Making a living: A look at our families' occupations
Early on a variety of mostly traditional occupations were represented among the Fischer and Levin relatives. Dry goods store owners were found on both sides of the family tree, as were rabbis. In later years, as we became more assimilated to life in America, we moved away from entrepreneurial positions toward the professions: law, accountancy and journalism.
Among the dry goods stores were ones owned by the Fischers, Dausts and Kobers in St. Louis, and the Gordons, Landmans and Markses in Kansas City.
Morris L. Fischer first worked as a peddler when he arrived in St. Louis in the mid-1860s, then as a tailor by 1870, a "clothier" in 1872, a "merchant" by 1880, and a dry goods store owner by 1883. The business he
established in the Carondelet neighborhood in south St. Louis in the 1870s continued to be run by his family until the mid-1950s.
Our earliest ancestor whose occupation is known was Michael Leiser Koppenhagen, who was born about 1794. He moved before 1825 from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Wongrowitz, Posen, Prussia, where he taught German, Hebrew and French.
The earliest reputed rabbi in the family is believed to have been Yakov Levin, Judith Levin Fischer's great-great-grandfather. And her great-grandfather Yaakov Serlin was both a rabbi and a timber broker in Rossna, Mogilev, Russia.
Martin Fischer's great-grandfather Eliezar Kagan was a rabbi as well as gabbai (sexton) for a yeshiva in Pinsk, Poland. In addition to being a respected religious leader in the Mitnagdim Orthodox Jewish community, he also made a living as a bookkeeper, a money lender and owner of a banquet hall.
Eliezar Kagan's wife's family, the Steinbergs from Motol, Poland, sold onions from a riverboat.
Some relatives had to move from one occupation to another without fully establishing themselves in one. Chana Anita Levik's father, Abraham Levik, had been a masseuse in Kiev, Russia; a pharmacist and membership fee collector for a Jewish organization in Havana, Cuba; and a ladies wear salesman in St. Louis, Mo. Chana's mother, Dweira Mindla Kagan Levik, was a teacher in Pinsk, Poland; a bookkeeper in Kiev; did odd jobs in Havana; and was a seamstress in St. Louis, Mo.
Joseph Levin's father, Jacob Samuel Levin, also held a variety of positions over the years, including itinerant junk peddler, inventor, factory laborer and furniture factory foreman.
Other positions found among our families included: innkeeper, Menachem Mendel Levin; caterer, Bessie Serlin Levin; architectural woodworker, Fivel Joseph Dubson; stenographer, Libbie Landman; "piece goods dealer," Solomon Kober; shoe salesman, newspaper distributor and cab driver, Morris S. Fischer; and tailor, Leib Levik.
Experienced amateur genealogist Martin Fischer is available to conduct freelance family history projects including searching online databases, creating family trees, editing memoirs and developing genealogical Web sites. For more information, go to http://www.the-efa.org/, click on find a freelancer, and type Martin Fischer in the search box, or go to http://www.apgen.org/, click on search by name, and type Fischer and Martin in the search boxes.