The Last Chapter of the Story of Amalia Hamberg

Finally, I come to the two youngest children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer to survive to adulthood[1]: Elsie Baer Grant and Lawrence Baer.   With this post, I close the chapter on Amalia Hamberg, first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, or my first cousin, three times removed.  Her children were my second cousins, twice removed (or my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s second cousins).

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

Elsie Baer was born in Pittsburgh in 1886 and married Jerome Grant in 1913.  For almost their entire married lives they lived in New York City, where Jerome worked for Baer & Wilde, one of the family jewelry businesses based in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Elsie and Jerome had two daughters, Marjorie and Elinor.  As of 1930, they were still living in New York City, and Jerome was still working for the family jewelry business.  The same was true in 1940; both daughters were still at home.

In the next decade both daughters married. Marjorie married Richard E. Weinreich, whose family was also in the jewelry business.  Richard’s father, Sol Weinreich, had founded Marvella Pearls, a jewelry wholesale business with his brother in Philadelphia, where Richard was born in 1915.  By 1930, the family and the business had relocated to New York, and by 1940, both Richard and his father were working in the business.

Marvella pearls

I assume that Richard and Marjorie met as a result of the fact that both families were in the jewelry business in New York.  Richard and Marjorie would have one child.  Richard eventually became president of Marvella.  According to this antiques website, “Marvella was purchased by Trifari in the early 1980s and eventually became part of the Liz Claiborne group. As of 2010, jewelry is still being distributed in department stores and other retail outlets on cards bearing the Marvella name.”

Marjorie’s sister Elinor served for over a year with the Red Cross in India in the early 1940s. On December 19, 1946, she married Alan Fredrick Kline of Chicago.

Elinor Grant wedding to Alan Kline 1946 NYTimes-page-001

Alan was a graduate of Dartmouth College and had served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II.  His father Jacob was one of the founders of Kline Brothers, a department store chain that started in Lorain, Ohio, and eventually had a large number of stores in the Midwest.

Suburbanite_Economist_Sun__Oct_28__1973_ article about Kline Bros

Elinor and Alan had two children before Alan died at only 37 years old on October 1, 1950, leaving Elinor with two very young sons.  Elinor would eventually remarry.

Elsie Baer’s husband Jerome Grant died on July 29, 1964; he was 75.  According to the death notices in The New York Times, he was a Mason, a member of The Golden Circle, and a member of the Maiden Lane Outing Club.

Like her sisters Josephine, Tilda, and Amanda, Elsie Baer Grant lived a long life, dying many years after her husband in May 1983 at age 96.

Unfortunately, the daughters of Elsie and Jerome were not blessed with their mother’s longevity.  Marjorie predeceased her mother, dying in May, 1978; she was only 59.  Her sister Elinor died at age 72 on November 2, 1993.

As for Elsie’s younger brother Lawrence, the youngest of the children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, he played, as I’ve written here, a critical part in the success of the family jewelry business in Attleboro.  He not only invented the Kum-A-Part cufflinks that made the company highly successful in the 1920s; he also invented and received patents for several other jewelry products.  For example, in 1922, Lawrence received a patent (No.  US 1420232 A) for a jewelry contained, described as “a container which can be carried in the pocket or in a traveling bag or the like or placed in an article of furniture in the home, for holding buckles, brooches, buttons, and any article of jewelry.”  He also received during the 1920s and 1930s patents for a number of other inventions: necktie holders, a belt fastener, a bill holder, a shirt holder, and a display device.

Jewelry holder invented by Lawrence Baer


As noted in my earlier post, Lawrence had married Donna Degen in 1919, and they had one child, a son named John Degen Baer, born in 1921.  As of 1942 when Lawrence registered for the draft, they were still living in Attleboro and Lawrence was still working for the family jewelry business, now known as Swank, Inc.  But by 1946, Lawrence was listed with his second wife, Olivia Ganong, in the West Palm Beach, Florida, city directory.  He and Olivia lived in Florida for the rest of his life.  Lawrence died in May, 1969, in Lake Worth, Florida. He was 77 years old.

His son John remained in Attleboro even after Lawrence remarried and moved to Florida. According to his obituary, John attended Yale and Brown, graduating from Brown in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater and in the occupation of Japan.

In 1946, the Attleboro city directory lists John as serving in the United States Marine Corps and married to a woman named Minette. In 1953, he was the executive vice-president of The Bishop Company in Attleboro.  According to his obituary, John “was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970.“

In 1963, John was still listed with Minette in the Attleboro, directory, but that is the last listing I can find for him there.  Sometime in the 1960s, John relocated to Florida, living not far from where his father was also living at that time.  He also appears to have married his second wife, Jane Rollins, during this time period.

After he sold Univis in 1970 (a year after his father died), John moved again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was executive vice-president of Edwards Baking Company until 1978.  In 1985, he relocated yet again, moving to Blairsville, Georgia, where he started and managed the Truck and Gas Market until 1992, when he retired.  John Baer died on November 3, 2015.  He was 94 years old. (All this information comes from his obituary, which also includes a number of photographs of John.)


Thus ends the recounting of the lives of all of the children (and the children of the children) of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer: Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Flora, Tilda, Elsie, Alfred, and Lawrence.  I am once again amazed by the fact that two immigrants who came to the United States in the 19th century raised children who achieved such remarkable success both in business and in the arts.

Perhaps it is a lesson to us all about the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make this country.  We should be very wary of anyone who seeks to exclude immigrants from this country.  After all, most of us living in the US today are descended from immigrants.




[1] Alfred Baer, the second youngest child, had died years before.

13 thoughts on “The Last Chapter of the Story of Amalia Hamberg

  1. Always interesting. Love the detail and by the way, thank you for inspiring me to start blogging my family history for my family to read. Made so much more sense then sending tidbits by the dozen out to scattered family members 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Debi! I do find it helpful to tell their stories because it gives me the big picture. I can see the trees and the forest, not just the leaves.


  2. Thank you Amy, very interesting – particularly so as this covers a time when America was a land of such opportunity. Struggle brought reward, and richly deserved. I also agree with your conclusion, with certain reservations. The east-west population drift is inevitable and cannot be resisted, but we should be aware that in some instances the hand of friendship is seen as a sign of weakness.

    Liked by 1 person

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