Eli Nachamson

Name: Eli Nachamson 8/20/1881-12/20/1933

Family: Wife, Jennie, eight daughters and a son.

After several false starts as a tailor, Eli made and sold cigars on the street in Baltimore. He was very shy when he met Jennie, his future wife, and according to Jennie's memoirs, he had little to say. Jennie invited him back and they announced their engagement on their third date. They struggled in their early years in Baltimore. Eli had opened a small cigar store, but had trouble making ends meet. After three years and three children, they bought a dry goods store from Eli's brother-in-law in Dover, North Carolina. They prospered in Dover, a lumber mill town of fewer than a thousand people. Among several innovations, he and Jennie allowed blacks to try on clothes before buying them. Eli opened up a "moving picture parlor" which drew crowds even though the films kept breaking down.

Summarizing Jennie's memoirs, Eli Evans described how many of the local farmers begged Eli to speak Yiddish just so they could hear the sounds. The local folks were very conscious of Eli's special status as a Jew. They would bring their families to him for a blessing in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites. Eli sang in a tenor imitating the sound of Caruso whose records he listened to.

Eli had a talent of rolling cigars with one hand. He went over to the tobacco market where he rolled and gave out cigars while singing "Be sure to shop at Nachamson's." The family eventually moved to Durham, so their girls could meet more Jewish boys.

After eight girls, Eli was longing for a boy. Jennie went into labor with their ninth child while Eli was in Durham exploring job possibilities. When he returned to Kinston that night on the train, he saw his friends waiting for him. They carried him on their shoulders to the house where he found Jennie with their infant son. Jennie reported that Eli opened up the diaper just to make sure it was a boy.