Samson Wiener and Caroline Fuerstheimer met aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean while both were immigrating to the United States from Germany in 1852. She was headed to Sallis, Mississippi, to live with her uncle. He was headed to Buffalo, New York, to live with his uncle, but instead he traveled south to court Fuerstheimer. They soon married and had eight children, Ike, William, Sam, Yetta, Tillie, Sophie, Rachel and Elias.
Elias “Eli” Wiener (1876-1957) moved to Keltys, Texas, at 14, to work as a clerk for the Angelina County Lumber Company. He eventually became the chairman of the board for the company and founded the Wiener Lumber Company, in Dallas, Texas. His various business interests included other building materials, railroads and foundries.
In 1906, Wiener married Selma Lowenstein (1881-1953), who was born in New York City and moved to Waco, Texas, as a child. They had four children, Samson, Isabel, Carol and Selma. Wanting to live in a Jewish community, they moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1916. In 1931, they moved to Dallas, Texas, where Eli served as president of Temple Emanuel.
Selma Wiener collected stamps and played the violin as a child. She went to public schools in Shreveport and then to Highland Park High School in Dallas. She attended Sophie Newcomb College and graduated from Wellesley College. She was teaching nursery school in Dallas in 1936 when she met Allen Berkman, a young Pittsburgh lawyer, on a blind date. After they married in 1938 and moved to Pittsburgh, she volunteered for the National Council of Jewish Women, the Emma Farm Camp and the Visiting Nurses Association of Allegheny County. Over time, Allen and Selma Berkman became involved in numerous Jewish, civic and communal organizations in Allegheny County. The Berkman family were members of Congregation Rodef Shalom, and Selma Berkman served as the president of the Rodef Shalom Sisterhood.