Merchants Yes, But Leaders Too

Posted by    |    August 3rd, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I ran across a great article from D Magazine called “The Jews Who Built Dallas.”  The article details the Jewish professionals who came to Dallas and became a major influence on its economy and culture.  And many of our aforementioned merchants are discussed in the article as great leaders and businessmen of the time.

For example, The article calls Alex Sanger (of Sanger Brothers/Sanger Harris) “the most powerful merchant in Dallas in 1899 and an important player in the Jewish Community.”

Alex Sanger

As it turns out, the early Jewish merchants of the time were asked to lead the charge in other ways as well.  “In 1907, for example, the city turned to Albert Linz (of the Linz Bros. jewelry firm) to look after arrangements for one of te major events in early Dallas history, the visit of President William Howard Taft.”

Despite their leadership and influence in the city, however, in the early 1920s, Jewish merchants faced troubling times at hands of the Ku Klux Klan.  Retail stores owned by Jews were often boycotted by the Klan and its sympathizers. 
And the Klan didn’t stop at general boycots.  They often paid personal visits to persons of influence in an attempt to recruit them.  They should have done their homework beforehand, however.  According to “The Jews Who Built Dallas,”
“…the Klan paid a visit to Edward Titche, the congenial head of Titche-Goettinger.  They told Titche about the organization, what it stood for, and why it was so important.  Then they asked the department store executive to join.  Amazed, Titche carefully explained to his guests that he appreciated their time and interest, but membership would be quite impossible.  He was Jewish.  The Klansmen grabbed their hats and made for the door.  ‘Too bad,’ retored one of the Klansmen over his shoulder, ‘you would have made a wonderful Kleagle.’”
The Klan eventually left town, and our Jewish merchant friends continued to contribute to Dallas’ growth and development.  By the mid-1970s the downtown department stores were gone (save Neiman Marcus), management changed hands, the diversity of the population continued to increase, and the old Jewish guard had disolved into the mainstream.

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  1. What an interesting piece of Dallas history that I haven’t heard before…growing up here, I wish we learned more tidbits like this in school about our city and the people who helped make it great.