The Jewish immigrants who wrote some of the most important retail stories in Dallas history (Neiman Marcus, Sanger Harris, Volks Brothers) took root in North Texas via varied routes of entry. Until the early 1900s, nearly all Jewish immigrants began their U.S. journey by sailing into Northeastern ports. Beginning in 1907, however, Galveston became their main port of entry. But why the switch from the traditional ports of entry to a port thousands of miles to the south? The Galveston Movement, of course!
Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’
Posted by Janie French | August 5th, 2010 at 9:46 am
So we now know about the European immigration that brought retail to Texas. Let’s look a little closer at the roots of retailing in Dallas by exploring the history of one of the first major merchants to set up shop downtown.
Emanual Meyer Kahn (dba E.M. Kahn’s) was born in 1849 in Alsace-Lorraine, France. According to the publication Pioneer Jewish Texans, he arrived by ship in Georgia and began working as a merchant. From Georgia he moved on to Mississippi and then Dallas.
Posted by Janie French | July 31st, 2010 at 11:40 am
If we focus only on the history of Dallas retail from a Dallas perspective, we are blasting right past the fascinating roots of retail in Texas and, more broadly, the United States.
Many of the iconic pioneers of Dallas retailing, after all, were not natives of Texas or even America. They were born in Europe to immigrant parents and only became part of the fabric of Dallas retail after years of living and working in different parts of the state and country.
It is interesting to note that some of the most well-known and influential Dallas retailing families were of Jewish descent. The Marcus, Sanger, Hrris, Linz, Kahn and Volk families belonged to a group of Jewish merchants active in the cultural, economic, and political development of Dallas.
According to materials gathered and published in the Handbook of Texas Online (Handbook), “Jews have been part of the warp and woof of the Lone Star State since the period of Spanish Texas.”
Prior to 1821, Texas was a Spanish colony “where only Catholics could take up residence.” If you were an openly practicing Jew, you could not legally live in the state. But the earliest Jewish immigrants to Texas soon planted roots in places like the Brazos River (Samual Isaacks) and East Texas (N. Adolphus Sterne), and by 1838, outposts including Velasco, Bolivar, San Antonio, Galveston, Goliad and Nacogdoches were home to many early Texas Jews.