Friday, May 16, 2014

UNDER THE ARCH - Wolf, Mattie and Louis Goldstein

Last Sunday, as a favor to a Find a Grave friend, I drove way out to the south side of Chicago to Oakwoods Cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Chicagoans.  But I wasn't looking for a grave in Oakwoods; instead I was searching in the small Jewish Cemetery just adjacent to Oakwoods, but not owned or managed by them.

The trip was unsuccessful in that I did not find the grave I was looking for, and also because I managed to pick up several ticks who went up my pants legs as I was searching through the tall, untrimmed grass.  I did, however photograph roughly 400 graves from this forgotten cemetery.  As I was searching row by row, I came across an interesting monument to the Goldstein family:

The arch covered three graves:  Mattie Goldstein (1855-1917), Wolf Goldstein (1854-1935) and Louis Goldstein (1898-1903).  I decided that the Goldsteins would probably provide an interesting story for this blog, and so I set out to find out what I could "dig up" about them.

Wolf Goldstein was born March 17, 1853 (even though that does not agree with his tombstone) in Vilna, which was then a part of Russia.  He arrived in the United States in 1872 when he was nineteen years old.  In 1875 Wolf Goldstein married Mattie Grobgeld who was born August 2, 1854 (that doesn't agree with her tombstone either) in Russia-Poland.  Mattie had come to the US in 1870 when she was sixteen.

As early as 1877 Wolf Goldstein is shown in the Chicago Directory as a merchant of "Notions" at 447 Clark Street (now 1200 N. Clark Street).  The building that was there in 1877 is long gone.

The 1880 US Census shows the Goldstein family living at 415 Clark Street (now 1124 N. Clark Street).  A highrise building now occupies that spot.  Wolf worked at a clothing store, Mattie (or "Mite") was "Keeping House", and they had been joined by son Israel/Theodore (1875-1964) and daughter Minnie (1877-1964). 

By 1887 he was listed in the Chicago Directory as "W. Goldstein & Co. - Shirts" at 154 Fifth Avenue (now 647 N. Wells Street) in Chicago (now a parking lot) with his residence still at 415 Clark Street.  The 1890 US Census for Illinois is, of course, lost. 

On October 18, 1892, Wolf Goldstein registered to vote.  He listed his address as 1256 Wabash Avenue (now a gas station).  He said he had been at that address for two years, in Cook County for nineteen years, and the State of Illinois for twenty-three years.  He was not allowed to vote, however because his papers were "Suspect."

For the 1900 US Census the Wolf Goldstein Family was living at 3248 Wabash Avenue (now the Illinois Institute of Technology).  However, the family has grown significantly.  Joining Wolf, Mattie, Israel/Theodore and Minnie are  Meyer/George (1884-????), Louis (1886-????), Harry (1888-????), Katie (1891-????), and Anna/Annette (1897-????).  Missing is Bernard (1880-1882).

Tragedy struck the Goldstein family in May of 1903 when seventeen year old Louis Goldstein died of scarlet fever.  He died at 155 East 33rd Street (now 411 E. 33rd Street) on May 21, 1903 and was buried the same day - either because of the worry of scarlet fever contagion or because of the Goldstein family's Jewish faith.  Louis had been ill only seven days.  411 E. 33rd Street is now part of the Lake Meadows housing complex.

It was at that time that the Goldstein family bought the cemetery plot at the small Jewish cemetery adjacent to Oakwoods Cemetery, although the large arch had not been erected yet.

The 1904 Chicago Directory showed Wolf Goldstein at 504 63rd Street in Chicago (now a vacant lot).  The 1906 Directory has him at 512 63rd Street (another vacant lot).

The 1910 US Census shows the Goldsteins living at 3436 South Park Avenue in Chicago (the 3400 block of Park Avenue no longer exists).  Wolf listed his occupation as "proprietor of a department store."  The only ones left at home with Wolf and Mattie were Theodore, Katherine and Annette.  The Goldsteins also had a live-in servant, Nellie Belt.

Mattie Grobgeld Goldstein died on March 1, 1917 at the age of sixty-two. 

She died of myocarditis complicated by diabetes. Her address was listed as 5138 S. Michigan Avenue, where she had lived for two years.

5138 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Unfortunately today, it is a vacant lot.  Her previous address was listed as 5243 Michigan Avenue.

5243 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Here is her Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of March 2, 1917:

When Mattie was buried next to Louis, Wolf Goldstein decided to commission the construction of the arch monument to commemorate his family:

On May 15, 1918 Wolf Goldstein married Ida Krom in Chicago.  Both were said to be sixty years old.

The 1920 US Census shows Wolf and Ida Goldstein living at 3349 Fifteenth Street in Chicago (there is a new apartment building on that site today).  Wolf listed no occupation but told the census taker that he was sixty-nine years old and his wife was sixty-two.  Both said they were from Russia and their mother tongue was Yiddish.
By the 1930 US Census, Wolf and Ida Goldstein were living at 6805 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago. 

680-5 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago

Seventy seven year old Wolf listed his occupation as a retail merchant of dry goods.  Ida was listed as being seventy four.  Wolf told the census taker that he had come to the US in 1864; Ida in 1880.  Wolf said that he had been nineteen when he was first married; he actually had been twenty two.  As the years pass, people's memories for dates tend to get "fuzzy."

Wolf Goldstein's second wife, Ida Krom Goldstein died January 26, 1933 in Evanston, Illinois, leaving Wolf a widower for the second time.  Ida was buried at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, not "under the arch." 

Wolf Goldstein died on October 16, 1935 at 1246 Pratt Boulevard in Chicago.

1246 W. Pratt Boulevard, Chicago

The cause of death was myocardial degeneration with generalized arterio-sclorosis.  He was 82 1/2 years old.  He had had this heart disease for eight years, according to his doctor.  Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 18, 1935:

Wolf Goldstein was laid to rest under the arch, beside his first wife and son.  

As a retired merchant of note, the death of Wolf Goldstein merited a special article in the Chicago Daily Tribune on October 18, 1935:

Today, Wolf, Mattie and Louis Goldstein rest "under the arch" in a forgotten corner of the forgotten Jewish Cemetery next to Oakwoods Cemetery in Chicago.

Well, maybe not forgotten anymore...

May they rest in peace.


  1. On the overhead marker, one side reads "1917" and the other side reads "5677". What does the "5677" represent?

  2. 5677 is the year 1917 in the Hebrew calendar. The Gregorian calendar counts years from the birth of Christ; the Hebrew calendar counts from the creation of the world.