Sachs Surname Meaning, History & Origin,

Select Sachs Meaning
The surname Sachs took its name from the region of Saxony in central Germany, originally Sachsen after a line of princes there in the 15th century. The name, however, became more common in Bavaria. The Jewish Sachs name is of more recent origin – dating probably from the early 19th century when Jews in Germany were obligated to take surnames.
Sachs was a name adopted in memory of persecuted forebears, an acronym of the Hebrew phrase zera kodesh
, or “his name is of the seed of holiness.” Spelling variants are Sacks and Saks.

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Sachs Ancestry

There are an estimated 12,000 Sachs in Germany today. The name has
been fairly common in Bavaria (Hans Sachs the famous meistersinger came from Nuremburg in Bavaria) and has also cropped up in Hesse.

As a Jewish name, Sachs was to be found throughout the Yiddish diaspora of central and eastern Europe, in Poland, Lithuania and Russia as well as Germany. The rabbi Michael Sachs, born in Silesia in the early 1800’s, was one of the great preachers of his age.

Of the Sachs who came to America, some 70 percent started out from German-speaking lands.

America. The first Sachs
in America may have been Dutch, early settlers in New York state.
Johan Peter Sachs was recorded as marrying Angeniser Thornbauer in
Kingston, NY in 1727. Two Sachs from the Palatinate in
Germany – Johan Adam Sachs and Johann Jacob Sachs – were onboard the Edinburgh which came to
Philadelphia in 1749.

The following were some 19th century German Sachs immigrants:

  • Franz Sachs and his son Joseph left Luderode in Thuringia for
    Louisville, Kentucky in 1849. Both father and son were tailors.
  • Daniel Sachs arrived in 1858 and found work in the coal
    mines in Eckley, northern Pennsylvania. Other Sachs also settled
    in this locality.
  • Gottfried Sachs, following his sister, came with
    his family from Stuttgart to California in 1885. They settled in
    Zamora, just
    north of Sacramento.

Jewish. The first main Jewish settlement in America was in Baltimore and a number of Sachs came from that community. Andrew Saks, born there in 1847, started the Saks chain of department stores which later included their flagship store of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.

Joseph Sachs, an immigrant from Bavaria, ran a successful
congregational school for
Jewish students in Baltimore. His son Samuel Sachs joined his
father-in-law’s investment banking company – which became Goldman Sachs
after Samuel took over the running of the firm in 1904. The
company story, together with the family dynamics, is covered in June
Breton Fisher’s 2009 book Henry
Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street.

The wave of late 19th century Jewish immigration included the following

  • Wolf Sachs, a peddler and shop owner who had come from Russia to
    Pennsylvania in 1888 and then brought his family together in Baltimore
    in 1900. His daughter Mary Sachs opened a clothing
    store in Harrisburg,
    Pennsylvania in 1918 which became one of the town’s leading retail
  • Florence (Flossie) Sachs who came with her family from Lithuania
    to Pittsburgh in the early 1880’s. She was the wife of Lewis
    Selsnick and mother of David Selsnick, both of whom were to prosper in
    new American movie industry.
  • and Solomon
    who came from Russia to New York in 1906. He was
    only to live for another eight years before dying of tuberculosis.

There were later arrivals fleeing Nazi persecution such as the
scientist and astronomer Rainer Sachs.

. John Sachs
emigrated from Thuringia (then part of Prussia) to the Hespeler area of
Cambridge, Ontario in 1848 where other German families had
settled. Several other Sachs families were to
be found in the early history of this region.

Sachs Harbour is a hamlet on Banks island in the Northwest
territories. It was named after the schooner Mary Sachs, built in California,
that was part of the Canadian Arctic expedition of 1913.

South Africa. A Sachs
family (originally Saks) left their home in Lithuania in 1914 and
moved to South Africa. Solly Sachs who was a child then
became a
fearless trade union organizer and opponent of apartheid.
He and his son Albie spent many years in exile in England. Albie
had lost his arm and his sight in one eye from a bomb placed by South
Africa’s security services. He later returned to South Africa
and, post-apartheid, was appointed as a judge on the Constitutional
Court of
South Africa.

England.  Another Sacks from Lithuania, Samuel, came to England in 1917 and worked as a doctor in London’s East End. He had been houseman to Henry Head, one of Britain’s pioneering neurologists; while his wife Elsie, who had studied under Marie Curie, became a surgeon. Their son Oliver Sacks would become world-famous as a neurologist.


Sachs Miscellany


Sachs Coming to America.  Most Sachs coming to America came from German speaking lands.  The table below shows the numbers that were recorded.

Numbers Per cent
From German-speaking lands *   309   70
From Russian lands   101   25
From Poland    22    5
Total   432  100

* Listed as Germany, Prussia, Bavaria and Hesse.

Saks 34th Street and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Andrew Saks, a native of Baltimore, opened his first shop in Washington
DC in 1867 and built an operation that spread to other cities.  In
the 1890’s he came to New York to investigate opening a store
there.  At that time the principal shopping district was below
23rd Street, with the most elite stores on Broadway and the
middle-market stores on Sixth Avenue.

It was fairly clear that high-end stores would move north on Fifth Avenue and the natural conclusion was that the middle-market
stores would gradually migrate up Sixth Avenue.  Macy’s acted on
this premise in 1901 when it announced its store at the northwest
corner of 34th Street and Broadway at Herald Square. Andrew Saks
followed later in 1901 just to the south on Broadway and Sixth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets.

The construction of Pennsylvania Station in 1910
confirmed Herald Square’s status as mass not class.  After Andrew
Saks died in 1912, his son Horace took over and responded to a
different vision.  Swank shops had continued to move up Fifth
Avenue, but Sixth Avenue – in the perpetual shadow of the Sixth Avenue El – had effectively reached a standstill on 34th Street.

To raise cash to build a new store between 49th and 50th
Street on Fifth Avenue, Horace Saks sold the entire company to his
competitor, Bernard F. Gimbel.  The result was Saks Fifth Avenue,
Saks’ operation but Gimbel’s money.  Instead of closing the old
Saks, Gimbels restyled it “Saks – 34th Street” and built a second-floor bridge connecting the two buildings.  Although now jointly owned, the two stores operated as separate businesses.

What began in 1924 as a gap between Saks 34th Street and
Saks Fifth Avenue eventually became a gulch. In 1938 Fortune described Saks Fifth
Avenue’s merchandise and clientele as completely unlike “the anthill bargain basement tables on Herald Square.”

Reader Feedback – Saks Fifth Avenue.  Seventy years in possession of a precious bag from my mother to me from Saks London New York.  So honored to know the history behind this handbag Mum left me.

Elvina (

Solomon Sachs in New York.  Solomon Sachs arrived in New York from Russia in 1906 at the age of
24.  He operated in Manhattan a business called “Sol’s
Belts.”  In 1909 he married Ida Miller who had been born in
Manhattan of Russian immigrants and they had a son named Aaron who
became a doctor in Brooklyn.   Sadly, in 1914 at the age of
32, Solomon died of tuberculosis.

Solly and Albie Sachs.  Albie Sachs
was born into a fervently political Jewish family.
His father Solly was a renowned trade
unionist who fought against racism in South Africa.
“I had a father who was in the news a lot.  My
emotions were mixed. It was mainly
pride,” Albie said.

Solly, who had
separated from his wife when Albie was young, was fairly remote.  “In many ways he was the guy behind the
newspaper – I saw the top of his head sticking out and his knees

During the second world war, Sachs received a
postcard from his father: “‘Dear Albert, congratulations on your sixth
birthday.  May you grow up to be a
soldier in the fight for liberation.’ Now that’s fantastic.  But it’s heavy.”

While Solly made his home in Johannesburg,
Albie and his mother lived in Cape Town where his mother was secretary
to Moses
Kotane, the leader of the Communist Party and the ANC.
Unlike any white South Africans of his
generation, Albie Sachs grew up seeing black and white adults interact
equals.  Later Albie became like his
father a fervent campaigner against apartheid.

Marilyn Sachs’ Childhood.  Marilyn Sachs, the author of more than thirty
books for children and young adults, helped launch the trend of
realistic fiction for young readers with her first book, Amy Moves In, in 1964.

Her own childhood provided the framework for many of her stories.
Born in New York City, she grew up in an apartment on Jennings Street
in the east Bronx.  Sachs once recalled that although the street
had no trees, flowers or birds, it did have plenty of children.
Because there was not much traffic on Jennings Street, neighborhood
children would gather to play outdoor games.  Although most
families that lived on the street – including Sachs’ own – were poor,
the author remembered this time of her life fondly and has documented
it in her books.

As she once remarked: “Amy Moves In,
my first book, probably comes closer to describing my life on Jennings
Street than any of my other books.”

Mary Sachs in Harrisburg.  In 2007 the Dauphin County Historical Society hosted an exhibit
dedicated to one of Harrisburg’s most famous 20th century
community members, Mary Sachs, the
Epitome of Style and Substanc

The exhibit featured select Mary Sachs clothing and accessories donated
or loaned to the Society by local residents who never forgot the
uniqueness of the Mary Sachs retailing experience.  Also on
display was
a large-scale photograph reproduction of the Mary Sachs Harrisburg
storefront as it existed after World War II, as well as photographs
documenting her lifelong commitment to family and community.

Mary Sachs was a Russian-born immigrant who was only four years old
when she came to America in 1892. She began developing her knack
for the retail trade at Kaufman’s department store on Harrisburg’s
Market Square.  In 1918 Mary Sachs was introduced to Harry
Lowengard.  He loaned her seed money and rented to her the first
floor of his building so that she could open her own clothing
store.  The
store opened in September 1918.  With sales of over $200,000 in
its first year, the shop quickly became one of Harrisburg’s premier
retail locations.

Mary Sachs died on June 24, 1960 at the age of 72.  On the
following day, the Mary Sachs Shop and the 212 Man’s Shop closed in
observance of her death.  An advertisement read: “It is with
sorrow that we make known the passing of our beloved founder Mary


Select Sachs Names

  • Andrew Saks from Baltimore founded the Saks chain of department stores which eventually included Saks
    Fifth Avenue in New York.
  • Samuel Sachs was an American
    investment banker. He joined his father-in-law Marcus Goldman’s firm, prompting the name change to Goldman Sachs in 1904 when he took
    over the running of the firm.
  • Albie Sachs, born of Jewish
    immigrants from Lithuania, was a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, appointed by Nelson Mandela in 1994.
  • Oliver Sacks is a British neurologist whose books such as Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for
    a Hat
    have brought him a wider audience.
  • Jeffrey Sachs is an American
    economist and author of bestsellers such as The End of Poverty and Common Wealth.

Select Sachs Numbers Today

  • 300 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York)




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