Samuel’s parents and brother



For the first time in my life I am seeing photos of my grandfather that I didn’t know existed. This is a rare picture of Samuel with his parents and his brother, taken at Fotografija Z. Tezba of Mariampole according to the stamp. This shows that he went back to visit his parents after his studies and confirms the connection with Mariampole, the place listed by Glasgow University as his home town. However, Mariampole (or Marijampole) may still only have been the family’s nearest town rather than where they actually lived and I am keen to find out their exact location.

Samuel looks strangely out of place in this photo, the newly qualified Glasgow lawyer visiting parents from a different culture. I am making an assumption that the other young man is his brother. He seems to be wearing some sort of uniform. I understand that Lithuania gained independence from the Russians in 1918 (only to lose it again in 1940), so I don’t know what uniform it would be. On the other hand, it may be that his brother is also on a visit to see his parents and brother. If only someone had labelled this photo!




So this is Marijampole, which according to the Glasgow University archive, was Samuel’s home town. This is what Google Maps says in its summary about the town today:

Marijampolė is an industrial city and the capital of the Marijampolė County in the south of Lithuania, bordering Poland and Russian Kaliningrad oblast, and Lake Vištytis. The population of Marijampolė is 48,700.

My next aim is to find out about the Marijampole of the past.

Glasgow University



Amazingly, simply typing ‘Samuel Grasse’ into Google has immediately led me to a short biography about my grandfather on the Glasgow University website. It seems astonishing that noone in the family knew about this source as it is full of new information.

According to this, the town he came from in Lithuania was Marijampole and his father was Abraham, a shopkeeper. I now know the year he arrived at Glasgow University, how long he studied for, what he studied and when he died.  It turns out that Samuel was the first Lithuanian to study at Glasgow and the first president of the University’s Jewish Society. Discovering all this information at once opens up my investigation in all sorts of directions. What a gift! And it also confirms that he really did study all those different subjects, just as my grandmother always told me.

This is what the Glasgow website says in full: Continue reading

Who was Samuel Grasse?




Samuel Grasse holding academic certificate, signed as a gift to his wife

I grew up knowing very little about my grandfather, Samuel Grasse, because he died many years before I was born. I knew that he was a Lithuanian Jew who had somehow won a scholarship to study law at Glasgow University at the beginning of the 20th century. I heard that he continued to study for further degrees until he had an entire collection of graduate and post-graduate qualifications. I could never fathom why he had started out as a lawyer and somehow ended up as a London GP. I was told he had spent his final years tending the wounded in the underground bomb shelters during the blitz, until in 1943 he died, aged 55, from what I was told was a stroke. Continue reading