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Margie Steinman: Biography

From Łosice, Poland to St. Louis, Missouri

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Margie Steinman aka Masza Szteynman (right)  with her sister, Taube, in Łosice, Poland. Photo taken sometime before June of 1921 when Margie sailed to Philadelphia from Antwerp, Belgium.

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Margie Steinman in St. Louis MO: photo taken sometime after July of 1921 when she arrived in the US.

Margie Steinman was born Masza Sztejnman in Łosice, Congress Poland (actually part of Imperial Russia) during the year 1904.  She was 13 years old when the events of the Polish-Soviet War in Łosice described above took place. So, it was with good reason that as soon as the war ended, she would take the opportunity to leave Łosice, for a better life in St. Louis, MO with her Wyman relatives, Tillie and Rose. Her departure occurred in mid-June of 1921 just three months after the treaty known as the Peace of Riga (March 18, 1921) had been signed.

According to her son, Merrill Gruenberg/Bonar, Margie’s rail and steamship tickets to America in 1921 were paid for by Herman Lentzner, the husband of her double-cousin, Tsine ‘Tilly’ Wyman Lentzner, who resided in St. Louis MO. A few years later, Herman and Tilly would attempt to bring Margie’s sister Toby to America, too. In fact, they traveled to Poland in 1924 for this purpose, but the new quota system recently instated by the US Congress (the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924) prevented all but a few fortunates to leave that God-forsaken land.

In order to thread her way out of Łosice, Margie first had to travel west via the railroad station in the nearby village of Niemojki which got her to the city of Shedlits (Siedlce); and from there she had catch a train  bound for Warsaw. Then another train from Warsaw got her to Berlin. From Berlin, a train across Europe to Paris and thence to the Belgian port of Anvers (Antwerp) brought Margie to the place where a multitude of Europeans would board ships sailing to the United States after World War I. Prior to the war, Hamburg in Germany had been the primary port for departure.

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Łosice is east of Warsaw.


Losice to Antwerp

Margie traveled by train from Niemojki in Poland, to Antwerp in Belgium in order to board a ship for America.

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Margie traveled on the Red Star Line from Antwerp to Philadelphia

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Red Star Line’s steamship Samland

Margie embarked on her long ocean voyage from Anvers (Antwerp) to Philadelphia traveling on the Red Star Line’s steamship Samland, which arrived in Philadelphia on July 2, 1921.

Philadelphia was a major port of entry from Europe. It was here that the Pennsylvania Railroad separated into two main lines: south to Washington DC and Cincinnati; and west to Pittsburgh, splitting at the latter city for Cleveland, St. Louis MO, and Chicago IL.

Port of Philadelphia c. 1900

The Port of Philadelphia c. 1900

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Masza ‘Margie’ Steinman: Certificate of Arrival in Philadelphia on July 2, 1921. Note that the certificate was issued on October 3, 1933 in Los Angeles, when Margie began the process to become a naturalized US citizen.

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Philadelphia: map showing the Reed Street Pier where Margie disembarked from the steamship Samland to board a train on the Pennsylvania Railroad bound for St. Louis.

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Arriving in St. Louis, this is the Grand Hall in Union Station which Margie passed through with Tillie and Herman Lentzner.

From the Port of Philadelphia, Margie traveled via the Pennsylvania Railroad to St. Louis MO where she moved in with her cousin, Tillie Wyman, and husband Herman Lentzner. During this same period, she was also reunited with her cousin, Rose Wyman. Born in 1904, Margie was but 17 years old at the time of her almost inconceivable trip from a little-known stetl in Eastern Europe to the big-time metropolis of St. Louis.

It is interesting to note that Margie celebrated her birthday on the very day she most-probably arrived in St. Louis: July 4th, Independence Day, a most-appropriate choice. Margie’s actual day of birth would have been calculated in Łosice by the Hebrew or Julian calendars, neither of which would have been possible for her to transpose into the corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar, because she could not read or write, nor could her sisters, or brother-in-law, Herman Lentzner.

On to Los Angeles with Tillie and Herman

Sometime after March 5, 1924 when he filed his passport application, Herman Lentzner together with his wife, Tille, sailed for Europe to travel and visit relatives in France, Germany, and Poland. The Polish-Soviet War had ended three years prior to their trip and there world be relative peace in Europe until Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939. Margie stayed behind in St. Louis; one can only posit that her Łosice tailoring skills kept her busy in the two Lentzner clothing stores.

Sometime after Herman and Tillie Lentzner’s return to the US in August of 1924 and the first mention of Herman’s enterprises in the pages of the Los Angeles Times on July 31, 1926, the couple moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Margie, who had been living with them in St. Louis from the time of her arrival there in 1921, states in her Petition for Naturalization that she, herself, had moved to LA in 1924.

1926 – Marriage to Jacob ‘Jack’ Gruenberg in Los Angeles

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Jacob ‘Jack’ Gruenberg (1899-1928) as photographed on February 8, 1921. In May he moved to Los Angeles. Jack was Margie’s 1st husband, and the father of Merrill Gruenberg-Bonar. For this complete story see the chapter entitled: ‘The Gruenberg / Bonar Family’

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Tillie Lentzner ‘crowns’ Jack Gruenberg as Margie’s husband-apparent as Herman Lentzner looks on. Margie stands directly behind Jack, while Anne Goodman gives her all for the camera. Summer 1926.

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The young Margie standing in front of Jack Gruenberg’s Car

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The young Margie standing in front of Jack Gruenberg’s Car

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Jack Gruenberg in his car

Margie with Merrill

Margie with Merrill, her son by Jack Gruenberg 1927

1929 – Marriage to Samuel Bonar

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Margie in 1933 when she and Sam Bonar applied for naturalization

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Samuel Bonar (man standing behind the fruit display to the right) was Margie’s 2nd husband. For this complete story see the chapter entitled ‘The Banarsky / Bonar Family’.

Margie, infant (Donald), Blanch Wyman

Margie (right) with her cousin Blanche Wyman-Blatt Wyman (left) who is holding Donald, Margie’s son by Sam Bonar.

1950 – Marriage to Harry Kaitz

In the 1930 US Census for Los Angeles, Harry Yolen Kaitz (b. Imperial Russia September 5, 1901, father: Pinkis Katz; d. Encino CA October 2, 1966) is listed as a skinner in a slaughter-house. At the time he was married to Eva Colton; together they had two children: Shirley (b. c. 1927) and Arnold (b. 1929).

In 1950, Margie married Harry, her 3rd husband, as Harry’s 1st wife, Eva (b. Colorado 1909, d. Los Angeles 1950) had just recently passed on. The wedding took place during the same year that Margie’s eldest son, Merrill Gruenberg-Bonar married Sandra Kantoff-Green. Harry had at least one sister Irene/Ida who married a Julius GAIR.

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l-r: back row: Donald Bonar, Merrill Gruenberg-Bonar, Harry Kaitz; l-r front row: Leila ‘Tutu’ Brin / Kantoff Green, Sandra Kantoff Green Bonar, Masza ‘Margie’ Sztejnman Gruenberg / Bonar / Kaitz

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As the article below in the LA Times reports, Harry got himself into big trouble in 1946 during the period when he was a butcher. Merrill Bonar reports that later in his life, Harry operated an ice cream wagon.

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Margie died in 1966; she is buried in Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles. According to her wedding certificate of 1926, Margie was born in 1904, but her half-sister, Rose, had the year 1902 engraved on Margie’s grave marker.

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  1. I am Roy Goodman, and my father Benny left Losice aged 8 with his mother Leah in 1920 to join my grandfather Gedulia who was already in London. I notice in one photo on this site, an Anne Goodman.
    is there any information on her?

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