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 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 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. 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 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. 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 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 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 8 December 2014), Louis Goldsmith, 04 Nov 1882; citing bk 1882 p 134, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,322. 
  4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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; 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; 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. 1910 United States Federal Census. Also, New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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. New York, State Census, 1905. 
  8. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10.  Number: 090-32-7264; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: 1957-1958. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. 1911 Philadelphia City Directory, 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. 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. 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; 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Yet Another Small World Story

You know by now that I believe we are all somehow connected—that there truly are only six degrees of separation between any two people. I’ve encountered it many times while doing family history research—my cousins who end up being close friends with either my own friends or with my husband’s cousins, a cousin who once worked at the same JCC where I’ve belonged for over 30 years, cousins with children or grandchildren living in the same town where I now live, and so on.

So here’s another small world story, and although this one does not involve any of my own ancestors or cousins, it nevertheless is more evidence of our interconnectedness.

Back in the fall of 2013, I ordered from a third-party seller on Amazon a book entitled Streets: A Memoir of the Lower East Side by Bella Cohen Spewack (Feminist Press at CUNY, 1995). I purchased the book to learn more about life on the Lower East Side in the first two decades of the 20th century when my grandmother, Gussie Brotman, was growing up there. The memoir gave a detailed and, in many ways, harrowing portrayal of Bella Spewack’s life as a child in the Lower East Side.  Despite her poverty-stricken and difficult start in life, she grew up to become a successful journalist and writer, best known for the play and Broadway hit, Kiss Me Kate, which she wrote with her husband Sam Spewack. I devoted three blog posts to summarizing and commenting on what I had learned about the Lower East Side from reading Bella Spewack’s book.

In a footnote to my last post about Spewack’s book, I wrote about the mysterious handwritten note that had been tucked inside the book when I received it.  The note was written to people named Sheila and Alan and read,

At last we have received copies of Bella’s memoirs. We thought they would never come.  This one is for you.  I hope you enjoy it.  I’ll talk to you this weekend.  On to Turkey! Love, Arthur and Lois.

When I found the note in the book, I had wondered whether Sheila and Alan, the addressees, had ever seen it and whether they had meant to leave it in the book when they gave away or sold the book. I also wondered who Arthur and Lois and Sheila and Alan were. I thought about trying to return the note, but without last names I had no way to do that.

I had one clue: there was an afterward to Bella Spewack’s book by a woman named Lois Raeder Elias, who wrote that she had been a longtime friend of Bella Spewack. I wondered whether the note was written by Lois Raeder Elias since it certainly seemed from the content of the note that the person sending it had participated in some way in the publication of Spewack’s book.

So I mentioned the note in my last blog post about Spewack’s book, hoping that Lois Raeder Elias or someone who knew her might somehow find my post and contact me. That was in December of 2013, almost four and half years ago.

Fast forward about two years later to November of 2015. I was now in the process of researching my Schoenthal ancestors and their lives in Washington, Pennsylvania. While researching the history of Jewish life in so-called “Little Washington,” I connected with Marilyn A. Posner, a past president of Beth Israel synagogue in Little Washington as well as the author of the centennial history of the synagogue, The House of Israel, A Home in Washington: 100 Years of Beth Israel Congregation, 1891-1991 / 5652-5752 (1991, Congregation Beth Israel, Washington, Pennsylvania). Marilyn was extremely helpful to me in my research, and I relied on her research and her book extensively in writing about Little Washington’s Jewish history on my blog. We also developed an email friendship and found other areas of common interest.

House of Nathan Samuels in Washiington PA where Beth Israel congregants first met
Photo courtesy of Marilyn Posner from her book, “The House of Israel, A Home in Washington: 100 Years of Beth Israel Congregation, 1891-1991 / 5652-5752

So how do these two things relate? How does a note in a book by Bella Spewack about the Lower East Side of New York City connect to a woman who lives in Washington, Pennsylvania?

Well, fast forward another two and half years to April 2018, about a week ago. Out of the blue I received an email from Marilyn that I had to read several times to absorb and understand completely.  But here’s the essence: Marilyn’s first cousin, once removed, a man named Arthur Elias, had died on April 12, 2018, at age 92.  Marilyn’s son, in Googling his cousin Arthur’s name for information about his life, somehow fell upon the footnote to my blog post from December 15, 2013, and sent it along to his mother, Marilyn.

Marilyn with her great-aunt Bertha Elias, mother of Arthur Elias, 1948

Marilyn immediately recognized my blog and contacted me to share this small world story: Lois Raeder Elias, who had written the afterward to Bella Spewack’s memoirs, was the wife of Marilyn’s recently deceased cousin Arthur Elias. Arthur and Lois were very close friends of Bella Spewack and in fact had inherited the rights to her works when she died, including the rights to Kiss Me Kate, which had been revived and brought back to Broadway in 1999 with the support of Arthur and Lois Raeder Elias.


Marilyn also solved the mystery of the handwritten note I’d found inside the book. She assumed it must have been written by her cousin Arthur and his wife Lois to Arthur’s sister Sheila and her husband Alan.

Marilyn then connected me to her cousin Sheila, who was very excited to hear that I had the note and the book. The next day I mailed the book and the note to Sheila, and she received it last Friday. She was thrilled and so grateful, and I was more than delighted that I could reunite Sheila and Alan with the book and the note that Arthur and Lois had sent to them over twenty years before.

Siblings Sheila and Arthur


I had long ago forgotten about the footnote that I’d left on my blog and never expected at this point to hear from anyone about that handwritten note. And then the forces of six degrees of separation came through, and someone with whom I’d connected almost two years after writing that blog footnote and over two and a half years ago turned out to be the cousin of the author and of the recipient of the note.

How is that for a small world story?!


Abie’s Irish Rose: One for My Copyright Students

After the very productive first two decades of the 20th century when Milton Goldsmith published at least ten books and had a play produced on Broadway, his output seemed to drop off after 1920. Although he published some puzzle books for children during the 1920s, he did not publish another novel or non-fiction book until 1930.

Milton Goldsmith, The Book of Anagrams, (Whitman Publishing Company, 1930).

The 1925 New York State census record is a bit of a mess so it’s hard to know how reliable it is. I think the enumerator was a bit confused. For example, for Milton he first wrote that he was born in Russia, as was the case for the person in the line above his entry. Then he crossed that out and correctly entered “US.” However, he left the entry that Milton was an alien, not a citizen. So can I trust the listing for Milton’s occupation as a store manager? I don’t think so.

Especially since the line below for Milton’s wife Sophie says she was in advertising and the line below that for Rosalind (spelled “Roseline” here) said “housewife” and was then crossed out and replaced with commercial artist (which she was). So I think that the enumerator had all the occupations off by a line and that Milton was still, as he had been since 1910, in advertising. And I’ve no idea why the enumerator completely crossed out Madeleine (“Madline”) and the servant living in the home.

Milton Goldsmith and family 1925 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 51; Assembly District: 09; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 30 New York, State Census, 1925

Despite these confusing entries on the census, I think it’s safe to assume that Milton was still working in advertising and that his wife and daughters were still living with him at 353 West 85th Street in New York City. Both daughters were now in their twenties. I was not able to learn much else about their lives in the 1920s; there were no news articles of interest or directory listings or other records that shed any light on how they spent that decade.

There was, however, one mention of Milton in a news story that was of particular interest to me as a former teacher of copyright law. One of my favorite cases to teach was Nichols v. Universal Pictures,1 an opinion written in 1930 by the renowned jurist, Learned Hand, of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was brought by Anne Nichols, the author and copyright owner of the play, “Abie’s Irish Rose,” which was a hit on Broadway in the 1920s.  She claimed that Universal Pictures had infringed her copyright with its movie, “The Cohens and the Kellys.”

Both works involved a story of an interfaith marriage between a Jew and a Catholic and the conflict it creates for their parents, who don’t approve of the marriage. There were a number of differences between the stories (which my copyright students better remember in detail, but aren’t relevant here), and both the trial court2 and the appellate court3 ruled in favor of the defendant movie studio, concluding that the theme of star-crossed lovers, one Jewish, one Catholic, was something in the public domain and not protected by copyright law.

How did Milton Goldsmith become entangled in this dispute? He was a witness for Universal Pictures at the trial in 1929, giving testimony about his own work, Rabbi and Priest and the play based upon it, The Little Brother. Although his testimony was not described in detail in the New York Times article that covered the trial, I imagine it was used to support the defendant’s argument that conflict between Jews and Catholics is a common theme used in many works, including Rabbi and Priest, and not original to Anne Nichols play, Abie’s Irish Rose.

“Abie” Not Unique, Professor Finds,” The New York Times, January 5, 1929.

It would have been fun to mention this family connection to the case when I was teaching, but alas—I knew nothing about my cousin Milton at the time.

Although Milton released updated versions of some of his earlier books in the 1930s and 1940s, his last new book, first published in 1930, was Old Mother Earth and Her Family, a geography book for young people.4 His daughter Rosalind did the illustrations for this book.

Milton Goldsmith, Old Mother Earth and Her Family (G. Sully & Company, Inc., 1930).

I was unable to find Milton or any of his family on the 1930 census, but I was able to find  Milton, Sophie, Rosalind and Madeleine on several ship manifests in 1930 and 1931 that showed that their home address was still 353 West 85th Street in New York City.5 I used to search by that address in the 1930 census, but no members of Milton’s family were listed at that address. I wonder whether the whole family was traveling or living abroad when the 1930 census was taken.

The next decade would bring some more changes for Milton and his family.


  1. Nichols v. Universal Pictures, 45 F.2d 119 (2d Cir. 1930). 
  2. Nichols v. Universal Pictures, 34 F.2d 145 (S.D.N.Y. 1929) 
  3. Nichols v. Universal Pictures, 45 F.2d 119 (2d Cir. 1930). 
  4. Milton Goldsmith, Old Mother Earth and Her Family (G. Sully & Company, 1930) 
  5.  Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4663; Line: 1; Page Number: 11; New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 (Departure from Southampton, England, September 6, 1930, Lancastria).  Also, Year: 1931; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 4903; Line: 1; Page Number: 75; New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4822; Line: 1; Page Number: 13. Description
    Ship or Roll Number: Roll 4822. Source Information New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. 

The Last Will and Testament of Abraham Goldsmith

As the 20th century began, the family of Abraham Goldsmith was doing quite well. His first four children with his first wife Cecelia were all married and living in Philadelphia; three of them had had children, giving Abraham seven grandchildren. His five younger children were still living at home with him and his second wife Frances and ranged in age from seventeen to thirty. All but Louis, the youngest, were employed outside the home. On February 1, 1901, Abraham was blessed with an eighth grandchild when his son Milton and his wife Sophie had their first child, a daughter they named Rosalind.1

Abraham, however, had been in poor health ever since suffering a stroke in about 1890, and he died on January 20, 1902, from “chronic softening of the brain.” From what I can gather from various internet sources, the condition is also known as encephalomalacia, and the softening of brain tissue is usually caused by a stroke, hemorrhage, infection, or injury. Abraham was 69 when he died. He left behind his wife Frances, his nine children, and eight grandchildren.

Abraham Goldsmith death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004009534 > image 785 of 1754; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In the obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,2 Abraham’s business was described as “one of the most prominent in its line in the United States.” He served on the boards of several financial institutions and was a member of two lodges. Abraham was not only an important business owner in Philadelphia, he was a leader and “rendered conspicuous service” in several charitable organization including being “president of the Orphans’ Guardians, a trustee of Keneseth Israel Congregation, director and vice president of the Jewish Hospital Association, and secretary of the United Hebrew Charities.”

Abraham’s funeral was “largely attended;” the rabbi “paid high tribute to [his] many virtues, his philanthropic instincts and sterling character, referring feelingly to the many acts of kindness and generosity which had endeared him to those whom he had aided during his lifetime, and to his tireless activity in all good work.”

Abraham Goldsmith obituary, The Philadelphia Exponent, January 24, 1902, p. 3.

The Philadelphia Times also published an obituary, describing Abraham as “one of the pioneer Israelites in this city” and listing his various charitable activities.3 The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as a “prominent business man of this city.”4

I found Abraham’s will quite interesting and transcribe it here in its entirety from the handwritten text:5

I Abraham Goldsmith of Philadelphia merchant do make publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, revoking all former wills ever made.

First: I give and bequeath to my son Milton my library and bookcase and the oil painting of his mother Cecelia Goldsmith.

Second: I give and bequeath to my son Edwin M my gold watch chain, masonic mark and my diamond stud.

Third: All other jewelry, coins, laces, and trinkets of my first wife shall be divided between my daughters Rose, Emily and Estelle as keepsakes by my executors in such manner as they shall think proper.

Fourth: Subject to the above provisions I give bequeath and devise to my executors and trustees all my estate real residual and ? for the purposes and upon the trusts here in [end of page 1] after expenses.

Pennsylvania probate record; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Source Information Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts. Wills, No 277-299, 1902

Fifth: All just debts and funeral expenses to be paid.

Sixth: As much or all of my Real estate as my heirs and executors deem best to be disposed of at public and private sale as soon as convenient after my death and the executors to make good title without being compelled to give security for the proper application of the funds to be received and the money so received to be considered as invested in personal property prior to the sale.

Seventh: My property to be so divided that my wife shall receive her share absolutely and the ballance [sic] to be divided among my children share and share alike so that my children of age shall receive their share at once and those that are minors to receive their share on becoming of age.

Eight: That my wife shall be guardian [end of page 2] for the minor children during their minority, she receiving the income derived from the investments for their support and education until of age and no longer.

Ninth: That the executors and trustees for the minor children have full power to invest and call in and reinvest at their pleasure and at their discretion, the investments not to be confined to what are termed legal investments.

Tenth: That my Life Insurance which was held in trust, and endowments which may be coming to me from different Societies and Lodges, shall be considered as part of my personal property and to be distributed as per direction of my Will.

Eleventh: In case of death of anyone of anyone [sic] of my children during its minority or as long as they are unmarried, all expenses incurred during sickness and burial expenses shall first be paid out of the portion set aside for the minor child and the ballance [sic] remaining to be divided in equal parts between my wife [end of page 3] and the surviving children.

Twelfth: I constitute and appoint my sons Milton Goldsmith, Edwin M Goldsmith, and my friend Morris H. Pulaski my executors, and trustees of my minor children and I direct that no security shall be required of them in either capacity. In case either of them should die, resign or fail to act, then I direct some good friend of the family to be substituted in place of one so dying, resigning or failing to act. I wish the trust always full. The substituted trustee or trustees shall have all the power and discretion conferred [sic] upon the executors and trustees who I have named.

In witness whereof I have this day the fourth day of October One Thousand Eight hundred Eighty Seven set my hand and seal. Philadelphia Oct 4th 1884.

Abraham Goldsmith [witnessed and sealed]

To add some context to these bequests, here is the estate inventory filed with the will:

Note that the largest elements in his estate were the proceeds of his life insurance policies, one being over $10,000, another over $20,000, and that the personal items were worth far less. For example, the books left to Milton were worth $50, the watch, stud, and jewelry totaled $100. To put this in today’s dollars, I turned once again to an inflation calculator.  One hundred dollars in 1902 would be worth over $27,000 today; $20,000 would be worth over $558,000. Abraham’s estate’s total value, $58,422.25, would be equivalent to $1,631,049.62 in today’s dollars.

Abraham had claimed to have $45,000 in personal and real property on the 1880 US census.  He then suffered a serious financial setback in 1886 after his brother Levy died. But at the time of his death, Abraham’s estate was worth over $58,000, or more than $1.6 million dollars in today’s money. Pretty impressive for a man who came to America as an immigrant when he was just eighteen.

Based on those numbers and the inflation calculator, it appears that Abraham had a library worth about $13,500, which he left to his son Milton. That tells me something about both Abraham and Milton—two men who must have greatly valued books. In fact, as we will see, Milton and his brother Louis both had careers that involved books. I also loved that Abraham made sure that those things that had belonged to his first wife, Cecelia, went to her children, including an oil painting of Cecelia. How I wish I knew what had happened to that painting. Maybe one of Milton’s descendants still has it? I hope so.

Abraham wrote the will before he went through the financial crisis in his business in 1886 and before he suffered the debilitating stroke in about 1890. When Abraham wrote this will in 1884, his five youngest children were still quite young—less than ten years old—whereas Milton and Edwin, whom he named as his executors, were 23 and 20, respectively.   When Abraham died in 1902, Louis, his youngest child, was twenty—the same age Edwin had been when Abraham originally wrote the will and named Edwin as an executor. It’s interesting that Abraham never changed his will to reflect the changes in his financial situation, his physical condition, or the changing ages and circumstances of his children, including their marriages and their children. There is no provision for grandchildren in the will.

Sadly, six years after Abraham died, his second wife Frances Spanier Goldsmith died. She was only 52 years old and died after suffering a stroke (apoplexy). Her obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported that her death “proved a great shock to the many friends of the Goldsmith family in this city. Mrs. Goldsmith had not been seriously ill and had been out walking the day before her death, which was caused by a stroke of paralysis.”    Abraham also had suffered a stroke, and his first wife Cecelia had died from a stroke when only 35. What was it about their lives that made them all susceptible to strokes?

Frances Spanier Goldsmith death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 006001-010000 Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Frances’ obituary further commented that “Mrs. Goldsmith possessed a host of friends, being widely beloved and esteemed for many loveable qualities.”

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, January 24, 1908, p. 11.

The Philadelphia community lost two well-regarded citizens with the deaths of Abraham and Frances (Spanier) Goldsmith, and their children lost beloved parents. But those children, by then all adults, lived interesting lives. The posts to follow will focus on Abraham’s nine surviving children and their lives in the 20th century.










  1. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch( : 9 March 2018), Rosalind Goldsmith, 01 Feb 1901; citing bk 1901 p 107, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,340. 
  2. Abraham Goldsmith obituary, The Philadelphia Exponent, January 24, 1902, p. 3. 
  3.  The Philadelphia Times, January 22, 1902, p. 7. 
  4. “Abraham Goldsmith Dead,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 22, 1902, p. 6. 
  5.  Pennsylvania probate record; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Source Information: Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993. Wills, No 277-299, 1902. 

Thank you, Alex from Root to Tip: A Mystery Solved and A Question about

In my last post, I commented that I had had no luck finding information about the parents of the Adrian Kramer who married my cousin Ruth Sondheim in 1924. I wrote:

Adrian’s background is a mystery.   According to his military record from World War I and his World War II registration card, he was born in New York City on December 14, 1896. But despite searching in numerous places for all Kramers and all Adrians within two years of that date, and all boys born on that date, I have not found his birth record. Perhaps he was born with a different name.

Military record of Adrian Kramer, World War I New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919. Adjutant General’s Office. Series B0808. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.

Little did I know that that was in fact the case. But it took the help of the wonderful researcher, Alex of the Root to Tip genealogy blog, to find that out.

Alex left a comment on my prior post that said in part, “I noticed there was an obituary for Adrian Kramer in 1950 and it says he was the son of “Della Kramer.” Could this be Sandilla?”

Death notice for Adrian Kramer, The New York Times, July 1, 1950, p. 10

The first record I had found for an Adrian Kramer that fit anywhere close to a birth year of 1896 was the 1905 New York State census. On that document, Adrian Kramer, eight years old, was living on West 88th Street in the household of Maier Kramer. Also living in the household were six of Maier’s siblings: Sandilla, Joseph, Leo, Eva, David, and Minnie. None of them was married, but Sandilla was divorced.  She was listed with the surname Kramer, however, not a married name.

Adrian Kramer 1905 NYS census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 03; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 12
Election District: A·D· 21 E·D· 03
Source Information New York, State Census, 1905

I had wondered whether Sandilla might have been Adrian’s mother when I saw the 1905 census since she was the only Kramer sibling who had been married, but I was misled by the fact that the 1905 census identified Adrian as the son of the head of household, and the head of household was not Sandilla but Maier.   As I wrote last time, I was able to find the siblings also living together on the 1910 census, where Adrian was this time identified as the brother of the head of household, again being Maier.

The death notice Alex found seemed to suggest that Sandilla might have been Adrian’s mother, not his aunt or his sister. Alex then went the next step and located a marriage record for a woman she thought might be Sandilla; she was listed as Sundilla Kramer on the FindMyPast index.  That record showed that “Sundilla” had married a man named Jacob Baruch on June 26, 1895, in New York City, and that her parents’ names were Abraham Kramer and Miriam Rosenfeld.  Here is a comparable record from FamilySearch.

Marriage record of Sandilla Kramer and Jacob Baruch
New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Jacob Baruch and Sundilla Kramer, 26 Jun 1895; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,493,183.

I was blown away by Alex’s discoveries and her generous efforts on my behalf. Armed now with these clues, I checked the 18701 and 18802 census records for the Kramer siblings and saw that their parents were in fact named Abraham and Miriam; that confirmed that the “Sundilla Kramer” who had married Jacob Baruch in 1895 was the same woman who was living with Adrian Kramer and the other Kramer siblings in 1905 and 1910.

And Alex hadn’t stopped with the death notice and the marriage record; she also found on Ancestry an index listing for a child born in New York City in December 1896 named Abraham Baruch. Alex said in her comment that she wondered if that was possibly the name given to Adrian Kramer at birth.

So I went to find some evidence confirming that the baby born in December 1896 named Abraham Baruch was the son of Sandilla Kramer and Jacob Baruch. And I found an index listing from the New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909, database on FamilySearch that revealed more than the Ancestry listing located by Alex. It showed that Abraham Baruch, born in December 1896, was the son of Jacob Baruch and “Sandilla Kroper.” That seemed close enough to confirm that Abraham Baruch was Sandilla Kramer’s son with Jacob Baruch.3

But I still wasn’t sure that Abraham Baruch was the boy later known as Adrian Kramer. Fortunately, with the information Alex had provided, I was able to locate the Kramer family on the 1900 census, a census that had eluded me in my prior search:

Sandia and Abraham Baruch, 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0255 1900 United States Federal Census

Notice that Sandilla’s name is given as “Sandia K. Baruch” and that she is listed as the sister of “Myer Cramer.” Under her listing is Myer’s nephew (and obviously “Sandia’s” son) Abraham Baruch, born December 1887 and two years old.

No wonder I couldn’t find this census initially. Look at all those errors. Sandilla is spelled wrong. Maier and Kramer are spelled wrong. And a boy allegedly born in 1887 was listed as two years old in 1900! Even my math isn’t that bad…..

But reading between the lines and ignoring the mistakes on the census record convinced me that Abraham Baruch was  the son of Jacob Baruch and Sandilla Kramer. By 1900, Sandilla and her son had moved in with her Kramer siblings. By 1905, Abraham Baruch was using the name Adrian Kramer, and his mother was divorced.

Now I knew who were the parents of Adrian Kramer and where he was between 1896 and 1905.

Thank you, Alex! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts!

And now the question:

I was puzzled by the fact that I had not found the death notice for Adrian Kramer that Alex found on Ancestry. What had I done differently in my search logic that caused me to miss this critical piece of evidence?

I asked Alex where and how she’d found the death notice for Adrian Kramer, and she told me that she had simply searched for “Adrian Kramer” in “New York, USA,” on Ancestry, and the death notice had popped up as a result in the Historical Newspapers database.

How had I missed that, I wondered?  I duplicated Alex’s search terms, and still I did not get her results.  And I have the All Access subscription from Ancestry—their most expensive level. I get no results at all from the Historical Newspapers database from those search parameters.

But when I went to the Ancestry Card Catalog, pulled up the Historical Newspapers database, and did a search within the database itself, I was able to locate the obituary. So why didn’t it come up on an overall search for me like it had for Alex? I don’t know. But it sure has me doubting the reliability of Ancestry’s search engine.

If anyone has any explanation for why Alex and I would not get the same search results with the same search terms, please let me know.

UPDATE: Thanks to Lisa in the Ancestry Facebook group, I think I have the answer to why Alex got better results than I did.  Get this—searching with a UK subscription brings up BETTER results even in US databases than searching with a US subscription.  HOW CAN THAT BE FAIR? I will be calling Ancestry back next week (no time today) to address this.

Thank you once again to Alex for her extraordinary research and for taking the time to solve this mystery for me. Once again, I am in awe of the generosity of the genealogy village.

  1. Kramer Family, 1870 US Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 20 District 18, New York, New York; Roll: M593_1008; Page: 572B; Family History Library Film: 552507, 1870 United States Federal Census 
  2. Kramer Family, 1880 US Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 886; Page: 506C; Enumeration District: 401, Source Information and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  3.  New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch( : 11 February 2018), Jacob Baruch in entry for Abraham Baruch, Dec 1896; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 54590 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,346. I am hoping to obtain a copy of the actual certificate. 

The Goldsmith Sisters: A Post for Women’s History Month

In the last series of posts, I’ve written about the death of my three-times great-uncle, Jacob Goldsmith, the death of his son Philip in the 1896 Atlantic City train tragedy, and the mysterious life of Jacob’s son Harry Goldsmith, who died in 1913. But now it is time to return to the women in Jacob’s family and their families: his wife Fannie and their four daughters, Caroline, Emma, Hannah, and Huldah.

That seems quite appropriate as March is Women’s History Month. None of the Goldsmith sisters had public lives, but their private lives are representative of the lives many women led in those times.

In the earlier posts we saw that all the daughters had married by the 1890s and that two of them, Caroline and Huldah, had children.  In 1900, three of the four daughters were living in Philadelphia while one, Hannah, was living with her husband Isaac in Circleville, Ohio.

The first decade of the 20th century saw three weddings in the family, the births of two of Jacob and Fannie’s great-grandchildren, and one death.

Both of Caroline (Goldsmith) and Nathan Rice’s younger children were married in 1902, and they married siblings. First, on March 25, 1902, Jessica Rice married Philip Joseph Sondheim in Philadelphia1; a month later in Boston, on April 29, 1902, her brother Sidney Rice married Philip’s sister, Martha Sondheim.

Sidney Rice and Martha Sondheim marriage record 1902; Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

Martha and Philip were both born in Boston to Joseph and Johanna (Lorch) Sondheim.2 Their father was in the men’s clothing business, and Philip was an attorney. 3

Sidney and Martha settled in Philadelphia, where Sidney was a salesman. Philip and Jessica settled in the Boston area, where Philip continued to practice law. Their daughter Ruth was born on January 16, 1903.4

Fannie Lehmann Goldsmith lived to see the birth of her first great-grandchild Ruth, but died two years later on June 16, 1905, in Philadelphia.  She was 77 years old and died of chronic nephritis. She was buried with her husband Jacob in Mt. Sinai cemetery.

Fannie Goldsmith death record
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004008778 > image 153 of 535; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The third wedding of the 1900s decade was that of Adelaide Raphael, the daughter of Huldah Goldsmith and Chapman Raphael. Adelaide married Harry William Hahn on October 21, 1908. The wedding was written up in the October 25, 1908, Washington (DC) Evening Star:5

A wedding that will interest a number of Washingtonians took place Wednesday night at the Majestic Hotel in Philadelphia, when Miss Adelaide G. Raphael, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chapman Raphael, became the bride of Mr. Harry W. Hahn of this city.

The ceremony, which was performed by Rev. Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, was witnessed by over one hundred relatives and friends of the couple.

The youthful bride was most becomingly gowned in an empire white satin dress elaborately trimmed with panels of duchess lace and touches of the same lace on the waist.  Her tulle veil was held in place with natural orange blossoms and she carried a shower bouquet of orchids and lilies of the valley. The bride’s two attendants were Miss Rae Hahn, sister of the groom, and Miss Lillian Klein of Philadelphia.  They wore yellow satin empire gowns and carried yellow chrysanthemums.

An example of a wedding dress from 1908 (Not of Adelaide)
By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[Then followed a list of the ushers including the bride’s brothers, Herbert and Arthur.]

Mrs. William Hahn, mother of the groom, wore a handsome gown of gray chiffon velvet, trimmed with real laces, and wore a corsage bouquet of violets and orchids. Mrs. Chapman Raphael, mother of the bride, wore a black lace robe and violets.

After the ceremony and reception a dinner was served.  The tables were made attractive with flowers and trailing vines, from which shone tiny electric lights.

Mr. and Mrs. Hahn are taking a water trip to Savannah and Florida. Upon their return to this city they will take an apartment in the Royalton on M street.

Adelaide and Harry’s first child was born less than ten months later on August 2, 1909; he was named Harry William Hahn, Jr.6

By 1910, three of the four daughters of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith were what we now call empty nesters. Caroline and Nathan Rice were now in their sixties, living in Philadelphia with Nathan’s brother J.J. Rice and a servant.  Nathan was a traveling clothing salesman.7 Their daughter Rena and her husband Edwin Sternfels were living in New York City; they had no children.8 Sidney Rice and his wife Martha were living in Philadelphia where Sidney was an advertising salesman; they also had no children.9 And Caroline and Nathan’s youngest child Jessica was living in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband Philip Sondheim and their daughter Ruth; Philip continued to practice law in Boston.10

Emma Goldsmith and her husband Abraham Cohlman were living in Philadelphia in 1910 where Abraham was a clothing merchant. Their ages are not reported accurately on the 1910 census where it reports that Abraham was 48 and Emma 46 when in fact Abraham was 41 and Emma was 59.11

Emma’s younger sister Hannah had returned from Circleville, Ohio, by 1910; she and her husband Isaac Levy were living in Philadelphia where Isaac was working as a liquor salesman. Neither Emma nor Hannah had had children.12

Finally, the youngest sister Huldah was living in Philadelphia with her husband Chapman Raphael and their two sons, Herbert and Arthur. Chapman was in the wholesale liquor business, Herbert was in the polish and oil business, and Arthur was in the shoe business.13 Huldah and Chapman’s daughter Adelaide was living in Washington, DC, with her husband and son, Harry William Hahn, Sr. and Jr., where Harry’s family owned a shoe store, Hahn Shoes. 14 Adelaide and Harry had their second child on September 10, 1912, and named him Arthur.15

Although the 1900s decade was primarily a happy one for the family, the decade between 1910 and 1920 was primarily a decade of losses for the family.

Hannah Goldsmith Levy died in Atlantic City of acute nephritis on August 12, 1912; she was 58 years old.

Hannah Goldsmith Levy death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004009260 > image 264 of 547; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Caroline Goldsmith Rice lost her husband Nathan less than a year later; he died on January 16, 1913, in Philadelphia; he was seventy and died from cerebral apoplexy or a stroke.

Nathan Rice death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 009001-012660 Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Emma Goldsmith suffered a different type of loss; by 1914 her marriage to Abraham Cohlman had ended. Perhaps the eighteen year age difference finally proved to be too difficult. Abraham remarried and by 1920 had a six year old child with his second wife.16 As we will see, Emma lived for over twenty more years, on her own without a husband. She was probably quite unusual for a woman of her times.

As noted in my last post, Harry Goldsmith also died in this decade, in 1917 in Detroit.

There was at least one happy event in this decade. Huldah and Chapman Raphael’s younger son Arthur was married in 1917 to Josephine Isaacs.17 She was the daughter of Marc and Fannie Isaacs, both of whom were Philadelphia natives as was Josephine. Her father was a pawnbroker.18

But the following year the family suffered yet another blow when Hulda Goldsmith Raphael, the youngest daughter of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith, died from pneumonia on October 3, 1918; she was 57 years old.

Huldah Goldsmith Raphael death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 146751-150000 Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966


Thus, during this decade, Caroline became a widow, Emma was divorced, and Hannah and Huldah died.  Only Caroline and Huldah had children who would survive them. Their lives in 1920 and thereafter will be covered in my next post.





  1.  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. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951. License Number 144239. 
  2. Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915; Original data: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. 
  3. Joseph Sondheim and family, 1900 US Census, Boston Ward 21, Suffolk, Massachusetts; Page: 13; Enumeration District: 1474; 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4.   Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.  Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1840-1915. 
  5. Washington (DC) Evening Star, October 25, 1908. p. 61. 
  6.  Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947, WWII Draft Registration Cards. National Archives. 
  7. Caroline and Nathan Rice, 1910 US Census; Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1414; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 1200; FHL microfilm: 1375427; 1910 United States Federal Census. 
  8. Rena and Edwin Sternfels, 1915 New York State Census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 25; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 22; New York, State Census, 1915 
  9. Sidney and Martha Rice, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1399; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0692; FHL microfilm: 1375412, 1910 United States Federal Census. The census lists Martha as “Rose” for some reason, but all other records identify her as Martha. 
  10. Philip Rice, 1908 Boston City Directory, Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1908; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  11. Abraham and Emma Cohlman, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 28, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1402; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0628; FHL microfilm: 1375415; 1910 United States Federal Census 
  12. Emma and Isaac Levy, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1403; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0751; FHL microfilm: 1375416; 1910 United States Federal Census 
  13. Huldah and Chapman Raphael and family, 1910 US Census; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1403; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0751; FHL microfilm: 1375416, 1910 United States Federal Census 
  14. Adelaide and Harry W. Hahn, 1910 US Census, Census Place: Precinct 2, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T624_149; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0015; FHL microfilm: 1374162; 1910 United States Federal Census 
  15.  The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 094; Source Information U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. 
  16. Abraham Cohlman, 1920 US Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 29, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1633; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 969; 
  17. Marriage record of Arthur Raphael and Josephine Isaacs, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951; 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. License Number 375863, 1917. 
  18. Marc and Fannie Isaacs and family, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0829; Source Information 1900 United States Federal Census 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I am still on my blogging break for the next week or so, but wanted to reach out and thank all of you for reading my stories this year and especially to all of you who helped me by providing researching suggestions, translating documents, and commenting on my posts.  The support I’ve received is very much appreciated and makes this project so much more enjoyable and fulfilling than if I had to do it all alone without feedback and support.

As I look back on 2017, it wasn’t my favorite year in many ways, but in terms of family history, it was a wonderful year. Visiting Germany and getting to see where my ancestors once lived was an incredible experience; what made it particularly special was getting to spend time with my cousin Wolfgang and his family and with my cousin Ulrike and meeting in person some of the many people who have helped me with my research—Dorothee, Beate, Hans-Peter, Ernst, Julia, and Aaron.

In terms of research, 2017 was the year of the Katzensteins, and what a fascinating family they were and are. Visiting Jesberg made all that research come to life as I imagined my great-great-grandfather Gerson walking those streets along with his siblings and cousins.  And connecting with so many of my Katzenstein cousins made this research particularly rewarding and exciting. I have newly-found cousins from all over the US—Oklahoma, Texas, California, Massachusetts (!), Delaware, and so on. I cherish each and every one of the new leaves I’ve been able to add to the family tree.

As I venture into 2018, I look forward to learning the stories of my Goldschmidt ancestors and relatives.  Every family line I research brings me new insights into Jewish history and into my own story. Every new line teaches me how interconnected we human beings truly are—how we have unique personal stories but also share universal stories of love and hate, success and loss, courage and cowardice, creativity and inventiveness, peace and war, sickness and health.

Let us all hope that in 2018 our leaders and our world also recognize our interconnectedness, our need for each other, and our need to help each other. We cannot exist without each other. We are all part of one big family tree.

How Did My Great-Aunt Frieda’s Death Certificate End Up There?

This is a mystery without a solution—yet. Perhaps one of you can help me solve it.

Many months ago I received a message on Ancestry from a member named Dale who told me that she had a stamped and certified copy of the death certificate for my great-aunt Frieda Brotman.  Frieda was my grandmother’s younger sister, and she had been married to Harry Coopersmith for about a year when she died shortly after giving birth to their son Max.  Max had died as well.

Frieda Brotman Coopersmith death cert


Dale had been going through her parents’ papers and found not only Frieda’s death certificate, but military records for Frieda’s husband Harry Coopersmith and two photographs that Dale thought might be of Harry. She had seen that I had Frieda and Harry on my Ancestry tree and wondered if I was interested in the papers.

Well, of course, I was more than interested. Dale kindly offered to send me the documents and photographs. And since then we have been trying to figure out why these papers would have been among her parents’ belongings.  Since both of Dale’s parents have passed away, she had no one to ask.

Dale believed that these papers had belonged at one time to her great-aunt Anna Yurdin Haas.  Anna was her father’s mother’s sister. She was born in New York City to Russian immigrant parents in about 1895 and had lived in upper Manhattan as a child; in 1920 when she was 25, she was living with several of her younger siblings in the Bronx, working as a clerk in an office.

Anna Yurdin and family 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 5, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1137; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 286

On the 1930 census, Anna reported that she was married to Burton Haas, and they were living at 7035 Broadway in Queens.  Burton Haas came from a whole different class—he grew up on Central Park West in Manhattan; his parents were American born from German and Austrian backgrounds. He went to Dartmouth. He served overseas during World War I, enlisting on June 14, 1917 and being honorably discharged on May 6, 1919.

According to the 1930 census, Anna and Burton had been married about eight years in 1930, meaning they had married in about 1922.  There were no children living with them. Burton was a real estate broker, Anna a cashier for a theater. In 1940 they were still living in Queens at 35-30 73rd Street and had been in the same place in 1935. There were still no children. Burton was still a real estate broker, and Anna was the assistant treasurer of a theater.

Anna Yurdin and Burton Haas on the 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Roll: 1590; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0197; FHL microfilm: 2341325

Then things get a little odd. On August 9, 1940, Burton Haas and Anna Yurdin were married in Norfolk, Virginia. At that point they had in fact been living together and holding themselves out as husband and wife for almost twenty years. But perhaps they had never really married until 1940.

Anna Yurdin and Burton Haas marriage record
Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Marriages, 1936-2014; Roll: 101166979

On his World War II draft card in 1942, Burton reported that he had his own business at 62 West 45th Street in Manhattan; they were still living at the same address in Queens. Burton died a year later on July 21, 1943, in Queens.  Anna died in 1983; they are both buried at Linden Hill Jewish cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. Anna never remarried.

Comparing this to Harry and Frieda’s timeline, I see no overlap. While Anna grew up in upper Manhattan and then lived in the Bronx and finally Queens and Burton also grew up in upper Manhattan and went to college, Harry and Frieda were both born and raised in the Lower East Side.  Harry had served in the US Army from August 31, 1919, until his honorable discharge on September 6, 1922, so he did not overlap in the service at all with Burton Haas.

Harry married Frieda in 1923. Frieda had worked in a sweatshop as a finisher with feathers until she married Harry. They were still living on the Lower East Side in a tenement when she died on May 10, 1924, just days after giving birth to their son Max.

After Frieda died, Harry quickly married again. He married Nettie Lichtenstein sometime in 1924, presumably outside of New York City as no marriage records were located for them. Nettie was a recent immigrant; according to the 1930 census, she had arrived in 1920.  Their first son David was born on June 16, 1925 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Two more sons followed— Lawrence in 1926 and Samuel in 1928, both born in New York. In 1930 Harry and his family were still living in the Lower East Side. Harry was working as a taxi driver.

Harry Coopersmith and family 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1550; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0148; FHL microfilm: 2341285

By 1940, Harry’s family was in pieces.  Nettie was institutionalized at Kings Park State Hospital in Smithtown, Long Island, and the three boys were living in Island Park, Hempstead, Long Island, as boarders (I assume as foster children) with the family of Jacob and Pauline Davis and their sons. I have not found any familial connection between the Davis family and Harry or Nettie. Jacob was in the printing business, and he and Pauline had been living in Island Park since at least 1930. Before that, they had lived in the Bronx and upper Manhattan, nowhere near Harry or Nettie. I have no idea how they ended up with the three Coopersmith boys. Neither one ever lived on the Lower East Side.

Coopersmith sons boarding with David family 1940
Year: 1940; Census Place: Hempstead, Nassau, New York; Roll: T627_2685; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 30-82

Harry does not appear anywhere on the 1940 census and does not resurface on any records until 1945 when military records report that he was still living on the Lower East Side and had enlisted in the New York Guard on April 23, 1945 and had been discharged on June 26, 1946.

Harry Coopersmith New York Guard record
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Collection: New York, New York Guard Service Cards and Enlistment Records, 1906-1918, 1940-1948; Series: B2000; Film Number: 45

The last records I have for Harry are his veteran’s burial records, showing that he died on January 14, 1956 and was buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. Interestingly, a plot next to Harry was to be reserved for his widow Nettie, who was then residing in Bohemia, New York, also on Long Island. I don’t know if Harry had been living with her at the time of his death.

Given the absence of any overlap in places lived or worked between Harry and Anna Yurdin Haas or Harry and Burton Haas, I have no idea how or why Anna would have come into possession of Harry’s military papers or Frieda’s death certificate.

As for the two photographs, I am not even sure that they are pictures of Harry. I sent them to Harry’s grandson, but he had never met his grandfather and did not have any pictures of him. He sent me a picture of himself, and perhaps there is some slight resemblance, but not enough to determine if the photographs are of Harry Coopersmith.

Harrys grandson

Assuming they are photographs of Harry, they were likely taken in the 1940s, according to Ava Cohn, the expert in photography analysis. That would mean that the person who somehow came to possess these documents knew Harry in the 1940s.  He is in his military uniform in one of the photographs, so that means the photograph was probably taken some time in 1945 to 1946 since that was when Harry was in the New York Guard. At that point Anna Yurdin Haas was a widow, living in Queens, New York. Perhaps she and Harry somehow became friends or lovers.  After all, Harry’s wife Nettie was institutionalized, his sons were in foster care of some kind, and Harry was on his own. That seems like one possible explanation for how these papers ended up in Anna Yurdin’s possession.

The other possibility is that the papers never belonged to Anna Yurdin, but perhaps to Dale’s father Howard Halpern. Dale is not entirely certain that they had belonged to Anna. If they belonged instead to her father, how would he have known Harry?

Howard Halpern was the son of David Halpern and Anna Yurdin’s sister May Yurdin (sometimes identified as Mary). He was born in 1919 in New York and lived in the Bronx in 1920, but by 1925 had moved to Queens, living in the same Jackson Heights neighborhood where his aunt Anna and her husband Burton were living in 1930 and thereafter.  By 1930, however, Howard and his parents and brother had moved to Long Beach, Long Island, and were no longer in Queens. They were still living there in 1940.

Halpern family 1940
Year: 1940; Census Place: Long Beach, Nassau, New York; Roll: T627_2690; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 30-209

Maybe Howard knew one of Harry’s sons. They were a bit younger than Howard, but Howard lived in Long Beach starting in 1930, and Harry’s sons were in Island Park in Hempstead by 1940. The two towns are about a mile apart, as seen on this map.

Howard had a younger brother Alvin, born in 1925, who would have been the same age as David Coopersmith and only a year older than Lawrence and three years older than Samuel.  According to the current Island Park School District webpage, today students in Island Park have a choice of attending two high schools in the area, one of them being Long Beach High School. That might also have been true in the 1940s when the Coopersmith boys and Howard and Alvin Halpern were in high school.

So my second hunch is that Alvin and his brother Howard knew the Coopersmith sons from Long Beach High School or from Hebrew school or some other community sports or activity.

But that doesn’t solve the mystery of why Howard Halpern had Frieda Brotman Coopersmith’s death certificate or Harry’s discharge papers. That the Coopersmith boys had their father’s military discharge papers is somewhat understandable—but why would they have had the death certificate for their father’s first wife, a woman with whom they had no connection at all? And why would Dale’s father Howard have ended up with those papers?

I don’t know. But David Coopersmith named his son Lee Howard Coopersmith—perhaps for his childhood friend Howard Halpern? If he was such a close friend, wouldn’t Dale have heard of him?

As I mentioned above, I have been in touch with one of Harry’s grandsons, but he had no information that shed light on this mystery. I am now trying to contact Harry’s great-granddaughter, who has a tree on Ancestry. Perhaps she will know. At the very least, she might be able to tell me if the photographs are indeed of Harry Coopersmith. But it’s been almost two months, and she has not responded to me.

Let me know your thoughts.


An Amazing Treasure

I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.  This post is about a family heirloom.  It doesn’t belong to me, but it is nevertheless something for which I am grateful because it is part of the legacy of my Katzenstein ancestors. I am just about done writing about the Katzenstein line, but before I move on, I want to share this treasure.

I have referred often on the blog to the work of David Baron, who has done an incredible job of researching the Katzenstein family. David is the husband of Roger Cibella, who is the three-times great-grandson of Gerson Katzenstein, my great-great-grandfather. Roger’s great-great-grandfather was Scholem Joseph Katzenstein, who settled in western Pennsylvania and probably was the one who introduced his little sister Hilda, my great-grandmother, to my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. And Roger is my third cousin, once removed.

Roger owns a siddur (a Jewish prayer book) that belonged to our mutual ancestor, Gerson Katzenstein. The inner pages of the front and back cover of the siddur contain inscriptions by Gerson marking the births of each of his six children beginning with the birth of Roger’s great-great-grandfather Scholem (with the middle name Abraham here, not Joseph, which I found interesting) in 1848 through the birth of my great-grandmother Hilda in 1863.

Roger and David kindly shared with me images of the inscriptions as well as an image of some of the text of the siddur.  They also sent me a translation of the inscriptions and information about the siddur provided by the scholar, Arthur Lagawier.[1] The information below came from Lagawier’s report to Roger and David:

The book is entitled Beit Rachel v’ Sha’ar Hallel-Ya [House of Rachel and Gate of Praise], and it was edited by Rabbi Naftali ben Isaac Ha Cohen. Rabbi Naftali was born in Ostroh, Ukraine, in 1649 and died in 1719. He married Esther Sheindl, the daughter of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Zak of Ostroh, and he headed the yeshiva that his father-in-law built for him in that town. After Rabbi Shmuel died, Rabbi Naftali succeeded him as rabbi. Rabbi Naftali and his wife had fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters.

In 1704 he became the rabbi of Frankfurt, but in 1711, a fire broke out in his home and spread, burning down several hundred homes. Four people died in the fire, and Rabbi Naftali was accused of setting the fire and was put in jail. After he was released, he went to Prague and then Breslau. Rabbi Naftali wrote several books, prayers, and hymns as well as the siddur once owned by Gerson Katzenstein. The prayer book was first published in Amsterdam in 1741, but the one Roger owns is probably a later reprint.

The book includes the daily prayers and those for Shabbat and holidays as well as other holiday readings and commentary on the prayers and other readings.  It also contains the entire book of psalms.

I asked for help on the Tracing the Tribe site in translating the handwritten inscriptions because the translations by Arthur Lagawier did not always read clearly. Thank you so much to Baruch Miller for his work in translating them. I have also included some of the content of Lagawier’s translations.  The inscriptions in the inside of the front cover translate as follows:

For the son later known as S.J. Katzenstein:

My son Shalom Avraham, born on Tuesday night (third day of the week), the 24th of the month of Av, the week of the Torah portion Re’eh, in the year 5608, corresponding to the 23rd of August, 1848. May the Eternal grant my son to learn the Torah, to be married, and to do good deeds throughout his life, amen.  Signed: Gershon Ben Abraham Shalom Ha Cohen, Morah [teacher].

For the second son, known as Jacob:

My son Yakov Solomon, also called Yerkev, on the fifth night of the week, the 2(?) of the first month of Adar, the week of the Torah portion Ki Sisa, in the year 5611, or 1851. He should grow to Torah, the chuppah, and good deeds. Gershon  

For Brendina, the third child:

My daughter Branche, Briencha (Bertha), Born in the month of Kislev in [5]612, according to the non-jewish calendar the year 1853.  May the Eternal grant to her to grow up….Signed: Gershon

(Some parts of these inscriptions were not legible, but one can assume they all followed the formula asking that the children grow up to Torah, chuppah (marriage), and good deeds.)

On the inside of the back cover of the book are the inscriptions for the last three children born to Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt:

For the third son and fourth child, Perry:

My son Pesachya, born Tuesday, the 25th of Av, 5616. He should grow to Torah, the chuppah, and good deeds. August 1856 in Philadelphia. Gershon, son of Avraham Shalom, the righteous kohen.

This is the inscription for their fifth child, Hannah.  Reading this inscription is very sad because Hannah died a week before her seventh birthday in December 1866:

My daughter Henit/Hencha, born on Friday, 17 days in the month of Tevet in [5]619.  May God she grow up strong and do good deeds, get married, amen. Born on December 24th, 1859 in Philadelphia, Signed by  Gershon, son of Avraham Shalom the kohen.

And finally, my great-grandmother Hilda, named for her maternal grandmother Hincka Alexander, wife of Seligmann Goldschmidt:

My daughter Chinke.  Born Monday, three days in Elul, the 17 of September [August] 1863.  May God grant that she will grow up… Signed Gershon, son of Avraham Shalom, the righteous kohen, in Philadelphia.


Leah Cohen of the TTT group pointed out that Gerson described himself as “the small”  or ha-Koten in several inscriptions. Leah, Baruch and I could not understand why he referred to himself this way, unless it was a form of modesty.

Someday perhaps I will get to meet Roger and David and hold this treasure in my hands, but for now I am delighted to have the photographs and the knowledge that this siddur is in good hands with Roger and David.



[1] According to this website, “[Arthur] Lagawier was a frequent lecturer in Judaism at the University of Washington. He taught religious school at Herzl congregation, served as Director of Jewish Education at the Jewish Community Center, and independently founded the Institute of Jewish Studies, where he taught non-profit classes from 1965 to 1969.”