Utah's Jewish History - by Rochelle Kaplan

The Earliest Utah Jews

Jews in Utah in 2012 numbered about 5600, not much different from its population in 1899 of 5000, but Jews have been in Utah since the 1850s.

Link to Sections:
Earliest Utah Jews

Ogden Jews

Corinne: Gentile Capital of Utah

Mining Magnates

2nd and 3rd Waves

Synagogues and Jewish Organizations

Jewish Politicians


Among the first Jews to spend time in Utah was South Carolina-born Solomon Nunes Carvalho, who, as the official photographer and artist, accompanied Colonel John Fremont on his 1853-1854 expedition from Missouri across the Rocky Mountains.

Salomon Carvalho

A fire later destroyed most of Carvalho's plates and prints, but his journal chronicles the trip. Fremont's group, exhausted after a winter in the Wasatch Mountains (which you can view from downtown), stumbled into the Mormon community of Parowan, where residents nursed Carvalho back to health.

The artist then traveled to Salt Lake City where he befriended and painted portraits of Brigham Young and other prominent citizens. In 1857, he accompanied Brigham Young on a peace mission and painted Native American leaders such as Wakara.

Carvalho only hints at his Judaism in his journal about the Fremont expedition, describing a porcupine with its quills burned off, looking much like pork, revolting Solomon, who sat hungry, looking at his comrades enjoying it.

Carvalho later lived in NYC, with two businesses, one for photography and the other for steam-heating systems, for which he held several patents. He was a founder of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles and helped establish a Sephardic congregation, Beit Israel, in Baltimore.

Alexander Neibaur

An early former Jew, Alexander Neibaur, trained as a Rabbi and dentist, converted to Mormonism in England, and was on the first ship carrying Mormons to the US in 1841. He taught Joseph Smith Hebrew and German in to Nauvoo, Illinois, was in the battle of Nauvoo, and was driven out by the mob in September 1846. He joined Brigham Young's camp to travel to Utah, arriving in September 1948. An article dealing with the early history of medicine in Utah also contains an account of Mr. Neibaur as a pioneer dentist in this area.

Perhaps spurred on by Carvalho's account and those of other pioneers, Jews migrated west. Lured by adventure, religious and personal freedom, and economic opportunity, some people traveled overland from Independence, MO across the plains, among them Julius and Fanny Brooks, the Ransohoff brothers, the Kuhn brothers, Gumpert Goldberg and Meyer Cohn. Others took ships south around the Atlantic Coast, around Cape Horn to the Pacific Ocean, and then north to San Francisco, before heading inland to Utah; these included Abraham Watters, Aaron Greenewald and Charles Popper. Still others traveled south along the Atlantic to Panama, trekked across the jungle to the Pacific, and booked passage to San Francisco. There they joined wagon trains headed to Utah.

Among this group were the Auerbach brothers, Moses Hirschman and Ichel Watters.

Jews lived all over Utah then- in Alta, Bingham, Brigham City, Castledale, Corinne, Echo, Eureka, Gunnison, Logan, Ogden, Ophir, Park City, Provo, Richfield, Salt Lake City, Silver City, Silver Reef, Tooele and Vernal.

Because Brigham Young long felt that the only suitable vocation for Mormons was agriculture, business opportunities opened for Jews and other Gentiles (non-Mormons).

A February 1865 article in The Hebrew mentioned twenty Jewish men and two families living in Salt Lake City, who did good business there and closed their stores for the High Holidays. Later that year, Jewish business leaders in town called for a meeting of Israelites and soon thereafter bought prayer books, a Torah and Talisim.

Brigham Young offered a hall gratis for religious services. On the High Holy Days that year, 50 Jews attended services, including some from Bozeman, in Montana Territory. That fall, seven Jewish families lived in SLC. The first formal congregation was established in 1873, but the articles of incorporation of B'nai Israel were filed in 1881, an early synagogue built in 1883 and a new synagogue was dedicated in 1891, on Fourth East, operating as a reform shul.

Fred Auerbach

Samuel Auerbach

The first wave of Jews came from Prussia and Germany.

The Auerbach brothers, Frederick, Samuel and Theodore, established dry goods and clothing stores in California's mining towns and then moved to Great Salt Lake City in 1863.

Auerbach, aided by Brigham Young, found a store location and then expanded operations to Corinne and Ogden. By 1883, the Auerbach brothers' outlets reached $500,000 in sales and real estate.

Street scene

SLC Dept Store

The SLC department store, one of the largest in the West, closed in 1977. Beatrice Fox Auerbach, herself the granddaughter of the founder of a successful dry goods firm, married Samuel's son, George. From 1938 to 1965, she became president of the Fox Department Store in Hartford, CT, introduced a number of retail innovations and grew the business into the largest privately-held store in the country. She also instituted important labor reforms, such as a 40-hour, 5-day work week, retirement plans, and advancement opportunities for African-Americans.

Also Prussian-born, the Ransohoff brothers, set up shop in SLC in 1858. Nicholas belonged to Utah's first Masonic Lodge, based at Camp Floyd.

He lent Brigham Young $30,000 to buy the camp's entire pork supply when the US Army left in 1864.

He was one of the first to freight goods across the Plains from the East.

And he helped found Congregation B'nai Israel, Utah's first synagogue, and the Liberal Party. At their height, The Ransohoffs had stores in SLC, Ogden and Corinne. In the 1880 census, N.S. Ransohoff is listed as a liquor dealer; his sons were born in PA. Leopold Ransohoff, N.S.'s son, in 1900, was a partner in a lace house in SLC.

N.S.'s brother, also named Leopold, founded San Francisco's esteemed Ransohoff Department Store, featured in Hitchcock's classic film, Vertigo. Another liquor dealer in Salt Lake City (and later dry goods merchant) was Nelson Boukofsky, whose tallis is now in the LDS Museum.

Charles Popper

Carlotta Popper

Bohemian-born Charles Popper is listed on the 1860 Placer, CA Census as having $200. Ten years later, in SLC, Popper is a butcher, married with 2 servants and assets of $30,000. In 1865, he organized Utah Lodge #1, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization. (The IOOF Building, built in 1891, was moved in 2009 to 26 Market Street, across the street from where it had stood.)

Marriage Record, 1868, Missouri

Popper's name lives on in Popperton Park, located where his animal stockyards once stood.

Popper was Utah 's first Jewish rancher, with vast holdings on the UT-CO border. He supplied beef to Federal troops stationed in Utah, at 9 3/4 cents a pound.

When he closed his shop on High Holy Days, the Mormon butchers closed their shops out of respect for him; he reciprocated by closing his shop on Pioneer Day.

During the winter season, the shop dressed its meats, whole carcasses of deer and bear, decorating them with ribbons of colored paper. An 1879 article in American Israelite cites Popper as the most influential Jew in Utah Territory, when there were between 30-40 Jewish families. On the 150 acres of land he squatted on outside the city, Popper built a slaughterhouse and soap and candle factory.

The general at Camp Douglas appropriated Popper 's land but he fought back. He lost two rounds in the general lands office and his appeal to the Secretary of the Interior. But he persevered, bolstered by his development of an Idaho mine that paid him $60,000 a month.

He moved his family to DC and laid siege to Congress for 11 years, regaining title to the UT land by a special congressional act! Later moving his family to NYC, he and business partners devised a plan to build an entertainment/hotel complex in Chesapeake Beach, MD and develop a railroad to take folks there. Popper became the mayor of Chesapeake Beach and owned much of the boardwalks ' features, including the carousel. The resort failed during the Depression, long after Popper died, but ironically is again a resort.

Popper visited SLC in 1906, as he did almost each year, and reminisced in an article about Main Street being the common race track, with Brigham Young and his wives taking great interest. Like other mining towns, SLC was raucous, with drinking, gambling, chewing tobacco, spitting and smoking, and fast women.

Moonshiners made 'Valleytan' whiskey, which was 90% alcohol. Valleytan was also the nickname of Brigham Young 's signed paper currency, because it too was homemade.

Popper died in NYC in 1909, surrounded by his 5 children, but in 1906 he told his SLC friends, he'd always be a Utah resident, have been since 1864. My heart and interests are here and always will be.

The 1870 Census shows Polish-born Louis Cohn, 29, a retail merchant with his brother Alexander, owning a home worth $18,000.

He was elected to the city council in 1874 and re-elected in 1882; he also served as fire and police commissioner, was a member of the Alta Club (still going strong) and an active Mason. Alexander was elected President of Congregation B'nai Israel in 1896. He and his brother married two Lippman sisters.

Louis Cohn

Alex Cohn

Interior of Alta Club

The Siegel brothers, born in Bavaria, owned two clothing stores in SLC by 1866. Before that, they had followed the railroad west, selling goods in the Dakotas and Montana Territory.

Henry, the eldest, was an incorporator of B'nai Israel and its first president. A 1896 article in the Salt Lake Tribune mentions Henry Siegel, clothier, being the locator of the Mercur Mine in 1871, and worked it for its mercury. Joseph was one of four signers of an 1866 appeal in the Jewish newspaper, Occident, circulated in Eastern states, asking for help establishing a Jewish cemetery for SLC.

Sol Siegel, 20 in 1870, was a clothing merchant who owned an estate worth fifteen grand.

Sol Siegel

Another set of Prussian-born brothers, the Watters, were jewelers who went first to California. Two of three brothers, Ichel and Abraham moved to Utah.

They were active Masons and Odd Fellows. Other Jewish Odd Fellows were Fred and Theodore Auerbach, James Ellis, Nelson Boukofsky, Simon Bamberger, Henry Cohn, Louis Hyams (Salt Lake City recorder), Samuel Levy, Elias Siegel and Moss Wolf.

The current Salt Lake City mayor, Ralph Becker, who is not Jewish, is a descendant of Ichel Watters. Ichel served as treasurer of the Hebrew Benevolent Society, established in 1866; his wife Augusta was President of the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society. Ichel was a charter member of B'nai Israel and often led services there with Moses Caspar Phillips, who like Ichel went to CA and then to UT. (A plaque outside the Peery Hotel downtown notes the site of B'nai Israel Congregation).

Abraham Watters divided his time between UT and CA, and was actively involved in the Jewish community in both states. Ichel in 1880 was a stockbroker.

His son Leon became a celebrated scientist, professor and writer of Jewish history (The Pioneer Jews of Utah), and was friends with Albert Einstein. His inventions helped in both WWI and WWI. An endowed chemistry prize in his name is awarded annually at the University of Utah.

B'nai Israel Synagogue

Abraham Watters

Ichel Watters

Julius Gerson and Fanny Brooks (nee Bruck), born in Silesia, are reported as being the first Jewish family to settle in Utah, arriving in 1854 but settling down in 1857. Julius was Fanny's uncle. The family took in boarders, owned a millinery shop and real estate. Eveline Brooks Auerbach, a daughter, built the Brooks Arcade, a stately building which survives downtown. Eveline wed Samuel Auerbach.

Gerson Brooks

Fanny Brooks

Brooks Arcade

Another set of brothers, Samuel and Emanuel Kahn (pronounced Kane), settled in SLC where they wed two daughters of Briner Cohen, while Louis, their sibling, remained in Philadelphia. Samuel became a partner in Ransohoff and Co, and later joined George Bodenberg in a grocery distribution firm active in UT, ID and MT. He later joined forces with his brother Samuel in the grocery distribution business.

Samuel was appointed to the Governor's staff, and was a financial backer of Peep o'Day, perhaps the first magazine published west of the Mississippi. Active in civic affairs and in B'nai Israel, The American Israelite, in 1885 published a long resolution of condolence on his death. Emanuel served as an officer of B'nai Israel.

He raised $2500 to establish the Masonic Library in 1874, Utah's first non-Mormon library, open to the public.

Samuel Kahn


Early photo with Kahn Bros. store

Simon Bros

The Simon brothers, Fred, Louis, Joseph and Adolph, were active in civic and religious affairs and leading manufacturers and wholesalers of millinery. Louis and Adolph established the fabulous Paris Millinery Store, while Joseph kept a wholesale dry goods business.

The Ellis brothers also settled in the city and were active. They advertised dry goods in the Union Vedette in 1864. James was a charter member of the Masons and President of the Odd Fellows (1865).

Nathan Ellis was president of the SLC Israelites (Telegraph, 1866) and signed a petition of prominent Jewish and other Gentile merchants to LDS leaders during difficult times between the two faiths in 1866.

The 1880 Census lists Jacob Bamberger, in mining, and his family, and Jacob's brothers Simon and Louis. Simon later built railroads, public transportation and the Lagoon Amusement Park (still standing nearby but renovated). He served as a state senator and then Governor of Utah, during the Progressive Era.

Simon Bamberger

Jacob Bamberger

Bamberger truck

Train arrives at Lagoon, 1907

Louis Reggel, in the Corinne Daily Record (1871), advertises clothing, fancy dry goods, boots and shoes and general merchandise. His firm was one of only two purchased for incorporation into the Mormon ZCMI; the other was Ransohoff.

  • Reggel's Row, built in 1872, was the first multi-family house built in SLC.
  • By 1900, Reggel is the proprietor of a gambling house.
  • Salt Lake County filed charges against Reggel in 1869 for selling obscene pictures and in 1891 for gambling, and he was wanted in Pennsylvania for obtaining goods under false pretenses.
  • By 1910, the Reggels had moved to Los Angeles, a city more tolerant of their lifestyle. Reggel had been a charter member and trustee of both Congregation B'nai Israel and the Hebrew Benevolent Association.

Isidor Morris, Russian-born and a civil war veteran, and his family lived in the city. His wife, Annie, converted from Mormonism to Judaism. A grocer, lawyer and miner, he contributed gold dust to help raise funds for the city's second synagogue, the conservative Congregation Montefiore, whose members were disgruntled former members of the reform B'nai Israel.

Because he helped free convicted polygamists, he was loved by Mormons, whose leaders donated funds for Montefiore's construction. In 1903, LDS President Joseph Smith gave a dedicatory address.

A prominent brewer, German-born Jacob Moritz, founded the Salt Lake Brewing Company which supplied the intermountain west with the good, wholesome beverage, beer. He had earlier worked for the Schaefer Brewing Co in NY and the Anheiser¬Busch Brewing Co. in St. Louis, before heading further west.
  • In 1885, he was on a grand jury when the prosecutor sought new indictments for unlawful cohabitation for two men already in prison. Moritz objected to being tried multiple times for the same offense and was dismissed by the judge. For this he won the respect of Mormons, despite his involvement in the alcohol trade.
  • Ads for the company noted that beer contained less alcohol than apple cider (which was commonly fermented in America at the time). By 1908, the company produced over 41 million bottles of beer. Moritz also bought a large downtown tract to develop a new business district.

Moritz served a term in the state legislature, was a member of the Constitutional Convention, a director of a mine, president of B'nai Israel, and member of the Alta Club and Liberal Party. He chaired committees to advance Utah's mining industry, and raised money to build the first Salt Palace. When he died in 1910, his estate was appraised at $327,000 (in today's purchasing dollars, about $8 million). His wife, Lahela (Hawaiian for Rachel), was the first Jewish woman born in Hawaii; she remarried to Joseph Lippman, a widowed attorney in SLC, also active in the Liberal Party.

Jacob Moritz

Salt Lake Brewery hops trucks

Brewery offices, 1905

The Baer brothers were wholesale liquor distributors who began their business in Leadville, CO before moving to SLC. They were founding members of B'nai Brith in Leadville, officers of the Hebrew Benevolent Society there and helped build Temple Israel.

Alexander Stiefel, a drayman born in Germany, was a founding member of B'nai Israel in 1881. He officiated with Ichel Watters and Moses Phillips at the synagogue's first service in 1883 where he blew the shofar. He was the resident shofar blower for years afterward. He was also an Odd Fellow. When he died in 1904, the Deseret News ran a front page story on his life.

Corinne: Gentile Capital of Utah

See also Back to the Soil: The Jewish Farmers of Clarion, Utah, and Their World on Amazon, etc.
"In 1911, eighty-one families left eastern cities to farm the Clarion tract. Jewish families funded the venture, the governor of Utah en-couraged it, and the Mormon Church financially aided the community. Despite these efforts, Clarion died as an organizational entity in 1916, with the dozen remaining families departing by the mid-1920s"

Corinne, now a small rural community, from March 1869 to 1880, was the Gentile capital of Utah. As the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads approached their meeting place at Promontory Summit in Utah, to complete the Transcontinental Railroad, a group of former Union army officers and non-Mormon merchants founded a community, due north of SLC, believing it could compete economically and politically with the Latter Day Saints. Known as the Burg on the Bear (River), Connor (for a Union General) and Bear River, it eventually became Corinne, after the daughter of a founder, General Williamson.

Corinne would be the transfer point for shipping goods and supplies to the mining towns of western Montana, along the Montana Trail.

By May 1869, Corinne was home to 1000, none Mormon, and it became Utah's second largest city, with over 500 buildings including 28 saloons, 24 gambling houses, 16 liquor stores, houses of prostitution, commission and supply houses, a cigar factory, a flour mill, a brickyard, hotels, two theaters, an opera house, five newspapers and a town marshal to try to keep order. A tract was set aside for what town leaders hoped would become a state university. Corinne's wealth and population gave it power and the American Liberal Party, comprised of non-Mormons and ex- Mormon Godbeites set up shop there.

  • Initial Liberal Party members included Samuel Kahn, Gumpert Goldberg, Julius Malsh, Nicholas Ransohoff, Fred Kiesel (later Ogden mayor) and Simon Bamberger (later governor). Utah's Liberal Party existed from 1870 to 1893.
  • Political leaders in Corinne, with the support of some DC politicians, tried to break the political and economic monopoly of the LDS Church.
  • The leaders petitioned Congress to have the state capital moved to Corinne and when that failed, to move the northern one degree of latitude of Utah Territory (including Corinne) to Idaho.

A plan to install Williamson as territorial governor also failed. I believe these efforts fizzled in part because the Mormon-dominated Territorial Legislature awarded voting rights to the territory's women, ensuring that Mormon voters outnumbered Gentile ones. This right of suffrage was revoked, in 1887, by the U.S. Congress. Women's suffrage, while progressive, was designed to maintain Mormon supremacy in the territory.

  • Among Corinne's residents were Abraham Cohn, clothing merchant, and John Cohn, who drove a team of horses. George Goldburg and his family ran an outfitting house. David Auerbach, Jacob Livingston, N.S. Ransohoff and Adam Kahn were merchants, as was Emanuel Kahn, then worth $11,000.
  • Aaron Greenwald and his partner Julius Malsh owned the Metropolitan Hotel; an 1871 ad in the Corinne Daily Reporter read: This is a first class hotel, centrally located, commodious and well-arranged. The rooms are neatly and comfortably furnished. The tables are always supplied with the best the market affords. Fresh Oysters always on hand and served up in any style on short notice. The Bar is stocked with the finest Wines, Liquors and Cigars.
  • Sam Auerbach recalled: Our store consisted of a wooden frame with canvas stretched over it, and carried a sign... The Uintah Hotel was the main hostelry of Corinne and consisted of a wooden frame covered with canvas. A hall extended down the center with ‚€œrooms‚€� on either side. These rooms were mere stalls divided off by canvas sheets, and each contained a small, crudely built bed. The floor was a dirt floor, but beside each bed lay a splintery board to serve as a rug for tender feet. Merchants Auerbach remembered in Corinne were Fred Kiesel, Mr. Farmer, A Kuhn and Brother, George Lowe and Gumbert Goldberg.
  • Goldberg has businesses in Ogden and Corinne; Joseph Farmer had stores in Idaho, SLC and Corinne. Farmer served on the board of B'nai Israel before his untimely death by drowning in 1882.

The Mormons, determined to maintain power, and consolidate the northern Utah Mormon settlements and provide a market for their products, proposed a narrow-gauge railroad connecting Brigham City with Ogden, Logan and Franklin, ID. By 1874 the Utah Northern RR was completed, cutting off Corinne as a link for the shipment of goods to Montana.

  • With financial ruin forecast, most merchants abandoned Corinne for Ogden and other rail centers. Only the arrival of Mormon farmers saved Corinne from extinction.
  • An 1879 letter from Mamie Keller of Corinne in the Sabbath Visitor reads: Notwithstanding my sister has left for CA, where she will remain for some time, I am determined not to be deprived of your valuable Sabbath-school Visitor, too. I wish I could be somewhere in the States, where I could regularly attend the Sabbath-school. I have no opportunity now, because there are only three families here, and we have no teachers, so I am obliged to be content with your valuable paper.

Ogden Jews

Ogden lies between Corinne and Salt Lake City and remains home to Utah's oldest operating synagogue, Brith Sholem (1916), although it has no rabbi. Prominent early Ogden Jews included Fred Kiesel, merchant born in Wurtenburg, who was elected mayor in 1889 and later donated land for an Ogden school and a park in ID. Other Jewish citizen salesmen and merchants of Ogden in the 1870 Census were: L. Levy, Samuel Auerbach, William Cohen, J. Plonsky, D. and Julius Mendelsohn, Lewis Gross, Jacob Levi, H. Cohn and other Auerbachs- hailing variously from Prussia, Germany and Russia, and with children born in California, Montana and Utah. Ogden was also home to Ad and Abraham Kuhn, perhaps its most famous Jewish inhabitants, cousins of the banking Kuhns of NYC.

Abe Kuhn, on his 90th birthday, and still working, purchasing hides in the winter and selling them in other seasons, told of his adventures to the Ogden Standard Examiner in 1927.

Born in Bavaria, he came to New Orleans at fifteen and settled in Ogden in 1865 after 16 years out west. When he heard of the CO gold fields, he headed west with his brother, rigging up a wagon and supplies. In the 1860s, he operated two mercantile stores in Denver but would also buy gold dust in Montana and sell it in Denver. Loaded with the precious dust, the two brothers, after months in Montana, took stage to Denver, acting the part of penniless travelers to avert any suspicion of their riches. More than once they went without food and begged 50 cents of fellow travelers for victuals. They paid the highest price for dust in Montana, $17.75 an ounce, and sold it for $40 an ounce in Denver.

Mining Magnates

Mining began in earnest in Utah in 1870, prompting a new wave of settlers. Jews such as Charles Popper and Samuel Newhouse, moved from respectively CA and CO, to become involved in mining and other businesses. Fred Auerbach noted that Auerbach's Store had been economically threatened by ZCMI, and survived because of the new mining industry and the business it brought. By the 1880s, miners became capitalists, engaged in mining, smelting or becoming bankers and suppliers of services and equipment.

A founding group established the Alta Club in 1883 (it still functions today as a social business hub in downtown), modeled on the Union Club of San Francisco. Among the Jewish organizers were Fred Auerbach and Abraham Hanauer, a smelter owner also involved in ranching. By the 1890s, other wealthy Jewish members included Jacob Bamberger (representative of the Guggenheim mining and smelting family, later known for collecting art) and Simon Bamberger, and Hartwig Cohen, grandson of a SC rabbi. Simon Guggenheim and Newhouse were colorful Alta Club members and philanthropists, although Simon never lived in Utah.

When Simon Guggenheim wed in NYC, the Guggenheims provided Thanksgiving dinner to 5000 poor Manhattan children. In 1907, Guggenheim was elected a Colorado Senator. Afterwards, he moved to NY and joined the ASARCO board and became its president. Simon began the Guggenheim Fellowships that exist to this day.

Samuel Newhouse

Abraham Hanauer

Newhouse is the father of copper mining in Utah. President of the Denver, Lakewood and Golden RR, Boston Consolidated Mining Company, Newhouse Mining Company, Newhouse Mines and Smelters and Nipissing Silver Mines Company, he controlled the Highland Boy Mine in Bingham Canyon, UT. Newhouse built Utah's first skyscrapers, The Boston and Newhouse Buildings (still standing), donated land for the Commercial Building and the Stock Exchange Building with the intent of building an alternative business district to that dominated by Mormons.

  • Elsewhere, Newhouse built the celebrated Flatiron Building in NYC, owned a Long Island estate, a chateau outside Paris and mansions in London and SLC.
  • The NY Times reported in 1904 that Newhouse uncovered $85 million worth of ore at Utah's Great Cactus Mine.
  • Newhouse said he would share annually the profits with the miners and would build a city near the mine for their use, with each miner to have a house on a lot. In 1908, the Utah delegation to the Democratic Party nominated Newhouse as vice-presidential nominee but he declined. In 1909, he again made the NY Times when he beat a train record from Chicago to NY so he could make the Lusitania crossing to visit his brother, dying in Europe.
  • He also began construction on the Newhouse Hotel but financial problems prevented him from completing the project. A joke on the vaudeville circuit said he had the best ventilated hotel in the West (because the glass was not yet set in the windows). Profligacy, overextension of credit, legal costs, a financial panic and the looming Great War which made it hard to get credit, all contributed to Newhouse's bankruptcy in 1915.
  • His wife Ida, from whom he was separated, gave him back her jewels to be sold to help him. Ida remained in Salt Lake City, at the Belvedere Hotel, for years, helped by Lester Freed and other friends, and died in Los Angeles. Samuel died in 1930, at his sister's chateau, outside Paris.

Boston & Newhouse skyscrapers being built

Commercial Bldg.

Newhouse Hotel being built

Henry Siegel, first president of B'nai Israel, managed the Siegel Consolidated Mining Company. The Bamberger family was involved in coal mining and owned the Bamberger Coal Company before branching out into transportation. Jacob Bamberger controlled the Daly West Mine and when he retired, his sons took the reins. H. A. Van Praag was a wool dealer and mining capitalist, member of the Alta Club and B'nai Israel. Charles Popper, already discussed, discovered and developed the Queen of the Hills Mine in ID. M.S. Ascheim developed Park City's first smelter, and had a mercantile store there. Moses Hirschman, born in Werttemberg, Germany, then moved to W. VA, CA, NV, MT and finally to SLC in 1871. He was involved in several UT silver and lead mines and owned a shoe store in SLC.

H.A. Van Praag

M.S. Ascheim

Moses Hirschman

Anna Rich Marks

Anna Rich Marks was born in Russia Poland, went to England and there married Wolff Marks. After living in NYC, they traveled to SLC and opened a store. In 1880, they moved to Eureka in the rich Tintic mining area. A historian recalls: In Tintic's early days, two men claimed the land near Pinion Canyon, placing a toll gate in the narrow part. Anna was in the lead in a buggy followed by many wagons loaded with everything necessary to open a store.

She refused to pay the toll. A verbal war ensued, the air turning blue with Anna's cuss words. She summoned her bodyguard and with guns drawn, they tore down the toll gate and went on to Eureka. She was soon in business. When Pat Shay contested her right to the property, Anna first relied on cuss words and then she pulled her guns. He went flying and so did the bullets.

From them on, no one crossed Anna Marks. Anna also carried on a historic battle with the Denver and Rio Grand, holding up the building of a railroad at gunpoint until the company met her price to cross the section of her land.

Silver Reef

Other mining towns thrived throughout Utah, if briefly, during the boom years, among them Alta and Silver Reef, the latter unique because the silver intruded into a sandstone outcrop. Alta is now a ski resort and Silver Reef a ghost town.

At its height, Silver Reef had 2000 residents and housed a hundred businesses, among them grocery stores, dry goods stores, restaurants, saloons, dance halls, drug stores, a bank, racetrack, billiard hall, brewery and Chinatown. It had a daily newspaper and a brass band.

Jewish residents included Leopold Goldberg, Isaac Marks, Isador Schwartz, Abraham Levi, Moses and Simon Woolf and Simon Greenbaum.

Six silver mines operated, averaging one million dollars per year in output. In 1879, a fire swept through town, silver prices dropped, labor disputes erupted and water flooded the mines. By 1890, only 177 inhabitants remained.

Second and Third Waves

The second wave of Utah immigrants included poorer Russians and Eastern Europeans seeking new opportunities in America, those who had already come to America but sought an escape from eastern slums and some from other surrounding and western states, seeking new ventures.

Among this group were the McGillis family, originally Margulies, whose descendents founded the McGillis School, a private school with Jewish roots. The family moved from Russia to Colorado, and then to SLC, where Charles got involved in newspaper distribution. His newspaper stand, which stood outside the Salt Lake Tribune Building, is now in the Smithsonian Institute.

Charles McGillis on left

Sweet's Chocolates

Leon and Arthur Sweet moved their confectionary operation from Oregon to Utah because of its sugar beet production. This once robust industry became defunct as sugar cane came to dominate. Beet sugar production was an important part of Utah's economy for a century, beginning in the1880s, sponsored by LDS Church.

  • In 1919, the per capita consumption of sugar in Utah was the highest of any state.
  • In 1922, due to the increased demand for chocolate, the 4-story factory doubled in size.
  • Sweet's landed a US government contract to supply troops with candy in both World Wars.
  • In 1900, 17 sugar beet factories operated but by 1980, there were none. The Sweet Candy Company still operates in Utah, although they have moved the site of production.
  • The original building downtown now is an office building. Corinne Sweet, in 1941, was a co-founder with Esther Rosenblatt Landa (still going strong here at 101) of the National Council of Jewish Women, Utah Section.

Benjamin Brown

A group of Jews from Philadelphia and NY tried to establish a Jewish agricultural colony in Clarion, Utah (now a ghost town), a suburb of Gunnison, under the leadership of Benjamin Brown, nee Lipschitz, as part of a back to the land movement, in 1911. Articles in the NY Times detailed the experiment.

Prominent Jews and the LDS Church in SLC gave financial aid for the effort. But the problems mounted. Work on a promised canal to bring water was slow. Sanpete County had only two Jewish merchants among 17,000 people, and the colonists felt isolated culturally. Secular and observant Jews in Clarion clashed over values and land. They were mostly urban dwellers who lacked farming know-how and were cursed by poor soil, a short growing season, snow, floods and drought. Brown's leadership was tainted by an out of wedlock child and by his refusal to help observant Jews maintain their traditions.

  • Finally, as WWI approached, the Jewish Agricultural Society discouraged further outside funding and philanthropists diverted their donations to Europe's struggling Jews. Clarion failed.
  • Benjamin Brown, however, went on to found successful poultry and produce businesses in the intermountain west, then moved back east and led a successful industrial/farming cooperative experiment, NJ Homestead, in Hightstown. He still sought to lead a Jewish farm cooperative effort in the 1930s.
  • A child of Clarion, Maurice Warshaw, born Samuel Warshawsky, founded a grocery store chain later bought out by Smith's, and later became a philanthropist.

Maurice Warshaw

Maurice and Lucy Abravanel

Clarion settlers

Nathan Rosenblatt came to the US at 14 from Russia, first going to Denver and then to SLC, where Fred Auerbach gave him a pushcart to sell items. Nathan would go to various mining towns like Alta and Park City; not wanting to come back with an empty cart, he started collecting scrap metal.

This junk dealer in 1889 hosted Congregation Montefiore services in his home. With his sons Simon, Morris, and Joseph, Nathan bought mining machinery, opened an iron foundry and machinery business.

By 1920, he was the proprietor of a steel mill and Simon was the manager of the iron foundry. Simon later ran American Foundry and Machine. Morris headed the Structural Steel and Forge Company and Joseph presided over the Eastern Iron and Metal Company, changing its name to EIMCO in the 1930s.

Joseph, a lawyer, also helped found the James White Jewish Community Center. EIMCO revitalized mining operations with its patents.

  • For many years, EIMCO was Salt Lake City's largest employer. The company expanded internationally. Joseph sold it in 1957, staying on as CEO another 6 years. After that, he served on company boards and on the Federal Reserve Board.
  • He helped start the University of Utah Medical Center, endowed the Rosenblatt Prize at the university, served on SLC Airport Commission and supported the Rowland Hall School. Morris helped start the Utah Symphony, while Simon helped build Shriner's Hospital.

Izzy Wagner

Izzy Wagner grew his parents' modest bag business into a mega business and ultimately sold it. He then became a philanthropist but had long been active in civic affairs, beautifying downtown. He joked that his mother Rose, born in Latvia, retained her thick accent and on the radio, when asked what she did, said she was in the sex (sacks) business. He urged her to say bags instead.

  • He developed the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center and named it for her; it is built on the site of the adobe home where he was born.
  • He also developed parking lots downtown. He said the parking lot replaced two bordellos, but the businesses were related because both depend on short-term parking.
  • His aunt had been madam of a downtown brothel and his mother was the bookkeeper; Izzy's first job was delivering sandwiches to the women who worked there.

Maurice Abravanel, for whom the symphony hall is named, was its long-time conductor. Born in Greece, Abravanel studied in Germany under Kurt Weill, conducted throughout Europe. At 33, he began conducting NYC's Metropolitan Opera. He conducted all of Weill's American productions on Broadway and won a Tony. An arts promoter, he brought ballet and opera to Utah.

Synagogues and Jewish Organizations

Already mentioned are the first and second synagogues in SLC (B'nai Israel and Montefiore). The B'nai Israel synagogue was designed by Phillip Meyer, nephew to Fred Auerbach. Meyer returned to Germany and subsequently died in a concentration camp. Montefiore is now a Russian-Orthodox Church. A third synagogue, the short-lived Shaarey T'zedek, made up of more Orthodox, primarily Russian born Jews, existed from 1919 to 1932, at 833 S. Second East and Utah's Jewish Governor Bamberger laid the cornerstone. Shaarey T'zedek's members in 1932 then rejoined Montefiore. Disbanded in 1935, the Shaarey T'zedek building was later sold to VFW Post 409, which still occupies the bottom floor, while the architectural firm Dixon and Associates occupies the main floor.

Each congregation had separate cemeteries. Brith Sholem in Ogden was organized as Ohab Shalom in 1890. High Holy Day religious services were held in the IOOF Hall on Grant Avenue, between 24th and 25th Streets. The congregation reformed in 1916 as Brith Sholem and later dedicated a synagogue at its present location on August 21, 1921.

The congregations of Montefiore and B'nai Israel merged in 1972 to form Congregation Kol Ami, which is Utah's largest Jewish congregation, serving over 300 families, now housed not far from Mill Creek Canyon, on Heritage Way. Its current rabbi is Ilana Schwartzman. It's recently retired cantor, Lawrence Loeb, is also a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah.

In Park City, in 1995, a group of Jews decided to form the Park City Jewish Center, and in 1999 reformed as Temple Har Shalom. A new building was dedicated in 2008.

As to other Jewish organizations, the Hebrew Relief Society was established in 1865, B'nai Brith in 1892, the Jewish Community Center in 1923, the James White Jewish Community Center opened in 1959 and the Jeanne and Izzy Wagner JCC opened its spectacular doors in 2000, on the site of the Ft. Douglas Country Club which once barred Jews, and is open to all, Jews and non-Jews. The National Council of Jewish Women began here in 1941 and Hadassah in 1943. Hillel operates in Utah but the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at the University of Utah is long defunct.

Jewish Politicians

Political figures include Louis Hyams, SLC Recorder, Simon Bamberger, Utah governor and Fred Kiesel, Ogden mayor, all previously mentioned.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Louis Marcus was SLC Mayor from 1932-36 and died while in office. He refurbished the Orpheum Theater and renamed it the Capitol Theatre. He owned movie theaters in the Intermountain West, and was involved in real estate and banking. As mayor he was concerned about water conservation issues and government financial accountability.

Sol Selvin, born in Lithuania, married Fannia Frank in 1904 and then moved to Murray, Utah, in 1908. He entered the clothing store business and earned enough to bring his family to Utah. He maintained his clothing store business until 1954. (Arthur Frank, Fannia's brother, owned two clothing stores). Throughout his life, Selvin served in various political and community capacities. He served in the Utah State Legislature and State Senate, was mayor of Tooele, was on the Tooele County Welfare Board, and was involved in many other civic concerns. Herbert Schiller was a district judge, Julian Bamberger, a state senator, Irwin Arnovitz, a state legislator, Patrice Arent, former state senator and current state house representative, David Litvak, former state legislator.

Louis Marcus

Sol Selvin, chief