Saturday, May 25, 2013

life in clippings: the mintzes of ithaca

yeah, i'm still working my way up the hill toward the party. i parked at the bottom of the cemetery to have a look around, but then i noticed that i was not too far to walk to a party i was going to, and i had some time on the way to visit with the graves.

no, it's not incongruous.

because i said so.

anyway, up in the jewish section there was a plain stone that caught my eye and it turns out he's an interesting fellow. there is much one can learn about him just from newspaper clippings.

the stone reads:

JUNE 29, 1889
APRIL 14, 1944

i'm just giving you the pertinent excerpts that illustrate his life, but i'm linking you to the full pages in the publications where i found them, and they are worth reading.

lawrence m. mintz lived at 402 west seneca street with his parents, ben and rachel mintz and his brothers harry, aaron, and jay.

ok, let's face it: i've waded in pretty far here to construct a biography of a long-dead stranger, and there are some things i KNOW and some things i think are true.

there are a lot of mintz children in ithaca; up until some point after 1901 but before 1916 ben's brother louis also lives in ithaca with his family and in july of 1884 the ithaca daily democrat reports that the family business, mintz's clothing, is owned by louis. the proprietorship seems to have passed to ben at least by 1912.

the 1901 ithaca city directory lists ben as the proprietor of "ben mintz clothing and men's furnishings" and louis's occupation as "com trav", or commercial traveler, which is a travelling salesman.

in 1901 both brothers have homes in ithaca. ben and his family live at 402 west seneca street and louis and his family live at 222 spencer street.

in ben's family beside the four sons listed in the 1916 poole account, there is a daughter, ruby whom i know about by way of a headstone inscription and i think she died in infancy.  there are two other sons, gustave e. and lionel. there is also a daughter, esther etta)

i have some guesses about the birth order of the mintz children.  i do not know in what year ruby was born. it is equally likely that she was born before or after jay. the size and inscription of her headstone suggests she died in infancy, which i'm going to say makes her up to about two at her death, so a death date of 1887 puts her birth somewhere between 1885 and 1887. i believe jay was born in 1886, assuming he is 21 when he graduates from cornell.

i'm making that assumption about jay's age at graduation because of those mintzes whose birth dates and graduation years i know, they are 21 at graduation, so if it's not exact, it's a pretty close approximation.

the 1901 ithaca city directory lists the ben mintz household as including ben, aaron, etta, gustave, and jay. since wives do not appear to be listed as separate persons anywhere, i will assume rachel is implied. aaron and jay are listed as students, while gustave is listed as a clerk at the clothing store, which makes him of employable age. 

harry, lawrence, and lionel are not listed in ben's household in the 1901 directory. harry would have been about 24 years old and old enough to have his own residence.  lawrence and lionel would have been 12 and 10 respectively. since wives are not listed in the directory, i am guessing that minor children are not listed either.

since aaron and jay are both listed as students but are about six years apart in age, i am going to guess that aaron is a student at cornell and that jay is attending ithaca high school in 1901. i am also going to take a wild flying guess that in the mintz family all children at least finish high school, so even if gustave never went to college, he falls in the birth order somewhere between aaron and jay.

for the purposes of my handy-dandy chart, ive gone ahead and placed estimated values and relationships alongside known ones. i would love to SHOW you my handy-dandy little chart, but i'm having trouble getting the thing to download properly so you can see it.

it's a pretty safe bet that when the daily democrat reports in 1884 that

Mrs. B. Mintz and family, Miss Anna
Mintz and Mr. Louis Hurwitz returned this
morning from a trip to Cazenovia and Sy­racuse. 

the only two children of her family present are harry and esther.

louis's 1901 household lists louis, aaron, dorothy, and fannie.

yes, a different aaron. both brothers were owners of the clothing store at some point. both brothers have sons named aaron. both brothers have sons named gustave. this suggest an interesting family dynamic. i have no idea what that dynamic is, but i bet it's interesting.

louis and his wife sarah have five children that i know of: dorothy, fannie, gustave, herschel, and aaron.   gustave, a lifeguard at benwick beach dies at the age of 18 when he is rather famously drowned by alexander karst. dorothy and fannie both become teachers and when louis moves the family to newark NJ sometime before 1916, apparently only dorothy stays behind in ithaca.

herschel dies in newark in 1916, and louis the following year.

there's an anna associated with louis's household and i suspect she is a daughter, but i do not yet know enough to say for sure.

it's kind of a lot of work to go through to construct a biography of unrelated people who i don't know, but it's interesting to look at this one slice of life and what can be discovered.

there's a harry mintz of binghamton who is not ben's son harry, but is a relation of ben.  he promises to be interesting in his own right.

later on i will have some charts for you.

charts are awesome.

timelines! maps!!

*shakes tiny fists in paroxysms of joy*

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