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.

Heilner came to United States in 1853.


Along the way . . . 

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

Sigmund Heilner operated his own dry goods store until the early 1860’s, 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.

In 1872, he and 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

Sigmund Heilner finally settled in Baker City, Oregon.

There, he installed the first telephone system in the city and established the first bank.

He established 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.

He also excelled as a landscape and portrait painter.

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

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


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



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



Heilner was a member of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland.



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

Clara Neuberger Heilner , #WS7625

Clara Neuberger Heilner, #WS7625

Together they had four children. Two of their sons, Jesse and Sanford, associated with Sigmund in business. A third son, Josephentered law. They also had a daughter, Millie.

After Sigmund’s death, the businesses continued under their youngest son Sanford and the 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.



  • “Sigmund Heilner: Oregon Pioneer,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 12/1.

Gladys Sturman is curator of this Sigmund Aron Heilner exhibit.