Tag Archives: Germany

Samuel “Siegmund” Levy

Sigismund, or Sigmund Levy was born as Samuel (his religious name) 21 Jan 1829 in Hamburg, Germany to Moses Nathan and Hannah Pickert  (of Wittelshoffen).

Sigmund married Marie Emilie Haehn, probably in Buffalo (since Marie emigrated with her mother and sister in 1854) and probably about 1860 – 1863, since Marie’s first child, born in 1859 in New York state, was named Anna Ida HAEHN, not Levy. Anna later married Philip Empey. Where did Marie and Siegmund marry? Who married them? We know that the Haehns christened the girls Evangelisch, which is Lutheran.  The Levys were Jewish.

The 1864 Buffalo City Directory lists a Sigismund Levy, clothier, 122 Main, residing at Ellicott n. Batavia. This is interesting because there is also a Moses Levy, peddlar, who resides at Batavia n. Adams. However, are either of these our Levy gentlemen? There is another Levy, Sigmund, upholsterer, who resides at Lafayette cor. Ellicott.

Second child, Louis Spencer aka Leon Seymour Levy, was born in 1864, m. Martha Hughes. Third child,Great-gramma Hannah Levy was born the following year, 1865 m. George Von Hofe. And dear Marie died on 3 November 1869 after giving birth to Otto, who was born in October or November 1869. She is buried in a beautiful family plot in historic Forest Lawn Cemetery.

The 1869 Buffalo directory leaves us still unsettled because there is a Levy n Sigmund, tobacco and cigars, whose shop was at 389 Main (and we know that later on Sigmund was a tobacconist in NYC), and whose home was 66 W. Chippewa. The other Levy, Sigmund N resides at 89 W. Huron. He is still on Huron St. in 1870. There is no sign of Moses at this point. Could the two Sigmunds be one person?

Shortly after Hannah’s death, Sigmund, who is 40 years old, moves to Manhattan’s 14th District, Ward 19,  with his three children.

At 41 years old, he married Sarah Lieber (b. Bethselshuen, Bavaria to Solomon and Betty)  on 10 April 1870 in Manhattan, New York City.  The record on Familysearch.org :

(“New York, Marriages, 1686-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F67G-MJ1 : accessed 22 December 2014), Sigmund N. Levy and Sarah Lieber, 10 Apr 1870; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1,544,433)

Sigmund N. Levy
mentioned in the record of Sigmund N. Levy and Sarah Lieber
Name: Sigmund N. Levy
Spouse’s Name: Sarah Lieber
Event Date: 10 Apr 1870
Event Place: Manhattan, New York, New York
Father’s Name: Moses Nathan Levy
Mother’s Name: Hannah
Spouse’s Father’s Name: Solomon Lieber
Spouse’s Mother’s Name: Betty Lieber
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M00191-4 , System Origin: New_York-ODM , GS Film number: 1544433

They had four children: Bertha b. 1872 m.Henry Levy , Edward b. 1874 m. Elma Nathan, Isadore b. 1875 (note the witness to Siegmund’s naturalization in the year before!) m. Bessie, and Jenny b. 1876 who never married.

The Levys appear on the 1870 NYC census. Sigmund is an “agent in tinware” with $300.00 in personal assets. He says he was born in Hamburg, Germany. Sarah is 28, from Bavaria, Leon is 6, and Hannah is 5. Notably, Otto, the youngest child of Hannah and Sigmund is not on this census. According to cousin Scott, “Sarah was a cruel stepmother, and a nurse took Otto away to protect him when he was a child. His siblings lost track of him for about 50 years. Hannah searched for him and eventually located him ‘out west,’  and there was a joyous family reunion that was eventually written up in the newspaper.”  Note below that Otto does show up in an 1880 census when Siegmund is a widower. However, perhaps Siegmund, for some reason, didn’t want the census taker to know that his son was gone and lied.  Otto would have been less than one year old when he was kidnapped, meaning that he was still nursing — or had a wet nurse. Perhaps Siegmund aided and abetted the nurse taking his youngest away and that’s why he didn’t want them found. Scott found an Otto Levy on the 1920 US census living in San Francisco. He was about the correct age.  Other than that, we have no further information on what happened to Otto, when or if, he married, when he died, etc.  PLEASE NOTE: Rebecca Grady found later information that showed that, in fact, Otto was adopted by the Merpalls (sp) and they moved to CA. I have searched in the Grosvenor Room in Buffalo Public Library and can find no other info. on Otto. However, informal adoption was common at that time, so I believe that that is actually what happened.

There is another story of the domestic unhappiness at this time, corroborated by two different family sources. Leon ran away when he was about 11 years old (abt. 1875). He made it as far as Iowa, not returning to New York until he was 17. And as you can see, he does show up on the 1880 census. During the 1920s and 30s Leon lived with with Lorna Levee and her husband Harry Hicks in Kenmore NY. Lorna was Leon’s 5th child. Lorna’s children  recalled Leon telling them bedtime stories about his “adventures out west, including tales of covered wagons.”

On 21 October 1874, Siegmund N. Levy became a naturalized citizen of the United States. His occupation was listed as an “agent.” His former nationality, German. His address  was 1592 3rd Avenue N.Y.C. aka the Upper East side. Not too far away from the area great-great grandson Michael lived while getting his Ph.D at Rockefeller University. The witness to the naturalization was Isador Thiese, 1598 3rd Avenue, N.Y.C.

In March of 1880, Siegmund’s 2nd wife, Sarah, died. By 1880 Sigmund must have been having a rough time because he shows up on the US census in NYC as widowed and living with six of his children at 1592 Third Avenue. He runs a cigar store and reports that he and both of his parents were born in Hamburg. Eldest son, Leo, 17, is single and a store clerk, though he has been unemployed during the year. Hannah, at 15, is keeping the house. Otto has re-appeared and is 10. Bertha, 7, Isadore 6, and Jenny, who is not in school yet, is 4.

Siegmund lost no time. At 51 years old, he married again. This time, to recent emigrant, 24 year old, Mina Mayer, born January 1857 in Germany. Mina arrived in NYC the same year that Sarah died, 1880. She and Siegmund would produce four more children: Michael, b. 1881, Theresa b.1883 m. Josef Sonfeld, Martin D., b. 1883 m. Minna Schaffner and Harry Grover, b. 1888 married twice: Caroline Stern, then Selma Weinberg.

Sigmund died on 23 August 1898 of secondary shock following an operation on 22 August 1898 in St. Mark’s Hospital, New York City. He was 69 years old, married and a broker.  His last residence was listed as a tenement at 221 E. 114th Street.

Sigmund Levy death cert.

Name: S. N. Levy
Birth Date: abt 1829
Age: 69
Death Date: 23 Aug 1898
Death Place: New York, New York
Certificate Number: 23413

Suzanne Levy Lescht recalled a story her grandfather, Harry Grover Levy recounted that he was ten years old when his father , Siegmund, died. Times were tight for a young widow so Harry began selling newspapers on the street to help his mom.

Burial was at Washington Cemetery, 948 E. 58th Street on the 25th of August. We do not have the burial records.