Henry Goldsmith’s Grandsons: College Men

Before I left for England, I had been writing about Henry Goldsmith, my double cousin, related to me both as a Goldsmith and as a Schoenthal. Henry and his wife Sarah Jaffa had ten children, eight of whom were still living in 1920, all in western Pennsylvania. Sarah died in 1907, and Henry died in 1923. By then, six of their eight surviving children were married, and there were numerous grandchildren.

Two of their sons (JW and Benjamin) were in business together as merchants, one (Milton) was a doctor, one (Walter) a dentist, and two (SR and Oliver) were lawyers. Their two daughters also were quite accomplished, one (Florence) as a musician, the other (Helen) a teacher until she married and had a family. But we saw that after Henry’s death, there’d been some changes in the sons’ careers and that Oliver had moved away and married in Florida.

In the 1920s, not only were Henry Goldsmith’s sons making changes, his grandsons were as well. Three of his grandsons went away to college in the 1920s.

Norman, Milton and Luba Goldsmith’s older son, graduated from Cornell University in 1927.  Here is his photograph (left) from the 1927 Cornell yearbook:

“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: Cornellian; Year: 1927
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990

During the summer after his graduation from Cornell, Norman took a writing course with his mother Luba at the University of Pittsburgh, as reported in detail in the July 28, 1927 Pittsburgh Press..  Here is just a short excerpt from the article, which mostly focuses on Luba’s writing interests and background:

“Pitt’s First Co-Ed and Son Studying in Same Class,” The Pittsburgh Press, July 28, 1927, p. 4

Again the doctor looks at literature. Dr. Luba Robin Goldsmith, practicing physician for 21 years, is a student of composition in the University of Pittsburgh summer school. Attending some of her classes is her son, Norman R. Goldsmith, aged 20, a graduate of the 1927 class of Cornell university, who will enter the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. ….

Beside her in Prof. Maulsby’s class in journalism each morning is her son, Norman R. Goldsmith, who, like his two parents will be a medical doctor. He is tall, attractive with his mother’s blue eyes and open countenance.  When questioned as to his correlation of medicine and writing, he said:

“Medicine I want to make my vocation; literature my avocation, if possible. I like to write. I think that’s about all.” He wants to write fiction, chiefly short stories.  He has already written a book, “Liebestraum,” printed privately in a small edition. In the Goldsmith home in Squirrel Hill is Albert, aged 12, whose career has not yet been determined. He is sturdy and athletic, likes music and writes a little.

Norman then began his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania, following in the footsteps of his mother and father, who were both doctors.1

Norman’s cousin, J. Edison, who was one year younger than Norman and the son of JW and Jennie Goldsmith, followed his cousin to Cornell, but completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He then went to the Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia.2

Finally, the third cousin, Jack Goldsmith, son of SR and Rae Goldsmith, was a year younger than J.Edison. Like his father, Jack went to the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1931. He chose law as his profession, following in his father’s footsteps; he attended Harvard Law School for a year and then transferred to the law school at the University of Southern California.3

And then tragedy struck. Jack Tumpson Goldsmith, the only son of SR Goldsmith and his wife Rae, died on March 21, 1933 at the age of 24. Excerpts from the full obituary are transcribed below:

“Funeral Service for Jack Goldsmith Thursday Afternoon,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 22, 1933, p. 5.

The funeral service for Jack Tumpson Goldsmith, whose death occurred yesterday morning in New York, will be held at 2:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon at the residence in Wills road. ….

A heart condition, which followed a severe attack of arthritis in December, caused death at 9:50 o’clock Tuesday morning at the apartment of Jack’s aunts, Misses Anne and Martha Tumpson. He was 24 years old.

The young man, a son of Attorney Samuel R. and Rae Tumpson Goldsmith of this city, was completing a law course at the University of Southern California when his illness began. In recent weeks his health failed rapidly, but many friends were unaware of the seriousness of his condition and his death created a profound shock.

Jack Goldsmith was widely known in Connellsville and other places. He made friends readily and was rather widely traveled. He was a brilliant student and made scholastic records at the institutions which he attended. Although equipping himself for the practice of law he was keenly interested in journalism and writing of short stories and poems. He frequently submitted articles to publishers, some of them being accepted.  During a summer vacation, he was employed on the reportorial staff of The Courier.  It being his desire to further acquaint himself with journalistic work through actual experience.

Born on January 28, 1909, in Connellsville, Jack attended the public schools here.  After two years in the Connellsvillle High School he entered Staunton Military Academy, where he was graduated with honors. While there he was a member of the school band and very active in student affairs. He next entered the University of Michigan, where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1931.

At Michigan he was a member of the editorial staff of the school paper and was able to give wide scope to his desire for journalistic effort. He also became a member of the college gymnasium team, the first ever to represent the university in intercollegiate competition. He was awarded a letter for his success in that department. He was also a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.

Upon completion of his course there he entered Harvard Law School, spending one year at that place. Then he felt he might like to locate, upon graduation, in California, and in order to better reach a decision he transferred his study of law to the University of Southern California last year.

It was while his parents were on a visit with him during the Christmas holiday that he suffered an acute attack of arthritis.  It was quite severe on December 27. He was taken to the Cedar of Lebanon Hospital at Los Angeles, where he spent three weeks. The illness left him with a heart condition.

On February 22 he journed across the continent by train, going to the apartment of his aunts in New York. There he was confined to his bed for three weeks. His mother was constantly with him and his father spent the major portion of the past three weeks in New York also. Both were at his bedside when death occurred.

One of the best friends Jack Goldsmith had made in Connellsville was Rev. E. H. Stevens, pastor of the First Baptist Church. Despite the great difference in their ages, they would often spend hours together in the discussion of philosophy. With much in common, especially the ideas the younger generation are now confronting, they became very close to one another. Rev. Stevens has been invited by the family to take part in the funeral service.

What a terrible loss to the family and to the community. I was puzzled by the connection between arthritis and a heart condition, but after a little research, I believe that Jack suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, not the arthritis most of us association with joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with damage to the heart.

I also was puzzled by the reference to the “college gymnasium team,” but found references to this terminology in some older sources referring to some kind of athletic team, though I am not sure exactly which sport. It might be gymnastics.

Jack Goldsmith is buried in Glendale, California. As we will see in the next post, among his other legacies, Jack may have inspired many in his extended family to leave Pennsylvania for the California dream.

 

 

 


  1. “Get Penn Degrees,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 18, 1931, p. 6. 
  2. The Connellsville Daily Courier, April 2, 1927, p. 6; The Connellsville Daily Courier, December 22, 1928, p. 6; The Connellsville Daily Courier, June 13, 1965, p. 2. 
  3. “Funeral Service for Jack Goldsmith Thursday Afternoon,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 22, 1933, p. 5. 

Henry Goldsmith’s Family, 1920-1930: Losses and Heartbreak

Up through 1920, the family of Henry Goldsmith had had generally good fortune and much success. Henry’s eight surviving children were doing well in their chosen professions. All but two were married, and six of the surviving eight children had children of their own.

On the other hand, Henry had suffered some tragic losses—Henry’s little son Albert died as a young boy, his son Edison died in a horrific train accident, and his wife Sarah Jaffa died in 1907 when she was 56. In addition, Henry had suffered a stroke in 1911, but had recovered. And Henry’s unnamed grandson, the son of Walter Goldsmith and his wife Ella, had died in 1915 when he was just twenty-two days old.

Walter and his wife Ella had then been blessed a year later with a second child, Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, named for her grandmother. But Walter and Ella suffered another heartbreaking loss on March 21, 1921, when four-year-old Sarah died from acute gastroenteritis.

Death certificate of Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020501-023500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Ella had just twenty days earlier on March 1, 1921, given birth to another child, a son Edison, named for Walter’s deceased brother.1

I can’t imagine how Walter and Ella coped with this tragedy. To lose a second child on the heels of the birth of third—did they worry that the new baby would also get sick and die? Did they worry that they had not been fast enough to notice little Sarah’s illness because of the chaos that always surrounds the birth of a new baby?

Walter and Ella somehow survived this loss. In fact, another child was born to them less than two years later. Stanley Goldsmith was born on December 16, 1922.2 And a daughter Edna was born on October 4, 1924.3 Fortunately, all three of these children survived and lived full lives.

The extended family also continued to grow when the first of Henry Goldsmith’s grandchildren married in 1921.  Eleanor Goldsmith, daughter of JW, married Julian F. Rosenbaum on August 16, 1921, in Connellsville.4 Julian was the son of Joseph and Toni (Frankel) Rosenbaum, German immigrants, and he was born on December 18, 1897, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where his parents had settled after immigrating.5 His father was a dry goods merchant there, and in 1921, Julian was working as the assistant manager in his father’s department store, Rosenbaum Brothers.6

Eleanor and Julian settled in Uniontown where Julian continued to work at the family store.  They had three children born in the 1920s in Uniontown, Henry Goldsmith’s first great-grandchildren.7

But the extended family suffered another loss on June 19, 1923, when Henry Goldsmith died from edema of the lungs at the age of 76.  His funeral was attended by “[o]ver 200 of Fayette county’s prominent citizens, including judges of the common pleas and orphans’ courts.”8 Henry was survived by eight children and nine grandchildren.

Henry Goldsmith death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 067501-070500, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Henry Goldsmith had lived overall a good life, but not a life without tragedy and heartbreak. He had lost his mother when he was three and had outlived two of his children and two of his grandchildren. His wife had died fifteen years before he did. But despite those tragedies, he and his wife Sarah had raised an incredibly well-educated, intelligent, and successful family, all of whom were still living relatively close by in western Pennsylvania when Henry died in 1923.

That would start to change in the years after Henry’s death.


  1. SSN: 181120537, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. SSN: 201142857, Death Certificate Number: PA 2972985, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3.  Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. “Hostess at Rehearsal Dinner,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, August 15, 1921, p. 2. 
  5. SSN: 550052846, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Joseph Rosenbaum, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 550; Volume #: Roll 550 – 07 May 1900-11 May 1900, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925; Rosenbaum family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Uniontown Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1571; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 103, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. 
  6. Uniontown, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7. Julian Rosenbaum and family, 1930 US census, Census Place: Uniontown, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 2341775,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  8. “Henry Goldsmith,” The Pittsburgh Press, June 22, 1923, p. 28. 

Henry Goldsmith,1910-1920: Obstacles Faced and Overcome

On August 10, 1911, Henry Goldsmith, then 64 years old, suffered a stroke, rendering him paralyzed and unable to speak.  His condition was reported in the Connellsville paper, as was his continuing improvement.

“Henry Goldsmith Suffers a Stroke,” The Daily Courier, 12 Aug 1911, Sat, Page 1

But Henry had a full recovery. A week later the paper reported that he was able to sit up in bed,1 and by September 18, 1911, he was able to go out and was reported as “recovered” by the newspaper.2 In October, he was re-elected to be president of the board of the People’s Building and Loan Association,3 and the following June he traveled with members of his family to Europe.

The Daily Courier, 02 May 1912, Thu, Page 1

By this time even Henry’s youngest child, Helen, was earning a living. Just days after her father’s stroke, she was appointed to be a primary teacher in Connellsville, selected from a field of eight candidates. Like her older siblings, Helen had been an excellent student, graduating from the Connellsville school as valedictorian as had her brother Milton.

The Daily Courier, 22 Aug 1911, Tue, Page 6

I could not post this article without commenting on the paragraph that follows the one about Helen. It so clearly reflects the discriminatory social attitudes of those times by referring to the teacher by his race and to the class by their ethnic background.

Helen’s teaching career in Connellsville did not last very long. On January 20, 1914, she married Edwin Tanzer Meyer; she was 24, he was 23. Edwin was born in Piedmont, West Virginia, on February 28, 1890, to Sigmund Meyer and Anna Tanzer, who were German immigrants. After living for some time in Lonaconing, Maryland, the family moved to Pittsburgh, where in 1910, Sigmund was a salesman in a department store and Edwin was a floor manager in a department store.4

Helen Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968 
Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Press – 25 Jan 1914 – Page 45

Helen and Edwin settled in Pittsburgh, where they had two children: Edgar J. Meyer, born on March 31, 1915,5 and Malcolm G. Meyer, born January 17, 1918.6 Edwin had become an optometrist in the years between the 1910 census and his registration for the World War I draft. On that registration he reported that he had already served in the ambulance corps in the DC militia. In 1920 Helen, Edwin, and their two young sons were living in Pittsburgh, and Edwin was practicing optometry.7

Edwin T Meyer, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1909239; Draft Board: 11
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Helen was not the only one of Henry’s children to marry in 1914. Her brother Walter married Ella Rosenberg six months after Helen married Edwin—on June 17, 1914. Ella was the daughter of Herman Rosenberg and Bertha Moskovics. She was born on January 13, 1887, in Csorgo, Hungary. 8 Her family had immigrated to the US in 1890, and in 1900 they were living in Pittsburgh where her father was a liquor salesman. Ella was still living in Pittsburgh in 1910.9

“Rosenberg-Goldsmith,” The Daily Courier, 18 Jun 1914, Thu, Page 2

She and Walter settled in Connellsville, where Walter had a dentistry practice. On May 25, 1915 their first child was born; he only lived for 22 days, dying on June 16, 1915, from acute bronchitis and septicemia from a skin infection. Since there was no name given for this child on his death certificate, I imagine he was either premature or very sick right from birth:

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 054101-057320
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Walter and Ella’s second child was born on October 2, 1916. She was named Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith in memory of Walter’s mother.10

At the time of his registration for the World War I draft in 1918, Walter and his family were still living in Connellsvile,11 but by 1920, Walter, Ella and their daughter Sarah were living in Pittsburgh where Walter had a general dentistry practice.12

1914 was also a big year for Florence Goldsmith, though for different reasons. That year she debuted her operetta, “The Pilot of Tadousac,” for which she had written the book, the lyrics, and the music. Unfortunately, I do not know anything about this operetta. Tadoussac is a village in Quebec. I did find this story on a CBC Canadian history website, so perhaps this is the “pilot” that inspired Florence’s operetta:

In the spring of 1608, two vessels crossed the Atlantic, the Lévrier, under the command of Dupont-Gravé, and the Don de Dieu, under the command of Champlain.

On June 3, when Champlain arrived in Tadoussac, Dupont-Gravé’s pilot came to greet him in a rowboat. The pilot informed him that Dupont-Gravé had tried to impose his monopoly on the Basque and Spanish captains who were already there, but they had answered him with their muskets and cannons. He took Champlain to the bedside of Dupont-Gravé, who was still alive but seriously wounded.

Together, they negotiated a truce with Darache, the leader of the Spaniards, which allowed Dupont-Gravé’s men to start trading with the Montagnais.

Aside from this reference, I found nothing that revealed the story behind Florence’s operetta. The operetta itself was generally well-reviewed by the local newspaper as seen in this excerpt from a longer article (I excluded the parts describing the cast):

“Pilot of Tadousac is Quite A Clever Operatta [sic],” The Daily Courier, 29 May 1914, Fri, Page 2

It also was performed in two other locations in Pennsylvania over the next several years. 13 Florence also continued to teach music.14

The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10

Then on March 11, 1920, she married Lester Bernstein in New York City.15 He was 38, she was 36. Lester was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 1881, to Sigmund Bernstein and Marie Omann, who were both immigrants from Germany.16 In 1900, Lester’s father Sigmund was working as a jeweler in Philadelphia, and Lester was a “rodman.”17 According to this website, a rodman was a surveyor’s assistant.

Lester was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehigh University. In 1910, he was living on his own as a lodger in Baltimore and working as a civil engineer for the railroad. He was still living in Baltimore and working for the railroad when he registered for the World War I draft in 1918, although now he reported his title as statistician. The article about his marriage to Florence reported that he had at one time worked for the railroad in Connellsville as a field engineer, which is probably when he met Florence.

The Daily Courier, 11 Mar 1920, Thu, Page 2

After marrying, Florence and Lester settled in Pittsburgh.  I could not find them on the 1920 census, perhaps because they were still on their “extended honeymoon trip” when the enumeration was done.

Thus, Walter, Helen, and Florence all married between 1910 and 1920. Their other siblings—JW, Benjamin, Milton, Samuel and Oliver—were also busy in those years. More on that in my next post.

 

 

 

 


  1. “Henry Goldsmith Improved,” The Daily Courier – 14 Aug 1911 – Page 1 
  2. “Henry Goldsmith Well Again,” The Daily Courier, 18 Sep 1911, Mon, Page 1 
  3. “Peoples B&L Elects Officers,” The Daily Courier, 11 Oct 1911, Wed, Page 1 
  4. Sigmund Meyer family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Lonaconing, Allegany, Maryland; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1240604, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Sigmund Meyer family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1303; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0446; FHL microfilm: 1375316, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  5. 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 
  6. 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 
  7. Edwin T. Meyer, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 13, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 521, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  8. Ella Rosenberg birth record, Source: LDS 642954, Page # – Item #: 301-014, JewishGen Hungarian Special Interest Group volunteers, comp. Hungary, Birth Records collected by Rabbis in Various Counties, 1789-1921 
  9. Rosenberg family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Allegheny Ward 5, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0048; FHL microfilm: 1241355,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census; Rosenberg family, 1910 US census,Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1302; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0422; FHL microfilm: 1375315, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  10. Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith death certificate, Certificate Number: 22703
    Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020501-023500,
    Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  11. Walter Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  12. Walter Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 550,
    Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  13. “The Pilot of Tadousac,” The Uniontown (PA) Morning Herald, 16 Sep 1915, Thu, Page 5; “Amateurs Will Stage Benefit Play,” The Pittsburgh Press, 29 Oct 1916, Sun, Page 10; 
  14. “Students Give Recitals,” The Daily Courier, 11 Jun 1919, Wed, Page 5 
  15.  License Number: 7069, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  16. Lester Bernstein, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942. Lester Bernstein death certificate, Certificate Number: 121500-65, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906-1963; Box Number: 2459; Certificate Number Range: 121201-124000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  17. Sigmund Bernstein and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 17, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0327; FHL microfilm: 1241459, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Henry Goldsmith’s Growing and Successful Family, 1900-1910

As we saw in the last post, Henry Goldsmith and his family suffered two terrible losses in the early years of the 20th century. First, his son Edison was killed in a horrendous train accident in 1903. Then Henry’s wife Sarah died from heart failure in 1907.

But not all the news was bad for the family in the first decade of the new century. Henry’s oldest child, J.W. Goldsmith and his wife Jennie had two children in this decade, Eleanor, born August 20, 1901,1 and J. Edison, obviously named in memory of J.W.’s brother Edison, born March 15, 1908. In 1910, J.W. and his family were living in Connellsville where J.W. had a retail clothing store.2

J Edison Goldsmith birth record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1910; Box Number: 146; Certificate Number Range: 037775-040473, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1911

There were also two marriages in the family in the 1900s decade. Milton Goldsmith married Luba Natalia Robin on March 25, 1905, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

Milton Goldsmith marriage record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1852-1973; County: Allegheny; Year Range: 1905; Roll Number: 549855, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, County Marriage Records, 1845-1963

Luba was born in Russia on January 17, 1879, and had immigrated with three younger siblings, arriving in the US on July 23, 1895, when she was sixteen.3 Just seven years later in May, 1902, Luba graduated from Western Pennsylvania Medical College (now University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)—the only woman in a class of 48.4 She pursued a career in public health, working in the “vaccination corps” of the Pittsburgh Board of Health and then as a tenement house inspector for the Board of Health. She is mentioned in newspapers as a speaker on public health issues beginning as early as 1903.

Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, October 25, 1903. p.2

Milton and Luba were engaged in December 1904,5 and married March 25, 1905, in Pittsburgh.

Robin-Goldsmith, The Weekly Courier, 25 Mar 1905, Sat, Page 1

Reading this article about the wedding, you would have no idea how accomplished Luba was. How could they discuss Milton’s education and profession but not that of his wife? And if you look back at the marriage license above, you will see that it asks for the groom’s occupation, but not the bride’s—a clear reflection of the sexism of those times.

Their honeymoon to Europe was not merely a pleasure trip; they also took post-graduate medical courses.

“Dr Goldsmith Home,” The Weekly Courier, 13 Oct 1905, Fri, Page 13

Milton and Luba had their first child, Norman Robin Goldsmith, on June 15, 1907, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. In 1910, Luba and Milton were both practicing medicine and living in Pittsburgh.6

Norman Robin Goldsmith birth record, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1910; Box Number: 88; Certificate Number Range: 067051-070050
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Certificates, 1906-1911

Milton’s younger brother Samuel also was married during the first decade of the century. On April 26, 1906, he married Rae Tumpson, the daughter of Max and Sophie Tumpsen. (Interestingly, the application for a marriage license did ask for the bride’s occupation.)

Samuel R Goldsmith marriage record, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968

Rae was born Recha Tumpowski in Belgard, Germany, on March 27, 1883. She and her parents immigrated to the US when Rae was just a year old.7 In 1900 they were living in Gouverneur, New York, where her father Max was in the retail clothing business.8 But later that year, they relocated to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where Max opened a new store. 9

After marrying, Samuel and Rae stayed in Connellsville.  Their son Jack Tumpson Goldsmith was born there on January 28, 1909.10 In 1910, they were living in Connellsville where Samuel (known as S.R.) was engaged in the general practice of law.11

Also in this decade, Henry’s son Walter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Dental School in 1905, graduating with high honors and ranked third in his class:

“Graduated in Dentistry,” The Weekly Courier, 14 Jun 1905, Wed, Page 4

In 1910, Henry Goldsmith, now a widower, was living with five of his adult children and his niece Lena Katz. Henry continued to work in the insurance business; his son Benjamin was in the clothing business with his brother J.W., Walter was a dentist, Henry’s daughter Florence was a music teacher, Oliver a clerk in the insurance business, and Helen was not working outside the home, but still in school.

Henry Goldsmith, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Connellsville Ward 1, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1344; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0006; FHL microfilm: 1375357
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Thus, in the first decade of the 20th century, there were two weddings and four grandchildren born. Four of Henry Goldsmith’s children had become professionals: Milton was a doctor, Samuel was a lawyer,  Walter was a dentist, and Florence was a music teacher. Henry must have been very proud and likely missed having his wife Sarah to share in all these weddings, births, and accomplishments.

More accomplishments and more weddings and births were to come in the next decade. But first Henry had another obstacle to overcome.


  1. SSN: 573546121, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. Jacob W. Goldsmith and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1344; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 1375357, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  3. Luba Rabinowicz, passenger manifest, Year: 1895; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 645; Line: 6, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  4. “Forty-Eight Young Medical Students Will Soon Begin Practicing,” The Pittsburgh Press, May 25, 1902, p. 4. 
  5. “Engagement Announced,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, 03 Dec 1904, Sat, Page 8. 
  6. Milton and Luba Robin Goldsmith and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 11, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1302; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0422; FHL microfilm: 1375315, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  7. Recha Tumpowski, passenger manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1731, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  8. Max Tumpowsky and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Gouverneur, Saint Lawrence, New York; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0093; FHL microfilm: 1241156,
    Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  9. “New Clothing Store,” The Weekly Courier, 05 Oct 1900, Fri, Page 6. 
  10. Jack Tumpson Goldsmith, passenger manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2774842; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85,
    Ancestry.com. Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963 
  11. Samuel R Goldsmith and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1344; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 1375357, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

Simon Goldsmith: His Legacy—German Criminal, American Patriarch

In the last post we saw how a number of Jacob Goldsmith’s children left Pennsylvania when they reached adulthood. But Jacob Goldsmith’s children weren’t the only descendants of Simon Goldsmith who moved from Pennsylvania in the 1870s.

By 1878, Simon’s daughter Lena and her husband Gustavus Basch and children had moved to Columbus, Ohio.1 According to directories and the 1880 census, Gustavus was now in the vinegar manufacturing business, and his oldest son Frank, now 22, was working with him in the business. I assume it must have been this business opportunity that drew them to Columbus. In 1880, Lena and Gustavus’ four other children—Joseph, Joel, Hinda, and Ella—were also living with their parents. The only child who was not still living at home was their son Jacob, who was living in Hamilton, Ohio, and working as a hotel clerk. Hamilton is about 100 miles southwest of Columbus.2

Gustavus Basch and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1016; Page: 201D; Enumeration District: 029
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s two youngest children, my double cousins Henry and Hannah, they were busy having children during the 1870s and 1880s. Henry and his wife Sarah Jaffa continued to live in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where Henry was a clothing merchant. In addition to their first child, Jacob W. Goldsmith, who was born in 1871, Sarah gave birth to four more children between 1873 and 1880: Benjamin (1873),3 Milton (1877),4 Samuel (1879),5 Edison (1880).6 Five more would come between 1881 and 1889: Walter (1881),7 Florence (1883),8 Albert (1884),9 Oliver (1887),10 and Helen (1889).11 In total, Henry and Sarah had ten children. All were born in Connellsville.

Henry Goldsmith and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1129; Page: 93D; Enumeration District: 035
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

Hannah and her husband Joseph Benedict stayed in Pittsburgh where Joseph is listed on the 1880 census as a rag dealer. Hannah gave birth to her third son, Centennial Harry Benedict, on September 24, 1876, in Pittsburgh.12 In most records he is referred to as either C. Harry or Harry; I assume the Centennial was in honor of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in the year he was born.

The 1880 census lists not only Hannah and Joseph and their three sons in the household, but also Hannah’s father Simon, and three of Hannah’s nephews: Lena’s son Jacob Basch and Henry’s sons Jacob and Benjamin Goldsmith. Since all three are also listed elsewhere on the 1880 census, I wonder whether these three were just visiting their relatives in Pittsburgh when the census was taken.

Joseph and Hannah Benedict and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1092; Page: 508D; Enumeration District: 122
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

On March 17, 1883, at the age of 88 or so, Simon Goldsmith died in Pittsburgh; his death record states that he died of old age.

Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZ7D-M2S : 11 March 2018), Simon Goldsmith, 17 Mar 1883; citing v 33 p 550, Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh; FHL microfilm 505,832.

What an interesting, challenging, and rich life Simon had. He was born Simon Goldschmidt, the youngest child of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann in Oberlistingen. He had five children with his first wife Eveline Katzenstein, two of whom died as infants. He had spent time in prison for burglary, but his marriage and his family stayed together. After Eveline died in 1840, he had married a second time, his second wife being Fradchen Schoenthal. He and Fradchen immigrated to the US in 1845, a year after their marriage, and together they had two more children born in the US. Then Simon lost his second wife Fradchen in 1850. He also lost another child, his daughter Eva, sometime after 1862.

But Simon soldiered on, living first with his son Jacob in Washington and later with his daughter Hannah in Pittsburgh. He saw twenty-eight grandchildren born before he died, and five more were born after he died. In addition, he lived to see the births of eight great-grandchildren, and many more were born after his death. When he died, his children and grandchildren were spread from Philadelphia to California, pursuing and living the American dream. He must have looked at his family with amazement—that this man who had gotten himself in trouble with the law back home in Germany had somehow been able to start over in the US and create a huge legacy for himself and his family. Despite his struggles and his losses, he must have been grateful for all that he did have.

What would happen to Simon’s four surviving children and all those grandchildren and great-grandchildren? More in the posts to follow.

 

 


  1. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1878, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1878, 1879, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Benjamin Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  4. Milton Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Allegheny; Roll: 1908756; Draft Board: 08, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  5. Samuel Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  6. Edison Goldsmith, 1880 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1129; Page: 93D; Enumeration District: 035, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census (three days old) 
  7. Walter Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  8. Florence Goldsmith, 1912 Passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  9. Gravestone at https://billiongraves.com/grave/person/12971467#= 
  10. Oliver Goldsmith, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  11. Helen Goldsmith, 1912 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  12. Centennial Harry Goldsmith, Yearbook Title: Cornell Class Book, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; Yearbook Title: Cornell Class Book; Year: 1897, Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990;  C. Harry Goldsmith, 1921 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1788; Volume #: Roll 1788 – Certificates: 102000-102375, 02 Dec 1921-03 Dec 1921, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 

Simon Goldschmidt: From German Criminal to American Grandfather

Before my break, I noted that I had finished writing about the descendants of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents, and the descendants of Seligmann’s brother, Lehmann Goldschmidt.

Now I would like to turn to Seligmann’s youngest sibling, Simon Goldschmidt, whose story I’ve already told in bits and pieces at other times because his second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, was the sister of my Schoenthal great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and because one of his grandchildren, Ella Bohm, married my great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein.

But let me tie together those bits and pieces into one story so that I can continue Simon’s story with some background. Simon was born in Oberlistingen in about 1795 to Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann (no connection to my Seligmanns). In 1822, he married Eveline Katzenstein of Grebenstein (no known familial connection to my Katzensteins). Their first child, Jacob, was born in about 1825 in Oberlistingen. 1

In May, 1826, Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery.2  As I wrote about at length in this post, in 1830 there was a trial, and Simon was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison with his legs shackled. Simon appealed, and on December 24, 1830, the appellate court upheld the verdict, but reduced the sentence from ten years to four years because the victim’s injuries were not dangerous or life-threatening and because Simon had not used any lethal weapons. The court also observed that the delay in trial was not Simon’s fault and took that into consideration in reducing his sentence.

Simon and Eveline had four more children after Jacob: Lena (1828),3 born while he was awaiting trial, and three born after he was released, Hewa “Eva” (1836), Joseph (1837), and Jesajas (1839), all born in Oberlistingen. Sadly, Simon and Eveline’s last two babies did not survive. Both Joseph and Jesajas died in infancy.

Eva (Hewa) Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.7

 

Joseph Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 6

Jesajas Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 7

A year after the death of Jesajas, Simon’s wife Eveline died on August 19, 1840. Simon was left on his own to raise his fifteen-year-old son Jacob, twelve-year-old daughter Lena, and four-year-old Eva.

Eveline Katzenstein Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 8

Simon’s son Jacob left Germany that same year and immigrated to the US.4  By 1850, Jacob was living in Washington, Pennsylvania, working as a tailor and living with two other men who were tailors, and had changed his surname to Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith (Simon’s son) 1850 US census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_834; Page: 363A; Image: 244

On September 10, 1844, Simon married Fradchen Schoenthal, my three-times great-aunt, in Oberlistingen. Fradchen was already 37 at that time, and Simon was 49.

Marriage of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 11

Almost exactly a year later, Simon and Fradchen arrived in the United States along with Simon’s youngest daughter, Eva, who was then nine years old.

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

They must have settled first in Baltimore because Simon and Fradchen had two children who were born there, Henry on January 10, 1847,5 and Hannah on June 5, 1848.6 Since Henry and Hannah’s mother and father were both my blood relatives, they are my double cousins: first cousins, three times removed through Fradchen, and first cousins, four times removed through Simon.

By 1850, Simon and Fradchen (also known as Fanny) were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well Simon’s two daughters from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Simon was working as a tailor and had, like his son Jacob, Americanized his surname to Goldsmith.

Simon lost his second wife Fradchen soon thereafter; she died on August 11, 1850, at age 43. Once again Simon was left with young children—Henry was three, Hannah was two.

Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith Troy Hill Pittsburgh

By 1853, Simon’s son Jacob had married Fannie Silverman, also a German immigrant, and together they had six daughters born between 1853 and 1860: Ellena (1853)7, Emma (1854),8 Annie (1855),9 Rachel (1857),10 Leonora (1858),11 and Celia (1860).12  By 1860, Simon and his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and were living with Jacob and Fannie and their six daughters. Henry and Hannah were only five and six years older than their oldest niece, Ellena.

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Simon’s daughter Lena married another German immigrant, Gustavus Basch in 1856.13 In 1860, they were living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with their first two children, Frank (1858) and Jacob (1859). Connellsville is under fifty miles from Washington, Pennsylvania, where Lena’s father Simon and her brother Jacob were then living.

Basch family, 1860 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 421; Family History Library Film: 805110 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s youngest child with Eveline, his daughter Eva, her whereabouts in 1860 are unknown. I cannot find her anywhere on the 1860 census. More on Eva here and here and in a subsequent post.

Thus, by 1860, all the members of the family of Simon Goldschmidt (except possibly Eva) were living in western Pennsylvania, most of them in Washington, Pennsylvania.  That was as far as I’d gotten with Simon’s story in my earlier posts. Now I can pick up with Simon and his children in the years after 1860.

 

 


  1. I don’t have original birth or marriage records for these facts, but have relied on various US records as well as the research of others to reach these conclusions. 
  2.  HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40. See the linked post for more information about my source for this information. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010 
  4. Jacob Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0072; FHL microfilm: 1240119, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Henry Goldsmith, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  6. Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, death certificate, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan, Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, File Number: 007791. 
  7. Ellena Goldsmith Feldstein, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 061391-064480, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Emma Goldsmith, death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX5B-3PG : 9 March 2018), Emma Goldsmith, 06 Jan 1902; citing cn14552, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,853,338. 
  9. Annie Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  10. Rachel Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  11. Leonora Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  12. Celia Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  13. Lena and Gustavus Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241268, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Pittsburgh

Where do I start to express how I feel about what happened in Pittsburgh? Do I tell you how my heart didn’t stop racing all day on Saturday from when I first heard the news?  That I am just too sad and scared to be angry? That I feel like an outsider in my own country?

I didn’t know any of the individuals killed or injured in Pittsburgh, but I knew every single one of them. They are my friends and neighbors, my fellow congregants, my family, my ancestors. Yes, I have some actual ties to Pittsburgh—relatives from long ago who lived there including my great-grandfather, friends who grew up there, a brother who once lived there, and so on. But even if I didn’t, I knew these people. Because they were like me, a Jewish person living in America taking for granted all too often that we are safe. That it can never happen here. That people are basically good, that evil will not prevail.

Now I am not so sure. More and more we see the evil prevailing, the anger fanned, the hatred accepted and even condoned. Whether it is directed against someone because of their religion—be it Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity—or their skin color or their sexual orientation or their gender or their age or their nationality, the hatred is not only there, it is being acted upon. And it is not being condemned by our federal government in strong enough terms to be credible. In fact, it is encouraged.

I am beginning to lose faith in people. I no longer feel safe, I no longer believe it could never happen here. I have learned from studying my family history and Jewish history in general how much hatred and oppression and discrimination and violence have shaped my own history. Many of my ancestors came to this country in order to escape anti-Semitism and the oppression and lack of opportunity they faced in Europe. When I learned how many of my not-so-distant relatives died in the Holocaust or survived it against all odds or escaped just in time, I felt so grateful for America. America was supposed to be different. But is it really so different now?

Of course, in some ways it is. In Pittsburgh, the police took bullets to protect Jews. The mayor condemned what happened. The government there was not afraid to help the victims or condemn the murderer. On Facebook I am heartened when I see non-Jews standing up and making any kind of statement condemning what happened. We attended a gathering at our synagogue, and I was touched to see representatives there from other faiths and government officials pledging to stand by us. The service ended with the singing of The Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. As the rabbi said, we sing The Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem, because this is our home.  And we sing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem which means “the hope,” because we are Jews and to remind us that that we must never abandon hope.

And as I write this, I realize that I am not afraid to publish these thoughts. Because somewhere deep inside I must still trust that I will be safe here. But not as much as I once did.

Tomorrow I will return to telling my family’s story—with even more urgency than before. Because people—not just my people, not just my family—need to know what we as Jews have endured and what we have learned, what we have suffered and what we have contributed. And people need to understand the dreams that brought our ancestors here. We must not let those dreams die.

Of Rabbit Holes and Twisted Trees and the Curse of Endogamy

Now that I have emerged from the Mansbach rabbit hole I dove into weeks ago, I can return to the story of my direct ancestors, Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt and their children, including my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein.  As I wrote previously, Gerson was one of eight children of Scholum Katzenstein, including four full siblings, two of whom died as children, and three half-siblings, one of whom died as a child. As best I can tell Gerson was the only one of the eight to leave Germany and come to the United States.

Gerson and Eva were married in Oberlistingen in June 1847, and then settled in Gerson’s home town of Jesberg, where they had three children: Scholum (1848, named for Gerson’s father), Jacob (1851), and Brendina (1853, named for Gerson’s mother, Breine Blumenfeld).

marriage-record-of-gerson-katzenstein-and-eva-goldschmidt

Marriage record of Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt HHStAW fonds 365 No 673, Arcinsys Hessen

Gerson and Eva immigrated to the US in 1856 with Scholum, Jacob, and Brendina. A fourth child Perry was born a few months after they had settled in Philadelphia. In 1858, they had a fifth child, Hannah, and in 1860 they were all living in Philadelphia where Gerson was working as a salesman.  As noted in an earlier post, there were three others living in the household, Abraham “Anspach,” who I believe was actually Abraham Mansbach (III), David Frank, a bookkeeper, and Marley Mansbach, who I believe was Abraham Mansbach’s cousin and only related to Gerson through his sister Hannchen’s marriage into the Mansbach family.

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1856 Philadelphia directory

Gerson Katzenstein in the 1856 Philadelphia directory

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 13, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1163; Page: 519; Image: 105; Family History Library Film: 805163

On August 17, 1863, Gerson and Eva had their sixth and final child, my great-grandmother Hilda.

The family suffered a terrible loss on December 17, 1866, when their eight year old daughter Hannah died from scarlet fever.  She was buried at Adath Jeshurun cemetery in Philadelphia. I have to wonder what impact that had on the family, especially little three year old Hilda, who must have been very frightened and confused.

Hannah Katzenstein death certificate "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DTXQ-JWY?cc=1320976&wc=9FRX-W38%3A1073285701 : 16 May 2014), > image 316 of 1079; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Hannah Katzenstein death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DTXQ-JWY?cc=1320976&wc=9FRX-W38%3A1073285701 : 16 May 2014), > image 316 of 1079; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In 1870, Gerson and Eva were living with their five surviving children.  Scholum was listed as Joseph and was 22; Jacob was 18, Brendina 15, Perry 14, and Hilda was seven.  The 1870 census was taken twice because there were felt to be errors in the first enumeration.  For the Katzenstein family, the first enumeration is barely legible and is missing some of the children, but indicates that Gerson was working as a clerk in a store.  The second enumeration is quite clear and includes all the children, but has no information about occupations.

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-2

Gerson Katzenstein on 1870 census, first enumeration Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 District 48, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

gerson-katzenstein-1870-census-1

Gerson Katzenstein and family 1870 census, second enumeration Year: 1870; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 16 Dist 48 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1429; Page: 708B; Image: 258; Family History Library Film: 552928

Brendina Katzenstein, the oldest daughter and third child of Gerson and Eva, was the first to marry.  According to the 1900 census, she married Jacob Schlesinger in 1871 when she was only eighteen years old.  It took some serious digging and the help of the German Genealogy Facebook group to find some background on Jacob.  First, from his death notice, I saw that he was born in “Epplagan” in Germany.

jacob-schlesinger-death-notice

Nick in the German Genealogy group figured out that that was Eppingen.  I then searched the Landesarchiv for Baden Wurttemburg and found Jacob’s birth record, which Nick helped me translate:

Jacob Schlesinger birth record from Eppingen

Jacob Schlesinger birth record from Eppingen,  Landesarchiv Baden-Wurtenberg, 390 Nr. 1320, 1 Band Gliederungssymbol Eppingen, israelitische Gemeinde: Standesbuch 1811-1870 Bild 235

The child was born on March 3rd, 1843 and named Jacob. The father was Jacob (?) Schlesinger, a schützbürger (see note below) and hand[e]lsmann (merchant) and his wife Guste? born Sülzberger.

[UPDATE: Thanks to Dorothee Lottmann-Kaeseler for explaining the word “schutzburger” and providing a cite with this explanation: The “Law on the Situation of the Jews” (“Gesetz über die Verhältnisse der Juden”) from 1809 recognized the Jewish religious community as a church. Constitutionally, Jews were to be treated as free citizens. Their position in the municipalities did not change however, they remained only “protected citizens” (“Schutzbürger”) who did not have the right to be elected to a local council and did not have rights of usage of the common land.]

Nick wasn’t sure whether Jacob’s father’s name was Jacob, and I was skeptical of the fact that his father would also have been a Jacob.  Looking at the record itself, it certainly looks like “Jacob” was crossed out and something else was written over it.  Perhaps the scribe who entered the record confused the child’s name and the father’s name.

Although I could not find Jacob Schlesinger on any US census record before 1880, I was able to locate him in a number of Philadelphia directories where he was living at the same address with men named Abraham, Israel, and Myer Schlesinger, all of whom, like Jacob, were working as butchers.  I assumed these were his relatives, and so I searched for information about them.

I found a passenger manifest that shows an Israel Schlesinger and his family arriving in the US in 1860; along with Israel was his wife Gustel or Gurtel, sons Maier (26) and Abraham (11), and two daughters, Fanny (20) and Malchen (15).  There was no son named Jacob on this manifest.

Family of Israel Schlesinger 1860 ship manifest Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 205; Line: 1; List Number: 918 Description Ship or Roll Number : Roll 205 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Family of Israel Schlesinger 1860 ship manifest
Year: 1860; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 205; Line: 1; List Number: 918
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 205
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Then I found another manifest listing a fourteen year old named Jacob Schlesinger arriving in 1857 with what appears to be an older sibling named Hagar.  Since my Jacob Schlesinger reported on the 1910 census that he’d arrived in 1857 (and in 1855 according to the 1900 census) and he would have been fourteen in 1857, I assumed that this was the right Jacob.  Further research uncovered a Hagar Schlesinger, a woman of the right age, who was living in Philadelphia in 1885, so she was probably his sister.

Jacob and Hagar Schlesinger 1857 ship manifest Year: 1857; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 173; Line: 1; List Number: 497

Jacob and Hagar Schlesinger 1857 ship manifest
Year: 1857; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 173; Line: 1; List Number: 497

But I still had no proof that this Jacob was the son of Israel Schlesinger.  He could have been just a nephew or a cousin.  So I searched for a birth record for one of Israel’s sons and found this one for Myer, as translated by Nick:

Myer Schlesinger birth record landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_1320_bild_174_4-1128670-174.jpg

Myer Schlesinger birth record
landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_1320_bild_174_4-1128670-174.jpg

The child was born June 4th, 1834, named Mozes and the parents are Israel Schlesinger and Geitel Si?lzberger.

Myer was also the son of Geitel Sulzberger and Israel (not Jacob) Schlesinger.  Looking back at Jacob’s birth record, it does seem that “Israel” was written over “Jacob” and that thus Jacob’s father was also Israel Schlesinger.  I also found a birth record for Hagar Schlesinger; she also was the daughter of Israel and Geitel.

Thus, I feel fairly comfortable concluding that my Jacob Schlesinger was a son of Israel Schlesinger from Eppingen, especially since he and Israel were living at the same address in 1865, according to the Philadelphia directory for that year. In addition, Jacob, like Israel, Myer, and Abraham, was a butcher in Philadelphia, as seen in numerous entries in the Philadelphia city directories as well as census reports.

Brendina and Jacob Schlesinger had three children listed on the 1880 census: Heloise (5), Solomon (4), and Alfred (1). Jacob was still working as a butcher.  Brendina and Jacob would have a fourth child, Sidney, in 1880, and a fifth, Aimee, born in 1887.

Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1176; Family History Film: 1255176; Page: 156A; Enumeration District: 301; Image: 0314

Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger and family
1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1176; Family History Film: 1255176; Page: 156A; Enumeration District: 301; Image: 0314

 

The 1870s were also active years for Brendina’s three brothers. The oldest brother, Scholum Joseph, had lived in many places since coming with his family to the US.  An 1896 profile of him reported that he had left his family for Leavenworth, Kansas, when he was fourteen to learn how to be a cigar maker, but since he did not arrive until he was eighteen in 1856, that seems more myth than truth.  The profile goes on to state that after being in Kansas for a number of years, he returned to Philadelphia, but eventually gave up the cigar trade because of health concerns.  The article continues by saying that he then “went to Winchester, VA., and took a clerkship, remaining for five years. Thence he went to Uhrichsville, Ohio, thence to New Castle and on the nineteenth of April 1871, he came to Washington [Pennsylvania].”  “The Saturday Evening Supper Table,” Washington, Pennsylvania, June 27, 1896, found here (my cousin Roger Cibella’s genealogy website).

The U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, database on Ancestry, confirms that by 1873, Scholum, also known as S.J. or Joseph Katzenstein, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania.  That is, he moved to the small town in western Pennsylvania where his mother’s uncle Simon Goldschmidt and his children were living at that time.  Readers with excellent memories may recall that Simon Goldschmidt was married to Fanny Schoenthal, my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal’s sister. By 1881 Isidore was also living in Washington, Pennsylvania.

S.J.’s move to Washington, Pennsylvania, may have had long lasting repercussions for my family, as I am fairly confident that he was the one who engineered the introduction of his younger sister, my great-grandmother Hilda, to Isidore Schoenthal, my great-grandfather.

The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) 11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

The Daily Republican
(Monongahela, Pennsylvania)
11 Aug 1887, Thu • Page 4

S.J Katzenstein married Henrietta Sigmund in 1875.  Henrietta was born in 1851 in Baltimore to Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund. That added yet another twist to my family tree because Ella Goldschmidt was the daughter of Meyer Goldschmidt whose brothers were Seligmann Goldschmidt, father of Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein, and Simon Goldschmidt, husband of Fanny Schoenthal.  In other words, Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein was Ella Goldschmidt Sigmund’s first cousin, meaning that S.J. Katzenstein married his maternal second cousin, Henrietta Sigmund.

ella-goldschmidt-to-eva-goldschmidt

But let me stay focused on the Katzensteins rather than diving into the Goldschmidt rabbit hole.

S.J. and Henrietta, who was also known as Dot or Dottie, had a daughter Moynelle in 1879.  S.J., who is listed as Joseph on the 1880 census, was working as a clothing merchant in Washington, Pennsylvania. He and Henrietta would have five more children: Milton (1881), Howard (1882), Ivan (1884), Earl (1885), and Vernon (1892).

S. Joseph Katzenstein and family 1880 census Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 577A; Enumeration District: 270

S. Joseph Katzenstein and family 1880 census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1202; Family History Film: 1255202; Page: 577A; Enumeration District: 270

S.J. was not the only child of Gerson and Eva Katzenstein to leave Philadelphia for western Pennsylvania in the 1870s.  In 1878, Perry Katzenstein, the third brother, was listed in the Pittsburgh directory as a clerk; the following year his brother Jacob joined him.  Both were living at 25 Second Avenue and working as salesmen.  Although I cannot find either of them on the 1880 census, both were listed in the 1881 Pittsburgh directory, still working as salesmen and still living together, though now at 188 Wylie Avenue. (Perry also appears in the 1880 directory, but Jacob does not.)

As for their parents and little sister Hilda, they were still living in Philadelphia in 1880.  Gerson continued to work as a clerk in a store.  Living with them, in addition to a number of boarders, was Louis Mansbach, listed as Gerson’s nephew, age 31, and born in “Prussia.” At first I thought this was Louis Mansbach, son of H.H. Mansbach, who would have been Gerson’s great-nephew.  But that Louis Mansbach was far too young and born in the US. So who was this Louis Mansbach?

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Family History Film: 1255173; Page: 274B; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 0561

Well, remember that post where I was trying to sort out all the different men named Abraham Mansbach? One of them, whom I called Abraham II, was the son of Leiser Mansbach and grandson of Abraham Mansbach I.  Abraham II was the brother of Marum Mansbach who married Hannchen Katzenstein, Gerson Katzenstein’s half-sister.  And Abraham II had a son in 1849 who was named for his grandfather: Leiser Mansbach II. He was therefore the nephew of Marum Mansbach and Hannchen Katzenstein.  Leiser became Louis, and he was living with Gerson and Eva Katzenstein in 1880, working as a veterinary surgeon.

And so you might be thinking, “Well, he wasn’t Gerson’s nephew.  He was Gerson’s brother-in-law’s nephew.” And you might be thinking, “Perhaps Gerson was just being liberal in using the term ‘nephew.’”

But, alas, it’s not that simple. Once again there is a twist in the tree.  Louis Mansbach’s mother was Sarah Goldschmidt, Eva Goldschmidt’s sister.  So Louis Mansbach was in fact Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein’s nephew as well as Gerson’s brother-in-law’s nephew.

leiser-mansbach-to-gerson-katzenstein

 

And on that confusing note, I am going to go get a breath of fresh air and curse the endogamy gods who make using DNA results so utterly pointless in my family research.

 

More Manna: The Family of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff

In my last post I shared some of the wonderful photographs I received from my cousin Steve of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  This post will focus on the children of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff, Steve’s grandparents.

Their first child Gerald was born in 1916, in Chicago, where Sidney and Esther lived in the early years of their marriage. Their daughter Betty was born three years later in 1919. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman during those years.

Gerald Oestreicher

Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1917

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1922

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1923

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1930

By 1930 Sidney’s father Gustav had retired and moved with Sarah to Atlantic City, and Sidney returned with Esther, Gerald, and Betty to Pittsburgh to help run the family store, The People’s Store.  Sidney and Esther had their third child Elaine in Pittsburgh in 1931.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

This photograph below, probably taken in Pittsburgh in the late 1930s, includes the whole family–from left to right, Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald.

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

After The People’s Store went bankrupt during the Depression, Sidney had a hard time finding work.  Steve told me that Gerald would sell apples on the street after school to earn money.  Steve also shared this story about his grandmother Esther:

Grandma, Esther Oestreicher, was a homemaker to her three children, but also a very good pinochle player.  Twice a week she would sit down at night with friends and earn a living. 

Once a week or month, there was a raffle at the local theater after the matinee movie.  On one occasion as Gerald and Esther were walking to the theater, she repeatedly announced to neighbors sitting on their stoups, “My son and I are going to the movie where I will win the raffle today.”  This terribly embarrassed my Dad, who said he wanted to tuck his head under his shirt.  Sure enough after the movie ended, Esther won the raffle.  On the way home passing many of those same neighbors on their stoup, she waved the money at them joyfully yelling, ” I told you I would win the raffle.”

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Gerald played saxophone in high school.  In 1937 and 1938, Gerald was a student at Northeastern University in Boston, where he continued to play the saxophone in the university band.

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

IMG_1966

On October 1, 1941, Gerald enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. Here is his draft registration card and his Army identification card. (Note that his name change to Striker is dated December 5, 1945, while he was in the service.)

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

IMG_6973

Steve shared with me the following story about his father’s decision to enlist.  Gerald could see that war was coming, and without consulting with his parents, he decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps.  He had hammerhead toes so his choice of which service to join was limited.  As told by Steve, Gerald had to break the news to his parents the night before he had to report for duty:

The Oestreicher family dinner that night started with nothing out of the ordinary.  Sidney at the head of the table, Esther next to him, Jerry next to his mother on one side, and sister Elaine on the other.  Sister Betty on the other side of her father.  A roast and potatoes in the middle.

Towards the middle of the meal the war was brought up.  There had been little talk from Jerry about it.  My Dad told me his mother at one time looked up,and then straight at him, and dropped her fork on her plate.  “My God, you’ve enlisted.” Jerry responded.  Esther’s eyes teared.  Sidney said,  “When do you leave?”  Jerry announced early tomorrow morning.Sidney became very angry.  Jerry announced he needed to pack and get some sleep.  Sidney offered to take him to the train station, but Jerry insisted no, “I want to say our goodbyes here”. There was a lot of crying by everyone but Sidney.  Jerry announced they should say their goodbye’s that night.  Shortly later Jerry then went to bed.  He left without saying goodbye in the morning.

The next morning Jerry arrived alone at the train station around 6am.  Waiting for him was Sidney, with a sack of food, and advise “stay alive for your mother”.

They waved to each other as the train departed

As you can see from his service record posted below, he had a distinguished record of service during the war.  He attended Officer Candidate School in Aberdeen, Maryland, and a Naval Mine Warfare training center in Yorktown, Virginia.

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

In February, 1944, he shipped out, arriving in North Africa by March 10, 1944, when he wrote the following note to his father Sidney:

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

What a sweet and reassuring note! Can you imagine thinking that fighting in a war could be an experience one could “thoroughly enjoy”? I certainly can’t.

After some time in North Africa, Gerald was shipped out again, this time to Asia.  While at sea, he wrote the following undated long letter to his family. Please read it, especially the last two pages.  It is truly a look into the heart and mind of a young man about to face combat.

Gerald Striker letter home from WW2 p 1

“Somewhere at Sea”

Dear Folks,

It has been sometime since I last wrote a letter of any length to you, and will attempt to do justice to this one.

While I was in Africa I had my first taste of what will be in store for me during the duration.  I can honestly say that it is not too bad.  Militarily there is nothing I may write, however I can tell you that living conditions were most primitive. We slept on the ground and lived out of cans.  And speaking of cans—even the toilet paper was rationed out to us.  We get plenty of cigarettes, but candy is very scarce.

I had the opportunity to visit Oran, North Africa, and found the living conditions most interesting.  I was surprised how much of my high school French held me in good stead.  I also picked up a little Arabic.  My knowledge of the foreign rate of currency exchange

Gerald Striker letter home p2

has been added to my general knowledge.  Among the strange things that I saw were rest stations located in the middle of streets, natives without shoes, and automobiles drawn by horses, and I saw the Kasbah which was built in 1501.  I drank champagne at $2.00 per bottle until it poured out of my ears—cognac at dinner time—and ice cream in the afternoon!

Since I left the states I have been to Italy which I found not as beautiful as the travel booklets make one believe—perhaps that is due to friendly and enemy bombings.  The natives fight for American products.  I could have bought a horse for 2 cases of soap! Of course I had no need of a horse, but it does give you an idea as to what the natives are like in this part of the world.

While on ship I gained back the weight

Gerald Striker letter home p3

I lost while in Africa,  I have felt very well at all times and can not complain of anything.  I had my head shaved and after 5 weeks time I finally have grown about 3/4 of an inch back.  I did notice that on top it is getting “a la Sidny.” Also, it is getting slightly gray.

I suppose by the time I get to my destination there will be plenty of mail for me.  If there is—I’m going to ration myself several letters every day.

I think I did tell you that I got my promotion to “first”while in Africa.

I have an insurance premium due in May or June, so just draw the amount out of my account.  I could use some Bond Street tobacco—so you can send me some when you again see Harold Powell.  We can’t get that kind, and I’d rather not smoke a piple than smoke the stuff they sell us here.

Gerald Striker p4

There is so much more I would like to say—but somehow I do not wish to reveal everything.

No, you did not raise your boy to be a soldier nor did he wish to be a soldier.  But we can not control all factors.

I am not a soldier.  I am merely a chap who is doing as directed, and to some extent doing what I believe in.  The German boys too are doing what they believe in.  It is a game of life—death really has no part. The dead can not play.

Yes, I am going in there fighting—I’m fighting for you and folks like you, I’m fighting for myself, my friends—and I’m fighting for what I know is right!

Thanks to you my life has been almost complete.  I can face the worst of it and still smile for I know there is happiness ahead.

And so I’m saying “I’ll be seeing you”—and it won’t be long.

Just remember—if I can feel that you are all good soldiers at home, I can be the best one abroad.  Well I guess

Gerald Striker p5

there is little else I can think of to write at this time.

I hope you are all well and brave.  Also, if at any time you do not hear from me for even a months time do not get alarmed as the mails may be late or I am in such a position that writing is impossible or of little value.

My love to all,

Jerry

You can see in this letter that Gerald was still struggling with his parents’ reaction to his enlistment, and despite his brave words, his statement that his “life has been almost complete” seems to suggest that he did worry about being killed in the war.

As his service record indicates, after leaving Africa Gerald served as an ordnance officer in the China Burma India theater of the war and received several commendations for his service.  Here are a few photographs of Gerald while serving in World War II.  Steve told me that his father considered his time in the service the best and most exciting time of his life.

IMG_6974 IMG_6978 IMG_6981

Steve also shared this story of his father’s return home from the war:

Four plus years after leaving the U.S, Jerry sailed into New York.  He did not tell anyone when  he would return.  He got to his parents’ apartment and entered a phone booth to call his mother Esther with the intention of announcing he would be home “shortly”. But his little sister Elaine arbitrarily came bounding down the stairs.  But he said she was not his little sister, but a grown young woman.  Then Elaine also spotted him.  Yelling Jerry! Jerry!  she leaped at him.  They both went upstairs to see their mother.

Shortly after the war, Gerald was invited by his Uncle Frank to the Scaroon Manor resort in upstate New York.  There he met a woman who was singing at the resort, Faye Karol, whose real name was Faye Krakower. Her career as a singer was described in my earlier post.  According to Steve, his father Gerald proposed to Faye six days later, and they were married in November, 1946.

Here are some pictures of Faye.

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye and their son moved to California in 1948 where Gerald worked as a salesman for a number of different clothing lines and other businesses.

Meanwhile, Gerald’s younger sister Betty had married Julius Jacob in 1942.  I wrote about Betty and Julius here.

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

This is Betty and Gerald’s little sister, Elaine, the one who stayed and lived with Maxine Schulherr Stein in PIttsburgh and started me on the journey that led to all these amazing photographs.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

Although Steve shared many more photos of the family, I will end with this one of my cousin Sidney Oestreicher, later in life, with his three adult children, my cousins Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine
Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

There are a few more posts to come based on the materials Steve shared with me including the letters written by his uncle Frank Striker during his service in World War I and some letters that were written to Frank by various family members.

 

 

Like Manna from Heaven

Last Monday I posted about my third cousin, Betty Oestreicher Jacob, who passed away on July 19, 2016.  Betty and I were related through our mutual great-great-grandparents, Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  Her great-grandmother Hannah Schoenthal and my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal were sister and brother.  Betty’s grandparents were Sarah Stern, Hannah’s daughter, and Gustav Oestreicher.  Her parents were Sidney (Oestreicher) Striker and Esther Siff

At the time I posted about Betty’s passing, I had only one photograph of Betty and none of her grandparents, parents, or siblings.  But within hours of publishing my post, I received a comment on the blog and then emails from Betty’s nephew, Steve, the son of her brother Gerald.  And Steve generously shared with me numerous photos of all those people and then some. Now I can place faces to the names of the people I have researched and written about.  And what gorgeous photos these are.

In this post, I will share some photographs of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  In a later post, I will share the photos of Sidney’s children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.  All are courtesy of Steve Striker, who so generously spent his time scanning and emailing these to me and answering my many questions.

First, here are some photographs of Sarah Stern Oestreicher, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin.  I’ve written about Sarah’s life here.

Sarah Stern as a child edited

Sarah Stern as a young child in Germany, probably before her mother married Solomon Stern in 1874. Sarah was born in 1865, so this picture was probably taken between 1870 and 1872.

The photograph below of Sarah was taken in Pittsburgh.  She emigrated to the US by herself around 1884 when she was nineteen years old.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

I assume the photograph below was taken sometime later than the one above, but I am not sure. Does Sarah look older or younger in this photograph? The hairstyle in the one above seems more “contemporary,” but Sarah’s face seems softer and somewhat younger than in the one immediately below.

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

 

A while back I had posted the next photograph, which I’d received from my cousin Maxine Stein, and she and I had wondered whether the woman on the left was Sarah Stern, her grandmother’s sister.  Now I am quite certain that it is in fact Sarah.  What do you think? Is the woman on the far left of the photograph the same woman as the one in the photo directly above?

 

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the right and Edith Stern Good on the right

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the left and Edith Stern Good on the right

Sarah married Gustav Oestreicher, the man she met while he was staying at her mother’s boarding house in Pittsburgh in about 1890. Gustav, an immigrant from Austria, was working as an artist and photographer in 1900.

Gustav Oestreicher

Gustav Oestreicher

What a dashing man he was!

Here are Sarah and Gustav’s three children, Sidney (1891), Francis (Frank) (1893), and Helen (1895).  You can see that the children inherited their father’s piercing light-colored eyes.  I would guess that these were taken in the late 1890s, perhaps 1898 or 1899, from the ages of the children.  They were also probably taken at the same time as the photos above of Gustav and Sarah, as all five photos were mounted together in a frame.  Perhaps Gustav himself took these photos.

Sidney Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher

Frank Oestreicher as a boy

Helen Oestreicher

This photo of Gustav and Sarah was taken in 1915, when their children were already grown.  By this time Gustav was no longer working as an artist, but was a merchant in Pittsburgh.
Gustav and Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher store in Pittsburgh:

Oestreicher store

Here’s a photo of Gustav and Sarah and their three children in about 1910, I’d guess, given the ages of the children. Unfortunately, Sidney’s head was cut off either in the photo itself or in the scan.

Rear: Frank, Helen, Gerald (with head cut off) Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Rear: Frank, Helen, Sidney (with head cut off)
Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher (later Striker) married Esther Siff on November 16, 1915, in Chicago. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman, and as his daughter Betty told me, he met Esther at a dance in Chicago while there on business.  Esther’s father was also a traveling salesman. (I have more pictures of Sidney and Esther, but will share them in my next post.)

Sidney and Esther 1915

The second son, Francis, better known as Frank, served his country in World War I. (Sidney was exempt as he had a wife and young child.)  The postcard below shows Frank’s dates of service:

Frank postcard with military service dates

He was gone for just over a year—from June 25, 1918, when he left for camp, until July 17, 1919, when he arrived home.  He had gone overseas on September 24, 1918.  As I wrote about here, Frank served in the Meuse Argonne Offensive, one of the most important if not the most important battle in World War I. He was a member of Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train in the American Expeditionary Forces.

According to Richard Rubin’s book, The Last of the Doughboys:The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), p.220, a water tank train was actually a caravan of white trucks used to carry water to the front.  According to his honorable discharge papers, Frank served as a private, which Rubin’s book suggests meant he was likely an assistant driver of one of the trucks.

I found this photograph online depicting Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train.  I wonder if Frank is in the photograph:

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train, H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I Photographs http://bentley.umich.edu/legacy-support/ww1/military-life.php

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train,
H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur
Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I
Photographs
http://bentley.umich.edu/legacy-support/ww1/military-life.php

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

As you can see below, he was awarded a Victory medal for his service. (Steve has also sent me some of the letters Frank wrote home during World War I; I will post those separately once I have a chance to review and transcribe them.)

Frank Striker WW1

Francis Oestreicher, later known as Frank Striker

Frank Striker WW1 medal

Frank Striker’s Victory Medal for service in World War I

Gustav and Sarah’s third child was their daughter Helen. Here she is in 1917 when she was 22 years old.

Helen Oestreicher 1917

Helen Oestreicher 1917

As I wrote earlier, Helen married Robert Steel Kann in 1920, but he died a year later at age 26.  Sometime before 1929, she married Aaron Mitchell Siegel, known as Mickie, and they had a daughter Betty.

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

I was tickled to see this item in Steve’s collection:

invitation to Henry Schoenthal 50th anniv party

As you can see, it is an invitation to the 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1922 for Henry Schoenthal and Helen Lilienfeld, about whom I’ve written extensively.  Henry Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle, was Sarah Stern Oestreicher’s uncle, brother of her mother Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

Steve sent me this photo labeled Aunt Helen by his uncle Frank, and I wonder whether this is Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, who would have been Frank’s great-aunt.  Frank received a long letter from his great-aunt Helen and great-uncle Henry while he was serving in Europe; the tone and content of that letter suggest that Helen and Henry Schoenthal had a very close relationship with the Oestreicher family. (I will post the letter in a separate post.)

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

Frank returned to Pittsburgh after the war and worked as a salesman in the family dry goods store. After the family store went bankrupt in 1933, the Oestreicher family began its migration west to California. Although neither Steve nor his cousin Ron was sure of who first went to California or why, the 1940 census indicates that by 1935 at least Helen and her family and Gustav and Sarah had settled there.  I was not able to locate Frank on the 1930 or the 1940 census,nor do I have any address for him between 1920 and 1942, but his World War II draft registration indicates that by then he was definitely living in California along with his parents and his sister Helen.  Sidney and his family did not move west until the 1940s.

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher family in Los Angeles in 1936.

Oestreicher family edited 1936

I found this letter written by Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank in 1933 to be very touching in its religious tone and its affection for her son.  Perhaps it was written around the time that family members were planning to move to California.  From the text of the letter, it appears that Frank had just visited, perhaps before he was leaving to move out west or his parents were.

IMG_9375

IMG_9376

Letter from Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank, dated January 11, 1933

My dear Francis!

Always remember that The present is under God’s guidance, the future in His keeping. God is guiding, directing, controlling and suplying His children with all good.  His Love and [?] is with you always. Thanking you for all your kindness and the pleasure of having you with us will be the the most pleasant memmories to us.

With my love I remain your devoted Mother. January 11—1933

Here is a photo of Frank in 1940.

Frank Striker 3

One of Steve’s favorite stories about Frank is that he offered to take photographs at Steve’s bar mitzvah, only to discover there was no film left in the camera.  There is only this one photo taken by Frank that day.

IMG_1979

Although Steve has many photographs with Frank with women throughout the years, Frank never married. He died in Los Angeles on April 23, 1990, at the age of 96.  His sister Helen died in 1989 when she was 94.

I am so grateful to my cousin Steve for sharing these amazing photographs with me and allowing me to post them on my blog. There is just nothing better than a photograph to help bring to life the people whose lives I’ve researched.

More photos and stories about the Oestreicher family in my next post.