Early Beaumont Jewish Community 3
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In September, 1881, the Beaumont Enterprise published its first reference to the Jewish holidays, noting as follows: “Today and tomorrow are Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. All the stores and places of business kept by the Israelites will be closed.”11

Three of Beaumont’s principal merchants and mill owners of 1880 were Mark, William, and Valentine Wiess, and although Gentiles themselves, they were no less sympathetic with the plight of immigrants who shared their father’s former faith.12

When Sam Lederer, a young, unmarried Jew of modest means, ar­rived in Beaumont in 1886, Val Wiess gave him immediate supervision of the grocery department of V. Wiess and Company, at that time Beaumont’s largest merchandising and insurance firm. In 1898, upon entering business for himself, Lederer returned the favor by employing a member of Wiess’ family.13

Solinsky, Bluestein, and Leon R. Levy quickly found a niche for themselves in Beaumont’s business community, and by 1889 Solinsky was a director of the new First National Bank. In 1881, only six months after his arrival in the city, he had been co-chairman of Beaumont’s annual Grand Tournament and Strawberry Festival of that year. By 1883, he was operating a cypress shingle mill. In 1888, a Galveston newspaper said of him:14

H. Solinsky is a wide-awake merchant, who by dint of fair dealing, close profits, and closer collections, has amassed quite a neat fortune. He is proud of his city and is always ready to aid in any enter­prise that will lead to the good of the town.

It would be false to imply that all of Beaumont’s Jewish merchants prospered equally, for each of them wagered his future in the marketplace even as non-Jews did. J. Feinberg entered business in Beaumont in 1887, and in 1889 he took bankruptcy, with M. Hecht as receiver, with assets of $3,000 and liabilities of $14,000.15

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11Beaumont Enterprise, Sept. 24; Oct. 1, 1881; “Emerald of the Neches,” pp. 222-223.

12See Footnote 3.

13Galveston Daily News, Feb. 15, 1888; Sabine Pass News, May 5, 1900.

14Beaumont Enterprise, June 11, 1881; Galveston Daily News, Feb. 15, 1888. Blum et al., “Founders and Builders, 1878-1923,” p. 4. in the only surviving photo of H. Solinsky known to the writer, he appears on an old horse-drawn fire engine as one of Beaumont’s first volunteer firemen of 1883.

15Galveston Daily News, Dec. 17, 1889; “Emerald of the Neches,” p. 396.

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