Israel and Abe Ditch Family
Written by Mrs. Helen Ditch Block
Historic Matagorda County, Volume II
Almost since the founding of Bay City in
1894, the Ditch was synonymous with excellence in dry goods and
men’s and women’s furnishings. The Ditch brothers, Israel and Abe,
opened one of the first stores in Bay City which was located at the
corner of Avenue G and Seventh Street. They operated it as a
partnership until the 1920’s. At that time Abe retired because his
health began to fail, and moved his family to San Antonio so his
children could receive a religious education. He died there in
1942. Israel continued alone until he sold the business to Oshman
during the 1930’s and moved to Houston.
The store in Bay City was called the I. Ditch Store, and was the
first brick building in Bay City. Israel Ditch was a bachelor, and
his sister, Ida Wigodosky and her three children Yetta, Rae, and
Joe, lived with him.
The Ditches came to Bay City from Russia at the turn of the
century. Israel and Abe’s father, Moishe Ditch, was known in
Houston for his charitable—though he was not wealthy—and religious
dedication. Moishe and his wife, Leah, had five children, three
daughters and two sons: Ida Ditch Wigodosky, Rosa Ditch Sachs,
Bessie Ditch Siegel, Abraham Theodore, and Israel.
Abraham Theodore Ditch married Ida Harris of St. Louis, Missouri,
and they had three daughters; Esther Leah, Helen and Ruth.
Helen was born on
June 10, 1911, in the Nosworthy Clinic, Houston, Texas, which later
became the Methodist Hospital. Helen was proud of her Orthodox
Jewish heritage. She spoke of her father as a fine, gentle, kind,
hard-working, family-loving man and of her Uncle Israel as loving,
happy-natured, generous, thoughtful, and kind to all. These
relatives were her whole life.
Helen was educated in the public schools of San Antonio, and was
confirmed in Temple Beth El. Her college education consisted of
undergraduate work at The University of Texas at Austin. She later
studied nursing at the College of Nursing at the University of Texas
at Galveston, where she was graduated as a registered nurse. She
studied Public Health Nursing at Vanderbilt University, Nashville,
Tennessee, and pursued a nursing career for thirty years.
Helen married Aaron Leonard Block and they had three daughters:
Rebecca Elaine, Irgrid Theodore, and Nancy Ann. In 1941 Helen and
her husband opened a dry goods store in Bay City where they remained
until the children were of school age. They then moved to Houston.
All the family later settled in San Antonio. There were thirteen
Helen Ditch Block recalled fond memories of Matagorda County—outings
with her uncle in his open top Selden car, berry picking, and
crabbing at Matagorda. Then with delight she recalled Ehlert’s
Bakery, know for such beautiful cinnamon rolls. She also remembered
many of the stores of this area, and mentioned fondly her teachers,
Miss Tenie Holmes and Miss Mamie Gusman.