Escaping from Germany, Part VII: Children Separated from their Parents

This is the final chapter in the story of my cousin Sarah Goldschmidt, daughter of my fourth great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt. These last seven chapters about her descendants’ struggles during and for the most part survival of the Nazi era have been an inspiration to me during this pandemic. We need to remember that human beings have survived many other challenges as we continue to fight this one.

The youngest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern was their son Mayer. As we have seen, Mayer was married to Gella Hirsch, and they had two children, Elsa (1891) and Markus Kurt (1895)(later known as Kurt Marco).

As of 1930, Mayer and Gella were living in Frankfurt. Their daughter Elsa had been married to her second cousin Jacob Schwarzschild, with whom she’d had a daughter Elizabeth (1915). That marriage ended in divorce, and in 1920, Elsa had married Alfred Hirsch, with whom she had three children in the 1920s. Kurt Stern was married to Rhee Mess; they had no children.

With the rise of Hitler, the family began to disperse. Kurt and Rhee left Germany first. From 1918 to 1923, Kurt had worked as an art dealer in Frankfurt with his father and Goldschmidt relatives in the firm of I & S Goldschmidt (more on them to come). He and Rhee had then moved to Paris, where he became an independent art dealer.1 Then they immigrated to the US, arriving in New York on October 4, 1934. Kurt declared his intention to become a US citizen on February 19, 1935, four months after arriving in New York.

Kurt Marco Stern declaration of intention, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1256
Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350 New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944

Kurt registered for the US draft on April 26, 1942, at which time he was a self-employed art dealer, living in New York City.

Kurt Stern, World War II draft registration, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Kurt’s parents Mayer and Gella Stern also left Germany around that time. According to Mayer Stern’s immigration papers, he and Gella arrived in Palestine on April 12, 1935. Sadly, Gella died less than two months later on June 1, 1935, in Haifa. She was 71 years old. Mayer remained in Haifa and became a Palestinian citizen on August 24, 1938.2

Mayer Stern, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at

But Mayer did not live much longer. He died on September 15, 1939, in Haifa, where he is buried. He was 78.

The grave site of מאיר שטרן. Cemetery: Haifa Mahane David – Sde Yehoshua Cemetery, Location: Haifa, Haifa District, Israel. Birth: 7 Jan 1861, Death: 15 Sep 1939. Found at Photographer  Nadezda

As for Mayer and Gella’s daughter Elsa Stern Schwarzschild Hirsch, she and her husband Alfred Hirsch and three children also immigrated to Palestine, arriving in 1938, according to their immigration file.3

The file includes letters indicating that two of Elsa and Alfred’s children returned to Europe after arriving in Palestine, one to Antwerp to study, the other to Italy for health reasons. Alfred requested that the two children be granted Palestinian passports expeditiously because they each had limited visas from those countries that would expire before they could return to Palestine to sign their new passports.

Alfred received a response that the Palestinian officials would ask the British consul to issue Palestinian passports to the two children once Alfred himself was naturalized. Alfred and Elsa were naturalized on August 14, 1938. Alfred was working as the general manager of the Palestine Milling & Trading Company at that time.4

Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at

I assume the two children were able to return soon thereafter to Palestine to join their family. But can you imagine the anxiety experienced by them all, thinking that the two young teenagers might be stranded in Europe as the Nazi persecution of Jews intensified in 1938, culminating in Kristallnacht just a few months after Alfred and Elsa received their naturalization certificate?

One of their children immigrated to the US as early as 1940 and was residing without any family members in New York City at the YMHA on the 1940 US census;5 his uncle Kurt was, however, residing in New York at that time, where he was the owner of an “art shop,” according to the census.6

The rest of the family joined them in the US after the war. Alfred and Elsa arrived in New York on December 24, 1946.7 Alfred died less than two months later on February 6, 1947; he was only 56 years old.8 Elsa outlived him by over forty years; she died in Dallas, Texas, on October 4, 1988.  She was 97 years old.9

Elsa’s brother Kurt Stern unfortunately did not have his sister’s longevity. He died on April 16, 1962 at the age of 67 after a long illness, according to his obituary.10 He was survived by his wife Rhee, who died in August 1986 at the age of 91,11 and his sister Elsa and her three children.

Thus ends not only the story of Mayer Stern, but that of his parents Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern. Their story is overall a story shared by so many German Jews. They went from being successful merchants living in comfort and security, raising children and grandchildren in a country that they saw as their home, to being refugees from the worst kind of persecution and violence anyone can imagine.

Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants were, however, among the more fortunate ones. Out of all of Sarah’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Germany during the Nazi era, only one, little Margot Fulda, just thirteen years old, was murdered by the Nazis. The rest were uprooted from their homes and torn from the comfort they’d known, but were able to escape to Palestine, to England, and to the United States. Their descendants live among us today in places all over the world. How fortunate and blessed we are that they do.

Next I will turn my attention to Sarah’s younger brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and his family.

  1. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  2. Mayer Stern, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at 
  3. Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Stephen Hirsch, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02663; Page: 83B; Enumeration District: 31-1658, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Kurt M. Stern, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-1368, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Alfred and Elsa Hirsch, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7250; Line: 1; Page Number: 10, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  9. Else Hirsch, Social Security Number: 119-36-5922, Birth Date: 4 Jan 1891
    Issue year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 75219, Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, Death Date: 4 Oct 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Kurt M Stern, Birth Date: 28 Jan 1895, Death Date: 16 Apr 1962, Claim Date: 17 Aug 1962, SSN: 060070787, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  11.  Rhee Stern, Social Security Number: 065-52-1280, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1895
    Issue year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1986, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XII: The Mystery of His Stepmother Francis

Will you help me solve a mystery?

The next page in Milton Goldsmith’s family album was devoted to his stepmother, Francis (sometimes spelled Frances) Spanier Goldsmith. But his story about her background and childhood left me with quite a mystery.

Milton was fifteen when his father remarried, and from this tribute to Francis, it is clear that he was extremely fond of and grateful to her.

Francis Spanier Goldsmith, the second wife of Father, Abraham Goldsmith, was born in Germany in 1854. Left an orphan at an early age, she was brought up in the home of Rabbi Krimke of Hanover, Germany. At the age of 20 she came to America, and having an Uncle, Louis Spanier, living in Washington, D.C. she went there for a while but soon settled in Baltimore, and became friends with our cousins, the Siegmunds. It was there that father met her, having been introduced by Mr. S. Father had been a widower for two years with five young children to bring up, and was looking for a wife, a lady with no relatives. He fell in love with Miss Spanier, proposed after two days and married within two months. She was 22 and he past forty. She was an attractive girl, dark-eyed, brunette, speaking a cultivated German but very little English;- of an amiable disposition. Father’s greatest mistake was to keep the parents of his first wife in the house. This naturally led to friction. A brother, Julius Spanier soon came in our home and lived there for a while. Later a sister, Rose, came from Hanover and also lived with us for several years. She eventually married and lived in Birmingham, Ala, where her brother also made his home. Within a year the oldest son, Alfred was born, and within five years there came Bertha, Alice and Louis. The later years of father’s life were embittered by sickness, loss of money and finally a stroke, rendering him helpless. He suffered for 12 years before he passed away in 1902. During that time Francis was an untireing [sic] nurse and faithful companion. She died of a stroke in Philada, 1908.

[handwritten underneath] She was distantly related to Heinrich Heine.]

I found this essay heartwarming, but also sad. Francis was orphaned, married a man  with five children who was more than twenty years older than she was, had to put up with his first wife’s parents, raise five stepchildren plus four of her own, and tend to Abraham when he suffered financial and medical problems. What a hard life! But how much of Milton’s essay was true?

When I first wrote about Francis over a year ago, I noted that I’d been able to find very little about her background, so finding this essay was very exciting because it provided many clues about Francis’ background. I’ve placed in bold above the many hints in Milton’s essay about people and places that I thought might reveal more about Francis.1

For example, who was Rabbi Krimke who allegedly brought up Francis? Was he just some rabbi from Hanover, or did Milton provide such a specific name because he was a well-known rabbi? It turns out that it was the latter. In Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und großpolnischen Ländern 1781-1871 (Michael Brocke, Julius Carlebach, Carsten Wilke, Walter de Gruyte, eds. 2010)( p. 549), there was this short biography of Rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke of Hanover:

Here is a partial translation:

Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, born in Hamburg in 24 June 1824, died in Hannover 20 Nov 1886. From orthodox school, 1857 third foundation rabbi at the Michael Davidschen Foundation School in Hannover, at the same time teacher at the Meyer Michael Foundation School and lecturer at the Jewish Teacher seminary, around 1869 first Foundation Rabbi. at the Michael Davidschen Foundation. Married to Rosa Blogg (died 1889), daughter of the Hebrew scholar Salomon Ephraim B.  ….  Was buried in the Jewish cemetery An der Strangriede. The tombstone for the foundation rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke is preserved; it is adorned with a Magen David and also decorated with strong oak leaves….

I then fell into a very deep rabbit hole when I tried to track down Louis, Julius, and Rose Spanier, Francis’ uncle, brother, and sister, respectively. I was able to find a Joseph Spanier living with his wife and family in Birmingham, Alabama, on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census reports.2  But Joseph Spanier was born in England, according to all three census records. I was skeptical as to whether this was Julius Spanier, the brother of Francis Spanier Goldsmith living in Birmingham, as mentioned in Milton’s essay.

Jos. Spanier and family, 1910, US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031 1910 United States Federal Census

But when I searched further for Julius Spanier, I found this page from the 1861 English census:

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, 1861 England Census

This certainly appears to be the same man described in Milton’s essay and found on the census records for Birmingham, Alabama, as he was the right age, born in England, and had two sisters, one named Frances, one named Rose. Could it just be coincidence? Also, my Francis was the same age as the Frances on the 1861 English census. This certainly appeared to be the same family as the Spanier family described in Milton’s essay about his stepmother.

What really sealed the deal for me were the names of Joseph Spanier’s children in Birmingham, Alabama. His first child was Adolph; Julius Spanier’s father on the 1861 census was Adolphus. Julius Spanier’s mother was Bertha. Joseph Spanier also had a daughter named Bertha.

And consider the names of the first two children Francis Spanier had with Abraham Goldsmith: a son named Alfred, a daughter named Bertha. It all could not simply be coincidence. I hypothesized that Joseph Spanier was born Julius Spanier in England to Adolphus and Bertha Spanier and that Francis Spanier Goldsmith was his sister.

But then things got murky. Look again at the 1861 English census. It shows that Frances was not born in Germany, but in Boston—in the US. Every American record I had for Francis indicated that she was born in Germany, not the United States. How could I square that with the 1861 English census and the connection to the siblings mentioned in Milton’s essay—Julius and Rose?

And if Frances was born in Boston and living in England in 1861, is it really possible that she did not speak much English when she met Abraham in 1876, as Milton claimed in his essay?

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, 1861 England Census

Then I found a birth record for Frances Spanier born in Boston to “Radolph” and Bertha Spanier on September 10, 1854. “Radolph” was clearly a misspelling of Adolph, and this had to be the same Frances Spanier who appeared on the 1861 English census.  Francis Spanier Goldsmith had a birth date of September 13, 1855, on her death certificate, so just a year and few days different from this Boston birth record (though the death certificate said she was born in Germany.)

“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 March 2016), 004023162 > image 102 of 857; Massachusetts Archives, Boston.

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

I also found records showing that Francis Spanier Goldsmith’s uncle Louis was living in Boston in the 1850s.3 It certainly seemed more and more like Francis Spanier Goldsmith was born in Boston, not Germany, as Milton had written and American records reported.

What about the story that she was an orphan and raised by Rabbi Krimke? Francis’ mother Bertha died in England in 1862,4 when Francis was seven or eight years old, so she was partially orphaned as a child. But her father Adolphus died in England in 1873, so Francis was eighteen or nineteen when he died.5 But when Francis immigrated to the US in 1876, the ship manifest stated that she was a resident of Germany, not England.

Franziska Spanier, Year: 1876; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 403; Line: 1; List Number: 344, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Was Milton’s story just a family myth, or was there some way to reconcile it with these records?

Here is my working hypothesis:

After Bertha Spanier died in 1862, Adolphus was left with five  young children. Francis (then seven or eight) and at least some of her siblings were sent to Hanover, Germany, to live with Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, as the family story goes. By the time Francis immigrated to the US fourteen years later, she might have forgotten most of the English she once knew, so she was speaking only German, and the Goldsmith family only knew that she was an orphan who had come from Germany so assumed she was born there, and the family myth grew and stuck.

How ironic would it be if Francis was, like Milton and his siblings, a child whose mother died, leaving her father with five young children? After all, Francis also ended up marrying a man whose first wife died, leaving him with five young children. Francis may have saved her stepchildren from the fate she might have suffered—being taken away from her father after her mother died and sent to live in a foreign country  with a stranger, who happened to be a well-known rabbi.

What do you think? Am I missing something here? Where else can I look to try and solve this mystery?

This is Part XII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX,  Part X and Part XI at the links.


  1. I also spent far too much time trying to track down the Siegmund family of Washington, DC, whom Milton described as his cousins. I had no luck figuring this one out and finally forced myself to stop looking. I also resisted the temptation to try and track down the distant connection between Francis Spanier and Heinrich Heine, the great nineteenth century German-Jewish poet. 
  2. Jos. Spanier, 1910 US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031, 1910 United States Federal Census; Joe Spanier, 1920 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T625_25; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 99, 1920 United States Federal Census; Joseph E. Spanier, 1930 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Page: 32B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 2339762, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. Birth record for Clara Spanier, daughter of Louis Spanier, Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2018), Clara Spanier, 01 Oct 1855, Boston, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #p72 #3222, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,428,236. 
  4. Bertha Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1c, Page: 147, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 
  5. Adolphe Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1d, Page: 577, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 

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.

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.

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, 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 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, 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, New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6. 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. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

The Bensew Daughters, Roschen and Frieda: Who Was Mrs. Hon?

My last post covered the lives of the five sons of Breine Mansbach and Jakob Bensew: William, Lester, Julius, Heine, and Max. Breine and Jakob Bensew also had two daughters, Roschen, their first child, who was born in 1870, and Frieda, their last child, who was born in 1886. This post is about them and their families.

As we have seen, Roschen may have come to the US in 1890 with two of her brothers, but if she did, she returned to Germany where she married Josef Stern in 1899 and had at least two children born in Kassel, Alfred, born in 1900, and Edwin, born in 1905. According to some researchers, Roschen and Josef had three other children, but so far I have not found any evidence of those children in either German or US records. And although I was able to find a death record for Josef, who died in Kassel, Germany on February 2, 1927,1 I’ve been unable to find a record of Roschen’s death.

What I know about their sons Alfred and Edwin is that both immigrated to the US in 1937 to escape Nazi Germany. Edwin, the younger brother, was the first to leave Germany. He arrived in New York on January 6, 1937, listing his age as 31, his marital status as single, his occupation as merchant, and birthplace as Kassel, Germany. He reported that he was leaving behind his brother, “A. Stern,” of Berlin, Germany, and going to his uncle, “W. Bensev,” i.e., William Bensev, of Denver, Colorado. William was his mother Roschen’s brother.

Edwin Stern, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5923; Line: 1; Page Number: 108 New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Edwin’s brother Alfred followed ten months later. He arrived on October, 1937, listing his age as 37, occupation as bank clerk, and birthplace as Kassel. The manifest indicates that Alfred was married and resided in Berlin, and he reported on the manifest that the person he was going to was his uncle, “J. Loewenherz” of Winnetka, Illinois. I believe this was really Emanuel Loewenherz, who was married to Alfred’s aunt Frieda Bensev, his mother Roschen’s little sister.

Alfred Stern, passenger manifest, p. 1, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6066; Line: 1; Page Number: 23 New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Alfred also indicated that the person he was leaving behind was his wife Rita of the same address in Berlin. But there was also a second name listed in the column for those the person left behind, a Mrs. Hon of Nice, France, identified as his mother.

The form asks the person to provide the name of “the nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came or, if none there, then in country of which a citizen or subject.” Since Alfred came from Germany and was a citizen or subject of only Germany, supplying the name of someone in France would not have been correct. Is that why his wife’s name is written in instead? Was the Mrs. Hon in Nice, France, actually Alfred’s mother Roschen Bensew Stern? If so, I cannot find her. If anyone has any suggestions, please help!

I was a little worried that Alfred had left his wife behind, so was relieved to see on the 1940 census that Alfred, Rita, and their three-year-old daughter Renate (later Renee) were safely living in New York City where Alfred was working as a clerk for the telegraph company. Rita’s mother Elizabeth Garde and sister Charlotte Garde were also living with them.

Alfred Stern household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02673; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 31-2013 1940 United States Federal Census

Alfred’s brother Edwin Stern had gone to Denver to live with his uncle William Bensev. On the 1940 census, William not only had his wife Jessie, daughter Theodora, and three brothers—Heine, Max, and Julius—living with him.  He also had taken in his nephew Edwin, who was working as a salesman in a department store:

William Bensev household 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 16-149 1940 United States Federal Census

In 1942 when he registered for the draft, Edwin was still living with his uncle William and working for the May Company, the department store. Edwin served in the US military from May 1, 1942, until March 13, 1945.2 I unfortunately was not able to find out any information about Edwin during or after his service in World War II. He died on May 6, 1980, in San Francisco, California; he was 75.3 I do not know if he ever married or had children.

Edwin Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 232
Source Information U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Alfred Stern seems to have stayed in the New York City area for the rest of his life. As with Edwin Stern, the fact that his name is so common made it impossible to determine much else about his life. He died on August 7, 1991; he was 91 years old.4

Breine and Jakob Bensew’s other daughter Frieda had been in the US since 1907 and in 1910 was living in Chicago and working as a stenographer, as discussed here. Sometime in 1918, Frieda married Emanuel Loewenherz. I have no marriage record, but Emanuel did not arrive in the US until January 30, 1913.5 On his naturalization papers signed on April 22, 1918, he wrote that he was not married.6 But when he registered for the World War II draft, he was married to Frieda; unfortunately, there is no date on his registration card:

Emanuel Loewenherz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1452380; Draft Board: 01 U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Emanuel was born in “Piwowsczyrna, Austria,” on October 5, 1882, according to his naturalization papers; the closest match I could find on a current map is Piwniczna-Zdrój, Poland.7 When he registered for the draft, he and Frieda were living in Chicago, and he was working as a work manager for the K.W. Battery Company. On the 1920 census, they were still living in Chicago, and Emanuel now reported his occupation as a machine engineer for a manufacturing company. Their son Walter was born later that year on August 6, 1920, in Chicago.8

Emanuel Loewenherz household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 1, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_305; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 10 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1927 Emanuel, Frieda, and young Walter traveled together on the SS Deutschland to Hamburg, Germany. In 1930 they again made a trip to Hamburg.9 In 1930 the family was living in New Trier, Illinois, a town about 20 miles north of Chicago. Emanuel owned a home worth $20,000—or equivalent to about $300,000 in today’s dollars. Emanuel had gone from being a work manager and then a machine engineer to being the president of the battery company. Also living with Emanuel, Frieda and Walter was Alfred Mansbach, Frieda’s cousin and the son of Julius Mansbach and the other Frieda Bensew. The family was at the same address in 1940; Alfred Mansbach was no longer living with them, but a nephew named Micha Loewenherz was. Emanuel was still the president of the battery company.10

Loewenherz household, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 2223; FHL microfilm: 2340238 1930 United States Federal Census

Walter Loewenherz enlisted in the military on October 6, 1942.11 On March 20, 1943, he married Beatrice Ganzoff in Comanche, Oklahoma. Since Beatrice, like Walter, was a Chicago native and resident, I assume they married in Oklahoma because Walter was stationed there. Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995

Emanuel Loewenherz died in December 1963 in Chicago; he was 81.12 His wife, my cousin Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, died on December 17, 1975, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when she was 89.13

According to his obituary,14 Walter Loewenherz became president of the K.W. Battery Company, succeeding his father. He eventually moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was an active member of several civic and charitable organizations in both Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. He died when he was only 65 years old on November 16, 1985, in Fort Lauderdale. His wife Beatrice died on June 30, 2005, also in Fort Lauderdale; she was 84.15  Beatrice was quite an accomplished woman.  According to her obituary, she was Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University and a Fulbright Scholar. She taught at  Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, Illinois, and Nova Southeastern in Florida and was active in many civic organizations. After retiring, Beatrice and Walter had lived in a sailboat off of St. Bart’s before settling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.16They were survived by their four children.

With this post, I have written about all the children of my three-times great-aunt, Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach. Moreover, I have now written about all the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander except for the one child who never left Germany: Biele or Betty Goldschmidt. Her story comes next.

  1.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5608, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  3. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, Social Security #: 524052638. 
  4. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 059125292. 
  5. Emanuel Loewenherz, passenger manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1827, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934. 
  6. Emanuel Loewenherz, naturalization records, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906 – 1991; NAI Number: 6756404; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,  Petitions, v 64-68, no 6270-6700, 1918, Illinois, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, SSN: 329163469. 
  9. Loewenherz family on passenger manifests, Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3997; Line: 8; Page Number: 163, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4885; Line: 3; Page Number: 90, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Loewenherz household, 1940 US census, Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00783; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 16-322, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  12. Number: 340-07-2609; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Number: 356-38-3307; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: 1963, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Fort Lauderdale News, 16 Nov 1985, Page 15 
  15. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 329019705. 
  16.  Evanston Review, obit for Dr. Beatrice Loewenherz, ( : accessed 28 September 2018); South Florida Sun-Sentinel () , obit for Loewenherz, Beatrice, ( : accessed 28 September 2018) 

Rosa Goldschmidt and Bernhard Metz: Two Immigrants Who Found Success and Heartbreak in America

As of September 1853, all four of the sons of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, my 3x-great-grandparents, had immigrated to Philadelphia: Jacob, Abraham, Meyer, and Levi. Seligmann and Hincka still had their four daughters in Germany, however: Sarah, Eva, Bette, and Rosa.

Three of those daughters eventually followed their brothers to Philadelphia. First, my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein immigrated with her husband Gerson and their three oldest children in 1856, as I wrote about here and in several other posts. Then in 1860, Seligmann and Hincka’s youngest child Rosa followed her older siblings to Philadelphia. Sarah, the oldest sibling, would be the last to arrive, coming with her husband in 1882, years after some of her children had already immigrated, as discussed previously. Of the eight siblings, only Bette never left Germany.

The next set of posts will focus on Rosa Goldschmidt and her family. If the stories about her brother Levi and his descendants were overwhelmingly sad, the search for the stories of Rosa’s family was one of the most baffling, surprising, and challenging I’ve encountered since I first started searching for my family history. Stay tuned for some  surprising research successes and discoveries. But first some background on Rosa and her early years in the US, where she experienced both great happiness and terrible sadness.

Rosa Goldschmidt was born on October 27, 1837, in Oberlistingen, Germany.

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

She left Germany when she was 22 and arrived in New York City on July 9, 1860.

Roschen Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 202; Line: 14; List Number: 597 New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I assume she must have settled in Philadelphia where all her older siblings were living and where, on January 20, 1864, she married Bernhardt Metz.1 Bernhardt (later Bernhard) was born in Prussia in 1832 and had immigrated in the mid-1850s. He was in the “cloak and mantilla” business in 1862, according to the Philadelphia directory.2

Rosa and Bernhard’s first child, a daughter named Hattie, was born on November 23, 1864.3 A second child, a son named Paul, was born on November 1, 1866.4 Then came another daughter, Emily, born on February 9, 1868.5 A fourth child was born on October 17, 1869, a daughter named Bertha.6 On the 1870 census, they were all living together in Philadelphia. Bernhard was a cloak manufacturer, and he had $10,000 worth of real property and $2000 of personal property. There were two servants living with them also. Like Rosa’s brothers, Bernhard was doing well as a new immigrant in America.

Bernhard Metz family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20 District 66, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1407; Page: 438B; Family History Library Film: 552906. 1870 United States Federal Census.

Rosa and Bernhard had three more sons in the 1870s: Siegfried, born in about 1872 in Pennsylvania,7 Edwin Joseph, born on December 16, 1874, in New York City,8 and Joseph George Metz, born on September 14, 1878, in Philadelphia.9 Thus, it appears that at least for some part of the 1870s, Rosa and Bernhard and their children were living in New York, but then returned to Philadelphia by 1878 where their youngest child was born.

That is also consistent with what I found in the Philadelphia directories. Bernhard had been in business with his brother Joseph since at least the 1860s, and it appears from various directory listings that they must have had business in New York City because in the 1872 Philadelphia directory, Bernhard is listed as residing in New York. However, in 1878 he is listed with a Philadelphia residence.10

But their good fortune changed in 1880. On the 1880 census, Bernhard and Rosa and six of their seven children were listed as living in Philadelphia where Bernhard was working as a merchant.11 Sadly, their son Siegfried had died of cholera morbus (or what we would call gastroenteritis today) on May 19, 1880, in Philadelphia; he was only eight years old.12

Soon thereafter they must have moved back to New York City because Bernhard is listed in several New York City directories in the 1880s and 1890s.13

And the family suffered another tragic loss after moving to New York. On April 3, 1885, Rosa and Bernhard’s seventeen-year-old daughter Emily died from pneumonia [?] in New York City.  The death certificate states that she had lived in New York City for three years at the time of her death, meaning the family had moved to New York in 1882. Emily died in the family residence at 427 East 57th Street. I can’t imagine how losing the second of their seven children affected the family.

New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Emilie Metz, 03 Apr 1885; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,373,964.

Sadly, those were not the only losses the family suffered in the next decade or so.

On October 20, 1887, the oldest daughter Hattie married George Gattel,14 who was born in Berlin, Germany, on June 4, 1861, the son of Moritz Gattel and Ernestine Metzenberg.15 George had immigrated in 1882, and on both his naturalization index card in 1887 and his passport application in 1888, he listed his occupation as salesman.16

Roll Description: G-325; G-400, U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project)

Hattie and George had an unnamed son born on October 10, 1890;17 I have no further record of that baby, so I assume he may have died. Then Hattie and George had a second child, a daughter Emily born in August 1892,18 obviously named for Hattie’s sister Emily who had died seven years before. In a cruel twist of fate, baby Emily Gattel died less than seven months later on March 25, 1893. Like her namesake, she died from pneumonia. Hattie and her husband George Gattel did not have any more children after the death of their daughter Emily in 1893.

New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Emily Gattel, 25 Mar 1893; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,412,519.

The losses did not end there. Rosa and Bernhard’s youngest daughter Bertha married Adolf Katzenstein on July 1, 1891, in New York City.19 Adolf was, like George Gattel, a German immigrant; he was born in Einbeck, Germany, on May 5, 1860, according to his passport applications. Those same documents state that he immigrated in April, 1882. Several passport applications report that he was in the import business.20

Bertha and Adolf had a daughter born on April 23, 1892, in New York City. Tragically, Bertha herself died less than two weeks later on May 4, 1892, from puerperal fever, a fever caused by a uterine infection following childbirth.  Bertha and Adolf’s daughter, also named Bertha, was yet another child destined to grow up without her mother. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 [

Thus, by 1900, Rosa and Bernhard had lost one of their four sons, Siegfried, two of their three daughters, Emily and Bertha, and two grandchildren, Hattie’s two babies. They were living at 209 East 61st in New York City with and their two youngest sons, Edwin and Joseph George (here listed as George J.), and with their remaining daughter Hattie and her husband George Gattel. Bernhard was still in the import-export business, and Edwin and Joseph George were merchants. Hattie was working as a saleswoman, and her husband George was a commissioner (of what, I do not know). So three of the four surviving adult Metz siblings were living with their parents in 1900.

Bernhard Metz family 1900 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 0661; FHL microfilm: 1241110 1900 United States Federal Census

But where was Paul Metz, the oldest son of Rosa and Bernhard, in 1900?

That proved to be quite the mystery.

Wishing all my friends and family who observe Yom Kippur an easy and meaningful fast!



  1. Pennsylvania Marriages, 1709-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Bernhard Metz and Rosa Goldsmith, 20 Jan 1864; citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,765,018. 
  2. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948, Certificate Number 23969. Bernhard Metz and family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20 District 66, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1407; Page: 438B; Family History Library Film: 552906. 1870 United States Federal Census. 1862 Philadelphia directory, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  3. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Metz, 23 Nov 1864; citing bk 1864 p 329, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,309. 
  4. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Metz, 01 Nov 1866; citing bk 1866 p 320, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,310. 
  5. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Metz, 09 Feb 1868; citing bk 1868 p 20, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,311. 
  6. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 March 2018), Metz, 17 Oct 1869; citing bk 1869 p 253, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,313. The Philadelphia birth index shows an October birthdate, but the 1900 census indicates she was born in December, 1869. I assume the birth index is more reliable. 
  7. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-Population Census Schedules for Pennsylvania, 1850-1880: Mortality; Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 11; Census Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 465. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885. 
  8. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Edwin Jos. Metz, 16 Dec 1874; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 149827 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,085. 
  9. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 March 2018), U Metz, 14 Sep 1878; citing p 62, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,319. 
  10. Philadelphia city directories, 1862-1878, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  11. Bernhard Metz and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1186;Page: 290C; Enumeration District: 589. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  12. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 May 2014), 004008623 > image 181 of 488; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 
  13. New York City directories, 1880, 1884, 1886, 1889, 1894, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  14.  New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), George Gattel and Hattie Metz, 20 Oct 1887; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,571,009. 
  15. Prussian Provinces, Selected Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1661-1944. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), George Gattel and Hattie Metz, 20 Oct 1887; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,671,683. 
  16. George Gattel, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1727, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934. George Gattel, 1888 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 315; Volume #: Roll 315 – 01 Oct 1888-31 Oct 1888. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  17. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Gattel, 10 Oct 1890; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 31192 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,236. 
  18.  New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Emily Gattel, 25 Mar 1893; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,412,519. 
  19.  New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Adolf Katzenstein and Bertha Metz, 01 Jul 1891; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,452,194. 
  20. E.g, 1892 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 397; Volume #: Roll 397 – 01 Jul 1892-13 Jul 1892. 1896 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 459; Volume #: Roll 459 – 01 Feb 1896-29 Feb 1896. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 

Eugene and Maurice Goldsmith: Together at Home and at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

Milton Goldsmith: A Victim of Conscience

In my last post we saw what my cousin Milton Goldsmith predicted for the 21st century; in this post, we will start to look at his life in the 20th century.

In 1900, Milton was recently married to Sophie Hyman of New York City, and the newlywed couple were living in Philadelphia where Milton continued to make a living as a clothing merchant. Their first child, Rosalind, was born on February 1, 1901, in Philadelphia,1 and a second daughter, Madeleine, followed on May 29, 1904, also in Philadelphia.2

By this time Milton had published his first novel, Rabbi and Priest (1891), as discussed here, as well as a second novel, A Victim of Conscience (1903).3

A Victim of Conscience takes place in the 1850s in a city that is unnamed but (based on the street names) is most likely Philadelphia. The main character is a recent German Jewish immigrant named Isaac Schwartz.  He has been in America for four years at the beginning of the novel and is living in dire poverty, desperate for a way to earn enough money to support his family. He finally decides to go to California to join the gold rush. There he encounters anti-Semitism and abuse and ultimately commits the crime that makes him a “victim of conscience.”

The principal theme of the book is atonement. Isaac seeks advice from a rabbi about how to atone for his crime and is discouraged by some of the rigidity of Jewish law. He then considers converting to Catholicism and studies with a priest, but ultimately decides that he can’t accept the notion that mere faith in Christ as his savior will provide salvation. In the end he learns that Judaism can provide a path to forgiveness and expiation for his sins.

The book’s focus is thus on Isaac’s struggle with his conscience and how religion affects that struggle. But the book is of more interest to me in the way that it reflects the way my cousin Milton understood his own family’s story—their life in Germany, their reasons for leaving Germany, and the life they found when they first settled in the US fifty years before he wrote this book. A few excerpts will illustrate what I mean.

Although I have no reason to assume that Milton was being at all autobiographical in describing the lives of some of his characters, I did wonder whether this description of Isaac’s life in Germany was based on his father Abraham’s life in Oberlistingen before emigrating:4

Isaac’s father, old Meyer Schwartz, was a power in his native village of D. He was in fair circumstances, and educated as far as education went in those days; for the Jews, rich and poor alike, were denied the privileges of the village schools, and were limited in their instruction to the teachings of their “Cheders ” and the scraps of information which they could impart one to the other. Old Schwartz was a profound Talmud scholar, and was deemed as wise as he was devout, which was no equivocal compliment, for he was pious indeed. … It was [his] ambition to make a Rabbi of [Isaac], but in spite of his earnest and painstaking instruction, Isaac never got beyond the general outlines of the law and the Talmud. Buying and selling afforded him more pleasure than poring over parchments, and, after a vain effort to keep him to his studies, old Schwartz reluctantly allowed him to follow his own inclinations.

Milton also provided some background for the reasons so many German Jews emigrated:5

In those days the Jews in Germany had few rights and many grievances. Harsh measures were devised, stringent laws enacted to drive them out of the country, or at least to restrict their increase. The possession and cultivation of land, the study of a profession, the following of the fine arts, were all interdicted. Buying and selling, borrowing and lending, were the only channels in which the Israelites were allowed to exercise their ingenuity, and grievous was their condition in consequence. Worse still, a Jew was not allowed to marry until some co-religionist in the community had died or had moved away.

His main character Isaac decides to emigrate because he wants to marry the woman he loves, Lena, and cannot stay in his home community and do so.

Milton also described the hard lives of the Jews who made a living as peddlers after coming to the US, as his father Abraham probably did:6

A number of peddlers were among the visitors, stalwart young fellows but lately arrived from Germany, who, with a heavy pack on their shoulders, or, if their means allowed, with horse and wagon, wandered through the State, hawking a varied assortment of merchandise, and seeking to master the American tongue while they accumulated American dollars. It was a hard experience, but a salutary one. For the pious Jews, peddling meant untold privations, a total abstinence of all food except eggs and such “Kosher” dried meats as they could carry with them. It meant a weary trudging through unfamiliar villages, over stony roads, amid hostile surroundings, from Sunday morning until Friday evening, and a short rest on the Sabbath in some synagogue town.

It was a career which might well have daunted the most enterprising youth, and yet thousands of “greenhorns ” adopted it, thrived at it, became wealthy through it. It was not considered degrading in those pioneer days, but eminently proper for a new arrival.

19th century etching of a peddler by Granger found at

The book also sheds light on the lives of German Jewish families in Philadelphia during that time period—the level of observance of Jewish law, the economic and social conditions, and the relationship between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The book is likely more valuable today for what it reveals about its times than for its literary merit, but for me, it was a worthwhile read.

Thus, by 1903, Milton had published two novels and written many essays, short stories, and even a musical. He and his family must have decided that it was time to leave Philadelphia and move to New York City where he might have more opportunities to pursue his literary career.

You can download a free copy of A Victim of Conscience here.

  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. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Madeline Goldsmith, 29 May 1904; citing cn 22583, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 2,110,933. 
  3. Milton Goldsmith, A Victim of Conscience (Henry T. Coates & Co., 1903). 
  4. Ibid., p.6. 
  5. Ibid., p. 7. 
  6. Ibid., pp. 84-85. 

Milton Goldsmith: Rabbi and Priest

When I prepared this post, it didn’t occur to me that I would be publishing it on the day  that is both Good Friday and Erev Passover—the night of the first seder. But it couldn’t be a more appropriate day to post about a book that deals with the need for religious tolerance—written by my cousin Milton Goldsmith in 1891.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all!

Abraham Goldsmith’s oldest child was his son Milton, born to Abraham’s first wife Cecelia on May 22, 1861, in Philadelphia.1 I have been looking forward to researching and writing about Milton for a long time, ever since my father told me that he had once met one of his Goldsmith cousins and remembered that he had written children’s books. It took me a while to figure out which Goldsmith that was, but I believe that it must have been Milton.

From what I’ve written about Milton so far, you would not know about his literary interests and career.  From the late 1880s until at least 1900, public records listed his occupation as clothing merchant, and he worked in his father’s clothing store, A.Goldsmith & Sons, for many years.

But even during those years, Milton was engaged in other, more creative pursuits. According to one online biography, Milton graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia in 1877 and then studied literature, languages, and music at the University of Zurich for three years from 1877 until 1880 when he returned to Philadelphia.

His first full length novel was published by the Jewish Publication Society in 1891. It was an interesting choice of subject matter for the son of a very successful German-Jewish immigrant. Entitled Rabbi and Priest, it is the story of two Russian Jewish brothers who are separated during a pogrom; one eventually finds his way to Kiev where his uncle lives; he is educated in a yeshiva and grows up to be a rabbi.  The other is rescued by a Russian Countess and sent to a monastery where he grows up to be a priest.2

The book provides insight into the lives of poor Jews living in Russia in the 19th century and their attitudes, practices, and beliefs as well as the lives and views of the Christian populations. It also includes information about Russian history and the treatment of Jews there between 1850 and 1880, including details about pogroms and the attitudes of the czars and the Russian people. There are also insights into Milton Goldsmith’s own beliefs and attitudes, revealed by the character of Phillip Harris, a Russian Jew who immigrates to America and comes back to visit his former home in Kiev.

Milton Goldsmith explained in the preface to his book his reasons for writing this story:3

Towards the end of 1882, there arrived at the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot in Philadelphia, several hundred Russian refugees, driven from their native land by the inhuman treatment of the Muscovite Government. Among them were many intelligent people, who had been prosperous in their native land, but who were now reduced to dire want. One couple, in particular, attracted the attention of the visitors, by their intellectual appearance and air of gentility, in marked contrast to the abject condition of many of their associates. Joseph Kierson was the name of the man, and the story of his sufferings aroused the sympathy of his hearers. The man and his wife were assisted by the Relief Committee, and in a short time were in a condition to provide for themselves.

The writer had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kierson a few years later and elicited from him a complete recital of his trials and an account of the causes of the terrible persecution which compelled such large numbers of his countrymen to flee from their once happy homes.

His story forms the nucleus of the novel I now present to my readers. While adhering as closely as possible to actual names, dates and events, it does not pretend to be historically accurate. In following the fortunes of Mendel Winenki, from boyhood to old age, it endeavors to present a series of pictures portraying the character, life, and sufferings of the misunderstood and much-maligned Russian Jew.

In the description of Russia’s customs and characteristics, the barbarous cruelty of her criminal code and the nihilistic tendency of the times, the author has followed such eminent writers as Wallace, Foulke, Stepniak, Tolstoi and Herzberg-Fraenkel. The accounts of the riots of 1882 will be found to agree in historic details with the reports which were published at the time.

With this introduction, I respectfully submit the work to the consideration of an indulgent public.


Philadelphia, April, 1891

Russian Jews in Philadelphia 1890

The themes that run through the book focus primarily on anti-Semitism and its roots, Jewish faith and identity, and the value of a more worldly and secular education. As to the first, Goldsmith wrote:4

The serf persecutes the Jew because he is himself persecuted by the nobility. There is no real animosity between the peasant and his Jewish neighbors. Our wretched state is the outgrowth of a petty tyranny, in which the serf desires to imitate his superiors. Let the people once enjoy freedom and they will cease to persecute the Hebrews, without whom they cannot exist.

I thought this was an insightful perspective for someone living in 1893—to understand that a group’s prejudice often has its roots in its own oppression and poverty and that freedom and prosperity for all is the best way to eliminate hate and discrimination.

But it is Goldsmith’s attitudes towards education and assimilation that I found most interesting, keeping in mind that he was a man who had spent three years in Switzerland, learning about literature, language, and music. First, he notes how Talmudic study sharpens the intellect of Jewish students:5

It was to this incessant study of the Scriptures that Israel owed its patience, its courage, its fortitude during centuries of persecution. It was this constant delving for truth which produced that bright, acute Jewish mind, which in days of fanaticism and intolerance, protected the despised people from stupefying mental decay.

But then he expresses concern for how Talmudic study fosters closed-mindedness and superstition, stating,”That this study often degenerated into a mere useless cramming of unintelligible ideas is easily understood, and its effects were in many cases the reverse of ennobling.”6

It is, however, when the character of Phillip Harris returns to Russia and speaks of life in America that Goldsmith’s personal views and experience are most clearly revealed.  In speaking with the people of his former community in Kiev, Philip asserts that Jews are on equal footing with Christians in America, and when questioned about the fact that he has shaved his beard and abandoned many traditional Jewish practices, he says:7

[I]t seems to me that a Jew can remain a Jew even if he neglect some of those ceremonials which have very little to do with Judaism pure and simple. Some are remnants of an oriental symbolism, others comparatively recent additions to the creed, which ought to give way before civilization. What possible harm can it do you or your religion if you shave your beard or abandon your jargon for the language of the people among whom you live? … Every effort to develop the Jewish mind is checked, not by the gentiles, but by the Jews themselves. … A knowledge of the history of the world, an insight into modern science, will teach us why and wherefore all our laws were given and how we can best obey, not the letter but the spirit of God’s commands.

Romanian Jewish journalist Sache Petreanu, an advocate of assimilation, cutting off the payot of an observant Jew (1899 caricature by Constantin Jiquidi)

Phillip continued:8

You will all admit that you place more weight upon your ceremonials than upon your faith. You deem it more important to preserve a certain position of the feet, a proper intonation of the voice during prayers than to fully understand the prayer itself, and in spite of your pretended belief in the greatness and goodness of God, you belittle Him by the thought that an omission of a single ceremony, the eating of meat and milk together, the tearing of a tzitzith (fringe) will offend Him, or that a certain number of mitzvoth (good acts) will propitiate Him. Do you understand now what I mean when I say that superstition is not religion?

The character concludes by saying:.9

Worship God as your conscience dictates, continue in your ancient fashion if it makes you happy, but be tolerant towards him who, feeling himself mentally and spiritually above superstition, seeks to emancipate himself from its bonds and to follow the dictates of his own good common-sense

Goldsmith recognized that for those living in Russia where oppression and poverty made Jewish lives difficult, an adherence to these traditional practices was more understandable, for the rabbi responds to Phillip by saying, “Whether these observances are needed or are superfluous in a free country like America I shall not presume to say, but in Russia they are a moral and a physical necessity.”10

When poor Jews from Eastern Europe and Russia began to immigrate to the US in the 1880s and 1890s, they faced prejudice not only from the Christian majority here, but also from many Jews with German origins whose families had immigrated decades earlier and had assimilated into American life.11 I am proud of my cousin Milton Goldsmith for writing a book that tried to convey to Americans and perhaps in particular to American Jews the travails and obstacles faced by these new Russian Jewish immigrants. He does an excellent job of describing what their lives were like, why they were forced to emigrate, and why they were clinging to traditions and practices that American Jews might no longer feel necessary. And he also endorsed the need for and value of a liberal education and an open mind.

The book is not just a novel, but a lesson in tolerance, in the need for education, and in the power of faith when life seems too grim and hopeless to bear.

If you are interested in buying the book, it is available on Amazon as an e-book here.

  1. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Milton Growsmith, 22 May 1861; citing bk 2 p 168, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,306. 
  2. Milton Goldsmith, The Rabbi and The Priest: A Story (Jewish Publication Society, 1891) 
  3. Goldsmith, Milton, Rabbi and Priest: A Story (pp. 6-8, Kindle edition). 
  4.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 30). Kindle Edition. 
  5.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 84). Kindle Edition. 
  6. Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 84). Kindle Edition. 
  7.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (pp. 99-100). Kindle Edition. 
  8.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 102). Kindle Edition. 
  9.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 103). Kindle Edition. 
  10.  Goldsmith, Milton. Rabbi and Priest A Story (p. 104). Kindle Edition. 
  11. Irving Aaron Mandel, “Attitude of the American Jewish Community toward East-European Immigration As Reflected in the Anglo-Jewish Press 1880-1890,” American Jewish Archives, 1950. 

More Goldschmidts Become Goldsmiths in Philadelphia

In my last post we saw how my three-times great-uncle Jacob Goldsmith came to the United States and settled in Philadelphia by 1850, then married and had seven children in the 1850s and 1860s.  He also established a retail clothing business on Market Street.

But Jacob was not the only child of Seligmann and Hincka to come to the US as early as the 1850s. His younger brother Abraham was the second of Seligmann and Hincka’s children to come to the US. Abraham was born in March 13, 1832:

Birth record of Abraham Goldschmidt
Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 4

Abraham arrived in the US on August 21, 1850, listing his occupation as a merchant:

Abraham Goldschmidt passenger manifest 1850
Year: 1850; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 091; Line: 1; List Number: 951


On January 17, 1858, he married Cecelia Adler in Philadelphia.  Cecelia was the daughter of Samuel Adler and Sarah Kargau, and she was born on November 26, 1838, in Würzberg, Germany. She and her parents had immigrated to the US by 1850 and settled in Philadelphia where her father was a merchant.

Marriage record of Abraham Goldschmidt and Cecelia Adler
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792
Organization Name: Congregation Rodeph Shalom Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013

In 1860, Abraham and Cecelia were living in Philadelphia, where Abraham was a clothier with $15,000 worth of personal property. That he amassed that much money so quickly indicates to me that he must have been either a very successful business person, or either his parents or his in-laws provided a substantial financial cushion. Note that Abraham, like his brother Jacob, had Americanized his name from Goldschmidt to Goldsmith.

Abraham and Cecelia (Adler) Goldsmith 1860 census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 914; Family History Library Film: 805163

Abraham and Cecelia had six children between 1861 and 1870: Milton (1861), Hildegard (1862), Edwin (1864), Rose (1866), Emily (1868), and Estelle (1870).  In 1870, Abraham now claimed he had $25,000 worth of real estate and $20,000 worth of personal property.  He continued to be in the clothing business. Cecelia’s parents were also living with Abraham and Cecelia and their six children in 1870, as well as three domestic servants [shown on the next page of the census].

Abraham Goldsmith and family 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 District 35, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1396; Page: 133B; Family History Library Film: 552895

Thus, like his older brother Jacob, Abraham was quite well-settled in Philadelphia by 1870.

The youngest son of Seligmann and Hincka, Meyer, was the third brother to immigrate. He was born October 25, 1834, apparently registered with the name Rafael. I still believe that this was the same child later known as Meyer, based on his age on several US records and the fact that the 1900 census says that he was born in October 1834, and there is no other birth registered to Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander for that month and year.

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

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

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

According to the 1900 census, in 1859, Meyer married Helene Hohenfels, daughter of Jordan and Adelaide Hohenfels, all of whom had emigrated from Germany to the US by 1850. Meyer and Helene’s first child Eugene was born on October 6, 1859, in Newton, New Jersey, which is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia and sixty miles west of New York City.

In 1860 Meyer, Helene, and Eugene were living in Newton; Meyer was working as a “merchant tailor” and had $4000 worth of personal property. Also living with them were a servant and a thirteen year old boy named George Stone from the Hesse region, whose relationship to the family I’ve not determined. Like Jacob and Abraham, Meyer had changed the spelling of his surname to Goldsmith.

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


By 1863 or so, Meyer and his family had relocated to Philadelphia where his siblings were living. On the 1870 census, you can see that while his first two children were born in New Jersey, the third, who was seven in 1870, was born in Pennsylvania.  By 1870 Meyer and Helene had five children: Eugene (1859), Heloise (1860), Maurice (1863), Samuel (1867), and Rosa (1869). Meyer was working as a wholesale clothier and claimed $2000 in personal property. (I guess all those children ate into the $4000 worth of savings they’d had in 1860!) A sixth child, Florence, would be born in 1872.

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


Levy, the second oldest son of Seligmann and Hincka, was the next to come to the US. He was born November 10, 1824. He arrived in the US on September 20, 1853, and also settled in Philadelphia.

Levy Goldschmidt passenger manifest
Year: 1853; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 132; Line: 1; List Number: 991

Two years after arriving he married Henryetta Lebenbach in Philadelphia on March 21, 1855.

Marriage record of Levy Goldschmidt and Henryette Lebenbach
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 792

In 1860, they were living in Philadelphia with two daughters, Eva (1856) and Estella (1859). He claimed $7,000 worth of personal property, and like his brothers, was now using the surname Goldsmith. Interestingly, he also seems to have changed the spelling of his first name from Levy to Levi. It looks like Henryette had also adopted a new spelling of her name—Henrietta.

Levi Goldsmith and family 1860 census

Levi was, like his three brothers, in the clothing business. A search of the Philadelphia directories for these years revealed that at least Abraham and Levi were in business together.

Title: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1862
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Goldsmiths in the 1866 Philadelphia directory
Title: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1866
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

I say “at least” Abraham and Levi were in business together because I think it’s possible that Jacob was also in the same business.  If you compare these two directory listings, one in 1862, one on 1866, you can see that whereas in 1862 Jacob was at 335 Market Street and Levi and Abraham at 532 Market Street, in 1866 they’d reversed—Jacob was at 532 and Levi and Abraham at 335.

By 1870, Levi (here spelled Levy) and Henrietta had seven children. After Eva and Estella came George (1861), Felix (1862), Helen (1865), Blanche (1868), and Sylvester (1869). Levy reported that he was in the wholesale clothing business and that he had $25,000 in real estate and $50,000 in personal property. He obviously was doing quite well.

Levy Goldsmith and family 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20 District 64, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1406; Page: 293B; Family History Library Film: 552905


Although by 1853, all four sons of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander had thus left Germany for the United States, their four sisters—Sarah, Bette, Eva, and Rose—were still in Germany at that point. But soon enough two of them also would come to the US.

In 1856 my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt arrived with her husband Gerson Katzenstein, and they, too, settled in Philadelphia, as I’ve written about previously. They came with their three oldest children: Scholum (1848), Jacob (1851), and Brendina (1853). And as noted before, traveling with them were some of the children of Gerson’s sister Hannchen Katzenstein Mansbach, who were also cousins to the children of Eva Goldschmidt’s sister Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach. As already described, Eva and Gerson would have three more children in the US: Perry (1856), Hannah (1859), and my great-grandmother Hilda (1863).

Seligmann and Hincka’s youngest child, Roschen or Rosa, was born on October 27, 1837.

Birth record of Roschen Goldschmidt
Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 9

She arrived in the US on July 9, 1860:

Roschen Goldschmidt passenger manifest
Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 202; Line: 1; List Number: 597


On January 20, 1864 she married Bernhardt Metz, another German immigrant. They would have four children between 1865 and 1870: Hattie (1865), Paul (1867), Emily (1869), and Bertha (1870). In 1870, they were living in Philadelphia where Bernhardt was a cloak manufacturer. He claimed $10,000 of real estate and $2000 of personal property:

Bernhardt and Rosa (Goldschmidt) Metz 1870 census
Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20 District 66, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1407; Page: 438B; Family History Library Film: 552906

Thus, by 1860, all but two of  Seligmann and Hincka’s children had emigrated to the US, and by 1870, those in the US were all living in Philadelphia and married with children; all the sons were working in the clothing industry.

Only two siblings were still in Germany: Sarah, the oldest daughter, and Bette/Biele.  After 1870,  the children of Sarah Goldschmidt and her husband Abraham Mansbach II would also begin to emigrate, followed by Sarah and Abraham themselves in 1882, as discussed in my next post.

Walter and Max Katz: Two Outstanding Americans

When I spoke with Fred Katz, I had many questions about what it was like to come to the US in 1938, a nine year old boy leaving the small town of Jesberg, arriving in New York City, and then settling in Oklahoma. Fred made it seem as though this was not a very difficult adjustment for him, although he said it was harder for his parents. I asked how he felt about leaving Germany, and he said that he had been very excited to come to the US although sad to leave the family’s horse behind.  He said he learned English quickly and adjusted easily to school in Oklahoma, and he said the family felt comfortable in Oklahoma, having so many other family members around, most of whom had been either born in or living in the US for quite some time.

So what happened to the rest of the family of Karl and Jettchen Katz after immigrating to America in the late 1930s? What happened to Fred’s two older brothers, Walter and Max?

On September 24, 2000, two graduate students at Wichita State University, Janice Rich and Paul Williams, conducted an oral history interview of Walter Katz. That interview, which remains unpublished, is the source of much of the information in this post.

In the interview Walter spoke about the family’s decision to leave Germany after 1933. He told the interviewers that boys who had been his friends before Hitler came to power ganged up on him and threw dirt clods at him, giving him a black eye; after 1935, his father and uncle were not legally allowed to engage in their cattle trading business, but they persisted illegally at great risk. He also shared the story that Fred had told of the difficulties the family had getting visas from the American consulate and of Fred’s rescue of the Torah scroll after Kristallnacht.

Walter also noted that his uncle Jake in Oklahoma had facilitated Max and Walter’s departure from Germany by submitting affidavits to support their applications for exit visas. When Walter left Germany, he sailed to New York, stayed with relatives there for a few days, and then took a train to St. Louis where he was met by his uncle Jake. Obviously Jake was very instrumental in saving Karl’s family from the Nazis.

Walter Katz on passenger manifest, line 29, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6055; Line: 1; Page Number: 50
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6055
Source Information New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Jake brought him back to Stillwater where he was enrolled in school and was quickly put on the football team (he was seventeen, but because he did not yet know English, he was placed in junior high school).

Walter’s younger brother Max arrived in New York on July 21, 1938, and also listed that he was going to his uncle in Stillwater, Oklahoma:

Max Katz passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6188; Line: 1; Page Number: 101
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6188
Source Information New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Finally, Max and Walter’s parents and brother Fred arrived on November 30, 1938:

Karl Katz passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6258; Line: 1; Page Number: 16 New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

The family of Karl Katz and Jettchen Oppenheimer was finally reunited in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Family of Karl Katz reunited in Stillwater: Max, Jettchen, Karl, Fred, and Walter

In 1939, Walter moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he worked at a men’s clothing store owned by two of his Youngheim cousins.  In 1942, he was drafted and inducted into the army at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He was then transferred to Camp Cook in California (now Vantenberg Air Force Base) and was soon naturalized as a United States citizen, as he described in the oral history interview.

Walter Katz in the US Army during World War II, courtesy of his family

Walter was assigned first to the 5th Armored Division and worked in company supply because of his retail experience.  He trained in Tennessee and in New York and was then transferred to intelligence school at Camp Ritchie in Maryland where he received two months of intensive training to prepare him to interrogate POWs.  He and 300 other servicemen from his base were then sent to the UK for seven months more of training. After that he was stationed in France, Belgium, and Germany. In France Walter became entangled in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944; while en route to Paris to pick up jeeps, he learned that the Germans had broken through Allied lines, and his unit, which had been stationed in Reims, France, was relocated to Belgium.

In Germany Walter was part of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) where his job after the war was to interview and arrest civilian officials who had been Nazis and to see that they were replaced with those who had not been affiliated with the Nazis.  Walter told his interviewers that the people he interviewed all denied being Nazis and claimed they had no choice but to follow orders.

While in Germany, Walter met up with his cousin Jack Katz, Aron’s son, who was stationed in Wiesbaden. The two cousins attended high holiday services in 1945 at a restored synagogue in Bad Nauheim. In one of those eerie small world stories, a teenage boy who participated in the service later married one of Walter’s cousins.  Walter did not know of this coincidence until visiting that cousin in New York years later.

Walter and Jack also visited Jesberg while they were stationed in Germany. Walter was distressed by the state of the cemetery, which had been vandalized during the war, and he demanded that the mayor restore the stones that had been toppled and clean up the damage, which was done by the next time he visited. Walter and Jack also met a young Jewish woman they’d known in Jesberg who had been in one of the camps and wanted to live in Jesberg again.  She had no money, so Walter went to the man who had been the local Nazi official responsible for the damage to the synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses and demanded that this woman be provided with everything she needed.

Walter and Jack visiting the former Jesberg synagogue after World War II, courtesy of the Katz family

Walter Katz and Jack Katz in Jesberg after World War II
Courtesy of the Katz family

Although Walter had an opportunity to stay in Germany and work for the State Department, he wanted to return to the US.  He returned to Wichita and to his work in his cousin’s men’s clothing store, The Hub, which he eventually purchased.  He married his wife Barbara Matassarin in Denver on July 7, 1950.  Barbara had been a nurse training in Wichita when she met Walter and had enlisted in the US Army as a second lieutenant in early 1950. When she was assigned to a hospital in Denver, they decided to get married. Walter and Barbara lived, however, in Wichita with their daughter for most of the rest of their lives, and Walter remained in the men’s clothing business until he retired.

Walter Katz at his store in Wichita, 1950s.
Courtesy of the Katz family

Walter’s brother Max also served in the US army during World War II.  He served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945, according to his obituary. Like Walter, he became a US citizen while serving in the armed forces.  According to his brother Fred, Max was stationed stateside during the war and did not fight overseas.

Max Katz in the US Army during World War II

After the war, Max returned to Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma A&M for two years, receiving a certificate in business.  He worked in the meat packing industry for several years before starting his own cattle trading business in 1953.

Military discharge papers for Max Katz

According to his obituary, “in 1973, Max began buying pasture land throughout Payne County and feeding his own cattle, in addition to commission buying. At any given time, Max usually had about 3,000 head of cattle either on pasture or in feed lots. Max retired from the cattle business in 2009.” Tulsa World, January 1, 2011.

Walter, Max, and Fred Katz lost their father Karl in 1966 and their mother Jettchen in 1979. Both had remained in Stillwater, where they are buried.

Katz family members buried at the Stillwater cemetery

Walter Katz died in Israel on November 5, 2007; his wife Barbara had predeceased him on July 1, 2000. They are buried in Israel. Max Katz died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on December 30, 2010; he is buried in Stillwater.

According to his obituary, Max Katz “was known far and wide as a superior cattle buyer and rancher who created a successful 56-year career in the cattle business by relying on a keen eye, a razor-sharp business sense, honest dealings, and above all, pure hard work. His generosity and willingness to help others in need became his hallmark and reputation.” Tulsa World, January 1, 2011.

Walter Katz, when asked in 2000 by his interviewers what he would say to the youth of America, said “First, you are lucky to be born in the United States. Second of all, you can do anything here that you want to do if you put your mind to it. The opportunity for anything you want to do is here if you want to do it. Work hard and stay with it and be good and honest. Live a good honest life and you will make it!”

Although those words do not necessarily reflect the experiences of everyone in this country, they do reflect the experiences and the values of Walter Katz and of his brother Max. Both Walter and Max had escaped from Germany as teenagers and traveled by themselves to the United States; they both had contributed greatly to their adopted country. They served in its military during a war against their country of birth, and they worked hard to become successful businessmen.

And yet these were two men who almost did not get into this country because of some bureaucrats dealing with immigration in the 1930s.  How many more could have been saved? How many more were turned away because of ignorance, fear, and prejudice? Will we ever learn?