Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Henry Lefman, part one

As I said the other day, Henry Lefman was cousin, mentor, partner, and father-in-law to my great-grandfather, Louis Windmuller. Lefman emigrated from Germany to New York in 1831. His mother, Elise Windmuller Lefman, was a sister of Louis Windmuller's father, Abraham Windmuller[1] and also of Solomon Windmuller, who had previously emigrated to New York and about whom I've previously written.

Here's what I know about Henry Lefman, presented in timeline format.

Henry is born into the small Jewish community in the town of Telgte not far from Münster, Germany.[2] He was related, though I don't know how closely, to a well-known philologist, Salomon Lefmann, also of Telgte. The place is picturesque, as shows this photo of a very old mill.

{Telgte - Haus Langen; source:}

Sarah Lenington Thorne is born in Albany, NY. When she married Henry, she became my great-great-grandmother. Her ancestral line is a long one and its stories are good.[3]

Henry's father, Solomon Levi Lefman, dies in Telgte. He may have been father or uncle to the philologist who bears his name (Salomon being a variant of Solomon and Lefmann of Lefman). I wish I knew.

Henry is granted permission to emigrate from Telgte to New York, joining his uncle Solomon Windmuller. This comes from the Westphalian Society for Genealogy and Family Research in Münster.[4]

City directories show Henry Lefman to be a tobacco merchant ("segars").

Henry marries Sarah Lennington Thorne on March 29 in New York. Although his family is Jewish and hers Episcopalian, they raise their children in the Dutch Reform faith. By an odd coincidence, my mother and her family, not at all related to the Lefmans except via my father, were all raised in the same confession. The Lefmans raised their family in German-American Hoboken, NJ, while my mother's parents raised theirs in Dutch-American Passaic, twelve miles to the north and west.

Henry and Sarah's first child, Hannah Eliza Lefman, is born. At age 23 she will marry Louis Windmuller and become my great-grandmother. From childhood on the family knows her as Annie.

Henry and Sarah's first son is born: Henry S. Lefman.

A city directory lists Henry Lefman as a commission merchant at 25 Old-slip, living at 60 Grove.[5]

This drawing shows Coenties Slip, not Old-Slip and it was made at the end of the century not the middle of it. Still, it shows something like how Old-Slip looked.

{source: flickr}

This house on Grove Street is not no. 60, but it does date back to the 1850s.

{source: flickr}

Henry Lefman advertises seasonable dry goods in the New York Sun - 85 Pearl upstairs.

Henry Lefman announces that he will not honor debts incurred by his wife, Sarah: New York Sun. I've no knowledge what this is about, but note what follows.

Henry Lefman declares bankruptcy: Evening Post, Thursday, Feb. 3, 1841.

The city directory for this year lists Jacob Windmuller at the same home addresses as Henry. Jacob was Henry's nephew, son of Elise's brother, Isaac Levi Windmuller. He shows up in my blog post on Louis Windmuller's New York cousins and other family. His business address is shared not only with Henry, but with other Winmuller relations in a firm called A. "Windmuller & Brothers, importers."

Henry and Sarah's second son, George W. Lefman, is born.

Doggett's City Directory shows Henry Lefman's business address as 232 Washington and his home as 579 Broome. The World Trade Center would later be built just south of 232 Washington, as you can see from this satellite photo.

Henry Lefman obtains judgement against a man who deceived him about collateral in the matter of an obligation against which Henry gave his good name. This comes from the National Police Gazette of that year (I don't know the month or day).

Doggett's New-York City directory lists "Lefman Henry, mer. 232 Washington, h. 107 Warren," and "Lefman & Co. mers. 232 Washington."

Henry and Sarah's third son, Robert L. Lefman, is born. Henry is 45 and Sarah 33 years old.

Our very limited file of family memorabilia includes a portrait of Sarah taken this year. The family appear to have been traveling in Germany because, as you can see, the studio, A.H. Heckmann, is located in Osanbrück at Johannesstrasse 68. Osnabrück is not far from Henry's home town of Telgte. My great-grandfather, Louis Windmuller, went to high school in Osnabrück at the Gymnasium Carolinum and so did another relative who migrated to New York: Bernard Roelker. In fact the Roelker family were centered in Osnabrück and it tempting to hypothesize that there was some link between them and the Lefmans, though what it might be I cannot say. Sarah was 34 when she sat for this portrait.

Henry's name appears in another city directory. While most of these publications are strictly alphabetical — like the later phone book white pages — one of these a classified listing — like the yellow. In it, Henry is given two entries, one under the heading "wine & liquor dealers," styles him "Lefman H. & Co., 232 Washington," while the other, under the heading "merchants, general," refers to him simply as "Lefman, Henry" and gives the same address.


Some sources:

The Windmuller Family genealogical database I've been compiling and the narrative that goes with it: Louis Windmüller and Family

Der jüdische Friedhof in Telgte



[1] These name links take you to the genealogical database for my ancestors on my father's side.

[2] The Nazis destroyed the cemeteries as well as stealing their homes and possessions and finally murdering them. For this reason only a few names can now be recovered from the old Jewish cemetery at Telgte. Among those that can be found are Salomon Leffmann (1788–1875), Nathan Lefmann (1876–1878), Siegfried Leffmann (1879–1880), and Jakob Leffmann (1846–1883). See Der jüdische Friedhof in Telgte. I've not been able to uncover their connection with Henry and his parents, Elise, and Solomon.

[3] It's not difficult to trace our Thorne ancestors back to sixteenth- and the Leningtons to seventeenth-century England. Here are some posts that mention them [4] 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).

[5] The directory is Longworth's American Almanac, New-York Register and City Directory for 1839.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Concernig the death of Salomon Levi Leffmann, the father of "Henry lefman" there are some things to correct:
Since Oct. 1829 the father was missed. March 26 1830 the dead body was found at Warendorf in the bank of the Ems (a little river), drowned.
There are special sources I can give you if you are interested.
Best wishes
Ekkehard Gühne, Warendorf, Germany