsburgh Daily Post, 10 Sep 1884, Page 4

According to this article, the owners of the building were fully insured for the $5000 loss, though the aggregate loss (including the property of the tenants) was more like $40,000.

But an article from the same date published by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a very different report on the insurance coverage for damages:

“Rags and Tea,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
10 Sep 1884, Page 2

So did the owners have insurance or not? Which paper had a more accurate report of the facts?

Joseph’s loss was partially covered by insurance, at least according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he nevertheless suffered a very significant loss. The Post-Gazette account noted that the fire was presumed to have started by spontaneous combustion of Joseph’s rags.

That was not the last time Joseph’s business was damaged by fire. In 1892, Joseph was now the owner of the building that housed his rag and paper business. A fire started when a gas stove overheated in the space in his building that was being used by a cigar business. Joseph’s business suffered only minor damage, according to the paper, because the fire did not reach the cellar where his business was located and thus only suffered water damage. The paper noted, however, that this was the third fire at this building within eighteen months.

“Fire in Allegheny,” The Pittsburgh Press – 23 Nov 1892 – Page 1

But Joseph was still operating his paper business at that location in 1894.2

Meanwhile, Hannah and Joseph’s sons were growing up in these years. In 1889, Jacob, the oldest son who was then nineteen, was working as a bookkeeper. The following year both Jacob and his brother Herschel were listed as bookkeepers in the Pittsburgh directory. Both were still listed as bookkeepers in 1898.3

At that time the youngest brother, C. Harry Benedict, was a student at Cornell University.

U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012; Yearbook Title: Cornell Class Book; Year: 1897
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990

In 1900, Hannah and Joseph and their two older sons were living in Pittsburgh, where Joseph, now 65, was retired, Jacob was working as a bookkeeper, and Herschel was a salesman.

Joseph Benedict, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0142; FHL microfilm: 1241359
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

C. Harry was living in Lake Linden, Michigan in 1900, working as a mechanical engineer, according to the census record. But “chemical” was crossed out, and later records indicate that Harry was a metallurgical engineer, so I think either the enumerator or the person reporting to the enumerator was confused.

C Harry Benedict, 1900 US census, Census Place: Schoolcraft, Houghton, Michigan; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 0196; FHL microfilm: 1240715, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Thus, by 1900, all three of Hannah and Joseph Benedict’s sons were adults, and their father had retired from his fire-prone business.  Soon there would be weddings and grandchildren.

 

 

 

 


  1. J.-M. Flaud, C. Camy-Peyret, R. A. Toth, Water Vapour Line Parameters from Microwave to Medium Infrared: An Atlas of H216O, H217O and H218O Line Positions and Intensities between 0 and 4350 cm-1, Pergamon, 1981 (dedication). 
  2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1894, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1889, 1890, 1898, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995