Elizabeth Christ Trump (born Elisabeth Christ; October 10, 1880 – June 6, 1966) was a German-born American businesswoman and is considered the matriarch of the Trump family. She married Frederick Trump in 1902. While raising their three children, the early death of her husband in 1918 required her to manage his properties in order to support her family. She founded the real estate development company Elizabeth Trump & Son with her son Fred. The company, now known as The Trump Organization, is currently owned by her grandson, Donald Trump, who is the 45th President of the United States. Her great-grandsons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are running the family business as trustees during their father's presidency.
Elizabeth Trump was born as Elisabeth Christ in Kallstadt, Kingdom of Bavaria, the daughter of Philipp Christ by his wife Anna Maria Christ (née Anthon). While the family owned a little vineyard, the income from that was not adequate to meet their needs, and Philipp Christ worked as a tinker who repaired and polished old utensils and also sold pots and pans. He ran his trade from his house on Freinsheimer Straße in Kallstadt, which was just across the street from the home of the Trump family, where Katharina Trump, an elderly widow, lived with her six children.
Katharina's son Friedrich had emigrated to America in 1885 at the age of 16 and made his fortune with restaurants in the Klondike Gold Rush. When he returned to Germany in 1901, he wooed Elisabeth over the objections of his mother, who felt that her prosperous son could and should find a bride from a wealthier and more refined family than Elisabeth's. Nonetheless, Frederick proposed to Elisabeth, who accepted, and they were married on 26 August 1902. He was 33 and she was 22-years-old. Frederick and Elisabeth moved to New York and they set up house in an apartment in the predominantly German quarter of Morrisania in the Bronx. Elizabeth (as her name was spelled in the US) kept house, while Frederick worked as a restaurant and hotel manager. Their first child, a daughter whom they named Elizabeth, was born on April 20, 1904.
Despite living in a German neighborhood, Elizabeth was homesick and the family returned to Kallstadt in 1904, selling their assets in America.
Because the Bavarian authorities suspected that he had left Germany in order to avoid the service in the Imperial Army, Frederick could not remain in Germany, so the family returned to the United States in 1905. Their second child, Fred, was born and they set up house on 177th Street in the Bronx. After Elizabeth gave birth to her third child, John, the family moved to Queens, where Frederick began to develop real estate. In 1918, he died of influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic, leaving an estate valued at $31,359 ($492,016 in 2016 dollars).
Elizabeth had a "remarkable talent" for keeping the real estate business going. She hired a contractor to build houses on an empty piece of property left by her husband, sold the houses, and lived off the mortgages paid by the new owners. Her vision was to have her three children continue the family business when they finished school, but Fred wanted to start earlier, so she founded the company Elizabeth Trump & Son. Since Fred was still a minor, she had to sign all legal documents on his behalf, and perform the real estate closings. In 1927 when Fred was 22, Elizabeth Trump & Son was formally incorporated. Fred became quite successful with the business but Elizabeth remained involved throughout her life. Even in her 70s she would collect coins from the laundromats in Trump buildings.
Elizabeth was considered the matriarch of the Trump family. She had "extraordinary determination". She dressed very conservatively and formally. She was hardworking and had a stern demeanor. She remained close to her son Fred for her entire life.
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