Noteworthy Jewish Pioneers of Omaha, Nebraska


Noteworthy Jewish Pioneers of Early Omaha, Nebraska



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


Henry Siegal 

Henry Siegel was born in Bavaria. He came to the United States with two brothers, settling first in Baltimore in 1841.

When the 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.


Isaac M. Frank

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

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


Morris Elgutter

After having a wholesale dry goods business in CaliforniaMorris Elgutter 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.

Elgutter left Salt Lake City after disagreeing with Brigham Young.

He 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 ten years in Ohio before coming to Omaha.

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

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

The Gladstone & Co. wholesale & retail grocery business lasted 45 years.

Gladstone’s wife, Hannah, died 1870.

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


Samuel Jacobs

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


Samuel Reichenberg

Samuel Riechenberg immigrated from Germany in 1868.

He opened a restaurant and confectionary in Omaha in 1869.


John Merritt

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


Omaha High School

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


Omaha Fire Department

Omaha Fire Department volunteers included Meyer Hellman, 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 and Meyer Hellman were charter members Capital Lodge #3 Masonic Order, est. 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 in 1861, and served as Treasurer of Omaha in 1868



First Jewish doctor came to Omaha in 1884, when Dr. Oscar S. Hoffman was invited by Max Meyer.

He served as First Co-Staff at Wise Memorial Hospital.



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 Educationand was active in the Jewish community.



Louis Mendelsohn designed the engineering plans for the Exposition Building, Chamber of Commerce, and The First National Bank, among other structures.



  • Carol Gendler, “The Jews of Omaha: The First 60 Years,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 5/3&4, 6/1-4.