The Lost is Found

Reaching back through the space time continuum, I finally found my great-great-grandfather in time 1860s, in the space exactly where I expected him to be – on the grand island of Manhattan. I am referring to my mother’s great-grandfather, George C Spiegel, an immigrant from Germany and a cigar maker who lived in Dallas, Texas, from the 1870s until he died in 1925. He continued to manufacture cigars until his death at the age of 86. For years now, I have looked for him primarily in census records. For the time before 1870, I expect to find him in Kleindeutschland or Little Germany on the lower East side of Manhattan.

In an earlier post, I detailed an important discovery about my great-great-grandmother, Sophia B Spiegel. Having solved a long-standing mystery, one would think that the case was closed and that I would move on to other things. Learning that Sophia’s birth father was a man named John George Schmidt, and not John Precht, as previously thought, only solidified my resolve to find the whereabouts of my great, great-grandfather, George C Spiegel. In the years before their moving to Savannah, Georgia, in 1870, there was circumstantial evidence that George lived in the same area as Sophia did in the 1860s. Yet, I could not find him in any census conducted in New York between 1855 and 1865.

George C. Spiegel – Savannah, Georgia c. 1870

During this period, Sophia and her family lived in the Kleindeutschland or Little Germany neighborhood of Manhattan. According to Tyler Anbinder, the author of City of Dreams – The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York, the boundaries of Kleindeutschland were East 14th St. on the north, the East River on the east, Division Street and Grant Street on the south, and Third Avenue and the Bowery on the west.

Kleindeutschland in 1860 consisted of four wards. For more than 30 years, Sophia’s family lived in the 11th Ward, bounded by the East River on the east, Avenue B on the west, 14th St. on the north, and Rivington Street on the south. The neighborhood was anchored by Thompkins Square Park.

I searched for George C Spiegel in census records from 1850 to 1865, including variations on the name Spiegel such as Spiegle, Speegle, and Speigle, without much luck. However, this changed yesterday when I finally found him in a collection of city directories in New York covering the years 1865 to 1868. He appeared in the directories for all years except 1865, where he is listed as a cigarmaker (segarmkr) living at 68 Avenue C. That address is in the 11th Ward, about six blocks south of where Sophie and her family lived on East 12th Street.

Trow’s New York City Directory – 1865

Trow’s New York City Directory – 1866

Trow’s New York City Directory – 1867

Trow’s New York City Directory – 1868

I counted 10 men with the surname Spiegel appearing in the Trow’s City Directories for New York City. I included a number beside the person’s name in the list I made. I included an approximation of where the address would have been in the 1860s and the ward number.

1865 New York city directory

  • (George C. Spiegel did not appear in this directory.)
  • Bernard Spiegel (1), a cigar seller living at 122 E. Broadway. [8th Ward]
  • Charles Spiegel (2), a Brewer living at 49 Bayard St. [in the lower East side, west of the Bowery and west of the 10th Ward]
  • Charles Spiegel (3), a Brewer living at 739 3rd Ave. [in midtown Manhattan near E. 46th St.]
  • Jacob Spiegel (4), a milkman living at 100 W. 31st St. [in midtown Manhattan between 7th Avenue and 6th Avenue]
  • John Spiegel (5), a grocer living at 39 Norfolk St. [in the 10th Ward , 2 blocks south of Delancey Street]

1866 New York City Directory

  • Bernard Spiegel (1), cigar seller, 122 E. Broadway [10th Ward]
  • Charles Spiegel (6), cigar seller, 283 9th Ave. [on the Westside in Chelsea; just south of Chelsea Park]
  • George C Spiegel (7), cigar maker, 63 Avenue C [11th Ward] (note there is a discrepancy between the address in 1866 and the address in 1867)

1867 New York city directory

  • Charles Spiegel (6), cigar seller, 283 9th Ave. [Chelsea]
  • George C Spiegel (7), cigar maker, 68 Avenue C [11th Ward]

1868 New York city directory

  • August Spiegel (8), Joiner, 121 3rd St. [17th Ward between First Avenue and Avenue A]
  • Bernard Spiegel (1), cigar seller, 122 E. Broadway [10th Ward], resident 275 S. 3rd St. in Brooklyn
  • Charles Spiegel (2), brewer, 49 Bayard St. [in the lower East side, west of the Bowery west of the 10th Ward]
  • Charles Spiegel (9), framer, 35 Bowery, 18 Orchard St. [10th Ward]
  • Charles Spiegel (6), cigar seller, 283 9th Ave. [Chelsea]
  • George C Spiegel (7), cigar maker, 68 Avenue C [11th Ward]
  • Jacob Spiegel (9) or (5), grocer, 15 Norfolk St. [10th Ward, couple of blocks south of Delancey Street]
  • Jacob Spiegel (10), polisher, 145 W. 52nd St. [midtown Manhattan near Hell’s kitchen]

In the list above, there is a Charles Spiegel living on Orchard St. His home was a few blocks from a building at 103 Orchard St., New York, NY, 10002,that is now the Tenement Museum, a 1863 preserved tenement building whose mission is to bring Lower East Side immigrant stories to life with guided tours. Saturday Night Live did a skit that made fun of the museum and its occupants who lived in the building decades ago. There is at least one virtual tour on YouTube.

Most if not all these men should be found in either the New York state census for 1855 or 1865, or the US census for 1860 or 1870. So far, I’ve only been able to locate two of the 10 men in the list above within census records. Those are Bernard Spiegel, the cigar seller, and Charles Spiegel, the maker of picture frames.

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