Documenting Maine Jewry : Oral Histories

History of the Louis Rich family (Bangor)

by Dr. Ruth Helen Fox, granddaughter

My grandfather, Louis Rich arrived in New York on the ship Batavia on June 8th 1903. He had been born August 15, 1871 in Kowell, Russia. He became a US citizen on September 8th 1915: naturalization number 540645. His last name was Reich which was changed to Rich probably at Ellis Island.

He had married Bella Rebecca Mesh in Russia. This was a love match since BR had no dowry. I believe they may have been married in our calendar date of January 26, 1893. This and the other dates of the children's births were translated from the Hebrew date in his bible which one of his sons had translated. I remember my grandmother telling me they were married outdoors in deep snow so this sounds right.

The first child born died. Next was my mother, Feige Leah, who became Frances Lena born on July 1 1897. Then Abraham Jacob was born August 16, 1898 (we called him Jack). Next Mortimer Joseph was born on August16; 1900. Benjamin was born April 1 1902. In reviewing the family history, Jack apparently had TB of the spine ( not recognized as such) and Benjamin had diphtheria which was treated in Warsaw which was closer to their home. They both had lasting effects from these diseases. Bella and the children came to the US in June 1910 on the ship Estonia landing at Ellis Island.

Louis (Lazer) made his way to Bangor because, as I recall, he had a cousin there. I believe it was Rabbi Kaprow. He became a peddler and worked very hard to save money, open a small clothing store near the railroad , and buy a small house near the river. He saved enough money to bring his wife and children over 7 years later. My grandmother told me that they got off the train at the stop before Bangor itself which was a commercial stop outside the city. Zayde found her and presented her with a gold necklace.

Two more children were born in Bangor: Ida Sara (called Sara)born May 10, 1911 and David (Doctor) born December 26, 1913 ( we always thought it was November 26 and celebrated that date).

Louis worked hard and was able to purchase a house in the upper city. It was a large house with 3 apartments which had been built by a general who served in the Civil War according to the story relayed to me.

The family history continues with marriages and children: Lena, my mother, married Nathan Fox:. David Hugh was born August 16 1930, I ( Helen Ruth) was born March 20 1932 in Roxbury Mass. They were divorced in 1934. She moved us all to Bangor, living in the family home.

David married Carole in Cleveland and they separated years later. He lived there dying in 1981 (I will get the actual date) and is buried in the Beth Shalom cemetery in Pittsburgh. There were no children.

I married Marvin Krause from Pittsburgh and New York on August 26,1956 in Bangor at the Lucerne Country Club. I was in medical school in Boston and he eventually went to dental school in Pittsburgh. We were divorced in June 1994. Children: Merrick Eli (Col. USAF) born November 26, 1962. He married Shari - children Jacqueline and Jared: Beth Riva born October 21,1964 married Patrick Harper -children Merrick, Alexandra and Ashley (triplets) and Bailey; and Kim Debra born May 5, 1968 married Henry Codd -children are Zoe, Naomi and Shayna..

Jack moved to Detroit and became a pharmacist. He married Rose and they had one daughter, Gloria. She died very young of glomerulonephritis. They later adopted another girl .

Mort also became a pharmacist and moved to Detroit. He married Sadie and had 3 children: Diane Living in California, Steve living in California, and Larry Living in Detroit.

Benjamin stayed in Bangor and opened a restaurant next to his father's store across from the railroad station. It was called Oscars and was well known because it was open 24 hours and specialized in seafood. Dorothy Kilgollan (? Spelling) wrote a glowing review about the restaurant for the Good Housekeeping magazine. He married Estelle Glazier. No Children. Ben is buried in Bangor

Sarah married Lawrence Lait from Old Town, Maine and had one child Rachel (now Rachel Rivlin) living in Osprey, Fl. Sara is buried in Bangor

David became a physician and married Lucille Epstein from Bangor. She was one of 3 sisters all married doctors from Bangor. The other two married brothers by the name of Cutler. Kay and Lawrence stayed in Bangor. Their children are Barbara married to Craig Collier living in Bath, Maine, Danny and Robert living in Wilmington, Delaware. David and Lucille are living in assisted living facilities in Wilmington.

Jack and Mort both died in Detroit. Lena moved from Bangor to be near me and died here in Pittsburgh at age 94.

I remember many stories about Bangor and my family. Some of them were related to me by the many lumberjacks my grandfather helped and others from my grandparents themselves. Most vividly I remember Passover when my uncles all came to Bangor. The Seders were held around the big oak table in the dining room at 165 Essex Street.

Last Updated : April 12, 2008