Jews in the News, 1908

This year was a year of economic depression for the country.  It is difficult to determine how bad things were in Homestead.  On the one hand, there was a record-setting number of suicides and arsons and far more charity activity than I’ve ever read about.  On the other hand, almost all the industry news was about mills reopening, orders coming in, payrolls increasing.  I suspect overall things were a lot worse than the paper let on.

As seems to often be the case during bad times in Homestead, the amount of coverage of the Jewish community plummeted.  Nevertheless, there are a few interesting stories that got a lot more sustained coverage than the paper usually managed — see the sections labeled “don’t miss!” below.

Hallowe’en Parade (don’t miss!)
Liquor Licenses
Merchant Woes
Personal Woes
Travel and Socializing
Charity Girls (don’t miss!)


1/16: Lasdusky ad for school board

1/16: Lasdusky ad for school board

  • 1/4:  For the 25th anniversary banquet of the Magdala Lodge No. 991 of the Odd Fellows, “Chairman Lasdusky, of the press committee, has obtained a handsome souvenir program which will commemorate an important and notable event.”  On 1/17 a big front page article about this anniversary included a picture of Lasdusky along with others on the committee of arrangements.
  • 1/15:  B. Hepps was re-elected to the board of the Homestead Savings Bank and Trust Company along with I.S. Grossman and Morris Half.
  • 2/12:  The local business men’s association was booming.  Amongst the new members: Max Gross, Ben Little, Max Glick. Old members reinstated included Joseph Lasdusky.  Thought it is nice that they were included, it does seem like Jews were far underrepresented from their actual numbers in the business community.
  • 2/28:  Getting ready for another businessmen’s baseball league.  Once again  L. Segelman would play for the Pennsylvania Railroad Clerks team. (A couple months later, it said he enrolled in high school for the spring term, though he was still playing for this team.  Unclear…)
  • 3/7:  Many representatives were named for the Homestead Relief Bureau.  Representing the “Hebrew congregation” was Morris Frankel.
  • 3/17:  Four Russian from the Southside, Pittsburg, were convicted of disorderly conduct.  They caused a disturbance in the store of Mrs. Ernstein.  “After being ordered out once by the police [they] returned and told Mrs. Ernstein in Russian that they had no time for a Jew and it is alleged they threatened to kill her like they do her people in Russia.  Burgess Rott told the men that in the United States they could not do as they did in Russia and he wanted them to understand that.”
  • 3/23:  Rabbi Leonard J. Levy of Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh “has been secured to address the Munhall high school class at the commencement exercises.  Rabbi Levy has been heard in Homestead before and it will be good news to all the friends of the school to know what the is to appear at the commencement.  The commencement exercises this year will be more than usually interesting.
  • 4/4:  The relief committee was in need of more money. “Their funds are growing short and they have many worthy families to take care of at present.” Lasdusky present at the meeting and “reported a donation of $5 from the Hebrew society.”
  • 4/21: Check out the bottom-right baby!

    4/21: Check out the bottom-right baby!

    4/21:  A cute baby contest started 4/18, and Louis Pollack, son of Harry Pollack, was one of the entrants!  See his picture at right.  As of 4/30, he was hanging in there — in 10th place with 8,715 votes (first place then had 16,600 votes).  Alas, the contest ended 5/19, and he missed the prizes.

  • 4/28:  “The empolyees of Joseph Lasdusky’s dry goods store have fallen into line with the employees of the P.&L.E. railroad and have raised a purse for the benefit of the Central Relief Bureau. The collection amounted to $7.00, which has been truned over to the secretary D.J. Crawford of the bureau. These contirubtions are most acceptable at this time since the funds of the bureau are getting low.”
  • 5/13:  The Businessmen’s association announced the committees for its upcoming picnic.  Train no. 1 committee included Lasdusky. Reception committee included Max Schoenfield, Max Glick, Max Gross, I.J. Goldston, Lewis Glick, H.L. Little, Ben Little, and Max Markowitz.
  • April and May were the months of the youth baseball league, and this year there were lots of mentions of teams with members of the Jewish community.  There were the Columbia midgets with Eskowitz and Samuels.  There were the Teddy Bears, with a rotating group of mostly Jewish players including Jacob Hepps, R. and L. Lasdusky, David Israel, S. Israel, M. Haupt, A. Hepps, M. Moranz, GlickPollack, and Eskowitz. They placed repeated announcements like, “The Teddy Bear midgets would like to arrange games with any 9 or 10 year old team. Address Jake Hepps, 406 Dickson street”.  That’s my grandfather!
  • 6/23:  The hospital board election would take place that evening.  Candidates for director included Mrs. Morris Frankel and Mrs. M. Marks (vote for 7 of 13).  6/24:  Mrs. Marks made the cut, but not Mrs. Frankel.
  • 6/24:  At business men’s meeting last night H.L. Little was put on the committee to canvas for the early closing movement (an annual agreement amongst the merchants to close at their stores early during the summer, a time of little shopping).  He was successful; starting 7/1 the furniture stores agreed to close at 5:30 PM (the others were as yet undecided), and
  • 7/7:  Finally, agreement which stores will close at 6 o’clock except on Saturdays and pay Fridays!  Half of the 34 merchants named were Jewish merchants:  H.L. Little, shoes; Jesse Wolk; shoes; Mrs. E. (sic) Segelman, jeweler; Joseph Lasdusky, dry goods and millinery; Max Schoenfield, clothier; M. Marks, jeweler; A. Slavossky (?), tailor and furnishings; I. Grossman, housefurnishings; B. Friedlander, dry goods; Morris Grinberg, department store; B. Little, clothing; Meyer Grinberg, house furnishings; J. Friedlander, clothing; I.J. Goldston, clothing and shoes; Sam Mervis, clothing and shoes; B. Gross, clothing and shoes; Nathan Schwartz, clothing and shoes.  “All the grocers, hardware dealers, millinery stores, furniture dealers and butchers are already in the early closing movement…Many dealers have signified their intention of continuing the 6 o’clock closing hour for the entire year providing the movement proves itself satisfactory to their patrons.”  (When it came to the last week of the early closing, on 8/28 the paper reported that the clerks want early closing hours continued!)
  • 6/9:  The Daughters of Rebecca had their installation of officers. Mrs. Sallie Lasdusky was installed as Noble Grand.
  • 8/1:  The town’s relief committee ran out of funds.  Amongst the $14 in donations collected at the meeting was $1 from Hepps & Markowitz, the liquor wholesalers.
  • 4/23: The Heptasophs in action

    4/23: The Heptasophs in action

    8/11:  For weeks there had been controversy growing against the contractor hired to pave some streets in Homestead.  It’s really not worth going into here, except to say that amongst the many plaintiffs were Max Markowitz, Louis Glick, Daniel Saron, Joseph Fried, M.D. Weiss, Henry Glick, Samuel Schwartz, R. Schermer, I. Samuels, I.S. Grossman, Henry Markowitz, and Morris Grinberg.  The defendants include the contractors, the burgess, the borough treasurer, and most or all of the borough’s councilmen.  Ack!

  • 8/22:  Prizes for the upcoming business men’s meet included donations from Half Bros., Jesse Wolk, Little, and Segelman.
  • 8/25:  For the upcoming Heptasoph reunion at Rock Springs, S. Fogel was responsible for printing.  (Fogels had been members since at least 1901.  Above is a picture of some of the Heptasophs in action.)
  • 9/14: The first Homestead Hospital

    9/14: The first Homestead Hospital.  It opened the evening of 12/1/1908.

    9/15: On 9/12 the hospital had a “tag day” fundraiser; girls went on the street and placed tags on people who were then expected to donate.  $600 was raised, including from Cecelia Marks 11.73, Esther Grossman 6.35, Jennie Friedlander 2.4, Ruth Sobel .85, Ida Goldman .15, Edith Widom .55 (the rabbi’s daughter!), Mark Fischel 2.85, Mrs. Marks 13.85, Mr. B. Glueck 7.75.

  • 10/15:  Homestead hospital’s physicians were elected.  They included Dr. Maurice H. Moss.
  • 11/13: Lasdusky a leading citizen of Homestead!

    11/13: Lasdusky a leading citizen of Homestead!

    11/13:  In a printed portrait gallery of the town’s leading citizens, Joseph Lasdusky was included.  (See the notice at right.)

  • 12/2:  I. Grossman raised $2 for the hospital by making a man who tried to steal his barrel donate.  “This is a good example for other business men to follow.”  Article below.
  • 12/29:  News from the Arabella Rebeka lodge: “The retiring noble grand, Mrs. Joseph Lasdusky was presented with a pasty noble grand’s jewel and her husband presented her with a noble grand’s collar.”


1/18: Lasdusky should be re-elected!

1/18: Lasdusky should be re-elected!

2/17: Lasdusky Not Opposed to Christmas Exercises

2/17: Lasdusky Not Opposed to Christmas Exercises

  • 1/27:  Lasdusky won his primary, 118-93.
  • 2/19:  “In the Second ward there were some heated arguments but no disorder and the result there is about as anticipated, Joseph Lasdusky wining out over Edward McKeown for school director just as he did at the Republican primaries, although McKeown put up a great fight under heavy odds. Lasdusky’s majority was 52.”  He wasn’t reported as having taken his oath of office until 6/2?!
  • 3/5:  Morris Fogel was listed as a patrolman in the police department.
  • 4/1: “There is a report being circulated in the Second ward that John F. Cox has again made his peace with Morris Frankel and that Frankel is to deliver the Hebrew vote of the ward over to Cox in exchange for the latter’s seat in council. Just what there is in this story time alone will tell. Frankel a few weeks ago was very bitter against Cox.”
  • 4/2: “Former councilman Morris Frankel denies that he is after Councilman John F. Cox’s seat in council. He says that after this month it is not likely that he will be a resident of the Second ward and that if he had expected to remain in the ward he would undoubtedly have been a candidate for re-election. He says that he will stick for Cox for the simple reason that for nineteen years they have been neighbors.”  (5/1:  And as promised, “Morris Frankel, former council man from the Second ward, today moved his household effect to Duquesne, where he will make his future home.”)
  • 4/6: “The Hebrews of the Monongahela valley are banding together in one big political organization and will vote as a unit at the Republican primaries Saturday.  A meeting was held at McKeesport this morning which was attended by the executive committees of all the Hebrew clubs in the valley, they representing 3,000 votes, and a temporary organization was formed by electing Emil Lebovitz of Homestead, chairman.  Plans were then made for a big meeting Wednesday night, at which candidate for all county and state offices will be endorsed.  This organization will wield a tremendous power in the county fight and the candidates are all making a great effort to get their endorsement.  The Homestead members of the committee are Morris Frankel, Joseph Lasdusky, Harry Aarons, I.J. Goldstrom and Emil Lebovitz.”
  • 6/2:  Tickets for business mens’ annual outing were available at various places including the store of H.L. Little and Half Bros.
  • 6/10:  Lasdusky was named to the “Text books and supplies” committee of the school board.
  • 7/17:  Earlier in the month a school started for adult foreigners.  A week later Joseph Lasdusky was one of the men unanimously elected to the local board of managers.
  • 7/24: A notice was posted in police headquarters by the chief: “Robert Stewart, Morris Fogle and Andy Hood will not report for duty until they have thoroughly cleared up the mysterious happenings of the night of the 22nd.” Somehow this was related to the “alleged arrest of several women and men, who are said to have used the home of Mrs. Bradley on City Farm Lane for a purpose detrimental to the morals and good order of the community.” Maybe they let the women go?, the article suggests.
  • 7/25: “The ‘mysterious happenings of the night of the 22nd’ have been cleared up and Officers Hood, Stewart and Fogle go back on duty again this evening.” Apparently they didn’t actually see any “[signs] of disorder” and there wasn’t “sufficient [offense] to cause arrest.”  Both articles below, if only for the reason that they are so typical of the haphazard nature of crime and punishment in Homestead at this time.
  • 8/8:  More trouble for Officer Morris Fogel, this time in the form of charges from Miss Mary Fenor, the police court interpreter, who claimed that he “accepted money as bribes in certain cases.”  Apparently Miss Fenor isn’t so guiltless herself.  The officers believe “she interprets the saying of the witnesses and prisoners to suit her fancy, if one or the other of them is a friend of hers.”  Full article below, again, because this is so very Homestead.  The case didn’t take place until the evening of 9/2, “owing to the absence from town of some of the members of the [police] committee” of the borough council.  On 9/3, Fogel was discharged.  “It is claimed that the statement was made [by Fenor] in a fit of anger at the patrolman and that there was nothing in it.  Both Miss Fenor and Patrolman Fogel will retain their respective positions.”
  • 10/28:  The many vice presidents for a Republican rally in Turner Hall included Louis Moskowitz, Joseph Lasdusky, J. Grossman, Dr. M.H. Moss, Harvey Haupt, Max Seigle.

Hallowe’en Parade

  • The KKK marching up 7th Street in Monongahela on New Year's Day, 1908. (Source)

    The KKK marching up 7th Street in Monongahela on New Year’s Day, 1908. (Source)

    10/8: The Hallowe’en organization got to work.  Lasdusky was on the entertainment committee with I. Grossman and others.  I wonder what sort of entertainment they’d choose this year?

  • 10/26: The KKK???!!!!  “They will be down in full [from Monongahela] for the big parade next Friday night.  They will come on a special train and will have their own band of 40 pieces with them and expect to have between 300 and 400 men in line.”  OMG, what???  10/27: In fact, they were so excited that they decide to have the KKK lead the parade!
  • 10/27:  To raise the excitement, the paper reported on a trip the Monongahela KKK recently made to Monessen to march through town.  “The natives along the streets were overcome alternately by fear and amazement and no one knew exactly what the marching aggregation meant nor from whence it came…The visit to Monessen was arranged simply for fun and for the purpose of wakening up the town.  It was successful in every detail and will be repeated, in different towns throughout the valley.”
  • 10/29:  They were so excited about the Klan that they changed the parade plans for them!  “Owning to the Monongahela Ku Klux clan (sic) being unable to get here until late, the parade tomorrow evening will not move until 8:30.”  As a result, they had to be moved to the rear of the parade.  Oh, well!
  • 10/29:   The Homestead paper reprinted an article from the Monongahela paper about the KKK’s parade invitation.  “If sufficient number attend it”  (the parade?  a welcome reception?) “it is probably that a branch Klan will be established in the steel city.  Be on hand Wednesday night [for their preparation meeting] at 7 strokes of the clock OR THEY WILL KILL YOU.  Down with the Black Hand.”  Caps are theirs.  The Black Hand was an extortion racket connected to the Italian mob that was then behind a lot of murders and lesser criminal activity.
  • 10/29: One of the costume judges was Morris Half.
  • 10/30:  Prizes came from many merchants, including Half Bros., Schoenfield, Star Novelty (M.I. Grinberg), M. Marks, H.L. Little, J. Wolk, Gross, K. Sobel. The parade would include floats from various town businessmen, including M.I. Grinberg and Half Bros.
  • 10/31: “The Klu (sic) Klux Klan from Monongahela made a hit,” adding “a distinctive feature to the parade and gave it that atmosphere which is peculiar to the Hallowee’en season. These men, dressed in all while with flowing robes and pointed hoods arrived in Homestead on the 9:14 o’clock train about 150 in number. They were accompanied by their own band also dressed in the peculiar garb of the organization. The Klan joined the parade at the corner of Amity street and Ninth avenue. They drilled in an excellent manner along the route and [demonstrated] tactics entirely their own. The people of Homestead were much pleased with this organization and extend much praise for their coming here and their excellent organization.” Overall the crowds were orderly, with the usual mischief by small boys and arrests for minor offenses. There were twenty thousand people on the streets. The noise was deafening with the sound of tin horns, cow bells, whistles, and such.
  • 11/2: The Homestead paper reprinted an article from the Monongahela paper about what a great time the KKK had. “Nothing possible was left undone in the effort to make the visit of the Monongahelans enjoyable…all say they had the time of their lives.”
  • 11/6: The paper reprinted a letter from the head of the KKK thanking returning their prize. They anticipated greeting the Homesteaders in Monongahela “on Ku Klux day, January first.”

I must add a comment: the most chilling thing about all of this is that not once did any of these articles even obliquely acknowledge what this group is about!!!  On both sides they were falling all over each other to profess their mutual appreciation in a way never seen in the paper before or since.  And they went on to bigger things, like Pittsburgh’s Sesquicentennial.


  • 1/18:  “There has been a change made in the editorial staff of [the high school] department.  Chass. Frankel, who has edited this column for the past few months and who has shown considerable ability both as a news gatherer and writer has been forced to resign owing to the pressure of his studies, and the department has been placed in the hands of a staff of five editors.”  Ha!  Five people?!  Well, the column did grow much longer as a result.
  • 2/29:  The junior class at the high school threw a party for the seniors.  The president of the junior class was Max Weiss, who also played a violin solo.  Also in the junior class was Isabel Lebovitz.  Charles Frankel, a senior, was present.
  • 4/17:  The high school’s reserve baseball team lost, which include Weis as pitcher, Hepps third, Haupt middle.  (I think “reserves” is like J.V.)
  • 4/28:  “Louis Segelman has entered the high school for the spring course and will play first base for the High school team baseball team. He is a good player and will strengthen the school team considerable (sic). The team is already the best ever turned out here.”
  • 5/9:  “Charles Frankel, a member of the Senior class, has moved to Duquesne. He, however, still owns allegiance to Homestead High.”
  • 5/15:  The program for the grammar grade commencement included many performance and graduates of interest to us.  “Recitation—Poe’s raven in an elevator. Sylvia Ruth Grossman…Recitation—The young ray head. Ross Lucille Weis…Graduates: Second ward – S. Ruth Grossman, Rose Lillian Weiss, Charles Markowitz.  Fourth ward – Myers Moranz.”  Eighth grade graduation took place on 5/25 in Carnegie Hall.
  • 5/18:  The graduating class of Homestead High School heard a sermon by a local reverend.  The service was “beautiful and well-rendered” and most definitely religious in content.  Ah, the good ole days of separation of church and state!
  • 5/20: The program for the class day exercises for the senior class of the Academic department of the high school was announced. It was to include a play written by Charles Frankel called “‘Tis an Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Good.” He was also responsible for writing the class song to be performed after the play. Can we officially call him an over-achiever yet?
  • 5/23: Frankel's play was a hit!

    5/23: Frankel‘s play was a hit!

    5/23: The play was a hit! “The Class Night exercises of the Academic department of the High school were in a great measure a high compliment to the efforts of Charles Frankel…[His play] was well rendered…based on experiences in college life, all the scene being laid in or about a college. The audience was enthusiastic over it and applauded the efforts of the students at every turn or climax…The program after the play opened with the class song written as the students say, ‘by our illustrious poet, dramatist, novelist, essayist, and orator,’ to which is added that Charles has never been known to fail his class in its literary needs.”

  • 9/1:  “Charles Frankel, son of former councilman, Morris Frankel, now a resident of Duquesne, will leave on September 18
    9/1: Charles Frankel to go to Harvard

    9/1: Charles Frankel to go to Harvard

    to take up his studies in the freshman class at Harvard college, Massachusetts.  Mr. Frankel is a graduate of the Homestead High school, class of 1908, and was one of the honor men.  He will take up a four year literary course at Harvard and it is his intention to then take up the study of law.”  As it turned out, six of the seven male graduates of Homestead High ’08 were going to college.  Other destinations included Notre Dame, Washington & Jefferson, Allegheny College, Pitt, and Penn.  “It is double whether there are many High school classes in the state that can surpass such a record” (9/12).

  • 11/25:  From the first ward school room 6, Sarah Valinsky was in a comedy, “The Puritan Maids Prepare for Thanksgiving.” She had the role of Mary Chilton.
  • 12/7: The sophomore second basketball team included Haupt as forward and Wise as guard.

Liquor Licenses

This year the complete lists of applicants and grantees were not published.  Some of the new applicants included Morris David Weis of 512 Heisel and Martin Silber & Max Greenberger of 490 Seventh Ave. in West Homestead (3/14).  The paper reported that Homestead’s retail applicants had “easy sailing” in license court (3/31).

The retail results brought a big surprise — Louis Moskowitz was refused. Granted were Bernhard Hepps, 406 Dickson street; Adolph Rosen, 530-532 Heisel street. Refused were Morris David Weis and Silber & Greenberger.  “No increase has been made in the number of licenses…the business depression of the past few months had a telling effect upon the salon keeper and wholesalers, nearly all testifying that their business had fallen off from 25 to 50 per cent… apparent that no new licenses were necessary” (4/21).

A week later bought an unexpected turn of events for the wholesale applicants.  “Surprise sprung by the court on the wholesale dealers of Homestead. Clerk ordered not to issue any licenses in this place until further notice.” As the old license would expires on 5/1, it looked as if Homestead might be without any wholesale licenses for a few days (4/28).  But the licenses were given out on 4/30.  The list “as originally handed down [was] sustained” (4/30).  Markowitz was amongst those refused; there was speculation he would petition for a re-hearing, but it seems he did not since on 5/15 the paper refers to him as “the retiring wholesale liquor dealer, on Sixth avenue.”

Merchant Woes

  • 2/10: “A horse belong to Jacob Kline, the Third avenue groceryman, dropped dead on Second avenue this morning. The sight of the horse lying lifeless on the street attracted a great deal of attention and a large crowd gathered around the animal before it was removed.”
  • 2/12:  “A bold robbery took place on the upper end of Eighth avenue last night, Morris Grinberg‘s department store being entered sometime during the early morning hours and considerable plunder carried away…the thieves broke open the cash register and found some small change which they carried off along with a lot of valuable articles.”  The police believed boys were responsible for it.
  • 2/24:  “On Sunday morning shortly after midnight an alarm was turned in because of a small fire in a stable in Cherry alley near McClure street at the rear of Third avenue  The building belonged to and was occupied by Isaac Samuels, grocer, and several bales of hay were destroyed.  It is said that the firemen on entering the building where the fire was could detect very distinctly the odor of oil.”  The article went on to relate that there had been many fires recently, mostly suspected to be arsons.
  • 3/3: “Jacob Kline, a Third avenue grocer, was held up about 8 o’clock last night near the B. & O. bridge in West Homestead. He was returning home from the city with a load of vegetables” (and a new horse?) “and when near the bridge three men jumped out from the roadside. One grabbed his horse’s head” (no, not the new horse!) “and the other two jumped into the wagon and grabbing hold of him began to go through his pockets. He had only 40 cents with him and after getting this the men dumped a barrel of apples out onto the road and then ran up over the hill. Kline drove up to the municipal building and notified Chief McDermott, who started out to look for the highwaymen. Kline said two where white men and one colored and the chief found two white men and a colored man in the brick works nearby and brought them to the police station. Kline was, however, unable to identify the men and they were discharged.”
  • 3/11:  There was a bankruptcy sale for Henry Soble, who sold gents’ furnishings at 217 Eighth avenue.
  • 3/31:  A. Arkin‘s furniture store on Eighth avenue above McClure failed.
  • 4/20:  “On Saturday night someone stole the large watch sign from in front of Mark Fishel’s store on Dickson street and this morning it was found by Officer Cush along the P.&L.E. railroad tracks. The sign was in the shape of a large tin watch and when found it had been broken in two.”
  • 5/4:  “Max Grinberg, the groceryman on Third avenue, was robbed early this morning of his Saturday’s receipts and the amount stolen is reported to range from $200 to $900.  The robbery was a peculiar one and the stories told about it create a general laugh among the police and others.  It is reported that early Sunday morning Mrs. Grinberg heard a noise in the house.  She noticed her skirt on the floor and she called out who was there.  She received a reply from her husband in the hall, it is said, and then they investigated and found that the money was taken from the pocked in the skirt.  The police say that the house was securely locked and that there was nothing to show that a burglar had entered or left the house.”
  • 5/11:  “An attempt was made to rob Little‘s shoe store last night.  The lock on the rear door leading to the cellar was broken off but nothing was missing when Mr. Little made an examination this morning.  Is it believed the robbers were frightened away.”
  • 5/12:  “The third attempt since last Thursday to rob the store of H. Glick on Ravine street, Munhall, was made this morning, but the robbers were scared away by shots fired by Mr. Glick…Recently the robbers succeeded in getting some things from the store and since that time Mr. Glick, who sleeps in the store, has kept his fire arms well loaded.”  This area was a quite impoverished one with many attempted robberies, and all the people in the area were apparently keeping a lookout to curtail the crime.
  • 6/4:  “…Yesterday the two women entered the store of Aarons & Siegel on Dickson street, and purchased a ten cent pair of gloves.  After they left Harry Aarons who waited on them, discovered a pair of pants was missing and he at once went before Justice Jones and swore out a warrant for the arrest of the two women.  Constable Shinton was given the warrant and went to [the first woman’s] home and found a pair of pants hid away, which Aarons was positive was the pair missing from his store.  Here [her boarder] stepped in and claimed the pants were his…The pants were measured ad found to be two inches too big around the waist for the man and four inches too long, and he was taken along as an accomplice.”  The two women “had been arrested last Christmas for stealing a ring from a store on Dickson street.”  The police believed they were “professional shoplifters.”
  • 6/13:  Ed Hertz was arrest for having a “house of assignation” at 141 Fourth avenue, which roomed an average of a half dozen couples a week.  Julius Swartz was his cousin.
  • 6/20:  “During the early morning hours some one broke the show window in B. Glick‘s store on Eighth avenue, West Homestead, and stole a revolver and several watches on display in the window.  The window was broken with a spike wrapped up in an old blue handkerchief such as foreigners carry, which was found lying pavement under the window.  Chief McDermott has the handkerchief and may trace the guilty party through it.”
  • 7/6:  “A horse belonging to Hepps & Markowitz, and attached to a wagon loaded with empty beer bottles, ran away on Heisel street this morning and for a few minutes caused considerable excitement.  The horse became frightened when a wheel came off the wagon and he tore loose from the harness and ran down the street.  The bottles were scattered all over the street.  No one was injured.”
  • 7/9:  Early this morning robbers stole 7 pairs of shoes from Little‘s shoe store, but one was caught pretty quickly thereafter, and the next day the police were hot on the trail of the other.  Both, it turns out, were implicated in numerous other robberies.  Full story below.
  • 8/12:  “Joseph Klein, of the Second ward, appeared before Justice John B. Jones yesterday and made information against Mrs. Chiseley, charging her with disorderly conduct. At the hearing last evening the woman pleaded guilty to the charge and a fine of $1 and costs was imposed.”
  • 9/8  “Valley Shuck, a Seventh avenue boy, hit David Sodowsky, a Hebrew peddler from Pittsburg, on the left wrist with a piece of glass at noon today and inflict an ugly wound.  The boy was teasing the peddler by calling him names and when the peddler answered back the boy picked up the glass and struck him…The boy will be called before the burgess this evening.”
  • 10/19:  “The firemen of no. 4 company were called out early yesterday morning to extinguish a bad blaze in Glick‘s gents’ furnishing store at 503 Fifth avenue. The fire which was of an unknown origin, was discovered in a lot of new clothing in the store. A large number of valuable suits were destroyed and damaged. The building was not greatly injured. The building is owned by Morris Frankel.”
  • 11/19:  In the category of I-saw-that-coming, there had been growing controversy since the spring about the quality of Homestead’s milk.  Various inspectors got involved and the results that came back were poor.  On this day it came out of one of the milk men “given an exceedingly low rating” was “Mr. Jacobson, the dairyman, who has the dairy at Highland station across the river…because of its unsanitary condition.”  He was forbidden to sell milk in Homestead.  Full article below.  Sorry to all my new Jacobson friends for uncovering this scandal.
  • 11/30:  Herman Schoenfield‘s Wheeling store was robbed Saturday night.  “Sometime during the night thieves had gained entrance to the place and carried off good to the value of $1600…This morning…he received a telegram stating that the robbers had been captured and all the stolen good recovered.”
  • 12/28:  Oh dear.  “The most dastardly attempt to burn a building that has even been brought to light in the history of Homestead was found between 2 and 3 o’clock yesterday morning in the clothing store of Nathan Schwartz, 521 Eighth avenue.” He and his clerk, Benny Davinsky, were accused of starting the fire.  “Patrolman Fogel…heard someone calling and…found Emanuel Mervis, who lives in the Shields building yelling fire.   Fogel then turned in an alarm and assisted awaking the other families in the building.”  For context, there had such a string of suspicious fires in the fall and winter (typical for Homestead when economic conditions were poor) that even the paper asked for the town’s help to find the “fire bug.”  Full story below.


8/22: An ad about correcting facial defects. The top-right image is... not at all problematic, right?

8/22: An ad about correcting facial defects. The top-right image is… not at all problematic, right?

  • 2/22:  Yet again the businessmen of Homestead tried to get rid of trading stamps.  A long article listed the leading merchants on board, including Joseph Lasdusky, H.L. Little & Bro., Nathan Schwartz, Max Gross, L. Trau, Morris Grinberg, B. Friedlander, and Half Bros.  on 2/25 The Busy Bee Hive, B. Friedlander’s store, reversed course and decided to keep accepting stamps.
  • 2/28:  An ad about merchants who would still accept stamps included merchants less often seen in the paper, including G. Siegal, groceries, 622 City Farm Lane; E.J. Schwartz (sic), dry goods, 313 Dickson Street; D. Magliavy, housefurnishings, 522 Dickson Street; Sam’l Feinholtz, clothing, 303 Dickson Street; and O. Magram, dry goods, 438 Third Avenue.  Under the awful economic conditions then-prevailing, the smaller-time merchants needed to hold onto their customers even more than the big guys.
  • 3/27:  The Half Bros. and Lasdusky spring openings received much attention in the paper.  3/27:  “Close to 5,000 people passed through Half Bros’ furniture store yesterday on  the occasion of their annual opening…’Half Bros. have as fine a store as any in the city,’ was the verdict of all who attended.”  “Lasdusky’s store drew great crowds last night, it being one of the most attractive places along Eighth avenue…The window display in this store is one of the prettiest in town, being the work of Mr. Lasdusky himself.
  • 4/20:  “B. Gross has opened a shoe store in the room adjoining his clothing store at the corner of McClure street and Eighth avenue, which will be managed by P.J. Reinert, who is well known in this place, he having been in business here for years. The store is nicely fitted out and the stock large and Mr. Gross promises to make the same success out of it he has out of his clothing store, which he opened a year ago.”
  • 5/9: This article from the Duquesne Observer was reprinted in the Homestead paper.  “Morris Frankel has taken up his resident in Duquesne and will make his home in his new block on Linden avenue.  Mr. Frankel has been a resident of Homestead for many years and moved here only a few days ago.  During his residence in Homestead he attained considerable prominence and served one term in the borough council of that town.  He is an enterprising man and last year became interested in Duquesne real estate.  He bought property at the corner of Linden and River avenues and erected a large business and residence block.  He think Duquesne real estate is a first-class proposition and means to add to his holdings here.  Mr. Frankel is a brother of Mrs. Samuel Ferderber, of Camp street.”  Was it a good idea for Frankel to leave Homestead?  W On 8/1 the Homestead paper reported that the Duquesne paper “[claimed they have felt little of the hard times.”  Apparently there were “more men employed in Duquesne in the first 6 months of this year than any other period except 1906.”  Related, possibly, was the dedication of Duquesne’s first synagogue building on 9/6/1908.
  • 9/10: Opening of I.S. Grossman's new store

    9/10: Opening of I.S. Grossman‘s new store

    5/29:  A big sale was on at Grinberg’s Big Department Store.

  • 7/21:  “I.S. Grossman, formerly in business on Eighth ave, has gone to New York to purchase a stock of goods. Upon his return he will open a gents’ furnishing store at 345 Eighth avenue.”
  • 9/9:  “I.S. Grossman will open up his new store at 345 Eighth avenue, tomorrow with a new line of men’s and boys’ furnishings, clothing, hats, shoes and trunks.  Mr. Grossman has just returned from the east, where he made his purchase of stock, everything being up-to-date.  Mr. Grossman is one of Homestead’s best known business men and a large property holder  For years he was in business on Eighth avenue, but sold out and for the past few years has been living a retired life, but this did not suit his stirring disposition and he has decided to get back into the harness again.”  (Personally, I can’t help but wonder whether this is related to the economic depression.)
  • 9/14: The Half Bros. fall opening got a large write up in the paper.
  • 9/24:  The “best millinery openings are taking place,” including Lasdusky‘s.
  • 9/30:  Morris Fogel arrested a sort of notorious local celebrity when he hit his wife for waking him up to discuss the imminent celebration of Pittsburgh’s sesquicentennial.
  • 10/13:  “M. Grinberg, the owner of the big department store on Eighth ave above Dickson street, picked up a great bargain in the way of wall paper this week and his patrons are sure to benefit thereby. A big store in the east failed and he got their entire line of wall paper at half the factory price. This paper arrived here this week and tomorrow Mr. Grinberg will start to sell it off at a price that should make it go at a rush.”
  • 10/15: “The Cohen sisters, former residents of this place, and well known, will open manicuring parlors tomorrow in the Beedle block, room 208. Shampooing, face massage, scalp treatment, and manicuring, their specialties. Also switches and pugs made from combings.”
  • 10/23: “The five Wolk brother have opened a big department store” in Pittsburgh. “The Wolk brothers are all well known here, all having at one time been in business in Homestead, Jesse Wolk, one of the firm, still being in the shoe business here…Sol Wolk, who was in the shoe business here for a number of years, will have general supervision over the store.” Apparently each had been in a different line of business and now they were “[pooling] their interest.” Article below, as it sheds light on one way families supported each other in business.

Personal Woes

  • 1/12:  “The suit entered by Mrs. Harry Arons, of 545 Dickson street, against C.H. Siegel, for disorderly conduct, came up before the grand jury on Wednesday and the bill was ignored.  The costs, amounting to about $33, were placed upon the prosecutor.”  (That is a large sum!)
  • 3/5:  “Solomon Arrested As Incendiary,” blared the all-caps headline related to the fire in a large barn in McKeesport.  Julius Solomon “has been a resident of Homestead for a long time. He has been a naturalized citizen of the United States for about seven years” (how is this even relevant?) “and he claims that he is innocent of the charge upon which he was arrested.  He states that when he appeared before the justice in McKeesport and explained who he was the justice said he could go, but this he refused to do.  He employed attorneys last evening and will as he says, ‘Go after that constable’s neck.’  It is intimated by the local police that Solomon is not so innocent of the origin of a number of fire as it might seem, but there is no evidence against him.”  3/6:  New day, new headline, but smaller than the first:  “Solomon is the wrong man.”  Whoops.
  • 3/9: Half Bros. ad

    3/9: Half Bros. ad

    3/9:  “Mrs. Rudolph Half, wife of a member of the firm of Half Bros., died at her home in Pittsburg this morning and the store on Eighth avenue will be closed until further notice.”

  • 4/25:  “The remains of the man who committed suicide in the Hotel Wendt in West Homestead yesterday are still unidentified. The Hebrews of Pittsburgh will bury him.”  4/28:  “The body of the man who committed suicide on Thursday afternoon of last week by drinking carbolic acid in the Hotel Windt, Eighth avenue, West Homestead, was identified yesterday at the morgue by Peter Lesischatz of Rowley street as Maurice Echsler, a printer.”  (The death certificate had the names as Peter Lifschitz and Morris Wechsler.  He was about 28 years of age from Russia.  He was probably buried in the Beth Abraham Cemetery (called Whitehall on the death certificate).)  Although we will never know what drove him to such despair, others suicides were reported due to lack of work (6/2, 7/20).  In July “authorities were alarmed at the number of suicides.  All records were broken” that month and in September as well (10/2).
  • 4/28:  “Samuel Ryave, the popular decorator at Morris Grinburg’s (sic) department store, who run a nail in his right foot last week is in a serious condition. Yesterday symptoms of blood poisoning developed, he was removed to his home in Pittsburg last evening. He is under the charge of a skill (sic) physician, and all his host of friends have hope for his recovery.” 5/6:  “Mr. Sam Ryave, who run a nail (sic) in his foot a few days ago, is improving and will be able to take up his old position as Decorator at Grinberg’s.”
  • 6/24:  “There were two exciting runaways last evening…The second runaway occurred on Dickson street between 9 and 10 o’clock.  Samuel Glick and Louis Moskowitz were driving when the shaft on the buggy broke.  The piece fell against the horse’s leg and frightened the animal so that is started to run away and the driver was unable to stop it…The two men were thrown out and both were bruised, Moskowitz suffering a broken arm. Their injuries were attended to by Dr. M.H. Moss.”  Full article below.
  • 10/17:  Teenaged boys William PrugerEmanuel KotlerDavid Israel, and another boy were held for the accidental shooting of a man who died in the hospital! Full article below.
  • 11/2:  “The six year old child of N. Eskowitz, of 309 McClure street, fell down the cellar steps Saturday evening and dislocated its elbow and fractured its arms. The injury was dressed by Drs. Bigley and Purman.”
  • 11/30:  “Max Mervis, aged 27 years, a well known barber, died last evening at 7 o’clock in his home, corner Short and Dickson streets.  Death was caused by heart trouble.  The young man had been unwell for some time, but was not supposed to be seriously ill.  Mr. Mervis has been a resident of Homestead for the past seven years.  He was a member of Magdala lodge No. 991, I.O.O.F. He is survived by his father and mother, four brothers and two sisters.  The funeral will be held tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.  Members of Magdala lodge will attend and conduct services.  Interment will be made in the Jewish cemetery.”

Travel and Socializing

  • 1/18:  “Leo Half has returned from a visit to Chicago.”
  • 1/27:  “Morris Mervis, of Eighth avenue, gave a theatre party at the Nixon in honor of guests of Mr. and Mrs. B. Friedlander.”
  • 2/12:  “Councilman Morris Frankel, who has been on a visit in Scranton, Wilkesbarre and New York City, has returned home.”
  • 3/18:  “Samuel Gleck (sic), of Dickson street, has just returned from Sharon, where he purchased a fine driving team.”
  • 3/19:  “J. Friedlander of Eighth avenue, attended a wedding in East End, last evening.”
  • 3/23:  “Miss Leah Gluck, of Baltimore Md., is visiting Mr. and Mrs. Friedlander, of Eighth avenue.”
  • 4/14:  “Paul Friedlander, of Wheeling, W. Va., is visting his brother, J. Friedlander, of Eighth avenue.” Passover!
  • 5/18:  “Paul Friedlander, of Wheeling, W. Va., was the guest of his brother, Benjamin on Sunday.”
  • 6/4:  “Paul Friedlander, of Wheeling, W. Va., is spending a few days with his brother, Benjamin, of Eighth avenue.”  Shavuot!
  • 6/16:  “Miss Leah Glick, of Baltimore, Md., is the guest of Mrs. B. Friedlander, of Eighth avenue.”
  • 7/6:  “Philip Cohen, formerly of this place, accompanied by Sam Ferderber,” brother-in-law of Morris Frankel, “and another Duquesne business man, passed through Homestead last night loaded down with 150 pike, representing a day’s catch on Lake Erie….They arrived here on their way home about 11 o’clock and their strings of fish attracted a great deal of attention while they were waiting on a street car for Duquesne…”
  • 7/10:  “Mrs. Joseph Lasdusky and her four boys are spending the summer on the farm of Charles Harge, about five miles back of New Kensington, Pa.”
  • 8/3:  “B. Friedlander, of Eighth avenue, left last evening for New York.”
  • 8/4:  “James Wolk the Eighth avenue shoe dealer, attended the tallyho party given the Fort Pitt club of Pittsburg, last Sunday.” (Jesse?)
  • 9/9:  “Charles Frankel, of Duquesne, was a visitor to Homestead this morning. Mr. Frankel will leave next Wednesday for Harvard college, where he expects to take up a four year literary course.”
  • 12/2:  “Mr. and Mrs. Morris Frankel, of Duquesne, formerly of Homestead, have returned from a visit to their son, Charles, at Harvard college, Cambridge, Mass.”
  • 12/19:  “Charles Frankel, son of former Councilman and Mrs. Morris Frankel, has returned home from Harvard college to spend the holiday season.  Mr. Frankel reports that he likes the east much and [illegible] at Harvard college is great.”


  • 1/11: “A marriage license was issued yesterday to Miss Lulu Hepps, of Homestead, and Nathaniel Feldman, of McKeesport. The wedding will be a quiet home event of January 12 and the ceremony will be performed by Rabbi Widom at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hepps, Fourth avenue.”
    1/12: The wedding received a detailed write-up. “The home, where the ceremony was performed, was beautifully decorated in pink and white. A wedding dinner was served at 7 o’clock. About fifty guests where present. The bride wore a gown of white and carried a prayer book. She was unattended. Mrs. Feldman is secretary of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Rodef Sholem and is one of the most popular young women in Jewish circles. For the present Mr. and Mrs. Feldman will make their home in Homestead.”
  • 1/20:  “Mr. and Mrs. Morris Frankel yesterday celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary and in honor of the event they entertained a party of friends at their home on Ammon street.  In the gathering were relatives and friends from Homestead, Pittsburg, Duquesne, Braddock, and McKeesport.  Luncheon was served during the evening at which many toasts were given and speeches were made.  Vocal and instrumental music added to the pleasure of the evening.  Mr. and Mrs. Frankel have received many congratulations from their friends and wished for many more anniversary days to come.”
  • 2/20:  “Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Herts (sic), of Fifth avenue, will celebrate their silver wedding anniversary on Sunday.”
  • 2/24:  “Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hertz, of 153 East Fifth avenue, yesterday celebrated their twenty-fifth or silver wedding anniversary.  A large number of the friends of the celebrating couple gathered in their home and a pleasant time was spent.  Mr. and Mrs. Hertz received many congratulations from their friends as well as many handsome gifts.”  The following day the party received a much more detailed write-up about the entertainment Miss Rose Hertz and other guests provided; read it below.
  • 2/27:  “Mr. and Mrs. Lasdusky were completely taken by storm by their friends in their home, 528 Ammon street, on three occassions this week.”  Read the article below to see how the Ladies’ auxiliary of the synagogue, the Arabella Rebekah lodge, and the Magdala encampment of Odd Fellows marked their fifteenth wedding anniversary.
  • 3/19:  A wedding of “prominent Hebrews” from McKees Rocks and Pittsburgh was written up in the Homestead paper since the couple were “well known in Homestead and visited friends here frequently.  Among those from Homestead who attend the wedding was the entertainment immensely (sic?!).”
  • 6/5:  “Dr. Phil Cohen of Duquesne, is in Homestead today receiving the congratulations of his friends, he having just graduated from the Baltimore medical college as a M.D.” Surely they meant Dr. Charles Cohn, son of Philip Cohn.
  • 7/18:  “The marriage of Dr. Charles Cohen of this place and Miss Rosenthal of Pittsburg was solemnized in the Pittsburg synagogue on Tuesday, the ceremony being witness by a large number of friends of the contracting parties.  Following the ceremony Dr. Cohen and his bride departed for Atlantic City, where they will spend their honey moon.  Dr. Cohen is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Cohen of South Duquesne avenue.  The couple will go to housekeeping in Canonsburg, where the doctor has decided to practice his profession.– Duquesne Observer.  The groom is well known in Homestead, being a graduate of the Homestead high school, his parents having only recently moved from here to Duquesne.”  Well, they moved a year prior…
  • 7/30:  “The family of Phillip Cohen, formerly of this place, but now of Duquesne, were strictly in it at the Duquesne Business Men’s picnic at Kennywood park yesterday.  Julius Cohen won three races and secured a gold watch, a medal and a water bucket, while Baby Cohen won first prize in the baby show. Both were born in Homestead, which accounts for their being prize winners.”  Man, this family is getting more coverage after leaving Homestead than they did while there!
  • 9/19:  A surprise party for Charles Frankel on the eve of his departure for Harvard!  Guests came from Duquesne, Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Homestead, and Braddock.   Only one Homestead guest was named, Isabelle Leboorts (Lebowitz?).  One Duquesne guest with a Homestead connection was Mrs. Hetty Skirboll.  Judging by names, all the guests were Jewish, and none were his high school classmates.  Full article below.
  • 10/21:  “Mr. and Mrs. Morris Grinberg entertained a party of friends at dinner yesterday in celebration of their tenth wedding anniversary. A pleasant afternoon was spent and it was a happy occasion for Mr. and Mrs. Grinberg.”
  • 12/10:  “Joe Fried, the Heisel street grocer, is a happy man, the stork visiting his home yesterday leaving a 10-pound baby girl and today he is passing around big cigars. The mother and daughter are doing well.”


  • 1/14:  More inclusions of meetings of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Rodef Sholem in the “club room” on Ammon street (wonder if this is the synagogue basement or somewhere else?).
  • 2/5: “The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Rodef Sholem Congregation are arranging to hold a mask party in Casino Hall, of Wednesday, March 18, and invitations will go out this week. There will be good music, handsome and comic costumes and a general good time as these ladies know how to conduct affairs of this kind.”
  • 2/6: “The Homestead lodge of Rodof Sholem will hold its thirteenth annual dance in Casino hall on February 11. Good music will be furnished and there is a pleasant time in store for those who attend. The committee of arrangements for the affair is H. Aarons, chairman, I.J. Goldston, secretary, B. Gluck, treasurer, E. Marks, S. MervisM.D. Wise and B. Schwartz.”
  • 2/11: “The Hebrew congregation will hold their thirteenth annual ball tonight in Casino hall and a good time is assured. This congregation never misses a year without holding a ball and these events are always looked forward to with interest. The ladies will have charge of the refreshments tonight and the men will look after the floor and door.”
  • 2/25:  “The Heptagon Club made up of well known young Hebrews held a very successful box social last night. Guests were present from all the surrounding towns.”
  • 3/16:  A long article explaining Purim was published.  Read it below.  (Purim was on 3/17 that year; it overlapped with St. Patrick’s Day!)
  • 3/18: “The Ladies’ Auxiliary of Rodof Sholem will hold a masquerade party in Casino hall this evening which promises to be one of the most pleasant social events held by the Hebrew ladies this winter. There will be three prizes for ladies and three for gentlemen. Ice cream and cake will be served in a dainty manner and there will be other features to make it pleasant for those present. The affair will be strict an invitation and only those with invitations will be admitted. Mrs. M.H. Moss is the president and Mrs. N.J. Feldman, the secretary.”  Interestingly, that evening there was also a highly promoted charity minstrel show to support the town’s poor (as a result of the economic depression).
  • 3/19: “The masquerade party held in Casino hall last evening by the Ladies’ auxiliary of Rodof Sholem, was one of the most successful affairs ever held by the organization. In spite of the inclement weather the party was well attended and all are reported to have had a pleasant evening. Among the prize winners were Mrs. Samuel Mervis, Joseph Fried and family, Samuel Ryade and Mark Fieshel (sic).”
  • 4/15:  “Beginning at sunset this evening Reformed and Orthodox Jews of this borough will celebrate the Festival of the Passover.”  Like many Passover columns, it’s almost-but-not-quite there in its descriptions of Passacha, mazzah, and its “[commemoration] of the resurrection of nature” which “resembles the Christian festival of Easter.”  Full article below.
  • 6/23: “One of the events of nicety, which will take place at Homestead Park early next month will be the picnic of the Ladies Auxiliary of Rodef Sholem, which will be held there on July 1. The ladies are making great preparations for the picnic and they anticipate a large and select gathering. There will be good music and dancing from 3 until 11:30 o’clock in the evening.”
  • 6/24: The Ladies Auxiliary of Rodef Sholem held a meeting last evening at which officers were elected for the ensuing term. The meeting was well attended. The officers elected are as follows: President, Mrs. M.H. Moss; vice president, Mrs. M.D. Wiess; secretary, Mrs. N.J. Feldman; treasurer, Mrs. Meyer Grinberg.
  • 7/1: The Ladies Auxiliary of Rodef Sholem are today holding a picnic at Homestead park. This is the second annual picnic of this organization. Games during the afternoon and dacing this evening are the features of the outing.
  • Rascallions!


    7/23: “Rascallions Bother the Hebrew School,” reads one of the best headlines to ever appear in the Homestead newspaper ever. Apparently they yelled in the windows, taunted the teacher and children, threw stones, and bothered kids going to and from school. “This thing has been going on for some time and the Jewish people have refrained from saying anything about it to the police until the morning when Joseph Lasdusky of the school board, asked that the police keep a lookout and give the school some better protection.” Full article below — worth a read, as it provides rare insight into what the day-to-day life of a Jewish child at that time might have been like.

  • 8/13: “The Hebrew Ladies’ Aid society is giving a picnic this afternoon at Luna park, following a similar event held yesterday. The proceeds go to the Montefiore hospital, which now has between 50 and 60 men and women who are undergoing treatment. No one is barred from entrance to the Montefiore hospital, either on account of creed color or race.”
  • 7/25, 8/14: It was announced that the McKeesport and Braddock lodges of the I.O.B.B. would give their annual boat excursion next Sunday. “There will be good music on the boat all day and refreshments will be served. A great many of the members of Homestead lodge, with their friends are expected to attend.”
  • 8/31: “Jews Celebrated the Black Fast This Week,” read an awesome headline about Tisha B’Av. “The day has been celebrated with fasting and prayer for almost two thousand years wherever the nation has halted. When the fast began the chairs in the houses were pushed aside and the reverent old people sat on the floor to take the last crumb of bread and the last mouthful of water that would pass their lips until another sunset would be the signal for breaking the fast….The Jewish elders wend their way to cemeteries of their race to mourn there for their dead and the destroyed temple. Little boys go with the and break wooden swords over the graves in remembrance of the swords broken by Jewish soldiers when the Roman conquerors completed their work. Afterward they stick them in the graves to remember the action of the soldiers of their race, who gave their broken swords to the boys of the time and told them to cast them on the graves.”
  • 9/25: Lasdusky ad published erev Rosh Hashana

    9/25: Lasdusky ad published erev Rosh Hashana

    9/10: “Saturday, September 26, is the…first day of the Jewish new year.” Along with a bit of explanation about the Jewish calendar, they mentioned the important issue: “Nearly all of the stores and places of business in the borough, which are conducted by Jewish residents, will be closed.”

  • 9/15:  In the column for meetings of the town’s organizations: “Ladies’ auxiliary of Rodef Sholom in club room on Ammon street on alternate Tuesdays.”  (Hadn’t sen this listing in a while; it’s possible they didn’t meet regularly during the summer?)
  • 9/25: “The Hebrews will begin at 6 o’clock to celebrate their New Year. New Year with the Jews is a day of worship and all those of that faith will close their places of business from 6 p.m. tonight until 6 p.m. tomorrow evening and spend the greater part of the time in the synagogue.” And the article concludes with some of the same calendar talk from before.  Unfortunately the millinery openings were on Thursday, 9/24, meaning that merchants like Lasdusky would miss out on a good deal of business.
  • 9/26: A much longer article that is off by a day wrote “the sonorous sounds of the ramshorn will be heard tomorrow and Monday in the Hebrew synagogue, on Ammon street, in memory of one of the interesting Jewish holidays.” Read it below.
  • 10/3: “Hebrews to Have Another Holiday Monday,” begins a longish article about Yom Kippur. See below.
  • 10/14: It isn’t often that the paper mentions Sukkot, but this year they did. “The nine-day celebration of the feast of the Succoth was begin Tuesday by the Jews of Greater Pittsburg. On the first and the last two days of the feast no work is allowed to be done except the preparation of food. During the nine days service will held in the synagogue on Ammon street by the local Hebrews.” Although properly the stores ought to have been closed, I suspect they were not.
  • 10/14: “The Ladies auxiliary of Rodef Sholem of Homestead will hold its third annual ball in Casino hall on Tuesday evening, October 27. It is expected that this event will be largely represented. Social events conducted in the past by this organization have always proven to be successful and enjoyable ones and this coming ball will eclipse all previous ones. The committee of arrangements is composed of Mrs. N.D. Weiss, chairman, Mrs. M. Fischel, Mrs. N.J. Feldman, Mrs. B. Friedlander, Mrs. Morris Frankel and Mrs. H. Aarons. The officers of the auxiliary are Mrs. M. H. Moss, president; Mrs. M.D. Weiss, vice president; Mrs. N.J. Feldman, secretary, and Mrs. M.I. Grinberg, treasurer.
  • 10/21: “The Ladies Aid society of the Rudof Sholem synagogue on Ammon street met last night and decided to furnish a room in the Homestead hospital and will send in a check for $100, the amount required to equip a room, this week. The Hebrew ladies of Homestead are all earnest workers for charity and can always be found contributing their share toward all worthy movements.”
  • 10/27: “Mrs. B. Friedlander, of 518 Eighth avenue, was tendered a surprise party Sunday by the Ladies Aid society of the Rodef Sholem Hebrew congregation.  The ladies gathered in large numbers and went to the Friedlaner home and took Mrs. Friedlander completely by surprise.  Several pleasant hours were spent in social pass time and speech making and all had a good time.  A nice lunch was served.”  Why???
  • 10/27: “This evening the Ladies’ auxiliary of Rodef Sholem will hold a ball in Casino hall, which will be largely attended is present indications count for anything. This ball will be one of the most important social events of the season by this organization this season and a pleasant time will be had.” Then the committee and officers are copied from the previous article, but with many more typos.
  • 10/28: “Casino hall was the scene of a most delightful dance last evening, held by the ladies auxiliary of Rodef Sholem. It was largely attended and was the third annual event of its kind held by the society. The program of dances was a splendid one.”
  • 10/29: “The Hebrew club of Homestead held a political meeting last evening, at which the issues of the Republican campaign were discussed. The meeting was largely attended and a number of good speeches were made. The meeting leaves no doubt about which which way the Hebrew-American vote in Homestead will go. The club has arranged to have a special telegraph wire run into its club rooms, corner Eighth avenue and Ammon street, for election night and its members will receive reports of the election returns there on next Tuesday night.”
  • 12/22:  A longish article, included below, describes the Chanukah celebrations led by the pupils of the Hebrew Sunday school and day school.  Lasdusky was toast master, and “Charles Frankel, who is now a student at Harvard college, made an address upon the life of the Jewish students at that great institution of learning…they commingled socially and were received cordially by all of the Christian students.”  Also my great-grandfather B. Hepps, president of the congregation, “explained the derivation and the use of the word ‘Sheeney,’ as applied by Christians to the Jews.  He explained that it came from an old word meaning ‘second.’ That the Christians regarded the Jews as being second and that thus they corrupted the word into its present usage as a slang term.  He expressed an opinion that the nickname of the Jew would soon be changed to a word meaning first or equal.”  While’s wonderful to see how my love of languages traces to my great-grandfather, this clever faux-etymology from the Hebrew word “sheni” is unlikely!  The rest of the program included Joseph Lasdusky, Rev. Widom, Mr. Chermoff (superintendent of the school), Hazel Numerofsky, Mrs. I. Grossman (superintendent), Charles Mervis, Jacob Hepps, David Israel, Samuel Israel, and M.D. Weiss.  Refreshments served by M.D. Weiss, Mrs. M. Fishel, and N. Iskowitz.
  • 12/28:  “At the regular meeting of the Homestead lodge No. 437, I.O.B.A., conducted by Morris Mururs (Mervis?), president, an election of officers was held and the following were elected for the new term:  Pres. N. Eskourtz (Eskowitz?). Vice Pres. B.J. Schwartz. Secretary M. Fishel, re-elected. Treasurer M.D. Weis.  Trustrees H. Podolsky, S. Rosenthral (Rosenthal), S. Overback (Averbach?).”
  • 12/30:  “The Hebrew Ladies’ Aid society held an interesting session in its club room last evening.  The meeting was well attended and the election was a spirited one.  The following officers were elected:  President–Mrs. Morris Frankel.  Vice President–Mrs. Mark Fishel.  Treasurer–Mrs. B. Glick.  Secretary–Mrs. N.J. Feldman.”

Charity Girls

An extremely rare example of an argument internal to the Jewish community spilling over into the press.  I learned from other sources that the husband in question was in his mid-thirties, suffered from tuberculosis, and passed away in August 1909 of heart disease, so he probably really was sick at the time the community was fighting over how to help his wife, fifteen year-old son, and eight year-old daughter.  The family had been in the U.S. only for a few years.  

There were often notices in the paper about alleged poor people who needed assistance; there was always a step to ensure they were “worthy” poor — i.e. the husband was not lazy, drunk, &c.  This incident is the only time the coverage concerned a member of the Jewish community; I suspect it was generally true that the Jewish community handled its cases amongst themselves.

  • 11/4: The “Charity Girls” — Jennie Samuels, Irene Hertz, Etta Hertz, Ray Valin and Rose Hertz — “have arranged to give a select Masquerade part in Casino hall on Wednesday evening, Dec. 2. The affair is for the benefit of Mrs. Josephine Wein (sic), a widow lady, who has a child that is ill and must undergo an operation.” An article on 11/5 details the prizes for costumes.
  • 11/9: “The members of the Ladies Aid Society of the local Hebrew congregation claim that Mrs. Weinberg (sic)…is not worthy of assistance. They claim the have been assisting her for several months…the little fellow will not have to undergo an operation…they also sent a lot of provisions to the Weinberg home, which the lazy, worthless husband eats up, and that they are tired of this. Mrs. Weinberg they say is strong and able to work and should leave her husband and they will get her employment. The ladies…want the public to know that they take care of all their own worthy people.”
  • 11/16: One of the charity girls wrote a letter to the paper to rebut the claim. “I desire to inform the public that the society has only given Mrs. [Josephine] Weinberger $9 in the last 18 months, in addition to several small household articles…Her husband [is] confined to his bed with illness and her 15-year-old son confined in the hospital for two months suffering from St. Vitus dance…The society which alleges it is taking care of the woman, advised her to sell her bedclothing with which to buy a sewing machine, while one of the society women taking advantage of her poverty, offered her 50 cents per lb. for her feather pillows which she had brought with her from the old country.”
  • 11/21: Now the police got involved, confirming that Mr. Weinberger cannot work, the son is in the hospital, and the house is filthy and has no food.
  • 12/2: A brief notice was printed that the Charity Girls’ ball was that evening.


  • 1/18:  The new Irene Kaufmann memorial organ was dedicated the previous morning in the new Rodeph Shalom Temple in Pittsburgh.
  • 1/125: Maurice Ruben

    1/125: Maurice Ruben

    1/25:  Everyone’s favorite converted evangelist, Maurice Ruben, was to tell the story of his conversion at a local church the coming Sabbath evening.  Apparently his wife converted and is now helping him with his work?!

  • 2/10:  Rabbi Charles Fleischer of Temple Israel in Boston called President Roosevelt an “American Isaiah.”  “His latest utterance” on the financial panic, “Thought shalt not steal,” is “that of an American Isaiah.  Its moral fervor is worthy of a Jewish prophet, that of a statesman haunted by the ideal.”
  • 2/19:  A long article, reprinted from the American Hebrew, talked about the history of Jewish badges in Europe, “which would stamp the wearer as an ‘infidel Jew.'”
  • 3/25:  An article about the many cemeteries in Duquesne mentioned the “burying ground of the Beth-Jacob Hebrew congregation [which has] been in use for a couple of weeks.”
  • 3/30:  “Alexander Berkman, the anarchist who served a long term in the Western penitentiary of Pennsylvania for attempting to kill H.C. Frick during the Homestead strike…was arrested this morning [in New York] on suspicion of knowing something about Selig Silverstein, who threw the bomb on Saturday, while thousands of the unemployed were making a demonstration in Union square.”  The article went on to explain the circumstances of Berkman’s involvement, which seemed pretty implausible. Even after all these years, this chief player in the Homestead strike retained their interest!  He had been out of prison less than two years then.  (More info on the bombing here.)
  • 3/27:  The Swastika Club of the Commercial High school spent the previous evening in games, music, piano solos, readings, and a sumptuous meal.  I totally get that this is decades before Hitler.  But it is still weird to read, and it will get weirder still…
  • 4/18:  Kennywood Park opened for the season and announced the picnics that had been booked so far. The July schedule included the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society of Duquesne.
  • 7/30:  “Isadore Klein, the foreign exchange banker of Braddock, whose disappearance caused a store several weeks ago, returned yesterday after an extended trip  through Europe.  During his absence a run was started on the Klein bank and a receiver was appointed.  Klein’s brother, a Homestead banker, had the receiver discharged and all the depositors who wanted their money were accommodated.  Klein stated on his arrival yesterday that a mixup in foreign money orders had been straightened out and his business had not been injured by the run.”
  • 9/8:  More evidence of the town’s ongoing interest in Alexander Berkman:  “Alexander Berkman, the anarchist, was taken to the workhouse on Blackwell’s island today under a five-days’ sentence for disorder created at a meeting of the unemployed in Cooper Union last evening, when he and his soulmate and co-worker, Emma Goldman, and a young woman…indulged in violent language against law and order.  The Goldman woman managed to escape, quitting her place by Berkman’s side when she saw danger threatening…”  On 9/18 a longer article about his attempts to seek “a judicial ruling on the right of the police to arrest him whenever he disturbs a public meeting” ridiculous the anarchist’s willingness “to forget his contempt for the law…while endeavoring to shield himself under its protecting aegis.”
  • 9/14:  For some reason two articles were published on the same day about the previous day’s dedication of the Svard congregation in Seventh avenue, McKeesport.
  • 10/6:  Rev. Dr. J. Leonard Levy was scheduled to speak at the the Pennsylvania Esperanto Association’s first annual convention later that month.
  • 11/5:  A long article about the National Council of Women’s 17th annual executive meeting in Union City, Indiana and the participation of Mrs. Hugo Rosenberg, who would attend to represent the Council of Jewish Women and read a paper on the “Jewish View of Social Purity.”  The NCJW was one of 17 national and nine local councils affiliated with the NCW.  Who knew?
  • 11/12:  Rodeph Shalom of Pittsburgh organized what we’d call today an interdenominational Thanksgiving service.  “The Rev. Dr. J. Leonard Levy, the rabbi of the temple, invited  other clergymen to take part, and at a meeting Tuesday several consented to do so.  It was resolved to hold a similar service each year on Thanksgiving afternoon in one of the church of the participating clergymen.  This year’s program will be copied in future years.  The service is open to all Pittsburghers.”  Other tha Levy the clergymen represented many different Christian denominations.


  • Lasdusky
  • M. Marks
  • Wolk’s
  • Half Brothers
  • Little’s (H.L. Little & Bro.)
  • Shoenfield
  • Busy Bee Hive (B. Friedlander)
  • Segelman’s
  • Grinberg’s Department Store (Morris Grinberg)
  • Gross’
  • I.S. Grossman
  • Skirble, Friedman and Co. (formerly the Cohen Sisters)
  • Star Novelty Store
  • Siegel
  • The New Bon-Ton (L. Trau)
  • I. Grossman
  • Star Novelty Store (Meyer I. Grinberg)
  • Max Gross
  • Nathan Schwartz
  • Siegel (415 Eighth ave.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *