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Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society

(Reprinted with the very gracious permission of the Don L. Griswold Trust and the Colorado Historical Society in cooperation with the University Press of Colorado, publishers of the History of Leadville and Lake County, Colorado: From Mountain Solitude to Metropolis by Don L. Griswold and Jean Hervey Griswold, Boulder, 1996.)

General, Organizational

(Griswold, p.391, The Chronicle, November 5, 1879)

 

The Jewish people in Leadville had two religious groups, the orthodox and the reformed, with the former meeting in private homes and the latter using the Union Society Temple above Kamak's clothing store on East Chestnut.  For charitable purposes the two groups worked together smoothly, this article appearing in the November 5 Chronicle:

A Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Association has been organized in this city.  The first meeting was held at the residence of Mrs. Jacob Schloss.  The objects of the organization were discussed at length, and a permanent society was formed by the election of Mrs. Schloss, president, Mrs. S. Kahn, Vice-president; Mrs. Mandy Samuels, Treasurer; and Miss Rosa Schloss, Secretary.

The charter of the Rocky Mountain Lodge No. 373, I.O.B.B. [B'nai B'rith] was recorded [in the county clerk and recorder's office] yesterday by Isaac H. Kamak, and the installation will take place next Sunday morning at nine o'clock in their new lodge room on upper Chestnut street.  The banquet will be given at the Hotel Windsor, at nine o'clock on the same evening.

(Griswold, pp. 1124-5)

 

Further counterbalancing Leadville's reputation for wickedness were the altruistic deeds of individuals and of the numerous charitable and benevolent societies as put on record in the Chronicle (January 18, 1883):

HEBREW LADIES' BENEVOLENT SOCIETY

 

This body was early organized.  The needs of the residents of the Carbonate camp in its earlier days made a constant call on the charitable, and no organization nor class of people without organization has done more good than has this society, in its quiet and unostentatious way.  It was organized in 1879.  Its meetings are held monthly at various residences, and the work is mainly entrusted to the officers and committees.  The officers of the society are as follows:

 

      Mrs. H. Schloss, president.

      Mrs. G. Janowitz, vice president.

      Mrs. L. Kahn, secretary.

      Mrs. Sam Mayer, treasurer.

 

The society has about forty members and is in a flourishing condition.  It has money in the treasury and money out at interest, all devoted to its work of humanity.  In its benevolence it is not restricted to any creed and excludes no one from its benefits on account of religious belief or lack of religious belief.

 

Tonight [January 18] this society gives a blue domino ball, at Germania hall, for the benefit of the association.  The admission is one dollar, and no one will be allowed to dance before midnight unless in a blue domino.  The costumes can be had at the hall.  You can at once enjoy yourself and benefit a worthy cause by attending.

(Griswold, p. 1550, December, 1884)

 

The Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent society, composed of a number of the most prominent Hebrew ladies of the city, has done and is still doing a great deal of good in the way of relieving the distressed people of the city.  The charity of this society is not confined to the needy of the Jewish people only, but extends to all the suffering poor that come within their reach.  These good women, by their charitable ministrations, have caused many a poor heart to beat with gratitude for the kindly aid that was extended to it in its hour of need.

 

Mrs. Levy is president of the society, Mrs. Mayer vice president, Mrs. Koch secretary, and Mrs. Herman treasurer.

Benevolence

(Griswold, pp. 1801-2, 1886)

 

Besides the good work of the Relief society there are two other organizations of women in our midst who consider it a pleasure to contribute to the relief of people in distress-- no matter what may be their creed.  One is known as the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent association. Mrs. Sam May is the honored president, and from her generous hands many hundreds of dollars are annually cast abroad.

(Griswold, p. 1821, December, 1886)

 

A special committee was appointed by the Knights of Labor to check with:

 

...the Methodist Ladies' Aid society, the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Aid society, the Catholic Ladies' Auxiliary Aid society, and the Episcopal Ladies'Guild to obtain the names and residences of deserving poor, of whatever nationality or religious belief.  If there are other aid societies in Leadville, this committee would like to meet with them.  Or, if any person is aware of any person of family where assistance is needed, they will confer a favor by informing the committee or members of the order.

(Griswold, p. 2065, July, 1893)

 

The Presbyterian church has a relief committee appointed and is making preparations to care for any cases of destitution that may come under its observation. At present writing, however, but comparatively few cases of destitution have been met with, and these have been easily taken care of.  [Also helping the needy were the Hebrew, Catholic and Methodist benevolent societies.]

Socials, Festivals, Fundraisers

(Griswold, p. 635, June 24-30, 1880)

 

...a strawberry and ice cream social of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society;

(Griswold, p. 1200, Chronicle, June 6, 1883)

 

On June 21 the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society held a strawberry festival and hop in New Turner Hall; and two nights later the Methodists closed the strawberry season with their festival in the church parlors.  Everybody had a good time at both of the affairs.

(Griswold, p. 1397, June 12, 1884)

 

The strawberry and ice cream festival given by the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent society, in Armory hall, was all its most sanguine well wishers could have desired.  At a comparatively early hour the large hall was well filled by as elegant an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen as could be congregated in the city.  The hall was beautifully decorated and a row of tables extended along the south side of the room, which was loaded with delicious ice cream and luscious strawberries.  On the north side of the hall was Rebecca at the well with an ample supply of lemonade with which to refresh the thirsty ones of the gay assembly.

 

About 10 o'clock Professor Brown's orchestra struck up and the floor of the spacious hall was soon filled with gallant gentlemen and beautiful ladies who were whirling through the mazes of the dance which was kept up during the entire evening.  The moments of intermission were utilized by indulging in pleasant chats and partaking of the delicacies which had been prepared by the ladies of the society.

During the evening several articles were disposed of for charitable purposes.  Among them was a beautiful fan which was put up to be voted off [at $.10 a vote] to the most popular lady in the hall.  At first there were several contestants for the prize, but after a few minutes voting, all except Mrs. M. H. Monheimer and Mrs. Sol Herman withdrew.  The friends of the two ladies came forward with a liberality that was praiseworthy indeed, and cast their votes for their choice between the two.  After quite a spirited contest the vote stood Mrs. Monheimer 880, Mrs. Herman 534.  Mrs. Monheimer having received the largest number was awarded the prize.  The total amount brought by the fan was $141.40.  Financially the festival was a most pronounced success...

(Griswold, p. 1813, June 10, 1886)

 

Two money-raising affairs sponsored by the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society and the Presbyterians were given on the evening of June 10.  The former group held the first strawberry and ice cream social of the season, which raised "a goodly sum" for the charitable work done by the society.

Holidays, Balls/Dances

(Griswold, p.519, 1880)

 

The Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society sponsored a grand ball in celebration of the feast Purim four nights after the fund-raising affair of the Wolfe Tone Guards.  This was the first of Purim balls which in later years became famous as the city's outstanding social affair of the season.

(Griswold, p. 912, Chronicle, 1881)

 

Leadville's Jewish residents observed their new year, Yom Kippur, on September 23 in the Knights of Pythias Hall.  The services were under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Association and when the same society held a fund-raising ball three weeks later, the Chronicle social editor observed:

 

...It was the ladies society who, by their forethought, managed the Yom Kippur Holiday services, enabling many to attend services in their faith, who perhaps imagined that in this far western country no opportunity would be afforded them of worship.  Although assisted by many well known gentlemen, still the ladies deserve the credit of makingall arrangements and paying the expenses. . . .

The society has continually prospered, and always found willing hands to aid them in all their undertakings.  Those deserving of assistance, no matter what faith, whether Christian or Jewish, have never been refused, and a report of its doings shows an amount of several thousand expended dollars during its existence...

 

A word in reference to the society.  The Ladies Hebrew Association dates its existence since '80, at a time when sickness and destitution prevailed.  A number of charitably inclined ladies came together and formed the association.  With Mrs. Jacob Schloss, Mrs. Samuel Cohen and Mrs. Sol Herman at the head, the society has continually prospered...

(Griswold, p. 914, Chronicle, 1881)

 

The terpsichorean affairs receiving the most plaudits from the press were those of the Knights of Robert Emmet on the 7th, the Turnvereins on the 15th, the Benevolent Society of Hebrew Ladies on the 17th, and of the Episcopalians on the 19th.  On the night of October 20, Leadvillites had to choose between Professor Godat's hop in Union Hall and an Apollo Club concert in City Hall.

(Griswold, p. 940, Herald, 1882)

 

Three days later the masquerade was reviewed in the Herald:

 

    On many occasions the city hall has presented a scene of life and gaiety that it would have been difficult to eclipse in any of the eastern cities, but never before was there such a brilliant assemblage of gaily dressed ladies and gentlemen as gathered there last night [March 6] to participate in the festivities of the Purim ball, given under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent association.  The ball was in commemoration of the anniversary of the feast of Purim, one of the grandest holidays in the Hebrew calendar, as it celebrates the deliverance of a mighty people from the death of slaves and made then a race among men.  At such a time how better can a people show their appreciation than by becoming merry and at the same time contribute to the relief of their less fortunate fellow beings whose wants are more numerous than their ability to supply.  With these two objects in view the good people who assembled at the hall last evening were enabled to enjoy themselves beyond measure, and consequently nothing but the rippling laugh of the merry-makers could be heard midst the gay masqueraders.  The ball was crowded, and the voice of the director, Professor Henry Simon, as well as the very fine

music of Professor Parker's orchestra, were drowned out by the music from the participants.  When the dancers became tired and hungry there was haven of rest, for the gentlemen's dressing room was set apart as a supper hall, where Mrs. Koch had already prepared a sumptuous repast, which was partaken of freely.  To vary the monotony of dancing, Mr. J. H. Monheimer thought to add pleasure to the entertainment by offering prizes to the best dressed lady and to the most comical costume.  A committee was appointed to make the selection consisting of Messrs. J. H. Monheimer, Sol Herman, Ed Nathan and Henry Simon.  After reviewing all present they concluded that Mrs. Marsh, as a girl of the period, was entitled to the first prize, hence she received a lady's work box, and master Lee Loeb was thought to be the most comically attired, in consequence of which he was given a handsome album.  Mr. Monheimer made the presentation speeches...

 

Among the other masqueraders were a Pocahontas, a George Washington, King Louis XV, several gypsies, several schoolgirls, Mr. Fewclothes, the Leadville Herald, the Queen of Hearts and an Oscar Wilde.  Proceeds from the masquerade substantially increased the charity fund of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Association.

 

(Griswold, pp. 1379-80, March, 1884)

 

Even before the first of March:

 

Society was in quite a flutter caused by the appearance of the handsome invitations of the Hebrew society, announcing their annual Purim Bal Masque for the 11th of March.

 

For several winters the mask balls given under the auspices of the Hebrew ladies have been the event of the season, and the one this year promises to outdo all their previous efforts.  Elegant prizes have been selected, and are now on exhibition at Joslin & Park's, and from their beauty and costliness are well worth an effort to obtain.  It is learned in conversation with some of the committee of arrangements that the committee on awards will be selected on the evening of the grand affair from the unmasked spectators, so that the contestants will have no cause of complaint.  In order to avoid the disagreeable feature of going out of the hall for a supper room, the upper floor has been arranged for a supper room capable of seating nearly two hundred persons and will be under the charge of a well known caterer, who is under order to prepare a menu worthy of the occasion.  Not content with the usual amount of music generally used in this city, the committee has secured for the grand march and for promenade music the Great Western band, and John Parker, the well known leader, is expected to arrive in time to take charge of it, while the Opera house orchestra, with Professor Simon as prompter, will furnish the motive power for hundreds of willing feet.

 

The dressmakers and costumers are all busy with orders for the occasion, and a ring of the door bell in many a home in the city causes the occupant of the room to gather up their work, and, in the slang of the day, "skip."

 

Several days later these additional notes were published:

 

Gentlemen desiring tickets of admission for the Bal Masque can obtain them of the committee or any member of the association.  Ladies' admission tickets are sent with the invitation and admit the lady without further charge.

    ------

Arrangements have been made with Scott & Allen Livery stables, whereby they will charge the uniform prices of fifty cents for each person each way.

    ------

Supper will be served in the City hall building by Purdy of Maison Doree.

    ------

At the request of the committee and to meet the demand, Mrs. Seichtmeiss, of East Sixth street, has ordered and received a consignment of new and novel costumes.

 

Approximately twenty-four hours after George W. Cook had walked over snowslides and through drifts from Alicante to Leadville, he was as full of vitality as ever; and on the evening of March 11, he was, together with Banker George W. Trimble, Merchant David May, Liquor Dealer Jacob Schloss, Judge Allen T. Gunnell, and Publisher C. C. Davis in the judge's stand at the Purim Bal Masque.  Because of the storm still raging, the costumed ladies and gentlemen attending the occasion began arriving early; and, to avoid confusion, the drivers of all carriages approached "the entrance of City hall with their horses headed east." In the words of the Chronicle society editor:

 

Never did merry masqueraders turn out in larger force and higher glee than upon last evening at the City hall.  Every available inch of room and accommodation was taken early in the evening, and encircling the hall there were seated and standing at least three hundred people.  Until midnight the multitude of masqueraders held high carnival without having enough space to enjoy dancing.  After the unmasking, the guests were provided an excellent supper in the capacious hall, after which the dancing festival was resumed and continued until nearly morning.  Professor Henry Simon was in his element, and, aided by orchestral music that has never been surpassed in the matter of excellence in the city, conducted the programme with masterly skill and grace.

The most ordinary masquerade is a motley throng of gay deceivers, but there has never been a similar event in Leadville at which so many different characters were represented.  There was everything to be seen there from the free and frisky "Topsy" to the stately and dignified queen; from the gloomy domino to the full dress and half masque; from the regulation "Uncle Sam" to the picturesque court attendant; from the everyday character of the present century to the historical personages of the past ages.  As the gay panorama flitted by in making the circle of the dance, one saw something new and interesting throughout the night.  Many of the personations and costumes were decidedly metropolitan in excellence and richness, and between these it was well nigh impossible to distinguish or classify the best.

 

After considerable deliberation, the judges awarded the grand prize of a gold and cut glass toilet set to Miss Lena Sumpf who, as the Queen of Coeur d'Alene, was beautifully dressed in a solid imitation of gold from the crown of her head to the very tips of her toes.  A silver card receiver was awarded to Miss Maude Metzer for her clever representation of Topsy, and a hand-painted mirror went to Jack Rich for his humorous getup as a two-faced man, Yankee Doodle and Paddy Riley.

 

Unable to reach agreement on the best costumed group, the judges compromised by presenting two prizes of twenty dollars each to "Uncle Sam and Columbia with a young American toddler in a miniature baby carriage" as depicted by J. H. Wolf and Mrs. H. Marsh; and to the circus group which consisted of Adolf Powell as an animal tamer, Lee Schiff and Max Monheimer as an elephant, and little Maude Hauser, dressed as an Indian princess, performing tricks on the pachyderm's back.  As soon as the prizes had been announced, the Indian princess jumped down and danced the Highland Fling "in a manner that excited the surprise and admiration of all."

With the exception of a dozen or more clowns and ten Spanish dandies, the costumes were varied, including among the ladies: The Mesdames H. H. Tomkins as Dina, the washer woman; F. F. D'Avignon, Blue Domino; Edward Ovren, Scotch girl; A. Seabrook, Snowflake Flower; Mary Nelson, Daughter of the Regiment; David May, Music; J. G . Morgan, Sunflower; and Max Boehmer, Morning Star; the Misses Ida Hamm and Josie Mater as Flower Girls; Nellie Davis as Broom Drill Girl; Estella Monheimer, Queen Elizabeth; Lizzie Swenson, Nurse; Stella Mooney, Pink Domino; Etta Mooney, Pride of Denver; Eva Schloss, Dutch Girl; Madge Alderson and Dora Gregory, Quaker Maids; and Blanche Hauser, Little Fairy.  And included among the gentlemen were: E. Hoelke as Columbine; Sam Berry, Colored Nurse; Charlie Mater, Jr., Ghost; M. Blumberg, Minnie Pilsner; J. G. Morgan, Falstaff; Sol Herman, Apollo; Lee Kahn, a fop; Edward Ovren, King Solomon; Milton Mooney, Humpty Dumpty; Joe Monheimer, Socrates; Fred Butler, Edwin Booth; John D. Fleming, King Carbonate; Joe Londoner, John L. Sullivan; Frank Parrish, Susan B. Anthony; Charles Boettcher, Sculptor Bartoldi; Jake Sands, Millionaire Miner; Charles Sands, Prince Bonaparte crossing the Mosquito Range; Charlie Hendrie, Maxmilian; Theodore Hawkins, Oscar Wilde; and D. M. Gray, the Belle of Kokomo.

 

The Purim Bal Masque, sponsored by the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society, with the funds raised to be used for that association's good works, was not attended exclusively by Jewish residents, but also, as the above listings indicate, by representatives of other religions and by the various nationalities as well as by representatives of most trades, businesses and professions--a truism of almost all large, social-benevolent gatherings of the Carbonate City's lead-silver era.

 

(Griswold, p. 1542, October 8, 1884)

 

The fast tempo of the fall season was, in a popular term of the times, resplendent with balls, fairs, private parties, entertainments and banquets. Again only a comparatively few will be recounted.  During the first half of October the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society's Sixth Annual Ball and a fund-raising Catholic fair took place.  Reviews of these two enjoyable events read in part:

 

...The religious holiday known among Hebrew people as Simchath Torah is a day given over to pleasure and merrymaking among the Jews of all nations.  The interpretation of Torah is law, and of Simchath, pleasure, the phrase being intended to express the pleasure of the law.

 

The Simchath Torah ball was given October 8 under the auspices and for the benefit of the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent association, which for that purpose secured City Hall, the interior of which has been entirely remodeled of late, and an addition of dining rooms and kitchen made to the main interior.  They were brought into requisition, and under the efficient management and rare taste of Mrs. Nathan Cohen, Mrs. Moses Shoenberg and Mrs. D. Koch, a rare collation was served to such of the dancers who chose to avail themselves of the privilege afforded them.

 

The ball was attended, it may be truly said, by the elite of Leadville.  Full dress was the order of the hour among the gentlemen, while the costumes of the ladies were, many of them, simply superb, tasteful and elegant.  Seldom has a social occasion gathered together a finer appearing body of brave men and fair women than was contained in City hall last night.  The music, furnished by Prof. John Parker's orchestra, was all that could be desired, while Prof. Henry Simon, as prompter, won new reputation for himself as one of the best in the camp.

(Griswold, p. 1621-2) Leadville Daily Herald, March 5, 1885

 

March, too, despite the persistent stormy weather, was a month of balls by the fraternal and benevolent societies; meetings by the dancing clubs, whose members were interested in perfecting their skills and in learning new steps; private dinners; socials; card parties, and luncheons.  The first big event of the month was the Purim Masque Ball given by the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society in City Hall on March 3.  According to the review:

 

...Festoons of evergreens and flowers hung from the wall.  There were Chinese and Japanese lanterns in endless profusion.  Back of the music stand the ladies'boudoir was furnished in a style of oriental magnificence, there were easy chairs, sofas, ottomans, divans, woolsacks artistically arranged; magnificent oil paintings and engravings hung from the walls, while damask curtains separated it from the main hall.  The proceeds of the affair are to be used in paying off the debt on the new Temple Israel.  It was a masked ball and both the ladies and gentlemen vied with each other in the beauty, grace and elegance of their costumes.  Immediately before the hour for unmasking a tableau of six acts representing the story out of which originated the feast of Purim was displayed on the stage.  Those who took part in the tableau were Queen Esther, Miss Sophia Stone; Maids, Mrs. L. Blumberg, and Miss Mag Murphy; King Ahaseurus, S. Harris; Attendants, A. Berger and Lee Kahn; Prince Haman, Sam May; Mordecai, S. Blumberg.

...The handsomest costume among the men was worn by F. A. Morse, telegraph operator at Tennessee Pass, who impersonated a Spanish Prince.  The costume was made entirely of buckskin and was beautifully embroidered, made entirely by Mr. Morse himself.  The prize for the handsomest ladies'costume was won by Mrs. I. Hauser and represented "Crystal of the Rockies." . . . [Unfortunately the columnist did not describe Mrs. Hauser 's costume.]

 

The following Sunday evening those who had participated in the Queen Esther tableaux were entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Louis E. Blumberg at their home, 121 East Eighth Street.  An "elegant supper" was served, after which singing and dancing were enjoyed, the guests staying until a late hour before going home.

 

(Griswold, p. 1625, May, 1885)

 

During the merry month of May, the good life was at a high tempo.  Fraternal, benevolent and church groups held numerous get-togethers and dinner and surprise parties were as popular as ever.  Among the happy occasions were a children's masquerade, sponsored by the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Association; an Apollo Club anniversary; and a Sons of Veterans' dance to raise money to buy uniforms for the drum corps, which was made up of young boys.

(Griswold, p. 1700, 1885)

 

The last half of 1885 was well-filled with happy doings similar to those of past years.  Besides the Colored Ball, the organizations sponsoring balls were the Knights of Labor, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Robert Emmet and the Rocky Mountain Rifles.

(Griswold, p. 1804, March 24, 1886)

 

Of 'the' social event of the fourth week, the society columnist wrote:

 

The annual Purim carnival, under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent association, at the City hall last evening [March 24], was one of the many social triumphs that this splendid organization has achieved during the past few years, that will find space in the memory of all who participated.  For several weeks past the ladies, assisted by a number of gentlemen who were enlisted, began to prepare for the event, and every auxiliary that was calculated to add to the magic of the ensemble was acquired at whatever expense.  The result was that last evening, when the work of the various committees was concluded, the last touch of the delicate fingers was administered, City hall never presented a more picturesque appearance.  And night was even more splendid, when the lustre of the chandelier was shed over the myriad of Chinese Lanterns and Japanese designs that had been contributed by Messrs. Jordon & Co., the tea merchants.  The effect at this time was enthralling, and at 8 o'clock the committees who had been appointed prepared for the guests...

It was shortly after 8 o'clock when the visitors and ladies and gentlemen en masque began to arrive.  The latter were, according to the arrangements, compelled to disclose their identity to a committee sworn to secrecy, before they were admitted to the spacious hall, and in groups they arrived and were inducted to a commodious room at the rear of the stage, where they were seated upon cushioned chairs and divans that had been furnished for the occasion by Messrs. Booth and Denman [furniture dealers].  It was nearly ten o'clock when the trumpeter began his mellow blasts at a signal from Prof. Henry Simon.  An orchestra composed of ten pieces, with music especially prepared for the occasion, began its discourses, and the maskers began the grand march through the hall.  The scene with all its characters beneath the flood light was a gorgeous one, and a wilderness of color almost dazzled the spectators.  Some of the costumes were exquisite, and the artists, it was quite evident, had been summoned to the performance of their best.  It was in truth a panorama such as rarely seen, and for twenty minutes the grand march, which was the exordium to the festivities kept on...

In awarding the prizes before the programme was concluded, Professor Leon, A. Brisbois, H. Stockdorf and Albert Hebing were presented with a prize consisting of a silver tea set for the best group of three or more.

 

Mrs. W. Kissel was presented with a handsome handpainted fan as the lady having the handsomest costume.  She represented a bride in all her splendor.

 

To the lady wearing the most grotesque costume a silver toilet set was presented, Miss Nettie Goldsmith, representing "Biddy from Ireland" being the recipient.

 

Mr. John G. Morgan was presented with a gold-headed cane as the gentleman wearing the handsomest costume, he representing "Prince Carnival."

 

Mr. Ed. Jackson was awarded a beautiful plush coat as the gentleman wearing the most comic costume; the gentleman representing a 'genuine nigger singer'.

 

(Griswold, p. 1819, September, 1886)

 

...the first week of September; a new literary and reading club organized by the members of the Congregational church; observance of the Jewish New Year; dedication of the new Methodist church, 129-131 East Sixth Street; and the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Association's annual ball to raise money for their charitable work.

(Griswold, p. 1823, December 25, 1886)

 

The Hebrew feast of Chanukah was properly celebrated by the Jewish people of Leadville yesterday.  It is customary to celebrate the feast on Christmas day, although it can be celebrated either just before or after Christmas.  On account of not being able to secure a hall before, the feast was celebrated yesterday in City hall, under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent society.  The afternoon was given up to the children, the ceremonies commencing about 3 o'clock and lasting till 6 o'clock.  A large table of refreshments had been provided for the little ones, and they were splendidly entertained by their parents and friends.  The feast was celebrated in the evening by the older people at the same place.

(Griswold, p. 1842-3, March 29, 1887)

 

At the same time, the interior of the Tabor Opera House was altered extensively for the 1887 Purim Bal Masque.  Of the event, its sponsors and the changes made in the theater, the society columnist of the Davis papers wrote:

 

The Eighth Annual Purim ball, given under the auspices of the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent association, occurred at the Tabor Opera house Tuesday evening [March 29], and was one of the most successful ever given by the society, in every particular.  The costumes, the decorations, the musical programme, the tableaux and special features eclipse anything heretofore attempted in the Cloud City.

 

The society under whose auspices this elegant and successful affair was given is not unknown to the Leadville public for whenever there has been suffering, they have alleviate such suffering without regard to religion or nationality.  They organized in Leadville in 1879, and during the eight years of the organization they accomplished much good in the noble work of charity.  Only once since their organization has any money been applied to their own uses, and that was the building of the fine Temple of Israel, at the corner of Fourth and Pine streets, where the Ladies' Benevolent society meets the first Thursday in every month to transact the business of the society, and also consider those things that will assist or benefit mankind.  The meetings are well attended, thirty-two ladies now belonging to the society.  The officers disburse funds, fuel or food at any time between the meetings, when they learn where such aid is deserved.  They also make clothes, and have made many apoor heart glad.  They stop at nothing in the line of charity, and their organization has made many friends in Leadville.

 

    The present officers are:

 

          President--Mrs. Jessie Cohn.

          Vice-President--Mrs. Fannie Heller.

          Treasurer--Mrs. Sarah Koch.

          Secretary--Mrs. Engleman.

 

    A long time has been consumed by the ladies of the society for this ball, which should have occurred on the 10th of March, but the entire success of the affair last evening, in every particular, justifies the statement that the preparations were not slighted, and that the committees appointed by them were the best they ever had.

 

The City hall was considered too small, so the Tabor Opera house was secured and arranged specially for the occasion.  A large dancing platform was constructed from the stage over the opera chairs far out into the auditorium, which furnished a main dancing platform of 35 X 65 feet, with two wings, 15 X 30, giving ample room for the followers of terpsichore.  Professor A. Zilm, and his orchestra of 13 pieces, were provided with a raised platform, handsomely draped, in the gallery over the main entrance.  The whole house was profusely decorated with flags, bunting, streamers and small banners, no part of the building or gallery appearing bare.  Over the stage was a large, six-pointed star--the Shield of David--in the center of which were the American colors.

 

The committee of arrangements for the evening were Messrs. Jacob Bernheimer, Isidor Heller, Sig. Simon, Fred Butler, Charles Sands, Abe Bergman and Simon Schloss, who also acted as the floor managers after looking after the arrangements for the ball.  They wore white satin badges, embroidered in gold, the embroideries being done by Miss Emma Kahn, of this city, and were very handsome.

 

The reception committee consisted of the following gentlemen: Messrs. Samuel Mayer, D. H. Dougan, Isaac Baer, R. E. Goodell, Dave May, Clinton Reed, Ben Davies, J. B. Bissell, Dr. O. R. Simon, Richard Metz, and E. Arkush.  They each wore a yellow satin badge, painted in silver, the painting being done by Miss Blanche Kraft, of this city.  The letters "H.L.B.A." appeared on the badges, and they were very finely executed.

 

At an early hour the dancing platform and wings were crowded with maskers, the auditorium and gallery with spectators, and at 8:30 o'clock the exercises of the evening commenced with two instrumental selections by Professor Zilm and his orchestra, which were thoroughly appreciated by all the guests present.

 

The interior of the opera house was decorated in a tasteful and handsome manner.  In addition to the innumerable gas jets, three electric lights, two in the auditorium and one in the center of the stage, aided in literally flooding the house with light.  Around the two large pillars near the main entrance were wrapped the stars and stripes, while suspended around the balcony were a number of flags and Japanese ornaments.  Strung between the boxes on either side were a row of Japanese lanterns, and directly above was the Jewish emblem termed the "Magen David," the only one in the house.  This emblem was a beautiful six cornered star of evergreen, and perched in the center, with outstretched wings, an eagle.  Suspended from the roof and running entirely around the interior were several streamers of red, white and blue.

The dancing floor extended to within about twenty feet of the entrance, and the precaution had been taken to avoid any accident by placing a raised edge around the platform.  This was also covered in a tasteful manner.  The seats in the balcony, reserved for spectators, were cushioned and rendered very comfortable.  The seats between the platform and the entrance had been reserved for those holding admission tickets and not in costume.

 

Covering the platform was stretched canvas.  This had been made equal to a first-class dancing floor by a generous distribution of wax.

 

Taken altogether the interior of the opera house has never presented a more pleasing or attractive appearance than it did last evening.  The maskers in all manner of costumes presented a striking contrast to each other.  Several of the costumes worn were of a costly make, and the ingenuity displayed by the participants in selecting original ones was very marked.

 

The dresses worn by the young ladies representing the Group of Nations were particularly handsome.

 

The operatic selections by the orchestra were followed by a short interval, and in a few minutes the curtain rose on the tableaux of the Group of Nations, represented by seventeen young ladies, each dressed in the costume of her representative country.  Immediately in front of the group, and in a reclining position were the Kate Castleton guards, composed of ten young men in the attire of Quakers and armed with muskets.  On each side and a little to the front were the gentlemen of the several committees, the minstrels and the remainder of the maskers, an equal number being on each side.

 

A large platform had been erected for the presentation of the tableaux, consisting of a number of raised steps and standing on the uppermost step was the Goddess of Liberty, and on either side a soldier and a sailor representing Our Army and Our Navy.  This was one of the handsomest of the entire number, and was represented by Miss Ione Newman.  Below, and arranged in a careful manner, were the remaining groups, represented by the following young ladies: England--Miss Rose Francis, France--Miss Teenie Werner, Germany--Miss Amanda Bowmen, Russia--Miss Addie Smith, Spain--Miss Graham, Sweden--Miss Carrie Kahn, India--Miss Effie Ovren, Turkey--Miss May Gilbaugh, Greece--Miss Addie Stephenson, Persia--Mrs. John Skillman, China--Miss Tillie Kahn, Canada--Miss Clara Knoblock, Mexico--Miss Lillie Miller, Scotland--Miss Carrie Kelly, Ireland--Miss Bert March, Switzerland--Miss Ada Cruikshank.

 

On conclusion of the tableaux the grand march of the maskers took place.  The maskers were divided into four column, lead by Messrs. Jacob Bernheimer, Isidor Heller, Charles Sands and Fred Butler, of the arrangement committee.  Following these, and lead by the stars and stripes, were the Nations.  A long and intricate march was gone through, after which an exhibition drill by the Kate Castleton guards was given.

 

Several dances intervened between the grand march and the minstrel first part, and just as the audience had given up the idea of seeing this number of the programme the curtain rolled down and preparations were immediately begun for this feature of the evening.  In a few minutes the curtain was rung up, and an enjoyable first part entertained those present for about half an hour.  On the ends were seated Frank Hurd, L. H. McClosky, J. J. Marechal, F. M. Rood, A. J. Duggan and J. H. Francis, with Mr. Sam Goza as interlocutor.  The quartette consisted of Messrs. R. Nickel, A . Volkert, Harry Richards and John Lea.  The vocal numbers rendered by these gentlemen were excellent, and the approval of the audience was a just compliment to them.  The solo by Mr. Richards was particularly well rendered, as was, in fact, each of the others.

 

Another interval of dancing occurred after which the maskers formed in line preparatory to unmasking and the distribution of souvenir programmes.

 

The amazement and surprise of those in costume after all had taken off their masks, was more real than simulated and many laughable incidents of gentlemen dancing with their own wives or other gentlemen, not knowing who was their partner, were brought to light.

 

The dancing programmes, including fourteen numbers, were then given out and daylight began to succeed the night ere the gay party dispersed.

 

The Purim Bal Masque is an event that will be long remembered by those present...

 

Even though the Purim Ball celebrated the deliverance of the Jews from massacre by Haman and was sponsored by the Hebrew ladies' society, the committeemen, musicians, participants in the tableau, singers, minstrels and masqueraders were both Jews and Gentiles, and the funds raised were used according to the established custom to buy fuel, food and clothing, being placed where needed without discrimination.

(Griswold, p. 1957-8, 1887)

 

The major balls of the fall were given by the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society (their annual Simchath Torch Ball); the Ancient Order of Hibernians; the Young Men's Sodality of the Annunciation Parish; the Negro residents; the Improved Order of Red Men; the Turnverein; and by the Knights of Pythias.

(Griswold, p. 2147, 1893)

 

Some of the many functions given by the societies had become traditional by the opening of Leadville's second decade and included: the yearly banquets and balls held in observance of the anniversaries of the founding of the national organization of the various local chapters; the celebrating of St. Patrick's Day with the Knights of Robert Emmett Ball and a parade by the Hibernians; the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society's Purium Ball; the Ladies Relief Corps' Calico or Hard Times Ball; the G.A.R. Memorial Day ceremonies; the Women's Industrial Exchange's amateur

dramatic performances; and the Turnvereins' gymnastic exhibitions, picnics and masquerades.  The numerous entertainments and balls of the military were not continued into the second decade, but the Rocky Mountain Rifles, the remaining Leadville unit of the Colorado National Guard, did give annual balls each winter during the 1889-1893 years.

Temple Israel Foundation

208 West 8th Street

Leadville, Colorado 80461

303.709.7050

Temple Israel Museum

201 West 4th Street

Leadville, Colorado 80461

longled@longled.cnc.net

Hebrew Cemetery

Within Evergreen Cemetery

North end of James Street, Leadville

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