The New Houdini Chronology ☛ 1874-90

1874-90 | 1891-94 | 1895 | 1896 | 1897 | 1898 | 1899 | 1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 |

Last update: 6/25/18

✪ ➤ March 24: Erik Weisz (Houdini) is born in Rakos arok-Gasse No. 1, Budapest, Hungary to Cecilia Steiner and Mayer Samuel Weisz. Anna Fleischmann midwife. Miska Disk godmother. [4][8]
➤ March 31: Erik is circumcised by I.L. Schill. [8]

Weisz family lives in Budapest, Hungary.

✪ ➤ Jan. 23: Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner born in Brooklyn, NY. [5][14]
✪ ➤ March 4: Ferenc Dezso Weisz (Hardeen) is born in Budapest. [8]
➤ Rabbi Weisz leaves Budapest for America. [9]

Ehrich and family live in Budapest, Hungary.

➤ April 6: Ehrich celebrates 4th birthday.
➤ June 19: Weisz family departs Hamburg aboard German steamship Frisia. [8]
✪ ➤ July 3: Weisz family arrives New York, NY. Processed at Castle Garden. Name becomes Weiss. [8]
➤ September: Weiss family settles in Appleton, WI at 114 S. Appleton Street. [8][13]

➤ Sept. 3: Leopold David Weiss born in Appleton. [8][15]

Weiss family lives in Appleton, WI

Weiss family lives in Appleton, WI

➤ Jan. 22: Carrie Gladys Weiss born. [15]
➤ June 6: Rabbi Weiss and family becomes a U.S. citizens. [5][8]
➤ Rabbi Weiss loses job. [8][9]
➤ December: Weiss family moves to Milwaukee. [9]

➤ Weiss family lives at 719 Prairie St., Milwaukee. [10]
➤ Ehrich attends Humbolt Avenue School. [8]
➤ Ehrich learns to swim at Rohn's Swimming School, Milwaukee, WI. [8]
➤ Ehrich works as newsboy for Milwaukee Journal. [4]
➤ April 6: Ehrich celebrates 9th birthday.
➤ Sept. 28: Barnum and London Circus plays Milwaukee. [8]
➤ Oct. 28: Ehrich performs acrobatics as "Ehrich, The Prince of the Air" at Jack Hoeffler's 5¢ Circus. Houdini later calls this his "professional debut." [3][4][8][9]

➤ June 26: Herman Weiss marries Amelia "Dolly" Patterson. Couple moves to Brooklyn, NY. [8]
➤ Weiss family moves several times within Milwaukee: 613 Cherry St., 612 Winnebego St., Chestnut St. [8]

➤ Weiss family moves to 517 6th St. in Milwaukee, WI [10]
➤ Nov. 16: Herman Weiss admitted to Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, NY. [8]
➤ Dec. 24: Herman Weiss dies of pulmonary tuberculosis at age 22. [8]
➤ Rabbi Weiss asks Ehrich to promise to always look after his mother. [8]

➤ April 6: Ehrich celebrates 12th birthday (likely he believed he was 13).
➤ Ehrich runs away from home (uses name Harry White). [4][8]
➤ Ehrich lives with the Flitcroft family in Delvan, WI. [8]
➤ Ehrich sends "Dear Ma" postcard from Withers Mill, Missouri. Travels to Kansas City. [5][8]

➤ Weiss family moves to New York City. Lives at Mrs. Loeffler's boarding house, 244 East 79th St. [8]
➤ September: Ehrich rejoins family in New York. [8][9]
➤ Ehrich works as messenger boy for the Mutual District Messenger Company and American District Telegraph Company. [3]

➤ April 6: Ehrich celebrates 14th birthday (likely he believed he was 15).
➤ Fall: Ehrich gets job at H. Richter's Sons (502-504 Broadway), New York, NY. as an assistant necktie cutter. [8]
➤ Ehrich meets Jacob Hyman. Shared interest in magic.
➤ Weiss family moves to 227 East 75th St., New York, NY. [8][9]

➤ Ehrich joins the Pasttime Athletic Club (67th Street), New York, NY. [8]
➤ April 30: Ehrich and Jacob Hyman give magic performance at a social affair. [12]

➤ April 6: Ehrich celebrates 16th birthday.
➤ April 13: Wedding of cousin Sarah Newman in New York. Newspaper account mentions the presence of Mayer Samuel, Cecilia, Nathan, William, and Carrie Gladys. [2]
➤ Fall: Weiss family moves to 305 East 69th St., New York, NY [8][9]
➤ Sept. 13: Ehrich wins prize in mile race sponsored by Amateur Athletic Union. [3][5]
✪ ➤ Nov. Ehrich reads The Memories of Robert-Houdin, Ambassador, Author and Conjuror. [11]

Primary Sources:
[1] Koval, Frank. The Illustrated Houdini Research Diary, Part 1: 1895 to 1899. Chadderton: 1993.
[2] Original newspaper story or advertisement via or other archival source.
[3] Silverman, Kenneth. Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.
[4] Christopher, Milbourne. Houdini The Untold Story. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1969.
[5] Original Houdini letter, cable, contract or signed item.
[6] Original pitchbook, program, playbill or poster.
[7] Houdini diary.
✪ Denotes a significant first.

Additional Sources (1874-90):
[8] Weltman, Manny. Houdini: Escape into Legend, The Early Years: 1862–1900. Van Nuys: Finders/Seekers Enterprises, 1993.
[9] Kalush, William, and Larry Sloman. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
[10] Saltman, David., Houdini's Darkest Days.
[11] Sandford, Christopher. Houdini and Conan Doyle. London: Duckworth, 2011.
[12] Rinn, Joseph F. Sixty Years of Psychical Research: Houdini and I Among the Spiritualists. New York: Truth Seeker Co, 1950
[13] Hilgert, Ronald J. Houdini Comes To America. Appleton: The Houdini Historical Center, 1996.
[14] Miracle Mongers and Their Methods inscribed by HH to Bess on her birthday, Jan. 23, 1921. John H. Hinson Collection.
[15] Benjilini, Benjilini on Houdini. Brooklyn: The Great Benjilini, 1994.


  1. The 1887 chronology is a bit peculiar. Silverman writes: "He (Mayer Samuel) and Erich came on first (to NYC), sometime in 1887, and lived for several months in a boardinghouse on East 79th St,run by a Mrs. Loeffler. Cecilia and the others joined them the following year..."

    Does the Sloman/Kalush & the Weltman account differ from this? I don't have those two books handy with me. Do they believe the Weiss family arrived together in NYC as a group and Erich arrived later?

    1. We know the full family lived at Mrs. Loeffler's. Hardeen talks about it. Rabbi Weiss may have come first, but the family joined him at some point, so I've just opted to record the entry as the family moving to NY. If I had specific dates for when Rabbi Weiss, Ehrich, and the family arrived, I would break it up.

  2. Regarding: March 3: Erik is circumcised by I.L. Schill.

    I'm guessing this is just a misprint on the date (should it be April 3???).

    1. Ah! Thank you for the catch. It's actually supposed to be March 31. Fixed.

  3. This is a monumental, ongoing effort, and it will be interesting to see—and ultimately correct—any inconsistencies between sources. What a useful resource this will be in the years ahead. A true labor of love. Thanks so much for doing this, John. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute something to this in the far future as time allows. Can't wait to see how this shapes up.

  4. What a fantastic piece of work. Thanks for sharing!



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