February 04, 2007

Another article on Uncle Gene

Clips from one more article Mom had sent a while back about my great uncle, Eugene Sheffer, the crossword constructor:

No Cross Words, Please
by Sidney Fields
New York Daily News
Monday, May 31, 1971

There was really no way of knowing where an expert knowledge of French and French literature could lead a boy from Baldwin, L.I., with a severe handicap.

Even with dystonia, which afflicted him at 19 and deprived him of most muscle control, it led Eugene Sheffer to a full and happy life as a college teacher, an author, a friend of Franch art, movie and literary luminaries and a crossword puzzle expert. He sold his first crossword puzzle when he was 15. They now appear in 175 newspapers around the world.


"He sold his first crosswords to the papers for $5. Before he was graduated from Columbia they were being syndicated."


Among the papers Mom sent was also a letter postmarked October 25, 1974 forwarded to Gene from the editors at the Seattle PI who had received it from a reader. It begins, "In the interest of the perversion of the English language I would like to cast my vote for Eugene Sheffer. He has not only puzzled me but in many cases baffled me completely.... As a solution to the energy crisis I suggest we send such puzzle editors to the Middle East as diplomats. They would at once be boiled in oil and shipped home. We could then separate the fertilizer from the oil, and unless we ran out of puzzle editors be assured of an ample supply of fuel." I wonder if Will Shortz gets similarly helpful suggestions from fans...

Posted by Emily at 12:13 PM | Comments (550)

January 22, 2007

A few more Uncle Gene items

Some other random mentions I've found:

An adventure in textbooks, 1924-1960,
by James M Reid
on page 19:
p. 20:

Posted by Emily at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2006

The Cruciverbalists

Mom sent a fantastic article clipped from the September 15, 1977 Roanoke Times & World News, "The Cruciverbalists" by Mag Roff. Here's a bit from the article:

Cruciverbalist is a 14-letter workd, soon to enter dictionaries, for one who crosses words.

It also defines Eugene Sheffer, creator of the puzzle in the morning edition of the Roanoke Times & World-News, and Thomas Joseph, author of both Word Sleuth and the evening crossword.

As different in background and personality as the slant of their puzzles, Sheffer and Joseph have in common intelligence, wit and stunning vocabularies.


Scholarly yet whimsical, Sheffer, 72, is a retired professor of French at Columbia University. During the winter, he designs puzzles in the study of his apartment on Morningside Drive near the campus, but he spends summers at Amagansett near the tip of Long Islrand, fitting words as he works in his living room overlooking the ocean.

Although his family background is Austrian, Sheffer said, he began studying French at 13 and "never stopped" until he had two degrees from Columbia, a doctorate from the University of Grenoble in the snow-capped French Alps and a teaching career of 43 years.

For 25 of those years, he directed Columbia's Maison Francaises, welcoming to New York a variety of French artistic, literary and theatrical personalities, as well as "some gray-bearded professors." he much preferred the former.

Among them was singer Edith Piaf and she and Sheffer became "fast friends." They met for two hours daily prepring her American debut in 1947, with Sheffer writing English summaries of her songs for the concert program and teaching her some English. Maurice Chevalier was another close friend. The French government awarded him its Legion of Honor medal in 1960 for promoting Franco-American cultural relations.

Sheffer began constructing puzzles as a junior in college and King Features Syndicated asked him to work professionally when he received his doctorage in 1929. He has produced six puzzles a week since then, but Sheffer said he thinks it may be about time to consider retirement.

With a career as a professor, he acknowledged, puzzles have never been his livelihood, but have been "a very convenient addition to my income."


[it goes on about how they each create their puzzles, which is very cool]


Sheffer aims at a public he described as "middle society." Age and sex are irrelevant, he said, and the educational level is at least high school and preferably college. he keeps below the level, though, or the New York Times, which he called the hardest in the nation and full of tricks, anagrams and puns. Sheffer occasionally tackes the Sunday New York Times crossword, especially if he is visiting his brother's [that'd be my Grandpa!] home where it becomes a family undertaking. It is usually his only venture as a solver.


Sheffer said he doesn't think it matters where a solver begins so long as he starts with a word of which he is sure. Then, he said, there are letters to help. Sheffer also thinks fans should look things up if it gives them the satisfaction of finishing. but he aims at people riding commuter trains to work who don't have books handy.


Thank you to Mom for sending the clippings and a pile of original puzzles he wrote!

Posted by Emily at 09:24 PM | Comments (737)

December 17, 2006

Eugene Sheffer Puzzles

As I'm collecting information for our upcoming crossword puzzle tournament, I of course keep coming across mentions of Eugene Sheffer (my grandfather's older brother) and his puzzles. So here is a bit of information collected about him for future reference.

Dr. Eugene Sheffer, 76, Ex-Columbia Professor (NY Times, 5/4/81)

Dr. Sheffer, a native of Long Island, had been associated with the university's French program virtually since his arrival at Columbia College as a freshman in 1922 until his retirement in 1966 after 25 years as director of the Maison Fran,caise. In 1960, the French Government awarded him its Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor for his work on behalf of French-American cultural bonds.

(I remember when Mom went back East for the funeral, I guess I was 6 1/2)

Puzzles syndicated by King Features all over are still given his name.

There is apparently a tape of him in the Columbia University. Oral History Research Office. The description includes: "Foundation of Maison Francaise at Columbia in 1913; director of house from 1942 to 1966; demoliton of original building, numerous visits from French artists; recollections of Edith Piaf and others."

In "Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings" by Jack Kerouac, an excerpt reads:

I wrote movie reviews for the Columbia Spectator, covered the varsity track team in the winter; ran a one-man typing agency, did some more ghost-writing, was elected Vice-President of the class, tutored French, and worked as private secretary for Prof. Eugene Sheffer of the French department. I helped Prof. Sheffer edit and translate his French textbook, typed out the whole manuscript, and even ventured definitions for his daily Journal-American crossword puzzle. We became fast friends; I wrote voluminously and took all my plays and stories to him.

Possible correspondence with Dwight D. Wisenhower over "a hand-tooled leather desk blotter given Eisenhower by General Juin"? (in the presidential archives.

Putnam's Two-Way Question Book (1927)  With Interlocking Answers. A book of crossword puzzles. By Eugene Sheffer. The Knickerbocker Press. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p v-vi.  [EPBLIB

Much more to come over the day... and Mom's sending some additional clips to add later in the week.

Posted by Emily at 08:06 AM | Comments (1733)

September 30, 2006

More old photos

Here are a few more old photos that I found and scanned in:

My great grandfathers 75th birthday

Doug, Nana Betty, Mom, Uncle Harry (Grandpa's brother who went out for cigarettes and came back 10 years later), Vera (?), Aunt Isabelle (Grandpa's older sister) and Cousin Sally Frank (Isabelle's daughter)


Grandpa (in his navy uniform) and his brother Gene

Grandpa, Nana Betty and Mom

Grandpa, Nana Betty and Mom

Grandpa, Nana Betty, Mom, Jonathan and Doug at Aunt Susan's wedding

Great photo of Grandpa at his office surrounded by some of his sports programs (he sold sports advertising and things)

Grandpa as RTM moderator

Grandpa, Nana Betty and Mom (pregnant with me)

Even as a baby I liked being surrounded by books

Pushing my grandmother into the pool

At Grandpa's 90th birthday, Mom and I reenacted an old photo of Mom and Nana Betty with Grandpa in 1969 or so

Grandpa and Nana Betty in costume -- I also found the original patterns that she sewed these from!

Christmas 1974 at Alan and Andy's, the day before I was born!

Grandpa and Muffy (who I remember as not being a very nice cat to anyone but Grandpa -- certainly the first cat I remember being scratched by)

Me and Grandpa

Baby Brian in a blanket knitted for me by Nana Betty (which was just given to me)

Brian (with way more red hair then) and Grandpa at the pool

Grandpa, Brian and me at Grandpa's house

Brian, Mom and Grandpa outside Grandpa's house

Summer 1984, Aix en Provence, Grandpa, Uncle Doug, Mom and Brian

Me and Brian

Hanna, Brian and me

Grandpa and Lois at Brian's bar mitzvah

Betty and Eduard with Grandpa


Posted by Emily at 07:49 AM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2006


Via Research Buzz comes a cool Archive Grid. According to the description:

ArchiveGrid is an important destination for searching through historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in archives around the world.

Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies.

ArchiveGrid is available to both individuals and institutions free of charge through May 31st. If additional grants funds or sponsorship are obtained, ArchiveGrid will remain free of charge; otherwise subscriptions will be available for institutions and individuals alike.

So, naturally, I tried out some queries and here are some of the things I learned:

Aaron Rabinowitz business records, 1938-1980 are at the Cornell University Libary. You can even see the container list of what is included (of course this was one of the top google hits for him anyway, so its not a new find) I wonder though what "The White Block" was?

Mary Steichen Calderone Papers. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College were apparently "Accessioned From Aaron and Clara Rabinowitz Greenhut" or possilbly paid for by the "Aaron and Clara Rabinowitz Greenhut Fund" but I can't find any other mention of a connection there and one of the pages is broken.

and I bet there's tons more to discover...

Posted by Emily at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

Great Siegel Cooper Pictures

I found a great new source of Siegel Cooper photos and advertisements at the NYPL Digital Gallery. NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 415,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.

Women reading, April 30, 1910, Siegel-Cooper Company.

(via NYPL's Best of the Web)

Posted by Emily at 08:09 AM | Comments (500)

August 15, 2005

Book of New York

I was playing around with the new genealogy databases at the library (available remotely with your SCCL card) and found my great grandfather in The book of New York: forty years' recollections of the American metropolis by Julius Chambers (Book of New York Co: New York, c1912) From page 430:


"Every owner of rentable property understands the desirability of having a competent and watchful agent to collect his rents and see that the character of his houses in maintained. Many excellent buildings, with advantageous sites, have been allowed to deteriorate owing to inattentive owners or negligent agenets. Aaron Rabinowitz belongs to the ever-watchful class of agent who makes his principal's interests his own. He was born in this city and derived his education from the public schools and the University of the City of New York. Through the advice of Henry Morganthau, one of the leading realty owners and operators of this city, he entered the real estate business in 1903. Through only twenty-seven years of age he became president of the long-established Spear & Co., real estate agents, in 1905..."

I wonder if that was the Henry Morganthau, Sr., who was a banker and American ambassador to Turkey during President Wilson's administration.

Posted by Emily at 07:11 AM | Comments (330)

March 16, 2005

Capt. J.B. Greenhut

I know, I should be working on my YA paper or sleeping, but I was curious about Captain Greenhut (I believe he's my mom's mom's mom's dad's dad) after a conversation at dinner the other night, and since our library is testing a new database that gives access to old NY Times issues, I thought I'd add in JB's obituary to my family history project page. Here's an excerpt - I think I learned 87 new things about him.

New York Times 1857-Current; Nov 18, 1918; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2001)
pg. 15

Capt. J.B. Greenhut, War Vertan, Dies
Was Second Man in Illinois, His Early Home, to Answer Call of President Lincoln.
Career as Merchant Here
Held Out for Years in Northward March of Trade -- His Home Once "Summer Capital."

After an illness of more than a month, Captain Joseph B. Greenhut, merchant and civil war veteran, died yesterday morning of heart disease in his home at 325 West End Avenue. The Captain's career, from the time he roamed the streets of Mobile looking for work to the final liquidation of the Greenhut Company, of which he was President, in the Spring of thus year, had been full of adventure in all its phases. He enlisted in the civil war as a private, and by the end of the war had risen to the brevet rank of Colonel. He was wounded at Fort Donelson and barely escaped having his arm amputated as a result.

On February 28, 1843, a son was born to Benedict and Mina Greenhut in Bushop-Purnitz, Austria, and nine years later they brought him to Chicago, Ill., where for three years he attended the public schools. The desire to make his fortune took him from th eclassroom and he made his way to Mobile, where he arrived with only 25 cents in his pocket. After several days passed in walking the streets, a tinsmith engaged him as a solder heater. The boy quickly mastered the tinsmith's trade, and when he left the South to enlist inthe Union Army he had laid the foundation of experience which was later to carry him to success.

Greenhut was the second man in Chicago to offer his services when President Lincoln issued his first call for volunteers. He joined Company A of the Twelfth Illinois Infantry as a private and was promoted to sergeant after three months service. He was wounded at Fort Donelson when it unconditionally surrendered to General Grant in his first great victory of 1862. He was temporarily incapacitated for service by his wound, but after a time he reentered the army as Captain of Company K, Eighty-second Illinois Infantry, in which he passed nearly all the remainder of the war, taking part in some of the most important engagements. He was present at Fredericksburg, Chanoelloraville, and at the three memorable days at Gettysburg. After the last battle he served as Captain Adjutant-General, and Chief of Staff of the Third Brigage, Third Divisions, (Carl Schurz's,) of the Eleventh Army Corps.

After Gettysburg, Captain Greenhut went South with his brigade to help extricate General Rosecrans from his difficulties at Chattanooga, and was in the actions at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain in the celebrated "Battle Above the Clouds." He was also in the campaign of East Tennessee to extricate General Burnside, who was surrounded at Knoxville by Longstreet.

The military record of Captain Greenhut led to the granting of the brevet rank of Colonel when he resigned from the army in April, 1864, but he retained the title of Captain which he had earned by hard fighting, preferring it to his brevel rank.

Just before retirement as Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, at the instance of General Edward S. Salomon, had the General Staff look through all the original records of the Department to ascertain just what Captain Greenhut's achievements had been. As a result, the staff recommend that the Secretary send to the Captain a letter of thanks for his most valuable services. The official letter of teh War Department, prized by Captain Greenhut's family, is as follows...

After the war Captain Greenhut settled in Perorial, Ill., where he passed thirty years of his life. He organized several distilling companies, one of which was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1872 and another of which failed in 1877. Later he became President of the Great Western Distillery Company, at that time the largest in the world. He founded the Glucose Company of America, which later became the Corn Products Company.

Captain Greenhut was known best in this city for his association with the Siegel-Cooper store, and later with the J.B. Greenhut Company at Eighteenth Street and Sixth Avenue. The original store began business of Sept. 12, 1897, and the opening was something of a sensation. It was estimated that 150,000 persons endeavored to get in for the public exhibition that night. In 1902 the Greenhuts bought out Henry Siegel. Then in 1907 Altman & Co. moved uptown and left vacant the building on the west side of Sixth Avenue.


Until March 1917, Captain Greenhut was President of the company. He then retured and devoted his leisure time mainly to golf, which was his hobby. He was a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the Chamber of Commerce of the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Loyal Legion, Illinois Commandery, and associate member of the New York Commandery. He was one of the Directors of the Montefiore Home in this city.

In 1909 he prchased Shadow Lawn, the $1,000,000 estate of John A. McCall, who was President of the New York Life Insurance Company at the time of the Hughes investigation. The estate becaome the Summer capital of the country while occupied by President Wilson.

In 1866 Captain Greenhut married Miss Clara Wolfner of Chicago, who survives him. Three children, Miss Fannie Greenhut, Benedict J. Greenhut, and Nelso W. Greenhut, live in this city. A son, Walter, is dead. On the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary, which was celebrated by a dinner at Sherry's in 1916, Mrs. Greenhut said: Captain Greenhut and I were childhood sweethearts. His family and mine were dear friends. We were engaged when I was 14 and married when I had reached the age of 16. The ceremony was performed in the hall of the Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, and there were about 1,500 guests present."

The funeral of Mr. Greenhut, at his West End Avenue home, will be private, but the serives at Temple Emanuel at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning, will be ublic, and will be conducted by Rabbi Joseph Silverman. The burial will be at Salem Field Cemetary.

Posted by Emily at 10:07 PM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2004

Another photo

Borrowed this photo from Aunt Susan's house today, but Mom will have to tell me again who everyone is. In the middle is my great grandfather Aaron. The Kodak paper stamp on the back says Dec 1964.

Posted by Emily at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2004


geneandiris.jpgMom just wrote to say Iris, Uncle Gene's housekeeper for many years, passed away last night. Uncle Gene was my grandfather's oldest brother -- he was a professor at Columbia and used to write crossword puzzles. Iris lived in his house in Amagansett. Mom sent along this fabulous photo of Iris with Uncle Gene.

Posted by Emily at 12:53 PM | Comments (1)

May 11, 2004

Lower East Side Library

Read a terrific article in today's NY Times about the Seward Park branch of the New York Public Library, "In Library's Back Pages, a Vivid History Unfolds" by Joseph Berger (A23). I have to wonder (and maybe Mom could tell me), if my great-grandfather used to visit that branch. According to mapquest, it is only a quarter of a mile from the Henry Street Settlement where he used to hang out with Lillian Wald when he was a boy. I may have the timeline off though -- looks like the library opened in 1909, and AR would have already been about 25, so I don't know if he was still living in that neighborhood by then.

Posted by Emily at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2004

Edith Piaf and Uncle Gene

Dad and Jane came across this photo in an exhibit about Edith Piaf in the Hotel de Ville in Paris! Looks just like my uncle Jonathan (and even a bit like Brian) -- but its my great uncle Gene.

Posted by Emily at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2004

More on the Greenhuts

In one of those great I-love-the-Internet moments, Tim Hartneck, a historian in Peoria, Illinois, came across my blog and sent me the following information about my family:

As you know, Joseph Greenhut was a soldier during the Civil War. Following the war, the organization, the Grand Army of the Republic, was created asa a veterans association. The GAR was very active here in Peoria. About 1908, The veterans decided that they wanted to build their own meeting place. A building was planed and construction was started on 1909. Joseph Greenhut covered probably teo thirds of the cost of the building. It was known as the Grand Army of the Republic Hall - Greenhut Memorial. About 1972, this building was in danger of being demolished. A preservation organization, the Central Illinios Landmarks Foundation, was formed to save the building. I was a member to that group and did some research on the building and the Greenhut connection. There are very nice portraits of Joseph and Clara Greenhut that still hang in the building. We were successful in saving the building and restoring it. If my memory serves me correctly, Clara Greenhut Rabinowitz (your great-grandmother??) made a contribution to the restoration fund.

Fast forward a few years. The Landmarks foundation started giving
walking tours in several neighborhoods here in town, one being the High
Street Moss-Bradley area. I did a lot of the research for the tours.
The Greenhuts and Wolfners and other related families lived in this
neighborhood. In 1884, Joseph Greenhut built what was one of the most
imposing homes built in Peoria in the nineteenth century. The Greenhuts
entertained President William McKinley at their home when he was here in
1899 for the dedication of the Soldier's and Sailor's monument. The
home was later acquired by his brother-in-law, William Wolfner, and was
totally remodeled. It still stands today. Ben and Minnie Greenhut also
lived in the neighborhood a few blocks down the street.

I live in this same neighborhood and through the years have continued to
research its architectutral history and the famillies that lived here.
There are several family groups that I have continued to research over
the years, the Griswolds, Clarkes, Bush/Browns, and the
Greenhut/Wolfners. All these families were a significant presence in
the neighborhood and made a substantial impact on the city.

I guess what I'm hunting for would be photos of the Joseph Greenhut
residence and the Ben Greenhut residence, exteriors or interiors, or
any written material such as journals or diaries or letters that might
document life in the neighborhood.

Posted by Emily at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2004

Newsclip, 1956

From the New York Times, October 3, 1956, p. 51

News of the Advertising and Marketing Fields


Ralph Sheffer has been elected president of The Masthead Corporation, publishing affiliate of Spencer Advertising Company, Inc., organized to meet special book and booklet requirements of national and regional advertisers. He will continue to serve as vice president of Spencer Advertising Company.

Posted by Emily at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Old Photos

Alan scanned these for me after we borrowed them from Annie and Harold's wall.

Laban (Marias?) and Rose Stynowsky Rabinowitz (Jacob's parents)

Morton and Naomi Brodin (Jennie's parents)

Jennie and Jacob were my great-great grandparents (them -> AR -> Betty -> Mom -> Me), so these are two sets of my great-great-greats!

Posted by Emily at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

AR and Robert Moses


Another story from the AR file, this one from the NY Times on May 9, 1939, p. 25

Title: Bridle Path Dust in Park Denounced

"Park Commissionar Robert A. Moses was sharply criticized and his chief aide, Allyn R. Jennings, general superintendent of parks, was accused of 'perfectly impudent conduct' by a group of equestrians known as 'the Early Riders' that met last night to protest the conditions of the bridle paths in Central Park."

"At a vehement session at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park at Sixty-seventh Street, the riders appointed a committee to call upon Mr. Moses to 'rectify the dusty condition of the bridle paths' and another to visit Health Commissioner John L. Rice to apprise him that 'paths consitute a distinct public menace.'"

"On Saturday the group sent a telegram to Mr. Jennings inviting him to the meeting. He sent his regrets and a letter that Aaron Rabinowitz, one of the protestants, called 'smart-alecky and impudent.'"

The article continues on to discuss how doctors had advised several members of the group "that to continue riding on the bridle paths was inviting sinus trouble and conjunctivitis." Tenants of the apartment buildings facing the park were also apparently affected by the clouds of dust, apparently because the paths hadn't been watered for months.

I've heard stories about AR riding his horse on the Merit Parkway as it was being built, but not about riding around in Central Park and protesting the dust on the bridle paths!

The Bridle Path at Central Park and Bridle Path Arches

Here's a Newsday article about Moses as Park Commissioner: A Crown Jewel Of the City Has A Messy Past

A NYC Parks article about Robert Moses and the Modern Park System (1929-1965)

According to Design-Build magazine, "His lone major setback came in 1939, when he proposed that the Brooklyn-Battery Crossing should be a suspension bridge instead of a tunnel. Residents opposed the plan because it would level much of lower Manhattan, drop property values in the financial district and ruin views of the skyline. Finally, it took a decision by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt to halt Moses."

According to The Atlantic, Moses was busy in 1939: "One of Commissioner Moses's most striking miracles is the conversion of a vast swamp and a small mountain of odorous refuse in Queens into the site for the New York World's Fair of 1939. He was given the task of preparing this uninviting terrain for the great exposition and spent more than $50,000,000 effecting the change."

Posted by Emily at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

More About AR

Here's some information from Aaron Rabinowitz's obituary in the New York Times, April 4, 1973, p. 46

The headline was: "Aaron Rabinowitz is Dead at 89; Pioneed in Housing Development. Chairman of Fred French was Former Governor of Real Estate Board."

"Aaron Rabinowitz, a pioneer in public and private housing and real estate development died yesterday in Roosevelt Hospital. He was 89 years old and lived at the Westbury Hotel, Madison Avenue at 69th Street, and in Westport, Conn."

"Chairman since 1937 of the Fred F. French Investing Company, which owns many business and residential properties. Mr. Rabinowitz had also remained active in public affairs. In 1970 he won his last notable public battle as champion for the election of the late Williama D. Wald, the Lower East Side social worker, to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University."

[Sally Webster writes for Park Service that, "Altogether 11 women have been elected to the Hall of Fame, although only 10 have been commemorated by bronze likenesses: Charlotte Saunders Cushman (1915, Artists, Musicians, Actors); Harriet Beecher Stowe (1910, Authors); Maria Mitchell (1905, Scientists); Mary Lyon (1905), Alice Freeman Palmer (1920), Emma Willard (1905) (Educators); Jane Addams (1965), Susan B. Anthony (1950), Lillian D. Wald (1970), and Frances E. Willard (1915) (Humanitarians). As
noted earlier, the 11th, Clara Barton, who was elected in 1976 in the humanitarian category, has yet to be commemorated by a bust portrait." There's a great online exhibit about Lilian Wald at the Jewish Women's Archive]

"Mr. Rabinowitz, who came here with his parents from Russia in 1884, grew up on the old Lower East Side and played a decisive part in the rebuilding of the new one."

"Mr. Rabinowitz received honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College, from the Jewish Theological Seminary, to which he and former Judge Simon H. Rifkind contributed a lectureship in ethics and law, and from Juniata College."

"Surviving are his widow, the former Clara Greenhut, whom he married in 1921; a son, Alan; two daughters, Mrs. Betty Sheffer and Mrs. Susan R. Malloy; his brothers, Leon R. Spear and Maurice R. Spear; a sister, Mrs. Felicia Newman, and nine grandchildren."

AR's office at the Fred F. French building has been put back together at the Andover Library at the Harvard Divinity School.

Posted by Emily at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

Another great-great grandfather

Here's some information from the obituary of another of my great-great-grandfathers, this one is my mom's mom's mom's dad, B.J. Greenhut.

The title says: "B.J. Greenhut Dead; Retired Merchant. Had Been Head of the Greenhut Co., Last Department Store Concern of Family. Screen Company Director. Son of Second Man to Enlist in Chicago for Civil War -- A Democrat, but Voted for Coolidge."

NY Times, March 30, 1932, p. 19

"Benedict J. Greenhut, retired merchant, who in 1918 was president of the Greenhut Company, the last of several large department store organizations controlled by his family in the once crowded shopping district at Eighteenth Street and Sixth Avenue, died yesterday at his residence, 575 Park Avenue, after a year's illness that had confined him to bed since November, He was 61 years old."

"Surviving are a widow, who was Minnie Gottlieb at their marriage in 1892; three children, Rose and Joseph B. Greenhut and Mrs. Clara G. Rabinowitz; a brother, Nelson W., and a sister, Fanny V. Greenhut."

"Mr. Greenhut was born in Chicago, where his father, the late Captain Joseph B. Greenhut, a Gettysburg hero, was the second man in the city to answer Lincoln's first call for volunteers. The son attended the public schools of Peoria, Ill., and then went to work for his father, who at that time was at the head of the Great Western Distilling Company, then the largest distilling concern in the world." [I found a listing of a Supreme Court Case involving a draft purchased from the Great Western Distilling Company of Peoria for $6,926.15. on June 14th, 1887, signed "J. B. Greenhut, Sec. and Treas.")

"Father and son came to New York in the '90s and joined the Siegel-Cooper store, which drew 150,00 persons to its sensational opening on Sept. 12, 1896. The Greenhuts bought out Henry Siegel in 1902, and five years later, when B. Altman & Co. moved uptown, Captain Greenhut and Henty Morgenthau took over the Altman Building, on the block running from Eighteenth to Nineteenth Street on the west side of Sixth Avenue and established Greenhut & Co. there. This firm then merged with Siegel-Cooper and adopted the latter name, which, however, it replaced with the J.B. Greenhut Company when Siegel failed in 1914. The next year this Greenhut company failed. It was reorganized as the Greeenhut Company, but liquidated in 1918. At the time, Captain Greenhut was chairman of the board, his son presided." [Siegel-Cooper & Company Dry Goods Store in 1896 -- "This grand department store was the first on Ladies' Mile to boast free samples and demonstrations, air conditioning and an extensive range of merchandise under one roof."] [Here's a walking tour of Ladies' Mile where the store was located.]

"Having been a zealous Democrat for many years, a close friend of Charles F. Murphy and treasurer of Mayor Gaynor's campaign committee, Mr. Greenhut, in September, 1924, announced that he would vote for Calvin Coolidge for President and would work for the election of the Republican as President. He expressed his admiration for Mr. Coolidge as 'safe and sane,' a leader under whom the country had enjoyed great prosperity, adding, 'This is not time for new experiments in Washington or for explointing of new theories of government.'" [Coolidge's opponent was John Davis of West Virginia. Davis was a compromise candidate, selected after the Democratic convention in New York was dead-locked for over 100 ballots. On a totally unrelated note, I'd like to mention that Calvin Coolidge is the one president to have graduated from Amherst College :)]

"Mr. Greenhut was a member of the Loyal Legion, Home of Veterans and Society of American Wars. Among his clubs were the Lotos, the Lambs, Railroad, Harmonie and Aldine."

"His father, Captain Greenhut, died in November, 1918; his mother, in April, 1927."

[According to the roster of officers of the 82nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry,Captain Joseph Greenhut was 20 years old when he enlisted and married [Lt. Col. Edward Selig] Salomon's sister, and resigned February 1864. There are some quotes from Capt. Greenhut from a ceremony commemorating the monument being erected to the 82nd at Gettysburg on September 3, 1891 posted here.] [Found a cite for this book: Beveridge, JL, Vaughan DB, & Greenhut, JB. Illinois at Gettysburg. Springfield: HW Rokker, 1892.]

On April 1, 1932, an arrticle ran on p.21, which provides a few additional details:

"Hundreds at Funeral of B.J. Greenhut
Rev. Dr. H. G. Enelow Pays Eulogy to Merchant - Many Organizations Represented."

The article says that, "Former business associates in this city and the Middle West were among the several hundred persons who attended the funeral services yesterday morning of Benedict J. Greenhut, prominent retired department store head, which were held in Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue and Sixty-Fifth Street."

The Rev. Dr. H.; G. Enelow said, "His greatest and deepest happiness was in the members of his family, and he put their welfare above his own interests."

"Among members of the family present were Mr. Greenhut's widow, the former Minnier Gottlieb; his three children, Miss Rose Greenhut, Joseph B. Greenhut and Mrs. Clara G. Rabinowitzl his brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson W. Greenhut, and their children and a sister, Miss Fanny V. Greenhut."

"During the services, Handel's Largo was played by Gottfried Federlein, organist of the temple. Mr. Greenhut having recently made the request. The coffin was covered with a blanket of roses and sweet peas. Many other floral tributes adorned the sanctuary. Burial took place in the family mausoleum in Salem Fields Cemetary."

Posted by Emily at 07:21 PM | Comments (77)

My great-great grandfather

Here's a little information I've dug up on my great-great-grandfather Jacob Rabinowitz (and yes, I should be working on my thesis proposal instead of doing this...)

From his obituary in the NY Times, December 10, 1939

"Jacob Rabinowitz, vice president of Spear & Co., Inc., a real estate concern here, and an active worker in Jewish philanthropies, died Friday night of a heart ailment in his home at 884 West End Avenue. He was 79 years old.

"Mr. Rabinowitz was an organizer of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, president of the United Hebrew Community and a judge of the Jewish Conciliation Court of America." [The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives has a collection of documents from the court. According to their site, "Founded in 1931 as a board of lay-persons and rabbis, the Jewish Conciliation Board sought to fill a void in American society of a Jewish issues court.  The Board is a descendent of the Beth Din (a Jewish court of law) and as such is a free court allowing immigrants to avoid potentially costly litigation."]

"He was also president of Congregation Zemach Zedek, treasurer of Maskil el Dol (Aid to the Poor) and of Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol, vice president of Machzikei Talmud Torah and the Hebrew Free Loan Society and a former president of the Hebrew Kindergarten Infants Home, and the Far Rockaway Infants Home." [According to the American Jewish Historical Society, "In 1920 alone, the New York Hebrew Free Loan Society distributed more than $1 million in loans to Jewish-owned small businesses."]

"He was a director of the Home of Old Israel and Anshei Mymud, and a member of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropic Societies, Xitmer Darchei Noam Talmud Torah, Rabinical Colleges of Slonim and of Thelsi, Daughters of Jacob Home, Beth Abraham Home for Incurables, Israel Orphan Asylum, Rabbi Elkonon Yeshiva College and the Loan and Relief Society of Brooklyn."

"Born in Russia, the son of Marias and Rose Stynowsky Rabinowitz, he came to the United States in the Eighties."

"Surviving are his widow, three sons, Aaron Rabinowitz [my Mom's grandfather], Maurice R. Spear and Leon R. Spear [apparently they changed their name when they went into the Army - Naomi Guismar is one of Leon Spear's kids, and her daughter Barbara Howard was at grandpa's recent 90th birthday]; two daughters, Mrs. Rose Gural and Mrs. Kenneth C. Newman [Aunt Felicia, who is Margaret Gordon's grandmother -- whose daughters are Edith Weinburger, Annette Gordon, and Dorothy Seligman (who was also at Grandpa's birthday party) -- those three are my grandmother's first cousins then]; sixteen grandchildren and a great-grand-child." [According to Mom, that first great-grandchild was probably Jeffrey Gural -- Rose was the oldest of those five kids and her son Aaron was the oldest of the grandchildren and is now about 90.]

Posted by Emily at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2003

One Man's Word

Photo from the Simon H. Rifkind
Center for the Humanities & the Arts
I found a copy of One Man's Word: Selected Works of Simon H. Rifkind on ebay for a couple of dollars and bought it because it contains his eulogy of my great-grandfather Aaron Rabinowitz. I just found that out when digging through the NY Times archives for mentions of my family. Here's some excerpts from the eulogy, delivered April 5, 1973 at Temple Emanuel in NYC. Its full of info I didn't know about AR, who died about two years before I was born. "He died in a manner prescribed for a good man, rich in years and wisdom, surrounded by a wife he loved, by children of whom he was enormously proud and by adoring grandchildren." [One of those grandchildren, of course, was my Mom]

"For forty years we have been as intimate as brothers, mutual confidantes, sharing many problems and triumphs as I watch him confronting crises that test men's character. In all these years, I have not encountered a friend or foe who challenged the trust of Aaron Rabinowitz' word. Never once has it been asserted that he had broken a promise or taken unfair advantage. In more than a decade of litigation, I never once was under the necessity of apologizing for his behavior."

"He believed in the aristocracy of character and he lived by the aristocratic code: in battle, in fortitude; in adversity, resolution; in victory, magnanimity. Of the three, he regarded the third as the noblest."

"No one who has known Aaron can have failed to observe the honor, love and devotion in which he held the memory of his father. For every occasion, his memory would fetch up a pertinent story of what his father had wisely said or done. He was enormously proud of his father, although his inheritance from him was of the kind on which Uncle Sam imposes no tax."

"This filial piety was matched by his zeal in perpetuating the memory of Lillian Wald, under whose influence he had come as a young teenager and whose role, a surrogate mother, was to enrich his life and his character. How he single-handedly mounted a campaign and succeeded in causing Lillian Wald's admission to the most exclusive club in America, the Hall of Fame, is an epic story fit to be told and untold. And, of course, no one who knew Aaron could have failed to observe his love for and pride in Clara, his wife, his affection for and delight in the accomplishments of his children, his sons-in-law and daughter-in-law. It is a measure of the man that, even when he disagreed with them, he was proud of them."

[Apparently on May 25, 1950, Judge Rifkin returned to practice law after almost a decade serving on the Federal Court. AR was there waiting for him on the first day to reassure him that he did in fact have a client and friend.]

"In each office or place of business he entered, this busy man found time to leave a little of himself with the receptionist, the office boy and secretary, as well as the principal he had come to see. That is how, under his footsteps, every rug became a welcome mat."

"Aaron was entitled to write quite a number of academic degrees after his name, all honorary. His education was all obtained in the university of life, which confers no degrees, in course. But where, I inquire, did he learn to write his beautiful, Chesterfieldian letters with such consummate felicity of expression, such sensitive selection of the precide word, such meticulous response ot the subtle nuances of the English language? Where did he acquire his taste and hunger for books, to possess them, to read them and to give them away in prodigious numbers? Where did he acquire his respect for and devotion to learning, so that in college classrooms, up and down the state, you will find students acquiring an education by the grace of this good man? All this was part of his secret heritage. No wonder he so faithfully kept the commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother. It was that heritage which made him the architect of a great life." [I had to look up Chesterfieldian, and according to Amazon, "the celebrated and controversial correspondences between Lord Chesterfield and his son Philip, dating from 1737, were praised in their day as a complete manual of education... Reflecting the political craft of a leading statesman and the urbane wit of a man who associated with Pope, Addison, and Swift, Lord Chesterfield's Letters reveal the author's political cynicism, his views on good breeding, and instruction to his son in etiquette and the worldly arts."]

"The city has many monuments to the business judgment of Aaron Rabinowitz, but of none was he more proud than of his participation in the first low-rent cooperative housing project in the United States, the Amalgamated Housing Project of which, with Herbert Lehman, he was the pioneer." [I found that coorespondence between AR and Herbert Lehman is catalogued in the collection from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/indiv/rare/guides/Lehman,H/index.html... The Amalgamated Housing Cooperative just celebrated its 75th Anniversary]

"Eulogy for Aaron Rabinowitz"
Rifkind, Simon H. One Man`s Word: Selected Works of Simon H. Rifkind. 3 vols. Edited Adam Bellow and William Keens. New York: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, 1986-1989.
Volume 2, pp. 743-746

Posted by Emily at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)
Emily's Musings: Family History Project