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Joe & Bertha Schwartz Denn

Herman Denn Family     Sidney Denn Family     Manuel Denn Family

Photos and articles courtesy of Meyer Denn

Joe and Bertha Schwartz Denn


Joe Denn Family
By Meyer Denn

Joe Denn was born Josef Juda Denn on May 4, 1895, in Korczyna, Galicia, a province in the AustroHungarian Empire, which is present-day Poland. His father was Chaim Denn (1848-November, 1907), son of Israel Simon Denn and Beile Neumann (1830-1899) born in Baligrod, Galicia. His mother was Zecil Kalb (1847-August 22, 1922), daughter of David Tanchen and Leah Kalb of Korczyna, Galicia, all of whom were Chassidic Jews. During World War I, Joe was a soldier in the Austrian Army and was a guard at a Prisoner of War camp at Mauthausen, Austria.

On February 26, 1918, Joe married Blima "Bertha" Schwartz, who was born on May 8, 1895, in Certizne, Czechoslovakia. Her father was Mordchai Schwindler (aka Markus Schwartz) (1839- May1942) born in Baligrod, Galicia, and her mother was Feige Perel Josefovics, daughter of Abraham Josefovics (1831-March 28, 1918) of Certizne, Slovakia, and Beile Neumann (1830-1899) of Baligrod, Galicia, all of whom were Chassidic Jews. (This Beile Neumann is the same one as Joe Dennís grandmother. She was divorced from Israel Simon Denn and then married to Abraham Josefovics. Therefore Joe and Bertha were half first cousins.)

In November of 1920, because of economic conditions and rising anti-Semitism, Joe and Bertha immigrated to New York, where one of Joe Denn's brothers, David, had settled during the first part of the century. Bertha Denn's brother, Joe Schwartz, and her sisters, Mrs. Izzie (Hannah) Kreitstein, Mrs. Julius (Esther) Goldman, and Mrs. Ben (Dora) Wadler, all of Wharton, and Mrs. Herman (Rose) Donenfeld of New York were instrumental in Joe and Bertha's immigration.

The Denns settled in Wharton in 1920 where they worked in the fruit business. They purchased the M. Kasman Grocery in Bay City in 1921--and changed its name to Joe Denn Grocery.

On June 19, 1921, the Denn's first child, Abraham Herman, was born in Wharton. Their second son, Sidney, was born on April 6, 1924, in Bay City; Manuel was born in Wharton on September 12,1926; and their daughter, Ethel Lee, was born on January 17, 1929, in Bay City. Joe Denn became a naturalized citizen in Bay City, on January 3, 1927, and his wife, Bertha, was naturalized in Houston, on November 4, 1942.

After World War II, the family received word from Europe that Joe's brother, Israel Isaac, with his wife, children, and grandchildren had been killed by the Nazis. Joe's sister, Rachel Melamed, also lost her children, with the exception of two sons who settled in Israel, and her grandchildren at the hand of the Nazis. Bertha Denn's 103-year-old father was also murdered by the Nazis. The exact dates and locations of their deaths are unknown.

The Denns were members of the Shearith Israel Congregation of Wharton, Texas, where he served in the board of directors and assisted the Rabbi in conducting services for the High Holy Days and other occasions. He was a member of Masonic Lodge #865 and the B'nai B'rith Lodge. He was also a member of the Sons of Herman. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star and Wharton Chapter of Hadassah. In 1947 the Denns were among the founders of the Beth David Center, a Jewish Community Center in Bay City used for both religious and social purposes.

Joe Denn retired in 1948, and the spent the remainder of his life helping his son's at their store,  Denn Brothers Sporting Goods. Bertha Denn died on April 11, 1954, and Joe married Rose Friedman Wald of New York, on May l0, 1955. Ethel Lee Denn Hoffman, Joe's daughter, was killed in an auto accident on May 3, 1957.

On June 29, 1976, Rose Wald Denn, died and on March 21, 1981, Joe Denn died in Houston. The entire Denn family is buried at Shearith Israel Cemetery in Wharton.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, pages 127-128, 2013

S. S. Olympic




Blima "Bertha" Denn in front of Joe Denn Grocery which opened in 1921

Joe Denn's Grocery with a blanket of snow.

Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

7th Street
Ave G Ave H
  6th Street
The red D marks the location of Joe Denn's Grocery Store

Joe Denn Grocery Remodeled

The Joe Denn Grocery Store on East Seventh Street has recently been remodeled and painted. This store has been enlarged, the stock rearranged and the fresh coat of paint causes a very imposing looking store.

May 18, 1933

Joe Denn's Grocery, with the dark colored sign, is located at the far left of the picture.

Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

Joe Denn in the alley east of his store with Tillman's Bargain Store, Mikes and the Rice Hotel in the background.


Joe Denn standing at the corner with store with Bertha, barely visible, in the doorway at right.

Joe Denn in front of his store on 7th Street. Joe and Ida Wigodsky's Joe's Cafe sign at left.

Connie Anderson Buys Denn's Grocery Next to Kirk's Shop

Connie Anderson, formerly owner of the Alaskan Food Market (now Bay City Food Market), has bought the grocery store of Joe Denn's. The store, located adjacent to Kirk's Barber Shop at 1820 Seventh Street, will be known as Connie Anderson's Grocery.

Mr. Anderson says he would like to see all his old friends in and make some new ones.

The Bay City News

Location of Denn's Food Store in 2013

Joe Denn, Rose Wald Denn, Esther Schwartz Goldman

Joe Denn Family
(front left) Joe Denn, Rose Wald Denn,
Back row (l to r) Gertie & Sidney Denn, Helen & Manuel Denn, Rose & Herman Denn

Home as it appears in 2013

Early Day Entrepreneur Leaves Bay City Legacy

Former Bay City businessman Joe Denn died Saturday evening at the Seven Acres Home in Houston. He was 85 years old.

Denn moved to Bay City in 1921 where he opened and ran Joe Denn's Grocery Store until his retirement in 1948.

Born May 4, 1895, in Korczyna, Poland, he married Bertha Schwartz in Czechoslovakia in 1918 and came to the United States in November of 1919.

By 1920 Denn settled in Wharton where he opened a fruit stand. A year later he moved to Bay City and opened his grocery store.

He was a member of the Masonic Lodge 865 of Bay City, the Sons of Herman, B'nai Brith, an associate member of Hadassah and was a layman at the Shearith Israel Synagogue where he assisted the Rabbi in many of the services.

He was also a charter member of the Beth David Center. He held many offices in that organization.

Bertha Denn died in 1954 and he remarried in 1955 to Rose Wald. Wald died in 1976.

His sister [daughter], Ethel Denn Hoffman, died in 1957.

Survivors include: sons, Herman Denn, Sidney Denn and Manuel Denn all of Bay City; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held Sunday at 4 p. m. at the Shearith Israel Synagogue with Rabbis Ted Sanders and Moshe Cahane officiating.

Interment was in Wharton.

The family requests that contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or a charity of your choice.

Daily Tribune, March 23, 1981


Rose W. Denn

Mrs. Rose W. Denn, 79, of Bay City died June 29, 1976 at Matagorda General Hospital. She was born Sept. 30, 1897 in Homany, Hungary. She is survived by her widower, Joe Denn of Bay City; three sons, Manuel, Sidney and Herman Denn of Bay City and 10 grandchildren. She was a member of the Shearith Israel Cemetery and the Hadassah Shearith Israel Sisterhood. Services will be held at the Shearith Israel Cemetery June 30, at 4 p. m. Rabbi Moshe Cahane will officiate. Burial will be in the Shearith Israel Cemetery June 30, at 4 p. m. Pallbearers will be Herman, Sidney, Manuel and Bernard Denn and Sidney Schwartz. Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home.

Daily Tribune, Wednesday, June 30, 1976

Mrs. Ethel Hoffman Services in Wharton

Mrs. Ethel Denn Hoffman, 28, was killed instantly Friday afternoon at 4:30 in an automobile accident on the OST just behind the Verans Hosptal in Houston. She was riding with a car salesman who was demonstrating the car to her when the accident occurred.

She is survived by her husband Ike Hoffman and two small sons of Houston. Also surviving are her father, Joe Denn and three brothers, Herman, Manuel and Sidney all of Bay City.

Services were held Sunday in Houston and graveside services were held in Wharton Sunday morning.

The Daily Tribune, May 1957




Copyright 2009 - Present by the Denn Family
All rights reserved

Oct. 9, 2013
Oct.24, 2013