An American Family History

Dora Swentoslawski Morrison Zagel

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first U.S. railroad opened in the 1830s. In 1869 the first transcontinental railway was completed.

Dora Swentoslawski Morrison Zagel was born on December 15, 1876 in Klodawa, Poland. She was the daughter of Moishe Swentoslawski and Pearl Kolsky.

According to her nephew, Ray Morrison, Theodore was Dora’s favorite brother. Isidore was next. She did not much care for Simon. Simon’s position on this was, “Dora was born to lead. I was born not to be led."

She married Jacob Zagel (Jake) in Poland about 1904. He was born on November 10, 1879 in Warsaw, Poland.

Dora and Jacob's children were born in Poland:
Goldie (Golica, Gail) Zagel Himmel Wolfson,
Samuel (Shmul) S. Zagel (1904, married Ethel Samuels),
Joseph K. Zagel (Vuba) (1907), and
Pauline J. (Paula) Zagel Feurstein (1911, married Morris M. Feustein).

The entire family came to America together. Their residence before they emigrated was listed as Gustschow, Russia on the ship manifest (page 2 of manifest). They immigrated to the United States in 1915 on the ship Noordam. The ship departed from Rotterdam and arrived at Ellis Island on July 29, 1915.

In 1919 Jacob patented (page 2 patent) an improved bow tie fastener. (The ship's manifest and patent information courtesy of Bob Roudman.)

At the time of the 1920 census, they were living in Chicago. The household consisted of Jacob age 40 who manufactured neckware, Dora age 39, Goldie age 15, Sam age 14, Joseph age 13, and Pauline age 8.

Ray Morrison wrote

When I was about 15, I spent part of one summer with Aunt Dora and the family. I came into Chicago by train from Tucson, Arizona, where I was going to boarding school.  I didn’t know who would pick me up.  As I walked up the station platform, Sam passed me. I had never seen him before and he had never seen me. We looked at each other briefly in passing. He looked imposing. He had an important way of walking. I think I was wearing a cowboy hat;  fifteen-year-old Jewish boy in a cowboy hat. Sam did not consider me likely to be the person he was looking for, but there must have been no better candidate on the platform so he turned around, caught up with me, asked me if my name was Morrison, and then told me he was my cousin Sam.

In 1930 they were still living in Chicago. Ray Morrison said that Jake made some poor business decisions. Dora told him not to make any decisions without consulting her, but. he went to investigate a factory business and bought it. After he bought it, Dora discovered that the goods drawers were empty and that the "notes" (money due) could not be collected. She divorced him.

By 1930 the household consisted of Dorothy Zachel (sic) age 52, Samuel age 26, Joseph age 22, and Pauline age 19. Both boys were salesmen at a furniture store and Pauline was a hosiery saleslady.

Dora came to live in Los Angeles with her children after the divorce.

Dora died on December 20, 1958 in Los Angeles, California.

Children of Moishe Swietoslawska and Pearl Kolsky
  • Mandel Miriam Swientoslawski
  • Dora Swientoslawski (Dorothy Morrison) Zagel
  • Getzel Swientoslawski (Theodore S. Morrison)
  • Simon Swientoslawski (Simon Sidney Morrison)
  • Malcha Swientoslawski (Mollie Morrison) Winefield
  • Isidore Swientoslawski Morrison
  • Esther Swientoslawski Morrison Fisher
  • Jacob (Jack, Jake) Swientoslawski Morrison
  • Rose Swientoslawski Morrison Rose
  • Elias Swientoslawski Morrison
  • Klodawa is just north of Lodz in the Posnan or Posen province. Before World War I, Poland was a province of the Russian empire. 

    Chicago, Illinois saw a major expansion in industry in the 1920s and prohibition led to the Gangster Era from 1919 until 1933. It was the nation's railroad center.

    Between 1880 and World War I about 2,000,000 Yiddish-speaking, Ashkenazi Jews immigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States.




    October 08, 1986 Ethel Samuels Zagel, the mother of James B. Zagel, director of the Illinois Department of State Police and senior member of Gov. James Thompson`s cabinet, died Tuesday in Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Mrs. Zagel, a Chicago resident, had been an executive with her family enterprises, Douglas Lumber Co. and Speed-O-Print Business Machines Corp. Her late father, Israel Samuels, founded the lumber company, which was located at 2726 W. Roosevelt Rd. from 1920 to 1969. Speed-O-Print, founded in 1930s and located at 1801 W. Larchmont Ave., was sold in 1984. She was a member of Congregation B`nai Zion, Temple Sholom Sisterhood and the Standard Club. Mrs. Zagel is also survived by two sisters and a brother. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday in the chapel at 111 Skokie Blvd., Wilmette. (Chicago Tribune)

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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