Every family has a “black sheep.” Most family members pass along all the stories about the “black sheep” member, however trying to document the antics of the “black sheep” isn’t easy. Not so in my husband’s family. It seems the Post Dispatch newspaper in St. Louis routinely gossiped about the Singer family’s “black sheep,” his grandfather Morris (or Maurice) Singer.
Morris/Maurice was born in 1886 in Leeds, England. He died from pneumonia in 1943 in St. Louis at age 56. He married Renee Annette Brener in 1906 in St. Louis. They had four children, 1908 – Beatrice Estelle Singer; 1909 Sylvia M. Singer; 1915 Samuel Brener Singer (John’s father); 1918 William Sutton Singer.
Annie Singer, Maurice’s wife, had been raised by her brother Samuel Brener and his wife Sophia Boasberg Brener because their father died when Annie was 7 and Annie’s mother died when Annie was 8 years old. Samuel Brener owned Brener & Company a jewelry manufacturer and retail store located at 605 S. Pine Street in St. Louis. In 1908 Maurice was a clerk in the Brener & Company jewelry store owned by his brother-in-law. By 1920, Maurice was the manager of Brener & Company.
A Year And A Day
In 1923 there was a reported robbery of the jewelry store and a claim was made to the insurance company for the loss. But the insurance company failed to recognize the claim and Maurice Singer sued in 1924. According to other news reports at the same time Maurice had a close working relationship with Jacob Ufland who owned Milton Watch Company in New York and National Jewelry Company of St. Louis. It seems that the value of the inventory was listed much higher than the actual stock and a federal investigation started when both of Ufland’s companies failed and he fled the United States for Germany with about $500,000 of his investors money which of course included Maurice Singer. Maurice Singer was brought to trial for fraud and was sentenced to a year and a day at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.
On his return to St. Louis, Maurice became a broker/salesman for a Kentucky Distiller. He became President of ‘The Kind Word Club.’
Click on the links below to read the articles.