Saturday, July 15, 2023

Amelia Kayser Stein's Civil War


Baltimore Album Quilt top (detail)
Berger/Miller Family/Jane Katcher Collection

Amelia Kayser (Keyser), called Millie, was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1843,
daughter of Betty Preiss and Moses Keyser, German immigrants.

The 1850 Baltimore census shows Millie at 7 living on Pratt Street with a brother and three sisters (Betty had nine children.) Moses is a fairly prosperous merchant, the typical occupation for this immigrant generation of Jews and their children. His dry goods store was at 72 Hanover Street.

Baltimore Street in Baltimore, 1860 W.H. Bell, photographer.
A sign advertising the Maryland Institute Exhibition hangs over the street.
Their building is the tallest one on the right.

Maryland never seceded from the Union but many citizens of Baltimore disagreed, rebelling five days after Fort Sumter as the Union's Sixth Massachusetts Infantry arrived in town and were transported down Pratt Street. A mob threw stones; the soldiers shot into the crowd. The Pratt Street Riot left soldiers, mob members and bystanders dead.

The Pratt Street Riot by Currier & Ives

Eighteen-year-old Millie was a witness and told her daughter about those first days of the Civil War.

"My mother used to tell stories of Baltimore and the Northern soldiers being stoned as they passed from one station to the other you had to change in Baltimore."

Baltimore Sun, 1855

When the Civil War began in that second battle in Baltimore Millie was probably being courted by Daniel Stein (1832-1891), a young merchant dealing in dry goods, a partner in Stein Brothers Tailors on Baltimore near the corner of Liberty Street. Daniel arrived with the family from Weigergruben, Germany about 1840 joining the eldest brother Meyer Stein in Maryland. 

Lloyd Street Synagogue

Millie and Daniel were members of the same synagogue and their marriage may have been arranged, as European marriages often were, by the men of the families.

Daniel arrived here as an 8-year-old.

Meyer (Mayer) Stein (1822-1911)

Meyer Stein became head of the family when their father died soon after arrival. Meyer married Maryland-born Rosa (Rose) Rosenstock (1836-1875) on November 10, 1851.
10 Nov 1851

Millie Keyser married Daniel Stein on March 23, 1864, becoming part of the large Stein family. It may be that her sister-in-law Rosa Rosenstock Stein was step-daughter to Sarah G. Rosenstock (1835-1907) who has left us a quilt done in the classic Baltimore Album style.

Charleston Museum
Donated by Mrs. Luke Vincent Rockwood.
Quilt dated 1857, attributed to Sarah G Rosenstock whose name is on it.

Rosenstock quilt
Baltimore's Jewish community developed their own style of
 appliqued albums, not so much friendship quilts, but perhaps sets of
  blocks purchased from a seamstress or two.

The Steins tended towards argumentativeness (Daniel was irascible all his life according to his two youngest children.) When the war began most Steins expressed the Baltimorean loyalty to the Confederacy although none enlisted. 

Daniel and younger brother Solomon were Union sympathizers. Daniel's son told the family story that Daniel "was Northern in sentiment, though all the rest of the family were Southern, and was exceedingly disputatious." He and Solomon left Baltimore for Pennsylvania, opening a branch of Stein Brothers in Pittsburgh at Fourth & Wood Streets.

850 Beech Street in the Allegheny West neighborhood
of Pittsburgh. Millie's 5 children were born here between 1865 and 1874.

He returned to marry Amelia Kayser and took her to Pittsburgh where they set up housekeeping with Solomon and his wife Pauline Bernard Stein. Millie's opinions on Pittsburgh are not recalled but she apparently didn't care for her sister-in-law Pauline. After ten years in Pennsylvania the partnership dissolved;  Solomon and Pauline moved on to New York; Millie and Daniel took the children to Europe, returning in 1880 to settle on ten-acres in Oakland, California.

Milly's youngest Gertrude at 3 in 1877

Milly died of cancer at the age of 45 when Gertrude was 14, leaving two girls and three boys, young adults to be raised by an unstable father who became "more of a bother than he had been," according to Gertrude. Daniel died three years after his wife. The children were not unhappy to be on their own.

Leo Stein on the left next to Gertrude with oldest brother Michael at right

Three grew up to become the art collectors Michael, Leo and Gertrude Stein. Following the Stein family's combative tradition few in Millie's family were speaking to each other by the time of their deaths in the mid-20th-century.

Millie's Family

Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946) by Carl Van Vechten.
She is 60 or so here.

Detail of Sarah Rosenstock's quilt

Read about Millie's children, the exceptional Steins:

Brenda Wineapple, Sister Brother. Gertrude and Leo Stein.
Linda Wagner-Martin, Favored Strangers: Gertrude Stein and Her Family 

And read about the Jewish applique quilts of Baltimore in Ronda McAllen's AQSG paper:

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Pauline Stein's niece Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas and the obstreperous Ford
truck they named after Aunt Pauline Bernard Stein. "Auntie," both human
 and vehicular, "always behaved admirably in emergencies 
and behaved fairly well most times if she was flattered."


sue s said...

I love it when you tell a story about a family and a quilt, and at the end there is a "name" we all know! The Baltimore quilts are amazing.

Barbara Brackman said...

Me too. Sometimes I have no idea where these family stories will wind up.