Chocolatespoon: Emily’s Musings

Archive for the ‘Family History Project’ Category

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.


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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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 on: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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