Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part II: Loving Tributes to His Grandfather and Father

Last week I introduced the precious gift that my cousin Sue shared with me—her grandfather Milton Goldsmith’s family album. Today I will share the second and third pages in that album.

The second page of Milton Goldsmith’s family album tells about his grandfather and my three-times great grandfather, Seligmann Goldschmidt:

Milton wrote this about his grandfather:

My father’s father, was Seligman Goldschmidt. He was born and lived for the greater part of his life in Oberlistingen, near Hessen Kassel. He was a dealer in spices and general goods. At that epoch Jews could not engage in the higher professions. When Napoleon over-ran Europe, he was drafted into the army, and served under Blucher at the Battle of Waterloo, where he acquitted himself with such bravery that a memorial tablet bearing his name and that of two other Jews of Oberlistingen was erected in one of the public halls. His wife was named Hinka, after whom the several girls named Hildah in our family were called.

How wonderful to learn about Seligmann’s occupation and his brave service in the Battle of Waterloo, facts that were not revealed in any records I’d found.

At the bottom of this page and over to the next page in the album is Milton’s outline of the children of his father’s parents, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander:

As I noted last time, I found this report reassuring in part because it backed up the research I had done on Seligmann and Hinka and their children.

There is also a loving tribute to Milton’s father Abraham on this page. Milton wrote:

Our father, Abraham, came to America at the age of 17 and married at the age of 24. He was a very clever, well educated man, with a thorough knowledge of both German and English, and an omiverous reader of good books. He was successful as a merchant, but failed whenever he undertook any venture outside of his legitimate business. He was at the head of many civic organizations, and highly esteemed by a great circle of friends. In 1878, in consequence of a depression, he retired from the cloth business, and was worth a quarter of a million dollars. Most of this was eventually lost. His declining years were very unhappy, and he lingered for 12 years with an incurable malady. He died at the age of 72.

My blog posts about Abraham mention his business successes and failures, the stroke in 1890 that left him disabled for the last twelve years of his life, and his impressive library of books. But having his son Milton’s affectionate and admiring words adds another layer to the story of this man, my 3x-great-uncle.

But perhaps the most helpful part of this page in Milton’s album was the sentence about his father’s sister, Betty:

BETTY: married to Jacob Goldschmidt, (a cousin,) with several children, all of whom except Hettie Steele lived in Germany.

Who was Hettie Steele? She was not on my family tree. This little sentence led me to a very fruitful and uplifting search.  I will save that for my next post about Milton’s album.

 

My Cousin Sue and Her Grandfather’s Amazing Album

A few weeks back I connected with my third cousin, once removed, Sue Jacobson. Sue is the granddaughter of Milton Goldsmith, and I had been hoping to connect with her for a long time.

Some of you may remember the long series of posts I wrote about my cousin Milton Goldsmith, the author. Milton, the son of Abraham Goldsmith, was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s first cousin; both were the grandchildren of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander. And my father recalled meeting Milton when he was growing up, remembering him as the author of children’s books. So I was fascinated by Milton and his life for many reasons, and finding Sue has been a true gift.

Not only has Sue answered some of my lingering questions and commented on my blog posts to update and respond to those questions, she has shared with me an incredible album that her grandfather Milton compiled in 1936 when he was 75 years old. It includes biographical information, some photographs, and family trees created by Milton. Sue has generously given me permission to post images from this album, and I have decided to add a third day a week to my blogging schedule to post this wonderful material a page or two at a time.  I plan to post these each Monday, keeping my regular posts on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Today I am posting the cover of the album and its inside cover, which is a beautiful rendition of Abraham Goldsmith’s family tree, showing all his children and grandchildren from both his first marriage to Celia Adler and his second marriage to Frances Spanier.

I am very curious about the illustrations. Did Milton buy this album with the illustrations already printed on the cover and on the pages that follow? Or did he have someone do these illustrations? They look not dissimilar to some that appeared in his books. Has anyone ever seen an album like this before?

Next time I will post the page that follows these in the album where Milton reported on the children of Seligmann Goldschmidt, his father’s father. I was delighted that Milton’s report corroborated the research I had done on Seligmann’s family. But I was even more delighted when I learned about a cousin I had not known about before. I am excited to share that discovery next week. Stay tuned.

 

Simon Goldsmith: His Legacy—German Criminal, American Patriarch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

Simon Goldschmidt: From German Criminal to American Grandfather

Before my break, I noted that I had finished writing about the descendants of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents, and the descendants of Seligmann’s brother, Lehmann Goldschmidt.

Now I would like to turn to Seligmann’s youngest sibling, Simon Goldschmidt, whose story I’ve already told in bits and pieces at other times because his second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, was the sister of my Schoenthal great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and because one of his grandchildren, Ella Bohm, married my great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein.

But let me tie together those bits and pieces into one story so that I can continue Simon’s story with some background. Simon was born in Oberlistingen in about 1795 to Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann (no connection to my Seligmanns). In 1822, he married Eveline Katzenstein of Grebenstein (no known familial connection to my Katzensteins). Their first child, Jacob, was born in about 1825 in Oberlistingen. 1

In May, 1826, Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery.2  As I wrote about at length in this post, in 1830 there was a trial, and Simon was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison with his legs shackled. Simon appealed, and on December 24, 1830, the appellate court upheld the verdict, but reduced the sentence from ten years to four years because the victim’s injuries were not dangerous or life-threatening and because Simon had not used any lethal weapons. The court also observed that the delay in trial was not Simon’s fault and took that into consideration in reducing his sentence.

Simon and Eveline had four more children after Jacob: Lena (1828),3 born while he was awaiting trial, and three born after he was released, Hewa “Eva” (1836), Joseph (1837), and Jesajas (1839), all born in Oberlistingen. Sadly, Simon and Eveline’s last two babies did not survive. Both Joseph and Jesajas died in infancy.

Eva (Hewa) Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.7

 

Joseph Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 6

Jesajas Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 7

A year after the death of Jesajas, Simon’s wife Eveline died on August 19, 1840. Simon was left on his own to raise his fifteen-year-old son Jacob, twelve-year-old daughter Lena, and four-year-old Eva.

Eveline Katzenstein Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 8

Simon’s son Jacob left Germany that same year and immigrated to the US.4  By 1850, Jacob was living in Washington, Pennsylvania, working as a tailor and living with two other men who were tailors, and had changed his surname to Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith (Simon’s son) 1850 US census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_834; Page: 363A; Image: 244

On September 10, 1844, Simon married Fradchen Schoenthal, my three-times great-aunt, in Oberlistingen. Fradchen was already 37 at that time, and Simon was 49.

Marriage of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 11

Almost exactly a year later, Simon and Fradchen arrived in the United States along with Simon’s youngest daughter, Eva, who was then nine years old.

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest
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

They must have settled first in Baltimore because Simon and Fradchen had two children who were born there, Henry on January 10, 1847,5 and Hannah on June 5, 1848.6 Since Henry and Hannah’s mother and father were both my blood relatives, they are my double cousins: first cousins, three times removed through Fradchen, and first cousins, four times removed through Simon.

By 1850, Simon and Fradchen (also known as Fanny) were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well Simon’s two daughters from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Simon was working as a tailor and had, like his son Jacob, Americanized his surname to Goldsmith.

Simon lost his second wife Fradchen soon thereafter; she died on August 11, 1850, at age 43. Once again Simon was left with young children—Henry was three, Hannah was two.

Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith Troy Hill Pittsburgh

By 1853, Simon’s son Jacob had married Fannie Silverman, also a German immigrant, and together they had six daughters born between 1853 and 1860: Ellena (1853)7, Emma (1854),8 Annie (1855),9 Rachel (1857),10 Leonora (1858),11 and Celia (1860).12  By 1860, Simon and his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and were living with Jacob and Fannie and their six daughters. Henry and Hannah were only five and six years older than their oldest niece, Ellena.

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Simon’s daughter Lena married another German immigrant, Gustavus Basch in 1856.13 In 1860, they were living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with their first two children, Frank (1858) and Jacob (1859). Connellsville is under fifty miles from Washington, Pennsylvania, where Lena’s father Simon and her brother Jacob were then living.

Basch family, 1860 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 421; Family History Library Film: 805110 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s youngest child with Eveline, his daughter Eva, her whereabouts in 1860 are unknown. I cannot find her anywhere on the 1860 census. More on Eva here and here and in a subsequent post.

Thus, by 1860, all the members of the family of Simon Goldschmidt (except possibly Eva) were living in western Pennsylvania, most of them in Washington, Pennsylvania.  That was as far as I’d gotten with Simon’s story in my earlier posts. Now I can pick up with Simon and his children in the years after 1860.

 

 


  1. I don’t have original birth or marriage records for these facts, but have relied on various US records as well as the research of others to reach these conclusions. 
  2.  HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40. See the linked post for more information about my source for this information. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010 
  4. Jacob Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0072; FHL microfilm: 1240119, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Henry Goldsmith, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  6. Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, death certificate, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan, Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, File Number: 007791. 
  7. Ellena Goldsmith Feldstein, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 061391-064480, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Emma Goldsmith, death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX5B-3PG : 9 March 2018), Emma Goldsmith, 06 Jan 1902; citing cn14552, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,853,338. 
  9. Annie Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  10. Rachel Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  11. Leonora Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  12. Celia Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  13. Lena and Gustavus Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241268, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Season’s Greetings!

With my last post I completed the stories I’ve been able to find about all the children and descendants of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander as well as those of Seligmann’s brother Lehmann Goldschmidt and his wife Ranchen Frank. It has been a full year since I started blogging about the Goldschmidts, and I am not nearly done. Now I need to sort out what to write about next regarding  the remaining Goldschmidt relatives.

In the meantime, I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks. So for now, I wish all who celebrate Christmas a joyous and happy holiday, and my hope for everyone is that 2019 will bring good health, happiness, and a world that is less filled with hate and corruption and more filled with love and justice.

Before I go for 2018, here are three short updates about other family history matters that happened this fall while I was focusing on my Goldschmidt/Goldsmith relatives.

Last month I had lunch with two of my Katzenstein cousins, my fourth cousins Marsha and Carl. Marsha and Carl are third cousins to each other and are descendants of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz. Rahel was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein. We are all three-times great-grandchildren of Scholem Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld.  We spent three hours, along with Carl’s wife and my husband, eating and mostly talking and laughing and sharing our stories—past and present. Even though I did not know Carl or Marsha growing up nor did they know each other growing up, we definitely have bonded and are more than just cousins.  We are friends.

My cousins Carl and Marsha

Three descendants of Scholem Katzenstein and Breine Blumenfeld

I also recently heard from my cousin Jean. Jean is my third cousin. We are both great-great-granddaughters of David Rosenzweig and Esther Gelberman. Jean is descended from their daughter Tillie Rosenzweig and her husband Yankel Srulovici (later Strolowitz, then Adler), and I am descended from their daughter Ghitla Rosenzweig and her husband Moritz Goldschlager. Jean sent me this beautiful photograph of her great-aunt and my grandfather’s first cousin, Bertha Adler. I wrote about Bertha here and here. Bertha had been married to Benjamin Bloom, but the marriage did not last, and Bertha did not have any children. I am so delighted that I now know what she looked like. I love how simply elegant she looks. She was 71 years old when this picture was taken and died just four years later.

Bertha Adler Bloom, 1956. Courtesy of Jean Cohen

This is my great-grandmother Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager, Bertha’s aunt. I definitely see a slight family resemblance. Do you?

Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager

Finally, another amazing small world story. I recently posted about my cousin Arthur Mansbach Dannnenberg, the son of Hannah Mansbach Dannenberg and grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein’s sister. He was a pediatrician in Philadelphia, and his obituary described in detail what a dedicated doctor he had been.

I received a comment on that post from my fourth cousin Meg, who is a descendant of Abraham Goldschmidt/Goldsmith, who was also a sibling of Eva Goldschmidt and Sarah Goldschmidt. Meg commented that  Dr. Arthur Dannenberg  was the pediatrician who saved her sister’s life in 1946 when she was 10 months old and had meningitis.

What we don’t know is whether Meg’s mother Jean realized that their pediatrician was also her second cousin, once removed. Meg certainly did not know that.

Once again, merry Christmas to all who celebrate and happy New Year! Thank you all for continuing to follow me on my journey!

 

 

 

Catherine Goldsmith Lambert: An Update

Back on July 10, 2018, I wrote about Samuel Goldsmith, the son of Meyer Goldsmith, who died in 1907 when he was just forty years old, leaving behind his wife Helen Rau and toddler daughter Catherine. From my research I knew that after Samuel died, Helen and Catherine lived in France for many years, rarely returning to the US until the Nazis invaded France in 1940. At that point Catherine was married to Gerard Lambert, a Frenchman, with whom she had two children born in the 1930s. Eventually, Helen, Catherine, Gerard, and the two children settled in the US. But there were many unanswered questions. I ended my discussion about Catherine and her family by noting that “I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.”

Well, thanks to the miracle of the internet and Facebook, that point has arrived. I have been in touch with Catherine’s son Alan, who has generously answered my questions and filled in some of the gaps in the story of his family. With his permission, I am able to share his story here. Most of this information came directly from Alan, though some was discovered by additional research. Alan also shared this wonderful photograph of his mother, Catherine Goldsmith Lambert:

Catherine Goldsmith Lambert
Courtesy of Alan Lambert

Alan told me that his grandmother Helen Rau Goldsmith went to France to work as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue after Samuel died and took her young daughter Catherine with her. Helen’s sister Emma Rau had served as a nurse during World War I and had settled in Paris after the war, so Helen and little Catherine joined her there. Alan shared with me this photograph of his great-aunt Emma’s glass and sterling silver hip flask, which she carried throughout her service during the war.

Emma Rau’s World War I glass flask
Courtesy of Alan Lambert

Catherine grew up and went to school in France and married Gerard Lambert sometime before 1934. Gerard was born in 1904 in St. Quentin, France;1 he was a captain in the French army and then served during World War II in the Free French army and the US’s Office of Strategic Services (the OSS).

UPDATE: According to Alan, his parents had both attended the Beaux Arts in Paris as he became an architect (Architecte Diplome par le Gouvernement) and she a skilled sculptress. Alan’s architectural career was interrupted by the war.

Meanwhile, with the rise of Nazism in Germany and the threat of war, the family decided it was time to leave France. Fortunately, Helen had contacts back in the United States to help them escape. Her sister Adelaide Rau had married Julius Rosenwald on January 19, 1930, in Chicago.2 Julius had been one of the founders and the president of the Sears, Roebuck Company. It was a second marriage for both. She was sixty, and he was 67. Sadly, Julius died only two years later on January 6, 1932, leaving Adelaide once again a widow.3

But Adelaide now had the resources and connections to help get Helen, Catherine, and the children out of France in 19384 and to support them once they got to the United States. According to Alan, he and his mother and sister first lived in New Jersey when they left France but then moved to California where Adelaide was living. Emma and Helen were also living there.

After his service in World War II ended, Gerard Lambert joined them in the US, working in Washington, DC, doing import-export work, but then moved to London to work for the US government’s Military Production and Supply Board. Catherine and the children joined him there for some time. Alan left London to attend Stanford University, and soon thereafter Helen and her daughter also returned to California. Catherine and Gerard divorced, and Gerard returned to France and to his career as an architect. One of his projects was the South African embassy building in Paris.  Gerard died in France in 1986.

South African embassy in Paris
By Celette [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

As for Catherine, her son Alan described her as “an intensely intelligent and artistic person.” She developed hearing problems as well as vision problems and became involved in researching and educating others about ways to assist those with hearing impairments, including through lip reading and other means. She worked with Lucelia M. Moore and Boris V. Morkovin, who wrote Through the Barriers of Deafness and Isolation: Oral Communication of the Hearing-Impaired Child in Life Situations (Macmillan Company, 1960), as well as a number of other works on this topic. Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.5

Here is a letter Catherine received in 1948 from Eleanor Roosevelt related to Catherine’s efforts to assist those with hearing impairments:

 

I am very grateful to my cousin Alan for sharing his family’s story and these images with me and for allowing me to share it with all of you.

 

 

 


  1. Gerard Lambert, passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Chicago Tribune, 09 Jan 1930, Thu, Page 1 
  3. FHL Film Number: 1684326, Ancestry.com. Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  4. Catherine Lambert and children, passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 1; Page Number: 30, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5.  Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

As seen in my last few posts, although my cousin Betty Goldschmidt and her husband (and our cousin) Jacob Goldschmidt had eight children, I only have adult records for one of them, their son Berthold. Berthold and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein had seven children, but their son Siegfried Goldschmidt was the only child of the seven to live long enough to marry and have a child of his own; Siegfried and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless had one child, a son Max born November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Siegfried and his wife were among the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but their young son Max, the last known remaining descendant of Betty and Jacob, survived. Max was only eight years old when Hitler came to power and not yet eighteen when his parents were deported in 1942. How had he survived? At first all I knew was that he had immigrated to the US from Israel in 1948, but thanks  to the generous assistance of Elan Oren of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I have been able to piece together much of the story of Max’s life.

Elan located Max’s file in the Israeli archives, which revealed that Max had escaped to Switzerland at some point during the Nazi era. After the war, Max sailed on the ship Plus Ultra from Barcelona, Spain, to Haifa, arriving in Haifa on June 19, 1945.

From Max Goldschmidt Israeli immigration file: Ship manifest for the Plus Ultra from Barcelona to Haifa, arriving June 19, 1945. Max is on line 94. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

Max’s file in the Israeli archives did not reveal how or when he got to Switzerland or to Barcelona, but Max’s A-file—his US immigration file—from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) revealed further details.1 According to a German police certificate included in Max’s application to the US Consul in Palestine for an immigration visa in 1947, Max lived in Warburg, Germany, from April 1927 until September 1936. That is also where his parents were residing during that time, according to records  at Yad Vashem.

On Max’s 1947 US visa application he stated that he’d immigrated to Switzerland in January 1939. He was only fourteen at that time. He lived in Basel, Switzerland, from January, 1939, until May, 1945, when he must then have left for Barcelona and ultimately Palestine. As for how he escaped from Germany in 1939, Elan Oren suggested that a Zionist youth group such as HeHalutz  might have helped him get out of Germany.

After arriving in Haifa, Max was transferred to Atlit, a detention camp built by the British, who were then in control of what was then Palestine. With the help of Elan Oren and his translation of Max’s Israeli naturalization file, I learned that Max left Atlit and first lived in Petach Tikvah and then moved to Tel Aviv to live with the Laks family. (More on them in a bit.)

Document that states that Max moved from Petah Tikvah to Tel Aviv where the Laks family lived. Translated by Elan Oren. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

But Max decided not to settle permanently in Israel. Max left Haifa on January 29, 1948, and arrived in New York on February 14, 1948. The manifest lists Max’s occupation as a gardener, his primary languages as English and Hebrew, his last residence as Tel Aviv, Palestine, and his birthplace as Frankfort [sic], Germany.

Max Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7546; Line: 19; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The second page of the manifest lists a friend named Pinil Laks as the contact person from Max’s prior residence of Tel Aviv and an uncle “Bernh Laks” of Blackwood, New Jersey, as the person he was going to join in the United States.

So who were the Laks? Bernhard Laks, also known as Bernhard Lachs, Berek Laks, and Bernard Laks, was married to Rosa Pless,2 who must have been a sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother, since Max identified Bernard as his uncle and Rosa as his aunt on various documents.  Moreover, Bernard Laks (then spelled Bernhard Lachs) was one of the witnesses on the marriage record for Max’s parents, Siegfried and Frieda.

Bernhard Lachs as witness on the marriage record of Siegfried Goldschmidt and Frieda Fanny Pless. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

When Max arrived at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948, he was denied admission to the United States because he did not have in his possession the immigration visa that he had been granted by the US consul in Palestine on November 17, 1947. A hearing was held on February 18, 1948 before a Board of Special Inquiry, at which Max testified that he had last seen his visa on the day he embarked from Haifa while at customs, that he had left it with his other papers in his baggage, and that while at sea he’d discovered that the visa was missing.

Max also testified that he had no relatives living outside of the US and no money. He stated that he was coming to the US in order to join his relatives, the Laks family of Blackwood, New Jersey, and that his uncle Bernard Laks had paid for his ticket from Haifa. In addition, Max presented an affidavit from Bernard and Rosa Laks in which they, as “his sole surviving relatives,” promised to “receive and care for [Max] and …not permit him to became a public charge.”

Although the Board of Special Inquiry found that Max had a valid Palestinian passport with a stamp indicating that a visa had been issued to him by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, they concluded that he was not admissible without possession of the actual visa. On February 20, 1948, however, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) recommended that the decision to deport Max be deferred for ninety days to give him time to locate the visa or to obtain a certified copy.

On March 3, 1948, the ninety day stay was granted, and Max was also granted parole during that period, meaning that on March 4, 1948, he was allowed to enter the country though he was required to report in writing on a monthly basis to the Deportation and Parole Section at Ellis Island. Max had thus been detained for eighteen days at Ellis Island before his parole.

On March 18, 1948, his attorney wrote to INS to notify them that the American Consulate in Jerusalem had confirmed that Max had been granted a visa on November 17, 1947, and that the Visa Division in Washington, DC, had been so notified.  On April 8, 1948, the State Department submitted a certified copy of the visa. However, it was not until four months later on August 11, 1948, that an order was entered to re-open Max’s case. A new hearing was scheduled for September 15, 1948.  Fortunately, Max had better luck at this hearing, and he was granted legal admission into the country on September 15, 1948, more than seven months after arriving at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948. (I assume Max had received extensions of the 90 day parole period initially granted in March, 1948.)

Then began the next chapter of his life and more experiences with the slowly grinding wheels of American bureaucracy. He started the process of becoming a US citizen on October 1, 1948, just two weeks after entering the country officially.  But before Max’s papers could be processed, he was inducted into the US Army on January 1, 1949, the very day the government had scheduled a meeting to discuss his citizenship application. He amended his address to reflect that he was now stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey as a member of the 9th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 2, 1951, and on March 11, 1955, a certification of his service was issued to INS. His formal petition for naturalization was filed on October 14, 1955, with Bernard and Rosa Laks attesting to his character.

On January 24, 1956, the government received reports from the army that on January 2, 1951, while serving in the army, Max had “stated in substance … that if the Army is an example of democracy, he would take communism” and that on June 4, 1951 while giving a training lecture to his unit, “he introduced the Crusades as an illustrative example in this history of warfare, and then proceeded to interject his own thoughts on the persecution of Jews by Christians at the time of the Crusades, allegedly making rather strong remarks about the Roman Catholic Church. [Max] has at various times in the past tried to turn a topic of conversation into ‘making a case’ for Zionism.”

I suppose Max took the meaning of the First Amendment more literally than the US Army thought appropriate. Whether this had any impact on his citizenship application is not clear. On a page of examiner’s notes dated November 9, 1956, the examiner gave Max a final rating of “deny,” but then that was crossed out, and on May 17, 1957, his application was granted and he was finally issued a certificate of naturalization; he also changed his name to Goldsmith at that time. Despite his service in the US Army, it had taken almost eight years to complete the process of becoming a citizen.

Two months later in July 1957, Max married Shirley Larve in Trenton, New Jersey.3 Shirley was born in Trenton on May 29, 1923, to Joseph and Anna Larve.4 She was 34 when they married, and Max was 32. They did not have any children.

Shirley died at age 70 on July 24, 1993, in Broward County in Florida.5 Her obituary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on August 15, 1993, filled in some of the gaps in their lives between 1957 and 1993.  Here are some excerpts:

…Shirley worked during WWII for the U.S. Army Finance Dept. and later for 25 years for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State of NJ, retired supervisor in 1985. Married Max Goldsmith July, 1957, an immigrant to the U.S.A. They resided at various locations throughout the U.S.A. … Her life was devoted to her husband, being a true companion to him who had lost his family of 68 members during the Nazi era.

She served two terms as President of the Ladys Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 697 in Levittown, PA. A life member in the American Red Star of David for Israel. In 1989 she received the Lady of the Year award of the Star-Faye Post 672. She was very mild mannered, yet forceful. A lady in her own right. Always unpretending with an inherent sense of justice. She had her golds [goals?] and she never let go until accomplished. She had little patience for people who sat around and complained. Although small in stature yet big in ability and courage.

Shirley and Max thus lived in or near Trenton, New Jersey until 1985 when she retired after 25 years working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Levittown, Pennsylvania, is less than eight miles from Trenton.) By 1990, they had moved to Pompano Beach, Florida.6

I am troubled by the reference in her obituary to 68 members of Max’s family being killed in the Holocaust. Who were those 68 people? How were they related to Max? Were they his mother’s relatives? Or were they Goldschmidts I just haven’t found? It haunts me.

Max died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eleven years after Shirley on July 2, 2004, at age 80.7  He’d endured a great deal in his life—fleeing from his homeland and his family as a young teenager, the murder of his parents, the move to Palestine and then to the US, and all the hassles he endured to become first a legal resident and then a  citizen of the United States.

But I was very comforted after reading Shirley’s obituary; I assume that Max wrote it himself. It is clear from his words that he loved her very deeply and that he felt loved and taken care of by her.  It is wonderful to know how devoted they were to each other, especially after all he’d been through in the first 32 years of his life.

Max Goldsmith, my third cousin, once removed, was a true survivor.  As best I can tell, he was the only and last surviving descendant of  his great-grandparents, Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt, two first cousins who married each other, both grandchildren of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents. By remembering Max, I hope to honor not only him, but all those who came before him.

 

 

 


  1. The references in this post to documents relating to Max’s immigration to the US are all from his A-file from USCIS, copies of which are in my possession. References to his immigration to Palestine and his time there are from the Israeli archives here
  2. On the 1937 passenger manifest for Berek and Rosa Laks, the person they named as their closest relative living in their former residence of Frankfurt was E.Pless, identified as Berek’s mother-in-law and Rosa’s mother. From this I inferred that Rosa’s birth name was Pless and that she was the sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother.  Laks family, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6022; Line: 1; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Certificate Number: 21705, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1957; Surname Range: L – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  7.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

The Heartbreaking Story of Berthold Goldschmidt

As seen in my last post, as far as I’ve been able to determine, of the eight children born to Jacob Goldschmidt and Betty Goldschmidt, only their son Berthold survived to adulthood.

Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, and they had seven children: Paul (1893),1 Leopold (1895),2 Siegfried (1896),3 Hedwig (1898),4 Ida (1899),5 Hilda Johanna (1903),6 and Rosa (1906).7

Hilda, Rosa and Ida all died before their first birthdays.8  Thus, of the seven children born to Berthold and Mathilde, it appears that only Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig lived past infancy. It must have been devastating for Berthold and Martha to lose three babies like that. Between 1895 and 1909, Berthold also lost his parents Jacob and Betty. Thus, he suffered five losses in a very short period of time.

Then Berthold suffered four more tragic losses in the 1910s. First his wife Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt died at age 43 in Marburg, Germany, on December 29, 1911. She left Berthold with four teenagers to raise alone. Paul was 18, Leopold was 16, Siegfried was 15, and Hedwig was 13.

Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

But Berthold’s heartbreak was far from over. His daughter Hedwig died on August 5, 1915 in the Elisabeth hospital in Volkmarsen, as attested to by a nurse at that facility; she was only seventeen. Matthias Steinke generously translated Hedwig’s death record, which reports that Hedwig had been residing in Oberlistingen at the time of her death. I have tried to find some document showing the cause of death, but have had no success.

Hedwig Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 11405, 1915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Less than a year after Hedwig’s death, Paul Goldschmidt, Berthold and Mathilde’s first child, died in the state hospital in Haina, Germany, on July 20, 1916, at age 22.  The death record did not reveal a cause of death or the duration of Paul’s time at the state hospital, and I wondered whether, given his age and the year, he had died as a result of injuries suffered fighting for Germany in World War I.

Paul Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 4613
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

I was able to determine that the hospital in Haina was a psychiatric hospital and also that it cared for some soldiers during World War I, but I needed more information to determine why Paul died there. I wrote to the authorities in Haina to learn more, and I received the following response based on the hospital’s records  from Dr. Horst Hecker of the Haina branch of the Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen :

At the age of four, Paul Goldschmidt fell ill with hydrocephalus. He was first treated at the “Idiotenanstalt” (idiot asylum) [in] Idstein. In November 1900 Paul was admitted to the “Hessisches Brüderhaus (Anstalten Hephata”) near Treysa. On September 23, 1914, he was transferred to Haina Hospital. There he died on July 20, 1916, of “Marasmus bei Idiotie”.

Dr. Hecker sent me the entire file, and although I have not been able to translate much of it that is hand-written, I was able to translate one type-written entry that revealed that Paul was developing normally until he was four.  His parents attributed the hydrocephalus to a fall; Paul had hit his head on the corner of their stove and received four to five stitches. Whether that could cause hydrocephalus is beyond my area of expertise. But apparently soon thereafter his behavior and his development regressed, and he was institutionalized. How very sad that this boy spent eighteen years institutionalized before dying at age 22.

UPDATE: My medical consultant tells me that it is extremely unlikely that hydrocephalus would have been caused by a fall.  More likely it had been progressing. Perhaps the fall was caused by the hydrocephalus, not the other way around. On the other hand, one reader told me that her son had hydrocephalus caused when he was elbowed in the head, moving an undetected tumor in such a way as to cause hydrocephalus. Fortunately her son recovered after surgery removed the tumor.  Thank goodness for modern medicine.

But Berthold’s heartbreak was still not over. One of his two remaining children, his son Leopold, was killed just a few months after Paul’s death while fighting for Germany in World War I. He was only 21 years old. With the help of those in the Jekke group on Facebook, especially the incredibly generous help of Andre Gunther and Doris Benter of that group, I believe I have been able to piece together some of what happened to Leopold.

Leopold was injured in the fall of 1915 while serving in the 12th Company of the Reserve Infantry Regiment, No. 256.9 He returned to active duty after recovering from these injuries, and in December 1916 he was listed as missing.10 As seen below, it was reported that he had been missing since the end of October in the West. At that time he had been serving with the 8th Company of Infantry Regiment No. 364, to which he must have been transferred when he returned to duty.

Leopold Goldschmidt, listed as missing, https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/900539/1/2/

In a book published in 1932 that compiled the names of all the Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Germany in World War I, Leopold Goldschmidt is listed with Company 8 of the 364th Infantry Regiment. His date of death is given as October 25, 1916, and the list categorized his death as judicially determined, indicating that his body was not found but that he was declared dead in a legal proceeding. 11

I am not sure how they determined the date when he died, but on the assumption that that is accurate, I checked to see what battles on Germany’s western front occurred in late October, 1916, and whether the 364th Infantry Regiment participated in those battles. Although I have no conclusive evidence, my best guess is that Leopold was killed or taken prisoner during the Battle of Verdun. Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, provided this information:

In September, Gen. Charles Mangin, who had held command of a section of the French defensive line from Fleury to the right bank of the Meuse from June 22, proposed a scheme to liberate the Verdun region. Nivelle approved, and that offensive was initiated on October 21 with an artillery barrage across a broad front. An infantry assault followed on October 24, with three divisions advancing behind a creeping artillery barrage. By that evening the French had retaken Douaumont along with 6,000 German prisoners, and by November 2 the fort at Vaux was once again in French hands.

According to other sources, the 364th Infantry Regiment was among those participating in the October 24 battle for Fort Douamont. Thus, Leopold likely participated in that action and was among the many German soldiers who were either killed or taken prisoner by the French during that battle.

Leopold Goldschmidt died serving his German homeland in 1916. He was survived by his father Berthold and his only remaining sibling, Siegfried Goldschmidt. This fall his hometown of Oberlistigen honored his memory and his service to his country. More on that in the next post.

Thus, by 1916, Berthold Goldschmidt had outlived his wife and seven of his eight children. It’s hard to fathom how someone endures so many losses. Berthold died in Oberlistingen on November 8, 1927, eleven years after his sons Paul and Leopold; he was 69 years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Description
Year Range: 1927
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Siegfried Goldschmidt, the only child of Berthold and Mathilde still living, attested to his father’s death. As we will see, Siegfried’s life ended in tragedy as well.


  1. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  2. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8078, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  3. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  4. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8081, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  5.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8082, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  6. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8172, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  7. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8175, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8169, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958; also, see footnotes 6 and 7. 
  9.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 10082: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/3324952 
  10.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 16803: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/5035892 
  11.  [^9]:Die Judischen Gefallenen Des Deustchen Heeres, Der Deutschen Marine und Der Deutschen Schutztruppen 1914-1918 (Herausgegeben vom Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten, 1932), pp. 38, 309. 

Kissing Cousins: Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt, Married but Buried in Different Towns

I have now written about all the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander who immigrated to the US; their only child who did not immigrate was their daughter Betty (also known as Behla and Beilchen). She was born in Oberlistingen in November 1829, their third daughter and fifth child.

Betty Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Not only did Betty never leave Germany, she never lived anywhere but her birthplace of Oberlistingen because she married her first cousin, Jacob Goldschmidt, who was also from Oberlistingen. Jacob Goldschmidt was the son and apparently the only child of Lehmann Yehudah Goldschmidt and Ranchen or Rinia Frank. Lehmann Goldschmidt was the younger brother of Seligmann Goldschmidt, making Jacob and Betty first cousins. Lehmann was also my 4x-great-uncle, making Jacob my first cousin, four times removed.

So I can in a sense kill two birds with the next set of posts: finish the story of the descendants of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann and Hincka (Alexander) Goldschmidt and tell the story of Seligmann’s brother Lehmann Goldschmidt and his descendants.

I could not find a birth record or marriage record for Lehmann nor for his wife Ranchen/Rinia, but only their death records. According to Lehmann’s death record, he was born in Oberlistingen and died there when he was 80 years old on July 15, 1865, meaning he was born in about 1785. His wife died in Oberlistingen on March 5, 1854, when she was 75 years, two months, and three days old, meaning she was born January 2, 1779.  I don’t know, however, where she was born.

Lehmann Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Rinia Frank Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 4

I also was not able to find a birth record for Lehmann’s son Jacob Goldschmidt. However, I was able to find the record of Jacob’s marriage to Betty Goldschmidt, which reports that Jacob was 28, Betty (Beilchen here) was 22 when they married in July, 1851 in Oberlistingen. That would indicate that Jacob was born in about 1823 and Betty in 1829, as is consistent with her birth record above. That means that Jacob’s mother was in her forties when he was born and may explain why he was their only child.

Marriage record of Betty Goldschmidt and Jakob Goldschmidt, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 15

Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt would have eight children, including a stillborn daughter delivered on April 13, 1853:

Stillborn child of Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt, Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

The other seven children were Levi (1855),1 Pesach Berthold (1858),2 Meier (1861),3 Recha (1863, presumably named for Ranchen/Rinia Frank Goldschmidt, Jacob’s mother who died in 1854),4 Hinka (1866, presumably named for Betty’s mother Hinka),5 Hedwig (1868),6 and Lehmann (1872, presumably named for Jacob’s father, Lehmann, who died in 1865).7 I have birth records for all seven of these children, but unfortunately for five of them, those are the only records I can locate, and I have no information about what happened to them after their births.

The only children for whom I have later records are Pesach Berthold and Hinka. Hinka died on September 27, 1867. She was only one year, two months, and twenty days old.

Hincka Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Thus, Pesach Berthold is the only child of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt for whom I have adult records. Was he the only one to survive to adulthood? What happened to the others? I don’t know.

Pesach Berthold Goldschmidt was born on October 31, 1858, in Oberlistingen:

Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15

From their children’s birth records I know that Pesach Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, daughter of Bernard Freudenstein and Johanna Kugelman. Mathilde was born on June 16, 1868, in Rosebeck, Germany,8 a small town less than ten miles from Oberlistingen. Berthold (as he is named in the children’s birth records) and Mathilde probably married by 1893 because their first child Paul was born on September 1, 1893:

Paul Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Jacob Goldschmidt died on March 6, 1895, according to the inscription on what I think is his gravestone. That gravestone came to my attention after my friend Julia Drinnenberg contacted me in June, 2018, asking if I knew who this Jacob Goldschmidt could be, as he was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Liebenau and there was no Goldschmidt family in Liebenau. Liebenau is almost 120 miles from Oberlistingen where my Goldschmidt family lived.

Julia sent me these photographs of the gravestone.

The German inscription on the gravestone translates as “Here lies Jakob Goldschmidt from Oberlistingen.” The Hebrew transcription refers to him as “Yakov (Jacob) son of Yehudah.”

At first I did not think this was Lehmann’s son since he was referred to as son of Yehuda. But then I found a transcription of Lehmann’s grave which refers to him as Lehmann known as Yehuda.

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 6

Thus, I believe that the gravestone depicted in the photographs from Julia is the gravestone of Jacob Goldschmidt, son of Lehmann and husband of Betty.

What neither Julia nor I nor anyone else I consulted could understand was why Jacob Goldschmidt was buried in Liebenau when he was a resident of Oberlistingen 120 miles away. Unfortunately, neither Julia nor I could locate a death record for Jacob in Liebenau, Oberlistingen or elsewhere. Was he perhaps in Liebenau when he died?  Since traditional Jewish practice required that the deceased be buried within 24 hours of death, maybe getting the body back to Oberlistingen that soon was problematic. Did he therefore have to be buried in Liebenau for religious reasons? And why was he in Liebenau in the first place? I don’t know.

UPDATE: I sent this post to Julia, and she wrote back to tell me that the Liebenau where Jacob is buried is only about 6 km from Oberlistingen; apparently there are two towns with that name. So there goes my theory that they couldn’t get the body home in time to bury him in Oberlistingen….

When Jacob’s wife Betty died on March 16, 1909, in Oberlistingen, she was buried in the cemetery for Oberlistingen Jews, and her gravestone inscription described her as Jacob’s widow. There is no gravestone for Jacob there.

Betty Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8178,  1909
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 9

Thus, Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt were buried 120 miles apart in two different towns. They appear to have been survived only by their son Berthold, who attested to his mother’s death. Berthold’s heartbreak was only beginning in 1909.

To be continued….


  1.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 14 
  2. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15 
  3. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 16 
  4.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  5. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  6. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 18 
  7. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 19 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958