Harry Frankel (1871 - 1943)

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Nicknames: "Eliasz Gersz Frankel", "Elias Hirsch Frankel", "Eliahu Frankel", "Hirsh Frankel"
Birthplace: Przerosl, Podlaskie, Poland
Death: Died in Peoria, IL, USA
Occupation: City Official
Managed by: Hatte Anne Blejer
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Harry Frankel

Y-DNA is G2a3b1a1b1a (his great grandson and a related branch of Frankel family from Ratynicia were tested).

  • I now know definitively that Harry Frankel came from Przerosl in Suwalki, Poland near Kalwariya, Lithuania. He was from a large family -- I know that these are his siblings, Charles is "Calko" or "Tsalko" which is Betzalel.
  1. Rochla Leja b. 1856 married and stayed in Europe
  2. Lejb (Julius) b. 1859 immigrated to Peoria
  3. Charles b. 1860 immigrated to Peoria
  4. Morchaj b. 1862 (died in childhood)
  5. Estera b. 1865 (died in childhood)
  6. Issac (Ick, later I.B.) b. 1867 immigrated to Peoria
  7. Szejna b. 1868 (died in childhood)
  8. Harry (Elias Gersz (Hirsch)) b. 1871 immigrated to Peoria
  9. Joseph J (Judel) b. 1872 immigrated to Peoria, then moved to Iowa
  10. Bodana b. 1876 (died in childhood)
  11. Chiena Rywa b. 1876 immigrated to Philadelphia (assuming this is Rebecca Frankel)
  12. Hinda b. 1878 immigrated to Chicago then moved to Columbus?
  • If you go to www.ancestry.com and look at Peoria phone books from the late 19th century, you will find that Julius, Charles, Harry, Issac, and Joseph were in various clothing businesses together in groups of 2 and 3. These records were what helped me in my search. Joseph left Peoria and became a prosperous businessman with I believe a clothing business too in Iowa. The family business is still in Frankel hands today in Peoria. Bell Clothing and Shoe House. Just as on my father's side (Rubenstein) several brothers were in the scrap metal business together and my father's cousin, Gordon, continues to run this business today at age 82. My cousin, Becky Frankel Clifton, shared with me the photographs from the Frankel family business that closed in 2010 finally. I will have them restored and post them for the family. She also had photographs of young Harry and Hattie with their toddlers and babies.
  • Hinde also came to the U.S. and later her mother Eva Frankel (Chawe Margolis) came to live with Hinde and her husband, Lazarus (Lewis) Zox. I do not think any of the remaining siblings came to the United States. I know that Harry Frankel and his youngest daughter, Janet Wallk, sailed to Europe to visit the family in Przerol in I believe 1929, just before the Nazis came into power in Germany. Perhaps later. With them on the trip to Przerosl were Bertha Frankel (Issac's widow) and Abe H. Frankel, Issac and Bertha's son.
  • When I visited my Bramson relatives in Israel in 1969, they remembered the visit of Harry Frankel. Besides these relatives who went to Israel in 1939 I believe and lived in Netanya, most of those who stayed behind died in the Holocaust. The other relative we have in Israel was Joseph Aviram (Abramsky), also a Bramson relative, who I also visited. My cousin, Linda Eve Frankel, shared with me a postcard made from a photograph of her grandfather, A.H. Frankel, and my great aunt, Janet Frankel, with an unidentified young woman from Berlin from 1929 during this European trip with Harry Frankel and his sister-in-law, Bertha, and her son, A.H., and his daughter, Janet. It's viewable on A.H. (Abe H) and Janet's profiles.
  • Their parents were Josel (Josiel, Joseph) and Chawe (Chava, Eva). Her last name is given both as Kalwaryjska and Margolis. Her father's name is given as Lejbowna (Lejb). Her father was Judah Lejb Margolis from Kalwaryia, Lithuania from a distinguished rabbinical family. I am less positive about Joseph Frankel's father and mother but have tracked a possible Frankel family to Merkine (Merecz), Lithuania which matches our Frankel family given names and the name of Josel's father and his birthdate and is in a town where close Margolis relatives were living at the time, so makes a lot of sense.
  • Chava Bramson (Hattie Bramson Frankel) was from the same town as Harry Frankel and her family's given names were like Harry's: her mother was Szejna, her grandfather was Ick, her sister was Bodana. I believe that the Zelman Bramson mentioned below is her brother.
  • Actually. Chawe Bramson was the granddaughter of Issac Margolis, Chava Margolis' brother.
  • And Badana is the mother of Chava Margolis which is why the name appears several times since Harry Frankel and Hattie Bramson Frankel were related!

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  • They are restoring the Przerosl cemetary. Look it up on Google. Here's what the students of the town wrote about the Jews:
  • The first Jews came to Przerosl at the beginning of the 17th century (1710). Between 1709 and 1710 a lot of them reached the town, and in 1736 the main Bishop of Vilnius, Zienkowicz, allowed them to build a synagogue and put the cemetery on Zusenkowska Street. The great development of Przerosl led Jews settle there at this time.
  • In 1799 there were 205 Jewish dwellers in the town, but by 1819 their population had become larger and consisted of 598 people (301 men and 297 women).
  • The most important question we have to ask in this essay is: How did the Jews in Przerosl live?
  • In fact it was really difficult to establish, as many people who remembered them very well had died or left the town just after the war.
  • However, we decided to look for those who are alive and talk to them about the past. Sometimes it was not easy, because the old people did not want to talk about those times, or they just remembered very little. We also found a local newspaper from 1992 with some articles about Jews. In one of them there was a letter written by Motko Abramski. He wrote, "Our relations with Polish people were generally good, but just before the war they simply got worse and worse. Maybe it was the fault of German occupation. The Poles were forbidden to buy from Jews. I and my brother, Josef [my grandmother's cousin Joseph Aviram the Israeli archeologist who I met in 1969], were last in Przerosl in 1988. Everything had changed, and we were sorry not to have met many familiar people. The cemetery is in very bad condition..."
  • Motko's father, Nysko Abramski, was the local grocery shop owner. He also bought cereals from the local farmers. People who remember those times showed us the place where it was located (Suwalska Street). Now it is Mr. Rant's house. Our interviewees say that some young boys used to steal cereals from the local owners to sell them to Nysko Abramski, and then the army in Suwalki bought them.
  • There was also Ruwko Abramski, Nysko's cousin, who had a shop together with Zelman Bramson and Jan Mariampolski, who were also Jews. Ruwko Abramski lived on the Market Place (now it is Mr. Kwiatkowski's shop). As we found out, Ruwko had two sons who escaped to Palestine just before the war.
  • We asked our interviewees about some Jewish ceremonies they remember from the past. One of the oldest inhabitants of the town described the funeral of Abramski's mother-in-law. The celebration started in the house, where a dead woman was laid on the floor which was covered with straw, and her face was covered with a piece of linen. There were two lit candles behind her head. It lasted two days. After that she was wrapped around in white sheets and taken to the cemetery. The grave was rather shallow, and the family put a fist of Palestinian soil on her body.
  • The other celebration mentioned by the people who were talking to us was something like "The Tents Holiday." Young Jewish people built tents or wooden shelters as a symbol of leaving Egypt.
  • Synagogues were very important to contemporary Jews. It is said that there were two synagogues in Przerosl. One of them was just opposite our school, but it was damaged by German soldiers, and the other one was somewhere on Dworna Street. The Jews who lived in Przerosl were said to be honest and hard-working people. Trade and industry were the main fields they dealt with, so the local people really needed them. In fact, they couldn't exist without each other. In those times there was only one Polish shop at the Market Place, which proves that the Jewish shops were really good.
  • The Market Place was the center of Jewish people's social life. Thanks to the dwellers' recollections we managed to get some information related to the location of Jewish houses and shops in Przerosl.
  • Estera Dworska had a tea shop and a small bakery at the Market Place (today it is a kindergarten). Nearby, around the corner (nowadays it is the local Center of Culture), there was the house of Janiel Szapiro (Shapiro). He sold drugs and haberdashery. He cured all the inhabitants, and he had various drugs to heal many illnesses
  • Izrael Motulski (known as "Babcuk") lived near Jankiel Szapiro. He was the richest Jew in Przerosl. The buildings along Koscielna Street belonged to him (he kept dry goods there). Izrael Motulski also had the ironware shop, and he sold food. Our interviewees remember that they could buy geese, sheep, herrings, and many other things from him. Izrael was known for gathering old clothes, carpets, and pots from people, and then he sold or exchanged them. He had one son, Abram.
  • Chaim Buslawski lived on the west side of the Market Place behind the Motulski family. He was a soldier in the Polish Army in Suwalki. Chaim was probably the most handsome man in Przerosl, so Polish girls fell in love with him as well as Jewish ones.
  • The local administrative department was the property of Izrael Peltyn. In the past it was a bar, the only one in Przerosl. Peltyn was lame in both legs, and always supported himself with a walking stick. He had lots of children.
  • Our interlocutors remember such names as:
  1. Szlomo Manuszer (a grocery store owner)
  2. Wiktor Rakowski (a horse seller)
  3. Symcho Chodnik and Nachim Lozowski (travelling salesmen)
  4. Dawid Zyman or Codyk (a shoemaker)
  5. Chackiel Lanowicki (an ironworker)
  6. Szmejko Wilkowski (a butcher)
  7. Icko (Icek?) Buslawski (a carpenter)
  8. Elko Bialostocki (a tailor)
  • Where are the descendants of those people?
  • How did their kids play?
  • What were their dreams?
  • There are so many questions that arise.
  • The answers are hidden under the faded, decayed headstones...

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  • “Back in those days you never had any problem with theft,” says Bell Clothing’s current president, David Frankel, of the then placid 300-400 block of South West Adams where his ancestor plied his trade.
  • Julius purportedly soon found a storefront in the 400 block of S. W. Adams, and from there, the store was transferred to the 600 block where it remained the Peoria store until 1970.
  • “It (the 600 block building) is now part of the new downtown ball park and has been * demolished,” Frankel says about the family’s landmark building in Southtown from his current store’s office on Sheridan Road (which was opened in 1970). There's more to read. Click here. According to Frankel, the store was originally called Julius Frankel and Sons, and then when Harry (either Julius’s brother or son) bought out Julius’s interest in the early 1900’s, it was re-named Bell Clothing & Shoe House, Inc.
  • “There was a 90-year-old man in here from Canton recently who said he was one of the people Grandfather would pay to stand outside the store with one of those slate sandwich boards where you could chalk daily specials and ring the bell. And we believe that this was what brought people up to the store-ringing the bell,” muses Frankel.
  • The family also ran a Bell Clothing Store in Sunnyland which the Frankels closed in 1976. Now the full line men’s store on Sheridan is the four-generation family’s only store.
  • The line of succession goes like this: Harry (who bought out Julius around 1900) died in 1948; then his sons Silas and Abe took over. Abe died in 1968. Then Silas’s son Bruce took over. Now Bruce and his son, David, plus David’s mother Dolores (who functions as secretary) are the involved family members.
  • So from a pushcart that sold just a few items, Bell Clothing morphed into a full-line men’s store that has everything from underwear to ties, suits, casual attire, hats, shoes, belts, hankies and silk robes. They can completely outfit a man who walks in the front door.
  • “We keep a wide variety of inventory so we can satisfy everyone’s needs,” says Frankel.
  • “A well dressed man is a Bell dressed man” is a motto tagged on the board above Frankel’s office desk. Another motto that was supposedly thought up by Bob Carlson and his sidekick on WMBD in the early ‘70’s was, “The store for men and the women who love them.”
  • But Frankel says that was more appropriate when women were buying 80 per cent of the men’s clothes.
  • “Now it is about half and half,” says Frankel. “Guys are a lot more focused on what they want to wear and women are a lot less focused on the men.”
  • The 40-year old Frankel says they used to offer both men’s and boy’s clothing - but even though they now gear mostly to men’s needs, they still get a lot of larger eighth-grade boys on up with special fitting needs. “We get big kids around eighth grade that can’t fit into Sears or Penny’s Huskies and they can’t find anything to fit at Target or Kohl’s; then they come and see us. We do what we have to do to fit them properly,” says Frankel of his middle of the road-type store.
  • “We have regular customers that call us from the Lutheran Home and St. Joseph’s Home to run items to them,” he says. “We used to have a big business like that when the State Hospital was open because we were trusted in filling only what the directors of the conservatorship wanted the recipients to have; underwear, socks, and shirts.”
  • Although Frankel says he would like to introduce more high-end merchandise, his regular customers seem to like a more classic, middle of the road look. He says he sends people looking for trendy items elsewhere.
  • Frankel adds they encourage customers to try on their clothing purchases because some of the manufacturers can vary so much in sizing.
  • “We want to properly fit someone in the way of clothing, especially suits and sport coats, and we take the same care in the dress pants area,” Frankel emphasizes.
  • “If somebody orders in a suit and it does not fit them, it is not theirs,” says Frankel. He says they will not tell a customer that something looks right when it doesn’t.
  • Repeat people are the bulk of their customers, explains Frankel, although he says they always have new customers dropping in.
  • Besides giving customers their undivided attention while in the store, Bell Clothing personnel also offer tailoring, in-home delivery, personal shopper service, and free gift boxes. They used to offer free Christmas wrapping until some customers around the middle 1970's took advantage of it and were bringing purchases from other stores to be wrapped. Therefore, they had to cancel that service.
  • The longest an employee has worked at Bell Clothing is a tailor for 36 years. The amount of employees has fluctuated from seven in the 1950’s to as high as twenty-one.
  • “We have had such tremendous help in the Peoria area - such good, regular retail-oriented people,” Frankel says with a smile.
  • One of Frankel’s pet peeves is when a customer comes to him with misinformation given * by another store, such as: ‘There is no such thing as a plain front pant suit anymore.’
  • “It is news to us,” he laughs, “because every other guy that walks in the door doesn’t want pleats -he wants a plain front pant suit.”
  • He admits it is difficult to find a good American source for suits and sport coats. He currently carries Hardwick Clothing: “All my blazers are Hardwick (made in Tennessee),” he says. Frankel also carries Bel-Crest (their in-house brand), Austin-Reed of Regent Street, London, and Hart Schaffner & Marx suits, plus Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfmger clothing lines.
  • “A lot of our guys want their suits to last ten or fifteen years,” says Frankel, and feels that the material and the fit are the most important things that make up quality clothing.
  • As manufacturers have gone offshore, Frankel admits they are having difficulty in finding quality in some clothing.
  • “For stuff that goes up in price and doesn’t hold its quality, we get rid of it,” he says.
  • The Sheridan Road area has seen some upgrades while Bell Clothing has conducted business there: “We have new, wider roads, and several face lifts on surrounding buildings,” says Frankel who believes his store location is not a high crime area and doesn’t feel extra precautions are necessary to prevent theft.
  • Frankel adds that even though they run a four-generation business, his three children (ages 15, 13, and 8) don’t seem interested. (Frankel, himself, was cutting weeds and sweeping the sidewalks out front of the store by the time he was in early teens).
  • Do they have plans to move anytime soon?
  • “All I can say is that anything is possible,” he says with a coy smile.
  • It’s the “dog days” of summer and Frankel admits business gets rather slow with everyone on vacation: “Generally, we are busier come the holiday season,” he says.
  • The store is open seven days a week: M-F 9-8; Sat. 9-6, and Sun-11-4.
  • What does Frankel want people to associate with his store when it is mentioned in print or radio?
  • “Quality, service, affordability and honesty,” he says.
  • “If something isn’t right we are not talking thousands of dollars here. Why make somebody angry over a $32 shirt?”

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1922 Lived at 704 Seventh St. In Peoria, Illinois

From what I have been finding out about the Frankel family, it appears that they are NOT from Bruschal. Rather they are from Krakow and Tarnow in Poland.

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Harry Frankel was born in Proshle (Broshle or Bruschal), East Prussia. He emigrated to the U.S. in his teens, traveling alone, ending up in Peoria, Illinois, where he lived until his death. He ran a men's clothing store (Bell's Clothing), which is owned today by a grandson and great grandson. He outlived two wives, Hattie being his first wife.

Apparently his second wife was named Sallie. Looking at records from the 1930s from Bell Clothing, Abraham (Abe) was married to Edith and Harry was married to Sallie. Looking at earlier records, we find that Issac & Julius are brothers (Frankel Bros) and that Harry & Joseph are brothers (H Frankel & Bro). We know who Joseph's father is (Joseph Frankel 1834 - 1904). We know that Baba had many Margolis relatives and Eva Margolis was Joseph Frankel's wife and Hinde Frankel Zox's mother (from census records). Thus we reconstructed the family: parents: Joseph and Eva. children: Julius, Harry, Joseph, Issac, and Hinde. Joseph the father died in Poland (Tarnow I believe) in 1904 but Eva Margolis Frankel lived with Lazarus (Lewis) Zox and Hinde Frankel Zox in America until she died.

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  • Name: Harry Frankel
  • Event: Census
  • Event Date: 1930
  • Event Place: Peoria, Peoria, Illinois
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 57
  • Marital Status: Widowed
  • Race: White
  • Birthplace: East Prussia
  • Estimated Birth Year: 1873
  • Immigration Year: 1889
  • Relationship to Head of Household: Head
  • Father's Birthplace: East Prussia
  • Mother's Birthplace: East Prussia
  • Enumeration District Number: 0049
  • Family Number: 120
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 5A
  • Line Number: 33
  • NARA Publication: T626, roll 548
  • Film Number: 2340283
  • Digital Folder Number: 4584629
  • Image Number: 00911
  • Household Gender Age Birthplace
  • Head Harry Frankel M 57 East Prussia
  • Son Abraham Frankel M 27 Illinois
  • Daughter Janet E Frankel F 20 Illinois
  • Servant Rebecca Levison F 46 Illinois

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Bell Clothing & Shoe House Incorporated

4314 N Sheridan Rd

Peoria, IL 61614

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Harry Frankel's Timeline

1871
September 26, 1871
Przerosl, Podlaskie, Poland
1922
1922
- present
Age 50
Peoria, Illinois, United States
1943
December 4, 1943
Age 72
Peoria, IL, USA
????
????
????
Peoria, Illinois, United States