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29 October 2015

The Far Reaching Jews of Fordon- part 7, The Auerbach Family

Even though it has been many months since I posted about the Jews of Fordon, it does not mean that they haven't been on my mind. As the ancestral home of my Rosenbaum family, I seem to spend a lot of time researching the Jews of that part of the world. Today, I am writing about a family not only from Fordon, but a family that continued to have influence on my family for many years after they arrived in the United States, the Auerbach family.
Frederick H. Auerbach and his brother, Samuel H. Auerbach were both born in Fordon, two of the children of Hillel and Bertha (Friedman) Auerbach. While still just young men, the two made their journeys to America. Frederick, who was born in 1836 was first, arriving sometime before 1857. In was in 1857 that he appears in California during the gold rush where he opened a store in a mining camp called Rabbit Creek, the first of what would grow to be a great department store empire.
Samuel, born on 15 June 1847, arrived in New York on 15 June 1862, his 15th birthday. This we know, because later in life Samuel became quite the world traveler and left a good deal about his birth and arrival on the various United States passport applications he filled out. The application below comes from the year 1913 when he applied for his wife and daughter to travel abroad. he quickly made his way west and joined his brother, where in 1863 they settled in Austin, Nevada, where there had been some major mining strikes.
Shortly after their arrival in Nevada, Frederich went on trip to Salt lake City, looking for a location to build a new store. Upon his arrival. he decided he needed help to find a good location for the new store. He hadn't been so successful by not knowing who could help him, so he went right to the top and enlisted the help of Brigham Young. It was then that Brigham Young walked around Salt Lake City with him and they were able to secure the property now located on Main Street for their first Utah department store. This store, called F. Auerbach & Bros. was to be the beginning of a relationship that would last for well over 100 years.
The Auerbach brothers were not content to have just one store in Utah so they opened others in places such as Ogden and Corinne. From their days following the Gold Rush and mining strikes they had learned how to go where the people were. With this in mind they also had small tent locations along the path of the new Transcontinental Railroad that was being built across the country. That railroad brought the east and west together in May of 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah. The Auerbach brothers were able to become fixtures in Utah, two Jewish boys among the mostly Mormon population.
Over time the stores continued to thrive and grow, which made it necessary to expand to bigger locations. In 1879, the store was moved to a new location, the former Masonic building. Again in 1912, a move was needed and the store was moved again to the corner of Broadway and State Street. The picture below shows that building. This building
also adds more to the story for my own family, for it was here that my grandfather, Eugene Arthur Knowles, served as the painter for the Auerbach family. His wife, my grandmother, was the granddaughter of Moses David Rosenbaum, a Jew from Fordon.
Frederick was not around to see this last building as he died in 1896. He never married and was buried in the B'nai Israel Cemetery in Salt Lake City. The running of the business fell to Samuel who by then had married to the former Eveline Brooks, and over time they had 8 children.
With Frederick's passing, his will was made a matter of record. Even though he had left Fordon almost 40 years earlier, he never forgot where he came from. In that will which was probated on the 20th day of July in 1896 he stated in items 11 and 12 the following;

Eleventh: To the Hebrew poor of my native town, Fordon, Prussia, $150.00
Twelfth: To the Christian poor of my native town, Fordon, Prussia, $75.00

It is worth noting that in items 13- 43 of this same will, he lists the names of his brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces and the name of the cities where they were living as of the date of probate.  
A true testament to the quality of the man that above all else he first took care of his family and those from his hometown.
 In 1909, after a little more than 12 years running the store, Samuel and his wife moved to New York City, leaving the running of the business to his oldest son Herbert Samuel Auerbach. Samuel died in 1920 and was buried back in Utah at the B'nai Israel Cemetery.
At first look, Herbert S. didn't look like someone who would one day be running a major department store. He was born in 1882 in Salt lake City, but at an early age he was sent around the world to study. After stops in Germany and Switzerland, he graduated in 1900 from the Conservatory of Music in Lausanne. After graduation he traveled  Europe where he performed on the concert stage as a violinist. Herbert then returned to New York, where he graduated with a masters degree in electrometallurgy from the Columbia University School of Mines in 1906. After first working in the mining industry, he eventually began to get more involve in the family business, taking over the running of it in 1911.
Like his father and uncle, Herbert was very active it community affairs.  He served on the Board of Regents of the University of Utah, he was a member of various Water Boards, and he was a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Beginning in 1925, he served as a member of the Utah State Legislature, however, he served in one capacity that shows the character of the man. The Utah Sons Of The Pioneers is a worldwide group that pays honor to the who arrived before the railroad in May of 1869. Historically this is an organization about Mormon pioneers, yet even though his family was Jewish and not Mormon, he did arrive before may of 1869. So, he joined the organization and even served as their President.
Herbert died in 1945and he to was buried at B'nai Israel Cemetery. The fact that he was so loved by Jews and non Jews is shown by his funeral. It did not take place at the synagogue but instead was held at Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
The impact of the family was also felt on the east coast. George Samuel Auerbach, the second son of Samuel, also helped at the store, however, he took his knowledge elsewhere. George married Beatrice Fox of Hartford, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Moses Fox, and granddaughter of Gerson Fox, founder of the G. Fox Department Store.
After their marriage they lived in Salt Lake City and worked together at the store. In 1917, the G. Fox store burned to the ground and in 1918 a new 11 story store was built. At that time George and Beatrice moved back to Hartford to help run the new store. In 1927 George died and Beatrice began working with her father in the day to day running of the store. Eventually she became the president  of G. Fox and Co. She passed away in 1968 and was buried along side her husband at Beth Israel Cemetery in Hartford. It should also be noted that in 1965 the G. Fox department store was sold to the May Co.
The Auerbach family was indeed very influential in many locations. They served their communities with honor and integrity. They were loved and respected and the people of Fordon should have very proud of all they accomplished.

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