Sigel Sisters Photograph

The two sisters shown in this photograph are Fanny (left), my great-great-grandmother, and Katie (right), her younger sister. The sisters were born in Russia, but as Jews, their family faced persecution there, so in 1903, at age sixteen, Fanny immigrated to America. She entered the country illegally by traveling with another family and pretending to be their child. Once successfully in the country, she lived with her uncle's family. She worked as a seamstress in a clothing factory and sent money back to Russia to help bring the rest of her family to America. As a young girl in Russia, Katie had also worked as a seamstress, but after she came to America and married, she ran a butcher shop with her husband. However, her husband contracted syphilis and ended up in a mental hospital, so Katie closed their butcher shop, moved in with Fanny's family, and looked for other ways to support herself. After an unsuccessful attempt at running a candy shop, she returned to the clothing industry, working as a seamstress in a factory as her older sister had done. She was much more successful with this, and after five years she had saved enough money to buy her own house.

Year: 1903

– Emily Reinl

Relationship:  unknown unknown