Monday, October 12, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Rabbi's Daughter Kidnaps a Baby

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue transcribing the tape my grandfather, Martin Deutsch, and his older brother, Ted Deutsch, recorded in 1977. This 5-minute segment concludes the first 90 minutes. I follow it with a related news story, and some obituaries.

Regarding the title of this post: I think most people assume a kidnapping is always a bad thing. That's not the case.


Martin: Well we’re making pretty good progress here. One thing – we’re in the United States. We’re on Claremont Avenue, and you were just telling me about the Adamses and visiting them in Michigan in later years. When we were living there and we had seven in the family, Al was born there, too.
Ted: No, Al wasn’t there on Claremont Avenue, he wasn’t born yet.
Martin: Well, we had the problem arise of
Ted: Al was born in 1914, this was still 1913.
Martin: Still ’13. I guess he wasn’t born. He was being carried. And the reason I make emphasis on that is because there was a moment there when we were in deep trouble. The authorities whoever it was, possibly US Customs
Ted: Immigration
Martin: Immigration was trying to ship us back.
Ted: Yeah, well, that came about. We were here only maybe
Martin: A few months I suppose
Ted: I would say
Martin: Less than a year before Al was born, see
Ted: That’s…Al was not born at that time, but he was in being (?)
Martin: Yes, mother was pregnant with Al
Ted: So, we…it happened some time I would say in Fall, or late…early Fall
Martin: Of 1913
Ted: Of 1913.
Martin: We came in ’13 in February this could be in the Fall.
Ted: We were living in this basement and Dad got sick at that time. And couldn’t support the family.
Martin: He couldn’t work
Ted: He couldn’t work. He had a job, but he had to quit. So, according to our affidavits nobody else could help. Those people signed the affidavits. So we became a public charge.
Martin: Yes, and as a result, if you couldn’t support yourself. If you have no means of support you’d be shipped back.
Ted: That’s right, you could be deported to the country you came from. Our neighbors got wind of this, and they…we had Mrs. Klachter, one of our
Martin: She was…
Ted: She was a friend of the Adamses that we knew, our next door neighbor. Our next door neighbor was Adams.
Martin: I guess they all took an interest in this strange family that just came over with a half dozen kids, and I guess they kinda felt sorry for them and helped them.
Ted: They helped…they gave mother jobs, did some housework here and there. Worked for the Adamses. She was crying they would deport us. These Adams had a friend Klachter who was a banker. And his wife took an interest. She belonged to some society that took an interest
Martin: In the immigrants. I guess it was some sort of charitable organization
Ted: Yeah, something like HIAS they called it, Hebrew Immigrant Association, they still have it. [Note: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] And this banker was familiar with the deportation cases. He got in touch with the congressman, Sabath. At that time we had a congressman, Sabath. To see what they could do. And eventually, while he was working this way, the wagon came to take us away.
Martin: We were actually that close?
Ted: Yeah, they parked in front and this Adams fellow had a daughter named Molly, and she was going to high school. She was a senior in high school. Which was across the street, and she came home, school was out, and she saw the wagon. She knew what it was, so she grabbed Bert, who was only still a year
Martin: A couple years old
Ted: And disappeared with her, so they started looking for Bert. The rest of us were there. And they couldn’t find Bert. After...somehow they went away. They didn’t take all of us. Some other... Must have had some strings pulled somewhere in politics where they weren’t bothering us until this Sabath got a bill introduced in Congress to let us alone.
Martin: You think it went that far, that it took a bill of Congress
Ted: It took a bill in Congress to stop the deportation
Martin: I can’t imagine it being done so quickly, or absolutely.
Ted: I guess that’s the way it was done. But that was the way it was explained to me.
Martin: It usually takes months and months for anything like that.
Ted: It took a bill in Congress to stop our deportation, and that was the only way to stop it.

I, too, have doubts that legislation was passed specifically to save one family, however Congressman A.J. Sabath (1866-1952) from Illinois was a member of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization [source] [source], so he may have had the power to pull some strings, or he may have helped pass legislation that did have an effect. If so, I have been unable to uncover the legislation referenced.

Allen arrived in January of 1914, and once a child was born in the US, their status was never questioned again.

Our family owes a lot to the quick thinking of a friendly teenager. It's possible this was a common practice, and she or others had done this before. Her action could have backfired horrifically - and probably would have in a different country in a different time. But American deportation authorities weren't about to separate a family.

Mollie Adams became Mollie Britton, and she later ran a hotel in Sister Lakes, Michigan. A hotel at which I have learned Ted Deutsch and his family spent several vacations. Below are obituaries and a news story I have uncovered.

The News – Palladium, Benton Harbor, Mich June 4, 1968

Britton Rites Held

Funeral Services for Mrs. Mollie Britton, 68 of Box 27, Sister Lakes, were held at 10 a.m. this morning at the Florin funeral home. Rabbi Joseph Schwarz of the Temple Beth El officiated. Following the services the body was taken to Westlawn cemetery in Chicago where graveside services will be held at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

Among the survivors is a son Marshall Britton of Addison Ill.

The News – Palladium, Benton Harbor, Mich July 29, 1968

Sister Lakes’ Harry Adams Dead at 78

DOWAGIAC – Harry E. Adams, 78, of Sister Lakes, died at noon Saturday in Lee Memorial hospital.

He was born Sept 12, 1889 in Austria, the son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Rabbi) Adams.

Mr. Adams and his brother Charles operated the Sister Lakes’ dancing pavilion, Ramona, for many years. He was past president of the Southwestern Michigan realtors association, a member of Temple Bethel of Benton Harbor, the Sister Lakes Chamber of Commerce and had been a past Exalted Ruler of the BPOE Elks lodge No. 889. Mr. Adams had been an active member of the Dowagiac Rotary club for many years. He had been associated with the real estate business in the Sister Lakes’ area, developing large tracts of lake-front property.

Surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Michael Levin of Chicago and Mrs. Loretta Morris of Sister Lakes and a brother Samuel of Gary.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Temple Bethel. Benton Harbor. Rabbi Joseph Schwarz will officiate. Burial will be in Westlawn cemetery, Chicago.

The Elks lodge will conduct memorial services this evening in the McLauchlin funeral home, Dowagiac.

The family has suggested memorials be made to the coronary unit of Lee Memorial hospital.

The News – Palladium, Benton Harbor, Mich October 7, 1974

Mrs. Loretta Morris

DOWAGIAC – Mrs. Loretta Morris, 85, of Sister Lakes, died Saturday afternoon in Schato nursing home in Dowagiac.

Her husband, Aaron, preceded her in death in 1945.

She is survived by one sister, Mrs. Jane Levin of Chicago.

Services were held Monday at 10 a.m. in the McLauchlin funeral home with burial in West Lawn cemetery, Chicago.

The News – Palladium, Benton Harbor, Mich July 27, 1961

Old Hotel Landmark Being Torn Down

Sister Lakes – Britton Court, a local landmark for nearly a century, is being torn down to make room for a shopping center at Sister Lakes.

Mrs. Mollie Britton had operated the hotel until this summer after acquiring it in 1927. As many as 50 or more persons were often accommodated she said in apartments or cottages. The cottages are being moved down by Round Lake and are for sale.

The Britton property is at the main corner of the Sister Lakes community, across from the new bank. Past projects on the 50-acre farm have been the playhouse, Mollie’s Drive-in, a sub-division just getting underway, and a fire department.


Mrs. Britton is selling her 13-room home, but will remain in the Sister Lakes area. Her sister, Mrs. Loretta Morris, lives with her. “This home is just too large for me anymore,” Mrs. Britton sighed.

The home is known to her friends for its luxurious design and contents. The owner designed it herself, she said. Her new smaller home will be on Round Lake.

This Saturday the 13-room home will go on the auction block, after an open house of three days. Contents of the hotel will be sold a week later, Aug. 5. The owner is saving the contents of her big home.

Half of the Britton property will be subdivided this fall, 25 acres across the road to the west. The land where the hotel is being razed is to be sold for commercial and residential lots, Mrs. Britton said.

From these articles, it appears Benjamin and Rebecca Adams had six children - three sons: Harry, Charles, and Samuel - and three daughters: Mollie (Britton), Loretta (Morris) and Jane (Levin). It's not clear whether "Rabbi" is a nickname for "Rebecca", or whether it is a title, in which case it referred back to Benjamin, as the first woman ordained a Rabbi in the US was in 1972. [source]

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

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