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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: Definition: 'la crosse', Term Type: 'People'

Term: Jews in Wisconsin


Jewish immigration to Wisconsin occured in three basic segments. The first few Jews to settle in Wisconsin were of English or Canadian background and came in the mid- to late 18th century. The second group came from Central Europe, primarily Germany, between the 1830s through 1880. The third and largest group came from Eastern Europe, beginning in the late 1880s and continuing through the early 20th century.

The history of Jews in Wisconsin began after France surrendered the Northwest Territory to the British in 1759. Prior to this time, any professing Jew was subject to France's Black Code of 1724 which outlawed Jews from the French colonies. The first known Jew to come to Wisconsin was fur trader Jacob Franks, who came to Green Bay around 1794 and became one of the area's most influential white settlers of his time here. Until the 1830s, few Jews lived in Wisconsin but their numbers increased substantially with the influx of approximately five million German-speaking immigrants between 1840 and 1880. Many who eventually came to Wisconsin first arrived in New York City and remained there until they accumulated enough money to move west. Generally, this group of Jewish immigrants were successful in assimilating in the relatively open and expanding social and economic structure of the period, often working in retail and wholesale trades. Included among this group were a minority of Jewish intellectuals and professionals who became influential in Wisconsin and beyond.

The first organized Jewish community emerged in Milwaukee, where the anti-Semitic tendencies of Imperial Germany did not seem to take root. Jews dominated in the manufacture of clothing and footwear and by 1895 nearly all of Milwaukee's clothing factories were Jewish-owned. Others Jewish immigrants speculated and invested in real estate, founded factories, and provided public utilities for the growing city. The Emanu-El Cemetary Association, formed in 1848, was the foundation for the state's first Jewish congregation. Wisconsin's first synagogue building was built in 1856 in Milwaukee. Milwaukee synagogues promoted Jewish integration into American life by holding regular Thanksgiving Day services and by celebrating Washington's birthday. After synagogues were organized, further communal activities, particularly charitable, emerged among Milwaukee's Jews. In the mid-1850s, women's groups, such as the Benevolent Society of the True Sisters, began to organize. Jews also created a network of specifically Jewish fraternal societies that served as integrating forces in the community. Wisconsin's second Jewish community emerged in Madison in the 1850s, followed by La Crosse in the latter decades of the 19th century.

Between 1880 and 1920, millions of eastern European and Russian Jews came to the United States. This group differed in many ways from the German Jews who had tended to come from an urban, secular environment: the Russian Jews were more traditional and rustic. Russian Jewish communities began to emerge in smaller Wisconsin towns in the 1880s though the majority remained in Milwaukee. In 1880, 2,559 Jews lived in Wisconsin; by 1889, 10,000. These Russian and Polish Jews tended to live separately from Russian and Polish Christians, unlike German Jews who had settled among other Germans. Early 20th century immigrant Jews earned their living in a variety of ways, usually retail-related or industrial work. Russian Jews also revitalized Jewish orthodoxy which had almost disappeared in Milwaukee by the 1880s. To deal with the tremendous numbers of Eastern European Jews entering the U.S. in the early 20th century, the Industrial Removal Office was created in 1900 to disperse Jews from their immigrant quarters in cities to the countryside. In 1904, the Industrial Removal Office helped move 18 Russian and Romanian families from Milwaukee to Arpin in Wood County to establish a farming community. Arpin's settlers did not adapt to the farming lifestyle and many moved back to Milwaukee. After several failed attempts to establish Jewish farm colonies, the Industrial Removal Office redirected its efforts to move Jews from large cities like New York to smaller urban areas. Approximately 3,700 Jews were placed in 74 Wisconsin towns and cities: most settled in Milwaukee. Most congregations in Milwaukee coincided with immigrants' countries and regions of origins but these regional concentrations diluted as the 20th century progressed. The needs of immigrants in the early 20th century reinvigorated Jewish charity groups such as the various relief societies that distributed aid and taught classes to new immigrants.

After World War II, about 1,000 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust settled in Wisconsin. Between 1974 and 1981, archivists interviewed 22 of these survivors about their lives and experiences, including pre-war childhoods in Europe and post-war immigration to Wisconsin. The interviews contain a wealth of detail on Wisconsin Jewish communities during the second half of the 20th century. The complete audio recordings and typed transcripts are available at the Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust online collection.

View pictures relating to Wisconsin Jewish history at Wisconsin Historical Images.

View related articles at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]

112 records found

Anderson, Wendell Abraham 1840 - 1929
Arnold, Alexander Ahab 1833 - 1915
Bailey, Col. Joseph (1826-1867)
Bashford, Coles 1816 - 1878
Bean, Jacob Linsley 1809 - 1855
Bice, Raymond C. 1896
Boardman, Maj. Frederick A. (1832-1863)
Bosshard, Otto 1876 - 1943
Brayton, Aaron Martin 1872 - 1949
Brunson, Alfred 1793 - 1882
Burns, Timothy 1820 - 1853
Byers, Mark Rhea 1892 - 1950
Cameron, Angus 1826 - 1897
Candrian, Adolph 1850 - 1929
Cargill, William Wallace 1844 - 1909
Cary, John Watson 1817 - 1895
Catholics in Wisconsin
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Wis
Clements, Sylvester G. 1936
Coburn, Frank Potter 1858 - 1932
Cole, Harry Ellsworth 1861 - 1928
Colman, Charles Lane 1826 - 1901
Cowie, Robert Somerville 1873 - 1951
Crocker, Hans 1815 - 1889
Czechs in Wisconsin
Czerwinski, Joseph C. 1944
Davidson, William Fuson ["Commodore"] 1825 - 1887
Decorah family
Devitt, James C. 1929
Dutch in Wisconsin
Edwards, Benjamin Eugene 1845 - 1916
Episcopals in Wisconsin
Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941
Faville, John 1847 - 1927
Feingold, Russell D. 1953
Freehoff, William Adolph 1889 - 1950
Freethinkers in Wisconsin
Gale, George 1816 - 1868
Gard, John 1963
Gibson, Lawrence R. 1912
Greider, Gerald A. 1923
Griswold, Harry Wilbur 1886 - 1939
Hadley, Jackson 1815 - 1867
Hastings, Samuel Dexter 1816 - 1903
Heileman, Gottlieb 1824 - 1878
Heiss, Michael 1818 - 1890
Hirshheimer, Albert 1840 - 1924
Hixon, Gideon Cooley 1826 - 1892
Huebsch, Michael D. 1964
Jeskewitz, Suzanne 1942
Jews in Wisconsin
Johnson, Samuel Curtis 1833 - 1919
Kellman, Norris J. 1898
Kellogg, Col. John A. (1828 - 1883)
Kilbourn, Byron 1801 - 1870
Kind, Ron 1963
Kneeland, Moses 1809 - 1864
Knowlton, James H. 1813 - 1879
Knutson, Milo G. 1918
Kohl, Herbert H. 1935
Larsen, [Peter) Laur[Entius] 1833 - 1915
Legler, Henry Eduard 1861 - 1917
Leibham, Joseph K. 1969
Levy, John Meyer 1820 - 1910
Litscher, Leroy "Pete" 1939
Low Cloud, Charles Round 1872 - 1949
Lucey, Patrick J. 1918
Maxon, Densmore William 1820 - 1887
Mcgavick, Alexander Joseph 1863 - 1948
Medinger, John Donald 1948
Merkt, John L. 1946
Merrill, Sherburn Sanborn 1818 - 1885
Meyer, Mark 1963
Miller, Andrew Galbraith 1801 - 1874
Mitchell, Alexander 1817 - 1887
Mittness, Lewis T. 1929
Mulder, Leland E. 1925
Musser, Terry M. 1947
Myrick, Nathan 1822 - 1903
Nicholson, Isaac Lea 1884 - 1906
Nuttelman, Norbert 1911
Oestreicher, John C. 1936 - 2011
Offner, Paul 1942
Peck, George Wilbur 1840 - 1916
Peterson, James D.H. 1894
Pomeroy, Marcus Mills ["Brick"] 1833 - 1896
Powell, David Franklin ["White Beaver"] 1847 - 190
Price, William Thompson 1824 - 1886
Quackenbush, Robert L. 1923
Roberts, Virgil 1922
Rude, Brian D. 1955
Sanasarian, Harout O. 1944
Sanford, Albert Hart 1866 - 1956
Schneider, Marlin D. 1942
Schwebach, James 1847 - 1921
Shilling, Jennifer 1969
Stoddard, Thomas Benton 1800 - 1876
Strong, Moses Mccure 1810 - 1894
Taylor, Horace Adolphus 1837 - 1910
Thompson, George 1918
Trane, Reuben Nicholas 1886 - 1954
Ulrich, John 1828 - 1894
Underheim, Gregg 1950
Universalists in Wisconsin
Usher, Ellis Baker 1852 - 1931
Van Meter, Abraham Chenoweth ["Abe C."] 1842 - 189
Walker, George H. 1811 - 1866
Wartinbee, D. Russell 1903
Washburn, Gov. Cadwallader Colden (1818-1882)
Wells, Daniel Jr. 1808 - 1902
Withrow, Gardner R. 1892
Woodward, Gilbert Motier 1835 - 1914

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