An Interesting Family History

February 2, 2015

By Amorin Mello

1856 Colton Map of Prussia and Saxony, Germany (WikiMedia.org).

1856 Colton Map of Prussia and Saxony, Germany (WikiMedia.org).

This is a reproduction of “An Interesting Family History” from The Jews of Illinois : their religious and civic life, their charity and industry, their patriotism and loyalty to American institutions, from their earliest settlement in the State unto the present time, by Herman Eliassof, Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana (University of Illinois at Chicago), 1901, pages 383-386:

The goal of this post is to provide genealogical information about the illustrious Austrian and Leopold families as a companion to the Joseph Austrian Memoir and as a reference for future stories. In this post, we will explore events within and outside of the Chequamegon region for context about this family’s history.  We recommend reading this Opinion by Andrew Muchin, director for the Wisconsin Small Jewish Communities History Project, for more information about Jewish immigration to Wisconsin in general.  Coming soon to Chequamegon History, we will explore some of Julius Austrian’s adventures and his impact upon the Village of La Pointe, the La Pointe Iron Company of the Penokee Mountains, and the Lake Superior Chippewa.


 

 

the jews of illinois

 

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AN INTERESTING FAMILY HISTORY.

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Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. was the subject of worldwide scandal due to his role in the Leopold-Loeb Murder of Bobby Franks.
The Loeb Family once owned Garmisch Inn Resort on Lake Namakagon.

The two families of Austrian and Leopold have been prominent in Chicago for many years. They came to Chicago from the Lake Superior region and formed the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior Transportation Co., engaging in freight and passenger transportation on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, to Mackinac, Sault Ste. Marie and Duluth and did an extensive business. For a number of years, until recently, their luxuriously furnished passenger boat, Manitou, has been extensively patronized by summer pleasure seekers, who wished to enjoy the cool and delightful climate of the Lake Superior region. The boat was then sold to a company, in which Mr. Nathan F. Leopold still holds the largest interest. Mr. N. F. Leopold is the son of one of the Leopold brothers who settled in Mackinac in the early forties, and were the first Jews in that region. He married a daughter of the late Mr. Gerhard Foreman, who is related to the Greenebaum family, and who was a prominent banker of Chicago, the founder of the Foreman Bros. Banking Co., a. very popular financial institution of today.

Read the first installment of the Memoirs of Doodooshaboo series for more information about the Austrian Family’s origins in Bavaria.

The history of this old Jewish family, favorably known as successful merchants in the Lake Superior region and in Chicago, appeared in 1866, in the Portage, Mich., Gazette, and was copied in the American Israelite under date of April 13th, 1866. We believe that the history of this popular and highly respected family will be read with interest by their many relatives and friends, and we therefore publish it here. They were brave, honest and upright business men, and the story of their pioneer life in a sparsely settled region, of their struggles, hardships and ultimate success will serve as an encouraging example for many a young beginner.

Following is their history as we find it in the American Israelite:


 

A BAND OF BROTHERS.

Dissolution of the Oldest Merchant Firm on Lake Superior – The Leopold Brothers – Sketch of their Operations – A Pioneer History.

Austrian Parents:
Abraham Isaac Oestreicher &
Malka Heule
Austrian Siblings:
Falk Austrian
Julius Austrian
Marx Austrian
Babette Austrian
Joseph Austrian
Ida Austrian
Fanny Austrian
Samuel Solomon Austrian
Bernard Austrian
Mina Austrian
Leopold Parents:
Joseph Hirsch Freudenthaler &
Rachel Regina Stiefel
Leopold Siblings:
Jette H.S.H Freudenthaler
Louis F. Leopold
Aaron F. Leopold
Henry F. Leopold
Samuel F. Leopold
Hannah Leopold
Karolina Freudenthaler
Ascher Freudenthaler

In our last issue we made a brief notice of the dissolution of the well known firm of Leopold & Brothers, doing business in Hancock, Chicago and Eagle River, the oldest business firm on Lake Superior after a successful existence of over twenty years. The firm has been composed of Louis F., Henry F., Aaron F., and Samuel F. Leopold and Joseph, Julius and Samuel Austrian, the latter being the last admitted partner, and not so intimately connected with the history of the firm. From the very inception of business transactions within the wilds of Lake Superior down to the present day, the firm of the brothers has been identified with the struggles, hardships, successes, and all the varying interests of the country, have participated with its good and ill fortunes, many times carrying burdens that less confident competitors shrank from bearing; never once fearing that all would be well in the end, and after gathering a rich reward retired from the field, leaving an untarnished history, and brilliant record as an incentive to their successors.

“Later on I found it necessary to engage a book keeper owing to the rapid growth of our business, and for that purpose I engaged a Mr. Moses Hanauer, a son of the teacher in the native place of the Leopolds.”
~ Joseph Austrian Memoir
Leopold-Austrian Marriages:
Louis Leopold + Babette Austrian
Hannah Leopold + Julius Austrian
Henry Leopold + Ida Austrian
Leopold-Guttman Marriage:
Samuel Leopold + Babette Guttman
Austrian-Mann Marriages:
Joseph Austrian + Mary Mann
Solomon Austrian + Julia Mann

The Messrs. Leopold are natives of the little town of Richen, in the Great Duchy of Baden, Germany, and there received the elementary education which fitted them to become the shrewd and successful merchants they have proven to be. They first began business life as clerks in an ordinary country store, as it may not be inaptly termed, as Richen was but a small place, having a less population than either Hancock or Houghton, here on Portage Lake.

Early in the year 1842, Louis, the elder brother, who has since become the “father” of the firm, left his home to try his fortunes in the New World, with a stout heart, and but a very moderate amount of means whereon to build up a fortune, upon arriving in this country he very shrewdly foresaw that the great West, then but just attracting attention, was the most promising field for men of enterprise and limited capital, and instead of joining in the precarious struggle for position and existence, even so peculiar to the crowded cities of the Eastern states, he at once wended his way to Michigan, then considered one of the Western states.

“Mr. L.F. Leopold had a fishing and trading business at Mackinaw, my brother Julius was located at La Pointe on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle group of islands in Lake Superior, northern Wisconsin, where he was engaged in the fur trading and had a general store, and traded with the Indians and half breeds buying fur from them.”
~ Joseph Austrian Memoir, pg. 9

Early in the year 1843 he opened a small depot for fishermen’s supplies on the island of Mackinac, providing for them provisions, salt, barrels, etc., and purchasing the fish caught, and forwarding them by vessels to better markets. The business could not have been a very extensive one, for when joined by his brothers three years afterward, their united capital is stated as being but little more than $3,000, but which has since been increased by their energy, prudence and foresight, at least one hundred fold.

In the year 1844, Louis was joined by his brother Henry (Aaron and Samuel serving their time in the store of Richen), who for a short time became his assistant at Mackinac. At that time there was but one steamboat plying on the headwaters of Lake Huron and Michigan, the old General Scott, which made regular trips between Mackinac and Sault Ste. Marie.

WISCONSIN JEWRY
By the 1850’s the Leopolds, Samuel, Henry, and Aaron, and their brother-in-law Julius Austrian had moved westward from Mackinac into Lake Superior and had settled in the Wisconsin island town of La Pointe, not too far from present-day Duluth. They helped also to found the nearby mainland town of Bayfield. Nevertheless the Leopolds and Austrians were not Wisconsin’s Jewish pioneers; Jacob Franks of Montreal had bought peltries and traded with the Indians since the early 1790’s using Green Bay as his base. The town, the oldest in that part of the country, was strategically located on the water highways linking the Mississippi to the Great Lakes and the eastern tidewater. At first Franks was an agent for a Canadian firm; by 1797 he was on his own. He enjoyed several years of prosperity before the game, the furs, and the Indians began to fade away and before he had to cope with the competition of John Jacob Astor’s formidable American Fur Company. Franks was an innovative entrepreneur. Around the turn of the century he built a blacksmith shop, a dam for water power, a saw and grist mill, ran a farm and began a family of Indian children, before he finally went back to Mackinac and then to Montreal where he rejoined his Jewish wife.”
~ United States Jewry, 1776-1985, Volumes 1-2 by Jacob Rader Marcus, pg. 94

Shortly after his arrival at Mackinac, Henry conceived the idea of going to La Pointe with a small stock of goods, and attending the Indian payment, an enterprise never before undertaken by a trader from below the Sault. At that time Lapointe was a much larger place than it is now, was the principal station of Lake Superior, of the American Fur Company and the leading business point above the Sault. Every fall, the government disbursed among the Indians some $40,000 to $50,000, which before the arrival of the Leopold Brothers found its way almost entirely into the coffers of the Fur Company.

In the latter part of the spring the brothers left Mackinac on the old General Scott, and went to the Sault with their goods, and after much difficulty succeeded in chartering the schooner Chippewa, Captain Clark, to take them to Lapointe for $300. There were but four small schooners on Lake Superior that season, the Chippewa, Uncle Sam, Allegonquin and Swallow. The trip from the Sault to Lapointe occupied some three weeks, but one stop being made at Copper Harbor, which was then beginning its existence. The building of Ft. Wilkins was then going on. Little or no thought of mining then occurred to the inhabitants, and did not until two or three years subsequently.

Arrived safely at Lapointe, they at once opened a store in opposition to that of the Fur Company, and were, much to the surprise of the latter, the first white traders who undertook an opposition trade with the Indians. They sold their goods for furs, fish, etc., and prospered well. In the fall they were joined by Julius Austrian (now at Eagle River) and Louis leaving him with Henry, returned to Mackinac.

MINNESOTA JEWRY
Before Minnesota became a territory in 1849 it was for a time part of Wisconsin and Iowa territories. In Minnesota as in most states there was a wave of Jewish pioneers who came early, often a decade or more before some form of Jewish institutional life made its appearance. Jewish fur traders roamed in the territory from the 1840’s on, bartering with the Indians on the rivers and on the reservations. They were among the first white settlers in Minnesota. Julius Austrian had a trading post in Minnesota in the 1840’s and he may once have owned the land on which Duluth now stands. In 1851 in the dead of winter he drove a dog sled team loaded with hundreds of pounds of supplies into St. Paul; his arrival created a sensation.”
~ United States Jewry, 1776-1985, Volumes 1-2 by Jacob Rader Marcus, pg. 100-1
Julius Austrian (transcribed as Ombrian) cosigned the 1847 Treaty of Fond du Lac with the Chippewa of Mississippi and Lake Supeior.

In the summer of 1845 Henry also returned to Mackinac, leaving Julius to attend to the business at Lapointe. He remained in Mackinac until the year 1846, when Aaron and Samuel came out from Germany and joined them at that place. The four brothers at once united their fortunes; in fact in all their business career they do not appear to have thought of dividing them. Everything they had was, from the outset, common property, and each labored for the general welfare. They appeared to have fully understood the truthfulness of the adage, that, in “Unity there is strength,” and however varied and scattered may have been their operations, the profits went into the general fund.

In the season of 1846 Henry and Samuel went to Green Bay, and opened a store in Follett’s block, remained there until early in 1848, but did not succeed as well as they anticipated. Green Bay was then a miserable place in comparison with what it is now, and its growth very much retarded by the grasping policy of the site owners, John Jacob Astor and Mr. Whitney, a brother of the present postmaster. They would not sell lots at anything near what was considered a reasonable figure, and the result was that after many vain endeavors to secure property very many business men left for other places, holding out better inducements for settlement. While at Green Bay, Samuel began the study of the English language, under the tutelage of a young Methodist minister who considered himself liberally rewarded by return instruction in the German language.

“This represents the home of Julius and Hannah Austrian, after their marriage in the spring of 1848. Premises located at La Pointe, Madeline Island, Lake Superior. Resided there 19 years, happy and contented among Indians, Half-breeds and two Missionaries who represented the inhabitants of the island. Photograph taken summer of 1850.”
~ Julius Austrian Papers (Madeline Island Museum)

Solomon Austrian“also went up to La Pointe by advice of brother Julius where he stayed but a short time…”
~ Joseph Austrian Memoir, pg. 76

Early in 1847, Joseph Austrian, the subsequent brother-in-law of the Leopolds, came out from Germany, and joined his brother, Julius, at Lapointe, where he remained until the next spring, when he joined Henry Leopold at Eagle River, who had opened a small store in an old stable, the habitation of one cow. A partition was put up, and about two-thirds of her ladyship’s parlor fitted up for the sale of dry goods, groceries, etc. The shanty stood on the lot now owned by John Hocking, the second from the corner in the turn of the road down to the old bridge across Eagle River.

Was Simon Mandelbaum of Eagle River related to M.H. Mandelbaum of Bayfield?

There was then but one opposition store in Eagle River, that of Messrs. Senter and Mandlebaum, with whom Henry and Joe entered into lively competition for the trade of the place.

The same season Samuel joined Aaron and Louis at Mackinac, where their business had materially increased, and remained there until the season of 1855, when they left and returned to Lake Superior. Louis had previously left and established himself at Cleveland, where he remained until he went to Chicago in the fall of 1862. During this period he acted as the purchasing agent of the brothers on the lake.

Stories about the early days of the Keweenaw copper mining industry are told in the Memoirs of Doodooshaboo (Joseph Austrian).

In the fall of 1855 Samuel started a branch store at Eagle Harbor in a small shanty not more than twenty feet square, situated on the lot now owned by Hoffenbecker, and the shanty now forms a part of his building. At the time there were five mines working in that vicinity, as follows: Copper Falls, S. W. Hill, agent; Northwestern (Pennsylvania), M. Hopkins, agent; Summit (Madison), Jonathan Cox, agent; Connecticut (Amygdaloid), C. B. Petrie, agent.

The Copper Falls and Northwest were the two great mines of the District, the others doing but little beyond exploration at that time.

In 1856 Samuel bought out Upson and Hoopes, who had been doing a good business in the building now occupied by Messrs. Raley, Shapley & Co., and was that season joined by Aaron, who, since leaving Mackinac, had been spending his time with Louis, in Cleveland. Samuel was appointed postmaster at Eagle Harbor, and acceptably filled the office till his departure in 1859.

Advertisements of Julius Austrian (Bayfield Mercury, Month? Day?, 1857)

Julius Austrian advertisements
(Bayfield Mercury, August 22nd, 1857)

The three brothers, Henry, Samuel and Aaron, and their brother-in-law, Jos. Austrian, might now be said to be operating in the same field with the elder brother, Louis, at Cleveland, as their ever wide-awake purchasing agent. For a year or two they prospered as well as they could desire, but the hard times of 1857-8 tried them pretty severely, but by the most adroit management they came through safely. At Eagle River, in 1857, there were four mines at work, the Garden City, Phoenix, Bay State and Cliff. This was after the great silver excitement at the Phoenix, and when the reaction had fully set in. The assessments were grudgingly paid, if at all, and the workmen at the mine that winter were paid in orders on Leopold Brothers, who paid them in goods and currency. To enable the company to get along as easily as possible they took thirty day drafts on the treasurer in Boston, which were paid when due and presented. As the winter passed, the time of the drafts were extended from thirty to sixty, ninety, and finally to one hundred and twenty days, and in the spring, the firm was astonished by a notification that the drafts had gone to protest. The mine then owed them about $20,000, a large sum, especially when it is considered that they were also carrying nearly $10,000 for the Garden City Mine, which was also struggling along like the Phoenix.

The first news received by the public of the protesting of the drafts was communicated by the clerk of one of the steamboats, and created no small amount of excitement, especially among the employees of the mine, who naturally became fearful and clamorous for their back pay. The Leopold Brothers told them to go on and work, and they would be responsible for their pay. This quieted them, and the work of the mine continued as before.

Upon receiving information of the protesting of the Phoenix drafts, Samuel was at once dispatched to Boston to consult with the company about their payment. To secure themselves they could have attached the mining property, improvements and machinery, but such was their confidence in the integrity of the agent, Mr. Farwell, President, Mr. Jackson, and Secretary, and Treasurer, Mr. Coffin, that this was not done. Upon his arrival in Boston, Samuel found that Mr. Farwell had held a consultation with the Directors, and in his most emphatic manner demanded that Messrs. Leopold should be reimbursed the money they had advanced for the mine.

Another meeting was called and Samuel presented a statement of the amount due his firm, and inquired what they intended to do. It was difficult for them to say, and after many long consultations no definite course of action was decided upon. Believing that delays were dangerous Samuel proposed that he and his brothers would take the property in satisfaction of their demand, pay off the Company’s indebtedness, amounting to nearly $10,000, and perhaps pay them a few thousand dollars on the head of the bargain.

Another consultation followed this offer, and it was finally concluded that if a merchant firm considered the property sufficiently valuable to pay therefor nearly $40,000, it must be worth at least that much to the company. Some three thousand shares of Phoenix stock had been forfeited for the non-payment of an assessment of $1.50 per share, and these shares were offered Mr. Leopold in satisfaction of his claim. He, of course, declined, saying he would take the whole property, or nothing. Another consultation was held and a meeting of stockholders was called, an assessment was levied and In a few days enough paid in to liquidate his demands, and he started for home mentally determining that in future the Phoenix should give sight drafts for all. future orders, and that they would no longer assume, or be identified with its obligations. It required no small amount of finesse to make the discouraged stockholders of the Phoenix believe that there was a sufficiently valuable property to further advance $2 or $3 per share on its stock, but the cool offer to take its property for its indebtedness, completely assured them and saved the Messrs. Leopold their $20,000.

But it is said ill fortune never comes singly; and this was true of the affairs of Leopold & Brothers. Samuel had scarcely arrived in Cleveland when Louis informed him that their Garden City drafts had been protested and the same night he hurried on to Chicago to provide security for the indebtedness. Arriving there he did not find the Company as tractable as the Phoenix, and after much parleying found the best they were willing to do was to give him a mortgage on their stamp mill, as security for the $10,000. Very correctly deeming this insufficient, he returned home, and got out an attachment for the whole property of the Company. This had the desired effect, and the claim was secured by a mortgage and the attachment withdrawn. Shortly afterward the mine passed into the hands of a new party of men, with Judge Canton at their head, and in a short time the claim was satisfactorily adjusted.

Representing La Pointe County, Julius Austrian along with Martin Beaser and John W. Bell attended the New State Convention of Lake Superior (Source?, Month? Date? ,1858).

Julius Austrian, along with Martin Beaser and John W. Bell, attended the New State Convention of Lake Superior to represent La Pointe County ~ Superior Chronicle, August 3rd, 1858.

In 1858, the firm had much difficulty in collecting their orders on the mines in the vicinity of Eagle Harbor, and it was finally determined to sell out their store and build up a business elsewhere. S. W. Hill, Esq., had then left the Copper Falls and assumed the direction of the Quincy Mine here at this place. He foresaw that Portage Lake, possessing as it did so many natural advantages, would eventually become the grand business point or the copper region, and with his accustomed energy began the laying out of the town site now occupied by the village of Hancock. Soon after this was done he wrote to the Messrs. Leopold, urging them to come over and open a store there, but they did not give the offer much consideration that year, as nearly everybody in Keweenaw County ridiculed the idea of Portage Lake ever becoming anything of a place.

That year, however, they sold out their business at Eagle Harbor, and removed to Eagle River, where Samuel was for the second time appointed Postmaster, and their business conducted by him and Jos. Austrian. Their present store site at Eagle River had been previously purchased, and additions annually made to their main building, as their business demanded, until they were of a much greater extent than the original frame.

Aaron Leopold was the first Tyler of the Quincy Lodge No. 135 in Hancock. M.H. Mandelbaum was a member.

In the summer of 1859, Jos. Austrian, who was the building man of the firm, came over from Eagle River to Hancock with Geo. D. Emerson, C. E., and selected a site for their new store, and chose the lots on which now stands the Mason House and the Congregational Church, and the dock front now owned by Little, Heyn & Eytenbenz, but Louis, who came up about that time, changed to the present site, deeming the other too remote from what would be the business center of the town. This was judged from the line of the road coming down from the mine, and the location of the Stamp Mill, around which he naturally concluded the workmen’s dwellings would cluster. In this he was slightly mistaken, though the real difference was unimportant; we give it merely to show how easily the most careful and calculating men may make a mistake.

After the site was determined upon, building was commenced, but as their faith in the future growth of the place was small, they did not propose to erect a large store, or even construct a substantial cellar underneath. Mr. Hill, hearing of their intention, at once paid them a visit and strongly protested against it. “This is going to be a leading town,” he said, “and I want a good large store, and a stone cellar underneath it.” He carried the day, and a larger building was completed, which two years afterward was too small for the business, even with the addition of a large warehouse for storing additional supplies.

As soon as the building was commenced, Louis began to send up goods from Cleveland, and Aaron came over from Eagle River to take charge of the new business. He scarcely reached here before the goods arrived, and were stored in the building before it was closed in, and he for several weeks had to make his bed on the goods virtually in the open air. As this was in the fall of the year, it was not pleasant, as may be at first supposed. Since then their principal business has been done at Hancock, the old head concern at Eagle River having been a branch.

Additional sources about this festive celebration for the Freudenthaler family in Richen have not been located yet.

In the fall of 1861, Aaron concluded to visit his home in Germany, to attend the golden wedding anniversary of his parents, and Samuel came over from Eagle River to take his place in the store. The celebration of the golden wedding was the grandest event which had happened in the little town of Richen for fully one hundred years, and, probably, will not be equaled in the present century. It would be impossible within the limits of this article to give a full description of the proceedings on that festival occasion, suffice it to say, that all the inhabitants of Richen and the neighboring towns, to the number of full five thousand assembled, and under the guidance of the mayor and municipal officers, for three days kept up a continuous round of merry-making and rejoicing. On the anniversary wedding day a procession over a mile in length waited upon the “happy couple,” and escorted them to the church, where appropriate and imposing services were performed. In the name of his brothers Aaron presented the church with a copy of the Sacred Writings, beautifully engrossed on parchment, which, with its ornamented silver case, cost over $600. All the halls and hotels were opened to the public, where for three days and nights they feasted, drank and danced without intermission and free of expense. The celebration of this golden wedding cost the brothers over $5,000, but which they rightfully considered the grandest event in their history.

In the fall of 1862, Joseph Austrian joined the firm at Hancock, and Louis removed from Cleveland to Chicago, which point they had concluded would soon monopolize the trade of Lake Superior. In the spring of 1864 he commenced a shipping business in that city, and early in the following winter was joined by Jos. Austrian, and the purchase of the propeller Ontonagon effected, and a forwarding and commission business regularly organized. Lately they have purchased the light-draft propeller Norman, intending it to run in connection with the Ontonagon.

While this was the end of Julius Austrian’s presence at La Pointe, he was still attached to the region for the remainder of this life by social ties and legal affairs. Julius eventually moved to St. Paul and became President of the Mount Zion Temple.
“The Austrians retained their generous spirit even after moving to St. Paul for it was on a mission to the poor with a cutter full of good things to eat that Mr. Austrian was run over by a beer wagon (we don’t have them nowadays) and killed.”
~ The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story by Guy M. Burnham, 1996, pg. 288
As aforementioned, Moses Hanauer was son to Moritz Hanauer, elementary educator of the Leopold brothers in their hometown of Richen. Moses’ brother-in-law was Henry Smitz of La Pointe.

In 1862 their branch house at Lapointe was given up, and Julius Austrian returned to Eagle River, and, in connection with Solomon, conducted the branch at that place. The firm now is composed of Solomon and Julius Austrian and Moses G. Hanauer, who for several years has acted as bookkeeper for the firm, under the firm name of S. Austrian & Co. The Hancock firm is composed of H. F. Leopold, Joseph and Solomon Austrian, under the title of Leopold, Austrian & Bro. The Chicago firm is composed of L. F. Leopold and Joseph Austrian, under the name of Leopold & Austrian. Mr. S. F. Leopold will return to Germany, upon the opening of navigation, and spend a year in pleasure and relaxation, which he certainly merits after twenty years constant labor. Aaron will remain here during the coming summer, and in the fall will go below and establish a wholesale business in Detroit, where it is probable he will be joined by Samuel after his return from Europe.

CHICAGO AND LAKE SUPERIOR LINE.
This line is owned in Chicago, but is included in our list with other lines plying between Michigan ports. Those enterprising and well known gentlemen, Leopold & Austrian, for many years proprietors of this line, have consolidated their navigation interests with those of the Spencer, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior Transportation Co., their boats running between Chicago and Duluth, touching at all intermediate ports in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The steamers are the Peerless, J. L. Hurd, City of Duluth, City of Fremont and barge Whiting.”
~ Tackabury’s atlas of the State of Michigan : including statistics and descriptions of its topography, hydrography, climate, natural and civil history, railway and steam boat history, educational institutions, material resources, etc. (1884), pg. 23
Louis F. Leopold and his sons, Asa F. and Henry F. Jr, started the first mercantile house in Duluth in 1869. Asa and Henry were the first Jewish residents in Duluth and enjoyed success as prominent businessmen.

That the Messrs. Leopold have been more than ordinarily successful in their mercantile career of over twenty years is made evident from the extent and variety of their business transactions within the past five years, and the very large amount of capital required to carry it on successfully and properly. We feel confident that the joint capital of $3,000, with which they commenced business in 1843, had been increased one hundred times by the close of the past year, and we should not be surprised if it had augmented even more than that. It has been the result of no particularly good fortune, but of persistent application in one direction, and the only exception to the ordinary course of operation which can be said to have contributed to their success, has been the remarkable unity which has pervaded all their business transactions, whether located at Mackinac, Green Bay, Lapointe, Eagle River, Cleveland, Eagle Harbor, Portage Lake or Chicago, each member of the firm has labored, not for his benefit alone, but that of the whole brotherhood.

S. Solomon Austrian, a merchant from the copper country of Upper Michigan married Julia R. Mann, ten years his junior and not yet out of school, of Natchez, Mississippi, about 1866. Their first home was in Hancock, Michigan. In writing of her mother at a later time, Delia describes the young wife’s inexperience as she entered this strange new country, and the difficulties she had learning homemaking from her pioneer neighbors, along with her fear of Indians. Here, their first child, Bertha, was born. After two years of residence, they moved to Cleveland. In 1870, a son, Alfred S., was born in Chicago, but there is no evidence to show they were residents of that city at the time. However, they were still living in Cleveland in 1874 when twin daughters, Celia and Delia, were born.”
~ Guide to the Celia and Delia Austrian Papers 1921-1932, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

And at this partial termination of their active associations, it is with a pride which but few firms experience after so long connection, they can say that in all their twenty years’ relation with each other there has never been a disagreement to mar the harmony and unity of their operations. Whatever has been done by one, even though it did not result as anticipated, has met with the immediate sanction of the others, who had unlimited confidence in the integrity of his intentions to benefit them all. Until now there has been no division of the accumulated profits; all has been placed in one general fund, from which each has drawn as the wants or exigencies of their business demanded. Neither of them have indulged in any private outside investments or speculations, the profits of which has resulted to his own pecuniary benefit. Profit and loss has been shared alike by them all. Such unanimity of action is very rarely to be met with, especially In these modern days of “every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” and is, therefore, the more commendable. Although nominally dissolved, at present, we are of the opinion that after S. F. Leopold has returned from his vacation in Europe the old order of things will again prevail, for, after such a lengthy and intimate association, it will be difficult for either of them to operate independent of the rest, after such a practical verification of the truthfulness of the adage on which they founded their business existence, that “In union there is strength.”


 

We also copy the following letter, which, in our estimation, forms a part of and belongs to the history of the Leopold family. We understand that the son of whose birth the writer of the letter to the “Israelite” speaks, was the first Jewish child born in the northern region of Michigan:

 


 

Chicago, July 18, 1863.

Editor of The Israelite:

I have just now returned from Lake Superior, where I have found all my brothers and friends and the readers of The Israelite and Deborah in perfect good health. I cannot refrain from giving you a little history of a very noble act, the fruit of which in hereby enclosed, being a draft for $30, which you will please to appropriate to the purpose for which it has been destined, namely at a Berith which took place on a child of my brother at his house in Hancock, Lake Superior. After about forty participants had done justice to a very luxurious dinner, with the permission of Mr. Hoffman of Cleveland, the operator, a motion was made that the saying of grace should be sold, and the proceeds appropriated to some charitable purpose, whereupon Brother Samuel made an amendment that the proceeds should be sent to Dr. Wise of Cincinnati, to be appropriated by him for the monument to be erected for Dr. Rothenhelm; the sheriff, Mr. Fechheimer, seconded the motion, and the same was unanimously carried. Brother A. F. was the last bidder with $30, consequently he was the lucky purchaser, and bestowed the honor on your humble correspondent.

The act is worth imitating, and if you think it worth mentioning you may give it publicity in The Israelite and Deborah.

Yours truly,
L. F. Leopold.

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