A Photo And Its Story: Amalie Meyer Bloch in the Netherlands

Before turning to the fourth child of Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein, a quick update from my cousin-by-marriage Ralph Dannheisser, the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth Stern and grandson of Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, the sister of Charles Bloch, who was married to my cousin Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ralph sent me this photograph of his grandparents, Ludwig and Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, himself as an adorable toddler, and, in the center wearing the lovely hat, his grandmother’s sister-in-law Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ludwig Dannheisser, Amalie Meyer Bloch, Ralph Dannheisser, Johanna Bloch Dannheisser.  The Hague, May, 1939. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

According to the inscription on the back, it was taken in May, 1939, in The Hague in the Netherlands, when Ralph was a year old. Ralph’s grandparents and his parents had already escaped from Germany to the Netherlands by that time, and Ralph and his parents would leave for the US early in 1940. Tragically, his grandparents did not leave Europe and were sent to the concentration camps where they were murdered in 1944.

This is the first photograph I’ve seen of my cousin Amalie, and it raises more questions that I cannot answer. Why was she in the Netherlands in May, 1939? Had she left Germany for good by that point? Her naturalization papers say that when she came to the US in August 1941, her last residence was in Lisbon, but the ship manifest for her arrival in the US stated that her last permanent residence was Frankfurt, Germany. Neither mentions the Netherlands.

Was her husband Charles with her in the Netherlands in May 1939? He probably had already immigrated to France by then, so perhaps he and Amalie met in the Netherlands as a neutral meeting place? Perhaps Charles took this photograph? Or maybe Charles wasn’t there at all.

We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But Ralph is certain that the woman standing in the center of this photograph with the big smile was Amalie Meyer Bloch, my third cousin, twice removed, and his great-uncle’s wife.

What amazes me is how happy Ralph, Johanna, and Amalie look. They’d left Germany, faced terrible acts of anti-Semitism, but were still finding something to smile about. Quite remarkable. Another sign of the resilience of human beings and our desire for love over hate.

Thank you, Ralph!

Berthold Goldschmidt Revisited: His Second Family

A year and a half ago I wrote about the tragic life of my cousin Berthold Goldschmidt, who outlived not only his wife Mathilde Freudenstein but six of their seven children. Their only surviving child, their son Siegfried Goldschmidt, was murdered in the Holocaust. I believed that Berthold had only one grandchild, Siegfried’s son Max, who had no children. Thus, I believed that Berthold Goldschmidt had no living descendants.

I’ve received two updates about Berthold’s family since then. In February, my friend in Germany, Julia Drinnenberg, sent me these photographs of two of Berthold and Mathilde’s sons taken during their service in World War I, Leopold, who was killed in the war, and the above-mentioned Siegfried.

Siegfried Goldschmidt

Leopold Goldschmidt

Then back in April, I received an email from David Baron, asking if I wanted to Zoom with a cousin named Rickey Slezak. I had no idea who Rickey was or how she was related to me, but soon discovered that she is a descendant of none other than Berthold Goldschmidt.

How does he have any descendants, you might wonder?

Well, in telling Berthold’s story I totally overlooked the fact that he had remarried after Mathilde’s death and had in fact had six more children with his second wife, Rika Giesberg, Rickey’s namesake. You can imagine how embarrassing this is!

Not that this takes away from the tragedies suffered by Berthold; that is still unimaginable. But Berthold’s story is somewhat softened by the fact that he went on to have a second family. And I was delighted not only to learn about this, but to make the connection to Rickey, my third cousin, once removed. Rickey shared with me an amazing album of old photographs of Berthold’s second family. This post is devoted to their story.

After losing his first wife Mathilde in 1911, Berthold Goldschmidt was left with four surviving children from that marriage: Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig. They were all still teenagers at that time.

On August 25, 1912, Berthold married Rika (sometimes spelled Richa or referred to as Rickchen) Giesberg, daughter of Jonas Giesberg and Henriette Loewenstein, in Trendelburg, Germany. Rika was born in Trendelburg on May 29, 1882, and was little more than ten to fifteen years older than her four stepchildren.

TitelStandesamt Trendelburg Heiratsnebenregister 1912 (HStAMR Best. 909 Nr. 9383)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortTrendelburg

Here are photographs of Berthold and Rika, courtesy of their granddaughter and my cousin, Rickey.

Berthold Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika and Berthold’s first child together, Walter Goldschmidt, was born in Oberlistingen, Germany, on April 24, 1913.1 A second son Herbert was born on December 20, 1914.2

Three of Berthold’s children from his first marriage died between 1915 and 1916, as discussed here. By 1917, Siegfried was then the only surviving child of the children Berthold had with Mathilde Freudenstein.

After those losses, Berthold and Rika had their first daughter, Hedwig, born June 1, 1918. She presumably was named for Berthold’s deceased daughter Hedwig from his first marriage.3

Here is a photograph of their family in about 1920 before their three youngest children were born:

Berthold and Rika (Rickchen) Goldschmidt and family, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Their third son Jacob Julius Goldschmidt (known as Julius) was born on March 17, 1921.4 Albert Goldschmidt was born on September 9, 1924.5 Finally, their sixth and final child Elfriede was born August 17, 1926.6

This is a photograph of their home in Oberlistingen:

Berthold Goldschmidt family home in Oberlistingen. Courtesy of the family

Berthold Goldschmidt died on November 8, 1927. He was survived by his son Siegfried from his first marriage and the six children he had with Rika. Those six children lost their father before they reached adulthood. Their oldest child Walter was just fourteen, and their youngest child Elfriede just a year old. Rika was herself only 45 and left to care for the six children including four who were under ten years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 [

Rika was not destined to live a long life. She died at the age of 52 in Merxhausen, Germany, on March 1, 1935.7 I wondered why she died in Merxhausen, which is about 35 kilometers from Oberlistingen, and learned that there was a hospital there.

By that time Walter was almost 22, Herbert going on 21, Hedwig was almost seventeen, Julius almost fourteen, and the two youngest were still quite young; Albert was ten, and Elfriede only nine. I wonder who took care of these children, especially the three youngest, after they were orphaned.

Here are some photographs of some of the siblings taken in Germany before their lives changed forever:

Walter Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

Hedwig Goldschmidt Courtesy of the family

Julius Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

By the time of Rika’s death, the Nazis had taken power in Germany, and the Nuremberg Laws were adopted six months after her death.  It’s thus not surprising that by 1937 her two oldest sons decided to leave for the United States. Herbert left first, arriving in New York on July 30, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he left behind his brother Walter in Oberlistingen and was  going to a cousin, Leighton Steele, in Detroit, Michigan.  Leighton Steele was the son of Hedwig Goldschmidt Steele, a younger sister of Berthold Goldschmidt. Thus, Leighton, who was American-born, was Herbert’s first cousin, but they probably had never met.8

Walter Goldschmidt arrived just a few months after his brother Herbert; he arrived in New York on October 1, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he was heading to New York to a “cousin” named Joseph Guhl and was leaving behind an “uncle,” Salomon Strauss in Frankfurt. Salomon Strauss was married to Jenny Giesberg, Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt’s sister. Joseph Guhl was married to Meta Giesberg, the daughter of Leopold Giesberg, Rika’s brother.9

This photograph is labeled “Leaving for America” and shows Walter in Hamburg:

Courtesy of the family

The next sibling to arrive in the US was the youngest, Elfriede. She was only twelve years old when she arrived on March 24, 1939, and was sailing with her aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss, her husband Salomon Strauss, and their son Walter. The ship manifest indicates that they all had been living in Frankfurt, so perhaps Elfriede had been taken in by her aunt after Rika died in 1935. They were leaving behind Salomon’s brother Julius and going to his cousin, Max Schoenmann, who lived at 1770 Andrews Avenue in the Bronx. I mention that only because my husband grew up down the block from there at 1940 Andrews Avenue. Small world.10

I don’t know whether or not Herbert ever went to Detroit to see Leighton Steele, but in 1940 both he and Walter were working as waiters for a restaurant in North Castle, New York, where they were both also living, according to the 1940 census.11  My cousin Rickey told me that the restaurant where they worked was a spot that became extremely popular as a music venue during the Big Band era, called Log Cabin Farms. You can see it mentioned on Herbert’s World War II draft registration.

Walter Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Herbert Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

The North Castle Historical Society published an article about the Log Cabin Farms and all the performers who came there; you can find it here. As you can see from this postcard, the restaurant had a seating capacity of 1500!

Meanwhile, their sister Elfriede was living in the Bronx with their aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss and her family in 1940.12 Rickey told me that her father revered his aunt Jenny, at least in part because of the care she gave to his little sister.

Herbert enlisted in the US military on January 22, 1941, almost a year before Pearl Harbor.13 I don’t know anything specific about his military service, but here is a photograph of him in uniform.

Herbert Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of the family

He applied for a marriage license to marry Lilly Vogel on January 19, 1943, in New York City.14

courtesy of the family

They did not have any children. According to my cousin Rickey, her uncle Herbert died in 1963.

His brother Walter enlisted on January 29, 1943, just ten days after Herbert and Lilly’s wedding.15 According to records his daughter Rickey has, Walter served three years including a year overseas. He was decorated several times, receiving the following medals: American Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal; European African Middle Eastern Service Medal; and a World War II Victory Medal.

On February 12, 1944, Walter married Hilda Weis,16 who was born on October 8, 1922, to Siegfried Weis and Else Scheuer in Gelnhausen, Germany.17 They had one child, my cousin Rickey, the source of all these wonderful photographs. Walter died on October 4, 1991; his widow Hilda died in 2001.18 They are survived by their daughter Rickey as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hilda Weis and Walter Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of their daughter Rickey

Elfriede married Alvin Kruger Colin with whom she had two children. This is a picture of them taken in March 1948. Given the way they are dressed, I assume this was their wedding day.19

Elfriede Goldschmidt and Al March 1948
Courtesy of the family

Elfriede died on January 6, 2011; she was survived by her children and grandchildren.20

Here is a photograph of the three siblings who made it to the US. I’d guess it was taken sometime after the war.

Courtesy of the family

Unfortunately, two of the other children of Berthold and Rika did not leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, Jacob Julius Goldschmidt was sent to Dachau concentration camp on November 10, 1938, after Kristallnacht and was released from Dachau on December 8, 1938. He still, however, did not leave Germany. According to this document, he was living in Munich from February 18, 1940, until April 5, 1942.

UPDATE: Thank you to barb276 for finding more information about Jacob Julius Goldschmidt here. According to this page from the Munich archives, Jacob Julius had moved from Kassel to Munich by January 1, 1936, and was living there until October 26, 1940, when he went to a Hachsharah, a Zionist training camp in Steinhofel, where Jews were trained for life in Palestine/Israel. Unfortunately, Jacob Julius never got there.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1
Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

He was then deported to Poland and murdered at some unnamed location.

Hedwig Goldschmidt was also murdered by the Nazis. She had married Horst Starsky, who was born on July 10, 1909, in Wingeruppen, Germany. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, they were living in Berlin, and both were first imprisoned in a Jewish forestry labor camp in Kersdorf-Briesen. They were then deported to Auschwitz on April 19, 1943, where they were killed. As far as I’ve been able to determine, they did not have any children.

The fate of Albert Goldschmidt, Berthold and Rika’s youngest son, is less clear. My cousin Rickey believes that he ended up immigrating to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but I have no documentation showing that. Rickey also believed he married and had a child there, but again, we have no documentation. What we do have is this photograph of Albert apparently taken in front of a restaurant that has a Spanish name, I think—Coveteria Vievo Viena? Google Translate could not make sense of coveteria but translated Vievo Viena as I come Vienna. Possibly a restaurant serving Viennese (or German-style) food?

UPDATE: Thank you to my cousin Susana, who also came from Buenos Aires, for helping me to translate what this says. She said that it says “Confitería Viejo Viena” (Old Vienna tearoom) and would have been a patisserie or tearoom that likely specialized in German/Austrian pastries and cakes.

Courtesy of the family

Thus, Berthold Goldschmidt’s family with his second wife Rika endured a great deal of tragedy just as his family with his first wife Mathilde Freudenstein had. But the record must stand corrected. Berthold Goldschmidt does indeed have living descendants—his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and even some great-great-grandchildren.  And one of them is my wonderful cousin Rickey who helped me tell and illustrate their family’s story.

 


  1. Walter Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Herbert Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 20 Dec 1914, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3.  Hedwig Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 1 Jun 1918, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70442392, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4.  Julius Israel Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 17 Mrz 1921 (17 Mar 1921), Birth Place: Oberlingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70126154, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  5. I have no record of Albert’s birth date; this comes from the Goldschmidt family report done by Roger Cibella and David Baron. 
  6.  Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Richa Goldschmidt, Maiden Name: Giesberg, Gender: weiblich (Female)
    Age: 52, Birth Date: 29 Mai 1882 (29 May 1882), Death Date: 1 Mrz 1935 (1 Mar 1935)
    Death Place: Merxhausen, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Merxhausen, Certificate Number: 16, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 6991, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8. Herbert Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 25; Page Number: 38, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Walter Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 8; Page Number: 36, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Salomon Strauss and Jenny Giesbech [sic], Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Meta Giesberg, Marriage Date: 30 Apr 1936, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Joseph A Guhl, Certificate Number: 11992, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  10. Elfriede Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 8, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Walter Goldschmidt and Herbert Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: North Castle, Westchester, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02811; Page: 3B and Page 24A, Enumeration District: 60-250, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elfriede Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02497; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 3-1449, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  14.  Herbert Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 19 Jan 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Lilly Vogel
    License Number: 1202, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 1, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  16.  Hilda Weis, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Feb 1944
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA. Spouse: Walter Goldschmidt, License Number: 3826, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  17. Hilda Goldsmith, [Hildegard Weis], [Hilda Goldschmidt] , Gender: Female,
    Birth Date: 8 Oct 1922, Birth Place: Gelnhausen, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 18 Sep 2001, Father: Siegfried Weis, Mother: Else Scheuer
    SSN: 085180692, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Name: Walter Goldsmith, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Death Date: 4 Oct 1991, Claim Date: 6 Mar 1975, SSN: 077165081, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. For Hilda, see Note 17. 
  19.  Elfriede Goldsmith, Marriage License Date: 27 Feb 1948, Marriage License Place: Bronx, New York City, New York, USA, License Number: 1705, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Bronx, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20. Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 33308, Fort Lauderdale, Broward, Florida, USA, Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

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.

 

Blogging in a Pandemic, Part II

As we enter our third or really our fourth week of social distancing, self-quarantine, or whatever else you want to call it (no closer than six feet from anyone but each other, washing our hands religiously, no restaurants, no stores except when we can’t get delivery of groceries, and so on), I have to say that this week things suddenly seem much harder and much sadder. But we are still fortunately feeling fine despite having flown twice in March, and we feel very, very relieved, and are so grateful to be home.

And we also feel very grateful that so far our families are also okay and our friends. I almost am afraid to write that for fear of tempting the corona gods. But I know that magical thinking is just superstition. We all just have to keep staying apart, staying safe, and staying home. The anxiety sometimes feels unbearable, but my mantra has always been and continues to be—one day at a time.

We’ve taken some wonderful walks in places nearby, a few of which we’d never been to before. And we’ve taken many walks in our neighborhood, chatting with neighbors from at least six feet apart, and feeling a sense of community and warmth that can be overlooked when we all just drive in and out of our garages.

I’ve cleared out a drawer filled with expired medicines and other products, organized our “junk” drawer, and discovered dust in places you cannot imagine. Every day I try to think of at least one small project to accomplish, even if it is simply remembering to mail a check.

I’ve also started to accept that I will never do some of the things the internet keeps throwing at us: free courses online, free tours of museums and national parks, free videos of exercise classes, and so on. I just can’t focus long enough to do those things. Fortunately, doing genealogy in shorter spurts than usual and writing my blog still provide me with a way to escape from the pandemic pandemonium.

Now we are preparing for a Zoom seder. The planning has given me an opportunity to work with my nine-year-old grandson on that project. In fact, we’ve had more contact with our kids and grandsons during these weeks than we usually do, though not in person. I am reading the wonderful book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen with the older grandson and playing chess online with the younger one. And we’ve had Zoom cocktail hours with friends and with family. So it’s not all bad.

What really prompted me to write this particular post was one of those little benefits I’ve gotten from people spending all this time at home. My brother, who also has been spending more time at home than usual (but who is still working since he is a doctor), was going through a box of papers and photographs that had been my father’s and discovered this photograph.

I know this is not great quality (and my brother’s scan of it does not help). But I am so excited by this photograph. Let me explain why.

This is a photograph of my father as a baby being held by his father with my aunt sitting on her father’s left. My father had written the ages in the margins, and although he had not written the names, it was easy to deduce the identities from the relative ages and the facial characteristics using other photographs of my grandfather, of my aunt as a young child, and even of my father as a baby.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Sr. 1923

My aunt Eva Hilda Cohen and my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen, c. 1925

My grandmother and my father, c. 1927

But what made this so special is that I had never seen a photograph of my grandfather with his children. All the photographs I had of him were either of him alone or with my grandmother. So seeing this photograph was really touching. Look at how he is looking at his son. There is such joy and love on his face.

It was especially touching because I knew that my father had had very few years living with his father before my grandfather became disabled from multiple sclerosis and was ultimately institutionalized for the rest of his life.  He died long before I was born, and for most of my life I knew almost nothing about him. I didn’t ask when I was young because my father seemed to be reluctant to talk about him. I didn’t know if that was out of sadness or anger or indifference. But I didn’t want to upset him either way.

One of the gifts of doing genealogy and talking to my father in the five or six years before he died in February 2019 was that he finally did talk a bit about his father. And in doing so, I realized that even though he had not spent many years living with his father, my father had loved him. His reluctance to talk about him was due to pain and sadness, not anger or indifference.

The fact that my father saved this photograph and hid it away in a box we never saw before is telling. This must have been a photograph he cherished, something special that he didn’t want mixed in with the hundreds of other photographs he had taken over the years of vacations and friends and family. I am so glad that my brother discovered it and that he shared it with me. It gave me new insights into my father and his father.

Have you discovered any wonderful photographs or other treasures while staying at home? Have you always planned to label and/or scan your family photographs? Maybe now is a good time.

Sarah Goldschmidt’s Sons 1910-1930: Years of Comfort, Years of Loss

We saw that the family of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern’s daughter Keile Stern Loewenthal experienced much growth and prosperity during the 1910s and 1920s. This post will focus on their two sons, Abraham and Mayer, and their lives between 1910 and 1930.

As of 1910, Abraham (known as Adolf) Stern and his wife and first cousin Johanna Goldschmidt had four grown children: Siegfried, Clementine, Sittah Sarah, and Alice. I am so grateful to Siegfried’s grandson Rafi Stern, my fifth cousin, who kindly shared the photographs that appear in this post.

This photograph shows the house where Abraham and Johanna lived and raised their children in Frankfurt. As you can see, the family was quite comfortably situated as Abraham was a successful merchant in Frankfurt.

Home of Abraham Adolf Stern and Johanna Goldschmidt in Frankfurt. Courtesy of their great-grandson, Rafi Stern.

Their son Siegfried Stern married Lea Hirsch on June 4, 1912, in Frankfurt.1 She was born in Halberstadt, Germany, on April 10, 1892, to Abraham Hirsch and Mathilde Kulp.2 Siegfried and Lea had two sons, Erich Ernst Benjamin Stern, born March 27, 1913, in Frankfurt,3 and Gunther Stern, born May 5, 1916, in Frankfurt.4

Siegfried Stern, courtesy of Rafi Stern.

Siegfried, Lea, and Erich Stern c.

Siegfried, Lea, and Erich Stern, 1913. Courtesy of Siegfried’s grandson, Rafi Stern.

Home of Siegfried Stern as it looks today. Courtesy of his grandson, Rafi Stern.

Abraham and Johanna’s second child Clementine Stern was married to Siegfried Oppenheimer, a doctor, and had a daughter Erika, born in 1909, as seen in my earlier post. Clementine would have two more children, William Erwin Oppenheimer, born on October 29, 1912, in Frankfurt,5 and Sarah Gabriele Oppenheimer, born July 20, 1917, in Frankfurt.6

Clementine’s sister Sittah Sarah Stern married Abraham Albert Mainz on October 3, 1911, in Mainz. He was born in Paris, France, on May 31, 1883, to Leopold Mainz and Hermine Straus.

Marriage record of Sarah Sittah Stern and Abraham Mainz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Sittah Sarah and Abraham Mainz would have two children, Marguerite Wera Mainz, born in Frankfurt on October 22, 1913,7 and Helmut Walter Solomon Mainz, born April 13, 1918, in Frankfurt.8 The photograph below depicts their home in Frankfurt on the first and second floors of the building.

Building in Frankfurt where Sittah Sarah and Abraham Mainz lived. Courtesy of Rafi Stern.

Abraham and Johanna would lose their two oldest children in the next several years. First, Clementine Stern Oppenheimer died on January 18, 1919, in Frankfurt. She was only 29 years old and left behind three young children, Erika (ten), William Erwin (seven), and Sarah Gabriele (two). Like millions of others, Clementine died from the Spanish flu epidemic, according to her great-nephew, my cousin Rafi.

Clementine Stern Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10812, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

A year later, as so often happened in Jewish families back then, Clementine’s younger sister Alice Lea Stern married Clementine’s widower Siegfried Oppenheimer. They were married on October 6, 1920, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Alice Lea Stern to Siegfried Oppenheimer, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Siegfried would have five children together in the 1920s.

Just two years after losing Clementine, Abraham and Johanna lost their first born, Siegfried Stern. He died on July 9, 1921, in Oberursel, Germany. He was only 32.  He died at the Frankfurter Kuranstalt Hohemark, a psychiatric hospital.  According to his grandson Rafi, Siegfried had suffered a business failure and become despondent. He was hospitalized and tragically took his own life. He left behind his wife Lea and their two young children Erich (eight) and Gunther (five).

Siegfried Stern death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 908; Signatur: 3821, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Below is Siegfried’s gravestone, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and the inscription is heartbreaking to read, knowing Siegfried’s story. I am grateful to the members of Tracing the Tribe for this partial translation:

Here lies buried Mr. Shlomo son in Mr. Asher Avraham STERN “shlita” (indicates that his father was alive at the time of the sons death).
A man who feared G-d, he revived the hearts of the downtrodden in secret.

He was pure in his thoughts and pure in his body, and all his purpose was the returning of his soul, pure, to his maker.

He respected his father and his mother with all of his ability.

He respected his wife more than his own body.

He died with a good name at the age of 32 to the sorrow of all that knew him, on the holy day of Shabbos, 3 Tamuz, and was buried with crying and eulogies on Monday the 5th of the same month. (5)681 (according to the small count) (1921).
May his soul be bound in the bonds of life.

 

Gravestone of Siegfried Stern, courtesy of his grandson Rafi Stern.

Siegfried’s widow Lea remarried a few years after Siegfried’s death and would have two more children with her second husband, Ernst Sigmund Schwarzschhild.9

Not long after losing his children Siegfried and Clementine, Abraham Adolf Stern himself passed away. He died on December 29, 1925, at the age of 67. He was survived by his wife/cousin Johanna and his two remaining children, Sittah Sarah and Alice Lea, and his grandchildren.

Abraham Stern death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The kind people at Tracing the Tribe translated Abraham’s gravestone for me:

Here is buried
Asher Avraham son of Shlomo called Adolf Albert Stern
a great man and a leader of his people
complete in his deeds and of good discernment.
The beginning of his wisdom comes from his belief in God

He oversaw his children and descendants

His house was a house of the righteous and a dwelling place of Torah
His soul is entwined in that of his humble wife.
You are gone and caused the middle of the day to turn dark. From heaven you are alive with us.

Died 12 Tevet and buried 14th of the month, [year] 5686 / [abbreviation]

May his soul be bound in the bond of life.

 

Abraham Adolf Stern gravestone. Courtesy of his great-grandson, Rafi Stern.

Abraham’s brother Mayer Stern and his wife Gella Hirsch had two children born in the 1890s, Elsa and Markus. Elsa married Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild on January 22, 1911, in Frankfurt. Jacob was the son of Alfred Isaac Schwarzchild and Recha Goldschmidt and was born February 12, 1885 in Frankfurt.  Jacob was Elsa’s second cousin. His mother Recha was the daughter of Selig Goldschmidt, and Elsa’s father Mayer was the son of Sarah Goldschmidt, Selig’s older sister. Once again, the family tree was bending around itself.

Marriage record of Elsa Stern and Jacob Schwarzschild, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Elsa and Jacob had one child, Elizabeth, reportedly born July 26, 1915, in Frankfurt.10

Elsa’s marriage to Jacob did not last, despite the cousin relationship. The marginal comment on their marriage record attests to their divorce. Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group who provided the translation of this comment:

Certified transcript
By decree nisi of the Regional Court at Frankfurt on Main, which became final at the end of 27 June 1920, the marriage between the banker Jakob Alfred Schwarzschild and Else Sara Schwarzschild née Stern has been divorced.
Frankfurt on Main, 13 October 1920
Civil Registry Clerk
pp. Dippel
Certified
Frankfurt on Main, 9 February 1921
[Signature]
Court Clerk

On August 18, 1920, just months after the divorce became final, Elsa Stern Schwarzschild married Alfred Hirsch.  Alfred was born in Hamburg to Esaias Hirsch and Charlotte Wolf on May 19, 1890.  Together, Alfred and Elsa had three children born in the 1920s.11

Marriage record of Elsa Stern to Alfred Hirsch, Year Range and Volume: 1920 Band 03
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1920

Mayer and Gella’s son Markus married Rhee (Rosa) Mess on August 25, 1923, in Frankfurt. She was born in Radziwillow, Poland on July 25, 1898, to Samuel Mess and Ester-Raza Landis.12

Thus, as the family approached the 1930s, Sarah Goldschmidt’s surviving descendants were living comfortable lives, but had suffered a number of terrible losses between 1910 and 1930, including two of Sarah’s children, Keile and Abraham, and three of her grandchildren, Abraham’s children Clementine Stern Oppenheimer and Siegfried Stern, and Keile’s daughter Martha Loewenthal Wolff.

But Lina and Mayer were still living as of 1930 as were eight of Sarah’s grandchildren. All of them would see their comfortable and prosperous lives as German Jews upturned by the rise of Nazism in the coming decade.

 


  1. The marriage date comes from the Cibella/Baron research; I have no primary source for this specific date, but it is clear that Siegfried and Lea married before 1913 when their son Erich was born. 
  2. Certificate Number: 98, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930. 
  3.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/197, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945  
  5. Application for Palestinian Citizenship, Israel State Archives website found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b071706810638e5 
  6. SSN: 121546243, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/222, Description
    Piece Number Description: 222: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Eastw-Fey, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  8.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/58, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  9. Marriage record of Ernst Schwarzschild and Lea Hirsch Stern, Certificate Number: 98, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  10. This is the date provided by Cibella/Baron. I also found one record for an Isabel Schwarzschild Weil born on that date: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 701, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967. I believe this is for Elsa and Jacob’s daughter. I am still looking for additional records. 
  11. Application for Palestinian Citizenship, Israeli State Archives, at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd6abf 
  12.  National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description
    Description: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350, Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 

My Vogel Cousins: From Germany to Argentina

Before I return to the family of Meyer Goldschmidt, I have two more posts to share relating to other family members.

Today I want to share some wonderful photographs I received from my fourth cousin, once removed, Patricia, the daughter of Heinz Vogel, granddaughter of Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, great-granddaughter of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz.

On September 10, 2019, I wrote about this family and told the story of the escape of Sophie and Isaak and their sons Heinz and Carl to Argentina from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. It was due to the generosity of Patricia and also Carl Vogel’s daughter that I was able to share details of the Vogel’s story and how they rebuilt their lives in Buenos Aires as well as many wonderful photographs.

In November, Patricia shared several more wonderful family photographs.

This is a photograph of Rosa Katzenstein in 1887 when she was 28 and married to Salomon Feist Katz for six years. (I’ve edited these photographs a little to improve clarity.) Rosa was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s second cousin, once removed. I see a resemblance to Hilda. What do you think?

Rosa Katzenstein Katz, 1887

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Taken that same year is this photograph of Salomon, who was 35 at that time. Salomon was also my cousin (and Rosa’s cousin). He was my third cousin, three times removed, through our shared ancestors, Schalum and Brendelchen Katz, my fifth great-grandparents. He was Hilda’s third cousin.

Salomon Feist Katz, 1887

Patricia also sent me images of what was on the reverse of these photographs. Can anyone read the words above their names?

UPDATE: Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the top words as Grossmutter (grandmother) and Grossvater (grandfather).

This photograph of Rosa and Salomon’s daughter Sophie Katz and her husband Isaak Vogel was taken in July, 1948, after they had immigrated to Argentina; the inscription on the reverse appears below it. Can someone decipher what it says? The second line says “63(?) Geburtstag 10 Jul 1948.”  Sophie was born on July 10, 1885, so this would have been her 63rd birthday. She and Isaak don’t look very happy, however.

UPDATE: Thank you again to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the first word in the top line as aufgenommen, meaning “taken.” She wasn’t certain whether the next word was “bei,’ indicating where the photo was taken, or “von,” indicating who took the photo. And the third word was not legible.

SECOND UPDATE: Thank you to Eric, who commented below and was able to read that last word. It says Aufgenommen bei meinem 63rd geburtstag or Taken at my 63rd birthday. Thanks, Eric!

Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, 1948

Finally, Patricia shared a photograph taken at Sophie and Isaak’s 50th anniversary celebration on June 9, 1959. That adorable little girl in the center of the photograph is Patricia herself.

In the front row from left to right are Sophie Katz Vogel, Isaak Vogel, and Rosa Hamburger, Carl Vogel’s mother-in-law. Standing behind them from left to right is Carl Vogel, Gertrud Lippman Vogel (Heinz Vogel’s wife), Heinz Vogel, and Beate Hamburger Vogel (Carl’s wife).

When I look at this photograph and see the love and the smiles that permeate it and compare it to the stern expressions on the faces of Sophie and Isaak in 1948, it makes me think of how hard their adjustment to Argentina must have been, but also how fortunate they must have felt to have left Germany behind and to have made a whole new life for themselves in their new homeland.

I am so grateful to Patricia for sharing these with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family: The Final Chapter

I have written a great deal about Milton Goldsmith on this blog, probably more than I’ve written about any other relative, in part because he lived such an interesting life and in part because of the extensive record he left behind—his books and poetry and letters, his photograph albums, and the many news articles about him and his work. I’ve already posted a number of photographs of Milton. But in this final post devoted to the papers of my cousin Milton, I want to focus on his life after he married in 1899, as reflected in the family photographs displayed in the second family album he collated.

This second album included two photographs of Milton as a young man.

Milton Goldsmith at 16

Milton Goldsmith as a young man

Milton Goldsmith and Sophie Hyman were married on February 15, 1899. The album contains many letters written by Milton to Sophie as well as the love poem I posted in an earlier post. I have decided not to post those letters. To be honest, there are so many that I just couldn’t decide where to begin. And I just don’t have time to scan them all.

Milton included this announcement of his engagement to Sophie in his album. Unfortunately it is not dated, nor do I know where it appeared although it is obviously from a New York newspaper, perhaps the New York Times, which also published a wedding announcement.

“Weddings of A Day. Goldsmith-Hyman,” The New York Times, Februaru 15, 1899, p. 7

Here are two photographs of Milton and Sophie that may reflect how they looked when they married:

Milton Goldsmith at 28 in 1889

Sophie Hyman Goldsmith

Their daughter Rosalind was born two years later on February 1, 1901. Her sister Madeleine arrived three years later on May 29, 1904. Here are a selection of the beautiful photographs of these girls.

Rosalind Goldsmith c. 1901

Madeleine Goldsmith c. 1906

Milton, Sophie, and their two daughters c. 1909

Rosalind and Madeleine Goldsmith, c. 1911

Milton labeled this photograph of Sophie as his favorite:

Sophie Hyman Goldsmith at about 40, c. 1907

Skipping ahead a few decades, this photograph of Sophie and Milton was taken in 1930 when Milton would have been 69, Sophie 63. Sadly, Sophie died just four years later on June 18, 1934.

Sophie and Milton Goldsmith, 1930

Eleven years later on May 22, 1941,  there was a big celebration of Milton’s 80th birthday, as marked by this page in the album:

It includes the invitation—a poem written by one or both of his daughters:

Milton also wrote a poem for the occasion:

As did his brother Louis (included on a separate page):

This photograph must have been taken not long after or perhaps at Milton’s 80th birthday celebration. It includes (from left to right) Milton’s brother Edwin, who died in 1944, and his brother-in-law Sidney Stern, who died in 1942, and Milton.

There’s one final page I’d like to share—the most recent pictures in the album—a page devoted to Milton and Sophie’s daughter Madeleine, her husband Charles Jacobson, and their daughter, my cousin Sue, who so kindly and generously shared all these albums with me. Thank you once again, Sue!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

And finally, here is Stella’s obituary.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Emily Goldsmith as a child

Emily Goldsmith Gerson

Emily and Felix Gerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emily Goldsmith Gereson

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

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

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

The Man with the Mustache: Are You My Grandfather?

For Thanksgiving week, I am only posting once, so let me wish all of you a wonderful holiday (for those in the US, anyway). May we all be thankful for all the good we have in our lives—those ancestors and parents who paved the way for us, those we now share our lives and love with, be they spouses, relatives, or friends, and those who will come after us—our children, grandchildren and all our descendants.


For today, I want to update an earlier post where I reported on Ava aka Sherlock Cohn’s analysis of this photograph, taken in 1923, probably in Atlantic City. I am curious about your reactions to our thoughts on the man with the mustache. Is he my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen?

Based on earlier research and photographs along with Ava’s report, I am now fairly certain of the identities of most of those in the photograph, as I discussed here.  In the front row are Bessie Craig Cohen, probably her mother Sarah Tadley Craig, and Maurice Cohen, Jr. In the middle is Bessie’s niece Margaret Craig and behind Maurice Cohen Jr is his mother, Edna Mayer Cohen. Kneeling behind Edna is her husband, Maurice Cohen, Sr., my great-uncle. I also assume that the photograph was taken by my great-uncle Stanley Cohen based on the fact that he appears in a separate photograph quite obviously taken at the same time and place.

But who is the man kneeling on the left in the top photo, the man with the mustache? How does he connect to the rest of this group? It could not be Bessie Craig Cohen’s brother James because he died in 1918.1 It also could not be her brother Christopher if the photograph was taken in 1923 because he died in 1922.2 Edna Mayer Cohen had a brother Eugene born in 1893 who is the right age to be the man with the mustache. He was living in the Philadelphia area in the 1920s,3 so he is one possibility, but I have no photographs of Eugene.

Ava at first had a much more intriguing conjecture with respect to the man with the mustache. She saw “a resemblance also to the young man holding a hat in the Cohen & Co. Money Loan Office photograph from ten years earlier. If we are to assume that the young man in that photograph is John Nusbaum Cohen, born 1895, then we can assume that the man on the beach is also John Nusbaum Cohen who I estimated to be born circa 1893-1895.” Ava had done a previous report for me on the Cohen & Company photograph and had tentatively identified the young man holding the hat as my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr.

Cohen & Company photograph

That is, Ava speculated that the man with the mustache could also be my grandfather because he resembled that boy holding the hat. I can definitely see the resemblance. Look at the chin and lips, the deep set eyes, the angles of the ears, and the high forehead:

It would make sense for my grandfather to be in the 1923 beach photograph.  He was the right age (born in 1895 so 28 in 1923), and he would have been with his two brothers and their wives.

But my grandfather did not have a mustache in any of the photographs I have of him. Also, my grandfather definitely had attached earlobes. It’s hard to see in the beach photograph, but that man does not appear to have attached earlobes.

And where is my grandmother? They married in January, 1923, so if the beach photo is correctly dated as 1923, my grandparents were already married by then. My grandmother would have been pregnant in the summer of 1923 as my aunt was born in January, 1924. Why wouldn’t she have been at the beach with her husband and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law?

So I was not convinced that the man with the mustache in the photograph was my grandfather, but I also wasn’t willing to dismiss the possibility.

Then I received a whole box of photographs and other papers and books from my cousin Marjorie Cohen’s cousin Lou. Inside that box was this treasure, my grandfather’s 1921 passport including this stunningly clear version of his passport photograph:

The beach photograph was taken two years later in 1923. I definitely see similiarities—in the shape of the face, the lips, the forehead and eyebrows, the chin, and the nose. The eyes are so hard to see in the beach photograph, but they are definitely deep-set. But that mustache threw me off, and I could also see differences. My grandfather’s ears looked smaller and seemed lower set on his face, the top of his ears set below his eyes rather than at the same level.

Later, while doing a search on my computer for pictures of my father, I tripped on this photograph. I have no idea where I got this photograph. And I had no memory of seeing it before. But it had been saved to my computer three years ago. Hmmm. Why didn’t I label it when I got it?

Anyway, it’s another photograph of my paternal grandparents, Eva Schoenthal and John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., taken some years later than the other two I have of them together. My grandfather was wearing glasses, so I wonder whether he was already having some of the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Sr.

Does this help to identify the man with the mustache on the beach?

I sent these two additional photographs to Ava to see what she thought, and interestingly, she concluded that although she now believed that the young man holding the hat in the Cohen & Company photograph was my grandfather John Nusbam Cohen, Sr., she did not think that the man with the mustache on the beach was my grandfather. Ava wrote:

He does look similar and, as you know, I initially said that the man with the hat in Cohen & Co. is the same man with the mustache in the beach photo. But as I said, the man in the beach photo is about the same age as John in the [recently added] photo taken with Eva and the two look different. I’m figuring the John and Eva photo is circa 1928-1931. So John would be in his early 30s. I’m quite certain John is in Cohen & Co. and the fact that his hair was parted in the center in 1921 for his passport picture and again in about 1928 would make the 1923 beach photo an anomaly if he had grown a mustache and changed his hairstyle two years after his passport photo and then changed it back by the end of the twenties.

That mustache is the real problem for me. The change in hair style is less concerning—he was at the beach. Maybe he went swimming? But that mustache. Facial hair often makes a man look older, so maybe that’s why he looks more like he’s in his early 30s and not 28, as my grandfather would have been in 1923.

But as Ava said, none of the other photos I have of my grandfather show him with a mustache—not the passport photo from 1921, not the one taken with my grandmother in 1923, and not the two later photographs. In fact, the 1923 photograph of my grandparents is dated July 1923 on its reverse, as I discovered when Lou sent me Marjorie’s collection:

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. July 15, 1923

Did my grandfather grow a mustache sometime that summer after the July 1923 photograph was taken, or maybe before and then quickly shaved it off? Neither of his brothers ever had mustaches. Were they even in style then?

Ava and I decided we both needed to get some distance from the photograph and come back with fresh eyes.  So for over a month, I put this all aside as did Ava. Then we both returned to it.

I asked the Photo Restoration Free Service group on Facebook to help by adding some clarity to the photograph and removing the mustache. Here was the result:

We then studied all the photographs again, adding this new one to the mix.

As I looked over every adult photo of I have of my grandfather, I began to see that he looked different in every single one of them. I was totally befuddled, but now thought that the man on the beach wasn’t my grandfather.

Ava was also convinced that the man with the mustache was not my grandfather. She wrote:

I took a long look at John’s passport photo and compared it to the man on the beach. I still don’t believe the two are the same person. Besides the obvious clues like hairstyle and mustache, it appears that John’s ears and the ears of the man in the beach photo are not the same shape and even though they both seem to have attached earlobes, the pattern of the “shell” is different. … I looked at all the identified pictures of John that I have from you, including his baby picture. I don’t think the man on the beach is your grandfather. I also don’t think that the man on the beach is the person holding his hat in the storefront photo.

I responded that I agreed with her and wrote:

So here’s the $64,000 question—do you think the boy holding the hat in the Cohen & Company photo is my grandfather? 

Ava responded that she thinks it is likely that the boy holding his hat in the Cohen & Company photograph is my grandfather, but without more photographs, it’s impossible to be certain, especially given the blurriness of that photograph and the fact that the boy is squinting, making it difficult to see his eyes.

As I looked over the photographs yet another time, I made a new observation. My grandfather’s hairline, even as it receded, always seemed a bit further back along the temples, a bit more forward in the center. The man with the mustache seems to have a hairline that did not curve backwards in this way.

So in the end, Ava and I both concluded that the man with the mustache was not John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., but that the boy holding the hat likely is.

What do you all think? Here for your final review are all the photographs that I know are of my grandfather, John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr. as well as the beach photo.

 


  1. James Craig, death certificate, Certificate Number: 140783, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 140251-143500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  2. Christopher Craig, death certificate, Certificate Number: 23826, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 023001-026000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  3. Eugene Mayer, 1930 US census, Census Place: Cheltenham, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 2341815, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census