Thursday, January 23, 2014

Elizabeth Nunn Siebert - Our Heroine

Elizabeth Nunn Siebert
abt 1946
One year before she died of pneumonia

It was June 1900 and the Nunn family, who lived at 2030 First Avenue, New York, was struggling. Katherine, the mother, had just given birth to her ninth child, Charles Casper, born in May. Her husband, Joseph, died in early June 1900.[1]  Katherine’s mental and physical health was frail, and thirteen-year-old Elizabeth was left to care for the family while attending to the final accounting of her father’s harness making business. It was a losing battle. On June 12, the City of New York’s Department of Public Charities arrived at 2030 First Avenue and took the children, with the exception of Elizabeth and infant Charles Casper. The children were placed with the Sisters of the 3rd Order of St. Francis St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill, New York. Elizabeth might have stayed with the Louis family who lived in the same building, and would have needed help with their large family.

And so it is Elizabeth who holds the answers to my many questions about this family. It was she who cared for her siblings when her parents no longer could; it was she who at the age of thirteen managed her father’s affairs and came out with $300 – an amount she entrusted to her neighbor, Mrs. Louis.

Elizabeth married Louis Siebert on 25 June 1905,[2] and as soon as they were married, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Nunn Siebert began the process of having her siblings released from St. Joseph’s Home and placed in her care. 

The story goes on as this feisty, devoted young woman made sure she brought her siblings safely back under her wing.  At the age of 18 she sued her neighbor, Mrs. Helene Louis for the $300 Lizzy gave to her in 1900 for safekeeping.  Of course the money was gone, probably paying for rent, food and clothes for Mrs. Louis’ eight children. Lizzy won the lawsuit, and the article made the 19 April 1905 New York Times.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever see a picture of Elizabeth Nunn Seibert. But thanks to my newfound second cousin, Jeanne, Elizabeth’s granddaughter, I now have a photo.  Thank you!!

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, New York, NY, Population Schedule, Manhattan, ED 905, P. 2B, “Joseph Nunn,” digital image, (; accessed 7 Nov. 2012. NARA 1900, T623, 1854 rolls.  In this census, Katherine states she is a widow, age 59. The family name is listed under “Joseph,” probably the census taker didn’t understand the last name of “Nunn,” and when pressed for a name, Katherine, in her health state, gave her husband’s first name.
[2] Marriage Certificate number #14058.

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