by: Jay Sage
Phillip Sage was born in Kishinev, Russia, in the region known then as Bessarabia. The name of the city today is Chisinau, Moldova. According to his passport, he was born on July 4, 1884 (his birthday was given as July 4 and his age as 16 when he took out the passport on July 4, 1900 (see the next page). However, many later records list his birthday as July 4, 1883. Perhaps he listed his age as 16 when he applied for the passport earlier and was actually 17 when he received the passport.
Jews often did not note or observe birthdays the way we do today. One cannot help but wonder whether he specified the Fourth of July as his birth date when he took out his passport to emigrate because it is America's Independence Day.
He obtained a passport on July 4, 1900, so that he could emigrate from Kishinev to the United States. His name as listed in the French section of the passport was Pincosse Sague, and his status was "son of a bourgeois of Kishinev."
According to the stamp in his passport, he departed from Russia on July 7, 1900, three days after his passport was issued. If I understand the stamp correctly, he left through a place called Graev, which I have not been able to find.
Phillip Sage arrived in New York on August 9, 1900, on the ship Barbarossa. It sailed from Bremen. "Passenger Ships of the World" by Eugene W. Smith writes as follows about the ship: Barbarossa (1896) North German Lloyd. Built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany. Tonnage: 10, 984. Dimensions: 526' x 60'. Twin-screw, 15.5 knots. Quadruple expansion engines. Two masts and two funnels. Passengers: 226 first, 255 second, 1,600 third. Renamed: Mercury (1917). Served as an American troop-ship in World War I. Scrapped in 1924.
I am quite sure that this is his entry in the ship manifest. The name seems to be written as something like Pincosse Sack. The age is right, and, most importantly, the destination is Minneapolis (which is unusual). Interestingly, he is traveling with another family (whose surname I cannot make out). The parents—Abraham and Sarah (Sore)—were traveling with their three children—Fayge (Feige), Moishe (Moische), and Friede—to Sarah's father in Minneapolis, who paid for the ticket. Their destination is noted as "140 E 6th St", a street that does not seem to exist. (The streets with "East" in the name go only as low as 14th. There are streets with the number 6 that end in "South" or "Southeast".)
According to the 1903 Minneapolis city directory, Phillip worked as a clerk for David Rosenstein's furniture business (see the next two pages) and boarded at 803 South 5th Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I can't help wondering if David was the "father-in-law" whom the family listed with Phillip in the ship manifest was traveling to (and who paid for the ticket). Phillip worked for David for many years at the beginning and the end of his time in Minneapolis.
In the1905 Minneapolis city directory Phillip was again listed as a clerk for David Rosenstein and was boarding at the same address as in 1903.
As we will see on the next page, the address is that of David Rosenstein. David and his wife are listed in the Minnesota 1905 census, but Phillip is not listed with them.
Here is David Rosenstein's entry in the 1905 Minneapolis city directory. The address of the business is 417 Washington Ave South. More interesting is that David's residence is listed as 803 South 5th -- where Phillip was boarding. So he was not only working for David but also living with his family.
The 1906 city directory entry lists Phillip as bookkeeper for David Rosenstein. He is living in rented rooms at 1716 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.
Phillip filed his intention to become a citizen of the United States on November 20, 1906. He declared that he had arrived on the ship "Barbarosa" on about August 12, 1900. He gave his residence as 1716 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, and his occupation as salesman. His height was 5' 4" and his weight 110 lbs.
The 1907 city directory still has him listed as David Rosenstein's bookkeeper. He now boards at Flat 8, 315 East 14th Street. The 1908 directory has the same information.
We learn from the 1909 city directory that Phillip has left David Rosenstein and has gone into business for himself. The next page has the details. Phillip is now rooming in Flat H at 10 East 14th Street. The 1910 and 1911 directories have the same information about the business.
The 1909 city directory entry for Harry Rosenfield has the information about their (apparently new) business. It is called Rosenfield & Sage in some places and National Furniture & Carpet Co. in others. It was located at 247 2nd Avenue South. The business was listed there through 1915. In the 1916 directory, Phillip is no longer listed as a partner.
Phillip married Bertha Geldman on January 11, 1914, in Minneapolis. The image here shows a part of their Jewish marriage document (ketubah). Oddly, the Minnesota index of marriages lists their marriage date as May 26, 1914. I have no explanation for this discrepancy.
I don't have a specific date for this photo, but my guess is that it is from around the time of their wedding.
Charles Geldman Sage, their only child, was born in Minneapolis on 25 November 1914.
Starting in 1916, Phillip was no longer a partner with Harry Rosenfield. He now was working as a salesman, presumably in some other furniture store. We cannot tell from this city directory entry. We do see that he has moved again and is now renting at 815 14th Avenue South.
In 1917 the family is at another new address: 1501 10th Avenue South. This possibly should have been 1503, which was the house number listed later in the year (see the next page) and until 1925.
His occupation is still listed as salesman.
Phillip Sage was naturalized in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States on 20 September 1917. This was 11 years after he submitted his Declaration of Intention. Perhaps it was being married and having a child that led him to complete the citizenship process.
In 1918, Phillip returned to David Rosenstein, where he served as a bookkeeper. As indicated on the next page, David's furniture store now seems to be called the Town Market Furniture Company, and Phillip is serving as a manager.
Note that Phillip's residence is now listed as 1503 (rather than 1501) 10th Avenue South. Perhaps the earlier entry was an error.
Phillip Sage registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918. He indicated that he was employed as a manager at the Town Market Furniture Company, which must have been the name of David Rosenstein's company at that time. Phillip listed the address as 118 Washington Street South in Minneapolis, which was the address of Rosenstein's store in earlier listings. The 1918 directory does not list Rosenstein's store under any name.
In the 1919 city directory, we see Phillip listed as a manager for David Rosenstein.
Phillip was initiated into Minneapolis Lodge No. 19 of the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons on 22 January 1919, passed on 14 February 1919, and raised on 5 March 1919. This information comes from Phillip's apron, which is in the possession of Jay Sage.
The family is listed in the 1920 U.S. census. They were living in the home of Jacob and Frima Geldman, along with Bertha's younger brother David.
The 1920 city directory indicates that Phillip changed jobs. He is now associated with the Flour City Furniture & Fixture Exchange. He is listed there again in 1921. The next page shows the 1921 entry for the business.
This is the city directory entry for the Flour City Furniture & Fixture Exchange, located at 116 South 6th Street.
In 1922, Phillip started another new job. He is now working as a salesman in the furniture store of M. L. Sprung.
There are two very interesting connections here. First, Moses Leiser Sprung was the father of Matyl Sprung, who married Leo Rigler in 1920. This is a connection between the Sage and Rigler families later extended when Phillip's son Charles married Leo's cousin Shirley Rigler.
Second, in 1912 Sprung co-owned a furniture store in Devils Lake, North Dakota, at which Phillip later worked in the 1930s, as documented in later pages.
This is the entry in the 1922 city directory for the Sprung furniture store. There is no recognizable entry in the 1921 directory, so the business may have been new.
In 1923, Phillip was still working for M. L. Sprung, who now had two stores. In 1924 he is listed as a salesman without specifying where.
In 1925, Phillip opened a grocery store, Sage and Latinsky, with Alex Latinsky.
I have not been able to find much information about Alex. He seems to have been born in 1903 in Minneapolis, so he was considerably younger. He is listed in various censuses through the 1920 U.S. census, but after that he is lost.
This is the 1925 listing for the business under "Grocers Retail". The business was located at 2226 Plymouth Avenue. But see the strange and surprising information on the next page.
This is the entry in the business listings section in the 1926 directory.
The 1926 city directory shows Alex's father Jacob as the owner of the grocery at 2226 Plymouth Avenue and Alex as a clerk there. Phillip (see the next page) seems to have a new job in a confectionery shop. Does this mean that he and Alex failed at running the business and that Alex's father took it over, keeping only his son?
In 1926, Phillip appears to be working at a confectionery establishment at 102 Washington Avenue South. His residence (he is designated a "householder") is 611 East 16th Street. He was there until at least 1934, and a later directories includes the information that it was apartment 4.
According to the 1927 St. Paul city directory, he was working as a salesman at R N Cardozo and Bro, while residing in Minneapolis. His residential listings in the Minneapolis directories from 1927 to 1929 indicate that he was a salesman.
His 1930 listing includes the name of his wife, Bertha. He is now listed as a clerk rather than a salesman.
Unfortunately, Ancestry has only fragments of city directories for the following years in the 1930s. However, the paper copies at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul list him at the same residence through 1934. His story them picks up in Devils Lake, North Dakota.
The family was listed in the 1930 U.S. census. Phillip's father-in-law, Jacob Geldman, was living with them.
Phillip Sage moved to Devils Lake, Ramsey, North Dakota, in 1934. Shirley Mae Lane, a friend of Miriam (Mimi) Goldberg and granddaughter of Rabbi Papermaster of Grand Forks, told Jay Sage the following story.
Shirley Mae's family was in the furniture business in Grand Forks, North Dakota. In 1934, a Mr. Goldberg, whose store her father Alex Epstein operated in Grand Forks, offered Alex the chance to run and eventually own the Goldberg store in Devils Lake, since Goldberg's son there was moving to Washington state. When the Epsteins arrived, Phillip Sage was already working in the store. Shirley Mae, who graduated high school in 1943 in Devils Lake, remembered Phillip as a very small man.
This is a historical photo of the second furniture store of Jacob Goldberg in Devils Lake. Some local businesses, including a bank near the site of the original store, have historical photos on their walls.
This is a sales receipt from 1912. It shows that at one time the store was jointly owned by M. L. Sprung, father of Matyl Sprung, who married Leo Rigler. Sprung had furniture stores in Minneapolis in the 1920s, and Phillip Sage had worked there before coming to Devils Lake. It seems likely that Mr. Sprung arranged for Phillip to get the job in North Dakota.
The store was still in operation when Jay Sage visited Devils Lake in 2015. Here is what it looks like on the outside. The new owners have tried to restore the original interior architecture.
We know that Phillip and Bertha Sage resided in Devils Lake in January 1938 because of the following report that appeared in the Minneapolis Jewish newspaper, the American Jewish World, on 11 February 1938:
Mr. and Mrs. B. M. Rigler, 4540 Garfield Avenue South, announce the marriage January 30 of their daughter, Shirley Sandra, to Mr. Charles G. Sage, son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Sage of Devils Lake, N. D.
According to the 1940 U.S. census, Phillip Sage resided at 1622 Clinton Avenue South in Minneapolis. It confirms that in 1935 he lived in Ramsey County, North Dakota.
In the occupation columns of the 1940 census, he is listed as "Owner" since 1/1/40 of a "Retail Furn" store. I have not found any other information about this. By 1941 he was back to being a salesman.
According to the 1941 Minneapolis city directory, Phillip was now a salesman at the Loop Furniture Company and was residing at 1624 Clinton Avenue, Apt. 203.
Note that Charles and Shirley Sage are also listed, Charles as a chemist and Shirley as a typist for the Title Insurance Company, both residing with Shirley's parents.
Charles Sage and his family moved to Bergenfield, New Jersey, in March of 1947. At some point, Phillip and Bertha Sage moved from Minneapolis to New Milford, a town next to Bergenfield. I have not found any information about them from 1941 until they moved to New Jersey. Phillip must have retired, after which he would no longer be listed in city directories.
I remember as a child visiting Phillip and Bertha in their apartment, but I have not been able to identify the building. Either I don't remember it correctly or it has been changed significantly or demolished.
Phillip Sage died in Hackensack (Bergen County), New Jersey, on April 11, 1956, the first day of Rosh Hodesh Iyar. He and Bertha had just moved from New Milford to Fair Lawn (in order to be closer to their son Charles's family, who were soon to move to Ridgewood) when he felt ill and was taken to the hospital. It turned out that he had an aortic aneurysm that burst.
He was buried in the Cedar Park Cemetery in Westwood, Bergen County, New Jersey, on April 12, 1956. Although a twin plot had been purchased, his wife Bertha was never buried in her plot. Their son had her cremated and gave her remains to me.
His son Charles said that he had been a not-very-successful furniture salesman, and the frequent job changes and short-lived business enterprises support that assessment.
Phillip and Bertha never had much money, and Charles and Shirley had to support them in their old age, something Shirley resented.
According to Charles, his father suffered from depression, for which there were probably no adequate treatments in those days. My recollection of visits to the apartment in New Milford is that Phillip would just sit quietly in a rocking chair and not interact much with us grandchildren.