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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.
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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