The Gross Family Tree

Raphael Gross - Obituaries

Worcester Daily Telegram, 22 March 1898, announcing the death of Raphael Gross


One of the two oldest Dry Goods Men in City of Worcester


His Industry and Enterprise Yield a Fortune

Raphael Gross, one of the two oldest dry goods merchants engaged in active business in Worcester, died at 6:15 o’clock last evening at his residence, 806 Main Street.

Mr. Gross was ill less than a week, and death was caused by complications which follow an attack of erysipelas.

A week ago today, Mr. Gross, who was apparently in his usual good health, went, as was his custom to his store, but after a short time was taken with a chill and had to return to his home.  Dr. H. J. Kenyon, his regular physician, was called in and diagnosed the case within a day as an attack of erysipelas.  Mr. Gross did not respond to the remedies usually employed in such cases, and Saturday his condition was much worse.  Sunday his physician saw that blood poisoning and heart failure were setting in and Dr. Homer Gage and Dr. Samuel B. Woodward were called in consultation with Dr. Kenyon.  There were two consultations Sunday and another yesterday, and after the latter, hope was given up entirely.

After the Sunday Consultations word of Mr. Gross’ condition was telegraphed to members of the family, who are away from home, and they all got to Worcester yesterday.

Yesterday, Mr. Gross failed rapidly, and although everything which the love of his family and the skill of the trained nurses who had been called in, was done to relieve him, he gradually sank until he ceased breathing, peacefully and without a struggle at 6:15 o’clock last evening.  The funeral will be at the residence, 806 Main Street, at 9:30 o’clock Thursday morning, and the services will be conducted by Dr. Charles Fleischer of Boston.  The remains will be taken to Wakefield for burial in the Gross family plot.

Mr. Gross was in his 62nd. Year.  He was born in Königheim, Baden Germany, Dec. 21 1836, and his youth was passed in study.  He left school in 1856 when he was 20 years of age, and in the same year, in company with Leopold Strauss, a fellow townsman of about his own age, emigrated to America.  The young men landed in New York and came at once to Worcester, where their brothers Isaac Gross and Philip Strauss, were engaged in the fancy goods and dry goods business under the firm name of Gross & Strauss.  Their store was then located on the site of the present Nichols block on Main Street, near Central.

The young men continued in the employ of their brothers for five years, or until 1861, when the original Gross & Strauss moved to Boston and established the present house of Gross & Strauss on Winter Street near Tremont. 

The young men who had come from Germany five years before had been attentive to their business and had saved their money so that they were able to buy out the interests of their elder brothers, who, to gain an identity which would not be confused with the old firm went into business under the firm name of Gross, Strauss & Co.  This partnership existed uninterruptedly and with profit to its members for thirty years or until 1891 when it was dissolved.

During their partnership, they moved three times, the first time to the store which was located where the Day building now stands; the second time to the store at 383 Main Street, which is now occupied by Arthur Stone’s show store, and after that into the stores in the Burnside Building at 333 and 337 Main Street.

In 1891, Raphael Gross disposed of his interest in the firm to his partner and established himself in an individual business by purchasing the stock of C. Ellsworth and started the firm of R. Gross & Co., which began business and still carries it on at 349 and 351 Main Street.  In 1897, Mr. Gross incorporated the business with the corporate name of R. Gross Co., of which Raphael was elected president and treasurer and his son Henry J. Gross, vice-president.  In 1872 while still a partner of Leopold Strauss, Mr. Gross and he built the fine business block on Main Street occupied by the John C. MacInnes Co., and still own the property.

Raphael Gross was married in June, 1865 in Boston, to Miss Hannah Strauss, a sister of Leopold, who was then his business partner.  Six children were born of the union and of them five survive their father.  They are Henry J., who was associated in business with his father, and who married Miss Alice Norcross, a daughter of O.W. Norcross; Moritz, a senior at the Columbia Medical College; Bessie, who lives at home; Helen, a student at Vassar College, and David Gross who is at home and is a member of the Classical High School class of 1900.

Miss Helen was summoned from Vassar by telegraph when her father’s condition became alarming, and so were other relatives of the family.  All the children were at the bedside of their father when he passed away.

Mr. Gross was independent in politics, and rarely if ever took part in political campaigns.  He was essentially a business and a home man.

He held membership in Morning Star Lodge, A.F.& A.M., was a member of Worcester Council, Royal Arcanum, and was long a prominent member of Gesang verein Frohsinn.  All the members of the latter society who were seen last evening by a Telegram reporter, expressed the deepest regret and sorrow at the death of their associate.  Mr. Gross accumulated a fortune during his life in Worcester, and was one of the best known business men in the city.

Transcribed by Philip Norcross Gross, 11 June 2002


Worcester Evening Gazette, 22 March 1898, announcing the death


Death of the Oldest Dry Goods Men in the City

The story of his long and successful business life in Worcester

Raphael Gross, the oldest and one of the best known dry goods merchants in Worcester, died at his home, 806 Main Street, at about 6 o’clock yesterday afternoon, after an illness of less than a week.  One week ago today he was at his store as usual, and while there was taken with a chill and went to his home.  He was not considered dangerously sick but there was a change on Wednesday and the dread disease erysipcias set it.  Mr. Gross had suffered from this before so his friends were not greatly alarmed.  On Sunday, however, blood poisoning set in and this, with heart failure, was the cause of death.  He was attended by Dr. H.J. Kenyon, his regular physician and on Sunday Dr. Kenyon held a consultation with Dr. Homer gage and Dr. Samuel B. Woodward.  Several consultations were held and after the one yesterday, all hope was given up.  The absent members of the family, Moritz and Miss Helen, were summoned by telegraph and arrived on the same train early yesterday morning.  Through the day Mr. Gross failed rapidly and passed peacefully away about 6 o’clock last night surrounded by his family.

Raphael Gross was born Dec. 21, 1836 in Königheim, Baden, Germany.  In 1856, at the age of 20, he came to America, and at once settled in Worcester.  With him came Leopold Strauss, a companion of his youthful school days.  The older brothers of these lads, Isaac Gross and Philip Strauss, had come to America some years before and had established the firm of Gross & Strauss on the site of the present Nichols Block.  The younger brothers, on coming to Worcester, entered the employ of this firm where they continued until 1861.  At that time the older brothers removed to Boston where they established the present firm of Gross & Strauss on Winter Street.

The younger men bought out the Worcester house and continued business there under the slightly changed name of Gross, Strauss & Co.  Under this name they continued to do business until 1891 when Raphael Gross disposed of his interest in the business and purchasing the stock of C. Ellsworth founded the present firm of R. Gross & Co., incorporated in 1897 as the R. Gross Company with Raphael Gross as president and treasurer.  The Gross & Strauss house was first located opposite the Bay State House, then it was moved to the store next to Putnam & Thurston’s, 363 Main Street, and from there to it’s present location.  With his long business career, Mr. Gross was, at the time of his death, the oldest merchant in Worcester in the dry goods line.

In June 1865, Mr. Gross married Miss Hannah Strauss a sister of his partner Leopold Strauss.  The wedding took place on Boston where Miss Strauss’ home was located.  Five of the six children born to them still survive.  They are Henry J., vice-president of the company, Moritz, a senior in the medical department of Columbia University, Miss Bessie, who resides at home, Miss Helen, a student at Vassar, and David who is a member of the class of 1900 in the Classical High School.  Mr. Gross was a man who took unusual delight in his family, and all the time that could be spared from the business was devoted to his wife and children.  For this reason, more than any other, he never entered politics for which he had no liking, preferring the quiet pleasures of his home to any public honours.

Mr. Gross was a member of the Morning Star Lodge of Free Masons of the Gesang Verein Frohsinn and of Worcester Council No. 12, Royal Arcanum.

The funeral will be held Thursday at 9:00 o’clock when there will be services at the home 806 Main Street.  The body will be taken to Wakefield for burial in the family lot where there will be private services.  The services will be conducted by Dr. Charles Fleischer of Boston.

Transcription by Philip Norcross Gross, 27 May 2002.


Worcester Daily Telegram, 24 March 1898, following the Funeral

Raphael Gross’ Funeral

Principal Dry Goods Stores Close One Hour This Forenoon.

At 9:30 o’clock this morning the funeral of Raphael Gross will be held at his residence 806 Main Street, Dr. Charles Fleischer of Boston officiating.  After services the body will be taken to Wakefield for burial in the Gross family plot.  The store of the R. Gross Co. will be closed all day out of respect to the memory of the president of the corporation, and the principal dry goods stores will be closed from 10 to 11 o’clock this forenoon.

Delegations will attend the funeral from Worcester council, Royal Arcanum; Morning Start Lodge, A.F. & A.M. and from Gesang verein Frohsinn in all of which organization Mr. Gross was a member.  All these organizations have ordered floral offerings.  Morning Star Lodge has made a large floral square and compass and the Frohsinns ordered a handsome wreath.  The employees of the R. Gross Co. have ordered a mound of Easter Lilies, white roses and violets, and there have also been ordered a large number of individual pieces.

The bearers will be Otis F. Putnam, John C. MacInnes, Charles H. Carpenter, R. John McKay, Julius C. Zaeder, W. G. Lichtenfels II, H. Flint, and L.T. Converse.  The first four will represent the dry goods business of Worcester.  Mr. Zaeder and Mr. Lichtenfels the Frohsinns, Mr. Flint Morning Star Lodge, A.F. & A.M. and Mr. Converse Worcester council, Royal Arcanum.

Transcribed by Philip Norcross Gross, 10 June 2002     


 Worcester Evening Gazette, 24 March 1898, following the Funeral


A Large Number of Businessmen Attend

The Eulogy by Dr. Fleischer

The House was Full of Beautiful Flowers

The funeral of Raphael Gross took place this morning from his home at 806 Main Street, at 9:30 o’clock.  The house was filled with relatives and friends, among them being New York and Boston people, and the employees of R. Gross & Co., and many Worcester business men.

Dr. Charles Fleischer of Boston conducted the services and read the rites according to the Jewish religion.  After performing the ritual, which was done in both Hebrew and English, Dr. Fleischer pronounced a touching eulogy on Mr. Gross.  He said in part "Although it was not my privilege to have known the departed one, still from hearsay I have heard nothing but good of him.  Although I have never been in this house before, from the few minutes I have spent here this morning I can understand the love there must have been in this little world which revolved around Raphael Gross as a father.  And this makes it all the harder to bear for the children as he passes away, not to his death but to his everlasting life.

There is another phase I should like to mention briefly.  Mr. Gross was a Jew.  He lived in a community where Jews are unknown and misunderstood.  He laboured under a disadvantage.  But he came to this city years ago when the prejudice was stronger than now and he had to exceed far beyond the average in order to be recognized as good as the average. And by that fact he raised the Jewish name and brought everlasting honour down upon it.

Dr. Fleischer closed by saying in Hebrew: “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away.  Glory be to the name of the Lord.”

After the services the casket was opened for those present to obtain a last look at their departed friend.

The flowers were in profusion, the room in which the casket lay was a mass of beautiful blossoms and the casket was hidden from view, flowers being placed along the top and on the floor around it.  At the head of the casket was a beautiful pillow from Mrs. Gross and a handsome wreath of roses from the family, a wreath from the Gesang Verein Frohsinn, a floral square and compass from Morning Star Lodge of Masons and  mound of Easter Lilies from employees of R. Gross & Co.  There were numerous individual pieces from friends and relatives, some from Boston and New York, and from business firms in the city.  Among them were baskets, wreaths and bouquets of lilies, pansies, roses, violets, hyacinth and lilies of the valley.  There were also handsome designs from the John C. MacInnes company and from the Denholm & McKay company.

The bearers were: Otis F. Putnam, John C. MacInnes, Charles H. Carpenter and R. John McKay to represent the dry goods firms of Worcester; Julius C. Zaeder and W.G. Lichtenfels to represent the Frohsinn; H.H. Flint for Morning Star lodge and L. T. Converse, Worcester Council, Royal Arcanum.  The funeral procession left the house shortly after 10 o'clock for the Union station, where a special car was reserved for them through to Wakefield on the 10:57 a.m. train.  During this time, between 10 and 11 o'clock, the principal dry goods stores in the city closed, out of respect for the memory of Mr. Gross.  The burial was in the cemetery at Wakefield in the Gross Family lot.

Transcription by Philip Norcross Gross, 27 May 2002.       

Copyright 2004, Philip Norcross Gross

For more information please contact me at  All this information is based on family stories, or documents listed in the References.  Official documentation is not common except for recent generations (1850 or later) and may not necessarily be referenced herein.