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Moneyed Men: Our Wealthy and Influential Hebrews 1880 Part I


The Hebrews are the financiers of the world, and by reason of their extraordinary aptness in the use and control of money, the virtual, in so far as temporal things are concerned, rulers of the universe. They hold the rains of government in their hands and compel kings, queens; princes, presidents and dictators to "bend the knee" in humble submission to the money power. If there is a great popular loan to be placed on the market it is a syndicate of Jewish bankers that will successfully float it, and, if national credit requires a strengthening impulse recourse to Jewish financiers is had, with most substantial results. In short, the Hebrews understand thoroughly the art of money getting and the still greater art of money keeping, which last art very few persons in the world at large have the faintest idea of. They are frugal, and yet liberal, two conditions which many of their Christian brethren think are diametrically opposed to each other. Music and art know no greater patrons and charity no kinder benefactors. But they must first be satisfied that the calls on their generosity are sincere, and the very incredulity apparent in their business dealings at times is significant of that sagacity embodied in the maxim of old Davy Crockett; "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."

It is this wisdom or rather quality of far sightedness that makes the Hebrews so successful in all the walks of life in which they are engaged, and which, furthermore, presents the seldom witnessed spectacle of a Jewish pauper or a Jewish criminal. They are proud in founding magnificent museums of art for the intellectual man and in building stately hospitals and asylums to which the question of creed shall form no barrier to admittance. Another notable and praiseworthy quality is, that the Jews take care of their own poor and do not thrust upon the community at large the unfortunate of their own faith. This can be said of only few great religious denominations. Aside from these observations the world of today instead of witnessing the prescription as in former times of the Jews, beholds a single Jewish family in Europe holding in their safes the credit of nations; a statesman dictating to and advising the queen of millions of subjects in every part of the habitable globe, the policy for her to pursue; and the mingling of Christians and Jews in the marts of the world. Brooklyn and New York both contain large numbers of wealthy Hebrews, some of whom have figured conspicuously in political life and many of whom are prominent members in the best society of the two great cities. It is a difficult matter to form a correct idea of their wealth, and the figures given below rather under-estimate than exaggerate their vast financial resources.

Among the wealthy Hebrews of Brooklyn may be mentioned the following:

Hon. Sigismund Kaufmann

He is one of the most distinguished members of the bar of this State, lives in South Ninth street, in the Eastern District, and has an office in New York City, where he enjoys an influential and lucrative practice. He was an active participant in the Revolution of 1848, and having become tired of the tyranny and despotism which prevailed in Austria at that time came to America shortly after that famous struggle in behalf of liberty. He is a Bavarian by birth, about 45 years of age, an excellent scholar and an eloquent orator-speaking both German and English with great fluency. He is an active member of the congregation of Beth Elohim Synagogue in Keap street, in the Eastern District; one of the Commissioners of Emigration at Castle Garden, New York; President of the German Emigration Society, one of the patrons of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum Society of this city, and a leader in the councils of the Republican party of New York State. He was nominated for Lieutenant Governor of new York on the Republican ticket a few years ago, but although exceedingly popular with his adherents, and notwithstanding a large vote was cast in his favor, was defeated. He was appointed Commissioner of Police and Excise by Mayor Schroeder during the latter's incumbency, served a short period in office and then relinquished the position on account of his greatly increasing legal business. He amassed great wealth during the late civil war, and received enormous fees for his services as counsel for parties who were charged with evading the Liquor laws then prevalent. He owns a large amount of real estate in the neighborhood of Sixtieth street, new York, together with valuable buildings both in the Eastern and Western districts of this city, United States bonds and various other bonds and stocks. He is said to be worth all the way from $100,000 to $175,000, and is a married man.

Dr. Joseph Goldmark

He lives in one of the handsome brown stone row of mansions in Second place near Court street, is the proprietor of a large factory of percussion caps, and is a highly esteemed member of Brooklyn society. He is an active participant in the affairs of the Tenth Ward Republicans and a member of the Kings County Club. He has been a resident of Brooklyn ever since his coming to America. He is a native of Hungary and took a prominent part in the Revolution of 1848 against the tyranny of Emperor Ferdinand the First, and was subsequently obliged to flee for his life. In this struggle for liberty and equality, Dr. Fischhof, also a Hungarian Israelite, was declared dictator and Dr. Goldmark was appointed to a high office under the new form of Government. But this state of things did not continue long, and both of the patriots together with many others who believed in a Republic and denounced despotism, were compelled to seek a home under more friendly skies. In fact a price was placed on the heads of the offending statesmen and their doom would have been sealed had they been caught within the borders of Austria. Dr. Goldmark is a very charitable man, and for many years has been connected with the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor. He is married, has several children, and is between sixty and seventy years of age. He received his education in the University of Vienna, is a fine scholar and an easy and graceful orator. On coming to America he relinquished his profession of medicine and surgery and entered the business of manufacturing percussion caps, on a large scale. during the war he received large orders from the United States Government and subsequently from several foreign Powers, and acquired extensive means. He owns the house in which he resides, together with considerable real estate, bonds and mortgages, and United States stocks. His wealth is estimated at between $75,000 and $100,000. In his religious views Dr. Goldmark is broad and liberal, believing in no exclusive sect or bigoted creed, but rather in that church which takes in all mankind.

Mr. Moses Kessel

A wealthy plumber of the Eastern District, has lived in Brooklyn for over twenty years, and enjoys an excellent reputation for honor and probity. Mr. Kessel was nominated a short time ago on the Democratic ticket for Commissioner of Charities; was elected and received his certificate of election; occupied that position for two months, when he was ousted by a writ of the Supreme Court, granted on motion of his Republican opponent, Andrew Zeiser, who superseded him. Mr. Kessel commenced life as a poor boy; followed the trade of plumbing and gas fitting; accepted a position in the Chandler house of Fellowes, Hoffman & Co., of the Eastern District; was an intimate friend of the late Mayor Kaibfleisch, by whose influence he received several heavy contracts for work in his line of business, including the furnishing of street lamps, &c. He is a Trustee of the Hebrew orphan Asylum Society of Brooklyn, and President of the Williamsburgh Temple, and is worth, according to report, from $60,000 to $100,000. He is a widower and has a large family of children, several of whom are married.

Mr. Joseph H. Strauss

He is of First place, one of the most influential Hebrews of this city, was educated in the University of Vienna, with a view of following the profession of law, but the Revolution of 1848 fired the young student with so many patriotic sentiments in behalf of liberty and equality, that he relinquished his studies and became actively engaged in the conflict then raging. So out-spoken and earnest was he in his adherence to Republican principles, that he was subsequently driven from Austria by the tyranny of the Government, and a reward was offered for his detection and capture should he attempt to return to that despotic empire. Young Strauss left the country in company with many able leaders in that great political movement. Among them was Professor Fuestor, a liberal Catholic priest, who, previous to that time, occupied the Chair of Theology in the University of Vienna. Mr. Strauss is a native of Wurtemburg, and a descendant of a wealthy family who emigrated, when he was quite young, from Austria to the first named country, on account of the unjust laws, which were then in force in the latter Empire, against the Jews. On coming to America Mr. Strauss entered the business of importing foreign goods, and was very successful. He bought a factory for the manufacture of trimmings, fringes, & c., in which he employed 300 hands, and did an extensive business with the South for many years. Having sent large shipments of goods to the South on credit just previous to the breaking out of the great Rebellion, he lost over $60,000. At the commencement of hostilities he went to Washington, D.C., as Quartermaster of the Twenty-seventh Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was one of the first contractors in supplying the Government with military clothing. He was an intimate personal friend of Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, Vice President Wilson, Secretary Seward, General Bieneker, Senator Sumner, ex-Governor Morgan, Jefferson Davis, General Breckinridge and many other prominent men. He is president of the United States Mutual Aid Society, Vice President of the provident Society, of New York, and President of the People's Bond, a political and charitable organization, consisting of German speaking members, in all parts of the United States, with local branches, the object of which is to send poor emigrants to the West, to provide legal advice for the poor gratis aqnd to assist the destitute. He is the editor and publisher of a paper called the Forrester, issued under the auspices of the people's Band, and a German newspaper known as the Reform; patron of the Hebrew orphan Asylum, Society, a member of Temple israel, in Greene avenue, and the organizer of many charitable societies both in this city and New York.

He was for six years, 1867 to '73, head deputy in the Sheriff's office of Kings County, and for a number of years was one of the leaders of the local Democracy. Mr. Strauss speaks English, French and German, fluently, and is master of the Hebrew, Latin, Greek and Arabic languages. He has made several excellent translations of standard works, and for a long time was noted as being an effective and graceful orator. he seceded from the Democratic party in 1872, when Horace Greeley was nominated for the Presidency. He owns real estate in Brooklyn and New York, several fine farms in Queens County, a very beautiful country seat near Newburyport, Mass., in the vicinity of the residences of the poets Longfellow and Whittier, a large number of bonds and mortgages, Government securities, city bonds, Elevated and other railroad stock. He is said to be worth over $100,000. He has a wife, son and two daughters. His son, Mr. Baldwin F. Strauss, is one of the most prominent of the younger members of the Kings County bar, and is an active and zealous adherent of the Democratic party.

Mr. Bernhard Midas

He is an ex-Charities Commissioner, who served two terms in that office, and who was Treasurer of the Board for a period, is a wealthy wholesale liquor dealer and lives at East New York, of which place he has been a resident for over twenty years. he is an extensive owner of real estate and good securities, and is said to have a fortune of over $100,000. He is a director in the East New York Savings Bank, and a married man.


Website: The History
Article Name: Moneyed Men: Our Wealthy and Influential Hebrews 1880 Part I
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle February 1, 1880
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