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Israel and Abe Ditch



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 name 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 Ditch brothers were active in the community and were both Masons.

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, a very fine, gentle, kind hard-working family loving man, married Ida Harris of St. Louis, Missouri, and they had three daughters; Esther Leah, Helen Maxine 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 so their daughters could have a religious background.  All the family later settled in San Antonio.  There were thirteen grandchildren.

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, known for such beautiful cinnamon rolls.  She also remembered many of the stores of this area--Scott's Drug Store, P. G. Huston Drug Store, Taylor Bros., Joe and Blima Denn and family, Pete Kogutt and family, Simon Bros. Dry Goods Store, Leopold Schwartz, Tett's Jewelry Store, Secrest Jewelry, Millican's Grocery Store, Dr. Bryan Simons and mentioned fondly her teachers, Miss Tenie Holmes and Miss Mamie Gusman.


7th Street
Ave G Ave H
  6th Street
  Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

Israel Ditch
August 13, 1871 - August 21, 1970

Israel Ditch, son of Moishe and Leah Ditch, was born August 13, 1871 in Russia. A resident of Houston for forty years, he lived at 3610 Merrick and died at Golden Age Manor, 6500 Rookin, on August 21, 1970. He was a general store merchant while living in Houston. He was buried at Beth Yeshurun Cemetery in Houston on August 25, 1970.

Information from death certificate

Abraham Theodore Ditch
June 14, 1877 - March 14, 1942

DITCH--Abraham Theodore, aged 64 years, of 725 W. Russell, died at a local hospital Saturday morning. He is survived by widow, Mrs. Ida Ditch; daughters, Mrs. Esther Salley, Mrs. Aaron L. Block and Miss Ruth Ditch; brother, Israel Ditch; sisters, Mrs. Bessie Siegal, Mrs. Rosie Sachs and Mrs. Ida Widgodsky; three grandchildren. Services will be Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock from Porter Loring's Chapel. Dr. Ephraim Frisch and Dr. David Tamarkin officiating. Interment at Beth-El Cemetery.

San Antonio Express, March 15, 1942


Israel Ditch

This young man has had a most remarkable business career. Now only 27 years old, he has been in business more than ten years and has always been successful. Though the Galveston storm destroyed his building and goods, he went to another town and opened anew. Two years ago he came to Bay City and opened a modest store. One year ago he doubled its size and now he is about to occupy the handsome white brick corner 50x100 feet just being completed by him, where he will have a dry goods house and stock second to none on this coast. [1902]


I. Ditch Building in 2013


Family history typed for this page by Faye Cunningham.


Copyright 2009 - Present by the Ditch Family
All rights reserved

Jun. 9, 2009
Jun. 9, 2009