Cincinnati Hemp Co.

101 W Elder St.

The Kruse Family at 37 Elder

Throughout the 1860s, 1870s, 1880s and 1890s—until 1895—the Kruse family ran a dry goods shop at 101 W. Elder, then numbered 37 Elder. The building stayed in the Kruse family’s ownership until the 1950s. John F. Kruse and his younger brother Henry initially operated a dry goods store at 103 W. Elder, or 39 Elder, along with the one at 37 Elder.

They were from Hannover, born to Bernard (1794-1881) and Margaret (Bosche) (1798-1871) in 1825 and 1833, respectively. Immigration records show Henry coming over to the U.S. in 1846, so presumably his family was with him for this migration.

John and Henry also had two sisters, Louisa and Sophia (Schoenebaum).

Henry married in 1861; his wife was Rosa Kaufman (1840-1920), a German immigrant form Baden. In the middle of his tenure at 37-39 Elder with his brother, Henry served in the Civil War, fighting as a Private in the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on the Union Side alongside many other Germans from Over-the-Rhine.

John, along with his parents and his sister Louisa (1828-1911), lived at 37 Elder throughout the late 1800s. Bernard, John and Henry’s father, was also a merchant by trade and most likely assisted with or contributed to the Kruse dry goods grocery at Findlay Market. Members of the Kruse family eventually moved up to Clifton. Henry did this first, fleeing the basin’s pollution and growing density, no doubt, like other affluent immigrants. He settled on Ohio Avenue in Clifton where he and his wife Rosa raised their two children, Ottilie (1866-1958) and Oscar (1868-1918).

The Kruse grocery was very successful: John, by 1870, boasted over $700,000 (in today’s money) in real estate and personal wealth. John never married. His sister Sophia did, though, as did Henry. Henry’s son Oscar married a woman named Bertha Rausenberger (1880-1972), a Cincinnati-born woman; her parents immigrated from Baden in the late 1860s. Oscar and Bertha had a son, Oscar Jr. (1914-1972), born as the First World War broke out.

In the spring of 1908, John died. Upon his death, he was a very wealthy man with clear attachments to the Over-the-Rhine German—and especially German Protestant—community. His wealth and generosity in allocating money to local philanthropic efforts underscored how well his dry goods shop at 37 Elder performed; his benevolence also signaled his strong immigrant and ethnic culture.

John’s will first specified that money—$3000—be given to the German General Protestant Orphan Society. He then set aside $1000 for the Deutsches Altenheim on Burnet Avenue (a nursing home for elderly German immigrant men), another $1000 for the Children’s Home on West Ninth Street and another $1000 for the German Protestant Widow’s Home. He also left $1000 for the German United Evangelical Church at Fifteenth and Race—what is now Taft’s—which was probably indicative of his membership in that congregation.

What remained after these donations, he gave back to his brother Henry and Henry’s wife and children; John also left his sister Louisa with money. Other members of the Kruse family then also began to pass away. John’s sister Louisa died in 1911. Then his nephew Oscar passed away in 1918. Oscar’s mother Rose died in 1920 and then Henry, John’s brother, died in 1924. With these deaths, Bertha—Oscar’s wife—inherited 101 W. Elder and held onto it until 1953.

She lived until 1972. The Kruse family is interred at Spring Grove Cemetery.

The Grossdidier Dry Goods Shop

From 1896 until 1909, Andrew J. Grosdidier (1859-1937) rented the storefront from the Kruse family for his dry goods shop at 101 W. Elder.

Born in 1859 in the Alsace-Lorain region of Germany and France, Andrew immigrated to the U.S. in 1870 (though some sources say 1880) and in 1895, he married a woman named Delia Propheter (1870-1944). At this time, in addition to the storefront utilization, 101 W. Elder operated like its neighboring buildings in that many tenants lived upstairs in tenement apartments. Three to four families rented rooms around the turn of the 20th century.

The Lorentz Brothers

From 1910 until 1924, the Lorentz brothers—Charles and Emil—used 101 W. Elder, along with the southeast corner of Race and Elder, for their shoes business. Emil and Charles Lorentz were born in 1857 and 1862, respectively, to German-French parents, Joseph and Margareth (Joseph and Margareth had immigrated from the Alsace-Lorain region in 1850).

What is now 115-117 W. Elder is a newer building, built in 1961 after a gas explosion destroyed the original two buildings that stood at the southeast corner of Pleasant and Elder Streets. Built in the late 1860s, these original buildings (numbered at one point 51-53 Elder) were each three stories tall and brick and housed a variety of shops and families until the explosion in 1940.

Beginning in the mid-1880s, the Lorentz brothers, along with partner Charles Bassler, occupied the storefront of 51 Elder first (115 W. Elder); they rented the space from the building’s owners, Aaron and Julia Burtanger.

A few years later, the Lorentz brothers and Charles Bassler then moved their business to 53 Elder (117 W. Elder). Their business remained there until 1893 at which point they sold their merchandise stock. The Lorentz brothers then branched out on their own, moving to 101 W. Elder in 1910 for a shoe store. The Lorentz brothers sold their business at Findlay Market in the fall of 1924.

They explained to their customers in their advertisement for their “going-out-business sale” that they wished “to thank our many friends and patrons for all past patronage and hope they will all avail themselves of this opportunity to save money.”

Emil passed away four years later; his brother Charles lived until 1950, though he began to travel to Florida in the early 1920s which was often, at that time, indicative of ill health.

Thereafter, the storefront—“suitable for light manufacturing”—was advertised for rent in local papers.

The 5-Cent to $1.00 Store

From 1936 until the mid-1960s, the Greenberg family ran a five-cent store at 101 W. Elder. Joseph Greenberg (1888-1950) and his wife Anna Leah (Friedman) (1894-1981) were Romanian Jewish immigrants, born in 1888 and 1894, respectively.

When Joseph first immigrated to the U.S., he supported his young family by working in a movie theater. His World War I draft registration explained as much and said the theater was family-owned, suggesting the Greenbergs came to Cincinnati because they already had family who immigrated here.

When Joseph was older, he then worked as a building contractor. On his military registration papers, he described himself as tall with dark brown hair and eyes. For his later years in life, he then became a dedicated Findlay Market vendor, owning the store at 101 W. Elder for fifteen years. He was also a member of the Findlay Market Association.

He and his family settled in North Avondale which boasted a large Jewish immigrant community. In 1950, Joseph died of a heart attack; thereafter, his widow Anna assumed ownership of the building. She retained it until 1970 at which point she put the store up for sale. She advertised it in the Enquirer with: “Beautiful fixtures. Variety Store. Going out of business. Must sell at once.”

Carmine Iacobucci purchased it.

The Iacobucci Italian Store

In the 1970s, 101 W. Elder was an Italian grocery store run by Carmine Iacobucci (1896-1989). It offered Findlay Market customers fresh fruits and vegetables and Italian meats, cheeses and pastas. Carmine had previously run this grocery store close by at 1707 Race and then 1723 Race.

Carmine was born in Sicily in 1896 and immigrated to the U.S.—going from Naples to New York City aboard the Colombo ship—in 1924. He and his wife Concetta (Schira), born in 1894, had three sons, Pat (1928-2012), Carmine Jr. (1927-2014) and Tony de Milo. They raised them in Over-the-Rhine.

The Iacobucci family was very proud of its Italian heritage: Carmine, for instance, was for a time in charge of Italian Day at Coney Island. Carmine and Concetta’s sons Pat and Carmine Jr. both became famous professional boxers. Pat—who considered himself too short at 5’4” to play football—started boxing at fourteen and became a professionally-ranked featherweight boxer by the 1940s and ‘50s. Competing at 126 pounds, he won fifty-two fights—sixteen of them by knocking out the other person— over his career. He lost only twenty matches and fought to a draw eight times.

He once said of boxing, indicative of his drive, “In all my life, I’ve been knocked down two or three times. I’ve never been knocked out. One guy in Miami broke my front tooth in the tenth round. I just spit the thing on the ground. What am I going to do, swallow it? Stuff like that happens; you can’t stop.”

He was once ranked sixth—worldwide—in the featherweight class. Outside of the rink, his wife Evelyn, his children and his friends considered him—in contrast to his fighting persona—one of the most affable men. Later in life, he refereed and judged boxing matches; for a living, he later worked in pipe insulation.

Pat’s younger brother Carmine Jr. was also a professional featherweight boxer. Pat was his brother’s manager.

In 1989, Carmine sold the building to Chongil and Yeon Kim. Thereafter, in the 1990s, it was a wig and beauty supply store. Busch’s Country Corner, which supplied customers with poultry, followed in the early 2000s.

Location

101 W Elder St.

Metadata

Alyssa McClanahan, “Cincinnati Hemp Co.,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed January 28, 2023, http://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/136.