Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith: Together at Home and at Work

In 1910 the two surviving sons of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith were living with their parents in New York City.  Eugene Goldsmith, 51, was in the import business, and his brother Maurice, 46, was working in a department store. They were both single and had lived together with their parents Helena (Hohenfels) and Meyer Goldsmith all their lives, first in Philadelphia and then in New York City. But with their mother’s death in 1910 and then their father’s in 1911, their lives changed.

Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith (possibly). Courtesy of the family.

Meyer Goldsmith 1910 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1028; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0739; FHL microfilm: 1375041
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

In 1913, Eugene married May Jacobs in Philadelphia.1 He was 54, she was 41. May was the daughter of Michael Jacobs and Alice Arnold, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania.2 May’s father died when she was just a young child, and she and her three sisters were all living together with their mother in Philadelphia in 1910.3 I’d love to know how May connected with Eugene, who had by that time been living in New York City for over twenty years.

In 1915 Eugene and May were living at 817 West End Avenue in New York City; Eugene was still in the import business, and May was doing housework. They were still living at 817 West End Avenue in 1920, and Eugene’s import business was now identified as umbrellas. They also had a servant living with them.

Eugene Goldsmith 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 17; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 28, Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1915

As for Maurice, the 1915 New York State census lists him (now as Murry Goldsmith) in his own household at 256 West 97th Street in New York City, working as a clothing salesman.4  Despite finding him listed in both the 1920 and 1922 New York City directories and having addresses from both years, I was unable to find Maurice/Murry/Murray on the 1920 US census. But the 1920 directory revealed important information about both Murray and Eugene.5

I learned that by 1920 Eugene and Maurice were involved in a new business together. Eugene is listed as the president of a firm called Goldsmith-Dannenberg in the 1920 New York City directory, and Murray is listed as its treasurer. Barnard Dannenberg was the secretary, and their business was described as infants’ wear.

New York, New York, City Directory, 1920 (under Goldsmith)
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

New York Times, August 9, 1922, p.12

Unfortunately, this business soon ran into legal problems with a company that failed to take delivery and pay for a large order of goods from Goldsmith-Dannenberg.6 According to the complaint filed by their lawyer, Leo Levy (Eugene and Murray’s brother-in-law), on December 26, 1919, Berg Bros., Inc., contracted with Goldsmith-Dannenberg for the purchase of 373 dozen specially made hand-knit caps for infants for a total price of $5051.25, to be delivered in several separate installments over a several month period. Berg Bros. accepted the first installment, which was very small compared to the overall order (nine dozen caps), but refused to accept the last two installments of 182 dozen caps each. The purchaser had paid Goldsmith-Dannenberg only $141.25 of the $5051.25 purchase price.  Goldsmith-Dannenberg asserted that since the goods were specially made for this purchaser, they could not be resold and that therefore the company was entitled to the complete purchase price as damages.

In its answer, Berg Bros. denied the allegations in the complaint and also asserted two defenses: first, that the contract was not in writing and thus was unenforceable under the Statute of Frauds because it was for more than $50 worth of goods, and second, that the employee who entered into the contract with Goldsmith-Dannenberg did not have the authority to do so. The defendant also claimed that the goods were “standard” goods that could be easily resold by the plaintiff in order to mitigate its damages.

I was disappointed that I could not find out how the case was resolved—whether by a court or by a settlement between the parties. The only decision I could locate relating to the case was not on the merits of the underlying claim but rather on a procedural question involving the plaintiff’s request to take a deposition of some of the defendant’s employees.7 But given that the last advertisements and directory listings for Goldsmith-Dannenberg are dated 1922, it appears that the company did not recover from this litigation or otherwise ran into business trouble and went out of business.

In 1925, Eugene listed himself both in the New York State census and in the New York City directory as once again in his own umbrella importing business (I don’t know whether he had ever left this business even when involved in the baby clothes business).8 He and May were living at 500 West End Avenue. As for Maurice/Murray, the 1925 New York City directory lists him at 248 West 105th Street and as “treasurer,” but there is no indication as to where he was serving as treasurer. 9 Perhaps his brother’s umbrella company? Unfortunately I couldn’t find Murray on the 1925 New York State census, which might have provided more details.

The 1930 US census found Eugene and May still living at 500 West End Avenue and Eugene still in the umbrella importing business.10 Murray was still at 248 West 105th Street, where the 1930 census shows that he was one of a number of people boarding in the household of Joseph Mantzer. His occupation was given as salesman for an umbrella company, obviously that owned by Eugene.11

Maurice/Murray Goldsmith died at age seventy on April 21, 1933;12 his death notice in the New York Times stated that he died after a “short illness.” He was described as the “beloved son of the late Meyer and Helena Goldsmith and dear brother of Eugene J. Goldsmith, Rose G. Morgenstern and Florence G. Levy.” There was also a death notice posted by his Elks Lodge.

New York Times, April 23, 1933, p. 28.

In 1940, Eugene and May were living at 277 West End Avenue, and Eugene no longer was working.13 He died six years later on April 27, 1946. 14 He was 86 years old. His wife May died the following year on October 11, 1947.  She was 75.15 A family member shared with me that May had beautiful porcelain and lace dolls which she allowed this family member to play with when she was a young child.

Neither Eugene nor Maurice had any direct descendants and were survived by one of their sisters, Florence, and by their nieces and nephew. In so many ways, their stories are stories of the American dream—two sons of immigrant parents who created their own business, used the legal system to try and find justice, lost their business but started all over again, just as their father Meyer had after losing his business in Philadelphia and moving to New York City.

 

 

 

 

 


  1.  Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951. Marriage License Number: 294169. 
  2. Michael Jacobs death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VK8M-GJF : 8 March 2018), Michael Jacobs, 07 Jan 1880; citing v A p 15, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,003,706. Alice Jacobs and family 1880 census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Page: 105B; Enumeration District: 205. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. Jay Jacobs death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 087501-090500. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. 
  3. Alice Jacobs and daughters, 1880 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 15, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1391; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0232; FHL microfilm: 1375404. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  4. Murry Goldsmith, 1915 New York State census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 12; Assembly District: 17; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 12. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1915 
  5. New York, New York, City Directory, 1920, 1922. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. The legal papers connected with this case can be found here. They were filed in connection with an appeal with the New York Appellate Division of an order dated December 28, 1920, from the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York, Index No. 24707. 
  7. Goldsmith-Dannenberg v. Berg Bros., Inc., 196 A.D. 930 *; 1921 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6091 **; 187 N.Y.S. 935 (1921). 
  8. Eugene Goldsmith, 1925 New York State census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 52; Assembly District: 09; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 5. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925. New York, New York, City Directory, 1925. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  9.  New York, New York, City Directory, 1925. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Eugene and May Goldsmith, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 0431. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  11. Murry Goldsmith, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0489. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. 
  12.  Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948. Certificate 9791. 
  13. Eugene and May Goldsmith, 1940 US Census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02637; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 31-587A. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  14. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WY9-ZN3 : 10 February 2018), Eugene J Goldsmith, 27 Apr 1946; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,132,945. 
  15. New York Department of Health; Albany, NY; NY State Death Index; Certificate Number: 62459. Ancestry.com. New York, Death Index, 1880-1956 

Manfred Katz 1929-2018

It is with a very heavy heart that I report that my third cousin, once removed Manfred “Fred” Katz passed away on June 28, 2018, at the age of 89. Some of you will recall the story that Fred generously shared with me about his boyhood in Jesberg, Germany, and how when he was only nine years old, he rescued a Torah scroll from the Jesberg synagogue in the aftermath of Kristallnacht in November, 1938. His family left Germany the following month, joining Fred’s older brothers and many cousins in Stillwater, Oklahoma. You can read Fred’s story here if you missed it.

Fred Katz, c. 1936
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

I was very privileged to have an opportunity to talk to Fred at length on the phone shortly before our trip to Germany in the spring of 2017. He not only shared his story—he gave me some advice on what to see and look for while in Germany. We also emailed several times before and after our trip. In fact, we emailed back and forth as recently as April, 2018, about a book that is being written in Germany about the Jews of Jesberg. I am so very sad to know that that was my last exchange with my cousin Fred.

Below is the obituary published on June 30, 2018, in the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal. It fills in the story of Fred’s life after he came to the United States as a young boy of nine in 1938. It is as remarkable as the story of his first nine years.

Meyer Goldsmith Moves to New York: Weddings, Births, and Deaths 1891-1911

As seen in my last post, after immigrating from Oberlistingen, Germany, my three-times great-uncle Meyer Goldsmith became, like his older brothers Jacob, Abraham, and Levi, a clothing merchant in Philadelphia for many years. He and his wife, Helena Hohenfels, had six children born between 1859 and 1872, and as of 1888, he and his family were still living in Philadelphia at 705 Marshall Street.

But as of 1889, they were no longer listed in the Philadelphia city directories. Their oldest daughter Heloise had married Simon Bernheim Hirsh in 1886 and was living with him and their children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the 1890s. But where was the rest of the family?

It appears that Meyer and Helena and their five other adult children had all relocated to New York City by around 1890. Meyer appears in the 1891 New York City directory as residing at 220 East 69th Street, and Meyer and his sons Eugene and Maurice appear as residing at that same address in the 1892 New York City directory. Meyer is listed as a clothier at 648 Broadway, Eugene as in the trimmings business at 236 Church Street, and Maurice as in the clothing business at 722 Broadway. Perhaps after the failure of Goldsmith & Bros. in 1887, the family decided to leave Philadelphia behind and take their chances on New York instead. 1

Thanks once again to Meyer and Helena’s descendant for this photograph, which we believe is a photograph of Meyer and Helena taken some years after the one I shared in my last post. What do you think?

Helena Hohenfels and Meyer Goldsmith possibly.  Courtesy of the family

In 1896, Meyer and Helena’s second oldest daughter Rose married Hans (sometimes Harry) Morgenstern.2 Hans was born on April 23, 1859; although some of the documents indicate that he was born in Austria, his 1904 passport application states that he was born in Beuthen, Prussia, Germany.3 According to this website, Beuthen is one of those towns that was once within the borders of Germany, once within the borders of Austria, and today is located in Poland and known at Bytom, located about 60 miles west of Krakow. In his 1904 passport application, Hans stated that he had arrived in the United States in 1892 and settled in New York City.

Two years after Rose’s wedding, Meyer and Helena’s youngest child, Florence, married Leo Levy on June 8, 1898, in New York City.4 Leo was born in Flushing, Queens, New York, on October 20, 1871. I was unable to find out any information about Leo’s family of origin until I located this wedding announcement from the June 9, 1898 issue of the New York Times (p. 7):

The New York Times, June 8, 1898, p. 7

Although the announcement did not reveal Leo’s parents’ names, it did reveal those of three of his siblings: Rosalie, Jacob, and Sidney. With that information, I was able to locate the family living in Flushing, Queens, on the 1880 US census and learned that Jacob’s parents were Simon Levy and Caroline Hirsch, both born in Baden, Germany; Simon had immigrated in 1857 as a teenager; Caroline had immigrated with her parents in about 1854. Leo’s father Simon was a clothing merchant.

Leo Levy 1880 US Census, Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Roll: 917; Page: 182D; Enumeration District: 263
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

From the wedding announcement I also learned that Leo was a lawyer practicing with the firm of Erdman, Levy and Mayer.

Thus, by 1900 all three of Meyer and Helena’s daughters were married. Nevertheless, the 1900 census shows that Meyer and Helena still had all three of their sons, two of the daughters, and two of their sons-in-law living with them as well as two servants. They were all living at 129 East 60th Street. Meyer’s occupation was salesman; Eugene was a merchant; Maurice was a traveling salesman; and Samuel, the youngest son, was a dentist. All three sons were single. Meyer’s son-in-law Hans Morgenstern was a “commission merchant,” and his son-in-law Leo Levy was a lawyer.

Meyer Goldsmith and family, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0780
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Here are photographs that we believe are Eugene, Maurice, and Samuel:

Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith (possibly). Courtesy of the family.

Samuel Goldsmith (possibly). Courtesy of the family.

By 1905, the two married daughters and their husbands had moved out. I was unable to locate either Rose Goldsmith Morgenstern or Florence Goldsmith Levy on the 1905 New York State census, but they were no longer living in the same household as their parents. Florence and Leo had had two children by 1905; their daughter Helen was born on October 14, 1900,5 and their son Richard was born on November 18, 1903, both in New York City.6

Another child was born to Florence and Leo on July 24, 1908, in Queens; birth records have her name as Edith Catherine,7 but no child with that name appears on the 1910 census or any later census. The 1910 census reports a third child named Eleanor, aged  one year, six months. At first I was quite confused, but one of Florence and Leo’s descendants explained that Florence and Leo decided that they preferred the name Eleanor to Edith after the baby was born and changed her name.

Leo Levy and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Queens Ward 5, Queens, New York; Roll: T624_1068; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1250; FHL microfilm: 1375081
Description
Enumeration District: 1250
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, according to one 1905 New York State census record, all three sons of Meyer and Helena were still living with them at 229 West 97th Street in New York City in 1905. Meyer was a clothier, Eugene an importer, Morris (Maurice) a clothier partner, and Samuel a dentist.

Meyer Goldsmith and family 1905 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 45; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 20
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

Samuel, however, is also listed with his wife Helen on another page from the New York State 1905 census as residing at 113 East 60th Street in New York City. That he was listed twice on the 1905 New York State census is another example of census inaccuracies.

Samuel and Helen Goldsmith, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 29 E.D. 10; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 19
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

Samuel Goldsmith had married Helen Rau on April 20, 1904, in New York.8 (That meant that there was one Helena, one Heloise, and two Helens now in the extended family.) Helen Rau was born on September 9, 1877, in Englewood, New Jersey, to John Rau and Clementine Kayser.9  On July 28, 1906, Helen gave birth to their daughter, Catherine Goldsmith, in Norwood Park, New Jersey.10

Tragically, Samuel died before Catherine was fourteen months old.  He died in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 25, 1907; he was only forty years old.11  According to his obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent of September 27, 1907 (p.11), Samuel and his family had moved to St. Paul for his health on the advice of his doctor. Can anyone suggest why Minnesota would be good for one’s health? I’ve heard of people moving to drier or warmer climates for their health, but why Minnesota? Perhaps it was to be near the Mayo Clinic, which had opened in 1889 in Rochester, Minnesota? I did notice that Helen had a sister living in St. Paul at that time, so perhaps Helen was looking for support due to Samuel’s poor health.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, September 27, 1907, p. 11

The obituary described Samuel as a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and as “one of the foremost dentists in New York.” Samuel provided in his will that “[a]ll of my property I give to my beloved wife, Helen Rau Goldsmith, absolutely and forever, appointing her sole Executrix.”

Samuel L. Goldsmith will, Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York. Ancestry.com. New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Sadly, this was only the beginning of heartbreaking news for the family. The family suffered another loss on February 18, 1910, when Helena Hohenfels Goldsmith died at age 73. She was buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Hasting-on-Hudson, New York.12

When the 1910 census was taken two months after Helena’s death, Meyer was still living at 229 West 97th Street, with his two surviving sons, Eugene and Maurice, and his daughter Rose and her husband Hans Morgenstern (as well as two servants).  Meyer was no longer working. Eugene was still in the importing business, and Maurice was a department store salesman. Hans was also working for an import house, presumably with Eugene, his brother-in-law. Rose and Hans did not have children.13

In 1910, Florence and Leo Levy were living with their children, a servant, and a nurse in Queens, and Leo was practicing law.13 I was delighted to receive from Florence’s descendant this beautiful photograph of Florence and her three children, probably taken around 1910.

Helen Levy, Florence Goldsmith Levy, Eleanor Levy, and Richard Goldsmith Levy. Courtesy of the family.

Heloise and Simon Bernheim Hirsh continued to live with their two daughters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Simon was a clothing merchant.14

I could not find Samuel Goldsmith’s widow Helen Rau Goldsmith or their daughter Catherine Goldsmith on the 1910 census, but I believe they may have been out of the country.  Helen’s sister Emma Rau had been living abroad beginning in 1904, and I have a hunch that Helen and Catherine might have been visiting her at the time of the 1910 census. From several passport applications starting in 1918, it appears that Helen and Catherine also lived abroad for many years.15

There was another tragedy in the family on January 9, 1911, when Meyer’s oldest daughter Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh died from acute dilatation of the heart and diabetes at age fifty. She was survived by her husband, my cousin Simon Bernheim Hirsh, and their two surviving daughters, my double cousins Irma and Dorothy Hirsh, as well as her father Meyer and her remaining siblings.

Death certificate of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 004931-008580. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

It was only a few months later that her father and my 3x-great-uncle Meyer also passed away. He died on May 26, 1911, when he was 76 years old and was buried with his wife Helena at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Perhaps losing a son, a wife, and a daughter in just a few years was too much for Meyer to bear.16

Although he had not lived in Philadelphia for about twenty years at the time of his death, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent ran this obituary when Meyer died:

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, June 2, 1911, p.11

Thus, as of May 26, 1911, Meyer and Helena and two of their children, Heloise and Samuel, were deceased. Meyer and Helena were survived by two of their sons, Eugene and Maurice, and two of their daughters, Rose and Florence, all of whom were living in New York City. They were also survived by six grandchildren, Heloise’s two daughters Irma and Dorothy Hirsh, Samuel’s daughter Catherine Goldsmith, and Florence’s three children, Helen, Richard, and Eleanor Levy. Their stories will follow.

 


  1.  New York, New York, City Directory, 1891, 1892. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2.  Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 6656. 
  3. Hans Morgenstern passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 647; Volume #: Roll 647 – 01 Apr 1904-11 Apr 1904. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  4. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 9123 
  5. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWV-ZK5 : 11 February 2018), Helen Coroline Levy, 14 Oct 1900; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 42281 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,953,853. 
  6. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24WP-VL4 : 10 February 2018), Richard G. Levy and Malvene Frankel, 26 Mar 1928; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,653,341. 
  7. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27YD-M2D : 11 February 2018), Edith Catherine Levy, 24 Jul 1908; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference v 9 cn 4359 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,022,365. 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. Certificate 13130 
  9. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 071368415. 
  10. Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  11.  Minnesota Deaths and Burials, 1835-1990,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FD8M-Z3K : 10 March 2018), Sam Goldsmith, 25 Sep 1907; citing St. Paul, Minnesota, reference ; FHL microfilm 2,117,569. 
  12.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:271F-D9G : 10 February 2018), Helena Goldsmith, 18 Feb 1910; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,323,239. 
  13. Leo Levy and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Queens Ward 5, Queens, New York; Roll: T624_1068; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1250; FHL microfilm: 1375081. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  14. Simon Hirsh and family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1354; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1375367. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  15. Emma Rau 1923 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2159; Volume #: Roll 2159 – Certificates: 240976-241349, 04 Jan 1922-05 Jan 1922. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Also, e.g., Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. More on Catherine in a post to come. 
  16.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WMM-M68 : 10 February 2018), Meyer Goldsmith, 26 May 1911; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,323,280. 

Meyer Goldsmith: Another Clothier and More Double Cousins

Having now finished the stories of the families of two of my three-times great-uncles, Jacob and Abraham, I am going to turn to their youngest brother, Meyer, because he was the next to immigrate to the United States. I have been very fortunate to connect with one of Meyer’s descendants, who has generously shared photographs and stories with me, as you will see.

Meyer was the youngest son of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents. He was born October 25, 1834, in Oberlistingen, Germany.1

Birth record of Rafael/Meyer Goldschmidt 1834
Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 5

Meyer arrived in the US on July 8, 1852, when he was seventeen years old.

Meier Goldschmidt passenger manifest
Year: 1852; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 116; Line: 1; List Number: 895

In 1859, he married Helena Hohenfels,2 daughter of Jordan Hohenfels and Adelaide Freinsberg. Helena came with her mother and siblings from Berge, Germany to the US in 1846 and settled in Philadelphia. 3 Meyer and Helena’s descendant shared these amazing photographs of Jordan and Adelaide Hohenfels:

Adelaide Hohenfels Courtesy of the family

Jordan Hohenfels. Courtesy of the family

We also believe that these photographs may be of Meyer and Helena:

Possibly Helena Hohenfels and Meyer Goldsmith

 

Meyer and Helena’s first child Eugene was born on October 6, 1859,4 in Newton, New Jersey, which is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia and sixty miles west of New York City. In 1860 Meyer, Helena, and their infant son Eugene were living in Newton, New Jersey; Meyer was working as a “merchant tailor” and had $4000 worth of personal property. Also living with them were a servant and a thirteen-year-old boy named George Stone from the Hesse region, whose relationship to the family I’ve not determined. Like Jacob and Abraham, by this time Meyer had changed the spelling of his surname to Goldsmith.

Meyer Goldsmith and Helene Hohenfels 1860 census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Newton, Sussex, New Jersey; Roll: M653_709; Page: 605; Family History Library Film: 803709

By 1863 or so, Meyer and his family had relocated to Philadelphia where Meyer continued to be a clothing merchant. In 1867, Meyer filed a complaint and charges were brought against a man named John L. Rich, who apparently took delivery of $2809 worth of merchandise and failed to pay Meyer for those goods.

“An Absconding Merchant Takes $2800 Worth of Goods With Him,” The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, December 28, 1867, p. 5.

As of 1870 Meyer and Helena had five children: Eugene (1859), Heloise (1860), Maurice/Morris/Murray (1863), Samuel (1867), and Rosa (1869). Helena’s mother Adelaide was also living with them in 1870. Meyer was working as a wholesale clothier and claimed $2000 in personal property. (I guess all those children ate into the $4000 worth of savings they’d had in 1860!) A sixth child, Florence, would be born in 1872.

Meyer Goldsmith 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13 District 39, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1397; Page: 465A; Family History Library Film: 552896

In 1880, Meyer was still in the clothing business in Philadelphia, and his son Eugene, now 20, was working as a salesman. His second son Morris, seventeen, was employed as a clerk.  Their daughter Heloise was not employed, and the three younger children were all in school. Meyer’s mother-in-law Adelaide Hohenfels was still living with them as was a nephew named “Julius Stein” (actually spelled Stine); Julius was sixteen and working as a stock clerk. He was Helena’s sister’s son. I assume that Eugene, Maurice, and Julius were all working with Meyer in the clothing business.

Meyer Goldsmith and family 1880 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Page: 276B; Enumeration District: 219
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

As I wrote about here, in the early 1880s, Meyer’s brothers Abraham and Levi ran into financial problems in their clothing business, and in 1883, they joined with their brother Meyer in the clothing business, using the name Goldsmith Brothers. The three brothers continued in business together for several years, but Levi died on December 29, 1886, and the business failed soon afterwards.

Two months after Levi’s death, Goldsmith Brothers was forced to make an assignment of its assets to another clothing business. The paper reported that at that time Goldsmith Brothers had assets of almost $70,000 but liabilities of over $142,000. From this report it appears that the creditors of Goldsmith Brothers were prepared to take 33 1/3 cents on the dollar for the money owed to them.

“The Creditors of Goldsmith Brothers,” The Philadelphia Times, February 13, 1887, p. 2.

Three days later there was a detailed update on the appraisal of the assets of the business, showing that the company had net assets of $69,306.73:

“Goldsmith Brothers’ Estate,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 1887, p. 2.

And two days after that the creditors agreed to accept 37 ½ cents on the dollar for the money owed to them by Goldsmith Brothers.

“The Goldsmith Failure,” The Philadelphia Times, February 18, 1887, p. 1.

In 1888, Abraham went into business with his sons, and Meyer continued alone in his own clothing business. His oldest son Eugene was in the button business with someone named David Jonger Lit in 1888.5

Meanwhile, Meyer and Helena’s oldest daughter Heloise married Simon Bernheim Hirsh in 1886.6 As soon as I saw Simon’s name, I had a feeling that he was also somehow related to me, and indeed, he was my second cousin, four times removed. Simon’s great-grandfather was Samson Bernheim, my five times great-grandfather:

Thus, Simon Bernheim Hirsh was part of my Bernheim branch, and his wife Heloise was my first cousin, three times removed, on the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith branch of my family tree. These are two otherwise unrelated branches; the Bernheims came from Hechingen in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region of Germany and the Goldschmidts from Oberlistingen near Kassel in Hesse.

Simon was born  on September 3, 1859, to Herman Hirsh and Auguste Bernheim in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.7 Lancaster is about eighty miles west of Philadelphia.  His parents were both born in Germany, and his father Herman was a merchant in Lancaster when Simon was born.8  The 1870 census reports that Herman was in the notions business,9 and in 1880 he was in the clothing business, and Simon was a clerk, presumably in his father’s store in Lancaster. Perhaps Simon and Heloise’s fathers knew each other from the clothing business.10

After marrying, Heloise and Simon settled in Lancaster, where their first child Irma was born on June 4, 1888.11  They would have two more daughters in the 1890s, both born in Lancaster; Helen was born on February 27, 1895, but only survived a few months, dying on May 29, 1895.12. The third daughter Dorothy was born on March 21, 1898.13 The Hirsh children were my double-cousins, related to me through these two otherwise completely unrelated lines. Endogamy, endogamy, endogamy.

Meanwhile, the 1890s brought many other changes to the family of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith, including a move from Philadelphia to New York City. More on that in my next post.

 


  1. As I wrote here, although this record shows a baby registered with the name Rafael, I believe that this was the same child later known as Meyer, based on his age on several US records and the fact that the 1900 census says that he was born in October 1834, and that there is no other birth registered to Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander for that month and year. Birth record of Rafael/Meyer Goldschmidt 1834, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 5. 
  2. Helena and Meyer Goldsmith and family, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0780. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3.  The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85. Ancestry.com. Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964 
  4. Eugene Goldsmith passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2421; Volume #: Roll 2421 – Certificates: 367850-368349, 29 Jan 1924-31 Jan 1924. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  5. 1888 Philadelphia City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  6.  Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
  7. Simon Bernheim Hirsh death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 006501-009500. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Herman Hirsh and family, 1860 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, South West Ward, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1126; Page: 582; Family History Library Film: 805126. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  9. Herman Hirsh and family, 1870 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1356; Page: 195B; Family History Library Film: 552855. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  10. Herman Hirsh and family, 1880 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1142; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 148. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. 
  11. Irma Hirsh Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 069751-072450. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. 
  12. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  13. Number: 204-03-8654; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951.
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

My Uncle, The Criminal? If The Shoe Fits….

Before I turn to my three-times great-uncle Meyer and his family, I want to write about another uncle—my four-times great-uncle Simon Goldchmidt, brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt.

Back in January, I wrote about Simon Goldschmidt, including the fact that he had been in legal trouble in Germany before immigrating to the US. David Baron had located a record that indicated that in 1826 Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery. (HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40.) I then wrote in that post:

I requested a copy of the file from the Marburg archives and learned that the file covers Simon’s appeal of a ten year sentence for his criminal activity. The listing online indicates that the date of appellate decision was December 24, 1830.

The contact person at the Marburg archives did not reveal the outcome of the appeal, so I am now hoping to find someone who might be able to go to Marburg and provide me with a summary (in English) of the judgment. (I could order a copy, but it would be costly and in German. My German has improved, but 130 pages of a legal decision would be too great a challenge!)

Well, with the help of three wonderful women in Germany, I’ve been able to obtain a copy of the report, have it transcribed, and then have it translated.  First, Floriane Pfeiffer-Ditschler from the German Genealogy group on Facebook volunteered to go to the archives in Marburg and scan the entire 130 pages of the documents in the file.1 She sent it to me as a PDF, and it’s too long to post on the blog, but I will post just a few pages in this post so that you can see how difficult it is to read. If you’re interested in seeing the entire document, let me know.

Cover page of file, HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

Neither Floriane nor I could decipher the text, so I turned to my friend Julia Drinnenberg, who had been one of my wonderful guides during my visit to Germany last year. Julia also found the handwriting difficult to read, so she recruited her friend Gabriele Hafermaas to help. Gabriele transcribed the text, which Julia then translated it into English. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to these three women for their help.  It took many, many hours of work for them to produce a document that I can read.

The file contained three documents: the original trial court opinion finding Simon guilty, Simon’s application for appellate review, and the appellate court’s opinion. Because the documents are quite lengthy and at times repetitive, I thought it best to write up a summary.

The alleged crime took place on the night of May 16, 1826. The trial, however, did not take place until four years later.  At this time we do not have any information to explain the long delay between the crime and the trial, but Julia is consulting with a judge and legal historian in Germany, so perhaps he will have some answers.

The trial court reached its decision on May 14, 1830.

Simon Goldschmidt, first page of trial court opinion
HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

According to the trial court’s opinion, on the evening of May 16, 1826, someone broke into the home of eighty-year-old Georg Wolf, a resident of Oberlistingen.  There was a hole in the wall of his home and a ladder lying on the ground in front of his sitting room. The court found that someone used violent force to break into the sitting room, using the ladder to push the door open and even breaking an iron bar that served as a lock on that door. There was a struggle between Wolf and the burglar, during which Wolf claimed he had bitten the hands of the assailant and scratched and pinched his face and neck.

When neighbors heard Wolf’s cries for help, the assailant ran away.  According to Wolf and several witnesses, a pair of shoes was left behind, which Wolf claimed had belonged to the assailant. Wolf described the assailant as a small and flexible man with frizzy hair, wearing a long black cape and speaking with a Yiddish accent.

Based on this description, Simon Goldschmidt, a 32-year-old tailor, was thought to be the assailant, and local authorities went the next morning to his home to investigate. Witnesses testified that Simon had injuries on his face and hands that were consistent with Wolf’s testimony and that he fit the physical description provided by Wolf. Simon denied the charges and claimed that he had injured himself when he fell on a stack of logs in the corridor while going to the toilet in the middle of the night.

The trial court did not find Simon’s assertion that his injuries came from such a fall credible for several reasons.  The court did not find it believable that Simon had used the toilet in the corridor because he had a “night stool” in his room for bathroom use. Simon claimed he could not use the night stool because Jewish law prohibited sharing of the night stool while his wife was menstruating, but the court cited the testimony of a rabbi stating that there was no such prohibition under Jewish law. There also was no evidence that Simon’s wife was in fact menstruating at the time of the crime. Furthermore, the court found that Simon’s injuries were not consistent with falling on logs, citing the testimony of a doctor that Simon appeared to have bite marks on his hands and bruising on his face.

In addition, in a page torn from Cinderella or the OJ Simpson trial, the trial court found that the shoes left behind by the assailant fit Simon as well as his wife. A shoemaker testified that he had made the shoes for Simon’s wife and repaired them. He was able to identify them by the way the heels were worn down on one side. Simon denied that the shoes were his or his wife’s, saying that her shoes had been stolen. The trial court did not find this assertion credible because the theft of the shoes had never been reported to the police.

Cinderella
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

The fact that Simon was wearing dirty socks covered with thick straw and half-dry black mud when the authorities came to investigate was also relied on by the trial court in its analysis. Simon claimed his socks were dirty from walking inside his house and from walking outside to his well. The trial court was not persuaded, finding evidence that Simon was ordinarily a tidy man, that his floors did not have dirt like that found on his socks, and that the walkway to the well had a stone path. Witnesses also testified that the dirty socks were like those of someone who walked through the village without shoes.

There was also some discussion in the trial court opinion about the fact that Simon had plans to go to the estate of the aristocratic von Malsburg family the morning of the investigation.  Julia and I were not sure what this all meant, but as best I can tell, Simon was wearing boots when the authorities arrived and claimed it was because he was planning to go to the Malsburg estate. The court seems to have concluded that this was not the case, but that Simon had put on boots to hide his dirty socks, which were only revealed when the investigator asked him to remove his boots.

Based on its evaluation of the evidence, the trial court concluded that Simon was guilty of attempted theft with burglary and attempted robbery with murder and sentenced him to ten years in prison with his legs shackled. The court considered as an aggravating factor in determining its sentence that Simon had not voluntarily called off his attempted crime, but only left because he was afraid of being caught when Wolf called for help.

End of trial court opinoin
HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

Although the court observed that the usual penalty for a crime of this nature would be twelve to fifteen years in prison, it noted that the case had been delayed for two years due to an overload of pending cases and therefore reduced the usual penalty and sentenced Simon to ten years in prison. The court’s mention of a two-year delay is confusing since the crime was in 1826 and the trial decision in 1830. Simon had been incarcerated for four years while awaiting trial.

On July 22, 1830, Simon appealed the trial court’s verdict, making many of the same arguments that he made at trial, but with some additional details. For one thing, he claimed that he had not reported the theft of his wife’s shoes because of their low value. As to the fact that he was wearing boots the morning after the crime, he asserted that it was insulting to claim that a tailor would not ordinarily be wearing shoes.

Simon Goldschmidt’s application for appearl, first page
HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

With respect to his dirty socks, Simon asserted that the stones on the walkway to the well were quite distant from each other and that the humid weather had made the ground very muddy. And as for his claim that he injured himself from a fall when he went to the toilet in the corridor, he asserted that he left the bedroom because he did not want to make a stench inside and that he believed, even if incorrectly, that under Jewish law he and his wife could not share a night stool while she was menstruating.

Simon also pointed out that Wolf had not specifically identified him, but had only given a general description of the person who attacked him. In addition, Simon asserted his overall good reputation as a factor mitigating against his guilt.

The appellate court issued its decision on December 24, 1830. Its opinion is far more detailed and thorough than the trial court opinion and raises some additional issues. For example, the appellate court pointed out that Simon had been having financial problems and thus had a motive for stealing from Wolf. The court also mentioned that Simon knew that Wolf had money because he and his brothers had at one time borrowed money from Wolf.

Appellate decision, first page
HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

Simon’s response was that his financial problems were only temporary and that everyone in the village knew that Wolf had money and might have stolen from him. Simon also argued that since Wolf had loaned money to him and his brothers, it would not make sense for him to steal from him. The court concluded that the evidence of Simon’s financial problems supported the trial court’s guilty verdict, although only circumstantially.

(If I were representing Simon, I might also have argued that since Wolf knew Simon, he should have been able to identify him as the assailant rather than merely providing a general description.)

The appellate court also considered Wolf’s description of his assailant and whether it clearly identified Simon. Despite some inconsistencies in the evidence regarding the description of the assailant’s “singing voice” and hair, the court found that this evidence nevertheless pointed towards Simon’s guilt.

With respect to the fact that Simon was wearing boots when the authorities came to investigate early on the morning after the crime, the court found that it was not Simon’s usual practice to wear boots and that his story that he was planning to walk to the Malsburg estate was not supported by any witnesses. But the court considered this only relevant to the claim that Simon was trying to hide the dirt on his socks.

The evidence that the appellate court seemed to consider most persuasive of Simon’s guilt was the evidence relating to the shoes left at Wolf’s house and the dirt on Simon’s socks. In the court’s weighing of the evidence, it concluded that the shoes belonged to Simon and his wife and that he got his socks dirty when he ran home through the town without his shoes.

The appellate court also considered very persuasive the evidence of Simon’s injuries and concluded that Simon’s story about falling on logs was not credible. In response to the assertion that Simon did not use the night stool because his wife was menstruating, the prosecution argued that Simon’s wife could not have been menstruating because she was breastfeeding [presumably Jakob, their first child born in 1825]. I was impressed by the court’s response to this assertion—that women can menstruate even while breastfeeding—because that is a fact that I would not have thought was commonly known in 1830.

But the court nevertheless found that it was not likely that Simon’s injuries were sustained in a fall, given the doctor’s testimony that there were bite marks and the fact that the injuries were in multiple locations on Simon’s body, not on one side as one would expect from a fall. Also, Simon couldn’t give a convincing description of the fall and refused to show his injuries. Thus, the court dismissed Simon’s assertion that he was injured in a fall.

After weighing all the evidence, the appellate court thus upheld the verdict. However, it reduced the sentence from ten years to four years because Wolf’s injuries were not dangerous or life-threatening and because Simon had not used any lethal weapons.  It thus reduced the original charges against Simon to attempted robbery. The court also observed that the delay in trial was not Simon’s fault and took that into consideration in reducing his sentence. Simon was released from prison after the appellate court’s decision.

Last page of appellate decision, HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40

As noted in my earlier post, Simon’s first wife Eveline died in 1840, and in 1844 my four-times great-uncle Simon Goldschmidt married Fradchen Schoenthal, the sister of my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal and thus my three-times great-aunt. Fradchen and Simon left for the United States not long after. Simon was the second member of the Goldschmidt family to immigrate to the US, following his oldest son Jakob, and Fradchen was the first Schoenthal to immigrate.

Passenger manifest for Simon Goldschmidt, Fradchen Schoenthal and Eva
Ancestry.com. Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964. Original data: Selected Passenger and Crew Lists and Manifests. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

I can’t help but wonder whether their decision to leave Germany was in some part motivated by a desire to leave behind Simon’s criminal past and start over in a new country. If so, well, then I have to say that I am awfully glad that Simon was convicted of this crime because in many ways it was that event that led ultimately to the emigration of my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein (Simon’s niece) and my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal (Fradchen’s nephew), who later married Eva Goldschmidt’s daughter, Hilda Katzenstein.

Thus, in some ways Simon’s crime may have led to the merging of three of my paternal family lines—Goldschmidt, Schoenthal, and Katzenstein—in America.  How very strange.

 

.

 

 

 


  1.  HStAM 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No. G 40. 

Kissing Cousins….

Remember how at the end of my last post I alluded to the 1920 and 1923 passports of Alice and Louis Goldsmith and how they helped me solve a different mystery? Well, this is it.

When I was researching Bertha Goldsmith Weinhandler/Wayne prior to delving into the research of her younger siblings, Alice and Louis, I discovered a marriage record for her in 1923.  According to the New York, New York, Marriage License Index database on Ancestry.com, Bertha Wayne married a man named Frederick Newman on May 21, 1923.1

I was surprised because after all, in 1920 she was still married to and living with Sampson Wayne.2  I thought perhaps Sampson had died, but I found him on the 1930 census in New York, which listed his marital status as divorced.

Sampson Wayne 1930 US Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 27A; Enumeration District: 0488
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

When had Bertha divorced Sampson? How had she married someone else so quickly?  Sampson died in 1931,3 but I could not find an obituary or any other news article or record that explained what had happened to him or his marriage to Bertha. And who was Frederick Newman, her new husband? I was mystified, but continued on with my research of Alice and Louis.

Then, when I could not find either Alice or Louis Goldsmith on the 1920 census, I looked more closely at their passport applications from 1920 and 1923, as noted in my last post. On Alice’s 1920 application, I saw that in addition to having her sister Bertha attest to her birth date on her passport application, there was a witness statement from Frederick Newman, who attested that he had known Alice for ten years.

Alice Goldsmith 1920 passport application, Volume: Roll 1270 – Certificates: 57750-58125, 23 Jun 1920-24 Jun 1920. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

So Bertha’s second husband Frederick Newman had known Alice Goldsmith since 1910? When Alice was still living in Philadelphia? How could that be? Bertha was married to Sampson at that time. I wondered: Had Frederick Newman been an old friend who knew Alice? Had Alice introduced Bertha to Frederick?

It’s even weirder than that.

I started digging around to find out when Bertha and Sampson’s marriage had ended, and I located a passport application for Bertha Wayne in 1921 when she was still married to Sampson Wayne.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1643; Volume #: Roll 1643 – Certificates: 47626-47999, 06 Jun 1921-06 Jun 1921.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Then I saw a notice of Bertha and Sampson’s divorce decree in the Reno Evening Gazette of July 11, 1922. That meant Bertha married Frederick in May, 1923, less than a year after she divorced Sampson.

Reno Gazette. July 11, 1922, p. 8

Then, as I examined Bertha’s 1921 passport application more carefully, I noticed that the passport application was supported by two affidavits from none other than Frederick Newman, her future husband. First, an affidavit of identification:

I was taken aback when I realized that the second affidavit was a “Form of Affidavit for a Relative.” A relative?

 

The second affidavit signed by Frederick Newman stated that he was a cousin of Sampson Wayne, Bertha’s husband, and that “my mother was his mother’s sister.”

I went back to research Sampson and Frederick and discovered that Sampson’s mother Hattie Loewenthal was indeed the sister of Pauline Loewenthal, Frederick Newman’s mother.4

So Frederick Newman was Sampson Wayne’s first cousin, and he married Bertha less than a year after she divorced his cousin Sampson. I can only imagine what this did to the families of Frederick and Sampson.

A year after Bertha’s second marriage, her sister Alice Goldsmith married for the first time. She married Louis Margulies, who was born on December 29, 1881, in Iasi, Romania.4 Louis, the son of Sol and Pearl Margulies, had immigrated to the US with his parents on October 10, 1884, where they settled in New York City.5 In 1920, Louis was living with his siblings in New York City and working as a woolens salesman.6

Louis Margulies married Alice Goldsmith on June 11, 1924, in Manhattan.7 He was 42, she was 43 when they married. For the first time since 1900, Alice then appeared on a census in 1925. On the 1925 New York State census, she and her husband Louis were living at 535 West 113th Street. Louis had changed careers sometime between 1920 and 1925 and was now working in real estate.

Louis and Alice Margulies, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 44; Assembly District: 11; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 20 Description District: A·D· 11 E·D· 44 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925

Bertha and her second husband Frederick also appeared on the 1925 New York State census. They were living at 309 West 99th Street, not too far from Alice. Bertha’s two teenaged children from her first marriage, Arthur and Frances, were living with them. Frederick was practicing medicine.8

Louis Goldsmith, who like his sister Alice had not appeared on a census since 1900, also does not appear on the 1925 New York census, but he seemed to be traveling very often, so that may explain his continuing ability to elude the census enumerator. But the census enumerator finally caught up with him in 1930 when he was living in the Plaza Hotel in New York City and working as an advertising executive.9 Louis was obviously quite successful in his career, living in a hotel and traveling very often. He was apparently known in the advertising field as a leader who “helped convert men to wear light summer clothing” and for promoting something called Palm Beach cloth,10 a “lightweight summer fabric of cotton warp and mohair filling.”

Alice and her husband Louis Margulies also appear on the 1930 US census; they were living at 300 Riverside Drive in 1930, and Louis continued to work in the real estate business.11

Although both Louis Goldsmith and Alice Goldsmith appeared on the 1930 census, this time their sister Bertha seems to have missed being counted. However, I did find Bertha and Frederick on a ship manifest for a trip from Southampton, England, to New York on October 11, 1930, which gave their address as 171 West 71st Street in New York City. (Reverse-searching did not find them at that address on the 1930 census.)12

Miraculously, all three Goldsmith siblings are recorded on the 1940 census. Bertha and Frederick Newman were now living on 57 East 88th Street in New York, and Frederick continued to practice medicine. Bertha’s two children had both married and moved on to their own households.13 Alice and Louis Margulies were living at 104 Park Avenue in New York; Louis was still engaged in the real estate business.14 And Louis Goldsmith, the youngest child of Abraham Goldsmith, was living at 21 West 58th Street, still working in the advertising field.15

By 1940, Bertha, Alice, and Louis had already lost two of their half-sisters: Emily (1917) and Rose (1931). Between 1940 and 1957, they would lose three more siblings: Edwin (1944), their full brother Alfred (1947), and Milton (1957).  I wonder how close Louis and Milton were, both advertising men living in New York City all those years, but 21 years apart in age.

Louis was the first of the three youngest siblings to die, and he passed away on July 28, 1958, just ten months after his older brother Milton; he was 75 years old. According to his obituary he died from a heart attack in front of his home at 21 West 58th Street.16

Louis Goldsmith’s death must have been particularly heartbreaking for his sister Alice, who had lost her husband Louis Margulies just three weeks earlier on July 8, 1958.17 Alice herself survived her brother and husband by less than seven months; she died on January 6, 1959. She was 78 years old.18

Neither Louis Goldsmith nor Alice Goldsmith had had children; they were survived by only their two remaining siblings, their sisters Bertha and Estelle. Bertha died on May 25, 1963, when she was 84. I could not find any information about when her husband Frederick Newman died, but since her death notice referred to him as “the late Dr. Frederick J. Newman,” he must have predeceased her.

When Bertha died, the only child of Abraham Goldsmith still living was his daughter Estelle from his first marriage, and as we saw, she died five years after Bertha on May 9, 1968, at age 98.

Thus ends the story of my three-times great-uncle Abraham Goldsmith and his ten children. What an incredibly interesting bunch they have been to research. Abraham came as a teenager to Philadelphia from Oberlistingen, Germany, became a successful businessman, lost one wife at a very young age and one daughter as a child, but raised nine other children, five from his first wife Cecelia and four with his second wife Frances. All nine lived interesting lives, some in Philadelphia, some in New York City. Some were talented with words, others with business, others with inventions. It was truly a pleasure to learn about them and to honor their memories.

Now I will move on to the next Goldschmidt sibling to come to America, Meyer.

 

 

 

 


  1. New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Volume Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995 
  2. Bertha and Sampson Wayne, 1920 US Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 11, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1204; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 810. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948. Original data: Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. 
  4. Louis Margulies, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; 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 
  5.  National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; ARC Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21. Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1940  
  6. Louis Margulies, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1226; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 1489. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7.  New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Volume Number: 7. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995 
  8. Bertha and Frederick Newman, 1925 NYS Census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 35; Assembly District: 09; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 21. Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925 
  9. Louis Goldsmith, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0566. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  10. “Louis S. Goldsmith, Advertising Man, 75,” The New York Times, August 1, 1958. 
  11. Louis and Alice Margulies, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0486. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. Frederick and Bertha Newman (and Frances Wayne) on 1930 ship manifest,Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4848; Line: 1; Page Number: 15, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  13. Bertha and Frederick Newman, 1940 US Census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02655; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-1327.
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  14. Alice and Louis Margulies, 1940 US Census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02655; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 31-1337. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  15. Louis Goldsmith, 1940 US Census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 31-1382. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  16. “Louis S. Goldsmith, Advertising Man, 75,” The New York Times, August 1, 1958. 
  17. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  18. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 

Bertha, Alice and Louis: Eluding the Census

The three youngest children of my three-times great-uncle Abraham Goldsmith and his second wife Frances Spanier were Bertha, Alice, and Louis. I was going to write a separate post for each of them, but as their stories started to unfold, I realized that their lives were so intertwined that it made more sense to combine their three stories into two posts.  These three siblings were all close in age, and all three ended up in New York City, as had their oldest (half) brother Milton and older (full) brother Alfred.

Bertha was born on August 16, 1878,1 Alice on August 29, 1880,2 and Louis on November 4, 1882, all in Philadelphia.3 In 1900, they were all still living with their parents and older half-sister Estelle in Philadelphia.  Bertha was working as a “saleslady,” Alice as a milliner, and Louis was still in school. Their father Abraham died two years later on January 27, 1902, as we have seen.

Abraham Goldsmith and family 1900 census
Philadelphia Ward 12, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Enumeration District: 0208
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

In 1906, Bertha married Sampson Herbert Weinhandler, the son of Solomon Weinhandler and Hattie Loewenthal.4

Marriage license of Bertha Goldsmith and Sampson Weinhandler, FamilySearch database of Philadelphia marriage licenses

Sampson was born in New York on April 17, 1873,5 and grew up in New York City where his father, a Russian born immigrant, was the owner of a millinery store. Sampson’s mother Hattie was an immigrant from Germany.6  In 1905, Sampson was boarding in the household of others and was a practicing lawyer. He had graduated from City College of New York in 1893 and had received a law degree from Columbia University in 1896.7 A year after marrying Sampson, Bertha gave birth to their first child, Arthur, on May 22, 1907.8

Alfred, Bertha, Alice, and Louis Goldsmith lost their mother Frances the following year. She died on January 18, 1908, from a cerebral hemorrhage and apoplexy, i.e., a stroke.  She was only 52 years old.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 006001-010000
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

The 1910 census found Bertha and Sampson Weinhandler living at 531 West 112th Street in Manhattan with their son Arthur. Sampson was practicing law.9 On July 3, 1911, Bertha and Sampson’s second child was born; she was named Frances, presumably for Bertha’s recently deceased mother.10

Meanwhile, Bertha’s two younger siblings Alice and Louis were probably still in Philadelphia although I cannot find either Alice or Louis on the 1910 US census.  As we will see, these siblings had a way of eluding the census. There are three men named Louis Goldsmith in the 1911 Philadelphia directory, but I’ve no idea which one is my Louis or if any of them are. 11 According to his obituary, Louis was still in Philadelphia during this time period, working as sales and advertising director for the Snellenburg Clothing Company. 12

In February, 1914, Louis traveled from Naples, Italy, to New York, and listed his address as 1934 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia (an address I could not locate on the 1910 census);13 according to a passport application he filed in 1920, Louis spent several months living in France and Italy in 1913.14  In 1914 he founded his own advertising agency in Philadelphia, L.S. Goldsmith Advertising Agency.15

Louis Goldsmith 1920 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1313; Volume #: Roll 1313 – Certificates: 73626-73999, 29 Jul 1920-29 Jul 1920. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

 

For Alice, I have no records at all between 1900 and 1914. In August of 1914, she traveled to Europe to join her brother Louis, according to the passenger manifest, so Louis must have returned to Europe, but I cannot find him on a passenger manifest later that year.16 I have no address or occupation for Alice from 1900 until 1918 (see below).

Meanwhile, Bertha, apparently more census-compliant than her younger siblings (perhaps because Sampson was a lawyer), showed up on the 1915 New York State census.  She and her family were now living at 235 West 103rd Street in New York City, and Sampson continued to practice law.17

Louis moved to New York City in 1915, according to his obituary. 18 His draft registration for World War I dated September 12, 1918, states that he was then living at 140 West 69th Street in New York City and working in his own advertising business. He listed his sister Alice Goldsmith as his contact person and gave her address as 2131 Green Street, Philadelphia. I could not find Alice living at that address on the 1910 census, but her sister Emily and her family were living there, so perhaps Alice had moved in at some point after 1910. But by 1920, neither Alice nor Emily’s family (Emily having passed away in 1917) was living at that address.

Louis Goldsmith, World War I draft registration
Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1766147; Draft Board: 124
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

By 1920, Bertha’s husband Sampson Weinhandler had changed his name to Sampson Wayne, presumably to make it look either less Jewish or less German or perhaps both. In 1920 he and his family (also using the surname Wayne) were living at 235 West 103rd in Manhattan, and he was still practicing law.19

Once again, I had trouble finding either Alice or Louis on the 1920 census. But both applied for passports that year, and both listed their residential address as 140 West 69th Street, New York, New York, on their applications, which was the same address that Louis had listed as his address on his 1918 draft registration.20 (See Louis’ application above.) Alice was a witness for Louis on his application as to his birth (giving her address as 140 West 69th Street), and Bertha was a witness for Alice on her application as to her birth.

Louis Goldsmith, 1920 passport photo, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1313; Volume #: Roll 1313 – Certificates: 73626-73999, 29 Jul 1920-29 Jul 1920. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925.

 

Alice Goldsmith passport application and photo,
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1270; Volume #: Roll 1270 – Certificates: 57750-58125, 23 Jun 1920-24 Jun 1920
Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Both Alice and Louis also applied for passports again in 1923. Again, both gave 140 West 69th Street as their residential address. Both indicated that they were planning to visit several countries in Europe, staying for many months.21

So I had an address for both Alice and Louis to use to find them on the 1920 census, and I turned to stevemorse.org to do a reverse census lookup.  But I had no luck. I found 140 West 69th Street on the 1920 census, but neither Louis nor Alice was listed as residing there. Nor can I find them elsewhere on the 1920 census.

Those passport applications thus did not help me find Alice or Louis on the 1920 census. But they did help me figure out something else. That is a story for my next post.

 


  1.  Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBT5-5R2 : 8 December 2014), Goldsmith, 16 Aug 1878; citing bk 1878 p 23, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,319. 
  2. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBR5-HSD : 8 December 2014), Goldsmith, 29 Aug 1880; citing bk 1880 p 26, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,320. 
  3. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V1MW-53K : 8 December 2014), Louis Goldsmith, 04 Nov 1882; citing bk 1882 p 134, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,322. 
  4. Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
  5.  Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1766376; Draft Board: 134; Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  6. Weinhandler family, 1880 US Census, 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 873; Page: 228A; Enumeration District: 148; Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census. Weinhandler family, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1027; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 0726; FHL microfilm: 1375040. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. Also, Ancestry.com. New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Genealogical Research Library, comp. New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s. 
  7. Media posted on Ancestry Family Tree (“Our Harris Family Tree”); New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 19 E.D. 23; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 28.
    Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905. 
  8. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. 
  9. Bertha and Sampson Weinhandler, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1027; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0726; FHL microfilm: 1375040. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10.  Number: 090-32-7264; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: 1957-1958. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. 1911 Philadelphia City Directory, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  12.   “Louis S. Goldsmith, Advertising Man, 75,” The New York Times, August 1, 1958. Another twist in my family tree: The Snellenburg Clothing Company was owned by the family of Caroline Snellenburg, who was married to my great-great-uncle Joseph Cohen. 
  13. Year: 1914; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2266; Line: 6; Page Number: 23. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  14.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1313; Volume #: Roll 1313 – Certificates: 73626-73999, 29 Jul 1920-29 Jul 1920. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  15. “Louis S. Goldsmith, Advertising Man, 75,” The New York Times, August 1, 1958. 
  16.  Year: 1914; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2364; Line: 1; Page Number: 145; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  17. Weinhandler family, 1915 NYS Census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 03; Assembly District: 19; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 06. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1915 
  18.   “Louis S. Goldsmith, Advertising Man, 75,” The New York Times, August 1, 1958. 
  19.   Wayne family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 11, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1204; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 810.
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  20. Louis Goldsmith 1920 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1313; Volume #: Roll 1313 – Certificates: 73626-73999, 29 Jul 1920-29 Jul 1920. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. 
  21. Alice Goldsmith 1923 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2273; Volume #: Roll 2273 – Certificates: 293850-294349, 23 May 1923-23 May 1923. Louis Goldsmith 1923 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2185; Volume #: Roll 2185 – Certificates: 250726-251099, 21 Feb 1923-23 Feb 1923. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 

Interview on Pioneer Valley Radio

I was recently interviewed by Bernadette Duncan on Pioneer Valley Radio about my novel Pacific Street and about genealogy research in general. I hope you find it interesting.

You can find it here.

pacific street

You can buy my book here.

At the Sign of the Sparrow: The Legacy of Alfred Goldsmith

As I noted at the end of my last post, Joseph J. Felcone, the author of The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), helped me learn more about my cousin Alfred Goldsmith and his famous bookstore, At the Sign of the Sparrow. He also gave me permission to use some of the images from his book.  I am deeply grateful to Mr. Felcone for his generosity and all his help. With his permission, I can share this wonderful self-portrait that my cousin Alfred drew as his response to an invitation to dinner with the Old Book Table, the antiquarian book club to which he belonged:

Courtesy of Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 5.

From Mr. Felcone, I also learned about three other sources with information about Alfred Goldsmith, including accounts from two men who knew him personally, Walter Goldwater, a fellow bookseller,  and Edward Naumberg, Jr., a patron of the arts and book collector. The third source is a book published in 2003 by Marvin Mondlin and Roy Meader entitled Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade (Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 2003).1

Although I still don’t have a photograph that I can post of Alfred’s store, the descriptions I found create a vivid picture. The New York Times provided this description in its obituary of Alfred:2

With its entrance a few steps below street level, the shop reflected the intimacy of its owner; it was small, laden with all kinds of books and enmeshed with cobwebs. A mecca for theatrical personalities, the shop specialized in books on the stage, pictures of famous actors and old programs.

Mondlin and Meader describe the store in similar terms in Book Row:3

The entrance to the small, quaint (as some said) shop at 42 Lexington Avenue required walking down steps from street level.….Inside, the shop presented a diverse congregation of books, rather jumbled, and a hint of age, cobwebs, benign neglect, and intimate charm. The faux Gothic ambiance fit the proprietor, who typically stood waiting, book in hand, smiling in welcome.

Edward Naumburg, Jr., who knew Alfred well, provided these details:4

Outside was a wobbly bookstand offering 10-cent and 25-cent bargains. The shop was dimly lighted, warmed by a gas stove, lined of course with bookshelves, and divided by a flimsy partition beyond which was the inner sanctum where rarities were kept.  The average customer was not invited to enter.

The store was allegedly the setting of two mystery books: Christopher Morley’s The Haunted Bookshop5 and Carolyn Wells’ Murder in the Bookshop. Carolyn Wells, as previously noted, was Alfred’s collaborator on works about Walt Whitman, and according to Naumburg, Alfred told him that Wells did in fact visualize his store as the setting for her novel.6 Perhaps then the illustration from the cover of her book conveys some sense of the appearance of the exterior of Alfred’s store.

Naumberg’s essay includes two photographs of Alfred inside the store, but I’ve been unable to find someone who can give me permission to use them; however, if you go to the link for his article here, you can see them.

I also found this old photograph of Lexington Avenue looking north from 24th Street, so although Alfred’s store is not in this photograph, it does depict the neighborhood where he worked and lived.

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. “Manhattan: Lexington Avenue – 24th Street (East)” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1931. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-4410-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

But what happened inside the store is more important than its appearance. Naumburg said it “was often the scene of quite wonderful arguments and discussions.” 7 Mondlin and Meader noted that “Customers, scouts, collectors, bibliographers, writers, and librarians … made the Sparrow a friendly hangout at the outer border of Book Row.”8   In addition, they observed that “[h]is shop became a theatrical oasis specializing in stage books and ephemera. Broadway enthusiasts and personalities browsed at the Sign of the Sparrow for books, theater programs, and pictures of actors.”9 Serious historians, book collectors, and theater fans all shopped together in the little store.

What I most enjoyed learning from these sources were the insights into Alfred’s personality. Walter Goldwater described him this way:10

Goldsmith never sat down; he always stood behind his little counter and made cute remarks to people who came in, usually the kind of things where you’d have to say, “When you say that, smile.” He always did smile, so nobody took it quite to heart….He said it in such a sweet way that nobody could really believe that he really meant those terrible things that he said.

Naumburg shared this humorous story, which exemplifies Goldwater’s comment:11

One of my favorite stories concerns the time a rather shabby man entered the shop and said, “Mr. Goldsmith, you are the Whitman expert.  I have here Whitman’s eyeglasses and his cane which I’m sure you’d like to buy.” Alfred didn’t reply.  He took a scissors from his desk drawer, reached down and clipped a few hairs from his pet dog, Chris, who was lying at his feet, handed them to the man, and said, “And here are clippings from Walt’s beard. They’ll go well with the eyeglasses.”

Walt Whitman, 1872.
By Photographer: G. Frank E. Pearsall (1860-1899) (NYPL Digital Gallery) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mondlin and Meader wrote that “his knowledge, amiability, probity, humor, and punctilio made him such a congenial square shooter that he elevated the hospitality tone of Book Row all by himself.” 12

The one characteristic that all the sources commented on was Alfred’s lack of entrepreneurial drive. Mondin and Meader said that he was “more interested in having a leisurely talk about books than a chance for monetary gain.”13 Goldwater commented:14

Most of us knew that, at some price or another, Goldsmith would buy a book. How in the world he could do it, since it didn’t seem to us he ever sold anything and he certainly was very cheap in price, we never could understand. But he always would buy a book at some price or other. If we were broke during those early thirties, we would go to Goldsmith and be able to get fifty cents or a dollar, because he would buy.

Goldwater said that Alfred was known for coining the statement that “the book business is a very pleasant way of making a very little money.”15 Mondlin and Meader quote book collector John T. Winterich, who wrote this about Alfred:16

How Alfred Goldsmith contrived to convert the mutually effacing principles of buying high and selling low into anything resembling the profit motive is beyond my economic comprehension.  But I am sure he had a good time in the process….And although he lived by selling books, he was about the poorest—or possibly the best—bookseller of my acquaintance. He never talked up a book.  He never priced up a book.

His financial burdens were amusingly depicted in this cartoon he drew:

Courtesy of Joseph J. Felcone, from The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 5.

In addition to his book collecting and selling activities, Alfred was active in the Old Book Table from its earliest days in the 1930s. His financial challenges were described in his tongue-in-cheek comments and in a cartoon he drew in March 1933, humorously depicting his intended means of raising three dollars, the charge for attending the monthly club dinner:16

Today I made a neat little barrow holding a small oil stove and a tin tray and tomorrow I start out at 7 A.M. selling hot hamburger sandwiches at 5 cents each. If I do not make three dollars at this, I will pawn a first edition of Leaves of Grass to make up the difference….

Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 7

According to Naumburg, in addition to his drawings, Alfred was also known for the short poems he often read at the Old Book Table meetings.17

Here is the one photograph I have of Alfred that I can share on this page, thanks to the generosity of Joseph Felcone. Alfred is standing, fourth from our right.

Alfred F. Goldsmith (fourth from right) and other members of the Old Book Table. Courtesy of Joseph J. Felcone, from The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 15.

Alfred’s wife Ray joined him in his work in the Sparrow; the 1940 US census lists her occupation as “saleswoman, bookstore.” (Alfred himself was identified as “storekeeper, bookstore.”)18 Goldwater and Naumburg had conflicting views on her role in the store and her personality. Goldwater’s assessment was rather harsh: “His wife was an Englishwoman who was Cerberus sitting at the door, hating everybody who came in and trying to keep them for fear they might bother her husband.”19

Naumburg was much kinder in his view of Ray:20

Alfred’s wife, Ray, was almost always present.  She was British with a charming London accent and a shrewd, intuitive sense for sizing up browsers. On first acquaintance she seemed a bit aloof; later one found her warm and understanding. Ray was a splendid cook, and her own collection of cookbooks was an appropriate hobby for the wife of an antiquarian bookseller.

Alfred Francis Goldsmith died on July 28, 1947.21 Goldwater recalled seeing him “grimacing in pain” from what Alfred believed was sciatica, but what was in fact cancer. 22 According to Alfred’s obituary in The New York Times, the day after he died was “the first time since it was opened [that] At the Sign of the Sparrow was closed to its frequenters.”23

Mondlin and Meader wrote that after Alfred’s death, his widow Ray asked a friend, Frederick Lightfoot, if he wanted to take over the store, but Lightfoot declined because he did not think it would be financially viable. Ray kept the store open for a few months, “But without Alfred Goldsmith, the spirit of the store was gone.” The store closed, and the inventory was sold to Swann Auction Galleries.24 According to Walter Goldwater, that inventory proved to be less valuable than expected, as Alfred did not in fact own as many valuable books as had been assumed.25

Alfred was only 66 when he died and was survived by his wife Ray and four of his siblings: his younger siblings Bertha, Alice, and Louis, and his oldest (half) brother, Milton Goldsmith. He certainly lived an interesting life and made his mark on the book world. He is another Goldsmith I wish I could invite to dinner.  Not only would I enjoy his humor and his intelligence, I would love to hear the stories he had about his family and his life.

Thank you again to Joe Felcone for his invaluable assistance and generosity.

 

 


  1. “Book Row” refers to section of New York City on and near Fourth Avenue south of Fourteenth Street which was once the location of numerous stores selling secondhand and rare books. Although Alfred’s store, which was located about ten blocks north of Fourteenth Street, was outside the section known as Book Row, his role as a bookseller was so well-known and so well-regarded that he and his store are included in Mondlin and Meader’s book.  Mondlin and Meader’s book will be referred to hereinafter as Mondlin and Meader. 
  2. “A.F. Goldsmith, 66, Book Dealer, Dies,” The New York Times, July 30, 1947, p. 17. 
  3. Mondlin and Meader, p. 52. 
  4.  Edward J. Naumburg, Jr., “My Favorite Bookseller,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume 48, No. 2, Winter 1987, p. 183. Hereinafter referred to as Naumburg. 
  5. Ralph Dumain, The Autodidact Project: “New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater,” (audiotape interview with Walter Goldwater by unnamed interviewer), p. 144,  found at http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/goldwat1.html  Hereinafter referred to as Goldwater, p. 144. 
  6. Naumburg, p, 181. 
  7. Naumburg, p, 186. 
  8. Mondlin and Meader, p. 51. 
  9. Mondlin and Meader, p. 54. 
  10. Goldwater, p. 144. 
  11. Naumburg, p. 185. 
  12. Mondlin and Meader, p. 50 
  13. Mondlin and Meader, p. 51 
  14. Goldwater, p. 144. 
  15. Goldwater, p. 144. 
  16. Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 7. 
  17. Naumburg, p.187. 
  18. Alfred and Ray Goldsmith, 1940 US Census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02649; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 31-1066. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  19. Goldwater, p. 144. 
  20. Naumburg, p. 183. 
  21.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WPP-8JB : 10 February 2018), Alfred Goldsmith, 28 Jul 1947; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,133,778. 
  22. Goldwater, p. 144 
  23.  “A.F. Goldsmith, 66, Book Dealer, Dies,” The New York Times, July 30, 1947, p. 17. 
  24. Mondlin and Meader, p.55-56. 
  25. Goldwater, p. 144. 

Alfred Goldsmith, Book Lover

As seen in my last post, Alfred Goldsmith’s ill-fated 1905 marriage to Beatrice Miller ended in divorce in 1913, and I was unable to find anything about the eight years in between. But what happened to Alfred after 1913?

The first record I have for Alfred after his 1913 divorce was a record of his second marriage on July 24, 1918, to Ray Solomons in Troy, New York.1 Ray was the daughter of Myer Solomons and Caroline Weinberg. Myer was originally from Warsaw, Poland, and Caroline from Austria. They had both immigrated to England, where Ray was born in 1891. The family immigrated to the US in 1910 when Ray was nineteen. On the 1915 New York State census, her father listed his occupation as a dyer; later records show he was in the fur business. Ray was employed as a bookkeeper in 1915. She was living with her family in the Bronx. 2

Solomons family 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 06; Assembly District: 34; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 34
Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1915

So why did Ray and Alfred marry in Troy, New York, a city about 150 miles north of New York City? At first I worried that this was another elopement, and perhaps it was. But happily for Ray and Alfred, this marriage lasted. Ray was 27 when they married, Alfred was forty. They stayed together until Alfred’s death. It does not appear that they ever had children.

Like his half-siblings Milton and Emily, Alfred loved books. He had a life-long interest in literature and in particular authors: Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe, and especially Walt Whitman. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Alfred “was only twelve when he became captivated by Whitman’s poetry and started to collect rare Whitman editions.” 3 That interest in Whitman stayed with him throughout adulthood.

When Alfred registered for the draft on September 12, 1918, six months after their wedding, he and Ray were living at 2593 Eighth Avenue in New York City, and his occupation was “bookseller” at 42 Lexington Avenue. That would remain his place of business for the rest of his life. Alfred’s bookstore, known as At the Sign of the Sparrow, became very well-known, as we will see.

Alfred Goldsmith, World War I draft registration,
Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786673; Draft Board: 140
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, Alfred and Ray were living at 304 Second Avenue in New York City, and Alfred listed his occupation on the census as “Books” in his own business.4 The 1922 New York directory also has his occupation simply as “books,” and the 1925 New York State census lists his occupation as “bookseller.”5

In 1922, Alfred and Carolyn Wells, the author of over 170 books for adults and children, collaborated on The Concise Bibliography of the Works of Walt Whitman (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1922), which was “affectionately dedicated to Ray S. Goldsmith.” The book is, as the title indicates, a bibliography of all the books written by Walt Whitman and all the books written about Walt Whitman. It was for many years considered one of the authoritative works of scholarship about Whitman.6

Alfred Goldsmith and Carolyn Wells also collaborated on another project, editing a collection of Whitman’s essays entitled Rivulets of Prose (Greenberg, Publishers, Inc., 1928). That also was dedicated to Alfred’s wife Ray: “With Affection to Ray S. Goldsmith for Her Sympathetic Assistance.” It is evident from the foreword to this collection that Alfred and his co-editor had quite a scholarly approach to Whitman and his work.

In addition, Alfred organized a major exhibit at the New York Public Library about Walt Whitman in 1925. He collected from many private collectors Whitman’s manuscripts and books and other materials and prepared them for the exhibit. According to the November 8, 1925 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (p. 11), interest in “Whitmanania” was so intense that the price of these materials had risen sharply and were mostly in the hands of private collectors; the purpose of the exhibit was thus to give the public a chance to see these materials.

Alfred was very active in book auctions, buying and selling first and other editions of books on his own behalf and for collectors. The Harrisburg Telegraph reported this amusing story about Alfred’s experiences at one book auction:7

It will cost you money if you arrange signals with a bookseller at an auction and then forget those signals. The idea is Alfred F. Goldsmith’s, a bookseller, and it grew out of this incident.

At one of the numerous book auctions (New York has dozens of them each month) a wealthy collector authorized Goldsmith to purchase a certain volume for him. “I’ll pay as much as $125,” he instructed the seller, who was to do the bidding for him.

“But,” explained Goldsmith, “It would be a crime to let the purchase fall through if it could be effected for a few extra dollars.”

“Then,” said the client, “keep bidding until I stop you.  I’ll be there watching the sale.  When you see me remove my glasses, drop out; that will be the signal.”

Thus agreed, both arrived at the auction. But Goldsmith soon found himself several rows removed from his client and unable to keep in oral connection. It didn’t take the book long to climb. In a trice, it was up to $125, the agreed sum. Goldsmith dropped out, for just at that moment his client casually removed his glasses.

The bidding soared. Soon it had reached $325, and Goldsmith, glancing toward his client, saw that gentleman nod and refit his glasses. Just as he launched a bid, however, off came the glasses. Then the client hastily put them on again.  Reassured, Goldsmith then began to bid in earnest, finally winning for $375.

“Congratulations,” called Goldsmith to his client, “you got it.”

“Got what?” asked the client, not comprehending.

“Why, the book,” said Goldsmith.

“Didn’t I tell you,” gasped the fellow—“to stop at $125?” Goldsmith then reminded him of the signal by glasses.

“You know,” he said sheepishly, “I’d forgotten all about that.” Then he wrote out his check for $375 and went out to his limousine, smiling at himself.

A newspapers.com search turned up numerous articles about Alfred’s success at book auctions. For example, in March 1936, Alfred bid successfully for a rare book written by Lewis Carroll, one of his other favorite authors. The Central New Jersey Home News wrote:8

The magic name of Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland,” made book collectors bid frantically for a little known, privately printed book at a sale here. When the hammer banged, its price was announced at $310. The purchaser was Alfred F. Goldsmith, Carroll expert.

According to one inflation calculator, $310 in 1936 would be worth about $5,500 today.

The Reading (Pennsylvania) Times reported on Alfred’s acquisition and sale of a rare book of Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems, in April 1938; it described the book as “the scarcest and most valuable book of poetry ever published in America.” Poe, as noted above, was another of Alfred’s favorite authors.

Reading PA Times, April 18, 1938, p. 19

These are just two of the many articles I found reporting on Alfred’s purchases of rare books at auctions.

But Alfred was probably best known for his bookstore, At the Sign of the Sparrow, which was a well-known landmark in New York City. In my search to find a photograph of the store, I landed on the website of The Old Book Table, “a social club composed of antiquarian booksellers and those engaged in professions related to antiquarian bookselling.” According to the website, it is the oldest such club in the world, founded in 1931 in New York City.

Alfred was one of the early members of the club, and the history page on the club’s website had both a photograph of Alfred and one of his drawings. The history page was excerpted from a book by Joseph J. Felcone: The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006).  Through the magic of the Internet I was able to contact Mr. Felcone and, with his help, learn a great deal more about my cousin Alfred. That merits a whole separate post.

 

 

 


  1. Rensselaer County, New York, Marriage Index, 1908-1935,  Volume 2, Number 9954. 
  2. The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Class: HO 334; Piece: 25; Ancestry.com. UK, Naturalisation Certificates and Declarations, 1870-1916. Passenger manifest, Year: 1910; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1583; Line: 4; Page Number: 60. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. 
  3.  “A.F. Goldsmith, 66, Book Dealer, Dies,” The New York Times, July 30, 1947, p. 17. 
  4. Alfred F. and Ray Goldsmith, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 12, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1206; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 854. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  5. New York, New York City Directories 1922, 1925, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  6. Edward J. Naumburg, Jr., “My Favorite Bookseller,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume 48, No. 2, Winter 1987, p. 185. 
  7. George Tucker, ” ‘Round About New York,” Harrisburg Telegraph, April 9, 1935, p. 8. 
  8. “Poem by Carroll Boosts Price of Book to $310,” Central New Jersey Home News, March 27, 1936, p. 27.