Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Begecher Family History, Continued

The story of the Begecher Family, who lived at 103 Orchard Street in the early 20th century, continues below. Read part one here. Research and writing by Alan Kurtz. Special thanks to Bowery Boogie.

On July 9, 1899 Ida and Lilly’s father, listed on the steamship Friesland’s manifest as "Markus Boczezcer," a 54-year-old laborer, arrived from Antwerp, Belgium with one dollar to his name. Though quite young, Ida (and perhaps Lilly) had apparently saved enough money to at least contribute to the cost of his ticket.

He was briefly detained at the Barge Office at the Battery, most likely because immigration officials feared that he wouldn't be able to earn a living and thus become a “Public Charge.” (He came through the Battery because the original buildings at Ellis Island burned down in 1897, and the new brick buildings were still under construction at this time.)

Markus was probably released under the aegis of his brother-in-law Louis. Just nine days after his arrival, Marcus Begecher filed his Declaration of Intention (commonly called “First Papers” as they constituted the first step in the naturalization process) with the Southern District Circuit Court of the United States to become an American citizen: certainly a statement of commitment to his new and adopted country.

It would be three long years before the family was entirely reunited. Sarah, Mendel, Ruchel, Schema, and Snerza (Mendel would eventually become Max, Ruchel Rose, Schema Sam, and Schnerza Jack) arrived on the steamship La Bretagne sailing from Le Havre, France on September 7, 1902. The New York Times reported the weather as "cloudy; warmer; showers; southeast winds.”

The manifest records them as the "Bucecer" family. They were briefly detained at Ellis Island before Marcus arrived and obtained their release; La Bretagne had docked shortly after daybreak and the family was released at 2:35 in the afternoon. During their time in “detention” the family consumed five meals; one for each family member.

Sarah Bralower Begecher

Sarah was not only reunited with her brother, Louis; her husband; and her two eldest daughters but also with additional siblings and her aged mother, Anyavita Bralower, who had come to America sometime during the 1890s.

Though it seems as if the family initially shared crowded living space with the Bralower family (Sarah's relations) on Hester Street, they soon moved to Eldridge Street (near Delancey Street) before relocating to 103 Orchard Street sometime before December of 1904.

...To be continued tomorrow, as the family makes a home on the Lower East Side.

- Posted by Kate

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