Like his wife's family—diamond ring manufacturers from Pforzheim—Gustav had arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1890s, after training under master goldsmiths in Baden, Paris, and London, plus a year of vagabonding in South Africa's diamond fields. Setting up his bench in Union Square, the young jeweler divided his business between crafting unique gems for retail clients and modeling mountings for wholesalers such as his future in-laws, Carl and Sophie Bachem, who hired him to manage their factory when Carl's health deteriorated. To seal the deal, Sophie arranged the betrothal of her second youngest daughter to their new junior partner. Reconstituted as Manz & Co, the firm became highly respected for its beautifully modeled and meticulously executed work. But the marriage foundered.
Bergen County Historical Society
While her husband, mother and the younger of her two brothers focused on the business, Martha was drawn in by the socialist clique that included her children's charming red-haired violin teacher, Arpad Rado—who was mutually charmed by Martha—along with his artist sister Ilona (who taught painting at the Art Students League), and brother-in-law Frederick West (a former associate at McKim, Mead & White). Nonplussed by his young wife's radical awakening, her refusal to give up her paramour or to relinquish custody of her children, Gustav moved out. And though he stayed on cordial terms with his mother-in-law and business partner, by the time the dust of divorce settled he'd made a clean split to establish his own house: Gustav Manz, Maker of Fine Jewelry, 37 East 28th Street. He would eventually remarry (a German-born divorcee with a grown son), while remaining close to his daughters, using his connections to help the elder gain admission to nursing school and enlisting the younger as his sales representative.
For her part, Martha and Arpad married in spring 1911, and had two children. Martha, who'd sold encyclopedias during her separation, supplemented the family income as a local correspondent for The Bergen Record. In early 1922, with backing from the town's progressive set she launched Leonia Life, becoming one of the first women in the country to publish and edit a weekly newspaper. She added other localities, and wrote most of the editorials—on everything from presidential candidates to local pet ordinances, family planning (she was down with Margaret Sanger) and the impact of traffic from a new suspension bridge over the Hudson River on a bucolic town that had for so long attracted artists seeking cheap studio space in old barns, professors from Columbia, theater folk, and assorted freethinkers. She managed the company for a dozen years (until the Great Depression, when she sold it).
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Etta and Martha: Outlaw and "bolter" whose trajectories converged briefly at a society photographer's studio. And never let a drop of rain deter them.
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