No fewer than thirty men played principal roles in the 1855 founding of the Association for the Relief of Jewish Widows and Orphans of New Orleans which established the Home for Jewish Widows and Orphans (the Home) in February 1956, the nation’s first purpose-built Jewish orphanage. Most of the founders were foreign born and none were native New Orleanians. They ranged in age from 27 to 54.
The following brief sketches, which supplement Chapter 1 of Most Fortunate Unfortunates, are intended to capture a sense of the men who united to form the Association and not to provide complete biographies. For this reason, these sketches focus on date and place of birth and marital status, in addition to occupation and synagogue affiliation around the time of the organization’s founding. The sketches also indicate the number of persons each founder enslaved. Beyond leadership positions identified, each person listed below was a founding member of the Association or attended one or more organizational meetings between November 1854 and March 1855. Sources listed are in addition to the Association’s records.
CAIN, Lambert Bernard. Incorporator and founding director. Born 1821 in Thiaucort, France. Married Caroline Kahn. Arrived NOLA 1846 by way of Texas. Naturalized 1869. Occupations & Avocations (O&A): John & Marks Co., 62 Camp St. (1855); dry goods importer (1870); liquor merchant (1880); president of Germania Bank; first president of Touro Infirmary Association. Residence: 295 St. Charles Ave. Enslaved one person (1855). Synagogue affiliation (SA): Gates of Mercy (GOM). Died 1881.
– Cain sources: https://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/lambert-bernard-cain-24-1pscvr; https://www.geni.com/people/Lambert-Caen/6000000002765738248; “Death of L.B. Cain,” Daily Picayune (DP), Apr. 5, 1881; “A Touro Relic: The Success of the New Recalls the Old, DP, Feb. 2, 1896; Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855, 45; “Ninth Anniversary Ball of the Hebrew Benevolent Association,” DP, Mar. 5, 1853; Property Tax Records, New Orleans Public Library (“NOLA Tax Records”).
COHN, Joseph. Member Executive Committee of 21 (EC21) and founding secretary. Born 1817 in Hamburg, Germany. Arrived NOLA 1841. O&A: Printer, publisher of Deutsch Zeitung (NOLA German newspaper), and notary, 51 Exchange Place. Residence: 150 Second Street. SA: GOM, President (1854). Died 1882.
– Cohn sources: Cohn: Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855, 281; GOM, Board Minutes 1854, Tulane Special Collections (TSC); “Death of Joseph Cohn,” DP, May 14, 1882.
DASILVA, Benjamin. Born 1811 in Amsterdam. Arrived NY 1830s; Mobile AL by 1849. O&A: Jewelry retailer and real estate broker. SA: Dispersed of Judah (DOJ), sexton.
– DaSilva sources: Robert P. Swierenga, The Forerunners: Dutch Jewry in the North American Diaspora (1994), 222.
EZEKIEL, Abraham. Born 1816 in New York or Philadelphia. Arrived NOLA by 1850 census. O&A: Owned bookstores with his brother E. Ezekiel, 122 Poydras and 7 Exchange Place; Clerk per 1860 census.
– Ezekiel sources: 1850 and 1860 NOLA Census; Hebrew Benevolent Association Advertisement for 15th Anniversary, DP, Feb. 27, 1859; NOLA Directory 1861; Ads, D-P, Nov. 18, 1852; Sept. 20, 1854; Oct. 15, 1856.
FLORANCE, Benjamin. EC 21, incorporator, and founding treasurer. Born 1812 in South Carolina. Arrived NOLA 1830s. Married Rebecca Kursheedt. O&A: Agent for U.S. Life Insurance Annuity and Trust Co. of Philadelphia, business 48 Camp Street. Residence 267 Camp St. Enslaved 4 persons (1855). SA: DOJ, Trustee (1857-1859). Died 1887.
– Florance sources: Swierenga, The Forerunners, 216, 386 n. 35; Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855; “Death of Benjamin Florance,” DP, Mar. 6, 1887; NOLA Tax Records.
FRIEDLANDER, Samuel. EC 21 and incorporator. Born 1811 in Wurtemberg, Germany. Arrived in Canton, MS in 1840 and NOLA in 1850. Naturalized 1843. Married Lena Levy. O&A: Hemingway & Friedlander Cotton Factors, 43 Carondelet. Residence 176 Girod. SA: GOM, Vice President. Died 1886.
– Friedlander sources: Obituary, DP, Mar. 26, 1886; “Auction of Valuable Plantation,” D-P, Dec. 26, 1887; 1855 NOLA Directory; “Yazoo City, Mississippi, Encylopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, http://www.isjl.org/encyclopedia-of-southern-jewish-communities.html; Milton Grishman, “At History’s Table: A Taste of Biloxi’s Jewish Past,” Mississippi Coast Historical & Genealogical Society, Vol. 48, 2012, 27-28.
GOLDSMITH, Manuel. EC 21 and founding director. Born 1817 in Bavaria. Arrived NOLA in 1846 by way of Mobile AL 1836. Married Sarah Cohen. With brother, hat and bonnet sellers in NOLA in 1850; bankrupt 1853; men’s furnishings; by 1860, wine and spirits. Enslaved 3 persons (1855). Died 1873.
– Goldsmith sources: http://www.fanta-levey.com/getperson.php?personID=I1960&tree=tree2#cite2; Ashkenazi, The Business of Jews in Louisiana, 109, 110; NOLA Tax Records.
GOODMAN, Daniel. EC 21 and founding treasurer. Born 1801 in Holland. Arrived NOLA 1824. Married Amelia Harris in 1828 in first documented Jewish wedding in NOLA. Agent for O.B. Graham, wholesale dry goods on Gravier St. Residence: 119 Toulouse. SA: DOJ, trustee. Died 1858.
Goodman sources: Jewish Messenger, Mar. 27, 1857; Aug. 13, 1859; Swierenga, The Forerunners, 216, 219; The Occident, Dec. 1, 1858, 458.
GUTHEIM, Rev. James Koppel. Co-organizer of Nov. 1854 Mass Meeting, incorporator, and later first V-P. Born 1817 in Westphalia, Prussia. Arrived NOLA in 1850, by way of New York and Cincinnati, to initially serve as minister of DOJ. Married Emilie Jones of Mobile, AL in 1858. Residence: 255 Camp Street near Tivoli Circle. Died 1886 in NOLA.
– Gutheim sources: Scott Langston, “James K. Gutheim,” 69-70, 73; Shpall,”Rabbi James Koppel Gutheim,” 167; Notices, DP, Aug. 29, 1853; Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855.
HABER, Abraham. Founding member and later second V-P. Born 1809 in Bavaria. Naturalized in NOLA in 1843. Married Miriam Jung (President of Ladies’ Hebrew Benevolent Association and founding Directress of Home’s Honorary Matrons). O&A: Wholesale dry goods, Goldsmith, Haber & Co., 63 Gravier. Enslaved 5 persons (1855). SA: GOM. Residence 250 Baronne. Died 1888.
– Haber sources: Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855, New Orleans Census 1860; Miriam Haber obituary, DP, Apr. 8, 1866; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28442933/abraham-haber; NOLA Tax Records.
HART, Isaac. EC 21, incorporator, and founding first V-P. Born 1818 in London. Married Julia. Arrived NOLA by 1839. O&A: Merchant (1850 census); Shirt manufacturer (1860 census). SA: GOM President (1851). [Not to be confused with Isaac Tobias Hart, an auctioneer from Jamaica who, although not a founder, was the Home’s 1863 anniversary orator, brother of the Home’s early teachers, Julia and Frances Hart, and grandfather of Home alumni Carol, Ellis, and Van Hart.]
Hart sources: 1850 and 1860 NOLA census; 1870 Detroit, Michigan census; Notice, DP, Dec. 16, 1857; “Consecration of a Synagogue,” DP, Mar. 6, 1851.
HART, J. EC 21. No additional information.
HERTZ, Louis. Born 1809 in Germany. Married Esther Peixotto. O&A: Silversmith and jewelry store owner, 17 St. Charles. Residence St. Jane at Perdido. Died 1859.
Hertz sources: Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147201158; Obituary, DP, Oct. 27, 1859
HYAMS, Henry Michael. Founding second V-P. Born 1806 in Charleston, SC. Arrived Alexandria, LA in 1830, worked in Donaldsonville, LA before coming to NOLA in 1850. Married Laura Mathilda Smith. O&A: Lawyer and plantation owner; elected to LA state senate in 1855; Lt. Gov. from 1860 to 1864. Enslaved 20 Persons (1855). Died 1875.
Hyams sources: Joel William Friedman, “The Legal, Political, and Religious Legacy of an Extended Jewish Family,” Southern Jewish History, 2015, vol. 1, 82-86; Death of Henry M. Hyams, DP, June 26, 1875; Henry M. Hyams family papers, LSU; “The late Gov. Hyams,” New Orleans Bulletin, June 26, 1875; “Death of Lt. Gov. Hyams,” The Opelousas Journal, July 2, 1875; Barnett A. Elizas, M.D., Jews of South Carolina: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (Philadelphia: Lipincott, 1903), 191; NOLA Tax Records.
JACOBS, S. EC 21. No additional information.
JONAS, George. EC21, first VP in 1857. Born in 1814 in London. Married Rosalie Block. O&A: Cotton broker, president of Canal Bank. Enslaved 4 persons (1855). SA: DOJ. Died 1877 in NOLA.
– Jonas sources: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31848276/george-jonas; “Honors to the Late George Jonas,” DP, Oct. 2, 1877; “Death of Mr. George Jonas.” New Orleans Daily Democrat, Oct. 1, 1877; Ira Rosenwaike, “Eleazar Block: His Family and Career”; 1850 NOLA census; NOLA Tax Records.
KLOPMAN, Leopold. Born 1814 in Alsace. Married Caroline Beer, founding honorary matron. O&A: wholesale dry goods, Beer & Klopman (with wife’s brother). SA: GOM, president in 1853. Died 1873 in NOLA.
– Klopman sources: GOM Board Minutes, TSC; “A Mother in Israel,” DP, Oct. 9, 1887; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/135489604/leopold-klopman.
KURSHEEDT, Gershom. Chair of organizational meetings, EC21, and incorporator. Born in 1817 in Richmond, Va. Arrived NOLA in 1838. O&A: Brokerage business, 48 Camp Street. Enslaved two persons (1855). SA: DOJ, founder. Died 1864.
– Kursheedt sources: History of the Jews of Louisiana, 1903, 27, 29, 39; “Howard Association Relief Committee,” DP, Aug. 21, 1847; Korn, Early Jews of New Orleans, 177, 247; Obituary, Jewish Messenger, May 29, 1863; NOLA Tax Records.
Labatt, David Cohen. EC 21 secretary, and incorporator. Born in Mecklenberg, NC. Arrived NOLA in 1830. Married Elizabeth House of Baltimore in 1849. Nephew of Henry M. Hyams. O&A: Lawyer, Assistant City Attorney (1853), 79 Common Street. SA: DOJ founder. Died 1893.
Labatt sources: Friedman, “The Legal, Political, and Religious Legacy,” 85-86; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49915165/david-cohen-labatt; History of the Jews of Louisiana, 39; Notice, DP, Apr. 29, 1853; Louisiana Biographical and Historical Memoirs, 1882, Vol. I, Chapter XXIV.
LEVISON, A. [or E.]. EC 21. No additional information.
LEVY, Lionel L. EC 21, founding director. Born in 1828 in Charleston, SC. Arrived NOLA by 1850. Married Miriam E. Haber in 1869. O&A: Attorney, 249 St. Charles. Died 1900 in NOLA.
– Levy sources: Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855; Lionel L. Levy obituary, DP, Nov. 27, 1900.
MAGNER, Joseph. Co-organizer of Nov. 1854 Mass Meeting, EC 21, and incorporator. Born in 1828 in Hamburg, Germany. Arrived in NOLA in 1848. O&A: Clerk for business house in 1855; later president of Deutsche Company Hall and superintendent of Touro Infirmary. Residence: 1644 Amelia Street. SA: GOM. Died 1908 in NOLA.
– Magner sources: Cohen’s New Orleans Directory 1855; NOLA directory 1866; Jewish Herald, Dec. 1908; “Joseph Magner: One of Founders of Magnificent Jewish Charities Here,” DP, Nov. 22, 1908.
MARKS, Joseph Hart. EC 21, incorporator, and founding director. Born 1816 in New York, grew up in South Carolina. Arrived NOLA 1836. Married Cecile Abrams. O&A: Jos. H. Marks & Co. (and later Fatjo & Marks), wholesale produce. Enslaved 3 persons (1855). Died 1907.
– Marks sources: History of the Jews of Louisiana, 176; “Funeral of Mr. J.H.Marks,” NOI, Jan. 31., 1907; “Joseph H. Marks Dies at Eighty -Eight,” DP, Jan. 31, 1907; NOLA Tax Records.
ROSE, Louis. EC 21, incorporator, and founding director. No additional information.
ROSENFELDT, J. EC 21. No additional information.
SALOMON, Ezekiel. EC 21, incorporator, and founding director. Born 1815 in New York. Arrived NOLA by 1849. O&A: By 1858 was a Louisiana legislator and associated with the firm of E.J. Hart & Co; Deputy Collector of Customs. Enslaved 1 person (1855). Died 1883.
– Salomon sources: “Ezekiel Salomon,” DP, Oct. 17, 1883; “Louisiana Legislature,” Daily Advocate (Baton Rouge), Mar. 25, 1858; NOLA Tax Records.
SIMON, Joseph. Presided over Nov. 1854 MM; EC 21; incorporator, founding director. Born 1824 in Groenstadt, Germany. Arrived NOLA 1839. Married Rosina Labatt, niece of David C. Labatt. O&A: Joseph Simon & Son, retail clothier; hat wholesaler. Enslaved 4 persons (1855). SA: GOM. d. 1910 NOLA.
– Simon sources: “A Golden Wedding Made Memorable,” DP, Nov. 24, 1901; History of the Jews of Louisiana, 39; GOM, Board Minutes, May 1856, TSC; “Joseph Simon’s Long Career,” T-P, June 16, 1910; NOLA Tax Records.
SIMPSON, Meyer M. EC 21, founding president. Born 1823 in Charleston, SC. Arrived NOLA 1847. Married Esther. O&A: Levy & Simpson, stock and exchange broker, 79 Common Street. Enslaved 3 persons (1855). Died 1877 in Bloomingdale, NY and buried in DOJ cemetery, NOLA.
– Simpson sources: History of the Jews of Louisiana, 1903, 33, 39; Notices, DP, Sept. 8, 1877, Aug. 12, 1877; Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855; NOLA Tax Records.
STADEKER, Jacob. EC 21. Born 1813 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. Arrived NOLA by 1846. Married Adele Hertz. O&A: Merchant, Hellman & Stadeker (1851). Enslaved one person (1850). SA: GOM. Died 1891 in Ohio.
– Stadeker sources: Notices, DP, July 1, 1846; Dec. 20, 1851; GOM Board Minutes, May 1856, TSC; Find a Gravehttps://www.findagrave.com/memorial/131834905/jacob-stadeker; 1850 US Census, Slave Schedule.
STIEWEL, Moritz. EC 21, incorporator. Born 1804 in Bayern, Germany. Arrived NOLA by 1846. Married Caroline Siegel. O&A: Owner of dry goods & liquor store before opening a jewelry story & pawnshop, 85 Rampart Street. SA: GOM, trustee (1846) and member (1866). Enslaved two persons (1856-1857). Died 1874 in Arkansas; buried in NOLA.
– Stiewel sources: Cohen’s NOLA Directory 1855, 222; GOM Board Minutes, 1854, TSC; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140242351/moritz; “Notice of Annual Meeting of Congregation Shanarai Chased,” DP, Oct. 20, 1846; “Case of Libel,” New Orleans Times, Dec. 9, 1866; Ads offering rewards for return of “Runaway Slaves,” DP, Sept. 30, 1856 and Dec. 29, 1857.