Americans Of Jewish Descent
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Barnard Gratz

Barnard Gratz[1, 2]

Male 1738 - 1801  (63 years)

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  • Name Barnard Gratz  [3, 4
    Born 1738  Langendorf, Silesia Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    Gender Male 
    Residence 1754  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Naturalized 3 Apr 1763  Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Reference Number 1784 
    Died 20 Apr 1801  Baltimore, MD Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    Person ID I1784  aojd
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2011 

    Family ID F654  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

     1. Fanny Gratz,   b. 9 Oct 1761,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Rachel Gratz,   b. 9 Oct 1764,   d. 21 Dec 1831  (Age 67 years)
    Family ID F544  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • PORTRAIT IN SCRAPBOOK ------------------------ The portrait by Charles Peale Polk of Barnard Gratz is reported upon by Hannah London in her 1926 book Portraits of Jews and the miniature in her 1953 book Miniatures of Early American Jews. The portrait at that time was owned by Dr. I. Minis Hays of Philadelphia and the miniature was owned by Dr. Jacob R. Marcus.

      Hannah London writes: "Barnard Gratz was born in Germany in 1738. He went to Philadelphia when he was about seventeen years of age, and entered later into a business partnership with his brother Michael. Together they engaged in many financial enterprises including the exploitation and development of western Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois and Kentucky.

      ".....From the beginning of hostilities between the Colonies and England, the Jews took an active part in the patriotic cause. Gratz was one of the merchants of Philadelphia to sign the Non-Importation Resolutions in 1765. After the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he took the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Gratz became a trustee of Mikveh Israel Congregation, Phiadelphia. He died in Baltimore, April 20, 1801.

      "The unframed miniature of Barnard Gratz is a tiny piece of work (1 7/8ths x 1 1/2 inches). An inscription on a bit of paper on the back of the miniature indicates the name of the sitter, and the artist as Charles Peale Polk. It came from the estate of the late Albert Rosenthal, a well-known artist of Philadelphia, and was bought at auction in New York from Mr. Benjamin Rosenzweig."

      In her write-up, Hannah London continues: "The sitter is shown wearing a plum-colored coat, with white stock and frill. He has gray hair and blue eyes and the background is in blue-gray.

      "Charles Peale Polk, 1767-1822, also painted a large portrait of Barnard Gratz, which is reproduced in Portraits of Jews....."
    • (Research):AJLLJ Portrait Database 5 Aug 2011

      An immigrant from Langendorf in Upper Silesia, Barnard Gratz arrived in America in 1754, at the age of seventeen. With Jews barred from most business, he had set out at a young age for London where a cousin, Solomon Henry, had established himself as an import-export merchant. Young Gratz worked in his cousin's counting house for several years before setting heading for Philadelphia to apprentice with his cousin's American partner, David Franks. A salaried employee of the Franks Company, Gratz also began investing in ventures of his own.
           Gratz received some troubling news in 1758— his brother Michael was returning from India, another in a series of failed business opportunities, beginning to look more and more like adventures. Something of a dilettante, Michael had traveled to Berlin, Amsterdam, London and India, and each time came back with nothing to show for himself. Sure enough, Michael followed his brother to Philadelphia. He took over Barnard's position with the Franks, and Barnard went into business for himself. Michael soon joined him, marking the beginnings of a hugely successful firm. Their partnership would not only entail vast international trade, land acquisition in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, and running boats on the Ohio River.
           In 1760 Gratz married Richea Myers-Cohen. Their first daughter, Fanny, died in infancy. They would have only one other child, Rachel who would marry Solomon Etting.
           Both Gratz brothers signed the Non-Importation Agreement protesting the Stamp Act, and aided the patriot cause during the Revolution by smuggling supplies through the British blockade.
           Gratz was a founder and the first parnas of Philadelphia's synagogue, Mikveh Israel. Built in 1782, it was only the second in America.
           Two years earlier, Gratz was among those appointed to argue against the limits on Jewish liberties recently passed in Pennsylvania. The newborn state had made it a requirement that for any citizen to vote he had to take an oath that stated, "I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration." Gratz, along Hyam Salomon, Gershom Mendes Seixas, Jonas Phillips and Simon Nathan, addressed the Pennsylvania Council of Censors protesting this provision, which was removed from the state constitution in 1790. [7]

  • Sources 
    1. [S81] .

    2. [S285] .

    3. [S332] BOOKPAGE: M:111 DATE: 14 APR 1760 PROVE DATE: 21 MAY 1761 (Reliability: 3).
      Name: Mathias Bush
      Residence: Philadelphia, PA
      Description: Executor
      Date: 14 Apr 1760 Prove Date: 21 May 1761
      Title: Merchant BookPage: M:111
      Remarks: Jacob Henry. City of Philadelphia. Merchant. April 14, 1760. May 21, 1761. M.111. Legatees: Mother Frumatt Henry; brothers Solomon, Philip and Jonathan Henry, merchant, London; cousins Bernard and Michael Gratz of Philadelphia, merchants; sister Tracey, wife of Isaac Prager; nieces Getlah, Deborah and Grace; the Jews Burying Ground of Philadelphia; the Synagogue in Longendorff in Upper Silesia; and Exec. David Franks and Mathias Bush of Philadelphia, merchants.

    4. [S4] PG. 87 GRATZ (1), 223 MYERS-COHEN I (Reliability: 3).

    5. [S4] PG. 87 GRATZ (1) (Reliability: 3).

    6. [S47] .

    7. [S294] GRATZ, BARNARD (Reliability: 3).