Cohens on the Beach: Another Case for Sherlock Cohn, The Photogenealogist

This photograph and the analysis of it will stick with me for a long time, probably forever. Why? Because it’s the last photograph that I asked my father about before he died in February, 2019.

A little background. A scan of that photograph and many others had been sent to me several years ago by a cousin-by-marriage named Lou; he and I were connected through my our mutual cousin, once removed, Marjorie Jane Cohen, the daughter of Bessie Craig, Lou’s great-aunt, and Stanley Cohen, my great-uncle.

In addition, in the summer of 2018 I connected with another Cohen cousin, Marcy, the granddaughter of Maurice Cohen, Sr., who was also my great-uncle, my grandfather John’s other brother. Marcy sent me several photographs including this one of Maurice, Sr., and his sons, Buddy and Junior, my father’s other first cousins.

Emanuel (Buddy), Maurice, Sr., and Maurice, Jr. (Junior) Cohen

Emanuel (Buddy), Maurice Sr., and Maurice Jr. Cohen

I already had the photographs below from Lou and used this one from Marcy to identify the people in these two. The bottom one was obviously Maurice Cohen, Sr., and looking at these two photographs with my father in the summer of 2018, we identified the woman as Maurice’s wife, Edna Mayer Cohen, the baby as their son Emanuel (Buddy) Cohen, born in 1922, and the little boy as their older son, Maurice Cohen, Jr., born in 1917.

Edna Mayer Cohen holding Buddy Cohen, 1922

Maurice Cohen Jr. and Maurice Cohen Sr., 1922

Based on these photographs, I could identify  the man kneeling in the right rear of the beach photograph as Maurice Sr. with his wife Edna sitting in front of him. Here are close-ups of the man and woman on the right side of the beach photograph; you can see they are the same people as the adults depicted in the three photos above:

It was also clear that the woman on the left side of the beach photo was Bessie Craig Cohen, Stanley Cohen’s wife, as you can see from these photos of Bessie that Lou had sent me from  Marjorie’s collection:

Stanley and Bessie (Craig) Cohen

Bessie Craig Cohen

Bessie Craig Cohen

Here is a closeup of the woman I believe is Bessie Craig Cohen in the beach photo:

But who who were the two children and the older woman in the center? And who was the man with the mustache in the rear left side of the photograph?

Although the back of the  beach photograph is dated 1923, I wondered if that was a mistake. I thought that perhaps the photo was really taken in 1933 because the girl in the middle resembled pictures I had of Marjorie when she was a girl:

 

Marjorie 1933

But Marjorie was born in 1925, meaning the photograph could not have been taken in 1923. I also speculated that the little boy could be my father, who was born in 1926. And perhaps the woman in the middle was Eva Seligman Cohen, my great-grandmother, Marjorie and my father’s paternal grandmother. I speculated that the photograph had been incorrectly dated 1923 when 1933 would have been more accurate.

So I showed the photograph to my father. He agreed with me about my identifications of Maurice, Sr., Edna, and Bessie. But he was adamant that the woman in the middle was not his grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen and that the little girl was not Marjorie. He pointed out that Marjorie did not have the high forehead of the little girl on the beach, as you can see above. He wasn’t as certain about the little boy since his face is partially hidden in the photograph. Nor could he identify the man with the mustache.

I knew this was another case for Ava “Sherlock” Cohn, who has done such outstanding work for me before. I recently received Ava’s report on the beach photograph, and once again she has done an incredibly thorough job of research and analysis and written a persuasive report on her conclusions. I wish my father was still alive because he would be so happy to read Ava’s report. She agreed with him that that is not Marjorie on the beach and that the woman is not my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, and my father loved to be right.

So who are these people? Thanks to Ava’s expert analysis, I believe I now have some of the answers. In order to explain, I will share, with Ava’s permission, some of her report.

First, Ava concluded that the photograph was correctly labeled as having been taken in 1923, not 1933 as I had hoped:

In order to properly date this photograph, it is important to look at the clothing of the beach-goers.

In general, the beachwear is appropriate for the time period of the early 1920s. The woman on the left side of the photograph (who has been identified as Bessie Craig, wife of Stanley Cohen) is wearing the most recognizable twenties bathing suit and swim cap. Below, left, is an example from around 1920 of a swim cap very similar to Bessie’s cap that covers her forehead to the eyebrows.  On the right is an example of a suit and cap from a 1919 advertisement for Tom Wye of Winchendon, Massachusetts, a knitting plant. Notice the white sash that is similar to the one on Bessie’s suit.

Likewise, the same type of white sash/belt can be seen on the man on the right in the back. Bessie’s dark stockings are a little old-fashioned for 1923 as stockings were generally worn pre-1923 when bare legs were the preference of style setters. The swimwear/streetwear worn by the others in the photograph is less revealing of the date but within the same time period of the early 1920s.

… Given all of the clothing/bathing suit styles being worn in the photograph, the date of the photograph is clearly closer to 1923 than to 1933 as Amy had speculated.

Once the photograph was dated in the early 1920s, it was clear that Marjorie and my father could not be the children in the photograph as they weren’t yet born.

Ava then estimated the ages and birth years of the people in the photograph:

 I am estimating the following age and approximate birth year (based on a 1923 photo date) of those in the photograph as follows:

    1. Woman seated in front—early to late 60s; birth year (approx.1854-1863)
    2. Young boy seated in front on the right—5-6 years old; birth year (1917-1918)
    3. Woman behind young boy—early 30s; birth year (1890-1891)
    4. Man kneeling on the right—early 30s; birth year (1890-1891)
    5. Young girl in middle—5-7 years old; birth year (1916-1918)
    6. Man kneeling on left—28-30; birth year (1893-1895)
    7. Woman seated on left (identified as Bessie Craig)—29 years old; birth year 1894

Based on these ages and birthdates and other photographs that I had shared with Ava as well as her own research, she made several possible identifications of the people in the photograph.

First, she concluded that the young boy was Maurice Cohen, Jr., the son of Maurice Sr. and Edna, who are right behind him in the photograph. Ava wrote;

Maurice’s eldest son, Maurice, Jr., was born in 1917 and would be age 6 in 1923. Though he resembles Amy’s father, John, Jr., (particularly his haircut) he has been identified in the photograph of Eva Seligman Cohen and Emanuel Cohen also taken in Atlantic City in 1922 as Maurice, Jr. (known as “Junior”) and, therefore, I believe the boy on the beach is Maurice, Jr.

Here is that 1922 photograph:

Emanuel Cohen, Eva Seligman Cohen, and Maurice Cohen Jr. 1922

Here is a closeup of the boy on the beach taken a year later:

As for the young girl, Ava’s hypothesis is that she is a niece of Bessie Craig Cohen, one of the two daughters of Bessie’s brother Christopher, Margaret or Mary Rita.  Ava located some photographs online of Christopher Craig’s daughters that show a resemblance. Margaret was born in 1918 and thus would have been about five in 1923 when the photograph was taken.

 

When I received Ava’s report, I contacted Lou, who is the son of one of those daughters and the nephew of the other.  He sent some additional photographs of his mother and aunt that support Ava’s conclusion that the girl in the photograph is Christopher Craig’s daughter. The girl in this 1934 photograph is Lou’s mother Mary Rita Craig. Note the resemblance to the girl on the beach, who was probably her older sister Margaret:

Mary Rita Craig, 1934

That brings me to the older woman in the center of the photograph. Ava agreed with my father that this woman was not his grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen. Ava based her conclusion on comparisons to other photographs of my great-grandmother Eva and noted the differences in their facial structure and appearance.

Eva Seligman Cohen

Then she considered other women in the extended family who might have been in the photograph. She narrowed the possibilities to Sarah Jane Tadley Craig, Bessie Craig Cohen’s mother, or Edna Mayer Cohen’s mother, Ella Stern Mayer. Ella was born in about 1860 (sources conflict), making her about 63 in 1923; Sarah was born in 1869, so would have been 54 in 1923.

Although Ava thought the woman on the beach appeared to be closer to 63 than 54 in age and also found some resemblances between that woman and Edna Mayer Cohen, she was not willing to rule out the possibility that the woman on the beach was Sarah Jane Tadley Craig.

In fact, when I sent Ava additional photographs of Marjorie, Sarah’s granddaughter, Ava was struck by the resemblance between the shape of Marjorie’s face, her chin in particular, and that of the woman on the beach. We hope to receive a photograph of Sarah Jane Tadley Craig from Lou that may make a final identification easier.

One other hint that that woman may be Sarah Craig came from an additional photograph Lou sent after receiving Ava’s report—a photograph that was obviously taken at the same time as the photograph we are analyzing:

Note that in this photograph Stanley has replaced the man with the mustache and only Stanley, Bessie, the young girl, and the older woman are in the photograph (with Edna in the background). After thinking about this, it occurred to me that this photograph was intended only to show the members of the Craig family: Bessie, her niece, and her mother, plus her husband, Stanley. Look how the older woman has her hand affectionaltely placed on Bessie’s leg, something a mother would do, but probably not the mother of a sister-in-law. That seems to corroborate the theory that the older woman was Sarah Craig, not Ella Mayer.

But who was the man with the mustache? How does he connect to the rest of this group? That is the subject of post to come at a later time. Ava and I were going back and forth, both of us somewhat uncertain about that one, so she suggested we get some distance from it and revisit “in a while.” So I am heeding her advice and will postpone that discussion after a break from staring at that man with the mustache over and over and over.

Jacob Goldsmith, The final chapter: What happened to his son Frank?

As of 1930, only six of Jacob Goldsmith’s fourteen children were still living: Annie, Celia, Frank, Rebecca, Florence, and Gertrude. As seen in my prior posts, Eva died in 1928. In addition, I have written about the deaths of Gertrude in 1937 and Rebecca in 1940. There remain therefore just four siblings to discuss, and by 1945, they were all deceased.

Annie and Celia, the two oldest remaining siblings, both died in 1933. Celia, who’d been living with her sister Florence and her family in 1930, died on January 15, 1933, in Denver, and was buried in Philadelphia on January 18, 1933. She was 73 years old.  Celia never married and has no living descendants.1

Her sister Annie died four months later, on May 29, 1933, in San Francisco.2 She was 77 and was survived by her three children, Josephine, Harry, and Fanny. Sadly, Harry did not outlive his mother by much more than a year. He died at 53 on August 4, 1934, in San Francisco.3 He was survived by his wife Rose, who died in 1969, and his two sisters, Josephine and Fanny. But Josephine also was not destined for a long life. She died less than three years after her brother Harry on April 23, 1937; she was 59. Like their father Augustus who’d died when he was fifty, Josephine and Harry were not blessed with longevity.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 05 March 2019), memorial page for Fannie Mendelsohn Frank (unknown–1 Sep 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100371723, citing Home of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Diane Reich (contributor 40197331) .

Of Augustus and Annie’s children, only Fanny lived a good long life. She was 93 when she died on September 1, 1974.4 According to her death notice in the San Francisco Chronicle, she had been a dealer in Oriental art objects.5 Like Josephine, Fanny had never married and had no children, nor did their brother Harry. Thus, there are no living descendants of Annie Goldsmith Frank.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 05 March 2019), memorial page for Fannie Mendelsohn Frank (unknown–1 Sep 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100371723, citing Home of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Diane Reich (contributor 40197331) .

The third remaining child of Jacob Goldsmith was Florence Goldsmith Emanuel. In 1930, Florence was living with her husband Jerry Emanuel in Denver as well as their nephew Bernard, the son of Gertrude Goldsmith and Jacob Emanuel, and Florence’s sister Celia. Jerry was working as a clerk in a wholesale tobacco business. In 1940, they were still living in Denver, now with Jerry’s sister Grace in their home, and Jerry was working as a salesman for a wholesale liquor business.6

Emanuel family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0137; FHL microfilm: 2339973
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Florence Goldsmith Emanuel died on August 4, 1942, at the age of 73. Her husband Jerry survived her by another seventeen years. He died on June 16, 1959, and is buried with Florence in Denver. He was 89. Florence and Jerry did not have children, so like so many of Florence’s siblings, there are no living descendants.7

That brings me to the last remaining child of Jacob Goldsmith and Fannie Silverman, their son Frank. In 1930, Frank and his wife Barbara were living in Atlantic City, and Frank was retired.8 On July 25, 1937, Barbara died in Philadelphia; she was 67. Like Frank’s parents and many of his siblings, she was buried at Mt Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia; in fact, she was buried in the same lot as Celia and Rachel Goldsmith and one lot over from her in-laws Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith.9

I mention this because for the longest time I was having no luck finding out when or where Frank Goldsmith died or was buried. In 1940, he was living as a widower in the Albemarle Hotel in Atlantic City, and the 1941 Atlantic City directory lists Frank as a resident.9 But after that he disappeared. I couldn’t find any obituaries or death records, but what really mystified me was that there was no record of his burial with his wife Barbara and his other family members at Mt Sinai cemetery.

I contacted Mt Sinai and learned that the plot that had been reserved for Frank is still unused. Barbara is buried with Frank’s sisters Celia and Rachel and one lot over from Frank’s parents. But Frank is not there. Here are two of the Mt Sinai burial records showing that Barbara and Celia are buried right near each other in lots owned by Frank.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,  Mt· Sinai Cemetery, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013

I also hired a researcher to search the New Jersey death certificates in Trenton (since they are not available online). She came up empty. So what had happened to Frank?

Well, once again Tracing the Tribe, the Jewish genealogy Facebook group, came to the rescue. I posted a question there and received many responses, most of them suggestions for things I’d already done. But one member,  Katherine Dailey Block, found a 1920 newspaper article that mentioned Frank that I had never seen:

“To Leave for Florida,” Harrisburg Telegraph, December 30, 1920, p. 4.

That raised the possibility that Frank might have spent time in Florida more than this one time. I had made the mistake of assuming that, having lived his whole life in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he must have died in one of those two states. Now I broadened the search to Florida. (Doing a fifty-state search was not helpful since the name Frank Goldsmith is quite common, and I had no way to figure out whether any of them was my Frank.) And this result came up:

Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VV91-P84 : 25 December 2014), Frank F. Goldsmith, 1945; from “Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” index, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : 2004); citing vol. 1148, certificate number 9912, Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, Jacksonville.

A Frank F. Goldsmith had died in Tampa, Florida in 1945. Could this be my Frank? Tampa is on the opposite coast from Jacksonville as well as much further south. That made me doubt whether this was the same Frank F. Goldsmith. But then I found this record from the 1945 Florida census; notice the second to last entry on the page:

Census Year: 1945, Locality: Precinct 2, County: Hillsborough, Page: 43, Line: 32
Archive Series #: S1371, Roll 20, Frank F. Goldsmith 65
Ancestry.com. Florida, State Census, 1867-1945

There was Frank F. Goldsmith, and when I saw that he was born in Pennsylvania, I was delighted, figuring that this could be my Frank. On the other hand, the census reported that this Frank was 65 years old in 1945 whereas my Frank would have been 82. But it seemed worth ordering a copy of the death certificate from the Florida vital records office to see if it contained information that would either confirm or disprove my hope that this was my cousin Frank.

Unfortunately, here is the death certificate:

As you can see, it has no information about this Frank F. Goldsmith’s wife, parents, birth place, occupation, or much of anything that would help me tie him to my Frank F. Goldsmith. In fact, the age and birth date on the certificate are inconsistent with my Frank Goldsmith, who was born in June 1863, according to the 1900 census, not June of 1878.

Despite these blanks and inconsistencies, my hunch is that this is my Frank. Why? Both Franks have a birth date in June. And on later census records, Frank’s estimated birth year based on his reported age moved later than 1863—1868 in 1910, 1876 in 1920, and 1870 in 1930 and 1940. He seemed to be getting younger as time went on. Maybe by 1945, he was giving a birth year of 1878. And by 1945 there was no one left to inform the hospital of his family’s names or his birth date or age so perhaps whoever completed the death certificate (looks like someone from the funeral home) was just guessing at his age and birth date.

In addition, there is no other Frank F. Goldsmith who fits the parameters of the Frank on the death certificate. Finally, this Frank was to be buried in the “Jew cemetery,” so we know that he was Jewish.

So what do you think? Is this enough to tie the Frank F. Goldsmith who died in Florida to my Frank F. Goldsmith? I know these are thin reeds upon which to make a case, but I think they may have to be enough.

In any event, like his sisters Rachel, Celia, Annie, Emma, Eva and Florence, and his brother Felix, Frank Goldsmith has no living descendants. In fact, it is quite remarkable how few living descendants Jacob Goldsmith and Fannie Silverman have, considering that they had had fourteen children. Five of those fourteen children did not have children of their own: Emma, Rachel, Celia, Frank, and Florence. Four of Jacob and Fannie’s children had no grandchildren: Annie had three children, but none of them had children. Eva had one son, Sidney, who did not have any children, and the same was true of Gertrude’s son Bernard and Felix’s two children Ethel and Clarence. From fourteen children, Jacob and Fannie had twenty grandchildren and only twelve great-grandchildren, and a number of those great-grandchildren also did not have children. From my count, there were only ten great-great-grandchildren. With each generation, instead of growing, the family became smaller.

But that is not the legacy of Jacob and Fannie Goldsmith. Rather, theirs is the remarkable story of two young German immigrants settling in western Pennsylvania and then Philadelphia, raising fourteen children who eventually spanned the continent. From all appearances, many of those fourteen children stayed close, both geographically and presumably emotionally. Many of them lived together, especially the daughters who spent years in Denver together. Like so many first-generation Americans, these fourteen children provided evidence to their parents that the risks they took leaving their home country behind and crossing the ocean were worthwhile. Yes, there was plenty of heartbreak along the way, but overall Jacob, Fannie, and their fourteen children lived comfortably and free from oppression.

 


  1. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 
  2. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 
  3. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 
  4.  Number: 562-66-4663; Issue State: California; Issue Date: 1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5. San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 1974, p. 35 
  6. Florence Emanuel, 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00490; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 16-221B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  8. Frank Goldsmith, 1930 US census, Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 2341043, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,  Mt· Sinai Cemetery, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 

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 

Elkton, Maryland, The Wedding Capital of the East

As seen in my last post, in 1920 Edwin M. Goldsmith, Sr., was the secretary-treasurer of his uncle’s textile company, Friedberger-Aaron, and also the owner of thirteen US patents. He and his wife Jennie and their two sons, Henry and Edwin, Jr., were living together in Philadelphia. They also maintained a residence in Longport, New Jersey, near Atlantic City. Their daughter Cecile and her husband Julian Stern Simsohn and their two children were also living in Philadelphia, and Julian was working as a chemical engineer. Cecile and Julian had a third child, a daughter named Marjorie Goldsmith Simsohn, born on August 12, 1921, in Philadelphia.1

Edwin continued to be a successful inventor during the 1920s. He added six more patents to his portfolio between 1921 and 1930. His first was for the design for a stuffed doll encased in a removable cover so that it could be washed:2

In addition to patenting several inventions relating to the packaging, display, and sale of the textile fabrics made by Friedberger-Aaron where Edwin continued to work as secretary-treasurer, he also developed an invention for a hair curler “which may be operated to receive, confine and release the hair with the greatest possible facility”3  and a product that combined soap and towel into one article.4 The latter was described by Edwin as follows:

… a sheet of readily destructible material, such as paper tissue, of a size and having absorptive qualities enabling it to be used as a towel, the sheet being folded into flat form, and means connected to the sheet and forming a closed container or receptacle containing a quantity of soap, preferably in powder form.

During the 1920s, Edwin also held elective offices in Longport, New Jersey, where his second home was located:

Asbury Park Press, May 9, 1928, p. 2.

Edwin and Jennie’s son-in-law Julian Simsohn was very active as a chemical engineer in Philadelphia during the 1920s, as seen in numerous ads for his services in not just the Philadelphia newspapers but also papers in Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and  during those years. Here are two, one from the Philadelphia Evening Ledger and one I particularly liked which appeared in the Indianapolis Star:

Philadelphia Evening Ledger, September 20, 1928, p. 13.

Indianapolis Star, November 30, 1930, p. 25.

Here is a close up of the section in the cigar featuring Julian Simsohn:

 

Edwin and Jennie’s older son Henry, also a chemical engineer, had been working for a radiator manufacturer in 1920, and he continued to be listed with that company, G & O Mfg., in the 1921 and 1922 Philadelphia directories.5

I knew from the 1930 census that Henry married sometime before 1930, but I could not locate any record or other information about when he’d married until I found this list in the August 16, 1925 Philadelphia Inquirer of marriage licenses issued in one day in Elkton, Maryland:

“Elkton Marriages,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 16, 1925, p. 8.

Notice that it includes Henry F. Goldsmith and Ida P. Stryker of Longport, New Jersey, the town where Edwin’s family spent their summers. But why were so many people getting marriage licenses in one day from Elkton, Maryland? What was going on?

Well, according to this article by Marshall S. Berdan from the February 13, 2002 edition of the Washington Post, from about 1913 until 1938, Elkton, Maryland was a destination for those wishing to marry quickly. As the article explains:

It all started in 1913 when Delaware passed mandatory matrimonial waiting and public notification laws. Meanwhile Maryland — the “Free State” — imposed neither waiting period nor residency requirement. Those Delaware moralists should have just put up a sign reading “This Way to Elkton.”

As the most northeasterly county seat in Maryland, Elkton became the roadside chapel of choice for those who chose to marry in haste from throughout the Northeast. From just over 100 marriages per year at the turn of the century, tiny Elkton was soon cranking out well over 10,000 newlyweds a year — the vast majority from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — during the 1920s and ’30s. It became known as “America’s Gretna Green.”

This blog also sheds light on why Elkton became a wedding destination.

But why would Henry Goldsmith and Ida Stryker have been in such a rush to marry and in a place like Elkton?

Well, I have two theories.  First, Ida Stryker was born in Philadelphia on February 26, 1908.6 She was only seventeen in August 1925; Henry, who was born in 1893, was 32, almost twice her age. I can’t imagine that her parents would have been happy to see their teenage daughter marry a man in his thirties.

Second, Ida was not Jewish.  Her parents, George Holmes Stryker and Ella Williams, were Episcopalian.7  Perhaps her parents or Henry’s parents did not approve of the interfaith marriage. But Henry and Ida did marry, and in fact they stayed married until Henry’s death in 1963.  Ida, who lived to be 96, never remarried.

In 1930, Henry and Ida were living in Philadelphia, and Henry was working as an executive in a textile company—and I believe that company was Friedberger-Aaron. It is unnamed on the census,8 and the page where the Goldsmiths are listed in the 1930 Philadelphia directory on Ancestry is barely legible, but on the page with Goldsmiths listed, I can see two entries with Friedberger-Aaron after the names, so I assume those are the listings for Edwin and Henry Goldsmith.9 Perhaps that meant that at least Henry’s family was on good terms with Henry and Ida. Henry and Ida had one child together, a son Thomas Holmes Goldsmith, born in 1931.

Henry’s sister Cecile and her husband Julian Simsohn continued to live in Philadelphia with their three children in 1930, and Julian continued to work as an engineer.10

Edwin and Jennie’s youngest child, Edwin M. Goldsmith, Jr., was just coming of age in the 1920s.  He had graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia and then graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1923 with a degree in industrial engineering. 11 On the 1930 census he was living with his parents Edwin, Sr., and Jennie, in Longport, New Jersey,  and according to the census record, he was a radio salesman. His father continued to list textile manufacturing as his occupation.12

The 1920s were thus a good decade for the family of Edwin and Jennie Goldsmith. Their children were grown, and Edwin continued to find success with his inventions. The 1930s brought some changes to the family of Edwin Goldsmith, some happy, some sad.

 


  1.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007. SSN 169164752 
  2. E.M. Goldsmith, Doll, U.S. Patent No. 1,370,107, March 1, 1921. 
  3. E.M. Goldsmith, Hair Curler, U.S. Patent No. 1,493,195, May 6, 1924. 
  4. E.M. Goldsmith, Individual Washing and Drying Toilet Article, U.S. Patent No. 1,608,934, November 30, 1926 
  5.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1921, 1922. Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6.  Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1910 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1910. Series 11.89 (50 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Certificate No. 30149 
  7. Marriage record of George Stryker and Ella Williams, November 19, 1903, Philadelphia, PA.  Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Reel: 343. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 
  8. Henry and Ida Goldsmith, 1930 US census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 1029.
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. 
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1930. Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Cecile and Julian Simsohn, 1930 US Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 12A;Enumeration District: 1030. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  11.  Philadelphia Inquirer, obituary for EDWIN GOLDSMITH, RETIRED ENGINEER, (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/0FBAE6E80E61F93B-0FBAE6E80E61F93B : accessed 25 March 2018). 
  12. Edwin Goldsmith, Sr., and family, 1930 US Census, Longport, Atlantic, New Jersey; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0056. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 

Who was Sarah Goldfarb? The Plot Thickens

My search for answers as to how Sarah Goldfarb was related to my grandmother’s family had thus far led me to conflicting evidence.  Three of her children had listed her birth name as a version of Brotman on their marriage records, and the death record of her daughter Gussie also listed Sarah’s birth name as Brotman. Brotman, of course, was my great-grandfather Joseph’s surname.

katz-gussie-death

Two records, however, indicated that her birth name might have been Brod.  The birth record of her daughter Rosie in 1902 indicated that her birth name was something different—Braud, which appeared to be a phonetic equivalent to Brod. Brod or Brot was what I believed was the birth name of my great-grandmother Bessie.  And the marriage record of Sarah’s son Morris in 1919 reported Sarah’s birth name to have been Brod.

goldfarb-grinbaum-marriage-page-1

So was Sarah a sister of Joseph or a sister of Bessie? Since she had named one child Bessie and one Joseph, the naming patterns weren’t helpful and were in fact bewildering.  Was neither Joseph nor Bessie her sibling?

And their residences in the US also presented confusing evidence.  Sarah first had lived near the Brotmans, who settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey; then she and Sam had moved across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie after Joseph Brotman died in 1901.  Had Sarah moved to help her sister? Or her sister-in-law? Nothing was definitive.

As I indicated in my last post, a great-grandchild of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb, my cousin Sue, sent me extensive family history notes that someone in her extended family had compiled back in the 1980s.  I will refer to these materials as the “Goldfarb family research.” There were no original documents in these papers, but rather handwritten charts and notes that someone had recorded based on the research he or she had done.

I scoured those notes looking for additional clues.  Most of the information about Sam and Sarah Goldfarb confirmed what I’d already found.  There was also a lot of information about Sam Goldfarb’s siblings and their families and descendants.  Although these were not my genetic relatives, I nevertheless added them to my family tree and looked at the notes carefully, thinking that this information might also lead me to clues about my own relatives. Most importantly, the genealogist who compiled the Goldfarb family research agreed with my conclusion that the Sam and Sarah had come from Grebow, Poland, the same town I had visited in 2015 and the town that my great-uncles David and Abraham Brotman had listed as their home on their ship manifest in 1889.  That was reassuring.

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889 Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13156

Perhaps the most useful part of the Goldfarb family research were the notes that reflected more recent marriages and births and deaths than I had yet located and the names of descendants and their spouses. For example, although I had been able to find information that indicated that Joseph Goldfarb, Sam and Sarah’s fifth child, had married a woman named Rebecca “Betty” Amer, I did not know when or where they had married. According to the Goldfarb family research, Joe and Betty had married on September 17, 1922, in Brooklyn.  But I cannot find any entry in the NYC marriage index on either Ancestry or FamilySearch or through Steve Morse’s website to confirm that.

Since their first child Marvin was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1923, I thought that perhaps Joe and Betty had married in New Jersey, not Brooklyn.  I asked my researcher in New Jersey whether she could find a marriage record for them in New Jersey, but after a diligent search, she was unable to find a marriage record there either. Perhaps Joe and Betty never filed a marriage certificate?

Meanwhile, I continued searching for the Goldfarbs going forward from 1920 where I’d left off.  In 1925, Sam and Sarah were still living on Williams Avenue in Brooklyn with their daughter Rose, who was now 22.  Sam (listed here as Solomon) was no longer working.  Living at the same address were Sam and Sarah’s son Morris and his family; Morris was a grocery store owner.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

In 1925, Julius and Ida Goldfarb were living in Jersey City, according to the Jersey City directory for that year.  Listed right above Julius is a Joseph Goldfarb, and listed right below him is a Leo Goldfarb.  Although I could not be sure, I assumed that these were Julius’ brothers Joe and Leo (especially since Leo was not living with his parents in Brooklyn according to the 1925 NY census).

Jersey City directory 1925 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

Jersey City directory 1925
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

That was then confirmed when I searched for their sister Bessie (Goldfarb) and her husband Meyer Malzberg.  I had not been able to find them on the 1920 US census nor on the 1925 NY census, but when I saw that their child Burton was born in 1923 in Jersey City, I decided to check that 1925 Jersey City directory for the Malzberg family.  Sure enough, there they were living at 247 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, the same address listed for Leo Goldfarb.  So in 1925, four of Sam and Sarah’s six surviving children were living in Jersey City; only Rose and Morris were still living in Brooklyn.

1925 Jersey City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

1925 Jersey City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Then on October 4, 1926, Sam (Solomon) Goldfarb died at age seventy.  I ordered a copy of his death certificate:

goldfarb-samuel-death-page-1

Sam had died from heart disease.  His father’s name was Julius; obviously, Sam and Sarah had named their firstborn son for Sam’s father.

But the one item that made me stop when I obtained this record was Sam’s birthplace: “Tarnobjek, Austria.”  I knew this must have been Tarnobrzeg—the very town I had visited in 2015, the place also known as Dzikow, the place I had long assumed was the home of my great-grandparents, Bessie Brod and Joseph Brotman, and that is only a few miles from Grebow.  Here was one more piece of the puzzle helping me corroborate that Tarnobrzeg and its immediate environs was where my great-grandparents had lived before emigrating from Galicia.

After Sam died, Sarah continued to live on Williams Avenue with her daughter Rose, and by 1930 her son Leo had moved back there as well.  He was working as real estate salesman. Morris was also still living on Williams Avenue, though now in a different building down the block; he was still the owner of a grocery store.

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1493; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; Image: 15.0; FHL microfilm: 2341228

Julius and Joe Goldfarb and their families were still living in Jersey City in 1930; Julius was the owner of a real estate business, and Joe was working as a salesman for a biscuit company.  Bessie was also living in New Jersey in North Bergen where her husband Meyer Malzberg owned a delicatessen.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45 Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: North Bergen, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1358; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0351; Image: 859.0; FHL microfilm: 2341093

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1355; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0152; Image: 753.0; FHL microfilm: 2341090

Sarah Goldfarb, like her husband Sam, died when she was seventy years old; she died on July 2, 1937.  Her death certificate was the most important and the most revealing of all the vital records I ordered for the Goldfarb family:

goldfarb-sarah-death-page-1 goldfarb-sarah-death-page-2-resized

Her son Joseph, the informant on the death certificate, reported that Sarah, who died from hypertension complicated by diabetes, was the daughter of Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz. I stared at this record for many minutes.  This was a huge revelation.

Joseph is the same name listed on my great-grandmother Bessie’s death certificate as the name of her father.  That certificate had named her mother as Bessie Broat, but I was and remain convinced that the informant, Bessie’s bereaved second husband Philip Moskowitz, was confused and thought he’d been asked for Bessie’s maiden name, not her mother’s maiden name.  Notice also that Bessie, like Sarah, suffered from diabetes.

Bessie was Joseph's second wife and mother of five children

Bessie Brotman Moskowitz

In addition, on Bessie’s marriage certificate from her marriage to Philip, she had given her father’s name as Josef Brotman and her mother’s as Gitel Brotman.

bessie philip marriage certificate

Things were starting to make more sense—to some degree.  It was starting to look like Sarah Goldfarb was my great-grandmother’s sister, not my great-grandfather’s sister.  Sarah and Bessie both had parents named Joseph and Gittel.  They both had suffered from diabetes. They both had daughters named Gussie or Gittel.

The naming patterns are fascinating.  In Eastern Europe, Ashkenazi Jews followed certain traditions in naming their children.  First, a child was to be named for a deceased relative, not a living relative.  Second, although there were no strict rules, generally children were named for the closest deceased relative—a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, and so on.

Sam and Sarah named their first son Julius for Sam’s father; their second son Morris was not named for Sarah’s father Joseph, suggesting that Joseph Brod was still alive when Morris was born.  But when her third son was born in 1897, she did name him Joseph, presumably for her father, who must have by that time died. That would mean that my presumed great-great-grandfather Joseph Brod died between 1886 and 1897.

The same rules would generally apply to the naming of daughters. Sam and Sarah named their first daughter Gittel, presumably for Sarah and Bessie’s mother Gittel Schwartz Brod.  Gittel (Gussie) Goldfarb was born in 1890, suggesting that Sarah and Bessie’s mother was deceased by then. My great-grandmother Bessie named her first daughter Tillie in 1884, which might indicate that her mother Gittel was still alive.  But when she had my grandmother in 1895, her second daughter, she named her Gittel, presumably for her mother. Thus, Gittel Schwartz, my presumed great-great-grandmother, must have died between 1884 when Tillie was born and 1890 when Gittel Goldfarb was born.

So at first I thought I had solved the mystery and thought that Sarah had to have been Bessie’s sister.  But then things started getting murky again.  Why did some records refer to Sarah’s birth name as Brotman, some as Brod? Why did records sometimes refer to Bessie’s birth name as Brot or Brod, sometimes as Brotman? What the heck did this all mean? Were these really two versions of the same name?

And then I recalled that the ship manifest that I had assumed was possibly the one listing my great-grandfather used the name Yossel Brod.  I wasn’t sure this was in fact my great-grandfather, but if it was, why was he using the name Brod, not Brotman?

Joseph Brotman ship manifest

Yossel Brod on ship manifest Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13155

I know that family lore says that my great-grandparents, Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod, were cousins.  I know also that sometimes children in Eastern Europe used their mother’s names as surnames, not their father’s names.  Could Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather, have been the son of a woman named Brod who was a sibling of the Joseph Brod who fathered Sarah and Bessie? Or was it the other way around? I have no record for Joseph Brotman’s mother’s name aside from the reference on his death certificate to “Yetta.” Moses Brotman’s death certificate lists his mother as Sadie Burstein.  Neither helps me here at all. And I’ve no idea how accurate either is anyway.

Unfortunately, the Goldfarb family research papers did not shed any further light on this question either, but merely contained the same information I’d found on the actual records about Sam and Sarah.

What am I to make of this? I have asked one of the Goldfarb descendants to take a DNA test, but given my experiences with DNA testing, I don’t hold out hope for much clarity from the results. But it’s worth a try.  If anyone else has any ideas or reactions, please let me know your thoughts.

The big question remains: was Sarah Brot(man) Goldfarb a sibling of my great-grandmother Bessie? Or a sibling of my great-grandfather Joseph? What do you think?

And perhaps even more importantly, are Brod/Brot/Brodman/Brothman/Brotman all really the same surname?

But the story continues when I turned to the question of … who was Taube Hecht? And it gets even better.

 

 

 

Update: Baby Rose Schoenthal—Did She Ever Exist? Do I Stop Looking for Her?

I need your advice.  I’ve hit a brick wall, and this time, I am not sure I should try and go further.  Please let me know what you think.

Some of you may recall the mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and his wife Florence who appeared on the 1930 census in Atlantic City as their fifteen month old child, but then disappeared.  She was not on the 1940 census; there was no death record for her in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and she was not buried with Jacob and Florence or with her grandparents.  She was not named as a survivor in Jacob’s will.

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

I was left concluding that either she had been adopted and thus had taken on a new name or had never even existed.  I haven’t yet tried searching for adoption records because it does not appear that I have legal standing to do that, given that I am not Rose, her child, her parents, or any other close relative. I also am not sure where I should search: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or any of the other states in the country where a child might have been adopted. And even more to the point, petitions to unseal adoption records are intended to reveal the birth name of an adoptee.  I can’t find any way to search for records of a birth child who was adopted if I don’t know the adoptive name.

I did, however, request a search of New Jersey’s birth records for 1928 and 1929, hoping that a birth certificate for a Rose Schoenthal would appear.  I now have received the report back from New Jersey, and they had no birth certificate for a Rose Schoenthal born between January 1, 1928, and December 31, 1929.  What does that mean? Well, it means either Rose was never born and the census report is just wrong.  Or it means she was adopted and the birth certificate was changed to her adoptive name.

Which seems more likely? Since the census record is so specific—says she was 1 and 3/12, born in New Jersey, and gives her full name, Rose Maxine Schoenthal—I am inclined to think it was accurate (unless Jacob and Florence had an imaginary child a la Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

So that brings me back to the adoption possibility.  Now I need to figure out how to search for an adoption when you know the birth name but not the adoptive name.  I also have to consider whether I should try to find an adoption record. Rose could very well still be alive; she’d only be 86 or so.  It feels inappropriate for me to invade her privacy, if she is in fact alive.  I am inclined to let this one go.

What do you think? Should I leave well enough alone? Or should I pursue this further?

Blog Update: The Mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal of Atlantic City

Before I move on from the Schoenthal family line, I have a few updates to write about, including some newly discovered cousins and some wonderful photos.  But first an update to one mystery.   Unfortunately an update but not a solution.

Remember the mystery of Baby Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and Florence Truempy? She had appeared on the 1930 census as a fifteen month old child living with her parents in Atlantic City.

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: 1308; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 129.0; FHL microfilm: 2341043

Then she disappears.  She does not appear on the 1940 census with her parents or elsewhere as far as I can tell, and there is no death record for her in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania, no obituary for her, no news articles that mention her.  Nothing at all.

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 1-9

Jacob Schoenthal and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 1-9

And she wasn’t buried with her parents.  Nor was she buried with her grandparents.  She just seemed to disappear.

Many people gave me suggestions on where else to look.  Some people thought Rose had been given up for adoption or sent to live elsewhere or institutionalized.  Others thought she was just omitted from the 1940 census and that she might have married and changed her name sometime later.  But I haven’t found any records with her birth name or her parents’ names to link her to a different name, whether she was adopted, institutionalized, or married.

Someone suggested I see if Rose was mentioned in Florence or Jacob’s will or obituary.  I wrote to the Atlantic City public library and asked them to do an obituary search.  Neither obituary mentioned a child.

Atlantic CIty Press July 5, 1967 p 5

Atlantic CIty Press July 5, 1967 p 5

 

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

Atlantic City Press February 18, 1976 p 16

 

Then I searched the online land records for Atlantic County, and found a record for a May, 1976 transfer of land owned by Jacob Schoenthal.  The transfer had been handled by the executrix of Jacob’s estate, who was not his daughter Rose, but his sister, Hettie Schoenthal Stein.   That meant that Jacob had had a will.

 

Deed of Jacob Schoenthal s land in Atlantic City-page-001

 

Deed of Jacob Schoenthal s land in Atlantic City-page-002

Transfer of Deed of Land Belonging to Jacob Schoenthal

 

 

I decided to request a copy of his will from the Atlantic County Surrogate’s Court.  That will, seen below though not easily read as reproduced, named the following people as his heirs at law and next of kin: his sister Hettie Schoenthal Stein, his sister Estella Schoenthal Klein, and his brother Sidney Schoenthal.  According to the will, there were no other surviving heirs or next of kin.  There was no mention of Rose or any other child.  (All of Jacob’s other siblings and his wife Florence had already died as of the time of his death in February, 1976.)

Jacob Schoenthal will Jacob will p 2

jacob will p 3

jacob will 4

 

Thus, Jacob’s daughter Rose either was no longer alive at the time of his death or she had been given up for adoption and thus was no longer his legal kin.  Unfortunately, I don’t know which is the case.  Next step is to check for adoption records.  I’ve contacted the appropriate office and am waiting to see if I am even eligible to request such records.  I frankly think it’s a real long shot, and I think this will remain one of those unsolved mysteries.

But I remain open to other suggestions.

 

Hettie’s Spirit Lives On: Her Children Walter and Blanche

In my last two posts about Hettie Schoenthal, I was very fortunate because Hettie and her son Walter had written down their own memories and stories, making their lives so much more vivid and authentic than I could have ever done myself.  The wonderful photographs that their family provided also helped me tell the story of Hettie Schoenthal, her husband Henry Stein, and their two children, Walter and Blanche.

Hettie Schoenthal, 1906 Courtesy of her family

Hettie Schoenthal, 1906
Courtesy of her family

It was a reminder of how important it is for all of us to write about our own lives and to take and preserve photographs so that someday our descendants will benefit from these shared words.  My newly discovered cousin Sharon Lippincott, daughter-in-law of Blanche Stein Lippincott, writes  about the art of writing memoirs at her blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, and has also published books on that subject.

In this post, I hope to convey how Hettie’s optimistic and energetic personality left its mark on her two children, both of whom also lived long and happy lives and were well-loved by many.  All photos are courtesy of their family.

Hettie and Henry had moved east from Arizona to Philadelphia in 1924, and a few years later their son Walter left home and moved to Atlantic City to work in his aunt’s hotel there, as seen on the 1930 census.  Walter remained in the Atlantic City area for the rest of his life, working in a restaurant and as a salesman over the years.  He married Ruth Levaur in 1938, and they had one daughter.

His sister Blanche also married in the 1930s, marrying Ezra Parvin Lippincott in 1937.  Ezra was a New Jersey native and a graduate of Rutgers University, and he worked as a banker and in the insurance business. They lived in New Jersey and had two children, a son and a daughter.  Sadly, Ezra died in 1969, leaving Blanche as a widow at only 57.

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1938

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1938

 

Blanche Stein Lippincott 1962

Blanche Stein Lippincott 1962

 

I don’t have a lot of “official” records about Walter or Blanche after 1940, but I don’t need them to convey the character and personality of these two people. Other people have already written about them both.

Both Walter and Blanche must have inherited their mother’s gene for longevity.  Walter died in 2007 at age 96, and Blanche died in 2013 when she was 101 years old.

Walter Stein in Atlantic City, 1987 courtesy of the family

Walter Stein in Atlantic City, 1987
courtesy of the family

Walter’s obituary from the Press of Atlantic City gives a vivid portrait of the man who spent his childhood with burros and snakes in Ray, Arizona:

Walter was born in Tucson, Territory of Arizona on October 9, 1910. He was recognized as a pioneer. He spent his childhood in Ray, Arizona in a mining camp and took pleasure in saying that his boyhood was what every boy dreams of. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1923, where Walter graduated from high school. In 1929 he went to Atlantic City for a vacation and never left the area except for four years. He met and married Ruth Levaur in 1938. They recently celebrated their 68th anniversary.

Walter was a fine fisherman, a championship bowler and a prize-winning marksman. He served on many boards, but his favorite was the 23 years he served on the Board of Friends of the (PAC) Performing Arts Center of Stockton College. Walter had a deep love of the theater. Some of his happiest moments were spent with Ruth and friends at the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Ballet, the theater and museums. He was Vice President of Atlantic Beverage for 35 years. ….

Walter was loved and respected by all who knew him. His sense of humor, his positive spirit and generous nature placed him in a class by himself. He was often referred to as a man of all seasons, and he truly was.

 

Walter and Ruth Stein, 2002 at Blanche's 90th birthday celebration

Walter and Ruth Stein, 2002 at Blanche’s 90th birthday celebration

 

Blanche also seems to have inherited her mother’s optimistic and adventurous spirit; her daughter-in-law Sharon wrote this about her on her blog on the occasion of Blanche’s 100th birthday:

Blanche was born 100 years ago in Tucson, in the newly admitted state of Arizona. Her family soon moved to Ray, Arizona, a now deserted copper mining community, where they lived until she was about twelve. When the copper industry declined, her parents, along with a few aunts and uncles, decided to move back to Philadelphia.  ….

If you asked her, she’d tell you she has had a rather ordinary life, and so it may seem to some. She’s never done anything truly flamboyant. She hasn’t set records, started a business, or written a best-seller. But she has tackled life with gusto, always open to new adventures and experiences. ….

Perhaps her  most important attribute is her devotion to family, friends and community. ….  No family member or friend ever has to ask for help – things are taken care of, often before the need is recognized. She always has something good to say about anyone she speaks of, and she excels at showing gratitude and appreciation. …

I could not ask for a sweeter, more supportive and helpful mother-in-law, nor is anyone prouder than she of her two children and their spouses, her five grandchildren and their spouses, and her six great-grandchildren. She is the most optimistic person I know, and should I live to be 100, I hope I’ll be as vital and involved as she continues to be.

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1984

Blanche Stein Lippincott, 1984

 

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

Blanche Stein Lippincott with her great-granddaughter 1996

You can read the rest of Sharon’s tribute to her mother-in-law Blanche at her blog here. 

I feel very privileged to be even distantly related to Hettie and her children, who were, respectively, my first cousin, twice removed (my grandmother’s first cousin) and my second cousins, once removed (my father’s second cousins).  It’s just too bad that I missed the opportunity to know them in person, given how long and how close by they all lived.

Blanche and Walter, August 9, 2006 courtesy of the family

Blanche and Walter, August 9, 2006
courtesy of the family

 

Blanche, Hettie, and Walter Stein

Blanche, Hettie, and Walter Stein

This post completes my research of the family of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach and their many children.  This has been a line of the family that has been a joy to research.  Although there were a few sad stories, this was a family of people who lived long lives and seemed to enjoy those lives.   They stayed close to one another even though at times they were separated by long distances.  And most of them spent much of their lives close to their childhood hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey, once called the World’s Playground.

Unfortunately, the next chapter—the story of Simon’s brother Jakob and his family—is not as joyful.

 

 

Where Did Baby Rose Go?

Although there are a number of unresolved matters in this post, the big question left is — what happened to little Rose Schoenthal, the daughter of Jacob Schoenthal and Florence Truempy?  Maybe you can help me.

Having now worked through the first five children of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach (Harry, Gertrude, Louis, Maurice, and Martin), it’s clear that Atlantic City had a strong hold on the family.  Although Simon had first settled in Pittsburgh and he and Rose had married there and had their first three children there, they had left for Philadelphia by 1880 and then around 1892 for Atlantic City.  Atlantic City is where they stayed.

Their oldest child Harry[1] lived there for most of his adult life after spending about ten years in Philadelphia between 1910 and 1920.  Gertrude and Martin also left and returned, Gertrude after about 20 years in Arizona, Martin after about ten years in Chicago.  Only Maurice and Louis of the siblings I’ve covered so far moved away from Atlantic City permanently.  Louis moved to California and never returned.  Maurice moved to the Midwest in about 1910 where he met and married his wife Blanche, a Missouri native.  Maurice and Blanche lived almost all of their married life in Chicago.

Of the four remaining children of Simon and Rose—Jacob, Hettie, Estelle, and Sidney—two were Atlantic City “lifers” —Jacob and Estelle.   Jacob was born in 1883 in Philadelphia; Estelle was born in Philadelphia in 1889. They were both children when the family moved to Atlantic City.  In 1900 when he was seventeen, Jacob was working in the laundry business with his brother Martin and living with his parents and siblings.

Jacob Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Jacob Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Here is a photograph of Estelle, on the right, taken with her sister Hettie in 1906.

Hettie Schoenthal and Estelle Schoenthal, 1906 courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Hettie Schoenthal and Estelle Schoenthal, 1906
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

 

In 1910, Jacob and Estelle were both still living at home; their father had died in 1904, and they were living with their mother and their younger brother Sidney.  Jacob and Martin were still working in the family laundry business.  In 1911 Sidney joined them in that endeavor, called Incomparable Laundry.

Incomparable Laundry Schoenthals brothers 1911 Atlantic City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Incomparable Laundry
Schoenthal brothers 1911 Atlantic City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Their sister Hettie later wrote about the family laundry business:

When we moved to Atlantic City my father went into business. He had a stationery store. Next door was a cigar store and laundry office. The laundry was called the Incomparable Laundry. We had a branch of it. Two of my brothers had a big laundry wagon with big hampers to put the bundles. They’d pick it up on Monday and take it to Philadelphia, then deliver it on Friday. Some people brought their own bundles. Nobody had washing machines then. They had washboards and tin tubs for doing laundry at home.[2]

But in 1912 and in 1913, only Jacob was listed in the Atlantic City directories in connection with Incomparable Laundry.  Martin and Sidney had left Atlantic City, and the only Schoenthals listed in the directories for those two years were Jacob, Estelle, and Rose (their mother), all living at the same address, 25  Massachusetts Avenue.

Then in 1914, Jacob is the sole Schoenthal listed at all in the Atlantic City directory, still associated with Incomparable Laundry.  Where were his mother and his sister Estelle?

Estelle Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Estelle Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

I knew that Rose had been in Arizona with Gertrude in 1917 from my research of Martin Schoenthal, but was she also there in 1914? A search of the 1914 Tucson directory revealed that Estelle Schoenthal was living there that year at the same address as her sister Gertrude, 516 South 5th Avenue.  Perhaps Rose was there as well, just not included in the directory.  Estelle was working as a cashier at a business called Steinfeld’s.

Estelle Schoenthal 1914 Tucson, Arizona directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Estelle Schoenthal 1914 Tucson, Arizona directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

And then between 1915 and 1918, there is not one Schoenthal listed in the Atlantic City directories. Harry was still in Philadelphia; Gertrude and presumably Rose and Estelle were in Arizona as was Hettie; Martin and Maurice were in Chicago; Louis and Sidney were in California.  Where was Jacob?

Jacob was still in Atlantic City in 1915, according to the New Jersey census of that year.  He was listed as single and working as a driver. (Thank you to Marilyn Silva for sending me a copy of that census record.)  In September 1918, when Jacob registered for the draft, he was still living in Atlantic City, married to a woman named Helen.  He was still working as a driver–for Abbott Dairy.

Jacob Schoenthal World War I draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Jacob Schoenthal World War I draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Thus, it appears that Jacob may have never left Atlantic City between 1915 and 1918 when the rest of his family had left to go west; he may be simply missing from the Atlantic City directories for those years.

By 1920 Jacob’s older brother Harry, his younger sister Estelle, and his mother Rose were back in Atlantic City.  Harry was married with two young children and working as a clerk in a hotel, and his mother and his younger sister Estelle were also living with him.

Jacob is listed in the 1920 Atlantic City directory still married to Helen and living at 421 Pacific Avenue and working in the real estate business.  But according to the 1920 census, Jacob was single and boarding with a family living on Atlantic Avenue.  The census record listed his occupation as an agent in the produce business.  Since the census is dated January 16, 1920, I thought that the directory for 1920, probably compiled in late 1919, predated the census and that thus Jacob’s marriage to Helen had ended by January 1920, and he had moved out and changed jobs.

But then in the 1921 Atlantic City directory, Jacob is still listed with Helen, living at 408 Murdock Terrace and working in the real estate business.

Jacob is not listed in the 1922 or the 1923 Atlantic City directories.  When he reappears in the 1924 directory, he is listed with a new wife named Florence.

Jacob and Florence Schoenthal 1924 Atlantic City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Jacob and Florence Schoenthal 1924 Atlantic City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

What happened to Helen? Where was Jacob in 1922 and 1923? And who was Florence?

All good questions, but so far I can only answer the last one.  I asked for help from the New Jersey Genealogy group on Facebook, and an incredibly generous member, Marilyn Silva, volunteered to look for marriage records for Jacob in the archives in Trenton, New Jersey.  Marilyn concluded after searching several different ways for all possible years that there were no New Jersey marriage records for Jacob Schoenthal either to a woman named Helen or to a woman named Florence.

Where else could Jacob have married Helen and Florence? Pennsylvania? Had he gone to Arizona or California or Illinois where his various siblings were living? I haven’t found one document that explains where and when Jacob married Helen or Florence or where he was living in those years. I don’t even know Helen’s birth name or where she was born or when.

But I do know something about Jacob’s second wife, Florence.  She was born Florence A. Truempy on December 30, 1892, in Pennsylvania (probably Philadelphia).  She was the daughter of Daniel Truempy and Annie Christina Lipps.  Daniel was born in Switzerland, Annie in Germany.  They had married in Philadelphia in 1883 and had had two sons before Florence was born in 1892.  Then when Florence was only three months old, her father died from inflammation of the lungs. He was only 27 years old and left behind three very young children.

Daniel Truempy death certificate Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6MC-B24 : accessed 12 February 2016), Daniel Truempy, 19 Mar 1893; citing cn 20331, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,902,335.

Daniel Truempy death certificate
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6MC-B24 : accessed 12 February 2016), Daniel Truempy, 19 Mar 1893; citing cn 20331, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,902,335.

 

Florence’s mother Annie remarried in 1894; her second husband was John Geary O’Connor, born in Ireland. In 1900 Florence was living with her mother, stepfather, and half-sister Mabel in Philadelphia.  Her stepfather John O’Connor was working as a police officer.  Florence is listed as “O’Connor” in the 1900 census, so I thought perhaps John had adopted her.  But on the 1910 census she and her two brothers are living in John O’Connor’s household and listed as his stepchildren, their surname as Truempy.  Florence was then seventeen years old. The family was at that time living in Camden, New Jersey, across the river and the state line from Philadelphia.  John had no occupation listed, but his wife Anna was working as a laborer for an oil cloth company. (I do wonder whether the enumerator placed John’s occupation on the line for Anna, but that’s just sexist speculation on my part.)

In the 1911 and 1912 directories for Camden, Florence is listed as working as a waitress and living at the same address as her two brothers. But in 1920 Florence is not listed with her mother, stepfather, and siblings on the census.  I don’t know where Florence went.  Like Jacob, she does not appear on any record I could find during those years until she re-appears in the 1924 directory for Atlantic City, married to Jacob.  Perhaps Florence had been married to someone else in that period, just as Jacob had been married to someone named Helen during the 1910s.  I don’t yet know.  But Jacob and Florence stayed married to each other for the rest of their lives.  Assuming they were married in about 1923, Jacob would have been 40 when they married, Florence 31.

English: Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atl...

English: Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey by William Trost Richards. Oil on canvas, 29.9 x 50.8 cm. Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, Jacob’s sister Estelle also married sometime in the early 1920s.  Her husband Leon Klein was born in 1879 in Alsace-Lorraine, then under German control, and had immigrated to the US as a young child in 1881. After living in Philadelphia, the Klein family had relocated to Atlantic City.  In 1910, Leon and his brothers Abraham and Charles were the owners of a delicatessen in Atlantic City called Klein Brothers.  They were still listed that way in the 1916 Atlantic City directory.

But when he registered for the draft in September 1918, Leon was working as a grocer, living in Philadelphia.  In 1920, he was living with his brother Abraham and sister Rose in Philadelphia and still working as a grocer.  Then he returned to Atlantic City, where he is listed in the 1922 directory, married to Estelle, working as a grocer.  If he and Estelle married in 1921, they would have been 40 and 32 years old, respectively, when they married.

Thus, both Jacob and his sister Estelle married at “mature” ages for that generation.

Leon and Estelle had two sons in the 1920s, Morton and Robert.  By 1927, Leon had left the grocery business and was working in the hotel business like so many of his Schoenthal in-laws.  The 1928 and 1929 directories list his occupation as salesman; the 1930 census recorded his occupation simply as clerk, and the 1931 directory described him once again as a salesman.

The 1935 Atlantic City directory listing for Leon Klein reads, “Klein, Leon (Estella; Klein Haven).”  Klein Haven was also listed separately as “Klein Haven (Leon Klein) furn rms.” Was Leon in the hotel business or a salesman? I was confused by the flip-flopping of his described occupations.  Then I saw the 1940 census and learned that Leon was selling typewriter supplies.  Interestingly, Estelle is listed on the 1940 census as the head of household and the proprietor of a hotel, the Klein Haven.  Imagine that! A woman as the head of household in 1940, owning a hotel in her own name.

Estelle Schoenthal Klein and family 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 83A; Enumeration District: 1-2

Estelle Schoenthal Klein and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2300; Page: 83A; Enumeration District: 1-2

 

I found the text of an advertisement for the Klein-Haven in the August 1, 1930 issue of The Jewish Criterion:

KLEIN-HAVEN
Open  All  Year 103   States  Avenue Atlantic  City,  N. J.
UNEXCELLED  CUISINE All outside rooms with private bath or running- water.    
Bathing privilege.    Family rates. Phone 4-0994        EstelJe S. Klein

 

As for her brother Jacob, he was not in the hotel business.  By the mid-1920s, Jacob was working in the cigar business, a business he pursued from then and throughout the 1930s.  He and Florence had a daughter Rose born in early 1929 (she was fifteen months old as of the date of the 1930 census, April 10, 1930).  It is that daughter who later disappears.

By 1930, two of the other siblings, Gertrude Schoenthal Miller and Martin Schoenthal, had also returned to Atlantic City and were also involved with hotels like Harry and Estelle, but Jacob continued to sell cigars throughout the 1930s, as his father Simon had done many years before.

In 1940, the census reported a different occupation for Jacob; he was now working as a clerk in a private office.  His wife Florence was working as a stockroom “girl” in an auction house.  Her mother Anna Lipps Truempy O’Connor was also living with Jacob and Florence.

But where was their daughter Rose, who’d been only fifteen months old old on the 1930 census? She was not listed with her parents.  Where could an eleven year old girl be? I feared the worst.  Had she died?

Marilyn Silva volunteered to search for a death certificate for a Rose Schoenthal born around 1929 who died between April 10, 1930 (the date of the 1930 census record) and April 18, 1940.  But Marilyn found no reported deaths in the New Jersey archives for a child with that name in that time period.  I searched Pennsylvania and other states where I thought Rose might have lived or died.  I couldn’t find her alive, and I couldn’t find any record of her death.  I even contacted the cemetery where Jacob and Florence are buried, Beth Israel near Atlantic City, and Rose is not buried with her parents.

Any ideas? I am at a total loss.  I’ve searched the newspaper databases as well as Ancestry, FamilySearch, and, thanks to Marilyn Silva, the New Jersey state archives, and I cannot find out anything about what happened to Rose Schoenthal.  Perhaps she never existed and the enumerator received bad information? Maybe she was institutionalized somewhere and not recorded?

On his World War II draft registration Jacob reported that his employer was Superior Cleaners.  He and Florence were still living in Atlantic City, where they continued to live throughout the 1950s and where Jacob continued to work in the cleaning business, according to Atlantic City directories from that decade.  Florence died in July 1967 when she was 74 years old; Jacob died in February 1976; he was 92 years old.

 

Jacob Schoenthal World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. Full Source Citation.

Jacob Schoenthal World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. Full Source Citation.

Jacob’s sister Estelle also remained in Atlantic City for the rest of her life.  She and her husband Leon are listed in several Atlantic City directories during the 1950s, although without any occupation listed.  Leon died on November 4, 1957, when he was 78; Estelle died on November 26, 1978, when she was 89 years old.

Both Jacob and his sister Estelle lived long lives, married “late” but had long marriages, and spent almost their entire lives in Atlantic City. Jacob in particular seems never to have wandered too far from Atlantic City.  He, however, did not devote his career to the hotel business as so many of his siblings had.  He worked in the laundry business, produce, real estate, the cigar business, and the cleaning business over his long life in Atlantic City.  His sister Estelle spent some years in Arizona, but returned to Atlantic City where she met and married Leon Klein and had two children.  She worked in the hospitality business as did so many of her siblings, and remarkably she was the hotel owner while her husband worked as a salesman.

Although Estelle’s story is quite complete, there are many holes left in the story of her brother Jacob—when and where did he marry Helen, and what happened to that marriage? When and where did he marry Florence? And most importantly, what happened to his daughter Rose?

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Harry’s twin Ida had died when she was a young teenager.  There were nine surviving siblings.

[2]  Hettie Schoenthal Stein, “This is My Life.” Courtesy of her family.

[3] Hettie was actually older than Estelle, but for several reasons I decided to write about Jacob and Estelle together and will pick up on Hettie in a later post.

The Gift of Photography: Bringing Faces to the Names

I know I just posted yesterday, but I am so excited by the photographs I received last night that I can’t wait to share them.  I have been very fortunate to connect with the family of one of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal’s children, the descendants of their daughter Hettie, whose life story I’ve yet to tell.  The family very generously shared with me a multitude of photographs, and I will share many of them on the blog in upcoming posts.

But some of these photographs are of family members about whom I have already posted.  I’ve added those photographs to the appropriate posts, but since I know it’s unlikely that people will go back to find those photographs, I wanted to share some of them here.  All of the photographs here are courtesy of the family of Ezra Parvin Lippincott, Jr., Hettie Schoenthal Stein’s grandson.

First, here are photographs of Simon Schoenthal and Rose Mansbach, the patriarch and matriarch of this large family:

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

Simon Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle

Simon and Rose had ten children; their first two were twins, Harry and Ida.  Ida died when she was a young teenager, so I was very touched to see this photograph of Simon with the twins, taken in 1875 when they were two years old.

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875 Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Simon Schoenthal with twins Harry and Ida 1875
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

And here is a collage of photographs of the nine surviving children: Harry, Gertrude, Louis, Maurice, Martin, Jacob, Hettie, Estelle, and Sidney.  They were my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen’s first cousins.

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

The nine surviving children of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal
Photo courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Looking at all those faces, I cannot help but admire their mother Rose, especially knowing now how close these siblings were to each other.  Here are some additional photographs of Rose Mansbach Schoenthal:

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Rose Schoenthal -1916

Rose Mansbach Schoenthal 1916

Harry, the oldest surviving child, had a liquor business in Philadelphia for some time before returning to Atlantic City and working in the hotel business there.  I believe this photograph must be related to his Philadelphia business:

Uncle Harry's Beer Business Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Uncle Harry’s Beer Businesss
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

I am not sure, but perhaps one of those men is Harry himself.

I loved this photograph of Arthur H. Ferrin, who married Juliet Miller, the daughter of Jacob J. and Gertrude (Schoenthal) Miller.  You can tell that Arthur was a Tucson native:

Arthur  H. Ferrin 1905 courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Arthur H. Ferrin 1905
courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

There are many more to come, but I didn’t want these to get lost in the shuffle.