Final Chapter: The Dreyfuss Family in America

My three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and her two sisters, Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler, came to America and along with their husbands they settled in Pennsylvania where their husbands started as peddlers and then became merchants.  Two of the sisters married Nusbaum brothers: my three-times great grandfather John Nusbaum and his brother Maxwell Nusbaum.  They all had several children.  They all suffered financial hardship, untimely deaths of family members, and in some cases, terrible tragedies.  Today there are no living descendants of Mathilde Dreyfuss.   Jeanette Dreyfuss and John Nusbaum have a number of living descendants, myself included, of course.

As for the family of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, I have written about the lives of their daughter Fanny Wiler and her children and of their son Simon Wiler.  Of their daughter Eliza’s five children, Flora and Nellie were the only ones still alive in 1920, and the only grandchild alive was Flora’s son Lester Strouse.  In 1920, Lester was 32 and working in advertising, living at home with his mother Flora.  In 1928, Lester married Mabel Schoultz; he was forty, and she was 37.  Mabel was born in Pennsylvania, and her parents were born in Sweden.  In 1930, she and Lester were living in the Plaza Hall apartments in Philadelphia.  Lester was still in the advertising business, a field in which he remained for his career.

Lester’s mother Flora was living as a boarder in 1930 at 1712 Mt. Vernon Street in Philadelphia; she listed her marital status as widowed.  In 1940 she was living as a boarder at 2008 Spring Garden Street; her son Lester and his wife Mabel were living in Cheltenham, a suburban community thirteen miles north of Philadelphia.

 

In August, 1941, Nellie Simon Loux, died at 66 of breast cancer, and her nephew Lester paid the bill for her funeral.  A year later Flora Simon Strouse Heulings, Lester’s mother and Nellie’s sister, died in November 1942 from chronic myocarditis. She was 76 years old.  Flora had been residing at the Majestic Hotel before becoming a patient at the Bella Vista Sanitarium in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where she died.  Nellie and Flora were buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery with their parents and siblings.

Flora’s death certificate is yet another example of how unreliable these documents can be.  It says her father’s name was Simon Weiler, when in fact her father was Leman Simon.  Wiler was her mother Eliza’s maiden name.  Apparently whoever filled this out conflated the two surnames.  The certificate also represents that Flora was widowed, which she was when her first husband Nathan Strouse died.  But the husband listed here, Albert C. Heulings, was alive and well and living in Chicago with his second wife.  As the 1920 census had indicated, Flora was divorced, not a widow. Although the 1930 census said she was a widow and the 1940 listed her as single, the 1920 is likely the most accurate.  It’s not surprising that someone grieving would make these mistakes.

Thus, by the end of 1942, all of the children of Eliza and Leman Simon had now passed away.  Their only surviving descendant was their grandson Lester.  That last descendant died on October 14, 1960, from coronary thrombosis; he was 71 years old.  Lester, an advertising salesman all his career, was survived by his wife Mabel.  There were no children, and thus that was the end of the family line for Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon.

That left only the children of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers to carry on the line of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler.  As of 1920, Daniel and Clara as well as their children Bertha, Samuel, and Harry were gone.  I also discussed Leon Meyers’ death in my last post.  By 1920, all the other children except for Milton, the youngest, were married and had settled on careers, and many had had children.  In the rest of this post I will review how each of those children fared.

In 1920 Isadore Meyers was a clothing manufacturer, married to Elsie Goodman, with two sons, Robert and David.  I had not had much luck finding Isadore in any city directories until I found a listing that included his company’s name, which was Meyers & Obermayer.  I was able to find the company listed as early as 1911, selling “pantaloons.”  Here is a small classified ad from 1915 that I found in which they were looking to purchase a second hand pressing machine for their trousers business.

Philadelphia Inquirer  January 31, 1915 p. 11

Philadelphia Inquirer January 31, 1915 p. 11

The last listing I could find for Meyers & Obermayer in Philadelphia was in 1925.  There are also listings for a clothing manufacturer called Obermyer & Myers in Norristown during the 1910s and 1920s, but I don’t know whether that is just a coincidence or the same business.

In 1930 Isadore, Elsie and their sons were living at 1228 65th Avenue, and Isadore was still a clothing manufacturer.  I was unable to find any records for the family between 1930 and 1940, but the 1940 census finds Isadore, Elsie and David still living at 1228 65th Avenue.   Their older son Robert must have been living elsewhere.

By 1950, Isadore’s business was known as Meyers and Sons, as listed in the 1950 Philadelphia phonebook.  Isadore died on November 1, 1960, from heart disease.  He was 81 years old.  His wife Elsie died fourteen years later on December 23, 1974.  She was 92 years old.  They are buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery.

Isadore Meyers death cert

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Max, the next son, was a mechanical engineer working at Newton Machine Tool Works and married to Henrietta Klopfer.  They had a son Donald, born in 1918, and a daughter Dorothy born in 1923.  Almost every year, Max, Henrietta, and their children took a cruise together.  On December 1, 1939, just a few months after their last cruise, Max died from prostate cancer.  He was only 58 years old.  His widow Henrietta lived until April 1977; they are both buried at Mt. Sinai.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In 1920, Benjamin and Leona (Faulcher) Meyers were living in Collingswood, New Jersey, with Leona’s parents, and Benjamin was working as an optometrist.  Benjamin and Leona had two children in the 1920s, Margaret born in 1924, and Clara, named for his mother, born in 1926.  In 1930, the family was back in Philadelphia at 6418 North 16th Street, and Benjamin was now working as a manager in a cotton yarns business, presumably that of his younger brother Clarence, discussed in my last post and below.  The family was still living at that address in 1940 (Margaret was now listed as Rosebud), and Benjamin’s occupation was now reported to be a superintendent in a factory, again his brother Clarence’s yarn business.  He and Leona were now in their fifties and their daughters were teenagers.  His 1942 World War II draft registration confirmed that Benjamin was working with his brother Clarence.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 212

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; State Headquarters: Pennsylvania; Microfilm Series: M1951; Microfilm Roll: 212

 

Benjamin and Leona moved to Camden, New Jersey, the following year.  He died on October 21, 1956, from heart disease.  He was 73 years old.  He and Leona were then living in Audobon, New Jersey, and his occupation was reported to be a superintendent for Clarence L. Meyers & Company.  Leona died less than three years later on April 3, 1959, also of heart disease.  She was 73.

Clarence, the cotton yarns manufacturer, had been in that business since 1910, originally operating as the Elm Converting Company.  In 1920, he and his wife Estelle were living at 2251 North Park Avenue with their one year old daughter, Nancy.  Clarence and Estelle apparently loved to travel.  From as early as 1924 and all through the 1930s and 1940s, the family traveled to many places, according to the numerous ship manifests I located.  His business was seemingly quite successful as at least two of his brothers, Benjamin and Milton, as well as at least one of his nephews were also at one time or another working in the business.

In 1940 Clarence, Estelle, and Nancy were living at 707 Medary Avenue, along with Estelle’s mother, a butler, and a servant.  They were still living there in 1942 when Clarence registered for the draft and also in 1950, according to the 1950 Philadelphia phonebook.

Sadly, on February 5, 1951, Clarence lost his wife Estelle to cancer.  She was sixty years old.  Clarence continued to travel after Estelle died, including a cruise around the world in 1953 and trips to Argentina and to Italy in 1954 and 1955. Clarence died in April, 1961, in Dade County, Florida.  He was 75 years old.  He and Estelle are buried in Mt. Sinai cemetery, as is their daughter Nancy, who died just three years after her father Clarence.

The next brother was Franklin, an optometrist, who in 1920 was living with his wife Mae in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he had been since about 1914.  Franklin and Mae had a daughter Carolyn born in 1922.  Franklin and Mae remained in Pottstown throughout the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and Franklin had an optometry practice there throughout all those years.

Franklin_F__Meyers_ad-page-001

Franklin died on January 23, 1956, and I was able to find this detailed obituary published in the Pottsdown Mercury, the local newspaper, on January 24, 1956, pp. 1, 5:

Part_1_of_obit ff meyers-page-001

obit part 2

Like so many of his siblings, he died from heart related issues.  He was 68.  Despite living in Pottstown for over 40 years, he was buried back in Philadelphia at Mt. Sinai.  His widow Mae died twenty years later in Pottstown, and she also was buried at Mt. Sinai.

Miriam Meyers Strauss was married to Abram Strauss, a doctor, and living with him at 1836 North 17th Street in 1920. From a decision of the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Board in 1921, I was able to learn that Abram was a dermatologist.    He and Miriam had two sons, Daniel and Richard.  By 1930, they had moved to the suburb of Cheltenham, where they were also living in 1940.

After that I have no records for them until Miriam’s death on July 26, 1975.  I do not have her death certificate because the death is too recent, and I cannot locate an obituary, but I know that she is buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery with her with her parents and her siblings, but not with Abram.  I cannot find any record for Abram after his 1942 draft registration.

Miriam’s younger sister Charlotte was married to J. Albert Field, and in 1920, they were living at 1905 Diamond Street with her brothers Leon and Milton.  In 1930, they were still living at 1905 Diamond Street, but without any other family members or boarders.  Albert was still a department store manager.  Charlotte and Albert took a cruise together to Bermuda in 1931.  In 1940 they had moved to the Oak Lane Tower apartments.  Albert was continuing to work as a department store manager.

Charlotte died on October 8, 1940, just a few months after the 1940 census.  Although I have her burial records at Mt. Sinai, as with her sister Miriam, I cannot find a death certificate so I do not know her cause of death.  Also like Miriam, Charlotte was buried with her parents and siblings and not her husband.  However, Albert listed Charlotte’s brother Clarence as the person who would always know his address on his World War II registration in 1942.  It appears that Albert did remarry sometime after Charlotte died as his marital status at the time was married, and the name of his wife on his death certificate in 1958 was Frances.  Charlotte and Albert had not had any children.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records

Finally, we come to Milton, the baby of the family. In 1920, he was living with Charlotte, Albert, and Leon at 1905 Diamond Street, and he was working at Clarence’s yarn factory.  Milton married Beatrice Kaufmann sometime between 1920 and 1923 because their son James was born in 1924.  Beatrice was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a merchant.  In 1926 their second son Gordon was born.  On the 1930 census, they owned a house worth $35,000 in Cheltenham/Elkins Park.  Milton listed his occupation as a manufacturer of cotton yarns, still in business with his brother Clarence.  They were living in the same house in 1940 (now given a value of only $20,000 after ten years of the Depression), and Milton’s occupation remained the same.  Milton’s World War II draft registration is also consistent with these facts.

Throughout these years and the 1950s, Milton and Beatrice traveled frequently, taking trips to Cuba, England, and Argentina, for example.  Milton died May 8, 1975. He was living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time and was 79 years old.  He was buried in Mt. Sinai cemetery.  His widow Beatrice died in 1996 at age 93.  Her obituary fills in some of the details of her life:

Beatrice Kaufmann Meyers, 93, died Tuesday of cancer at her home in Jenkintown. Mrs. Meyers, who was a graduate of Beechwood Finishing School (now Beaver College), was the widow of Milton Meyers, owner of Clarence L. Meyers & Co., textile manufacturers.  She was a driver for the American Women’s Volunteer Services during World War II, and was active in the Orphan’s Guardian Program, which was similar to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  She was a member of Philmont Country Club for more than 70 years, and of Rodeph Shalom Congregation.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 1996, p. B04)      Interestingly, Beatrice was not buried at Mt. Sinai with her husband but at Shalom Memorial Park in Lower Moreland, Pennsylvania.

And that brings me to the end of the story of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, their children, and their grandchildren.    Of course, there are other descendants, many of whom are still living.  Looking back on this line of my family, I see a family that truly suffered greatly.  Deaths from tuberculosis, a child killed by matches, financial crises, many adults who did not live to see their grandchildren.  But I also see a resilient family.  The children of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers in particular were able to overcome their father’s business problems and create their own businesses that were quite successful, allowing them to travel and provide homes and continuity for their children.

It’s another example of the much sought after American dream.  In seventy years the family started by two people born in Germany who came to the United States in the mid-19th century with little more than their diligence and persistence had grown to include a number of successful descendants: a clothing manufacturer, a cotton yarn manufacturer, several optometrists, and a mechanical engineer.  They overcame incredible tragedies and losses, but they nevertheless thrived in this country that had attracted their grandparents for just those opportunities for success.  So although this particular chapter has at times been very sad and upsetting, in the end it is an uplifting chapter.

 

 

 

 

Tuberculosis Continues to Ravage the Family: The Children of Fanny Wiler and Clara Wiler

In 1910, the three sons of Fanny Wiler were still living with their father Joseph Levy and stepmother Bella Strouse Levy as well as their half-sister Miriam, who had married Arthur Hanff.  Alfred, Leon, and Monroe Levy were all single and all employed in sales.  Alfred was in lumber sales, and Leon and Monroe were selling clothing.

Five years later Monroe succumbed to the same awful disease that had taken the life of his cousin Leon Simon the year before: tuberculosis.  Like Leon Simon, Monroe had been living at a sanitarium, the Dermady Cottages Sanitarium in Morton, Pennsylvania, ten miles outside of Philadelphia.  Monroe had been there since November 24, 1913, and he died on October 28, 1916, almost three years later. Like his cousin Leon, he did not have a family member sign the death certificate as the informant; in Monroe’s case, it was the undertaker who took on that responsibility.    Monroe was 42 years old.  He was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery, another young man whose life was cut short by TB.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

His two older brothers fared much better. Leon J. Levy married Minnie Howell in Philadelphia in 1910, apparently after the 1910 census had been taken.  Minnie was a Pennsylvania native and was 35 when she married Leon; he was 38.  On his World War I draft registration, Leon recorded his occupation as the manager of Walter D. Dalsimer, which was a dry goods and clothing merchant in Philadelphia.  In 1920, he was still the manager of a clothing store, and Minnie was working as a chiropodist.  Minnie’s parents were living with them at 5214 Spruce Street.  There were no children.

On February 11, 1929, Leon died from complications from an intestinal obstruction that led to general peritonitis and a ruptured and gangrenous appendix.  He was not yet 57 years old.  His brother Alfred J. Levy was the informant on the death certificate.  Leon’s wife Minnie died just three years later from coronary thrombosis and hypertension.  She was also only 57 years old.  They are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, a non-sectarian cemetery.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The oldest of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons, Alfred, married Josephine B. May in 1916.  He owned his own business, A. J. Lumber Company, and in 1917 was living in the Majestic, a grand hotel catering to the wealthy in those days.  Alfred and Josephine were still living there in 1918 as well, and on the 1920 census, they were still living there.  Alfred was then 51 years old, and his wife Josephine is listed as 22.  That means she was 18 when she married him, and he was 47.  (This family certainly liked to marry people who were significantly older or younger than they were.)  Alfred continued in the lumber business for many years.  In 1930 census, he was now 62, Josephine was 33, and there were no children, so it does not appear that the couple had any children.

 

Ten years later, Alfred was listed a widower on the 1940 census; he was living with his sister Miriam and her family, and he was still engaged in the lumber business.  Two years later, Alfred Levy died from liver cancer at 74 on November 15, 1942.  Contrary to the 1940 census, the death certificate indicates that Alfred was divorced, not a widower, at the time of his death. Since I cannot find a death certificate for Josephine, I assume that the death certificate is more accurate.[1] His last residence was with his sister Miriam and her husband Arthur Hanff, the informant on his certificate.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Like his brother Monroe, Alfred was buried at Rodeph Shalom cemetery.

Burial plots for Joseph, Alfred and Monroe Levy

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1112 Description Organization Name : Rodeph Shalom Cemetery Records

 

Thus, none of Fanny Wiley and Joseph Levy’s sons had children, and there are no descendants.  From the three oldest children of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler, there would be only one great-grandchild: Lester Strouse, the son of Flora Simon.  Lester was the only grandchild (of two) of Eliza Wiler and Leman Simon to survive to adulthood.  Fanny Wiler had no grandchildren.  Simon Wiler had no children.

Which brings me to Clara Wiler Meyers, the youngest child of Caroline Dreyfuss and Moses Wiler and the mother of thirteen children, eleven of whom survived to adulthood.  As of 1910, none of those children had married, although nine of the eleven were already in their 20s and 30s.  Only two of the eleven had moved out of the house.  In the next ten years most of those children moved out and on with their adult lives.  In addition, there were several losses.

First, Clara Wiler Meyers, the mother of all those children and widow of Daniel Meyers, died on November 7, 1918, from fatty myocarditis.  She was living at 1905 Diamond Street, an address where at one time or another during the 1910s several of her children resided.  Clara was 68 years old when she died.  She had outlived one child, Bertha, and her husband, Daniel.  She had weathered the financial and legal problems he had faced in the late 1890s.  She had given birth to thirteen babies, one stillborn, and she had raised eleven of those babies to adulthood.  Like so many women of her times, she did remarkable things but things that history would not have noticed.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Leon, her oldest surviving child, had moved out before 1910 and was working as optician and living at 1904 Somerset Street in 1911; the following year he was living and working on Market Street.  On his World War I draft registration form in 1917, Leon’s address was now 1905 Diamond Street,[2] the address where his mother was living, and he now described his occupation as a self-employed optometrist [3]working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, almost 50 miles from Philadelphia, where his younger brother Franklin had been an optician/optometrist since at least 1914.  In the 1918 directory which covered Pottstown, Leon is listed at the same business address as his younger brother Franklin, working as the manager of the optometry practice and residing at the YMCA.  The strangest thing about his draft registration is Leon’s entry for his nearest relative: Bessie H. Meyers, address unknown.  Had Leon married since 1910? How could he be married to someone whose address he did not know? And doesn’t the name look more like MYERS than MEYERS?

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907649; Draft Board: 29

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907649; Draft Board: 29

 

The 1920 census may answer some of those questions.  Leon is listed as divorced and living in the household of his younger sister Charlotte and her husband, J.A. Field, at 1905 Diamond Street back in Philadelphia, along with his younger brother Milton.  Leon’s occupation is reported to be drug salesman.  What happened to being an optometrist?

By 1923 Leon had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and resumed practicing optometry, as discussed below, after his brother Samuel died.  Leon is also listed in the Bethlehem directory with the same occupation in 1927.  Leon Meyers died from colon cancer at age 55 on February 14, 1930.  His brother Clarence was the informant on his death certificate.  His marital status was single, not divorced or widowed, so it would seem Leon had never married.  I still don’t know who Bessie Meyers was.

 

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Leon’s next oldest brother Samuel followed in his steps professionally, becoming an optometrist.  In 1912, Samuel was an optician in Philadelphia, living at 1906 Diamond Street, across the street from his mother and siblings Leon and Charlotte and Milton. By 1917, he had moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and was married to Mary Potts Hamilton, another Philadelphian.  They would have both been in their thirties when they married.  Samuel was an optometrist in Bethlehem, according to both the 1920 census and the 1920 Bethlehem directory.  There were no children.

Samuel died May 10, 1922, from tubercular peritonitis, an infection caused by the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis but that manifests outside of the lungs (at least that’s what I think I understood from what I read online).  Another family member thus succumbed to the deadly bacteria that causes TB.  Samuel was 46 years old.  It would seem that Leon moved to Bethlehem after Samuel died, perhaps to take over his optometry practice.  Samuel’s widow Mary lived another 14 years, and Samuel and Mary Hamilton Meyers are both buried at Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

Harry Meyers, the next brother, also died young.  He was a tailor, and in 1912 he was living at 1906 Diamond Street, the same address as his brother Samuel that year and across the street from his mother and Leon, who were at 1905 Diamond Street.  On his World War I draft registration, Harry was living at 1905 Diamond Street and said he was an unemployed tailor.  He gave his mother’s name as his closest relative.  Harry died a year after his mother on July 4, 1919.  Like his brother Samuel and his cousins Leon Simon and Monroe Levy, he died from tuberculosis.  He had been sick for over five years, according to his death certificate, having been treated since January, 1914.  That would explain why he was unemployed in September, 1918, when he registered for the draft.   Harry was 41 when he died.  He never married; he had no descendants.

 

Thus, two of Clara’s three oldest children died from tuberculosis before they were fifty years old. Leon, the oldest, made it to 55.  These three oldest sons did not leave behind any descendants.  Fortunately, the family’s luck changed with the remaining siblings, all but two of whom lived until at least 1956.  For these siblings, I will write about their lives until 1920 and then will write a separate post for the future years.

Isadore was the fourth brother, and he had been working as a traveling salesman in 1910, selling men’s clothing.  In 1915 he married Elsie Goodman, also a native Philadelphian and the daughter of a salesman, Beno Goodman.  Elsie and Isadore had a baby boy on May 1, 1916, who died that same day from atelectasis, a complete or partial collapse of the lungs.  This is often associated with premature birth.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In 1918 when he registered for the draft, Isadore’s occupation was a manufacturer.  He and Elsie were living at 812 North 15th Street, and they had a son born that year, Robert.  On the 1920 census, they were living on Camac Street, and Isadore’s younger brother Milton was also living with them.  They also had a servant living with them.  On June 19, 1920, not long after the census was taken, Elsie and Isadore had another son, David.

The brother who followed Isadore in birth order was Maxwell or Max.  In 1910 Max had been employed as a draftsman for a machine works company.  In 1912 Max was, like his older brothers, living at 1905 Diamond Street with his mother, and he continued to work as a draftsman.  In 1917 Max married Henrietta Klopfer, a Pennsylvania native and daughter of a millinery merchant.  On his World War I draft registration, Max reported his occupation to be a mechanical engineer for Newton Machine Tool Works in Philadelphia.  He and Henrietta were living at 1311 Ruscomb Street in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1918, their son Donald was born.  Their second child Dorothy was born five years later on September 3, 1923.   Here is a photo of one of the many machines made by Newton Machine Tool Works.

 

The sixth son was Benjamin Franklin Meyers.  (I do love that name.)  He was one of the earliest of the children to move away from home; in 1910, he was living in Trenton, New Jersey, working as a watchmaker.  He remained in New Jersey during the next decade, and he married Leona Faulcher, a Richmond, Virginia, native and daughter of a machinist who had been living in Camden, New Jersey in 1900 and 1910.  They were married as of September 1918 when Benjamin registered for the draft, and they were living in Collingswood, New Jersey.  Benjamin was now involved with aircraft production for the Victor Talking Machine Company, the company famous for the Victrola phonographs.  In September 1918, just when Benjamin was registering for the draft, the company converted to the production of aircraft parts as part of the war effort.

By Norman Bruderhofer (Collection of John Lampert-Hopkins) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Norman Bruderhofer (Collection of John Lampert-Hopkins) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1920, Benjamin and Leona were living with her parents in Collingswood along with her two sisters and their husbands.  Interestingly, Benjamin was now working as an optometrist like several of his brothers.  Benjamin and Leona would have two daughters in the 1920s, Margaret and Clara, the second obviously named for Benjamin’s mother, Clara Wiler Meyers.

Clarence was the next son in line after Benjamin.  In 1910 when he was 24, he was already engaged in the cotton yarns business, an industry to which he dedicated his entire career.  Despite being the seventh child, he was the first to marry.  He married Estelle Seidenbach in 1911; she was just 21, and he was 24.  She was also a Philadelphia native; her father was already retired at age 50 in 1900, according to the census.  In 1912, they were living at 2251 North Park Avenue.  On October 23, 1919, their daughter Nancy was born.  On the 1920 census, the family was still residing at 2251 North Park Avenue, and Clarence was still a cotton yarns merchant.  Googling his name brings up a number of results regarding his business and the patents they owned and/or developed.

Here’s one little news item from the November 1919 Underwear and Hosiery Review:

The Underwear & Hosiery Review, Volume 2 (Google eBook) Front Cover Knit Goods Publishing Corporation, 1919 - Hosiery industry

The Underwear & Hosiery Review, Volume 2 (Google eBook)
Knit Goods Publishing Corporation, 1919 – Hosiery industry

 

Next in line was Franklin, born just a year after Clarence.  He was, like some of his older brothers, an optometrist.  In 1912, he was also still living with his family at 1906 Diamond Street. By 1914, he named his occupation as an optician in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, but by 1918 when he registered for the draft, he gave his occupation as optometrist.  At that time he was living and working in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was still single.  Sometime between 1918 and 1920, however, Franklin married Mae Gross, a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and daughter of a clothing salesman.  Bloomsburg is 114 miles northwest of Pottstown, so it would be interesting to know how these two met.  In 1920, they were living in Pottstown, where Franklin continued to practice optometry.  They would have one child, Carolyn, born in 1922.

Finally, after having eight boys in a row, Clara and Daniel had a daughter, Miriam, born in 1892, five years after Franklin was born.  In 1910, Miriam had been only eighteen and was still at home.  In 1914, she married Abram Strauss.  He was born in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, in 1887; he was 27, and Miriam was 21 when they married.  Abram was a physician, and in 1916 he and Miriam were living at 600 Butler Avenue in Philadelphia.  Their first child, Daniel, was born that year.  They were still living at 600 Butler as of June, 1917, when Abram registered for the draft.  In 1920, Abram, Miriam and Daniel were living at 1848 North 16th Street, and Abram’s mother Mary, sister Helena, and aunt Clara were also living with them.  Only Abram and his sister were working outside the home.  By the next year Miriam, Abram, and Daniel were living at 1836 North 17th Street.  I am not sure how many of those in the 1920 household moved with them.  Miriam and Abram also had another child Richard in September, 1921.

The penultimate child of Clara Wiler and Daniel Meyers was Charlotte or Lottie, born a year after Miriam.  She married J. Albert Field in 1914 when she was 21; he was 33.  He was an assistant manager of a department store and the son of a salesman born in Northern Ireland and a woman born in New York.  In September 1918 when he registered for the draft, Albert and Miriam were living at 1905 Diamond Street, and Albert was a manager at John Wanamaker’s Department Store.  They were still living there in 1920, as mentioned above, along with Miriam’s oldest brother Leon and her youngest brother Milton.

 

Which brings me to Milton, the youngest of the children, born in 1896, so only fourteen in 1910.  He was living with his mother and siblings in 1918 when he registered for the draft and was working for his brother Clarence in the cotton yarns business. Milton served in the Navy from December 1917 until December 1918 during World War I. He was living at 1905 Diamond in 1920, as stated above, and working with Clarence.

Thus, by 1920, Clara Wiler Meyers and two of her adult children, Samuel and Harry, had died.  Several of the other sons had gone into optometry; one son was an engineer, one was a clothing manufacturer, one was a cotton yard manufacturer, and one was working in the production of aircraft parts. One daughter had married a doctor, and one a department store manager.  All of the children alive in 1920 other than Leon and Milton had married between 1910 and 1920; there were also a number of grandchildren born during the decade.  So although there were some terrible losses during this decade, for many members of the family the decade brought both some professional and personal successes.  Certainly Clara’s family overall fared better than the families of her siblings Fanny and Eliza.

Here is a Google Street View shot of 1905 Diamond Street today:

I will bring the Caroline Dreyfuss story to an end in my next post before moving on to the last of the extended Dreyfuss/Nusbaum clan, the family of Ernst Nusbaum.

 

 

[1] I did find a Josephine Levy, born in Pennsylvania, living in New York City on the 1940 census, of the approximate age.  She was listed as married, but living as a lodger and not with a husband.  That could be Alfred’s ex-wife, but I can’t be sure.

[2] This is the same address found on Simon Wiler’s death certificate in 1911.  I cannot (yet) explain whether that is a coincidence or not.

[3] It appears that before the 20th century, the term “optician” was used to refer both to those who made glasses and those who evaluated eyesight for the need for those glasses.  According to Wikipedia, “Although the term optometry appeared in the 1759 book A Treatise on the Eye: The Manner and Phenomena of Vision by Scottish physician William Porterfield, it was not until the early twentieth century in the United States and Australia that it began to be used to describe the profession.”    All of the Meyers brothers who started out as opticians eventually switched from the term optician to the term optometrist to describe their occupation.