Berthold Goldschmidt Revisited: His Second Family

A year and a half ago I wrote about the tragic life of my cousin Berthold Goldschmidt, who outlived not only his wife Mathilde Freudenstein but six of their seven children. Their only surviving child, their son Siegfried Goldschmidt, was murdered in the Holocaust. I believed that Berthold had only one grandchild, Siegfried’s son Max, who had no children. Thus, I believed that Berthold Goldschmidt had no living descendants.

I’ve received two updates about Berthold’s family since then. In February, my friend in Germany, Julia Drinnenberg, sent me these photographs of two of Berthold and Mathilde’s sons taken during their service in World War I, Leopold, who was killed in the war, and the above-mentioned Siegfried.

Siegfried Goldschmidt

Leopold Goldschmidt

Then back in April, I received an email from David Baron, asking if I wanted to Zoom with a cousin named Rickey Slezak. I had no idea who Rickey was or how she was related to me, but soon discovered that she is a descendant of none other than Berthold Goldschmidt.

How does he have any descendants, you might wonder?

Well, in telling Berthold’s story I totally overlooked the fact that he had remarried after Mathilde’s death and had in fact had six more children with his second wife, Rika Giesberg, Rickey’s namesake. You can imagine how embarrassing this is!

Not that this takes away from the tragedies suffered by Berthold; that is still unimaginable. But Berthold’s story is somewhat softened by the fact that he went on to have a second family. And I was delighted not only to learn about this, but to make the connection to Rickey, my third cousin, once removed. Rickey shared with me an amazing album of old photographs of Berthold’s second family. This post is devoted to their story.

After losing his first wife Mathilde in 1911, Berthold Goldschmidt was left with four surviving children from that marriage: Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig. They were all still teenagers at that time.

On August 25, 1912, Berthold married Rika (sometimes spelled Richa or referred to as Rickchen) Giesberg, daughter of Jonas Giesberg and Henriette Loewenstein, in Trendelburg, Germany. Rika was born in Trendelburg on May 29, 1882, and was little more than ten to fifteen years older than her four stepchildren.

TitelStandesamt Trendelburg Heiratsnebenregister 1912 (HStAMR Best. 909 Nr. 9383)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortTrendelburg

Here are photographs of Berthold and Rika, courtesy of their granddaughter and my cousin, Rickey.

Berthold Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika and Berthold’s first child together, Walter Goldschmidt, was born in Oberlistingen, Germany, on April 24, 1913.1 A second son Herbert was born on December 20, 1914.2

Three of Berthold’s children from his first marriage died between 1915 and 1916, as discussed here. By 1917, Siegfried was then the only surviving child of the children Berthold had with Mathilde Freudenstein.

After those losses, Berthold and Rika had their first daughter, Hedwig, born June 1, 1918. She presumably was named for Berthold’s deceased daughter Hedwig from his first marriage.3

Here is a photograph of their family in about 1920 before their three youngest children were born:

Berthold and Rika (Rickchen) Goldschmidt and family, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Their third son Jacob Julius Goldschmidt (known as Julius) was born on March 17, 1921.4 Albert Goldschmidt was born on September 9, 1924.5 Finally, their sixth and final child Elfriede was born August 17, 1926.6

This is a photograph of their home in Oberlistingen:

Berthold Goldschmidt family home in Oberlistingen. Courtesy of the family

Berthold Goldschmidt died on November 8, 1927. He was survived by his son Siegfried from his first marriage and the six children he had with Rika. Those six children lost their father before they reached adulthood. Their oldest child Walter was just fourteen, and their youngest child Elfriede just a year old. Rika was herself only 45 and left to care for the six children including four who were under ten years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 [

Rika was not destined to live a long life. She died at the age of 52 in Merxhausen, Germany, on March 1, 1935.7 I wondered why she died in Merxhausen, which is about 35 kilometers from Oberlistingen, and learned that there was a hospital there.

By that time Walter was almost 22, Herbert going on 21, Hedwig was almost seventeen, Julius almost fourteen, and the two youngest were still quite young; Albert was ten, and Elfriede only nine. I wonder who took care of these children, especially the three youngest, after they were orphaned.

Here are some photographs of some of the siblings taken in Germany before their lives changed forever:

Walter Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

Hedwig Goldschmidt Courtesy of the family

Julius Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

By the time of Rika’s death, the Nazis had taken power in Germany, and the Nuremberg Laws were adopted six months after her death.  It’s thus not surprising that by 1937 her two oldest sons decided to leave for the United States. Herbert left first, arriving in New York on July 30, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he left behind his brother Walter in Oberlistingen and was  going to a cousin, Leighton Steele, in Detroit, Michigan.  Leighton Steele was the son of Hedwig Goldschmidt Steele, a younger sister of Berthold Goldschmidt. Thus, Leighton, who was American-born, was Herbert’s first cousin, but they probably had never met.8

Walter Goldschmidt arrived just a few months after his brother Herbert; he arrived in New York on October 1, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he was heading to New York to a “cousin” named Joseph Guhl and was leaving behind an “uncle,” Salomon Strauss in Frankfurt. Salomon Strauss was married to Jenny Giesberg, Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt’s sister. Joseph Guhl was married to Meta Giesberg, the daughter of Leopold Giesberg, Rika’s brother.9

This photograph is labeled “Leaving for America” and shows Walter in Hamburg:

Courtesy of the family

The next sibling to arrive in the US was the youngest, Elfriede. She was only twelve years old when she arrived on March 24, 1939, and was sailing with her aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss, her husband Salomon Strauss, and their son Walter. The ship manifest indicates that they all had been living in Frankfurt, so perhaps Elfriede had been taken in by her aunt after Rika died in 1935. They were leaving behind Salomon’s brother Julius and going to his cousin, Max Schoenmann, who lived at 1770 Andrews Avenue in the Bronx. I mention that only because my husband grew up down the block from there at 1940 Andrews Avenue. Small world.10

I don’t know whether or not Herbert ever went to Detroit to see Leighton Steele, but in 1940 both he and Walter were working as waiters for a restaurant in North Castle, New York, where they were both also living, according to the 1940 census.11  My cousin Rickey told me that the restaurant where they worked was a spot that became extremely popular as a music venue during the Big Band era, called Log Cabin Farms. You can see it mentioned on Herbert’s World War II draft registration.

Walter Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Herbert Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

The North Castle Historical Society published an article about the Log Cabin Farms and all the performers who came there; you can find it here. As you can see from this postcard, the restaurant had a seating capacity of 1500!

Meanwhile, their sister Elfriede was living in the Bronx with their aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss and her family in 1940.12 Rickey told me that her father revered his aunt Jenny, at least in part because of the care she gave to his little sister.

Herbert enlisted in the US military on January 22, 1941, almost a year before Pearl Harbor.13 I don’t know anything specific about his military service, but here is a photograph of him in uniform.

Herbert Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of the family

He applied for a marriage license to marry Lilly Vogel on January 19, 1943, in New York City.14

courtesy of the family

They did not have any children. According to my cousin Rickey, her uncle Herbert died in 1963.

His brother Walter enlisted on January 29, 1943, just ten days after Herbert and Lilly’s wedding.15 According to records his daughter Rickey has, Walter served three years including a year overseas. He was decorated several times, receiving the following medals: American Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal; European African Middle Eastern Service Medal; and a World War II Victory Medal.

On February 12, 1944, Walter married Hilda Weis,16 who was born on October 8, 1922, to Siegfried Weis and Else Scheuer in Gelnhausen, Germany.17 They had one child, my cousin Rickey, the source of all these wonderful photographs. Walter died on October 4, 1991; his widow Hilda died in 2001.18 They are survived by their daughter Rickey as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hilda Weis and Walter Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of their daughter Rickey

Elfriede married Alvin Kruger Colin with whom she had two children. This is a picture of them taken in March 1948. Given the way they are dressed, I assume this was their wedding day.19

Elfriede Goldschmidt and Al March 1948
Courtesy of the family

Elfriede died on January 6, 2011; she was survived by her children and grandchildren.20

Here is a photograph of the three siblings who made it to the US. I’d guess it was taken sometime after the war.

Courtesy of the family

Unfortunately, two of the other children of Berthold and Rika did not leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, Jacob Julius Goldschmidt was sent to Dachau concentration camp on November 10, 1938, after Kristallnacht and was released from Dachau on December 8, 1938. He still, however, did not leave Germany. According to this document, he was living in Munich from February 18, 1940, until April 5, 1942.

UPDATE: Thank you to barb276 for finding more information about Jacob Julius Goldschmidt here. According to this page from the Munich archives, Jacob Julius had moved from Kassel to Munich by January 1, 1936, and was living there until October 26, 1940, when he went to a Hachsharah, a Zionist training camp in Steinhofel, where Jews were trained for life in Palestine/Israel. Unfortunately, Jacob Julius never got there.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1
Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

He was then deported to Poland and murdered at some unnamed location.

Hedwig Goldschmidt was also murdered by the Nazis. She had married Horst Starsky, who was born on July 10, 1909, in Wingeruppen, Germany. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, they were living in Berlin, and both were first imprisoned in a Jewish forestry labor camp in Kersdorf-Briesen. They were then deported to Auschwitz on April 19, 1943, where they were killed. As far as I’ve been able to determine, they did not have any children.

The fate of Albert Goldschmidt, Berthold and Rika’s youngest son, is less clear. My cousin Rickey believes that he ended up immigrating to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but I have no documentation showing that. Rickey also believed he married and had a child there, but again, we have no documentation. What we do have is this photograph of Albert apparently taken in front of a restaurant that has a Spanish name, I think—Coveteria Vievo Viena? Google Translate could not make sense of coveteria but translated Vievo Viena as I come Vienna. Possibly a restaurant serving Viennese (or German-style) food?

UPDATE: Thank you to my cousin Susana, who also came from Buenos Aires, for helping me to translate what this says. She said that it says “Confitería Viejo Viena” (Old Vienna tearoom) and would have been a patisserie or tearoom that likely specialized in German/Austrian pastries and cakes.

Courtesy of the family

Thus, Berthold Goldschmidt’s family with his second wife Rika endured a great deal of tragedy just as his family with his first wife Mathilde Freudenstein had. But the record must stand corrected. Berthold Goldschmidt does indeed have living descendants—his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and even some great-great-grandchildren.  And one of them is my wonderful cousin Rickey who helped me tell and illustrate their family’s story.

 


  1. Walter Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Herbert Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 20 Dec 1914, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3.  Hedwig Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 1 Jun 1918, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70442392, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4.  Julius Israel Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 17 Mrz 1921 (17 Mar 1921), Birth Place: Oberlingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70126154, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  5. I have no record of Albert’s birth date; this comes from the Goldschmidt family report done by Roger Cibella and David Baron. 
  6.  Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Richa Goldschmidt, Maiden Name: Giesberg, Gender: weiblich (Female)
    Age: 52, Birth Date: 29 Mai 1882 (29 May 1882), Death Date: 1 Mrz 1935 (1 Mar 1935)
    Death Place: Merxhausen, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Merxhausen, Certificate Number: 16, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 6991, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8. Herbert Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 25; Page Number: 38, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Walter Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 8; Page Number: 36, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Salomon Strauss and Jenny Giesbech [sic], Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Meta Giesberg, Marriage Date: 30 Apr 1936, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Joseph A Guhl, Certificate Number: 11992, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  10. Elfriede Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 8, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Walter Goldschmidt and Herbert Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: North Castle, Westchester, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02811; Page: 3B and Page 24A, Enumeration District: 60-250, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elfriede Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02497; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 3-1449, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  14.  Herbert Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 19 Jan 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Lilly Vogel
    License Number: 1202, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 1, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  16.  Hilda Weis, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Feb 1944
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA. Spouse: Walter Goldschmidt, License Number: 3826, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  17. Hilda Goldsmith, [Hildegard Weis], [Hilda Goldschmidt] , Gender: Female,
    Birth Date: 8 Oct 1922, Birth Place: Gelnhausen, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 18 Sep 2001, Father: Siegfried Weis, Mother: Else Scheuer
    SSN: 085180692, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Name: Walter Goldsmith, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Death Date: 4 Oct 1991, Claim Date: 6 Mar 1975, SSN: 077165081, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. For Hilda, see Note 17. 
  19.  Elfriede Goldsmith, Marriage License Date: 27 Feb 1948, Marriage License Place: Bronx, New York City, New York, USA, License Number: 1705, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Bronx, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20. Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 33308, Fort Lauderdale, Broward, Florida, USA, Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Leni and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Their Sons: Escaping from Germany

 

Julius Goldschmidt, my second cousin, three times removed, died on January 5, 1932, in Bad Homburg, Germany; he was seventy-three.  Bad Homburg was “an internationally fashionable spa”  not far from Frankfurt (about eleven miles), and it appears from the death record that Julius was living there at the time of his death.

Bad Homburg, M. Jacobs, Frankfurt a. Main / Public domain

He had been preceded in death by two of his children, Mimi and Amalie, and was survived by his wife Elise Seligmann, their daughter Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt, and Leni’s husband (and cousin) Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and their two sons, Felix and Hermann; their son Jacob Goldschmidt; and their daughter Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children.

Julius Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 908; Laufende Nummer: 1585, Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Jacob (Julius) Goldschmidt only survived his father by two years. According to David Baron and Roger Cibella, he died at the age of 44 in Paris, France, on November 28, 1934. That left Leni Goldschmidt Goldschmidt and Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger as Julius and Elise’s only surviving children.

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt1 and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992;2 according to Cibella/Baron, Siegfried had died in France in 1949. Regina filed Pages of Testimony with Yad Vashem for family members who were killed in the Holocaust, as we have seen and as we will see in future posts.

The remainder of this post will focus on Leni (Helene II) and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and their sons.

I will start in a strange place to tell their story: Leni’s husband,Julius Falk Goldschmidt, who was also her father Julius’ first cousin. Focusing on the in-law is not usually what I would do, and it would have made more sense to wait and tell his story when I get to Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s younger brother Falk, who was Julius Falk Goldschmidt’s father. But because we are telling Leni’s story now and her story is entwined with that of her husband, I can’t delay the story of Julius Falk Goldschmidt.

Some of my readers may recall how I found an obituary for Julius Falk Goldschmidt in one of Milton Goldsmith’s family albums, attached to a page that included a replica of an ancient ketubah, and I had wondered why it was there and how Milton knew this distant cousin well enough to refer to him as “beloved” and include his obituary in an album otherwise devoted to Milton’s closest relatives, his immediate family. I also was puzzled by the ketubah reproduction included on that page.

I decided to see if I could locate the source of this tribute to Julius Falk Goldschmidt. I noticed that it was written by someone named John Pope-Hennessy, who I learned was a British art historian and at one time the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.3 By Googling his name and Julius F. Goldschmidt, I was able to locate the source of Pope-Hennessy’s tribute to Julius. It was published on December 1, 1964, in The Times of London on page 12.

Pope-Hennessy included this background information about Julius in that tribute:

Born in Frankfurt in 1882, Goldschmidt as a young man became a member of the celebrated firm of J.M.S. Goldschmidt, which had been founded in 1859 by his father [Falk Goldschmidt] and two uncles [Selig and Jacob Goldschmidt] and which numbered among its clients the Tsar, the German Emperor and members of the Rothschild family. His interests from the first were canalized in sculpture, and especially bronze statuettes, and after 1905, when a branch of the first was established in the United States, he played an active part in the formation of the Pierpont Morgan, Altman, Widener and Bache collection.

Thus, Julius Falk Goldschmidt had been traveling back and forth to the US long before Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, I found a 1909 passenger manifest showing him traveling to the US with Leni and her brother Jacob, as mentioned in the prior post.

Year: 1909; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1381; Line: 1; Page Number: 120 Description Ship or Roll Number: Roll 1381 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Moreover, Julius Falk filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on January 16, 1924, after “immigrating” on November 21, 1923.

Julius F Goldschmidt declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 249) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 124581-125078), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

That explains how Julius Falk and Milton Goldsmith may have become closely acquainted as Milton was living in New York City at that time. As for the ketubah reproduction, the Goldschmidt firm also specialized in Judaica, so perhaps this was a reproduction of a ketubah that the firm had collected.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt did not, however, follow through on his declaration of intention, but returned to Frankfurt, where he remained a resident until 1935. According to Pope-Hennessy (see above), Julius Falk moved that year to London and continued his work for the Goldschmidt firm. Records indicate that Julius Falk Goldschmidt, his wife Helene, and their older son Felix were all residing in England in 1939, as was Helene’s mother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt.4

Julius, Leni, and Felix Goldschmidt, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/420B, Enumeration District: APDK, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Julius F. and Helene’s younger son Hermann left for the United States on September 2, 1939, the day after World War II began. He was 26 at the time.5 His declaration of intention to become a US citizen, which was filed on December 21, 1939, indicated that his last place of foreign residence was Paris and that he had immigrated from Montreal into the US at Rouses Point, New York, which is the first town over the US border from Canada about 45 miles south of Montreal. At the time he filed his declaration, Hermann was living in New York City.

Hermann Goldschmidt declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 572) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 448201-449000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

I couldn’t find Hermann on the 1940 US census, but I did find his draft registration dated October 24, 1940; he had dropped the second N from his first name and registered as Herman Goldschmidt. (Later he became Herman Goldsmith.) At that time he was living in New York City and working for Julius Kayser & Company, a large manufacturer of women’s gloves, hosiery, and silk underwear, today known as Kayser-Roth.

Herman Goldschmidt, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Meanwhile, Herman’s brother Felix and parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and grandmother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt were living in England. Both Julius Falk and his son Felix were interned as enemy aliens on June 21, 1940, although both had previously been found exempt from internship on November 28, 1939. It appears they were released just two months later on August 28, 1940. Helene and her mother were spared from internment. Julius listed his occupation as art dealer, and Felix reported that he was a “company director and art dealer” for his father’s firm. All four family members were living at the same address in London.

Julius F Goldschmidt, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/174
Piece Number Description: 174: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Ga-Gom
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Felix Goldschmidt, enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/109
Piece Number Description: 109: Canada Internees 1939-1942: G-H, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt died in 1943 in London; she was 79 years old and was survived by her daughter Helene, son-in-law Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and two grandsons, Felix and Herman.6

After the war Felix joined his brother Herman in the US, where he married and had a child.7 Herman never married. Their parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt remained in England for the rest of their lives. Julius Falk Goldschmidt died on November 18, 1964, in London.8 Pope-Hennessy opined that with the death of Julius Goldschmidt, “the London art world loses one of its most warmly regarded personalities.” It went on to describe his interests, his appearance, and his personality. It’s quite a poetic and beautiful obituary.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt was survived by his wife Helene, who died in London six years later in 1970,9 and their two sons, Felix and Herman, and one grandchild. Felix died on March 10, 1989, in Greenwich, Connecticut; he was 78.10 His brother Herman lived until October 7, 2016; he was two months shy of his 104th birthday when he died.11

Here was another family that survived the Holocaust, but lost their homeland with the sons living on one continent, their parents on another. Herman Goldsmith’s incredible longevity is quite a testament to the strength of this family.

 

 


  1. Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Frankfurt am Main, 1937, Ancestry.com. German Phone Directories, 1915-1981 
  2. Regina Rosenberger, Burial Date: 27 Feb 1992, Burial Plot: 53-F-23, Burial Place: North York, Ontario, Canada, Cemetery: Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  3. John Russell, “Sir John Pope-Hennessy, 80, Art Expert, Dies,” The New York Times, November 1, 1994, p.36. 
  4.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/226, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5. Ship Name: Empress Of Britain, Shipping Line: Canadian Pacific
    Official Number: 162582, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  6. Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 1a, Page: 23, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 23, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7.  Arrival Date: 8 Feb 1949, Port of Arrival: Buffalo, New York, USA
    Arrival Contact: Brother Herman Goldsmith, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1480; Roll Number: 045, Ancestry.com. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960 
  8.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 198, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 198, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  9.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5d, Page: 1218, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 1218, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  10. Feliz A Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 10 Sep 1910, Death Date: 10 Mar 1989
    SSN: 061264467, Death Certificate Number: 05428, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=herman-goldsmith&pid=182198098 

Escaping from Germany: Another Splintered Family, the Cramers

Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld’s oldest child, Clementine II, was born in 1874 and married David Cramer in 1892. They had two children, Sally David Cramer (1893) and Caroline Lilly Cramer (1894).

Let’s review where each member of the family was as of 1933 when the Nazis came to power and then learn where they were up through the end of World War II.

Sally David Cramer

Sally married Margarete Steinberg in 1921 and they had two sons, Hans Clemens and Peter Andreas, born in the 1920s.

Peter died as an eight-year-old on February 14, 1932, in Frankfurt.

Peter Cramer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11001
Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Sally and Margarete then had a third child, a daughter, born July 15, 1933, in Frankfurt,1 just months after Hitler’s rise to power.

Fortunately, they left Germany by 1939 and were living in England where Sally was working as a “company director.”2

Their family suffered another terrible tragedy when their oldest son Hans Clemens, then known as John Denis Cramer, was killed on March 23, 1943, while serving in the British army during World War II; he was only 21 and was the second child of Sally and Margarete to predecease them.3

Thus, leaving Germany had not saved young Hans/John from danger.

Hans Clemens aka John Denis Cramer, probate listing, ncestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

Caroline Lilly Cramer Drey

We saw that Sally’s sister Lilly (as she was known) married Arthur Drey in 1919, and they had three children born in Frankfurt in the 1920s: Dorothy, Claude, and Elizabeth. Arthur Drey was a known Expressionist poet and playwright in Germany. You can read a collection of his poems (in German, but easily translated by Google Translate) here.

Lilly and Arthur got out of Germany not long after Hitler came to power. According to this website devoted to the works of his son Claude Drey, Arthur feared he would be denounced for his anti-Nazi activities, and in 1933, he and his family left Germany and settled in Milan, Italy, for six years.

Then when Mussolini began to collaborate with Hitler in the late 1930s, Lilly and Arthur decided to leave Italy. They arrived in the United States on May 22, 1939 after first going to England, according to their naturalization papers. That was the same day that Hitler and Mussolini signed their Pact of Steel, forging a military alliance and paving the way to World War II.

Arthur Drey, Declaration of Intent, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21,  (Roll 566) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 443101-444000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1940 census, they were living in New York City, and Arthur was working as a director for an “electric firm.”4 His World War II draft registration identified him as self-employed by the Filtered Water Service Corporation in New York City.

Arthur Drey, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Their son Claude was also working for his father’s company:

Claude Drey, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

This biography of Claude provides greater details about his life:

During his first years in New York, Claude dedicated his time to studying English and engineering. He attended City College at night, and worked in the family’s water cooler rental business by day. He also began a lifetime pursuit of analytical psychology.  Claude worked with analysts under the school of Carl Jung.

In 1943, Claude’s older sister Dorothy married Rudolf Gerd Hamburger,5 who later changed his surname to Harvey.6 Rudolf was born in Berlin, Germany, on September 8, 1909, to Leo Hamburger and Johanna Borchardt.7 Dorothy and Rudolf had two children together.

Clementine Fuld and David Cramer

Meanwhile, Sally and Lilly’s parents Clementine and David Cramer had been living in Nice, France,  They arrived in New York on October 27, 1941, after the Nazis had occupied France.

David Cramer, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 649) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 517601-518500), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the ship manifest as well as the declaration of intent, they named both their children, Sally in England and Lilly in New York.

David and Clemetine Cramer, passenger manifest, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6588; Line: 1; Page Number: 114
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Thus, the whole family had left Germany in time and escaped the Nazis, but Clementine and David had lost their grandson Hans/John in the fight against the Nazis.

After the War

The family suffered two losses in the first years after the war. David Cramer died in New York on February 8, 1946 just five years after his arrival in the US and six months after the end of World War II; he was 84, and he was survived by his wife Clementine, their two children Sally and Lilly, and their grandchildren.8

Then on June 17, 1948, Dorothy Drey’s husband Rudolf was killed in a plane accident in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania.  He was one of 43 people killed when a United Airlines DC-6 tried to make an emergency landing and hit a 60,000 volt electrical tower and burst into flames.9 Dorothy was only 26 when she lost her husband; their two children were just preschoolers.

Rudolph Harvey, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

According to Cibella/Baron, Dorothy remarried a few years later and had another child with her second husband.

But not all the family news was bad after the war. Elizabeth, the youngest Drey sibling, married Eric Harry Caspari in September 1949, in New York City.10 Eric was the son of Leo Caspari and Margarete Meyer and was born on April 6, 1914, in Berlin, Germany. 11  Elizabeth and Eric had three children together.

In the 1950s, Claude Drey developed an interest in photography. The website devoted to his works included this comment:

As with so many other pursuits he was determined to bring it to a professional level. He studied under several photographers and was influenced by Edward Weston.  Most of his work was in black and white; he did all of his own development.  Claude was successful in having his work exhibited in several gallery shows including a one-man exhibit at the Image Gallery. His works was sold to publishers for use in advertising and appeared in several books.  

Most of Claude’s photography focused on nature. He took many pictures of animals, plants and flowers. He traveled to California and did a series on Point Lobus.  Claude’s family and friends were models – especially his young wife Grace.  His photography related in many ways to his psychological studies and particularly in his pictures of people, he tried to capture a part of their spirit.

A more unusual series of photographs Claude created was on car “graveyards” and on a slaughterhouse.  For some the pictures of the animals being killed and butchered may be disturbing.

I would imagine that that series of disturbing photographs was somewhat inspired by the experiences he had as a teenager and young man running from the Nazis and Fascists in Europe and then learning what had happened to those who had not been fortunate enough to leave in time. You can see some of Claude’s photography here.

Clementine Fuld Cramer survived her husband David by sixteen years; she died at 87 on March 30, 1962.12

Her son-in-law Arthur Drey died on July 1, 1965; he was 72.13 And his wife Lilly Cramer Drey followed him almost exactly a year later. She died on June 23, 1966, at the age of 71.14 They were survived by their three children and eight grandchildren. Their daughter Dorothy died on February 10, 1972, in New York, 15 Claude Drey died on November 7, 1989,16 and the youngest sibling Elizabeth died on July 8, 2005.17

Clementine’s son Sally Cramer, who had outlived his two sons as well as his parents and sister Lilly, died in London at the age of 87 on March 9, 1977;18 his wife Margarete died ten years later on December 10, 1987.19 She was 89. They were survived by their youngest child.

Clementine Fuld Cramer’s story is another story of German Jews who escaped in time and ended up contributing much to their new homeland. Claude Drey’s photographs are worth examining to see the beauty that he could find around him despite having had such a difficult and disrupted boyhood.

 

 

 


  1. FHL Film Number: 004909566m Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  2. Sally David Cramer and family, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/868A, Enumeration District: BOAA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 April 2020), memorial page for Pvt John Denis Cramer (unknown–23 Mar 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 151392819, citing Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, Willesden, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) . 
  4. Arthur Drey and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02647; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-964, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5.  Name: Dorothy Drey, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 26 May 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Rudolph F Hamburger, License Number: 10550, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  6. See his World War II draft registration at Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. 
  7. Rudolf Harvey death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  8.  Certificate Number: 3719, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  9. There are many news articles about the crash, which was the second worst in US history at that time. For example, “DC-6 Wreck Hides Cause of Tragedy,” The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18 Jun 1948, Fri • Page 1 
  10.  Elizabeth H Drey, Marriage License Date: 9 Sep 1949, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Harry E Caspari, License Number: 24292, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 35, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  11. Eric Harry Caspari, Birth Date: 6 Apr 1914, Birth Place: Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 6 May 1975, Father: Leo Caspari, Mother: Margarete Meyer
    SSN: 168126664, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. Certificate Number: 7231, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  13.  Arthur Drey, Social Security Number: 094-14-0864, Birth Date: 9 Sep 1890
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1965
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Lilly Drey, Social Security Number: 068-24-9127, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1894
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1966
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Dorothy Schaefer, Birth Date: 30 Mar 1921, Death Date: Feb 1972
    SSN: 130142475, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  16. Claude Clemens Drey, Birth Date: 13 Nov 1919, Birth Place: Francfort PR, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 7 Nov 1989, Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 072127096, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  17. Elizabeth Helen Drey, [Elizabeth Helen Caspari]Birth Date: 22 Jan 1926
    Birth Place: Frankfurt Yi, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 8 Jul 2005
    Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 076202437, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Sally Cramer, Registration district: Westminster Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 15, Page: 2123, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 2123, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  19. Margarete Cramer, Death Date: 10 Dec 1987, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 11 Oct 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 

Escaping from Germany, Part VII: Children Separated from their Parents

This is the final chapter in the story of my cousin Sarah Goldschmidt, daughter of my fourth great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt. These last seven chapters about her descendants’ struggles during and for the most part survival of the Nazi era have been an inspiration to me during this pandemic. We need to remember that human beings have survived many other challenges as we continue to fight this one.

The youngest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern was their son Mayer. As we have seen, Mayer was married to Gella Hirsch, and they had two children, Elsa (1891) and Markus Kurt (1895)(later known as Kurt Marco).

As of 1930, Mayer and Gella were living in Frankfurt. Their daughter Elsa had been married to her second cousin Jacob Schwarzschild, with whom she’d had a daughter Elizabeth (1915). That marriage ended in divorce, and in 1920, Elsa had married Alfred Hirsch, with whom she had three children in the 1920s. Kurt Stern was married to Rhee Mess; they had no children.

With the rise of Hitler, the family began to disperse. Kurt and Rhee left Germany first. From 1918 to 1923, Kurt had worked as an art dealer in Frankfurt with his father and Goldschmidt relatives in the firm of I & S Goldschmidt (more on them to come). He and Rhee had then moved to Paris, where he became an independent art dealer.1 Then they immigrated to the US, arriving in New York on October 4, 1934. Kurt declared his intention to become a US citizen on February 19, 1935, four months after arriving in New York.

Kurt Marco Stern declaration of intention, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1256
Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350
Ancestry.com. New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944

Kurt registered for the US draft on April 26, 1942, at which time he was a self-employed art dealer, living in New York City.

Kurt Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Kurt’s parents Mayer and Gella Stern also left Germany around that time. According to Mayer Stern’s immigration papers, he and Gella arrived in Palestine on April 12, 1935. Sadly, Gella died less than two months later on June 1, 1935, in Haifa. She was 71 years old. Mayer remained in Haifa and became a Palestinian citizen on August 24, 1938.2

Mayer Stern, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62

But Mayer did not live much longer. He died on September 15, 1939, in Haifa, where he is buried. He was 78.

The grave site of מאיר שטרן. Cemetery: Haifa Mahane David – Sde Yehoshua Cemetery, Location: Haifa, Haifa District, Israel. Birth: 7 Jan 1861, Death: 15 Sep 1939. Found at https://tinyurl.com/whnye25 Photographer  Nadezda

As for Mayer and Gella’s daughter Elsa Stern Schwarzschild Hirsch, she and her husband Alfred Hirsch and three children also immigrated to Palestine, arriving in 1938, according to their immigration file.3

The file includes letters indicating that two of Elsa and Alfred’s children returned to Europe after arriving in Palestine, one to Antwerp to study, the other to Italy for health reasons. Alfred requested that the two children be granted Palestinian passports expeditiously because they each had limited visas from those countries that would expire before they could return to Palestine to sign their new passports.

Alfred received a response that the Palestinian officials would ask the British consul to issue Palestinian passports to the two children once Alfred himself was naturalized. Alfred and Elsa were naturalized on August 14, 1938. Alfred was working as the general manager of the Palestine Milling & Trading Company at that time.4

Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq

I assume the two children were able to return soon thereafter to Palestine to join their family. But can you imagine the anxiety experienced by them all, thinking that the two young teenagers might be stranded in Europe as the Nazi persecution of Jews intensified in 1938, culminating in Kristallnacht just a few months after Alfred and Elsa received their naturalization certificate?

One of their children immigrated to the US as early as 1940 and was residing without any family members in New York City at the YMHA on the 1940 US census;5 his uncle Kurt was, however, residing in New York at that time, where he was the owner of an “art shop,” according to the census.6

The rest of the family joined them in the US after the war. Alfred and Elsa arrived in New York on December 24, 1946.7 Alfred died less than two months later on February 6, 1947; he was only 56 years old.8 Elsa outlived him by over forty years; she died in Dallas, Texas, on October 4, 1988.  She was 97 years old.9

Elsa’s brother Kurt Stern unfortunately did not have his sister’s longevity. He died on April 16, 1962 at the age of 67 after a long illness, according to his obituary.10 He was survived by his wife Rhee, who died in August 1986 at the age of 91,11 and his sister Elsa and her three children.

Thus ends not only the story of Mayer Stern, but that of his parents Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern. Their story is overall a story shared by so many German Jews. They went from being successful merchants living in comfort and security, raising children and grandchildren in a country that they saw as their home, to being refugees from the worst kind of persecution and violence anyone can imagine.

Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants were, however, among the more fortunate ones. Out of all of Sarah’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Germany during the Nazi era, only one, little Margot Fulda, just thirteen years old, was murdered by the Nazis. The rest were uprooted from their homes and torn from the comfort they’d known, but were able to escape to Palestine, to England, and to the United States. Their descendants live among us today in places all over the world. How fortunate and blessed we are that they do.

Next I will turn my attention to Sarah’s younger brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and his family.


  1. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  2. Mayer Stern, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62 
  3. Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Stephen Hirsch, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02663; Page: 83B; Enumeration District: 31-1658, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Kurt M. Stern, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-1368, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Alfred and Elsa Hirsch, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7250; Line: 1; Page Number: 10,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  9. Else Hirsch, Social Security Number: 119-36-5922, Birth Date: 4 Jan 1891
    Issue year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 75219, Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, Death Date: 4 Oct 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Kurt M Stern, Birth Date: 28 Jan 1895, Death Date: 16 Apr 1962, Claim Date: 17 Aug 1962, SSN: 060070787, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  11.  Rhee Stern, Social Security Number: 065-52-1280, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1895
    Issue year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1986, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Escaping from Germany, Part VI: Germany’s Loss, America and Israel’s Gains

Abraham and Johanna (Goldschmidt) Stern’s daughter Clementine had died in 1919 during the 1918 flu epidemic, survived by her husband Siegfried Oppenheimer and three children: Erika (1909), William Erwin (1912), and Sarah Gabriele (1917). After Clementine’s death, Siegfried married her younger sister Alice Lea, with whom he had five more children, all born in the 1920s. All eight of those children as well as Alice and Siegfried themselves escaped from Germany in the 1930s.

The Children of Clementine Stern and Siegfried Oppenheimer

Siegfried and Clementine’s oldest child, Erika Oppenheimer, first escaped to the Netherlands in 1933, but she immigrated to the United States on July 4, 1938, appropriately enough. Two weeks later she married Paul Fromm in Chicago, Illinois, on July 20, 1938. Paul also had arrived on July 4, 1938, so the two may have met and fallen in love on the ship that brought them to the US. Paul was born in Kitzingen, Germany, on September 28, 1906, into a family with a long tradition as vintners. He had been living in Bingen, Germany, before immigrating. Erika and Paul both filed their naturalization papers on August 26, 1938, less than two months after their arrival.

Erika Oppenheimer Fromm, Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Illinois, Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; NAI Number: 593882; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Description: Petitions for naturalization, v 1185, no 296351-296550, ca 1943-1944
Ancestry.com. Illinois, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Paul Fromm, Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Illinois, Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; NAI Number: 593882; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Description: Petitions for naturalization, v 1185, no 296351-296550, ca 1943-1944
Ancestry.com. Illinois, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

The 1940 census reports them living in Chicago, where Paul was the proprietor of a wholesale liquor importation business and Erika a psychologist working in a hospital clinic.1 They would have one child born in 1940.

Both Paul and Erika achieved great success in the US. Paul was a very successful wine merchant, but also made his name as a philanthropist who generously supported the arts, music specifically. He created the Fromm Foundation at Harvard to support musicians and composers and musical events such as Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. John Rockwell, the long-time music critic for the New York Times, described Paul Fromm as “the most active and distinguished private patron of contemporary classical music in the United States.” Paul died on the 49th anniversary of his arrival in the US, July 4, 1987.  He was eighty years old.2

Erika also had a distinguished career. She had received her doctorate in psychology from the University of Frankfurt in 1933 before escaping to the Netherlands. After immigrating to the US in 1938, she became a research assistant in psychiatry at the University of Chicago for a few years and then spent years in practice, eventually returning to the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1961, where she became a scholarly expert in the use of hypnosis. Her obituary described some of her professional accomplishments:3

Dr. Fromm considered hypnosis a valuable analytical tool that, when used by a skilled practitioner, could provide access to a patient’s unconscious conflicts and desires. She said hypnosis could induce an altered state of consciousness involving heightened awareness and focus in approximately 1 in 12 people.

She used hypnosis to treat severely disturbed patients as well as victims of incest and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. She also advocated self-hypnosis as a path to self-exploration.

In the 1980’s, Dr. Fromm joined the growing field of behavioral medicine, which uses hypnosis, meditation, biofeedback and other techniques to treat physical ailments. Her book ”Hypnosis and Behavioral Medicine,” written with Dr. Daniel P. Brown and published in 1987, presented research supporting those methods in treating allergies, asthma, migraines and hypertension.

Erika Oppenheimer Fromm died on May 25, 2003, in Chicago. She was 93.4

Clementine and Siegfried’s son William Erwin Oppenheimer (often called Erwin) left Germany very early; he arrived in Palestine on November 8, 1933, less than a year after Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. By 1938, when he applied for Palestinian citizenship, he was married to Hannie Halpern, who was also a refugee from Germany. She was born in Frankfurt on September 1, 1914. Erwin was then working as a farmer near Rehovoth.5 According to trees on MyHeritage, he died on April 22, 1963, in Jerusalem. He was only fifty years old.

Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b071706810638e5

As for Clementine and Siegfried’s younger daughter Sarah Gabriele Oppenheimer, known as Gabriele, I am missing some pieces to Gabriele’s story, but it appears from documents that she had been married to a man named Leon Schindel, whom she divorced in Jerusalem on July 28, 1941.6

Among Gabriele’s immigration documents is her original Palestinian passport, issued on December 2, 1937, so she was already a citizen of Palestine by then. She was a professional photographer, according to her passport.

She married a second time in Tel Aviv on September 11, 1942, to Martin Lederman; he was born in Dresden, Germany, on April 13, 1904, and had immigrated to Palestine on March 26, 1940; he had previously been living in Panama. According to his Palestinian naturalization papers, Martin was a publisher.7

Martin and Gabriele did not remain in Palestine, later Israel, for too long after the war ended.  They made several trips to England and the US after the war, and in June 1949, they indicated on the ship manifest taking them from England to the US that their intended future permanent residence was the “USA.”8  Gabriele became a naturalized US citizen on December 20, 1954,9 and Martin on February 14, 1955.10 They were residing in New York City.

Both Martin and Gabriele lived into their eighties. Martin died on July 9, 1991, at 87,11 and Gabriele died on January 11, 2001, at the age of 83.12 As far as I can tell, they did not have any children.

Alice Stern and Siegfried Oppenheimer

I don’t have many documents for what happened to Alice and Siegfried Oppenheimer before they arrived in Palestine in late 1938. But as we saw in my last post, a letter written by Erich Stern, Siegfried Stern’s son, to his brother Gunther Stern in 1938 on November 13, 1938, revealed that Siegfried Oppenheimer was arrested in the aftermath of Kristallnacht just days before his family planned to travel to Palestine.

But eventually Siegfried and Alice and all five of their children made it to Palestine. Alice and Siegfried Oppenheimer arrived with three youngest of those children, and their two oldest children arrived separately around the same time.13 They all became naturalized citizens of Palestine in 1941.

I do not have death records for Alice or Siegfried, but the research of Cibella/Baron indicates that both died in Israel, Siegfried in 1959, Alice in 1986. All but one of their five children also lived the rest of their lives in Israel; the other child immigrated to the US after the war.

Thus, of the eight children of Clementine and Alice Stern, six ended up in Israel, two in the United States. Clementine, Alice, and Siegfried Oppenheimer have many descendants living in both countries. What Germany lost—e.g., a brilliant psychologist, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, and a photographer–were gifts to the countries that took them in.


  1. Erika and Paul Fromm, 1940 US census, Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 103-268, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Paul Fromm dies at 80; was Fromm week patron,” The Berkshire Eagle
    Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 07 Jul 1987, Tue • Page 12. “Paul Fromm, Philanthropist,” Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut, 06 Jul 1987, Mon • Page 128. Paul Fromm
    Social Security Number: 323-12-0163, Birth Date: 28 Sep 1906, Issue State: Illinois
    Last Residence: 60637, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jul 1987, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. “Erika Fromm, 93, Psychologist and Expert in Use in Hypnosis,” The New York Times, May 30, 2003, Section B, Page 9. 
  4.  Erika Fromm, Social Security Number: 340-32-7862, Birth Date: 23 Dec 1909
    Issue year: 1955-1956, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60637, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: 25 May 2003, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5. Erwin Oppenheimer, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/rxv8ox4 
  6. Martin Lederman and Gabriele Oppenheimer Schindel Lederman, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tbvdq97 
  7. See footnote 6. 
  8. Martin and Gabriele Lederman, ship manifest, Departure Date: 22 Jun 1949
    Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA,
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  9. Martin Lederman, Naturalization Date: 14 Feb 1955, Residence: New York, New York, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. Gabriele Lederman, Naturalization Date: 20 Dec 1954, Residence: New York, New York, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  11.  Martin Lederman, Social Security Number: 060-26-6446, Birth Date: 13 Apr 1904
    Death Date: 9 Jul 1991, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12.  Gabriele Lederman, Social Security Number: 121-54-6243, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1917, Death Date: 11 Jan 2001, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Siegfried and Alice Stern Oppenheimer, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, at https://tinyurl.com/r7k6qau 

Escaping from Germany, Part III: A Family Divided Across the World

The story of my cousin Siegfried Loewenthal is the story of how one family ended up separated and spread all over the world in order to escape Nazi Germany.

Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s younger son Siegfried and his wife Henriette Feuchtwanger had five children, as we have seen: Rosel (or Rosa) (1908), Albert (1909), Louise (1910), Grete (1913), and Lotte (1914).

Rosa Loewenthal married Justin Held in Frankfurt on August 24, 1928. Justin was born in Kulsheim, Germany on October 18, 1900.

Marriage record of Justin Held and Rosa Loewenthal, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903. Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Justin had two daughters born in Germany, one in 1929, one in 1930.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Siegfried and Henriette’s family began to disperse. First, their son Albert Loewenthal went to Palestine on March 26, 1934.1 I do not have a marriage record for Albert, but my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron report that he married Hilda Weingarten in Jerusalem on June 12, 1935. Hilda was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 10, 1911. I do know that they were married by the time they applied to become naturalized citizens of Palestine in April 1938, and they had a son born in Jerusalem in 1937.2 According to Cibella/Baron, Hilda died in Switzerland in 1954, Albert in 1995 in Jerusalem (after marrying two more times and having several more children).

Naturalization certificate for Albert and Hilda Loewenthal, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd584e

By 1939, the rest of Siegfried’s family had also left Germany. Siegfried and Henriette themselves arrived in Palestine on March 20, 1939, and became naturalized citizens in 1941.3 Unfortunately, Siegfried died just a year later in Tel Aviv on February 25, 1942. He was 62 years old and survived by his wife and all five of his children.4

Naturalization certificate of Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

And those children were all over the world by then. Rosa Loewenthal and Justin Held and their children left for England in 1939 and then immigrated to the United States in 1940.5 They ended up living in New York and becoming naturalized citizens.6 Justin died in 1980,7 Rosa in 1993.8

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/243J
Enumeration District: AKCZ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Louise Loewenthal had married Walter Meier Strauss in Basel, Switzerland. Walter was native to Frankfurt, where he was born on December 18, 1909.9 I was fortunate to find a long biography of Walter written by one of his grandsons and posted on the family genealogy website.  According to this document, Walter was employed by a woolen factory in Frankfurt when he was a teenager, and when he was in his early twenties or in the early 1930s, the company moved to Switzerland, and the owner asked Walter to come with them, which he did. By that time he had been dating Louise Loewenthal for seven years, and they soon married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. According to the grandson’s biography of Walter:

During the War, friends from home that were now in the concentration camps sent him letters about the atrocities that were going on in the War and specifically in the Camps. Trying to help, he established a group consisting of himself… and a few other men from Basel. The group would send very small care packages periodically to the people in the camps. The packages consisted of food such as salami, sardines, and any other small items that the people requested or needed and was small enough that it could be sent. Every sunday they would load up the packages in a car and drive all over Basel putting them in many different mailboxes, for if they were all dumped in one mailbox they would surely not arrive at the camps.

Thus, Louise and Walter were able to survive the Holocaust; Walter’s parents and brother were, however, murdered at Sobibor.10

In 1946, after the war ended, Louise and Walter Strauss and their two children immigrated to the US; Max Stern, husband of Louise’s first cousin Hilda, helped them get a visa. The ship manifest listed Justin Held, Louise’s brother-in-law married to her older sister Rosa, as the person they were going to in the US.11 They settled in New York where Walter once again got a job with a woolen factory. Walter died in 1990 while on a business trip in Switzerland and was buried in Israel.12 Louise died in New York on August 11, 2003; she was 92 and was survived by her two children and her grandchildren.13

Grete Loewenthal immigrated to Palestine, arriving on April 6, 1936. She became a naturalized citizen on November 29, 1938. She was working as an assistant pharmacist at the time and was unmarried.14

Cibella/Baron report that she married Fritz Altar in 1948, but I have no records to verify that fact. I did find two ship manifests, one outgoing from England, one arriving in New York, in May 1958, that list Grete and Fritz Altar, residents of Austria and working as hotel managers.15 The English manifest indicates that they were headed to the US as “the country of intended permanent residence.” But I have found no records showing that Grete and Fritz lived in the US. Fritz died in Vienna on January 30, 1993, and is buried there.16 Unsourced trees on Geni and MyHeritage report that Grete died on September 27, 1995, also in Vienna. I have no verification of that fact.

Lotte Loewenthal also had left Germany by 1939. She and her husband Erich Posen are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register showing residence in England by 1939. Erich was working as an optical goods salesman.

Lotte Loewenthal and Erich Posen, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/980H, Enumeration District: BXHY, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Unfortunately I have no marriage record for Lotte and Erich, but I know this is the correct person because after the war when she and Erich had their first child in January 1946, Lotte had serious complications and her mother Henriette had to get permission to leave Palestine to go to England for a few months to help Lotte with the new baby.16

Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

Lotte was not destined for a long life. She died at the age of 52 in 1967 in England, survived by her husband Erich and two children.17 Her mother also survived her; Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal died at the age of 93 in Israel, according to the work of Roger Cibella and David Baron.

Despite the lack of sources for some of the stories of Siegfried Loewenthal and his family, there is enough information to conclude that he, his wife, and all five of their children and their grandchildren escaped Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. In doing so, they ended up spread across three continents and three different countries.

There are always costs to these relocations and disruptions. Siegfried’s early death in 1942 certainly could have been just one of those costs.

Gravestone of Siegfried Loewenthal, photograph by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015, found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

Gravestone of Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal photo by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015 , found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

 

 


  1. Immigration and Naturalization File for Albert and Hilda (Weingarten) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/w33mluf 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/u3jsyyc 
  5. Rosa and Justin Held and family, passenger ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6459; Line: 16; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Name: Rosa Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 20 Nov 1947, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. Justin Held, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900, Age: 47, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. 
  7.  Justin Held, Social Security Number: 092-14-6607, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900
    Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Rose Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Death Date: Mar 1993, SSN: 095144557,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Walter Meier Strauss, Birth Date: 18 Dec 1909, Naturalization Date: 24 Mar 1952,
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. “My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Walter Meyer Strauss,” Jonathan Strauss, found at https://tinyurl.com/ttlo7rl 
  11. Walter and Louise Strauss and children, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7161; Line: 1; Page Number: 267, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See footnote 10. Walter M Strauss, Death Date: 15 Oct 1990, SSN: 065246257,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Louise Strauss, Death Date: 11 Aug 2003, SSN: 122285989, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. Immigration and Naturalization File for Grete Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/v5mxvs9 
  15. Fritz and Grete Altar, ship manifest, 15 May 1958, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA, Ship Name: Ryndam
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Grete and Fritz Altar, ship manifest, 24 May 1958, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Ship: Ryndam, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2990227; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4115; NARA Roll Number: 447, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  16. See multiple letters in Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  17. Lottie V Posen, Death Age: 52, Registration Date: Jul 1967, Registration district: Hampstead, Inferred County: Greater London, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 583, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

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. 

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. 

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