Moses Gladstein

Name: Moses Gladstein, d. 6/10/1933

Family: Wife, Sephrah Bassie, nicknamed Bessie, three sons.

Every Jewish community has a Moses, and for Durham it was Moses Gladstein. A native of Kiev, he learned to roll tobacco from Russian nobility. When he arrived in New York, he quickly found a job at Goodwin Tobacco Company. But he lost it just as quickly after leading a strike.

It was in New York, around 1884, that Gladstein met Buchanan (Buck) Duke. Duke was looking for cheap laborers and he hired Gladstein and other strikers to work in his tobacco factory in Durham. He even paid them the train fare. Although Gladstein was not the first Jew to come to Durham he represented the Eastern European character of hundreds who followed.

When machines replaced human cigarette rollers, the Dukes offered Gladstein a share in the business. He refused and Duke bought him out with $1,000, which Gladstein used to open a dry goods store. In doing so, he joined dozens of other Jewish shopkeepers in Durham.

In 1902, Gladstein was a charter member of Durham's newly-formed Chamber of Commerce. But he was a leader in whatever he did. In 1904, he led a petition drive among other merchants in support of reduced hours for clerks, thus averting a strike of the clerk's union.

A religiously learned Jew, Gladstein was observant all his life, as were his two brothers, Louis and Sam.

He also saw his role as a protector of the Jewish community's honor. According to Jewish Historian Leonard Rogoff, when Fannie Goldstein was unable to pay a bond of $9.20, Moses bailed her out. "As long as I'm in Durham," he said, "no woman will go to the workhouse."

In the 1920s, Gladstein and his family moved to Baltimore.