By Amorin Mello

The Ashland Weekly Press became the Ashland Daily Press.

Originally published in the February 16, 1878, issue of The Ashland Press.  Transcribed with permission from Ashland Narratives by K. Wallin and published in 2013 by Straddle Creek Co.

Early Recollections of Ashland: Number I

by Asaph Whittlesey

"Asaph Whittlesey dressed for his journey from Ashland to Madison, Wisconsin, to take up his seat in the state legislature. Whittlesey is attired for the long trek in winter gear including goggles, a walking staff, and snowshoes." Circa 1860. ~ Wisconsin Historical Society

Photograph of Asaph Whittlesey from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Our first arrival at La Pointe being so intimately associated with the settlement of Ashland, I have determined to make our arrival there the subject of my first letter.

It was among the first days of June, 1854, that George Kilburn, Jr., myself and wife and only child, Eugenia, (then some eighteen months old,) made a landing at La Pointe with a view to remain permanently in the country. Well do I remember the beautiful “town,” spread before us as we merged from the “old log warehouse” through which we passed in reaching the shore, while the general appearance was that of neatness and comfort.

Julius Austrian ~ Madeline Island Museum

Photograph of Julius Austrian from the Madeline Island Museum.

We had already made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, having had the pleasure of their company up the Lakes, and had made many inquiries of them as to the place of our destination. From this time forward we found Mr. and Mrs. Austrian to be most agreeable neighbors and associates, and these young “brides” spent much of their time together, and not unfrequently did the evening air carry to listening crowds our notes of “Good old Colony times,” and “There’s no place like home,” still fresh in our memory.

La Pointe at this time was the second in importance of towns upon the Lakes, Ontonagon taking the lead.

Within a few days after our landing, we were fully organized as “house keepers,” under the same roof with Mr. and Mrs. George Starks, now residents of Bayfield; who proved to be most excellent neighbors, and never did a single roof cover a more harmonious trio of families.

We had, however, a common “foe” to encounter, visions of which filled our dreams and harassed our waking moments. This “foe” was the everlasting “bed bug,” more numerous and more determined in their onslaught than is the “Russian Army;” while this mixture of Dutch and Yankee blood served to satisfy their ravenous appetites. We had heard of this race before, but this was the first time we had met in open combat, face to face. It was our custom regularly before retiring to rest to go into combat with them armed with “wooden spads,” with which we slaughtered them by the quart. Our plan was to remain awake an hour or so after retiring to bed, when we would strike a light which was a signal for a field fight. It was an exciting scene to witness their ranks surrounding us on every hand, while the sheets of our bed seemed dyed in human blood. One means of our defense was to have the bed posts stand in molasses; but this only put them to the trouble of marching to the ceiling above from which they dropped upon us like hail; of course all these contingencies helped to make my wife good natured, and strengthen her attachments to the country. This condition of things lasted while we remained occupants of the building, and when we, in our weakness from loss of blood, staggered forth to make us a home elsewhere, we were filled with anxiety as to the safety of our German neighbors.

Julius Austrian’s garden was originally established by Charles William Wulff Borup, M.D.:
“Dr. Borup, the agent for the American Fur Company, (who have an extensive trading-post at this place,) has a superb garden.  In walking through it with him, I saw very fine crops of the usual garden vegetables growing in it.  His red currant bushes were literally bent down beneath their weight of ripe fruit.  His cherry-trees had also borne well.  Gooseberries also succeed well.  The doctor also had some young apple-trees, that were in a thriving condition.  Poultry, likewise, does well.  Mrs. B. had her yard well stocked with turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.”
~ Morgan at La Pointe during 1845.

As I have before stated, the general appearance of the island was most attractive. The garden of Mr. Austrian was laid out most tastily. We found there a large variety of fruit trees, apples, plums, cherries, etc. Also large quantities of currants and strawberries; but the crowning attraction was the “grape bower,” affording a most attractive lounging place. Here also a merry party, consisting, so far as my recollection serves me, of the following persons: Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, Rev. John Chebohm, (who, I remember, asked the blessing at the table,) Marks Austrian, Mr. H. Mandelbaum, Henry Smit, Mr. and Mrs. Hocksteiner, Mr. and Mrs. George Starks, old Mr. and Mrs. Perinier, Mr. and Mrs. Asaph Whittlesey, and I think Mrs. William Herbert, and a Mr. Roy, celebrated the

“FORTH OF JULY,” 1854.

Being a curious mixture of Americans, Jews, Germans, French and Austrians, no two of whom could carry on a very extensive conversation, for want of a knowledge of the languages, so that our toasts were mainly received in silence, nevertheless the day was passed most pleasantly, while the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Asaph Whittlesey, marked it as a day for national celebration.

To be continued in Number II

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.”

By Amorin Mello

detroit flag

Original sketch of Detroit’s flag, by David Emil Heineman, 1907.
~ Detroit Historical Society

This is a reproduction of biographical sketches from “Jewish Beginnings in Michigan Before 1850,” by Hon. David Emil Heineman.  It was transcribed  from Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society: Number 13, 1905, pages 57-63.  The author’s father, E. S. Heineman, and Kanter were business partners.  For more information about Kanter while working for the Leopolds and Austrians families, see the Edward Kanter Papers, 1847-1848.


1905 publications of the American Jewish Historical Society Number 13

——-

Jewish Beginnings in Michigan Before 1850

——-

 

Beginnings Of The Immigration Preceding The Year 1850.

An account of the Jews who came to Michigan in the years immediately succeeding 1850 would be of secondary interest to a society such as this. Such an account would be more proper for a local than a national society; it would deal with the extensive immigration, principally German, of that period, and be made up of long lists of names, birthplaces, and dates of arrival. It would be a recital common at a somewhat earlier date to most of the then Western States telling of the humble beginnings of prosperous merchants, successful professional men, and communal leaders, in largest measure, valuable and valued citizens. The beginnings of congregations would be accurately set down and the memory of man would still suffice to amend the errors due to a neglect of local history. Inasmuch as there has hitherto been a woeful neglect of proper investigation, the writer does not hesitate to enlarge upon the commencement of this immigration and upon a few pioneers therein, all prior to 1850.

The Leopold And Austrian Families.

1843_drawing_of_Mission_Point_beach_at_Mackinac_Island,_Michigan

1843 Drawing of Mission Point Beach at Mackinac Island, Michigan ~ Wikimedia.org

We again recur to Mackinac, and in 1845 find at this point members of the Leopold and Austrian families1 which afterwards became prominent as owners of Lake Michigan vessels and merchants in the ports of the Great Lakes. Lewis F. Leopold, his wife, who was a Miss Babette Austrian,and their son of less than a year old, together with his sister Hannah and his brother Samuel, were located at the island in the year mentioned. Samuel F. Leopold soon after his arrival at Mackinac purchased a one-mast sloop, the “Agate,” with which he gathered up the product of the different fishing points, becoming the first pioneer at this locality in the fishery business, which since that time has grown to such a great industry. The brothers sent down to Cleveland a thousand barrels of salted fish each season, no insignificant industry for those days. This venture, together with the sale of supplies to fishermen, Indian trading, and the purchase of furs, laid the foundations for an extensive business. Samuel F. Leopold left Mackinac in 1853, joining his brothers, Henry and Aaron, and Julius Austrian, who had married Miss Hannah Leopold in 1849, in their recently undertaken business ventures at La Pointe and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they were among the first white settlers.

1852 austrian sawmill

Detail of the “Austrian’s Saw Mill” (formerly the American Fur Company’s sawmill) on Pike’s Creek in the Town of Bayfield, La Pointe County, circa 1852. ~ Wisconsin Public Land Survey Records

Plate_Jos_Austrian_up_a_tree

Stories about the Austrians’ sawmill and home in Bayfield are shared in Joseph Austrian’s Memoir, and in Benjamin Armstrong’s Memoir.

The town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, was platted shortly thereafter, Marks and Julius Austrian being the preemptors, and Mrs. Julius Austrian the first white woman resident at that place. The history of these enterprising and prominent families, it will thus be seen, falls properly to Wisconsin, but in addition to what has been mentioned, it should be stated that within a few years after 1850 they had established leading stores in Michigan, at Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, the Cliff Mine, Calumet, and at Hancock, Mr. Joseph Austrian having selected at the latter place the site for its first store and warehouse. The Leopolds came from Baden where their name was Freudenthaler; the Austrians, whose name originally was Oesterreicher, came from Wittelshofen, Bavaria. As is obvious, the name in each instance was changed purely for convenience.

Sketch Of Edward Kanter.2

There was a young man at Mackinac who in 1846 worked for the parties just mentioned and whose name was Edward Kanter. He had come to Detroit in the fall of 1844 and remained a citizen of Michigan until his death, 52 years later. Always a modest man, he never, in spite of his prominence as a citizen, permitted the publication of his biography and the interesting facts of his career certainly deserve such preservation as the records of this Society afford. They are here set forth for the first time.

Edward Kanter findagrave

Edward Kanter “Photo published in Katz, Irving I. The Jewish Soldier from Michigan in the Civil War. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1962. Page 8. Kanter served as vice-president of a Detroit soldier recruitment organization and was the first Jewish member of the Michigan Legislature. Added by: Hebrew Heritage Foundation”
~ Findagrave.com

Die_Gartenlaube_(1873)_b_132

Edward Kanter was related to German Parliamentarian Eduard Lasker (originally Jizchak Lasker).
~ Wikipedia.org

Edward Kanter was born in Breslau in 1824. His father was Louis Kanter, a prosperous linen merchant and a member of the Linen Merchants’ Guild. His mother was Helena Lasker, a near kinswoman of Edward Lasker, the German Parliamentarian, of whose birthplace she was also a native. Young Kanter graduated from the Breslau Gymnasium, equipped among other things with a knowledge of Greek, Latin, German, English, French, and Hebrew. In later years he was often heard to remark that it was his education above all things which helped him out in emergencies. A wild spirit of adventure seized him early in life with the result that he ran away from home and made his way to Paris where his knowledge of the language obtained him employment in a lawyer’s office. Six months later saw him at Havre where, as he was strolling about the wharves, a sudden impulse prompted him to go aboard a vessel bound for New Orleans. He hid behind a coil of rope until well out at sea when he was discovered and at once given a further taste of the rope accompanied by an assortment of curses in several languages. As he was able to turn away wrath with soft answers in all of the respective tongues, it instantly dawned upon the mate at the other end of the rope that he had found a much-needed interpreter for the immigrants of various nations with whom the ship was crowded. The rest of the trip was pleasant sailing for the young stowaway.

The Occident and American Jewish Advocate, Vol. IX. No. 8: Elul 5611, September 1851
——-
“Isaac Hart, Esq., of New Orleans.—We lately intimated that Mr. Hart would be presented with a token of regard from the congregation over which he had been president for several years. The presentation took place on Sunday, the 21st of September, and the following extract from the New Orleans Bee will give our readers all the particulars which have reached us:

Presentation of a Silver Pitcher.— On Sunday last, we were witness of a highly-interesting ceremony. Everybody knows Mr. Isaac Hart, of Canip Street, and most persons are aware that he is an active, zealous, and intelligent member of the German Hebrew Congregation of this city. To his unwearied exertions, his liberality, and his unflagging energy, that Congregation is indebted, in a great degree, for its present prosperity, and for the possession of a spacious and beautiful Temple for the worship of the GOD of Israel. Mr. HART retained the honorable post of President of the Congregation, devoting himself to its welfare, until its leading objects were secured. He then resigned his office, leaving to his successors a noble example of the successful fruits of diligence, religious faith, and indefatigable perseverance.

The members of the congregation, desirous of testifying their grateful appreciation of the efforts of their ex-president, subscribed toward the construction of a massive silver pitcher of exquisite workmanship, having on one side an appropriate inscription, and on the other a beautiful representation of the German Synagogue, and enriched all over with tasteful devices. On Sunday, the officers of the Congregation assembled at Mr. Hart’s residence, and Mr. George G. Levi, on behalf of that body, tendered the pitcher to that gentleman, accompanying the gift with some feeling and eloquent remarks, in which he set forth the valuable services of Mr. Hart, and the high sense of his merits entertained by the association of which he had been selected the interpreter. The donee, in accepting the splendid token, responded warmly and sincerely. He sketched the history and progress of the Congregation, from the days when, obscure and almost nameless, it first struggled into existence, up to the present time, when its members assemble weekly in a noble edifice, consecrated to the Almighty, to solemnize their Sabbath and offer up devotion and prayer to the Most High. He claimed little merit for himself, but said, that like a general in battle, he only led his soldiers, while they had won the victory by their courage and resolution. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the gentlemen and ladies present were conducted by Mr. Hart into another room, where they were entertained with cordial and profuse hospitality.”

On arriving at New Orleans, he found himself with but a single shilling which he gave to be changed to one of the sailors on the ship. The sailor did not return and so the lad landed on the soil of America with literally not a single penny in his pocket. Hardly ashore, he was laid low with yellow fever. He was taken care of by a relief committee of Jewish citizens of New Orleans, among them Mr. Isaac Hart, afterwards a resident of Detroit, a gentleman most kindly remembered by Detroiters. Upon his recovery, the same committee set him to peddling cigars until a congenial place was found for him in a drug store. The place was too congenial; he was much given to chemical experiments, reminiscences perhaps of the Breslau Gymnasium. Presently one of the experiments resulted in a bad explosion of the drug store, from the wreck of which the young scientist rushed terrified to the levee. He went aboard the first boat which happened to need a waiter. Because of his excellent penmanship he was soon promoted to the position of clerk and as such he continued to sail up and down the Red River until one day the boat happened to blow up opposite Helena. He swam ashore, worked his way to St. Louis, took a steamer to Pekin, Illinois, and walked thence to Chicago, where he shipped on the steamer Wisconsin until the close of navigation, 1844. He was now only twenty years of age, but had certainly obtained a few lessons in the larger university of life.

Jewish Virtual Library: Detroit
——-
“German Jews arrived in Detroit in significant numbers in the 1840s. Charles E. Bresler, a settler of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area in the 1830s, moved to Detroit in 1844. He dealt in horses, furs, and wool, and made a fortune importing steel pens. He was one of the incorporators of Detroit’s first Jewish congregation, Temple Beth El. Edward Kanter arrived in Detroit that same year, moving to Mackinac the following year where he was employed by the American Fur Company. Later he worked for the Leopold Brothers, pioneers on the island of Mackinac in the fishery business, and fur traders. Kanter returned to Detroit in 1852 and became Detroit’s first Jewish banker and the first Michigan Jew to serve in the state legislature. Kanter Street is named after him.”

He spent the winter of 1844 in Detroit. The English he had learned at Breslau had always given him trouble, or more properly speaking, had always given trouble to those to whom he spoke, and so he profited by his stay in Detroit to take some lessons from Chas. E. Bresler, a Jewish resident of Michigan, originally from the same part of Europe as Kanter. The ensuing spring saw him again on the lakes, this time as clerk of the steamer Illinois. He left this position, however, taking employment the same year at Mackinac as clerk and interpreter for the American Fur Company, the successor to John Jacob Aster’s venture. Here again his French and English stood him in good stead. His remarkable faculty for languages revealed itself in the rapidity with which he picked up the Indian tongues. In a short time he had mastered the Huron, Chippewa, and Pottawatomie languages and even in later life could on occasion unconcernedly carry on a fluent conversation in any of them. He visited at this time Duluth and the Apostle Islands and was a passenger on the first trip of the “Julia Palmer,” the second boat to be carried on rollers around the Falls at Sault Ste. Marie.

In 1846, as has been stated, he worked for the Leopolds and Austrians. The following year he had been placed in charge of a stock of goods at the island by some eastern parties who suddenly decamped without notice to their creditors. When the latter arrived, they were so impressed by the honesty and zeal wherewith young Kanter had guarded their interests that they voluntarily turned the entire stock and store over to him on easy terms of payment, and so in July, 1847, he opened his books with a cash capital of $200. On these prospects he married a month later the daughter of former State Senator Lyman Granger of the neighboring Bois Blanc Island. He remained at Mackinac until 1852. In that year the late Mr. E. S. Heineman,3 father of the writer, recently arrived at Detroit, was sent to Mackinac to be present at the Indian payment. Mr. Kanter and he immediately became warm friends. The Indians had given Mr. Kanter, because of his bustling activity, the name of “Bosh-bish-gay-bish-gon-sen,” meaning “Fire Cracker,” and Mr. Heineman being somewhat shorter in stature than Mr. Kanter, but of equal activity, was immediately dubbed “Little Firecracker.”

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Edward Kanter’s father-in-law was Senator Lyman Granger.
~ Findagrave.com

The red men always had a great liking for Mr. Kanter; they never missed an opportunity to call on him in Detroit or to send greetings to him. The merchants of Detroit in the early 60’s were at a loss one day to account for a circle of Indians gravely squatted in front of Mr. Kanter’s store on the chief business street, Mr. Kanter making one of the circle, the whole company smoking and maintaining a dense silence, until they were informed that a delegation of chiefs on their way to see the Great Father at Washington would not pass through Detroit without smoking a pipe of peace with “Firecracker.”

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

Julius Austrian also went to Germany during 1853 to liquidate his recently deceased father’s estate, and to bring the rest of his family back to settle upon the Great Lakes.  Did Edward Kanter travel with the Austrian family?

german-american bank possibly detroit

German-American Bank, possibly Detroit, circa 1900-1920.
~ Library of Congress

In 1853 Mr. Kanter visited his parents in Europe. On his return he continued his successful business career. He became the founder of the German-American Bank, of which one of his sons continues at present to be a principal officer. He entered actively into political life at about this time. He was elected to the legislature of 1857, and though not a member of the prevailing party, presented and so persistently drove home a minority report on certain wrongdoings in the State treasury that the matter ended with the guilty party’s being sent to prison. He was twice made a candidate for the office of State Treasurer, but being a Democrat, the nomination was against hopeless odds. Mr. Kanter was long and conspicuously connected with the Democratic party organization. In the sixties he was Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee; he was a delegate to the National Convention that nominated Tilden, for eight years was the member from Michigan of the Democratic National Committee. He was Commissioner from Michigan to the New Orleans Exposition, a member of the Board of the House of Correction of Detroit, and in general a constant and valuable participator in public affairs. He was Vice-President and Treasurer of Congregation Beth El in Detroit in 1855 and an unfailing contributor towards its needs. He died in June, 1896. Respected by all who knew him, he left a name synonymous with strict integrity.

"German American Bank, Detroit.  Organized February 3, 1883." ~ Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Banking Dept By Michigan. Banking Dept, 1891, page 56.

“German American Bank, Detroit. Organized February 3, 1883.”
~ Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Banking Dept
By Michigan. Banking Dept, 1891, page 56.

1 Data obtained through the kindness of our fellow-member, Rev. Dr. Jos. Stolz, from Mrs. Julius Austrian (Hannah Leopold), and other members of the Austrian family.

2 Data supplied mainly by Hon. Henry L. Kanter of Detroit, son of Edward Kanter.

3 Farmer’s History of Detroit, Vol. II, p. 1155. The friendship of these two young men, thus meeting on this distant and savage island, was a most natural one. Both had been born in the same year, both had received a superior education in Europe, and both had left homes of comfort and luxury, having been equally unfitted by temperament to endure the political and other conditions then prevailing abroad. Their friendship endured until 1896, being terminated by death, Mr. Kanter surviving his friend only a few days.

By Amorin Mello

The original handwritten memoir of Joseph Austrian is held by the Chicago History Museum.  We saw some interesting stories and insights about La Pointe in Part I through the eyes of Doodooshaaboo (milk) as Joseph was known there during 1851 and 1852.  The later La Pointe stories in Part II, however, are where the really good stuff is about white settlement and land speculation prior to the Treaty of 1854.  When we last checked in with Joseph, he had just been ordered by brother-in-law Louis F. Leopold to terminate his business career at brother Julius Austrian’s Indian trading post at La Pointe, and to immediately relocate to Keweenaw Peninsula to co-manage brother-in-law Henry F. Leopold’s store in Eagle River.  

Joseph Austrian’s land purchase at La Pointe during 1852.
~ General Land Office Records

In this installment we follow pages 66-78 of Joseph Austrian’s memoir about his reassignment to Eagle River. While there he engages with the Leopolds’ business affairs with copper mines and miners of the Keweenaw Peninsula before the opening of the Soo Locks.  Joseph is quick to succeed in his new position as a trusted business partner during 1852-54.  

A mysterious omission from this memoir is the fact that, during the summer of 1852, Doodooshaboo purchased 183 acres in La Pointe from the U.S. General Land Office in Willow River.  In other words, this was the first federal sale of any land in La Pointe County. We will take a closer look at this critical shift in La Pointe’s political landscape as the subject of a future post on Chequamegon History.  But for now, Joseph’s stories about 1852-54 provide us with glimpses of the Austrian family’s affairs at La Pointe during these pivotal years before the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.  

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo

… continued from La Pointe 1851-1852 (Part 2).

 

Outline Map showing the position of the ancient mine-pits of Point Keweenaw, Michigan ~ Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior, by Charles Whittlesey

Outline Map showing the position of the ancient mine-pits of Point Keweenaw, Michigan. 
~ Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior, by Charles Whittlesey

 

Reached Eagle River by Sleigh. 1852.

Eagle River was born out of the massive land holdings of the Phoenix Mine, platted by the mine in 1855. Though created by the Phoenix Mine, it was the runaway success of the nearby Cliff Mine that allowed the village to prosper. The first industrial structures built at the village was a long dock and large warehouse built at the mouth of the Eagle River by the Cliff Mine, in order to ship out copper and bring in supplies. The wharf was quickly joined by other industries, including two breweries, an ashery, a fuse factory, and two saw mills. Along the way those industries were joined by a thriving commercial district rising up along the east shore of the river.”
~ CopperCountryExplorer.com

Mr. H. F. Leopold, who hearing that the boat had passed by during the night and expecting me on her, came over with a sleigh for me.  Eagle River was a small settlement of not over one hundred inhabitants situated in Houghton County, Michigan.  It depended entirely for its business patronage on the adjacent copper mines, principally the Cliff Mine, North American, Phoenix & Garden City mines, some of which at that time were just in course of development.  In the place there were but two stores the smaller one 18 x 24 situated on top of a hill facing the Lake was Leopolds.  The other larger store was owned by Tenter and Mandelbaum.  There were a number of saloons and boarding houses combined and this constituted the business portion of the town.

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Simon Mandelbaum was an employee of the Phoenix Mine, the successor of the the Lake Superior Copper Company (the first regularly organized corporation to engage in Lake Superior Copper mining).  
~ Annual Report by the Michigan Department of Mineral Statistics, 1900, pg. 240-41

 

Started Work at Eagle River. 1852.

I was at once installed in my work after my arrival, and the next day went to the Cliff Mine to attend to some collections.  Mr. H. F. Leopold was an uneducated man not able to read or write English, the business correspondence and keeping of accounts therefore devolved entirely on me.

After becoming thoroughly acquainted with the business I resolved to enlarge the same and my efforts to do so succeeded well.  A short time after my arrival at Eagle River a letter was received by the Leopolds containing the sad news of the death of my father.  He died suddenly Sept 17th, 1852 from a stroke of apoplexy at the age of 75 years.  This was naturally a cause of great grief and worry to me, as there was besides my mother, my blind brother Marx, a younger sister and brother at home to be cared for.

Joseph Lang may have immigrated to Lake Superior from Baden, Germany, and may have known the Leopolds from their native place in the old world.

The next spring a larger stock was ordered than had ever been carried before and new departments added, namely: groceries, grain, and provisions, heretofore, only dry goods had been carried, from this time on the business as a matter of course showed a decided increase, and at the next annual inventory the profits showed a much better result than ever before.  We boarded at Joseph Lang’s place who had a saloon in connection with his boarding house and poor as it was we had no choice to better ourselves.  Mr. Leopold spent his evenings generally at the boarding house enjoying a game of cards with some of his friends, while I had to pass my evenings alone at the store playing watchman.  We had no fire insurance on the store or on its contents, as firstly there were no insurance companies taking risks there at the time, and secondly even if they had I doubt that we could had placed any, owing to the dangerous condition of the heating apparatus.  The store was heated by a box wood stove with the pipe running through the entire length of the store to the chimney, and it was necessary to be very careful and watchful under the circumstances.  The store was hard to get comfortably warm, and I often sat there cold and shivering wrapped up in a blanket waiting for Mr. Leopold to come in for the night.

We slept up stairs over the store, and here it was most cheerless and dismal, not being heated at all.

The winters were very severe and extremely cold which did not add to our comfort and during our first winter there we had to put up with many hardships.

 

Dug Tunnel Under Snow to Stable.

We had frequently severe blizzards one I well remember, it lasted over a week.  The depth of the snow that fell at that time was so great that with the drifts it reached high as the roof of the stable and we had to dig a tunnel through the snow to get from the store to the stable, and the horses were led out some weeks through this tunnel.  Our store was exposed to the full force of the severe Lake Superior gales which some times shook the building threatening to demolish it.

 

Tough Boarding House Experiences.

During the winter there was no fresh meat to be had.  In the Fall the boats would bring some, but having no refrigerators it was hung up on the boom of the Schooner to preserve it during transportation and when it reached the table it was anything but tempting.  However, it was kept and used for weeks after, strong vinegar was used in preparing it by our land lord’s cook to hide the flavor.  When this “so called” fresh meat gave out for the rest of the winter they substituted salted meat.

The Cliff Mine store had a large supply which it had had on hand for several years, our land lord bought of this firstly because it was cheap and secondly because he could not get any other.  Eggs were not to be had either and turnips and potatoes were about the only vegetable procurable.  This diet caused scurvy more or less.  In the Spring when navigation opened, the first boat of the season was hailed with delight it was the signal for eggs and other delicacies we had been deprived of so long.  Our land lord bought a barrel of eggs and fed us on them three times a day, while they lasted.  During the summer we were also regaled with a variety of fresh vegetables and some fresh meat that could be had at times.

 

Brother Julius Brings our Family to America. 1853.

Hon. W. L. Marcy
Secretary of State
Office of Indian Affairs
June 30th, 1853
Dear Sir,
In the absence of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to whom the bearer, Mr. Julius Austrian of Cleveland, Ohio, has letters of introduction and whose business here pertains to your Department in connection with an intended visit to Europe with his family, I beg leave respectfully to salient for him such courtesies as the case demands.
I have the honor to be
Very respectfully
Your obedient
Charles E. Mix
Acting Comm.”
~ Ancestry.com

Things went on satisfactorily in the business and in the summer of 1853 brother Julius, who was stationed at La Point started with his wife, a sister of the Leopolds, for Germany in accordance with a conclusion we had come to, to bring mother and the rest of the family to this country, and at the same time to visit the native village of his wife – “Rḯchen,” in the Grand Dukedom of Baden.  It was a mission combined with a great deal of hardship and trouble for Julius, as it meant for him to convert all the real & personal property of my late father’s estate into money, which was in itself very difficult besides getting the family ready for this long voyage for their destination in the new world after having lived all their lifetime in Wittelshofen.  Brother Marx especially was disinclined to go on account of his affliction from loss of eyesight.

My mother not having any special ties there to keep her, was in a measure glad to go where the most of her children were living, and did everything in her power to get ready without unnecessary delay.

They had a safe voyage and arrived at Cleveland Sept 1853.

U.S.M. Steamship Atlantic, James West, Commander. ~ Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

U.S.M. Steamship Atlantic, James West, Commander.
~ Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

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,

Julius Austrian returned from Europe on the U.S.M. Steamer Atlantic to America on October 17th, 1853 with his family: Hannah Leopold Austrian (Wife); Malka Heule Austrian (Mother); Marx Austrian (Brother); Samuel Solomon Austrian (Brother); Mina (Sister); and Henry Guttman aka Goodman (Cousin).
~ New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891, pg. 499, FamilySearch.org

Mother took a small house in Cleveland on Ohio St. and started house keeping with my sister Mina and necessary help when she was comfortably located.  My brother Sol for the time being lived with my sister Babette.  During this winter my sister Mina became engaged to Levi Jordan of Baltimore, where he was in business.  He came from the same place where we were born, and therefore the families were well acquainted.  Their marriage took place the next summer (1854) and afterward they resided in Baltimore.

 

Store Sold by Mistake.

Was there is a relation between competitor Simon Mandelbaum at Eagle River and soon-to-be-ally M. H. Mandelbaum at La Pointe?

The business had kept on increasing steadily.  Mr. Louis F. Leopold had removed from Mackinaw and was living in Cleveland Ohio.  In sending the annual inventory to Mr. L. F. L., through a mistake of his, he did not think the result satisfactory and peremptorily ordered his brother Henry to close out the business in Eagle River and sell the store.  Henry boy like regardless of his own individual ideas and judgement at once obeyed his controlling brother, and sold out to his competitor, Mandelbaum, but soon regretted having done so.

 

I Spend Winter of 1853 in Cleveland.

Abraham Weidenthal was a reformed Jew from Bohemia.  Abraham lived briefly in Michigan between 1847-49 before moving to Ohio where he became a shoe maker in Cleveland. His nephews became known as the Weidenthal Brothers of Cleveland.

After selling the store Henry Leopold and I went to Cleveland.  I was anxious to meet my mother and the rest of the family from Germany.  That winter I spent in Cleveland visiting my mother and the others.  One of the first things we did was to get brother Solomon (then about 13 yrs- old) to learn a trade, and decided on shoe making as he was also eager to do something.  We arranged for him to go into the service of a certain Weidenthal who agreed to instruct him in the trade at a small remuneration.

He took his place at once, living for the time being with our sister Babette.  He took a good hold of the work and progressed very well in the trade to the entire satisfaction of his employer.

During the winter my brother Julius came through from Lake Superior, also Aaron and Sam F. Leopold for a conference between the Leopold brothers and me about the future program of our business.  We all decided it had been a mistake to sell the store as the profits when correctly viewed was quite satisfactory with good prospects ahead.  It was ascertained that Mr. Louis F. Leopold had taken it for granted that the inventory sent him showed him the result of two years profit since the business had existed; whereas it in reality was a statement of the one year of my management.  We all agreed to open up again in the Spring on a larger scale.  During the winter I contracted with a carpenter at Eagle River, and had the store enlarged to more than double its size and had the second story fitted up as living rooms, and a good cellar put under the store.

During this winter my sister Ida was engaged to Henry F. Leopold, and Jan 23rd, 1854, was married to him.  The wedding was an enjoyable family affair.

As soon as navigation opened up in Spring, in May 1854, Henry Leopold, his wife, and I returned to Eagle River with a good stock of goods.

Asaph Whittlesey moved from Ohio to La Pointe on the same ship as the Austrians in June, 1854.
“We had already made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Austrian, having had the pleasure of their company up the Lakes, and had made many inquiries of them as to the place of our destination. From this time forward we found Mr. and Mrs. Austrian to be most agreeable neighbors and associates, and
these young ‘brides’ spent much of their time together…”
~ The Ashland Press, Feb. 16, 1878.
Marx’s preemption of Bayfield during the winter of 1855-56 proved to be successful on paper, as he received a land patent for this claim from the General Land Office in Superior City in March of 1857.  Previously, Joseph’s memoir misdated this episode of Marx’s as 1851.

At this time brother Julius and wife returned to La Point taking Brother Marx with them, who about a year later married Caroline Milner of Cleveland, and settled for the time being in La Pointe.  That same year I sent him a small amount of goods from Eagle River, which enabled him to do a little something in trading with the same to the Indians for furs.  After the episode with the Indians as I have previously narrated Marx was anxious to get away from La Point, and I had him and his wife come to Eagle River where I built them a cottage, conveniently arranged for him to live in with a small crockery store attached which he and his wife attended.

Some years later when brother Julius moved to St. Paul by his advice Marx and his wife went there also, and lived in a house next to Julius which he had had fitted up for the purpose.  As far as business is concerned he acquired an interest in a butcher shop there.

Samuel Solomon Austrian’s time at La Pointe may have been as early as 1855 or as late as 1862.  Solomon became a successful merchant in Hancock.

After brother Solomon had finished his apprenticeship in the shoe business, the following year he also went up to La Pointe by advice of brother Julius where he stayed but a short time and then went to Hancock & opened a shoe store in which he did a good business.

 

To be continued at Eagle Harbor 1854-1859…

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

 

——-

AN INTERESTING FAMILY HISTORY.

——-

 

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.

By Leo Filipczak

Joseph Oesterreicher was only eighteen years old when he arrived at La Pointe in 1851.  Less than a year earlier, he had left his native Germany for Mackinac, where he’d come to work for the firm of his older brother Julius and their in-laws, the Leopolds, another Bavarian Jewish family trading on Lake Superior.

In America, the Oesterreichers became the Austrians, but in his time at Mackinac, Joseph Austrian picked up very little English and even less of the Ojibwe and Metis-French that predominated at La Pointe.  So, when Joseph made the move to his brother’s store at Madeline Island, it probably felt like he was immigrating all over again.

In the spring of 1851, he would have found at La Pointe, a society in flux.  American settlement intensified as the fur trade economy made its last gasps.  The island’s mix-blooded voyageurs found it harder and harder to make a living, and the Fur Company, and smaller traders like Julius Austrian, began to focus more on getting Ojibwe money from treaty annuity payments than they did from the actual trade in fur.  This competition for Indian money had led to the deaths of hundreds of Ojibwe people in the Sandy Lake tragedy just a few months earlier.  

The uncertainty surrounding Ojibwe removal would continue to hang heavily over the Island for both of Joseph’s years at La Pointe, as the Ojibwe leadership scrambled to process the horror of Sandy Lake and tried to secure a permanent homeland on the lakeshore.

The Austrians, however, found this an opportune time to be at the forefront of all the new business ventures in the Lake Superior country.  They made money in merchandise, real estate, shipping, mining, lumber, government contracts, and every other way they could.  This was not without controversy, and the name of Julius Austrian is frequently attached to documents showing the web of corruption and exploitation of Native people that characterized this era.  

It’s difficult to say whether Joseph realized in 1851, while sweeping out his brother’s store or earning his unfortunate nickname, but he would become a very wealthy man.  He lived into the 20th century and left a long and colorful memoir.  I plan to transcribe and post all the stories from pages 26-66, which consists of Joseph’s time at La Pointe.  Here is the first fourth [our original] installment:  

 

Memoirs of Doodooshaboo

… continued from Mackinac 1850-1851.

 

Left for La Point:  My First Trip on Lake Superior

1851

Julius Austrian ~ Madeline Island Museum

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

Mr. Julius Austrian was stationed at La Pointe, Madaline Island, one of the Apostle Group in Lake Superior, where he conducted an Indian Trading post, buying large quantities of fur and trading in fish on the premises previously occupied by the American Fur Co. whose stores, boats etc. the firm bought.

Julius Austrian, one of the partners had had charge of the store at La Point for five years past, he was at this time expected at Mackinaw and it had been arranged that I should accompany him back to La Pointe when he returned there, on the first boat of the season leaving the Sault Ste. Marie.  I was to work in the store and to assist generally in all I was capable of at the wages of $10 a month.  I gladly accepted the proposition being anxious for steady employment.  Shortly after, brother Julius, his wife (a sister of H. Leopold) and I started on the side wheel steamer Columbia for Sault Ste. Marie, generally called “The Soo,” and waited there five days until the Napoleon, a small propellor on which we intended going to La Point, was ready to sail.  During this time she was loading her cargo which had all to be transported from the Soo River to a point above the rapids across the Portage (a strip of land about ¾ of a mile connecting the two points) on a train road operated with horses.  At this time there were only two propellers and three schooners on the entire Lake Superior, and those were hauled out below the rapids and moved up and over the portage and launched in Lake Superior.  Another propeller Monticello, which was about half way across the Portage, was soon to be added to the Lake Superior fleet, which consisted of Independence & Napoleon and the Schooners Algonquin, Swallow, and Sloop Agate owned by my brother Julius.  Quite different from the present day, where a very large number of steel ships on the chain of Lakes, some as much as 8000 tons capacity, navigate through the canal to Lake Superior from the lower lakes engaged in transporting copper, iron ore, pig iron, grain & flour from the various ports of Marquette, Houghton, Hancock, Duluth, and others.  It was found necessary in later years to enlarge the locks of the canal to accomodate the larger sized vessels that had been constructed.

 

Building Sault Ste. Marie Canal.  1851.

The ship canal at that time had not been constructed, but the digging of it had just been started.  The construction of this canal employed hundreds of laborers, and it took years to complete this great piece of work, which had to be cut mostly through the solid rock.  The State of Michigan appropriated thousands of sections of land for the purpose of building this canal, for the construction of which a company was incorporated under the name of Sault Ste. Marie Ship Canal & Land Co., who received the land in payment for building this canal, and which appropriation entitled the Co. to located in any unsold government land in the State of Michigan.  The company availed itself of this privilege and selected large tracts of the best mineral and timber land in Houghton, Ontonagan & Kewanaw Counties, locating some of the land in the copper district, some of which proved afterwards of immense value, and on which were opened up some of the richest copper mines in the world, namely:  Calumet, Hecla, and Quincy mines, and others.  There were also very valuable timber lands covered by this grant.

The canal improved and enlarged as it now stands, is one of the greatest and most important artificial waterways in the world.  A greater tonnage is transported through it annually that through the Suez or any other canal.  In later years the canal was turned over by the State of Mich. to the General Government, which made it free of toll to all vessels and cargoes passing through it, even giving Canadian vessels the same privilege; whereas when operated by the State of Mich. toll was exacted from all vessels and cargoes using it.

The Napoleon, sailed by Capt. Ryder, had originally been a schooner, it had been turned into a propeller by putting in a small propeller engine.  She had the great (?) speed of 8 miles an hour in calm weather, and had the reputation of beating any boat of the Lake in rolling in rough weather, and some even said she had rolled completely over turning right side up finally.

To return to my trip, after passing White Fish Point, the following day and getting into the open lake, we encountered a strong north wind raising considerable sea, causing our boat to toss and pitch, giving us our first experience of sea sickness on the trip.  Beside the ordinary crew, we had aboard 25 horses for Ontonogan where we arrived the third day out.  The Captain finding the depth of water was not sufficient to allow the boat to go inside the Ontonogan river and there being no dock outside, he attempted to land the horses by throwing them overboard, expecting them to swim ashore, to begin with, he had three thrown overboard and had himself with a few of his men lowered in the yawl boat to follow, he caught the halter of the foremost horse intending to guide him and the others ashore. The lake was exceedingly rough, and the poor horses became panic stricken and when near the shore turned back swimming toward the boat with hard work.  The Captain finally succeeded in land those that had been thrown overboard, but finding it both hazardous to the horses and the men he concluded to give up the attempt to land the other horses in this way, and ordered the life boat hoisted up aboard.  She had to be hoisted up the stern, in doing so a heavy wave struck and knocked it against the stern of the boat before she was clear of the water with such force as to endanger the lives of the Capt. and men in it, and some of the passengers were called on to assist in helping to hoist the life boat owing to its perilous position.  Captain and the men were drenched to the skin, when they reached the deck.  Capt. vented his rage in swearing at the hard luck and was so enraged that he did not change his wet clothing for some time afterward.  The remaining horses were kept aboard to be delivered on the return trip, and the boat started for her point of destination La Point.

 

Arrived at La Point and Started in Employ of Brother Julius.  1851

Next morning we sighted land, which proved to be the outer island of the Apostle Group.  Captain flew into the wheel room and found the wheelsman fast asleep.  He grasped the wheel and steered the boat clear of the rocks, just in time to prevent the boat from striking.  Captain lost no time in changing wheelsman.  We arrived without further incidents at La Point the same afternoon.  When she unloaded her cargo, work was at once begun transferring goods to the store, in which I assisted and thus began my regular business career.  These goods were hauled to the store from the dock in a car, drawn by a horse, on wooden rails.

There were only about 6 white American inhabitants on the Island, about 50 Canadian Frenchmen who were married to squaws, and a number of full blooded Indians, among whom was chief Buffalo who was a descendant of chiefs & who was a good Indian and favorably regarded by the people.

Fr. Otto Skolla (self-portrait contained in History of the diocese of Sault Ste, Marie and Marquette (1906) by Antoine Ivan Rezek; pg.360; Digitized by Google Books)

The most conspicuous building in the place was an old Catholic Church which had been created more than 50 years before by some Austrian missionaries.  This church contained some very fine and valuable paintings by old masters.  The priest in charge there was Father Skolla, an Austrian, who himself was quite an artist, and spent his leisure hours in painting Holy pictures.  The contributions to the church amounted to a mere pittance, and his consequent poverty allowed him the most meager and scant living.  One Christmas he could not secure any candles to light up his church which made him feel very sad, my sister-in-law heard of this and sent me with a box of candles to him, which made him the happiest of mortals.  When I handed them to him, his words were inadequate to express his gratitude and praise for my brother’s wife.

 

Sherman Hall and the other A.B.C.F.M missionaries were actually Congregational-Presbyterian, but they were known to collaborate with Canadian Methodist missionaries.  The Wheeler Family correspondence from 1854 reveals that Julius Austrian and Rev. Hall were not always  on “friendly terms.”  Charles Pulsifer was a teacher in the mission school.

There was also a Methodist church of which a man by the name of Hall was the preacher.  He had several sons and his family and my brother Julius and his wife were on friendly terms and often met.

The principle man of the place was Squire Bell, a very genial gentleman who held most of the offices of the town & county, such as Justice of the Peace & Supervisor.  He also was married to a squaw.  This was the fashion of that time, there being no other women there.

John W. Bell, “King of the Apostle Islands” as described by Benjamin Armstrong (Digitized by Google Books) .

There was a school in the place for the Indians and half breeds, there being no white children there at this time.  I took lessons privately of the teacher of this school, his name was Pulsevor.  I was anxious to perfect myself in English.  I also picked up quite a bit of the Chippewa language and in very short time was able to understand enough to enable me to trade with the Indians.

My brother Julius was a very kind hearted man, of a very sympathetic and indulgent nature, and to his own detriment and loss he often trusted needy and hungry Indians for provisions and goods depending on their promise to return the following year with fur in payment for the goods.  He was personally much liked and popular with the Indians, but his business with them was not a success as the fur often failed to materialize.  The first morning after my arrival, my brother Julius handed me a milk pail and told me to go to the squaws next door, who having a cow, supplied the family with the article.  He told me to ask for “Toto-Shapo” meaning in the Indian language, milk.

Doodooshaaboo:  milk 
Makadewikonaye:  a priest
Gichi-mookomaan:  1. A white person 2.  American
Ishkode-jiimaan:  a steamboat, a ship.  Wiigiwaam:  a wigwam, a lodge
Ishkodewaaboo:  alcohol, liquor
(Ojibwe Peoples Dictionary)

I repeated this to myself over and over again, and when I asked the squaw for “Toto Shapo” she and all the squaws screamed with delight and excitement to think that I had just arrived and could make myself understood in the Indian tongue. This fact was spread among the Indians generally and from that day on while I remained on the Island I was called “Toto Shapo.”  One of the Indian characteristics is to name people and things by their first impression–for instance on seeing the first priest who work a black gown, they called him “Makada-Conyeh,” which means a black gown, and that is the only name retained in their language for priests.  The first soldier who had a sword hanging by his side they called “Kitchie Mogaman” meaning “a big knife” in their language.  The first steamboat they saw struck them as a house with fire escaping through the chimney, consequently they called it “Ushkutua wigwam” (Firehouse) which is also the only name in their language for steamboat.  Whiskey they call “Ushkutua wawa” meaning “Fire Water.”

My brother Julius had the United States mail contract between La Point & St. Croix.  The mail bag had to be taken by a man afoot between these two places via Bayfield a distance of about 125 miles, 2 miles of these being across the frozen lake from the Island to Bayfield.

 

Dangerous Crossing on the Ice.

An Indian named Kitchie (big) Inini (man) was hired to carry it.  Once on the way on he started to cross on the ice but found it very unsafe and turned back.  When my brother heard this, he made up his mind to see that the mail started on its way across the Lake no matter what the consequence.  He took a rope about 25 ft. long tying one end around his body and the other about mine, and he and I each took a long light pole carrying it with two hands crosswise, which was to hold us up with in case we broke through the ice.  Taking the mail bag on a small tobogan sled drawn by a dog, we started out with the Indian.  When we had gone but a short way the ice was so bad that the Indian now thoroughly frightened turned back again, but my brother called me telling me not to pay any attention to him and we went straight on.  This put him to shame and he finally followed us.  We reached the other side in safety, but had found the crossing so dangerous, that we hesitated to return over it and thought best to wait until we could return by a small boat, but the time for this was so uncertain that after all we concluded to risk going back on the ice taking a shorter cut for the Island, and we were lucky to get back all right.

In the summer when the mail carrier returned from these trips, he would build a fire on the shore of the bay about 5 miles distant, as a signal to send a boat to bring him across to the Island.  Once I remember my brother Julius not being at home when a signal was given.  I with two young Indian boys (about 12 yrs. of age) started to cross over with the boat, when about two miles out a terrific thunder and hail storm sprang up suddenly.  The hail stones were so large that it caused the boys to relax their hold on the oars and it was all I could do to keep them at the oars.  I attempted to steer the boat back to the Island, and barely managed to reach there.  The boat was over half full of water when we reached the shore.  When I landed we were met by the boys’ mothers who were greatly incensed at my taking their boys on this perilous trip, nearly resulting in drowning them.  They didn’t consider I had no idea of this terrible thunder storm which so suddenly came up and had I known it for my own safety would not dreamed of attempting the trip.

 

Nearly Capsize in a Small Boat.

Once I went out in a small sail boat with two Frenchmen to collect some barrels of fish near the Island at the fishing ground near La Point.  We got two barrels of fish which they stood up on end, when a sudden gust of wind caused the boat to list to one side so that the barrels fell over on the side and nearly capsized the boat.  By pulling the barrels up the boat was finally righted after being pretty well filled with water.  I could not swim, and as a matter of self-preservation grabbed the Frenchman nearest me.  He was furious, expressing his anger half in French and half in English, saying, “If I had drowned, I would have taken him with me.” which no doubt was true.

 

A Young Indian Locked up for Robbery

Indian Agent John S. Watrous was the most conspicuous villain of the previous year’s Sandy Lake Tragedy.  Despite hundreds of deaths, and the Indian Department’s cancellation of the removal order, Watrous tried to illegally force a second removal in the fall of 1851 by holding the payments in Sandy Lake again.  Very few Ojibwe agreed to return to Sandy Lake, and most went without their payments for a second-straight year.  Joseph’s chronology is a little unclear.  This may be a reference to the cash payments at Fond du Lac in January 1852.
Like Joseph, Henry Schmitz, was an employee and later a business partner of Julius Austrian.

One day brother Julius went to the Indian payment.  During his absence I with another employee, Henry Schmitz, were left in charge.  A young Indian that night burglarized the store stealing some gold coins from the cash drawer.  The same were offered to someone in the town next day who told me, which led to his detection.  He admitted theft and was committed to jail by the Indian agent Mr. Watrous, which the Indians consider a great disgrace.

Some inquisitive boys peering through the window discovered that the young Indian had attempted to commit suicide and spread the alarm.  His father was away at the time and his mother and friends were frenzied and their threats of vengeance were loud.  The jailer was found but he had lost the key to the jail (the jail was in a log hut) the door of which was finally forced open with an axe, and the young culprit with his head bleeding was handed over to his people who revived him in their wigwam.  The next day the money was returned and we and the authorities were glad to call it quits.

To be continued at La Pointe 1851-1852 (Part 2)

 

Special thanks to Amorin Mello and Joseph Skulan for sharing this document and their important research on the Austrian brothers and their associates with me.  It is to their credit that these stories see the light of day.  The original handwritten memoir of Joseph Austrian is held by the Chicago History Museum.