Gustavus and Lena Goldsmith Basch 1890-1900: Who Was Louis Basch?

In 1890, Lena Goldsmith Basch and her husband Gustavus Basch and four of their six children were living in Columbus, Ohio, where she and Gustavus were involved in a cigar business called Levy Mendel & Company. Their son Joseph was also working there in 1890. Their older sons Frank and Jacob were in the junk business together,  doing business as Basch Brothers. Daughter Hinda was also living with her parents and brothers at 407 East Rich in Columbus.

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1890 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Two of Gustavus and Lena’s children had left Columbus by 1890. Their younger daughter Ella had married Isadore Shatz in 1888 and moved to Cincinnati. Their third oldest son Joel was living first in Lima, Ohio, and then in Findlay, Ohio, but in 1890, his business in Findlay had failed after he had incurred some substantial gambling debts.

But Joel was not back in Columbus in 1891. The Columbus directory for that year lists Gustavus in the cigar business, presumably Levy Mendel & Co, where “Lina” and their son Joseph were also working. Jacob and Frank were still doing business as the Basch Brothers.1

The 1892 directory is essentially the same, except for an entry that completely confused me:

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1892
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Look at that last entry for Basch—Louis Basch, living at the same address—407 E. Rich—as the other family members and working for Levy Mendel & Co. Louis Basch also appears in the 1893 Columbus directory.2 Who was he? My search for a Louis Basch led me nowhere. There were a few men named Louis Basch, but they were all born much too late to be this Louis Basch or were living too far away.

So then who was Louis Basch? There was never a Louis Basch living in the same household as Gustavus and Lena on any census record. I did notice that Lena was not listed in most of the directories for the later 1890s, but Louis Basch was. Had she taken on the pseudonym of Louis Basch? After all, as reported in the prior post, the family’s junk business had once been known as L. Basch & Sons, where the L was apparently for Lena. Perhaps to disguise the fact that the business was run by a woman the family had created a male pseudonym? What do you think?

On January 25, 1893, Joel became the second of Gustavus and Lena’s children to marry. He married Jeanette Mendel, and guess whose daughter she was? Yes, Levy Mendel, the owner of the cigar company where Joel’s parents Gustavus and Lena and his brother Joseph and the mysterious “Louis” were then associated. 3 I would think that Levy Mendel must have been familiar with Joel’s past gambling issues and would not have permitted his daughter to marry Joel if he believed those problems persisted. So perhaps Joel had cleaned up his act and had been working for his future father-in-law’s business in the years before his wedding to Jeanette. As far as I can tell, Joel had no further gambling issues in his life.

Lima (OH) News, January 10, 1893, p. 8.

By 1894 Joel was was living with his wife and family in Findlay, Ohio, ninety miles away from Columbus. He and Jeanette had two sons born in the 1890s, Sidney Louis Basch on December 7, 1894,4 and Robert Basch on June 26, 1898.5  Both boys were born in Findlay, Ohio. In 1900, he and Jeanette and their two young sons were living in Findlay, and Joel listed his occupation as a merchant.

Joel Basch and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Findlay Ward 4, Hancock, Ohio; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0061; FHL microfilm: 1241283 1900 United States Federal Census

By 1900, two more of Gustavus and Lena’s children were married. Their oldest child Frank married Freda Rosenthal in 1895. Freda was born in Germany in 1869 and immigrated to the US in 1887, according to the 1900 census.6 Unfortunately, I do not have any earlier records for Freda. Some Ancestry trees show her born in Cumberland, Maryland, but those trees provide no sources for that assertion, so for now I will rely on what is reported on the 1900 census. That census reported that Frank was a dealer in old iron and brass. Frank and Freda had two daughters born in the 1890s: Rachel (known as Rae), born September 3, 1896, in Ohio (presumably Columbus),7 and Coryne, born January 25, 1898, in Columbus.8  A third child, a son Lewis, was born on May 4, 1900.9

Frank Basch and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0065; FHL microfilm: 1241268, 1900 United States Federal Census

Joseph Basch, the youngest of Gustavus and Lena’s six children, also married before the 1900 census. He married Ida S. Steinhauser on April 11, 1899, in Columbus. Ida was the daughter of Arnold Steinhauser and either Louisa Weichler or  Sarah Wechsler; sources conflict, and I don’t know which name was correct. Ida was born on September 2, 1872, in Franklin County, Ohio.10 In 1900, Joseph and Ida were living in Columbus, where Joseph was a tobacco merchant. More specifically, he was working for Levy Mendel & Company, as seen on the 1901 directory.11

Joseph and Ida Basch, Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

In 1900, Ella Basch and her husband Isadore Shatz were living in Findlay, Ohio, as was her brother Joel. Isadore was a merchant.  They did not have any children after twelve years of marriage.12

In 1900, Gustavus and Lena were living with Jacob and Hinda and a servant; Gustavus reported that he was a landlord on the 1900 census, and Jacob was an iron merchant.13  Gustavus and Lena had five grandchildren by 1900—Frank’s three children and Joel’s two sons. More would arrive in the next decade.

But that first decade of the 20th century would also bring some painful losses.



  1. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1891, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1893, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Mendel family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1016; Page: 147D; Enumeration District: 026, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sidney Louis Basch, World War I draft registration,Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Franklin; Roll: 1832018; Draft Board: 1, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  5. Robert Basch, FHL Film Number: 961484, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 
  6. Frank Basch and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0065; FHL microfilm: 1241268, 1900 United States Federal Census 
  7. Rachel Basch, FHL Film Number: 285136, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 
  8. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010, Original data: Green Lawn Cemetery Burials. Columbus, Ohio. Joe and Dick Fleshman. accessed 09 February 2012. 
  9. Lewis Basch, Number: 273-36-5982; Issue State: Ohio; Issue Date: 1956-1958, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Ida Steinhauser, FHL Film Number: 285135, Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973. 
  11. Joseph and Ida Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 7, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0070; FHL microfilm: 1241268, 1900 United States Federal Census. Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1901, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  12. Ella and Isadore Shatz, 1900 US census, Census Place: Findlay Ward 4, Hancock, Ohio; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0061; FHL microfilm: 1241283, 1900 United States Federal Census 
  13. Gustavus Basch and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241268, 1900 United States Federal Census 

Lena Goldschmidt Basch, Wife, Mother, and Businesswoman: 1880-1890

With my last Goldsmith post, I finished the saga of Jacob Goldsmith and his fourteen children. Now I will turn to Jacob’s sister, Lena Goldschmidt Basch and her story.

We’ve already seen that Lena, who was born to my 4-times great-uncle Simon Goldschmidt and his first wife Eveline Katzenstein in Oberlistingen on April 17, 1828, immigrated to the US in the 1850s and married Gustavus Basch in 1856. They first lived in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, then in Pittsburgh, and finally by 1878 had relocated to Columbus, Ohio, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Lena and Gustavus had six children: Frank (1857), Jacob (1858), Hinda (1860), Joel (1863), Ella (1865), and Joseph (1867). According to the 1880 census, all of them except Jacob were then living with their parents in Columbus. Gustavus and his oldest son Frank were working in a vinegar factory; Lena and the other children were all at home. Jacob was living and working as a clerk for a hotel in Hamilton, Ohio, which is about a hundred miles southwest of Columbus.1

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

The Columbus directories in the 1880s, however, had me confused. The 1880 directory listed Gustavus as the agent for “L. Basch Vinegar Works” and residing at 308 e Friend; there were also separate listings for Frank and Joel residing at the same address and identified as “vinegar makers.” The 1881 directory did not list Gustavus at all, but listed Frank and Jacob and “L.Basch” as working for L. Basch & Sons in the rags, iron, and metal business. Those three were all still residing at 308 e Friend. Joel now was listed as a clerk for J. Goodman and residing at 268 e Friend. In 1882, Gustavus reappeared and is listed along with Frank and Jacob as working for L. Basch & Sons and now all residing at 153 e Sixth; there is also a listing for the mysterious L. Basch, also working for L.Basch & Sons and living at 152 e Sixth.2

1881 Columbus directory

1882 Columbus directory

So who was L.Basch? At first I thought it might be Gustavus’ father, whose name was Louis. But there is no listing in the 1880 census or any other census for an L. Basch who could have been Gustavus’ father. I don’t think he ever left Germany. Had Gustavus named the business in honor or memory of his father?

Or could the L stand for Lena? That certainly would have been unusual—to have a business named for a mother and her sons, especially since Gustavus was still alive and well.

The 1884 directory seemed to answer that question:

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1884 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

So “L. Basch” was Lena! How interesting that she was the one for whom this business was named, not her husband. In fact, in 1884, Gustavus isn’t even listed with the L. Basch & Sons business; Lena must have been the one in charge.

In 1886, Gustavus is back in the listings as G. Basch, junk dealer, and now the family is residing at 335 E. Rich.  Frank and Jacob were now working at L. Basch & Sons; Joel was working as a cutter, and Joseph was a salesman.

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1886 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

By 1888, things had changed a bit:

Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1888 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995

Now Gustavus was associated with Levy Mendel & Co, as was “L[ena] Basch;” Frank and Jacob were still in the L.Basch & Sons junk business, and Joseph continued to work as a salesman. They all, as well as Hinda, were living at 407 E. Rich. Only Joel and Ella were not listed. Where were they?

Ella, the fifth of Gustavus and Lena’s six children, was the first to get married. She married Isadore Shatz on April 11, 1888, in Columbus. He was thirty, she was 22. Isadore was born on December 25, 1857, in Austria- Hungary,3 and immigrated to the US when he was six in 1863 with his parents David and Fannie Shatz.4 They settled in Cincinnati where David Shatz was working as a stone cutter in 1870.5 In 1880, Isadore was working as a clerk and living with his family in Cincinnati.6 The 1886 Cincinnati directory lists Isadore as a salesman, his father David as a foreman cutter.7

Ella Basch and Isadore Shatz, Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993

As for Joel, I could not find him in the Columbus directories after 1886, so I turned to the newspaper databases to see if I could locate him. From this ad in The Lima News of June 29, 1888 (p.4), I knew that Joel had moved to Lima, Ohio, where he was an “artist tailor” making men’s suits for $20. Twenty dollars—imagine that! Lima is approximately 90 miles from Columbus.

In fact, Joel had been in Lima for a while because this article from the January 17, 1888, Lima News (p. 4) revealed that Joel had suffered $2500 worth of smoke and water damage due to a fire at his store in Lima. Fortunately his losses were covered by insurance:

By 1889 Joel had apparently left Lima and was working in Findlay, Ohio, which is 34 miles from Lima and 92 miles from his family in Columbus. This article reports that one of Joel’s employees had embezzled $230 from Joel.

“John Werst Arrested, Pays and Is Let Off,” Lima (OH) News, August 15, 1889, p. 4

Was all this just bad luck, or was something else going on? I ask because of the next article from the February 6, 1890 Lima News (p. 4). Apparently Joel was a bit of a gambler, and after losing a considerable amount of money, his family shut down his Findlay store:

Given that ending to his Findlay business, I wondered whether the fire and reported embezzlement were also schemes engineered by Joel to cover gambling debts.

Looking at Gustavus’ work record beginning in 1860 raises some questions about his business acumen as well. In 1860, he was a clothing merchant in Connellsville. In 1870, he was working for H. Bier & Company, a brass foundry in Pittsburgh. In 1880, he was in Columbus working for a vinegar company. In the 1880s he worked for some of the time in L. Basch & Sons, a junk dealership run by his wife Lena, and then for Levy Mendel & Company, a cigar company.  There are some directories where he had no occupation listed. That is quite a list of businesses over a thirty year period with no real consistency in the industries in which he worked—clothing to brass to vinegar to junk to cigars. The fact that he also moved with his family several times also creates a sense of instability.

But once the family settled in Columbus in the 1880s, for the most part they stayed put. Maybe Gustavus was a renaissance business man, using his skills in numerous varied enterprises, and not a flighty man who couldn’t find his niche. It’s hard to know.

UPDATE on Rebecca Goldsmith Levy: I was able to obtain a copy of her death certificate from Colorado. Please see this post for more information.




  1. Jacob Basch, 1880 US census, Census Place: Hamilton, Butler, Ohio; Roll: 997; Page: 409B; Enumeration District: 036, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  2.  Columbus, Ohio, City Directory, 1880, 1881, 1882, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3. Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), 1915 > 57771-60750 > image 2547 of 3300. 
  4. Shatz, 1900 US census, Census Place: Findlay Ward 4, Hancock, Ohio; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0061; FHL microfilm: 1241283, 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Shatz, 1870 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 1, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: M593_1209; Page: 99A; Family History Library Film: 552708, 1870 United States Federal Census 
  6. Shatz, 1880 US census, Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: 1028; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 166, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio, City Directory, 1886, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995