Early Jewish Pioneers of Muskogee, Oklahoma

Jewish Pioneers of Muskogee, Oklahoma


Joseph Sondheimer was born in Bavaria in  1840. He came to Oklahoma around 1872 by way of Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis. He headquartered his stores, depots, and commissaries in Muskogee around 1881. He also brokered pecans, furs, hides, and wool sales. The town of Muskogee grew up around his warehouses. Joseph Sondheimer raised five children as Jews. 


Harry Kirschner arrived in Muskogee in 1905 and had a clothing store. In 1916, Harry’s son, Phil Kirschner, inherited the business. In the 1920’s Harry and Phil Kirschner got into oil and real estate.

Musgogee Business District, Vintage Postcard

Muskogee Business District, vintage postcard

Ed Hirsh was an early attorney in Muskogee. He moved to Oklahoma City in 1920.


Max Davidson arrived in 1912. He opened a clothing store and dealt in cotton batting. He moved back to St. Louis in 1928, but his sons stayed in town as jewelers.


Samuel Stolper ran the New York Store (clothing), and later owned the Boston Store (dry goods).


Roswell Susman sold nice Ladies clothing.


In 1922, Sol and Maurice Klar had a jewelry store.


A number of Jewish businessmen and tradesman made their mark in the 1930’s:

Samuel Futterman – department store

Frank Kahn – department store

Leo Epstein – department store

William Ginsberg – department store

Alex Unger – scrap metal

Nathan Ginsberg  – scrap metal

Joe Yaffe and son Robert – scrap metal

Ben Brasch – oil and cotton

J. W. Schuster – clerk

Joe Schieberl – tailor

C. O. Schwartz – traveling salesman

Nathan Kaufman – traveling salesman

Broadway, Meskogee, Oklahoma, Vintage Postcard

Broadway, Meskogee, Oklahoma, vintage postcard


The first Jewish services were held in 1905, when Temple Beth Ahaba was founded as a Reform synagogue. The congregation was endowed and supported by the Sondheimers.

The Jewish cemetery was dedicated in 1917.



A B’nai B’rith Lodge was founded in 1907.



Samuel Sondheimer was among those who donated land for Muskogee’s Greenhill Cemetery in 1890.

The Jewish section, Beth Ahaba, was purchased in 1907.



  • Henry J. Tobias, The Jews of Oklahoma (Norman:University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

Regina Merwin is curator for this Muskogee, Oklahoma exhibit.