Sigmund Aron Heilner & Family, Pioneer Jewish Merchants of Oregon

Sigmund Aron Heilner

Sigmund Aron Heilner of Baker City, Orggon, #WS7621

Sigmund Aron Heilner of Baker City, Oregon,

Value Codes:  I – E – L – P


Sigmund Aron Heilner was born, in 1834, in Urspringen, Bavaria, Germany.

Sigmund Heilner came to United States, in 1853.


On the way

After two years in New York and Washington, D.C., Sigmund joined his brother, Seligmann Heilner, (by then known as Ed. D. Cohen) in Crescent City, California.

Sigmund Heilner operated his own dry goods store until the early 1860s when he became a small banker and then a freight forwarder.

He was commander of an expedition which carried arms and ammunition to volunteers who fought in the 1856 Indian Uprising in Oregon.



For a time Sigmund Heilner worked for an Alaskan fur company in Portland, Oregon


In 1872,  Sigmund Heilner  with his brother set up and operated a general mercantile store and banking business under the name ‘E. D. Cohn & Co.’ in Sparta, Union County. Oregon.

They erected a fireproof stone warehouse on First Street to accommodate the business in wool, grain, hides etc.

Constructing a stone or brick store meant that one planned to stay in the area – since most pioneer building in mining towns were made of wood and had a tendency to burn down

Although Sparta is today a ghost town, the stone store building  still stands.

Heilner's Stone Store Remains in Sparta, Oregon, #WS7622

Heilner’s Stone Store Remains in Sparta, Oregon, #WS7622


Baker City, Oregon

Sigmund Heilner finally settled in Baker City, Oregon.

There Sigmund Heilner installed the first telephone system in the city.

He established the first bank in Baker City

Sigmund Heilner created the Heilner Commercial and Commission Company which eventually became the Heilner’s Department Store.


Sigmund Heilner also had a hide and wool business, an insurance company and the Mammoth Mine in Sumpter, Oregon where he engaged in Quartz mining: Enterprise Quartz Company and Heilner Quartz Mill.

Heilner's Department Store in Baker City, Oregon, 1900s, #WS7623

Heilner’s Department Store in Baker City, Oregon, 1900s,

Heilner also excelled as a landscape and portrait painter.



Sigmund Heilner was a member of Oregon’s Sanitary Commission.



Sigmund Heilner was a charter member of Baker City Masonic Lodge No. 47 A.F. and A.M.



Sigmund Heilner was a member of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland.



When Sigmund Heilner came to Portland, Oregon in  1874,  he married Miss Clara Neuberger. 

Clara Neuberger Heilner , #WS7625

Clara Neuberger Heilner ,

Together they had four children.

Two of their sons Jesse and Sanford associated with Sigmund in business; Joseph entered law. They also had a daughter Millie.

After Sigmund’s death, the businesses were continued by their youngest son Sanford and brothers Gerson and Berthold Neuberger, nephews of Clara Neuberger Heilner.


Sigmund Aron Heilner died in 1917.

Sigmund and Clara are both buried in Congregation Beth Israel’s cemetery in Portland.


Information about Sigmund Aron Heilnercan be found in the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Sigmund Heilner; Oregon Pioneer; Oregon; 12/1

Curator for this Sigmund Aron Heilner Exhibit is Gladys Sturman.