Letter of 1970 by August J. Grenzig

Letter by August J. Grenzig
B: October 8, 1894, D: Sep 17th, 1979 at age 84
Aka Gus, written 1970

August John Grenzig [1] (Feb 4, 1833 – Aug 12, 1908)
(this is writers grandfather)
Buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Mt. Grace, Lot 405, Grave 2

Sophie Carolina Zonder (Aug 25, 1835 – Sep 14, 1922)
Buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Mt. Grace, Lot 405, Grave 3

August was born in Brittine (near Dorgan) Germany. He had two brothers and a sister, Henrietta. After the death of their parents, they moved to Berlin to make a living. August became a master mason, while William his younger brother became a gunsmith and a master sheet metal worker.

Sophie was born in Brittine Lichdenburg, Germany. Her mother, Johanna Dorden (maiden name) was born in Rohn Germany in 1801. Sophie had six brothers and one sister. Their names were Robert Sr. (51), Robert Jr. ( ), August (18), Elfriendin (14), Herman (12), Paul (8), and Elizabeth (17), ages as of 1902. [2]

August met Sophie in Berlin in 1860 and on June 15, 1862 they were married. Of this union there were born three children, John August (June 30, 1863), Helena Sophie (Aug 1, 1867), and Robert (Feb 18, 1870).

On May 17, 1870 August John Grenzig brought his wife and three children to the United States. They took up residence in Brooklyn on Broadway and Gerry Street and then, in 1871 [3] moved in with August’s cousin on Gerry Street and Throop Ave. In 1872 they moved to Varet Street Northside between Graham Avenue and Humgold Street. At this address both August and his wife came down with small pox, but they were not taken to the pest house where thousands were taken to die. They then moved to Bushwick Ave. and Varet St. in the year 1872-1873. In June of 1873, August built the rear house at 25A Star Street. He worked in a printing plant on 84 Beckman Street, N.Y.C. He saved his money and bought the land known as 2527 Star Street and at this writing, a new High School stands on this property. He finally built three story, four-family house with a store on the first floor. There were three toilets in the back yard.

In 1888 August John retired and opened a candy store on 25 Star Street. He and Sophie rant the store until he died on August 8, 1908. During his life in the U.S. he became a citizen and even voted. The building was sold and Sophie moved in with William Klien [4] in Old Union, Course, Long Island, now Woodhaven.

John August Grenzig (June 30, 1863 – April 8, 1944)

Mary Anna Catherine Rehberger (December 27, 1864 – December 1, 1960)

On May 15, 1872 Mary came to America with her father and mother and two brothers, Henry and Joseph, and a step-brother, William. Her two sisters, Lily and Charlotte, were left behind with their grandfather to be sent for later. On July 18, 1889, her father , Christian Melchior Rehberger, died, and was buried in Lutheran Cemetery, Queens, Long Island. Charlotte married Carl Schnepper and they had two girls, Lily and Anna and one boy, Walter. Lily married Ludwig Lurra [5] and Anna married John Bramborg. [6] Her brother Henry died and is buried in Posack, New Jersey. Mary’s brother Joe married and had a son, Joe, and a daughter, Mary, who later married Joe Finer of New Jersey.


The following section replaced the above paragraph. We do not know when this was done or by who.

John August Grenzig (June 30, 1863 – April 8, 1944)

Buried in Evergreen Cemetery

Mary Anna Catherine Rehberger (Dec. 27, 1864 – Dec. 1, 1960)

Christian Melchoir Rehberger and his wife had two sons, Henry and Joseph, and three daughters, Lily, Charlotte, and Mary Anna. On May 15, 1872, he brought his wife, two sons, and Mary Anna to America. Lily and Charlotte were left behind with their Grandfather, Bart, to be sent for later. Henry died, and is buried in Posack, N.J. Joseph Rehberger married and had a son Alfred and a daughter, Mary. Mary Rehberger married Joe Finer of N.J. and had a son, Joe. Charlotte Rehberger married Carl Schnepper and had two daughters, Lily and Anna and two boys, Walter and Helmer. Lily Schnepper married Ludwig Lurra and had two sons. Anna Schnepper married John Bramborg and had two children. Christian Melchoir Rehberger’s first wife died and he then married Caroline. They had a son, William. Caroline died in the spring of 1913 and is buried in Evergreen cemetery, Nazareth Plot 18571. On July 18, 1889 Christian Melchoir Rehberger died and is buried in Lutheran Cemetery, Queens, L.I., N.Y.


John August Grenzig came to America on May 17, 1870. he had one sister, Helena Sophie Grenzig, and a brother, Robert Grenzig. John August had a hobby. At the age of ten he started collecting stones and minerals. He became known the world over for his honesty and knowledge of minerals. He never traveled farther than Washington D. C. or to Canada. He was a member of several mineral clubs, one of which he started in Queens, Long Island. He lectured at times and even displayed some of his collection in a few shows. He had the finest collection in the east and sold it in 1943 to some friends.

On July 24, 1888 he became engaged to Mary and on April 13, 1889 they were married. They started their married life at 25A Star Street, Brooklyn, New York. This was the rear building built by his father.

He started work as a fly boy at George Monroes Publishing Co. on Valderwater Street, New York City. While working there he invented an attachment for the press that did away with the fly boy. Mr. Monroe had him put it on the other three presses. Sometime later Mr. Monroe showed the improvement to a Howe Press Co. representative. After this, the Howe Press Co. incorporated in on all presses, but John received nothing for it. He did not know if Monroe ever received anything for it or not. He left the Monroe Publishing Co. as a pressman. He then peddled flowers on Fulton Street, Brooklyn. After saving his money, he bought a horse and wagon and went into the milk business. He worked hard, and by the time he had three children, he had six wagons running. He made a bottling machine for himself. He used the first floor of the rear house as a wash and bottle shop.

During this time, Mary Grenzig’s brother, Joe Rehberger, was working as a tool and die maker for a pants button manufacturing company. He told John that the business was for sale. John bought the business and Joe worked for him. Together they invented a new machine for stamping the buttons. Through some legal foul play, John lost the button business and also the milk business as it was mortgaged.

He then started a grocery store on Myrttle Ave. near Broadway. This lasted for three years until the Board of Health closed him because he had pneumonia and his daughter had diptheria. He then moved his family to the country, Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway, in the year 1902 and opened a grocery and vegetable store. This lasted for five years until the town grew and Bohack and three other large stores opened within four blocks. He could not sell, so he auctioned it off. During this time he attended Cooper Union College in New York by day and graduated as an assessor, but never worked at it. He got a job with Stewart and Lewis at 360 Pearl Street, Brooklyn, as an electrician’s helper, and became a mechanic. In 1909 the company went bankrupt and John took tools and supplies for wages owed him. So now he went into the electrical business for himself. He was active in this business until his 81st year in 1944 when he died from an operation. The business, J.A. Grenzig & Son, was still in operation by his son, August and grandson, Albert, as of 1967. In March 1967, the business was transferred to Albert W. Grenzig and it was incorporated.

Throughout his life, John August Grenzig had two experiences of dreams that came true. The first occurred when he was working with his father in the Printing Co. He got up one morning and at breakfast told his father, “Pop, I had a dream last night.” His father said, “You young ones are always dreaming. What was this one?” He replied, “Well, pa, I dreamt that the plant burned out and we could not get in the front of the building.” When we got there all of the floors had collapsed and all of the machines were at the bottom.” “Such foolishness”. They left for work and had to take a horse car, a ferry and then walk. While walking, a friend working in the same place met them and asked if they had heard about the big fire. When they got to the plant everything was as John had told his father.

The second one occurred some years later, while he was in the milk business and he loved minerals. He got up one morning and said to his wife, “I have a fever.” She said, “You had better go to bed and I will fix you something.” John replied, “No, it not that kind. I had a dream. I dreamt I went to Patterson, N.J. to the Rock Quarry. I got permission to look around. As I walked and turned a corner, there was a bolder about 10” in diameter. I examined it. It looked interesting, but the hammer I had was too small to break it. I went to the foreman and asked if I could borrow a sledgehammer. He sent me to the blacksmith shed. The blacksmith said, ‘Behind the door you will find one.’ It was a cross pean sledge. I took it back to the bolder and hit it. It broke open and I had a beautiful Amethyst Geode.” His wife answered, “Well, John, if you think you might find something, why not take the day off and go and enjoy yourself.” He went and everything happened as he had told her. He bought home a beautiful mineral and had it until 1943 when he sold it with his collection.

Mary Grenzig organized the first parent group of P.S. 53 Brooklyn, and also a mother-daughter gym club I the school. She worked hard in the various businesses that John was in. She was active as a bookkeeper in the electric business until illness forced her to retire in 1947. She had a bad fall and broke her shoulder and hip in 1960 and died in a Pittsburgh hospital on December 1, 1960.

Helena Sophia Grenzig (August 1, 1857 – March 18, 1927)

Buried in Plot 405, Mount Grace, 4th grave, The Evergreens

William Klien (October 23, 1870 – July 25, 1967)

Buried in Plot 405, Mount Grace, 4th grave, The Evergreens

Helena was born in Berlin, Germany on August 1, 1867. On October 23, 1895, she married William Klien, a second cousin from Syracuse, New York. They had three children, Florence Helen Klien (born March 7, 1899), Pearl E. Klien (born January 24, 1911), and a son (born in 1897) who is buried in evergreen Cemetery, Plot 405, grave No. 1. Florence never married, but Pearl married Charles Kempf and had a son named David who lives in New Jersey. Helena Sophia Grenzig died at 88 Road Woodhaven and William died at the age of 97 on July 25, 1967.

Robert Grenzig (February 18, 1870 – July 15, 1877)

Buried in Evergreen Cemetery

He was born in Germany and came to America in 1870, where he died at 25 Star Street at the age of seven.

Helena Sophia Genzig (December 22, 1890 – December 7, 1941)

Harold Coleman Mayorga (August 11, 1895 – September 4, 1970)

Helena became engaged to Harold on November 28, 1915 and they were married on September 6, 1916. On September 14, 1917, a son was born named Doanld Vincent Mayorga, who married Ruth Bodecker. They adopted two children, Donald and Laurie. On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day, Helena died. In 1943, Harold remarried Helen F. Kamps who died on March 21, 1967.

William Henry Grenzig (April 29, 1892 – July 20, 1966)

Buried in Pennsylvania

Margaret Bridgeman (January 20, 1894)

William married Margaret Bridgeman on July 4, 1915. On October 28, 1915 a girl was born named Margaret. On June 14, 1917 a son was born named William Henry, Jr. On December 10, 1920 a son was born named Robert Edward. On March 14, 1932 a son was born named Ronald. William Grenzig divorced Margaret and married Margaret Weber.

August John Grenzig (October 8, 1894)

Mary Enolia Pharo (May 6, 1894)

Mary was born in Brooklyn on May 6, 1894. Her mother’s name was Bella Eckert and her father’s name was Amos Pharo. He was a sea captain. He was born on May 24, 1850 in Barnegat, N.J. and died on March 5, 1936 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is buried in Plot 523, Diehls Slope, Evergreen. His father and grandfather were in the salt hay business in Barregat, N.J and there is still land there belonging to the family.

August and Mary were married on April 15, 1917. In 1910 he began to work for Patten and Brown Electrical Contractors. In 1915, he began work for J.A. Grenzig & Son Electrical Contractors with his father.

On August 10, 1918, a daughter was born named Ruth Lucille. On June 10, 1921, a son was born named August John, Jr. he died August 21, 1922. On September 9, 1925, a son was born named Albert Warren.

August retired March 31, 1967. He now keeps himself busy with all sorts of odd jobs from cooking to helping build a room for his grandson.

Ruth Lucille Grenzig (August 10, 1918)

Roger Roff

Ruth and Roger had their first son, Clifford Louis, on June 18, 1944. On April 4, 1948 a son was born named Allen Roger. On August 27, 1951 a son was born named Steven John. At present, they live in Greenlawn with Roger’s parents.

Albert Warren Grenzig (September 9, 1925)

Emma S. Ewald (November 18, 1929)

Emmy was born in Germany. Albert met her there after World War II when he was serving in the army (he has received three declarations for bravery). On December 11, 1947, Emmy came to America and they were married on January 24, 1948. In 1951, Emmy became a U.S. citizen. On July 25, 1951 a daughter was born named Susan Martha. On August 15, 1953 a son was born named Edward Warren. O May 4, 1959, a daughter was born named Linda Marie.

Albert took over his father’s electrical business as of March 1, 1967 and incorporated it. At this time he has his own house in Wantagh, L.I. He is also in partnership with Arnold Lake for a business called Durite Assoc., Inc.

By August J. Grenzig, written and signed in 1970

*******Letter Ends Here**********

Letter retyped by Edward Grenzig and Gail Grenzig July 25, 2002

Six image files AJGLetter1970p1.tif, p1a, p2, p3, p4, p5 contain the actual letter.

Foot Notes:

July 2002

Following comments by Edward Grenzig

Some of the statements in this above letter have been found to be incorrect. They are marked with a foot note [1] and explained below.

[1] August John Grenzig b:1833 we have called John August Grenzig Sr. in our other documents and letters. This is because of the letter written by his son John August Grenzig Jr. of 1942. He calls his father John August. He must know the correct name of his own father. We do know however that he is referred to as just August many times in the Brooklyn City directories. We also have a German record of baptism Aug 9, 1863 for JAG Jr. which records his father as Johann August Grenzig and mother as Caroline Sophie Zander.

[2] From a small book left by JAG Jr. it states mothers brother, Robert Zander age of family 1902. Robert Zander Sr. (51). We believe the other people listed are his children. Robert Jr. ( ), August (18), Elfriendin (19), Herman (12), Paul (8), and Elizabeth (14). The last name is Zander not Zonder and this is verified by other documents also.

[3] The 1970 US census shows John’s family and his cousin Frederich’s family living together in June 1870. 9 people in one house.

[4] Klien should be Klein

[5] Lurra should be Lore

[6] Bramborg should be Brambora