Origin of the surname Greenberg
Source: Greenberg Mailing List - by poster Terry Greene

The family name GREENBERG is a partly translation of the original German form GRUNBERG, meaning 'green mountain'. This means that the first bearer of the surname GRUNBERG must have come from the locality called also GRUNBERG. When the bearer of the surname GRUNBERG moved to the Polish territory his surname could have changed a little, namely to that of GRUNBERG, as in Polish there is no such a phone and letter as German u. There is a town of Greenberg in Hesse, Germany, and a Greenberg in Silesia. This latter town was formerly an important center of wool weaving. Polish and Russian wool would be imported and material known as "grunberg" cloth would be exported. Many Jews were in this business and were known as " grunberg merchants", When they had to take permanent family names, many of these businessmen called themselves GREENBERG. An anglicized form of GRUENBERG ( also spelled GRU'NBERG with the u-umlant), literally "green mountain". The fact that it's German doesn't contradict Polish origin, however, much of what is now western Poland was ruled by Germans for many years, and a great many ethnic Germans lived there. Also interesting is that GRUENBERG was the German for the city of ZIELONA GORA ( which means "green mountain" in Polish) a provincial capital in western Poland.


My Greenberg ancestors

Jacob Grunberg was born in Austria in March, 1850 according to the 1900 census.  He married Rosa Wadler around 1864. She was born in March, 1847.  They immigrated to America in 1892.  The 1900 census image below from Manhattan, NY shows their household. Jacob's grandson Herbert Greenberg confirmed that Philip, Max and Harry were brothers.  In this census son Harry would have moved out of the household by that time. Son Max (abt. 1887-) later married Gussie Schnall, sister of Dora Schnall.  It is unknown when Jacob or Rosa died.

Image from 1900 census:

Jacob and Rosa had the following children :

      1.  Louis Greenberg - born abt. 1874 in Austria. 
      2.  Annie Greenberg - born abt. 1877 in Austria.
      3.  Harry Greenberg - born abt. 1877 in Austria. 
                (see generation 2 below)
      3.  Harvey Greenberg - born abt. 1879 in Austria.
      4.  Benjamin Greenberg - born abt. 1881 in Austria.
      5.  Sarah (Sadie) Greenberg - born in October, 1882 in Austria. 
           She married Haris Lafran on August 22, 1903 in Manhattan.

                  1. Bertha Safran - born abt. 1905 in NY
                  2. Celia Safran - born on December 7 1905 in NY
                  3. David Safran - born on October 22, 1907 in NY;
                      Died in January, 1985 in Nassau, NY
                  4. Jacob (Jack) Safran - born abt. 1920 in NY

      6.  Philip Greenberg - born abt. 1882 in Austria. 
           He married Anna Roth on April 16, 1904. 
           Anna was born abt. 1888. 
           Philip died on October 24, 1959 in NY of lung/throat cancer.

                  1. Samuel (Sidney) Greenberg - born on February 7, 1905;
                      died on March 18, 1989 at age 84 of
                      Congestive Heart Failure.
                      He married Pearl Cora Jankowitz
                      She was born on Apr 9, 1908 and died on Oct 31, 1981. 
                      No children listed on 1940 census.

                  2. Max Greenberg - born on July 8, 1909;
                      died on September 27, 1992 in Sherman Oaks, CA
                      of Lung Cancer.
                      He married Sylvia Kagle abt. 1916.  She was born on
                      September 13, 1913 in NY and died on November 29, 1978
                      in Sherman Oaks, CA.

                  3. Herbert Greenberg - born in June, 1916 in NY.

      7.  Max Greenberg - born in January 1887 in Austria.
           Married Gussie Schnall, sister of Dora Schnall. 
           Gussie was born abt. 1893 in Austria.

                  1. Betty Greenberg - born abt. 1913 in IL
                  2. Miriam Beatrice Greenberg - born on Jan 25, 1915
                      in Chicago, IL.
                  3. Yetta Greenberg - born abt. 1919 in IL


Harry Greenberg, son of Jacob and Rosa was born in Austria or Hungary in abt. 1877.  He married Dora Schnall around 1899/1900 - there are conflicting sources of their exact marriage date.  Harry would have come to America with his parents in 1892.  He was a saloon keeper and spoke 5 languages fluently according to family tradition. 

In 1920, the census image below shows the following in his household:

The 1930 census in Brooklyn found by Rebecca Gorlin provides some additional interesting information on his family.  In that year it shows both Harry and Dora as being 50 years old and age 20 when they were married.  Harry was listed as being a proprietor of a restaurant; Max was 20 and a helper in the restaurant; Beatrice was 18 and worked in a millinery, ladies' hats; and Herbert was 13 and in school.   Harry and Dora could read and write, and speak English, and were listed as naturalized. It also shows Dora's immigration year as 1892. Both came from Austria and Yiddish was their mother tongue.  Harry died on November 11, 1939 in Brooklyn .  Dora died on April 30, 1950 in Brooklyn. Both are buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery along with daughters Henrietta and Mildred.

Harry and Dora had the following children :

      1.  Abrahm Lewis (Al) Greenberg - born on February 16, 1901. 
           He managed movie theaters and died in 1993. 
           He married Isabelle and they had a son,
           Jerold who died young at age 12 or 16.

      2.  Joe Pincas Greenberg - born April 21, 1903 in Manhattan;
           Died September 10, 1903.

      3.  Mildred Greenberg - born September 8, 1904 in Manhattan;
           Died July 19, 1999 in Queens, NY. 
           She married Herman Kaufer.  They had 2 boys, George and Jerry. 
           Herman died on September 9, 1968.

      4.  Emanuel Greenberg - born March 8, 1907 in Manhattan;
           Married Billie and had a daughter Beverly.

      5.  Henrietta Greenberg (see next generation)
      6.  Max Greenberg - died at age 70.  He married at 50.

      7.  Beatrice Pearl Greenberg - Born June 6, 1916;
           Died in 1953 in a car accident. 
           Married Harry Jaker and had 2 children.

      8.  Herbert Greenberg - born April 15, 1917 in New York;
           Died April 21, 2010 in Wood Ridge, New Jersey.   


Henrietta Greenberg, daughter of Harry and Dora was born in 1910.  She married Bertram Fishman around 1928.  Henrietta died in 1939 in Miami, Florida.


Surnames that married into my Greenberg family



This page was last updated on 12/21/2017

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