Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 25
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Around the same time, a substantial community of Jewish storekeepers had
sprung up in Columbus. In or shortly before 1870, Henry M. Ehrenwerth, Henry Friedlander,
and John Rosenfield all opened stores in town. They were joined by Leopold Steiner, who
opened a grocery store in 1871. The most prosperous of the early Jewish merchants,
Ehrenwerth, succeeded so well that in 1875 he was able to construct a two-story brick
building which, when it opened, housed both his store, and, on the second floor, a saloon.
Shortly thereafter, Rosenfield also moved into a better facility. His old building was taken
over by Nimon Rosenfield, who moved from Weimar to open his own store in Columbus.
Meanwhile, Leopold Burgheim had opened a drug store next door to Ehrenwerth's. In 1876,
Ehrenwerth's clerk, Adolph Senftenberg, eloped with Minnie Merseberger, the daughter of
Mayor Henry Merseberger. Though the bride's father had tried to stop the wedding, when
the couple returned, he helped his new son-in-law set up a store in his downtown brick
building. Senftenberg, working with his brother who lived in New York, would, in the next
decade, build his New York Cheap Store into the largest retailer in the county. The curious
residents of Colorado County got their first look at a Jewish religious rite on January 9, 1877,
when Alex Dreyfus married Dora Morris in Columbus. Two weeks later, and again a month
after that, a rabbi came to town, addressing a crowd at the courthouse. By then, Dreyfus,
Joseph Frankel, Louis Mendel, David Steiner, and others, had added their presences to the
Columbus Jewish community.31
The evident prosperity of the community of Columbus merchants, Jewish and
otherwise, was no doubt aided by the establishment of two banks in Columbus in the early
1870s. Whereas earlier Texas constitutions had prohibited the incorporation of banks, the
Constitution of 1869 omitted mention of them. By the summer of 1872, efforts were being
made to establish a bank in Columbus. Later that year, or perhaps in early 1873, the firm of
Frazell & Autrey opened for business. Before the end of 1873, the bank had been reorga-
nized. Autrey left, local attorney Robert Levi Foard became the senior member of the firm,
Criminal Cause File No. 951: State of Texas v. Robert E. Stafford; Criminal Cause File No. 952: State of
Texas v. RichardR. Ratcliff; Minute Book E, pp. 305, 306, 320, 321, 329, 483, 484, Minute Book F, p. 113.
The shootout occurred on the corner of Milam and Walnut Streets. The Staffords were all brothers of
Joseph W. Stafford, who had been murdered near Oakland in May 1870. Tendick, in reporting the
incident to the governor, characterized the Staffords as a "lawless band of desperadoes."
31 Ninth Census of the United States (1870) Colorado County, Texas, Schedule 1; Colorado
Citizen, November 2, 1871, June 18, 1874, November 12, 1874, April 15, 1875, May 13, 1875, June 10,
1875, August 26, 1875, September 9, 1875, October 21, 1875, November 11, 1875, November 18, 1875,
April 27, 1876, July 13, 1876, October 5, 1876, January 11, 1877, February 1, 1877, February 8, 1877,
February 15, 1877, April 5, 1877, May 10, 1877, September 6, 1877. A few of these people were said to
be Jewish in articles cited above. Others were established as Jewish by virtue of their membership in
the Columbus chapter of the B'nai Brith, which was founded in 1879 (see Colorado Citizen, May 1,
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/25/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.