Early Beaumont Jewish Community 2
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As the first Beaumonter to conduct Jewish services in his home, Loeb was to establish many ‘firsts’ for the city’s Jewish community. By the time of his death in 1908, he and his family had won the respect of all Beaumonters for their high moral standards, but his earliest years in this city may have been somewhat less placid. On at least one occasion, he “was threatened and told that the Community had no Jews and wanted none,” but this appears to have been a single or isolated instance. By 1881, Beaumonters viewed the arrival of other Jews as a foretoken of better days ahead.7

In 1881, a New Orleans newspaper observed: “Seven new stores have been built in Beaumont in the past forty days, and a number of Israelite merchants have settled here, a sure precursor of the prosperity which is to follow.”8 Before 1890, the term ‘Israelite’ was the common journalist jargon for Jew.

Late in 1880, Henry Solinsky and Morris Hecht of Orange, as partners, opened a store in Beaumont. They were soon followed in 1881 by Sid J. Levy, who opened the “Red Store;” Leon R. Levy, who founded the “Lone Star Store;” and a Jewish widow, Mrs. A. Schwerin, who operated a boarding house. Louis Schwartz arrived in partnership with Charles Oulif, but he soon bought out his partner. In the same year, D. Gordon built a store on Pearl Street.9

When Wolf Bluestein moved to Beaumont in 1881, Solinsky severed his ties with Hecht and re-entered business with Bluestein. Both men contributed to the performing arts within the city. In April, 1881, when the Blanchette Hall was remodeled and a new opera house was built, Solinsky bought it the following August and immediately left for New York in search of vaudeville talent. In October, the Bluestein Opera House opened on the second floor of the partners’ new brick building at Tevis and Forsythe Streets. It remained in use until the Crosby Opera House was completed in 1883.10

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7See Footnote 5.

8New Orleans Democrat. September 8, 1881, microfilm reel, New Orleans Public Library; unpublished manuscript, W. T. Block, “Emerald of the Neches: The Chronicles of Beaumont, Texas, From Reconstruction to Spindletop” (Nederland: 1980), p. 301, copies in the Mary and John Oray Library, Lamar University, and Tyrrell Historical Library.

9”Emerald of the Neches,” pp. 176, 232-234, 236, 238; for Leon R. Levy’s “Lone Star Store,” see Beaumont Enterprise, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8, 1881; see also biography, M. Hecht, Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, Souvenir, Beaumont, Texas, 1903 (Dallas: 1903), p. 53. Subsequent footnote references to the bulletins of the old Board of Trade or the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce will be abbreviated “B. C. C.

10New Orleans Democrat, August 5, 1881, mf. reel, New Orleans Public Library; “Emerald of the Neches,” pp. 238, 299; Beaumont Enterprise, Aug. 27, Sept. 3, and Oct. 15, 1881.

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