Lewis Hershfield: Early Jewish Pioneer Merchant & Banker of Helena, Montana

Lewis Hershfield

Values Codes I – E – L


Lewis Hershfield was born in Utica, Oneida County, New York in 1836.


Along the way . . .

In the early 1860s, Lewis Hershfield journeyed with a team of oxen from Leavenworth, Kansas to Central City, Colorado.

In Colorado, Hershfield collected 26 wagons full of dry goods.

He drove this collection of goods through Colorado and Utah and settled in Virginia City, Montana in 1864.

He found success among the miners of Virginia City.

In addition to his dry goods store, he established a bank, storing gold as well as exchanging gold dust for money.


Helena, Montana

During the 1870s, Lewis Hershfield moved his bank to the mining boom town of Helena, Montana.

In 1878, his brother, Aaron Hershfield (1848-1918), joined him in the business, which became L.H. Hershfield & Brother.

In 1882, the bank became nationally chartered as the Mercantile National Bank of Helena.

Through the bank, Hershfield invested in mines and other banks in the area.

The Mercantile National Bank went into receivership in 1897 after depositors withdrew their money.



In 1889, Hershfield was considered for the post of Territorial Governor of Montana.

He was appointed to the Montana Constitutional Convention, and lost the position of Permanent Chairman to William Clark by a margin of 4 votes.


Lewis Hershfield died in New York City, in 1910.

Aaron Hershfield died at the Lewis & Clark Poor Farm in 1918.



Samantha Silver is curator for this Lewis Hershfield exhibit.