Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Henry Rosenberg (or Chauncey Sweet Chapter 4)

Galveston days
Let's look at Chauncey G. Sweet's friend, Henry Rosenberg, who apparently left quite an imprint on Galveston, TX.
Chauncy Sweet Friend Henry Rosenberg in 1893
Taken the year of his death at 69
I'm posting this blog as a link to/from Sepia Saturday this week, though the topic ranges a bit far from the theme of city streets.  But as you read about Mr. Rosenberg, perhaps you'll see his great influence on the city might be similar to traffic flowing along the streets of Glasgow, or maybe not.

 The following is a column that was added to my Uncle Chauncey Sweet's page on Ancestry.com, letting us know about Henry Rosenberg, his friend and benefactor.

Henry Rosenberg - Galveston's Benefactor
By Michael Culpepper on September 5, 2010

This is the sixth edition of IBC's (Islander by Choice) monthly column for Galveston Monthly.  You can pick up a free Galveston Monthly at many local locations across the Island.

 My favorite Islander By Choice is Henry Rosenberg. Most Galvestonians probably associate his name with our public library or perhaps the elementary school located in the East End or maybe even 25th Street. What many people may not know is that he is responsible not only for many Galveston landmarks but also for many of the philanthropic ventures that kept Galveston livable in the early 20th century. He contributed in ways that he believed would make a unique and lasting impact.

Rosenberg was born in Bilten, Switzerland in 1824. He moved to Galveston in 1843 and worked in dry goods before eventually buying the business with his savings. By 1859, he owned the leading dry goods store in Texas.

 In the coming years, his titles would include: Swiss Counsel of Texas, Director of the First National Bank of Galveston, President and primary investor of the Galveston Railroad Company, and City Alderman to name a few.

 It was not until after Mr. Rosenberg's death in 1893 that Galvestonians realized how much space this fair city took up in his heart. He left large sums to build and support the Galveston Orphan's Home, The Rosenberg fountains, Rosenberg Free School, Eaton Chapel, Grace Episcopal Church, Galveston's first YMCA Building, the Texas Heroes Monument, and of course Rosenberg Library.  The Galveston Orphan's Home was built in 1895 on the west side of 21st street between M and M and M 1/2.

That same year, the Letitia Rosenberg Women's Home, named after his deceased first wife, was erected at 25th and O 1/2. The architecture and fabric of our island still benefit today from these contributions, but more importantly young lives were changed for the better within those walls.

The section of Henry Rosenberg's will that gets my "cool factor" award has to be the drinking fountains "for man and beast". He left $30,000 for fountains to be built throughout the city. That he wanted them in all communities and included the animals' needs says a lot about this man. 17 granite fountains were erected - most with lower basins for animals of all kinds to enjoy. About half of these fountains are still around today and can be viewed at various spots around the island. Each one is inscribed "Gift of Henry Rosenberg".

The Rosenberg Free School and the YMCA building were two very thoughtful gifts that we no longer get to enjoy (except through photos). The Free School was replaced in the mid 1900's by a more modern structure. The Galveston YMCA building was torn down in 1954.

The Texas Heroes Monument at the intersection of Broadway and Rosenberg Street, is one of the most viewed and admired landmarks in our city and is the reason that 25th was named after Rosenberg. 

Many may not realize that this monument tells the true story of the Texas Revolution. Most know that Lady Victory's extended arm points to the battle grounds at San Jacinto where independance was won for the Texans. However, there are also four very vivid bronze panels at the monument's base that show not only the victory of San Jacinto, but also the Goliad Massacre, the Battle of the Alamo, and General Houston Charging against the large numbers of the Mexican army at the final battle.

 In Rosenberg's eyes, his most important gift was the Library that now bears his name. It was the first free library in the state of Texas. In his will, he wrote about the gift of the library: "I desire to express a practical form of my affection for the city of my adoption and for the people among whom I have lived for so many years. Trusting ... that it will be a source of pleasure and profit to them and their children and their children's children for many generations."

 Henry Rosenberg's built his home (which still stands) in an older neighborhood on Market Street. It was an unusual move when people of his means were normally building mansions on Broadway. He preferred to live among society rather than above it. Rosenberg was a rich man in many ways, not the least of which was his richness of generosity toward people without means. It is something that, although has recently come into vogue, wasn't very prominent in Henry Rosenberg's time. His qualities should be an inspiration to any Islander.

Chauncy Sweet's friend Mollie Macgill Rosenberg

Mrs. Rosenberg obviously had quite a sense of humor.  Why else would she have listed her exact age, and then her weight!  I don't know how many years she had been married to Henry, who was 17 years her senior.  I think I would have liked to meet this lady.

For lots more information about my great great great (not sure how many) Uncle Chauncey G. Sweet...look HERE.


Wendy said...

Yes, he definitely enhanced the streets of Galveston, so I agree this is a perfect answer to the SS prompt. Galveston is on my list of places to visit soon, so I must remember to look for these landmarks.

Postcardy said...

A great example of giving back.

Little Nell said...

He was a true philanthropist. Like Canegie , who was around at about the same time, he valued the library.

Rob From Amersfoort said...

Galveston, I knew the name, I didn't know it was on an island. Funding libraries is a very good thing, unfortunately a lot are closing due to cutbacks and ebooks.

Lovely's Blot said...

How wonderful to leave such an array Of gifts. I think the Victorians as a whole were very philanthropic and many cities at the time depended on the generosity of a few people.

Bob Scotney said...

Is that a train or a tram near the Texas Heroes Monument. Rosenberg was a man who did so much; liked his comment about the library.

Kristin said...

She only left out her height.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Yes, Bob, it's a tram, or what I call a street car. But the artist colored the pavement green, and left out the wires overhead...a bit confusing. Kristin, I am surprised that she left out her height!

Patrica Ball Morrison said...

He was indeed a very thoughtful man to consider the animals too; and that he willed $$ for fountains. Very interesting.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

It's such a shame the buildings were torn down but at least the library remains to enrich so many lives.

Karen S. said...

The world and all of the people in it are lucky to have folks like him. Excellent accounting, thanks for sharing this.

Mike Brubaker said...

A fine tribute and handsome photos. The generosity of benefactors like Rosenberg helped build many institutions and monuments that we now take for granted.

Joy said...

What a wonderful life and an inspiration. I am glad his name lives on in the things he gave to the town.