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Introduction: The Gruenbergs

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Gruenberg Family in the US Census of 1910 for Minneapolis Minnesota.

Moyshe ‘Mose’ ‘Morris’ (b. November 25, 1875 Imperial Russia/Romania, d. July 27, 1942 Los Angeles CA). His wife was Berthe ‘Bettie’ Canter (b. 1882 Romania/Congress Poland, Imperial Russia; d. January 2, 1916). Mose was the proprietor of a wholesale fruit business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Together Mose and Bettie produced six children: Jacob ‘Jack’; Albert Abraham ‘Al’ or ‘Abe’; Rose; Charles  ‘Chuck’ or ‘Bonnie’ ; Hyman ‘Herman’ or ‘Hy’; and Wallace ‘Wally’.

Bettie’s parents were also living in Minneapolis with Mose and his family before Mose and his children moved to Los Angeles during the late teens early 1920s. They are Mendel Canter (b. 1854, d. June 6, 1919 Minneapolis) and his wife Bobbit ‘Babe’ Canter (b. 1860), both of whom were born in Romania. In the 1910 US Census for Minneapolis, Mendel is listed as a fruit peddler; Mendel’s parents were Abraham ‘Abe’ and Pearl Canter.

In addition, Morris’ mother, Bertha Pershconner Gruenberg (b. 1851, d. April 14, 1916 Minneapolis) was also living in Minneapolis; her parents were David and Hannah Pershconner.

Mose’s draft registration card for 1918 was filled out in Los Angeles where Mose had become the proprietor of a retail grocery store. He gives his son Jack (Jake), who was still living in Minneapolis, as his reference.

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Jacob ‘Jack’ Gruenberg is 2nd from the left in this wonderful composition which appears to feature all five Gruenberg brothers.

Leaving Romania in 1907 to settle in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with its long freezing winters, was an unfortunate choice for Moses ‘Morris’ Gruenberg; all the more so, because Minneapolis had a nation-wide reputation for being the most anti-Semitic city in the entirety of United States. By the middle of 1919, Morris’ wife Bettie, his mother, and his father-in-law had all recently died. Is it any wonder why Morris and his children eventually headed for the more genial and exciting atmosphere of Los Angeles?

Part of the family appeared in Los Angeles as early as 1920, according to the US Census of that year. Included were father Moses and two of his  six children, Rose and Charles ‘Bonnie’. Albert Abraham was in prison in Minneapolis during that year.

According to the Los Angeles Directory of 1923, Morris Gruenberg, listed as a grocer, was now living at  1932 W. Pico, as were his sons Charles ‘Chuck’ and Hyman ‘Hy’.

Jack, who was the oldest of the Gruenberg children, would eventually come into contact with the Lentzner and Wyman / Steinman families in Los Angeles. From Jack’s union with Margie Steinman would come Merrill Gruenberg.

After the untimely death of Jack, Margie married her second husband, Samuel Bonar. And after Sam’s death, during the period when Margie and her two children had moved to Hollywood, Merrill changed his surname to Bonar to match that of his mother and half-brother. In a word, he became Merrill Bonar.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the Brin and Kantoff families found themselves brought together through the short-lived marriage of Liela Brin and Fred Kantoff. From their union would come Sandra Kantoff. Moving to Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood, Leila then married her second husband, Harry Green, and Sandra soon took her mother’s new married surname, effectively becoming Sandra Green.

As both attended Hollywood High School, it was just a matter of time before the pretty Sandra Green would meet the handsome Merrill Bonar, and tie the knot that would bring all of the families in this treatise together into the ensemble of colorful personalities that it is today.

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