About Jacob Herman Fiesser
Jacob Herman Fiesser (circa 1867-1944)
Greeting: I am Roberto Valerio John Costantino of Loudoun County, Virginia (born 1957). My mother was the late Ruth Louise Costantino (Fiesser) of Fairfax County, Virginia (1919 - 1996). She was the youngest of seven children born to Jacob Herman Fiesser (circa 1867-1944) and Anna A. Fiesser (Baumgartner) (1882-1956) his wife of North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey. The subject, Jacob Herman Fiesser, was my grandfather on my mother's side of the family. The accompanying photograph shows him with his oldest son, Edward George Fiesser, in one of his greenhouses, probably, in the late 1920's or early 1930's. Jacob Herman Fiesser died about thirteen years before I was born and about five years before my parents were even married. It is noted that I knew very little about him until recently.
My mother said that her father, Jacob, was born in Eppelheim, Germany, on January 20, 1867 or 1868. Eppelheim is now a city bordering Heidelberg in northern Baden-Wurttemberg. Both of Jacob's parents were also born in Germany according to the U.S. Census (1910; 1920). My mother said that her father had first migrated to England before permanently immigrating to the United States. Jacob H. Fiesser immigrated to the United States in either 1893 or 1894, according to the U.S. Census (1910; 1920).
My cousin, Robert Fiesser of Colorado, the late Jacob Herman Fiesser's grandson by H. Paul Fiesser and Natalie his wife, provided me with additional information and data about Jacob Herman Fiesser. He retains some letters of referral for Jacob left to him by his late father, which provides a timeline of a sort. Between May, 1882 and May, 1883, Jacob was employed by S. und J. Rinz, Frankfurt am Mainz (S. and J. Rinz, Frankfurt on the Mainz River); From October, 1884 to March, 1887, Jacob worked for "Hofgartenerei" in Baden", which might be an archaic term for a nursery. It is related that a hof garten is a court garden; In March, 1887, Jacob went to work for one Wilhelm Pfitzer in Stuttgart. It is noted that said Pfitzer founded a family firm in 1844 that exists to this day and which has been a major influence on the development of many flower types, especially Dahlias, Gladioli, and Canna; Next, between July, 1888 and October, 1888, Jacob was employed in Ammerndorf by one Grosse; Afterward, from October, 1888 to May, 1889, Jacob was employed by a certain F.W. Worth in Diemitz; Subsequently, Jacob came into a letter of recommendation written in English concerning that period of time between February 1893 and April, 1894 from one G. Lange in Hampton, likely, in England; Bearing date in September, 1897, Jacob came into a receipt for $ 90.00 rent paid to Gustave Koch for a "florist place" in West Hoboken, New Jersey. Lastly, Robert Fiesser is in possession of a letter to "lieber Jacob" in West Drayton, England, from one Eduard of Luneberg dated February, 1898. The root is lieb. As an adjective it is used as 'dear', as in the greeting 'meiner lieber Eduard' - the masculine form for my dear Eduard. As a verb it means love, as in 'Ich liebe dich' - I love you.
The surname Fiesser is scarcely found on both sides of the Atlantic. In Continental Europe the largest concentration of people with that name is found in smatterings of folk on and about Heidelberg on the Rhine Rift Valley, Germany, according to the International Genealogical Index. The christenings of diverse people with such a family name have been recorded in that locality including Eppelheim since the 18th Century. In North America the name Fiesser has been historically associated with varied christenings of folk belonging to the Lutheran Evangelical and Reformed faiths in Pennsylvania and Maryland since the 18th Century per the Index – North America. As of May 27, 2011, the U.S. Social Security Death Index includes only thirteen persons with the last name of Fiesser, exactly. They are listed by State where number was issued including eleven from New Jersey. The second earliest listing is for my deceased uncle, Edward George Fiesser (1902-1984) of North Bergen, N.J., son of Jacob Herman Fiesser and Anna his wife.
My mother said that Jacob H. Fiesser was married around the year 1900 in New York City, probably, to the former Anna (Annie) A. Baumgartner of New York, New York. Anna was born in New York City. Each of her parents had been born in Germany. Anna's father, Friederich Edward Baumgartner, was an ethnic German immigrant from Stettin. The city of Stettlin was a seaport in the Baltic Sea in the Province of East Prussia, within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire. The former Stettin is now called Szczecin, Poland. It is noted that following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union (the Kaliningrad Oblas), the People's Republic of Poland (Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship), and the Lithuanian, SSR (Klaipeda Region). Anna's mother, Mathilda Baumgarten (Haack) was an ethnic Danish German immigrant from Holstein. Holstein or presently Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany.
For a time Jacob H. Fiesser was quite generally known as "John", which would later give way to "Jake" (see obituary below). Jacob and Anna his wife were bilingual; German and English. It is apparent that his first language was German. It was written that Jacob H. Fiesser, "was considered quite a character" (see obituary below). While not gifted with a free vocabulary “Jake” would talk and he enjoyed associating with his fellows. On occasion he was ready and willing to sing “Old MacDonald,” usually at the beef steak dinners that used to wind up the pre-holiday visits of the now defunct Pot Plant Growers Association (see obituary below).
Jacob and Anna his wife belonged to the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. It appears that they had lived for a time in Union City, New Jersey, as that was where their daughter Dorothy Fiesser was born around 1904 (see 01/4/1932, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957). The Fiesser family would ultimately make their home in North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey. They lived on a large lot(s) of land in a big dwelling house with greenhouses, outbuildings, and a retail store on then Hamilton Avenue in Ward 1. It is my understanding from my mother that North Bergen High School was later built over the site of their former place of domicile. Jacob and Anna were the parents of seven children counting by order of birth, Mildred; Edward George; Dorothy Hermana; Helen Frances; Anna Viola; Herman Paul, Ruth Louise. Mildred died before her first birthday. Otherwise, my mother told me her family vacationed on Lake George, New York. On at least one occasion they went swimming on Catskill Creek, Leeds, New York (see Dorothy Fiesser).
Jacob Herman Fiesser was a noted florist. He was the owner and operator of J.H. Fiesser & Son, Inc., a wholesale horticulture firm in Hudson County, New Jersey. At one time, Jacob controlled as many as thirty greenhouses that serviced retail florists in the New York metropolitan area. He is no doubt the same, "J.H. Fiesser, Vice-Pres., North Bergen, N.J.", who was listed in the The American Florist Company's directory of florists, nurserymen and seedsmen of the United States and Canada published in 1913. Also, the "J.H. Fiesser, North Bergen (Greenhouse)", who was on the List of Nurseries Certificated in 1915 in the Annual Report of the State Board of Agriculture, Volume 43, New Jersey. Moreover, there is reference to him, "J.H. Fiesser, North Bergen, N.J. (see Guttenberg)", in a 1919 publication called "Horticulture", which lists his home or place of business as being 711-41 Hamilton Avenue, North Bergen, N.J. Robert Fiesser who is Jacob's grandson by H. Paul Fiesser and Natalie his wife presently possesses Jacob Herman Fiesser's gavel from his term as the New York City Florist Club President. My mother said her father and her brothers, Eddie and Paul, had kept pet alligators in their commercial greenhouses.
The New York passenger Lists, 1820-1957, includes varied entries for individualisms and dates of birth more or less matching that of the said Jacob Herman Fiesser. A certain Jacob Fiesser, age 57, arrived in New York, N.Y., on the ship "Araguayo" from Bermuda dated April 27, 1925; That same year, Jacob Herman Fiesser, age 57, arrived in New York, N.Y., from Bremen, Germany, on the ship "Stuttgart" dated August 17, 1925; Afterward, a certain Jakob D. Fiesser, birth year about 1868, was recorded as an arrival in New York dated September 11, 1926, on the ship "Berlin" lately from Bremen, Germany; Later, dated February 21, 1927, one John H. Fiesser, birth year about 1868, arrived in New York on the ship "Colombo", which had previously departed from New York; Bearing date June 4 or June 28, 1928, Jacob H. Fiesser, birth year about 1868, was recorded as an incoming passenger from New York City on the ship "resolute" to Southampton, England, United Kingdom, and Cherbourg, Normandy, France; Jacob Fiesser, age 60, was recorded returning to New York, N.Y., from Hamburg, Germany, on the ship "New York" dated September 10, 1928; On February 7, 1929 one Herman Fiesser was recorded arriving in New York on the ship "Bermuda" from Hamilton, Bermuda; Also, Jacob H. Fiesser, birth year about 1868, was recorded arriving in New York, N.Y., on the ship "Dresden" from Cherbourg, France dated September 22, 1929; Later, Jacob Fiesser, age 62, returned to New York, N.Y., from Hamburg, Germany, on the ship "New York" dated September 20, 1930; Also, Jacob Fiesser, age 63, returned to New York, N.Y., from Hamburg, Germany, on the ship "Hamburg" dated September 4, 1931. In all the above instances he seemingly traveled alone or without anyone with the surname of Fiesser.
It appears that Jacob H. Fiesser absented himself from his household for considerable periods of time during my mother's formative years. Edward or Eddie Fiesser would managed things in his father's absence. Jacob and Anna's granddaughter through Helen Frances White (Fiesser), Sally Hoblitzell (White) of Massachusetts, told me on May 29, 2011, that Jacob and Anna were separated when she was a girl. Anna had lived in the big dwelling house with the children while Jacob stayed in an apartment next to their retail store on the same ground. She recalled that Jacob was partial to latest model cars. Robert Fiesser understands that his grandfather Jacob kept a mistress or serial mistresses.
My mother said the effects of the Great Depression slowly undid J.H. Fiesser & Son, Inc. including considerable real estate interests. On August 18, 1944 Jacob Herman Fiesser died in North Hudson Hospital from the effects of a stroke he suffered at home the day before. It was written that he had not been feeling well for around six months. My cousin, Robert Fiesser possesses two obituaries for Jacob from his late father H. Paul Fiesser (below). One of them appears to have been from the Union Dispatch while the other is presumably from The Record ("The Bergen Record"). Jacob Herman Fiesser deceased was buried in a family plot in Fairview Cemetery, Faiview, New Jersey. Jacob's widow, the said Anna or Annie, lived out her life in the big dwelling house at 1111 76th Street, North Bergen, New Jersey.
It was always my perception that my mother was ambivalent in her feelings toward her deceased father. She generally had very little whatsoever to say about him or her ancestors. It is further noted that Jacob's widow never so much as even mentioned her deceased husband in five surviving letters in my possession from Anna A. Fiesser (Baumgartner) to her daughter, Ruth Costantino (Fiesser), dated between 1954 and 1956. It is noted that in 1942 Edward G. Fiesser of North Bergen, N.J. was married to a certain Frances Palmer of Kiskatom, New York (see Catskill, N.Y., Examiner-Recorder newspaper dated January 7, 1943). It is apparent from the aforesaid letters that Eddie and Frances his wife looked after his widowed mother and took special care of her. Anna A. Fiesser died sometime in September, 1956. She was buried in the family plot in Fairview Cemetery.
As for other extended family members, Robert Fiesser indicated that there may have been a certain Eduard Fiesser, a brother, possibly. My late mother told me on more than one occasion that either Jacob's cousin or nephew was one Fritz Mellert of Germany. He was a point of pride in the Fiesser family. He had some kind of important association with the German ship "SS Europa" and worked for an important German shipping company called North German LLoyd Company (Norddeutscher Loyd). Robert Fiesser knows him as Friedrich Mellert of Bremen or Hamburg, captain of the ship "Europa". His wife was called Annelise. His brother, Guste Mellertl, lived in Mannheim. Robert remembers another story about family members in the Bremen area, probably on the Baumgartner side, at least one of whom worked on the ship "SS Bremen" as an officer, perhaps. Occasionally, when she docked in New York harbor, he would come to visit family members at the Jacob Herman Fiesser house. After World War II, some Fiesser family members would illegally ship seeds to some such relatives in Germany for sustenance. Nevertheless, such contacts vanished. At the time of her construction ending in 1929, the "Bremen", and her sister ship the "Europa" were the two most advances high speed turbine ocean liners of her day. Otherwise, Robert Fiesser indicated that there was one cousin called George J. Gabler of Mannheim-Friedrichsfeld. Also, a certain Mrs. Kothe Gund of Schwetzingen of Mannheim was Jacob's niece by his sister.
J.H. Feisser [sic] Noted Florist
Conducted Large Business in North Bergen
One of the most prominent flower growers in New Jersey and owner of probably the largest tract of heights land in North Bergen, Jacob H. Fiesser, 76, of 1111 76th st., of that township, died yesterday morning in North Hudson Hospital. Ailing 6 months although able to take care of his business, he was stricken Thursday at his home and removed to the hospital. His condition improved at night, but took a turn for the worse early yesterday. Masonic services and those of the Steuben Society will be conducted at 8 p.m. Monday at Schlemm Funeral Home, Union City. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with internment in the family plot at Fairview Cemetery. Mr. Fiesser is survived by his wife Mrs. Anna (nee Baumgartner) Fiesser, 2 sons, Edward and Pfc. H. Paul Fiesser, who is stationed at Camp Chafee, Ark., and who will stay be home for the funeral, 4 daughters, Mrs. Helen White, Mrs. Anne Speck and Misses Dorothy and Ruth Fiesser, and 2 grandchildren, Sally and Nancy White. A native of Germany, Mr. Fiesser came to the country 51 years ago, settling in the West Hoboken section of Union City. He opened a florist business, and 4 years later started growing his own flowers. In 1907 Mr. Fiesser purchased a large tract on Hamilton av., now 76th st. and 7 years later erected the home at 1111 76th st., where the family has lived since. His land fronts Hudson blvd. for a full block and extends westward on 76th st. 3 blocks. Another large plot is on the north side of 76th st. His greenhouses occupied approximately 76,000 square feet. While Mr. Fiesser devoted most of his time to growing flowers and plants for the wholesale trade, he also conducted a retail shop on the Boulevard near 75th st. He exhibited at many national and international flower shows, and had scores of prze winners. Mr. Fiesser was a past president of the New York Florist Club, a member of the Society of American Florists, the New Jersey Florists Assn., of North Hudson Kiwanas Club, Hexamer Unit, Steuben Society, of Doric Lodge, F. and A.M., of Union City, and a director of North Bergen Trust Company.
Prominent Florist (photographic portrait) Jacob H. Fiesser
Obituary on August 19, 1944 in the Hudson Dispatch, Union City, New Jersey
JACOB H. FIESSER
Widely known grower in the New York area, Jacob H. Fiesser died the morning of August 18, following a stroke. He had been transferred from his home to the local hospital after this seizure and there he recovered so surprisingly, that the evening before his death, some 24 hours after he was stricken, he was able to converse with his relatives quite rationally and it was assumed he would soon be up and around again. However, he passed away quietly the following morning.
The Late Jacob H. Fiesser as he was in 1928
Jacob H. Fiesser (illegible) was quite generally known as “John.” But when he became president of the New York Florist Club in 1928, “John” gave way to “Jake.” He was in his 77th year at the time of his death and was considered quite a character. He had his ups and downs, but he had an indomitable will that enabled him to surmount difficulties. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, he served his apprenticeships in various commercial establishments, after which, at the age of 22, he migrated to England where he spent three years with one or two of the leading Covent Garden growers. With this experience behind him, he came to the United States and secured employment at the great range of Ernest Amus, North Bergen, then recognized as one of the largest and best rose producing ranges in the United States. In 1897 he started in business on his own account, renting a small range in that neighborhood where he grew miscellaneous cut flowers for the New York market. In 1904 he began building his own range on the hillside jutting on Hamilton ave., North Bergen, and here he progressed steadily until he had a decidedly large area of glass, his major output being pot plants, although he at various times produced considerable quantities of cut flowers. He was one of the, if not the original, importers and introducers of the then new German varieties of Hydrangeas. While not gifted with a free vocabulary “Jake” would talk and he enjoyed associating with his fellows. On occasion he was ready and willing to sing “Old MacDonald,” usually at the beef steak dinners that used to wind up the pre-holiday visits of the nw defunct Pot Plant Growers Association. He became a life member of the New York Florist Club in 1908 and as stated, served as its president in 1928. He rarely missed a meeting of the club and was present at the June meeting before the Summer recess. He also was a life member of the S.A.F., joining the organization in 1908. In his hometown, he had many active interests and he was a staunch supporter of the local lodges of the Steuben Society and the Freemasons. (missing section) past president of the New York Florists Club paying their respects to their departed friend included: A.M. Dauernheim, Mel Dauernheim, L.E. Dupuy, E.J. McCarthy, F.M. Richter, Roman J. Irwin and T.A. Weston, President Wm. A. Sperling and Sec’y C. Lowther were also present as were President Fred Covey and Sec’y Otto Roller of the New Jersey Florist Association together with a goodly number of members of both organizations. Following the religious part of the services, members of the local Steuben Society and Freemason Lodge, performed their customary exercises. Upward of 50 large floral pieces were banked in front of the auditorium, a blanket of roses covering the casket. Burial in Fairview Cemetery took place the following day . The deceased is survived by his widow, two sons, Edward G. and Herman P., the later now in the army, secured special leave to attend the services; and four daughters.
Obituary, probably from The Record (“The Bergen Record”), Bergen County, New Jersey, circa August 19, 1944
Jacob Herman Fiesser's Timeline
January 20, 1867
Eppelheim, Baden-Württemberg, Deutschland
October 4, 1902
October 31, 1913
North Bergen, NJ, USA
February 20, 1919
North Bergen, Hudson County, NJ, USA
August 18, 1944
Hudson County, New Jersey, USA