Charles A. Greenberg: Jewish Merchant Pioneer of Republic, Washington

Charles A. Greenberg

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Charles Greenberg was born Chaim Avrum Minalow in Belz, Bessarabia, in 1858. He had three siblings.

He was educated in Russia and spoke five languages: Yiddish, Romanian, Polish, Russian, and German.

Greenberg worked for his uncle as a grain broker.


Along the way . . .

In the 1880’s, Greenberg came to the United States with his wife and two brothers.

They had changed their name from Minalow to Greenberg in order to avoid being drafted into the Russian army.

In New York, Charles Greenberg worked as a peddler, selling household items such as needles and thread.

This job allowed him to study English, learning from his interaction with his clients.

He then moved to Neceedah, Wisconsin with his wife, Annie (Neé Hannah) (b. 1869), and his brothers, William and BenjaminThere, he established a mercantile business with his brothers.


Republic, Washington

In 1896, gold was discovered in Republic, Washington.

Soon afterward, Charles Greenberg headed west by stagecoach, leaving his family in Neceedah, Wisconsin.

Republic, Washington on the Map

Republic, Washington on the Map

In 1900, he set up a dry goods store over a bakery in Republic, with credit established by the Spokane Dry Goods Company.

He sold clothing and miners’ equipment to men working at the Knob Hill Mine and in “Eureka Gulch.”

A few years later, Annie Greenberg  and the children joined him in Republic.

Charles built a five bedroom house for his family, complete with sitting room, parlor, kitchen, attached bathroom with a bathtub, and a hot water tank attached to the stove.

The cellar was well-stocked with canned fruits and vegetables, which local farmers traded with Greenberg in exchange for dry goods from his store.

The family also had a sizable orchard with pear, plum, apple, crabapple, and cherry trees, and gooseberry and current bushes.

They also raised chickens, horses, and milk cows.



In 1906, in order to bring Jewish settlers to Republic, Charles Greenberg advertised in Yiddish-language newspapers, such as Tageblatt.

He also corresponded with Rabbi Stephen Wise and Baron de Hirsch.

In 1909, Republic Jews celebrated their first wedding for William Tolmatsky and Fini Steinberg.

Since the community lacked an official Rabbi, Charles Greenberg performed the ceremony as a lay clergyman.

Around 1914, a second wave of settlers arrived in Republic from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

This marked the arrival of Rabbi J. Abramowitz.

Charles Greenberg was among the shareholders of The Ferry County Farming and Stock Raising Company, building homes for both the Rabbi and Sam Romanoff, the dairy farm’s manager.

In 1915, Republic held its first High Holiday services, with Rabbi Abramowitz presiding.

Ferry County Company was dissolved by 1916, due to the difficult conditions of the Republic land and the inexperience of the colonists.

Charles Greenberg was the third Jew to arrive and the last to leave Republic, Washington.

An 1800's mine in Republic, Washington

An 1800’s mine in Republic, Washington


Charles and Annie Greenberg had ten children.

Born in Wisconsin were Joe, Mose (1889-1946), Emma, David, Harris (1894-1972), Charles, and Esther.

Born in Washington were Nathan, Walter, and Pearl.


Charles Greenberg died in 1936 in Spokane.

Annie Greenberg died in 1910.

They are buried at Mount Nebo Cemetery in Spokane, Washington.



  • Meta Buttnick & Julia Niebuhr, “Washington Republic: A Jewish Settlement in the Small Towns of Washington State, 1898 – 1936,” Western States Jewish History 36/4.

Samantha Silver is curator for this Charles Greenberg exhibit.