Select Singer Miscellany

Here are some Singer stories and accounts over the years:

Singers and Sangers Today

Numbers (000's)


George Singer's Birthplace

At the time George Singer was born, on January 26 1847, George’s parents, George and Helen, lived in what is now the Old Manor House on the Kingston Maurward Estate in the parish of Stinsford near Dorchester in Dorset.  George senior was a farm manager on the estate. The house was divided to provide accommodation for a number of estate workers and their families. 

Guided visits to the Manor House will be a major part of the George Singer Day at Kingston Maurward on September 13, 2013.  A plaque will be unveiled by the gateway to the house to commemorate the occasion.  The annual Singer car weekend in the Dorchester area will be held at that time.

The Sangers of Sherborn, Massachusetts

The Sangers were among the most prominent families in Sherborn's history.  Richard and Nathaniel Sanger had arrived in Sherborn in 1689 and established a blacksmithing business there.

The next Richard of the family grew wealthy from trade and real estate investment.  He was one of three men in Sherborn known to keep slaves.  His home, built in 1734 on 60 Washington Street, is still standing.  In addition he kept a tavern in the town.

His grandson Colonel Calvin Sanger was a lawyer, politician, store owner, cotton mill partner, and real estate tycoon.  He purchased a township in Maine and established a saw and grist mill there.  This town was later incorporated as Sangerville.

Michael Singer in Pennsylvania

Michael Singer was a young man when his father and the rest of his family were killed by Indians at the time of the Revolutionary War.  He was serving as a captain in the 4th Battalion from Dauphin county at that time.

After his marriage, he moved into an area now called Lebanon County.  For a number of years they lived in a large stone house near Harrisburg andowned a distillery in the area.

Michael in fact was a man of many talents. He was an outstanding mathematician, well versed in astronomy, and was also a surveyor, serving as County Surveyor.  He drew up plans and helped inconstruction of large mills and frequently prepared the calculations for the almanacs.  Much of this information was learned from the diaries that he kept. These diaries were written in German in a most elegant style of penmanship.

Isaac Singer's Erratic Home Life

After Isaac Singer’s success with his sewing machine in 1851, he went to live in a Fifth Avenue mansion in New York City with his so-called "wife" at that time Mary Ann Sponsler and their children.  He finally got a divorce from his first wife Catharine in 1860, having the effrontery to accuse her of adultery. 

But all was not as it seemed.  Isaac Singer was leading a double or, in fact, a triple life.  Singer had a "third" family with Mary Eastwood Walters who bore him a daughter, Alice Eastwood.  And Singer also had a "fourth" family with Mary McGonigal, an employee at his company's factory.  She had already borne Singer five children and had set up a household with him as the Matthews family.  One day Mary Ann Sponsler saw her husband driving in a carriage with Mary openly.  This embarrassment was too much for her and Sponsler had Singer arrested for bigamy.  He was released on bail.  However, his reputation was ruined. 

In 1862 Singer and Mary McGonigal sailed for Europe where Singer would remain for the rest of his life.  A year later he married his fifth “wife” Isabella Boyer, a French model who was just twenty two.  By his five "wives," Singer fathered 24 children, of whom two died young.  When he died in 1875, he acknowledged 22 children in his will. 

Winnaretta Singer, the twentieth of these children, eventually became the heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune.  An elder sibling Adam became part of the English landed gentry set.  A younger brother Paris, who had a child by the dancer Isadora Duncan, was one of the architects and financiers of the Palm Beach resort in Florida.

The Demise of the Singer Company

In 1989, the Singer Company, then a shadow of its former self, was purchased by James Ting, a Chinese-Canadian businessman born in Canton but educated in Australia.  He said he understood the continuing value of the Singer brand around the world.

“There’s magic in the name,” he told Newsweek.  “It’s well-known from the jungles of Africa to Latin America, Europe, all over the world.  You couldn’t buy a better brand.”

Ting managed to convince banks in the US, Canada and Hong Kong to lend him hundreds of millions of dollars to revitalize the company and the brand.  Instead he set up an elaborate network of companies through which he defrauded the banks and the company before disappearing in China in 2000.

Three years later he surrendered to Hong Kong authorities and, in a scandal which was known as the “Hong Kong Enron,” was tried, convicted and sentenced to two consecutive six year

Rabbi Joseph Singer's Return to Pilzno

Joseph Singer had fled his home in Poland in 1939 as the Nazis were preparing their invasion.  He brought his particular brand of Hasidic Judaism to the streets of New York and to the Stanton Street Synagogue.  Almost sixty years later, an old man now, he returned to Pilzno in 1996.  The occasion was a groundbreaking ceremony for the gate around the Jewish cemetery in the town where his father, who had served as the Rav of Pilzno from 1898 to 1914, and his grandparents had been buried.

The journey for Rabbi Joseph and his entourage was very important.  As David Singer explained:

“For our children this is a very important pilgrimage.  They know that our roots, the beginnings of our Hasidic religion, are to be found in Galicia.  Here are the graves of famous tsadikim, here are the graves of our forefathers.  This pilgrimage will help them better understand their history and religion.”

When they entered the ohel, with its plaque announcing that there lay Solomon and Nathan, tsadikim and ancestors of the Bobower rebbe, their spiritual leader in Brooklyn, the pilgrims were deeply moved.

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