Biographical Notes About The Rapp Family
Walter Natt's maternal great-grandparents were Simon Toeplitz and Julie Toeplitz, nee Rapp. Julie Rapp's grandparents, in turn, were David Mayer Rapp and Jacket Rapp, nee Falk, as shown on the Rapp family tree.
Generations prior to David Mayer Rapp are known to us only from the inscriptions on the tombstones in the old Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt. Tombstones for the generations prior to Bar Rapp could not be located anymore, since the inscriptions had weathered away. Now, in 1991, only a small number of the tombstones are still in existence, since many of them were destroyed by the Nazis and also during the bombing in World War II.
Information prior to Bar Rapp was taken from the old records of the city of Frankfurt, which are not in existence any more either, having been destroyed during the war.
David Mayer Rapp founded a wholesale cloth business in 1785. When his son Callman Mayer Rapp took over the business, he developed it into one of the largest of its kind.
Callman Mayer Rapp was known as a very modest person. He did not want anyone to know that he was well to do, and although he left over a million guilders, lived in a very simple lifestyle. It is related of him that he once went to the market to buy a wallet. Having examined a number of them, he selected a very plain one, which he wanted to buy in a larger size if available. "Mr. Rapp, for you and your money," suggested the shopkeeper, "surely the small one is large enough." This comment so delighted Callman Mayer Rapp that he bought the small one, and a second small one for his wife.
Another anecdote was related by Walter Natt's grandmother, Auguste Bischheim. In 1866, after having defeated the Austrians, the Prussian Hussars entered the city. They were riding down the "Zeil" (one of the main streets) when old Mr. Rapp, with his grandchild Auguste, happened to be driving by in their open Landau (horsedrawn carriage). A mounted Prussian Soldier passing the coach smiled to the young child, who never forgot how her grandfather furiously turned toward her, saying, "Don't smile, a real Frankfurt child will never smile at a Prussian."
Callman Mayer Rapp earned a reputation as a severe and exacting businessman. He did not believe in spending a lot of money on the education of his four sons, who were allowed to consort freely with apprentices and members of his staff, who came from beyond the walls of the city. The sons carried on the business for a very short while after their father's death and retired a few years later at a very young age and lived well ever after. None of the four sons ever married.
The oldest son, Moritz, was known to be a very charitable person, being one of the founding members of the Senkenberg Museum of Natural History, which to this date is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. He also was one of the founding members of the Rochus Hospital, of an old age home, and a large contributor to the Philantropin School, all of whom he endowed with large sums of money.
The youngest son, Wilhelm, was content to just live a good life - not much is known about his activities, other than having a great sense of humor and a happy-go-lucky personality.
He left the largest part of his fortune to my great-grandmother, Julie Toeplitz nee Rapp, who, due to the early death of her husband, was in rather poor circumstances.
Not much is known about the other two brothers.
The youngest daughter, Kathinka Rapp, married into the Schlesinger family as is shown in the Schlesinger family tree. Her husband, Bernhard Schlesinger, took over the family business until it was dissolved in 1878.