Wm F. Voigt, 452 E 78th Street, New York


Carl and William F Voigt were brothers, both of whom immigrated from Germany, settled in the Yorkville section of Manhattan and were involved in the pickle/horseradish business.

A book by Richard Panchyk entitled “German New York City” tells Carl’s story:

Carl Frederick Voigt, born in 1848 came to New York City from Eisenberg Saxony in 1866. He originally lived on the Bowery but later moved to Yorkville and founded a pickle works there on East 78th Street. Although the factory made and bottled pickled beets and mussels, their specialty was horseradish. He is shown (a picture of a stocky man sitting with two standing young boys) in about 1892 with young sons Jacob and William both of whom worked for the family business. The horseradish root was ground by hand, prepared from a special recipe and bottled, and then the condiments were loaded onto a horse drawn cart and delivered to saloons and hotels around the neighborhood. After Carl’s death in 1906, his sons carried on the business. Sometime around 1920, Best Foods offered to buy the Voigts out, but the deal fell through and the business was finished.

The NYC directories generally support the above story. The first listing I can find for Carl (Chas)Voigt was in the 1881 NYC Directory, located at 1472 First Avenue with the occupation “preserves.” Over the next 20 years he was listed at 1472 First Avenue (1880 to 1886) and 1483 Avenue A (1889 to 1896). Both locations were within a block or so of 78th Street in Yorkville. It appears that Carl’s son Jacob got involved in the business around 1900. The 1901 directory refers to the business as C.F. Voigt  & Son (Charls F. and Jacob W). At this point the business was located on 74th St. and later 76th Street.

According to census records, William F Voight was six years younger than Carl and arrived in the US several years later in 1871. NYC Directories indicated that William was located at 452 East 78th Street from 1891 to 1905. During much of this time Carl’s address was 1483 Avenue A. As best as I can tell, it appears that both addresses were either associated with the same building located on the corner of 78th Street and York Avenue or across the street from each other. It’s not clear if the businesses were ever connected.

After 1905, NYC Directories and census records for 1910 and 1920 listed William as a clerk, laborer and later foreman in the pickle business so it looks like he ended his own business and started working for someone else. By then his listed residential address was on East 84th Street. He passed away in 1920.

NYBits.com indicates that the current building at 452 East 78th Street was built in 1910 but I’m not convinced. It’s a four story “walk-up” with a commercial store on York Avenue and a residential entrance on 78th Street. The 1892 photograph mentioned in the story sure looks like it was taken in front of the residential entrance.

The bottle I found has a round shape (approximately 5 oz) and I thought it was a medicine until I did the research. Now I’m convinced it contained horseradish. Wiliiam’s name and the 452 E 78th Street address is embossed on it, so it dates between 1891 and 1905.

In response to this post, I was contacted by a Voigt family member who confirmed that William and Carl ran two separate businesses. William’s was quite impressive and included an upstate farm to supply the business. Carl’s was called Voigt’s Red Horseradish.