Lena Goldschmidt Basch, Wife, Mother, and Businesswoman: 1880-1890

With my last Goldsmith post, I finished the saga of Jacob Goldsmith and his fourteen children. Now I will turn to Jacob’s sister, Lena Goldschmidt Basch and her story.

We’ve already seen that Lena, who was born to my 4-times great-uncle Simon Goldschmidt and his first wife Eveline Katzenstein in Oberlistingen on April 17, 1828, immigrated to the US in the 1850s and married Gustavus Basch in 1856. They first lived in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, then in Pittsburgh, and finally by 1878 had relocated to Columbus, Ohio, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Lena and Gustavus had six children: Frank (1857), Jacob (1858), Hinda (1860), Joel (1863), Ella (1865), and Joseph (1867). According to the 1880 census, all of them except Jacob were then living with their parents in Columbus. Gustavus and his oldest son Frank were working in a vinegar factory; Lena and the other children were all at home. Jacob was living and working as a clerk for a hotel in Hamilton, Ohio, which is about a hundred miles southwest of Columbus.1

Gustavus Basch and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1016; Page: 201D; Enumeration District: 029, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

The Columbus directories in the 1880s, however, had me confused. The 1880 directory listed Gustavus as the agent for “L. Basch Vinegar Works” and residing at 308 e Friend; there were also separate listings for Frank and Joel residing at the same address and identified as “vinegar makers.” The 1881 directory did not list Gustavus at all, but listed Frank and Jacob and “L.Basch” as working for L. Basch & Sons in the rags, iron, and metal business. Those three were all still residing at 308 e Friend. Joel now was listed as a clerk for J. Goodman and residing at 268 e Friend. In 1882, Gustavus reappeared and is listed along with Frank and Jacob as working for L. Basch & Sons and now all residing at 153 e Sixth; there is also a listing for the mysterious L. Basch, also working for L.Basch & Sons and living at 152 e Sixth.2

1881 Columbus directory

1882 Columbus directory

So who was L.Basch? At first I thought it might be Gustavus’ father, whose name was Louis. But there is no listing in the 1880 census or any other census for an L. Basch who could have been Gustavus’ father. I don’t think he ever left Germany. Had Gustavus named the business in honor or memory of his father?

Or could the L stand for Lena? That certainly would have been unusual—to have a business named for a mother and her sons, especially since Gustavus was still alive and well.

The 1884 directory seemed to answer that question:

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1884
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

So “L. Basch” was Lena! How interesting that she was the one for whom this business was named, not her husband. In fact, in 1884, Gustavus isn’t even listed with the L. Basch & Sons business; Lena must have been the one in charge.

In 1886, Gustavus is back in the listings as G. Basch, junk dealer, and now the family is residing at 335 E. Rich.  Frank and Jacob were now working at L. Basch & Sons; Joel was working as a cutter, and Joseph was a salesman.

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1886
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

By 1888, things had changed a bit:

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1888
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Now Gustavus was associated with Levy Mendel & Co, as was “L[ena] Basch;” Frank and Jacob were still in the L.Basch & Sons junk business, and Joseph continued to work as a salesman. They all, as well as Hinda, were living at 407 E. Rich. Only Joel and Ella were not listed. Where were they?

Ella, the fifth of Gustavus and Lena’s six children, was the first to get married. She married Isadore Shatz on April 11, 1888, in Columbus. He was thirty, she was 22. Isadore was born on December 25, 1857, in Austria- Hungary,3 and immigrated to the US when he was six in 1863 with his parents David and Fannie Shatz.4 They settled in Cincinnati where David Shatz was working as a stone cutter in 1870.5 In 1880, Isadore was working as a clerk and living with his family in Cincinnati.6 The 1886 Cincinnati directory lists Isadore as a salesman, his father David as a foreman cutter.7

Ella Basch and Isadore Shatz, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

As for Joel, I could not find him in the Columbus directories after 1886, so I turned to the newspaper databases to see if I could locate him. From this ad in The Lima News of June 29, 1888 (p.4), I knew that Joel had moved to Lima, Ohio, where he was an “artist tailor” making men’s suits for $20. Twenty dollars—imagine that! Lima is approximately 90 miles from Columbus.

In fact, Joel had been in Lima for a while because this article from the January 17, 1888, Lima News (p. 4) revealed that Joel had suffered $2500 worth of smoke and water damage due to a fire at his store in Lima. Fortunately his losses were covered by insurance:

By 1889 Joel had apparently left Lima and was working in Findlay, Ohio, which is 34 miles from Lima and 92 miles from his family in Columbus. This article reports that one of Joel’s employees had embezzled $230 from Joel.

“John Werst Arrested, Pays and Is Let Off,” Lima (OH) News, August 15, 1889, p. 4

Was all this just bad luck, or was something else going on? I ask because of the next article from the February 6, 1890 Lima News (p. 4). Apparently Joel was a bit of a gambler, and after losing a considerable amount of money, his family shut down his Findlay store:

Given that ending to his Findlay business, I wondered whether the fire and reported embezzlement were also schemes engineered by Joel to cover gambling debts.

Looking at Gustavus’ work record beginning in 1860 raises some questions about his business acumen as well. In 1860, he was a clothing merchant in Connellsville. In 1870, he was working for H. Bier & Company, a brass foundry in Pittsburgh. In 1880, he was in Columbus working for a vinegar company. In the 1880s he worked for some of the time in L. Basch & Sons, a junk dealership run by his wife Lena, and then for Levy Mendel & Company, a cigar company.  There are some directories where he had no occupation listed. That is quite a list of businesses over a thirty year period with no real consistency in the industries in which he worked—clothing to brass to vinegar to junk to cigars. The fact that he also moved with his family several times also creates a sense of instability.

But once the family settled in Columbus in the 1880s, for the most part they stayed put. Maybe Gustavus was a renaissance business man, using his skills in numerous varied enterprises, and not a flighty man who couldn’t find his niche. It’s hard to know.

UPDATE on Rebecca Goldsmith Levy: I was able to obtain a copy of her death certificate from Colorado. Please see this post for more information.




  1. Jacob Basch, 1880 US census, Census Place: Hamilton, Butler, Ohio; Roll: 997; Page: 409B; Enumeration District: 036, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  2.  Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1880, 1881, 1882, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GPFX-SYCQ?cc=1307272&wc=MD9F-XTL%3A287601901%2C294657901 : 21 May 2014), 1915 > 57771-60750 > image 2547 of 3300. 
  4. Shatz, 1900 US census, Census Place: Findlay Ward 4, Hancock, Ohio; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0061; FHL microfilm: 1241283, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Shatz, 1870 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 1, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: M593_1209; Page: 99A; Family History Library Film: 552708, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  6. Shatz, 1880 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: 1028; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 166, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio, City Directory, 1886, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 

How Felix Goldsmith’s Children Honored His Difficult Life

The story of Felix Goldsmith’s life after 1900 is a sad one. In searching for articles about him, I first found two articles that suggested he was doing very well. He had left Denver by 1908 and moved with his wife Fanny and two children Clarence and Ethel to Cincinnati, where Fanny’s family lived and where she’d been born and raised. It looked like Felix was investing in real estate for a new business:

“Real Estate and Building,” The Cincinnati Inquirer, June 14, 1908, p. 7

A second article two days later also portrayed Felix as a successful entrepreneur:

“Hard Times A Joke to Man Who Plugs On,” Cincinnati Post, June 16, 1908, p. 10

“Greater Cincinnati is assured, for the business men stick till they get through with a thing.”

This is Felix S. Goldsmith’s verdict. He is one of the younger men who are shoving the Queen City to the front.

Hard times? Not for him. He wasn’t a bit bluffed upon getting out of a hospital from a long siege of sickness just when the calamity howlers were busy. He plunged in, organized the Freericks Hot Water System Co. and demonstrated that HARD TIMES was a joke in Cincinnati.

Goldsmith will hire over 300 extra men in a few days.

Goldsmith is also largely interested in the real estate movement. He is President of the Fernbank Real Estate Co. For several years prior to his removal to Cincinnati he was one of the high-ranking engineers of the Colorado district.   

He is self-made.

The only hint of trouble here is the reference to “a long siege of illness” and hospitalization. But a month later the rest of the story began to come to light, as seen in this article from the Denver Post on July 27, 1908:

“Arrest Denverite Because Checks Came Back,” Denver Post, July 27, 1908, p. 4

Felix S. Goldsmith, former Denver mining promoter, who for the past year has conducted an office in this city, and who is interested in exploiting a new morning newspaper here, to be called the Morning Mail, was arrested late last night on the charge of passing worthless checks on the Idaho Springs National bank of Colorado.

Half a dozen merchants who hold checks marked “No funds,” made complaint against him. Goldsmith claims the checks were among those sent him by T.S. Richards of Denver, who, he says, is interested with him in vast mining properties there, and has an office in the First National Bank building. The drafts, he says, were first made out on the Idaho Springs bank, and deposited in the Continental National bank of Denver.

Goldsmith says he has been suffering from nervous prostration for three years, and that relatives in Denver tried in vain to have him adjudged insane. The police have been trying to get in touch with relatives, but he refuses to give any definite information concerning their residence. He had, up to late tonight, been unable to get any one to furnish bail for his release.

The Cincinnati Enquirer of July 27, 1908 revealed more of the background to Felix’s troubles:

“Goldsmith—Was Patient at City Hospital, Lavishing Flowers, Candy, and Fruit on Nurses,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 27, 1908, p. 10.

With the arrest of Felix Goldsmith at the instance of W.C. Seekatz, manager of the Florsheim Shoe Company, an avalanche of flowers and candy will cease at the City Hospital. As late as last November Goldsmith was a patient at that institution, an inmate for the neurological ward.

He was admitted to the hospital September 26, 1907, from the Rand Hotel and placed on the service of Dr. Herman Hopps, the alienist. At that time Goldsmith showed such decided symptoms of paranoia, having hallucinations of wealth and grandeur, that the physicians decided to probate him.

In some way Goldsmith got wind of this and demanded his discharge, which he received on November 28. While in the ward Goldsmith formed a strange friendship with Al Milton, also a neurological patient, which after his liberation he showed in many ways. Only last we andek Milton received a check from him for $2, with a letter stating that in a few days he would make him comfortable for life. To the nurses who waited off him and others with whom he became acquainted during his sojourn at the hospital Goldsmith was most lavishly generous. Scarcely a day passed when they were not to be the recipients of boxes of flowers and candy and baskets of fruit. These were always accompanied with his card, without an address, which prevented the return of these unwelcome presents.

Four days later, the paper reported that Felix had been committed to a psychiatric hospital at his wife’s request:

“Longview—Felix S. Goldsmith, Promoter of a Newspaper, Is Committed at His Wife’s Request,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 31, 1908, p. 10

Felix S. Goldsmith, erstwhile promoter of newspapers and other big enterprises, as well as alleged layer of protested checks, was committed to Longview by Drs. David and Kendig, the Probate Court examining physicians, yesterday. Goldsmith was before the Court on a lunacy warrant sworn to by his wife, Fannie Goldsmith, of 3004 Stanton avenue, who was later named as his guardian by the Probate Court.

Goldsmith is 49 years of age, and has one son, Clarence, aged 19. The certificate of the physicians states that he is irritable and quarrelsome and hard to control; that he has a suicidal mania and carried a revolver, and that he has ideas of great wealth and believes that he is being persecuted. To the physicians he stated that he is a promoter, and that he is running a newspaper, and that he has friends who are ready to advance him large sums to promote various businesses. The cause of his mental trouble is attributed to worry over his business ventures. Attorney Frank Heinsheimer represented the wife in her action.

On Sunday, May 17, Goldsmith had a sensational encounter with his brother-in-law, Albert S. Rosenthal, in Avondale, and the next day Rosenthal secured a lunacy warrant for him. Goldsmith evaded arrest on the warrant for a few days, and then gave himself up, declaring that he could easily prove his sanity. However, the warrant was never pressed and no inquiry was had at that time. The warrant, which was never withdrawn, was destroyed yesterday when Mrs. Goldsmith made the affidavit for her husband’s arrest.

Within the past week or two Goldsmith had given a number of checks which the recipients were trying to have him take up, and as the result of one of these he was arrested. Then the lunacy warrant was secured. Goldsmith promoted a new newspaper to be known as the Morning Mail, but further incorporating nothing seems to have been done.

This whole story is incredibly sad. Felix obviously had had some kind of psychotic break. The antiquated terminology like “lunacy” and the newspaper coverage seem so stigmatizing. Today one hopes that there is a better understanding of a psychosis like that suffered by Felix.

I could not find Felix on the 1910 census; I assume that he was still institutionalized. Felix’s wife Fannie and children Clarence and Ethel continued to live in Cincinnati. In 1910, they were living with Fannie’s sister Hannah Wachtel and her children. Fannie was working as a bookkeeper in a wholesale clothing store.

Fannie Rosenthal Goldsmith and children, 1910 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 3, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: T624_1189; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0043; FHL microfilm: 1375202, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

The next record I have for Felix is his death certificate. Felix died from a cerebral hemorrhage on January 18, 1919. He was 59 years old:

Kentucky Death Records, 1911-1965,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N984-S31 : 2 January 2019), Felix Goldsmith, 1919; citing Death, Lakeland, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States, certificate , Office of Vital Statistics, Frankfort; FHL microfilm 1,952,863.

He died in Central State Hospital in Lakeland, Kentucky. The doctor who signed the death certificate attested that Felix had been under his care since August 2, 1916, and the certificate also revealed that Felix had been in this hospital for seven years, ten months, and two days, or since November 16, 1911. This hospital still exists as an adult psychiatric hospital and was formerly known as the Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. How terribly sad that Felix had to spend so many years institutionalized.

His wife Fannie did not remarry. In 1920 she was living with her two grown children in Cincinnati. Clarence, now thirty, was a traveling salesman for a glassware company, and Ethel, 24, was a psychologist in juvenile court.1

On September 7, 1928, Ethel married Harry Muegel in Cincinnati. Harry was the son of Peter Muegel and Elizabeth Plaspohl and was born on December 12, 1895, in Cincinnati.  He was a student at the time of their marriage, and Ethel was a psychologist.

Marriage record for Ethel Goldsmith and Harry Muegel, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

In 1930, Fannie, Clarence, Ethel and Harry were living together in Silverton, Ohio. Ethel continued to work as a psychologist. Her husband Harry was a public school teacher. Clarence was also working in juvenile court now—as a probation office.2 According to this article, Clarence was the Assistant Chief Probation Office in charge of the Boys’ Delinquency Department of Juvenile Court and was “regarded as a state authority in his field.”

I find it fascinating that both Ethel and her brother Clarence ended up working with children in trouble. I have to wonder whether their father’s experience with mental illness influenced their career choices.

In April 1931, Clarence was engaged to Leona Rosenbaum. She was the daughter of David Rosenbaum and Lydia Miller and was born in Baltimore on September 5, 1900. Her father owned a drugstore, and in 1930 Leona was working as a teacher in a parochial school and living with her parents in Cincinnati.3 Although I was able to find the engagement announcement in the newspaper, I could not locate a marriage record or announcement, but I did find references to Mrs. Leona Goldsmith and Mrs. Clarence Goldsmith  in the Cincinnati papers starting in 1932, so they must have married by then. An article in the July 2, 1936, Cincinnati Enquirer (p. 12) referred to Clarence as the assistant chief engineer of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, indicating that he had left his juvenile court position for work in the insurance industry.

Things thus seemed to be going well for Felix Goldsmith’s family as of 1936; his children were both married, and both had meaningful careers. But then tragedy struck twice in one month. On May 1, Felix’s widow Fannie Rosenthal Goldsmith died from chronic nephritis and hypertension; she was 74.

Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GP2P-9VMD?cc=1307272&wc=MD9X-FNL%3A287599101%2C294427301 : 21 May 2014), 1937 > 29701-32800 > image 2781 of 3325.

Just two weeks later, Ethel Goldsmith Muegel, Felix and Fannie’s 42 year old daughter, died suddenly on May 15, 1937, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, according to her obituary, she had gone to recuperate from a “physical breakdown suffered when working for the Red Cross during the flood in Cincinnati.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 May 1937, Mon, Page 9

According to the Ohio History Central website, “In 1937, southern Ohio faced one of the worst floods in its history. The flood was particularly difficult for the city of Cincinnati, where flood levels reached almost eighty feet. Communities along the Ohio River in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois also faced serious problems. As the flood waters rose, gas tanks exploded and oil fires erupted on the river. Parts of Cincinnati remained under water for nineteen days, and electricity and fresh water were in short supply. Many people lost their homes as a result of the flood. The Ohio River Flood of 1937 caused more than twenty million dollars in damages.”

Ethel Goldsmith Muegel had sacrificed her health and ultimately her life to help those in need.

Cincinnati flood, 1937, Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clarence Goldsmith had lost his mother and his younger sister in the space of two weeks. That seems unimaginable.

In 1940, Clarence and his wife Leona were living in Cincinnati where he was working as an insurance agent.4 Sadly, Clarence died six years later on January 29, 1946, at the age of 56.

“Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XCRQ-4PD?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-FWP%3A287602801%2C289221002 : 21 May 2014), 1946 > 03001-06100 > image 558 of 3479.

According to his obituary, he died from a heart ailment. His obituary also stated that as well as working as an insurance agent, he was the president of the Big Brothers Association and former assistant chief probation officer in Juvenile Court and that he had given “his time and experience to help boys from undesirable home environments to develop into fine men and valuable citizens.”5 The obituary continued:

He and fellow “big brothers” took such unfortunate juveniles under their wing, befriending them and offering moral help. Mr. Goldsmith had received letters from servicemen all over the world thanking him for giving them a new slant on life.

Clarence Goldsmith, The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 30, 1946, p. 8.

Neither Clarence nor Ethel had children, so there are no descendants of Felix Goldsmith or his children. All three died before reaching age sixty. Felix certainly struggled in his life, dealing with psychiatric issues that caused him to be institutionalized, leaving his wife Fannie and his two children to go on without him.  His children found ways to help other children who also might have endured difficult issues at home—Ethel as a psychologist in juvenile court, Clarence as a probation officer and then as a volunteer with Big Brothers.  What a noble way to honor their father’s memory. I hope by telling their story I have honored theirs as well.


  1. Fannie Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 13, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: T625_1391; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 236, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Goldsmith, Muegel, 1930 US census, Census Place: Silverton, Hamilton, Ohio; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0317; FHL microfilm: 2341552, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. David Rosenbaum and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Page: 23B; Enumeration District: 0147; FHL microfilm: 2341545,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census; Number: 285-26-7672; Issue State: Ohio; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014  
  4. Clarence Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03194; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 91-208, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. “Clarence Goldsmith,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 30, 1946, p. 8. 

Simon Goldsmith: His Legacy—German Criminal, American Patriarch

In the last post we saw how a number of Jacob Goldsmith’s children left Pennsylvania when they reached adulthood. But Jacob Goldsmith’s children weren’t the only descendants of Simon Goldsmith who moved from Pennsylvania in the 1870s.

By 1878, Simon’s daughter Lena and her husband Gustavus Basch and children had moved to Columbus, Ohio.1 According to directories and the 1880 census, Gustavus was now in the vinegar manufacturing business, and his oldest son Frank, now 22, was working with him in the business. I assume it must have been this business opportunity that drew them to Columbus. In 1880, Lena and Gustavus’ four other children—Joseph, Joel, Hinda, and Ella—were also living with their parents. The only child who was not still living at home was their son Jacob, who was living in Hamilton, Ohio, and working as a hotel clerk. Hamilton is about 100 miles southwest of Columbus.2

Gustavus Basch and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1016; Page: 201D; Enumeration District: 029
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s two youngest children, my double cousins Henry and Hannah, they were busy having children during the 1870s and 1880s. Henry and his wife Sarah Jaffa continued to live in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where Henry was a clothing merchant. In addition to their first child, Jacob W. Goldsmith, who was born in 1871, Sarah gave birth to four more children between 1873 and 1880: Benjamin (1873),3 Milton (1877),4 Samuel (1879),5 Edison (1880).6 Five more would come between 1881 and 1889: Walter (1881),7 Florence (1883),8 Albert (1884),9 Oliver (1887),10 and Helen (1889).11 In total, Henry and Sarah had ten children. All were born in Connellsville.

Henry Goldsmith and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1129; Page: 93D; Enumeration District: 035
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

Hannah and her husband Joseph Benedict stayed in Pittsburgh where Joseph is listed on the 1880 census as a rag dealer. Hannah gave birth to her third son, Centennial Harry Benedict, on September 24, 1876, in Pittsburgh.12 In most records he is referred to as either C. Harry or Harry; I assume the Centennial was in honor of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in the year he was born.

The 1880 census lists not only Hannah and Joseph and their three sons in the household, but also Hannah’s father Simon, and three of Hannah’s nephews: Lena’s son Jacob Basch and Henry’s sons Jacob and Benjamin Goldsmith. Since all three are also listed elsewhere on the 1880 census, I wonder whether these three were just visiting their relatives in Pittsburgh when the census was taken.

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

On March 17, 1883, at the age of 88 or so, Simon Goldsmith died in Pittsburgh; his death record states that he died of old age.

Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZ7D-M2S : 11 March 2018), Simon Goldsmith, 17 Mar 1883; citing v 33 p 550, Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh; FHL microfilm 505,832.

What an interesting, challenging, and rich life Simon had. He was born Simon Goldschmidt, the youngest child of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann in Oberlistingen. He had five children with his first wife Eveline Katzenstein, two of whom died as infants. He had spent time in prison for burglary, but his marriage and his family stayed together. After Eveline died in 1840, he had married a second time, his second wife being Fradchen Schoenthal. He and Fradchen immigrated to the US in 1845, a year after their marriage, and together they had two more children born in the US. Then Simon lost his second wife Fradchen in 1850. He also lost another child, his daughter Eva, sometime after 1862.

But Simon soldiered on, living first with his son Jacob in Washington and later with his daughter Hannah in Pittsburgh. He saw twenty-eight grandchildren born before he died, and five more were born after he died. In addition, he lived to see the births of eight great-grandchildren, and many more were born after his death. When he died, his children and grandchildren were spread from Philadelphia to California, pursuing and living the American dream. He must have looked at his family with amazement—that this man who had gotten himself in trouble with the law back home in Germany had somehow been able to start over in the US and create a huge legacy for himself and his family. Despite his struggles and his losses, he must have been grateful for all that he did have.

What would happen to Simon’s four surviving children and all those grandchildren and great-grandchildren? More in the posts to follow.



  1. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1878, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1878, 1879, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Benjamin Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  4. Milton Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1908756; Draft Board: 08, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  5. Samuel Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  6. Edison Goldsmith, 1880 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1129; Page: 93D; Enumeration District: 035, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census (three days old) 
  7. Walter Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  8. Florence Goldsmith, 1912 Passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  9. Gravestone at https://billiongraves.com/grave/person/12971467#= 
  10. Oliver Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  11. Helen Goldsmith, 1912 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  12. Centennial Harry Goldsmith, Yearbook Title: Cornell Class Book, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: Cornell Class Book; Year: 1897, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990;  C. Harry Goldsmith, 1921 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1788; Volume #: Roll 1788 – Certificates: 102000-102375, 02 Dec 1921-03 Dec 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 

The Morreau Family Discovered, With the Help of Many: Part I

As I wrote in my last post, it took the combined efforts of many people to put together the full picture of my Morreau cousins.  Without Wolfgang and the handwritten trees, Shyanne, Michael Phillips, Paul, Dorothee, and Friedemann Hofmann, I never would have been able to find all the names and dates. Dorothee provided the final and essential link to Friedemann Hofmann, who sent me images of the actual records and of the gravestones of the Morreau family, helping me to corroborate the factual assertions I’d seen on secondary sources. Many of the records and images in this post came from Friedemann. Thank you all again for your help!

The records establish that my four times-great-aunt Caroline Seligmann (1802-1876), sister of Moritz Seligmann and daughter of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer, was married to Moses Morreau, son of Maximilian Morreau and Janette Nathan, on October 8, 1830.

Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau October 8, 1930
Wörrstadt Marriage Record, 1830-10

P. 2 of Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau

Moses was born in Wörrstadt, Germany, on June 28, 1804.

Moses Morreau birth record, June 28, 1804
Wörrstadt birth records, 1804-34

Moses and Caroline settled in Wörrstadt, which is less than twelve miles from Gau-Algesheim where Caroline’s parents lived.


Moses and Caroline had two children, both of whom were born in Wörrstadt: Levi (Leopold), who was born September 25, 1831, and Klara, who was born July 9, 1838. This post will focus on Levi and his descendants; the one to follow will focus on Klara and her family.

Birth record of Levi Morreau
September 23, 1831
Wörrstadt birth records 1831-39

Levi married Emelia Levi. Emelia’s death record reveals that she was born in Alsheim, Germany, in 1836. Levi and Emelia had five children, all born in Wörrstadt where Levi was a merchant: Markus (1859), Albert (1861), Adolf (1863), Barbara (1867), and Camilla Alice (1874).

Markus Morreau birth record, August 27, 1859
 Wörrstadt birth records, 1859-36

Albert Morreau birth record, Aug 18, 1861
Wörrstadt birth records 1861-51

Adolf Morreau birth record, May 15 1863
Wörrstadt birth records 1863-21

Barbara Morreau birth record, April 11 1867
 Wörrstadt birth records 1867-27

Camilla Alice Morreau birth record, July 14 1874
Wörrstadt birth records 1874-39

Adolf died when he was nine years old in 1872.

Adolf Morreau death record, June 16, 1872
Wörrstadt death records 1872-29

Adolf Morreau gravestone

Levi’s mother Caroline Seligmann Morreau died in 1876, and his father Moses Morreau died the following year, both in Wörrstadt. Caroline was 74 when she died, and Moses was 72.

Caroline Seligmann Morreau death record, April 7, 1876
Wörrstadt death records 1876-13

Moses Morreau death record, March 9, 1877
Wörrstadt death records 1877-10

Carolina Seligmann Morreau gravestone

Moses Morreau gravestone

After their grandparents died, both Markus and Albert Morreau left Germany. By 1881, Markus Morreau, the oldest child of Levi and Emelia and oldest grandchild of Caroline and Moses Morreau, had moved to Withington, England, where he was living as a lodger. Markus became a naturalized citizen of England in 1892:

UK Naturalization Certificate for Markus Morreau
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 19

By 1902, Markus married Alice Frederique Weinmann, who was born in 1880. They had three children: Rene (1902), Cecil (1905), and Madeline (1908). (England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915.)

Markus’ brother Albert also left Germany as a young man.  According to the biography of Albert Morreau in A History of Cleveland, Ohio: Biographical (S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910) by Samuel Peter Orth, after Albert finished school, he went to Frankfurt, where he worked as an apprentice for five years in a dry goods store. He then went to England, where he worked as an assistant correspondent in an export house. After two more years, he left for America and settled in Cleveland, where he worked as stock clerk and salesman for Landesman, Hirschheimer & Company for five years.

After being in the US for five years, Albert started his own business manufacturing gas lighting fixtures in 1887. In 1893, he married Lea Nora Heller in Cleveland, Ohio.

Marriage record of Albert Morreau and Leanora Heller
Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 38-39; Page: 352; Year Range: 1892 Feb – 1893 Jul

Leanora, as I’ve written before, was born in Ohio in 1867. Her parents were also American born. Albert and Leanora had two sons, Myron (1895) and Lee (1898).

Meanwhile, Albert’s company, Morreau Gas Fixture Manufacturing, was expanding. It grew from a small three-person operation in 1887 to a company that employed over 150 people by 1910; the company was selling its products throughout the United States and was one of the largest businesses in Cleveland, according to Orth. The company did its own product design and had “a reputation for great excellence.” Orth, p. 844. Thus, Albert Morreau found great success in Cleveland.

Albert Morreau and Leanora Heller Morreau 1915  United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJP-423K : 4 September 2015), Albert Morreau, 1915; citing Passport Application, Ohio, United States, source certificate #49162, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, 234, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,514,173.

As for Albert’s two sisters back in Germany, Barbara/Bertha (generally known as Bertha) married Isidor Aschaffenburg in Wörrstadt on July 29, 1886.  She was nineteen, and he was 36. Isidor was a merchant and was born in Albersweiler, Germany, the son of Rabbi Hertz Aschaffenburg and Nanette Mayer, on December 4, 1849. Isidor and his parents were living in Cologne at the time of the marriage, and Bertha soon relocated to Cologne with her new husband.

Marriage record of Barbara Morreau and Isidor Aschaffenburg, July 29, 1886
Wörrstadt marriage records, 1886-16

Isidor and Bertha had two sons born in Cologne: Paul, who died before he was a year old while visiting Bertha’s parents in Wörrstadt, and Ernst, who was born July 15, 1890.

Death record and gravestone for Paul Aschaffenburg, July 27, 1889
Wörrstadt death records 1889-31

Sometime before 1897, Levi Morreau and his wife Emilia and their daughter Camilla Alice (generally known later as Alice) moved to Monchengladbach.  Monchengladbach is located north of Cologne and is about 140 miles from Wörrstadt. Since Bertha and Isidor were living in Cologne, I assume that Levi, Emilia, and Alice moved there to be closer to their daughter and surviving grandson sometime after their grandson Paul died in Wörrstadt in 1888.

Levi Morreau died in Mochengladbach on July 12, 1897:

Levi Morreau death record
Ancestry.com. Mönchengladbach, Germany, Death Records, 1798-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

On March 31, 1898, eight months after her father’s death, Alice, the youngest child of Levi and Emilia Morreau, married Otto Mastbaum, a doctor, in Monchengladbach.  Alice was 23, and Otto was 31.  Otto was born in Cologne on May 16, 1866, the son of David and Helene Mastbaum. Alice and Otto did not have children.

Marriage record of Alice Morreau and Otto Mastbaum
Ancestry.com. Mönchengladbach, Germany, Marriages, 1798-1933 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

Emilia Levi Morreau died on July 5, 1913, in Monchengladbach; she was 77 years old.

Death record for Emilia Levi Morreau
Ancestry.com. Mönchengladbach, Germany, Death Records, 1798-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

Sadly, both Bertha and Alice were widowed at relatively young ages. Otto Mastbaum, Alice’s husband, died in 1919, according to sources in Cologne; he was fifty-three, and Alice was only 45. Bertha’s husband Isidor Aschaffenburg died on May 26, 1920; he was seventy, and Bertha was 53.

In addition, Bertha and Alice’s older brother Markus died in England on March 6, 1920, when he was only sixty years old. (England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2006 on Ancestry.com)

Alice and Bertha remained in Monchengladbach, Germany. They traveled together to the US on the SS Albert Ballen in April, 1924, to visit their brother Albert in Cleveland.

Bertha and Alice listed on ship manifest
Year: 1924; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3482; Line: 1; Page Number: 6

Apparently they also visited in 1925 and toured much of the United States.

Alice visited Albert again in 1932:

Year: 1932; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5213; Line: 1; Page Number: 10

Albert died the following year on June 11, 1933; he was 71.

Albert Morreau obituary

His son Myron died just three years later on April 16, 1936. He was only 41 years old and had not married.

Myron’s first cousin Cecil Morreau, the son of Markus Morreau and Alice Weinmann, also died young; he died in England on March 2, 1939, just a month before his 34th birthday.

Burial record of Cecil Morreau
Ancestry.com. Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1987 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: Anglican Parish Registers. Woking, Surrey, England: Surrey History Centre

Sometime after 1935 and before 1939, both Alice and Bertha as well as Bertha’s son Ernst Aschaffenburg escaped from Nazi Germany and moved to England. Bertha died not long after in December 1939; her son Ernst died on May 16, 1943; he was 53 years old. Alice died four years later on September 15, 1947; she was 73. (England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2006 on Ancestry.com)

Thus, by 1947, all of the children of Levi Morreau and Emilia Levi had died as had four of their seven grandchildren. Only three grandchildren remained: Rene Morreau and Madeline Morreau, the surviving children of Markus Morreau and Alice Weinmann, and Lee Heller Morreau, the surviving son of Albert Morreau and Leanora Heller.

Lee died in 1962 when he was 63.

The only grandchildren of Levi Morreau and Emilia Levi who lived past seventy were Rene, who died in 1982 a few months shy of his 80th birthday, and Madeline, who somehow beat the odds in her family and lived to 88, dying in 1996.

Fortunately, despite the fact that so many of Levi Morreau and Emilia Levi’s grandchildren died at relatively young ages, there are living descendants. One of them is my cousin Shyanne, whose comment and research started me on this journey to learn about my Morreau relatives.

The next post will be about Klara Morreau, the daughter of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau.