Moritz STERNBERG [????-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Moritz STERNBERG [????-????]




A special sessions of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace will be held in the Justices’ room, at the Magistracy, at eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Monday, the Fourth day of June, A.D. 1894, for the purpose of considering an application from one K. J. Shellim for the transfer of his Publican’s licence to sell and retail intoxicating liquors on the premises situate at house No. 1, Jubilee Street, under the sign of 'The Colonial Hotel to one Moritz Sternberg.

H. E. Wodehouse,
Police Magistrate.
Magistracy, Hongkong, 18th May, 1894.

1896: He appears in the Jurors List:

c Sternberg Moritz Proprietor Colonial Hotel     Jubilee Street  

I think he was also the owner of "M. Sternberg", the postcard publisher.

1897, November. GOVERNMENT NOTIFICATION—No, 523.


A Special Session of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace will be held in the Justices’ Room, at the Magistracy, on Tuesday, the 7th day of December, A.D. 1897, at 12 o’clock noon, for the purpose, of considering an application from one M. Sternberg, for the transfer of his Publican’s licence to sell and retail intoxicating liquors on the premises situate at No. 1, Jubilee Street, under the sign of The Colonial Hotel, to one J. H. Donnenberg.

Police Magistrate.
Magistracy, Hongkong, 26th November, 1897.

1898. Report on the Commission of Alcoholic Liquors. Sternberg is described as having "bad character" in Appendix 3: LIST OF APPLICANTS FOR SPIRIT LICENCES FOR THE YEAR COMMENCING 1st DECEMBER, 1897, AND ENDING 30th NOVEMBER, 1898.

No. Name of Applicant. Whether before Licensed Description of Licence Sign of House. Situation of House. Names and Additions of Proposed Sureties. Previous History in each Case. Remarks in each Case.  Report of Captain Superintendent of Police Minutes made at the Session of Justices
7 M. Sternberg Yes Publican's Licence The Colonial Hotel No. 1, Jubilee Street 1. Carlowitz & Co.
2. Lam Wing.
Has held a licence for about 2 years I. Proprietor fined $50 on 27.7.97 for allowing disorderly conduct on his premises.
II. Applicant’s character is bad.

I object on the ground of the bad character of applicant.    F. H. May,


1901. A sad entry - a gravestone in the Hong Kong Jewish Cemetery records the death of his one-year-old son Jacob: "The dearly & fondly beloved son of Lizzie & Moritz Sternberg. Born in Hong Kong October 30th 1899, Died February 14th 1901."

1907, November. Notice No.790 lists applications under the Liquor Licences Ordinance, including:

1. From Rebecca Pfeifer for the transfer to her from one M. Sternberg of the publican’s licence to sell by retail intoxicating liquors on premises numbered 318 and 320, Queen’s Road Central, under the sign of “The International Hotel”.

1909. The 1909 Directory & Chronicle mentions him:

International Hotel, 318 & 320 Queen's Road Central
Moritz Sternberg, licensee

I searched for Sternberg at HKGRO (five results, four of which are related to M. Sternberg and licenses for serving alcohol), the online newspapers at the HK Public Library's MMIS (several results, but none were about this man) and Gwulo.


A little mystery.


On the 19th June, at No. 1 Jubilee Street, Hongkong, MORITZ PAPIER, Proprietor of the Colonial Hotel. Aged 56" 

Source:  The China Mail, page 2, 20th June 1900

I note above in the 1896 Jurors List that the proprietor of the Colonial Hotel at Jubilee Street was named as Moritz Sternberg. First name the same, surname different. Is this the same person?

A look through the Jewish Cemetery records at Happy Valley revealed that on the 20th June 1900 a 'Pinchas Moses Papier' was buried, aged 56 years old (c.1844-19th June 1900). This ties with the newspaper report except the name wasn't quite Moritz. Except that the name 'Moritz' was sometimes used by Jews by bearers of the personal name of Moses, as the two names have some phonetic similarity. 

So who was the Moritiz Sternberg post 1900? Was this a father/son relationship? 

We are clearly dealing with two different people. 

To give you the short answers to your questions, Moritz Sternberg and Moritz Papier were two different people and probably not related to each other. The name "Moritz" was not uncommon among German and Eastern European Jews prior to WWII. In the Jewish religion, a child is given a Hebrew or Yiddish name first and a secular name second.  (I have a Hebrew name while my parents have Yiddish names.)  More often than not, though it's not an absolute, the two names begin with the same phoneme.  Pinchas Moses Papier probably went by the secular name of Moritz Papier outside of religious circles, and though we don't know Moritz Sternberg's Hebrew or Yiddish name, there's a good chance it was Moses, or Moshe (Hebrew) / Moishe (Yiddish).

We also know that they are two different people because Papier was born in Berdychiv, which is in Ukraine, while Sternberg was from somewhere in Austria (probably Galicia).  Papier was born around 1844; Sternberg was born about 25 years later.  Papier was married to Annetta; Sternberg was married to Lizzie.  I am in touch with the Sternberg descendants and there's never been a question of whether they are related to the Papiers.

It's not a coincidence that both men owned the Colonial Hotel, though, in fact, the hotel was registered to Annetta Papier in 1901, one year after her husband died.  Even so, at that time, a number of hotels in Central were licensed by Jews. Before Sternberg, Kadoori Jacob Shellim, a Baghdadi Jew, operated the Colonial. In between Sternberg and Papier, the hotel was operated by another Jew, Joseph Haiem Donnenberg, and Bernard Mayer took over the hotel from Annetta Papier and he ran it from 1905 to 1911. Tevil Silbermann operated The Land We Live In (332-334 QRC) from 1886 to 1894, with the exception of 1890 when he briefly returned to Europe. During that time, the hotel was run by his nephew, Isydor Silberman (with one "n"). The younger Silberman also ran the Globe Hotel (184 QRC) from 1894 to 1909. In 1910, he transferred the license to another Jew, Ephraim Fischel Zellermeyer who, in turn, transferred it to another Jew, Adolph Weingarten, the following year. Weingarten may have been Mayer's brother-in-law. Israel Weinberg operated the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle (290 QRC) in 1892 but the hotel was operated by his son-in-law, Carl Berkovitz, before him.

Now aren't you glad you asked?

Thank you so much for the detail and time to your answer howzend. It now makes sense to me. Yes, definitely two different people and no evidence of any relation. Also the various chains of hotel proprietorships was a real head scratcher to disentangle when I first read it but it does provide an interesting case study of the various business and familial relationships within the Jewish community in Hong Kong. 

I turned my attention back to Moritz Sternberg and he is a real tough nut to crack in terms of locating his origins. I couldn't find hard facts to triangulate his origins beyond second hand evidence or oral history that he was Austrian and his birth year could be circa 1857 or 1869. He seemingly may have spent time in India, Siam, Singapore and Hong Kong. I lost track of him after Hong Kong 1912. Maybe the descendents have an idea what happened to him? Shanghai?


1. Moritz Sternberg (c.1857 or 1869->1912) – Austrian   

…+ Elizabeth (‘Lizzie’) Freidman (27th May 1869-4th March 1957) d. San Francisco, California

…2. Bertha Sternberg (22nd Aug 1896-19??) b. Hong Kong d. Singapore

……+ (?) Osborn (18??-19??)

……3. Sybil Kathleen Osborn (24th Oct 1923-19th Jan 1991) b. Shanghai, China d. Galway. Ireland

………+ Alastair (Alister) George MacKenzie (31st Oct 1915-22nd Nov 1989) b. Bedford, Bedfordshire d. Deddington, Oxfordshire

…2. Jacob Sternberg (30th October 1899-14th February 1901) b. Hong Kong d. Hong Kong

…2. Manos (Manuel) Sternberg (24th April 1901-12th July 1985) b. Hong Kong d. Laguna Hills, Orange, California

……+ Sarah Violet (‘Vi’) Judah (10th Oct 1904-17th Dec 1972) b. Shanghai, China d. California          (married Shanghai 28th Oct 1925)

……3. Viola Jacqueline (‘Jackie’) Ruth Sternberg (30th Aug 1926-) b. Shanghai, China

………+(1) Ervin Ross (‘Jack’) O’Neale (25th Nov 1912-16th Jun 1988) b. Barney, Oklahoma  d. Portland, Oregon     (marired Shanghai 23rd Sep 1945)

………+(2) Roger Lunden Johnson (3rd Feb 1922-6th Oct 2010) b. Fairmont, Minnesota      (married San Francisco, California 3rd May 1952)

…2. Esterina (Esther) Sternberg (6th Dec 1903-19th Jan 1996) b. Hong Kong d. Santa Barbara, California

……+ Stanley Enoch Williams (15th Jan 1901-2nd Oct 1990) b. Liverpool, England d. Santa Barbara, California       (married Shanghai 2nd Mar 1929)


I've left out those from generation 4 and beyond for privacy reasons. 

If I find anything else on Moritz's origins I'll post it here. 


Mr Sternberg departed Hong Kong via the ship Elektra for Penang August 1885. Assuming that is him (he is known to have spent time in Singapore), this date adds weight he was born in 1857 rather than 1869. The 1869 date was a lazy assumption to match his wife's age. 

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press, page 1, 12th August 1885

I don't know if it is him, a relative or someone unrelated but there was a Mr Sternberg who arrived in Hong Kong from Marseilles per ship Ernest Simons as reported in the China Mail of 4th December 1899. I'll post it here in the interim as a small piece of a jigsaw that may add clarity in the future when further information surfaces. 

Source: The China Mail, page 2, 4th December 1899 and The Hong Kong Daily Press, page 1, 4th December 1899