Georgetown Time Machine: Jacob Ramsburg and Sons

This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM is back to Boyd’s Directory to highlight another ad. This time it’s an ad for Jacob Ramsburg & Sons from the 1870 directory.

The firm sold gloves from its location at 105 High Street. That was the left side of what’s now Wisconsin Ave., somewhere between N and O St. The firm also dealt in wool and “extra-fine Virginia sumac”. The later is a spice made from ground up berries from a sumac tree.

Ramsburg was born in 1811 in Frederick, Maryland. He appears to have lived above his shop, along with the “and sons” part of the name. Specifically it was Valerius Elias Ramsburg and Cornelius Stille Ramsburg.

It’s unclear when the business opened, but Ramsburg was a member of the Georgetown community by 1855, at which point he was elected an officer of the Vigilant Fire Company:

Later he was selected as a Judge of Elections:

Previous to Ramsburg and Sons being the company’s name, it was known as Ramsburg and Ebert. That name first appears in newspapers in 1855:

By 1867, however, the new name appeared:

Jacob Ramsburg appears to have died in 1877. But he lived long enough to see one of his family members go afoul of the law. in 1873, Charles Ramsburg–who was a partner in the company, but doesn’t appear to be one of his sons–was a tax collector in Georgetown, but apparently used the taxes collected to pay off the expenses of the company. He was accused of taking between $10,000 and $15,000 (which is around $300,000 in today’s money).

The newspapers fail to report what became of his arrest. GM would guess he simply paid it back.

Following the senior Ramsburg’s death in 1877, it appears the sons joined with David Dreyfuss to continue their dealings:

For those familiar with Frederick, MD history, the name Jacob Ramsburg might be familiar. He was mayor of that city from 1958 to 1962, and earlier served many terms in the Maryland state house, reaching the role of minority leader. He is a distant relative of the Georgetown glover seller, having descended from the Georgetown Jacob Ramsburg’s grandfather.


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