The “Disappearance” of Arthur Cohen, My Grandfather’s First Cousin

Way back in July, 2014, I wrote about my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s youngest sibling, his brother Abraham, the thirteenth child of my great-great-grandparents Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs. What I reported was that Abraham, born in Philadelphia on March 29, 1866, had married Sallie McGonigal in 1886, and they had five children, but three of those children died in childhood. Only two children survived—their son Leslie, their second child, and their son Arthur, their fifth and youngest child. There were almost twenty years between the two boys: Leslie was born in 1889, Arthur in 1907.  They lost their mother Sallie to the dreadful flu epidemic on March 14, 1919.

Gravestone for Sallie and Abraham Cohen, courtesy of Michael DeVane

Abraham Cohen remarried in 1920, and I was able to trace Abraham and his son Leslie up through their deaths, as described here.

But Arthur’s story was unfinished. The last record I had for him was the 1930 census when he was living with his father Abraham and stepmother Elizabeth in Philadelphia and working in a gas station. He was 23 at the time. After that, he disappeared. I could find other Arthur Cohens who matched in some ways, but not in others. Thus, I was unable to find anything after 1930 that was definitely about my Arthur Cohen.

Abe Cohen and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0505; FHL microfilm: 2341874
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Censu

Until, that is, about a month ago when I received a comment on the blog from someone named Michael DeVane, who wrote, “I came across your blog while searching for information on Abraham Cohen, my grandfather. My father was Arthur Cohen. You really helped me fill in some of the missing information on my family. If you want to reach out to me, I will gladly help fill in some missing information to our family tree.” I immediately wrote back to Michael, and we arranged to chat by telephone a few days later.

To prepare for the conversation, I went back to all the research I’d done about Abraham and his family. One thing puzzled me. If Michael’s father was Arthur Cohen, why was his surname DeVane? Well, that clue led me to find more information, and then my conversation with Michael confirmed what I’d uncovered and added more insights. There was a very good reason that I’d not been able to find Arthur Cohen after 1930. By 1931, he’d changed his name to Arthur DeVane.

Once I knew that Arthur had in fact changed his name to DeVane, I located a marriage in the Philadelphia marriage index for Arthur DeVane and Ruth Bussard dated 1931. 1 Michael found in his family records the following document that confirmed that this marriage record was indeed for his father, born Arthur Cohen. It is his father’s baptismal certificate under the name Arthur Cohen with his parents identified.

On the reverse, it notes that Arthur changed his name to DeVane and that he married Ruth Bussard on September 30, 1931, at St. Agnes Church in Philadelphia. Michael thought he might contact the church authorities to see if the record for the name change can be located.

Michael had understood that his father changed his name from Cohen to avoid anti-Semitism, but now we both wonder whether it also had to do with the marriage to Ruth Bussard. Perhaps she didn’t want to take on such an obviously Jewish name. As you can see from the headstone above, both of Arthur’s parents identified as Catholic and are buried in a Catholic cemetery, so Arthur was neither raised Jewish nor identified himself as Jewish.

In any event, the marriage to Ruth did not last. In September 1939, Ruth filed for divorce, and in February 1940, divorce was granted.2 Ruth remarried later that year.3

On the 1940 census, Arthur was living as a lodger with a family, listing his marital status as single and his occupation as a signal man for the railroad.4

On January 8, 1942, Arthur DeVane enlisted in the US armed services and served during World War II until September 5, 1945, including almost two and a half years serving overseas.5 During that time, while stationed in England , he met his second wife, Nellie Keep. Nellie was born April 1, 1917, in Oxford, England to Edward Keep and Nellie Massey. She and Arthur were married in New Hampshire on December 18, 1947. Like Arthur, Nellie had been previously married and divorced.

Marriage record of Arthur Devane and Nellie Keep, New England Historical Genealogical Society; New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire, Ancestry,com. New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947

The record for their marriage is interesting. Arthur reported that his father’s name was Leslie DeVane, not Abraham Cohen, the true name of his father. He also reported that his father had been a jeweler, when in truth, like so many of my Cohen relatives, Abraham had been a pawnbroker. Michael wasn’t sure whether Arthur did this to hide his background from his new wife or for some other reason, but Nellie did at some point know the truth of Arthur’s family background because she revealed it to Michael.

Part of the family lore is that Arthur had hoped to take over his father’s pawnbroker business, but that his father Abraham lost the business when his second wife Elizabeth died in 1939 and her family acquired it and apparently pushed Abraham out. That is why, as noted in my earlier post, Abraham’s death certificate in 1944 listed his occupation as elevator operator—a job he’d had to take after losing his business.

Abraham Cohen death certificate.

That meant Arthur also lost the business. Instead, Arthur ended up rejoining the military and spent most of his career serving his country in the US Air Force, as has his son Michael. Arthur was stationed over the years in England, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. He retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force after twenty years of service.

Arthur DeVane, born Arthur Cohen, died on April 16, 1976, in Burlington, New Jersey. He was sixty-eight years old.6  He was survived by his wife Nellie, who died in 2005, 7 and their three children and their grandchildren.

Michael kindly shared with me the following photograph of his father as a boy.

Arthur Cohen (later DeVane). Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I saw some similarity between young Arthur and his first cousin, once removed, my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., as a little boy, but it could just be the haircut.

John Cohen Sr as a baby

Michael also shared the following photograph of his father Arthur in 1948:

Arthur DeVane, 1948. Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I don’t see many resemblances here to either my father or my grandfather, except perhaps around the mouth and the large forehead.

John N. Cohen, Sr., 1921

John N. Cohen, Jr. c. 1945

I am so grateful to my cousin Michael, my father’s second cousin, for finding me and sharing his father’s story and photographs with me.

 

 


  1. Arthur J DeVane, Gender: Male, Spouse: Ruth H Bussard, Spouse Gender: Female
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1931
    Marriage License Number: 606549, Digital GSU Number: 4141671, Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  2. The Philadelphia Inquirer – 27 Feb 1940 – Page 11, found at https://www.newspapers.com/clip/59928918/divorce-granted/?xid=637&_ga=2.20757178.305149426.1602707833-2106877110.1599576721 
  3. Ruth Devane, Gender: Female, Spouse: Marturano, Spouse Gender: Male
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1940
    Marriage License Number: 716706, Digital GSU Number: 4141873, Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  4.  Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03723; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 51-1118, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Arthur J DeVane, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907, Birth Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Gender: Male, Residence Date: 2 May 1950, Residence Place: Upper Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania, USA, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, World War II Veteran Compensation Application Files, 1950-1966 
  6. Arthur Devane, Social Security Number: 182-10-8245, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 08016, Burlington, Burlington, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: Apr 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Nellie A Devane, Social Security Number: 144-38-3406, Birth Date: 1 Apr 1917
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New Jersey, Death Date: 26 Jun 2005, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Henriette Werner Cohen and Her Children: Escaping from Germany

Helene Katzenstein Werner died in 1912, and her husband Max died seven years later in 1919. Their son Carl was killed fighting for Germany in World War I. Helene and Max were survived by four of their five children—Henriette, Elsa, Rosa, and Moritz—and many grandchildren. What happened to those children and grandchildren when Hitler came to power in 1933?

We know that Elsa and her husband Julius Loewenthal survived and immigrated eventually to the US, as did two of their four children, but their daughter Ruth and her husband were killed in a terrible car accident in Switzerland in 1937, and Ruth’s orphaned daughter Margot was later murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor. Their son Herbert spent the war years in a sanitorium in Zurich and lived the rest of his life in Switzerland.

What about Elsa Werner Loewenthal’s three siblings? What happened to them? As we will see, they all survived, but ended up spread throughout the world. Today’s post is about her sister Henriette Werner Cohen.

Henriette and her family ended up in the United States, as had Elsa. But Henriette first endured the tragedy of losing her husband Julius Cohen. He died on June 7, 1933, in Hamburg, just two months after Hitler’s rise to power; he was 64.

Julius Cohen death record, Year Range and Volume: 1933 Band 01, Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950

Julius was survived by Henriette and their three children, Mary, Manfred, and Willy, who all left Germany for the US in the 1930s. Manfred left first; he arrived in the US on December 24, 1936, but the ship manifest indicated that he was only planning to stay for three months. The person he listed as his contact in the US was a cousin, Max Stern. I assume this referred to Hilda Loewenthal’s husband Max Stern, the founder of Hartz Mountain Corporation. Manfred listed his mother as his contact back in Germany; she was still living in Hamburg, but Manfred listed his last residence as Eschwege, his mother’s birthplace. I wonder whether he was working for his uncle/cousin Julius Loewenthal.1

Manfred returned home to Germany, but then came again to the US two years later on April 4, 1938, this time intending to stay permanently. By that time he was married to Caecilie Gundersheimer. Caecilie was born on February 10, 1915,2 the daughter of Samuel Gundersheimer and Bertha Schwarzschild.3  According to the ship manifest, she was born in “Kleinheubad,” Germany, which I assume is a misspelling of Kleinheubach, as I cannot find any place (in Germany or elsewhere) named Kleinheubad. When Caecilie’s parents immigrated to the US the following year, they were going to Reading, Pennsylvania, where Manfred and Caecilie had settled.4

Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 46, Ship or Roll Number: Queen Mary,
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Manfred’s brother Willy Wolf Cohen also immigrated permanently to the US in 1938. He arrived on August 19 of that year, listing his mother Henriette in Hamburg as the person left behind and his brother Manfred of Reading, Pennsylvania as the contact person in the US.5  He filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on October 12, 1938, at which time he was living in Reading, presumably with his brother Manfred.

Willy Wolf Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

Their mother Henriette and sister Mary finally arrived the following year, January 26, 1939, also listing Manfred as the person they were going to in the United States.6 On the 1940 census, Henriette was living with her son Manfred in Reading, along with his wife and his in-laws.  Manfred was the owner of a mushroom plant there, and his wife Caecilie worked there as well, as did her father Samuel Gundersheimer.

Manfred Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03679; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 70-53, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But when he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, Manfred listed his employer as the American Photocopy Equipment Company.

Manfred Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 439, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s siblings Mary and Willy do not appear on that 1940 census with him and his mother although Mary’s declaration of intention filed on June 26, 1939, shows she was still residing in Reading at that time.

Mary Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

I am not certain, but I think I located both Mary and William living in New York at the time of the 1940 census. There is a Mary Cohen, age 35, working as a maid in Brooklyn, who could be Mary as her residence in 1935 was Hamburg, Germany. But Mary would have been 37 in 1940, so I can’t be positive this is the same Mary Cohen, although this is the only Mary Cohen who comes close to matching my Mary.7

There was a Willy Cohen living in Queens, New York, in 1940, married to a woman named Hilda who had last been living in Strasbourg, France.8  But I don’t think this is my Willy; according to my Willy Cohen’s petition for naturalization, filed in June 1944, he didn’t marry his wife, Hildegarde Goldbach, until March 15, 1942, at which time he was living in Cleveland. Hildegarde, who was born on May 13, 1920, in Eschwege, immigrated in August 1940; she was the daughter of Abraham Goldbach and Luise Muller.9

Willy Wolf Cohen, naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

So where was Willy Wolf Cohen in 1940? There is a William H. Cohen living in Manhattan as a lodger on the 1940 census, single, 34 years old, born in Germany, with no occupation listed. Again, I can’t be certain this is the right person, but he is the only other William Cohen on the 1940 census who matches the age and birthplace of my Willy, and as noted on his petition for naturalization, Willy had adopted the name William Henry Cohen in the US, matching “William H. Cohen.”

William H. Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02641; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31-736, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But not long after the enumeration of the 1940 census, Henriette, Mary, and William all moved to Cleveland, Ohio. As seen above, William’s 1944 petition for naturalization indicates that he’d moved to Cleveland by June 1, 1940; the petition also lists his occupation as a service engineer.

Henriette moved to Cleveland by November 1940, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944.10 Mary moved to Cleveland in March 1941, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944; she was working as a nurse at that time.11

Comparing all three petitions, it appears that Henriette, Mary and William were all living at the same address, 1040 Parkwood Drive in Cleveland, when they petitioned for naturalization. Henriette’s petition is also interesting in that it reports that by 1944, Manfred had moved to Philadelphia from Reading, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, I could not find any information for Henriette or any of her children after the 1940s except for information about their deaths. Henriette died in March 1951 in Cleveland, as seen in this death notice from the Cleveland Plain Dealer of March 21, 1951; she was 69 years old.

Henriette Cohen, obituary, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 21, 1951, p. 30.

Aside from a 1950 telephone directory listing, I cannot find any other record of Manfred in Philadelphia except for this obituary from the November 30, 1973 Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:

Manfred Cohen, obituary, The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, November 30, 1973, p. 67

He died on November 18, 1973, in Philadelphia; he was 69, the same age his mother had been when she died and just five years older than his father had been at his death in 1933.

But Henriette’s other two children both lived longer lives. Mary died on February 10, 1993, in Beachwood, Ohio; she was 90.11 William died at 89 on April 9, 1995. 12 Unfortunately I was unable to find an obituary or a death notice for either of them.

Henriette and her children were survived by the children of Manfred and William; Mary has no direct descendants. There are many other descendants living today because Henriette and her children were able to get out of Germany in time.

 


  1. Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 203, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Caecilie Cohen, Social Security Number: 179-14-7310, Birth Date: 10 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 21215, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, Death Date: 21 Jan 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. Obituary of Bertha Gundersheimer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 16, 1968, p. 32; Berta Gundersheimer, Maiden Name: Schwarzschild, Birth Date: 6 Sep 1887, Birth Place: Schluchtern, Last Residence: Frankfurt/M., Departure: Emigrated, Date of Departure: 2 Apr 1939, Destination: North America, German Special Interest Group of JewishGen, comp. Germany, Data on 7,400 North Bavarian Jews 
  4. Samuel and Bertha Gundersheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 46; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Willy Wolf Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 93, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Henriette Cohen and Mary Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 47, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9MY-RH6G?cc=2000219&wc=QZXR-H21%3A790105101%2C795835101%2C804245901%2C804301301 : accessed 27 August 2020), New York > Kings > New York City, Brooklyn, Assembly District 18 > 24-2048B New York City, Brooklyn Borough Assembly District 18 (Tract 343 – part) > image 1 of 16; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  8. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MB-GJSV?cc=2000219&wc=QZXT-HLF%3A790105101%2C805603701%2C805654201%2C805688901 : accessed 14 August 2020), New York > Queens > New York City, Queens, Assembly District 3 > 41-679B [from 41-679]: New York City, Queens Borough Assembly District 3 (Tract 271 – part) > image 18 of 30; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  9. Hildegarde Goldbach, petition for naturalization, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 106651 – 107164, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946. Hildegard Doris Cohen, [Hildegard Doris Goldbach] , Birth Date: 13 May 1920, Birth Place: Eschwege, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Mar 1993, Father: Abraham Goldbach, Mother: Luise Mueller, SSN: 285420684, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  10. Henriette Cohen, Naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 
  11. Mary Cohen, Age: 90, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1902, Death Date: 10 Feb 1993, Death Hospital: Other/Nursing Home, Death Place: Beachwood, Cuyahoga, USA, Father: Cohen, Occupation: Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, Ohio Department of Health; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2018 
  12. William H Cohen, Birth Date: 29 Mar 1906, Death Date: 9 Apr 1995, Claim Date: 14 Dec 1970, SSN: 063144546, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Hannah and Henry Goldsmith, My Double Cousins: An Update

I have been working on the family of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, the oldest son of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle, for months. We have already discussed four of Jacob’s five children: Helene, Regina, Julius, and Mayer/Marcel, and there is one more child to discuss. Then I can move on to Jacob’s sister Malchen and his two younger brothers, Selig and Falk. As you can see, there are still a lot of Goldschmidts to discuss. Given that I started writing about the Goldschmidts almost two and a half years ago, it looks like I will still be writing about them at least until the end of 2020 if not into 2021. That’s more time than I’ve spent on any of my other family lines. Wow.

But before I go on to Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child, I need to do some catching up. It seems that the COVID19 pandemic has led many people stuck at home to research their family history. And I’ve heard from quite a few new Goldschmidt/Goldsmith cousins who Googled an ancestor’s name and found my blog. I’ve gotten new photographs, new stories, and new names to add to the family tree. So for the next few weeks, I am going to post this new information and update the posts where I first wrote about the relevant family.

Today’s post is about the families of two of Simon Goldschmidt’s children, the two born in the US, Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Henry Goldsmith, who were my double cousins as their mother was my three-times great-aunt  Fradchen Schoenthal, my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal’s sister.

First, I want to share some photographs and documents and a story about the family of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, my first cousin, three times removed.  She was born in Baltimore in 1848 and had three sons who survived to adulthood, Jake, Herschel, and Centennial Harry Benedict.

In April, 2020, I heard from Hannah’s great-great-grandson Bruce Velzy, who is also the great-grandson of Jake Benedict; he had found my blog posts about his ancestors and wanted to share some photographs, including this one of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict that I posted earlier and had restored by the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook.

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, restored photo. Courtesy of her family

This is Hannah’s husband, Joseph Benedict:

Joseph Benedict, courtesy of Bruce Velzy

Bruce also shared a photograph of Hannah’s three sons. We weren’t completely sure who was who, but since Harry was the youngest, six years younger than Jake, five years younger than Hershel, I think he is the boy in the center.

Sons of Hannah Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict, c. 1890. Courtesy of the family

Bruce also had some very interesting documents, including this application for a Civil War pension filed by Joseph Benedict:

I learned several things from this document—that Joseph and Hannah were married by Rabbi Naumberg on April 17, 1867, in Pittsburgh. Even more important is the fact that Joseph and Hannah had two children who died as infants whom I’d not discovered. Their first child Emily, born October 19, 1868, died just three months later in December, and their fifth child Sydney was born on March 29, 1889, and died two months later in May, 1889. I am so glad I can add them to the family tree and preserve their memory for I am sure they were loved and mourned by their family.

I looked for birth and death certificates for Emily and Sydney, but did not find any. I did, however, find their gravestones on FindAGrave and also a death notice for Sydney on his FindAGrave memorial.

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Emilie Benedict (Oct 1868–Dec 1868), Find a Grave Memorial no. 109102550, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Corey & Douglas Marshall-Steele (contributor 47477063) .

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Sidney G. Benedict (29 Mar 1889–17 May 1889), Find a Grave Memorial no. 90777547, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by DGG (contributor 47020054) .

 

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 June 2020), memorial page for Sidney G. Benedict (29 Mar 1889–17 May 1889), Find a Grave Memorial no. 90777547, citing Troy Hill Jewish Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by DGG (contributor 47020054) .

Death: Benedict—on May 17 at 10 in the evening, Sidney G., youngest son of Joseph and Hannah Benedict. Funeral to be held at the parents’ home, [address], on Sunday, May 19, at 2 in the afternoon. Please no flowers.

(Note that the spelling of their first names on the gravestones and in the death notice is different from that used on the pension application written years later.)

In order for Hannah to receive the Civil War pension benefits as a widow after Joseph died, she had to prove her marriage. The pension application asked for a marriage record, and Joseph had written there was none as no records were kept at the time.

So in 1918 after Joseph died, Hannah applied for widow’s benefits and submitted this affidavit to prove her marriage:

Notice that Julius J. Streng, the witness, was 63 in 1918, meaning that at the time of the wedding in 1867 he would have been only twelve years old. So who was he and why was he at Hannah and Joseph’s wedding?

Well, I found his death certificate, and his mother’s birth name was Jenetta Benedict. I haven’t yet found evidence to prove it, but my hunch is that Jenetta was Joseph Benedict’s sister and that young Julius was his nephew.

UPDATE: My hunch was confirmed when I found Jeanette/Jenetta’s obituary in 1913 and it described Joseph Benedict as her brother.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 066001-069000
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

Bruce also had a copy of Hannah’s death certificate:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict death certificate

Of course, I love this because it is evidence of my double connection to Hannah as a Goldschmidt and as a Schoenthal.

Bruce shared with me that Joseph and Hannah’s two older sons, his great-grandfather Jake and great-great-uncle Herschel, dropped out of school in ninth grade in order to earn money so that their youngest brother Harry, who was an excellent student, would be able to attend college. Harry, as I wrote about here, ended up graduating from Cornell University as did his two sons Manson and William, and all three became highly successful and brilliant engineers.

In addition, Bruce’s sister Suzanne Midford left this comment on my blog post about her grandmother Helen Benedict Booher, Jake Benedict’s daughter:

My “Grandmommy Booher” was what’s now known as a social worker, one of the professions that grew out of the Jane Addams Hull House movement and the professionalization of women workers who helped to socialize new American immigrants in the 1920s and 30s. One aspect of this was the desire by members of the earlier (and more prosperous) German Jewish immigrant waves to give a leg up to, and help “Americanize” the (mostly poorer) Jewish immigrants from the later eastern European waves. To that end, the new immigrants were taught hygiene, cooking, language, ‘manners’ (American ones anyhow), and comportment. One of my dearest possessions is my grandmother’s bound copy of The Settlement Cookbook, which was a German-Jewish cookbook meant to teach a new immigrant Jewish housewife all the ways she should “be American”, from translating her old world dishes to new world methods and ingredients, to introducing her to “modern” culinary ideas, how to use unfamiliar kitchen implements, how to keep a clean house (by American standards), and a million little details about “life in America”. As a historian, I find it an invaluable window through which to understand my grandmother’s generation and the immigrant assimilations that characterized that period in our national history.

I am so happy that my cousins Suzanne and Bruce, my fourth cousins, once removed, found my blog and so generously shared with me these photographs, documents, and family stories that add new and important dimensions to their personalities and their lives.

One final addition, this one about Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s sister-in-law, Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, wife of Henry Goldsmith, Hannah’s brother. This photograph of Sarah was sent to me by my cousin Christian, Sarah and Henry’s great-great-grandson.

The story behind this photograph is that Christian received it in the mail from someone who found it in an antique shop in Portland, Oregon. Given that Sarah lived in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, her entire married life and that, as far as I know, none of her children or grandchildren or other descendants ended up near Oregon, it’s a mystery as to how this photograph traveled all the way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in an antique shop in Portland.

These little windfalls, these gifts, have brightened my days during the dark and scary time we’re living in.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

And finally, here is Stella’s obituary.

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

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

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

 

 

Helen Goldsmith and Edwin Meyer and Their Family

My last post shared photographs of Helen Goldsmith as a child and as a young woman. In this post I will share photos of Helen and her family from the time of Helen’s marriage to Edwin Meyer in 1914 through her adulthood. Once again, I am grateful to my cousin Marilyn, Helen’s granddaughter, for sharing these wonderful photographs with me. Most of the identifications of the people in these photograph came from Marilyn based on information she had.

To start, here is a photograph of the place cards that were used at Helen and Edwin’s wedding:

Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

As Helen noted, the wedding was on January 18, 1914 (the date is cut off on the photograph so it may look like it says 1912 or 1917, but it was definitely 1914). Helen was 24, and Edwin was 23. I wrote about Edwin and his background here.

Helen Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania

A little over a year later, Helen gave birth to Edgar on February 27, 1915;1 a second son Malcolm was born three years later on January 17, 1918.2 This photograph of the two little boys must have been taken some time in 1918 as Malcolm looks about six to nine months old:

Edgar and Malcolm Meyer, c. 1918. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

“Uncle Art,” to whom this photo must have been sent, was Edwin Meyer’s younger brother.

UPDATE: Peter Klopp kindly edited this photo to fix poor Edgar’s face:

edgar-and-malcolom-meyer-Edited by Peter Klopp

Here is Edwin Meyer with his two young sons about a year later, I’d guess.

Edwin, Malcolm, and Edgar Meyer, c. 1919. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

This one skips ahead to about 1923; Edgar looks about eight, Malcolm five.

Malcolm and Edgar Meyer, c. 1924. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In the next one Malcolm is a teenager so taken perhaps around 1935. This was a family golf outing, but not all the people in the photograph could be identified by Marilyn. Standing in the back from left to right are Helen Goldsmith Meyer, then two unidentified people, then Helen’s brother Walter Goldsmith, Edwin Meyer, and an unknown man on the far right. Kneeling in front are Edison Goldsmith (Walter’s son) and Malcolm Meyer.

Meyer family and others, c. 1935. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

I don’t know when this next photograph was taken, but I’d guess it was taken around the same time as the golf photograph based on a comparison of Helen’s face in the two photographs. This is a photograph of Helen (right) with her sister Florence. I love Helen’s comment: “Just sisterly affection brought out in the sunshine.”

Florence and Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

We skip ahead now to the 1940s and this sweet photograph of Helen hugging her son Malcolm, who was in uniform. Malcolm served in the US Army from May 4, 1942 until March 2, 1946, including serving overseas from August 20, 1943 until January 24, 1946.3

Helen Goldsmith Meyer and Malcolm Meyer, c. 1942. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In 1948, Helen and Edwin became grandparents when both of their sons had daughters. Here is a picture of the whole family showing off the two granddaughters. From left to right, standing: Esther Orringer Meyer (Edgar’s wife), Helen Goldsmith Meyer, Carolyn Schnurer Meyer (Malcolm’s wife). Front, Edgar Meyer holding his daughter, Edwin Meyer, and Malcolm Meyer holding his daughter.

Meyer family, 1948. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Finally, Marilyn shared these three photographs from the 1950s. In the first, we once again see the family playing golf. Dated October 19, 1952, from left to right are Milton Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith’s brother, about whom I wrote here, here, and here; Milton’s second wife and cousin Fanny Goldsmith Goldsmith, about whom I wrote here; Helen Goldsmith Meyer; and Edwin Meyer’s sister Leah:

Milton Goldsmith, Fanny Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith Meyer, and Leah Meyer. 1952. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

I was excited to see a photograph of Milton and Fanny. And here is another one, taken in June 1958:

Fanny and Milton Goldsmith, June 1958. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

And finally, this is a photograph of Florence and Oliver, the same two siblings depicted on either side of Helen in the earliest photograph I have of her, so I am posting them together.  Despite the changes that aging carved in their faces, you can still see the same expressions sixty plus years later:

 

 

Thank you again to my cousin Marilyn for sharing this wonderful collection of photographs.


To all who celebrate, I wish you an easy and meaningful fast. May you be sealed in the Book of Life for another year. G’mar tov!

 

 

 

 


  1. Edgar Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Malcolm Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1695, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Malcolm Meyer, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Veteran Compensation Application Files, WWII, 1950-1966 

A Jaffa Family Postcard

I’ve been posting some of the family photographs that my cousin Marilyn, the granddaughter of Helen Goldsmith and great-granddaughter of Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa, shared with me. In the last post we saw a number of photographs of Helen as a young woman. She also appears in this photograph, sitting at the bottom left of the photograph. Marilyn could not identify the other people in this picture.

But the inscription on the back of the photograph left plenty of clues as to the identities of the other people in the photograph, and I was able to identify almost all of them after some research and analysis.

Ronie Jaffa, who signed and labeled the photo, was the son of Henry Jaffa, who was Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s brother.1 Most of the people in the photo are Jaffas, some of whom are also related to me through their marriages to Goldsmith relatives. Fortunately, that meant that many of the Jaffas were already on my family tree, making the task of identification easier than it otherwise would have been.

Ronie refers to the man second from the left in the top row as “Papa,” so I thought this must be his father, Henry Naphtali Jaffa. Henry died in January 1901,2 so that would have meant that the photo was taken before that time. But as you will see below, I later revised my thinking on the identity of “Papa” and the date of the photograph.

The first person in the top row is labeled Helen J. I assume the J stands for Jaffa, so that must be Solomon Jaffa’s daughter, Helen. Solomon is sitting right in front of her in the photo. He was Henry Jaffa and Sarah Jaffa’s brother. Solomon was also married to a Goldsmith—Leonora.  Leonora was the daughter of Simon Goldsmith’s son Jacob—i.e., Henry Goldsmith’s brother. Leonora lived to 1911, but she does not appear to be in the photo.

Next to Sol in the middle row is Ida Jaffa Mansbach. She was Samuel Jaffa’s daughter. Samuel was also a brother to Henry, Sarah, and Sol.  Ida also married someone from the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family. Her husband was Meyer Mansbach, son of Abraham Mansbach and Sarah Goldschmidt.  Sarah was my 3x-great-aunt. She was the daughter of Seligmann Goldschmidt, my 3x-great-grandfather.

Two of Ida and Meyer’s children are in the photo. In the top row next to Solomon, Ronie labeled the young boy as “Ida’s boy.”  That must be Arthur Mansbach, who was born in 1896. Skipping to the bottom row, Ronie labeled the little girl on his lap as “Ida’s girl,” so that has to be Edith Mansbach. but she wasn’t born until December 1901. That means the photo must have been taken more like 1908 because Edith looks around six or seven to me and Arthur looks about ten or eleven.  Also, Helen Goldsmith at bottom left looks older than she did in the 1904 photo seen in the last post. So 1908 seems a likely guesstimate for the date of the photograph or perhaps a year or so earlier.

That means that the photo had to have been taken after Henry Jaffa died in 1901 and thus “Papa” could not be Henry. So who was “Papa” to Ronie Jaffa if not his father Henry? My best guess is it’s Samuel Jaffa, who died in 1909.3 Perhaps Ronie was labeling the photograph for Ida and her two children, who may have called their grandfather Samuel “Papa.”

Returning to the top row, Aunt Malchia was probably Samuel Jaffa’s wife Amelia.  Malchia or Malchen was a German name that often was changed to Amalia or Amelia in the US.  She would have been Ronie’s aunt, so that makes sense. That also bolsters the conclusion that “Papa” was Samuel Jaffa since Malchia is sitting right near him with her grandson in between.

The person next to Aunt Malchia is labeled Bertha, and I have no idea who that could be.

Now down to the middle row. Next to Ida is a man Ronie labeled as Hirsch Katz. He’s also labeled “Lena’s brother.”  So I looked for a Lena Katz in my family tree and found a Lena Katz who was the daughter of Juetel Jaffa, the oldest of the Jaffa siblings—sister to Henry, Solomon, Samuel, and Sarah. Juetel never left Germany. She married Mendel Katz. Their daughter Lena came to the US in the 1880s and lived with Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa and their children. After more research I was able to confirm that Hirsch Katz was also a son of Juetel and Mendel and also therefore a Jaffa cousin.4

That leaves us just the bottom row. We have Helen Goldsmith, then Ronie Jaffa himself, and then Florence Goldsmith. As for the man with his arm around Florence’s neck, I’ve no idea. Florence wasn’t yet married, so perhaps this was some beau. Since Ronie didn’t label him, maybe he wasn’t really a part of the family.

Thus, to recap, here is a key to the people in the photograph based on my analysis:

Top row: Florence Jaffa (daughter of Solomon Jaffa), Samuel Jaffa, Arthur Mansbach (Ida Jaffa Mansbach’s son), Amelia Sommers Jaffa (Samuel’s wife), “Bertha”

Middle row: Solomon Jaffa, Ida Jaffa Mansbach (Samuel’s daughter), Hirsch Katz (son of Jutel Jaffa)

Bottom row: Helen Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), Ronie Jaffa (Henry Jaffa’s son), Florence Goldsmith (Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith’s daughter), and unknown man

Sadly, Ronie Jaffa, who left behind this wonderful key to the people in this photograph, died as a young man.  He was one of the milions of people who died from the flu epidemic. He died on January 28, 1919, at the age of 34.

Albuquerque Journal, January 30, 1919. p. 2


  1. Henry Jaffa and family, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Schedules of the New Mexico Territory Census of 1885; Series: M846; Roll: 1, Ancestry.com. New Mexico, Territorial Census, 1885 
  2. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/160599822 
  3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79951582 
  4. Hirsch Katz birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907; Laufende Nummer: 442, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901; Hirsch Jaffa Katz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1561842; Draft Board: 6, Description
    Draft Card: K, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. 

Photographs of Helen Goldsmith: From Toddler to Young Woman

In this post I will share some more of the photographs that I received from my cousin Marilyn of Helen Goldsmith and her family. This post will focus on Helen herself—her childhood and early adulthood.

Marilyn believes that the little girl in the center of this photo is Helen. Helen was born in December 1889 and looks about two in this photograph, at most three, so this photo was taken somewhere around 1892. Comparing this photographs to later photographs that we know are of Helen, I agree with Marilyn that this is Helen in the center here.

Florence Goldsmith, Helen Goldsmith, and Oliver Goldsmith, c. 1892. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Thank you to Peter Klopp of The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project for editing this photo to correct the flaw that marred Florence’s hair!

possibly-helen-goldsmith-in-the-middle-Edited

She is surrounded by two children who are most likely her siblings.  I believe that the little boy on the right is her brother Oliver, who was born April 17, 1887, so he would have been about five in 1892. Oliver became a lawyer, as we saw here. On the left would likely be Helen’s sister Florence, born May 19, 1883, and thus about nine when this photograph was taken. Florence became a musician, music teacher, and composer, as we saw here.

One other reason I think this photograph was taken in 1892 is that it does not include Helen’s brother Albert Goldsmith, who died from spinal meningitis on June 4, 1891, at the age of six.

The next photograph chronologically is this one of Helen Goldsmith and her older brother Walter, as labeled by Helen herself as seen on the reverse.

Helen Goldsmith and Walter Goldsmith, c. 1904. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

Helen’s note on the reverse was written on October 28, 1972, stating she was at that time 82 years old. But then she wrote she would be 83 on December 17, 1973; in fact, she would have turned 83 on December 17, 1972, just two months after labeling the photograph. Helen believed she was 14 or 15 when the photograph was taken, dating it around 1904. Walter, who was born in December 7, 1881, and thus was eight years older than Helen, would have been about 22 in this photograph. Walter would become a dentist, as we saw here and here.

The next photograph is of Helen alone:

Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

It also had a note on the reverse:

There is unfortunately no date nor is there any information revealing the name of the person to whom Helen wrote the note. It appears to be an exchange between two young women discussing some young men they were interested in. Helen asked the recipient for the address of an “Aunt Lena,” so presumably she was writing to a relative, perhaps even her sister Florence or one of her many cousins.

I first assumed that “Aunt Lena” was Lena Katz, Sarah Jaffa’s niece, the daughter of her sister Jutel Jaffa. But by 1900 Lena Katz was living with Henry Goldsmith and Sarah Jaffa, so why would Helen need her address unless Lena had taken a trip somewhere? Another possibility was Lena Goldsmith Basch, Henry’s sister and thus truly Helen’s aunt. She died in 1906 in Columbus, Ohio, so that would mean the photograph was taken before that time. Helen would have been 17 or younger, and that seems possible from this photograph.

The next two photographs of Helen have no note on the back nor are they dated. This one appears to have been taken about the same time as the one above:

Helen Goldsmith and unidentified man. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

In this one Helen is posing with an unidentified man, and Marilyn did not know who he might be. Helen appears to be about the same age in this photograph as she was in the one above—same hairstyle, same style of dress.  So who is the man with her? It’s not her husband Edwin, but it could be one of her many older brothers or even her father Henry.

This next photograph of Helen appears to have been taken when she was somewhat older, although Helen’s hair and clothing are still similar to that in the prior two photographs. It’s just something in her expression that makes me think it was a few years later. What do you think?

Helen Goldsmith. Courtesy of the family of Helen Goldsmith

There is one more photograph of Helen taken in the years before she married in 1914. But that one requires some extended discussion so I will save it for the next post.

A Mystery Photo

In August, I received a wonderful collection of photographs from my cousin Marilyn, the great-granddaughter of Henry Goldsmith and the granddaughter of Helen Goldsmith; I’ve written about Henry and about Helen in several places, including here, here, here, and here. Marilyn and I are both the four-times great-granddaughters of Fradchen Schoenthal. We are also both descendants of Jacob Falke Goldschmidt, the father of my three-times great-grandfather, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Marilyn’s great-great-grandfather Simon Goldsmith.

The next set of posts will feature the photographs Marilyn sent, most of which are of her grandmother Helen and some of Helen’s siblings and of Helen’s sons Edgar and Malcolm and their children. Some of these photographs were labeled, some were not. And even where labeled, sometimes those labels left more questions. All of these photographs are posted courtesy of my cousin Marilyn.

For example, this photograph, which is the oldest photograph in the collection.

On the reverse of this photograph was the following label:

But the more I studied this photograph, the more I became convinced that that label was incorrect. The photograph was taken in Philadelphia by a photographer named Brooks located at 600 or 724 Arch Street. I searched Philadelphia directories on Ancestry and was able to find a photographer named Thomas Brooks located at 630 Arch Street in several directories from the 1870s.1 Portrait photography as an art and business did not really even start until the 1850s.

Simon Goldsmith was born in 1795 and came to the US in 1845 when he was already fifty years old. By the 1870s, he was in his seventies. The man in the photograph does not look like he is in his fifties, let alone his seventies. His skin is smooth with no wrinkles or age lines. He appears to be at most in his forties, but probably even younger.

So who is that man? My first guess, given the source of the photograph and the collection in which it appears, was that it was Henry Goldsmith, Simon’s son. Henry was born in 1847, and in the 1870s when Thomas Brooks was operating a photography business on Arch Street in Philadelphia, Henry would have been somewhere between 23 and 33, and the man in that photograph could be in that age range.

Henry, however, was living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, in the 1870s, not in Philadelphia. In fact, Henry never lived in Philadelphia. I thought perhaps when he married Sarah Jaffa in 1871, they married in Philadelphia, but the 1870 census shows Sarah living with her brother Samuel Jaffa in Pittsburgh,2 so she wasn’t in Philadelphia either.

Moreover, I am quite certain that it was Henry’s daughter Helen who wrote the words on the back of this photograph. There are several other photographs labeled in the same handwriting in the collection that are quite obviously labeled by Helen. For example, look at these two examples:

If Helen labeled the photograph of the man she assumed was her grandfather Simon, wouldn’t she have known if it were instead a photograph of her father Henry? I’d think so. So the more I study these photographs, the more I doubt this was a photograph of either Simon Goldsmith or his son Henry.

So who was he? I see a slight resemblance to Sol Jaffa, Helen’s uncle, as seen in this photograph to be analyzed in a later post. But wouldn’t Helen have known that it was Sol when she labeled the photograph? He and Helen are holding hands in this photograph, so she obviously knew him well. Did her uncle look so much different as an older man that she couldn’t see the resemblance?

 

The mystery lingers…

More of the collection from Marilyn to come.

 

 


  1. E.g., Gopsill´s Philadelphia Business Directory, 1870, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1874, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Sarah Jaffa, 1870 US census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1295; Page: 441A; Family History Library Film: 552794, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 

Family Portraits: The Artists Behind the Portraits Discovered

I have spent the last six weeks or so posting updates and photographs I’ve received from cousins from my Seligmann, Katzenstein, and Schoenthal families. Today I return to my Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family. But before I begin writing about the next branch of that family, I want to post some updates I’ve received from Goldsmith cousins.

First, I want to share three wonderful portraits shared by my cousin Robin Goldsmith, the grandson of Doctors Milton Goldsmith and Luba Robin Goldsmith, about whom I wrote here and here and here and here. Robin is the son of Milton and Luba’s older son, Norman, who is also discussed in those posts and here.

The first two portraits are of Robin’s grandparents, Milton and Luba:

Milton Goldsmith, son of Henry and Sarah (Jaffa) Goldsmith. Painting by Mildred Silvette, 1938

Luba Robin Goldsmith. Painting by David Silvette, 1930

Robin took photographs of the portraits, and so there is a bit of a glow from the flash and some distortion. Also, the photograph cut off the names and dates, so I asked Robin to check for those. He did and reported back that Luba’s portrait was signed by David Silvette and dated 1930; Milton’s portrait was signed by Mildred Silvette and dated 1938.

David Silvette1, born May 28, 1909, and died August 29, 1992, was a very successful artist. He was described on one website as “one of Virginia’s most sought-after portrait artists in the early 20th century.” His portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Mildred Silvette was his younger sister, and she also was an artist; she studied under Hans Hofmann in the 1930s.

David and Mildred were the children of Ellis Meyer Silvette, also a well-known American portrait artist, who was born in Lithuania as Eli Meyer Silverberg. Ellis was living in Pittsburgh in 1910 with his wife Ella and the two children born at that point, including David.2 That time in Pittsburgh may be how the family connected with Milton and Luba Goldsmith.

Both portraits are beautifully done, and I especially love the way the texture of Luba’s dress and fur collar are depicted.

The third portrait that Robin shared with me is one of his father Norman Goldsmith.

Norman Robin Goldsmith, 1929

It is quite different in style—much more expressionist than the realistic portraits of his parents Milton and Luba. I love how Norman’s blue eyes, much like those of his father, stand out in this portrait. It is dated 1929 and has the artist’s initials, D.S. I have to believe that D.S. stands for David Silvette.

Thank you to my cousin Robin for sharing these with me.

 


  1. Anita Price Davis, New Deal Art in North Carolina: The Murals, Sculptures, Reliefs, Paintings, Oils and Frescoes and Their Creators (McFarland, 2008), pp. 122-125. 
  2. Silverberg family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 4, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1300; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0325; FHL microfilm: 1375313, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

An Update on My Dannenberg Cousins

I now have blogged about Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents, and all their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I also have blogged about two of Seligmann’s brothers, Lehmann and Simon, and their families. Seligmann had one other full brother, Meyer, a full sister, Jette, and two half-siblings, Elieser and Jude. I will turn to Meyer next. I have not yet found any primary or even secondary sources for Jette, Elieser and Jude and their families—just the family trees of others—so I may not blog about them. Time will tell. Maybe I will find more to add to those trees.

But before I turn to Meyer Goldschmidt and his family, I have some other things to write about. In the many months that I’ve been working on my Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family, I’ve also been in touch with a number of cousins who have provided me with additional photographs of and documents about other relatives. Being the somewhat-compulsive person that I am, I didn’t want to break the chronology of the Goldschmidt story, so I kept folders and notes for all those new items and decided I’d return to them once I found a place to take a break in the Goldschmidt/Goldsmith story. So the next couple of weeks will be devoted to these new materials. Then I will return to Meyer Goldschmidt.

To start, I want to share some photographs I received back in March and April from my fourth cousin Arlene, who is also a great-great-great-granddaughter of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander. Arlene is descended from their daughter Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, sister of my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein. (For more background on the individuals named in this post, please follow the links from their names.)

Arlene’s great-grandmother was Hannah Mansbach, who was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s first cousin. Hannah married Gerson Dannenberg. I wrote about the Dannenberg family here. Arlene is the granddaughter of Hannah’s son Arthur M. Dannenberg, Sr., and she is the daughter of his son, Arthur M. Dannenberg, Jr.

Arlene shared these images of two wonderful photographs of her great-grandparents Hannah Mansbach and Gerson Dannenberg:

Gerson Dannenberg. Courtesy of Arlene Dannenberg Bowes

Hannah Mansbach Dannenberg. Courtesy of Arlene Dannenberg Bowes

Both are signed at the bottom by Elias Goldensky 39 (which I assume is the year the photographs were taken when Hannah would have been 81 and Gerson 77; Hannah died in 1940, Gerson in 1943). Elias Goldensky was a very well-known professional portrait photographer in Philadelphia whose works were exhibited world-wide and who even photographed Franklin Roosevelt in the White House in 1932.1

I think I even see a slight resemblance between Hannah and my great-grandmother Hilda, her first cousin, especially around the mouth and nose.  What do you think?

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

In addition, Arlene sent me this image of a photograph of a Passover gathering of the extended Dannenberg-Loeb family in 1937. Most of those depicted are not my blood relatives, but are the family of Arthur M. Dannenberg, Sr.’s wife, Marion Loeb. But Arthur M. Dannenberg, Sr,, and his two sons, Arthur M. Dannenberg, Jr., and James Dannenberg, are included in this photograph, as labeled at the bottom. James stands to the far left in the top row, Arthur Jr. to the far right in the top row, and their father, the much-beloved pediatrician whom I wrote about here, Dr. Arthur M. Dannenberg, Sr., is the tall gentleman standing third from the left in the top row.

Passover, 1937. The Dannenberg-Loeb family. Courtesy of Arlene Dannenberg Bowes

Arlene commented on my blog back in March 2019 that her father, Arthur, Jr., had also become a physician and that he had devoted his career to researching tuberculosis, a cause that was important to him because his mother Marion’s first husband, Milton Stein, had died from TB while Milton and Marion were on their honeymoon in 1915, as I wrote about here. In fact, Arthur was not a true “junior” as his middle name was Milton (for Milton Stein), not Mansbach, his father’s middle name.

Arthur M. Dannenberg, Jr. 1965. Photograph by Julian Hart Fisher. Courtesy of Arlene Dannenberg Bowes.

Arthur M. Dannenberg, Jr., died on June 15, 2018. The American Association of Immunologists published a lovely tribute written by Ellen J. Mackenzie, Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, where Arthur has spent much of his career as a professor and researcher. The entire tribute can be found here. I will post just a few excerpts from Dr. Mackenzie’s tribute to Arthur Milton Dannenberg, Jr.:

Art’s research explored cellular pathways to preventing and treating tuberculosis, and he was passionate about finding new vaccines against the disease. He was affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative as well as the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research, which established a student achievement award in his honor.

His work made a lasting contribution to our understanding of a disease that still, despite significant progress in saving lives through diagnosis and treatment, remains one of the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Art obtained his medical degree from Harvard in 1947. He continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where, in 1952, he received a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in experimental pathology.

….

All of us who worked with Art over the years were impressed by his tireless pursuit and devotion to unraveling the mysteries of one of the most important infections plaguing humans throughout history – tuberculosis. We will sorely miss his enthusiasm and devotion to medical research and to educating the next generation of scientists.

My deep gratitude to my cousin Arlene for sharing these photographs and stories with me. It is always wonderful to see the faces of my cousins and learn more about them.


  1. “Elias Goldensky, Photographer, Dies,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 1943, p. 11.