Illustration by Ed Supovitz
Rosanna Dyer Osterman

Florida Atlantic University Libraries

Jewish Heroes and

Heroines of America

from Colonial Times to 1900:

 

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Rosanna Dyer Osterman:
A Civil War Nurse and
Philanthropist

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Rosanna Dyer Osterman and her husband, Joseph Osterman, were pioneer citizens of Galveston, Texas. In the yellow fever epidemic of 1853, she temporarily used their home as a hospital so that, as a volunteer nurse, she could care of the sick and dying.

Her reputation as a volunteer nurse grew during the Civil War. Once again, she opened her home to the wounded, sick and dying Confederate soldiers. When the Union threatened and took Galveston, many fled the city. She remained in her home and took care of the wounded Union soldiers. She also acted as courier of military information for the Confederate officials and military. Her information helped the Confederate Army retake Galveston on January 1, 1863.

Rosanna Dyer Osterman was not the only Jewish woman nurse in the Civil War. The other was Phoebe Yates Levy Pember. Secretary of War George. W. Randolph, for the South, on December 1, 1862, appointed her as a military nurse (chief matron of the 2nd Division of Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital).

Rosanna Dyer Osterman was born on February 26, 1809, in Germany. Her parents, Isabella and John M. Dyer, moved to Baltimore with her two brothers, Leon and Isadore. Her family was very active in the Baltimore Jewish community. They were part of the group that built Baltimore’s first synagogue. Her brother, Leon, served our country in three wars.

On February 23, 1825, Rosanna Dyer married Joseph Osterman, in Baltimore. He was a merchant and silversmith, a former native of Amsterdam. The Ostermans moved to Galveston after experiencing some financial reversals. They opened a mercantile store that did business with most of Texas. They were very successful and retired a few years later. They are credited with building the first two-story building in Galveston at the corner Broadway and 24th Street.

Rosanna’s brother, Isadore, was a pioneer citizen of Galveston where the first Jewish religious service was held in his home in 1856.

Rosanna Osterman died in the explosion of the Steamship W. R. Carter on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, on February 2, 1866. She was buried in the Portuguese Cemetery in New Orleans.

She bequeathed large sums of monies to Jewish hospitals in New York, New Orleans and Cincinnati. She also left funds to a Jewish Foster Home in Philadelphia and to a non-denominational Widow’s andOrphan’s Home in Galveston.

She left money to build a brick synagogue in Galveston, to build a synagogue in Houston and monies to many smaller charities.

Rosanna Dyer Osterman gave of herself to help others. She was a Jewish woman who was proud of her heritage. She was a model to encourage women to help our country and others.

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Justin Moranski, Computer Article Consultant



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Last updated 12 May 2011