Early Years at 54 and 56 Elder
118 and 120 W. Elder—now home to Silverglade’s and Pet Wants—were historically two distinct buildings, first numbered 54 and 56 Elder, respectively. John F. Moser, a grocer, was the first commercial occupant of the buildings, working from them as early as 1858.
In 1859, city directories listed him at 56 Elder (120 W. Elder) and the following year at 54 Elder (118 W. Elder); in 1861-1862, he was again registered at 56 Elder. Then, he switched back to 54 Elder where he remained until 1885.
Directories described him as a “wholesale and retail dealer in fancy and staple groceries, wines and liquors” and 54 Elder was categorized as both a grocery and a saloon. Born in 1818 in Saxony in what is now eastern Germany, John did well at the grocery business. He accumulated close to half a million dollars by 1870.
Indicative of his wealth and business acumen, John, his wife Christina (who was also from Saxony, born around 1822) and their children lived on Dayton Street in the West End. Still, that did not mean that all was perfect for the Moser family. John’s company—John F. Moser & Company—earned a bad reputation by the local business community for swindling other merchants out of money: in 1879, it broke that others had purchased hominy and fruit from John but, after payment, never received the goods they paid for.
Next door to John’s business, there were a series of early notions shops at 56 Elder, first with Abraham Manheimer in the late 1860s and early 1870s. He was a German immigrant, born in 1817 in Bavaria. He and his wife Bertha (Miller)—an immigrant from Saxony born around 1823—raised several children in Cincinnati, including Isaac, Louis, Ida and Leopold, all born in Ohio.
After Abraham, Anton Friedboerig maintained a notions shop at 56 Elder from 1875 until 1881. A German Jewish immigrant from Baden, Anton Friedboerig was born around 1824. He was married to Adalaide (Dreydel), a German immigrant born in approximately 1828. The couple was married here in Cincinnati on December 4, 1859. Anton first worked as a peddler before owning his own shop, a common path for many immigrants—and especially Jewish immigrants—in Cincinnati.
Many early Jewish immigrants in Cincinnati were peddlers, small shopkeepers and tailors: in 1850, one in four Jews in Cincinnati was employed as a peddler, selling jewelry, notions, cigars or stationary. After Anton’s death in 1881 due to intestinal cancer—he passed away at home at 56 Elder—his widow Adalaide continued the business at 56 Elder until 1888.
Most likely, Adalaide, like many other widows, needed income after her husband’s passing.
In the early 1890s, Wittenburg & Holtzinger—run by Albert Wittenburg and Michael Holtzinger—sold groceries from 54 Elder, following John F. Moser’s store. Both Albert and Michael had worked at the Moser grocery as salesmen and clerks for years (and both lived at 54 Elder), giving them an easy “in” to start a grocery there. From 1888-1891, after the Friedboerig family’s notions shop, Bertha Koester (1854-1891) ran her own notions business at 56 Elder.
Born in 1854 in Ohio to parents Louis and Augusta from Mecklenburg, Germany, Bertha was one of seven children. Growing up, she worked as a saleslady in other notions shops before managing her own. She sadly died very young in 1891 and was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery. Her sisters Kate (Neuber) (1865-1902) and Mary (Lawrence) (1859-1919) then took over the business in 1892, running Miss Koester & Company at 56 Elder.
In 1897, Kate married Joseph Neuber (1861-1933), a tailor by profession who was born in 1861 in Ohio to Bavarian parents. He and Kate lived at 56 Elder—renumbered to 120 W. Elder by then—where he then started his own notions shop, undoubtedly with Kate’s help.
Their first son Howard (1898-1898) died within a year of his birth in 1898. In 1901, they welcomed a daughter named Mildred, but sadly, in 1902, Kate passed away, widowing Joseph very young.
In that year, his business also failed, and he sold his notions store to Alfred Holzman (who, according to city directories, was a local attorney). “The cause [of the business failure] was sickness in his family and his inability to attend to his business,” the Enquirer noted.
In 1910, Joseph’s daughter died too.
His shop was then replaced by Frank Bernard Funke’s (1865-1945) daily butcher market which lasted until early 1915. Frank was born in Ohio to German Catholic immigrants and first had a butcher shop at 123 W. Elder at the turn of the 20th century. He was married to a German-American woman named Julia and had a daughter, Josephine, with her. The family lived at 120 W. Elder along with four other German immigrant families, indicative of the building’s dense residential use (like at 118 W. Elder). In 1895, after the Wittenburg & Holtzinger grocery, the corner building at 54 Elder—or rather, 118 W. Elder—became a saloon briefly under Charles Becker and then, from 1897 to 1916, under Joseph Heitz.
Joseph called his saloon “the New Deal Café.” It was also the location of the Findlay Market No. 2 Building and Loan Company, Haudegen Mutual Aid (a German mutual insurance/aid organization), Franklin Mutual Aid and was listed as “a union bar.” Joseph Heitz (1861-1923) was born in 1861 in Indiana to farmers William (1834-1906) and Theresa (Baglan) (1832-1905) from Alsace-Lorain near the French-German border.
After their marriage in 1897, Joseph’s wife Eva (Hauck) (1875-1967) raised three children with him, Charles, Loretta and Edward. The family lived first at 118 W. Elder and then moved to 65 Elder, just east of Findlay Market. From late 1915 until 1919, the People’s Market House was at 120 W. Elder. From 1920 to 1924, Michael Kraemer (1857-1927) sold soft drinks from 118 W. Elder, as many others did during Prohibition. He was a German immigrant, born in 1857 in Schnellingen in Baden. He came to the U.S. in 1882 on the U.S.S. Elbe which left Europe from Bremen, Germany.
He worked as a brewer and saloonist for most of his life—until Prohibition forced him to alter his profession. For many years, he lived nearby Findlay Market on Dunlap Street. Married to Theresa (Herning) (in 1885), he was the father of several children with her, including George, Mary, Herman, John, Joseph, Edward and Loretta. The family lived at 120 W. Elder while he ran his business there. His passport application listed him as five feet and seven inches with brown eyes, a small nose, a “regular mouth,” dark hair, a fair complexion and an oval face.
Next door at 120 W. Elder, Samuel Engel sold chinaware in the early 1920s, followed by Joseph Engel from 1923 to 1938. Joseph owned the building until 1938 at which point the Fourth Ward Building and Loan Company repossessed it. (Samuel went on to sell chinaware at 105 W. Elder by the Great Depression). In 1925-1926, Louis Shear (1894-1949)—a small man with black hair and grey eyes, standing at five feet and four inches and only 110 pounds—ran a dry goods shop at 118 W. Elder. He was a Russian Jewish immigrant from Delz, Russia, who came to America in 1914, just as World War I was breaking.
Here, he immediately set up his own shoe repair business since he was a cobbler by training. His wife was Nellie (Meshbowsky) (1898-1976) from Eliswetgrad, Russia; she came to the U.S. in 1907 and first worked as a seamstress in Newport, Kentucky. After marrying in Newport, Kentucky, in 1920, Louis and Nellie had two children, Mildred (1921-1989) and Donald (still alive). Then, from 1927 to 1956, Irving Shapiro (1896/1898-1973) sold dry goods from Findlay Market, first from 118 W. Elder and then 120 W. Elder.
From 1943 to 1971, he also owned the buildings. Irving was a Polish Jewish immigrant, born in 1896 or 1898 (sources list both). He immigrated to the U.S. in 1921 and settled in Cincinnati where he met his wife Jean “Jennie” Doll (1901-1965). They wed on May 16, 1926 in Cincinnati and from their marriage had four children, Morris, Julius, Ida and Matilda. Irving’s sister Rachel also lived with the family at their home at 3324 Perkins Avenue in Avondale.
Recently at 118-120 W. Elder
In 1945, 118 W. Elder sat vacant (and suffered a minor fire), but in the following year, McAlpin’s Department Store started a branch location there in addition to one in Hyde Park. The Findlay Market one lasted until 1951. After McAlpin’s, Siegel’s women’s clothing store occupied the first floor of 118 W. Elder from 1954 to 1973.
Siegel’s went out of business at the end of 1973 and sold all of its stock in the first days of 1974. In the rest of the 1970s, Findlay Outlet Fashions, owned by Mack Shirt Corporation, used 118 W. Elder. Next door at 120 W. Elder, after Irving Shapiro’s dry goods shop, Ralph Cooper (1896-1969) had one there in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He then moved Cooper’s Department Store to 102-104 W. Elder (currently Noli).
He and his wife Gertrude had two children, a daughter Eleanor (Blumenthal) and a son Josef. Ralph died in 1969 at Jewish Hospital, and thereafter Gertrude took over the business and maintained it at Findlay Market until the mid-1980s.
Then, in the rest of the 1960s, 120 W. Elder housed a shoe store—Factory Shoe Outlet—and then Save Discount Inc. in the 1970s and ‘80s which sold beauty products and over-the-counter medicine.
City directories listed 118 W. Elder as vacant throughout the 1980s. Shalash Food Market was at 120 W. Elder in the 1990s. The city of Cincinnati purchased the buildings in 1997.
In the early 2000s, in the midst of the Findlay Market renovation, Silverglade’s moved into 118-120 W. Elder, in addition to keeping its multiple other city locations. Silverglade’s began at Findlay Market in 1922 with Al (1901-1985) and Grace Silverglade (Hansford) (1903-1969)’s simple stand. Their son Al (1931-2010) continued the family business and then his sons Craig and Michael work there today as well.
Additionally, Pet Wants—founded in 2010—occupies the rear, east-facing storefront in the back of 118 W. Elder. For the vast majority of the building’s history, this storefront did not exist as it was just a part of the rest of 118 W. Elder. Pet Wants’ listed address of 1813 Pleasant Street was historically just north of Findlay Market (where the farmer’s market and parking lot are today) and was, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, dense rows of residential buildings.
This is, of course, now gone.