HOME - GOEHLE INTRODUCTION - Sheriff Street - Kleindeutschland


Herb Deutsch's ancestor Esther Berger (who married Ignatz Deutsch) had a sister, Fany who married William Greenfield (Grunfield). Another sister, Frieda, married Emil Greenfield. At the time of her marriage in 1888 Fany Berger was living at 107 Sheriff street. At the time of his marriage in 1894 Emil Greenfield was living at 86 Sheriff street "rear". My ancestors, Peter Goehle, and his family were living at 88 sheriff street from at least 1890 to at least 1894. My grandfather, Frank Goehle, was born at 88 Sheriff street in 1894.

Herb's family story is interesting and he has some different perspectives about live on the Lower East Side at the end of the 1800s and into the early 1900s.


The first formal immigrant depot in America - Castle Garden - was at the southern tip of Manhattan. It operated from 1855 until 1892 when it was replaced by Ellis Island.1.

After docking, steerage passengers were put on barges and ferried to Castle Garden. Other passengers were allowed to leave after docking.

The first American most immigrants met was the interpreter who was required to speak two languages but often spoke as many as six. [4]. Officers never wrote down immigrants' names. All the needed information was gleaned from ship manifests compiled at the port of embarkation. Names that could not be corroborated resulted in the forced deportation of the person back to his point of departure at the shipping company's expense. Many Jewish immigrants' names were changed upon coming to America. "Without exception, however, they changed their names themselves."[5]. Thus, it is fiction that immigration officers assigned immigrants a new name.

After steerage immigrants arrived at the dock, they walked down a narrow passageway of moveable fences, while being subjected to medical inspection. Immigrants needing treatment or likely to become public burdens were transferred to Ward's Island, in the East River.2 Immigrants then went into Castle Garden to a square enclosure in the center where clerks at desks registered them. The clerks recorded their ship, the captain's name, the number in the family, destination, the amount of money they had and the names of relatives in the U.S. .

All immigrants went to washrooms, separated by sex, where they were required to bath before being permitted to leave. On one side was a bath large enough to hold 12 people at a time with disinfectant solution in the tubs that were 2 feet deep. On the other side was a large, wide trough with flowing water in which fifty immigrants washed. Towels and soap (which was required to be used) were provided. [7]. Having been on a ship for over a week with limited water the bath must have come as a relief. Immigrants arriving before 1:00 PM, were generally on their way by evening. If going to New York and nearby areas they collected their luggage and left after exchanging their money.[8]>. If they were going outside New York City they went to a counter to arrange transportation and their luggage was transferred to the office of the weigh master.

A Scottish farmer observed:

[T]he passengers . . . are driven to Castle Garden, between two lines of officials, in the same manner as the railway officials in the west put the wild Texas cattle into the cars, minus the whipping.


All services rendered to immigrants .... are without charge.


These .... are all well meant, and have done good, and are possibly doing good still; but from the many complaints in and out of the place, it is evident there is a screw loose somewhere.[9].

Newspapers published ship arrivals so families knew when to meet a boat.[10]. Many papers had a morning and an afternoon edition and many were free.

If there was no one to meet you at castle Garden or, for that matter, Ellis Island, leaving was traumatic as this recollection of a new immigrant makes clear: How I envied those fortunates who had relatives or friends to receive them. Stepping out with a forlorn look, but full of hope, I began for the first time to realize that I was alone in a new world...... As I walked down the gang plank, the loneliness, the strange sights, the sounds of words I did not understand unnerved me for a moment, and I could almost have cried. I pulled myself together.[11]

We have two stories about Frieda's (Waly) arrival. The first is by her granddaughter who says Frieda came to America with the Sam Greenfield family. Aunt Rose's family tree shows that Baba Hensha had a brother who took the name Greenfield and had 12 children. Perhaps one of them was Sam. It is not unreasonable that Frieda and Louis would have come here with a first cousin. A Greenfield son on the boat was named Nathan. When the boat arrived, Frieda carried 4 year old Nathan off the boat. Fried's graddaughter thinks the other sons were Max and Sidney. The Greenfields ultimately had 10 or 11 children and settled in McKeesport, Pa. The census records contradict recollections.3 After I told another cousin this story, he said: "That's not what Esther told me. Esther said she and Louis went to Castle Garden to pick up Frieda. This suggests Frieda and Louis were separated when they arrived. When they could not find Frieda, Esther became "hysterical" and began a search of the Lower East Side. I think what happened she found Louis, but could not find Frieda. Esther did not go from tenement to tenement looking for Frieda. She had some idea where to look based on what Louis told her. They found Frieda was an "indentured servant" for a family. Perhaps the Greenfield family had paid for her and Louis's fare in exchange for her working to pay off the tickets. After a "huge fight", Esther "rescued" Frieda. This story is much more plausible. Unfortunately we have no information about how Esther found Fany.

Frieda subsequently married Emil Grünfeld who changed his name to Greenfield. The two families are not related as Hilda confirmed. Frieda and Emil had three children: Minnie, Regina and Julius. When Minnie grew up she married Nathan Greenfield - the little boy Frieda was said to have carried off the boat. Minnie and Nathan had six children including Hilda.

Esther must have been awestruck by Manhattan. After subtracting Central Park and streets, it was about 17.32 square miles with a population of 1.2 million in 1880 and 1.4 million in 1890. [12]. The Lower East Side, at its peak in 1910, "was home to 373,057 people...." [13]. The Lower East Side was about four square miles and by "1894 [it was]..... the most densely populated area on Earth." [14]. It became an iconic expression of what it meant to live as an immigrant, and particularly a Jewish immigrant. Yet after WW I it was over. Immigrants moved on as life improved and laws restricting immigration were passed.4

The streets, if paved, were cobblestone. [16]. Paved or not, Manhattan was mired in filth and Esther and Ignatz would have had to transverse these streets daily. In 1880 horse cars were the main form of transportation. Horses produce 20 to 30 pounds of manure a day. Multiply that by over 100,000 horses and you've got a mess. Waste was dumped in the East River or piled up in lots many feet deep.[17]. By the 1890's, electric trolleys began replacing horse drawn vehicles.[18]. By 1912, New York city had more cars than horses. However trucks did not finally supplanted the horse cart for freight until 1920s. [Id.]. In 1894, George Waring became Street Commissioner and in 16 months cleared the streets of shin-deep waste. The citizens gave a parade for the sanitation works in 1896 and with good reason - they were heros. [19]. This is what the streets were like before and after

So think about this perpetual muck and gunk and stink that filled the streets.....except where wealthy people could hire private sweepers and carters. Think about where you live and imagine if you had to keep your windows closed all year and you had no air conditioning, but leaving them open on any warm day guaranteed a stink and a layer of grime that would ruin your home.

And then imagine it cleaned up.

Imagine......being able to walk across streets and see the cobblestones.....and see a workforce come through with punctual regularity for the first time.....[20]

Jews, made a conscious effort to make sure their members quickly integrated. Perhaps Esther was given something similar to What Every Woman Should Know about Citizenship by the Immigration Assistance Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. "Founded in 1893, the Council focused on helping unmarried women immigrants learn English, secure citizenship, and find employment."[21]

A Guide to the United States for the Jewish Immigrant An Abridged Nearly Literal Translation of the Second Yiddish Edition, was published in 1913 in English and Yiddish, but there were earlier editions.[22]. The advice is as pertinent today as then; English is "absolutely indispensable"; make friends with Americans and make sure your children receive an education. In contrast to today, where the relationship between a teacher and parents is often adversarial, you were advised: "Make the acquaintance of your child's teacher. She will be your useful friend and adviser." [23<]5. Become a citizen: "It is a duty to yourself and your family to become a citizen and voter, and help select the men who are to represent you....[Id] "Be proud of [who you are].... Never change your name except when absolutely necessary to simplify it for English pronunciation." [Id.] Unlike today, you were told that rights are inseparable from obligations: "American Freedom gives us precious rights for which humanity has been struggling through the centuries. But......American Democracy means: Duties with Rights!"[22] 6 Successful immigrants today are those who adhered to the values expressed in this guide.

Most single girls rented a bed or part of a room in an apartment. "Woman boarders usually also did housework and domestic chores for the family they boarded with in addition to rent." [26]. To save money, Ignatz was also probably a boarder when he first came here.

Esther, on arriving, would have been given away by her dress as a dreaded "greenhorn" since, the way to avoid the stigma of being a "greenhorn" was to dress appropriately.

My first day in America I went with my aunt to buy some American clothes. **** I took my old brown dress and shawl and threw them away! ***** I had enough of the old country. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn't get over it. I said, "boy, Sophie, look at you now. Just like an American". [27]
For "greenhorns", the change in dress and hair was an essential part of adaptation.[28] "The notion of mass-produced clothing, cheap and well made and available to all, is peculiarly American." [29]

1 Corruption and prostitution were rampant at Castle Garden. Congress closed it on April 18, 1890 and created the Bureau of Immigration. In 1870 Manhattan had close to 500 brothels. The Lower East Side had 67.

2 Companies were fined for bringing sick people and made an effort to reject them before leaving for America. Sick people were sent to Ward's Island, to hospitals and asylums. 6

3 The 1900 census says Sam and his wife came in 1885 with 6 children including Nathan (B. Pa. in 1888) and Sidney (B. Pa. in 1895). The 1910 census lists 10 children and says Nathan was born in New York. Vivian Kahn noted: "Max was born in NYC in 1886 and Sidney..... [in] 1895...... If Nathan was 4 that means he arrived in 1893 but that's incorrect because his sister Annie was born in McKeesport in 1890. Me thinks that Hilda's memory is not completely accurate." I agree.

4 The Johnson-Reed Act, passed in 1924 stopped immigration. It allowed a maximum of 150,000 immigrants per year and set a quota from each nation. It controlled until 1965 and closed America to Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

5In 1909, in New York City almost 70% of students were immigrants. Classrooms often had 60 children. In 1898, William H. Maxwell became superintendent and set up a special program which gave English-only instructions for six months, and then the child transferred to a regular grade level class. "It is only through.....education," he said, "that the son of a poor man obtains an approach to equality with the son of a rich man in opportunity for success in life." Jewish newcomers had a saying: "Land on Saturday, settle on Sunday, school on Monday." 24

6Cynicism existed: "people in America got paid for everything – even for voting." 25


[1] P. M. Coan, Ellis Island Interviews, Facts on File, Inc. (1997) at xix-xxii and xxiv

[2] http://www.ohranger.com/ellis-island/immigration-journey

[3] D. Horn, The Myth of Ellis Island and Other Tales of Origin, at 52-53. http://azure.org.il/download/magazine/Az41%20Horn.pdf

[4] http://www.mormonhistoricsitesfoundation.org/publications/nj_spring1998/NJ10.1_Smith.pdf

[5] http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-ellisisland-03.htm

[6] http://www.gjenvick.com/Immigration/CastleGarden/1871-TheImmigrationProcessAtCastleGarden.html.

[7] http://www.maggieblanck.com/Immigration.html

[8] Weissburgs at 20-21

[9] http://www.demographia.com/dm-nyc.htm

[10] Epstein at 14

[11] http://www.oldhouseonline.com/touring-manhattan-lower-east-side/

[12] http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1979/2/79.02.02.x.html

[13] Epstein at 156-57 [14] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/nyregion/19cobblestone.html?_r=0

[15] http://eyewitnesstohistory.com/snpim2.htm; Eric Morris, From Horse Power to Horsepower, http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

[16] E. Morris, From Horse Power to Horsepower, http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf ("Morris") at 5

[17] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_E._Waring,_Jr.

[18] H. Horn, "The Secret Lives of Garbage Men", The Atlantic Cities. Atlantic Media Company http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2013/04/secret-lives-garbage-men/5156/

[19] http://loc.gov/exhibits/haventohome/haven-century.html

[20] http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ and to gus-02.htm - 13.htm

[21] http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-8-2-a-educating-european-immigrant-children-before-world-war-I

[22] http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ and to gus-02.htm - 13.htm

[23] Epstein at 14

[24] E. Even, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, Monthly Review Press (1985) at 120.

[25] Id. at 68

[26] Id. at 71

[27] http://historywired.si.edu/detail.cfm?ID=502


The typical Lower East Side tenement was five or six stories tall and on a lot 25' x 100'.


In 1889, while researching his book, How the Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis sought to show the horrible conditions in which tenement residents lived.[10] It resulted in the Tenement House Law, which improved sanitary and safety conditions. [11]. Yet one historian concludes that as "abysmal as the living conditions that immigrants faced upon arriving..., life for them was still better than that in their country of origin." [12]. Maggie Blanck has a great site about the Lower East Side. She says that the reformers like Riis "were, in fact, depicting the worst scenarios...[Id]. Many of the larger tenements had a person, often a widow who for free rent kept the halls, stairway and sidewalk in front clean. However vermin was still an issue. [13].


Prior to public baths, Jews used a mikvah or a ritual bath. In the early 20th century, the Lower East Side had more than 30 ritual baths. [22]. These were not a substitute for a bath since one had to be "scrupulously clean before immersing". Thus preparation with showers were in each mikvah. [23]. Mikvahs were also used by men before the Sabbath and holidays.

In 1895, New York State made public baths mandatory for large cities. The first opened in New York City in 1901 on Rivington St. [24]. "It had showers - enabling 3,000 20 minute showers per day. [25]. It was open 14 hours per day. By 1905 Manhattan had 7 public baths, 5 were municipal and free, 2 were private and charged a small fee. There were also floating baths along the river which were as much swimming pools as places to wash. In 1902 the floating baths were used by 5 or 6 million people in the summer. [26]. By 1915 Manhattan had 13 public baths, Brooklyn six and the Bronx one. [27]. Each bath usually served one immigrant group. The baths on Rivington St., Rutgers Place, and in Seward Park served the Jewish Lower East Side. [28].

While there was grinding poverty, economic mobility was fast and "by 1903, the Jewish Daily Forward coined a new Yiddishism: oyesessen, or eating out." [29].

The Lower East Side also had a rich, everyday intellectual life. It had a vibrant theater and literary scene as well as an intense political and economic mix. In 1902, Hutchins Hapsgood, published a classic, The Spirit of the Ghetto: Studies of the Jewish Quarter of New York Schocken Books (1967). It described life on the Jewish Lower East Side.

And it was the public school that proceeded to make citizens out of immigrants and do it within a single generation, surely the most successful endeavor in the history of personal relationships.


Next in importance was the library, followed by the settlement house and the clubs they fostered.

There were as many clubs on the Lower East Side as there were pushcarts and peddlers. There were debating clubs, political-study clubs, Zionist clubs, English clubs..., socialist clubs, dancing clubs, art clubs, and anarchist clubs. So many clubs...that the New York City Board of Education used to keep the school buildings open at night to provide enough meeting places. [30].

To give some idea of the density of the Jewish Lower East Side, consider the number of synagogues and landsmanshaft or mutual aid societies there which were upwards of 421! Many buildings housed more than one. [31].

The neighborhood in which people lived became their identity. Children innocently walking with their friends often would find their way onto another street, where it was not uncommon to be attacked just for being foreign to the neighborhood. *** This segregation led to rivalries and hostile street fighting among neighborhoods, simply over these strong identities of location and race. Children were afraid to venture outside of their block for fear of who and what they might encounter. [32].


The sisters all worked in the garment industry until they married.

Sweatshops were usually located in a tenement, often in one of the rooms of the owner's apartment. In many cases there were no windows or other ventilators in the room.***

Adult workers***worked six days a week for 12 to 16 hours a day.***

Conditions in factories were not much better....[People] worked in crowded conditions, usually in a loft-type room that was cold in the winter and stifling in the summer.*** For working approximately sixteen hours a day, six days a week, the men earned six to ten dollars a week, while the girls and women earned four to five dollars a week.***

In an effort to attack the sweatshop system, Jewish immigrants helped form two large labor unions.... [starting in] 1900....[1].

Aside from work, life focused on finding a husband and starting a family. However, there were significant differences in how this process was undertaken in America. First, was the independence which America and working conferred.

"I got a job for myself and was able to stand on my own feet". ***[T]hey took advantage of the leisure-time activities:.....dance halls, movies, amusement parks, cafes, and theater.***The custom of chaperonage disappeared..... and young immigrant men and women considered it their right to choose their own spouses. [2].
Second, Jewish women became actively involved in politics as they became involved in society and business and they "attended lectures and political meetings alone....*** The political interest and sophistication of young immigrant Jewish working women continued.... upon marriage."[3].

Third, Jewish women turned to education with a vengeance: "Jewish women....[took] advantage of free public evening classes and lectures....***[S]tudies....documented the disproportionately large numbers of immigrant Jewish women in evening courses." [4].

This was the world of the sisters - all the while being looked over and looking over potential mates. And there was plenty of competition, as noted in an article dated September 30, 1900 in the New York Tribune entitled "Shadchan's (Matchmakers) Find Business Bad":

A matchmaker stated bitterly, "At one time,....most of the marriageable young men and women.... depended on me....Now they believe in love and all that rot. They are making their own marriages....***There are six or seven girls after every man. This makes the young men difficult to deal with, for they can marry into almost any family....They learned to start their own love affairs.. ..and this is the worst thing they could have picked up."***[5].

The concept of a dowery changed. In America a dowery was to help a young man start a business rather than continue with religious studies. [6]. In any event, going to a matchmaker was not an option for Esther and her siblings since there was no one to pay a dowery or a fee. Absent a matchmaker:
immigrants most often relied on family members and friends to introduce them to potential marriage partners.***[I]f a man and a woman were seen together for more than a few weeks and there was no mention of marriage, the community considered the situation a moral disgrace.*** A couple would go out once or perhaps even a second time before the young woman invited the man to meet her family and have dinner, almost always a Sabbath dinner on Friday evening. His acceptance was....tantamount to an expression of serious marriage interest.[7].
It is likely that Fany hosted the Sabbath dinner for Esther since there were no other relatives and she was married.

A variety of publications were available to help young women. Alexander Harkavy's American Letter Writer, an English-Yiddish letter writing guide was especially popular. Here is a sample letter "From a Lady to a Gentleman, Complaining of Faithlossness (sic)." [8].

Sir:***Did I not give you my promise to be yours, and had you no other reason for soliciting than merely to gratify your vanity? A brutal gratification, indeed, to triumph over the weakness of a woman whose greatest fault was that she love you.*** I saw you yesterday walking with Miss Greenberg, and am informed that you have proposed marriage to her.***Miss Greenberg may become your wife, but she will receive.... a perjured husband....I leave you to the stings of your own conscience. [9].
Can you imagine the reaction of an immigrant struggling to learn English, who received this? Yet, it is so much more elegant then what would be "tweeted" today.

We have one dating story regarding Esther. She was seeing a man from Yonkers, New York who made a failed attempt at running for the US Congress. He would have been a catch for a poor uneducated girl. This suggests that Esther was very bright and socially adept. He was fond of "playing cards" which I assume was gambling. Esther disapproved and when he refused to stop, she broke off the relationship. So we can see she had a strong moral code. Matthew says she never raised her voice and always spoke softly, but with authority.

Sometime thereafter Esther met and married Ignatz.

Such a thing as a strictly quiet wedding, with....the immediate family members, is almost unknown in The Lower East Side Jewish Quarter.*** [T]here is usually an engagement party at which the parents of the bride-elect make public announcement of the daughter's engagement.....[T]hose who come.....receive wedding invitations, which are printed on fancy embossed cards in English and Yiddish, and often in German. These.....are worded nearly like the ordinary wedding invitations, but in every instance the line follows the address where the ceremony will take place, which tells the brides residence [which is where presents are delivered].

The people who are least blessed with worldly goods have the ceremony performed at the home of the bride; those who have more, hire the synagogue.....and those of the highest circle....have the ceremony performed in the synagogue and hire a hall for the wedding dance and dinner.

Yet the largest number of weddings takes place in the halls which are arranged for that purpose [and which] usually contain a women's reception room, a dining room, and a ballroom, and are rented for evening....from five to ten dollars.***

The invitations usually give five or six o'clock as the hour of the ceremony, and at that time [the] bride and bride-groom arrive with their ....families. The bride....in a white satin gown with a long veil, and has many flowers; the groom is in evening clothes. They take stations in different rooms, and as the guests arrive the ceremony of Kabolath-ponim or presenting takes place, this lasts till the guests have all arrived - generally an hour or two later than the time named on the invitation cards-and then if it's a large company, the young people have a dance or two, this over the groom takes his place under the chupah or canopy, and there awaits the coming of his bride, who is brought to him by her father.

*** The ceremony over, everybody....goes into the dining room, where luncheon is served. Since early in the morning the kitchen has been in charge of a kochfrau under whose direction a lunch and a supper, which is served later in the evening, has been prepared. The lunch lasts a short time, and then dancing begins and dinner is served around 11 pm. Jewish wedding ceremonies most often take place on Sundays. [10].

The Berger Children
Fany Berger (1867-1956) and William Greenfield (Grunfield)

Fany married Wilhelm Grunfeld ("Uncle Willie"), a tailor, in May 1888. He changed his name to Greenfield. They became engaged on March 11, 1888 (the infamous "Blizzard of '88"). He was Fany's cousin. Marriages among cousins were not uncommon. A family tree by Aunt Rose says Baba Hensha had a brother who took the name Grunfeld. He had 12 children; perhaps one was Willie. When they married, he was living at 79 Columbia St. and Fany at 107 Sheriff St. In 1894, they were living at 121 Columbia St. which is also the address for Frieda. Frieda probably lived with them before she married and perhaps Louis was also. The 1900 Census says they lived at 335 E. 3rd St. and shows Fany was born in 1867 and emigrated in 1883 and he was born in 1865 and came in 1881. By 1940 Fany and Uncle Willie were in their seventies and living at 479 St. Anns Ave. in the Bronx. They had six children of which only two had children. As far as we know, there were no great grandchildren and this line has ceased. Their family tree was as follows:

Esther Berger and Ignatz Deutsch

Esther's marriage license to Ignatz shows that the person who filled it out was either nervous or did not read English well since some of the answers are wrong.

The wedding invitation, gives Esther's address as 21 Columbia St. Ignatz lived on the same block or in the same building which is perhaps how they met. The invitation was in German. The wording with a translation in italics is:

Wir erbitten uns die Ehre Gegenwart - [We ask the honor of your presence]
zu unsere Trauung - [at our wedding]
Esti Berger mit [with] Ignatz Deutsch - [Esti Berger with Ignatz Deutsch
welche Sonntag 11 Maerz 1894 [which will take place on Sunday 11 March 1894]
4 Uhr Nachmittags - [4 in the afternoon]
in 84 Willet Street, ei Mr. Jacob Kepech - [in 84 Willet Street by Mr. Jacob Kepech}
Supper at 6 - [dinner at 6 in the afternoon]
Wohnung Der Braut 21 Columbia Street - [Apartment of the bride 21 Columbia Street]
They appear to have had a grand wedding and probably paid for it themselves. The wedding license shows Uncle Willie was a witness. They had a religious ceremony.

By October 23, 1894 Ignatz and Esther were living at 344 E. Fourth St. In October Ignatz filed his Naturalization Petition in which his name is spelled "Deuts". Either he misspelled it or was so nervous that he did not catch the misspelling and neither Uncle Willie who was the witness. Based on the wedding invitation, one can argue that Ignatz did not write English well since in the invitation his last name is spelled "Deutsch".

Waly (or Frieda)

Frieda married Emil Greenfield in December, 1894. Their license shows her address as 121 Columbia St and his at 86 Sheriff St. The rear of 86 Sheriff St. - which was typical of housing at the time and shows it had an outhouse. Emil was 23 and signed his name as Greenfield. The wedding license shows Uncle Willie was a witness.

A number of tenements on Sheriff St. and Columbia St. had back or rear tenements where the poorest lived. In 1899 back tenements remained at 88, 86, and 84 Sheriff St despite being outlawed. [11].

After she married Emil, in short order they had three children: Minnie, Regina and Julius. In 1900 Emil died at 27. His granddaughter said he committed suicide over gambling debts. For the next 5 years Frieda struggled to raise her children. According to the 1905 New York State Census, Frieda was living with her children and a boarder, Esther Silver, at 481 East Houston St., a small three family building. [12].

Frieda would have received help from her brother and sisters. She would have also received help, in the short term, from a Landsmanschaften, if Emil had joined one. These were self-help societies formed by Jewish immigrants from the same towns. They were:

a dominant form of Jewish social organization in the late 1800s.***[They] provided immigrants with.....social networks, and members helped one another with financial needs such as medical care and burial plots. In 1938, a Federal Works Progress Administration project identified 2,468 Landsmanschaften in New York City.....The number....began to decline in the 1950s......[13].
Landsmanschaften were clearing-houses for jobs and housing. They were places to raise money in an emergency; they helped immigrants find relatives and acquaintances, and they organized committees to call on the sick and bury the dead. Such societies were among the first organizations established by Hungarian immigrants. They were organized in response to a need for security at a time when, if a worker was maimed or killed, his family was left destitute. The constitution for Ignatz's synagogue says: "its object [is] brotherly love and devotion, aid and assistance in time of need and distress." [14].

Perhaps Frieda put her children in the nursery on Sheriff St. and worked. In 1894 a Jewish day nursery was opened at 90 Sheriff St. It was open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It had "two sections for children: between the age of 10 days and three years [and] children 3 to 6.....The rate was 5 cents a day per child." [15]. By 1904 it not only provided a day nursery, but an after-school facility and on Saturday morning a religious school. "[It] was primarily funded by charitable contributions." [16].

The Jewish community, in accordance with tradition, took it for granted that they were responsible for the welfare of the poor and created agencies to help. Estimates d are that ten to twenty percent of the Jewish population received assistance from one agency or another. [17].

Widows and their children accounted for the largest budget item in cash relief funds disbursed by the United Hebrew Charities in New York City before WW I.*** Abandoned women and their families constituted the second largest item on the United Hebrew Charities cash relief budget, receiving 14.6% of the relief disbursed in 1905. So seriously did the Jewish community treat this social problem that it established a National Desertion Bureau in 1911 to locate missing.....husbands.*** The establishment of Jewish orphan asylums in this period also offers poignant testimony to the difficulties experienced by women in supporting their children in the absence of their husbands, for many children placed in orphanages had one surviving parent.*** [18].
The number of abandoned wives was so great, that The Jewish Daily established a "Gallery of the Missing Husbands." [19].

In 1905, five years after the death of Emil, Frieda married Jacob Mendelwitz and moved to Mckeesport, Pennsylvania with her children. They may have met through the Sam Greenfield family. Jacob was a widower with children from two earlier marriages. He and Frieda had 3 more children (Note by J.A. Reichman, grandson of Jacob Mendelwitz).

Jean Landman, Frieda's granddaughter, says that around 1910, Jacob asked that Frieda's children from her first marriage to leave. The agony she experienced must have been intense. She apparently called Louis, and he agreed to take the children.

Later on Louis also took in Fany's daughter, 18 year old Virginia, as a boarder according to the 1915 New York state census. Since children tended to live at home until marriage, this suggests Fany and Uncle Willie were not doing well financially.

Jean Landman's father was Frieda's son, Julius Greenfield. Jean said he preferred not to talk much about his early life which was "not a happy one." Jean said Louis was strict. That may be, but with four young children of their own, he and Gussie took in Frieda's children.

Jean says her father wrote Frieda a letter each week which she thinks was written in Yiddish. Hilda, Frieda's granddaughter, says she spoke English, Hungarian and Yiddish. Esther read and spoke Hungarian and German as well as English. Matthew does not recall her ever speaking Yiddish.

Frieda and Esther remained close. We have photos of Esther and Aunt Rose visiting Frieda in Mckeesport. Hilda, as a child, had her tonsils taken out by Joseph Deutsch as did Neil Berger. Hilda said that during the Great Depression, she came to New York and lived with Joseph and then with Louis. A sister and brother also went to live with Louis. Jacob died in 1942 and Frieda in 1956.

Louis Berger

In 1899, Louis married Gussie Feldman. They had four children including Sabina, who married Joseph Deutsch, her first cousin.

Herbert Berger's book as relates to our story is quite engaging. [20].

[Louis] owned a general store in our semirural part of Brooklyn....***

Piano practice served a double purpose, too. *** My older sister was being courted by a young medical student, and the couple would sit together in the parlor, which was adjacent to the music room. My brother-in-law [Joseph Deutsch] never really forgave me, [and].... I doubt that this experience as a chaperone ever served any useful purpose....[Id. at 4-5].

[Louis]...was a born scholar. Every flat surface in our home held books ....*** Dad's interests ran the whole gamut of intellectual thought. *** As a child I heard lecture [with my father] Eugene V. Debs, Morris Hilquit, Norman Thomas, disciples of Robert Ingersol, and many others. ****

Our living room wall held two samplers made by Mother at Dad's request. One was Thomas Paine’s 'My Home is my Temple. To do Good is my Religion.' On another wall was a lovely embroidered tree bearing 'Apples' of Happiness, Prosperity, and Goodness above the legend 'Socialism is the Hope of the World.'

Dad ardently supported this creed, because he had lived and worked in sweatshops. *** Dad fought endlessly for all our present laws on sickness insurance, Social Security, public welfare, and aid to dependent children. *** [Id. at 5-6]. Even though Dad was a true agnostic, our home was deeply religious, because it would have displeased my mother were it not. ***


***But once...Rabbi Sachs [told my father] 'Your son would make a fine rabbi.'

This was too much, and....Dad said, 'A sky pilot in my family, you must be out of your mind.' Well what followed would have made the Great War look like a Sunday school picnic. [Id. at 6].


Herbert then recounts a series of events which merges different events:
After his grandmother's death, Dad was raised by his older sisters, all of whom were married. 7 The longest such period was in the home of Aunt Frieda. What a heart she had. When she was still a relatively young woman, her husband died, leaving Aunt Frieda with five (sic) children. She remarried, .... a western Pennsylvania farmer who had a similar number of offspring. Between them there were soon five more.

It was this family with fifteen children that took Dad in and loved and appreciated him. Many years later I came to love this hoard of cousins, as Dad sent us to the farm during summer months. *** [Id. at 7]

Baba Hensha died in 1915, long after Louis had come to America and Frieda did not move to Pennsylvania until 1905. By then Louis was married. To say that Louis "was raised by a sister on a farm in western Pennsylvania...." is clearly wrong. [Berger, Preface at xvi].

Apparently the marriage to Gussie almost did not take place and, after the wine growing story, as previously related, was rebuffed, Herbert recounts:

My mother's family was not too impressed with this story, so my dad played his trump card: he was earning $37 a week. In 1898 that was a huge sum, and Grandfather was sufficiently impressed to give in with a stipulation.

My father [at the time] owned a newsstand and tobacco shop on Montgomery St., in Jersey City, adjacent to the ferry terminal. *** A married woman Grandpa reasoned, usually helped out in her husband's shop. Grandpa feared that .... customers might insult Mother or use profane language in her presence. Besides, she would be too far from her family of seven sisters and brothers in Brooklyn.

Dad thought this was a small price to pay for Mother and opened a general store on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. ****

***Dad had the most profound respect for wisdom....*** We were to think and do some good deed everyday.... The last act of each day, was the trying ritual when each of us would be asked, 'what have you done today to justify the twenty-four hours God has given you?' 88 [Id. at 8].


In the late twenties, coal was scarce. Reimers Coal Yard....sold coal by the scuttleful....*** It was a very cold winter, and the lines before the cold yard extended for more than a dozen city blocks. Dad ordered several gross of warm woolen mittens. Then would send us or go himself to the coal yard, distributing the mittens to any one with blue hands. [Id. at 9].

Dad prospered in business and he finally sold it in 1927. He had invested in real estate and did so well that he no longer needed the store. Only two years later came the crash and even a conservative investor like himself,....lost everything.

Dad had too much pride to go into bankruptcy, so he sold our home, the car, and even some personal possessions in order to satisfy his creditors. [Id. at 10].

Eventually, he opened a radio repair and appliance shop in Brooklyn and slowly recovered. [Id.]. His grandson, Neil, says he was respected and the people in the neighborhood always referred to him as Mr. Berger.

Louis died in August 1948 at 70 of pancreatic cancer. He was the first of the Berger siblings to die. Based on what we have learned about him, he and Gussie embodied values which every family should emulate. I am sorry I never knew them. Among the photos we have is one in later years of Esther, Louis and Gussie - together. It is lovely and radiates affection. ***

7 This contradicts that Louis came alone at eleven and worked in [a] garment factory, sleeping on a pile of remnants in a corner of the loft. Berger at 7.

8 This is an odd question for a "true agnostic" to ask.



Adolph was born December 7, 1894. A note by Uncle Leon says he was "born - 29 Avenue D." 9 Ignatz's Naturalization Card, dated October 1894, shows his address as 344 E. 4th St. So they had moved around the corner. In "1903 Work Magazine reported: 'one-half of [tenement dwellers] moved from one to six times a year.' People moved as their financial conditions improved." [1].

Birth was at home. Giving birth was a gezinte krenke (a healthy aliment) handled by a mid-wife. [2]. Family members and children were ushered out. The midwife was called, as would have been Fany and Frieda.

[Neighbors]....who hadn't been on speaking terms....put aside their differences in the face of a common female crisis. **** [There were no] preparations for the new baby. [I]t was considered bad luck to buy even a diaper pin in anticipation. *** Every housewife knew....stories about women who disregarded these rules and paid with miscarriages....and a host of other dire consequences. *** [3].
After the mother and baby were cleaned up, the father was allowed back in. [4]. And so the first American born member of the Deutsch-Berger clan - Adolph - arrived. A telegram or letter would probably been sent to overseas announcing the birth after the Bris.


By 1896, Esther was pregnant again. She, Ignatz and two year old Adolph, traveled back to Hungary. She had no desire to go and did so to please Ignatz according to Matthew. Ignatz either left his job or sold his business. Matthew thinks he may have had a business and sold it.

It took over a week to cross the Atlantic, then across the Continent by rail and finally by horse cart to the destination.

Joseph was born in Hungary. His WW I draft card says December 23, 1897. His WW II draft card says January 23, 1897. Both cars list the village where he was born as "unknown".

Esther may have gone to Csicser to be near Babs Hensha, who did not die until 1915, for this birth. Csicser was the largest of the villages and perhaps had a doctor. In 1880, it had a population of 1,270 including about 120 Jews. [5]. The SS Furst Bismark, left Hamburg in May 1897. The manifest lists an Esther Deutsch, 26 and shows her last residence as Csicser. She stayed five or six months after Joseph's birth. 10 This is close to what Leon’s note said: "At age of 4 mos. returned to U.S." She was traveling alone with a 2 year old named "Eli" and an infant named Joseph. Eli was probably a misspelling of Adolph and the ages for Adolph and Joseph match.11

After WW I, Ciscser was ceded to Slovakia and renamed Cicarovce. Another village is in the distance. Vivian Kahn noted: "there isn't much there. I suspect that this area looks much as it did during the 19th century." Email dated 9/12/13. Indeed, streets were not paved and sidewalks built until 1948. Only in 1984-1985 was fresh water piped into homes. There is no sewer system. [6]. On image of the main street of Cicarovce shows an inn that may have been the inn owned by Baba Hensha and where Esther lived after she was orphaned.

There is a story which shows Esther's sense of humor and suggests that this may be where the children went after their parents died. Esther joked that she came from Chichi and Louis from Kobba. Esther said that she came from royalty because her house had a door, but Louis's only had a ladder - implying he lived in a barn. Alex Revai, who knows this area, says Esther could have been referring to "Csicser".

On her return to America, Esther would not have gone through Ellis Island. Citizens and people traveling first or second class were discharged at the dock. [7].


By 1898, when Rose was born, they were living uptown. A note by Leon says "Sister was born at 773 Columbus Ave." which is near 96th St. The neighborhood had a significant Hungarian Jewish population" [E-mail V. Kahn to H.I.D. 9/2/12] and was an "up and coming" Jewish area.

Jewish families began moving uptown in the late 1870's, when the elevated railroads were extended to northern Manhattan. Early in the 20th century, Harlem served as a population safety-valve from overcrowded downtown. Around the turn of the century, there were nearly 150 synagogues in northern Manhattan, according to the Jewish Communal Register.


In 1900, Esther was pregnant again and the family left for Hungary with Adolph, Joseph and Rose. Leon was born January, 1901 in Hungary.

The family returned to America on the SS Auguste Victoria with new son Ludwig.12 It left Hamburg on October 24, and arrived in New York on November 2, 1901. Here is a photo of the ship at Im The manifest says their "accommodation" was "Zwischendeck" or steerage. Traveling in steerage with three young children and a baby must have been difficult and suggests they had limited funds. The manifest lists their last residence in Hungary as Feheergyarmat which is both a town and a district in Szatmar county.

Prior to WW I the town was surrounded by 42 villages. [9]. Nagydobos, where Ignatz was born, was one village in the district and 14 miles from the town.13 In 1869 the town had a population of 3,353, with 325 Jews. By 1910 its population was 4,618 including 618 Jews. [11]. The town was a commercial center and had an orthodox synagogue, Bet Midresh (Talmudic study hall) and Jewish school. [12].

Leon's daughter has a note by Leon which says "I was born on this visit in Kay Chemini." She says he was born on January 10, 1901. A researcher said: "[t]here is a place in the Feheergyarmat district called Keer-Semjeen, which would be pronounced KerShemyen in Hungarian and might sound like Kay Chemini. "Keersemjeen is a small village. [13]. The question is why Esther went to Keersemjeen. Was she visiting, passing through or was this her intended destination? Perhaps this is where Ignatz's mother was living. Keersemjeen is about 19 miles from Nagydobos.

In 1869 it had a population of 339 with 32 Jews.14 In 1910 its population was 501with 42 Jews. [14]. It had a Jewish cemetery. [15]. The people attended the synagogue in Fehérgyarmat – 6.5 miles away. [16]. Kersemjeen and Feheergyarmat are in Szabolcs-Szatmaar-Bereg county today.

Adolph said that as a child he swam in a river separating a town from Romania. His recollection had to relate to the trip when Leon was born, and when he was 5 or 6. This visit spanned the summer, making it likely he went swimming. Prof. Anna Gaabor said "Keersemjeen is exactly by the river Szamos, while in Nagydobos there is a canal from the time of the regulation of rivers, and it is....about 800 m. or more from the village." (E-mails Anna Gaabor to HID 5/6/13). Adolph's recollection confirms where Leon was born. His memory of the event was clear. This slow moving river would have been safe for a swim for a 5 or 6 year old.

After Leon's birth in January, the family did not return until October, 1901. His daughter was told that his birth was difficult which may explain why they stayed so long.

A note by Aunt Rose says that by 1903, Ignatz ran a "trimmings" business at 873 Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan between West 102 and 103 St.

His daughter says Ignatz went back to Hungary one last time, and alone, when his mother was ill. He would have gotten notification by telegram. His daughter says:

The story I was told, many times, was that he wanted to keep his (button) store open on Saturday, as he usually did, and waited that extra day before returning to see his mother when she was ill. When he got there, she had just died. If he had not kept the store open on Saturday, he would have seen her before she died. Immediately after that, he became Orthodox in his practice, which he had not done before.
There is no record of his return at Ellis Island. However, the UK lists a man named Deutsch traveling from Liverpool to New York in 1909 and in 1911. No birth date or first name is listed. [17]. Perhaps one of these is his return trip since the timing would be about right.

A note on the back of a photo of Ignatz (by Leon) says "Ignatz (Blau) Deutsch; died April 4, 1940 at 71." Leon also wrote this was the "2nd day Passover." His daughter says after Ignatz died, Leon never celebrated the second night of Passover again.


My father, Harold, was born on February 3, 1903. His birth certificate records his name as Henry and lists two addresses: Ignatz's address as 873 Amsterdam Ave., where his business was, and Esther's address as 310 West 134 St. presumably where they lived. No one knows why he decided to use the name Harold.


Milton, the last child, was born in 1905. Aunt Roses's notes show the family had moved to Brooklyn. For 1905-1906: Ignatz listed himself as a "tailor" at 1696 Broadway in Brooklyn. For 1907-1908, his business was listed as "pleating" at 236 Reid Ave. in Brooklyn. Confirmation of this last address comes in a note from Leon when he writes in the 1960's to the elementary school he attended to ask for proof he attended to support his application for social security and Medicare since he was not born in America. The letter, dated April, 1966, says the family was living in Brooklyn in "about 1907" when he entered first grade and lived at 236 Reid Ave., Brooklyn.

Esther loved Brooklyn because it was green and airy like the countryside and she loved being outside waiting for the milkman to arrive.

By 1909, Aunt Rose's notes show the family moved back to Manhattan where Ignatz's business was "pleating" with a store at 20 E. 115 St. in Harlem. Leon wrote a letter to the school he attended in Manhattan confirming the move. The letter says he attended PS 103 "up to Class 6-B" in Manhattan and resided at 20 E. 115 St. This suggests that they lived above the store. On the letter someone wrote "school reply entered 1A PS 103 9/9/07". The letter continues that he graduated from PS 24 in "1915" and the reply notes the grade as "8 B". So it appears they lived at 20 E. 115 St. until 1912 or 1913.

My father and Milton would also have attended PS 103 and it was here, bright as he was, that I think my father developed an aversion to school. My father was ambidextrous, but not by choice. He was left handed and the teachers, in their infinite wisdom, tied his left hand behind his back so he would learn to write "correctly" with his right hand.

Feeding this large family was fairly expensive. The meals Esther prepared were probably not simple affairs.

"New American Jews strove to mimic the meals of the old country’s well-to-do [and]....they toiled over household budgets which put meat on the table nearly every night of the week. In addition to denoting status, American Jews used food as medicine, reward and a symbol of love." [18].
"Fat meat....seemed a privilege. 'The sight of the roast sputtering with hot grease stirred me to ecstasy. In.....Europe I had never had enough meat....Now fat meat was mine for the asking...'"[19]. This led doctors to notice that Jews were suffering "disproportionately to other groups from gastrointestinal disorders." [20].

The period 1900 through WW I was a period of enormous expansion in New York.

The subway opened in October, 1904. [21]. By 1907 Manhattan and Brooklyn had an extensive elevated subway system making travel efficient and fast. In 1909 the Manhattan Bridge was opened. [22]. By 1913, Grand Central Terminal was open and was the world’s largest enclosed space. [23]. Elevators and steel allowed the erection of the Woolworth Building in 1913 which at 57 stories was then the world's tallest building. Indoor plumbing, running hot water, gas cooking and electric lighting had come of age. Gone were water pumps, outhouses. [24].

The children, after school, would have helped deliver and pick up merchandise. They would have traveled by themselves on the subway and the above ground "El". Sports included stickball, stoop-ball and handball. Boys were fanatics about baseball and kept up with each player.

The future of the world and America, in particular, looked unlimited.

9 Clearly, the information on the note was copied from what he was told...."Avenue D runs between East 12th St. and Houston St., and continues south of 2nd St. as Columbia St.".

10 Ignatz is not listed. Perhaps he came back first. We could not find his ship manifest. Up through 1934 children born outside the US were citizens if their fathers were citizens at the time of their birth.

11 "I think it is Adolph - remember that most information is orally given in those days. The fact that the baby was b. in Jan and was 4 months old adds up."

12 The ship had accommodations for 400 in 1st, 120 in 2nd and 580 in steerage. [8].

13 After WW I, most of Szatmaar was ceded to Romania and the part left in Hungary became part of Szatmaar-Ugocsa-Bereg county. [10].

14 There are "no civil registration records listed for KerSemjen" and so we can only use secondary records.

Emil Greenfield and Frieda Berger

Emil Greenfield married Frieda Berger in 1894.

Emil Greefeld, Spouse's Name: Frida Berger, Event Date: 27 Dec 1894, Event Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, Father's Name: Bernard Greenfeld, Mother's Name: Rebecca Ungar, Spouse's Father's Name: Joseph Berger, Spouse's Mother's Name: Sara Shwartz

They had:
  1. Minnie circa 1895

  2. Regina circa 1897

    Name: Regine Grunfeld, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 06 Apr 1897, Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, New York, Father's Name: Emil Grunfeld, Mother's Name: Frida Berger

  3. Julius circa 1899


Emil Greenfield - Birth Date: abt 1873, Age: 27, Death Date: 6 Aug 1900, Death Place: New York, New York, Certificate Number: 25348

Emil Greenfield, Birth Date: 22 Sep 1873, Death Date: 7 Aug 1900, Cemetery: Washington Cemetery, Burial Place: Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York

1905: Manhattan Houston street, Frida Greenfeld 29, neck wear, Minnie Greenfeld 10 Ragina Greenfeld 8 Julius Greenfeld 6 Esther Silver 55, boarder nurse.

Death of Regina Greenfield - 1926: Regina Ruth Greenfield, Gender: Female, Race: White, Age: 28 yrs, 10 months and 16 days, saleslady,, single, Birth Date: 6 Apr 1897 Birth Place: New York Death Date: 22 Feb 1926 Death Place: Cresson, Cambria, Pennsylvania, USA Father Name: Emil Greenfield Father Birth Place: Austria, Pennsylvania Mother Name: Freida Berger Mother Birth Place: Austria Certificate Number: 15181, cause of death - Pulmonary Tuberculosis - contracted in McKeesport, Pa.

The Secret Life of a Society Maven - Alan Feuer's grandfather was a saloon keeper who lived at 88 Sheriff in 1910.

Sheriff Street
Frank Goehle
Peter Goehle
New York City Pictures
New York City Tenement Life

Minnie Schwartzmeier Lindemann Goehle
Catherine Furst Schwartzmeier Lindemann
Dr. Egbert Guernesy
German Immigrants in New York City
Images of 97 Sheriff Street circa 1925 from Steve Magasis

ephemeralnewyork Defunct Sheriff Street's infamous resident By wildnewyork

Thanks to Tom Sullivan for for alerting me to this page, April 2011

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