Milton Goldsmith’s Album, Part XVII: The Contrasting Lives of His Sisters Rose and Estella

In his family album, Milton devoted several pages to his sisters Rose and Estella. Their life stories show a contrast between the more traditional path of wife and mother taken by Rose and the untraditional path chosen by Estella and give us insights into how women lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rose was five years younger than Milton, born in 1866. She married Sidney Morris Stern in 1892 and had three sons. Here is the page Milton dedicated to his sister Rose and her husband Sidney.

It includes a biography of Sidney written by Milton that fills in some background to Sidney’s life that I had not previously known.

There is also an obituary for Rose, who died in 1931 at the age of 64.

Here is a closer view of the biographical information in her obituary:

The Beth Israel Association of the Deaf honored Rose for her volunteer efforts on behalf of the deaf and presented a portrait to hang in her honor at their meeting place. It’s a shame that we don’t have a photograph of the portrait.

But my favorite part of this page is the photograph of Rose and Sidney, which I edited a bit to enhance the clarity of the photograph, as I have with several of the photographs below:

 

In one of the other albums, I found this lovely photograph of Rose on her graduation day:

Rose lived a comfortable and meaningful life, raising three sons and making a difference in the lives of many through her various volunteer activities.

As noted above, whereas Rose lived a fairly traditional life for a woman of her times, her younger sister Estella chose a road less traveled. Milton created two pages for his youngest full sister Estella (also known as Estelle and Stella). Here is the first:

Milton wrote a sweet biography of Stella that mentions not only her work as a teacher but also the camp she created for girls in the Adirondacks.

The page includes several photographs of the camp as well as two photographs of Stella, who does not look at all fat, despite Milton’s description in the biography.

 

 

The second page dedicated to Stella has a childhood photograph of her, a handwritten description of her 80th birthday celebration as well as a photograph of that celebration, and her obituary.

 

Here is the note describing the 80th birthday party and the photograph. I assume that is Milton reading a poem he wrote for his little sister and that sitting to his right is “Stella” herself.

Stella, Celebrated her 80th birthday, Jan’y 20, 1950. A large gathering (41) of relations, cousins, nieces, &c assembled at the Hotel Warwick in Phila to honor her. Speeches, toasts were given. At 80, Stella is well preserved and still active. Her hearing is bad, and she has difficulty in walking. She has a host of devoted friends. Milton, Rosalind & Mickey attended the festivities. She lives at the Majestic Hotel, Phila, and has a companion to look afer her.

Although Milton focused on Estelle’s career and volunteer activity, there was much, much more to tell about her life. I located an additional photograph of Estelle in one of the other albums and these clippings from a news article about her. You have to read that article. It belies the old myth that a single woman is an “old maid” to be pitied.

 

What an incredibly exciting and interesting life Estelle lived! She traveled all over the world, including to China, India, Egypt, and what was then Palestine, now Israel. She met the Pope, climbed mountains, rode an elephant and a camel, and observed Yom Kippur at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. She was a woman of many interests and with many friends. Hers was no ordinary life.

And finally, here is Stella’s obituary.

What is intriguing about the inclusion of this obituary is that Stella did not die until 1968, eleven years after Milton’s death in 1957. Who added this to the album? It had to be one of her many nieces and nephews and probably one of Milton’s daughters. But it is, as far as I can tell, the only thing added to the album after Milton’s death.

I am so grateful to my cousin Milton for preserving for posterity so much of the Goldsmith family history so that the stories of Rose and Estelle and the different choices they made can live on forever.

This is Part XVII 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, Part XI, Part XII Part XIII , Part XIV , Part XV  and Part XVI at the links.

 

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Album, Part XVI: His Beloved Sister and Fellow Author, Emily

Most of the remaining pages of the Milton Goldsmith’s album are devoted to his many siblings and their spouses. For example, this page includes photographs of and news clippings about Milton’s sister Emily, who was also a writer, and her husband Felix Gerson, who was a writer and one of the founders of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

I want to highlight the photographs of Emily and Felix, as seeing the faces of those about whom I have written is always a thrill for me:

Emily Goldsmith as a child

Emily Goldsmith Gerson

Emily and Felix Gerson

I will also quote a bit from the news article about Emily. Unfortunately I don’t know when or where it was published.

Mrs. Gerson was most widely recognized as a writer for children. In addition to writing books and editing pages for children, she is the author of a number of playlets, published in pamphlet form, for holiday entertainments in Jewish religious schools. In the last few years adult stories from her pen have appeared frequently in Jewish papers and magazines…

Yet, perhaps in the Young Readers’ Department of the Jewish Exponent, which she originated in 1892, Mrs. Gerson came closest to the hearts of her little readers. The children themselves had a hand in building up this department, and feel that it really belongs to them. They write prize poems and stories, articles and jokes; they give entertainment for charity and send the proceeds to Mrs. Gerson in prettily worded notes; and they contribute about a thousand dollars every year to the Country Week Fund in the department for sending poor Jewish children to the country during the summer.

This page also includes an obituary of Emily’s husband Felix, who died in 1945, almost thirty years after Emily’s death.

The page that follows in Milton’s album includes a biography of Felix Gerson, written presumably by Milton:

Finally, the page below includes several obituaries of Emily, who died in 1917 when she was only 49 years old.

There is also an article about the farm that was named in her honor and used as a summer retreat for poor Jewish children from Philadelphia as well as another photograph of her.

Here are some excerpts from this article and one more photograph of Milton’s beloved sister Emily:

Emily Goldsmith Gereson

In one of the other albums, I found this additional photograph of Felix.

These pages demonstrate how proud Milton was of his sister Emily and how devastated he must have been when she died in 1917.

This is Part XVI 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, Part XI, Part XII Part XIII , Part XIV and Part XV at the links.

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XV: Childhood Memories

Last spring I began a series of posts1 that were devoted to a family album created by my first cousin, three times removed (my great-grandmother Hilda Schoenthal Katzenstein’s first cousin), Milton Goldsmith. Milton became a well-known author of both adult and children’s books and is perhaps best known for his novel, Rabbi and Priest, which was adapted into a play, The Little Brother, and produced on Broadway as well as many other places. I wrote extensively about Milton and his works on the blog here, here, and here, for example.

Milton’s granddaughter, my cousin Sue, kindly scanned numerous pages from Milton’s family album and shared them with me. The last page I received from her last spring was about Milton’s brother Edwin. Sue told me that there were many more pages and that instead of scanning them, she thought it would be better to loan me the album so I could select what I wanted to scan.

In October, Sue traveled to Massachusetts to visit other family members (unrelated to me) and came to my house with three or four shopping bags filled with albums that were stuffed with photographs, letters, poems, and other documents about her grandfather Milton and his family. I was overwhelmed, to say the least. Some of the letters were written by Milton’s father Abraham—my three-times great-uncle—in the 1870s and 1880s. These are letters handwritten in the old German script; I cannot read them, but I hope eventually to scan them and to ask someone familiar with that script to help translate them for me. I have to return all these albums to Sue, so I need to find the time to scan. And there is a ton to scan and not much time to do it. But I will do my best.

I have scanned the rest of the family album compiled by Milton Goldsmith and some of the pages in the other albums, and I want to share some of those pages on the blog and continue the project I began last spring. I want to start with some of the pages devoted to Milton’s recollections of his childhood.

As discussed in earlier posts, Milton was the first-born child of Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler; he was born on May 22, 1861, in Philadelphia, where he lived for his entire childhood until marrying Sophie Hyman in 1899 and then moving to New York City. Milton’s mother Cecelia died when he was thirteen years old, and his father remarried two years later. Altogether, Milton had nine younger siblings—five full siblings and four half siblings.

The page depicted below, labeled “First Experiences—Random Shots,” describes some of Milton’s earliest memories—the cries of the patients of the dentist next door, the move to a new home when he was four years old, and the amusing story of how a veil covering his face as a baby combined with the moisture from his “pacifier” and caused his face to turn green. (You may have to click on the photos or zoom in on your screen to read these entries.)

As I read about using a cake-filled cloth to pacify a baby, I couldn’t help but think about the scary dentist next door who must have benefited from those sugar-filled pacifiers.

The final anecdote on this page requires some explanation. Milton talks about being insulted when he is caught eating cake by the family nurse, Maggie, and called a “Fresser.” In German, the verb “to eat” has two different versions. Human beings “essen,” and animals “fressen.” So Maggie was basically calling Milton an animal because of the way he was eating.

Milton shared several anecdotes involving his younger brother Edwin, who grew up to be a successful inventor, as I wrote about here. Edwin was the third oldest child in the family and three years younger than Milton.  You may recall that Edwin’s birth record indicated that he was a girl, a source of some amusement to his big brother Milton. Here is that record; he is the first entry on the page and yes, he was labeled a girl, obviously by mistake:

Despite the teasing, it appears that Milton and Edwin were quite close. Milton wrote about the theatrical performances he and his brother Edwin put on for the neighborhood children. It seems that even as a young boy, Milton had a creative imagination and a love of stories and theater.

Milton and Edwin were involved in several misadventures, as this page describes:

You can see in these anecdotes that Milton was very fond of his younger brother.

There is, however, evidence of more teasing in Milton’s third story about wanting to be a doctor and using a skeleton to scare his brother.

I found it interesting that Milton had at one time aspired to be a doctor. After all, the “other” Milton Goldsmith, his second cousin, did grow up to be a doctor. Given Milton’s success as an author, I doubt he had any regrets about not pursuing the medical profession. On the other hand, Milton’s interest in magic apparently stayed with him for the rest of his life, as reported in his obituary.

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, October 4, 1957, p.43.

These delightful recollections reveal another side to Milton—the fun-loving, innocent little boy who loved his family. Despite losing his mother at a young age, Milton obviously looked back on his childhood as a very happy time.

This is Part XV 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, Part XI, Part XII,  Part XIII and Part XIV at the links.

 


  1. See the links at the bottom of this post. 

Milton’s Family Album, Part XIV: Teasing His Little Brother

Having created pages about his grandparents, his parents, and himself, Milton Goldsmith turned to his siblings, starting with his brother Edwin.

Here is Edwin with his wife Jennie Friedberger:

And here is the biography that Milton wrote about Edwin:

A couple of observations about this biography:

First, I had to look up “caul” as I’d never heard of this before or the superstition associated with it, but this website confirmed what Milton said. A baby born with the amniotic sac on its head or even its whole body is said to have been born with a caul. Here’s a video showing such an occurrence:

 

As for Milton’s remarks about Edwin being registered as a girl at birth, I recalled that when I was researching Edwin, I saw on the Philadelphia birth index that he was identified as a girl. I assumed that that was just an indexing error, but apparently as Milton notes, Edwin was in fact registered as a girl at birth. Unfortunately, I cannot access the image of the actual birth record through FamilySearch; they are only viewable at a Family History Center, and I do not have easy access to one. If anyone lives near one and can retrieve it, please let me know.

I found Milton’s tone here that of the teasing older sibling as opposed to the serious, almost reverential tone of his other biographies. It is clear that Milton found it humorous that his little brother was registered as a girl.

But the remainder of this biography is obviously written with respect and admiration for his brother and all his accomplishments. This biography must have been written sometime after 1935 when Edwin retired, as mentioned in the essay, and before Edwin’s death on November 15, 1944, because Milton added that fact by the handwritten note above the biography. I think this also is a clue as to when Milton compiled the album—sometime between 1935 and 1944.

In another album I found this photograph of Edwin:

Edwin Goldsmith at 24

The only other article on this page is the obituary for Edwin’s wife Jennie Friedberger Goldsmith:

I won’t quote the entire obituary, but just this excerpt:

The death of Jennie Friedberger Goldsmith … after an illness of six weeks, brought sorrow to the family’s large circle of friends throughout the community. Mrs. Goldsmith, who was 67 years of age, was stricken with a heart ailment on June 5, while attending to some business matters at the offices of the Pennsylvania Company, and her condition became so serious that she was removed to the Jefferson Hospital.

…She was active in social and charitable work in Philadelphia and in Atlantic City….She possessed a wide circle of friends and was esteemed and beloved for her sterling qualities of heart and mind. Her abilities and energies were of an unusually high order. At her summer home in Longport as well as in her beautiful home in Philadelphia, she was a gracious hostess to her numerous friends for many years. Her passing is widely mourned….

The page following this contains a long article about Milton’s brother-in-law Felix Gerson, husband and widower of Emily Goldsmith and editor of The Jewish Exponent newspaper, on the occasion of his retirement. I won’t excerpt this one, but if you click on the image, you can zoom in and read it. I have already written about Felix elsewhere.

This is Part XIV 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, Part XI, Part XII and Part XIII at the links.

I will be taking a break for the next couple of weeks, so see you all in June! 

Milton’s Family Album, Part XIII: The Creative Talent of Milton Goldsmith Himself

Milton Goldsmith devoted the next three pages of his family album to himself and to his wife Sophie. The first page includes photographs and two biographies of Milton.

I wonder how they made this photograph of Milton taken from numerous angles—anyone know how they did this?

UPDATE! According to Ava Cohn, aka Sherlock Cohn the Photo Genealogist, these photographs were done with a folding mirror and were quite common. In fact, Ava shared another one as did another Facebook reader who saw my post.

I don’t know where this biography of Milton was published or when, though it was written no earlier than 1891 as it refers to the publication of his book, Rabbi and Priest, in that year. The biography also appears to have been written while he was still living and working in Philadelphia and before he moved to New York City and married Sophie Hyman in 1899. So it was written some time in the 1890s.

I would think that this photograph of Milton was taken about the same time as the publication of that biography, sometime in the 1890s when he was in his thirties:

This entry about him in Who’s Who was written many years later as it references some of his later publications, including his play, The Little Brother, which was published in 1918.

What I really love about this Who’s Who entry are the insights into Milton’s appearance and personality—that he had blue eyes, a fair complexion, and graying hair, that he was cheerful and optimistic, and that he was a moderate drinker and did not smoke. Most of the other biographical and professional information I had already gleaned from other sources. (There are a fair number of blog posts about Milton’s life and career, e.g., here, and here and here and here and here.)

Speaking of The Little Brother, the next page in Milton’s album is a copy of the program from a performance of that play in 1918:

I had previously written about this play and Tyrone Power’s starring role in it.

Finally, the third page compiled three reviews of a play (undated) in which Milton’s wife Sophie had an important role. The play, The Flight of the Duchess, by Henry Hanby Hay, was an adaptation of a “poetic romance” by Robert Browning and performed by the local Browning Society, a amateur group.

In the article on the left side of the page, the reviewer did not like either the play or the performers, but did praise Sophie’s acting, saying, “Mrs. Goldsmith’s reading of her lines was marked by a distinction and sense that had been welcomed in her associates….”

The second review, at the middle bottom of the page, was overall much kinder and also praised Sophie’s performance as “a striking piece of work.” And the third review, on the right side of the page, was more mixed, but again praised Sophie, saying that “The chief individual honors of performance fell to Mrs. Milton Goldsmith.”

These three pages about Milton and his wife Sophie are appropriate reminders of their many talents. Here is one final photograph of Milton, taken in 1941 when he was eighty years old:

This is Part XIII 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, Part XI and Part XII at the links.

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XI: Tributes to His Father Abraham

This is Part X of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so 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 and Part X at the links.

The next two pages in Milton Goldsmith’s family album focus on his father Abraham. The first of those two pages consists of newspaper articles about Abraham.

Unfortunately I do not know the actual papers from which these articles were clipped, but this obituary was dated within the week after Abraham’s death on January 27, 1902, in Philadelphia:

Abraham was certainly active in his community.  How he had the time while raising all those children and earning a living is bewildering.

The next article that appears on this page relates to a tribute paid to Abraham by United Hebrew Charities at the time of his death:

The next article must have been published while Abraham was still alive. It relates to a resolution adopted by United Hebrew Charities to honor Abraham at the time he resigned from his position as secretary of that organization. Unfortunately the clipping is not in good condition and some of the words are not legible.

The second page of Milton’s tributes to his father Abraham has some items that are more personal.

This biography appears on that page. Again, Milton did not indicate where or when this was published:

This note written by Abraham when his wife Cecelia died seems almost journalistic in tone except for the opening and the last sentence:

My dear Cecilia died on Nov 8th 1874 after a short illness.

She complained of not feeling well on Monday evening the 2nd [?] but did not get [?] sick until the 5th in the PM. 

She was buried on Thursday the 12th November 11 o’clk am at Mount Sinai Cemetery.

Peace to her asked.

To the left and under Abraham’s note about his wife’s death, there is a poem by Milton written sometime in the 1890s, long after his mother died:

I assume this poem was somehow inspired by Milton’s experience losing his mother when he was just thirteen.

Under the poem he pasted this note written by his father Abraham in 1877:

My son Milton left from New York for Europe on the City of Richmond on Saturday morning Sept [?] 11:25

I do wonder whether there is some connection between the poem and the note. Anyone have any ideas?

The remaining two notes are in German.  I turned to the German Genealogy group for help.

The first note is dated around the same time as the note about Milton’s trip to Europe, September 1877:

The members of the German Genealogy group transcribed this as follows, “Gott sei mit dir! Der liebe Gott behüte und beschütze dich und gebe dir seinen Segen. Amen”

And translated it as, “May God be with you! May the good God keep and protect you and give you His blessing. From your father, Abr(aham) Goldsmith.”

Alfred, Abraham’s first child with Francis, his second wife, was born on August 11, 1877, just 20 days before Abraham wrote this note. I assume this was a prayer for his newborn son. I wonder where it had been kept that Milton found it and preserved it for posterity.

And then finally there is this note:

This one was transcribed by a German Genealogy group member as, “Auf Alle deiner Wegen, bleib Tugendhaft und rein; dann wird der himmlische Segen, stets deine Begleiter sein. Dein Papa, Abr. Goldsmith”

That translates to, “In all your ways, remain virtuous and pure, then heavenly blessings will always be your companions. Your papa, Abr. Goldsmith.”

As this one is dated 1880, I think Abraham wrote this blessing for his daughter Alice, who was born on August 29, 1880.

I wonder whether Abraham wrote these notes of blessing for each of his many children and if so, why only these two have survived. And where did he keep them that Milton found them and preserved them so that they could be read on the internet almost 140 years later?

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part X: A Son’s Loving Tribute to His Mother

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

This is by far the sweetest and saddest page in Milton Goldsmith’s album, a page dedicated to his beloved mother, Cecelia Adler Goldsmith, who died in 1874 when Milton was thirteen years old:

It reads:

Our beloved Mother, who alas, passed away too early and whose death brought not only sorrow, but all kinds of misfortune.

She was the only child of Samuel and Sarah Adler, was born in Germany, but arrived in Philadelphia at the age of one year.  She grew to womanhood, a very beautiful girl;- rather short in stature, round in figure, a head of brown ringlets, – a belle among the Jewesses of her day and circle. She had many admirers.  Father proposed to her over a plate of ice-cream on “Simchas Torah”, a Jewish holiday.  It was in every way a “Love-match” which was only terminated at her death.  She died of peritonitis, which to-day would be called Apendicitis [sic]. A perfect wife, – a wonderful mother, – A woman whose children call her blessed.

She died Nov. 8th 1874, at the age of 35 years. I was 13 at the time of her death, the oldest of six children.

It’s interesting to read what Milton thought was the cause of his mother’s death, which conflicts with her death certificate. According to the death certificate, she died from apoplexia nervosa:

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-69HW-K75?cc=1320976&wc=9F52-L29%3A1073307201 : 16 May 2014), 004010206 > image 874 of 1214; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In the upper left corner, Milton inserted a piece of Cecelia’s wedding veil:

In the lower right corner, he inserted a piece of fabric from one of her ball gowns.

What a sweet and sentimental thing for a son to do. How devastated he and his father and siblings must have been when Cecelia died.

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part IX: The Missing Babies

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

After reading last week’s post about the birth records found in her grandfather’s family album and the speculation as to why only five of Abraham Goldsmith’s ten children were listed, my cousin Sue went back to the album and realized that she could remove the page with the birth records. On the back were not only birth records for Abraham’s other five children; there was also a sad entry for the death of his first wife Cecelia:

All of the birth entries again confirmed what I’d found in the official records, and once again Abraham entered not only the dates, but the times the babies were born.

For Estella, who often was referred to in records as Estelle, he introduced her as “our sixth baby.”

Then there is the heartbreaking entry for Cecelia:

My beloved wife Cecelia Goldsmith died on Sunday the 8th day of November 1874 at 6 o’clock PM after an illness of 6 days. Hebrew date [inserted in Hebrew]

May she rest in peace.

Abr.Goldsmith

Abraham’s signature here confirmed my hunch that he was the one who wrote all these entries (except the dates of death that occurred after his own death).

The next entry is for Alfred, who was Abraham’s first child with his second wife, Frances Spanier, But there is no break in the record to reflect that Alfred had a different mother from the first six children. He is introduced as “Our seventh boy” [emphasis added], despite the fact that he is the first child of Frances. You may notice that Alfred is the only one on this page who has a date of death.  That’s because those dates were entered by Milton, and the other four on this page—Estella, Bertha, Alice, and Louis—all outlived Milton.

Similarly Bertha is introduced as “Our Baby Bertha.” Then Abraham records the birth of “Baby Alice,” and finally the last child, Louis Seligman. At the end of the entry for Louis, Abraham wrote, “Louis Spanier his [?].”

Can anyone decipher what that says? From a later page in the album I learned who Louis Spanier was—Frances Spanier’s uncle—so Louis Goldsmith’s great-uncle. But that does not say “great-uncle” or “namesake” as far as I can tell.

And I got quite a kick out of the last word on this page: Finished. I don’t know whether Abraham wrote that to indicate the records were now completed or to emphasize that he was ready to be done having children after Number 10!

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part VIII: Birth Records

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

This record of the births of five of the children of Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler touched my heart.

I love the florid old script.  Who wrote these entries? Was it Abraham or Cecelia? I wasn’t sure at first, but I was reassured by this record that all the dates I had for the births (and deaths) of these five children were correct.  I loved that the writer added the time of birth, giving a personal touch to the facts.

For the first two entries, there are also Hebrew inscriptions. Thank you to Tracing the Tribe for helping me with these.  For Milton, it says “Mendel Goldsmith born 12 Sivan  5621.” Milton had mentioned on an earlier page that Mendel was his Hebrew name given to him in memory of his maternal grandfather.

The second entry is for Hildegard or Hilda, as she was called on the records I found. How sweet to see the formal name her parents gave her. Hilda died two months before her fourteenth birthday, as I wrote here and as noted on this record. Looking at this entry more carefully, I noted that whoever wrote the entry for her death had also written the entry for her birth.  It is the same handwriting.  And since her mother Cecelia had died in 1874, two years before Hilda died on June 7, 1876, that means that Abraham wrote this entry and all the other birth entries on this record.

No one on Tracing the Tribe was able to translate the Hebrew inscription for Hildegard except to say that it also states her birth date. Her Hebrew name was not legible. I guess Abraham’s Hebrew writing had deteriorated between Milton’s birth and Hilda’s. And the fact that he did not include any Hebrew for the next three children’s birth records may be a sign of his assimilation into secular American society.

It’s also interesting to see how Abraham introduced these entries.  Milton was “our boy.”  Hildegard was “our daughter.” Edwin has no descriptive introduction, nor does Emily, but Rosalinda is “our fourth baby.” (I also never knew that Rose was formally named Rosalinda—what a beautiful name!) I wonder whether Abraham wrote each of these at the time the baby was born or all at once. Since some of these have introductions and others do not, I think each was done separately when each baby was born.

For the last three entries—for Edwin, Rosalinda, and Emily—someone other than Abraham inscribed the information about their deaths. I assume Milton added this information as he outlived all three of those siblings. And there is no death date added to the entry made for Milton.

What is perhaps most perplexing about this page from Milton’s album is the absence of an entry for Abraham and Cecelia’s sixth child, Estelle. Estelle was born on January 20, 1870. Had Abraham lost interest in recording his children’s births by the time his sixth child was born? Or was there a second page that included Estelle (and perhaps Abraham’s four children with his second wife Frances Spanier) that somehow was lost and thus not included in Milton’s album?

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part VII: Abraham Goldsmith and Cecelia Adler Get Married

This is Part VII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI at the links.

On the page following the photographs of his parents Abraham and Cecelia, Milton included a letter written by his mother on November 5, 1857, which, according to Milton, was shortly before their engagement.

Reading this reminded me of what it was like before cheap phone calls and email made handwritten letters obsolete. When my husband and I were dating the year before our engagement, we also wrote letters back and forth. Of course, we were living several hundred miles apart (but still tried to see each other every weekend) whereas Abraham and Cecelia both were living in Philadelphia. But perhaps letters were the only places they had any ability to communicate privately.

Here is Cecelia’s letter:

Some words were cut off on the right margin and at the bottom, but I have tried to transcribe it as best I can and added some punctuation and capitalization for purposes of clarity. Cecelia was a few weeks short of her nineteenth birthday when she wrote this letter, and Abraham was twenty-five.

 

                                                                                                         Phil. Nov. 5th

Dear Ab,

The few lines you have written to me give me a great deal of pleasure, for informing me of your health & good night’s rest. I passed an excellent night as[?] my cold is a great deal better though I am rather hoarse yet.  My Dear, I forgot to give you Henrietta’s [?] shawl last night, but it will and[?] as well tonight. I would send over the boy with it, but I am afraid he can not find the place. I am obliged for sending me the book & will look through it as soon as possible. Come early this evening, if you can.

I remain yours forever,

                                                                                                         Cely

If you hear of any thing important & have time, write me a note this [?].

 

If anyone can read it any better than I did, please let me know.

Appropriately, Milton placed the invitation to his parents’ wedding on the page that followed:

Note that the invitation is dated January 1, 1858, for a wedding to take place on January 27, 1858—less than four weeks later. Today it seems that wedding invitations arrive at least two months in advance (often preceded by Save the Date cards). Also, the wedding was to take place at Cecelia’s parents’ home at 440 North Second Street in Philadelphia, not in a fancy catering hall or hotel or resort, as many are these days. Life was so much simpler back then.

But life was also so much harder. Cecelia died less than seventeen years later on November 8, 1874, from apoplexia nervosa, or a stroke. She was only 35 and left behind her husband Abraham and six children ranging in age from Estelle, who was four, to Milton, who was thirteen.