1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe

December 18, 2016

By Amorin Mello

Julius Austrian ~ Madeline Island Museum

Photograph of Julius Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum

One of the more colorful figures from primary sources of Chequamegon History is Julius Austrian at La Pointe.  Austrian is also one of the more elusive, as he is often overlooked and omitted from secondary sources.  

My research of Austrian is what originally inspired me to begin contributing to Chequamegon History.  I have been working behind the scenes on a series of stories about Austrian featuring extensive collections of primary documents to shed more light on his life at La Pointe during the 1850’s, and look forward to publishing them at a later date.  

One story in particular is about Austrian’s, and his family’s, involvement with the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment, one of the most colorful events in Chequamegon History.  A brief introduction to the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment is needed for context, so I refer to a quote from Leo in an earlier post of his: A real bona fide, unmitigated Irishman

“Regular readers will know that the 1855 La Pointe annuity payment to the Lake Superior Chippewa bands is a frequent subject on Chequamegon History.  […]  The 1855 payment produced dozens of interesting stories and anecdotes:  some funny, some tragic, some heroic, some bizarre, and many complicated.  We’ve covered everything from Chief Buffalo’s death, to Hanging Cloud the female warrior, to Chief Blackbird’s great speech, to the random arrival of several politicians, celebrities, and dignitaries on Madeline Island.”

The annuity payment at La Pointe took place during August and September of 1855.  Yom Kippur during 1855 began on September 21st (also known in the Jewish calendar as the 9th of Tishrei, 5616).

At this moment in Chequamegon History, Austrian was a powerful resident at La Pointe in terms of private land ownership and political savvy.  Austrian was a signatory of the 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac, but not a signatory of the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe.  However, primary sources reveal that Austrian was the owner of La Pointe during the 1854 Treaty, and received financial reimbursement from the Department of Interior for services related it.  A letter from Reverend Leonard Wheeler at Odanah dated January 18, 1856, asserts that the 1855 annuity payment at La Pointe was hosted by Austrian:

“The following is the substance of my notes taken at the Indian council at La Pointe a copy of which you requested.  Council held in front of Mr. Austrian’s store house Aug 30. 1855.”

I have come across secondary sources that allude to Austrian’s role as the host of the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe immediately after the annuity payments, but have not yet been able to locate any primary sources.  This post cites secondary sources in hopes that another researcher may review them and help me find primary sources.  Having a background in Jewish studies would be helpful, as it is possible primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe were written in the Hebrew language rather than in English.  Please contact Chequamegon History if you can help find and translate primary sources.

Without further ado, here are secondary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe listed chronologically by their publication dates.

 


 

The Beth El Story: With a History of the Jews in Michigan before 1850

by Irving I. Katz
Wayne University Press (1955)
ISBN-10: 0-7837-3584-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-7837-3584-9

Pages 53-54:

Read An Interesting Family History to learn more about business partnerships and marriages between the Leopold (Freudenthaler) siblings and Austrian (Oesterreicher) siblings.
The Austrians and Leopolds were connected to Temple Beth El via their former employee Edward Kanter.
Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found in archives at Temple Beth El.

“Lewis F. Leopold, whose name was Freudenthaler in his native Baden, Germany, his wife, Babette, who was a member of the Oesterreicher (Austrian) family, their infant son, Lewis’ sister, Hannah, and Lewis’ brother, Samuel, were located on the Island of Mackinac in 1845.  The brothers became the first pioneers in this locality in the fishery business and were soon shipping a thousand barrels of salted fish to Cleveland each season.  This business, together with the sale of supplies to fishermen, Indian trading and the purchase of furs, laid the foundation for an extensive business and they became prominent as owners of Lake Michigan vessels and merchants in the ports of the Great Lakes.

Austrian’s brother-in-law and business partner Lewis (Louis) Freudenthal Leopold was based in Cleveland.  Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found in the Jewish American Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

“Samuel Leopold left Mackinac in 1853 to join his two other brothers and Julius Austrian, who had married Hannah Leopold in 1849, in their recently undertaken business enterprises at La Pointe and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they were among the first white settlers.  Lewis Leopold officiated as cantor at the first High Holy Day services held at La Pointe in the fall of 1855.  Within a few years after 1850, the Leopolds and Austrians established leading stores in Michigan, at Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, the Cliff Mine, Calumet, and at Hancock, Joseph Austrian having selected the latter place as the site for his first store and warehouse.”

 


 

Mount Zion, 1856-1956: The First Hundred Years

by W. Gunther Plaut
North Central Publishing Company (1956)
ASIN: B0007DEZ4W

Page 24:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found at Mount Zion Temple.
Newspaper clipping featuring Austrian and "his man" Vincent Roy, Jr. ~ Minnesota Pioneer, January 30th, 1851; republished in The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, LA), Feburary 24th, 1851.

Minnesota Pioneer article about Julius Austrian and his Chippewa mixed-blood employee Vincent Roy, Jr. in Saint Paul as republished in The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, LA), February 24th, 1851.  Roy also worked for Austrian and Leopold at La Pointe, Fond du Lac, and Vermillion Lake.

“Julius Austrian was perhaps one of the most colorful figures not merely in the history of the Congregation but in the larger Minnesota community as well.  His wife, the former Hannah Leopold (in Germany, the name had been Freudenthaler), at once became an undisputed leader among the Jewish women.  The couple had married in 1849 and were among the first white settlers at La Pointe and at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Others of the family joined them later.  High Holy day services are recorded at Fond du Lac as early as 1855.  Austrian laid claim to mineral rights and lands in what later became part of Duluth.  1851 he once made the trek south to St. Paul in the dead of the winter – and arrived in St. Paul with two dog trains and several hundred pounds of freight.  The Minnesota Pioneer duly reported that this ‘excited much curiosity in our town.’ The Austrians and Leopolds, who may be reckoned as among the earliest pioneers of the region, later had stores in a number of Michigan towns; and when Julius and Hannah moved to St. Paul, their reputation had preceded them.  But unlike his wife, Julius Austrian preferred the quiet, behind-the-scenes type of leadership.  When funds were low, he would make up the deficit; and at least on one occasion, so the minute book records, he guaranteed the Rabbi’s salary.  He wrote a fine hand, both in English and in Hebrew, as is attested by the cemetery records which he kept for many years.”

 


 

The Jews in Minnesota: The First Seventy-Five Years

by W. Gunther Plaut
American Jewish Historical Society (1959)
ISBN:

Pages 12-14:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe might be found at the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith Minnesota Lodge, No. 157.

“When Abram Elfelt became Vice-President of the new Minnesota Lodge No. 157, B’nai B’rith, his fellow officer and treasurer was a man by the name of Julius Austrian.  The two had known each other for many years, for while Austrian did not come to St. Paul until after the Civil War he, too, had been in the Territory when it was still part of Wisconsin.

Julius Austrian (Oestreicher) immigrated with his sister Babette and brother-in-law Henry Leopold (Freudenthal). ~ New York Passenger Lists, September 5th, 1844; FamilySearch.org

Julius Austrian (Oestreicher) immigrated with his sister Babette Austrian (Babet Oestreicher) (wife of Louis F. Leopold) and their brother-in-law Henry F. Leopold (Heinr Freudenthal).
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 19 of 895; NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“Austrian was one of five brothers.  In the old country, their name had been Oesterreicher or Oestreicher.  Julius must have had an adequate Jewish education, for he could write Hebrew with a sure hand and had deep and definite religious convictions.  In the late forties he, his brother Marx, and Lewis Leopold had gone up to LaPointe, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior, where they were among the first white settlers.  As early as 1855, they held Holy Day services in this outpost of civilization.

“In 1849, Julius had married his partner’s sister, Hannah Leopold, a girl who was then not quite nineteen years old.  Their business prospered; stores were established on the northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: in Eagle River, Eagle harbor, Cliff Mine, Calumet and Hancock, where their store and warehouse were located.

Marriage license application for Julius Austrian and Hannah Leopold. ~ Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013; FamilySearch.org

Marriage license application for Julius Austrian and Hannah Leopold.
~ “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” image 47 of 229.

“The Austrians and Leopolds traded throughout the area and soon extended their contacts into Minnesota.  Even during the summer, it was quite a journey to St. Paul, but only the hardiest person would gather enough courage to make it during the winter.  No wonder, therefore, when Julius Austrian dared it in January, 1851, the press recorded that his arrival ‘excited much curiosity in our town.’  He came with another person from Lake Superior via the Falls of St. Croix.  Their mode of transportation was the northern dog-train.  In their two sleds they brought several hundred pounds of freight for trading.

“Austrian soon became a land owner in Minnesota.  He acquired mineral rights at Lake Superior on a site where later the city of Duluth was built.  In the late sixties, he and his brother Marx moved to St. Paul where Julius and Hannah at once became two of the leading Jewish citizens.  For they soon proved their strong Jewish loyalties and unusual leadership qualities.

Photograph of Hannah Leopold Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

Photograph of Hannah Leopold Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

“When they came to St. Paul, the Civil War was over, and whatever little Jewish institutional life there had been in Minnesota was left in very poor circumstances.  The two Austrians were soon engaged in building up the congregation.  They helped to find the means for erecting the young state’s first synagogue.  Hannah founded its first women’s group and headed it in its work for the Temple and in its increasingly ambitious welfare and social enterprises until after the turn of the century.  Under her presidency Mount Zion’s women founded the St. Paul Neighborhood House.  In 1897, she was feted lavishly on her twenty-fifth anniversary as president of the Temple auxiliary.  She was a stocky woman, coupled with a wonderful sense of humor.  She died in ripe old age in Chicago, where she had gone to live with her daughter, who had married Amiel Hart.  Hannah’s passing was noted with great sorrow in her old community to which she had given so much.

“The Austrians were moderate in their outlook; they were Reformers, but of the evolutionary kind.  Julius was, until his death in 1891, a mainstay of Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation.  More retiring than his wife, he preferred a trusteeship or vice-presidency to the chair itself.  He was responsible for bringing Leopold Wintner was the first ordained Rabbi to Minnesota; for when his fellow members were fearful of committing themselves to a contract he personally agreed to underwrite it.  His special concern was the cemetery of Mount Zion, the first Jewish burial ground in the state.  He kept its records in English and Hebrew, and some of the social background of the earlier days can be read in his private obituary notes.

Julius Austrian; Hannah Leopold Austrian (Wife); Amelia Austrian (Mother); Marx Austrian (Brother); Solomon Austrian (Brother); Mina Austrian (Sister); Henry Goodman (Cousin) ~ New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch.com

Marx Austrian immigrated to the United States during 1853 with his mother, several of his siblings, and cousin Henry Guttman (Goodman).
~ “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” image 499 of 671; NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Joseph Austrian’s memoir asserts that the Marx Austrian’s life was threatened at least once by the Lake Superior Chippewas for his actions along Chequamegon Bay.

“His brother Marx (more often he was known as Max) was blind from early youth on.  Still he pioneered with the rest of the family, and the Indians at Lake Superior loved the handicapped white man.  In St. Paul, whither he removed with Julius and Hannah in 1869, he was known as a man of dignity and piety.  For many years he blew the shofar at Mt. Zion’s Holy Day services.  He outlived Julius by twelve years.”

 


 

United States Jewry 1776-1985.
Vol. 2: the Germanic Period, Part 1

by Jacob Rader Marcus
Wayne State University Press (1991)
ISBN-10: 0-8143-2187-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8143-2187-4

Page 196:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur at La Pointe may be found at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for American Jewish Archives.

“By the 1850’s America was studded with Jewish societies, one even on the High Plains.  How rapid was the organizing process?  In general a whole generation elapsed, possibly two, after the coming of the pioneers before the first communal society came into being.  In some states, as in Florida and Connecticut, it would take decades before the Jews would established a congregation.  There are some striking exceptions.  In 1855 a number of Jewish Indian traders met on an island in Lake Superior in the frontier village of La Pointe, Wisconsin.  The Indians were assembled there to collect their annuities and the Jews were present to dun their debtors before they dispersed.  There were enough Jews for a minyan and a service was held.  That was the beginning and the end of La Pointe Jewry.  Another historical accident is the “instant” community.  The Jews of Savannah arrived from London in 1733 already organized as a congregation; San Francisco Jewry of the Gold Rush was able to establish two religious groups without delay and Oklahoma City and Guthrie were born overnight during the 1889 ‘run.’  All this is completely atypical.”

 


 

Jewish Pioneers of Saint Paul: 1849-1874

by Gene H. Rosenblum
Arcadia Publishing (2001)
ISBN-10: 0-7385-1862-X
ISBN-13: 978-0738518626

Page 75:

“Julius Austrian was one of the more influential and colorful Jewish pioneers.  In 1849, he and his wife Hannah Leopold Austrian were among the first white settlers in La Pointe and Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, at a time when the Minnesota Territory was part of the Wisconsin Territory.  In 1855, they had participated in the Jewish High Holiday services in La Pointe.  He was already a successful businessman when he and his family came to St. Paul in 1869 from Wisconsin.  He had a string of successful stores throughout the Upper Michigan Peninsula.  He also had already acquired claims in mineral rights around Lake Superior, where the city of Duluth now stands.  He was a man of great generosity, and when the fledgling Mt. Zion Synagogue was unable to hire its first rabbi, he guaranteed payment.  He also was a moving force in the failed attempt to establish the Painted woods colony in North Dakota.”

Page 79:

Primary sources about the 1855 Yom Kippur might be found at Mount Zion Temple in Saint Paul.
“In 1856, when St. Paul only had a population of 1200, 8 Jewish pioneers (fur traders, liquor and clothing merchants) founded Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. In 1856, Minnesota was still a territory, to become a state in 1858. Mount Zion was traditional in its beginning years.”
~ Mount Zion Temple
“The first Jews arrived in Minnesota in the 1840s and 1850s. Most were from the area that would become Germany, but they had spent several years in the eastern United State, especially New York and Pennsylvania. They came as young families and as single men. Chiefly they engaged in selling liquor and taking furs in trade; later they expanded their businesses to sell clothing and other dry goods.”
~ Mount Zion Temple

“Two significant events took place in 1869 that had a permanent impact on the pattern of communal life within the St. Paul Jewish community.  The first event involved the more orthodox of the settlers.  Dissatisfied with Mt. Zion, they began to gather together for private prayers in a frame house on Payne Avenue near Seventh Street in the Dayton’s Bluff near East Side area.  They were the roots for the first strictly orthodox synagogue in Minnesota and established what later became the Sons of Jacob Synagogue.  At this point, Mt. Zion began its slow evolution toward Reform Judaism.  The second event involved a husband and wife team who were to have far reaching influence.  Julius Austrian and his wife Hannah arrived in St. Paul in 1869 when the Jewish communal institutions were in very poor circumstances.

“Julius Austrian was one of five brothers.  In the old country their name was Oestrreicher.  In the late 1840s, his older brothers, Marx Austrian and Lewis Leopold, had gone to La Pointe, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior, where they were among the first white settlers.  As early as 1855 they held High Holy Day (Yom Kippur) services in La Pointe, Wisconsin.  In 1849, Julius married Lewis Leopold’s sister Hannah, who was not quite 19.  In 1851, he made a trip south to St. Paul in the dead of winter and arrived with two dog trains and several hundred pounds of freight.”

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