Jacob Goldsmith and His Family, 1881-1900: Years of Growth, Loss, and Change

When he died in 1883, my four-times great-uncle Simon Goldsmith was survived by four children: Jacob and Henry in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, Lena in Columbus, Ohio, and Hannah in Pittsburgh. They all had children and some even had grandchildren by then. The family had gotten so large by 1883 that it is no longer feasible for me to address them all in one post so I will divide the story into separate multiple post segments for each of Simon’s children. This segment will address his son Jacob and his fourteen children and the families of those children; this post tells their story during the last twenty years of the 19th century.

As seen in this earlier post, Jacob’s wife Fannie passed away on March 4, 1881. By August 12, 1881, Jacob had moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, as demonstrated by this ad:

The (Connellsville, PA) Weekly Courier, August 12, 1881, p. 3

It made sense that Jacob would have moved to Connellsville after Fannie died for that is where his younger brother Henry was living. Jacob’s three youngest daughters, Florence, Gertrude, and Eva, were quite young when their mother died in 1881 (Florence was twelve, the twins only ten).  Henry, who was more than twenty years younger than his half-brother Jacob, had a young wife and young children, and they would likely have been a source of support to Jacob and his children.

As we saw in earlier posts, three of Jacob’s daughters were already married with children of their own by the time Jacob moved to Connellsville in 1881.  Ellena was married to Samuel Feldstein and was living in Philadelphia with their three young children, Sylvester, Leon, and William. Their fourth child, Fanny, was born in 1883, and a fifth child, Gertrude, was born on May 31, 1889.1 In 1881, Jacob’s daughter Annie was married to Augustus Frank and living in San Francisco with their three children, Josephine, Harry, and Fanny. Jacob’s daughter Leonora and her husband Solomon Jaffa were living in Trinidad with their daughter Helen in 1881, and their son Arthur was born in 1883. Also, Jacob’s son Felix was not married, but had moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1881. But Jacob still had ten children living with him in 1881.

By 1885, Felix had moved from Santa Fe to Denver, where he was working as a bookkeeper; he married Fanny Rosenthal in Hamilton County, Ohio, on January 26, 1887. Fanny was the daughter of Herman and Theresa Rosenthal, German immigrants, and she was born in West Virginia in 1862.2  In 1870, she’d been living with her parents and siblings in Cincinnati where her father was a merchant.3

Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

Jacob made the trip to Cincinnati for their wedding, as reported in the Connellsville newspaper, The Weekly Courier, on its front page on January 28, 1887:

Felix and Fanny had their first child, a son Clarence, on July 13, 1889 in Denver.4

Jacob’s son George moved to Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1885; he was working as a cutter.5  By 1889, he had married Sarah Rohrheimer, also a daughter of German immigrants, Morris Rohrheimer and Mary Schloss. Sarah was born on July 13, 1866, in Pennsylvania, and in 1880, she was with her parents in Pottsville where her father was a clothing merchant.6 George was working for her father when they met.7 Their first child, Fanny, was born October 1, 1889, in Pennsylvania.8 Thus, Jacob had two more grandchildren born in 1889.

Not only were two more children born into Jacob’s extended family in 1889, there were also two more weddings. Jacob’s son Frank Goldsmith married Barbara Shanor on July 7 of that year.

Marriage record of Frank Goldsmith and Barbara Shanor, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

According to this news article, Barbara was a native of Connellsville and Frank was working there in his father’s store in Connellsville when they married. They married, however, in Hamilton County, Ohio, as had Frank’s brother George two years earlier.

The (Connellsville, PA) Daily Courier, August 11, 1919

The second wedding to take place in 1889 was that of Jacob’s daughter Rebecca to Robert Levy; they were married in Trinidad, Colorado, on August 27, 1989. Trinidad was, as noted in earlier posts, the home of the Jaffa brothers, Henry Goldsmith’s brothers-in-law, so perhaps Rebecca met her husband through the connection with her aunt Sarah Jaffa Goldsmith, Henry’s wife. Robert Levy was born in Ontario, Canada, on May 30, 1864, to Mandel and Rebecca Levy, who were German immigrants. The family was living in Milwaukee by 1870,9 and in 1885 Robert was living in Denver where he was practicing medicine.10

Rebecca Goldsmith and Robert Levy, marriage record, Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Once again, the Connellsville paper reported that Jacob as well as his brother Henry and sister-in-law Sarah (Jafffa) Goldsmith were traveling to attend a family wedding:

The Connellsville, PA, Weekly Courier, August 23, 1889, p. 5

As of 1888, Jacob’s youngest son Edward Goldsmith was living in Philadelphia and working as a salesman.11

Eight of Jacob’s fourteen children were now on their own, but in 1890, Jacob still had six daughters at home in Connellsville: Emma, Rachel, Celia, Florence, Gertrude, and Eva, ranging in age from 36 to nineteen.

In the early 1890s, Jacob was blessed with three more grandchildren: Rebecca’s daughter Leona in 1891,12 George’s son Lester in 1893,13 and Felix’s daughter Ethel in 1895.14

Then on March 29, 1897, there was another wedding. Edward Goldsmith married Hannah Wallenstein in Hamilton County, Ohio, making that the third time one of Jacob’s children had a wedding in that location. Hannah was born in Cincinnati on September 30, 1872, to Solomon Wallenstein, a German immigrant, and Sarah Cohen, also a Cincinnati native. Hannah’s father was a sewing machine agent in 1880.15

Marriage of Edward Goldsmith and Hannah Wallenstein, Ancestry.com. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

Just over a month after Edward’s wedding, Annie’s husband Augustus Frank died on November 13, 1897, in San Francisco. He was only fifty years old and left behind three children as well as Annie, who was only 42 when Augustus died.16

Then just a little over a year after losing Augustus, the family suffered another tragic loss when Jacob’s son George died suddenly from pneumonia on January 13, 1899, in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.17  George was only 36, and his two children Fanny and Lester (incorrectly named as Leslie in George’s obituary) were only nine and three when they lost their father. George’s widow Sarah was only 32.

The Pottsville newspaper, The Miners Journal, published this obituary on its front page on January 14, 1899:

 

“Another Merchant Dead,” Pottsville, PA Miners Journal, January 14, 1899, p. 1

How terrible this must have been for Sarah and the children. My favorite line in the obituary is the one saying that George was “a careful and enterprising business man and had a host of friends.”

By 1900 there was a big geographic shift in the family. Jacob and his six unmarried daughters—Emma, Rachel, Celia, Florence, Gertrude, and Eva—left Pennsylvania and moved to Denver where in 1900 they were all living with Jacob’s daughter Rebecca and her husband Robert Levy and their daughter Leona. Robert was practicing medicine, Rachel (Ray here) was working as a clerk, and Florence was working as a stenographer. The others did not have any occupation listed on the 1900 census. Jacob was 75 years old and had experienced another major relocation—-from Oberlistingen, Germany, to Washington, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia, to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and now to Denver. Rebecca Goldsmith Levy gave birth to a second daughter on June 19, 1900, in Denver, named Marion.18

Household of Robert Levy, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0072; FHL microfilm: 1240119
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Felix Goldsmith and his family were also living in Denver in 1900, and Felix was working as a mine superintendent.

Felix Goldsmith and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240118
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

About two hundred miles south of Denver, Leonora Goldsmith Jaffa was still living in Trinidad, Colorado with her husband Solomon Jaffa and their two children Helen (18) and Arthur (16), and Solomon continued to be a merchant.

Solomon Jaffa and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240126
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Annie Goldsmith Frank, who had been widowed three years earlier, was living with her three children in San Francisco in 1900. Her daughter Josephine, now 22, was a school teacher, and her son Harry, 19, was a shipping clerk.

Annie Frank, 1900 US census,Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0207; FHL microfilm: 1240105
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Back east, George Goldsmith’s widow Sarah and two children Fanny and Lester were living in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, with Sarah’s mother Mary Rohrheimer. Both Mary and Sarah listed their occupation on the 1900 census as “capitalists.” I wonder what that meant!

Sarah Rohrheimer Goldsmith and family, Census Place: Pottsville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1241485
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Jacob’s other three surviving children were all in Philadelphia in 1900. Frank Goldsmith was living with his wife Barbara and working as a clerk in the clothing business.19 Edward Goldsmith and his wife Hannah were living with Edward’s older sister Ellena and her husband Samuel Feldstein and their five children. Edward had no occupation listed, but in the 1901 Philadelphia directory, he is identified as a salesman. Samuel Feldstein’s occupation was reported as “manufacturer” on the 1900 census. Samuel and Ellena’s three oldest sons were working: Sylvester, 25, as an artist, William, 23, as a bookkeeper, and Leopold, 19, as a cigar maker. The other two children—Fanny, 17, and Gertrude, 12, did not have occupations listed.

Feldstein household, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0439; FHL microfilm: 1241462
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

Thus, as of 1900, Jacob’s family was spread between Pennsylvania, Colorado, and California. What would the new century bring for him and his very large extended family?


  1. Fannie Neufeld death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 019051-021750, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966; Gertrude Lewin death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 094201-096650, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  2. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GP2P-9VMD?cc=1307272&wc=MD9X-FNL%3A287599101%2C294427301 : 21 May 2014), 1937 > 29701-32800 > image 2781 of 3325. 
  3. Rosenthal family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 15, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: M593_1214; Page: 468B; Family History Library Film: 552713, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  4. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XCRQ-4PD?cc=1307272&wc=MD96-FWP%3A287602801%2C289221002 : 21 May 2014), 1946 > 03001-06100 > image 558 of 3479. 
  5. “Another Merchant Dead,” Pottsvile, Pennsylvania Miners Journal, January 14, 1899, p. 1; Pottsville, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1887, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. Sarah Rohrheimer Goldsmith death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 020001-023000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Rohrheimer family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Pottsville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1193; Page: 373A; Enumeration District: 221,  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  7. “Another Merchant Dead,” Pottsvile, Pennsylvania Miners Journal, January 14, 1899, p. 1; Pottsville, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1887, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  8. Number: 188-36-5720; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: 1962,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Robert Levy, 1908 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 54; Volume #: Roll 0054 – Certificates: 46257-47289, 21 Feb 1908-10 Mar 1908, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Levy family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Milwaukee Ward 5, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Roll: M593_1727; Page: 557A; Family History Library Film: 553226,  Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  10. Denver, Colorado, City Directory, 1885, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1888, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  12. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 524606840 
  13. Lester Goldsmith, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II draft cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  14. Felix Goldsmith and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240118, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 225644424. Wallenstein family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: 1026; Page: 447A; Enumeration District: 144, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  16. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100371594 
  17.  Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, 1803-1915 
  18.  SSN: 524607495, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19. Frank and Barbara Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0830; FHL microfilm: 1241474, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Jacob Goldsmith’s Family, 1872-1881: Reaching from Coast to Coast

1867 Map of the United States and territories, United States. General Land Office.
Gorlinski, Joseph. Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/

As of the end of 1871, Simon Goldsmith and his four surviving children—Jacob Goldsmith, Lena Basch, Henry Goldsmith, and Hannah Benedict—were all living in Pennsylvania, Jacob and his family in Philadelphia, Lena and Hannah and their families in Pittsburgh, and Henry in Connellsville. Simon was living with Hannah in Pittsburgh as well. All four children were married, and Simon had 24 grandchildren ranging in age from newborn Jacob W. Goldsmith, Henry’s son, to eighteen-year-old Ellena Goldsmith, Jacob’s daughter. Ten years later the family was no longer all living in Pennsylvania.

That movement out of Pennsylvania is best illustrated by the children of Simon’s oldest child, Jacob. Although Jacob and his wife Fannie remained in Philadelphia in the 1870s where Jacob continued to work as a clothing merchant, three of their children moved far away.

Their oldest daughter Ellena did not leave Philadelphia, but she did move out of the family home. Ellena married Samuel Feldstein on November 6, 1872, in Philadelphia.1 She was nineteen, and he was 25. Samuel was born in Prague in what was then Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, on January 12, 1847.2 By 1868 he was living in Philadelphia and was a naturalized citizen.3 In 1870 he was living with his parents and twin brother.4 In 1873 he is listed as being in the cigar business in Philadelphia.5

Ellena and Samuel Feldstein had three children in the 1870s, Simon’s first great-grandchildren: Arthur (1873),6 Sylvester (1875),7 and William (1877).8 Arthur, their first born, died on January 9, 1874, when he was just five months old. The death certificate stated that the cause of death was catarrh, which according to this website listing 19th century causes of death, is “An inflammatory affection of any mucous membrane, in which there are congestion, swelling, and an alteration in the quantity and quality of mucous secreted. In America, especially, a chronic inflammation of, and hypersecretion from the membranes of nose or air passages.”

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JK32-B35 : 9 March 2018), Arthur Feldstein, 09 Jan 1874; citing , Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 2,022,093.

In 1880 Samuel Feldstein was still in the cigar business, and the family was living in Philadelphia. A fourth child, Leopold Feldstein, was born in Philadelphia on August 26, 1880.9

Feldstein family, 1880 US census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1176; Page: 137C; Enumeration District: 300
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

Ellena’s younger sister Annie was the first of Simon Goldsmith’s descendants to move out of Pennsylvania. She married Augustus Frank sometime in or before 1877 and moved all the way to San Francisco.10 Her husband Augustus was born on November 4, 1847, in New York; his parents were immigrants from Germany.11 But Augustus’ older brother Jacob Jesse Frank had moved to San Francisco by 1867,12 and Augustus must have joined him out there. Annie and Augustus’ first child Josephine was born on October 4, 1877, in California.13 In 1880, Annie and Augustus and their daughter Josephine were living in San Francisco with Augustus’ brother Jacob and his family. Augustus’ occupation was reported as “money broker” on the 1880 census. Annie and Augustus had a second child, Harry, on November 28, 1880, and a third, Fanny, on March 24, 1881, both born in California.14

Augustus Frank and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 79; Page: 138D; Enumeration District: 206
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

The third daughter of Jacob Goldsmith and Fannie Silverman to marry in this time period was Leonora. In 1880 she married Solomon Jaffa, the older brother of Sarah Jaffa, who had married Leonora’s uncle Henry Goldsmith, making this the second marriage between a Goldschmidt and a Jaffa.15 Solomon was born in Heinebach, Germany, on August 6, 1840, and had immigrated to the US as a teenager.16 In 1870, he’d been living on his own in Mora, New Mexico, and working as a farmer.17

After marrying, Leonora and Solomon were living in Trinidad, Colorado, with Solomon’s brother Sam and his wife Amelia and their children, including their daughter Ida, who would later marry Meyer Mansbach, another Goldschmidt cousin. Sam and Solomon were both working as merchants in 1880. Leonora and Solomon had their first child Helen on April 4, 1881,18 and then a son Arthur Goldsmith Jaffa on July 10, 1883, both born in Colorado.19

Jaffa families, 1880 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Roll: 92; Page: 66A; Enumeration District: 066
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

The fourth of Jacob and Fannie’s children to leave home was their oldest son Felix. In 1880 he was living in Las Vegas, New Mexico, working as a bookkeeper in a dry goods store.20 This article from the October 16, 1881, issue of the Las Vegas (New Mexico) Gazette revealed more information about Felix’s whereabouts:

Las Vegas (NM) Gazette, October 16, 1881, p. 4

From this article it appears that Felix was then in Trinidad, Colorado, working for his brother-in-law’s company, Jaffa Brothers, but was moving in 1881 to Santa Fe to work for another merchant there.

Thus, by 1881, four of Jacob and Fannie’s children had spread their wings and moved out of the nest.

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Jacob was still working as a clothing merchant and still had ten children at home plus his niece Ella Bohm, the daughter of his deceased sister Eva. Seven daughters were still home: Emma, Rachel, Celia, Rebecca, Florence, Eva, and Gertrude. None were employed, and the youngest four were still in school. Three sons were also still living at home: George, Frank, and Edward. George was working as a clerk in a clothing store and Frank as a clerk in a stationery store. Edward was still in school.

Jacob Goldsmith and family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1173; Page: 158D; Enumeration District: 210
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census

On March 4, 1881, Jacob’s wife Fannie Silverman Goldsmith, who had given birth to fourteen children between 1853 and 1871, died at age 53 from tuberculosis. She was survived by her husband Jacob, her fourteen children, and numerous grandchildren, some of whom were born after she passed away.

Fannie Silverman Goldsmith death certificate,”Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-66Y7-VGR?cc=1320976&wc=9FRQ-ZNL%3A1073342601 : 16 May 2014), 004058654 > image 1071 of 1222; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In fact, Annie’s daughter Fanny Frank, who was born just a few weeks after Fannie’s death,21 was undoubtedly named for her grandmother Fannie as was Ellena’s daughter Fanny Feldstein, born April 17, 1883.22 I also think that the middle initial of Leonora’s daughter, Helen F. Jaffa, who was born a month to the day after her grandmother’s death, was in honor of Fannie Silverman Goldsmith.23

Fannie certainly deserved these honors, having given birth to and raised fourteen children.

 


  1. Pennsylvania Marriages, 1709-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V26R-2YL : 11 February 2018), Samuel Feldstein and Ellina Goldsmith, 06 Nov 1872; citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,765,164. 
  2. Samuel Feldstein death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 052001-055800, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  3. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission; Supreme Court Naturalization Papers 1794-1868; Archive Roll: RG-33:813, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Naturalization Records from Supreme and District Courts, 1794-1908, Naturalization papers, 1867-1868, petition nos. 9238-9768 
  4. Samuel Feldstein, 1870 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 12 Dist 36 (2nd Enum), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1424; Page: 554A; Family History Library Film: 552923, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1873, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  6. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBT8-63R : 10 March 2018), Arthur Feldstine, 15 Aug 1873; citing Birth, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, Pennsylvania. 
  7. William Feldstein death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JJ94-FFV : 8 March 2018), William Feldstein, 03 Feb 1908; citing cn 4003, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,402,930. 
  8. Sylvester Feldstein, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Atlantic; Roll: 1711901; Draft Board: 2, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  9. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBBB-GKM : 9 March 2018), Leopold Feldstein, 26 Aug 1880; citing Birth, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, Pennsylvania. 
  10. I am inferring this from their daughter Josephine’s birth in October 1877. See below. 
  11. Headstone inscription at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100371594 
  12. California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 41; FHL Roll Number: 977097, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registers, 1866-1898 
  13. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 556, Ancestry.com. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960 
  14. Harry Garfield Frank, World War I draft registration, Registration State: California; Registration County: San Francisco; Roll: 1544262; Draft Board: 12, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; Fannie Frank, Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 
  15. Leonora and Sol Jaffa, 1900 US census, Census Place: Trinidad, Las Animas, Colorado; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1240126, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  16. Solomon Jaffa, Passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1312; Volume #: Roll 1312 – Certificates: 73250-73625, 29 Jul 1920-29 Jul 1920, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  17. Solomon Jaffa, 1870 US census, Census Place: Mora, Mora, New Mexico Territory; Roll: M593_894; Page: 313A; Family History Library Film: 552393,
    Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census 
  18. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  19. Arthur Jaffa, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New Mexico; Registration County: Chaves; Roll: 1711858, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  20. Felix Goldsmith, 1880 US census, Census Place: Las Vegas, San Miguel, New Mexico; Roll: 803; Page: 289B; Enumeration District: 032, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  21. Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985. 
  22. Fannie Feldstein Neufeld death certificate,  Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 019051-021750, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  23. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 

Louis Mansbach Schoenthal: The Elusive Showman

The third surviving child of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal was their son Louis.

Louis Mansbach Schoenthal Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Louis Mansbach Schoenthal
Courtesy of the family of Hettie Schoenthal Stein

Louis, born in 1878, was working as a cigar salesman on the 1900 census, living with his parents in Atlantic City.  In 1904, he was working with his younger brothers Maurice, Martin, and Jacob in a cigar, stationery, laundry, sporting goods, and pool hall business in Atlantic City.  I have a hard time imagining how they pulled off so many diverse businesses, but that’s what the 1904 directory reflects:

Atlantic City directory 1904

Atlantic City directory 1904 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Louis married Mary Pomroy Dumbleton on October 27, 1906, in the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Camden, New Jersey.  Mary, who was fourteen years older than Louis, was a Pennsylvania native whose parents were Andrew J. Pomeroy, a Pennsylvania native and a Civil War veteran who had once worked as a painter, and Adelaide Mann.  Mary’s father had been disabled after the war and was living in a soldier’s home in Wisconsin from 1877 until he died on March 10, 1912.  Her mother, also a Pennsylvania native, died in 1875 when Mary was only eleven years old.  Although her two younger sisters were living with their grandparents in 1880, Mary, who was sixteen, was working in a hosiery mill in Philadelphia, living as a boarder in someone’s household.

Mary married William Dumbleton on December 21, 1882, when she was nineteen.  She was still married to him in 1900, living in Camden, New Jersey, but on December 18, 1900, her husband William died at age 38.

What a sad life Mary had lived to that point.  It sounds like something out of a novel by Charles Dickens.  Her mother died, and her father lived in a soldier’s home in Wisconsin, and Mary ended up boarding with another family, working in a mill.  She married at nineteen, only to become a widow when she was only 36 years old. She and William do not appear to have had any children.

It was six years later that Mary married Louis Schoenthal.

Marriage record of Louis schoenthal and Mary Pomroy Dumbleton Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1093

Marriage record of Louis schoenthal and Mary Pomroy Dumbleton
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1093

 

In 1908, Louis ran into some trouble when caught gambling:

Louis Schoenthal poker arrest 1908 Atl City

 

Eight policemen early this morning captured ten poker players in a gambling place on Atlantic avenue, near Delaware avenue, conducted, it is alleged, by Louis Schoenthal.  He was held for the grand jury by Justice Williams.  The players were so intent with the cards, a twenty-five cent limit game, that the officers had entered the room before they were seen.  The players were held under nominal bail, as all were well known, although they registered under fictitious names.

If he’d waited another seventy years or so, he’d have been able to play as much poker as he wanted in the casinos that now line the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.   Or maybe even owned a casino.

In 1909, Mary Schoenthal is listed without her husband in the Atlantic City directory for that year.  Where was Louis? By 1910, Louis was far from Atlantic City and was one of the few children of Simon and Rose never to live again in the World’s Playground. Instead, he and Mary moved to California and were living in Los Angeles in 1910. Although the census indexer listed his name as Morris and it certainly looks like it says Morris, I am quite certain that this was Louis and Mary Schoenthal, given the places of birth given for themselves and their parents as well as the occupation given for Louis/Morris.  He was the proprietor of a stationery store, continuing in the business in which he’d been engaged in Atlantic City.

"Morris" and Mary Schoenthal 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 72, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_82; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0168; FHL microfilm: 1374095

“Morris” and Mary Schoenthal 1910 US census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 72, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_82; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0168; FHL microfilm: 1374095

What had driven them to California? Was it his arrest for gambling? Or the lure of California itself, which drew so many people in the early 20th century? Had he changed his name to Morris to hide from the Atlantic City police? After all, his poker players had played under fictitious names so this was a practice with which Louis was familiar.  Is that why Mary was listed alone in 1909 in Atlantic City?

Searching for Louis and Mary in the Los Angeles directories proved extremely puzzling. There are no listings for Louis or Mary (or Morris) until 1912, when there is a listing for Mrs. Mary Schoenthal, living at 930 ½ Santee Street. In 1913, Louis finally shows up as Louis Schoenthal, also living at 930 ½ Santee, in the cigar business.  (His cousin Meyer L. Schoenthal is also now appearing in the Los Angeles directory; he was the son of Henry Schoenthal, as discussed here.)

Things got very confusing in 1914.  Now there are listings for Louis N. Schoenthal, Morris L. Schoenthal, and Sidney R. Schoenthal, all residing at 930 ½ Santee.  Morris is listed as the proprietor of Lou’s Place cigars, and both Louis and Sidney were working in that business as well, it would appear.  So who were Morris and Sidney?  Sidney is easy; he was the youngest child of Simon and Rose Schoenthal and the youngest brother of Louis.  But Morris?

My first thought was that Morris was Maurice Schoenthal, another younger brother, but Maurice (as well as the next brother, Martin) are both listed in the Chicago city directory for 1914, Maurice as a credit manager and Martin as a salesman, so Maurice could not have been the “Morris” listed in the Los Angeles directory for that.

In 1915 there is no listing for Louis Schoenthal at all, but there are listings for Meyer L. Schoenthal, Morris Schoenthal, and Sidney Schoenthal (residing at 930 Santee).   I am speculating that Morris was the same person as Louis; his listing is for a cigar, billiards, and barber shop.  Then, in 1916, the Los Angeles city directory has two listings for Louis Schoenthal, one, simply as Lou, who was a barber and cigar salesman, and one listed as Louis M, who was a clerk.  I don’t know whether Louis had two listings and two jobs or whether there happened to be another Louis M. Schoenthal in Los Angeles. Seems unlikely. The 1917 directory also has two Louis Schoenthals, both living on the same street, South Hill, but at different numbers and with different occupations:

1917 directory for Los Angeles

1917 directory for Los Angeles Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

What happened to Morris? (Sidney is gone also.) The 1918 directory has no listings for Morris or for Louis, but does have one for Sidney.  What was going on?

Louis’ World War I draft registration answers this in part:

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration Registration State: California; Registration County: San Francisco; Roll: 1544266; Draft Board: 13

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration
Registration State: California; Registration County: San Francisco; Roll: 1544266; Draft Board: 13

 

Here Louis is Louis Maurice Schoenthal, not Louis Mansbach Schoenthal, so he does seem to have altered his name a bit.  He is listed as married to Mary D. Schoenthal, residing at 480 Pine Street in San Francisco, working as a self-employed salesman in San Francisco.  So as of 1918, Louis and Mary had left Los Angeles for San Francisco.  On the 1920 census, Louis is listed as Lou living as a lodger in San Francisco, working as a clerk in a dry goods store.  Listed below him is Adel Schoenthal.  Was this Mary? Or a new wife? Mary’s mother was Adelaide, and she had a younger sister by the same name.  Was Mary now using an alias of some sort? Sheesh, these people are confusing!

The 1923 San Francisco directory has a listing for Louie M. Schoenthal, a salesman, at 480 Pine Street. By 1928 he had moved to 1124 O’Farrell Street and was a salesman for the Superfine Candy Company.  In 1929, living at the same address, his occupation was abbreviated as “confr mfr.”  Confectioner manufacturer?

Unfortunately, Louis is not listed in the 1930, 1931, 1932, or the 1933 San Francisco directory, nor can I find him on the 1930 US census.  I have no idea where he might have disappeared to during those years. In 1934, he resurfaces in San Francisco, however, living with Mary at 954 Eddy Street and working as a laborer.  In 1935 he is listed as Louis Schoental, living at 844 California, with no mention of Mary in the listing.  On the 1940 census, Louis was living in a hotel, alone, giving his marital status as single and his work status as retired.  He was 62 years old.  I cannot find any records for Mary after the 1934 directory listing.  I don’t know if they had divorced or she had died between 1934 and 1940.  He did not list himself as either divorced or widowed, so I cannot tell.

When Louis registered for the “old man’s draft” in 1942, he gave his name as Louis Mansbach Schoenthal this time.  He was still living in San Francisco, working at Sammy’s Fur Shop.  He provided Sammy’s name and address as the person who would always know his address.

Louis Schoenthal World War I draft registration World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

Louis Schoenthal World War II draft registration
World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration) for the State of California; State Headquarters: California; Microfilm Roll: 603155

 

 

The only other information I found about Louis only added more confusion.  It seems that in the summer of 1946, Louis had a stroke that landed him in the hospital (Laguna Honda) for an extended time.  I only know this because of three mentions of his hospital stay in Billboard under the caption Showfolks of America.  Apparently, Louis became or had been a showfolk or a showman. Billboard, August 24, 1946, p. 73; September 7, 1946, p. 74; September 21, 1946, p. 69 (all found through Google Books).

What, you might ask (as I did), does that mean? I can’t really find a definitive explanation, but from what I did find both in these articles and the sections of Billboard where they appeared (under “Carnivals”) as well as in other sources, I believe that showfolk or showmen were the people who set up booths as vendors at outdoor carnivals or who performed at those outdoor venues.  Maybe when Louis was a candy salesman and/or manufacturer he had been working the carnival trade? Is that why he disappeared between 1929 and 1934—was he traveling with the carnival?  I wish I knew.

English: Cotton candy Ελληνικά: Μαλλί της γριάς

English: Cotton candy Ελληνικά: Μαλλί της γριάς (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the California Death Index, Louis Schoenthal died on June 26, 1956, in Napa, California.  He was 78 years old.  He died far away from all of his siblings; he was no longer married to Mary Dumbleton, and he had no children.   I wish I could have found out more about Louis.  There are so many questions left unanswered, and given that he has no direct descendants and lived so far from his family, I am not sure I will ever find the answers.

 

 

The Nusbaum and Dreyfuss Families Settle into America: 1850-1860

Market Square, Harrisburg in 1860

Market Square, Harrisburg in 1860  http://pahousearchives.org/?p=digitallibrary/digitalcontent&id=92

As I wrote in my last post about the Nusbaums, the 1850s were for the most part a decade of growth for the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss families although there were two tragedies during that decade.  I have already written about the tragic death of Maxwell Nusbaum in the 1851 Great Fire in San Francisco.  Maxwell died trying to protect the property of another merchant, and his death left his wife Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum with two very young children, Flora and Albert.  Mathilde remarried a few years later, marrying Moses Pollock, with whom she had two more children in 1856 and 1859, Emanuel and Miriam.  Moses was employed as a merchant in Harrisburg, according to the 1860 census.  Since Mathilde was my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette’s sister, her children with Maxwell were cousins both maternally and paternally.

Because the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss families were so entwined, it seems appropriate to discuss them together rather than as two separate lines in my family.  Why return to Harrisburg (and Peoria) twice? (Nothing against those two cities; it just seems to make sense to discuss the two families together.)

In the 1850s a number of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss siblings were living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  In 1860, Mathilde Nusbaum (sister of Maxwell, John, Leopold and Ernst) and her husband Isaac Dinkelspiel were still living in Harrisburg with their three children, now all adolescents: Paulina (19), Adolph (17), and Sophie (12).  Isaac was working as an “agent,” which I assume means he was an agent in the Nusbaum merchant business.  His son Adolph was working as a clerk, again presumably for the Nusbaum family business.

Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel’s brother Leopold Nusbaum had also moved to Harrisburg during the 1850s, leaving Blythe, Pennsylvania where he had been a butcher.  Perhaps they moved in the aftermath of his family’s personal tragedy.  Their son Adolph, born in 1848, died on June 6, 1852.  He was only four years old.  He died from acute gastritis.  The death certificate says it was “accompanied by” a word I cannot decipher.  Can anyone read it?  He was buried at Mikveh Israel cemetery in Philadelphia.  I found it interesting that the family, though living in Harrisburg, buried their child in Philadelphia.  Perhaps the Jewish cemetery in Harrisburg had not yet opened.[1]

UPDATE:  My medical consultant says that the other cause of death is cerebritis, meaning a brain infection or abscess.

Death certificate of Adolph Nusbaum, son of Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum

Death certificate of Adolph Nusbaum, son of Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum

Leopold and his wife Rosa had a second child, Francis, who was born in 1850.  Although Francis is listed as a boy on both the 1850 census and the 1860 census, by 1870 she is identified as female and is so thereafter.[2] Her name, however, is almost always spelled as Francis, and I suppose that must have confused the first two census takers as ordinarily Francis is a boy’s name and Frances is the way it is spelled for a girl.  At any rate, it is pretty clear that Francis was a girl even in 1850 and 1860.

Leopold seems to have given up on being a butcher when he moved to Harrisburg.  According to the 1860 census, he, like his brothers John and Ernest, was now a merchant.  Also listed as living with Leopold, Rosa, and Francis on the 1860 census was “A. Dinkelspiel,” presumably Adolph Dinkelspiel, Leopold’s nephew, Mathilde’s son.  Since Adolph was also listed in his parents’ household, my guess is that he may have been living with Leopold and working as a clerk in his store, but that his parents had also counted him as part of their household.

Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum and family 1860 census

Leopold and Rosa Nusbaum and family 1860 census

In addition to the two Nusbaum siblings Leopold and Mathilde (Dinkelspiel), Harrisburg was also the home of Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler for some part of the 1850s.  Caroline, the sister of Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock, was married to Moses Wiler.  They had four children, Eliza (1842), Simon (1843), Fanny (1846), and Clara (1849). Simon was born in Philadelphia, and Clara was born in Gettysburg (nothing more specific than Pennsylvania is given for Eliza or Fanny), so Caroline and Moses must have been moving around quite a bit within Pennsylvania during the 1840s.  I assume he was a peddler and thus the family kept moving until he could open a more permanent business.

Although they are listed as living in Harrisburg in 1850, by 1860 they were living in Philadelphia with their four children, at that point three teenagers and one eleven year old.  Moses was working as a merchant, apparently doing quite well.  He had $8000 worth of real estate and $22,000 worth of personal assets; they also had a 27 year old servant living with them.

Moses and Caroline Dreyfuss WIler and family 1860 census

Moses and Caroline Dreyfuss WIler and family 1860 census

John Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandfather, had also moved to Philadelphia by 1860.  In fact, their fifth child, Miriam, was born in Philadelphia on October 30, 1858, so the family must have relocated from Harrisburg by that time.  According to the 1859 Philadelphia directory, John Nusbaum and his family were living at 433 Vine Street, and his place of business was located nearby at 132 North Third Street in Philadelphia.

John and Ernst Nusbaum in the 1859 Philadelphia direcotry

John and Ernst Nusbaum in the 1859 Philadelphia direcotry

John and Jeanette and all five of their children were living, like the Wilers, in the 12th Ward of Philadelphia.[3]  John was occupied as a merchant and had $6000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal property, so like his brother-in-law Moses Wiler, he was doing quite well.  In fact, the Nusbaums had two servants living with them at that time.  My great-great-grandmother Frances, the future wife of Bernard Seligman, was fourteen years old in 1860, and her brothers were 12, 17, and 18, plus there was two year old Miriam, so it must have been quite a handful for those two servants—four adolescents and a toddler.[4]

John Nusbaum and family 1860 census

John and Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and family 1860 census

 

John and Jeanette not only had Jeanette’s sister Caroline and her family living nearby, they also had John’s brother Ernst and his family living about a mile away.  According to the 1859 Philadelphia directory (see above), Ernst Nusbaum was living at 521 Buttonwood and working at 55 North Third Street, down the block from his brother John.  Ernst had been living in Philadelphia since at least 1851 since his first child Arthur was born on December 31 of that year.  In 1852, he and his wife Clarissa Arnold and their infant son were living at 191 North 10th Street, and Ernst was working as a merchant at 70 ½ North Third Street.  By 1854 they had moved to Buttonwood Street, and in the 1859 directory Ernst is listed as a clothier doing business with Simon W. Arnold (Clarissa’s brother) and Jacob Nirdlinger.

Ernst Nusbaum 1859 Philadelphia directory

Ernst Nusbaum 1859 Philadelphia directory

On the 1860 census, Ernst’s occupation is listed as “M’s Tailor,” or what I assume is men’s tailor.  Was that his role in the clothing business with his brother-in-law Simon?  Or was it more that they were selling men’s clothing?  Ernst had $20,000 in personal assets and two servants living in the home in addition to his wife Clara and their five children: Arthur (1851), Myer (1852), Fanny (1856), Edgar (1858), and Henrietta (1860 and just two months old at the time of the census).  Unlike his brother John, Ernst had a household of young children in 1860, five children under ten years old.

Ernst and Clarissa Arnold Nusbaum 1860 census

Ernst and Clarissa Arnold Nusbaum 1860 census

Thus, whether in Harrisburg or Philadelphia, the Dreyfuss sisters and their husbands and the Nusbaum siblings and their spouses were all adjusting to life in America, and their families were growing.  Although they suffered two very tragic losses early in the decade of the 1850s, by 1860 it appears that all were doing well.

The next decade would bring changes as the next generation entered adulthood and the country faced the Civil War.

[1] I am awaiting a book on the Jewish history of Harrisburg and should know more once it arrives.

[2] Thus, my reference to two sons in my prior post was mistaken.

[3] The Nusbaum businesses were located about a mile north of where my Cohen relatives were operating their pawnshop business during this same time period.  It would be interesting to know how often their paths crossed even before Flora Cohen married Jacob Weil in 1908.

[4] The ten year gap between Julius and Miriam makes me wonder whether there weren’t other children born during that time who did not survive.

The Great Fire of San Francisco 1851 and My Twisted Family Tree

By 1850, as I wrote previously, John Nusbaum and his siblings Mathilde, Leopold, Ernst, and Maxwell were all settled somewhere in Pennsylvania and involved in selling merchandise (except for Leopold, who was a butcher).  In the next decade the family would move around a bit, see their families grow, and endure some terrible tragedies.

The first of those tragedies involved Maxwell.  In 1850 Maxwell was living in Lewistown, working as a merchant in a store that carried his name, M. Nusbaum’s.  He and his wife, Mathilde nee Dreyfuss, the sister of my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum, had a daughter Flora who was born in 1848.  And Mathilde must have been pregnant in 1850 because on January 30, 1851, their son Albert was born.  Maxwell and Mathilde must have moved to Harrisburg by then because Albert’s birth took place in Harrisburg.

When I searched for Maxwell and his family on the 1860 census, I could not find Maxwell or Mathilde at all, but I did find Albert and Flora Newsbaum, living with an M. Pollock, a Swiss born merchant in Harrisburg.  Unfortunately, the census was barely legible, and the transcriber had had a lot of difficulty recording the names on the census, but by searching generally for M. Pollock born in Switzerland and living in Harrisburg, I was eventually able to find out that M. Pollock was Moses Pollock and that he was married to Mathilde.  The other names on that 1860 census, although transcribed as Mary Pollock, Michael Pollock, and Mary Pollock, were really Mathilde, Emanuel, and Miriam Pollock.  Emanuel and Miriam were Mathilde’s children with Moses, born in 1856 and 1859 respectively.

Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and family 1860 census

Mathilde Dreyfuss Nusbaum Pollock and family 1860 census

But what had happened to Maxwell? I could find no record of him after the 1850 census, not a directory, census, or death record.  So I turned to newspapers.com and found this terrible news item:

 

Sunbury (PA) American,  July 5, 1851, p. 2

Sunbury (PA) American, July 5, 1851, p. 2

Maxwell had died in San Francisco while trying to protect the property of another business from the raging fires that destroyed much of San Francisco in the spring and summer of 1851.

Before the fire Wikipedia

San Francisco before the 1851 fires Library of Congress CALL NUMBER: DAG no. 1331

The first 1851 fire was described graphically on the website honoring the San Francisco Fire Department, GuardiansoftheCity.org:

The great fire on this day actually began after 11:00 PM on May 3rd, in a store on the south side of Portsmouth Plaza.  A known habitue of villainous Sydney-Town was seen running from the store moments before it exploded in flame and simultaneous fires erupted in the business district.  Water evaporated to steam as swift winds sent the roaring flames everywhere through the great blow-pipe-like hollows beneath the plank streets.  Men in their anguish, ran for shelter within new, fancied “fireproof” brick and iron buildings, only to perish miserably when the metal shutters and doors expanded and couldn’t be opened.  Three-fourths of the city was lost, yet, in ten days, San Franciscans rebuilt one-fifth of their city.

Six weeks later, there was a second horrendous fire:

On June 22, 1851, just before 11:00 AM, a fire, clearly the work of an incendiary, broke out in a frame house on Pacific Street near Powell. Strong summer sea-breezes drove the flames south and east.  Firefighter’s fearless battles were of no avail against the fire’s intense heat and speed.  Ten blocks and portions of six others were destroyed between Powell, Sansome, Clay and Broadway.  The raging demon swept away relics of an older time. City Hall was consumed, born in 1846, and the Jenny Lind Theatre burned for the sixth time.  The Old Adobe Custom House burned, and Sam Brannan’s House, in which were exhibited the first specimens of gold brought from the Placers, met the same fate.  San Franciscans quickly rebuilt again, this time, with water tanks on many roofs.

1851 after fire Berkely site

After the June 1851 fire in San Francisco http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf4j49p3ww/

 

For some reason, neither of these reports indicates how many people were killed in the fire, nor have I yet found any other source that reveals that information.  I have to believe that there were many people killed in addition to my third great-grand uncle Maxwell Nusbaum and his clerk Rosenthal.

I was surprised to learn that Maxwell was all the way in San Francisco, presumably for business.  Was he transporting merchandise to this other merchant in San Francisco? How did he get all the way there? His wife was home with a three year old daughter and a five month old son.  How long would he have been away? How long did it take in 1851 for the news to get back to Mathilde that her husband had died in the fire? Unfortunately, I cannot find the answers to these questions, but I can imagine how dreadful it must have been for her, a relatively recent immigrant with two very young children, losing her husband.

Fortunately, Mathilde had lots of family around for support.  Her sister Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandmother, was also in Harrisburg, as was her other sister Caroline Dreyfuss, who was married to Moses Wiler, and her mother, Mary Dreyfuss, aged 65, born in Germany.  I cannot be completely certain that Mary Dreyfuss was the mother of Jeanette, Mathilde, and Caroline, but given the name, age, place of birth, and the fact that she was living with Caroline, I believe that she was in fact their mother.  Research by others indicated that their mother was named Miriam (Marianna) Samson nee Bernheim Dreyfuss, and the similarity in the name and age to Mary Dreyfuss seems fairly persuasive evidence that Mary Dreyfuss had come with or followed her three daughters to Pennsylvania. (When I first saw the names Mathilde Pollock and Caroline Wiler in the Nusbaum family bible, I assumed they were John’s sisters; only after a lot of research did I finally realize that they were both sisters of Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum.)

Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler and family 1850 US census

Caroline Dreyfuss Wiler and family 1850 US census

Also living in Caroline and Moses Wiler’s household, in addition to Mary Dreyfuss and the Wiler’s four children, Eliza (1842), Simon (1843), Fanny (1846), and Clara (1850), was an eighteen year old man named Leopold Pollock, reportedly born in Germany, according to the 1850 census.  I do not know what his connection to the household was, but further research revealed that he, like Moses Pollock, was born in Switzerland, not Germany.   My hunch is that Leopold and Moses Pollock were brothers. Moses Wiler, who was about ten to fifteen years older than the two Pollocks and also born in Switzerland, was probably either a relative or friend from back in Switzerland.  The Pollock brothers likely came to Harrisburg in order to be near Moses Wiler, and the Wilers had taken in the teenaged Leopold when he arrived.

When Mathilde was suddenly a widow after Maxwell was killed in the 1851 fire, perhaps her sister Caroline introduced her to Moses Pollock.  Mathilde and Moses must have been married within a few years after Maxwell’s death, given that their first child Emanuel was born in 1856.  I cannot locate Moses Pollock on the 1850 census, so perhaps he arrived after his brother Leopold and then soon thereafter married Mathilde.

These relationships get rather unwieldy since two branches of my family are entwined.  Jeannette Dreyfuss was my three-times great-grandmother, making her two sisters Mathilde and Caroline, my three-times great-grand aunts (or four-times great-aunt, as some prefer).  Since Mathilde married Maxwell, who was the brother of my three-times great-grandfather, that means that my three-times great-grand aunt married my three-times great-grand uncle.  That makes their children, Flora Nusbaum and Albert Nusbaum, my first cousins four times removed both on the Nusbaum side through Maxwell and on the Dreyfuss side through Mathilde.  And so on through their descendants.

And then it gets even more twisted a generation later when Flora Nusbaum, my double first cousin four times removed, married Samuel Simon. Samuel Simon had a brother named Moses Simon.  Moses Simon married Paulina Dinkelspiel, who was the daughter of Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel, another of my three-times great-grand aunts, another sister of John Nusbaum. So Flora and Paulina were both first cousins (since Maxwell Nusbaum and Mathilde Nusbaum Dinkelspiel were siblings) and sisters-in-law.

And, of course, the children that Mathilde Dreyfuss had with Moses Pollock and the children that Caroline Dreyfuss had with Moses Wiler are also my first cousins four times removed, but only on the Dreyfuss side.

I know.  It’s confusing.  I’d make a chart, but would it help?

It was a small and somewhat twisted world.  No wonder they say DNA testing for Ashkenazi Jews is not terribly accurate.  We are all cousins of each other of some kind or another.