Biography
Preis
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Joseph M. Preis
Occupation: Clerk, clothing merchant
Born: January 1870
Birthplace: Germany
Died: N/A

Joseph M. Preis was a model example of apprenticeship in the Jewish community of Leadville, as well as across the United States at large. Born in Germany in January 1870, Joseph immigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 15. [1] He settled in Leadville by 1886 with the express purpose of working and learning from local Jewish business owners, especially from his uncle [2] the prominent Jewish clothing merchant [3] David May. [4] Though he started his career simply as a clerk at various Jewish businesses in Leadville, Joseph would graduate to become a respected and well-liked merchant in his own right in Denver and New York as time wore on.

Joseph began his career in Leadville working as a clerk for the Monheimer Bros. general store, [5] owned by brothers Joseph and Marcus Monheimer. [6] Joseph resided with his uncle for the better part of his time in Leadville, in 1886 that being the latter’s home at 203 West 5th Street. [7] From 1887 [8] to 1888, [9] Joseph directly worked for May as a clerk at his clothing business at 318 Harrison Avenue. By 1889, the final year Leadville’s city directories recorded his presence in Leadville, Joseph worked for Shaw, Cash & Co. and resided at 215 West 7th Street, [10] the same address as Hattie Leon, [11] daughter of Solomon Leon, [12] and Sigmund Simon, [13] proprietor of the Clipper Saloon. [14] David May had begun his departure from Leadville as early as 1888 and had largely shifted his attention to his business interests in Denver, [15] leaving Joseph on his own for a short time until he chose to follow soon after.

Joseph remained out of the spotlight of Leadville’s local newspapers for much of his time in the city. However, the Leadville Evening Herald did list him as a guest at two social events in 1889: a party held by St. George Episcopal Church’s Bible class, located across the street from Temple Israel; [16] and a Simchat Torah celebration hosted by Samuel and Hannah Flaks. [17] Per the Herald Democrat, Joseph departed Leadville by 1890 and moved to Denver where he once again worked under David May’s tutorship at May Shoe and Clothing House. [18] While in Denver, he became a well-known and respected merchant, [19] founding the Preis Clothing Company at the northwest corner of Stout Street by 1899. [20] By 1900, Joseph was living in the household of his elder brother and fellow clothing merchant Julius and his wife Miriam in Denver. [21] Julius had arrived in the United States in 1882, three years prior to Joseph, though it does not appear that Julius resided in Leadville at any point.

By 1904, Joseph and Julius had departed Colorado entirely, moving to New York City where they went into business together under the name Preis Brothers. [22Joseph became engaged to Helen Hirschbein in September 1906 and the couple married on January 2, 1907, with the ceremony attended by David May’s son [23] and cousin to Joseph, Tom May. [24] Joseph and Helen remained in New York where they had two sons, John and George. [25]

As of January 2021, the last publicly available census, the 1940 census, recorded Joseph and Helen living in Manhattan at the respective ages of 70 and 56. [26] It is not currently known where Joseph and his family are buried.

Joseph Preis worked for his uncle David May at 318 Harrison Avenue (highlighted) from 1887 to 1888.

Joseph Preis worked for his uncle David May at 318 Harrison Avenue (highlighted) from 1887 to 1888.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Leadville, Lake County, Colorado (Sanborn Map Company, September 1886), map, https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn01031_002/.

1 "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQMM-T1K: accessed January 28, 2021), Joseph Preis in household of Julius Preis, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 87, sheet 1B, family 19, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972); FHL microfilm 1,240,119.
2 Jeanne Abrams, “David May (1848-1927),” Immigrant Entrepreneurship 1720 to the Present, accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entries/david-may/#edn21.
3 Local Items (Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook), October 4, 1907, P8.
4 For more on the May family, see: Trevor Mark, May (Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation), 2018: http://www.jewishleadville.org/may.html.
5 T. B. Corbett and J. H. Ballenger, Corbett & Ballenger’s Seventh Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1886 (Leadville, CO: Corbett & Ballenger Publishers, 1886), P213.
6 For more on the Monheimer family, see: Quinn Whittington, Monheimer (Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation), 2018: http://www.jewishleadville.org/monheimer.html.
7 Corbett and Ballenger, 1886, P213
8 T. B. Corbett and J. H. Ballenger, Corbett & Ballenger’s Eighth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1887 (Leadville, CO: Corbett & Ballenger, Publishers, 1887), P220.
9 J. H. Ballenger and W. H. Richards, Ballenger & Richards’ Ninth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1888 (Leadville, CO: Ballenger & Richards, Publishers, 1888), P215.
10 J. H. Ballenger and W. H. Richards, Ballenger & Richards’ Tenth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1889 (Leadville, CO: Ballenger & Richards, Publishers, 1889), P207.
11 Ballenger and Richards, 1889, P163.
12 For more on the Leon family, see: Jeffrey P. Grant, Leon (Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation), 2019: http://www.jewishleadville.org/leon.html.
13 For more on the Simon family, see: Jeffrey P. Grant, Simon (Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation), 2019: http://www.jewishleadville.org/simon.html.
14 Ballenger and Richards, 1889, P226.
15 Trevor Mark, May (Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation), 2018: http://www.jewishleadville.org/may.html.
16 A Pleasant Social (Leadville, CO: Leadville Evening Chronicle), July 12, 1889, P3.
17 Simchath Tora Party (Leadville, CO: Leadville Evening Chronicle), October 21, 1889, P3.
18 Personal Mention (Leadville, CO: Herald Democrat), July 9, 1890, P5.
19 Social Items (Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook), November 11, 1904, P8.
20 J. H Ballenger and W. H. Richards, Ballenger & Richards Twenty-Seventh Annual Denver City Directory for 1899: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. (Denver, CO: Ballenger & Richards, 1899), P925.
21 "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQMM-T1J: accessed January 28, 2021), Julius Preis, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 87, sheet 1B, family 19, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972); FHL microfilm 1,240,119.
22 Social Items, November 11, 1904, P8.
23 Local Items (Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook), December 28, 1906, P8. The article erroneously refers to Tom as the nephew of Joseph Preis.
24 Local Items, October 4, 1907, P8. This article correctly identifies Tom as Joseph’s cousin.
25 "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4KG-RPZ: accessed January 28, 2021), Joseph Preis, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 390, sheet 14A, line 23, family 401, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1553; FHL microfilm 2,341,288.
26 "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K7MC-38C: accessed January 28, 2021), Joseph Preis, New York City, New York County, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 31-774, sheet 11A, line 33, family 274, NARA microfilm publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 2642.

Bibliography

A Pleasant Social. Leadville, CO: Leadville Evening Chronicle. July 12, 1889.

Abrams, Jeanne. “David May (1848-1927).” Immigrant Entrepreneurship 1720 to the Present. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entries/david-may/#edn21.

Ballenger, J. H. and W. H. Richards. Ballenger & Richards’ Ninth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1888. Leadville, CO: Ballenger & Richards, Publishers, 1888.

Ballenger, J. H. and W. H. Richards. Ballenger & Richards’ Tenth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1889. Leadville, CO: Ballenger & Richards, Publishers, 1889.

Corbett, T. B. and J. H. Ballenger. Corbett & Ballenger’s Seventh Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1886. Leadville, CO: Corbett & Ballenger, Publishers, 1886.

Corbett, T. B. and J. H. Ballenger. Corbett & Ballenger’s Eighth Annual Leadville City Directory: Containing a Complete List of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Business Firms, Etc. in the City of Leadville, for 1887. Leadville, CO: Corbett & Ballenger, Publishers, 1887.

Grant, Jeffrey P. Leon. Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation, 2019: http://www.jewishleadville.org/leon.html.

Grant, Jeffrey P. Simon. Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation, 2019: http://www.jewishleadville.org/simon.html.

Local Items. Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook. December 28, 1906.

Local Items. Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook. October 4, 1907.

Mark, Trevor. May. Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation, 2018: http://www.jewishleadville.org/may.html.

Personal Mention. Leadville, CO: Herald Democrat. July 9, 1890.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Leadville, Lake County, Colorado. Sanborn Map Company, September 1886. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn01031_002/.

Simchath Tora Party. Leadville, CO: Leadville Evening Chronicle. October 21, 1889.

Social Items. Denver, CO: The Jewish Outlook.November 11, 1904.

"United States Census, 1900." Database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQMM-T1K: accessed January 28, 2021). Joseph Preis in household of Julius Preis, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 87, sheet 1B, family 19, NARA microfilm publication T623. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972. FHL microfilm 1,240,119.

"United States Census, 1930." Database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X4KG-RPZ: accessed January 28, 2021). Joseph Preis, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 390, sheet 14A, line 23, family 401, NARA microfilm publication T626. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002. Roll 1553; FHL microfilm 2,341,288.

"United States Census, 1940." Database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K7MC-38C: accessed January 28, 2021). Joseph Preis, New York City, New York County, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 31-774, sheet 11A, line 33, family 274, NARA microfilm publication T627. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. Roll 2642.

Whittington, Quinn. Monheimer. Leadville, CO: Temple Israel Foundation, 2018: http://www.jewishleadville.org/monheimer.html.

To cite any of the information in this biography, please use the following reference.

AUTHOR: Quinn Whittington
EDITOR: William Korn
SOURCE: Jewish Surnames/Preis
PUBLISHED BY: Temple Israel Foundation. Leadville, CO; USA. 2021
STABLE URL: http://www.jewishleadville.org/preis.html

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