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Max Pusch, Master Butcher


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Max Pusch’s butcher shop might be in any American city. If I could have afforded this postcard, Max would have been an Agincourt resident.

You might be surprised to hear how easy it can be—sometimes—to discover who someone was. Ancestry-dot-com is a good place to start (make sure you’ve subscribed to some of the add-ons) and, sure enough, Max was there: a butcher shop in Chicago on the near North Side.

In the 1910 US Census, he was thirty-three and lived at 1229 Cornelia [I think that was after the Chicago street addresses were renumbered] with wife Alvina and an unnamed adopted daughter. This is two blocks from the Southport station on the Brown Line. He had emigrated from Germany in 1891 and been naturalized. His home was mortgaged but his; he had employees. The 1911 city directory puts his shop at 1444 Wells Street, a long block south of North Avenue in what would have been an upscale neighborhood.

The 1920 census information is slightly different. But—thanks be to Google!—a further search reveals Max had clout. He was, for example, president of the United Master Butchers of Chicago and a frequent contributor to the American Meat Trade and Retail Butchers Journal. And according to The National Provisioner Pusch had been a member of the local organizing committee for the 1914 convention of the “National Master Butchers Association.” No slouch, our Max. One wonders his “Germanity” became a problem during WWI.

Might it have been possible for Pusch to have begun his career in a smaller venue—Agincourt, say—and then have moved to greater glory in the big city? If I owned this card, the answer would be simpler. I could see this as a shop front on North Broad Street.


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