Lazard Coblentz: Pioneer Jewish Whiskeyman of Portland, Oregon

 

Lazard Coblentz 

Coblentz  & Levy Bourbon Label, WSJH V45#4

Coblentz & Levy Bourbon Label,
WSJH V45#4

Values Codes I-E-L

 

Lazard Coblentz was born in Lixheim (in the Lorraine region of France on the German border) in 1852.

The Coblentz family originally hailed from Koblentz, Germany, located on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.

Along the way . . .

In 1871, Lazard Coblentz and his brothers, David and Joseph, journeyed to America to avoid being drafted into the Prussian army.  They entered the country in New York and  headed for California.

By 1874, David and Joseph Coblentz had settled in Los Angeles, where they entered the wholesale liquor business.

In 1876, Lazard Coblentz was naturalized as an American citizen in San Francisco.

He lived in the California mining town of Pokerville in Plymouth County.

In Pokerville, Lazard Coblentz ran the mercantile firm, Coblentz Co. 

In the 1870s and 1880s, Coblentz ran a mercantile business with three partners: Isaac Kohn,  Isaac Levy and Alexander Rosenwald.

Their firm also involved serving liquor to the townspeople, especially, the miners.

Around 1886, Coblentz and his partners opened a second store in Lundy, California called the Mill Creek Pioneer Cash Store.

At the end of the 1880s, the mining economy in Pokerville and Lundy declined.  Also, in 1887, a fire devastated Plymouth County Portland

In 1888, Lazard Coblentz and Ike Levy decided to move their business to Portland Oregon, where the economy was experiencing a boom.

Portland

In 1894, the brothers-in-law incorporated their firm, Coblentz & Levy, where they sold wholesale liquor at 166 Second Street.

Coblentz & Levy Token, WSJH V45#4

Coblentz & Levy Token,
WSJH V45#4

Coblentz-Levy-glass-North-Star, #WSJH V45#4

Coblentz-Levy-glass-North-Star,
#WSJH V45#4

The partners created their own brands of bourbon and whiskey, which they sold in glass bottles.

They also gave items such as tokens featuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition and shot glasses advertising their specific blends to customers.

Some of their special blends were named: “North Star Old Kentucky Bourbon,”  “Old Private Stock” and “Black Diamond.” 

In 1900, Coblentz and his family lived at 137 Morrison Street.  They lived in the same house as Sarah’s brothers, Ike, Aaron and Roger, and Ike’s wife, Nettie.

In 1910, Ike Levy left the firm to become a bookkeeper for a club.  The dissolution of the partnership was amicable because Ike Levy and his family continued to live in the same house as the Coblentzes.

Lazard Coblentz rebranded his firm as The Coblentz Co in 1912. His son, Julien Coblentz, held the position of secretary/treasurer in this family business.

The Coblentz Co. headquarters were located at 105 Fifth Avenue.

For the next three years, The Coblentz Co. fought prohibitionists to no avail.

In 1915, The Coblentz Co. closed due to Oregon’s official passage of prohibition laws that banned alcohol sales in the state.

To the 1920 census taker, Lazard Coblentz claimed his profession to be that of a “macaroni salesman.”

Civic

Around 1879, Lazard Coblentz was appointed as a judge.  He tried cases in the rear of the Post Office in Pokerville, California.

He was also a trustee of the volunteer fire department of the town.

Family

Lazard Coblentz married Sarah Levy in 1883.

They had two children: Julien and Helene.

 

Lazard Coblentz died in Portland, Oregon, in 1922.

Sarah Levy Coblentz died in 1929, in Seattle, Washington.

 

For more information see the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Lazard Cobentz, Whiskeyman of Pokerville, California and Portland, Oregon, by Jack Sullivan and Victoria Fisch, WSJH, Vol. 45 #4

Samantha Silver is our Curator for this Coblentz Virtual Exhibit.

Any more personal information or pictures of the members of the families will be appreciated.

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Coblentz & Levy Poster