Jacob Goldsmith’s Will and His Legacy

The 20th century did not start well for the family of Jacob Goldsmith. As the new century dawned, the family lost its patriarch; Jacob Goldsmith died in Denver on January 31, 1901, at the age of 76. His body was returned to Philadelphia where he was buried alongside his wife Fannie at Mt. Sinai cemetery:

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-676K-YG?cc=1320976&wc=9F51-VZ9%3A1073329301 : 16 May 2014), 004050474 > image 633 of 1820; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Like his father Simon, Jacob Goldsmith had lived a rich and interesting life. He was born in Oberlistingen, Germany, and after his mother died in 1840 when he was just a teenager, he immigrated all alone to the United States. He was the first of the Goldschmidt clan to come to America. He settled in Washington, Pennsylvania and established himself as a clothing merchant there. He and his wife Fannie started their large family there in 1853.

After his stepmother Fradchen passed away, Jacob opened his home to his father Simon and his two half-siblings Henry and Hannah. Then in the 1860s, Jacob and Fannie and their many children moved to Philadelphia where Jacob was again a clothing merchant; he lived there until Fannie died in 1881. After her death Jacob joined his half-brother Henry back in western Pennsylvania where he established yet another clothing store in Connellsville. Jacob’s final move was to Denver, Colorado, when he was already in his sixties.

Jacob Goldsmith was survived by thirteen of his fourteen children and seventeen grandchildren, plus three more who were born after he died.  His love and care for them all was revealed in his will. Six of his daughters—Emma (47), Rachel (44), Celia (40), Florence (31), Gertrude (29), and Eva (29)—were unmarried when Jacob died, and they were the primary focus of his will.

Jacob had executed the will on March 2, 1899, in Denver:


Jacob Goldsmith will, Probate Records, 1900-1946; Author: Denver County (Colorado). Clerk of the County Court; Probate Place: Denver, Colorado
Ancestry.com. Colorado, Wills and Probate Records, 1875-1974, Case Number: 6521

I Jacob Goldsmith of the City of Denver County of Arapahoe State of Colorado being of sound mind, memory and understanding, do make this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and testaments made by me. I give, devise and bequeath unto my executors hereinafter named all my estate, effects and proceeds of Life Insurance that I may die possessed of or be entitled to: upon trust to be invested according to their discretion and judgment and all interest and income arising therefrom to be applied for the maintenance of a home for my unmarried Daughters. And it is my express wish and desire that my unmarried Daughters remain together and the money derived in the way of interest or other [?] off the principal to be paid to them in regular installments as often as practicable quarterly if possible to defray the expenses of their home. In the event of marriage of any of my Daughters or other emergency arising when in the judgment of my executors it may be advisable to use any part of the principal he shall have the power to draw upon it for such an emergency.

Otherwise the Capital or principal shall remain intact until each and everyone of my unmarried children are provided for by marriage or otherwise and in the event it is found better to no longer keep up a home and any of the unmarried children may live with their Relations or otherwise provide themselves with a home then the Interest or income derived off the principal shall be divided between the unmarried children as long as any of them live and remain unmarried. After all of them have by marriage, death or otherwise so provided for that they do not any longer require that the income for their maintenance as herein provided for then the principal or Capital shall be divided share and share alike between all of my children or their heirs. I nominate and appoint my son at laws Robert Levy of Denver Colo and Sol Jaffa of Trinidad Colo as executors of this my will, and they shall not be required to give any bond or surety for the execution of this trust. In case of the death of either of them, the children shall chose [sic] another to act in his place and in case of the deaths of both, two others shall be chosen by the surviving children.

I the said Jacob Goldsmith to this which I declare to be my last will and testament set my hand and seal this the Second day of March 1899.

Signed by the said testator Jacob Goldsmith and acknowledged by him to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, present at the same time and subscribed to us in the presence of the said testator and of each of them.

                                             Jacob Goldsmith [seal]


Chas A Ferris

Helen F Jaffa

The will certainly reflects its times. The assumption was that a woman would have no means of support unless and until she married, and thus, Jacob’s will provided that the interest and income from the estate would be distributed to his unmarried daughters unless and until they married or died or found some other means of support. I also found it interesting that the will expressed his desire that these daughters would share a home together.  Finally, the will stipulated that once all his daughters were married or deceased or otherwise supported, then the principal of the estate would be distributed to all his children.

One thing that struck me as odd about this was that Jacob made no special provision for his widowed daughter Annie Goldsmith Frank or for the widow of his son George Goldsmith. Both had children, Jacob’s grandchildren, and no longer had a husband to support them. I would have thought that Jacob would have included them with his unmarried daughters in providing for distributions of the estate’s income.

The will was presented for probate on February 2, 1901, by the two executors Jacob had named in the will: his sons-in-law Robert Levy (Rebecca’s husband) and Solomon Jaffa (Leonora’s husband). At that time they reported that the estate was worth $7000.  According to an inflation calculator, $7000 in 1901 would be worth about $207,000 in 2018 dollars. In their probate petition, they also named Jacob’s thirteen living children as the heirs:

The executors later filed a request to amend the petition to include two heirs who had been omitted from the original petition, the children of Jacob’s deceased son George:

Notice, however, that the executors identified George’s children as Fanny and Esther, when in fact George’s children were Fanny and Lester. How could they have made that error? Had someone said “Lester” and Solomon Jaffa and Robert Levy heard “Esther”? I wonder whether that error resulted in any problems if and when the principal of the estate was distributed years later. And it was many years later before all of Jacob’s daughters were either married or deceased.

Sadly, however, it was not long after Jacob’s death that one of those daughters died. Emma Goldsmith died of “double croupous pneumonia” on January 8, 1902, in Philadelphia, where she was buried. She was only 48 years old.

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-665P-M?cc=1320976&wc=9FR3-YWL%3A1073330701 : 16 May 2014), 004056150 > image 1230 of 1777; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Of the five remaining unmarried daughters, three married within the next few years. Eva Goldsmith married Sigmund Uhlfelder on October 25, 1905; she was 34, he 35.1 Sigmund was a recent German immigrant, born in 1870, and in 1900 he was living in Roswell, New Mexico and working as a cigar salesman.2 Eva’s sister Rebecca and her husband Robert Levy hosted the elaborate wedding:

Denver Post, October 29, 1905, p. 9

I also noticed that Joseph Langer was one of the invited guests. Joseph, the Denver Post photographer I wrote about here, was the grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach, Jacob Goldsmith’s first cousin, Eva’Goldsmith Uhlfelder’s first cousin, once removed.

Eva and Sigmund had one child, a son named Sidney born on August 27, 1906, in Roswell.3

A year after Eva married Sigmund Uhfelder, two more of Jacob Goldsmith’s daughters married, and their husbands were brothers. They were married in a double wedding. On October 10, 1906, in Denver, Florence Goldsmith, then 37, married Jerry B. Emanuel, and her sister Gertrude, 35, married Jacob E. Emanuel.

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006

Jacob and Jerry were the sons of Moses Emanuel and Dora Tannenbaum, both of whom were born in Hesse, Germany. Jacob and Jerry were born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1867 and 1869, respectively. Their father was a merchant in Mobile in 1870, but by 1880, the family had relocated to Denver.4 In 1900 Jacob was living with his mother and siblings and working as a salesman of men’s furnishings; Jerry, on the other hand was living in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1900, working as a shoe salesman.5

This double wedding was also written up in the paper and hosted by Rebecca and Robert Levy:

Denver Post, October 14, 1906, p. 32

Thus, as of October 10, 1906, only two of Jacob’s daughters remained unmarried: Rachel and Celia. They were now the only ones entitled to a distribution of the interest earned on Jacob’s estate.

In December 1907, Solomon Jaffa and Robert Levy filed this report of the assets of and distributions from Jacob’s account, covering the period from July 30, 1902, through December 3, 1907:

I am not sure what to make of the inconsistencies in the distributions. While Rachel had only received $33, Eva had received $1031. Emma, who had died in 1902, received more than Celia, who was still alive. My hunch is that Florence, Gertrude, and Eva received a bit more to help pay for their weddings, but that can’t be the only explanation. Jacob did leave it to the discretion of the executors to determine what each daughter would receive, to be determined based on their needs. Maybe the executors responded to requests made by the individual sisters.

The report for the following year—December 1907 through December 1908—showed distributions only to Celia. Although Rachel was also still unmarried, she was not included in the distributions. A note at the bottom of the last page of this report explained that Rachel preferred to leave the money in the hands of the executors for investment.

The last report included in Jacob’s probate file on Ancestry.com covered the period of 1909-1914. It shows that as of 1914, there was $10,789.09 in the estate. During this period, Rachel (Ray) had received $921.96 and Celia $1171.79.

But that was to be the last distribution to Rachel. A year later on October 7, 1915, Rachel Goldsmith died in Denver at the age of 58.6

Philadlephia Jewish Exponent, October 15, 1915

Celia was now the only remaining unmarried daughter of Jacob Goldsmith, and as we will see, she lived until 1933 and never married, meaning that the principal of Jacob’s estate could not be distributed until 1933. By then most of Jacob’s children had passed away, but some were still living, and there were many grandchildren living to inherit their parent’s share. Unfortunately, there are no later documents in the probate file, and I don’t know what was left in the estate at that point or how it was distributed.



  1. Ancestry.com. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006 
  2. Sigmund Uhlfelder, 1900 US census, Census Place: Roswell, Chaves, New Mexico; Page: 32; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240999, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Number: 525-01-6662; Issue State: New Mexico; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 (Jerry Emanuel); Emanuel family, 1870 US census, Census Place: Township 19 Range 1 2 3 and 4, Sumter, Alabama; Roll: M593_40; Page: 220A; Family History Library Film: 545539, Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census; Emanuel family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Roll: 88; Page: 137D; Enumeration District: 006, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  5. Jacob Emanuel, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0034; FHL microfilm: 1240117, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. Jerry Emanuel, 1900 US census, Census Place: Omaha Ward 4, Douglas, Nebraska; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0040; FHL microfilm: 1240924, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013. FindAGrave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/142381902 

Always Something New for Me to Learn: The “Hidden” Databases on FamilySearch

After writing about the two oldest sons of Abraham Goldsmith and Cecilia Adler, I am glad to be able to turn to their daughter Rose. Rose was born on October 19, 1866, in Philadelphia, and as I wrote here, she married Sidney Morris Stern on May 25, 1892, when she was 26. Sidney was born January 14, 1861, in Philadelphia, and was the son of Morris Stern and Matilda Bamberger, who were German-born immigrants. His father was in the retail clothing business.  Sidney was a jeweler.

(Am I the only one who finds it amusing that Sidney the jeweler married someone whose surname was Goldsmith?)

UPDATE: Thanks to a question asked by my cousin Jennifer about Sidney’s mother Matilda Bamberger, I discovered another twist in my crazy family tree. In looking to answer Jennifer’s question, I realized that I had two women named Matilda Bamberger on my tree, both married to Morris Stern. They were obviously duplicates.  Looking more closely, I realized that Matilda and Morris Stern’s daughter Clara Stern was the mother of Julian Simsohn, who married Edwin Goldsmith’s daughter Cecile. In another words, Cecile married the nephew of her Aunt Rose’s husband Sidney.

That earlier post also reported that Rose and Sidney’s first child, Sylvan Goldsmith Stern, was born on March 2, 1893. Two years later Rose gave birth to twin boys, Allan Goldsmith Stern and Howard Eugene Stern, on August 6, 1895. I could not find Rose and her family on the 1900 census despite having their address in 1899, 1900, and 1901, but based on listings in the Philadelphia directories for those years,1 I know that she was living in Philadelphia with her husband Sidney and their two younger sons, Allan and Howard. Sidney was in the jewelry business with his brother Eugene.

However, their oldest son Sylvan, who was seven at the time, was not living with them in 1900. He was living at the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Philadelphia; according to the census record, he could not read, write or speak English at that time. From later records I learned that Sylvan was completely deaf.

Sylvan Stern, 1900 US Census
Pennsylvania Institution for Deaf and Dumb, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 1043
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

By 1910, however, Sylvan was living at home and could now read and write and was in school. The family continued to live in Philadelphia and was joined by Rose’s younger sister Estelle, who was working as a schoolteacher. Sidney listed his occupation as wholesale jeweler. They also had two servants living in the home, one doing “chamber work” and the other a cook:

Sidney and Rose Goldsmith Stern and family, 1910 US census
Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1413; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 1193; FHL microfilm: 1375426
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

In 1915, when he was 22, Sylvan was living in Riverton, New Jersey, in a household with four other men: two men from Holland whom I presume were brothers, Peter and Anthony Hooydonk, a German immigrant named Ferdinand Frohlich, and a Pennsylvania native named John Peguesse.  All five men were in their early twenties and all were working in the florist business. Riverton is a small residential community about fifteen miles from Philadelphia across the Delaware River.

Sylvan Stern 1915 New Jersey census
New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, NJ, USA; State Census of New Jersey, 1915; Reference Number: L-06; Film Number: 8
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1915

While Sylvan was working in Riverton in 1915, his two younger brothers were in college: Allan was a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania,2 and his twin Howard was a student at Cornell University.3

In 1917-1918, all three of Rose and Sidney’s sons registered for the World War I draft. Sylvan reported that he was living at 1613 Poplar Street in Philadelphia, but working as a nurseryman in Riverton, New Jersey, for Henry A. Dreer, Inc. He also reported that he was totally deaf.

Sylvan Stern, World War I draft registration Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907959; Draft Board: 50 Description Draft Card: S Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Allan was living at the same address and reported that he was a college student, and Howard, also living at the same address, was employed as a farm laborer by Florex Gardens in North Wales, Pennsylvania, which is about 25 miles from Philadelphia. Allan served in the Army’s Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC, from March 15, 1918, until January 8, 1919, when he was honorably discharged.4  I did not find any record of military service for Sylvan or Howard.

Allan Stern World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907959; Draft Board: 50. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Howard Stern, World War I draft registration
Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907959; Draft Board: 50.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, the whole family was still living at 1613 Poplar Street in Philadelphia. Sidney was retired at age 59, but his three sons were all employed. Sylvan and Howard were both working as florists in their own business, and Allan was employed as an electrical engineer. Rose’s sister Estelle was still living with them, now working as the director of a girls’ camp. 5

All three Stern brothers were married in the 1920s. First, on May 26, 1921, Sylvan Goldsmith Stern married Beatrice A. Osserman, the daughter of Simon E. Osserman and Dora Kessner in New York City. According to a source I found, Beatrice was, like Sylvan, deaf; she was born in New York City on October 30, 1899.  Her parents were immigrants from Russia/Latvia, and her father was in the real estate business in 1920.6  This news item from the Philadelphia Evening Ledger reported that one of the bridesmaids was Dorothy G. Gerson, Sylvan’s first cousin and the daughter of his mother’s sister, Emily Goldsmith Gerson.

Philadelphia Evening Ledger, May 23, 1921, p. 11

Sylvan and Beatrice had two children during the 1920s.

Howard Stern was the second son of Rose Goldsmith and Sidney Stern to marry; in 1926 he married Madeline Kind Kohn,7 another Philadelphia native; she was born on June 3, 1898, the daughter of Joseph Kohn and Clara Kind.8 Madeline’s father was a shirt manufacturer. Here is Madeline’s high school yearbook picture from 1916:

Madeline Kind Kohn,
U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; Yearbook Title: Record Book of William Penn High School for Girls June Class, 1916; Year: 1916
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990

Howard and Madeline would have two children.

The last son to marry was Allan Stern, and his wife’s story is quite tragic. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Marriage Index on Ancestry reports that Allan married Gladys Fliegelman,9 daughter of Harry Fliegelman and Gussye Fridenberg, in 1928, but I learned an important lesson about that index while researching their marriage. More below.

Gladys was born on April 23, 1904, in Philadelphia.10  Two years later on June 30, 1906, her mother Gussye suffered complications after giving birth to a second child and died six weeks later on July 17, 1906, from parenchymatous nephritis or kidney disease.

Gussye Fliegeman death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 065461-068420
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Thus, Gladys lost her mother when she was just a toddler. Harry Fliegelman remarried in 1910, and in 1920, they were all living together in Philadelphia, where Harry was a furniture merchant.11

In 1924, Gladys graduated from the Philadelphia School of Design for Women; her photograph appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer with some of her classmates. She is in the middle of the photograph on the right.

Gladys Fliegelman School of Design graduation,
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 6, 1924, p, 17

And then I thought that Allan and Gladys were married in 1928, as the Ancestry.com database indicated. But I was confused when I found this will that she wrote on January 30, 1929:

Gladys Fliegelman Stern will
Probate Records (District of Columbia), 1801-1930; Author: District of Columbia. Register of Wills; Probate Place: District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

Gladys refers to herself as “a single woman, at present, and entering into a marriage with Allan G. Stern of Washington, District of Columbia, on January 31, 1929.” Since the Ancestry database of Philadelphia marriages indicated that they were married in 1928, why did she describe herself as single on January 30, 1929?

And this is where I learned something new. In discussing something completely different on the Tracing the Tribe Facebook page, a member there named Sharon Roth pointed out that FamilySearch has images of the Philadelphia marriage licenses and certificates.  They are not indexed for searching, but once you know the marriage license number from the index on Ancestry or FamilySearch, you can find the underlying documents by searching through the database of images by date and number.

This was a database that I could not find when I searched the FamilySearch records listings, so I am not sure how I would have found it without Sharon’s help. You can find the two databases here and here. Thank you to Sharon and to Amberly of The Genealogy Girl for showing me how to find these databases through the catalog on FamilySearch so that I now can find all these “hidden” databases. Amberly had actually blogged about this over a year ago, but I’d forgotten about her tips.  You can learn more from her blog here.

With this new information, I was able to find the license and the rabbi’s certificate of marriage for Allan and Gladys.  Now I know that although their marriage license was issued on December 31, 1928, they were not in fact married until January 31, 1929, the day after Gladys drew up her will.

Marriage record of Allan G. Stern and Gladys Fliegelmen, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, marriage records, Marriages, 568600-568799, 1928, pp. 358-359. FamilySearch.org

Returning to the will, its contents strike me as somewhat odd. Gladys bequeathed all her property and income to any issue she might have at the time of her death; that is, whereas one might assume that her husband would inherit before her children, Gladys wanted her estate to go directly to her children. Moreover, her will provides that if she died without issue, her sister would inherit all her personal possessions. Allan would only inherit 25% of her income and only for as long as he did not remarry. Gladys’ sister and brother would receive the other 75% of her income and the principal when Allan died.

Now call me a romantic, but this seems like a rather unromantic way to start a marriage—leaving your husband such a limited part of your estate.

Tragically, this will took on far more significance not long after Allan and Gladys married.  On February 6, 1930, a week after their first anniversary, Gladys took her own life by jumping from the seventh floor of Emergency Hospital in Washington; she had been a patient in the hospital for six months after an earlier suicide attempt when she had jumped from the fourth floor of the apartment building where she and Allan had been living. In its article about this tragedy, the Philadelphia Inquirer described her as a poetess.12  An article from a different paper reported that she had been “despondent because of poor health.”13

Thus, the new decade began on a heartbreaking note for the family of Rose Goldsmith and Sidney Stern and their sons, especially for their son Allan.

I was not surprised that I could not find Allan on the 1930 census, although he is listed in the 1930 Washington, D.C., directory as an engineer for Fred S. Gichner, residing at 3100 Connecticut Avenue; in the 1931 directory he was still working at Fred S. Gichner, but now residing at 3405 Woodley Road.  On the 1930 census, I found a Gichner family living at 3405 Woodley Road so it would appear that Allan may have moved in with his employer’s family after his wife’s death, although he was not listed at either address on the 1930 census.14

The rest of the family of Rose Goldsmith and Sidney Stern all continued to live in Philadelphia in 1930.  Sidney was retired,15 Sylvan was now working as a packer in a sporting goods business,16 and Howard was practicing law.17

Sadly, my cousin Rose Goldsmith Stern died less than a year after her daughter-in-law Gladys. Rose was 64 when she died on January 24, 1931, from heart disease: hypertension and arteriosclerosis leading to myocarditis and angina pectoris. Her obituary reported that she died from a heart attack. It also stated that Rose had been the manager of the Beth Israel Association for the Deaf and the national chairwoman of the Council of Jewish Women.18

Rose Goldsmith Stern death certificate,
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 001001-004000.  Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Rose was survived by her husband Sidney and her three sons and four grandchildren as well as seven of her siblings. Her husband Sidney continued to live in Philadelphia. In 1940 he was living in the Majestic Hotel where his sister-in-law Estelle Goldsmith and brother-in-law Edwin M. Goldsmith were also living.19 Sidney died on October 19, 1942, also of heart disease.20

Sylvan Stern and his family continued to live in Philadelphia in 1940, and Sylvan was still working as a packer in a sporting goods store at that time.21 According to his 1942 draft registration, his employer was Edward K. Tryon Company.22 Sylvan died on December 21, 1960.  He was 67 years old. He was survived by his wife and children and his two brothers.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Allan Goldsmith Stern remarried several years after the death of his first wife Gladys.  In 1940 he and his second wife Margaret were living in Washington, D.C., where Allan was an engineer for an ornamental iron company, which his draft registration revealed was still Fred S. Gichner Iron Works.23  I could not find any other information about Margaret, but in 1956 Allan married for a third time; his third wife was Alma Hollander.24

Allan Stern died on June 9, 1964, from cancer, according to his obituary in the Washington Evening Star. The obituary reported that in addition to his long career at Fred S. Gichner, Allan had been a founding member of the Beth El Congregation of Maryland and had helped establish the Kaufman Camp for Underprivileged Children on Chesapeake Bay. He was survived by his wife Alma and his brother Howard.25

Howard Stern was the only of Rose Goldsmith’s sons to live beyond his 60s. In 1940 he was living with his family in Philadelphia and practicing law, which his draft registration in 1942 revealed was his own practice.26 Howard died on July 10, 1989, just a few weeks short of his 94th birthday. He was survived by his children.27

The family of Rose Goldsmith Stern certainly faced a number of challenges. But overall, they appear to have been a family that overcame those challenges, found professional success, and gave back to society in many ways.

Thank you once again to Sharon and to Amberly for their help!







  1. Philadelphia city directories, 1899, 1900, 1901, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  2. University of Pennsylvania Yearbook, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; Yearbook Title: The Record; Year: 1915. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990 
  3. Cornell Yearbook, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; Yearbook Title: Cornellian; Year: 1916. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990 
  4.  Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948. Original data: World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948. RG 19, Series 19.91. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg Pennsylvania. “Allan G. Stern, Official of Gichner Iron Works,” Philadelphia Evening Star, June 10, 1964, p. 37. 
  5.   Family of Sidney Stern, 1920 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 47, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1646; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1791. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  6. Simon Osserman and family, 1920 US Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 21, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1224; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 1445. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Marriage of Howard Stern and Madeline Kind Kohn, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968. Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania. Film Number: 004141829 
  8. Madeline Kind Kuhn Passport Application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1494; Volume #: Roll 1494 – Certificates: 141500-141875, 12 Feb 1921-15 Feb 1921. 
  9. Marriage of Allan Stern and Gladys Fliegelman, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1968. Original data: Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania. Film Number: 004141829 
  10.  District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F7TK-SXY : accessed 1 May 2018), Gladys Stern, 06 Feb 1930, District of Columbia, United States; citing reference ID 325790, District Records Center, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 2,116,108. 
  11. Harry Fliegelman and family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1633; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 1065. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. “Poetess Dies in Plunge,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7, 1930, p. 7. 
  13. “Woman Ends Life Because of Illness,” The Dayton Herald,” February 6, 1930, p. 33. 
  14. Washington, DC, City Directories, 1930, 1931, 1929, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. 
  15. Sidney and Rose Goldsmith Stern, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0397. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  16. Sylvan Stern and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 1077. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. 
  17. Howard Stern and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 1029.
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. 
  18. “Mrs. Rose Goldsmith Stern,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 25, 1931, p. 17. 
  19. Sidney Stern, 1940 US Census,  Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03698; Page: 81A; Enumeration District: 51-384. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  20. Sidney Stern, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 085451-088100. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate Number: 86311 
  21. Sylvan Stern and family, 1940 US Census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03752; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 51-2119. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  22. Sidney Stern, 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. Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  23. Allan and Margaret Stern, 1940 US Census, Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: m-t0627-00563; Page: 66B; Enumeration District: 1-307, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census.  Allan Stern, 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 Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1939. Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  24. “Alma Stern,” Washington (D.C.) Evening Star, September 23, 1979, p. 49. 
  25.  “Allan G. Stern, Official of Gichner Iron Works,” Philadelphia Evening Star, June 10, 1964, p. 37. 
  26. Howard Stern, 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. Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  27. Number: 167-32-5823; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: 1956-1958. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.  

The Last Will and Testament of Abraham Goldsmith

As the 20th century began, the family of Abraham Goldsmith was doing quite well. His first four children with his first wife Cecelia were all married and living in Philadelphia; three of them had had children, giving Abraham seven grandchildren. His five younger children were still living at home with him and his second wife Frances and ranged in age from seventeen to thirty. All but Louis, the youngest, were employed outside the home. On February 1, 1901, Abraham was blessed with an eighth grandchild when his son Milton and his wife Sophie had their first child, a daughter they named Rosalind.1

Abraham, however, had been in poor health ever since suffering a stroke in about 1890, and he died on January 20, 1902, from “chronic softening of the brain.” From what I can gather from various internet sources, the condition is also known as encephalomalacia, and the softening of brain tissue is usually caused by a stroke, hemorrhage, infection, or injury. Abraham was 69 when he died. He left behind his wife Frances, his nine children, and eight grandchildren.

Abraham Goldsmith death certificate
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6737-JK6?cc=1320976&wc=9FRP-DP8%3A1073221502 : 16 May 2014), 004009534 > image 785 of 1754; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In the obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent,2 Abraham’s business was described as “one of the most prominent in its line in the United States.” He served on the boards of several financial institutions and was a member of two lodges. Abraham was not only an important business owner in Philadelphia, he was a leader and “rendered conspicuous service” in several charitable organization including being “president of the Orphans’ Guardians, a trustee of Keneseth Israel Congregation, director and vice president of the Jewish Hospital Association, and secretary of the United Hebrew Charities.”

Abraham’s funeral was “largely attended;” the rabbi “paid high tribute to [his] many virtues, his philanthropic instincts and sterling character, referring feelingly to the many acts of kindness and generosity which had endeared him to those whom he had aided during his lifetime, and to his tireless activity in all good work.”

Abraham Goldsmith obituary, The Philadelphia Exponent, January 24, 1902, p. 3.

The Philadelphia Times also published an obituary, describing Abraham as “one of the pioneer Israelites in this city” and listing his various charitable activities.3 The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as a “prominent business man of this city.”4

I found Abraham’s will quite interesting and transcribe it here in its entirety from the handwritten text:5

I Abraham Goldsmith of Philadelphia merchant do make publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, revoking all former wills ever made.

First: I give and bequeath to my son Milton my library and bookcase and the oil painting of his mother Cecelia Goldsmith.

Second: I give and bequeath to my son Edwin M my gold watch chain, masonic mark and my diamond stud.

Third: All other jewelry, coins, laces, and trinkets of my first wife shall be divided between my daughters Rose, Emily and Estelle as keepsakes by my executors in such manner as they shall think proper.

Fourth: Subject to the above provisions I give bequeath and devise to my executors and trustees all my estate real residual and ? for the purposes and upon the trusts here in [end of page 1] after expenses.

Pennsylvania probate record; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts. Wills, No 277-299, 1902

Fifth: All just debts and funeral expenses to be paid.

Sixth: As much or all of my Real estate as my heirs and executors deem best to be disposed of at public and private sale as soon as convenient after my death and the executors to make good title without being compelled to give security for the proper application of the funds to be received and the money so received to be considered as invested in personal property prior to the sale.

Seventh: My property to be so divided that my wife shall receive her share absolutely and the ballance [sic] to be divided among my children share and share alike so that my children of age shall receive their share at once and those that are minors to receive their share on becoming of age.

Eight: That my wife shall be guardian [end of page 2] for the minor children during their minority, she receiving the income derived from the investments for their support and education until of age and no longer.

Ninth: That the executors and trustees for the minor children have full power to invest and call in and reinvest at their pleasure and at their discretion, the investments not to be confined to what are termed legal investments.

Tenth: That my Life Insurance which was held in trust, and endowments which may be coming to me from different Societies and Lodges, shall be considered as part of my personal property and to be distributed as per direction of my Will.

Eleventh: In case of death of anyone of anyone [sic] of my children during its minority or as long as they are unmarried, all expenses incurred during sickness and burial expenses shall first be paid out of the portion set aside for the minor child and the ballance [sic] remaining to be divided in equal parts between my wife [end of page 3] and the surviving children.

Twelfth: I constitute and appoint my sons Milton Goldsmith, Edwin M Goldsmith, and my friend Morris H. Pulaski my executors, and trustees of my minor children and I direct that no security shall be required of them in either capacity. In case either of them should die, resign or fail to act, then I direct some good friend of the family to be substituted in place of one so dying, resigning or failing to act. I wish the trust always full. The substituted trustee or trustees shall have all the power and discretion conferred [sic] upon the executors and trustees who I have named.

In witness whereof I have this day the fourth day of October One Thousand Eight hundred Eighty Seven set my hand and seal. Philadelphia Oct 4th 1884.

Abraham Goldsmith [witnessed and sealed]

To add some context to these bequests, here is the estate inventory filed with the will:

Note that the largest elements in his estate were the proceeds of his life insurance policies, one being over $10,000, another over $20,000, and that the personal items were worth far less. For example, the books left to Milton were worth $50, the watch, stud, and jewelry totaled $100. To put this in today’s dollars, I turned once again to an inflation calculator.  One hundred dollars in 1902 would be worth over $27,000 today; $20,000 would be worth over $558,000. Abraham’s estate’s total value, $58,422.25, would be equivalent to $1,631,049.62 in today’s dollars.

Abraham had claimed to have $45,000 in personal and real property on the 1880 US census.  He then suffered a serious financial setback in 1886 after his brother Levy died. But at the time of his death, Abraham’s estate was worth over $58,000, or more than $1.6 million dollars in today’s money. Pretty impressive for a man who came to America as an immigrant when he was just eighteen.

Based on those numbers and the inflation calculator, it appears that Abraham had a library worth about $13,500, which he left to his son Milton. That tells me something about both Abraham and Milton—two men who must have greatly valued books. In fact, as we will see, Milton and his brother Louis both had careers that involved books. I also loved that Abraham made sure that those things that had belonged to his first wife, Cecelia, went to her children, including an oil painting of Cecelia. How I wish I knew what had happened to that painting. Maybe one of Milton’s descendants still has it? I hope so.

Abraham wrote the will before he went through the financial crisis in his business in 1886 and before he suffered the debilitating stroke in about 1890. When Abraham wrote this will in 1884, his five youngest children were still quite young—less than ten years old—whereas Milton and Edwin, whom he named as his executors, were 23 and 20, respectively.   When Abraham died in 1902, Louis, his youngest child, was twenty—the same age Edwin had been when Abraham originally wrote the will and named Edwin as an executor. It’s interesting that Abraham never changed his will to reflect the changes in his financial situation, his physical condition, or the changing ages and circumstances of his children, including their marriages and their children. There is no provision for grandchildren in the will.

Sadly, six years after Abraham died, his second wife Frances Spanier Goldsmith died. She was only 52 years old and died after suffering a stroke (apoplexy). Her obituary in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported that her death “proved a great shock to the many friends of the Goldsmith family in this city. Mrs. Goldsmith had not been seriously ill and had been out walking the day before her death, which was caused by a stroke of paralysis.”    Abraham also had suffered a stroke, and his first wife Cecelia had died from a stroke when only 35. What was it about their lives that made them all susceptible to strokes?

Frances Spanier Goldsmith death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 006001-010000
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

Frances’ obituary further commented that “Mrs. Goldsmith possessed a host of friends, being widely beloved and esteemed for many loveable qualities.”

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, January 24, 1908, p. 11.

The Philadelphia community lost two well-regarded citizens with the deaths of Abraham and Frances (Spanier) Goldsmith, and their children lost beloved parents. But those children, by then all adults, lived interesting lives. The posts to follow will focus on Abraham’s nine surviving children and their lives in the 20th century.










  1. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBYW-R9L : 9 March 2018), Rosalind Goldsmith, 01 Feb 1901; citing bk 1901 p 107, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 1,289,340. 
  2. Abraham Goldsmith obituary, The Philadelphia Exponent, January 24, 1902, p. 3. 
  3.  The Philadelphia Times, January 22, 1902, p. 7. 
  4. “Abraham Goldsmith Dead,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 22, 1902, p. 6. 
  5.  Pennsylvania probate record; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Source Information: Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993. Wills, No 277-299, 1902.