Nathan Abraham Goldfoot, b: 1871 LithuaniaSon, Morris "Meshke" Goldfoot
My paternal grandfather, Nathan Abraham Goldfus-anglicized to Goldfoot during his stay in England, was (born in 1871), was an immigrant from Telsiai, Lithuania and his wife, Zlata or Essie Jermulowske (born in 1886) , was an immigrant from Lazdjai, Suwalki, Lithuania. Nathan had immigrated from Lithuania to England, then to Dublin, Ireland, and took a ship to Winnepeg, Canada in 1893. In June of 1893 he was on the Londonderry and 22 years old, listed as a farm laborer, and was headed to land in Quebec. Nine other passengers were on the ship with him. Then he got to Portland, according to his death certificate, in 1899.Here, Charlie/Haskel, is sitting, my dad, Meshke/Morris, is standing.
Nathan was 37 when his 1st son, Charlie, was born in 1906. My dad was born in 1908. Nathan arrived in Portland in 1899, and I found him on the 1910 census as he died in 1912. They lived at 265 Arthur. They had met in Council, Idaho and married in Boise. After about a year, they moved to South Portland, Oregon. My grandmother, Bubba in Yiddish, attended the Mead Street Shul.
It's a place I wound up as a teacher teaching the Jewish Chabad school's K and 1st grades. The roof was leaking during the rain and at times I actually used an umbrella in the classroom. That caused the school to move out a ways near a lake. I attended Neveh Zedek Synagogue, a Conservative one, with Rabbi Kleinman. Nathan and Zlata Goldfoot had 4 children; Charles, Moshe-Morris, Elsie and Ann. My father, Morris-Maurice, was born July 1, 1908. Charles was born September 22, 1906.
Many Jews became peddlers all over the US when they immigrated
Nathan died before Ann was born in 1912. He had been a peddler with one horse and wagon, supplied to him by a group, and one day the horse was startled and frightened, so ran through the streets of SE Portland as Nathan would pick up boxes from the port to be delivered in SE Portland and deliver them to businesses. Nathan was thrown out of the wagon, a wagon without any identification on it, hit his head, and was taken to Providence-St. Vincent's Hospital in NE Portland.
He never woke up, but died there, and my Bubba, at home on a Friday, waiting for him to come home, pregnant, didn't hear a thing about it. Finally, several days later, someone came to her door and told her that her husband was dead. She cursed that man for not coming immediately to tell her. He died several years later.
Bubba had to pluck chickens for a living. She lost control with 3 little children and pregnant with another girl. She had a girl 1 and 2 boys, age 4, 6 when she became a widow. Sometimes she had to chase them under the bed with a broom.
My grandfather, coming from Russia, didn't trust banks, so he hid his money in the barn where he kept his horse. After his death, Bubbie looked for it but could find nothing. She was destitute but had a brother nearby who wanted to adopt my father. She said no, and kept them altogether.Here is a mid-century reproduction photograph of the original Failing Public School in Portland Oregon. Bubba's children, Charlie, Morris, Elsie and Ann attended Failing School that was in their neighborhood from 1911 on. The school was built in 1882 and named for former Portland Mayor Josiah Failing. Photograph by Mentzer the Photographer – 203 N E Russell St in Portland Oregon. The photo has a description stating the school name and dates of operation as well as its destruction date of 1922. The Failing I see today and have seen all my life is still standing.
The school was closed down and the building abandoned. Located at 049 Southwest Porter Street near the west end of the Ross Island Bridge, it was a central location for the fast-growing community college. Despite the poor name for an education building, Failing provided PCC with 22 classrooms at a single location and a place for its new headquarters, which had been in an old portable building behind Benson High School. It's been recycled into a city college building. If you cross the Ross island bridge from SE to SW and turn right and go around and then forward, you will see the school on the right.Judge Gus Solomon, my father's peer
Gould "Gus" Jerome Solomon was born in Portland, Oregon in South Portland, too. He was born August 29, 1906. He should have attended school with Charlie Goldfoot. Gus's parents were Jacob (born 1872 in Hoosh, Romania, and Rose Solomon, (born 1872 in Ukraine, a Russian state). They married in Portland not long after arriving in Portland. His mother died in childbirth and his father died young. He was raised by relatives. When they arrived in Portland, it was during the severe depression of 1893 to 1897. He as a peddler, opened a small 2nd-hand store, first with Max Barrell who was also from Hoosh, and later with Morris Augustin. By 1910, Portland was doing better and was the Pacific Northwest's leading financial, commercial, port and rail center and it ranked 28th in urban population and 55th in manufacturing value. The Jews who had come here were in trade and commerce. South Portland's tailor, shoemakers, and storekeepers largely served workers' families. 60% of its Jewish heads in South Portland in 1910 were either proprietors or clerks, while another 18% were on the fringe of proprietorship as expressmen or peddlers (my Zaida-grandpop that I never got to meet). Many just eked out a living.
In 1900 the Solomons lived on First Street in South Portland. Jacob was a clothing merchant at age 29. They both said they were from Poland to the census taker. Eugene had been born in 1895 in Portland.
By 1920 they were living in the NE section of Portland on NE Knott and 14th. Gus was 13 and his siblings were Eugene J, 23, Sam 21, Claire 19 and Delphine 17. They were going up in society; out of the cozy ghetto.
Rose was born as Rifka Rochel Rosencrantz in 1872 near Kiev, under the Czar. Helen Hochfeld's grandfather was also from Ukraine. For Russian Jews, there were no civil rights, but there were ruinous restrictions on trading, and periodic expulsions from towns and villages. Pogroms savaged them early in the 1880's. They suffered from being evicted from cities, new discriminatory laws that popped up, and heightened violence that worsened conditions in the 1890's.
Between 1880 and 1920, millions of people from Europe, the Ottoman empire, and Asia created the greatest immigration era in the US history. In these years, 1/3 of eastern European Jewry left for the fabled USA. which in 1880 had only a quarter-million Jews, about 1/6 from eastern Europe. By 1900, some 600,000 more eastern European Jews had arrived; 45% of them women and girls.
The city contained the urban Far West's 2nd highest % of foreign-born people in 1890 and 1900, most of them clustered in the same neighborhoods. In 1910, Portland's population was 207,000 with some 5,000 Jews, almost 1/2 from eastern Europe, and they belonged to Portland's synagogues. in 1920, at least 11,000 religiously affiliated Jews lived in the city with 258,288 people which some 6,000 of them were living in or near South Portland.
Rose's brothers, Abraham and Jacob Rosencrantz, brought the 22 year old Rose to Portland in 1894. Other siblings followed later. Similar networks of relatives and friends encouraged Atlantic crossings and helped newcomers.
The Rosencrantz brothers became leading figures in Jewish South Portland, respected for their learning in Talmud. (Oh dear, my father was thrown out of Hebrew school because at age 4, he was already on the streets of Portland selling newspapers, already making change for people. He told me that people came to him more than to his older brother, Charlie, who was 6. He wouldn't listen to the teacher, and probably was noisy and disruptive.) He never got another chance.
Abraham Isaak Rosencrantz (b:July 4,1875--d: July 17, 1936) became a well-known cantor in small congregations---Shaarie Torah and Neveh Zedek Talmud Torah---and an interim rabbi. Jacob, called John, became a synagogue sexton. Jacob was born in 1864, died in 1938, buried in Rose city Lodge's Neveh Zedek Cemetery.
Jacob became a prospering merchant, though he only had a Hebrew school education in the old country. At least he was literate in one language. This school prepared him in about 2 years to be bar-mitzvahed. He was ambitious so attended a night school for 2 years where he learned to write a crude English, math and read from newspapers, and then he moved to key West, Florida which had a large Romanian community and lived in Tampa for 4 or 5 years. He became a salesman, possibly attended the World's Fair in Chicago selling merchandise there in 1893, which is when he moved to Portland, where he knew of other Romanian Jews. I wonder if he knew Beedie and her husband, Max Etlinger who had a son, Joel and a daughter, Joannie?
In Romania, Jews were barred from town and city peddling, their era of legal persecution of Jews, called a "cold pogrom," by historians when the government "defined Jews as enemies of the nation, removed them from the state school system, and encouraged occasional violence." Jews were disqualified from citizenship periodically and expelled from villages, deported, and worn down by poverty.
So Jacob immigrated at age 14 early in 1886, one of 5,518 other Romanians. They made up only 4% of the east European Jewish tide arriving between 1880 and 1920.
Leon Feldstein's family came from Rumania in 1907. Other Rumanians would pop in and his mother would play the piano and guitar for people to dance. They would have a Mameliga party which consisted of a huge tub of mameliga, a corn meal-hardened corn meal mush. Everyone was poor. Gravy was added to the mameliga, a few pieces of meat and lots of onion and garlic.
South Portland was 14 blocks long that ran from the Willamette River westward 6 to 10 blocks to end in a large garbage dump that could have been "The Gulch", near the Ross Island Bridge, which was in front of the Goldfoot duplex that was also near the Neighborhood House. It's said that it was a classic 1st settlement neighborhood. European Jews and Italian Catholic immigrants lived here and got along well. I remember a kosher Deli and and Italian Deli right across the street from each other. my father would send me over to them from our SE home on a Sunday morning to buy some kippered salmon.
The Blackman family lived near Molly and young Irv Rotenberg on First Avenue next to Mosler's Bakery where my two aunts, Elsie and Ann worked. Mosler's bagels could compete easily with the best out of New York. People of today don't know a real bagel. I still remember Elsie coming home early with Mom and I waiting for her with her bag of warm bagels, and we ate them without any cream cheese or anything. Just ate those delicious bagels. And the aroma....the best!
People here chose to live close to each other and it was a wonderful way to live, like we think about the old country and its shtetl-life of Fiddler On the Roof. In this small area, anything that anybody needed for good living was available within walking distance. There was the library within a few blocks. There were 6 synagogues. You could take your pick of the one you'd rather be dead that caught in; and they were within a few blocks.
There were grocery stores such as Korsun's, Louis Leveton's drugstore, Sig Sichel's Cigar shop on 3rd Ave., the laundry, the hospital, the community center. The Solomon Apartments, built by Jacob Solomon was at First and Caruthers. Dave Schneiderman had a pool hall, often crowded with older boys and its foot patrolman, Mr. Nichols. Calistro and Halperin had a delicatessen between Caruthers and Sheridan that catered to both the Italian and Jewish trade, since its owners came from each ethnic group. Simon Director, Isaac Friedman and Joseph Nudelman had competition for my father's market with kosher meat markets within a few blocks of each other along First Avenue. They had it all in this South Portland ghetto. It was sweet living and really everybody helped each other. Along First Avenue, a little north at first and Grant, was Robison's dry goods store, a mini-department store used by South Portlanders. It was Mrs. Robison's sons, Charles and Edward, who donated funding to help establish the Robison Home, the Jewish community's modern care facility for the elderly.
Gus J. Solomon, Liberal Politics, Jews and the Federal Courts by Harry H. Stein-Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland, 2006
The Jews of Oregon 1850-1950 by Steven Lowenstein, 1987
The Downtown Jews-a walking tour through Portland's early business district by Polina Olsen , 2009