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 

Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


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

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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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.

Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  3.  Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, Social Security #: 524052638. 
  4.  Ancestry.com. 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,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  12. Number: 340-07-2609; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Number: 356-38-3307; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: 1963,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Fort Lauderdale News, 16 Nov 1985, Page 15 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 329019705. 
  16.  Evanston Review, obit for Dr. Beatrice Loewenherz, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/111A841C55ED24D8-111A841C55ED24D8 : accessed 28 September 2018); South Florida Sun-Sentinel () , obit for Loewenherz, Beatrice, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/10B49B19E169FC50-10B49B19E169FC50 : 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
Ancestry.com. 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. Ancestry.com. 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WJG-J4D : 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, Ancestry.com. 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WVQ-KFH : 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.

Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V26Y-SX9 : 6 December 2014), Bernhard Metz and Rosa Goldsmith, 20 Jan 1864; citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,765,018. 
  2. Ancestry.com. 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. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. 1862 Philadelphia directory, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  3. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBYP-P32 : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBY8-TXS : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBY8-ZHF : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VB13-98Y : 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. Ancestry.com. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885. 
  8. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27B5-NVH : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBBV-FMH : 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, Ancestry.com. 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. Ancestry.com 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-623Q-33?cc=1320976&wc=9FR7-82S%3A1073111102 : 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, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  14.  New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2434-KSD : 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. Ancestry.com. Prussian Provinces, Selected Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1661-1944. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24H4-BHF : 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. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  17. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WMB-7ZW : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WVQ-KFH : 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24H2-13L : 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.  Ancestry.com. 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
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


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