Monday, October 18, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Morris Feinstein and the Dice Game in New York

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

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I transcribe a newspaper article from 1922 concerning a Morris Feinstein, possibly a brother of my great grandfather Herman Feinstein.  While the newspaper article is about a gambling debt, Morris definitely appears to outsmart a pair of scam artists.

St. Louis Post Dispatch - February 9, 1922
Court Rules Check Given in Dice Game Need Not Be Paid
Verdict Awarded in Favor of Man Who Lost $420 in New York in 1920

In finding that Morris Feinstein of 1236 North Leffingwell avenue need not pay $420 to Louis J Simons of New York, a jury in Judge Davis' Court yesterday based its verdict on the law which makes a gambling debt uncollectable.

Feinstein testified that when he was in New York buying merchandise, July 5, 1920, he was introduced to Simons and Edmund S. Silz, who volunteered to "show him the town." They went to Feinstein's room, he said, and one of the men suggested that they shake dice to see who should pay for dinner. No money was put up, Feinstein testified, but it was agreed that losses were to be paid by check.

Feinstein said in the first few minutes of the game he won $100. Then Simons dropped out, he said, and he and Silz continued the game until Feinstein had lost $420. He said he gave Silz a check for this amount, but dated it a month later than the date of the game. Feinstein testified that on the day fater the game he withdrew all of his money from the bank on which the check was drawn.

In a suit against Feinstein for the $420 Simons alleged that he cashed the check for Silz and that it came back from the bank with the notation, "no funds." Neither Simons nor Silz appeared in court. It was said that Silz had gone to Paris, France. Simons' deposition was read. The case originally was decided in Feinstein's favor in a justice of the peace court and was appealed by Simons.


1) I note that this is 'possibly' the brother of my great grandfather.  There appears to have been two unrelated Feinstein families in the St. Louis, Missouri area during the years 1900-1930.  Morris is one name that appears in both families.  I can find the 'other' Morris Feinstein in the 1910 census, but not the 1920 census.  My great great uncle was not living on Leffingwell in 1920 or in 1926 when he died, but that doesn't mean he wasn't living there in 1922.  And my great great uncle was a retail clothing merchant, so he could have been in New York purchasing merchandise.  I need to do some research in the city directories at the local library to better distinguish the two families.

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