A mystery for Sherlock

Years ago, my mother showed me a picture.  She said she had been told a long time ago that the picture was of her Goldman grandparents. Here is the picture in question:206b2f58-f45c-4429-8167-32fa99b7dc77

Even before my mother’s memory began to fail, she was an unreliable witness as to who was in that picture or, really, in almost any picture she might have had of her family.  That’s because my mother was raised in an orphanage and never knew her grandparents.

Here are the basic facts about my mother’s maternal grandparents:

  • Simon Goldman was born on April 1, 1853 (according to his tombstone and death certificate) in what is now Lithuania (probably in or near Marijampole).
  • He and his first wife, Pearl Goldberg, had at least four children in Lithuania:  Abraham (born August 9, 1878), Noah / Nathan (born December 15, 1879), Wolf/ William Samuel (born January 28, 1882), and Rae (born January 1, 1885).  Pearl must have died shortly after Rae was born, because….
  • on November 10, 1889, Simon and his second wife, Mamie Blum, together with Abraham, Noah, Wolf, and Rae got on a ship in Bremen, got off in New York on November 22, and made their way to Indianapolis, Indiana, in time to be listed in the 1890 city directory.
  • Mamie’s first child, Benjamin, was born in Indianapolis on October 25, 1890, followed by Alexander in 1892, Charles in 1893, Laura in 1894, Edith (my grandmother) in February 1896, Sarah in November 1896, Jennie in 1899, Irene (known as Ida) in 1902, 2 stillborns in 1903 and early 1906, Isadore / Irving in late 1906, Jerome Lewis (my “Uncle Lew”) in 1907, two more stillborns in 1910 and 1911, Freda in 1912, and one last stillborn in 1916.  Yes, that was 16 babies, altogether, of which 11 lived to adulthood.
  • Mamie died on September 11, 1922, at 51 years old, of a “massive cerebral hemorrhage,” according to her death record.
  • On July 25, 1923, Simon married Sarah Vigodner Hantman, a widow with five young children of her own.  Sarah was born February 3, 1878, married Abraham Hantman somewhere in Russia, according to their censuses, and came with him to Indianapolis in 1905 with their oldest two children, Edith and Rhea, then had three more children in Indianapolis: Rose, Joseph, and Jacob / Jack. Abraham Hantman died in 1915, leaving Sarah a rather young widow with five young children.
  • Simon died in December 1939 according to his death certificate (although his tombstone says 1940), and Sarah died in 1967.

So, let’s come back to the picture.  Assuming Mom was right that the man in the picture is Simon Goldman, the question is:  who is the woman?  Is it Mamie or is it Sarah?

While I was at the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies) this week in Orlando, I had a 15-minute consultation session with Sherlock Cohn , a professional genealogist who is an expert in analysis of photographs.  She pulled out her big ol’ magnifying glass (yes, just like THAT Sherlock) and took a good look at my photo.  She says the hat and the length of the dress clearly were post – 1916 style.  Because I didn’t have the original of the photo, we don’t know whether there was anything written on the back or stamped to indicate who the photographer was.  They’re wearing gloves, so we can’t see wedding rings.  The woman appears to be around 45 (Mamie would have been 45 in 1916 and Sarah in 1923 when she married Simon).  The man appears to be a bit older; Simon would have been 63 in 1916 and 72 in 1923.  The man does not appear to be that old.

After careful consideration, Sherlock’s best guess is that this is Simon and Mamie sometime between 1916 and 1922, when Mamie died, based on the apparent age of Simon in the photo and the style of Mamie’s hat and clothing.  I hope I can find the original photo someday and determine whether there might be any other clues we can find.

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