08 March 2013

My latest discovery: Rosenbaum Bank

Last night I stumbled upon the Rosenbaum Bank. Okay - not literally! I was searching various names on Ancestry.com and stumbled upon a HRUSZCZAK listed in connection to this bank in Philadelphia. Anytime I see my maiden name I get excited since it is not exactly Smith or Jones!

Now I can not place this Teodor. My great grandfather was Panko Hruszczak and he came into Ellis Island and stated his uncle Onifer Pomanko was waiting for him in Coatesville, Chester County, PA. Panko did marry in Coatesville in 1915 and settle there, and while I show him as having lived in Columbia, Lancaster County in 1917, he pretty much stayed in Coatesville. He never lived in Philadelphia. While his father was Theodore, I do not believe his father ever immigrated.

In any case, what caught my attention - in addition to the name - is the source! Panko was not Jewish. Nor is any direct lineal ancestors (while I do have some Jewish family members scattered here and there, none are direct ancestors.).

At the bottom of the screen, Ancestry.com provided the following description:
In the port cities on the east coast of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, many charitable organizations aided immigrants arriving from Europe. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was one of those organizations. There were "ethnic" or "immigrant" banks in many port cities, usually conveniently located in the Jewish neighborhoods where newly-arrived immigrants tended to settle. These banks were commercial enterprises, started mainly by established German Jews, as a place where recent immigrants could save money and arrange to purchase steamship tickets to bring their families to the United States. HIAS preserved the original records of some immigrant banks formerly operating in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Blitzstein, Rosenbaum and Lipshutz/Peoples Banks.
So now I am curious ... were these banks for any immigrants? Did the bank patrons - such as Teodor Hruszczak - have to be Jewish?

The Rosenbaum Bank (shown at left) was located at 603-05 S. 3rd Street in Philadelphia's influential and busy banking district. The bank was more than just a traditional bank as we know them today. In addition to being a place for patrons to save money, the banks also served in the sale of transatlantic ship tickets. The Rosenbaum Bank serviced mainly German and Austro-Hungarian Jews, whereas the Blitztein Bank clientel were mainly Russian Jews. The Blitztein Bank was located at 4th & Lombard Streets. The banks continued to operate until the economic crash in 1929.

A plaque on the Rosenbaum Bank reads:
This building was
Morris Rosenbaum's private bank and steamship ticket office
1888 - 1933
This plaque given by
Col. Edward W. Rosenbaum
in respectful memory.

The bank records are preserved at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC). For a small fee - $18 - records are made available for genealogical research.

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