Brooklyn's Jewish Businessmen: Pre: 1925 Barnett-Baum


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Samuel Barnett is probably the foremost exponent in Brownsville of a man possessing both the financier's acumen for seeing possibilities and the businessman's tendency to grant credit with a broad confidence in human nature. This blending of qualities made Barnett not only one of the leading banking figures in Brooklyn but also one of the most popular and widely-regarded personalities in the boro.

Under his capable and genial leadership there has taken place a development of the Municipal Bank which probably has few parallels in any banking history. Barnett took over the institution three and a half years ago, after but a ten-minute talk, when the bank had resources of only $2,500,000. Today the bank shelters resources exceeding $25,000,000, with three branches in the various parts of the boro, and with three branches about to be opened.

And it is his enthusiasm, his unbounded faith in the innate honesty and the sense of fair play of the people, that is largely responsible for this amazing growth. In the tremendous volume of business that the institution has transacted under his guidance there was a large business done with the real estate interests in Brownsville and adjacent sections.

Samuel Barnett has had a busy and manifold career. Born in Russia, in 1874, he came to the United States at the age of seventeen, and started his business career as a peddler in Mississippi. Presently he owned a little store in Mississippi, but the lure of New York was strong, and with $350 saved up, he resolved to come to the great metropolis. He got a job with a manufacturer, which paid him three dollars a week, but before long he demonstrated his ability to such an extent that his many and well-timed demands for "raises" were granted until he was getting $50 a week. In 1905 he went into business for himself. His last venture was with a friend, with whom he developed a cloak and suit business which until four years ago was considered one of the most gigantic in the city, under the name of Siegel & Barnett, Inc., 1239 Broadway. The firm was doing more than three and a half million dollars a year of turnover, but when profits had ceased, Barnett, true to a promise he once gave himself, decided to retire from it. He did, and a little later was approached by a friend in connection with the Municipal Bank.

Thus, the bank will merely crown an already intense and highly successful business career, in the course of which, whatever may have been the circumstances on hand, there always was his winning, charming smile and hearty grip that makes one feel immediately at home.

Barnett is a member of practically every charitable organization in Brooklyn. His diversions consist in drama, music and travel. he is married and lives at 1376 President Street.

BAUM, Jacob

Jacob Baum is President of the Baum, Straus Building Company, of 105 Court Street, a company that is extensively known in the boro as builders of dwellings, stores, garages and other types of structures. With Baum are associated his son, Edmund, and Arthur H. Straus.

Jacob Baum has been in the realty field for over a score of years. he came to this boro some forty years ago. About twenty years ago he began buying and selling lots in Williamsburgh, where his activities presently grew to sizable proportions.

Of recent times, the organization which he heads has been interested in the development in Flatbush particularly in the Kings Highway and Avenue U sections. There the firm has purchased some land and erected a number of homes and stores.

Baum was born on December 21, 1865. He is a graduate of the College of the City of New York, and he has always been an enthusiast about the possibilities which the boro presented, and always desirous of entering the realty field, into which he finally plunged wholeheartedly.

Baum is a member of the Federation of Jewish Charities, the Union Temple, and a number of coal and national institutions. His diversions consist in theatre, music and automobiling.

Edmund Baum was born on May 27, 1896, He stepped into the realty field following his graduation from Boys' High School. He is a discerning and capable young man of considerable promise as well as of actual achievement. He has an unusually well-balanced grasp of the realty situation, but he believes in slow but sure method of construction, keeping pace with the actual demand, rather than hopeful and daring speculation which relies on a problematical future.

Arthur H. Straus was born on May 14, 1897, and after his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania he joined the present organization, much to his and the organization's benefit. Straus is a very tactful, agreeable and shrewd young man, with a comprehensive knowledge of the building field and its tendencies. In association with the other members of the firm he has already done some substantial work, but, no doubt, he will do even more in the future not so far distant.

Straus and the younger Baum are associates admirably fitted to each other, both by virtue of sharing the policy that construction must be done according to sound principles of demand and supply, and because, as it happens, they form the harmonious team which was undoubtedly implied in the proverb to the effect that two heads are always better than one.

Straus belongs to a number of business and social and educational organizations, local and national.


Website: The History
Article Name: Brooklyn's Jewish Businessmen: Pre: 1925 Barnett-Baum
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Building up Greater Brooklyn: with sketches of men instrumental in Brooklyn's amazing development, Brooklyn, N.Y. by Leon Wexelstein; Brooklyn Biographical Society 1925.
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