Tied and Tethered ("Geknippt und Gebinden"):
Jews in Early Fort Worth
HOLLACE AVA WEINER*
4T URING THE EIGHTEEN EIGHTIES AND THE NINETIES, FORT WORTH
L had a considerable Jewish population .... [yet] cold indifference
to affairs of a religious nature prevailed," observed Fort Worth's first
Jewish historian, Flora Weltman Schiff. Writing for Chicago's Reform
Advocate, Schiff reported that the pioneer Jews in her Texas hometown
were so irreverent, "the very mention of [worship] services would subject
one to ridicule. ... Such was the reputation of Fort Worth throughout the
State of Texas that the mere mention of the name in Jewish circles would
suggest the abandonment of all hope for the Jews of that City."'
Unlike other major Texas cities-such as Dallas, Houston, San
Antonio, Galveston, and Tyler-which had at least one synagogue and
clusters of Jewish entrepreneurs, Fort Worth, during the final decade of
the nineteenth century, had no Reform synagogue and no fraternal
B'nai B'rith lodge. In this frontier county seat, forty miles west of Dallas,
Jewish institutions were slow to develop. When they did, the pattern was
unlike most American Jewish communities where the creation of a
Hebrew cemetery came first, followed by a burial society that adminis-
tered charity, then a religious school, and ultimately a congregation.
* Hollace Ava Weiner, a former journahst and author of Jewsh Stars in Texas. Rabbis and Their
Work, is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlihngton and past president of the
Southern Jewish Historical Society.
'Mrs. Flora [Weltman] Schiff, "History of the Jews of Fort Worth," Reform Advocate, Jan. 24,
1914, PP. i, 4. Flora Weltman Schiff (1887-1959) was born in Hearne and raised in Fort Worth,
where she taught at Fannin School Her father, Louis Weltman (1856-1918), a native of Posen,
immigrated to New York in 1876, moved to Hearne in 188o, where he worked as a hquor sales-
man, and then moved to Fort Worth in 1887. Robert Weltman, "A Short History of the
Weltmans of Posen, Germany," typescript, family series, Weltman Family folder (Beth-El
Congregation Archives, Fort Worth, Texas) Wcltman's Saloon, operated by Louis Weltman, is
listed at 1501 Main Street in 1914, which was then part of the area designated as Hell's Half
Acre. See Fort Worth City Directory, 1z93 -1914.
'"Jewish life began with the first burial," writes Hasia Diner, A Time for Gatherng: The Second
Migration, 182o-1880, The Jewish People in America (5 vols.; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1991), II, 92-93, 125; "A Jewish community is often dated from the
VOL. CVII, No. 3 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JANUARY, 2004
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed November 27, 2015.