Women's Activism NYC

Elizabeth Nunn

1886 - 1947

By: Mary Nunn Maki | Date Added:

Elizabeth (Nunn) Siebert 1886 - 1947 Elizabeth (Lizzie) Nunn is the heroine of our family. It was Lizzie who cared for her siblings when her parents no longer could; it was Lizzie who at the age of thirteen managed her late father’s affairs and came out with $300—an amount she entrusted to a neighbor. Elizabeth Nunn was born October 1886 to German immigrants Joseph and Catherine (Kurtz) Nunn. Her father was a saddler; her mother bore eleven children. Not all lived. In June of 1900 the family lived at 2030 First Avenue, Manhattan, New York. In May 1900 Catherine gave birth to her eleventh child, Charles Casper. Joseph had died that spring. Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth assisted her mother with the children and settled her father’s finances. Early in June, Catherine was admitted to the Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital; Charles Casper sent to Children’s Hospital on Randall’s Island. Charles Casper died 8 September 1900, age four months. Elizabeth was left at the apartment to raise her siblings—Emma, age 6; Emilie, age 8; Joseph, age 9; Harry, age 10; Katie, age 12; George, age 13. This parentless family was reported to the authorities. The Department of Charities, Out-Door Poor arrived and took Elizabeth’s siblings to St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York. Because of her age, Elizabeth was not taken, and instead, I suspect, was housed with a neighbor, the Louis family. Elizabeth did not abandon her siblings—when she married Louis Siebert in June 1905 she had one thing on her mind—bring her siblings out of St. Joseph’s Home and get them back under her roof. To do this she needed to retrieve the $300 she gave her neighbor Mrs. Louis in June of 1900 for safekeeping. And therein lies the problem. Mrs. Louis no longer had the money, which left Lizzie only one course of action. An article in the New York Times provided the information on the silent heroism that Elizabeth (Nunn) Siebert displayed. Saving her family was the most important thing in her life. Jury May Aid Prisoner Commiserate Woman convicted of stealing from poor family “The rare spectacle of a jury raising $300 to obtain a suspension of sentence for an old woman, the mother of eight children, whom they had just found guilty of stealing that amount from one as poor and as burdened with responsibility as herself may soon be witnessed. If it can be done, it will be, and Mrs. Helene Louis of 343 East 100th and Fifth Street tried and convicted before Justice McMahon, yesterday, will not have to go to jail. "She is fifty-five years old, the wife of a paralytic and mother of eight children. About five years ago she and her family lived at 2030 First Avenue where there lived also a small dealer in harness Joseph Nunn and his seven motherless children, the eldest of whom was the then 13-year old Lizzie. Nunn died leaving behind but badly tangled affairs. Lizzie took charge of those as well as her six younger sisters and brothers and so well did she manage that when the business was cleared up, she had $300 left. Mrs. Louis took charge of the money, according to Miss Nunn, who testified that she had not seen it since. "Mrs. Louis denied the charge, but the jury did not believe her. When the verdict of guilty was read she fainted and was carried out of the court. Three of her children were there. Their grief did more than anything else to touch the hearts of the court and jury. Some of the jurymen talked with Miss Nunn and so did Justice McMahon. She replied that she did not see how she could do anything in the matter. Jurymen will try to see that restitution is made. Mrs. Louis was remanded until Monday for sentence.” Lizzie married Louis Siebert on 25 June 1905. Louis was born about 1881 to John and Barbara Seiberbental, both of Germany. Louis immigrated to America in 1891, and in 1910 he earned a living driving an ice wagon, Lizzy worked as a janitoress. The couple lived at 522 152nd Street in New York. Descendants of Louis and Elizabeth (Nunn) Siebert Regina b: 16 Dec 1909 m: Nicholas Eberhard 1929 Evangelia (Eva) b: 1908 m: William Halliday A cute story about Louis and Elizabeth related to me by Elizabeth’s granddaughter: Louis tended to be, at least on occasion, quite demanding. And we know Elizabeth was strong willed. During one of Louis’s more demanding moments, Elizabeth took a bowl of macaroni and tipped it over Louis’s head. If only we had a picture of that! Daughters Regina and Evangelina were educated in parochial schools, as stated on the 1915 New York State Census. Their world changed drastically on 22 April 1916 when their father suffered a spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage and died at the age of 34. Elizabeth was left with two daughters and little income. Fortunately, her siblings, George, Kate, and Emma Nunn lived with her and could help pay the bills and care for the girls. In 1920 the family lived at East 163rd Street in the Bronx where Elizabeth worked as a packer for A&P. George. By 1930, Regina had married. George, Kate and Emma were on their own. Elizabeth and Eva lived on Washington Street in the Bronx. By 1935 Elizabeth lived with her daughter Regina and son-in-law Nicholas Eberhard and their three children. Elizabeth was not working out, but assisted in the home. At the end of December 1946, Elizabeth went into the hospital for a gall bladder operation where she contracted pneumonia and died on 2 January 1947. Elizabeth, I wish I’d known you.

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