Sommer and Leicht Families in Manhattan, 1860-1913

Leopold and Susanna Meyer Leicht

U.S. Census, Fifth District, Twentieth Ward, New York City, page 44
June 21, 1860.

Leopold Leicht: age 34, male, Furniture,  Value of Real Estate: $11,000, Value of Personal Property: $2,000, Place of Birth: Baden
Susanna Leicht: age 37, F, Place of Birth: Baden
Carl: age 13, M, Place of Birth: New York
Theresa: age 8, F, Place of Birth: New York
Leopold: age 6, M, Place of Birth: New York
John: age 3, M, Place of Birth: New York
Catherine Schaefer:  23, F, Servant Place of Birth: Bavaria

The following addresses were collected from New York City Directories, birth and death records and property records.
Mary Ann Dinapoli of Brooklyn was very helpful in compiling this research.

530 Eighth Ave (Furniture, Upholstery) Leopold Leicht, furniture1855-1864 York City Directory (NYCD)
Leopld Leicht, upholsterer, h.481 Ninth Ave. 1865 (NYCD)

527 Ninth Ave L. Leicht, furniture, h. 404 West 40 1872 (NYCD)

404 West 40th Street
This was the family home on Nov. 21,1872 when daughter Theresa married William Sommer.
Theresa’s brother Charles, lived here when married in Nov. of 1874 to Elise Ellinger of 344 W.38th Street.
Charles and Elise son Charles born here in  1880.
Leopold died here Dec. 17,1887.
Susanna died here Sept. 14, 1893.
Charles Leicht died here June 17, 1920 (b.1847)

333 West 39th Street
Johanna Knoop died at this address on August 5, 1877. She was 25 years old. She was buried in the Leicht family plot but her connection to the family is uncertain. Perhaps, she was the daughter of a cousin of Susanna who married a man named Knoop.

404 Eighth Ave.
(Theresa’s brother) John Leicht, meats, h. 404 West 40th. (NYCD). Not far from 390 Eighth Ave. where the Sommer Family had a business and lived (see below).

527 & 613 Ninth Ave
(Theresa’s brother) Charles Leicht furniture, h. 529 Ninth Avenue,1877-78 (NYCD)
Leopold Leicht, furniture, h. 404 West 40th.
Leopold Jr., furniture, h. 404 West 40th. ( according to his marriage certificate of September 1877, Leopold jr. was living at 129 14th Street. He married Caroline Fink of 600 11th Ave.)
L. Leicht & Sons, furniture
467 Ninth Ave. John Leicht, Meat, h. 404 W.40th, 1879-80 (NYCD)
William and Theresa Sommer lived here from 1874-1879. Perhaps, William and John were int he meat business together.

527 Ninth Avenue
Charles Leicht, furniture, h. 404 West 40th. 1879-80, (NYCD)
Leopold Leicht, furniture, h.404 West 40th,
Leopold Leicht jr. furniture, h.529 Ninth Ave.
L Leicht & Sons

529 9th Avenue Leopold first lived here in 1877. Then Carl (Charles) Leicht and his wife Elsie Ellinger Leicht lived here with their children when their daughter Bella died in 1881, and Elsie died in 1883.

643 8th Avenue & 527 Ninth Avenue Leopold Leicht, furniture , h. 404 W. 40th 1883-1884, (NYCD)
L.Leicht & Sons

643 8th Avenue Leicht Bros. furniture, 1890,(NYCD)
404 West 40th Charles Leicht, 1890,(NYCD)
436 West 43rd Leopold and John Leicht, 1890,(NYCD)
428 West. 43rd Street Caroline Leicht died here in 1904. Leopold jr. died here in 1907.

Most of the above properties were owned by the Leicht family.
From 1860 until 1870, Leopold Leicht purchased several adjacent lots in block 737 (sec.3). These lots included:
529 Ninth Avenue (Lot 34) purchased on March 9, 1860
531 Ninth Ave (lot 35) purchased June 8, 1860
527 Ninth Avenue. (Lot 33) purchased on March 3, 1864
2 properties on West 39th Avenue, closest to ninth Avenue ( Lots 28 & 29) purchased April 12, 1870, Nos 409 & 407
404 West 40th Street (Lot 41) purchased June 27,1870
Also, on Block 1053 (section 4)
613 Ninth Ave. Lot 32 purchased July 9, 1866

Click to enlarge image

This Residential Sales ad from the March 6, 2003 New York Times, show a townhouse just four blocks north of the Liecht family home at 404 W 40th Street. The townhouse pictured was built at the same time as the Leicht home.

To read more about the middle westside at the time that the Leicht family lived here scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Philip and Regina Winklein Sommer
390 8th Ave (corner of 30th St) Listed as home of William Sommer in Nov.’72
Listed as home of home of Louis Sommer in March, ’73

390 8th Avenue, Louis and Philip Sommer “eatingh” 1874, NYCD ’74.
Apparently, this was a small restaurant owned by the Sommer family?

242 W. 33rd St. (between 6th and 7th Ave) Philip died here Sept. 1874.
The New York City Directory lists Regina Sommer, widow, living here in 1874.
Anna Sommer the youngest daughter of Philip and Regina was married here October 30, 1879

Eliza Sommer Moeller Kruger
700 8th Ave Eliza, the oldest child of Philip and Regina Sommer, and her husband George Moeller here in 1868. George died here in 1868 at 36 years old. He was a chemist born in Germany.

128 West 131 St.
(between Lenox and Seventh) Between 1890-1915, this was the home of Elizabeth Moeller Kruger and her husband Charles Kruger. Anna Moeller Eliza’s daughter from her first marriage lived with them. Several of Elizabeth’s children from her first marriage lived nearby.
In 1890,01,02, Charles Kruger lived here
Elise Schmidt, age 7 died here in 1894 (born in 1887).
Charles Kruger, Eliza’s husband died Feb. 13, 1900.
1900 Census shows John Schmidt (Eliza’s brother in law, head of the house at this address with Anna Sommer his wife, his father Conrad, children Clara (17) George (9) and Philip (7). Elisa Kruger, Carrie Kruger(15), Lizzie (40) and Anna (37) Moeller are listes as Boarders. Two servants Susi Kunder(19) and Ema Ruhmann (24).
Eliza Sommer Kruger died April 26, 1913
Anna M. Moeller died October, 1914

205 West 133rd ST. Feb.17, 1895 George Moeller died here. George was the son of Eliza.

541 West 113th ST. Elizabeth B. Moeller died. May 31, 1929. Elizabeth was the daughter of Eliza

Louis Sommer
390 8th Ave Listed as home of Louis when married to Carrie Flammer, March 1873

901 8th Ave Louis and his wife Carrie Flammer lived.(1875) This was his wife’s family home and they apparently live there for many years.
June 23 1874, female still born.
Louis Sommer born April 17, 1875
( place of business 203 West 48th St.) Louie Sommer, meats, 203 West 48th Street, h. 901 8th Ave (NCCD 1877)
Male child stillborn of Louis and Carrie died here, August 8, 1886.
( place of business, 910 6th Ave) Louis Sommer meat 910 6th Ave,
Address of Louis (age 50) at time of death in May, 1895 (no death certificate found)

William Sommer
No. 390 8th Ave, Nov 21, 1872 (corner of 30th)when married to Theresa.
The same address of Louis and Phillip in the 1872 Directory. This was a small restaurant in 1874.

Theresa Leicht and William Sommer
404 West 40th Street Nov. 21, 1872 home of Theresa Leicht (daughter of Leopold and Susan Meyer Leicht) when she married William Sommer
(married at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church corner 6th Ave and 15th Street,226 6th Ave, Geissenhaimer, Pastor)

401 W 36th Street listed in 1874 NYC Directory (Not far from the Asylum for the Blind built in 1840’s near 33rd and Ninth Ave)

467 Ninth Ave (corner of 36th) (listed as a place of “meat” business in NYC Directory)
Their first child Susan died here Aug. 9,1874.
Their second daughter Theresa died here, Sept 23, 1876.
A male child born here, September 12,1877.
In 1879, John Leicht, youngest brother of Theresa ran a “meat” business at this address and lived at 404 West 40th.

400 West 36th Street William Sommer while working at the “meat” business at 467 Ninth Ave, lived at this address in 1877.

926 6th Ave Louie born here June 12, 1879.(not far from Sommer Bros. Grocery)

112 West 53rd Street
Charlotte was born here December 16, 1880. The property was owned by Elizabeth and/or William Wetmore. It was one block west of the Rochefeller home at 11 W. 53rd Street. It was a residential area of four story sturdy brown stone houses.
910 Sixth Avenue Sommer Bros. Market (33rd Street), NYCD 1891
243 West 54th Street, (between 7th & 8th Street) Charlotte married in 1904 (at home) to Fred Gretsch by an Evang. Lutheran Pastor. William purchased this property in July of 1903. In 1921, this property was described in a map of Manhattan as a 3 story brick home with basement. It 18.9 feet wide and 50 feet long. This building no long existed in 1996. Theresa had bought the adjacent lot (no.10) the previous year.
See a copy of the wedding certificate on “Charlotte Sommer Gretsch’s Time Line”
Theresa died here June 16, 1913.

Anna Sommer Schmidt
242 West 33 Street Philip Sommer, father of Anna died here in September,1874.
September 30, 1879 Anna Sommer (sister of William) living at this address married Johann Michael Schmidt. Married by an Evangelical Lutheran Minister. (Anna’s residence was listed
112 West 53rd St. This was crossed out and 242 West 33rd Street was written in). Her brothers, William and Louis were the witnesses at the wedding.

112 West 53rd Street Anna child July 24, 1881 Regina Schmidt died at this address 11 months 22 days old.

1658 Lexington Ave, (corner of 105th Street) Regina, wife of Philip died here December, 1884.
This was the family home of Anna and John Schmidt. Several of their children were born and died here. Anna’s mother apparently came to live with them after the family home on 33rd street was given up. IN the 1880 it would have been considered far out from the city almost country-like.
Adele Anna Schmidt born soon after Regina died Jan 5, 1885 (third child of Anna).
Adele died here November 24, 1888.
128 West 131 St.
(between Lenox and Seventh) The 1900 Census shows Anna’s husband John Schmidt as the head of the house at this address with Anna Sommer his wife, his father Conrad, children Clara (17) George (9) and Philip (7). In the past it was the home of Anna’s sister Elisa Kruger who still lives there with her children Carrie Kruger(15), Lizzie (40) and Anna (37) Moeller. Lizzie and Anna are listed as Boarders. Two servants Susi Kunder (19) and Ema Ruhmann (24) also live at this address.

Charles W. Sommer and Brothers, Inc.
608 Fifth Ave.New York, 20, Importers Pearls, Diamonds Rare Gems. Charles W. Sommer, Louis L Sommer, John A. Sommer (sons of Theresa, brothers of Charlotte)

*******************

“New York City Guide” (Works Progress Administration and Guilds’ Committee for Federal Writers’ Publications, Inc) ed. Lou Goudy. Random House New York. copyright 1939.
See pages 144 and following for a description of the “Middle West Side” at the time that Theresa’s father began acquiring property there.
“Manhattan’s early railroad and the natural Hudson River water-front facilities played major roles in the development of the Middle West Side. In 1851, when Broadway between Twenty-third and Forty-second Streets was but a winding road through pleasant countryside, the Hudson Rive Railroad was opened to traffic with a station at Thirtieth Street and Eleventh Avenue. A year later, the Eight Avenue Railroad announced opening a line between Fifty-Firth and Chambers Street.
When friends cautioned Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt against building the Hudson River Railroads through sparsely settled country, he curtly rebuked them declaring, ” Put the road there and the people will go there to live. Vanderbilt’s assertion proved correct. In the 1850’s lumberyards, brickyards, lime kilns, stables, warehouses, and distilleries moved into the old farm land north of Chelsea, crowding the malodorous slaughterhouses in the upper thirties ; and with the industrial plants came the workers, swarming into the wooden shacks and shanties and, during the 1860’sm into the jerry-built tenements of Chelsea and what is now Hell’s Kitchen. As early as 1864 public indignation at these housing conditions resulted in a vigorous but ineffectual reform movement.”
Hell’s Kitchen

ibid. p.155. Area: 30th St. (9th to 12th Ave.) and 41 St. (8th to 9th Ave) on the south to 59th Street. (8th Ave to 12th Ave) on the north; from 12 Ave east to 9th Ave. (30thto 41 St. ) and 8th Ave, ( 41st to 59 St.)

Hell’s kitchen acquired its reputation as one of the toughest areas in the city shortly after the Civil Was. According to Herbert Asbury, who recorded many exploits of Hell’s Kitchen hoodlums in his book, The Gangs of New York, the section deserved its notoriety

O’Connor, Richard. Hell’s Kitchen The Roaring Days of New York’s Wild West Side, J. B. Lippencott Company, Philadelphia and New York, 1958.

This book describes the location of Hell’s Kitchen and its environs in the following way:

“on the middle west side between Eight Avenue and the Hudson River. Its Northern and Southern Boundaries are a matter of vigorous dispute but the outermost limits allowed by anyone are from Twenty-third to Fifty-ninth street.

Chelsea lying adjacent to and south of Hell’s Kitchen and …Tenderloin which adjoined it to the east from Twenty-fourth to Fortieth…. Just to the east of Hell’s kitchen between Seventh and Fifth avenues from 14th Street almost to Forty-second,…”

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