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Levi Collmus (Kalmus)

Also Known As: "Juda Löw"
Birthplace: Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic
Death: Died in Baltimore, MD
Place of Burial: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Isak Kalmus, Prokurator and Lea Kalmus
Husband of Francis Collmus
Father of Solomon Collmus
Brother of Seligmann Isak Kalmus; Benjamin Kalmus Prokurator; Koppelman Isak Kalmus and Rachel Kalmus Prokurator

Occupation: Dry Goods Dealer
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Levi Collmus

From Sallye Wilkinson: This is all the information I have about Levi Collmus. He is the Collmus family Immigrant Ancestor. His name was anglicized when he came to the US, first through Richmond VA 1799, and then living in Baltimore until his death in 1856. I have the originals of some of these documents. My family donated his BHC account book to a Jewish Museum in Baltimore. I may be able to find more details in the next few weeks, but what is pasted below is fairly inclusive. Thanks to anyone who can help me connect our American Family with our family in Prague!

  • Levi COLLMUS was born Mar 1776 in Prague, Bohemia, Germany. He died 30 Mar 1856 in Baltimore, MD and was buried in Greenmount Cemetery. *Levi married *Frances Ann WILLIAMS on 1812 in Harford Co., Maryland.
    • * SOURCE: "Preliminary Outline, by Leroy Collmus, Sept. 10-1962"

[Leroy was a cousin of my Mom's, although I can't say off hand just how]

From Prague, Bohemia. Came to this country, June 15-1799 - on Brig Germania, landed in Richmond, Virginia.

  • * Came to Baltimore in 1800 - worked in paper mill at Ellicott City, then apparently went to Joppa in Harford County. Itinerant merchant - with familiar pack on back.

Married Frances Williams of Harford Co. 1812. Married a Quaker because he could not "find a girl of the Hebrew faith".

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"Oy Vey, Can You See?" "The year was 1814. It would be another 12 years before the state of Maryland would even allow Jews to hold public office. But huddled with their comrades in arms, under the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air, were six Baltimore Jews, making their contribution to their city, and the young United States of America. On Thursday, the Maryland Historical Society and the National Park Service were expected to accept a history of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, which includes the account of one of its charter members, Levi Collmus, and his survival of the British siege of fort Mc Henry in 1814. The book by former BHC Executive Secretary Rose Greenberg, details how Mr. Collmus and five other Baltimore Jews volunteered for service in a company organized by Baltimore Judge Joseph H. Nicholson. The five others were brothers Philip I. and Mendes I. Cohen, Samuel Etting, Jacob Moses and Samuel Cohen. In 1878, Col. Mendes Cohen's great-nephew, Benjamin, wrote up an account of the battle, as described by his uncle. 'During the firing, Colonel Cohen could see the ship upon which was Francis S. Key distinguishable by its flag of truce,í Benjamin Cohen wrote. 'After the British retired, Mr. Key landed at the fort and produced a copy of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which was copied first by one of the men, then by another, and they all amused themselves trying to find a tune for it.' It wasn't until 1826 that Maryland passed a law lifting prohibitions against Jews holding public office, according to Sylvan Feit, BHC's archivist. Even though Maryland's Jews weren't afforded full rights, Mr. Feit pointed out, 'they did make some worthwhile contributions in the War of 1812.' And if there were a few more at the battle, maybe the national anthem would have a klezmer beat." By David Conn (from a BHC newsletter, photocopy sent by Aunt Renie)

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Association of the Defenders of Baltimore in 1814 - Member

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(letter in German. In Sallye Wilkinson's possession. Translation reads as follows.)

"My most esteemed brother: With great pleasure I seize the pen, because I do not want to miss the opportunity to write to you, because you, my dear brother are worth everything. Well, dear brother, that is all I have to write and I remain your faithful brother. Seeligmann Kallmus in Prague I am eager to send my regards to your wife and child. I will write more some other time. Prague, August 28th 1815 This goes to my beloved brother L?v Kallmus in Baltimore who comes from Prague."

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    • Lived in Baltimore - Richmond St. near Howard 1822. Moved to Old Town 1825.
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"... The first official minyan to be recorded was held in 1829 at the home of Zalma Rehine on Holliday Street near Pleasant. Rehine, of French descent, had come from Westphalia to America in 1789, landing in Baltimore. He moved on to Richmond and some years later returned to Baltimore. He was the uncle of Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, the outstanding leader of American Jewry in the mid-nineteenth century. Leeser was editor-publisher of "The Occident", an important monthly journal which served as a forum for articles on Jewish life and thought. Leeser frequently visited Zalma Rehine and his many reports and critical writings in "The Occident" are valuable records of the Baltimore Jewish Community. Among the thirteen men attending the minyan at Zalma Rehine's home were: Rehine, John M. Dyer, Moses Millem, Lewis Silver, Levi Benjamin, Joseph Osterman, Joseph Ancker, Levi Collmus, Tobias Myers, and Jacob Aaron. It would not have been possible to think about organizing a synagogue before Tomas Kennedy had won his fight for religious freedom for Jews. Now the time seemed propitious to undertake this momentous step, and so a committee appeared in Annapolis in the fall of 1829 to present a petition to the Legislature in the name of "sundry citizens of Baltimore," praying that they may be incorporated under the name and style of "The Scattered Israelites" for the purpose of building a synagogue. In December, 1820 Delegate H. Hunt of Baltimore presented to the Legislature a bill, reading (in part): AN ACT TO INCORPORATE THE BALTIMORE HEBREW CONGREGATION IN THE CITY OF BALTIMORE ... The intrepid men who were the charter members of BHC and who laid the foundation for the Baltimore Jewish community were poor, hard working peddlers or small shopkeepers, strong in loyalty to their ancestral faith. Seventy-two year old Zalma Rehine was the moving spirit of the thirteen founders. John M. Dyer, who had come with his family from Bavaria in 1812, was named Imanuel Gershom Feist but had adopted the name Hong Maximilian Dyer from a prominent New Englander who had befriended him. His butcher shop in Baltimore eventually became a prosperous packinghouse. As the first president, serving five years, John Dyer guided and molded the newborn congregation into a cohesive organization. His son Leon Dyer was to leave an indelible imprint on the first synagogues in Baltimore and San Francisco... Another son, Isadore, who left Baltimore in 1840, is credited with organizing the first Jewish congregation in Galveston. Levi Benjamin, the first treasurer, who had come from Holland, was a laborer, then a peddler, then a secondhand dealer and in a few years became prosperous enough to give a piece of ground on which the congregation planned to build a synagogue. Levi Collmus, a Bohemian Jew married to a Quaker, was outstandingly active in the congregation and in all Jewish affairs. He was alter to become a founder and treasurer of the United Hebrew Benevolent Society, a mutual aid society chartered in 1834 as the first secular Jewish organization in Baltimore. Jonas Friendenwald, who became a member upon his arrival in Baltimore from Bavaria in 1832, was first an umbrella mender, then successively a grocer, junk dealer and proprietor of a hardware store. He prospered in all of his business ventures and in his later years was a great philanthropist. He was the progenitor of a family of distinguished communal leaders and outstanding physicians. Such was the caliber of the handful of Jews who worshipped for two years n a rented room over a grocery store at the corner of Bond and Fleet Streets, the center of East Baltimore where all early Jews settled. By 1832 the congregation had outgrown its Bond Street quarters and moved to North Exeter Street (near what is now Lexington Street) to accommodate its twenty-nine members who were: Jacob Aaron, Joseph Ancker, Levi Benjamin, Simon Block, H. Bowman, Levi Collmus, Joseph Demmelman, Michael DeYoung, John M. Dyer, Leon Dyer, H. M. C. Elion, Jacob Ezekiel, Jonas Friedenwald, Charles J. Hart, Solomon Hunt, Gabriel Isaacs, A. Kookegay, Wolf Marshutz, Orias Mastritz, Moses Millem, Tobias Myers, William Myers, Joseph Osterman, Zalma Rehine, Aaron Reider, Benjamin Seixas, Lewis Silver, Joseph Simpson, W. A. Waterman." [Quoted from 'History of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation' pp. 5, 7]

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NATURALIZATION: State of Maryland City of Baltimore, to whit: At a Baltimore City court begun and held at the Court House in the City of Baltimore, in and for the city aforesaid, on the first Monday of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, Present, The Honorable Nicholas Brice, Chief Judge, Alexander Nesbit (?) W. E. D. Worthington, Associate Judges. Henry S. Saunderson (?) Esquire, Sheriff. William M. Mcdealpe (??) Clerk Among other were the following proceedings -- to wit: Be it remembered, that on the fourth day of October in the year aforesaid, Levi Collmus a native of Bohemia and at present residing in the City of Baltimore appeared in open Court here, and applied to be admitted to become a Citizen of the United States. And it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court her, that the said Levi Collmus had declared on oath, taken in the District Court of the United States for the Maryland District on the twenty fifth day of November in the year on thousand eight hundred and twenty two -- two years at least before his admission, that it was bonafide his intention to become a citizen of the United States. An it also appearing to the satisfaction _______[page torn] upon the testing ___ Leon Dryer and Eugene I. Diffenduffer citizens of the United States, that the said Levi Collmus hath continued to reside within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States, five years at least, and one year at least immediately preceding this application, within the State of Maryland, that during the said term of five years, he hath resided in the City of Baltimore and hath conducted himself as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same. And the said Levi Collmus having declared on oath, taken in open Court here, that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign Prince, Potentate, State and Sovereignty whatever, and particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Emperor of Germany. The court her, thereupon admits the said Levi Collmus to become a Citizen of the United States. In Testimony that the foregoing is a true copy, taken from the record of proceeding of the court aforesaid, I subscribe my name and affix the seal of the said Court, to this CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION, this fourth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty four. Wm. M. Mcdealpe (??) Clerk of Baltimore City Court

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SOURCE: Receipt from BHC

"This is to certify, that Mr Levi Calmus is a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, having paid Fifty Dollars, entitles him to Seats No. 113.168 in the New Synagogue, corner of Lloyd and Salisbury streets; being his property for ever subject to the Constitution and By-Laws of said Congregation. Baltimore, Oct. 6th, 1846. A. Rug [sp?] Secretary. Leon Dyer President of the B.H.C.

[Lloyd Street Synagogue still in use in 2015. Built in 1845 by the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]

Bull & Tuttle, pr. (in possession of Sallye Wilkinson 2002)

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Letter to Levi Colmus [sic] 41 Sterling St. Baltimore MD dated Aug 25, 1852. From "Pension Office, Washington" "Sir: The Claim of Levi Collmus for Bounty Land, under the Act of September 28, 1850, has been received, and will be attended to as soon as practicable, of which you will be duly informed. It is therefore respectfully requested that every applicant will wait a reasonable time before making application to know what has been done in relation to his or her claim. I am, very respectfully, Your obedient servant James E. Heath, Commissioner" (Letter in possession of Sallye Wilkinson 2002)

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Colmus, Levi, Old War IF - #10459, srv as Pvt in Balto Mil[militia], bld 77 can 49 {from "Index to War of 1812 Pension Files, Vol I: A-F" transcribed by VD White, National Historical Publishing Co.: Waynesboro TN, 1989}

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Note from: The Adjutant General War Department Washington D.C. #1825901 Sept 18, 1911 To: Samuel L. Collmus, Govanstown MD "The records show that one Levi Callmus [sic], of Baltimore, served as a private in Captain James Piper's Company, 1st (Harris) Regiment of Artillery, Maryland Militia, in the War of 1812. The records indicate that he entered the service August 19, 1814, and that he was discharged at Baltimore, November 30, 1814. Nothing further relative to him has been found of record." [signed by the Adjutant General although the signature is indecipherable] (Letter in possession of Sallye Wilkinson 2002)

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Grave at Green Mount Cemetery.  Buried "according to the full Orthodox Ritual" (quoted from photocopy of article/chapter about Baltimore Hebrew Congregation/ BHC)
  • * SOURCE: HANDWRITTEN NOTE (in possession of Sallye Wilkinson)

Headstone (probably instructions for inscription written by his son, Solomon, to be translated into Hebrew)

"Here are buried those truly loving ones, who did not part either in life nor in death Judah son of Isaac Collmus & his worthy Consort Frances May their souls enjoy everlasting life"

[Marci Wilkinson tells me that one's Hebrew name often begins with the same letter as one's given name. The Hebrew letter for "L", as in Levi, is very similar to "J", as in Judah.]

  • * Grave is said to be next to John Wilkes Booth's grave.


  • * Receipt to Mr. Solomon Colmus for Levi Colmus from Green Mount Cemetery on March 31, 1856: $3.00 for digging 1 grave in Lot No. 45 Area U.
    • Receipt to Dobbin & Co. Aprl. 7th 1856 from the Est. of Levi Collmus

"To hire of 20 coaches to fun'l of dec'd @ 200¢ $40.00 " " large hearse " " " $4.00

                             Receive'd Paym't      $44.00
           [written in pencil -by Solomon? -]        2.20
  • * Receipt to Lewis Rand for making a coffin for the late Mr. L. Colmus $5.00 April 7th 1856
    • Receipt to S. Goldsmith [nurse] to services rendered to the late deceased Calmus" $10.50 April 2(?) 1856
    • Receipt to John Dobbin Dr. August 25th 1856 to coach line at 4 pm, 2 1/2 hours $2.50

[visit to Greenmount Cemetery - ?]

  • * Receipt to A. Weglein

"1 Railing put up for Greenmount Cemetary $165.00 Recv'd payment from Mr. Solomon Kolmus"

[all of this receipts in the possession of Sallye Wilkinson]

81. *Frances Ann WILLIAMS[76] was born[80] 1790 in Hartford Co., Maryland. She died[80] 10 Apr 1835.

  • From Leroy Collmus

"Married Levi Collmus in 1812 (He married her because there were no Hebrew girls to marry).

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Levi Collmus's Timeline

March 1776
Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic
January 1822
Age 45
Maryland, United States
Age 79
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore, Maryland, United States