Meier Blumenfeld’s Three American Children: Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss left Germany before the Nazi era and settled in Chicago, as we saw in my last post. First, the sisters Rosa and Sophie came in 1893 and moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where their uncle David Strauss was living. In 1900 Rosa was living with David and his family in Chicago, and Sophie may have returned to Germany, but returned to Chicago in 1905. Meanwhile, Hugo Blumenfeld, the only brother, arrived in 1904, and he also settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka in 1905, and they had one child, a daughter Elsa. Ignaz was a tailor. Hugo married Bertha Wolf in 1912, and they had two children. On his World War I draft registration, Hugo reported that he was working as a manufacturer with a firm called Deutsch, Blumenfeld & Strauss in Chicago.

Hugo Blumenfeld, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook,Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, Ignaz, Rosa, Elsa, and Sophie were all in one household in Chicago. Ignaz was still a tailor, and Sophie was the manager of a delicatessen. Rosa was not employed outside the home.

Herzka household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1920 Hugo Blumenfeld was working as a traveling salesman and living with his family in Chicago. Hugo had become a US citizen in 1911.1

Sophie had filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on November 21, 1917, and her petition for naturalization on January 28, 1921. She took the oath to become a US citizen on February 24, 1922. Later that year she traveled abroad, perhaps to Germany to visit her family.2

Sophie Blumenfeld, petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petitions For Naturalization, V· 96, No· 9401-9500, 1920-1921, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Rosa was a witness on Sophie’s petition, and on Rosa’s 1924 passport application, she indicated that she was a naturalized citizen of the United States, but I cannot find naturalization papers for Rosa or for Ignaz. It appears, however, that all three Blumenfeld siblings were American citizens by 1924. Rosa and Ignaz traveled to Germany to visit family in the summer of 1924.

Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Perhaps these visits from his American aunts and uncle helped convince Otto Blum, the son of Dina Blumenfeld and nephew of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo, to move to the US. We’ve seen that he arrived November 1, 1926, and reported that he was going to his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld in Chicago.

I cannot find Sophie or Rosa and her family on the 1930 census, so perhaps they were traveling then as well. In fact, Rosa appears on an August 1930 manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York. That may have been the family’s last trip back to Germany.3

Ignaz and Rosa’s daughter Elsa Herzka married Irving Blum in Chicago on September 21, 1931.4 Irving was born on January 7, 1900, in Chicago to Fred and Carrie Blum; he was working as a real estate salesman in 1930 and living with his parents and sister in Chicago.5 Elsa and Irving would have two children born in the 1930s.

With Hitler taking power in Germany, the Blumenfeld family in the US must have been very concerned about the family members remaining in Germany. Fortunately, Otto Blum’s brother Ernst Jacob Blum came with his wife Erna and two daughters on May 29, 1936, and also settled in Chicago, as already discussed. Sadly the two remaining sisters of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—Franziska and Johanna-–failed to leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust.

But there was loss on this side of the Atlantic as well. Hugo Blumenfeld died on November 7, 1937, in Chicago.6 He was only 55 and was survived by his wife Bertha and two daughters. Bertha outlived him by 28 years and was 81 when she died in April 1965.7 In addition to their daughters, Hugo and Bertha are survived by five grandchildren.

In 1940 Rosa, Ignaz, and Sophie were all living together in Chicago. Ignaz was still in business as a tailor; Rosie and Sophie were not working.8 Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka died just two years later on January 8, 1942; she was 69.9 That was also the year that both Franziska and Johanna were killed by the Nazis. Rosa’s husband Ignaz died two years later on May 5, 1944.10 They were survived by their daughter Elsa and two grandchildren.

Thus, by the end of 1942, Sophie was the only surviving child of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss. She died seven years later in December 1949; she was 75.11

Although two of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss’s children were killed in the Holocaust, three of their children—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—and all their grandchildren ended up in the US, and because of that, today there are living descendants to carry on their family line.

Next, the story of Meier’s brother Baruch and his family.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Hugo Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_315; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 403, ncestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  2. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1922; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 13; Page Number: 44, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Rosa Herzka, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 382; Page: 2890; Microfilm No.: K_1984, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  4. Elsa Herzka Marriage Date 21 Sep 1931 Spouse Irving M Blum Marriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{46572B06-0A28-41F2-9499-D268830B06C9} File Number1324805 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)Archive repository locationChicago, IL Archive repository nameCook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5. Irving Blum, Social Security Number: 345-09-1004, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60649, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1967, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Blum family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0160; FHL microfilm: 2340156,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1882, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany
    Death Date: 7 Nov 1937, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Nov 1937
    Burial Place: Chicago, Ill., Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Insurance Agent, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfeld, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany, Spouse Name: Bertha, FHL Film Number: 1953190, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  7. Obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 07 Apr 1965, Wed • Page 74 
  8. Herzka household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 103-258, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Rosa Herzka, [Rosa Blumenfield], Birth Date: 5 Sep 1872, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 1942, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Jan 1942, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt Israel, Death Age: 69, Occupation: Housewife, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Female, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfield, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Ignatz G., FHL Film Number: 1953739, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  10. Ignaz G. Herzka, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1863, Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary
    Death Date: 5 May 1944, Death Place: Chicago, Cook Co , Illinois Burial Date: 8 May 1944, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 80, Occupation: Tailor, Race: White, Marital status: W, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook Co., Ill., Father Name: Adolph Herzka, Father Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary, Mother Name: Minnie, Mother Birth Place: Hungary, Spouse Name: Rosa
    FHL Film Number: 1983247, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  11. Sophie Blumenfeld obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
    03 Dec 1949, Sat • Page 25 

My Cousins Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld: What Drew Them to America?

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—left Germany as young adults and immigrated to the United States. Why did they leave when their siblings stayed behind?

Rosa was born on September 5, 1872, in Marburg.

Rosa Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 37

Her younger sister Sophie was born on May 30, 1874, in Marburg.

Sophie Blumenfeld birth record, Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 584, S. 39

Finally, Hugo, the only son of Meier and Sarah, was born on September 25, 1882, in Marburg.

Hugo Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5561, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

On June 26, 1893, when Rosa was almost 21 and Sophie was nineteen, they arrived in New York on the SS Ems, heading for Kokomo, Indiana, according to the ship manifest. Why did they leave home? And why Kokomo? Kokomo in the 1890s had a very small Jewish population; in fact, there were not enough Jews in Kokomo to establish and support a synagogue until 1942. Why would two young German Jewish women have immigrated to such a place?

Rosa and Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1893; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1, Ship or Roll Number: Ems, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot find any records for either Rosa or Sophie in Kokomo, but in 1900 Rosa was living in Chicago as a boarder with David and Helen Strauss, both of whom had immigrated from Germany. When I saw the surname “Strauss,” I wondered if David Strauss was related to Sarah Strauss, Rosa’s mother.

Rosa Blumenfeld 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 1025; FHL microfilm: 1240286
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

And so down the rabbit hole I went. And what did I find? David Strauss married Helen Heldman in 1892, and their son Herbert was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in March, 1893, just three months before Rosa and Sophie arrived in the US. Were they coming to care for the baby and help David and Helen? Was David related to their mother?1

I went back to the German records for Sarah Strauss’s parents Hirsch Strauss and Betty Loewenstein and found that indeed Sarah had a younger brother named David, born in 1852 so the right age to be the David Strauss living in Chicago with Sarah’s daughter Rosa in 1900.2 So Rosa was living with her uncle and his family in 1900, and he was obviously the reason she and Sophie had been heading to Kokomo in 1893.

But where was Sophie in 1900? I can’t be certain, but I believe she may have returned to Germany because I found her on another ship manifest coming to the US from Germany on November 2, 1905. Also, her naturalization papers indicate that she had been in the US continuously starting in 1905, not 1893.3

National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1903-1981; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Declarations V· 25-30 P 161 1917-1918
Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Meanwhile, Sophie and Rosa’s little brother Hugo arrived on April 27, 1904. His ship manifest indicates that he was coming to his sister Rosa in Chicago and that he was a clerk.

Hugo Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1904; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 102, Ship or Roll Number: Kronprinz Wilhelm
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 (last entry)

Thus, by 1905, three of Meier and Sarah’s children had settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka on January 4, 1905.4 Ignaz was born in Szerat, Hungary, on November 29, 1863, and had immigrated to the US in 1889. In 1900, he and his brother Nathan were living as boarders in Chicago and had their own tailor shop there.5

Rosa and Ignaz had an adopted daughter, Elsa, who, according to the 1910 census, was born in Hungary in 1903.6 This is consistent with what is reported on the 1920 census: that Elsa was born in Budapest, Hungary, and was adopted.7  However, Rosa’s 1924 passport application says that Elsa was born in Chicago on March 22, 1905. It also, however, says that Rosa and Ignaz married on January 4, 1904, when the Chicago marriage index says January 4, 1905.8 Later records including the 1940 US census also say that Elsa was born in Chicago, not Hungary.9  I am not sure which records are accurate with respect to either the date or place of Elsa’s birth.

In any event, in 1910, Ignaz continued to work as a tailor. Sophie was also living with Rosa, Ignaz, and their daughter Elsa in 1910; she was a saleswoman in a delicatessen.

Ignaz Herzka and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

I could not find Hugo on the 1910 census, and perhaps he had returned to Germany for a visit as he had in 1909.10 But in 1911 Hugo became a naturalized United States citizen.11 And on March 24, 1912, he married Bertha Wolf,12 who was also a German immigrant. She was born in Langenbruck, Germany, on March 19, 1884, to Rudolph Wolf and Rosa Stein.13 Hugo and Bertha had two daughters, Sylvia and Marjorie, both born in Chicago.

Thus, long before Hitler came to power, Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo Blumenfeld had all left Germany and were living in Chicago. Their decision to come to America was a blessing for the legacy of their parents Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss.

The next post will follow their lives from 1910 on.

 


  1. Dave Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 8 Jun 1892, Marriage Place: Hamilton, Ohio, USA, Spouse: Helen Heldman, Film Number: 000344499, Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993. Herbert Dave Strauss
    Race: White, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1893, Birth Place: Indiana, USA
    Residence Date: 1917-1918, Street Address: 5833 Michigan Ave, Residence Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Draft Board: 15, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  2. David Strauss birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Amöneburg 1814-1896 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 49), p. 6. 
  3. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1905; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 30; Page Number: 12, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  4. Rose Blumenfeld, Age: 28, Gender: Female, Birth Year: abt 1877
    Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 4 Jan 1905, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Spouse Name: Ignaz Herzka, Spouse Age: 40, Spouse Gender: Male
    FHL Film Number: 1030380, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  5. Ignaz Herzka, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 32, Cook, Illinois; Page: 12; Enumeration District: 1034; FHL microfilm: 1240287, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Elsa Herzka, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_247; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0387; FHL microfilm: 1374260,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  7. Elsa Herzka, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  9. Rosa Herzka Blum, 1940 US census, Elsa Blum, Age: 35, Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birthplace: Illinois, Marital Status: Married, Relation to Head of House: Wife, Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Map of Home in 1940: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Street: E 53rd Street, Sheet Number: 1B, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-271, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Gender: männlich (Male), Ethnicity/Nationality: Deutschland (German), Marital status: verheiratet (Married), Residence Place: Chicago
    Departure Date: 8 Aug 1909, Departure Place: Hamburg, Deutschland (Germany)
    Arrival Place: Boulogne-sur-Mer; Southampton; New York, Ship Name: Blücher
    Shipping Line: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft), Ship Type: Dampfschiff, Ship Flag: Deutschland, Emigration: nein
    Accommodation: 2. Klasse, Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 213; Page: 1691; Microfilm No.: K_1809, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  11.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization
    Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  12. Hugo Blumenfeld, Age: 29, Gender: Male, Birth Year: abt 1883, Marriage Type: Marriage, Marriage Date: 24 Mar 1912, Marriage Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
    Spouse Name: Bertha Wolf, Spouse Age: 24, Spouse Gender: Female
    FHL Film Number: 1030518, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois, U.S., Marriages Index, 1871-1920 
  13. Bertha Wolf Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 19 Mar 1884
    Birth Place: Langenbrucke, Federal Republic of Germany, Father: Rudolph Wolf
    Mother: Rosa Stein, SSN: 342408956, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Son Harry: A Son of Immigrants and a World War I Hero

In 1910, the family of Jacob and Taube (Tillie) Hecht was living in Brooklyn, as we saw. But by 1913, they had returned to Manhattan. Their oldest daughter Ida married Julius Goldfarb on November 20, 1913. Both she and Julius were living at the same address, 131 Avenue C, in Manhattan, according to their marriage certificate.

Marriage certificate of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:243Y-5QW : 10 February 2018), Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, 20 Nov 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,807.

But no, they weren’t living together before they married. Their families lived in the same building. The 1915 New York State census shows that the family of Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb and the family of Taube (Brotman) and Jacob Hecht were all living at that same address. As I’ve mentioned before, also living at that address were my great-uncle Hyman/Herman Brotman, Taube’s half-brother, and his family.

Goldfarb, Hyman Brotman and family, and Jacob Hecht, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85
Description District: A·D· 06 E·D· 18, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

The 1915 NYS census reported that Jacob was 50, Taube (Tillie) 40, that both were born in Austria, had been in the US for 30 years, and were still not citizens of the United States. Jacob was working as a tailor. They still had seven children living at home with them. Their oldest child Harry was 23 and a salesman at a department store. David (19), Etta (16), Gussie (14), Sadie (12), Rosie (9), and Eva (7) were all in school.

I am very grateful to my cousin Jerry for sharing this photograph of Taube and Jacob and all eight of their children, taken probably around 1915.

Standing rear: Julius Goldfarb, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Harry Hecht, David Hecht, Etta Hecht. Standing front: Sadie (Shirley) Hecht, Taube “Tillie” Hecht, Eva (Evelyn) Hecht, Jacob Hecht, Ruth Hecht, Gussie (Jean) Hecht. c. 1915 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Meanwhile, Ida and Julius had moved to Jersey City, and I’ve told their story here, here, and here, so will not repeat it again, except to note that Taube and Jacob became grandparents when Ida gave birth to her first daughter Sylvia on May 7, 1915, in Jersey City. Ida had had her second child, Gertrude, on June 28, 1917, in Jersey City, giving Taube and Jacob their second grandchild.

By that time, the US had entered World War I, and both of Taube and Jacob’s sons registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. They were living at 306 East 11th Street in Manhattan, showing that the Hecht family had moved yet again.

Harry was working as a salesman at B. Altman’s department store. He described himself as tall and slender with brown hair and brown eyes.

Harry Hecht, World War I draft registration, New York; Registration County: New York
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

David was a student and employed by City College of New York. He also described himself as tall, slight, with brown hair and brown eyes. David claimed an exemption from service for physical reasons not specified. David did end up working as a clerk for the War Department.

David Hecht, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harry, however, was drafted into the US Army on September 28, 1917. He was sent to Camp Upton for basic training and  assigned to Company K of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion of the 77th Division. He was promoted to a bugler in December, 1917,1 and shipped out to Europe with his company on April 16, 1918.2

His granddaughter Jan shared this photograph of Harry in uniform.

Harry Hecht, c. 1918. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

A detailed journal of the wartime activities of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion written by Henry W. Smith can be found here. It provides an almost day by day description of the training and experiences and the course of the battles these soldiers fought in France.

Harry spent a year serving overseas in France in some of the most important and most deadly battles of World War I. He served in the Baccarat Sector, where this video was filmed and shows the arrival of the 77th Division.3

He also served in the Vesle Sector and fought in the third Oise Aisne offensive in the late summer of 1918, one of the most important battles of the war as the Allied forces began to force the Germans to retreat. Here is a film of the Oise Aisne offensive.

Harry was gassed during the Oise Aisne offensive on September 5, 1918, and evacuated to the 305th Field Hospital. But he returned to the battlefield and fought in the Meuse Argonne offensive in the fall of 1918.4

As described on the National Archives website:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.

Fortunately, Harry was not among those killed in this horrific battle. He was promoted to the rank of private first class in November, 1918, and received a regimental citation for his outstanding service. The citation specified that, “For extraordinary heroism in the Bois de la Naza, Argonne Forest, when the battalion was held up by heavy machine gun fire from Oct. 1 to 5, 1918, P.F.C. Hecht continuously delivered messages to 3 Bat. Hdqtrs. and also maintained liaison with Cos. M & L 305 Inf who were on our right at that time, being subjected at all times to machine gun and shell fire.”5

Harry was discharged from the Army on May 9, 1919,6 and returned home, an American hero: a son of Jewish immigrants, a boy whose father worked in a sweatshop sewing coats to provide for his wife and eight children, and my mother’s first cousin. I am proud to call him my cousin as well.

 


  1. Harry Sidney Hecht, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919; Harry Hecht, Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (B) Casualties (Boxes 6-9); Box #: 6; Folder #: 6; Box Info: (Box 6) H-Hez, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921 
  2.  Harry Sidney Hecht, Departure Date: 16 Apr 1918, Departure Place: New York, New York, Address: 306 E 11th St, Residence Place: New York, New York
    Father: Jacob Hecht, Ship: Cedric, Rank: Bugl, Service Number: #1698294
    Notes: Company “K” 305th Infantry NA, The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 404, Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  3. See note 1, above. 
  4. See note 1, above. 
  5. See note 1, above. 
  6. See note 1, above. 

The Mystery of Taube Brotman Hecht, My Great-Aunt

My next project is to write about my great-aunt Taube1 Brotman Hecht and her family.  I wrote about the Hecht family back in 2016 when I discovered Taube at the same time I discovered my Goldfarb family in my aunt’s baby book and grandparents’ address book.  It was a long and twisting path to figure out that “Mrs. Taube Hecht” in that baby book was my grandmother’s half-sister, Taube Brotman.

My aunt’s 1917 baby book. Taube Hecht is the last guest listed.

Those earlier posts in 2016 focused on my research methodology and the path I followed to figure out that Taube Hecht was my grandmother’s sister. Now I want to go back and tell her story and the story of her children and grandchildren in a more complete way. If you are interested in learning how I found Taube and how I determined that she was my great-aunt, you can read the earlier posts here, here, and here.

Let me now start with what I do and don’t know about Taube’s early life. As with all my Brod and Brotman relatives, I have no European records, but need to rely on American records.

Taube was born sometime between 1870 and 1875 according to various census records. The 1900 US census says she was born in March 1875.2 The 1905 NYS census says she was born in 1870.3 According to the 1910 US census, she was then 38, giving her a birth year of 1872.4  She reported that she was 40 on the 1915 NYS census, meaning she was born in 1875.5 In 1920 her age was reported as 47,6 and in 1930 she was 58, meaning a birth year of 1872 or 1873.7  In 1940 she shaved some years off her age, reporting that was 60, thus born in 1880.8 And her death record in 1944 says she was “about 71.”9 All in all, I’d say Taube was born sometime in the 1870s.

Her father was my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman, as stated on her death record; her mother was not named, but I know from records from her brothers David and Max that their mother was Chaye Fortgang, Joseph Brotman’s first wife. Taube’s US records all say she was born in Austria or Poland,9 and I have nothing more specific than that. Presumably like the rest of her family she was born in or near Tarnobrzeg in what is now Poland, then Galicia and part of the Austria-Hungary Empire.

According to family lore as discussed here, Taube left for the US when she was ten years old. I found ship manifests listing a young girl named Taube Brodt sailing from Hamburg on the Moravia to New York in July 1887. Both the Hamburg manifest and the New York manifest report that Taube was eleven. According to both manifests, she was coming from “Tarnowschek.” And on the Hamburg manifest she is grouped with a woman named Eva Singer and her baby, Ascher Singer.

Taube Brodt 1887 NY ship manifest
Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 509; Line: 1; List Number: 911

Taube Brodt ship manifest 1887
Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1736
Description
Month : Direkt Band 059 (3 Jul 1887 – 29 Dez 1887)

I can’t be positive this is my Taube. The spelling of the name Brodt was also used by other family members (along with Brod, Brodmann, Broadman, Brothman, and so on).  The age is close to what the various birth years for Taube would suggest if a bit younger, but also close to family lore. And Tarnowschek certainly sounds like Tarnobrzeg.

But who were Eva and Ascher Singer? And why was Taube with them? I have spent more hours than I care to count trying to find Eva and Ascher after they got to America. I’ve had no luck. I have gone down more rabbit holes, hit more dead ends, and searched in more ways and more places than was probably justified. Especially since I have nothing to show for my efforts. I found an Ascher Singer who was the right age, but he was from Bukovina, Romania. That was as close as I came. And who knows? Even if I found the Singers, it probably wouldn’t reveal anything about Taube.

Why would Taube have left Europe in 1887? By that time her mother had died, and my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman had married his second wife, my great-grandmother Bessie Brod. They’d already had two children together by 1887. But Joseph Brotman and Taube’s full brothers Abraham, David, and Max were still in Europe in 1887. Joseph immigrated to the US  in 188910 as did his oldest sons Abraham and David. Max came in 1890.11

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 079; Page: 1373; Microfilm No.: S_13156, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

So if Taube came in 1887, she left her whole family back in Europe. What did she do when she got here especially if she was only eleven? Even if we take a birth year of 1872, she would only have been fifteen when she arrived in 1887.  Where did she go?

Family lore says she stayed with her two older brothers, but then she had to have arrived after 1889 when Abraham and David immigrated, not in 1887. And if she did come after Abraham and David,  she was already a teenager, maybe even seventeen, certainly not ten. And why can’t I find her on another manifest?

Family lore also says her brothers sent her to St Louis to learn English. I can’t find any evidence of that.  There were several people with the surname Brod listed in the 1889 St. Louis directory, but I’ve no idea whether they were relatives. And why would her brothers, who lived in NYC when they immigrated, send their sister all the way to St. Louis? It doesn’t make sense to me. But sadly, without the 1890 census, I cannot find Taube in St. Louis, New York, or anywhere else in the US.

So Taube’s arrival and early years in America remain a mystery. Fortunately from about 1891 on, there is better evidence of her life. And I will start there next time.

Taube Brotman Hecht


  1. Taube was also known as Toba, her name in Hebrew, and Tillie, a later Americanization of her name. Because my grandmother also had a full sister whose Americanized name was Tillie, I will refer to Taube as Taube to prevent confusion. 
  2. Hecht family, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Hecht family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 14; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 
  4. Hecht family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. Hecht family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  6. Hecht family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 226,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Hecht family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; FHL microfilm: 2341088, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. Hecht family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. See census citations above. 
  10. Yossel Brod, ship manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 36; List Number: 244, Description
    Ship or Roll Number: Aurania, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Morske Brodmann, Year: 1890; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 25; List Number: 804, Ship or Roll Number: City of Chicago, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 

My Grandmother’s First Cousin Morris Goldfarb: A Life Filled with Challenges

My grandmother’s first cousin Morris Goldfarb, Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb’s second child, was born in Grebow in what is now Poland on August 15, 1886,1 and was almost ten years old when he came to America with his mother and siblings. He lived in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and then on the Lower East Side with his parents until he married Anna Grinbaum (later spelled Greenbaum) in 1919. At that time he was working as a cloakmaker in a sweatshop in New York.

By 1925, Morris and Anna had two sons, Martin, born in 1920, and Irvin, born in 1922.  They were living in the same apartment building at 526 Williams Avenue in Brooklyn as Sam and Sarah and Morris’ sister Rose. Morris was no longer working in a sweatshop as a tailor but now had his own grocery store.

Goldfarbs 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 02; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings; Page: 45 Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1925

Here is a baby picture of little Martin Goldfarb shared with me by his daughter Ann.

Martin Goldfarb, c. 1920. Courtesy of Ann Lee.

I asked the amazing people in the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook if they could edit this photo, and here is one of the results:

Martin Goldfarb. Photo edited 4 29 21 by Kim Prevost

This is the building in Brooklyn where the Goldfarbs were living in 1925:

Five years later in 1930, Morris and his family were living at 542 Williams Avenue, and Morris was still the proprietor of a grocery store. His father Sam had died in 1926, and his mother Sarah and  two of his younger siblings Leo and Rose were living across the street at 526 Williams Avenue.  Morris’ wife Anna must have been pregnant when the 1930 census was enumerated because she gave birth to their third son Saul on June 10, 1930.2

Morris Goldfarb and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 1218; FHL microfilm: 2341227
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

I love this sweet photograph of Morris Goldfarb holding Saul in 1932, shared with me by Saul’s widow Kay and their children Becky and Jim:

Morris and Saul Goldfarb, c. 1932 Courtesy of the family

Sometime during this period, Martin Goldfarb was hit by a car in Brooklyn and seriously injured, leaving him with a lifetime of circulation problems following surgery to repair his injured legs.3

According to a family history compiled by Saul Goldfarb’s wife Kay,4 Morris’ grocery store was not terribly lucrative, but was successful enough to support his growing family. The Depression years, however, were hard for the family, and Morris had to pay “protection money” to gangsters to keep the store going. The boys went to a Brooklyn public school with many other children of immigrants, including Danny Kaye, a classmate of Martin Goldfarb.

The family shared this wonderful photograph of Morris in his grocery store:

Morris Goldfarb courtesy of the family

Tragedy again struck the family on October 6, 1938, when Anna died from a ruptured appendix.5 She was only 41 when she died and left behind her three sons. Martin was eighteen, Irvin was sixteen, and Saul was only eight when they lost their mother.

This is a beautiful photograph of Anna, shared with me by her granddaughter Ann, Martin Goldfarb’s daughter and Anna’s namesake.

Anna Greenbaum Goldfarb. Courtesy of Ann Lee.

On the 1940 census Morris was listed as a widower living with his three sons; his sister Rose was living with them also. Perhaps Rose moved in with Morris to help with the three sons.

Morris Goldfarb and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02618; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 24-2709, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

This census record has several errors. First, it lists Rose as 25 when she was in fact 38; she was working as an operator in a curtain business, presumably a sweatshop. The second error is that it lists nine-year-old Saul as a bookkeeper in the grocery business; that must have been Irvin’s occupation as there is no occupation listed for him, and he was now 18 years old. It make more sense that Morris and his two oldest sons would be working together in his grocery store and that Saul would have been in school.

Morris’ sister Rose married in early 1941,6 and it was around this time that a rabbi arranged a second marriage for Morris to help him and his sons. According to the family history written by Saul’s wife Kay, Morris was briefly married to a woman named Lena Weiss, a widow with two children of her own, but the marriage was over by sometime around 1942-1943.7 In 1945, Morris married for a third time. His third wife was Mollie Kaminsky Rosen, a widow with one son.8

Morris Goldfarb was 64 when he died on January 29, 1951.9 He is buried at Mount Hebron cemetery in New York where his first wife Anna is also buried.10 He had lived a full but challenging life.  Born in Grebow, Poland, Morris came to the US as a young boy, having to learn a new language and a new culture. He lived and worked in Brooklyn for his entire adult life, making a living in his own grocery store. He faced personal obstacles when his son Martin was badly injured in a car accident, and then when his first wife Anna died a sudden death in 1938. Morris raised his sons on his own after her death until he married again. He must have been a strong and resilient man.

His sons also faced challenges in their adult lives, as we will see in the next post.


  1.  Morris Goldfarb, Marital status: Single, Birth Date: 15 Aug 1886, Birth Place: Galicia, Austria, Residence Date: 1917-1918, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  2. Saul Goldfarb, Birth Date: 10 Jun 1930, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 234??, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 
  3. Email from Ann Lee, April 20, 2021. 
  4. Unpublished family history written by Kay Lergessner Goldfarb (hereinafter referred to as KLG history.”) 
  5. Anna Goldfarb, Age: 41, Birth Year: abt 1897, Death Date: 6 Oct 1938
    Death Place: Kings, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 19378, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948. KLG history. 
  6. Rose Goldfarb. Marriage License Date: 29 Jan 1941
    Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Max Levine, License Number: 1699, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. KLG history 
  8. Mollie Kaminsky, Maiden Name: Kaminsky, Marriage Date: 1945, Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA, Spouse: Morris Goldfarb, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1945; Surname Range: A – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  9. Morris Goldfarb, Death Date: 29 Jan 1951, Death Place: Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 2007, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images, (www.findagrave.com/memorial/77764408/morris-goldfarb : accessed 25 April 2021), memorial page for Morris Goldfarb (unknown–29 Jan 1951), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764408, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585); Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/77764294/anna-goldfarb : accessed 25 April 2021), memorial page for Anna Goldfarb (unknown–6 Oct 1938), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764294, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 

Sarah Brod Goldfarb, My Great-grandmother’s Sister: From Immigrant to American Grandmother

Sarah Brod Goldfarb, my great-grandmother’s sister, was widowed on October 4, 1926, when her husband Samuel died. She was sixty years old. The 1930 census shows her living at 526 William Street in Brooklyn, her long-time home, with her two youngest children, Leo and Rose. Leo was now 28 and working as a real estate salesman. Rose was 24 and not employed outside the home.1

Thank you to my cousin Alyce for sharing this photograph of Sarah with her son Leo. I love the shadow of Leo, pipe and all, that appears behind them:

Leo Goldfarb and his mother, Sarah Brod Goldfarb
Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Living just down the street at 542 Williams Street was Sarah’s son Morris Goldfarb with his wife Anna and their two sons, Martin (10) and Irvin (8). Morris owned a grocery store.2 Not long after the 1930 census was enumerated, Morris and Annie had a third son Saul, born June 10, 1930, in New York.3

Sarah’s three other surviving children were all married and living with their children in Jersey City, New Jersey, where their families also continued to grow. Julius and Ida had their four daughters. Bessie and her husband Meyer Malzberg had had another child, their fourth son, Saul, born on January 23, 1928, in Jersey City. Joseph Goldfarb and his wife Betty had their third child, Selma, born January 13, 1928, ten days before her first cousin Saul Malzberg.

I have two more photographs from Alyce of Sarah with her family that appear to have been taken the same day and location as the photo of Sarah with Leo above. My cousin Steve believes that the first one shows his grandmother Bessie with her husband Meyer Malzberg standing behind her and her mother Sarah.

I am particularly intrigued by the photograph that appears on the piece of furniture behind Bessie. Is that her wedding photograph? A graduation photograph? Too small to say.

Meyer Malzberg, rear. Sarah Brod Goldfarb and Bessie Goldfarb Malzberg, seated. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

The next one is of two of the Malzberg grandsons although we are still not sure which of the four are in the photograph.

Sarah Brod Goldfarb, seated. Possibly Burton and Saul Malzberg, standing. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

If I had some way of dating the photograph, it would be easier to identify the two boys. Norman was born in 1915, Gustave in 1919, Burton in 1923, and Saul in 1928. To my grandmotherly eye, the two boys look around seven and eleven, but each could be a year or two older or younger than that guess. Sam Goldfarb is not in the photograph, meaning it was probably taken after his death in 1926.

So if the photograph was taken in the late 1920s, it would have to be Norman and Gustave. But if it was taken in the mid 1930s, it’s Burton and Saul. I believe it’s the latter. First, Steve did not see his father Gustave in the photograph. Second, something about Bessie’s dress makes me thing this is the 1930s, not the 1920s—the tight belted waist on her dress seems unlike the dropped waist dresses worn in the 1920s. But I am far from a fashion expert, so I’d love others’ opinions.

By 1930, Sarah had fourteen grandchildren. Three more would come, but after Sarah died on July 2, 1937, at the age of 71. Sarah died from hypertensive heart disease with hypertension and diabetes as contributing causes.

New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WT7-T1D : 3 June 2020), Sarah Goldfarb, 1937.

Sarah had outlived her older sister, my great-grandmother Bessie Brod Brotman, by three years, as Bessie had died in 1934 at the age of 77. Like my great-grandmother Bessie, Sarah had stayed behind in Galicia when her husband went off to America. Sarah had four young children at the time, and in 1896, she had traveled with those children alone to meet Sam in America. After immigrating, she had three more children. She raised those seven children first in Galicia, then in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and then by 1902 in the Lower East Side of New York, living right across the street from her sister Bessie.

I like to imagine the two sisters whose lives had so many parallels raising their six American-born youngest children together. Bessie’s American-born children were my grandmother Gussie, born in 1895, Frieda in 1897, and Sam in 1900. They were close in age to Sarah’s American-born children Joe, born in 1897, Leo in 1899, and Rose in 1902. The six first cousins, living across the street from each other for at least their earliest years, must have played together and been close to each other even after Sarah and Sam moved a mile away from 84 Ridge Street to 321 Avenue C by 1910.

 

One piece of evidence I have of that cousin connection is the amazing photograph that Alyce shared of my grandmother Gussie with her two cousins Joe and Rose. In this more clear version of that photograph I can see my grandmother’s arm affectionately draped around Rose’s shoulder:

Rose Goldfarb Levine, Joe Goldfarb, and Gussie Brotman Goldschlager

Sarah Brod Goldfarb outlived her husband Samuel and her daughter Gussie. But she was survived by her other six children and ultimately by seventeen grandchildren. The choice she and Sam made to leave Europe when they did still has rippling effects down the generations to their many descendants, including my cousins Sue, Alyce, Rebecca, Ann, Melissa, Steve, and many others.

Now I will return to the stories of each of the six children who survived Sam and Sarah and tell their stories more completely.

 


  1. Sarah Goldfarb and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; FHL microfilm: 2341228, District: 1220; Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. Morris Goldfarb and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 1218; FHL microfilm: 2341227
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. Saul Goldfarb, Birth Date: 10 Jun 1930, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 234??, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 

The Goldfarbs 1921-1926: An Abundance of New Grandchildren

As of 1920, Sarah (Brod) and Samuel Goldfarb had five grandchildren: Julius’ daughters Sylvia and Gertrude, Bessie’s sons Norman and Gustave, and Morris’ son Martin. The next five years saw that number more than double.

On September 17, 1922,1 Joe Goldfarb, Sarah and Sam’s third oldest son and fifth child, married Rebecca “Betty” Amer in Brooklyn, New York. Betty was the daughter of Morris Amer and Helen Greenberg (also known as Chaia, Annie, Anna, and Ida on various records), and she was born in New York on January 5, 1900.2 Her parents were immigrants from what is now Poland, and in 1915 her father was working as a “cloak operator.”3

Joe Goldfarb and Betty Amer’s wedding invitation

Joe and Betty had their first child, Marvin, on April 15, 1923, in Jersey City, New Jersey.4 My cousin Alyce shared this adorable photo of Marvin as a toddler:

Marvin Goldfarb, c. 1924 Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Joe and Betty’s second child, Francine, was born two years later on July 29, 1925, also in Jersey City.5

Julius and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb also had two more children between 1920 and 1925. Ethel Goldfarb was born on March 3, 1923, in Jersey City, just a month before her cousin Marvin.6 And Evelyn Goldfarb was born in Jersey City on January 9, 1925, six months or so before Francine.7

Jersey City was also the birthplace of Betty (Goldfarb) and Meyer Malzberg’s third child, Burton Malzberg. He was born there on March 23, 1923.8 Imagine how Sam and Sarah must have felt—they had three grandchildren born in the spring of 1923 just weeks apart from each other and then two more born in 1925.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb thus had nine grandchildren living in Jersey City by the summer of 1925, including Julius’ two older daughters Sylvia and Gertrude and Bessie’s two older sons Norman and Gustave. To top it off, their tenth and eleventh grandchildren were living in the same builiding in Brooklyn at 526 Williams Street. As seen on the 1925 New York State census, their son Morris and his wife Anna and their two sons Martin and Irvin were living right next door to them. (Martin is incorrectly enumerated here as a girl named Martha.) Irvin was born in Brooklyn on February 2, 1922.9 Morris now owned a grocery store.

Goldfarbs 1925 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 49; Assembly District: 02; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings; Page: 45
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1925

All of Sam and Sarah’s children were thus married by 1925 except the two youngest: Leo and Rose. Rose was still living at home, as seen on the census record. I had a hunch that Leo was living in Jersey City where Julius, Bessie, and Joe were all living that year. That hunch was confirmed when I located this entry in the 1925 Jersey City directory:

Jersey City directory 1925, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Sarah and Sam must have been thrilled to see their family growing and progressing in America. With eleven grandchildren (and more to come) and their sons and son-in-law finding businesses and work to support those grandchildren, their decision to immigrate thirty years before must have seemed a very wise one.

Unfortunately Sam did not live to see those grandchildren grow up as he died on October 24, 1926, in Brooklyn. His death certificate states that he died from chronic heart disease and bronchitis and that he was seventy years old.

Samuel Goldfarb death certificate, New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W5B-2M4 : 3 June 2020), Samuel Goldfarb, 1926.

Sam Goldfarb, my great-great-aunt Sarah’s husband, lived a life that paralled that of so many American immigrants of his time. He came alone to the United States, leaving behind his wife and four children. They followed him a few years later, and the family ended up in the Lower East Side of New York. He worked as a tailor in the sweatshops of New York, making enough to support his wife and their now seven children until those children were old enough to work and then to have families of their own. He lost one child to the dreadful flu epidemic of 1918-1919. He died from heart disease, leaving behind eleven grandchildren as well as his widow Sarah and their surviving six children.

He took the risk of leaving his homeland in Europe to make a better life for those children and grandchildren. How courageous these immigrants were to gamble everything for the chance of a better life for their families.

 

 

 


  1. Wedding invitation depicted above. Family tree received from Susan Wartur. 
  2. I could not locate a birth record for Betty on either Ancestry or FamilySearch, but that date appears on the SSDI: Betty Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 052-52-2394
    Birth Date: 5 Jan 1900, Issue Year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11361, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1973, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Her parents’ names came from the wedding invitation depicted above and various census records from 1905, 1910, and 1915. 
  3. Morris Amer and family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 50; Assembly District: 23; City: New York; County: Kings; Page: 134, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 
  4. Marvin Goldfarb, Birth Date: 15 Apr 1923, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey
    Death Date: 2 Feb 1988, Father: Henry J Goldfarb [?], Mother: Betty Amer
    SSN: 089166702, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. Francine Goldfarb, [Francine Shapiro], Birth Date: 29 Jul 1925, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: 28 Aug 1998, Father: Joseph Goldfarb, Mother:
    Betty Amer, SSN: 112182207, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  6. Ethel Rothman, Social Security Number: 150-16-3474, Birth Date: 3 Mar 1923
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New Jersey, Death Date: 28 Dec 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Ancestry.com. U.S., Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 2. Family records obtained from Sue Wartur. 
  7. Evelyn Goldfarb, [Evelyn Block], [Evelyn Hutchinson], Birth Date: 8 Jan 1925
    Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: 9 May 2006, Father: Julius Goldfarb
    Mother: Ida Hecht, SSN: 150162519, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. Burton Malzberg, Birth Date: 23 Mar 1923, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, ]
    Death Date: 5 Mar 1994, Claim Date: 2 Sep 1971, Father: Meyer Malzberg, Mother:
    Bessie Goldfarb, SSN: 140187837, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Irvin Goldfarb, Birth Date: 2 Feb 1922, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 5602, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 

The Goldfarbs in America 1892-1910

As seen in my last post, from US records we know that Sam/Solomon Goldfarb likely arrived in the US in about 1892 and was about 32 years old at that time. Four years later his wife Sarah Brod Goldfarb and their four oldest children—Joel (Julius), Moische (Morris), Gitel (Gussie), and Pesie (Bessie)— arrived in Philadelphia on September 13, 1896. Sarah was about thirty years old, Joel was ten, Moische eight, Gitel four, and Pesie only two.

In 1900, they were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. According to that census record, Sarah and Sam had been married eighteen years in 1900, meaning they were  married in 1882. Sarah had given birth to six children by that time, and all six were living with them. As listed on the 1900 census record, they were Joseph (actually Joel and later Julius, born in 1884), Moses (later Morris, 1885), Kate (really Gussie,1888; although the record says 1880, it also says she was 12), Bessie (1890), Joseph (1897), and Lewis (later, Leo, 1899). The errors in the names likely were due to the enumerator not understanding what he was told. The first four children were born in Europe, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were born in New Jersey.

Here is a photograph of young Joe and Leo Goldfarb shared with me by Joe’s granddaughter Alyce:

Leo and Joe Goldfarb, c. 1901. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Sam was working as a tailor. Sam and Sarah’s oldest child, listed here as Joseph, but actually Joel and later known as Julius, was 15 and working as a tailor also. The three other older children were in school, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were home with Sarah.

Solomon Goldfarb and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

One question that intrigued me was why did Sarah and Sam settle in Pittsgrove? I knew that in 1900 Sarah’s sister Bessie and brother-in-law Joseph Brotman were living in New York City.1 And I knew that in 1900 Joseph’s brother Moses Brotman was living in Pittsgrove.2 Why would Sarah and Sam have chosen Pittsgrove over New York? At first I assumed it was because Moses lived there.

But when I looked at Moses Brotman’s record on the 1895 New Jersey census, I noticed that living right next door to him was the family of Lazer (Louis) and Minnie Goldfarb—Sam Goldfarb’s brother and sister-in-law.

Families of Morris Brotman and Lazer Goldfarb, 1895 NJ census, Locality or ImageSet: Pittsgrove
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1895

This tells me two things: one, that Sam and Sarah probably settled in Pittsgrove because Sam’s brother was there when Sam arrived in 1892 (although I cannot find Sam on the 1895 New Jersey census) and two, that Moses Brotman’s family and the Goldfarbs were connected through blood or marriage or at a minimum by their prior residence in Europe. I think it’s safe to assume that these two families knew each other well from the old country and in the new.

Interestingly, in 1900 when Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living in Pittsgrove, Sam’s brother Lazer/Louis Goldfarb was living on Delancey Street in New York City’s Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie were living.3 So Sam’s brother moved away from Pittsgrove within a few years of Sarah’s arrival there.

But as seen in 1905 New York State census, Sam and Sarah also soon moved from New Jersey to the Lower East Side, following Sam’s brother Louis. But even more exciting to me was to see where Sam and Sarah were living in 1905—85 Ridge Street—right across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie and my grandmother and her siblings, who were living at 84 Ridge Street. My great-grandfather Joseph Brotman died in 1901, and perhaps Sarah was drawn to New York to help her widowed sister Bessie.

Samuel Goldfarb, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 32, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905

Bessie Brotman and family 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 59  Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 (Terrible errors in names, but this is the right family.)

Sam and his two oldest sons, Julius (20) and Morris (19), were all working as cloakmakers, meaning likely doing piece work at one of the sweatshops in New York. Gussie (17) and Bessie (15) were in school. Joseph, now 8, was at home, and presumably so was Louis/Leo (5). And Sarah had had another child—Rosie, who was three, bringing the total number of children to seven—four boys and three girls. Rosie was born on February 9, 1902.

Rose Goldfarb birth record, New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWR-NVT : 11 February 2018), Rosie Goldfarb, 09 Feb 1902; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 7347 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,983,509.

By 1910, the family had moved from Ridge Street to 131 Avenue C in New York. Sam was working as a tailor in a cloak factory, but Julius, now 25, was working as a conductor for a car company, presumably meaning a streetcar, and Morris, now 23, was a cutter for a neckwear company. The other children were all at home except Gussie.

Samuel Goldfarb 1910 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Gussie Goldfarb had married Max Katz on April 11, 1910, in New York. Max, the son of Louis Katz and Becky(?) Shuster, was born in Russia in 1884.

Marriage of Gussie Goldfarb and Max Katz,New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24ZW-DLF : 10 February 2018), Marx Katz and Josi Gossi Goldfarb, 12 Apr 1910; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,503,728.

In 1910 Gussie and Max were living with Max’s parents in Brooklyn, and Max was working as a window dresser, but had been out of work for 25 weeks in the past year. His father owned a candy store.4

Thus, as of 1910, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb still had six of their seven children living at home. The next five years would bring more changes.


  1. Joseph Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0283; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Moses Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Louis Goldfarb and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 41; Enumeration District: 0291; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Louis Katz and family, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 26, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_978; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0796; FHL microfilm: 1374991,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

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
Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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 https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62

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 https://tinyurl.com/whnye25 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 https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq

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 https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62 
  3. Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq 
  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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XHB7-DJH?cc=1536925&wc=M61J-KNL%3A73565601 : 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census; Joe Spanier, 1920 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T625_25; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 99, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census; Joseph E. Spanier, 1930 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Page: 32B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 2339762, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. Birth record for Clara Spanier, daughter of Louis Spanier, Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXDT-91R : 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