John Wanamaker/Wannamaker & His Ancestors
Merchant Prince & Postmaster-General

This Webpage is very large so Hang On for an Exciting Ride into the World of John Wanamaker!

First afew words of Importance

If John Wanamaker is related to all Wanamaker's in North America, it would be a Fantastic Reality for all of us Indeed! In the late 1800's - early 1900's, it was the belief, that every Wanamaker was related to him. So the story went, throughout the families in all of North America. They truely believed it and wanted to believe it.

Why not ?! This was a Very Famous Man of his day. He had everything that our families had ever dreamed of! He was the Utimate Knight In Shining Armour for many of the poorer Wanamaker/Wannamaker families. Even now, we can't begrudge what our parents were taught and what they believed to be true! The Common Bond will be imprinted in the minds of our Parents and Grandparents alike Forever. As you finish reading below about the wonderful life this man had, you will understand. Life of wealth and fame amongst poverty was a dream for many. John Wannamaker was that Dream! Is it any wonder that the families wanted more than anything to claim a relationship!?

So Lets Have Fun Taking A Stroll Through the Life Of John Wanamaker! Let's Try Our Best To Solve The Mysteries Of Our Ancestral Past, Eventually Bringing All Of The Families Together!

The purpose of this page is to try to help everybody understand the differences in the 3 early Wanamaker/Wannamaker Branches of North America. And to take a closer look at the Merchant Prince and His Many Achievements, John Wanamaker. I know it would be wonderful if all Wanamaker descendants can claim we are related to John Wanamaker......

But the truth is..... We Can't!

Connection Proven!
The PA branch has finally be proven! My 1st ancestor Johann Pieter Wannemacher arrived in NY/NJ in 1709-1710. Jorg/Georg Wannemacher arrived in PA in 1731. They were 3rd cousins. Jorg's ancestor moved from Darmstadt to Bavaria in the 1600's. Excellent realization for all of us!

The Differences In Our Families Are Below:

The first to come to North America was Johann Pieter Wannemacher and his siblings, all born in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany. They arrived in New York between 1709 and 1710. By 1713 all were living in New Jersey, none leaving the area until about the American Revolutionary War. Those living in NY state were very close to those in NJ state. Many lived in Suffern, Rockland county NY, while others lived closely by in Mahwah, Bergen county, NJ. Still others lived in Hackensack and so on.

Jorg/Georg Wannemacher was the second to arrive with several other Wannemacher's. He is "almost without doubt", John Wanamaker's ancestor. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1731. Much later than the early Wannemacher's of NJ and NY. He probably came from either Baden or Prussia, because evidence has shown there was a Jorg Wannemacher in both these States in Germany about the same age PROVEN to have been born in Bavaria! It is believed that he may have gone to NJ first, but because there was no land, they moved on. (( Keeping this in mind...... Could he have been in NJ seeking Pieter who may have been a relative?!))

The 3rd to arrive in North America was Jacob Wannemacher. It has been proven that he was born in Speyer, Palatinate, Germany. His arrival was in 1738 and he settled in South Carolina. His descendants have been well researched, but Not in Germany. His parents are still unknown. It is believed that he too could have been a relative of Pieter in NJ and Jorg/Georg in PA.

Then much later still, all through the early to mid 1800's we find other Wannemacher's arriving in the US. Many of those kept the original spelling, but as with the 3 Early Branches above, some did Americanize the spelling. PROVEN that the Buffalo, NY family came to American in the late 1800's from Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany

Our Wannemacher research then became much harder and it was decided that I would try to research my own branches first. But as the years went by, more and more people wanted to know about John Wanamaker, so my work always seemed to fall back to other branches which I knew many years ago, were very distantly related way back in Germany.

When John Wanamaker died, lawyers contacted all Wanamaker's in North America. My Grandpa Thomas Wannamaker was contacted and it was determined he was about 58th cousin, so he did not recieve anything from John's wealthy Estate. My Grandpa is of the NJ Branch. So in saying all of this.... Those who descend from the early NJ/NY Branch are distantly related.

Mystery Solved!

Now For The FUN Part
Getting To Know John Wanamaker & His Ancestors

"The Wanamaker Department Store"

I have had most of these pictures and information about John Wanamaker's very busy and productive life for about 20 years. I also have an original copy of his "Diary", which in reality was a "dayplanner" much like those today. The pages are beginning to crumble. Scroll below for a picture and more information.

Way back then I was so excited to think I was related to him...... Imagine my surprise when I found out just how distant I was?! But that was no matter. I wanted to know all Wannamaker's and so not being closely related to "The" Famous John Wanamaker didn't matter so much any more. His ancestors had been researched by Loral Wanamaker in the mid '50's. I was able to aquire his information, what little he had.

Scroll below to find some of the Decendants of Jorg/Georg Wannemacher.

Let's Look At John Wanamaker's Career


Born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 11, 1838. Quit school at age 14 years. His first job was working in a bookstore. In 1856 he got a job in Barclay Lippincott's clothing store in Philadelphia. He then became a salesman in Bennett's Tower Hall on Market Street.

Later he became Secretary of The Young Mens Christian Association. In 1861 he formed a business partnership with his brother inlaw, Nathan Brown, which was called Wanamaker & Brown - a men's clothing store called Oak Hall. The store, near Liberty Bell pavilion, stood on the site of the house where George Washington had resided during his two Presidential terms in Philadelphia. When Brown died in 1868, he continued the business alone.

image In 1869, opened the more fashionable John Wanamaker & Company. He turned this store over to his brothers to manage. For the National Centennial, he opened the "GRAND DEPOT", a huge dry goods and men's clothing store located in a former Pennsylvania Railroad depot. It opened on March 12, 1877, and was known as "The New Kind of Store," adding to his original stocks, women's fashions and merchandise for the home. He was the first to organize it into departments and so the term "Department Store" was born. The entire block from Market to Chestnut street and from Thirteenth Street to City Hall Square was incorporated. John Wanamaker became the owner of the largest retail store in America. In 1896 he bought a New York business founded by A.T. Stewart and coninuously expanded his merchandise, offering moneyback guarantee through advertizements. The Department Store in Philadelphia, it's construction began in 1902, which was completed November 14, 1910.

He served as President of the Young Mens Christian Association for about 8 years. A member of the board of finance of the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876. He was one of the organizers of the Merchant's Bank and acted as director in several others. A director of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company. A trustee of the Presbyterian Church, which he helped build. Manager of the University Hospital for many years. He was a Vice-president of the museum at the University of Pennsylvania.

Chairman of the Citizens Relief Committee to aid the Irish Famine Sufferers. He assisted the Southern people during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. He also assisted with help to the Ohio River Flood victims, the Famine in Russia and the starving Belgians.

A member of the Union League. Appointed Postmaster-General in recognition of his services during the election campaign of 1888. Where he created the introduction of the Parcel Post system, as well as other inprovements. A member of the board of Education of Philadelphia. A delegate in the Republian National Convention of 1912.

He presented himself to King Edward of England at the Coronation Lunch in Guildhall on June 29, 1911. Decorated with the Order of the Legion of Honor from the French in 1912. Organized the Bethany Sunday School in 1858 and another Sunday School near Bethany. He also organized Bethany Temple Church in Philadelphia. He supported temperance and the Pennsylvania Blue Laws.

He was made a Mason At Sight in 1898, at the age of 62. He did not belong, but was an honorary memeber. In 1900 he became a member of Friendship Lodge No. 400. He was elected Senior Warden, then served as Worshipful Master of the Lodge. Received the 33rd Degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite. He served the Grand Lodge as Chairman of the Library Committee, largely responsible of the growth of the collection, using his own personal wealth, to collect books, letters, and artwork which pertained to the history and teachings of Freemasonry. He donated a copy of W. J. Williams portrait of George Washington in Masonic regalia, painted in 1794. By the end, the Library had over 17,000 volumes, and over 7,400 works of art and Masonic relics.

He expected military drill of his male workers and released them for service during the wars, Spanish-American War and First World War. He helped his workers improve themselves, providing business classes and benefits for his employees.


image The Wanamaker Diary was issued by Wanamaker's Department Store, Broadway at 8th Street, in Manhattan. Intended as a recordkeeping book and souvenir, crammed with information, advice, and facts about New York, including the seating charts for theaters and stadiums in the city. Advertisments has stores and businesses in Philadelphia, where Wanamaker's was originally based, before expanding to New York City in 1896. The New York store, a famous landmark in the city, was razed by fire in 1956, 34 years after the death of its founder, John Wanamaker.
NOTE: Image scanned of "The Wannamaker Diary 1919", from my computer, I have the original copy. The hard cover brown and black book is about 8 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide and about 2 inches thick. Advertisements are interesting due to the date of issue. This Diary was found at a "garage sale" several years ago, by a friend. She bought it for me for only 50 cents! It had already deteriated alot, looking very old now. I keep it well covered in a plastic container, looking at it only occasionally. SKD.


image The Wanamaker Grand Organ in Philadelphia first played in the Grand Court on June 22, 1911. Built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the Wanamaker Organ was designed by renowned organ architect George Ashdown Audsley. Its construction was $105,000, bankrupting the builder.
In 1909, John Wanamaker bought the instrument for his Philadelphia emporium. The Grand Organ was first heard in the seven story atrium in 1911, at the exact moment when England's King George was crowned. Later that year, it was used when President Taft dedicated the store. The tone was judged inadequate to fill the huge court. Wanamaker's opened a private pipe organ factory in the store attic, employing about 40 employees to make it larger. The largest pipe is made of flawless Oregon Sugar Pine three inches thick and over 32 feet long. The smallest pipe is a quarter-inch in length. Enlargements occured 1917, and in 1924 to 1930, evenually bringing the total number of pipes today to 28,500. There is a massive console with six ivory keyboards and 729 color-coded stop tablets. There are 168 combination buttons and 42 foot controls. During the lifetime of John Wanamaker and his son Rodman, since 1919, the world's finest organists have continued to perform at Wanamakers.

Now a National Historic Landmark and valued in excess of $50 million, the Wanamaker Organ is of the American Symphonic design, which can play the great organ masterworks as well as the entire range of orchestral literature. The pipework encompasses the resources of three symphony orchestras.

The memorial tablet on the Wanamaker Store reads:"Let those who follow me continue to build with the plumb of Honor, the level of Truth, and the Square of Integrity, Education, Courtesy and Mutuality."

John Wanamaker, Merchant Prince.... died on December 12, 1922.
He had a heavy cold for several months and never recovered. He was buried two days after his death, by the Bethany Presbyterian Church. Together with his wife and sons, his body rests in a stately mausoleum bell tower at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Church of St. James the Less in Fairmount Park. Grave # 701.

The heritage of this great man lives on in the large stone buildings of his Philadelphia and New York retail empire and in the hearts of those who revere and remember him.


1861 Wanamaker's became the first store to guarantee the quality of its merchandise in print.

1865 Wanamaker's became the first store to have a guaranteed refund policy.

1876 Wanamaker's opened the first public restaurant in a department store.

1878 Wanamaker's became the first department store to be illuminated by electricity.

1879 Bell telephone first used in a store.

1880 First pneumatic tubes installed as cash carriers.

1882 Elevators first installed.

1896 John Wanamaker Commercial Institute established for young employees.

1899 Pianos sold at the then-revolutionary fixed-price system.

1911 Largest organ in the world from St. Louis World's Fair inaugurated in the Grand Court. Building dedicated December 30 by President William H. Taft.

1912 Wanamaker's, the first store in the nation to have a wireless, received news of the sinking of the Titanic.

1915 Athletic field opened on the roof of the Philadelphia store.

1916 New store medical offices opened with free care to employees.

1918 Public singing of Christmas carols in the Grand Court inaugurated.

1919 First Wanamaker Musicians' Assembly with the Grand Organ and Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.

1922 Organ concerts broadcast for the first time on Wanamaker station WOO.

1948 First televised production of Wagner's "Parsifal" in the Grand Court, with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

1956 Premiere of the store Christmas Light Show, continued today by Lord & Taylor.

1980 The Wanamaker Organ becomes the first pipe organ to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

None of the Genealogies of Jorg/Georg Wannemacher have been documented nor proven by me. This information is very old and may not be completely accurate. It is here merely as a "Base" to help further your research. It is very safe to say that for anyone wanting more Pennsylvania Wannemacher/Wanamaker/Wannamaker Genealogies, it can be found in The Archives of Pennsylvania. If John Wanamaker's Genealogies have been found which includes his ancestors, Please be sure to contact me. (( [email protected] ))
Good Luck!

Jorg/Georg Wannemacher is the founder of the first generation in Pennsylvania. He is believed to be the ancestor of John Wanamaker... Merchant, Postmaster-General.

Ship - Britannia: At the Courtho. of Philadia., Sepr. 21st, 1731. Present: The Honble Patrick Gordon, Esqr., Lt. Govr Clement Plumsted, Esqr., Member of Council Thomas Laurence, Esqr, Member of Council Derick Jansen, Esqr., one of His Majties Justices of Peace for the county of Philadelphia. Michael Franklyn, Mr., from Rotterdam, but last from Cowes 21st of Septr., 1727 **Georg Wanamaker**

1.)Jorg/Georg Wannemacher, born abt. 1718 in probably Baden, Germany; died abt. 1795 in Northampton Co., PA. He marr. Elizabeth Catharina, died abt. 1807 in Northampton Co., PA.

Children of George Wannemacher and Elizabeth Catharina are:

i. Peter Wannemacher, born abt. 1739; died abt. 1807; marr. Christina.
ii. Catharina Regina Wannemacher, born February 2, 1743 - 44; died January 18, 1831 in Carbon Co., PA; marr. Peter Muffly.
iii. Christina Wannemacher, born abt. 1749; died abt. 1778; marr. Andreas Ohl.
iv. Catharina Wannemacher, born abt. 1752.
2. - v. Heinrich Henry Wanamaker, born abt. 1754; died abt. 1831 in Hunterdon Co., NJ; marr. Maria "Mary".
vi. Anna Margaretha Wannemacher, born abt. 1757; marr. Conrad Gottlieb.
vii. Marie Elizabeth Wannemacher, born abt. 1760.
viii. Johnetta Wannemacher, born abt. 1762 in Northampton Co., PA; marr. Johann Carl Ross.

2.) Heinrich Henry Wanamaker, born abt. 1754; died abt. 1831 in Hunterdon Co., NJ. He was the son of Jorg/Georg Wannemacher and Elizabeth Catharina. He marr. Maria "Mary", died August 17, 1822 in Hunterdon Co., NJ.

Children of Heinrich Wanamaker and Marie Mary are:

i. Mary Wanamaker, marr. David Smith November 10, 1821 in Hunterdon Co., NJ.
ii. Susanna Wanamaker, born March 7, 1782; marr. Michael Neas May 25, 1802 in Lehigh Co., PA.
3. - iii. John Wanamaker, born 1787 in Northampton Co., PA; died August 4, 1851 in Kosciusko Co., Indiana; marr. (1) Anna Hahn abt. 1810; marr. (2) Elizabeth Hurst Locke December 22, 1833 in Philadelphia, PA.
iv. Hannah Wanamaker, born abt. 1790; died August 15, 1822 in Hunterdon Co., NJ; marr. James Gaddis August 19, 1802.
v. Nicholas Wanamaker, born abt. 1791 in Hunterdon Co., NJ; died April 27, 1864 in Bucks Co., PA; marr. Parmelia Pamelia Carver November 13, 1811 in Bucks Co., PA.
vi. George Wanamaker, born June 2, 1799 in Hunterdon Co., NJ; died October 26, 1877 in Hunterdon Co., NJ; marr. Frances Fanny Everitt October 8, 1820.

3.) John Wanamaker, born 1787 in Northampton Co., PA; died August 4, 1851 in Kosciusko Co., Indiana. He was the son of Heinrich Henry Wanamaker and Maria "Mary". He marr. Anna Hahn. He marr. Elizabeth Hurst Locke December 22, 1833 in Philadelphia, PA. Elizabeth Hurst Locke, born October 1797 in New York; died January 6, 1877 in Kosciusko Co., Indiana.

Children of John Wanamaker and Anna Hahn are:

i. Samuel R. Wanamaker, born abt. 1810 in Montgomery Co., OH; marr. Susan.
4. - ii. John "Nelson" Wanamaker, born October 25, 1811 died 1861. marr. Elizabeth Kochersperger born unknown died 1885.(Her mother was Elizabeth DeShong, a Huguenot. French Des Champs. English Deshong or Delong.)
iii. Wilson Wanamaker, born abt. 1814; marr. Lydia.
iv. George Wanamaker, born abt. 1819; marr. Sarah.
v. Mary Ann Wanamaker, born abt. 1819; marr. ..Fry.

Children of John Wanamaker and Elizabeth Locke are:

i. John Wesley Wanamaker, born October 9, 1834 in Pennsylvania; died June 12, 1915 in Hamburg, IA; marr. Lucinda Ann Towns February 3, 1857 in Kosciusko Co. Indiana.
ii. Susannah M. Wanamaker, born December 14, 1837 in Philadelphia, PA; died June 24, 1923 in Kosciusko Co., IN; marr. Jessie W. Crabbe February 16, 1869 in Kosciusko Co., IN.

4.) John "Nelson" Wanamaker, born October 25, 1811 in Montgomery Co., died July 17, 1862 PA; marr. Elizabeth Deshong Kochersperger, born abt. 1818 died abt. 1881... Nelson took his family to Indiana to live, but returned to PA in 1856. He was a Bricklayer by trade.

Children of Nelson Wanamaker and Elizabeth Kochersperger are:

5. - i. "John" Nelson Wanamaker born July 11, 1838 died December 12, 1922. Marr. Mary Brown in abt 1860. Her father was an Irish Grocer, Thomas Brown.
i. William Henry Wanamaker 1840 - 1905
ii. Elizabeth Wanamaker 1842 - 1925
iii. Mary Ellen Wanamaker 1845 - 1918
iv. Samuel Wanamaker 1849 - 1904
v. Francis Marion Wanamaker 1850 - 1916
vi. Bell Wanamaker 1856 - 1859

.... 5.) "John" Nelson Wanamaker born July 11, 1838 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania died December 12, 1922. Burial in St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Marr. Mary Brown.

Children of John Wanamaker and Mary Brown are:

i. Thomas Wanamaker born abt 1862 died 1908, marr. Mary L. Welch.
ii. Lewis Rodman Wanamaker born February 13, 1863 died 1928, marr. Fern deHenry
iii. Mary "Minnie" Wanamaker born abt 1871 died 1920. marr. Barclay Warburton.
iv. Elizabeth "Lillie" Wanamaker born abt 1876 died 1927. marr. Norman McLeod.
v. Horace Wanamaker born abt 1864, died in infancy during the Civil War.
vi. Harriett E. Wanamaker born 1865, died 1870

Lewis Rodman Wanamaker
Much has been written about the merchant prince John Wanamaker, but little mention about his son Rodman. During his lifetime Rodman Wanamaker avoided the press and kept out of the limelight as much as possible.

He was committed to bringing art and beauty into the stores. His influence extended to the finest merchandise, pioneering imports of French fashions, richness of Store architecture, decor and music. Which continues today in the artwork that adorns Wannamaker's, the now named Lord & Taylor Department Store, in the Holiday Light and Fountain Show and daily sounds of the Wanamaker Organ, became the hallmark of the Wanamaker empire.

It was Rodman Wanamaker who enlarged the Wanamaker Organ. He undertook the medieval style Lady Chapel at Philadelphia's St. Mark's Episcopal Church, with silver altar. Similar decorations in the chapel of the English Royal family at Sandringham; the processional cross he gave to Westminster Abbey; and the great bell he cast in memory of his father.

He was born February 13, 1863, and entered Princeton University in 1881, graduating in 1886. In college he sang in the choir. A member and business manager of the Glee Club. He suffered the early death of his first wife, leaving him a widower with 3 children. His second marriage ended unhappily, and he suffered from kidney disease the last eight years of his life.

In 1886 he joined his father's business, and married Fernanda Henry of Philadelphia. He went to Paris as resident manager in 1889, and lived abroad for more than ten years. When his father purchased the A.T. Stewart business in New York in 1896, he helped revolutionize the department store with top quality items.

He returned from Europe in 1899, keeping his Paris residence. After the death of his brother Thomas in 1908 and retirement of Robert C. Ogden, he was his father's chief lieutenant. Before John Wanamaker died he turned all his holdings over to Rodman of the two stores. John Wanamaker had been the sole owner of the business, with his death in 1922, complete control and management passed from father to son. No other retail merchandising business on so large a scale in the world was in the hands of a single man.

Like his father, Rodman Wanamaker always had many outside interests. But, he was not a public man like his father John Wanamaker. The life he lived outside his business was like a recluse. At home he surrounded himself with beautiful furniture and priceless tapestries. He loved jewelry. He spent many hours reading books. He collected rare musical instruments.

He went to great lengths to care for the thousands who worked for him. He loved music, pictures, flags and uniforms. He shared great passion for beauty with all those who worked for him and knew him.

Orville Wright, once called Rodman Wanamaker's idea of a trans-Atlantic flight "impracticable and foolhardy." But Wanamaker persisted. His first "America," which was wrecked in a storm, was the largest airplane ever built in the United States. His second "America" was purchased by the British Admiralty when the outbreak of the World War made an attempt at flight impossible. His third "America," in 1927, met with an accident, just as it was ready to take off before Lindbergh and Chamberlain started their flights. The "America" made a new page in the history of aviation when Commander Richard Evelyn Byrd piloted it, with three companions, from New York to France in the early summer of 1927.

This Webpage is not copyrighted by me because the Public history of John Wanamaker is copyrighted by other sources, which is readily available in textbooks, encyclopedia's, the Internet and etc. I have copied information from books and the internet to create this page, only because he was a Wanamaker. I make no claim of ownership of any of the information on this Webpage. Other than ownership of "The Wanamaker Diary" and some Genealogies in my possession, which were given to me by Loral Wanamaker years ago, who was directly related to me, and a very prominant Historian of his day. I have Not studied nor proven these families myself. Reason is that I realize I am not closely related to this family.

If anyone is able to prove this Wanamaker Family Genealogy and would like to share more information, please don't hesitate to email me:
(( [email protected] )). I would be very interested in any information you are able to share! SKD

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