Mr Ervin G. Lewy

Ervin G. Lewy

Mr Ervin G. Lewy 1 was born in Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas on 28 November 1881.

He was the son of Benno Lewy 2 (b. 1842), a jeweller, and Bertha Marcus (b. 1844) 3, both Prussian Jewish immigrants, his father having arrived in the USA around 1860. He had six known siblings4.

Ervin and his family later settled in Chicago, Illinois and he first appears there on the 1900 census, his mother having passed away by this point. He was described as a jewellery salesman, working under his father and elder brothers since the age of 16 in the firm "Lewy, The Jeweller" on West Van Buren Street, Chicago. His father died on 19 December 1900 and was buried in the Jewish Graceland Cemetery in that city. Ervin and his brothers therefore became Lewy Brothers Jewellers, of State and Adams Streets, Chicago, he being the treasurer and his brother Marks the secretary.

Lewy Bros

[The firm existed] "for the purpose of buying and selling diamonds, watches, and jewelry, and all other goods pertaining to the jewelry business, at wholesale or retail, to carry on and conduct an optical business, as well as to do a general manufacturing business, and to do all things and matters pertaining to the conducting of a general mercantile business or a general jewelry business."

Ervin appeared living with his sister Frieda Oppenheimer on the 1910 census and his last known address had been 5628 South Park Avenue, Chicago. He was unmarried.

On 15 January 1912 Lewy departed for Amsterdam on a diamond purchasing trip. For his return to Chicago he boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a first class passenger (ticket number17612 which cost £27, 14s, 5d). Whilst aboard he telegrammed his brother Jay indicating and he was en route home aboard Titanic and that was the last word they heard from him. He died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His sister Frieda Oppenheimer gave birth to a daughter on 26 December 1913, naming her Ervine in honour of Ervin. Frieda was also Ervin's last surviving sibling. She spent a good deal of her life living in Chicago but later settled in Los Angeles. She died there on 6 January 1977 aged 98.


  1. He is sometimes listed as Erwin or Irwing.
  2. Sometimes listed as Bennie or Bennot.
  3. Sometimes listed as Martha.
  4. Celia (1867-1945, later Mrs Abraham Bernard Silverberg), Marks D. (28 Dec 1869-10 Feb 1960), Leonora (1871-1915, later Mrs Mose Nathaniel Isenberg), Paulina (1873-1965, later Mrs Max D. Lewy), Jay B. (18 May 1875-2 Nov 1959) and Frieda (1878-1977, later Mrs Mortimer Oppenheimer).  A 1912 newspaper also lists a Max Lewy, this may be another brother or, more likely, a reference to Marks.


Ervin Lewy
Chicago Tribune  (1912) 

Articles and Stories

New York Times (1925) 
Chicago Tribune (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
Chicago Examiner (1912) 

Comment and discuss

  1. Thomas E. Golembiewski said:

    Re: I am almost positively certain, with a modicum of doubt, that his name was Erwin G. Lewy---I believe that early news accounts misspelled the given name as "Ervin." Again, I am virtually confident, with the fullest assurance, that the name is "Erwin." I believe that when his will was probated the name was given as "Erwin."

  2. Jennifer Sullivan said:

    I've noticed on a few of the passengers that in the write up about their lives, some say they boarded at Cherbourg, then the profile says Southampton. What is the correct place that he embarked please?

  3. Kas01 said:

    No one's quite sure. A week before the disaster he had sent a postcard to his employer's branch in Amsterdam and it was postmarked, so he probably wasn't in Holland. If he was on the continent, he could either have taken a train to Cherbourg or a ferry/train to Southampton. My bet is that he took a train to Cherbourg based on the fact that it would be a lot more direct.

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Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg, Sweden
Homer Thiel, USA

References and Sources

Chicago Daily Tribune (Illinois), 17 April 1912; 19 April 1912
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) Ervin G. Lewy (ref: #186, last updated: 9th July 2015, accessed 4th July 2020 13:16:43 PM)