Sunday, December 16, 2012

Herman Levy, Pioneer Useful Citizen

Herman Levy c 1906

Until recently, this was the only picture I had of my paternal great grandfather, Herman Levy.  It was originally printed in the autobiography of his son (and my great uncle) Benjamin Levy.  Despite the blurry image, it was the only picture I had of Herman and I was grateful to have even a little idea of what he looked like.

But that changed when I began looking through Loraine’s scrapbook and found a gem on the next page.

Herman Levy Obit with photo

I’m not sure what a ‘Pioneer Useful Citizen’ is or what my Great Grandfather did to earn such a title but it is nice to read about how influential he was in the area.

When I saw this newspaper article from The Fresno Morning Republican a light bulb went off that I’d seen this dapper gentleman somewhere before.  Sure enough, I went to the box of ‘unidentified photos’, thumbed through it, and came upon this.

Herman Levy

Herman was born on May 20, 1856 in Filehne, Posen, Germany.  He has become my biggest ‘brick wall’ ancestor and I’d love to learn more about him.  I do know that he came to America somewhere between 1873-1875 with an uncle, I.H. Jacobs and first settled in Merced.  He later moved to Borden and set up a general merchandise store.   He moved to Fresno in the early 1880’s, set up a clothing goods store on Mariposa Street and was naturalized in Fresno County on March 5, 1889, .  He joined the New York Life Insurance Company in 1904 and until his death was the sole representative in Fresno.  He was married in 1883 to Goldie Benas of Vallejo.  He was a Mason in Fresno and was the first initiate of Fresno Lodge, No. 247 and the master of the lodge in 1889.  Herman died at his home on March 6, 1918.

Also in the scrapbook was this.

Herman Levy Obit

So here we are again reading that Herman Levy was a ‘pioneer citizen who lived a life of usefulness to it’.  Not sure what I think about that.

My grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, was never able to meet Herman in person as she and my grandfather, Sig Levy, were courting through the mail during his illness.  I do know from the letters I’m transcribing that she was saddened to hear of Herman’s passing and quickly sent off a letter to Sig’s mother, Goldie Benas Levy, expressing her sympathy.  And there in the scrapbook was Goldie’s response back.

Envelope from Goldie Acknowledgement

Once again Loraine’s scrapbook has helped me to identify one of my ancestor’s.  And I’ll keep digging and researching and, hopefully, I’ll be able to fill in some of the blanks for Herman Levy.

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