Leo and Rose Goldfarb: The Two Youngest Children of Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb

When Sarah Brod Goldfarb died on July 2, 1937, her two youngest children, Leo and Rose, were the only ones not yet married. Both had been living with their mother Sarah in Brooklyn in 1930, and Leo at that time was a real estate salesman.1

In July 1938, just over a year after his mother’s death, Leo married Sarah “Syd” Ort.2 Syd, as she was known, was born in New York on January 2, 1910,3 making her almost eleven years younger than Leo, who was 38 when they married. Syd was the daughter of Samuel and Gussie Ort, who both had immigrated from Russia. Sam had his own tailor shop, and in 1930 Syd was living with her parents and siblings in Brooklyn and was a bookkeeper at a bank.4 Here is Syd’s picture from the 1927 Thomas Jefferson High School yearbook.

Sarah Ort, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Thomas Jefferson High School; Year: 1927
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

I could not find Leo and Syd on the 1940 census. I had their 1942 address from Leo’s World War II draft registration—1068 Winthrop Street in Brooklyn—but they were not listed at that address on the 1940 census. Looking at Google Maps, I realized that 1068 Winthrop Street was one block away from where my grandparents and mother were living in 1940—1010 Rutland Road.


Leo and Syd had two sons born in the 1940s; I had a wonderful conversation with their son Ted last week. And on the very same day I also received a message from my mother’s childhood best friend, Beatie, who also lived at 1010 Rutland Road where my mother lived. I asked Beatie if she recalled ever meeting any of the Goldfarbs, and she said that she recalled meeting a woman named Syd coming to visit my grandmother with two little boys. Now I know that one of those little boys was my cousin Ted.

In 1942, Leo was working for Harry Hittner of Hittner Brothers in Jersey City, New Jersey.  The 1940 census shows Harry Hittner as the part owner of a bar and grill. His brother Samuel, living right next door, was the other part owner. I don’t know what Leo’s role was in this business.5

Leo Goldfarb, World War II draft card, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

My cousin Alyce shared these photographs of Leo and Syd with various members of the family.

Syd Ort and Leo Goldfarb. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Betty Amer Goldfarb and Syd Ort Goldfarb Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Leo Goldfarb, Syd Ort Goldfarb, Betty Amer Goldfarb, Selma Goldfarb, Joe Goldfarb, Francine Goldfarb. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Leo Goldfarb and Joe Goldfarb Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

According to Leo’s son Ted, after the war Leo was a salesman at Martin’s Department Store in downtown Brooklyn for many years. As Ted said, Leo never made a lot of money, but in those days a good salesman could make enough to support a family of four comfortably in Brooklyn.6

Leo and Syd lived at 1068 Winthrop Street until 1963 when they moved to an apartment at Bath Beach in Brooklyn not far from Coney Island. They lived there the remainder of their lives.  Leo was 75 when he died on June 13, 1975.7 Syd died ten years later on February 13, 1985; she was also 75 at her death.8

The information I initially had about Sarah and Sam’s youngest child Rose was  very limited. I couldn’t find her on the 1940 census, but knew from family records and family members that she had married someone named Max Levine. Max Levine is such a common name that I was having no luck learning more about Max and Rose until I spoke to Ted Goldfarb. He gave me three huge hints that helped me find the right Max: he had been married once before marrying Rose, he had worked in Bayonne, New Jersey, and he and Rose had lived in Jersey City.9

From those hints I found Max’s death notice and obituary and learned that Max was born in Poland, was living in Jersey City, and had been a baker at the Troum Bakery in Bayonne.

Max Levine, Jersey Journal, July 10, 1974, p. 7

That led me to Max’s other records. His World War I draft registration finds him already living in Bayonne and working as a baker, married to his first wife, and claiming exemption due to “ill health.” It also indicates that he was born in Lublin, Russia, or what is today Poland.

Max Levine, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

On the 1920 census he was living in Bayonne, working as a baker, and living with his first wife and their first child. The census record also reports that he immigrated from Poland in 1912.10 In 1930 Max was still living in Bayonne, working as a baker, and living with his wife and two children.11

By 1940, Max’s first marriage must have ended because he was living with his two children but not his first wife in Brooklyn at 571 Williams Avenue and working as a baker.12 Rose Goldfarb had been living at 526 Williams Avenue in 1930, so Max must have met her in his new neighborhood. They married early in 1941; Max was 46, Rose was 39.13 They must soon thereafter have settled in Jersey City where their son was born a couple of years later.

Max died, as his obituary noted, on July 8, 1974; he was 79.14 Rose died 23 years later on August 11, 1997, at the age of 95. 15

In the message from my mother’s dear friend Beatie, she also mentioned Rose. She didn’t recall her name, but said that Syd had a sister or other relative who would visit my grandmother at 1010 Rutland Road when my mother and Beatie were young girls. That must have been Rose Goldfarb, my grandmother’s first cousin and Syd Goldfarb’s sister-in-law.

I have just three photographs of Rose, two from Alyce, and one from Steve Malzberg:

Rose Goldfarb Levine, Joe Goldfarb, and Gussie Brotman Goldschlager Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Rose (Goldfarb) and Max Levine, c 1960
Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Max and Rose (Goldfarb) Levine, 1970.
Courtesy of Steve Malzberg

That brings me to the end of the story of my great-great-aunt Sarah Brod and her husband Sam Goldfarb and their seven children. What a wonderful journey this has been to find and connect with so many of my Goldfarb cousins. It’s remarkable to me that through the magic of genealogy, DNA testing, and the internet, I now have connected with so many of the descendants of Sarah Brod Goldfarb. Of Sarah and Sam’s seven children, six of whom had children, I am now in touch with at least one grandchild and a few great-grandchildren of five of those six Goldfarb siblings: Julius, Morris, Bessie, Joe, and Leo. And just two months ago I was only in touch with the descendants of one—Julius. I am so grateful and look forward to continuing these new relationships.



  1. Leo Goldfarb, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; FHL microfilm: 2341228, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  2. Leo Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 23 Jun 1938, Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:Sarah Ort, License Number: 12499, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  3.  Sarah Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 054-01-4309, Birth Date: 2 Jan 1910
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11214, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1985, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. Sam Ort, 1930 US census, Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; FHL microfilm: 2341228, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  5. Hittner family, 1940 US census, Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02405; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 24-145, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Phone conversation with Ted Goldfarb, May 26, 2021. 
  7. Leo Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 101-10-1222, Birth Date: 10 Sep 1899
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11214, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Jun 1975, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/77764375/leo-goldfarb : accessed 20 May 2021), memorial page for Leo Goldfarb (unknown–13 Jun 1975), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764375, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585). 
  8. Sarah Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 054-01-4309, Birth Date: 2 Jan 1910
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11214, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1985, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/77764444/sarah-goldfarb : accessed 20 May 2021), memorial page for Sarah Goldfarb (unknown–13 Feb 1985), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77764444, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) . 
  9. Phone conversation with Ted Goldfarb, May 27, 2021. 
  10. Max Levine, 1920 census, Census Place: Bayonne Ward 2, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1041; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 12, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. Max Levine, 1930 census, Census Place: Bayonne, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0202; FHL microfilm: 2341082, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. Max Levine, 1940 census, Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02548; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 24-85, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. Rose Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 29 Jan 1941, Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Max Levine, License Number: 1699, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  14.  Max Levine, Death Date: 8 Jul 1974, Death Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Year Range: 1974; Surname Range: H-O; Title: New Jersey, Death Indexes, 1904-2000, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1901-2017 
  15.  Rose Levine, Social Security Number: 099-01-5824, Birth Date: 9 Feb 1902
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 08043, Voorhees, Camden, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: 11 Aug 1997, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

My Cousins Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht: Lives Well Lived

Julius Goldfarb, my grandmother Gussie’s first cousin, and Ida Hecht, my grandmother Gussie’s half-sister’s daughter, knew each other as teenagers when their families were living next door to each other on Avenue C in New York City. They married in 1913, had four daughters, and by 1940 had created a happy and comfortable life for themselves and their daughters in Jersey City, New Jersey, supported by their real estate investments and their liquor business.

Julius Goldfarb had been forced out of the liquor business by Prohibition, but once Prohibition ended, he returned to it, now as the owner of a liquor store in Jersey City called Stuyvesant Wine and Liquor. He also continued to be involved in real estate and was prospering in both businesses.

But starting in 1939, the store was repeatedly the target of robberies. We already saw the news article about that first robbery where Julius was held up by three armed gunmen who then locked him in a storeroom closet. He lost $220 in that crime.

Julius was robbed again in 1941. A single armed robber walked behind the counter and forced Julius to lie on the floor; he then stole $124 from Julius. This time, however, Julius was insured for the loss.

“Holdup in Boulevard Liquor Store,” Jersey Journal, April 15, 1941, p, 1

But Julius and Ida’s life was not overshadowed by these events. Rather, they were enjoying life with their growing family—their four daughters and their grandchildren. Julius and Ida’s oldest daughter Sylvia remarried on October 31, 1942. Her second husband was George Horowitz; he was also a native of Jersey City and was born on September 16, 1912, to Abraham Horowitz and Sophie Margulies. George was working as a photographer for Sun-Ray Studios in Jersey City in 1942. Sylvia and George would have one child together born several years later.1

The third of Julius and Ida’s daughters, Ethel, became engaged to Herbert Rothman in May 1944; he was then a corporal in the US Army stationed at Camp Ruston in Louisiana. Herbert was the son of Irving Rothman and Sarah Berger and was born on July 26, 1922, in New York. At the time of their engagement, Ethel was attending New York University. Ethel and Herbert were married in November, 1945, and had two sons. Herbert ended up working in the liquor business with Julius.2

Evelyn Goldfarb was briefly married in the 1940s to a man named Seymour Hutchinson, but that marriage did not last or produce any children.3 As noted below, Evelyn would remarry some years later.

Here is a beautiful photograph of three of the four daughters of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, my double cousins, Evelyn, Sylvia, and Ethel:

Evelyn, Sylvia, and Ethel Goldfarb c. 1942 Courtesy of Sue Wartur

And here is a photograph of Julius and Ida with their youngest daughter Evelyn in 1951.

Julius, Evelyn, and Ida Goldfarb 1951. Courtesy of Sue Wartur

My cousin Sue recalls many happy times with her grandparents Ida and Julius. She wrote to me about the beach house on Long Island where Julius and Ida and their extended family would spend their summers:

“From spring until late fall, sometimes until after the High Holy Days, my grandparents would be at their beach house, steps from the Atlantic, in Long Beach, Long Island. [My grandfather Julius] would arrive in the wee hours of Sat night/Sunday morning, his car laden with Sunday papers, his favorite…eggplants and grapefuits, and sodas and chips from the store. We had huge family spreads on the beach…cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma’s sister Jean and family, whose “dacha” was just around the corner.” 4

This is a photograph of Ida and Julius at their summer cottage in Long Beach and then a photograph of Julius on the beach:

Ida and Julius at their summer cottage on Long Beach, LI. Courtesy of Sue Wartur

Julius Goldfarb, Long Beach, NY. Courtesy of Sue Wartur

Meanwhile, Julius continued to have trouble at his store. In June 1951 Julius was again robbed; this time he was forced to lie on the floor of the lavatory at the back of his store while the robber made off with almost $100.5

Julius was not present in the store for the next robbery in July 1952. Instead his son-in-law Herbert Rothman, husband of Ethel, was the victim. He and two other employees were locked in the storeroom by two thieves armed with penknives. This time the criminals made off with $150.  The news story about this robbery refers to it as the fourth holdup of the store in the past year, so there must have been other robberies that did not appear in the paper.6

But it appears that Julius finally received more protection from the local police after this event. When another attempted robbery occurred in November 1952 while Herbert Rothman was working at the store, two plainclothes detectives stopped the holdup, and when the robber pointed his “toy gun” at them, one of those detectives shot and seriously wounded him.7

I don’t know whether that was the last time the store was the site of a robbery, but that was the last article reporting one that I could find in the Jersey City newspapers.

Not long before this last robbery, on October 25, 1952, Evelyn Goldfarb married her second husband, Samuel Block. He was also a native of Jersey City, New Jersey, born there on September 17, 1922, the son of Meyer Block and Gussie Greenberg. Evelyn and Samuel had two children born in the 1950s.8

Thus, by 1952 all four of Julius and Ida’s daughters were married. And in 1959, their first-born granddaughter, my cousin Sue, was married, and Julius and Ida were there to celebrate. Thank you to Sue for sharing some of her beautiful wedding photographs.

Sue (Leyner) and Larry Wartur, 1959. Courtesy of Sue Wartur.

Julius and Ida Goldfarb at their granddaughter Sue’s wedding. Courtesy of Sue Wartur

Julius and Ida Goldfarb at their granddaughter Sue’s wedding. Courtesy of Sue Wartur

In the end there were nine grandchildren who survived Ida and Julius as well as their four daughters and sons-in-law. Ida died on March 7, 1966, in Jersey City; she was 71.9 Julius died two years later on November 20, 1968, also in Jersey City. He was 83.10

Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht had lived a full and interesting life together. Born in Galicia, Julius came to the US when he was ten years old and had to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. According to his granddaughter Sue, he remained a religious man all his life. He belonged to an Orthodox synagogue where Sue would watch him praying from her seat in the women’s section above the main sanctuary. Ida also was quite observant. Sue remembered that Ida always lit candles on Friday night, went to services on Saturday morning, and studied Torah at home.

But Julius also adapted to American life. He was a success both in the real estate and liquor businesses and more than once survived attacks on his business and himself, determined to protect his livelihood and his family. Ida contributed to that success not only on the homefront, but also by working with Julius in both the liquor and real estate businesses.

Their granddaughter Sue reminded me that what we see in newspapers and records is only a small part of the lives people lived and that while the news articles might leave an impression of a life darkened by robberies and crime, that was not how Julius and Ida saw their life. Rather, it was a life filled with joy and faith and love.

Sue wrote that even long after Julius and Ida’s four daughters were grown and married with children of their own, they always thought of 24 Clendenny Avenue in Jersey City as their home. That itself is a testament to the warm and loving family life that Julius and Ida created for their children and grandchildren.

I will be taking a short break from blogging in the next week or so. See you with more Goldfarb history when I return.

  1. Family records. George Horowitz, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1912, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: 23 Sep 1999, Father: Abraham Horowitz, Mother:
    Sophie Marqulies, SSN: 140077673, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. George Horowitz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 303, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. “Miss Ethel Goldfarb To Wed Corp. Rothman,” Jersey Journal, May 16, 1944, p. 22. New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1945; Surname Range: A – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016. Herbert Rothman, Birth Date: 26 Jul 1922
    Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965. New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24WF-8T8 : 10 February 2018), Irving Rothman and Sarah Berger, 20 Sep 1921; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,653,292. 
  3.  Evelyn Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 1 Oct 1945, Marriage License Place: Queens, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Seymour M Hutchinson, License Number: 5965, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Queens, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  4. Email from Sue Wartur, April 14, 2021. 
  5. “Fat Thug Gets $100 in Holdup,” Jersey Journal, June 29, 1951, p. 1. 
  6. “Store Held Up Fourth Time,” Jersey Journal, July 30, 1952, p. 1. 
  7. “Shots Fell ‘Toy Gun’ Bandit,” Jersey Journal, November 17, 1952, p. 1. 
  8. “Evelyn Goldfarb,” Jersey Journal, July 30, 1952, p. 10. “Miss Goldfarb, Jersey City, Wed to Samuel Block,” Hudson Dispatch, October 1952. Samuel Block
    Gender: Male, Birth Date: 17 Sep 1922, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey
    Death Date: 3 Nov 1988, Father: Meyer Block, Mother:Gussie Greenberg
    SSN: 140185188, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9.  Ida Goldfarb, Death Date: Mar 1966, Death Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Year Range: 1966; Surname Range: G-N; Title: New Jersey, Death Indexes, 1904-2000.Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1901-2017. Family records. 
  10. Julius Goldfarb, Death Date: 20 Nov 1968, Death Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA, Year Range: 1968; Surname Range: A-G; Title: New Jersey, Death Indexes, 1904-2000, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1901-2017 

Julius Goldfarb, My Grandmother’s First Cousin: An American Success Story

In 1937, Sarah Brod Goldfarb died, leaving behind her six surviving children, my grandmother’s first cousins: Julius, Morris, Bessie, Joe, Leo, and Rose. Now I want to go back and focus on each of them and their lives as adults.

I will start with Sam and Sarah Goldfarb’s first born child, Julius. We’ve seen that he married Ida Hecht in 1913 and that they settled in Jersey City, New Jersey, where they had four daughters, Sylvia, Gertrude, Ethel, and Evelyn. Those four daughters were related to me both through Ida, my great-aunt Taube Brotman Hecht’s daughter, and through Julius, my great-great-aunt Sarah Brod Goldfarb’s son. We also know that when he registered for the draft in 1917, Julius was a saloon keeper in his own business.

Julius Goldfarb World War I draft registration
Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712213; Draft Board: 10

In 1920, Julius Goldfarb was living in Jersey City and still working in the liquor business, according to the 1920 US census.1 But the times were changing, and soon Julius would face the restrictions of Prohibition. Some of the consequences of Prohibition are illustrated in this article involving Julius’ saloon:

“Sells Booze to Wife, Husband Has Him Held,” Jersey Journal, November 7, 1921, p. 8

The headline of the article seemed to suggest that a woman could not buy herself a drink at a bar if her husband did not allow it, and the bartender could be arrested for selling it to her. But the crime was not that specific; it was for selling alcohol to anyone because as of January 17, 1920, liquor sales were prohibited everywhere in the US by virtue of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. In fact, it’s remarkable that Julius even admitted to being in the liquor business on the 1920 census.

The article refers to the Van Ness Act, a New Jersey law enacted in 1921 and named for Jennie Van Ness, an ardent prohibitionist, New Jersey legislator, and women’s suffrage activist. The law was not targeted specifically against sales to women, however; it was a general prohibition law penalizing the sale of alcohol modeled after and intended to reinforce the federal Volstead Act. Van Ness’ sponsorship of that law cost her the next legislative election because so many in New Jersey were opposed to Prohibition.

But how did Julius even have a saloon in November 1921 if sales of liquor were illegal because of Prohibition? Julius still listed his occupation as “sal,” presumably saloon, on the 1922 Jersey City directory, so obviously he wasn’t hiding anything. It seems many bars and “speakeasies” continued to exist in the area. Perhaps at least for some time the police looked the other way.

Julius, however, soon transitioned to the real estate business. This article from the October 9, 1924, Jersey Journal discusses a legal issue regarding the assignment of options, an issue outside of the scope of this blog but one relevant to my former career. But what is of genealogical interest are the facts that raised the issue:

“Is An Option on Real Estate Assignable?,” Jersey Journal, October 9, 1924, p. 5

According to the article, Julius and Ida Goldfarb had entered into a contract with Alfred Strohmeier in which they agreed to sell him a piece of property and also granted him an option to buy an adjoining piece of property. Strohmeier assigned the contract—including the option—to Edward Ornstein, and the Goldfarbs refused to grant Ornstein that option, arguing that an assignment of an option is not enforceable. I don’t know how this specific case was resolved, but under general principles of contract law, an option is considered assignable unless the contract itself provides otherwise.

The 1930 census confirmed that Julius was now in the real estate business as he listed his occupation as “Proprietor, Real Estate.” Interestingly, however, Julius was renting the home where he lived at 701 Hudson Boulevard in Jersey City in 1930, according to the census. Although the census doesn’t reflect it, Ida was also very involved in the real estate business; acording to her granddaughter Sue, she enjoyed the buying and selling of homes. Sylvia (15), Gertrude (13), and Ethel (7) were all in school, and Evelyn (5) was at home.

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

By 1934, the Goldfarb family had moved to 24 Clendenny Avenue in Jersey City. Although I couldn’t find the exact house number on Google maps, this was a street of mostly private homes, and Julius now owned his home, the home the family would live in for many years to come. He also owned a building at 115 Fairview Street where he was the landlord and was sued by a tenant who was injured by falling in the lobby:

Jersey Journal, July 27, 1934, p. 20

Google Maps has this image of that apartment building. It certainly suggests that Julius was doing well investing in real estate, a fact confirmed by his granddaughter Sue:

Meanwhile, the daughters of Julius and Ida were growing up. Sylvia was engaged to Louis Leyner in 1935 and married him later that year. Louis was born on December 25, 1912, in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Isaac Lehner and Anna Pearlman. He graduated in 1931 from New York University with a degree in industrial engineering.2

“Miss Goldfarb Betrothed to Lew Leyner,” Jersey Journal, October 29, 1935, p. 13

Julius and Ida became grandparents a few years later when my cousin Sue was born in Jersey City.

Here is a photograph of Ida Hecht Goldfarb with her granddaughter Sue:

Ida Hecht Goldfarb and Sue Leyner, July 1938. Courtesy of Sue Leyner Wartur.

In 1938 Sylvia’s younger sister Gertrude married Benjamin Levy.3 They settled in Jersey City and were living there in 1940. Benjamin was working as a salesman.4 They would later have three children born in Jersey City.

By this time, Prohibition was long over, and Julius had returned to the liquor business. Ida worked for sometime with him in the store just as she worked with him in the real estate business; Sue described Ida as “ahead of her times” and as a very cultured and sophisticated woman even though she’d had to leave school after eighth grade to support her family. Sue said Ida had “exquisite taste in music, decor, clothing and jewelry, china, silver and fur and she designed her own hats.  She could recite the entire poem Evangeline from memory, took me to my first opera, and gave me a Saturday matinee subscription to the Metropolitan Opera as a high school graduation gift.”5

In 1939,  Julius experienced the first in a long series of very frightening robberies at his store on the Boulevard in Jersey City.

1″$220 Holdup in Liquor Store,” Jersey Journal, March 6, 1939, p. 1

I was surprised to see that there is still a liquor store named Stuyvesant Liquor at that location in Jersey City:

Julius’ granddaughter Sue told me that Julius owned that entire strip of stores at one time and was quite successful with his real estate investments as well as his liquor business.

In 1940, Julius and Ida still had their two younger daughters Ethel and Evelyn living at home as well as Sylvia. Although still listed as married, Sylvia and Louis Leyner were living separately on the 1940 census, Sylvia with her parents, and Louis elsewhere in northern New Jersey. They would soon thereafter divorce.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1940 census lines 13-17
Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2406; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 24-197

Julius continued to be in the liquor business in 1940, and as we will see in the next post, that business continued to be a target for crime in the 1940s and 1950s. But, more importantly, as remembered by their granddaughter Sue, Julius and Ida lived a good life and created a warm and loving home for their four daughters.



  1. Julius Goldfarb and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Jersey City Ward 3, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1043; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 135, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Louis Leyner, East Asheville,” Asheville Citizen-Times
    Asheville, North Carolina, 06 Jan 2011, Thu • Page 10 
  3. Gertrude Goldfarb, Maiden Name: Goldfarb, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 1938
    Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA, Spouse: Benjamin Levy, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1938; Surname Range: A – Z; Reel Number: 36, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Benjamin and Gertrude Levy, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02408; Page: 66B; Enumeration District: 24-246, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Email from Sue Wartur, April 23, 2021. 

The Goldfarbs 1921-1926: An Abundance of New Grandchildren

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

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

Joe Goldfarb and Betty Amer’s wedding invitation

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

Marvin Goldfarb, c. 1924 Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

The Goldfarbs in America 1892-1910

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brickwall: Where Were Sam and Katie Born? Help Wanted!

You know how I’ve always belittled DNA results as a genealogy tool for people like me—an Ashkenazi Jew whose results show literally thousands of matches, most of whom are not possibly traceable as an actual relative? Well, I am eating my words, though just a little, because recently I found an actual Brotman match on Ancestry. And since my Brotman line presents the biggest brick walls, any new Brotman connection is exciting.

My new cousin is the great-grandson of Moses Brotman’s daughter Kate. Moses Brotman was my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman’s brother, making my new cousin my third cousin, once removed. He connected me to his brother, and we have been working together to research more about the family.

Moses Brotman, courtesy of the Brotman family

Kate’s great-grandsons were interested in knowing when and where Kate was born, and that led us down a very convoluted and confusing path. To state it very briefly and then to delve into the details, every US record for Kate indicated she was born in the US—either New York or New Jersey or Pennsylvania. The earliest three census records for her all say New York with later ones reporting her birthplace as New Jersey and then the 1940 census reporting it as Pennsylvania. That’s confusing enough, but that’s not the big mystery.

What really is puzzling is that Kate’s younger brother Samuel (consistently recorded as a year or two younger than Kate) is generally reported in US records to have been born in Europe—sometimes listed as Austria, sometimes as Russia—but is occasionally reported to have been born in the US—New Jersey twice and once in Pennsylvania. That raised an interesting question: how could Moses have had a child in New York (Kate) and then a later-born child (Samuel) back in Europe? Had Moses returned to Europe after Kate was born? Did Kate and Samuel have different mothers? Different fathers?

That sent me back to search again for anything that might help answer these questions. I also want to acknowledge all the kind people at Tracing the Tribe who tried to sort all this out for me.

First, I looked at any ship manifests I could find for Moses Brotman. I found one barely legible one indexed as Maritz Breidmann, 34 years old, coming from Austria in 1882. He would have been roughly the right age (I have no reliable birth information for Moses—every record differs, but generally show he was born sometime between 1840 and 1860.). He was sailing without any other family member. Could this be Moses? I can’t be sure.

Maritz Breidmann ship manifest, Year: 1882; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 456; Line: 1; List Number: 1220
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Moses’ naturalization papers state that he immigrated to the US in 1885. But note that Moses could not sign his name. Was he able to read the form in English? Could it really have been 1882? Did he even remember exactly what year it was when he immigrated?

Moses Brotman, naturalization papers, New Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-29863-26750-98?cc=2057433&wc=M73R-4NL:351145001,351187001 : accessed 30 April 2015), Salem Petitions for naturalization 1888-1895

On the 1900 census, Moses reported that he arrived in the US in 1886. The 1920 census states he came in 1887. The 1930 census says 1898! But he was naturalized in 1894, so it had to be earlier than 1898 for certain. All this points to Moses’ inability to report dates consistently.

The only other ship manifests I could locate for someone with a name close to Moses Brotman were these two. First, a manifest for the ship leaving from Rotterdam on July 20, 1891:

Moses Brodman and family, 1891 ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 091; Page: 1626; Microfilm No.: S_13162, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

On this manifest, Moses Brodman of Grembow is sailing with five family members: Chane (48?), Mosche (28), Chane (10), Gitel (8), and Abraham (half a year old). There is something puzzling here—would a mother and daughter have had the same name?

One factor supporting that this Moses Brodman was my great-grandfather’s brother is that Grembow is a small town in what is today Poland (at that time part of Austria-Hungary known as Galicia) neighboring Tarnobrzeg where Joseph Brotman lived; it is also the town that two of my grandmother’s brothers, Abraham and David, listed as their home on the ship manifests when they immigrated (see the last two entries on the manifest below, above Goldfarb). So I feel fairly certain that this probably is the right Moses Brotman.

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 079; Page: 1373; Microfilm No.: S_13156 Description Month: Indirekt Band 079 (1 Jul 1889 – 30 Sep 1889) Source Information Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

The second manifest I found is that of the family’s arrival in New York on August 6, 1891:

Moses Brotman and family, ship manifest 1891, Year: 1891; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 573; Line: 6; List Number: 1171
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The manifest lists Moses (45), Chane (28), Morsche (10), Chane (8), Gitil (3), and Abraham (half a year old), coming from Russia. I should point out that Grembow was at one time very close to the Russian border with what is now Poland.

Note the inconsistencies from the first manifest with respect to the ages of the children. Gitel is now reported to be three, not eight, the younger Chane is now eight, not ten, and Morsche has gone from 28 to ten. Only little Abraham has stayed the same age from one manifest to the next. Mosche/Morsche has also changed from male to female on the later manifest. And Chane, the older one, has lost twenty years—from 48 to 28. I think the best explanation is that the clerk in Rotterdam wrote the ages on the wrong line since the age for Moses is crossed out. So Morsche/Mosche was really ten, Chana eight, Gitel three, and Abraham six months old in August 1891.

I believe, based on several documents,  that Gitel was the girl who grew up to become Kate Brotman. First, my new cousins sent me this document, a wedding contract for their great-grandparents Kate Brotman and Abraham Allen. The names on the contract  in Hebrew/Yiddish are Gitel daughter of Moses and Avraham son of Gedaliahu. That means that Kate’s Hebrew/Yiddish name was Gitel, just like the little girl on the ship manifest. (Thanks again to Tracing the Tribe for translating this document.)

In addition, the first record I have for Moses Brotman and his family in the US after his naturalization paper is the 1895 New Jersey census:

Morris Brotman, 1895 New Jersey census, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895

It shows them living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, with the following household members: Morris, Clara (presumably Chane), Bennie (a foreign born male in the 5-20 age group; this was Moses’ son Benjamin from his first marriage, as I wrote about here), and then five younger children: daughters Sadie, Katie, and Lillie, and sons Samuel and Abraham. All five children are listed as native born, I assume incorrectly. Lillie, Samuel, and Abraham are all listed in the under five years old age group while Sadie and Katie are in the 5-20 age group.

How do we make sense of this as compared to the ship manifest from 1891? Not too easily. First, can we assume that Sadie is the younger Chane from the ship manifest? I might be able to find an answer to that question from her gravestone, if her Hebrew name remained Chane. Since the older Chane became Clara (at least in 1895) and Gitel became Kate, it seems likely that the younger Chane’s name was also changed in the US. Sadie’s birth year is almost always reported to be 1884 or at latest 1885 and she is always reported to be born in Austria, so she seems to match the younger Chane on the ship manifest fairly well. Maybe her name on the manifest wasn’t correct in the first place.

And what happened to Mosche/Morsche, the son or daughter who was either 28 or 10? I’ve no idea.

Then there is Katie on the 1895 NJ census. She seems to match the Gitel on the ship manifest, being over five by 1895 if three in 1891. Abraham is also a match—under five in 1895.  Lillie is not on the manifest, but that’s not surprising as she was born in New Jersey on February 2, 1892, just six months after the date of the arrival manifest above.

But what about Samuel? Where does he fit in? He is not on the 1891 manifest. How did he become part of the family? Was he born after they arrived?

Let’s look at the next census record we have for Moses and his family, the 1900 US census.

Moses Brotman and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

It finds Moses in Pittsgrove, age 55, born November 1844, in Austria. His wife Chay is 35, born in Austria in March 1865, and they report that they have been married sixteen years so since about 1884, the year Sadie is generally reported to have been born. In fact, Sadie’s birth date here is given as April 1884, and her birthplace is Austria.

Then we get to Katie and Samuel. Katie’s birth date is March 1887, which is somewhat consistent with Gitel’s age of three on the second manifest in 1891. But her birthplace is New York, not Austria. And that seems consistent with this birth record for a Gitel Brotman born to Morris Brotman in New York City on March 24, 1888.

But if Kate was born in New York in 1888, why was she on a ship coming to America in 1891? And who is Annie Lebel, the woman listed as her mother?

And what about Samuel? The 1900 census reports that he was born October 1889 in Austria. So he wasn’t born after the family arrived in 1891, but in Europe in 1889. Why isn’t he on that ship manifest?

On that note, notice that the census record shows that Moses, Chay, and Sadie immigrated in 1886, but that Samuel immigrated in 1891. How do we make any sense out of that?

And where is Abraham? He would have been about nine in 1900, but he is missing from the census. I cannot find Abraham at all after the 1895 census. There does not appear to be a death record for him or any other record. He just disappeared. Like Morsche/Mosche.

It doesn’t get better with the 1905 NJ census.

Moses Brotman and family, 1905 New Jersey census, New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, NJ, USA; State Census of New Jersey, 1905; Reference Number: L-14; Film Number: 38
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1905

First of all, Kate isn’t listed at all nor is Sadie. Sadie had married in 1901 and moved to New York, but Kate didn’t marry Abraham Allen until 1907, so she is just missing and doesn’t appear elsewhere on the NJ census. Perhaps she’d gone to live somewhere out of state.  Samuel’s birth date is now August 1890, and his birthplace is still Austria. Moses and Clara’s birth dates have also changed since the 1895 NJ census.

Things continue in this inconsistent way with the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 US census records as well as with Samuel’s draft records for both World War I and World War II and his 1919 marriage license. Rather than describe each of these documents, I prepared this chart that shows the birthplaces and dates (or ages) for Kate and Samuel on these records. You may have to click on the image to zoom in and read it.

You can see that Kate never reports a European birth and that Samuel sometimes does, sometimes does not.  You also can see that Kate’s birth date jumps around as does Samuel’s birth date, but that Kate is always older than Samuel. Kate is always reported to have been born in the US, though the last two census records report New Jersey and Pennsylvania, not New York. Samuel’s birthplace is even less consistent—Austria, Austria, Russia, New Jersey, Austria, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Russia, New Jersey. Yikes!

What are we to make of all this? I have a couple of theories.

  1. Moses and Chane/Clara/Chay (later Ida) came to the US before 1888, had Katie, and returned to Europe with her, had Samuel and Abraham in Europe, and then returned to the US in 1891. Supporting this theory is this birth certificate for a Gitel Brotman. Problems with this theory: There is no manifest showing Chane or Sadie arriving in the US before 1888. The mother’s name on the NYC birth certificate doesn’t match Chane, though Annie is pretty close. But later records show that Chane/Clara/Ida’s birth surname was Reis, not Lebel.  Could this be a different mother? If so, what happened to her? I cannot find any other records for her. Did Annie Lebel die, leading Moses to return to Europe with Gitel/Kate and bring Chane back with the other children? Also, if Samuel was born in Europe before 1891, why isn’t he on the manifest with his family in 1891?
  2. Kate was born in Europe but for some reason was told and always believed that she was born in the US. Problems with this theory: Why would her parents have done this from 1895 on? And how does that explain the birth certificate seen above? And why lie about Kate’s birthplace, but then have Samuel’s birth taking place in Europe?
  3. Samuel was not the biological child of Moses and Chane Brotman, but a child they adopted into their family after arriving in the US. This would explain why Samuel was not with the family on the 1891 ship manifest. It’s also supported by the fact that the 1900 census records a different date of immigration for Moses, Chay, and Sadie (1885) than for Samuel (1891), even though those dates are not consistent with the ship manifests I found for Moses, Chay, and Sadie. But then when did Samuel immigrate? Or was he actually born in the US?

Where do I go from here? I have located a descendant of Samuel Brotman. I could ask her to do a DNA test to see if she matches me and Kate’s great-grandsons as closely as the records suggest.  Both Kate and Samuel died too recently for me, as a non-descendant, to obtain their death certificates, but perhaps one of the direct descendants can get access to those. I just am skeptical that those certificates will have any information that is any more reliable than all the other US records.

What do you all think? What would you do next?



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