How Felix Goldsmith’s Children Honored His Difficult Life

The story of Felix Goldsmith’s life after 1900 is a sad one. In searching for articles about him, I first found two articles that suggested he was doing very well. He had left Denver by 1908 and moved with his wife Fanny and two children Clarence and Ethel to Cincinnati, where Fanny’s family lived and where she’d been born and raised. It looked like Felix was investing in real estate for a new business:

“Real Estate and Building,” The Cincinnati Inquirer, June 14, 1908, p. 7

A second article two days later also portrayed Felix as a successful entrepreneur:

“Hard Times A Joke to Man Who Plugs On,” Cincinnati Post, June 16, 1908, p. 10

“Greater Cincinnati is assured, for the business men stick till they get through with a thing.”

This is Felix S. Goldsmith’s verdict. He is one of the younger men who are shoving the Queen City to the front.

Hard times? Not for him. He wasn’t a bit bluffed upon getting out of a hospital from a long siege of sickness just when the calamity howlers were busy. He plunged in, organized the Freericks Hot Water System Co. and demonstrated that HARD TIMES was a joke in Cincinnati.

Goldsmith will hire over 300 extra men in a few days.

Goldsmith is also largely interested in the real estate movement. He is President of the Fernbank Real Estate Co. For several years prior to his removal to Cincinnati he was one of the high-ranking engineers of the Colorado district.   

He is self-made.

The only hint of trouble here is the reference to “a long siege of illness” and hospitalization. But a month later the rest of the story began to come to light, as seen in this article from the Denver Post on July 27, 1908:

“Arrest Denverite Because Checks Came Back,” Denver Post, July 27, 1908, p. 4

Felix S. Goldsmith, former Denver mining promoter, who for the past year has conducted an office in this city, and who is interested in exploiting a new morning newspaper here, to be called the Morning Mail, was arrested late last night on the charge of passing worthless checks on the Idaho Springs National bank of Colorado.

Half a dozen merchants who hold checks marked “No funds,” made complaint against him. Goldsmith claims the checks were among those sent him by T.S. Richards of Denver, who, he says, is interested with him in vast mining properties there, and has an office in the First National Bank building. The drafts, he says, were first made out on the Idaho Springs bank, and deposited in the Continental National bank of Denver.

Goldsmith says he has been suffering from nervous prostration for three years, and that relatives in Denver tried in vain to have him adjudged insane. The police have been trying to get in touch with relatives, but he refuses to give any definite information concerning their residence. He had, up to late tonight, been unable to get any one to furnish bail for his release.

The Cincinnati Enquirer of July 27, 1908 revealed more of the background to Felix’s troubles:

“Goldsmith—Was Patient at City Hospital, Lavishing Flowers, Candy, and Fruit on Nurses,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 27, 1908, p. 10.

With the arrest of Felix Goldsmith at the instance of W.C. Seekatz, manager of the Florsheim Shoe Company, an avalanche of flowers and candy will cease at the City Hospital. As late as last November Goldsmith was a patient at that institution, an inmate for the neurological ward.

He was admitted to the hospital September 26, 1907, from the Rand Hotel and placed on the service of Dr. Herman Hopps, the alienist. At that time Goldsmith showed such decided symptoms of paranoia, having hallucinations of wealth and grandeur, that the physicians decided to probate him.

In some way Goldsmith got wind of this and demanded his discharge, which he received on November 28. While in the ward Goldsmith formed a strange friendship with Al Milton, also a neurological patient, which after his liberation he showed in many ways. Only last we andek Milton received a check from him for $2, with a letter stating that in a few days he would make him comfortable for life. To the nurses who waited off him and others with whom he became acquainted during his sojourn at the hospital Goldsmith was most lavishly generous. Scarcely a day passed when they were not to be the recipients of boxes of flowers and candy and baskets of fruit. These were always accompanied with his card, without an address, which prevented the return of these unwelcome presents.

Four days later, the paper reported that Felix had been committed to a psychiatric hospital at his wife’s request:

“Longview—Felix S. Goldsmith, Promoter of a Newspaper, Is Committed at His Wife’s Request,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 31, 1908, p. 10

Felix S. Goldsmith, erstwhile promoter of newspapers and other big enterprises, as well as alleged layer of protested checks, was committed to Longview by Drs. David and Kendig, the Probate Court examining physicians, yesterday. Goldsmith was before the Court on a lunacy warrant sworn to by his wife, Fannie Goldsmith, of 3004 Stanton avenue, who was later named as his guardian by the Probate Court.

Goldsmith is 49 years of age, and has one son, Clarence, aged 19. The certificate of the physicians states that he is irritable and quarrelsome and hard to control; that he has a suicidal mania and carried a revolver, and that he has ideas of great wealth and believes that he is being persecuted. To the physicians he stated that he is a promoter, and that he is running a newspaper, and that he has friends who are ready to advance him large sums to promote various businesses. The cause of his mental trouble is attributed to worry over his business ventures. Attorney Frank Heinsheimer represented the wife in her action.

On Sunday, May 17, Goldsmith had a sensational encounter with his brother-in-law, Albert S. Rosenthal, in Avondale, and the next day Rosenthal secured a lunacy warrant for him. Goldsmith evaded arrest on the warrant for a few days, and then gave himself up, declaring that he could easily prove his sanity. However, the warrant was never pressed and no inquiry was had at that time. The warrant, which was never withdrawn, was destroyed yesterday when Mrs. Goldsmith made the affidavit for her husband’s arrest.

Within the past week or two Goldsmith had given a number of checks which the recipients were trying to have him take up, and as the result of one of these he was arrested. Then the lunacy warrant was secured. Goldsmith promoted a new newspaper to be known as the Morning Mail, but further incorporating nothing seems to have been done.

This whole story is incredibly sad. Felix obviously had had some kind of psychotic break. The antiquated terminology like “lunacy” and the newspaper coverage seem so stigmatizing. Today one hopes that there is a better understanding of a psychosis like that suffered by Felix.

I could not find Felix on the 1910 census; I assume that he was still institutionalized. Felix’s wife Fannie and children Clarence and Ethel continued to live in Cincinnati. In 1910, they were living with Fannie’s sister Hannah Wachtel and her children. Fannie was working as a bookkeeper in a wholesale clothing store.

Fannie Rosenthal Goldsmith and children, 1910 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 3, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: T624_1189; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0043; FHL microfilm: 1375202, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

The next record I have for Felix is his death certificate. Felix died from a cerebral hemorrhage on January 18, 1919. He was 59 years old:

Kentucky Death Records, 1911-1965,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N984-S31 : 2 January 2019), Felix Goldsmith, 1919; citing Death, Lakeland, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States, certificate , Office of Vital Statistics, Frankfort; FHL microfilm 1,952,863.

He died in Central State Hospital in Lakeland, Kentucky. The doctor who signed the death certificate attested that Felix had been under his care since August 2, 1916, and the certificate also revealed that Felix had been in this hospital for seven years, ten months, and two days, or since November 16, 1911. This hospital still exists as an adult psychiatric hospital and was formerly known as the Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane. How terribly sad that Felix had to spend so many years institutionalized.

His wife Fannie did not remarry. In 1920 she was living with her two grown children in Cincinnati. Clarence, now thirty, was a traveling salesman for a glassware company, and Ethel, 24, was a psychologist in juvenile court.1

On September 7, 1928, Ethel married Harry Muegel in Cincinnati. Harry was the son of Peter Muegel and Elizabeth Plaspohl and was born on December 12, 1895, in Cincinnati.  He was a student at the time of their marriage, and Ethel was a psychologist.

Marriage record for Ethel Goldsmith and Harry Muegel, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

In 1930, Fannie, Clarence, Ethel and Harry were living together in Silverton, Ohio. Ethel continued to work as a psychologist. Her husband Harry was a public school teacher. Clarence was also working in juvenile court now—as a probation office.2 According to this article, Clarence was the Assistant Chief Probation Office in charge of the Boys’ Delinquency Department of Juvenile Court and was “regarded as a state authority in his field.”

I find it fascinating that both Ethel and her brother Clarence ended up working with children in trouble. I have to wonder whether their father’s experience with mental illness influenced their career choices.

In April 1931, Clarence was engaged to Leona Rosenbaum. She was the daughter of David Rosenbaum and Lydia Miller and was born in Baltimore on September 5, 1900. Her father owned a drugstore, and in 1930 Leona was working as a teacher in a parochial school and living with her parents in Cincinnati.3 Although I was able to find the engagement announcement in the newspaper, I could not locate a marriage record or announcement, but I did find references to Mrs. Leona Goldsmith and Mrs. Clarence Goldsmith  in the Cincinnati papers starting in 1932, so they must have married by then. An article in the July 2, 1936, Cincinnati Enquirer (p. 12) referred to Clarence as the assistant chief engineer of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, indicating that he had left his juvenile court position for work in the insurance industry.

Things thus seemed to be going well for Felix Goldsmith’s family as of 1936; his children were both married, and both had meaningful careers. But then tragedy struck twice in one month. On May 1, Felix’s widow Fannie Rosenthal Goldsmith died from chronic nephritis and hypertension; she was 74.

Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GP2P-9VMD?cc=1307272&wc=MD9X-FNL%3A287599101%2C294427301 : 21 May 2014), 1937 > 29701-32800 > image 2781 of 3325.

Just two weeks later, Ethel Goldsmith Muegel, Felix and Fannie’s 42 year old daughter, died suddenly on May 15, 1937, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, according to her obituary, she had gone to recuperate from a “physical breakdown suffered when working for the Red Cross during the flood in Cincinnati.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 May 1937, Mon, Page 9

According to the Ohio History Central website, “In 1937, southern Ohio faced one of the worst floods in its history. The flood was particularly difficult for the city of Cincinnati, where flood levels reached almost eighty feet. Communities along the Ohio River in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois also faced serious problems. As the flood waters rose, gas tanks exploded and oil fires erupted on the river. Parts of Cincinnati remained under water for nineteen days, and electricity and fresh water were in short supply. Many people lost their homes as a result of the flood. The Ohio River Flood of 1937 caused more than twenty million dollars in damages.”

Ethel Goldsmith Muegel had sacrificed her health and ultimately her life to help those in need.

Cincinnati flood, 1937, Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clarence Goldsmith had lost his mother and his younger sister in the space of two weeks. That seems unimaginable.

In 1940, Clarence and his wife Leona were living in Cincinnati where he was working as an insurance agent.4 Sadly, Clarence died six years later on January 29, 1946, at the age of 56.

“Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XCRQ-4PD?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-FWP%3A287602801%2C289221002 : 21 May 2014), 1946 > 03001-06100 > image 558 of 3479.

According to his obituary, he died from a heart ailment. His obituary also stated that as well as working as an insurance agent, he was the president of the Big Brothers Association and former assistant chief probation officer in Juvenile Court and that he had given “his time and experience to help boys from undesirable home environments to develop into fine men and valuable citizens.”5 The obituary continued:

He and fellow “big brothers” took such unfortunate juveniles under their wing, befriending them and offering moral help. Mr. Goldsmith had received letters from servicemen all over the world thanking him for giving them a new slant on life.

Clarence Goldsmith, The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 30, 1946, p. 8.

Neither Clarence nor Ethel had children, so there are no descendants of Felix Goldsmith or his children. All three died before reaching age sixty. Felix certainly struggled in his life, dealing with psychiatric issues that caused him to be institutionalized, leaving his wife Fannie and his two children to go on without him.  His children found ways to help other children who also might have endured difficult issues at home—Ethel as a psychologist in juvenile court, Clarence as a probation officer and then as a volunteer with Big Brothers.  What a noble way to honor their father’s memory. I hope by telling their story I have honored theirs as well.

 


  1. Fannie Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 13, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: T625_1391; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 236, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Goldsmith, Muegel, 1930 US census, Census Place: Silverton, Hamilton, Ohio; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0317; FHL microfilm: 2341552, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. David Rosenbaum and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Page: 23B; Enumeration District: 0147; FHL microfilm: 2341545,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census; Number: 285-26-7672; Issue State: Ohio; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014  
  4. Clarence Goldsmith, 1940 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: m-t0627-03194; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 91-208, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. “Clarence Goldsmith,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 30, 1946, p. 8. 

Isadore Goldsmith: A Life of Strife and Sadness Revealed in the Newspaper, Part II

As I wrote in my last post, Isadore Goldsmith seemed to begin having legal and medical problems in January, 1893, after allegedly being assaulted in Philadelphia and then trephined in the hospital as part of the treatment for his injuries. He then was arrested for drunkenness but released when the court concluded he was epileptic, not drunk. But his troubles continued, as detailed in my last post: suicide attempts, some bizarre behavior, and more encounters with the police.

Then in 1896, Isadore married the same woman twice. On October 17, 1896, Isadore married Mary Wheeler the first time in Camden, New Jersey. Keep that date in mind as you read this article from the November 8, 1896, Philadelphia Times (p. 2):

“Declares He Is Sane,” The Philadelphia Times, November 8, 1896, p. 1.

Apparently Isadore had been committed to the Norristown Asylum on June 19, 1895, and had escaped on October 16, 1896, the day before he married Mary in Camden.  (Later articles say he escaped on October 13, but in any event, he and Mary married within days of his escape.)

On November 17, 1896, the court in Washington, DC, determined that Isadore was not insane:

“Goldsmith Adjudged Sane,” The Philadelphia Times, November 18, 1896, p. 7

And the very next day, November 18, 1896, Isadore married Mary Wheeler for the second time, this time in DC.  The Philadelphia Inquirer found this second wedding sufficiently newsworthy that they wrote about it on the front page on November 20, 1896:

“Was Married Twice,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1896, p. 1

The somewhat unusual spectacle of a man marrying the same woman twice was witnessed in this city today [Washington, DC]. The two-time bridegroom in the case is Isadore Goldsmith, a young Philadelphian. His story is a romantic one. Goldsmith was an inmate at the Norristown Insane Asylum, from which institution he escaped on October 13. He went quietly to Camden, where he was married to Mary B. Wheeler on the day after his escape. The couple came to this city, where he was arrested as [?].

Goldsmith appealed to the courts for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that he was perfectly sane and had been unjustly incarcerated. The case came up before Judge Hagner on Tuesday. Goldsmith was the most important witness in his own behalf. He was entirely rational and made a good impression. Some hard questions were put to him, but his answers revealed a clear memory and connected reasoning.

… [A description of his testimony about his January 1893 assault.]

While at a hospital in Philadelphia last summer he was informed by Dr. Hughes, the physician, that a relative wanted him sent to the Norristown Insane Asylum. He was in the Philadelphia Hospital because he had feared one of his attacks was coming on; but he left when he heard of this intention. He was afterwards arrested and incarcerated at Norristown until his escape.

[After medical testimony, the judge determined that Goldsmith was sane and released him.]

To-day Mr. Goldsmith and his wife were re-married by a local clergyman. This second marriage ceremony was performed because Mr. Goldsmith feared that it might be claimed that his first marriage took place while he was legally an insane person.

The newspaper considered his story to be “a romantic one.” But there is no explanation of how he met Mary or anything about her or their relationship. And who was the relative who had had Isadore committed the prior June?

In the 1898 Philadelphia directory there is a listing for Isidore Goldsmith, a repairer. I think this might be my Isadore because on Mary’s death certificate, her occupation is listed as china repairer, so perhaps they were working together.

But in 1899, Isadore made the newspaper again. This time he was accused along with three other men of committing arson, according to this article in the June 25, 1899 Philadelphia Times (p. 16):

“Held in Bail for Arson,” The Philadelphia Times, June 25, 1899, p. 16

The paper described him this way:

It is said that Goldsmith bears a shady reputation with the police; that he attempted to commit suicide last December, and that he has been a successful worker of the epileptic fit dodge to secure free admission to hospitals both here and in Washington.

Isadore made at least one more attempt to end his life in October, 1906; again he made the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Rushed Pony into Sea to Save Man,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 1906, p. 1

A pony ridden by James Irwin this afternoon was driven into the surf in pursuit of Isadore Goldsmith, a middle-aged Philadelphian, who was fully clothed and apparently bent on drowning himself. Hundreds on the boardwalk and Young’s Pier where the man had waded into the breakers, wild with excitement, shouted to “save him,” but no one cared to face the heavy sea, and the life guards had retired from duty today.

The pony balked, but spurs urged him into the sea. Reaching Goldsmith, Irwin caught him by the coat collar and was dragging the man ashore, when Goldsmith fought to free himself. During the battle between the two, Irwin, a slim young man, was nearly dragged from the saddle, but he held grimly to Goldsmith with one hand and to the pommel in the saddle with the other. Both were swept time and again by the heavy seas.

Those watching the battle feared that both would be drowned until the pony had backed them into comparatively shallow water, when several men went to the rescue of Irwin and the desperate man he had pulled from certain death. Goldsmith was sent to the police station, and he was found to be in no condition to give an explanation of his conduct.

Cheers greeted Irwin when he brought Goldsmith to the beach, and some rushed to him to shake his hand, hailing him as a hero.

This attempt I find particularly troubling as it endangered another person as well as an innocent animal.

Six months after this episode, Isadore’s wife Mary died on April 19, 1907, from a stroke, and then six months after that, Isadore finally found the peace he must have been seeking—he died on October 11, 1907, from a cerebral hemorrhage and acute alcoholism.

Isidore Goldsmith Death Certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68DJ-WR?cc=1320976&wc=9FRT-N38%3A1073183102 : 16 May 2014), 004008905 > image 483 of 536; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

The last news item I found for him was this brief death notice in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I guess his death did not merit the front page despite the fact that the struggles he had endured were often considered front page news.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 12, 1907, p. 9.

Was the cerebral hemorrhage related to his injuries from 1893? Was he really an alcoholic or was he an epileptic or both? His several attempts at suicide and his ongoing hospitalizations suggest a man with severe mental health issues.

Isadore was clearly a man with many problems—whether those problems started with the alleged assault in January 1893 or whether they started years before when he was a young man, I don’t know. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. All we can say is that this was a man who had a very troubled life. And his troubles somehow managed again and again to be considered front page news in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

Isadore Goldsmith: A Life of Strife and Sadness Revealed in the Newspaper

As noted in earlier posts, there were some odd things that I found in my initial research of my cousin Isadore (sometimes Isidore) Goldsmith, the sixth child and third son of Levi and Henrietta Goldsmith. For one thing, in 1896 he married the same woman, Mary Wheeler, twice, first in New Jersey and then a month later in Washington, DC. He never seemed to have a job. And then in 1907, he died just six months after his wife Mary died. She died from a stroke on April 17, 1907, when she was 54; Isadore died on October 11, 1907, from a cerebral hemorrhage.  He was only 43. His death certificate revealed that he had died in a sanitarium to which he had been admitted the day before; it also noted that he was afflicted with acute alcoholism.

Isidore Goldsmith Death Certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68DJ-WR?cc=1320976&wc=9FRT-N38%3A1073183102 : 16 May 2014), 004008905 > image 483 of 536; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

I decided to do a newspaper search to see if I could learn more about Isadore. Unfortunately, that newspaper search and the searches to which those newspaper articles then led tell the story of a man whose life must have been very painful and sad. But first, some background on Isadore’s earlier life and what I found before I started the newspaper search.

Isadore Goldsmith was born on May 24, 1864, in Philadelphia.1  On the 1870 and 1880 census records, he was living with his parents and siblings; on these records, I found nothing unusual. 2  Since there is no surviving record of the 1890 census, I tried searching for Isadore in Philadelphia directories to cover the years between 1880 and 1900. He was not listed in the Philadelphia directories until the 1886 directory when he was 22 years old. He was then living at the same address as his father Levi, 1311 North Broad Street, but is not listed with an occupation. His older brother George is listed also, living at the same address and working as a druggist.3

Levi died at the end of 1886.  In the 1887 directory, George and Isadore are both listed again, still living at 1311 North Broad, and Isadore, who now would be 23, is still listed without an occupation, whereas George is once again working as a druggist. I thought this was a little strange—why didn’t Isadore have a job? But I thought perhaps he was in school and thought nothing more of it. In 1889 Isadore is not listed at all in the Philadelphia directory, but George is as well as their younger brother Sylvester.  They were now living at 1709 North 15th Street where their mother is listed as well. George was a druggist, and Sylvester was a clerk.4 But where was Isadore? He does not appear in any Philadelphia directory after 1887 until 1898, nor does he appear in any other directory included in the Ancestry database.

I found Isadore on the 1900 census, as I reported here.  He was now married to Mary Wheeler, the woman he married twice, first on October 17, 1896 in Camden, New Jersey, and then on November 18 in Washington, DC. And as noted in my earlier post, on the 1900 census, Isadore and Mary were living as boarders in Philadelphia, and for his occupation, Isadore wrote that he was living on his income.  There is an Isidor Goldsmith listed in the 1905 Philadelphia directory working as a grocer, and that could be Isadore—which would make the first time he is listed anywhere with an occupation. 5 The last record I had for Isadore was his death certificate, as noted above.

That was all I knew about Isadore’s life until I typed his name into the newspapers.com and genealogybank.com websites and turned up a long list of articles detailing Isadore’s struggles.

The earliest news item I found relating to Isadore was a legal notice of divorce:

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1891, p. 1.

I had not found any marriage record for Isadore prior to his two weddings to Mary in 1896, but I noticed that in this legal notice he is listed with an alias—Isadore Garrison. I went back to search for listings or records under that name, and I found a record for the marriage of Isedore Garrison to Gean Morris on September 26, 1887, in Camden, New Jersey.6 Obviously, this marriage did not last very long since Isadore and Jean were divorced by May 24, 1891.

There were no other articles about Isadore until September 2, 1893, when the Philadelphia Inquirer published this article on its front page:

“Goldsmith Had Swallowed Laudanum, But It Was Quickly Removed,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 2, 1893, page 1.

Isadore Goldsmith, 26 years old, who gave the address of 1313 Cass street, tried to end his life by a dose of laudanum early yesterday morning at one of the side entrances to the Drexel Institute. Goldsmith was found weak and in a critical condition by Policeman Gill, of the Twenty-first district, who tried to rouse him up and to whom he stated that he was weary of life and had been driven from his home by his parents.

He was removed to the University Hospital, where the stomach pump soon relieved him of the dangerous drug. He was the sent over to the Philadelphia Hospital by the police, where he still remains in a weak condition.

Goldsmith stated to the hospital authorities that his skull had been twice trephined. He was attacked last January by two colored men at Tenth and Morgan streets and beaten with a club and robbed. He had his skull fractured and was sent to the Hahnemann Hospital, and lay there in a critical condition until the beginning of August. His skull had been trephined twice and he had been discharged after his recovery, but had since been in a nervous condition.

According to this website, “Laudanum is an opium drug that is made into a tincture or an alcoholic solution. It was a well-celebrated beverage during the Victorian era. Due to its pain-relieving properties, laudanum was used as a remedy for many types of ailments, from common colds to more complicated conditions such as heart disease. At that time, everyone, regardless of age or gender, had access to laudanum.”

I had never heard the term “trephined” before, but found this explanation on Wikipedia:

Trepanning, also known as trepanation, trephination, trephining or making a burr hole … is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases or release pressured blood buildup from an injury.

I searched for an earlier newspaper article that had reported this assault on Isadore, but could not find any article describing such an attack. And believe me, the Philadelphia newspapers had many, many articles about other victims who suffered fractured skulls in various ways, but nothing about this attack on Isadore. Had it actually happened?

Well, sixteen days later, the Philadelphia Inquirer had another article about Isadore on its front page:

“Jailed and Fined As A Drunk Case,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 1893, p. 1

Continuation, p.2 of September 18, 1893 Philadelphia Inquirer

I won’t transcribe the whole article, as it is, as you can see, very lengthy, but the essence of it is that Isadore was arrested for drunkenness and breach of the peace, but he claimed that he was wrongfully accused because his behavior was not the result of alcohol, but an epileptic seizure caused by the January, 1893 assault and the trephining he had endured as a result of that assault. The newspaper investigated the matter and concluded that Isadore was telling the truth; the reporter even witnessed one of Isadore’s seizures while interviewing him.  I will quote some of the more pertinent parts of the article:

Mr. Goldsmith is now in the St. Clement’s Hospital for Epileptics…under the care of his family. He is one of seven children of a formerly great clothing merchant and manufacturer…. One brother is a druggist…His father was a great friend and admirer of ex-Mayor Stokley.

Isadore gave this description of the January assault, as quoted in the article:

“On the 26th of January, at 8 o’clock in the evening I was waylaid at Eleventh and Morgan streets and my watch and $15 in bills stolen. It was a cold, snowy night and few people were on the streets….I was jostled by two men…, and one seized my hands and the other robbed me, and, as they left, I received a blow on the back of the head. I was taken to the station house at Tenth and Buttonwood and then to the Hahnemann Hospital. There they made an exploratory incision in my skull, but failed to find any fracture.

“After this I began to have nervous spasms. I remained at the hospital until May 2, when I asked for my discharge and tried to resume work in my old positon at I.H. Sultzbach’s. On June 27 I was taken ill and was removed again to Hahnemann Hospital, June 30. On July 9 Dr. Van Lennep performed an operation, took out a piece of bone measuring 5/8 x 3/8 of an inch and trephined the skull. Since then I have been in different hospitals.”

The 1895 Philadelphia directory has a listing for an Isadore H. Sultzbach, clothier; I assume this must have been where Isadore was working before his injuries.7

Isadore then described what happened the morning of September 8; he woke up having one of his “spells” and decided to go to Episcopal Hospital for help. Along the way he had a seizure. Some passersby helped him and took him to the saloon for some seltzer water. He also asked someone to get the police to assist him, but instead the police officer hit him with his mace on the sole of his foot. Others in the bar told the officer that Isadore was not drunk, but sick. Nevertheless, the police officer took Isadore back to the station house, where the magistrate did not let him speak and threw him in jail.

Isadore was soon released, however. The bartender corroborated Isadore’s statement that he had not been drinking, and the doctor at the hospital where Isadore was taken after he was released from jail confirmed that he had epilepsy and that he had scars on his head from trephining, but he also said he smelled alcohol on Isadore’s breath. The reporter, however, thought that Isadore’s medicine, tincture of cinchona, smelled like liquor. Isadore’s roommate also stated that he had never known Isadore to be drunk. It was clearly the reporter’s conclusion that Isadore had been mistreated by the police and the magistrate.

But Isadore’s troubles were far from over. On August 14, 1894, he was found unconscious on the street and taken to the hospital.

“Unconscious on the Street,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 1894, p. 5

On September 14, 1894, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Isadore had again attempted suicide by drinking laudanum.8 Then on May 4, 1895, The Philadelphia Times published this article:

“A Midnight Apparition,” The Philadelphia Times, May 4, 1895, p. 2

Obviously, Isadore had severe problems, whatever their origin and causes.

But why did he marry the same woman twice? More on that in my next post.

 


  1.  Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68DJ-WR?cc=1320976&wc=9FRT-N38%3A1073183102 : 16 May 2014), 004008905 > image 483 of 536; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 
  2. See my earlier post here
  3. Philadelphia city directory, 1886, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  4. Philadelphia city directories, 1887-1898, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  5. Philadelphia city directory, 1905, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  6.  New Jersey, Marriages, 1670-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FZPH-BLM : 6 November 2017), Isedore L. Garrison and Gean Morris, 26 Sep 1887; citing Camden City, Camden, New Jersey, United States, Division of Archives and Record Management, New Jersey Department of State, Trenton.; FHL microfilm 495,705. 
  7. Philadelphia city directory, 1895, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  8. The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 14, 1894, p.2.