Elizabeth Christ Trump

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Elizabeth Christ Trump
Trump in 1902
Elisabeth Christ

(1880-10-10)October 10, 1880
DiedJune 6, 1966(1966-06-06) (aged 85)
Burial placeLutheran All Faiths Cemetery, Queens, New York City, U.S.
NationalityGerman and American
OccupationReal estate developer
(m. 1902; died 1918)
Children3, including Fred and John
Parent(s)Philipp Christ
Marie Anthon[1]

Elizabeth Christ Trump (born Elisabeth Christ; German pronunciation: [e:li:zabɛt kʁɪst]; October 10, 1880 – June 6, 1966) was a German-American businesswoman and the paternal grandmother of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States. She married Frederick Trump in 1902. They had three children, Fred, John, and Elizabeth (later Mrs. Walters). Her husband died in 1918, requiring the 37-year-old widow to manage their properties. She co-founded the real estate development company E. Trump & Son with her son Fred, the father of Donald Trump.

Early life[edit]

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).[2][3] Her father was a descendant of Johannes Christ (1626–1688/9) of Flörsheim, Hesse through his father and of organ builder Johann Michael Hartung (1708–1763) through his mother Sabina.[4]

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 repairing and polishing old utensils and selling 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 Katharina Trump, an elderly widow who lived with her six children, including Frederick.[1]

Marriage and family[edit]

Elizabeth Christ Trump and Frederick Trump in 1902

Katharina Trump's son, Frederick Trump, emigrated to America in 1885 at the age of 16 and made his fortune with restaurants and brothels 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 that of Elisabeth.

Nonetheless, Frederick and Elizabeth married on 26 August 1902.[1] He was 33 years of age at the time and she was 21. Friedrich 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 United States) kept house, while Frederick worked as a restaurant and hotel manager. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born on April 30, 1904.[1]

Despite living in a German neighborhood, Elizabeth was homesick. The family returned to Kallstadt in 1904, selling their assets in America. As the Bavarian authorities suspected he had left Germany to avoid conscripted service in the Imperial Army, Frederick could not remain in Germany, so the family returned to the United States in 1905.[1]

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 (or approximately equivalent to $421,811 in 2023).[5]

Trump was considered the matriarch of the Trump family.[6] She remained close to her son Fred for her entire life.[1]

E. Trump & Son[edit]

Following the death of her husband, Elizabeth Trump continued the real estate business he had begun. She had contractors build houses on the empty lots Frederick had owned, sold the houses, and earned income off the mortgages she provided to buyers. Her vision was to have her three children continue the family business.[1] Initially, she operated under the ungendered name "E. Trump."[7][8] In 1924, she switched to "E. Trump & Son" for advertising purposes,[9] then "Sons,"[10] then back to the singular when it became clear that only her first son, Fred, would join. In later interviews, Fred tended to put himself center stage, saying that he had always dreamt of being a builder; that he completed his first house in 1924, just one year out of high school; and that his mother only got involved because she was old enough to "sign checks."[11] But there are indications that Fred actually started more slowly[12] and Elizabeth contributed more, including capital.[13][14] When the business was formally incorporated, in 1927, Fred was old enough to sign checks, but "E. Trump & Son" remained the name.[15] "It was no misnomer," wrote biographer Wayne Barrett, "she was intimately involved in the business."[16]

Elizabeth Trump stayed involved in the family business throughout her life. In her 70s, she allegedly collected coins from the laundromats in Trump buildings.[1] (Trump family biographer Gwenda Blair heard this from Elizabeth's grandchildren.[17]) However, this may only be a family parable, as it has been associated with others in the family. Harry Hurt tells the story that Mary Trump, the wife of Elizabeth's son Fred, "drove back and forth between her husband's apartment projects in a Rolls-Royce, collecting coins from the washing machines in the laundry rooms."[18] and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Elizabeth's grandson Donald Trump told a crowd in Staten Island that he had spent "probably five" boyhood summers there collecting coins from his father's laundry machines.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Blair, Gwenda (2000). The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire. New York City: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0743210799.
  2. ^ List of Donald Trump's ancestors from his father's side, created by Archived 2017-01-08 at the Wayback Machine Johannes Steiniger
  3. ^ "Anna Marie Christ". geni_family_tree. 7 January 1857.
  4. ^ "GEDBAS: Vorfahren von Frederick Christ TRUMP". Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  5. ^ "Friedrich Trump Establishes a Dynasty". The Gotham Center for New York City History.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Barrett, Wayne (2016) [1st pub. 1992]. Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1942872979.
  7. ^ "Real Estate News". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 1918-08-03. p. 16.
  8. ^ "Real Estate Field". The New York Times. 1918-11-22. p. 18.
  9. ^ "Classified ad". The Chat. Brooklyn, NY. 1924-08-16. p. 53.
  10. ^ "Classified ad". The Chat. Brooklyn, NY. 1926-11-20. p. 108.
  11. ^ Whitman, Alden (January 28, 1973). "A Builder Looks Back—and Moves Forward". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Barrett 2016: "[P]ublic records established that he’d only been an active builder from 1927 to 1932."
  13. ^ Mason, Joseph B. (December 1, 1940). "Biggest one-man building show". American Builder and Building Age. ProQuest 853825839. When [Fred Trump] was 27 years old he started his first small home building job on his own, but with some financial backing from his mother.  – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  14. ^ Snyder, Gerald S. (1964-07-21). "Builder Turns Slum Areas into Profitable Apartments". The Town Talk. Alexandria, LA. UPI.
  15. ^ "New concerns function with Queens capital". The Daily Star. April 16, 1927. p. 16. E. Trump & Son Company, Inc., of Jamaica, has been formed with $50,000 capital to deal in realty.
  16. ^ Barrett 2016.
  17. ^ Blair 2000, p. 510.
  18. ^ Harry Hurt (1993). Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. W.W. Norton. ISBN 9780393030297.
  19. ^ Haberman, Maggie (April 18, 2016). "Our Woman in New York: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Friendly Turf". The New York Times.

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