The Family of Leopold and Fannie (née Lulley) GASSENHEIMER

See The Family of Isaac and Maile Gassenheimer

Leopold Gassenheimer was the second son born to Joseph Gassenheimer and his first wife, Betti; of Seligmann, born a year before Leopold, we have no trace other than his birth date & place in the Jewish birth record of Bibra. Leopold was born on 09 August 1831 and grew up in the village of Bibra in Sachsen-Meiningen (now Thüringia).

In 1849, age 17, Leopold  left Bibra and Germany, sailing from Bremen to New York City in the expectation of securing a better socio-economic life for himself.

Entry in ship’s manifest for Löb (Leopold) Gassenheimer’s arrival in New York City on 01 October 1849.

He established himself in Washington, District of Columbia (DC) and on 25 April 1852, was one of “at least 21 German Jews [who] met at the home of Mr. H. Lisberger on Pennsylvania Avenue, near 21st Street, to form the Washington Hebrew Congregation (WHC). The group elected Solomon Pribram as  the first president, and Captain Jonas P. Levy, a naval commander during the Mexican War, had the honor of making the first recorded monetary contribution.

For a few years, members met in private homes and rented quarters, the last being Harmony Hall on D Street near the present-day Commerce Department building. With the con­gregation already outgrowing that space and fearful that the opportunity to hold property did not extend to synagogues, Washington Hebrew members submitted a petition to the 34th U. S. Congress on February 5, 1856, asking for the same rights and privileges enjoyed by Christian churches in the District. On June 2, 1856, President Franklin Pierce signed into law An Act for the Benefit of the Hebrew Congregation in the City of Washington. To this day, WHC is the only Jewish house of worship to operate with an act of the U.S. Congress as its charter.”1

On 18 January 1856, age 25, Leopold married Fannie Lulley,2Marriage Records. District of Columbia Marriages. Clerk of the Superior Court, Records Office, Washington D.C. ( herself an immigrant to the United States. Born 1841 in Budapest, Fannie was the daughter of Emanuel and Cecelia (née Laski) Lulley. In the early 1850s, she had come to the United States with her parents and seven siblings; “Emanuel Lulley – sometimes called Mano or Merno,” his great-great-great-granddaughter writes about her research into his story, “came to the United States with Hungarian freedom fighter Lajos Kossuth. Lulley, his wife Cecilia and five of his children sailed from Constantinople on September 7, 1851 aboard the U.S.S. steam frigate Mississippi arriving in New York harbor on November 11, 1851. The ship’s manifest list Emanuel Lüley as a Captain and Officer of Police.1  Citing Edmund Vasvary, Lincoln’s Hungarian Heroes: The Participation of Hungarians in the Civil War (Washington, DC, 1939), p. 65, she continues:

“He [Lulley] was a secret service man in the Hungarian war of independence.
After the collapse he fled to Turkish territory with other emigrants. […]
His wife and five children were with Kossuth in Kutahia and the
whole family came to America with Kossuth on the U.S. Mississippi.

He became a major in the Civil War and according to a document signed
by General Burnside, rendered valuable services. He then was employed
in the secret service Division of the Department of Justice.”

Leopold and Fannie formed a family of seven (7) children between the birth of Bertha in 1857 and 1878, the birth of Helen. On 06 July 1865, Leopold, who had filed a petition for American citizenship in June 1855, U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. applied for an American passport including his Certificate of Naturalization;4National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 132; Volume #: Roll 132 – 15 Jun 1865-18 Jul 1865 ( Leopold’s father, Joseph, age 67, was still alive, but whether Leopold actually returned to Germany and Bibra is not known.

The Federal Censuses provide some information about the family’s life in the late 1800s: in the 1860 census, Leopold identifies his occupation as a “clothier”; in the 1870 census, it is as a “dealer in crockery”; in the 1880 census, it is “a restauranteur.” Lodgers lived in their home as did a domestic helper as the family grew.

The family had always lived in Southwest Washington DC, but sometime in the 1870s, it appears that they moved to 306 Four-and-One-Half, or 4 ½, Street; the 1880 census street identification is different from 1860 and 1870. 4 ½ Street was the centre of Jewish life in Southwest Washington DC; Samuel Rosenberg, who grew up in the street in the early 1900s, remembered it thus:

When I was a small boy in the early part of the century, I thought that 4 1/2 Street SW was surely the most beautiful street in the world. Wide as an avenue, cobblestoned, bordered by century-old elms and wide hand-laid brick sidewalks, it ran straight as a die from Fort McNair (which we called the Arsenal), through the Mall (which we called the Park) to Pennsylvania Avenue, where, for some mysterious reason, it suddenly became John Marshall Place before dead-ending a few blocks north at the old courthouse. It came by its name honestly enough as it was located halfway between Third and Sixth streets. There was no Fourth or Fifth street.

In the center of the street were the streetcar tracks of the Washington Railway and Electric Co., known to all as the WRECO. Fares were 5 cents, or six tickets for a quarter.

The street seemed to be the main thoroughfare of No. 4 Engine Co., located on Virginia Avenue between 4 1/2 and Sixth streets. We thrilled to the sight of the engines each pulled by three horses, nostrils flared and manes flying as they raced down the street, their iron-clad hooves creating sparks from the cobblestones. Usually there were four firemen on each wagon. On the driver’s seat one man strained at the reins while another handled the whip. On the rear platform one fireman rang the bell, while the other stoked the furnace to build up a head of steam. Our mother could never break us of the habit of chasing the fire engines. As a historical note, this fire company was the last one in Washington to be motorized.

In 1880, eight Gassenheimers (21-year old Isaac is absent); 1 lodger, and 1 servant from Baden/Germany were living together. Leopold’s occupation is identified as a “restauranteur” and Bertha and Samuel are working as shop clerks.

A year later, on 20 May 1881, Leopold died; he was 49 years old. He was buried in the Washington Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, which had been established in 1878. An anonymous “Friend” submitted the Obituary below to remember him by:

Obituary for Leopold Gassenheimer. Publication unknown. Source: FindaGrave entry

At the time of Leopold’s deaths, the older children — Bertha, Isaac, and Samuel — were adults, forging their own paths in life: Samuel married in 1882, Bertha in 1884. Four children — Daisy, Charles, Sadie, and Helen — were 11 years or younger so Fannie had her hands full, not only with raising children but managing her business in china ware.

Fannie lived for another seventeen (17) years. The entry in the 1894 City Directory indicates that she moved from 4 ½ Street to 1304th Street in Northwest Washington and was living with her daughter Daisy. During the 1890s, four more of her children died: Charles in 1893, Sadie in 1894, Isaac, 1896, and Helen on 24 April 1898. Only three of her children were still alive at the time of her death: Bertha, Samuel, and Daisy.

Fannie Gassenheimer, née Lulley, died on 13 September 1898, age 57. She was buried in Washington Hebrew Cemetery.


A family photograph, city directories, cemetery records, and obituaries provide glimpses of the lives of Leopold’s and Fannie’s children and grandchildren. Circled in the photo below are siblings Samuel and Bertha Gassenheimer, and Sidney and Leona Hechinger, the children of Bertha and Jonas/John Hechinger. Stanley, b. 1892, the youngest child of Bertha and Jonas had died in 1894, at 18 months.

Rear Row: Samuel Gassenheimer (son of Leopold), Bertha Gassenheimer Hechinger (daughter of Leopold), Jonas Hechinger (husband of Bertha); Blanche Stein (daughter of Julia Hechinger); Lee Hechinger (brother of Jonas) & Ida Hechinger (wife of Lee)
Second Row: Lawrence Gassenheimer (son of Samuel and Josie Hechinger Gassenheimer), Josie Hechinger Gassenheimer (wife of Samuel Gassenheimer), Betty Hechinger (mother of Jonas, my great-great grandmother), Julia Hechinger Stein (mother of Blanche Stein) Florence Hopkins (not related to us but added so there wouldn’t be 13 in the picture)
Front Row: Sidney L. Hechinger (son of Bertha Gassenheimer Hechinger and Jonas), Leona Hechinger, daughter of Bertha Gassenheimer and Jonas Hechinger), Sidney Hechinger (son of Ida and Lee Hechinger)

Obituaries provide us with some detail of the business and social lives of Leopold’s eldest child, Bertha, her husband, John W. Hechinger, and their son, Sidney. In April 1921, John W. Hechinger died, after a career in the dry-goods business morphed into a post-retirement adventure working with his son’s house-wrecking business. Like her mother before her, Bertha Gassenheimer Hechinger lived seventeen years as a widow. She died on 27 February 1938. The obituary in the Washington Evening Star gives only a hint of her social and community engagement.

The obituary for Sidney Hechinger, son of Bertha and John, elaborates the growth of the hardware business he established in 1910 and built until his death in 1955. It also speaks to Sidney’s engagement with the larger community.

Leona, called “Leonie” Hechinger, Bertha and John Hechinger’s daughter, lived a long life: she married three times and was widowed three times. Her last husband, Maurice A. Hacke, an international lawyer, had, in his later years, become vice-president of the Kinsman Optical Business. In its obituary on the occasion of Leona’s death at age 93, on 26 October 1982, the Washington Post wrote:

Leona Hechinger Hacke, 93, a retired president of the Kinsman Optical Co., a family-owned business in Washington,
died October. 26 at her home in Washington after a heart attack.

She was a president of Kinsman for more than 40 years before retiring in the early 1970s.

From 1950 to 1953, Mrs. Hacke was a member of the national board of the National Council of Jewish Women.
She also had served as the group’s area chairman and president of its Mid-Atlantic chapter. She was founder of
its Montgomery County Chapter.

A lifelong member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, she was a past president of its Sisterhood.

Mrs. Hacke was volunteer captain of the 1928 Community Chest drive and was named its 1953 volunteer of the year.
She served on the boards of the United Community Service Board, the Jewish Welfare Board,
the Davis Memorial Goodwill Guild and the Kaufmann Camp. She also had done volunteer work for the Red Cross.

She was a native of Washington and a graduate of the old Central High School. After graduating from
Washington Normal School she taught for several years in the D.C. public schools.

Mrs. Hacke was a member of the National Capital Speakers Club, the Woman’s National Democratic Club
and the Woodmont Country Club. also became involved in the management of the company until her retirement.

The story of the family of Leopold and Fannie (Lulley) Gassenheimer is a work-in-progress. If a reader has any information to share, questions, or corrections, please contact Sharon Meen at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you.


Descendants List of Leopold and Fannie (Lulley) Gassenheimer

  • Leopold GASSENHEIMER, b. 09 Aug 1831 Bibra, 1849 to USA, d. 20 May 1881 Washington/District of Columbia (DC), buried in Washington Hebrew Congregation Cemetery
  • (18 Jan 1856 DC) Fannie LULLEY, b. 10 Mar 1839 Budapest, 1853 to USA,  d. 13 Sep 1898 DC, buried in Washington Hebrew Congregation Cemetery
    • 1. Bertha GASSENHEIMER, b. 04 Nov 1857 DC, d. 27 Feb 1938 DC
    • (19 Oct 1884) Jonas (later John) Wolf HECHINGER, b. 08 Mar 1854 Shreveport/LA5 Obituary, Washington DC Evening Star, 22 April 1921d. 20 Apr 1921 Baltimore/MD6 Obituary cited above
      • 2. Sidney Lawrence HECHINGER, b. 08 Oct 1885 DC, d. 11 Jul 1955 Swampscott/MA
      • (1916) Sylvia FRANK, b. 02 Oct 1892 Baltimore/MD, d. 07 Feb 1981 Palm Beach/FL
        • 3. John Walter HECHINGER Sr., b. 18 Jan 1920 DC, d. 18 Jan 2004 DC
        • (26 May 1946 DC) June Meredith ROSS, b. 11 Mar 1923 NYC/NY71950 USA Census, d. 14 Oct 2015 DC
          • 4. Nancy HECHINGER,8identified in obituary for June Ross Hechinger b. 194891950 USA CensusAlexandria/VA
          • 4. John W. HECHINGER Jr.,10identified in obituary for June Ross Hechinger b. Feb 1950111950 USA CensusAlexandria/ VA
          • 4. S. Ross HECHINGER,12identified in obituary for June Ross Hechinger b. 1952
          • 4. Sally Francis HECHINGER13identified in obituary for June Ross Hechinger, b. 1956
          • Peter Winston RUDOY, b. 01 Aug 1952 NYC/NY
        • 3. Lois Frances HECHINGER, b. 16 Jul 1925 DC, d. 28 Jan 2018 DC
        • (1946) Richard ENGLAND, b. 11 Feb 1920, d. 01 Apr 2013 DC
          • 4. Catherine “Cathy” Seifert ENGLAND, b. 11 May 1948 DC, d. 28 Nov 2015 Lexington/MA
            • 5. Ryan PEUGH
            • 5. Evan PEUGH
          • 4. Joan “Nonie” ENGLAND, b. 1950
          • 4. Richard ENGLAND
      • 3. Leona/Leonie F. HECHINGER, b. 06 Mar 1889 DC, d. Oct 1982 DC
      • ∞ (1) (20 Nov 1912) William Archibald GRAFF, b. 22 Mar 1887 Tauragė/Lithuania,14place of birth identified in FindaGrave entry 1887 to USA, d. 05 Oct 1918 Norfolk/VA
        • 4. Shirley Leigh GRAFF, b. 01 Nov 1913 Norfolk/VA, d. 26 Aug 1981 DC
        • (4 Jul 1935 DC) Daniel Randolf COHN (later COLE), b. 30 Aug 1901 Roanoke/VA, d. 23 Sep 1951 DC
          • 5. Daniel Randolph “Randy” COLE, b. 19 May 1941 DC, d. 15 Nov 2002 Bethesda/MD
          • ∞ (1975) Kathy DEUTSCH
            • 6. Daniel COLE
            • 6. Lauren Elizabeth COLE
          • 5. William Graff COLE, b. 07 Mar 1945 DC, d. 15 Jan 1996 Ashland/VA
          • (1970) Eileen ZWERIN, b. 17 Apr 1945 Cincinatti/OH,15Place of Birth: 1950 US Federal Census d. 14 Jul 2015
            • 6. Steven Graff COLE
            • 6. Andrew Scott COLE
        • (2) (1953 DC) Leon KATZ, b. 23 Jan 1904 DC,16U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 d. 27 Sep 1962 DC
      • ∞ (2) (26 Feb 1922 DC)17Washington, D.C., U.S., Marriage Records, 1810-1953 Harry ROLLER, b. 17 Apr 1875 Jassy/Rumania,18Date/place of birth: U.S., Naturalization Records, 1840-1957 1888 fr Hamburg to USA,19Date of immigration: Naturalization Record cited above d. 25 Jan 1942 DC
      • (3) (27 Jun 1950 DC)20Source: Evening Star Washington, District of Columbia, 04 July 1950 Maurice A. HACKE, b. 16 Feb 1886 Austria, d. 07 May 1961 London/UK
      • 3. Stanley HECHINGER, b. 23 Nov 1892, d. 22 Jan 1894
    • 1. Isaac GASSENHEIMER, b. 19 Feb 1859 DC,21Washington, D.C., U.S., Compiled Marriage Index, 1830-1921 d. 21 Dec 1896 [DC?]
    • (04 Oct 1893 DC)22Washington, D.C., U.S., Compiled Marriage Index, 1830-1921 Bertha BIEN, b. Nov 1868 DC,23Source: Washington, D.C., U.S., Marriage Records, 1810-1953 d. aft 1940 [DC?]24see profile
    • 1. Samuel GASSENHEIMER, b. 19 Feb 1860 DC, d. 27 Oct 1930 DC
    • ∞ (1) (1882) Emily NN, b. Apr 1868 DC25data from USA 1900 Federal Census
    • ∞ (2) (09 Jan 1887) Josephine “Josie” HECHINGER, b. 03 Apr 1865 Richmond/VA, d. 20 Mar 1917 DC
      • 2. Lawrence S. GASSENHEIMER, b. 23 Oct 1887 DC26 District of Columbia, Select Births and Christenings, 1830-1955  d. Jun 1976
      • ∞ Sally Sophie SUGARMAN, b. 25 Mar 1896
      • (1915) Isabella V WEINRICH, b. 27 Jun 1895 Philadelphia/PA
      • 2. Eloise GASSENHEIMER, b. Jan 1895 DC, [d. bef 1901]27Eloise is not included in 1901 Last Will and Testament of her mother, implying that she had died.
    • 1. Daisy GASSENHEIMER, b. Dec 1870 DC, d. 07 Jul 1938 DC
    • (18 Jun 1898 DC)28Washington, D.C., U.S., Compiled Marriage Index, 1830-1921 Joseph LESSER, b. Mar 1870 California, d. 14 Feb 1923 DC
      • 2. Fanny Dora LESSER, b. Mar 1899 DC
      • (08 Nov 1921) David Harry LESSNER, b. circa 1880 Germany, d. 01 Jul 1962
        • 3. Louise Josephine LESSNER, b. circa 1923
        • ∞ (14 May 1944) Gilbert Irving ZELLAN, b. circa 1923 DC, d. 26 Oct 2013 Chevy Chase/Maryland
    • 1. Charles GASSENHEIMER, b. 18 Aug 1871 DC, d. 31 Mar 1893
    • 1. Saide GASSENHEIMER, b. 22 Feb 1874 DC, d. 10 Aug 1896
    • 1. Helen GASSENHEIMER, b. 20 Sep 1878 DC, d. 24 Apr 1898 DC

We would like to thank the family of Nonie Akman, the great-great-granddaughter of Leopold and Fannie Gassenheimer, for sharing information and photographs of her family.

Sources: New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
“The Heyday of Four-and-a-Half Street: River Farms to Urban Towers,” Southwest Heritage Trail, The Historical Marker Database