19 August 2012

Avrum's Women, Part 4: The Trouble with Harry

Avrum's Women, Part 1: Chana
Avrum's Women, Part 2: Feiga Grinfeld
Avrum's Women: Part 3: Following Feiga (and Raya), the heartland

Avrum's Women, Part 4: The Trouble with Harry
Avrum's Women, Part 5: Finding Feiga 
Avrum's Women, Part 6: Added Confirmation
Avrum's Women, Part 7: Feiga's Family
Avrum's Women, Part 8: Fannie's Story
Avrum's Women, Part 9: Fannie's brother Morris 
Avrum's Women, Part 10: Morris Lederman - Who's your Mama?
Avrum's Women, Part 11: Garber Y-DNA = Lederman Y-DNA
Avrum's Women, Part 12: Finding Family with Family Finder  
Avrum's Women, Part 13: Bond of Brothers 

Most immigrants I've studied in my genealogy research had entrepreneurial spirits. Some succeeded in their endeavors. Some did not.  But, Harry Greenfield took the concept much further than any of the others could have imagined. It's a good thing Leah Greenfield never arrived in Lexington from New York.

For me, finding Harry was not difficult.  Leja Grinfeld's 1921 manifest was typewritten and clearly showed that she was going to her uncle Harry who resided at 609 Bonnestow Avenue, Lexington, Kentucky.[1] 


The first stop on most family history journeys is the US Federal Census.  And there was Harry (age 42) was along with wife, Sophia (43), and children Isadore (13), Esther (14), Martin (11) and Lucille (4 11/12) in the 1920 U.S. Census for Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky. At first, looking at the image on Ancestry, I couldn't make out the blurred street name. I was able to find a much clearer image of this record on Heritage Quest (free to patrons of most public libraries). The street address for the Harry Greenfield family was actually 609 Boonesboro Avenue.[2]

I also found Harry, Sophia and family in Lexington in 1910,1930 and 1940 census records and in several city directories from Lexington.[3]

But the real reason that Harry was easy to locate was because the local newspaper was just fascinated by him. Between 20 May 1909 and 23 Nov 1922, at least 66 newspaper articles from the Lexington Herald chronicled Harry's various exploits.

Harry apparently owned and managed a second-hand store and occasionally bought used goods (presumably unknowingly) from thieves, served as a bondsman for a variety of petty criminals, and bought and sold real estate.

Harry and his wife Sophia were involved in more than 15 realty transactions, purchasing residential and commercial properties. In one deal he was able to sell a business property for $8,500 two years after he'd paid $5,500. In 1915 he purchased a 70 acre farm on Iron Works pike for $11,000. [4]

On most occasions Harry was on the right side of the law and must have been deemed a upstanding member of the community. The May 1909 article finds him "introduced for the commonwealth" testifying against a man who had broken into a room and stolen a pair of shoes valued at $4. It's not divulged in the article, but one may assume that Harry had been approached to purchase the stolen goods and testified against the defendant who ultimately was sentenced to four years in the penitentiary [one hopes the shoes were really nice.] [5]

In 1914 Harry became a hero coming to the aid of the Chief of Police who had been wounded in a gun fight.
...Harry Greenfield, the South Upper Street merchant, was the first to reach Chief Reagan's side after the shooting ceased. Mr. Greenfield was on his way down town and arrived at the scene just at the time when Chief Reagan and Smith were both apparently on their knees firing at each other. When he reached Chief Reagan he took the gun out of his hand and assisted him to his feet. He said that Reagan was bleeding from the wound in his left forearm and that his clothing was torn about the knees where he had fallen after being struck...[6]
In his role as bondsman, he once went to great pains to bring back a woman who had jumped the bond he had signed for her.
...The negress was staying in Cincinnati and when Greenfield found her she was on one of Cincinnati's business streets. His authority, as her bondsman, did not permit him to cause the arrest of the woman in Ohio, so, in order to get her, he hires a negro to take the negress out for a "joy ride," arranging to cross the bridge into Covington, so that Kentucky officers might arrest her.

Greenfield said it cost him a neat sum of money to pay for an automobile, drinks and other accessories used in landing the woman in Covington and, in addition, he paid her railroad fare back to Lexington, but he said he regarded the money well spent, as he hopes to have the negress prosecuted...[7]
He gave generously to community charities including a war bond drive where he purchased $ 10,000 worth of bonds, food drives for the less fortunate during the severe winter of 1912 and a local fairs and events. [8]

When he decided to submit his paperwork for citizenship, it was news. In 1913, the Lexington Herald reported that:

Harry Greenfield to Become Citizen
Harry Greenfield, clothing merchant at 127 South Upper Street, called at the City Hall Tuesday to get Mayor Cassidy to sign a paper stating that he had been a resident of Lexington for the last three or more years, as he wishes to become an American citizen and has made application to that effect. Greenfield says he has been in the United States fifteen years. He resided in Cincinnati before he moved to Lexington.[9]
Occasionally Harry was hauled before Police Court for violating a variety of city ordinances including obstructing the sidewalk, failure to remove trash from his yard, and failing to report to the police the purchase of a second hand article.[10]

His most serious brushes with the law were being charged with selling firearms without a license and facing, along with 16 other merchants, a grand jury indictment for breaking the Sabbath with Sunday sales. Apparently, making occasional small sales in special cases had long been tolerated.  The merchants agreed to cease the practice. [11]

Raya and Leja Grinfeld (oh, almost forgot them!) arrived at Ellis Island on 2 December 1921 bound for their uncles Charles and Harry in Paintsville and Lexington, Kentucky, respectively. On 16 March 1922 Harry Greenfield was arrested in Frankfort, Kentucky with ten cases of whiskey in his car. The Herald reported there were 1,000 bottles of whiskey in sacks. This estimate seems a little high, but suffice to say, this was during Prohibition and Harry was in trouble.[12]

After a 23 March 1922 article reporting that Harry's hearing had been moved from Frankfurt to Lexington, I have found no additional articles in the Lexington Herald regarding this case. In July, however, Harry was in the paper again, appearing on the right side of the law in two articles that indicated he and his son, Isidore, had helped the police capture two men who had been altering $ 1 Federal Reserve Notes to $ 5 and passing them to merchants in town. [13]

Due to copyright rules, newspapers from 1923 on are not generally available online unless they are of most recent vintage. Thus, to pursue Harry's travails further would likely have to entail onsite research in Kentucky checking newspapers and court records and/or contacting some of Harry's descendants. I am considering the latter.

Regardless, the records available indicate that Harry's fortunes may have waned. By November 1922, Harry was sued by a clothing company for failure to pay on a $254 note.[14] The 1923 Lexington city directory indicates that Harry had given up the second-hand business and now ran Greenfield Grocery. In the 1928 directory, he's in the furniture business and the 1930 U.S. Census identifies him as an employee rather than an owner. In later directories he is listed as working in the second-hand furniture business. [3] Harry died at home on Tuesday, 11 March 1941 at the age of 63. The Lexington Herald-Leader carried the story. [15]

But what happened to Leja Grinfeld? Where did she go after her arrival in Ellis Island? She was not with her sister Raya in Ashland, Kentucky. She'd left no tracks that I could find in Lexington. Harry's story, between the headlines, gave me some additional insight for the search.

In the Lexington Herald article about Harry's naturalization declaration, Harry mentioned that he'd lived in Cincinnati before coming to Lexington. [9] I found that Harry and Sophia Gindy had married in Cincinnati, Ohio on 28 June 1903 [16] and their first two children, Isidore and Esther were born there. [2, 3, 17] While I have, thus far, been unable to locate Harry's manifest or naturalization records, Cincinnati was the stop before Lexington: a great place to look for other family or shtetl friends and acquaintences.

Cincinnati, about 80 miles north of Lexington, is the next stop in the journey.

1. Typewritten doesn't, as in this case, mean accurate. It may have been copied from an original hand-written version and errors may have been introduced.
"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.amcestry.com: accessed 30 June 2012), manifest, George Washington, Bremen to New York, arriving 5 December 1921, list 8, Raya and Leja Grinfeld, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
2. 1920 U.S. Census, Fayette County, Kentucky, population schedule, Lexington, Enumeration District 66, sheet 6A, house 114, family 119, Harry Greenfield; digital image, HeritageQuest.com (http://www.heritagequestonline.com : accessed 30 July 2012).
3. 1910 U.S. Census, Fayette County, Kentucky, population schedule, Lexington, Enumeration District 34, house 211, family 378, Harry Greenfield; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 April 2011);  
1930 U.S. Census, Fayette County, Kentucky, population schedule, Lexington, Enumeration District 34-27, sheet 21B,house 458, family 481, Harry Greenfield; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 April 2011);
U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta), Database, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com: 2012.
4. Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky). GenealogyBank.com. Digital images. http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed August 2012.  Articles from: 2 Sept 1910, p. 7; 9 May 1911, p. 6; 2 Aug 1911, p. 10; 14 June 1912, p. 6; 25 Mar 1913; 24 Apr 1913; 25 Apr 1913, p. 8; 25 July 1913, p. 8; 5 Aug 1913, p. 5; 24 Sep 1913, p. 8; 7 June 1914, p. 3; 4 June 1915, p. 3; 11 Nov 1915, p. 5
5. Lexington Herald: 20 May 1909.
6. Lexington Herald: 18 Jan 1914, p. 3
7. Lexington Herald: 20 July 1911, p.12
8. Lexington Herald: 15 Jan 1912, p. 1; 17 Jan 1912, p. 1; 13 Feb 1912; 10 Sep 1913, p. 4; 11 May 1919, p. 1;
9. Lexington Herald: 12 Mar 1913
10. Lexington Herald: 21 May 1911, p. 3; 8 July 1911, p. 10; 30 Apr 1913, p. 3; 31 Oct 1913, p. 8; 4 Nov 1916, p. 10; 18 May 1918, p. 10; 16 Apr 1920, p. 14
11. Lexington Herald: 5 Aug 1918, p. 6; 12 Sep 1917, p. 10
12. Lexington Herald: 17 Mar 1922; 18 Mar 1922, p. 6; 23 Mar 1922, p. 11; Prohibition of alcohol sales lasted nationally in the United States from 1920 to 1933.
13. Lexington Herald: 2 July 1922, p. 8; 4 July 1922, p. 5
14. Lexington Herald: 22 Nov 1922
15.  "Harry Greenfield," obituary, Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, Tuesday, 11 March 1941, p. 15, col. 2.
16. "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 22 October 2011), Harry Greenfield and Sophia Gindy, 1903; citing reference v 167 cn 249, FHL microfilm 355069.
17. Greenfield, Isidore, Birth record, 22 April 1904, no. 1550, page 115, Cincinnati (Ohio) Health Department. "1904-1907 Cincinnati Birth and Death Records," University of Cincinnati Digital Resource Commons (http://www.digitalprojects.libraries.uc.edu/Births_and_Deaths/ : accessed 11 November 2011).