Monday, September 13, 2010

more German relations set up shop in New York

In addition to Henry Lefman, the Windmullers and Frankenheimers, some of my great-grandfather's Sutro relatives came to America from Germany in the years before he himself arrived. Louis Windmuller's mother, Rachel, was a Sutro, daughter of the famous Rabbi Abraham Sutro, about whom I've previously written. The family was a large one. Rachel had eight siblings, six aunts and uncles, and at least a couple dozen cousins. The cousins included the Frankenheimer brothers, sons of Rachel's aunt Yereth, who arrived in New York in the early 1950s and who showed up in my last blog post. They also included Bessie Sutro, who married one of these sons — Philip — and who emigrated to New York with him. And they included Rosa Warendorff Sutro and her 13 children who abandoned Germany for America after the death of her husband and the decline of his once-thriving woolen business.

The first to arrive appears to have been one of these 13, Charles, whose name shows up in a New York business directory having an 1850 imprint. Since the compiler had to have assembled its contents some months before the directory went to press, Charles was almost certainly doing business in New York in 1849 or before. He was born in 1829 and that means he was in business for himself at a very young age. The address given was simply Beaver Street and the listing appears under the heading "Dry Goods Jobbers." In 1850 dry goods merchants and importers and to lesser extent commission merchants were concentrated in Beaver Street's few short blocks. Here's a scan of the entry.

{The New York mercantile union business directory (S. French, L.C. & H.L. Pratt, 1850)}

Charles's mother and his brothers and sisters arrived in New York the same year the directory appeared. They stayed in the city less than a year and moved on to Baltimore where they established their home. Charles and some of his brothers left for the west coast very soon after. Within a few years Charles and three of the brothers had set themselves up as bankers in San Francisco, while a fifth brother, Adolph, was beginning to make his way as an engineer and entrepreneur in the same place.

The next of Rachel's cousins to immigrate to New York was Bessie Sutro's brother, Bernard. His name first appears in a city directory for 1856 as a merchant specializing in "trimmings."

{Trow's New York city directory (J.F. Trow, 1856)}

Bernard married a woman named Pauline Josephthal. A city directory issued in 1860 lists a man named Moritz Josephthal, shows his occupation as "trimmings," and gives his business address as 60 Warren. I've no documentary evidence of a family relationship between Pauline and Moritz, but there certainly must have been one.

Here's a scan.

{Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1860)}

Whatever business relationship existed between Bernard Sutro and his relative Moritz Josephthal, it wasn't a lasting one. A directory of 1861 showed Josephthal doing business at 60 Warren but now partnered with a man named Lewengood and selling buttons not trimmings. That directory showed "B. Sutro & Co." in the trimmings business, but now a block to the south at 55 Murray. Both men would continue to be listed in city directories of the next couple of decades, always as merchants but never associated with one another.


I couldn't find prints that show the locations mentioned in this post at roughly the right time frame. This one shows part of Warren Street a couple of decades later.

{Manhattan: Broadway - Warren Street by the American Studio, ca. 1870; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}


Here is a scan of a passport application made by Charles Sutro in 1876.

{source: documents made available on}


Here are some locations named in this blog post from a map made a generation later.

Beaver Street

Warren and Murray Streets

18th Street

Overview of lower Manhattan showing the four locations.

These views come from a very detailed panoramic map calledThe city of New York by a man named Will L. Taylor (New York, Galt & Hoy, 1879). The Library of Congress has a high-quality zoomable image of this map.


Genealogical records for people mentioned in this post (apart from those listed in the previous one)----------

City Directories used as sources for this post:

The New York mercantile union business directory (S. French, L.C. & H.L. Pratt, 1850)
Trow's New York city directory (J.F. Trow, 1856)

Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1859)

Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1860)

Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1861)

Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1865)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

cousins and other family

I wrote the other day about Solomon Windmuller, an uncle of my great-grandfather, Louis Windmuller. Solomon arrived in New York in 1819, the first member of the family to leave Germany for a new home in New York. Over the next quarter century he was followed by other relatives. The first was a son of his father's sister, Elise. She had married a man named Solomon Lefman and among their children was a son, Henry, who came to the city in 1831.[1] A city directory of 1839 lists Henry Lefman as a commission merchant doing business at 25 Old-slip and residing at 60 Grove.[2] This cousin, Henry Lefman, would later become Louis Windmuller's mentor, business partner, and, eventually, father-in-law.

The next to arrive was a man whose relationship to my great-grandfather is uncertain. He had attended the same prestigious high school — the Gymnasium Carolinum — but graduated years before my great-grandfather began study there. They both would achieve recognition for their achievements during the second half of the nineteenth century, but their concerns were different and their names infrequently appeared together in news articles. The one, Bernard Roelker, was a highly-eduated intellectual who would earn an excellent reputation as legal counselor.[3] The other, Louis Windmuller, was forced to abandon his schooling before graduating from the gymnasium; he made his way in life as a merchant and his contributions to society were charitible, political, and cultural rather than professional. All the same, there were close connection between the families of Bernard Roelker and of my great-grandfather. In 1865 a member of the Roelker family, Alfred, would become Louis Windmuller's business partner and the two of them would make a great success as commissioning merchants over the next half century.[4] Biographic directories call Alfred Roelker an "old friend" rather than a family relation, but my father said he had been told they were related. In any event, a few years later the two families would become more closely aligned when my Louis Windmuller's sister-in-law Minnie married Alfred's brother Hugo.[5]

The next family members to immigrate to New York were Abraham and Jacob Windmuller. About Abraham I know almost nothing and am not even sure of his given name.[6] He shows up in city directories as "A. Windmuller," as in "Windmuller A. & Brothers, importers" which appears in Doggett's New York City directory of 1842. Jacob was a son of my great-grandfather's paternal uncle Isaac Windmuller.[7] Next to its entry for Windmuller A. & Brothers, Doggett's of 1842 lists "Windmuller Jacob, mer." (meaning merchant). His business address, 85 Pearl, is the same as that of A. Windmuller & Brothers.

I don't know why more than two brothers are indicated in the name of the Windmuller firm. There may have been another of whom I have no knowledge or the firm name may use the word "brother" loosely so as to include Henry Lefman, who was Abraham and Jacob's cousin. Henry Lefman's name also shows up in the 1842 Doggett's as doing business at 85 Pearl: "Lefman Henry, com. mer., 85 Pearl."[8] The directory lists Jacob and Henry as having the same home address: 60 Grove, a residence that Henry had occupied since at least 1839.

Here are scans of the entries from the 1842 Doggett's.

{The New York City directory, John Doggett (J. Doggett, Jr., 1842) }

By 1845, when the next Doggett's appeared, both Henry Lefman and Jacob Windmuller had moved away. That edition shows Jacob Windmuller's address as 67 Bank. This is presumably both business and home address. His occupation is shown as "teacher." Subsequent directories through 1860 list him as "professor of music" and "measurer" at the same address.[9] The 1845 Doggett's shows Henry Lefman's business address as 232 Washington and his home as 579 Broome.[10]

Over the next few decades the directories would continue to list the addresses of Henry Lefman and Jacob Windmuller. However, the last city directory to list A. Windmuller & Brothers is Doggett's of 1848, and I suspect that by then Abraham Windmuller had died or moved out of the city.

That same year three more relatives moved to town. Their name was Frankenheimer — Samuel, Philip, and Moses — and they were cousins of Louis Windmuller's mother, Rachel Sutro Windmuller.[11] In the early 1840s Samuel Frankenheimer had established a business in Alabama. In 1848 he moved to New York City and began manufacturing clothing. It's apparent that his brothers Philip and Moses joined him there.[12]

This image shows the card prepared at time of naturalization for Samuel Frankenheimer. His cousin Philip Pfeiffer attested to the accuracy of the information it gives.[13]

This image shows a passport application that Philip Frankenheimer submitted in 1859.

And this one shows a passport application that Moses Frankenheimer submitted at the same time.


This shows Coenties Slip just around the corner from 85 Pearl Street.

{Coenties Slip Near Pearl; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This postcard shows a portion of Grove Street after Jacob Windmuller and Henry Lefman had moved away.

{Stokes' Grove Street Studio, etched by Bernhardt Wall (Ferenz-Martini); source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Although this photo was taken in 1940, it appears to show buildings that were present a full century earlier.

{Manhattan: Bedford Street - Grove Street by Alexander Alland, 1940; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}


This detail from a fire insurance map shows the location of 85 Pearl Street. The color and single dot indicate that it was a "first class" brick or stone building used as a business having no dwelling units.[14]

Here is the full sheet in which this detail appears.

This detail shows 25 Old-Slip, the same sort of building as 85 Pearl.

This is the full sheet.

This detail shows 60 Grove Street. It was a smallish wood frame structure used as a dwelling with no storefront at street leve.

This is the full sheet.


I've marked this bird's eye view map to show 25 Old-Slip, 85 Pearl, 60 Grove, and 67 Bank. The map sheet is quite large. You can download the full-size image here.

{Bird's-eye view of New York City with Battery Park in the foreground, painted by Heine, engraved by Himely (Paris, Printed by Goupil & Co., 1851)}


Here are links to genealogical records for individuals named in this post:---------------

Some sources:

Things as They Are: Or, Notes of a Traveller Through Some of the Middle and Northern States, 1834

History of New York City (1855–1897) on wikipedia

New York in the Late 1820s and Early 1830s from NYPL

A short history of the port of New York,1815-1860 from Fordham University

The memorial history of the City of New-York from its first settlement to the year 1892, Volume 3, by James Grant Wilson (New-York History Co., 1893)

New York City History from the HistoryBox

The old merchants of New York City by Joseph Alfred Scoville (T. R. Knox, 1885)

South Street Seaport Historic District, Lower Manhattan

New York City Docks And Ships, (an article originally published in the early 1900s )

DAYS OF THE OLD PACKET; CONTRAST BETWEEN PRESENT AND PAST ATLANTIC LINERS. REMINISCENCES OF THE OLD PASSENGER SHIPS -- MOST OF THEM WERE FLYERS -- HARDSHIPS FROM WHICH PRESENT PASSENGERS ARE EXEMPT. New York Times, Dec. 13, 1891. (First paragraph: "What a contrast there is between the present facilities for transportation between Europe and America and those of years ago. Now there are daily departures from either side of the Atlantic of large, well-appointed steamships. The ocean greyhounds now land passengers at Queenstown, Southampton, or New-York within a week from the day of sailing, and the longest transatlantic voyage can be made in a fortnight.")



[1] A list of Westphalia families, in German, gives the following: "Erlaubte Auswanderung ... a) Heinr. Lefmann aus Warendorf, Kaufmann b) 6. 7. 1804 Telgte c) Witwe Elise Lefmann geb. Windmüller o) 1831 p) Nordamerika / New York s) Der Onkel Samuel Windmüller lebt seit längerem in New York."

This roughly translates as: "Permitted Emigration ... Name: Heinrich Lefmann, Residence: Warendorf, Occupation: merchant, Birthdate: 7 June 1804, Birthplace: Telgte [Telgte is a township in the Warendorf District], Parents: Widow Elise Lefmann, maiden name Windmuller, Year of Emigration: 1831, Country and Place of Emigration: North America / New York, Remarks: His uncle Samuel Windmuller has lived for many years in New York."

-- Source: Beitrage zur Westfalischen Familienforschung (Verlag Ascendorff, Munster, 1966).

[2] Longworth's American almanac, New-York register and city directory (New York, T. Longworth, 1839). A commission merchant was one who would import goods for customers in return for a commission fee.

[3] This was Bernard Roelker
Here is an excerpt from his obituary in the New York Times:

A PROMINENT LAWYER DEAD; THE ACTIVE LIFE IN LITERATURE AND LAW OF BERNARD ROELKER; New York Times, March 7, 1888. "Bernard Roelker, who died at his residence, 17 East Twelfth-street, Monday afternoon, of pneumonia, was born April 24, 1816, at Osnabruck, Hanover. He received his education at the University of Bonn-on-the Rhine, where he devoted himself largely to the studies of law and philology. ... "
He was one of the few relatives who became sufficiently well-known for his portrait to be preserved:

[4] The firm was Louis Windmuller & Lefman --

[5] Family tradition says that Minnie was the "Belle of Hoboken." (Some may remember that this sobriquet figures in a 1929 Broadway musical, Sweet Adeline.) Her husband made a fine reputation as a civil engineer. I've previously written about him. Minnie comes up in a few of my previous posts, including this one. Although I write that Alfred and Hugo were brothers, I have not documentary evidence of that; it's simply part of the family oral history. It's clear they were closely related but may have been cousins, not brothers.

[6] The Windmuller family has been carefully researched, but there is no listing for an Abraham Windmuller or any Windmuller having a given name starting with the letter A with anything close to the appropriate birth and death dates.

[7] Isaac was thus a brother of Solomon.

[8] Com. mer. stands for commission merchant.

[9] Measurers were officials in the U.S. Customs House at the port of New York. They assessed imports so that tariffs could be leveyed on them.

[10] Doggett's New-York City directory, John Doggett (J. Doggett, Jr., 1845)

[11] Their mother was Yereth Sutro, aunt of my great-grandfather's mother, Rachel Sutro. Here are links to genalogical records for them: Philip Frankenheimer, Moses Frankenheimer, Abraham Frankenheimer.

[12] This information comes from a biography of another brother, Bernhard Frankenheimer. Here's an extract:

BERNHARD FRANKENHEIMER, a retired merchant of Stockton, was born in Bruck, near Erlangen, Bavaria, May, 1826, a son of Loeb and Yereth (Sutro) Frankenheimer. The father, a merchant of Erlangen, died at the age of seventy-five, and the mother somewhat younger. Her brother Emanuel was the father of the celebrated mining engineer, Adolph Sutro, of Sutro Tunnel fame, now of Sutro Heights, San Francisco. Samuel, an elder brother of our subject, came to America in 1842, and went into business first at Gainesville, Alabama, with a cousin as partner, under the style of Pfeiffer & Frankenheimer, in general merchandise. In 1848 they moved to New York city, where they carried on the manufacture of clothing until 1887, when they retired from active life. The subject of this sketch, on his arrival from Europe in 1844, went by sea from New York to Mobile, where his brother Philip was doing business as an importer of fancy goods, by whom he was soon afterward put in charge of a branch store in Macon, Mississippi. There he remained until 1848, and from 1848 to 1850 was similarly employed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
[13] These images come from a database maintained by

[14] This and the following fire insurance map images all come from Maps of the City of New York by William Perris, cartographer (Perris & Browne, 1852); source: NYPL Digital Gallery

Monday, September 06, 2010

Uncle Solomon

When my German relatives emigrated to New York during the first half of the nineteenth century they did not experience the full range of hardships that many other emigrants endured. They were not forced to live in unhealthy and dangerous slum dwellings where people, male and female, young and old, family relations and strangers, all packed together sleeping elbow to elbow, often on the filth-ridden floors. They did not earn their meager livings as rag pickers, scavengers, sweated clothing workers, or day laborers. They were not stigmatized for dressing in cast-off garments, nor for their inability to read or write and lack of rudimentary social skills. They did not come from lands, ones outside Britain and the countries of Northern Europe, where people were thought to be barbarous: they were not African-American, Irish, Italian, or Eastern European.[1]

They had little money, but their poverty does not seem to have been the main or only reason for their taking ship. Similarly, although they were Jews, religious persecution was not likely to have been one of their main reasons for departure. That, persecution, was on the decline where they lived at that time. In fact, they each probably had their own personal reasons. Conflicts within their families or personal disappointments might have motivated them. They might have been upset, as many were, with the political setbacks the country experienced in 1830 and, much more, in 1848, when popular movements for greater democracy were crushed.

None of them lived on farms. Their families were merchants with merchants' respect for education and by the time they set off for America, they all, or most anyway, had received the equivalent of the US high school education or better.[2]

Most of them came from the small, tightly-knit Jewish communities of Westphalia. Those communities were mutually supportive and I suspect their emigrant sons carried with them this communal spirit, though it might last among them, perhaps, no more than the first few years. The village about which I know the most, Beckum, had a Jewish community as early as 1343, possessed a synagogue and school of religion in 1743, and hired its first paid teacher in 1817. This school would later receive funding as one of the town's public schools.[3]

My great-grandfather's uncle, Solomon Windmuller, was the first of the family to emigrate.[4] He left no writings that have come down to me, but there are quite a few public records that cite him. The earliest is his registration as a United States citizen in May 1819. This reads: "Windmuller/Wingmiller, Solomon, report 14(?) May 1819: b. Warrendorff (i.e., Warendorf), co. of Westphalia, Prussia, age 35, migr. from Bremen, tavern-keeper, wife Julianna, b. Leignitz (i.e., Liegnitz), Silesia, Prussia, age 28 — 17 Apr. 1820."[5]

His name shows up next in the US Census of 1820 as a resident of New York City.[6] After that, he appears in a number of the directories which enterprising New York publishers produced with increasing frequency as the nineteenth century progressed. They show him in 1822 at Porterhouse (business) and 231 William St. (home); in 1826 at the National Coffee House (business) and 224 William (home); in 1828 at 6 Vandewater; in 1830 at 18 Gold; in 1831 at 100 William (business) and 12 Vandewater (home); in 1834 at 100 William (business); in 1835 at 100 William (business) and 86 Nassau (home); and in 1836 at 100 William (business) and 19 Rector (home).[7]

In 1831 he was cited in an emigration paper obtained by another nephew, Henry Lefman. The paper says Solomon had lived for some time in New York ("lebt seit längerem in New York").[8] Fairly intensive research that my aunt Florence undertook in 1986 turned up no deeds, probate records, or death record.[9] The last record I've found is an 1836 petition to be forgiven debts. It appears to be a declaration of bankruptcy during a time when there was no bankruptcy law.[10]

Like the other Windmullers in my family, Solomon came from the area around Munster. He's recorded as coming from the Warendorf district and, like other family members, may have come from the village of Beckum in that jurisdiction. Here is what that place looked like in the old days (which old days the print does not specify).

{Old Beckum; source:}

This old photo shows a house typical of the ones inhabited by the Windmuller clan and other Beckum Jews.

{Beckum. House of the Family Levy Stein on Marienplatz, Nordstrasse. Demolished after Pogromnacht. source:}

This modern photo shows a section of Nordstraße, the street where the Windmullers and most other Jews lived in Beckum.

{Beckum - Nordstraße — Blick vom Marktplatz in die Nordstraße. In der Bildmitte ein Neubau der Sonnenuhr mit Dach. By Blue Petunia This photo was taken on May 19, 2009. link to:}

In this aerial view of Nordstraße, you can see, on the left three of the original homes of Beckum Jews; virtually all of the town's Jews either escaped from Germany during the Nazi era or succumbed in the Nazi death camps.


This print shows a porter house. New York had more than one of them. This may or may not be the porterhouse where Solomon Windmuller is recorded as doing business in Manhattan. This one is on the far left, at the intersection of Broadway, Park Row, and Ann Street. It's no surprise that a man who styled himself "tavern keeper" in his immigration papers would turn up in one of these places.

{Broadway New York. South from the Park; 1846, hand-colored lithograph by N. Currier, 152 Nassau St. cor. of Spruce N.Y. 28.8 x 38.5 cm.; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This print shows William Street where he lived and worked for the decade beginning in 1826.

{Franklin Market, foot of William St., New York City, 1820, by Samuel Hollyer, created in 1903, 12 x 17 cm. from Old New York. (New York : [s. n.] 1905-1914); source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This print shows a different part of William Street. In this image, 100 William Street, where Solomon Windmuller ran a business during the 1830s, is on the left.

{John W. Quincy, 98 William St. at the corner of Platt Street New York in 1858. Lithograph from Endicott & Co. N.Y., 34.9 x 45.5 cm.; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This print shows yet another part of William Street. It's likely that the room Solomon Windmuller rented at 224 William was in a building something like this one.

{Old house, 178 William St. by Sarony, Major & Knapp Lithographer, 10 x 8 cm.; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

In this print, 100 William St. is around the bend by the tree and the liberty pole.

{View of William Street, looking up from Frankfort St., 1859, by A. Weingärtner's Lithography, 10 x 15 cm. "For D.T. Valentine's Manual, 1859;" source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This, as it says, shows Vandewater Street. Solomon Windmuller's rented room was in a wood frame building out of our sight, next to Grotten's Liquors.

{View of Vandewater St. cor. Frankfort St. (1863) by Major & Knapp Engraving, Manufacturing & Lithographic Co. 12 x 17 cm. "For D.T. Valentine's manual 1864;" source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Here are some images from fire maps of the time.

You can tell from this that 100 William St. was a wood frame building having apartments on the second floor and a store on the first.

{100 William St. in 1855; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Here is the map sheet from which I took the detail.

This detail shows 231 William Street where he lived in 1822. According to the key, 231 was a brick building having apartments above and a storefront under.

This is the sheet from which I took the detail.

Here you can see both 6 and 12 Vandewater, the first a wood frame structure and the second brick, both having apartments and storefronts.

And again the full sheet.

This is the title page of the 1834 directory of Manhattan.

{Longworth's American almanac (T. Longworth, 1834)}

This copy of page 743 shows Solomon Windmuller's business address as 100 William and his home address as 12 Vandewater.

{Longworth's American almanac (T. Longworth, 1834)}

I've annotated this 1836 map of lower Manhattan to show Solomon Windmuller's business and home addresses.

{Annotated detail from the "Topographical map of the city and county of New-York, and the adjacent country: with views in the border of the principal buildings, and interesting scenery of the island" by J.H. Colton & Co (1836); source: Library of Congress --}


Some sources:

Beckum Photographs


Beckum, Germany

Short History of Beckum

History of the Jewish Community of Beckum


Jüdische Gemeinde Warendorf


In Memory of the Former Jewish Community of Beckum

The German Language / Family Names

Jewish Immigration

A Century of Immigration, 1820-1924

1820 United States Federal Census

City Directories, an article by Kathi Sittner on

About New York City Directories

Imprisonment for Debt. Author(s): Richard Ford. Source: Michigan Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Nov., 1926), pp. 24-49. Published by: The Michigan Law Review Association. Stable URL:

Longworth's American almanac (T. Longworth, 1834)



[1] I've done quite a few blog posts on the experiences of those immigrants (and the freed slaves) who were members of detested minorities: African-Americans, Irish, Italians, and Jews from the Russian Empire.

[2] Although my emigrant relatives did not write about their lives in Germany, those for whom there are entries in biographic dictionaries did give information about their schooling. Thus I know that two, my great-grandfather and a more distant relative, were educated at the famous Gymnasium Carolinum (founded by Charlemagne in 804, this Latin grammar school is still highly-regarded for the quality of its instruction). Others were reported to have been given as much schooling as they, though maybe not so prestigiously. In one case, that of the Sutros, two young men remained in Germany to complete schooling and then joined the rest of the family, which had emigrated before them.

[3] Short History of Beckum Jewish Community School

[4] He was known as Salomon and Samuel as well as Solomon and his surname might be spelled Windmueller or Windmüller and occasionally windmiller as well as Windmuller. In the half century following 1775 countries in Northern Europe began to require that subjects submit family names for state records. Before then family names were either not used or were informal and variable. It wasn't until 1821 that family names were required of people in Warendorf, where Solomon came from. A set of web pages on the Warendorf village of Beckum gives some information on this.

[5] Source: Court of Common Pleas, p. 291. See NY NATURALIZATIONS 1792-1840, Early New York Naturalizations
Abstracts of Naturalizations Records from Federal, State, and Local Courts, 1792-1840, by Kenneth Scott (NY NATURALIZATIONS 1792-1840) and

[6] 1820 United States Federal Census

[7] Although the city directories of New York are widely regarded as being comprehensive, accurate, up to date, and highly useful, there's no authoritative list of them. Here's one that gives data on Solomon Windmuller: Longworth's American almanac: New-York register and city directory (T. Longworth, 1827)

[8] See Beitrage zur Westfalischen Familienforschung.

[9] That is to say my aunt Florence turned up no such records in the research she did in archives and libraries of New York City.

[10] During the early years of the republic, insolvent debtors could be imprisoned. In the 1830s there was a movement to reform this procedure and some states, including New York, passed laws for debtors' relief. The New York law did not, evidently, protect Solomon Windmuller against his debt to the government. He thus petitioned the House of Representatives for specific and individual forgiveness. Here's the text from the Journals of the House:
Tuesday, December 27, 1836.

Petitions ...

Mr. McKeon presented a petition of Solomon Windmuller, of the State of New York, late an importing merchant, setting forth that he is indebted to the United States in a large sum of money on custom-house bonds, given by the petitioner as surety for others; that judgments have been entered and are now standing against him; and that his said indebtedness arose prior to the passage of the act for the relief of certain insolvent debtors of the United States, and the various acts in amendment and in addition thereto; that he is now insolvent, and praying that the benefit of the said act may be extended to him: which said petition was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. Hall, of Maine, presented a petition of George Dyer, Jr., of the State of Maine, praying the allowance of the usual bounty on the fishing schooner Three Brothers, of Belfast, in the State of Maine, which went upon a fishing voyage to the Grand Banks in the year 1835, and returned into port four days before the expiration of the time fixed by law for said voyage.

Ordered, That the said two petitions severally be referred to the Committee on Commerce.

Monday, December 26, 1836.

Journal: 1st-13th congress

-- Journal: 1st-13th congress. Repr. 14th Congress, 1st session - 50th Congress, 2nd session, United States congressional serial set (1835)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Broadway in the '30s

The print shows a section of Broadway in 1836. It's an etching made from a drawing by an English artist and land surveyor, Thomas Hornor, and it's remarkable for its accurate detail and something akin to photographic realism.[1] Our viewpoint is a position on Broadway just south of its intersection with Canal Street. We are looking north and can clearly see the block between Canal and Grand Street but beyond that point it's increasingly difficult to make things out.

{Caption: Broadway, New-York. Shewing each Building from the Hygeian Depot corner of Canal Street, to beyond Niblo's Garden. Etched by T. Hornor. Printed by W. Neale. 17% x 27. Published in New York by Joseph Stanley and Co. Source: Library of Congress}

Here are some detail views of this interesting cityscape.

1. Broadway above Canal in 1836 had trees. Most look to be poplars. Its a shopping district and there are apartments above the shops. In one of these a woman, apparently with babe in arms, looks out at the passing scene. The sidewalks are crowded with people who seem to be well-dressed and — many of them — better than modestly prosperous. Dogs run loose while horses are kept carefully under control.

2. We are at the dawn of the age of electric traction and the first electric streetcar was already running on nearby Fourth Avenue. Here on Broadway, however, horses are the only means of transport, so much so that they are almost as abundant as people. Pedestrians occupy the streets as well as the sidewalks. There is a high pole with foot pegs for climbing and a Phrygian cap on top.[2] It must be a Liberty pole. There was one of these poles nearby at City Hall Park and evidently here at Broadway and Grand as well.[3] Note the presence of "Tattersalls" mid-block. Broadway House looks like a hotel but was considered to be an inn or tavern at the time. It was known for hosting political meetings.[4]

3. Joseph Stanley published this etching and he was not shy to have Hornor put his establishment front and center.[5] The uprights with cross-pieces were evidently used to display goods for sale, though no goods are here present. Note the cigar store. Two of my German-immigrant relatives were in the "segar" selling business in these years, though the shops they operated were in Washington Street a few blocks away. Nearby, Cornelius McLean runs a business making fanlights and window sashes.[6] The Bank Coffee House started out south of this location, in the rear of the Bank of New York at William and Pine Streets. I don't know when it moved here. "Coffee house" in this instance is a euphemism for tavern. The place was known as a merchants' gathering place.[7] The wagon carrying "Spring Water" is a reminder that the Croton Aqueduct has yet to be constructed.[8]

4. In these times people gathered at windows to catch light for reading or sewing, as do these ladies. The sign at 416 announces a trunk maker, but a book published in 1833 records a boot and shoe manufactury run by C.B. and J.C. Greene at this location.[9] In 1850, the owner's name was Adolphus Loss.[10] Mr. Wright, also at 416, sells, caps, and furs. [11]

5. Located at Stanley's shop at 50 Canal Street, the "General Depot for the Sale of Morison's Hygeian Medicine" sold the "Vegetable Universal Pills" of James Morison, a British entrepreneur who had announced that everyone could maintain his own health without the services of "elitistic" physicians. The plants in the windows proclaim the virtues of medicines based on natural plant products.[12] Analysis of the secret-formula pills showed that they were no more than laxatives. Signs proclaim the bookseller, Stanley, to be the American agent for sale of all London editions and of English editions of London and American writers. Here, in the 1830s, English authors seem to outrank the home-grown variety. In this view as in others, it's apparent that this part of Broadway was the fashionable shopping district of the 1830s.

6. There are horse-drawn omnibuses and hired coaches as well as private carriages. This was a period when men still rode horses in the city merely to get from one place to another. In a short while the cost and inconvenience of this form of transportation would eliminate it from common use.

7. Here we have one of the omnibuses, grandly pulled by four matched horses. The driver is assisted by a groom. Everyone rides inside. The British mail-style coach with roof-top seating would come later.[13] If it hasn't been plain before, it certainly is now clear to us that anarchy reigns on this part of Broadway. There's no lane discipline nor any sense that vehicles in motion take precedence over bodies at rest.[14] There are three large beams rising at angles on the sidewalk, but what they are I cannot say.

8. More public transport, more dogs, more pedestrians strolling street and sidewalk. There are many women out and about, most of them unescorted by men. There's only one cab-like vehicle that I can see. The hansom cab was invented in England in 1834 and only later introduced into the traffic of New York City. At the time our drawing was made people would hire much less maneuverable and more expensive Hackney Coaches to get around in.

9. Street-sellers outside the trunk and hat shops. You can buy wood to burn, potted flowers and notions, boots and curtain stuff. Note that the woodseller will cut to order.

10. Ice was a summer luxury. It would be harvested from ice ponds in winter and kept in sawdust-filled warehouses as long as possible through the warm months.

11. Lockwood's was a bookseller, here advertising as a school book depository. A memoirist of 1893 remembers the "famous book-store of Roe Lockwood, on Broadway, below Lispenard Street, where all the boys of forty years ago went to purchase their school-books."[15] I think the wig maker was John Hotblack, "wig and ornamental hair manufacturer, wholesale and retail, 415 Broadway."[16] One of the dogs has a dead bird in its mouth; two others look ready to fight over it. No one nearby pays any attention to the three. Street sellers on this side of Broadway offer potatoes and other foodstuffs that can't be identified.

12. Here's the title of the print. Niblo's Garden was operated by John Niblo at 557 Broadway, then only a couple of years old. It was a public garden and theater.[17] Back then, the suburbs began not far north of its location.

Here's a copy of the print with aquatint in lower resolution.

{Hand-colored etching aquatinted by J. Hill, 1838; source: "unforth Claire H." on flickr -- About unforth / Claire H.}

She also gives these detail views.

An old book has yet another version.

{Broadway and Canal in 1836 from Valentine's manual of old New York, Volume 12, edited by Henry Collins Brown (Valentine's manual, inc., 1917)}


Some sources:

Niblo's Garden, in The New York clipper annual (1892) at Columbia University Libraries
(New York : Frank Queen Pub. Co., 1883-)

Thomas Hornor: Pictural Land Surveyor, by Ralph Hyde; Source: Imago Mundi, Vol. 29 (1977), pp. 23-34. Published by: Imago Mundi, Ltd. Stable URL:

The iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909 (v. 6) by I. N. Phelps Stokes
(New York, Robert H. Dodd, 1915-1928)

The New York mercantile union business directory (S. French, L.C. & H.L. Pratt, 1850).

Bowery Village, The diary of Michael Floy, Jr., Bowery village, 1833-1837, by M Floy; Richard Albert Edward Brooks; Margaret Floy Washburn (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1941)

Valentine's manual of old New York, Volume 12, edited by Henry Collins Brown (Valentine's manual, inc., 1917)



[1] Photography had been invented at the time Hornor made this drawing, but no photograph of the time could match the fine detail he produced.

[2] To Americans of the time, the Phrygian cap symbolized liberty achieved by revolution. It was the bonnet rouge of the Parisian sans-culottes and Marianne, the national symbol of France, is normally shown wearing one.

[3] There was definitely one at this intersection in 1856 &mdash see Liberty Pole on However, this drawing made in 1852 shows the pole sporting an American flag, still surmounted by windvane but lacking the cap.

{Broadway looking north at Grand St., engraved on copper for the Society of Iconophiles of New York, by Walter M. Aikman 1905 from a painting by R. Bond 1852. Source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

[4] Tattersall's is easy to make out in this drawing. Broadway House is the large building on the corner to the left.

{Broadway between Howard and Grand Streets, in 1840. 17 x 24.8 cm. Cutting from Munsey's magazine. Source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Regarding Broadway House, see The iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909 (v. 6) by I. N. Phelps Stokes
(New York, Robert H. Dodd, 1915-1928) and Historic Lower Broadway, Relics of the Past Becoming Scarce in That Section, but a Few Remain to Recall the Men and Events of Importance in Days Gone By. New York Times, May 24, 1903, Sunday, Page 33.

[5] As well as publishing books and prints, J. Stanley & Co. ran the Franklin Circulating Library and Reading Room. This ad appears in New York As It Is (1833).

[6] See New-York as it is: containing a general description of the City of New-York; list of officers, public institutions, and other useful information: including the public officers, &c. of the City of Brooklyn : with additions and corrections : accompanied by a correct map by Edwin Williams (T.R. Tanner, 1833)

[7] See History Of Coffee in Old New York.

[8] I've written a number of blog posts about the aqueduct. One of them discusses "tea water," a term, like "spring water," which merchants used to convey the notions of purity and fresh taste. [9] Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1860)

[10] New-York as it is: containing a general description of the City of New-York; list of officers, public institutions, and other useful information: including the public officers, &c. of the City of Brooklyn : with additions and corrections : accompanied by a correct map by Edwin Williams (T.R. Tanner, 1833)

[11] For Adolphus Loss: The New York mercantile union business directory (S. French, L.C. & H.L. Pratt, 1850).

[12] See The Nineteenth Century — The Beginnings of Modern Medicine by Albert S. Lyons>. Here is a page from New-York as it is of 1833:

[13] I've done a series of blog posts on these horse-drawn omnibuses: [14] In fact the practice of marking lanes and enforcing lane discipline did not evolve until the 20th century. See the wikipedia article on lanes for more on this.

[15] The quote comes from Bowery Village, The diary of Michael Floy, Jr., Bowery village, 1833-1837, by M Floy; Richard Albert Edward Brooks; Margaret Floy Washburn (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1941). See also The New York mercantile union business directory) (S. French, L.C. & H.L. Pratt, 1850)

[16] Wigs New-York as it is (1833).

[17] New-York As It Is (1833) carried this ad for Niblo's:

And see (The New York mercantile union business directory). And see also Niblo's Garden, The New York clipper annual, 1892(New York, Frank Queen Pub. Co., 1883-)