Leopold May, First Jewish Pioneer of Omaha, Nebraska, 1855

Leopold May

Values Codes – I-E-P


Omaha, Nebraska

Leopold May was probably the first Jew to settle in Omaha, in 1855, when the town’s population approached 300.

He had come from Philadelphia.


Leopold May opened a retail clothing store called May & Weil Co. (Weil was most likely his partner/backer who did not move to Nebraska.)


May & Weil did business with customers from both Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa,  which was just across the river, by ferry.

Omaha Nebraska Vintage Map, probably 1870’s


The very first issue of the Rocky Mountain News, had an advertisement for May & Weil.

— “ready made clothing, boots, shoes hats, caps, India rubber goods, blankets, buffalo robes and overshirts, revolvers and knives.



Leopold May served as Secretary for the Omaha Relief Association – the first charity organization in Omaha.

Leopold May was a Charter Member of both  the Board of Trade and the first fire department – The Pioneer Hook & Ladder Co.



Leopold May married Hannah Levi of Philadelphia, and brought her to Omaha.

Soon after, they went west, probably to Nevada.


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

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