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In the Beginning:

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a very special and important man was born. Without this journey to the "Land of Opportunity", life would be very different. The man was J. Louis Zobler, my great great grandfather. And the place that was so far away was Austria. J. Louis Zobler immigrated into this country is the late 1800's along with the other millions who came. His story is one that has been passed down through the years and will continue to be shared through my family.

Many people around the globe viewed the US as a land of opportunity. They thought that coming here would be solution to all their problems. During the late 1800's a great anti-Jewish movement swept through Europe like a wind storm. The story of my family's journey to America is not one with a happy ending per say. My family didn't move thousands of miles, across an ocean to gain wealth or to become entrepreneurs like many others did. They came overseas to avoid annihilation.

Jews have been persecuted around the globe for hundreds of years. In Austria in the late1800's the Jewish population was in the midst of the "pre-holocaust". They had been removed from their homes and their belongings had been stolen. J. Louis Zobler was an officer of the Prussian guards at this trivial time. He was a huge man who stood over six feet tall and weighed over 300 hundred pounds. He had a huge white mustache and sharp blue eyes. Despite his overbearing appearance, he was still persecuted. He left his home country seeking freedom. Louis was one of three brothers and all these brothers made the horrific journey to the US on a boat. They were not wealthy and had to travel in the lowest of classes termed steerage. The story of their passage has become a mystery and no one alive today knows how they came across. The family lost everything they owned and were very poor. They had no money or belongings. Somehow, they got someone to sponsor them so that they could get onto a boat and make the long journey to the US.

Like all the other travelers, they had to fight their way through Ellis Island. Unfortunately, my family's heritage got lost in the shuffle at the gates of Ellis Island. As it turns out, the brothers didn't all come to the US together. The reason we have a hard time with our heritage is because our surname became "Americanized" in Ellis Island. In my grandfathers baptismal book, there are three different spellings of our last name. The three brothers who signed the book were J. Louis Zobler, M. Zaubler, and L. Sobler. For this reason, we lose our heritage at the port of Ellis Island. According to his granddaughter, Louis was the first in our family to come. He wasn't too bright but he knew how to make a living. Louis married a brilliant woman named Bertha Brandmacher. Together they raised a family in New York City. While they raised this family, Louis supported his family by opening and running a grocery store. The family grew to a rather large number. Bertha and Louis had seven children. Eventually, Louis became bored with the grocery store and began a wine and beer delivery company with his brother during the early 1900's. The two brothers joined with the third brother and began building a small company. Their business basically consisted of driving horse drawn carriages around and delivering great vats of beer and wine. During the 1920's, the prohibition acts came into affect. This squashed my family's business. As the story goes, J. Louis Zobler walked around with a hollow cane in which he had a bit of hard liquor for sale or self consumption. In his home in the Bronx, he had a garage in which was lower than the street. He would have great big trucks come to his house and back into his garage backwards where he could unload large amounts of liquor into his home without being seen. This allowed him to continue his business throughout the twenties. It is also a known fact that he and his wife, Bertha, were frequent visitors to the local speakeasies. My Great Great Grandmother was once asked if the speakeasies were like the were in the movies. She responded, "yes". Everything to the big "gorilla" at the entrance checking the passwords, to the sliding window in the door.

Economically, Louis was at a loss. He had lost all his big business due to prohibition. He was forced to rely on his children to support him in his last 10 years of his life.

J. Louis Zobler was in my opinion a great man. He lived his life facing persecution. If he wasn't being persecuted for his religious beliefs, then it was because of his occupation. If J. Louis Zobler hadn't lived the life that he lead, then my family wouldn't be as strong as we are today.

Picture of J. Louis Zobler 1

Picture of J. Louis Zobler 2


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