In his letters, Henry/Hyman’s brother Lewis had written that his father, baby brother and his grandfather had all died in south Wales and were buried in Merthyr Tydfil together. Unfortunately, he didn’t name them.
It was a long process but eventually I found the death records for his father Abraham and his brother Isaac and then turned my attention to finding the grandfather.
Unable to find a suitable Miller, I looked at the birth certificate for Bessie, who became known as Ada. Her mother’s maiden name was given as Mierson and I’ve since confirmed this with the birth record of her sister Flora, when her mother’s maiden name was spelt Maerson. Perhaps it was Lewis’ maternal grandfather had who had died.
There was just one Mierson death record. I ordered the certificate and waited for it to arrive, as patiently as I could.
Benjamin Mierson, born c1826, died in 1890 in Porth, Glamorgan, south Wales, occupation glazier, lived at 6 Foundry Place, Porth. Rose and her family were glaziers. I’d found the grandfather.
When I was looking at the shipping records for travelling details of Rose and her family, just below Ada and Flora’s names I spotted those of Florie and Phinny (a boy) Mierson, aged 5 and 3 and a half. Were these two related to Rose? To Benjamin?
I searched for other Miersons or Meirsons on board the ship. Finally, by comparing the records on Ancestry with those on Findmypast, I found Michael and Sarah Mierson. The writing was not good and the FMP’s transcriber may be forgiven for thinking that it said Brierson.
So now I had, on the same voyage as Rose and her family:
Michael Mierson, watchmaker, aged 39
Sarah Mierson, spinster, aged 16
Florie Mierson, aged 5
Phinny, aged 3 and a half
This looked like a father and children. Should there be a mother somewhere? I scuttled away to find the census record for 1891.
When I had found Benjamin Mierson’s death, it hadn’t occurred to me to see if there were any other Miersons on the census in 1891. Bad family historian! Now I found two families, one in Leeds, England, and one in Porth, Glamorgan. I ‘parked’ the Leeds family for the moment and looked at the one in Porth.
My oh my!
Living just down the road from Rose Miller and her family, at:
1891: 9 West Taff Street, in the parish of Llanwonno, near the town of Porth, in the county of Glamorgan:
|Michael Mierson||aged 38||born in Russia|
|Hannah||aged 38||born in Russia|
|Sophia||aged 16||born in Russia|
|Sarah||aged 12||born in Russia|
|Florat||aged 2||born in Porth, Glamorgan|
|Phiny||aged 1||born in Porth, Glamorgan|
Unfortunately, Michael’s occupation is illegible. Sophia was a dressmaker.
If Rose’s maiden name was Mierson, and Benjamin Mierson was her father, then surely this was her brother, his wife and their family.
On the census Rose was said to be 40 (though from Lewis’ letters, she would have been 36) and Michael was 38. It fitted. Hmm. Having something ‘fit’ in family history isn’t good enough. We need facts! What a pity it hadn’t been Michael registering his father’s death instead of J. Isaacs, cousin. Well, I don’t see how I can find relevant facts considering they were born in Russia.
Like Rose, the family was only present for the 1891 census, implying that it too had moved to England and Wales between 1881 and 1891 and had then moved away before the 1901 census.
Given that his father Benjamin had died and his sister Rose was taking her family to the USA, did Michael decide to do the same rather than remain in the Welsh valley without any other relatives?
Michael had sailed with three of his children but where was his wife, Hannah?
I found Ann Mierson. She sailed on the SS ‘Rhynland’ from Liverpool on 28 April 1897, destined for Philadelphia. She was aged 39, noted as being single (though something else had been added, unfortunately illegibly), a dressmaker. She was Russian. Her last residence was Manchester. Her passage was paid by her children.
Ann was going to meet her daughter, Sarah Mierson, at 2528 Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, c/o Mr Withowsky [spelling difficult to read].
I haven’t found any record of their daughter Sophia since the 1891 census.
Philadelphia was where Rose and her family had settled.
When researching family history not only do we come up against the type of brick wall which I’d experienced when trying to locate Henry and his family, we can also find ourselves with a small bit of information which we don’t know what to do with.
It’s like holding a piece of jigsaw puzzle in our hand, turning it this way and that, knowing that it came out of the box with all the other pieces and so it must fit somewhere, but not recognising what it is or where it fits.
And so it was with the Goldberg family.
In her letter in April 1947, Henry/Hyman’s sister Florrie wrote to Henry’s widow Linda:
You mention about Joe [Linda’s son] receiving a letter from one Joseph Goldberg….I was very surprised ….[he is] a cousin of ours, his mother and my mother were sisters ….he is a physician, a stomach specialist about 63….now to inform you how he got Joe’s address. When Harry passed away and your Joe sent me the letter with the article in the paper, I let one of my cousins read the clipping and she asked me whether I would permit Dr Goldberg to read it so I gave her the letter and that is how he got your address”.
In December 1948, Florrie asked if Joe ever wrote to Dr Joseph Goldberg as her cousin always asked after both of them.
By January 1949, Joseph’s [unnamed] brother, aged 55, had recently died from cancer of the throat, and another [unnamed] cousin had died aged 30 from a heart attack.
I had no idea who these Goldberg cousins were and never expected to do so.
On 29 July 2015 I received an email through the Glamorgan Rootsweb list from Avi Levin:
I hope this message reaches you, as I realize your message below is from 2.5 years ago. I was just looking at my copy of Benjamin Mierson’s death certificate, and decided to look him up online – which brought me to your post.
I am Benjamin’s 3rd great-grandson. I have fond memories of my great-grandmother Florence, who was his granddaughter. My family is from the US.”
Cue much excitement from this family historian!
Closely followed by the question: was Avi’s great grandmother Florie Miller (of the letters) or Florie Mierson?
Back came a portion of Avi’s family tree, with Benjamin Mierson’s name at the head and with Goldberg names on it as well.
There were three sons, all with the surname Goldberg: Michael born c1852 in Russia, Hyman and Harry, both without any additional details.
Michael was shown as married to Anna Meirson.
So now seemed to me that it wasn’t Rose and Michael who were siblings but Rose and Anna (aka Hannah) who were sisters.
On the other hand, Avi said that he had vague recollection that Michael Mierson had changed his surname to Goldberg (which perhaps was his mother’s surname) but that he would check with his uncle.
Were Hyman and Harry the brothers of Rose, who had written to Rose to send her eldest sons to them in Philadelphia?
It was all very confusing.
As an English family historian, having traced my paternal family back to the mid 1500s, and my maternal family back to the early 1700s, I rely on the surnames remaining the same so that I can track the family though the records. Of course, I’d discovered the weird and wonderful ways in which the names could be spelt before the spellings became standardised but now I was faced with complete changes of name.
Avi’s tree showed the children of Michael Goldberg and Ann Meirson as:
Sophia Meirson, born c1878 in England,
Sara Meirson, born c1879,
Florence Goldberg, b 1888 in Cardiff, Wales
Phillip Myerson, b 1889 in Cardiff, Wales.
So Florie Mierson had become Florence Goldberg and Phiny Mierson had become Phillip Myerson. They weren’t actually born in Cardiff but in Porth, a small village about 15 miles from Cardiff.
The General Register Office searchable database has only recently become available and it gives the following births:
Florie Mierson, birth registered in 1888 in Pontypridd, mother’s maiden name Goldberg.
Pheny Mierson, birth registered in 1889 in Pontypridd, mother’s maiden name Gouldston.
This confirms the link to Avi’s family tree, at least to the Goldbergs.
Note: According to the 1891 census, both Sophia and Sara were born in Russia.
David is the great grandson of Rose Miller and therefore the 2 x great grandson of Benjamin Mierson.
Avi is the great grandson of Florence Goldberg and therefore the 3 x great grandson of Benjamin Mierson.
So David and Avi are 3rd cousins once removed.
I asked Avi if he had a Joseph or Joe Goldberg amongst his relatives who, in 1947, had been aged about 63, a stomach specialist but no, he didn’t have Joe/Joseph or Yosef Goldberg on his tree. However, he wanted to speak to an uncle who knew more about a sizeable unrelated Goldberg branch.
So then I spent a long time searching for the elusive Dr Joe Goldberg, working through the night, time when I should have been asleep, which was not an unusual occurrence for me. I couldn’t find anything.
If he was 63 in 1947 he ought to be on the 1940 census but I couldn’t find a doctor by the name of Joe or Joseph Goldberg.
Of course, it is possible that Joe was his middle name and that officially he was known by his first name.
63 in 1947 means he was born c1884, and would have been just a few years older than Florence Goldberg and Florence Miller, so I assumed he was of the same generation. The question was: who was his father?
As I wrote to Avi, I knew that Joe Goldberg wasn’t important to the story right at that moment but loose ends and unidentified people annoy me. I like all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to fit neatly together which, of course, rarely happens in family history.
And, of course, Florrie Miller had seen fit to mention him in her letters and he had expressed an interest in Linda and her son Joe, so he did matter in Henry’s story.
Avi spoke to his uncle, who supplied the following information.
Benjamin Mierson was Anna’s father (which makes him Rose’s father and she and Anna sisters).
Michael Goldberg was Anna’s husband and they divorced (which perhaps explains why Anna didn’t travel to Philadelphia until a few years after Michael, Sarah, Florrie and Phinny).
Florence retained the Goldberg but her siblings changed their name back to their mother’s Mierson.
Michael Goldberg had two brothers, one of whom was Harry. And it was Harry’s son who was Dr Joseph Goldberg.
Note: The family had been living in south Wales as Mierson and the births of Florrie and Phinny had been registered as Mierson. So it seems that Michael had originally adopted his wife’s surname but had changed to Goldberg when he arrived in the USA, with the children’s names being changed as well. And whilst Florence chose to retain Goldberg as her name, the other children later changed back to Mierson.
Joe apparently was a very famous physician in Philadelphia. He ran a hospital called Northern Liberties, which he then brought together with some other hospitals to form the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. That’s where my uncle now works, and is a huge operation. So Joe was my great grandmother’s first cousin.”
So now we know the connection between the Mierson and Goldberg families.
But there was another family in south Wales connected to the Miersons as well. They were the Isaacs.
Benjamin Mierson died at 6 Foundry Place, Porth on 28 July 1890. His death was registered by J Isaacs, described as a cousin, of the same address.
By checking the censuses, marriage and birth records I found the family.
Joseph Isaac was born in Russia. Initially a furniture dealer, by 1881 he had become a pawnbroker.
In 1870 he married Sarah Stall in Merthyr Tydfil. Sarah was born in Glamorganshire.
The ages given in the censuses are not consistent through the decades but Joseph was born c1847 and Sarah born c1851.
In 1871 they were living in the High Street, behind the Blue Bell [a local inn], Llantwit Vardre, Pontypridd. By 1881 they had moved to Porth and over the coming years they moved several times within Porth, presumably as their family grew.
The four eldest children were born in Pontypridd and the others in Porth.
|Samuel Jacob||born 1873|
|Myer Charles||born 1877|
|Solly||born 1881||birth registered as Saul but aka as Solomon|
|Lewis||born 1885||aka Louis|
|Harry||born 1886||birth registered as Hosia|
|Monty||born 1890||birth registered as Emmanual, aka Montague|
By 1901 Hyman was a medical student, Solomon was an assistant in the family pawnbroking business, Louis was a shoemaker’s assistant and Harry was a Mercer’s assistant.
In 1911 all the children had left home and Joseph and Sarah had moved to Cardiff. They had been married 41 years and had 12 children, all of whom were still living. Joseph described himself as a retired general dealer. He was aged 63, Sarah was 61.
Unlike the Millers, Miersons and Goldbergs, the family did not emigrate but remained in south Wales, possibly because they had established a good business but probably because Sarah was born in Glamorganshire and had family there.
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing on which side of Benjamin Mierson’s family Joseph Isaacs was a cousin.
Joseph was already in south Wales in 1870. We know that Rose Mierson arrived there with her husband Abraham Miller in 1883 and that Benjamin died there in 1890. The first and only census on which Rose Miller and Michael Mierson (later Goldberg) and his wife Anna appear is the one for 1891. So did the Miersons and Millers go to that particular part of south Wales because Joseph Isaacs and his family were already there?
And was Joseph part of another Isaacs family already in England in 1861 and then in south Wales, in Cardiff, in 1871? The names of the children show a marked similarity with those of Joseph’s children. But that is opening a whole new chapter so we will reserve that idea for future use, should the question arise.
The Mierson / Myerson family of Leeds
I researched the Mierson family who, like the Millers and Miersons of south Wales, appear on the 1891 census, in Leeds, Yorkshire. However, on the 1901 and 1911 censuses the family was listed as Myerson and all the children were registered with the spelling Myerson.
I had only noted this family because, in 1891, they were recorded as Mierson but there were other Myerson families in Leeds, then and later. There is no way to know whether the Mierson / Myerson family from Leeds were connected to the ‘our’ Miersons from south Wales and so the family has been parked in the back of the files, only to be resurrected if a likely connection arises.