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Greenebaum

GREENEBAUM

GREENEBAUM , Chicago family in second half of the 19th–20th centuries, originating in Eppelsheim, Germany; among the early Jewish settlers in Chicago. The brothers Michael and Jacob Greenebaum went to Chicago in 1846; the first of the family to arrive. Two other brothers, Elias and Henry, arrived in 1848. A few members of the family joined the California gold rush in 1849. However, the majority remained in Chicago and became involved in Jewish and civic affairs there.

Elias Greenebaum (1822–1919) worked for two years in a dry goods store after coming to Chicago and then became a clerk in the banking house of Richard K. Swift. In 1855 he and Henry founded the Greenebaum Brothers Banking House. In 1877 Elias organized the banking house under the firm name of Greenebaum Sons, which subsequently was incorporated as a state bank in 1911 under the name Greenebaum Sons Bank … Trust Company. The name was changed to Greenebaum Sons Investment Co. in 1921. Through consolidation with other companies it became successively the Bank of America, Central Trust Co. of Illinois, and Central-Republic Bank … Trust Co. Greenebaum and Associates and the Greenebaum Mortgage Co. still existed in 1970. Elias Greenebaum led the adherents of the Reform group when Chicago's only (at the time) congregation Kehilath Anshe Maarav split into Orthodox and Reform factions. He was a founder of the Juedischer Reformverein (1858), which founded Congregation Sinai, the first Reform congregation in Chicago (1861). He was director, treasurer, and vice president of this congregation at various times.

Michael Greenebaum (1824–94) became a tinner and plumber after his arrival in Chicago. Active in the Abolitionist movement, he led a crowd that freed a slave held prisoner by a U.S. marshall (1853). He founded and was the first president of the Hebrew Benevolent Society (1854), and a founder of the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Historical Society, the Astronomical Society, the 82nd Illinois Volunteer Regiment of Veterans, and the Ramah Lodge of B'nai B'rith. Later, he was the first president of the District Grand Lodge 6 of B'nai B'rith. He also founded and served as first president of the Zion Literary Society (1877).

Henry Greenebaum (1833–1914) was a hardware salesman, and then a clerk in Richard K. Swift's banking house before founding the Greenebaum Brothers Banking House with Elias. He later became president of the German Savings Bank. Henry served as secretary and honorary member of Orthodox Congregation B'nai Sholom, was a founder and first president of the United Hebrew Relief Association in 1859, a founder of Congregation Sinai, first president of Congregation Zion (Reform), and later first president of Isaiah Congregation. He was the first Jew to serve on the City Council, as alderman from the Sixth Ward (1856), was a presidential elector on the Douglas ticket (1860), represented Cook County on the first Equalization Board (1856), and was a member of the West Chicago Park Commission. He was also a patron of the arts, the first president of the Beethoven Society (1876), and the first president of the Orpheus Maennerchor.

Henry Everett Greenebaum, Elias' elder son, was born in Chicago. A partner in the family banking business, he became treasurer of the first Chicago Home for Aged Jews, in 1893. Moses Ernst Greenebaum, Elias' second son, was also a partner in the family banking business. He was chairman of the Chicago Community branch of the Jewish Welfare Board, vice president of Michael Reese Hospital, treasurer of the Jewish Historical Society of Illinois, treasurer of the Citizens Association of Chicago, and president of Sinai Congregation (1906–29). james e. greenebaum (b. 1866) was treasurer of the Chicago Home for Jewish Orphans in 1893. edgar n. greenebaum (b. 1890) served on the Chicago Board of Education.

[Morris A. Gutstein]

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