Bertha Funkenstein Michael

Dublin Core


Bertha Funkenstein Michael


Bertha Funkenstein Michael


Mollie Simon


March 3, 1863 - February 1, 1904


Camily Williams


Bertha Funkenstein Michael was the daughter of Rosa and Pincus (“Peter”) Funkenstein, the third president of Congregation Children of Israel in Athens, Georgia. She was born March 3, 1863—right in the middle of the Civil War—and her father, a German-born furniture salesman, likely resided on Hancock Avenue. Before living in Athens, her father lived in San Francisco, Ca. where he also sold furniture. Bertha was one of six children and, according to an oral history interview with her nephew, their family was pro-Union. Bertha married Lee J. Michael, a member of the Mount Vernon No. 22 masonic lodge. It is likely that the two met because both of their families were active in the Jewish congregation. In fact, by 1927, only 185 Jews lived in Athens according to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, making it even tighter-knit 50 years earlier. Sometime before 1900, Lee and Bertha moved to Macon, Ga. According to ISJL, Children of Israel was becoming less orthodox and more reformed at that time, whereas the synagogue in Macon, Temple Beth Israel, was still orthodox after its founding in 1852. Descendants of Bertha and Lee’s four children attended Beth Israel, so it is possible the couple moved because of the more religious community. During their lifetimes, the Michaels presumably lived comfortably. Lee’s cousins, Moses and Simon, owned Michael Brothers, a successful department store which operated in the tallest building in Athens before a fire sent them to their new location on East Clayton Street—the current building housing Mellow Mushroom. Bertha died (before both her parents) in Macon on February 1, 1904 after an illness, and in 1910 Lee moved back to Athens. He died nine years after his wife in South Carolina and is also buried in Oconee Hill. At least one of Bertha’s children, Morris Michael, stayed in Macon and was buried there in the Riverside Cemetery in 1943, where his wife’s family, the Happs, are also interred.




Mollie Simon, “Bertha Funkenstein Michael,” Death and Human History in Athens, accessed April 14, 2021,


Copy the code below into your web page