Noteworthy Jewish Pioneers of Omaha, Nebraska, 1864+


Noteworthy Jewish Pioneers of Early Omaha, Nebraska

Leopold May

Meyer Hellman & Aaron Cahn

Edward & Andrew Rosewater

Max & Julius Meyer

Each of the above have separate Exhibits. Click in their names to be taken to their Exhibits.



Henry Siegal

Henery Siegal was born in Bavaria. He came to the United States with 2 brothers, settling first in Baltimore in 1841.

When Union Pacific Railroad began, he opened a store in Omaha.

He then followed the Railroad as it proceeded westward, selling goods to construction workers.

He eventually settled in Salt Lake City.


The Omaha City Directory of 1870 showed that of the  15 clothing firms listed, half were of Jewish ownership – all were located within 2 square blocks.


Isaac M. Frank

In 1866, Isaac Frank and his brother had a clothing store in Omaha.

Isaac Frank was the first president of  Khela B’ni Israel,  in 1868.


Morris Elgutter

Morris Elgutter had conducted a wholesale drygoods business in California, and had become one of the first Jewish residents of Salt Lake City, in 1864

He was a founder of Salt Lake City Mount Moriah Masonic Lodge.

Morris Elgutter left Salt Lake City after disagreeing with Brigham Young.

Morris Elgutter arrived in Omaha in 1866 where he operated a store and was active in the Jewish community.


Bernard Gladstone

Bernard Gladstone’s family immigrated from Hungary and spent 10 years in Ohio before coming to Omaha.

The rest of his family arrived in Omaha in 1868 – wife, 8 children & his son-in-law, Emmanuel Simon.

Bernard Gladstone opened the Omaha Hoop Skirt Factory, in 1868.

The Gladstore & Co., t wholesale & retail grocery business lasted 45 years.

Bernard Gladstone’s wife, Hannah, died 1870.

She was buried in the Christian cemetery, but was disinterred to be the first burial in the new Jewish Pleasant Hill Cemetery when established, in 1871.


Samuel Jacobs came to Omaha to open a clothing store in 1869.


Samuel Reichenberg arrived from Germany, in 1868.

He opened a restaurant and confectionary in Omaha, in 1869


John Merritt had a restaurant, in 1869, that specialized in “red hot peanuts.”


High School

Among first eleven graduates of Omaha High School were Esther Jacobs and Addie Gladstone. Both became school teachers.


Fire Department

Omaha Fire Department volunteers included Meyer Hellamn, Aaron Cahn, and Leopold May.

Charles Schland was an Assistant Fire Chief and Meyer Goldsmith served as President of the Omaha Fire Department.



Aaron Cahn & Meyer Hellman were charter members Capital Lodge #3 Masonic Order, 1857

Joseph Rosenstein, Leopold May and Meyer Goldsmith were organizers of both the Knights of Pythias and the Odd Fellows.



Aaron Cahn was elected to the  8th Territorial Legislature 1861 and served as Treasurer of Omaha in 1868



First Jewish Doctor came in 1884.

Dr. Oscar S. Hoffman was invited by Max Meyer.

He served as 1st Co-Staff at Wise Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Charles Rosewater returned to Omaha in 1886.



Simon Bloom set up practice in Omaha in 1877.

He also served on the Omaha Board of Education and gave sermons at Congregation of Israel.

Charles S. Elgutter, son of pioneer Morris Elgutter, set up practice in 1891. He also served on the Omaha Board of Education and was active in the Jewish community.



Louis Mendelsohn designed and created the engineering plans for the Exposition Building, Chamber of Commerce, The First National Bank and the Synagogue.


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

  • The Jews of Omaha: The First 60 Years, by Carol Gendler, 6-part series, Vol. 5, #3 & 4; Vol.6, #1 – 4. 1973-1974

This material was gathered in 1974. Much more information has probably been found since then. Any more information will be appreciated, added, or corrected. Just click on “Contact” on the top bar.