Margulies & Adelman, etc. 31 E. 32nd St. (2004)

The bottom of a long thin stack in a dim opening across the street from the Hotel St. Louis:
Milbert Dresses
Jaffe Dresses
Margulies & Adelman / Distinctive Dresses
A / Rittmaster / & Bro / Suits & / Coats
Youthful Made Dress Co.

Milbert were Millie and Bertha, two sisters, Millicent Montrose (1875-1941) and Bertha Montrose (1869-?). They began as B & M Montrose, Dresses around 1910, then began using the name, Milbert, a couple of years later. They moved into this building around 1913 and stayed until they closed in 1920. In the 1900 U. S. Census Bertha and Millie Montrose appear as step daughters of Hilda Montrose (ca.1840-1932), a widow, age 60, living on Lenox Ave. Hilda (more often she used the name Clothilde) was an immigrant from Germany around 1855/60. In 1910 the same three women were joined by a son of Clothilde Montrose, George H. Montrose (ca.1862/63-?). George was a widower at the young age of 48. His daughter Helen, age 14, was also part of the household. Around 1915 Millie Montrose married Oscar Matthiessen (1881-1965). He registered for the World War I draft in 1918 as "Dealing in Gowns, B & M Montrose, 31 East 32nd St. New York City." In the 1920 U. S. Census, he and Millie were living on East 35th St. Bertha was living with them as sister-in-law. Their occupations were still given as Manufacturing Dresses at this time. By 1930 the Matthiessen's were living in New Jersey. His occupation is given as Traveling Salesman, Hair Nets. In the same year Bertha Montrose was living with her 88-year-old mother, Clothilda, on Parsons Blvd. in Queens. George H. Montrose had a twenty-year career manufacturing cloaks, suits, dresses, and infant's wear running approximately 1896 to 1917.


In Nov. 1921 notice appeared in the New York Times of the incorporation of Margulies & Adelman, Manhattan, women's apparel. Principals were: A. Margulies, H. Kantor, and P. Adelman. Listings for this partnership, however, prove very brief: one in the Manhattan Telephone Directory in 1922 and another in Polk's New York City Directory of 1922/23. Polk lists the partners, however, as Samuel Adelman and Morris Margulies. There is also a listing for Margulies & Chait Inc. at this address in 1924. Margulies & Adelman, then, would seem to date no more than 1921-23.


The Youthful Made Dress Co. proves another elusive subject. Evidence for this company consists of an entry in the Manhattan telephone directory in 1919 and two items in a single issue of the New York Times, 27 June 1919. One is this help wanted ad on page 19. The other is a notice of incorporation on page 28: "Youthful Made Dress Co., Manhattan, $27,000; J. J. Baker, S. Schwartz, A. H. Morgen, 22 West 32d Street." One of the officers in the incorporation statement is Abraham H. Morgen. Morgen was the proprietor of an earlier company, A. H. Morgen & Co., from approximately 1913 to 1922/23. This company was also called the Wiz Dress Co.. These companies manufactured petticoats/dresses, and were located at 22 W. 32nd St. from 1917 to 1921.

Click for Wiz ad at 22 W. 32nd St. (1917). Here is another one at this address from 1918. And another one from 1919.

Youthful Made, then, would appear to be an A. H. Morgen enterprise renamed (perhaps with new backers or partners). Abraham Morgen was an immigrant from Austria (born 1882/83?, immigrated 1900?). He married Pauline Schwartz (1888-1968) 4 March 1913 in Brooklyn. They had two daughters, Blanche Juliette Morgen (1916-1994) and Annette Harriet Morgen (1918-?). Pauline Morgen appears on the passenger list of the SS Hamburg sailing from Cherbourg to New York 30 Aug. 1930. With her are her daughters Blanche and Annette, ages 14 and 11.


Between Margulies and Youthful is a faded sign for A. Rittmaster & Bro., Suits & Coats (click for image). A. Rittmaster was Arthur Rittmaster (1887-ca.1950). His "Bro" was Gilbert Rittmaster (1891-1984). A third brother, David Henry Rittmaster (1898-1980) was also involved in the business. All three brothers had second careers as stock brokers, Arthur from as early as 1919, Gilbert from 1930, and David from around 1931. A. Rittmaster & Bro. was located here at 31 E. 32nd St. from 1913 to 1924. The three brothers were ages 13, 9 and 1 at the time of the 1900 U. S. Census. They lived on E. 79th St. in the home of their grandfather, Alexander Rittmaster (b. Poland Jan. 1833, immigrated 1857), and father, Alexander Rittmaster Jr. (b. New York July 1862(?)). Yet another Alexander Rittmaster was Arthur's son, Alexander Rittmaster (b. New York 19 Nov. 1916, d. Readfield, Maine 27 June 1969). At the time of his death the later Alexander Rittmaster was remembered primarily for his involvement in a case of stock fraud that led to the resignation of the United States Supreme Court justice, Abe Fortas. Rittmaster had been a financial adviser to the industrialist, Louis Wolfson, who went to prison in 1968 for illegal stock manipulations. Wolfson had ties to Justice Fortas, who became implicated in the controversy and subsequently resigned his seat on the court.


Towards the top of this stack is a sign for Cohen / Matthews / & Levine / Coats & Suits (click for image). This partnership came into being in 1915 and manufactured coats and suits here at 31 E. 32nd St. from 1915 to 1924. They relocated to 247 W. 38th St. in 1925 and then went out of business in 1931. Morris Cohen (ca.1857-?) was an immigrant from Russia in 1885. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1920, age 63, living at 544 W. 57th St. He was first involved with Samuel Matthews in 1908 in the partnership Cohen, Morrissey & Matthews located at 139 5th Ave. (near 20th St.). Samuel L. Matthews (1868-?) can be traced back to 1899 when he had a cloaks business at 29 E. 10th St. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1900, age 31, living at 21 E. 119th St., Manhattan. Boris M. Levine (1869-1931) can be found in ship manifests crossing the Atlantic returning to the port of New York from 1913 to 1927. He died while vacationing in Vienna 21 Jan. 1931 (New York Times, 22 Jan. 1932, p. 18). He was a manager at the Paris branch of the firm, Kaufmann, Levine & Co. at the time.

This ad for the Cohen, Matthews & Levine appeared in The American Cloak & Suit Review, Jan. 1919.

Prior to 1915 Cohen and Levine had their own partnership here on 32nd St. This ad for the Cohen and Levine Outergarment Co. appeared in The American Cloak & Suit Review, Aug. 1914.

In 1913 Samuel Matthews was in partnership with William Kerner as Kerner & Matthews, Suits & Coats, at 16-18 W. 22nd St./15-17 W. 21st St. (The American Cloak & Suit Review, Dec. 1913).


At the very top of this wall is a sign reading Jellenik / & / Rosenbaum / Inc / Dresses (click for image). There is underpainting here, which might have been Jellenik & Francis, which was a predecessor company at this address. Jellenik was George Centennial Jellenik (1876-?), his middle name no doubt referring to his parents' proud celebration of the country's centennial at the time of his birth. Jellenik's father, Herman Jellenik, was a cigar dealer who immigrated from Hungary. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1880 living on East 122nd St. George was 3 years old at the time.

Ira Rosenbaum (1877 or 1879-1938) was born in Hungary and immigrated 1882/83. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1900, the 23-year-old son of Harry Rosenbaum, living downtown on the East Side on Columbia St. Ira was working as a bookkeeper. There were 8 other children: Dora, Nathan, Edward, Arnold, Max, Frances, Daniel and the youngest (appropriately) Benjamin. In the 1910 Census Ira was still single and still living with the family (now on West 114th St.). He was now working as a salesman in a clothing store. From 1913 to 1918 Ira Rosenbaum was associated with Henry George & Rosenbaum, dress manufacturers. For much of this time Ira was president of the company which was located at 33 E 33rd St. His partnership with George Jellenik ran from 1918 to 1923. In the 1930 census Ira was living in Flushing, Queens, with wife Edyth and two children, Richard and Hubert. At this time he gave his occupation as Builder.

After the dissolution of Jellenik & Rosenbaum, George Jellenik became an officer at M. L. Geffen Co., dress manufacturers. Morris Louis Geffen (1878?-1944), skirt manufacturer, was born in Russia, arrived in the U. S. 1 May 1891, and became a naturalized citizen 25 July 1900. On his naturalization petition in 1900 Geffen gave his birth date as 25 July 1873, but when he registered for the World War II draft in 1942 he wrote "10 July 1878." His native city was Wilkomir, Russia. (Wilkomir is the German form of the original name (Vilkmerge) of the town of Ukmerge located in Lithuania, about 30 miles northwest of Vilnius.) He began in the garment industry around 1898. He was in business with his brother, Philip T. Geffen, as M. L. Geffen & Bro. Skirts by 1900. This company ran until around 1915, when M. L. Geffen & Co. was formed. This ad for M. L. Geffen appeared in Fairchild's Women's Wear Directory, Spring 1918. M. L. Geffen closed around 1937. In 1942 Morris Geffen was employed by Sportland Dresses of Los Angeles, Calif. Geffen gave his mailing address at that time as "Ponce de Leon Hotel, Miami, Florida."

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