Jacob Schloss and his family were significant contributors to Leadville’s economic, political, and social life. Prominent amongst the local liquor wholesalers, the family contributed to the Jewish dominance of this important market.
Both Jacob and Henrietta, his wife, were born in Germany-he in 1838 and she during 1840. Their oldest child, Rosa, was born in Missouri in 1860, confirming the antebellum arrival of the immigrant couple . The Show Me State was also the birthplace of all the subsequent offspring: Simon during April, 1865; Charlotta and Eva in 1869 (or ‘70); and Abraham J. during September, 1871. By 1879 the family had relocated to Leadville and the city directory of that year shows that Jacob was established in a “whiskey depot” at 34 State (now 2nd) Street. The following year the business was found at 116 West 2nd Street (next door to the infamous Pioneer Bar) and the family was housed at 216 West 5th Street. Also in 1880, on July 2, a stillborn infant was buried under the Schloss name in the Hebrew Cemetery (Block B, Lot 2, Grave 3).
The Schlosses lived at 216 West 5th Street until 1884 when they moved next door to 218 West 5th Street. This home remained the center of family life at least through 1891. Because of a fire in the old location (see excerpt below), the business had moved in 1881 into space vacated by May & Shoenberg at 108-110 Harrison Avenue. The tenure of the business at that address lasted until September, 1889, when it moved to 322 Harrison Avenue (see excerpt below). It reappears in the city directory (the end of a boycott?) in 1898 as Schloss Bros Mercantile Co. Simon, the president of the company, and Abe had superceded Jacob, who retained the title of vice president through 1905.
Simon was at work clerking with his father as early as 1881, but by 1885 he was engaged as Schloss & Thams operating a “sale stable” at 119 East 3rd Street and at 116 West 6th Street during 1886. Simon stayed with the family at least until 1888 and was living in the Vendome Hotel (aka the Tabor Grand, 711 Harrison Avenue) during 1895. By 1897 he had moved in above the liquor store, his recorded home through 1900 and probably his abode until 1905. Brother Abe joined Simon at work and at home from 1897 through 1900, at least.
The daughters were also progressing with their lives. Rosa married Morris D. Altman on January 26,1881. Altman worked for Jacob both before and after the nuptials but there is no mention of the couple in Leadville after 1886. Lotta married Moses L. Stern on April 7, 1891, and he, also, was absorbed into the family enterprise rising to secretary and treasurer of the company by 1905.
1905 is the last year that individual Schlosses are in listed the local records. The business continued until 1908 under the management of Adolph Schayer in 1906 and C. W. Sundquist in 1907.
By 1890, Jacob was a prosperous and sophisticated businessman whose liquor business supported, at least, a significant investment in income property both locally and “in eastern cities”. Unhappily, it is likely that he suffered badly with the collapse of silver prices and mining after 1893 and this creates a sad coda to his later years.
322 Harrison Avenue,
with the family(?) in the upstairs windows
Courtesy of Dick Smith, Smith Lumber,
1/2 Gallon Whiskey Jug
322 Harrison Avenue
Collection of the Temple Israel Foundation,
Receipt for liquor, July 16, 1879.
Collection of the Temple Israel Foundation, Leadville, Colorado
The following excerpts and abstracts have been culled from the copious research found in the History of Leadville and Lake County, Colorado: From Mountain Solitude to Metropolis by Don L. Griswold and Jean Hervey Griswold
The Evening Chronicle, September 18, 1879:
In the same issue of the Chronicle which told about the Ladies’ Relief Society’s Martha Washington Tea, another article disclosed the large number of Jewish families living in Leadville. While the men were leaders in the movements for finding a suitable place where all could worship together and for securing a piece of ground for burial purposes, such women as Mrs. Jacob Schloss, Mrs. Joseph Samuels and Mrs. Moses Shoenberger were helpful in arranging for the mid-September religious observance, the newspaper carrying this account:
...last night nearly all places of business in this city belonging to Jews were closed, and they are all closed to-day. This is the Jewish new year, the same as the first day of January begins the Christian new year. The Jews believe that God finished the world five thousand six hundred and forty years ago to-day, and consequently this to them is the year 5640. Immediately after closing their stores and shops yesterday evening they assembled in the [Shoenberg] Opera House on Chestnut street, and held religious services appropriate to the going out of the old year. At nine this morning they reassembled in the same place. The hall was filled with as well dressed and as intelligent appearing assemblage as has ever been witnessed in Leadville. Many of our leading merchants with their families were there. On all being seated one of the brethren wearing a white cloth over his shoulders approached the stage and began to read from a book printed in Hebrew. The reading was a sort of chant, something after the style of the Episcopal or Catholic Christians, and every little while the large assemblage would arise and join in the chant. Each person was provided with a book.
A member told the reporter that it was the book of the new year and was only used on these new year occasions. The services were the same here in the Opera House to-day as they were in the Jerusalem temples five thousand years ago, only of course not so imposing. It was according to the orthodox faith in which the reformed wing joined. The white cloths or shawls which some of the congregation wore, were in imitation of the apparel worn by the Israelites when they were driven out from Egypt. These cloths are worn by the orthodox Jews on all religious occasions. They even wear them to their graves. The chanting corresponded to the Christian prayers for a prosperous new year, and thanks to God for the blessings of the year just passed into oblivion forever. All things considered, the Jews and the Christians are alike in their new year observances, with the exception that after prayers the Christians make calls, customary on such occasions. The Jews, after their prayers in their synagogues, go quietly to their homes and do nothing but read their Bibles and pray till the great anniversary is over.
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.
On November 9, 1879 Jacob gave a speech at the inaugural B’nai B’rith banquet which he attended with his wife.
The Chronicle, January 22, 1880:
When THE CHRONICLE first contemplated the idea of giving a list of the prominent people in Leadville who wear diamonds it was thought an easy matter, but now after a few days of observation and taking notes it is very apparent that it would be an easier matter by far to list those who do not wear the precious stones. . . .
The list of a few (130) of the happy possessors of diamonds included:
Included in the list of Leadville’s silver ladies whose jewel caskets contained “fine collections” of diamond earrings, brooches, clusters, lockets, finger rings and necklaces, or complete sets of the precious gems were the wives of Moses Londoner, wholesale and retail grocer; D. I. Ezekiel, mining broker; A. W. Hogle, auction and commission merchant; E. R. Gruber, realtor; Fred H. Conant, mining editor of the Herald; and A. P. Skinner, stock broker.
Among the female performers who “flashed diamonds nightly before the footlights” were Phosa McAllister, Erba Robeson, Adele Leonard, May Winters, Maggie and Laura Le Claire, Frankie Russell, Minnie Cary and Lottie Beaumont, and “the Indian club swinger” Alice Morgan.
Ending the enumeration of Leadville’s diamond wearers were Winnie Purdy, Sallie Purple, Mollie May and Molly Price, all of whom ran bagnios.
Jacob was elected treasurer of the Turnverein Society at an evening meeting on April 7, 1880.
Eva recited at the closing exercise at the Spruce Street Schoolhouse, June 18, 1880. Then, on the evening of August 27, the juvenile Pinafore company performed at the Windsor hotel with Lottie and Eva.
Jacob made the gift of a butter dish with son-in-law Altman for May Wedding on September 20, 1880.
Jacob gave a first anniversary speech for the Turnvereins on October 17, 1880.
On November 9, 1880, Jacob was part of the reception committee for first anniversary of B’nai B’rith.
...the Leadville Electric Light Company was organized on March 25 (1881) for the for the purpose of “manufacturing and supplying the city of Leadville and the cities and towns of Lake, Summit and Gunnison counties, and the streets thereof with electric light.” A capitalization of $100,000 was agreed upon with 2,000 shares of fifty dollars each. The incorporators were C. C. Davis, R. G. Dill, J. L. Bartow, Charles Boettcher, H. C. Chapin, James Streeter, Simon Goldstein, Jacob Schloss, C. E. Wyman, M. H. Monheimer, M. J. Waldheimer, Jacob Sands and David May.
The liquor business sustained $250 damage (covered by insurance) over the night of March 29-30, 1881, during a fire which began next door in the Pioneer Saloon at 118 State Street. This precipitated the move to Harrison Avenue.
Leadville’s Jewish residents observed their new year, Yom Kippur, on September 23 (1881) 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 making all 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... Aword 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...
Lottie and Eva attended the 1882 Christmas Charity Ball at City Hall during the evening of December 14. They wore “wine colored silk and diamonds”.
Henrietta was president of the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Association during 1883.
Jacob spoke at the banquet following the happy outcome of the Fashion of Palace trial. His subject: “the periods of Jewish persecution”.
Jacob was a member of the reception committee for the Chanukah Ball held in the City Hall on December 27, 1883.
Jacob was a judge at the annual Purim Bal Masque ball on March 11, 1884. Eva and, presumably, the family also attended.
Jacob signed as a surety for the bond required by David May when he was appointed County Treasurer on March 25, 1884. See below.
Jacob joined with several other businessmen during April, 1884, to help underwrite the construction of what became the Tabor Grand Hotel.
Lottie, Eva, and Abe participated in a production of “Patience” at the Tabor Opera House on April 19, 1884.
School for Scandal had some competition owing to the visit of J. H. Zuckertort, a famed chess player, who was challenged by several devotees of the game. The affair was described as follows:
There occurred, at the residence of Jacob Schloss, Tuesday evening (June 17, 1884), one of those homelike social events, which no one participating therein ever forgets. The company consisted of the host and hostess and his estimable family, Judge Frueauff and wife, Dr. Newell and wife, Dr. Hoelke and wife, General H. B. Johnson, Isaac Baer and wife, Judge Goddard and wife, Mr. M. D. Altman and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Cohn, Mr. C. Miller, Mr. Cyrus Milner, Mr. J. S. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Clericus, Judge J. B. Bissell, Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Goldenberg and Dr. J. H. Zuckertort, in whose honor the entertainment was given. The first thing in order was simultaneous games played by Dr. Z. against J. S. Jones, H. B. Johnson, Dr. Hoelke, Dr. Newell, C. T. Miller and Cyrus Milner, in which Dr. Z. gave Jones the odds of pawn and move, Miller the odds of a rook, and all the other players a knight, and in which he lost to Jones, Johnson and Hoelke, and won over the other three players. At the end of this game the company was invited into the dining room, where a most splendid and enjoyable hour was passed in partaking of the elegant collation, and in offering and responding to sentiments appropriate to the occasion. At a late hour the company returned to the spacious parlor, where Dr. Z. played a game of chess blindfolded, against the host of the evening aided somewhat by Dr. Newell-thus giving those present a glimpse of his wonderful powers in this direction. At a still later hour the company dispersed, with thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Schloss for a very pleasant evening.
Then a matter of contention:
A CARD OF VINDICATION
“TO THE CITIZENS OF LAKE COUNTY”
“In order that the people of this county may know the reason that Mr. J. Schloss and his son-in-law, Mr. M. D. Altman, take such an active part in having me defeated is because I make them pay their taxes.”
The above appeared this morning’s Herald. It will be observed that it is signed by David May in his official capacity as county treasurer. When Mr. May wrote and signed the above he knew, and he knows it to be an unmitigated lie so far as I am concerned. The records of the county treasurer’s office show that I am among the first who paid my taxes immediately upon their falling due. May himself receipted for them a day or two after his appointment as county treasurer by the commissioners, and not after his election by the people. I paid about eight hundred dollars cash and a hundred dollars in county warrants. The animus and malice exhibited by David May, in the above card, clipped from the Herald, springs from the fact that I am exercising the right of an American citizen in advocating and endorsing my choice, Mr. John Hayes, for county treasurer, which I claim a perfect right to do, and which I do because of the well-earned reputation of Mr. Hayes for integrity, honesty and efficiency as county treasurer for two years of Lake county. Is the character of a tax-paying citizen to be assailed officially, over the official signature of a county officer, simply to vent the personal spleen of such officer? Are the county records to be falsified by one of the county officials to vilify the reputation of a citizen because such citizen chooses to exercise his right of choice between candidates for office?
Leadville, Colo., Oct. 31, 1884.
To the Voters of Lake County:
In my candidacy for the county treasuryship, a bitter personal fight is being made upon me by Jacob Schloss and M. D. Altman, in the interest of the democratic candidate. It ought to be enough for the republicans that this man Schloss is a renegade from his own party, having been honored by it for a responsible position, and defeated; but I want the property-owners to know that his opposition is wholly due to my honest endeavors to collect taxes due the county on goods of M. D. Altman, his son-in-law, which he sold to another party, and which were levied upon by me to protect the county’s claim. Before taking this action I gave both Schloss and Altman formal official notifications that the taxes were due, only one of which he deigned to notice and that in an ungentlemanly and vulgar manner. I understand that he denies the charge, and claims that the taxes were promptly paid! I again renew it, and invite any and everybody to call at the treasurer’s office and examine the proofs of all I claim.
I do not believe any intelligent voter is going to be influenced by Schloss to oppose me because of my faithfulness to the duties I am sworn to perform.
And the conclusion:
The closest race in Lake County was the one between David May and John Hayes for county treasurer. As the early returns were reported, Democrat Hayes led, but when all the votes were counted Republican May was the winner, despite Jacob Schloss’ accusations.
Then, a too common event:
Two examples of fires presumably caused by some form of carelessness were reported during the second week of September (1885). The first was in Jacob Schloss’s building on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Chestnut Street. On one side of the ground floor was a dance hall and on the other side Ben Loeb’s beer and concert hall. According to a newsman, on the second floor there were apartments occupied by “a number of dizzy and dilapidated girls who have been eighteen for the past twenty years.” No serious damage was done by the fire, but the women “were drenched with water.”
Simon was a member the committee of arrangements for the eighth annual Purim Bal Masque Ball held at the Tabor Opera House on March 29,1887.
In April, 1887:
The brick building recently erected above this newspaper office on East Fifth street by Mr. Jacob Schloss has been rented by Baer Bros., and will be used by them as a store room in connection with their wholesale liquor house, located under the old post office block [the one at 503 Harrison Avenue].
During July, 1887, Jacob was involved in establishing the Leadville Board of Trade. He was also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
Henrietta, Eva, and Lottie joined the ladies at a “pleasant coffee klatch”:
The event of the week was an afternoon coffee party given by Mrs. Sam Mayer at her residence on East Fourth street, Thursday [August 14 (1887)], honoring her mother, Mrs. J. H. Frank of Dennison, Texas. The house was beautifully decorated, and the table was arranged most artistically, being lighted by fairy lamps of variegated colors. The menu consisted of refreshments, which were perfect in every detail.
Lottie and Eva attended the last Friday night social of the summer season on August 31, 1887, (a Wednesday).
From the Leadville Herald Democrat, September 29, 1887:
Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which is observed throughout the world, was probably more generally commemorated by the Jewish citizens of Leadville this season than during any preceding one. At sundown on Tuesday evening [September 27] most of the houses conducted by Hebrew merchants were closed, while cards were elevated informing the visitor that they would not be re-opened until the following evening at 6 o’clock. These were seen all along the principal thoroughfares, while before sunrise the devotees of the faith might have been seen making their way to Temple Israel, at the corner of Fourth and Pine streets, where the organ was lending its tones to the solemnity of an event that appeals to every member of its religion. The day of atonement, which was set aside by the forefather as one in which the sinner showed a sincere penitence in his efforts to reconcile his God, is observed by a period of fasting, while at the temple of divine worship the exercises consist of prayer, sacred music, and other devotional features.
The observance at Temple Israel, which began when the average inhabitant was slumbering, while others were seeking their apartments after night duty, were opened with Mr. Ben Davies in the pulpit and a choir consisting of Mrs. L. M. Goddard, soprano; Mrs. W. H. Nash, alto; Mr. Sperring, tenor, and Leonard Worcester basso. A choice programme of music was conducted by Mr. W. H. Nash, who presided at a magnificent new pipe organ which had been furnished from a manufactory at Brooklyn. At 11 o’clock in the morning Mr. Jacob Schloss delivered a painstaking and eloquent address, when the programme of prayer was returned to and will continue until sundown.
The attendance was unprecedentedly large at the Temple and the observance as gratifying as it was complimentary to the Jewish citizens of the carbonate metropolis.
Then the Leadville Herald Democrat reported:
A perceptible agitation was created in the city yesterday January 7, 1888, upon the arrival of a telegram from Denver conveying the intelligence that the defendant in the case of the United States vs. Jacob Schloss and others had achieved the final victory before Judge D. J. Brewer of the United States Supreme Court. The controversy is one that dates back to about the first days of the Carbonate metropolis, when lives were staked upon the possession of a ribbon of ground, and when the price of a foot facing on the main thoroughfares would have made those of a Kansas boom diminish into trifling fractions. The rivalry for the realty of Leadville naturally engendered litigation that at its inception appeared to be endless. This brought into question the validity of the patent title and to the man whose homestead was protected by that source, and the issue became one of alarming magnitude. It was probably the most important matter that had ever confronted the people of Leadville, and interested a greater number of persons than any legal action that had ever been appealed to the courts from this locality. The wage worker depended upon the validity of the placer patent for his shelter, and the possibilities of ejectment with wife and children, bred no peaceful reflections or fondness for the party or agency who encouraged it. Frequent meetings were held; the matter was ventilated in as unimpassioned rhetoric at times, and it is safe to say that had the decision been that their titles were invalid, the attempt to eject would have precipitated bloody and appalling resistance.
Uncle Sam was the aggressor, however, and it was war to the teeth. After repeated conclaves, it was decided by the adherents of the placer patent to pool the defense, and the result was that the suit which has just been decided in the United States court was agreed upon. This action involved the validity of the patent on the Neusitz placer, owned by Jacob Schloss and others, and embracing 38 acres of land, from Ninth Street on the north, and upon the west side of Harrison Avenue. The plaintiff was represented by United States Attorney H. W. Hobson and the defendants by Judge Nathaniel Rollins. It was agreed by the parties that this should be a test case and that the decision should govern the others in which the patent was brought into question. Guns of war were opened upon both sides and hot shots exchanged during a period of nearly four years when yesterday Judge Brewer sustained the patents. This practically terminates all disputes over the sulphide city which is built on placer ground and permits those interested to seek their homes without the gnawing apprehension of being ejected by some inimicable ruling of the court that was for the time being in possession of their property.
Judge Rollins has made a gallant and effective fight and is entitled to the highest consideration from those upon whom the benefits of the victory are showered.
Early in April, 1888, Jacob served on a jury which found Marshall W. R. Phelps innocent of assaulting Amos Miller during a voting fracas.
Lotta and Eva hosted a “white tea” during the Fall of 1888.
At the March 7, 1889, meeting of the Board of Trade, Jacob agreed to support a scheme to drive an exploratory mining shaft to demonstrate the continuing viability of the mining district. The project was never consumated.
In mid-May (1889), Jacob Schloss, liquor dealer, and J. S. Miller, druggist, signed contracts for the erection of two brick blocks at 322 and 324 Harrison Avenue. Work on the buildings progressed rapidly, the bricklayers finishing their part of the work by mid-July. The interiors of both buildings were completed by the end of September, with Schloss occupying the 322 block and Miller the 324 one.
From the Leadville Herald Democrat, July 19, 1890:
What was the status of real estate in 1890? A newsman wrote this estimate as of July 19:
Real estate values are up, not too many rentals are available, businessmen feel the increase in the price of silver is mainly responsible and the coming through of standard gauge railroad will help. According to Jacob Schloss: “Investments in real estate in this city will yield a greater net profit or interest than in any other city in the United States. I own property in eastern cities which averages between 3 and 5 per cent, per annum, here the profits are from 15 to 25 per cent. If any other city can produce similar figures I haven’t heard of it yet. I have the fullest confidence in the future of Leadville. Property here has advanced full 15 per cent. in value within the past two years. This general rise I base on my own calculations with reference to what real estate is now actually worth. I consider that my own property has risen 15 per cent. in value in the time specified, and there is every reason for believing that other property has advanced
proportionately. There is no doubt but what the surplus capital of the east, after having speculated in cattle and real estate, will now seek investments in our mines, which have under such conditions made so good a showing. Should this be the case-and I see no reason for believing otherwise- the mining industry will be stimulated, and there will be a large immigration to the city, and of a class of people eminently desirable-the working class. That the encouraging view which I take of the local situation is not based on pure speculation is shown by the fact that, out of the thirty dwelling houses which I own here, twenty-nine of them are rented. The rents too are very fair, though of course, not so high as they were in the early days. Still there is no cause for complaint when one considers the low rates of interest prevailing back east. Leadville, today, has now entered on her second era of prosperity, and it promises to be more permanently prosperous than the first.”
Abe was a member of the executive committee for a benefit organized by the Fraternal Order of Eagles on February 16, 1901. The proceeds were used to pay the funeral expenses of H. A. W. Tabor. The entertainment was held at the opera house bearing the surname of the deceased.
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