The Gumps and the Business of Alcohol, Part II

We saw last time that as of 1915 when their father Gabriel Gump died, his four sons, Abraham, Louis, Harry, and Joseph, were all engaged in the family liquor business and that three of the four were living in Baltimore, where they’d been born and raised.

As of 1920, things had changed for Abraham Gump, the oldest son.  He and his wife Jennie were living in Los Angeles, and Abraham listed no occupation on the 1920 census.  Their two daughters had married.  Etta, the older daughter, had married Joseph William Ketzky, who was a native of Alabama and a doctor. They would have two daughters.  Ruth, Abraham’s younger daughter, had married Leslie Holzman Lilienthal, who was also a native of Alabama.  In 1920, Ruth was living with Leslie in Selma, Alabama, with his parents, Henry and Annie Lilienthal.  Henry was a dry goods merchant, and Leslie was working as a clothing salesman (perhaps in his father’s store).

I wouldn’t have thought there was a Jewish community in Selma, Alabama, but as this photograph of Temple Mishkan Israel in that city suggests, there was quite a substantial one.  According to this site, the synagogue was founded in 1870 and had about 80 members in the 1910s and 1920s.

So how did two young women from Baltimore meet two men from Alabama? And how and why did their parents end up in Los Angeles? Well, according to his World War I draft registration, Joseph Ketzky had been a medical student at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in 1917 and must have met Etta during that time.  Presumably Etta and Joseph then set Etta’s sister Ruth up with Leslie Lilienthal.  But I’ve no clue why Abraham and Jennie were living in California in 1920.

Joseph Ketzky World War I draft registration Registration State: Maryland; Registration County: Baltimore (Independent City); Roll: 1684137; Draft Board: 13

Joseph Ketzky World War I draft registration
Registration State: Maryland; Registration County: Baltimore (Independent City); Roll: 1684137; Draft Board: 13

Although I could not find him on the 1920 census, Louis Gump was still living in Baltimore according to several city directories from the early 1920s.  In all three directories Louis listed his occupation as a salesman.  Louis and Carrie’s daughter Rosalind and her family were also still in Baltimore; her husband Milton Wertheimer was a cigar manufacturer in 1920.

Harry Gump and his wife Mildred were still in Wilkes-Barre in 1920; Harry did not list an occupation on the census.  Joseph and Francella (Kohler) Gump were still in Baltimore, and whatever Joseph had entered as an occupation is crossed out and not legible on the 1920 census. In the 1922 Baltimore directory, Joseph gave his occupation as “investments.”

So what had happened to the family liquor business? Prohibition. The Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified on January 29, 1919, banning the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Although it did not take effect for another year, obviously the Gump brothers got out of the business before it was too late.  By 1920, Abraham, Louis, Harry, and even Joseph were in or close to their fifties, and all but Joseph no longer were supporting children.

It does not appear that they were too seriously affected by the loss of their business. After all, in 1925, Abraham and Jennie cruised to Cuba; they were back residing in Baltimore at that time. In 1929, they traveled to England. Louis and Carrie took a cruise to France in 1925. Harry and Mildred also cruised to France in 1925. Although they had to wait five additional years until 1930, even Joseph, Francella, and George got to take a trip to France that year.

By 1930, circumstances had changed again.  Abraham and Jennie were living in Atlantic City as of 1927, according to the city directory, but in 1930 they were again back in Baltimore, living with Etta and her two daughters. Although Etta still listed her marital status as married, by 1940 she reported that she was divorced.  She was quite an accomplished golfer, apparently, as I found numerous articles recounting her participation in golf tournaments.  Her younger sister Ruth had moved with her family to Columbus, Georgia, from Selma, Alabama, and her husband Leslie Lilienthal was a retail clothing merchant in Columbus.

English: A picture of Columbus in the 1940s.

English: A picture of Columbus in the 1940s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis Gump and his wife Carrie were still in Baltimore in 1930, and Louis was selling stocks and bonds.  Their daughter Rosalind and her family were also still living in Baltimore where Milton was still a cigar manufacturer.

Harry and Mildred were still in Wilkes-Barre in 1930; Harry was retired.  And Joseph Gump and his wife and his son George were in Baltimore; Joseph was also retired.

Harry was the first of the brothers to die; he died at age 69 on June 23, 1937, in New York City, where he and Mildred had moved four years earlier. His obituary ran in two Wilkes-Barre papers:

Wilkes-Barre Record, June 24, 1937, p. 11

Wilkes-Barre Record, June 24, 1937, p. 11

His older brother Abraham died three years later on May 8, 1940; he was 77:

Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1940, p. 6

Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1940, p. 6

Three years later, the youngest Gump brother, Joseph, died on March 27, 1943. He was 72:

Baltimore Sun, March 28, 1943, p. 128

Baltimore Sun, March 28, 1943, p. 128

Louis Gump lived the longest; he died at age 87 on September 16, 1951.  He had outlived his wife Carrie, who had died in 1940, and had been living with his daughter Rosalind and her family.

As for the four Gump grandchildren, Rosalind lost her husband Milton in 1946; she lived until 1974 and died in Baltimore at age 86.  Abraham’s daughter Etta Gump Ketsky died in 1953 at 57; she had never remarried.  Her sister Ruth Gump Lilienthal died one month shy of her 100th birthday in 1999 in Columbus, Georgia.

Joseph’s son George Gump served in the US Navy during World War II and became a tax lawyer; he died in 1988 when he was 79.

Baltimore Sun, September 16, 1988, p. 91

Baltimore Sun, September 16, 1988, p. 91

This snapshot of the lives of the four sons of Gabriel Gump and Henrietta Mansbach and their children provided me with some insights into the effect that Prohibition had on some families in the US.  Gabriel Gump had established a very successful wholesale liquor business in Baltimore, so successful that it was able to support all four of his sons and their families up until Prohibition.  But that business was shut down by Prohibition.
Even after Prohibition, however, the family lived quite comfortably.  By 1933, when Prohibition was finally repealed by the 21st Amendment, the four Gump brothers were more or less retired and still apparently living well on whatever they’d earned from the business.  They do not appear to have suffered from the destruction of their family business and lived relatively full and uneventful lives.
That brings me to the end of my research about the three Mansbach cousins, the niece and nephews of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.  Next, I will return to Gerson and his family.





32 thoughts on “The Gumps and the Business of Alcohol, Part II

  1. Another interesting post and how they lived. I love the golfing history of the female in the family. Do you think that even with Prohibition, some members of the family still made and sold liquor…under the table, so to speak…about which, there would be no records. ??? It would be extremely difficult to start up a completely different business.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It pays to know your history or to research when you don’t. I didn’t even think about prohibition last week when the family liquor business was mentioned. Some scenarios did go through my head while reading this but I will not go there.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours.


    • One thing I’ve learned is that there were Jews in all parts of the country. As for France, these were all cruises to Cherbourg—maybe that was just a popular landing place for travel to Europe? Thanks, Sharon!


  3. very interesting family history, thank you for sharing. I also have family in Wilkes-Barre I’m researching. And the Alabama jewish connection – I also find that interesting. Our Rabbi is from Alabama and he also always comments that that is surprising!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. I just happened upon this blog while quickly looking for a date relating to my great grandfather, Joseph William Ketzky. I am speechless and so excited to continue reading through this. I have Gump family heirlooms throughout my home, but have yet to put some of the pieces together. This is so great! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah! I am so glad you enjoyed the blog post and would love to connect with you. I will send you an email when I get a chance—right now we are out the door to travel for Thanksgiving. Thank you!!


      • I am really looking forward to connecting with you! I will be at my mom’s house tomorrow and we will be excitedly digging through old photo albums. I called my cousin and aunt in NY this morning to tell them about this great blog. Everyone is so grateful for all your research and we are looking forward to learning more. Thank you again and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi!
    Ruth Gump Lillienthal was my great grandmother and I appreciate this blog. I knew her well and appreciate the opportunity to read more about her life and history. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leslie, I’d love to be in touch. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post. If you are Ruth’s great-granddaughter, then we are fourth cousins, twice removed. I will email you with more information.


  8. This is a wonderful find. I was a granddaughter of Etta Gump Ketsky, My mother, Etta Jr., married Sidney Scherlis, a Baltimore cardiologist. I grew up in Baltimore and married Bernard Ellenson. We moved to NJ where I was a nurse and raised our 2 children,
    I am now living in LA and have 4 grandchildren. I am in the process of writing them each a journal about their family history. I was excited to find this site.
    My mother’s sister was named Ann and married Sonny Gaynor. She had two children Elizabeth and Barbara, who I was very close to. I would love to hear from more of the family
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ann! I am delighted to hear from you. I will email you tomorrow when I am a bit more awake. I look forward to being in touch—we are fourth cousins, once removed.


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