The Shoenberg Family in Colorado

Updated: Jul 23

Louis D. Shoenberg wasn’t the only member of the Shoenberg family to make an impact in Colorado, in fact, the Shoenberg name has become somewhat synonymous with success in the history of the state during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The family originally immigrated from Germany to America sometime between the birth of Moses in Germany in 1847 and the birth of Joseph in Dayton, Ohio, in 1854.


The patriarch of the Shoenberg family was Elias, who married Fannie (Mook), and together the couple had six children - Hattie, Moses, Joseph, Leobold, Louis, and Rosa. After the birth of Rosa in 1860, the family would migrate west to Leadville, Colorado, in 1878. Upon their arrival, the Shoenbergs became active in business, public, social, and charitable affairs. The family eventually flourished in the clothing industry after earlier enterprises in theater and sawmills but decamped for bigger opportunities in larger cities by 1889.


The Shoenbergs in Leadville

Based on historical records, the Shoenbergs hit the ground running upon their arrival in Leadville. One of the endeavors of the Shoenbergs was the Shoenberg Opera House, which became a safe haven for Leadville’s Jewish population, and became the location of the community’s High Holiday services during a time when Leadville had a reputation for being the “wickedest city on earth.” In addition to the Shoenberg Opera House, they were also involved in sawmills.


By the 1880s, the Shoenberg name was known for being premier clothiers. Joseph, also called “Cheap Joe”, had his eyes set on being a clothier at a young age (12). He would go to school and trade or sell his coats, vests, etc. to anyone who had a spark of speculation about him. From the January 3, 1880, Leadville Chronicle:

“To be a Shoenberg in Leadville is to be a clothier and a man whom the whole community respects.”

David May, a prominent businessman, went into business with the Schoenbergs, eventually marrying the youngest Shoenberg, Rosa. In a partnership with the Shoenbergs, May would bring one of the most respected clothier shops to Leadville. The shop is noted for selling:


  • Hats and Caps

  • Boy’s Suits

  • Dressing Gowns

  • Spring Overcoats

  • Business Suits

  • Dress Suits

The best part was that it was one price for all - with children purchasing from the same shop as the well-established man. The opening of the shop, upgraded with the finest marble, windows, and more was no doubt attended by the best citizens in Leadville.


David May’s marriage to Rosa Shoenberg was a spectacle for the town, gaining print in the Leadville Chronicle. The wedding would not only be reported in the Chronicle but also a rather extensive gift list. (You can see that here - http://www.jewishleadville.org/shoenberg.html)


End of the 1800s, Early 1900s

By the end of the 1880s, Moses Shoenberg and his wife would move back east, selling his partnership back to his brother-in-law David May. Louis Shoenberg and David May would begin working together in this partnership, but soon Louis would set his sights on different horizons. After the loss of his son to tuberculosis, Louis would eventually be the benefactor and founder of Shoenberg Farms. The farm would supply much-needed resources to the National Jewish Hospital.


Much like the history of the Shoenberg family, the Shoenberg Farms Restoration Project is rich in historical value - both for the community and for the state. To learn more about the project and the restoration process, visit the project page to learn more.


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