A Jaffa Family Postcard

I’ve been posting some of the family photographs that my cousin Marilyn, the granddaughter of Helen Goldsmith and great-granddaughter of Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa, shared with me. In the last post we saw a number of photographs of Helen as a young woman. She also appears in this photograph, sitting at the bottom left of the photograph. Marilyn could not identify the other people in this picture.

But the inscription on the back of the photograph left plenty of clues as to the identities of the other people in the photograph, and I was able to identify almost all of them after some research and analysis.

Ronie Jaffa, who signed and labeled the photo, was the son of Henry Jaffa, who was Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s brother.1 Most of the people in the photo are Jaffas, some of whom are also related to me through their marriages to Goldsmith relatives. Fortunately, that meant that many of the Jaffas were already on my family tree, making the task of identification easier than it otherwise would have been.

Ronie refers to the man second from the left in the top row as “Papa,” so I thought this must be his father, Henry Naphtali Jaffa. Henry died in January 1901,2 so that would have meant that the photo was taken before that time. But as you will see below, I later revised my thinking on the identity of “Papa” and the date of the photograph.

The first person in the top row is labeled Helen J. I assume the J stands for Jaffa, so that must be Solomon Jaffa’s daughter, Helen. Solomon is sitting right in front of her in the photo. He was Henry Jaffa and Sarah Jaffa’s brother. Solomon was also married to a Goldsmith—Leonora.  Leonora was the daughter of Simon Goldsmith’s son Jacob—i.e., Henry Goldsmith’s brother. Leonora lived to 1911, but she does not appear to be in the photo.

Next to Sol in the middle row is Ida Jaffa Mansbach. She was Samuel Jaffa’s daughter. Samuel was also a brother to Henry, Sarah, and Sol.  Ida also married someone from the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family. Her husband was Meyer Mansbach, son of Abraham Mansbach and Sarah Goldschmidt.  Sarah was my 3x-great-aunt. She was the daughter of Seligmann Goldschmidt, my 3x-great-grandfather.

Two of Ida and Meyer’s children are in the photo. In the top row next to Solomon, Ronie labeled the young boy as “Ida’s boy.”  That must be Arthur Mansbach, who was born in 1896. Skipping to the bottom row, Ronie labeled the little girl on his lap as “Ida’s girl,” so that has to be Edith Mansbach. but she wasn’t born until December 1901. That means the photo must have been taken more like 1908 because Edith looks around six or seven to me and Arthur looks about ten or eleven.  Also, Helen Goldsmith at bottom left looks older than she did in the 1904 photo seen in the last post. So 1908 seems a likely guesstimate for the date of the photograph or perhaps a year or so earlier.

That means that the photo had to have been taken after Henry Jaffa died in 1901 and thus “Papa” could not be Henry. So who was “Papa” to Ronie Jaffa if not his father Henry? My best guess is it’s Samuel Jaffa, who died in 1909.3 Perhaps Ronie was labeling the photograph for Ida and her two children, who may have called their grandfather Samuel “Papa.”

Returning to the top row, Aunt Malchia was probably Samuel Jaffa’s wife Amelia.  Malchia or Malchen was a German name that often was changed to Amalia or Amelia in the US.  She would have been Ronie’s aunt, so that makes sense. That also bolsters the conclusion that “Papa” was Samuel Jaffa since Malchia is sitting right near him with her grandson in between.

The person next to Aunt Malchia is labeled Bertha, and I have no idea who that could be.

Now down to the middle row. Next to Ida is a man Ronie labeled as Hirsch Katz. He’s also labeled “Lena’s brother.”  So I looked for a Lena Katz in my family tree and found a Lena Katz who was the daughter of Juetel Jaffa, the oldest of the Jaffa siblings—sister to Henry, Solomon, Samuel, and Sarah. Juetel never left Germany. She married Mendel Katz. Their daughter Lena came to the US in the 1880s and lived with Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa and their children. After more research I was able to confirm that Hirsch Katz was also a son of Juetel and Mendel and also therefore a Jaffa cousin.4

That leaves us just the bottom row. We have Helen Goldsmith, then Ronie Jaffa himself, and then Florence Goldsmith. As for the man with his arm around Florence’s neck, I’ve no idea. Florence wasn’t yet married, so perhaps this was some beau. Since Ronie didn’t label him, maybe he wasn’t really a part of the family.

Thus, to recap, here is a key to the people in the photograph based on my analysis:

Top row: Florence Jaffa (daughter of Solomon Jaffa), Samuel Jaffa, Arthur Mansbach (Ida Jaffa Mansbach’s son), Amelia Sommers Jaffa (Samuel’s wife), “Bertha”

Middle row: Solomon Jaffa, Ida Jaffa Mansbach (Samuel’s daughter), Hirsch Katz (son of Jutel Jaffa)

Bottom row: Helen Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), Ronie Jaffa (Henry Jaffa’s son), Florence Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), and unknown man

Sadly, Ronie Jaffa, who left behind this wonderful key to the people in this photograph, died as a young man.  He was one of the milions of people who died from the flu epidemic. He died on January 28, 1919, at the age of 34.

Albuquerque Journal, January 30, 1919. p. 2

  1. Henry Jaffa and family, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Schedules of the New Mexico Territory Census of 1885; Series: M846; Roll: 1, Ancestry.com. New Mexico, Territorial Census, 1885 
  2. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/160599822 
  3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79951582 
  4. Hirsch Katz birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907; Laufende Nummer: 442, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901; Hirsch Jaffa Katz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561842; Draft Board: 6, Description
    Draft Card: K, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. 

Photographs of Helen Goldsmith: From Toddler to Young Woman

In this post I will share some more of the photographs that I received from my cousin Marilyn of Helen Goldsmith and her family. This post will focus on Helen herself—her childhood and early adulthood.

Marilyn believes that the little girl in the center of this photo is Helen. Helen was born in December 1889 and looks about two in this photograph, at most three, so this photo was taken somewhere around 1892. Comparing this photographs to later photographs that we know are of Helen, I agree with Marilyn that this is Helen in the center here.

Florence Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith, and Oliver Goldsmith, c. 1892. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Thank you to Peter Klopp of The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project for editing this photo to correct the flaw that marred Florence’s hair!


She is surrounded by two children who are most likely her siblings.  I believe that the little boy on the right is her brother Oliver, who was born April 17, 1887, so he would have been about five in 1892. Oliver became a lawyer, as we saw here. On the left would likely be Helen’s sister Florence, born May 19, 1883, and thus about nine when this photograph was taken. Florence became a musician, music teacher, and composer, as we saw here.

One other reason I think this photograph was taken in 1892 is that it does not include Helen’s brother Albert Goldsmith, who died from spinal meningitis on June 4, 1891, at the age of six.

The next photograph chronologically is this one of Helen Goldsmith and her older brother Walter, as labeled by Helen herself as seen on the reverse.

Helen Goldsmith and Walter Goldsmith, c. 1904. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Helen’s note on the reverse was written on October 28, 1972, stating she was at that time 82 years old. But then she wrote she would be 83 on December 17, 1973; in fact, she would have turned 83 on December 17, 1972, just two months after labeling the photograph. Helen believed she was 14 or 15 when the photograph was taken, dating it around 1904. Walter, who was born in December 7, 1881, and thus was eight years older than Helen, would have been about 22 in this photograph. Walter would become a dentist, as we saw here and here.

The next photograph is of Helen alone:

Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

It also had a note on the reverse:

There is unfortunately no date nor is there any information revealing the name of the person to whom Helen wrote the note. It appears to be an exchange between two young women discussing some young men they were interested in. Helen asked the recipient for the address of an “Aunt Lena,” so presumably she was writing to a relative, perhaps even her sister Florence or one of her many cousins.

I first assumed that “Aunt Lena” was Lena Katz, Sarah Jaffa’s niece, the daughter of her sister Jutel Jaffa. But by 1900 Lena Katz was living with Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa, so why would Helen need her address unless Lena had taken a trip somewhere? Another possibility was Lena Goldsmith Basch, Henry’s sister and thus truly Helen’s aunt. She died in 1906 in Columbus, Ohio, so that would mean the photograph was taken before that time. Helen would have been 17 or younger, and that seems possible from this photograph.

The next two photographs of Helen have no note on the back nor are they dated. This one appears to have been taken about the same time as the one above:

Helen Goldsmith and unidentified man. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In this one Helen is posing with an unidentified man, and Marilyn did not know who he might be. Helen appears to be about the same age in this photograph as she was in the one above—same hairstyle, same style of dress.  So who is the man with her? It’s not her husband Edwin, but it could be one of her many older brothers or even her father Henry.

This next photograph of Helen appears to have been taken when she was somewhat older, although Helen’s hair and clothing are still similar to that in the prior two photographs. It’s just something in her expression that makes me think it was a few years later. What do you think?

Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

There is one more photograph of Helen taken in the years before she married in 1914. But that one requires some extended discussion so I will save it for the next post.

A Mystery Photo

In August, I received a wonderful collection of photographs from my cousin Marilyn, the great-granddaughter of Henry Goldsmith and the granddaughter of Helen Goldsmith; I’ve written about Henry and about Helen in several places, including here, here, here, and here. Marilyn and I are both the four-times great-granddaughters of Fradchen Schoenthal. We are also both descendants of Jacob Falke Goldschmidt, the father of my three-times great-grandfather, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Marilyn’s great-great-grandfather Simon Goldsmith.

The next set of posts will feature the photographs Marilyn sent, most of which are of her grandmother Helen and some of Helen’s siblings and of Helen’s sons Edgar and Malcolm and their children. Some of these photographs were labeled, some were not. And even where labeled, sometimes those labels left more questions. All of these photographs are posted courtesy of my cousin Marilyn.

For example, this photograph, which is the oldest photograph in the collection.

On the reverse of this photograph was the following label:

But the more I studied this photograph, the more I became convinced that that label was incorrect. The photograph was taken in Philadelphia by a photographer named Brooks located at 600 or 724 Arch Street. I searched Philadelphia directories on Ancestry and was able to find a photographer named Thomas Brooks located at 630 Arch Street in several directories from the 1870s.1 Portrait photography as an art and business did not really even start until the 1850s.

Simon Goldsmith was born in 1795 and came to the US in 1845 when he was already fifty years old. By the 1870s, he was in his seventies. The man in the photograph does not look like he is in his fifties, let alone his seventies. His skin is smooth with no wrinkles or age lines. He appears to be at most in his forties, but probably even younger.

So who is that man? My first guess, given the source of the photograph and the collection in which it appears, was that it was Henry Goldsmith, Simon’s son. Henry was born in 1847, and in the 1870s when Thomas Brooks was operating a photography business on Arch Street in Philadelphia, Henry would have been somewhere between 23 and 33, and the man in that photograph could be in that age range.

Henry, however, was living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, in the 1870s, not in Philadelphia. In fact, Henry never lived in Philadelphia. I thought perhaps when he married Sarah Jaffa in 1871, they married in Philadelphia, but the 1870 census shows Sarah living with her brother Samuel Jaffa in Pittsburgh,2 so she wasn’t in Philadelphia either.

Moreover, I am quite certain that it was Henry’s daughter Helen who wrote the words on the back of this photograph. There are several other photographs labeled in the same handwriting in the collection that are quite obviously labeled by Helen. For example, look at these two examples:

If Helen labeled the photograph of the man she assumed was her grandfather Simon, wouldn’t she have known if it were instead a photograph of her father Henry? I’d think so. So the more I study these photographs, the more I doubt this was a photograph of either Simon Goldsmith or his son Henry.

So who was he? I see a slight resemblance to Sol Jaffa, Helen’s uncle, as seen in this photograph to be analyzed in a later post. But wouldn’t Helen have known that it was Sol when she labeled the photograph? He and Helen are holding hands in this photograph, so she obviously knew him well. Did her uncle look so much different as an older man that she couldn’t see the resemblance?


The mystery lingers…

More of the collection from Marilyn to come.



  1. E.g., Gopsill´s Philadelphia Business Directory, 1870, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1874, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Sarah Jaffa, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 441A; Family History Library Film: 552794, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 

Henry Goldsmith’s Grandsons: College Men

Before I left for England, I had been writing about Henry Goldsmith, my double cousin, related to me both as a Goldsmith and as a Schoenthal. Henry and his wife Sarah Jaffa had ten children, eight of whom were still living in 1920, all in western Pennsylvania. Sarah died in 1907, and Henry died in 1923. By then, six of their eight surviving children were married, and there were numerous grandchildren.

Two of their sons (JW and Benjamin) were in business together as merchants, one (Milton) was a doctor, one (Walter) a dentist, and two (SR and Oliver) were lawyers. Their two daughters also were quite accomplished, one (Florence) as a musician, the other (Helen) a teacher until she married and had a family. But we saw that after Henry’s death, there’d been some changes in the sons’ careers and that Oliver had moved away and married in Florida.

In the 1920s, not only were Henry Goldsmith’s sons making changes, his grandsons were as well. Three of his grandsons went away to college in the 1920s.

Norman, Milton and Luba Goldsmith’s older son, graduated from Cornell University in 1927.  Here is his photograph (left) from the 1927 Cornell yearbook:

“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: Cornellian; Year: 1927
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990

During the summer after his graduation from Cornell, Norman took a writing course with his mother Luba at the University of Pittsburgh, as reported in detail in the July 28, 1927 Pittsburgh Press..  Here is just a short excerpt from the article, which mostly focuses on Luba’s writing interests and background:

“Pitt’s First Co-Ed and Son Studying in Same Class,” The Pittsburgh Press, July 28, 1927, p. 4

Again the doctor looks at literature. Dr. Luba Robin Goldsmith, practicing physician for 21 years, is a student of composition in the University of Pittsburgh summer school. Attending some of her classes is her son, Norman R. Goldsmith, aged 20, a graduate of the 1927 class of Cornell university, who will enter the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. ….

Beside her in Prof. Maulsby’s class in journalism each morning is her son, Norman R. Goldsmith, who, like his two parents will be a medical doctor. He is tall, attractive with his mother’s blue eyes and open countenance.  When questioned as to his correlation of medicine and writing, he said:

“Medicine I want to make my vocation; literature my avocation, if possible. I like to write. I think that’s about all.” He wants to write fiction, chiefly short stories.  He has already written a book, “Liebestraum,” printed privately in a small edition. In the Goldsmith home in Squirrel Hill is Albert, aged 12, whose career has not yet been determined. He is sturdy and athletic, likes music and writes a little.

Norman then began his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania, following in the footsteps of his mother and father, who were both doctors.1

Norman’s cousin, J. Edison, who was one year younger than Norman and the son of JW and Jennie Goldsmith, followed his cousin to Cornell, but completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He then went to the Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia.2

Finally, the third cousin, Jack Goldsmith, son of SR and Rae Goldsmith, was a year younger than J.Edison. Like his father, Jack went to the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1931. He chose law as his profession, following in his father’s footsteps; he attended Harvard Law School for a year and then transferred to the law school at the University of Southern California.3

And then tragedy struck. Jack Tumpson Goldsmith, the only son of SR Goldsmith and his wife Rae, died on March 21, 1933 at the age of 24. Excerpts from the full obituary are transcribed below:

“Funeral Service for Jack Goldsmith Thursday Afternoon,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 22, 1933, p. 5.

The funeral service for Jack Tumpson Goldsmith, whose death occurred yesterday morning in New York, will be held at 2:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon at the residence in Wills road. ….

A heart condition, which followed a severe attack of arthritis in December, caused death at 9:50 o’clock Tuesday morning at the apartment of Jack’s aunts, Misses Anne and Martha Tumpson. He was 24 years old.

The young man, a son of Attorney Samuel R. and Rae Tumpson Goldsmith of this city, was completing a law course at the University of Southern California when his illness began. In recent weeks his health failed rapidly, but many friends were unaware of the seriousness of his condition and his death created a profound shock.

Jack Goldsmith was widely known in Connellsville and other places. He made friends readily and was rather widely traveled. He was a brilliant student and made scholastic records at the institutions which he attended. Although equipping himself for the practice of law he was keenly interested in journalism and writing of short stories and poems. He frequently submitted articles to publishers, some of them being accepted.  During a summer vacation, he was employed on the reportorial staff of The Courier.  It being his desire to further acquaint himself with journalistic work through actual experience.

Born on January 28, 1909, in Connellsville, Jack attended the public schools here.  After two years in the Connellsvillle High School he entered Staunton Military Academy, where he was graduated with honors. While there he was a member of the school band and very active in student affairs. He next entered the University of Michigan, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1931.

At Michigan he was a member of the editorial staff of the school paper and was able to give wide scope to his desire for journalistic effort. He also became a member of the college gymnasium team, the first ever to represent the university in intercollegiate competition. He was awarded a letter for his success in that department. He was also a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.

Upon completion of his course there he entered Harvard Law School, spending one year at that place. Then he felt he might like to locate, upon graduation, in California, and in order to better reach a decision he transferred his study of law to the University of Southern California last year.

It was while his parents were on a visit with him during the Christmas holiday that he suffered an acute attack of arthritis.  It was quite severe on December 27. He was taken to the Cedar of Lebanon Hospital at Los Angeles, where he spent three weeks. The illness left him with a heart condition.

On February 22 he journed across the continent by train, going to the apartment of his aunts in New York. There he was confined to his bed for three weeks. His mother was constantly with him and his father spent the major portion of the past three weeks in New York also. Both were at his bedside when death occurred.

One of the best friends Jack Goldsmith had made in Connellsville was Rev. E. H. Stevens, pastor of the First Baptist Church. Despite the great difference in their ages, they would often spend hours together in the discussion of philosophy. With much in common, especially the ideas the younger generation are now confronting, they became very close to one another. Rev. Stevens has been invited by the family to take part in the funeral service.

What a terrible loss to the family and to the community. I was puzzled by the connection between arthritis and a heart condition, but after a little research, I believe that Jack suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, not the arthritis most of us association with joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with damage to the heart.

I also was puzzled by the reference to the “college gymnasium team,” but found references to this terminology in some older sources referring to some kind of athletic team, though I am not sure exactly which sport. It might be gymnastics.

Jack Goldsmith is buried in Glendale, California. As we will see in the next post, among his other legacies, Jack may have inspired many in his extended family to leave Pennsylvania for the California dream.




  1. “Get Penn Degrees,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 18, 1931, p. 6. 
  2. The Connellsville Daily Courier, April 2, 1927, p. 6; The Connellsville Daily Courier, December 22, 1928, p. 6; The Connellsville Daily Courier, June 13, 1965, p. 2. 
  3. “Funeral Service for Jack Goldsmith Thursday Afternoon,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 22, 1933, p. 5. 

Henry Goldsmith’s Children, 1923-1930: Years of Change

After Henry Goldsmith’s death in 1923, there were a number of changes and relocations in the family. The first change was the opening of a second law office for S(amuel) R and Oliver Goldsmith in January, 1924.  According to this news article, Oliver Goldsmith, the younger brother, was to be in charge of the new office in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, while SR would remain in charge of the office in Connellsville. Uniontown is less than twelve miles from Connellsville.

“Goldsmiths Open Office in Uniontown,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, January 9, 1924, p. 1

But the Uniontown office must not have worked out because by July 1925, Oliver had relocated to Miami, Florida, where he continued to practice law.1  On May 18, 1926, Oliver married Sarah “Sally” Friedman in Miami.

“Oliver Goldsmith Weds Former Pittsburg Girl,” The Connellsville Daily Courier,” May 19, 1926, p. 2

According to this brief news item, Sally was also then residing in Miami, but had previously lived in Pittsburgh. She was in fact born in Pittsburgh on April 13, 1890, to Gershon and Libby Friedman,2 who were immigrants from Russia. Sally grew up in the Pittsburgh area where her father was a merchant.3

What I don’t know is how or why Sally and Oliver, two Pennsylvania natives and residents, ended up both living in Miami and getting married there. Did they both happen to move there to escape the cold Northern winters? Or had they planned to move there together? Both were mature adults by 1926—Oliver was 39, Sally was 36.

In any event, they stayed in Florida only until about 1930 (I cannot find them on the 1930 census), but in 1931, they were listed in the Reading, Pennsylvania directory,4 and  the August 25, 1930, Reading Times (p. 2) reported that Oliver had been appointed as a “master of divorce,” “an attorney appointed by the Court to make recommendations in contested divorce and annulment actions.” I don’t know what took them to Reading, which is 230 miles from Connellsville and 260 miles from Pittsburgh where their families were living. Perhaps there was some tension with their families that drove Sally and Oliver first to Miami and then to Reading.

Meanwhile, SR Goldsmith had taken in a new law partner not long after his brother Oliver left:

“S.R. Goldsmith and J. E. Horewitz Form Law Partnership,” The Connelllsville Daily Courier, November 30, 1925, p. 1

Reading between the lines, I imagine that something had happened between SR and Oliver that caused them to dissolve their partnership.

The other big business change that occurred in the years following Henry’s death was Benjamin Goldsmith’s retirement from the store he owned with his brother JW, as announced in this advertisement from the October 9, 1925, Connellsville Daily Courier (p. 18):

At the very top it says, “On November 1st, the partnership of the firm of Goldsmith Bros. will be dissolved. After 30 years of successful business career Mr. Benjamin J. Goldsmith will retire, and his brother and partner, J.W. Goldsmith will continue the store under the name Goldsmith’s.”

Although the ad stated that JW would continue to operate the store (he, after all still had a seventeen-year-old son, J. Edison, to support in 1925), by 1930 it appears that JW had retired as well because the 1930 census reported that he had no occupation. In this case there was no indication of any bad blood leading to the dissolution of JW and Benjamin’s partnership since the 1930 census revealed that Benjamin was living in JW’s home.

JW Goldsmith and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0006; FHL microfilm: 2341772
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Thus, the 1920s were years of loss, growth, and change for the children of Henry Goldsmith. They lost their father Henry and little Sarah Goldsmith. There were two marriages and a number of new babies born. And four of the brothers experienced career changes—JW, Benjamin, SR, and Oliver.

These were also years that saw some of Henry’s grandsons go away to college. More on that in the next post.

  1. Miami, Florida, City Directory, 1926, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Sally Friedman Goldsmith death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 083001-086000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  3. Gershon Friedman and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 12, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0148; FHL microfilm: 1241359, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Reading, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1931, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 

Henry Goldsmith’s Family, 1920-1930: Losses and Heartbreak

Up through 1920, the family of Henry Goldsmith had had generally good fortune and much success. Henry’s eight surviving children were doing well in their chosen professions. All but two were married, and six of the surviving eight children had children of their own.

On the other hand, Henry had suffered some tragic losses—Henry’s little son Albert died as a young boy, his son Edison died in a horrific train accident, and his wife Sarah Jaffa died in 1907 when she was 56. In addition, Henry had suffered a stroke in 1911, but had recovered. And Henry’s unnamed grandson, the son of Walter Goldsmith and his wife Ella, had died in 1915 when he was just twenty-two days old.

Walter and his wife Ella had then been blessed a year later with a second child, Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, named for her grandmother. But Walter and Ella suffered another heartbreaking loss on March 21, 1921, when four-year-old Sarah died from acute gastroenteritis.

Death certificate of Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020501-023500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Ella had just twenty days earlier on March 1, 1921, given birth to another child, a son Edison, named for Walter’s deceased brother.1

I can’t imagine how Walter and Ella coped with this tragedy. To lose a second child on the heels of the birth of third—did they worry that the new baby would also get sick and die? Did they worry that they had not been fast enough to notice little Sarah’s illness because of the chaos that always surrounds the birth of a new baby?

Walter and Ella somehow survived this loss. In fact, another child was born to them less than two years later. Stanley Goldsmith was born on December 16, 1922.2 And a daughter Edna was born on October 4, 1924.3 Fortunately, all three of these children survived and lived full lives.

The extended family also continued to grow when the first of Henry Goldsmith’s grandchildren married in 1921.  Eleanor Goldsmith, daughter of JW, married Julian F. Rosenbaum on August 16, 1921, in Connellsville.4 Julian was the son of Joseph and Toni (Frankel) Rosenbaum, German immigrants, and he was born on December 18, 1897, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where his parents had settled after immigrating.5 His father was a dry goods merchant there, and in 1921, Julian was working as the assistant manager in his father’s department store, Rosenbaum Brothers.6

Eleanor and Julian settled in Uniontown where Julian continued to work at the family store.  They had three children born in the 1920s in Uniontown, Henry Goldsmith’s first great-grandchildren.7

But the extended family suffered another loss on June 19, 1923, when Henry Goldsmith died from edema of the lungs at the age of 76.  His funeral was attended by “[o]ver 200 of Fayette county’s prominent citizens, including judges of the common pleas and orphans’ courts.”8 Henry was survived by eight children and nine grandchildren.

Henry Goldsmith death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 067501-070500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Henry Goldsmith had lived overall a good life, but not a life without tragedy and heartbreak. He had lost his mother when he was three and had outlived two of his children and two of his grandchildren. His wife had died fifteen years before he did. But despite those tragedies, he and his wife Sarah had raised an incredibly well-educated, intelligent, and successful family, all of whom were still living relatively close by in western Pennsylvania when Henry died in 1923.

That would start to change in the years after Henry’s death.

  1. SSN: 181120537, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. SSN: 201142857, Death Certificate Number: PA 2972985, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3.  Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. “Hostess at Rehearsal Dinner,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, August 15, 1921, p. 2. 
  5. SSN: 550052846, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Joseph Rosenbaum, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 550; Volume #: Roll 550 – 07 May 1900-11 May 1900, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925; Rosenbaum family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Uniontown Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1571; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 103, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. 
  6. Uniontown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Julian Rosenbaum and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Uniontown, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 2341775,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. “Henry Goldsmith,” The Pittsburgh Press, June 22, 1923, p. 28. 

Another Lawyer in Henry Goldsmith’s Family

As seen in my prior post, the years between 1910 and 1920 were busy and productive ones for three of Henry Goldsmith’s children; Helen, Walter, and Florence all married in that decade and also engaged in meaningful work (teaching, dentistry, and music, respectively) and Walter and Helen also had children.

This post will focus on the other five children of Henry Goldsmith: Jacob (JW), Benjamin, Milton, Samuel (SR), and Oliver, and their lives during the second decade of the twentieth century.

JW, as we saw, was living in Connellsville in 1910 with his wife Jennie and two children, Eleanor and J. Edison. He was a clothing merchant in business with his brother Benjamin. He continued this work in the 1910s. By 1918, his daughter Eleanor, then seventeen, was a student at Wellesley College.

“Personal,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, June 19, 1918, p. 2

In 1920 they were all still living in Connellsville, and JW was still a clothing merchant.

Jacob W. Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 13
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

On November 10, 1917, Benjamin Goldsmith was involved in a terrible accident in which his car struck a three-year-old child, fatally injuring him.  Benjamin, however, was found not to be at fault and was completely exonerated of any criminal culpability:

“Driver Exonerated,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, November 16, 1917, p, 3

In 1920, Benjamin was still living with his father Henry, his sister Florence, brother Oliver and cousin Lena Katz in Connellsville. Henry was still in the insurance business, Benjamin continued to work as a clothing merchant with JW, Florence was teaching music and soon to be married, and Oliver—well, his story is still to come below.

Henry Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 1, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 7
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

Milton, the third Goldsmith sibling, and his wife Luba were both practicing medicine in Pittsburgh in  1910. They had a second child, Albert Robin Goldsmith, born on April 10, 1915, in Pittsburgh.1 Henry volunteered to provide medical services in 1918 to the mining town of Cool Run located in McIntyre, Pennsylvania, where the Spanish flu epidemic had affected one hundred of the 125 homes.

“Dr. Milton Goldsmith,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, October 11, 1918, p, 2

In 1920, Milton, Luba, and their sons Norman and Albert were living in Pittsburgh where both Milton and Luba continued to practice medicine.2

SR (Samuel) Goldsmith continued to practice law and live in Connellsville with his wife Rae and son Jack in the 1910s.3 During this decade he was joined by another member of the family as a member of the profession. His younger brother Oliver graduated from Dickinson Law School in Pennsylvania and became a member of the Pennsylvania bar in August, 1917.4 The newspaper reported on his first case:

The Connellsville Daily Courier, August 6, 1917, p. 1

But Oliver did not have much time to use his license to practice law before he was inducted into the army on September 22, 1917 and sent to Fort Lee, Virginia, where he became a training sergeant. He was ultimately promoted to a corporal and then quartermaster sergeant and was stationed at Fort Lee until his discharge on April 11, 1919.5

“Well Known Connellsvile Boy at Camp Lee,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 7, 1918, p. 1

Once he returned from his time in the service, Oliver joined his brother SR in his law practice in Connellsville:

“New Law Firm,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, April 30, 1919. p. 2

As noted above, in 1920 Oliver was living with his father Henry, brother Benjamin, and sister Florence in Connellsville.

Thus, by 1920, all of Henry Goldsmith’s children were adults. All but Benjamin and Oliver were married, and Henry had eight grandchildren. What is perhaps most remarkable is how educated and successful Henry’s children were: a doctor, a dentist, and two lawyers among his sons (with the other two working together as clothing merchants) and two daughters who were both educated, one a teacher, the other a music teacher and composer.

That is quite impressive for the children of a German immigrant mother and a father who was born in the US shortly after his parents immigrated from Germany and who lost his mother when he was only three years old. I wonder who or what inspired them to seek higher education.

And what would the 1920s bring for Henry and his children and grandchildren? Unfortunately, it was not all good news.


  1. Albert Goldsmith, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 914, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Milton Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 550, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. Samuel R Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 1, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 7, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  4. The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, June 5, 1916, p. 2, and August 6, 1917, p. 1 
  5. Olilver Goldsmith, World War I draft registrations, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948;. 

Henry Goldsmith,1910-1920: Obstacles Faced and Overcome

On August 10, 1911, Henry Goldsmith, then 64 years old, suffered a stroke, rendering him paralyzed and unable to speak.  His condition was reported in the Connellsville paper, as was his continuing improvement.

“Henry Goldsmith Suffers a Stroke,” The Daily Courier, 12 Aug 1911, Sat, Page 1

But Henry had a full recovery. A week later the paper reported that he was able to sit up in bed,1 and by September 18, 1911, he was able to go out and was reported as “recovered” by the newspaper.2 In October, he was re-elected to be president of the board of the People’s Building and Loan Association,3 and the following June he traveled with members of his family to Europe.

The Daily Courier, 02 May 1912, Thu, Page 1

By this time even Henry’s youngest child, Helen, was earning a living. Just days after her father’s stroke, she was appointed to be a primary teacher in Connellsville, selected from a field of eight candidates. Like her older siblings, Helen had been an excellent student, graduating from the Connellsville school as valedictorian as had her brother Milton.

The Daily Courier, 22 Aug 1911, Tue, Page 6

I could not post this article without commenting on the paragraph that follows the one about Helen. It so clearly reflects the discriminatory social attitudes of those times by referring to the teacher by his race and to the class by their ethnic background.

Helen’s teaching career in Connellsville did not last very long. On January 20, 1914, she married Edwin Tanzer Meyer; she was 24, he was 23. Edwin was born in Piedmont, West Virginia, on February 28, 1890, to Sigmund Meyer and Anna Tanzer, who were German immigrants. After living for some time in Lonaconing, Maryland, the family moved to Pittsburgh, where in 1910, Sigmund was a salesman in a department store and Edwin was a floor manager in a department store.4

Helen Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Press – 25 Jan 1914 – Page 45

Helen and Edwin settled in Pittsburgh, where they had two children: Edgar J. Meyer, born on March 31, 1915,5 and Malcolm G. Meyer, born January 17, 1918.6 Edwin had become an optometrist in the years between the 1910 census and his registration for the World War I draft. On that registration he reported that he had already served in the ambulance corps in the DC militia. In 1920 Helen, Edwin, and their two young sons were living in Pittsburgh, and Edwin was practicing optometry.7

Edwin T Meyer, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1909239; Draft Board: 11
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Helen was not the only one of Henry’s children to marry in 1914. Her brother Walter married Ella Rosenberg six months after Helen married Edwin—on June 17, 1914. Ella was the daughter of Herman Rosenberg and Bertha Moskovics. She was born on January 13, 1887, in Csorgo, Hungary. 8 Her family had immigrated to the US in 1890, and in 1900 they were living in Pittsburgh where her father was a liquor salesman. Ella was still living in Pittsburgh in 1910.9

“Rosenberg-Goldsmith,” The Daily Courier, 18 Jun 1914, Thu, Page 2

She and Walter settled in Connellsville, where Walter had a dentistry practice. On May 25, 1915 their first child was born; he only lived for 22 days, dying on June 16, 1915, from acute bronchitis and septicemia from a skin infection. Since there was no name given for this child on his death certificate, I imagine he was either premature or very sick right from birth:

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 054101-057320
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Walter and Ella’s second child was born on October 2, 1916. She was named Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith in memory of Walter’s mother.10

At the time of his registration for the World War I draft in 1918, Walter and his family were still living in Connellsvile,11 but by 1920, Walter, Ella and their daughter Sarah were living in Pittsburgh where Walter had a general dentistry practice.12

1914 was also a big year for Florence Goldsmith, though for different reasons. That year she debuted her operetta, “The Pilot of Tadousac,” for which she had written the book, the lyrics, and the music. Unfortunately, I do not know anything about this operetta. Tadoussac is a village in Quebec. I did find this story on a CBC Canadian history website, so perhaps this is the “pilot” that inspired Florence’s operetta:

In the spring of 1608, two vessels crossed the Atlantic, the Lévrier, under the command of Dupont-Gravé, and the Don de Dieu, under the command of Champlain.

On June 3, when Champlain arrived in Tadoussac, Dupont-Gravé’s pilot came to greet him in a rowboat. The pilot informed him that Dupont-Gravé had tried to impose his monopoly on the Basque and Spanish captains who were already there, but they had answered him with their muskets and cannons. He took Champlain to the bedside of Dupont-Gravé, who was still alive but seriously wounded.

Together, they negotiated a truce with Darache, the leader of the Spaniards, which allowed Dupont-Gravé’s men to start trading with the Montagnais.

Aside from this reference, I found nothing that revealed the story behind Florence’s operetta. The operetta itself was generally well-reviewed by the local newspaper as seen in this excerpt from a longer article (I excluded the parts describing the cast):

“Pilot of Tadousac is Quite A Clever Operatta [sic],” The Daily Courier, 29 May 1914, Fri, Page 2

It also was performed in two other locations in Pennsylvania over the next several years. 13 Florence also continued to teach music.14

The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10

Then on March 11, 1920, she married Lester Bernstein in New York City.15 He was 38, she was 36. Lester was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 1881, to Sigmund Bernstein and Marie Omann, who were both immigrants from Germany.16 In 1900, Lester’s father Sigmund was working as a jeweler in Philadelphia, and Lester was a “rodman.”17 According to this website, a rodman was a surveyor’s assistant.

Lester was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehigh University. In 1910, he was living on his own as a lodger in Baltimore and working as a civil engineer for the railroad. He was still living in Baltimore and working for the railroad when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918, although now he reported his title as statistician. The article about his marriage to Florence reported that he had at one time worked for the railroad in Connellsville as a field engineer, which is probably when he met Florence.

The Daily Courier, 11 Mar 1920, Thu, Page 2

After marrying, Florence and Lester settled in Pittsburgh.  I could not find them on the 1920 census, perhaps because they were still on their “extended honeymoon trip” when the enumeration was done.

Thus, Walter, Helen, and Florence all married between 1910 and 1920. Their other siblings—JW, Benjamin, Milton, Samuel and Oliver—were also busy in those years. More on that in my next post.





  1. “Henry Goldsmith Improved,” The Daily Courier – 14 Aug 1911 – Page 1 
  2. “Henry Goldsmith Well Again,” The Daily Courier, 18 Sep 1911, Mon, Page 1 
  3. “Peoples B&L Elects Officers,” The Daily Courier, 11 Oct 1911, Wed, Page 1 
  4. Sigmund Meyer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Lonaconing, Allegany, Maryland; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1240604, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Sigmund Meyer family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1303; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0446; FHL microfilm: 1375316, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. Edgar Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  6. Malcolm Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  7. Edwin T. Meyer, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 521, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Ella Rosenberg birth record, Source: LDS 642954, Page # – Item #: 301-014, JewishGen Hungarian Special Interest Group volunteers, comp. Hungary, Birth Records collected by Rabbis in Various Counties, 1789-1921 
  9. Rosenberg family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Allegheny Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0048; FHL microfilm: 1241355,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census; Rosenberg family, 1910 US census,Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1302; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0422; FHL microfilm: 1375315, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10. Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith death certificate, Certificate Number: 22703
    Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020501-023500,
    Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  11. 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 
  12. Walter Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 550,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  13. “The Pilot of Tadousac,” The Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald, 16 Sep 1915, Thu, Page 5; “Amateurs Will Stage Benefit Play,” The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10; 
  14. “Students Give Recitals,” The Daily Courier, 11 Jun 1919, Wed, Page 5 
  15.  License Number: 7069, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  16. Lester Bernstein, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942. Lester Bernstein death certificate, Certificate Number: 121500-65, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906-1963; Box Number: 2459; Certificate Number Range: 121201-124000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  17. Sigmund Bernstein and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 17, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0327; FHL microfilm: 1241459, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Over Sixty Killed in Train Wreck in 1903, including My Cousin Edison Goldsmith

In 1900, Henry Goldsmith and his wife Sarah Jaffa were living with eight of their nine surviving children in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where Henry was in the insurance business.  Their oldest child, JW, was already married and working as a merchant in Connellsville. Two of their sons were professionals: Milton was a doctor and Samuel was in law school. Henry and Sarah had lost one child, Albert, as a young boy, in 1891, but otherwise life must have seemed very good.

Then on December 23, 1903, their son Edison Goldsmith, just 23 years old, was one of over sixty people killed in a horrendous train accident.

“Sixty Dead in Railway Wreck,” The New York Times, December 24, 1903, p. 1

One of the worst wrecks in the history of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad occurred at 7:45 o’clock to-night at Laurel Run, eight miles west of Connellsville, on the Pittsburg Division of the Baltimore and Ohio.  The “Duquesne Limited,” the fastest train on the road, was wrecked, killing sixty-outright, fatally injuring eighteen, and slightly injuring more than fifty.

The wreck was caused by the breaking of the castings on a carload of bridge timbers on a freight train that passed Laurel Run not more than fifteen minutes before the arrival of the limited. The freight proceeded without noticing the accident, and the express train, running at a speed of more than sixty miles an hour, crashed into the timbers before the engineer even had time to apply the emergency brakes.

The baggage car was thrown over the embankment into the Youghiogheny River, and the smoker, which contained more than forty passengers, was thrown over the engine. The steam dome of the engine was broken, and the escaping steam and water filled the car, scalding the passengers.

Every occupant of the car was dead before the rescuers reached the scene of the wreck. The train contained six cars, one baggage, one smoker, one sleeper, and a dining car, all of which were badly wrecked. Engineer William Thornley and Fireman Cook were caught under the wrecked engine and cannot be extricated for several hours.  The tracks are completely torn up, and traffic over the road cannot be entirely resumed for at least a day.

Nearly all the passengers in the smoker were bound for Philadelphia. Many of them were to take passage on an ocean liner on Saturday for the old country. Not one of these escaped alive.

[Lists of the known dead and injured followed the text of the article, with Edison Goldsmith being among those listed as dead.]

Edison’s funeral was held on December 25, 1903. The newspaper described him as “a popular young man” and said that “an immense concourse attended the services.”1

Edison’s parents, Henry and Sarah, sued the railroad for $20,000 for negligently causing the death of their son. A jury awarded them $3,345, after being instructed by the judge that they should put a reasonable limit on the award. The judge told the jury, “The young man might or might not come up to the expectations of his parents had he not been killed. That should be determined by you in fixing a value on his life.” The news article also noted that an appeal would probably be taken from the verdict, but I could not find any reports of further legal proceedings.2

Losing another son must have broken Henry and Sarah’s hearts. In Sarah’s case, perhaps in a more literal way. She died of heart failure on October 25, 1907, just six days after her 56th birthday.

Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 093741-097660, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

But fortunately, there was also some good news for Henry and his eight surviving children in the first decade of the 20th century. More on that in my next post.


  1. “Railroad to Aid City in Giving All A Burial,” The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle, December 26, 1903, p. 1. 
  2. “Verdict of $3,345 In Goldsmith Case,” The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, November 30, 1905, p, 5. 

My Double-Cousin Henry Goldsmith, Part I

Having completed the stories of my four times great-uncle Simon Goldsmith’s two oldest children, Jacob and Lena, I will now turn to the stories of his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, who were born to Simon’s second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, the sister of my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal.

As I’ve discussed earlier, Henry (1847) and Hannah (1848), who were thus my double cousins, were born in Baltimore after Simon and Fradchen had immigrated to the US.  They lost their mother Fradchen (also known as Fanny) in 1850 when they were both very young—Henry was three, Hannah was two. Simon then lived with his oldest child Jacob in Washington, Pennsylvania, so that he would have support to raise these two young motherless children. This set of posts will focus on Henry and his adulthood.

By 1870 when he was 23, Henry had moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where his older half-sister Lena had been living, and in 1871, he married Sarah Jaffe, whose brother Solomon would later marry Henry’s niece Leonora. Henry was a clothing merchant. Between 1871 and 1889, Sarah gave birth to ten children: Jacob W. Goldsmith (1871), Benjamin (1873), Milton (1877), Samuel (1879), Edison (1880), Walter (1881), Florence (1883), Albert (1884), Oliver (1887), and Helen (1889). In total, Henry and Sarah had eight boys and two girls. All were born in Connellsville.

The family suffered a tragic loss when little Albert, just six years old, died on June 4, 1891, from spinal meningitis.

The surviving nine children were growing up in the 1890s. The oldest child, Jacob, known as J.W. (perhaps to prevent confusion with his uncle Jacob Goldsmith and cousin Jacob Goldsmith) at one point went to Trinidad, Colorado, to work for Sol Jaffa,  his mother’s brother.

The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, September 9, 1892, p. 5

But J.W. returned to Connellsville, and on August 16, 1899, he married Jennie Clark Grant, the daughter of Scottish immigrants, William Grant and Jessy Russell.1 Jennie was born in Pittsburgh on May 17, 1873, and in 1880, she and her parents were living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where her father was an iron peddler.2 According to their marriage record, Jennie was residing in Connellsville at the time of their marriage, and J.W. was working as a merchant:

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1899; Roll Number: 549736
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, County Marriage Records, 1845-1963

They settled in Connellsville where J.W. continued to work as a merchant.3

Milton Goldsmith, the third oldest child of Henry and Sarah (Jaffa) Goldsmith, was a star student. (This Milton Goldsmith, born in 1877, should not be confused with the Milton Goldsmith, the author, who was his older cousin and the son of Abraham Goldsmith, not Henry Goldsmith.) He was tied for number one in his class at the Connellsville high school in 1895 with a 98 2/5 grade point average4 and was praised in the local paper for his speech at commencement. The words the newspaper quoted from his speech hold just as true today and are needed even more so- that they were in 1895:

“Just so surely as the Press demands some needed reform, so certainly will it expose some proposed fraud. Take its freedom and our doom is certain. Foster and maintain it, and we move onward, ever onward.”

"Commencement Last Night," The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, May 24, 1895, p. 1.

“Commencement Last Night,” The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, May 24, 1895, p. 1.

Milton then studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated seventh in his class in 1899. He then commenced a residency at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.5

Milton’s younger brother Samuel also must have been a good student. In 1899 he was studying law at the University of Michigan.6

Meanwhile, Henry Goldsmith had changed careers by the 1890s. As seen in numerous ads that ran regularly in the Connellsville newspaper, The Weekly Courier, Henry Goldsmith had gone into the business of selling fire insurance in the 1890s:

The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, October 15, 1897, p. 4

The 1900 census found eight of Henry and Sarah’s surviving nine children living at home. Benjamin (27) was working as a clothing merchant, Milton (23) was a physician, Samuel (21) was in school, Edison (20) was a clerk in the insurance office, and Walter (18) was a shoe salesman. The youngest three children were still in school: Florence (17), Oliver (13), and Helen (9). In addition, Sarah’s niece Lena Katz, daughter of her sister Juetel Jaffa Katz, was also living with Henry and Sarah and their children.  The only child not still living at home was J.W., but he and his wife Jennie were living close by in Connellsville, where J.W. was working as a merchant.7

Henry Goldsmith and family, 1900 US census,Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0007; FHL microfilm: 1241409
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

The first decade of the 20th century would bring some terrible heartache to the family, but also some great joy.

  1. Jessy Russell and William Grant, 1870 census, Census Place: Allegheny Ward 4, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1291; Page: 398A; Family History Library Film: 552790, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  2. Grant family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Allegheny, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1087; Page: 409C; Enumeration District: 015, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  3. JW Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0008; FHL microfilm: 1241409,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. “Commencement Last Night,” The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, May 24, 1895, p. 1. 
  5. The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, June 30, 1899, p. 7; The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, August 24, 1900, p. 6. 
  6. The Connellsville (PA) Weekly Courier, December 15, 1899, p. 28.# 
  7. JW Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0008; FHL microfilm: 1241409, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census