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Rachel Gratz Etting

Daughter of Richea Myers-Cohen and the pioneer merchant trader Barnard Gratz, Rachel Gratz was born in Philadelphia in 1764. Her only sibling, a sister named Fanny, died in infancy, and Rachel was thus raised as an only child. Nevertheless, she benefitted from a large extended family that constituted a transatlantic network of prominent business and civic leaders stretching from central Europe to the frontier of western Pennsylvania.

In 1791, when she was 27, Rachel married a close associate of her father, Solomon Etting. Etting was then a widower with three small children, an observant man whom her father had trained as a shochet.  Etting had ties to Baltimore, where his widowed mother, Shinah, had moved her own family soon after the death of his father. It was perhaps natural that Solomon should remove there with his new wife.  On November 13, two weeks after her wedding, Rachel wrote her father from her new home in Baltimore, assuring him of her comfort and happiness: “From what little I have seen of this place, think I shall like it very much, as it far exceeds my expectations.” This was the first of a number of marriages between the Gratz and Etting families that would cement the two families into an early American Jewish dynasty.

During the course of the forty years of her married life, Rachel gave birth to eight children, and raised seven of them, including daughter Richea, along with her three stepchildren, among them Miriam Etting Myers.