population. A Jewish cemetery was
established on a low hill outside of
town in 1819.
Strauss came from a typical Jewish
His father, Hirsch, was born in
Buttenheim in 1790 and, like many
other rural Jews, was a peddler, travel-
ing house to house selling clothing
and dry goods. Strauss' grandfather,
Jacob Strauss, was a cattle merchant
— also a typical Jewish trade — and
he, too, lived in the village.
Strauss — whose original first
name was Loeb — was one of
Hirsch Strauss' three children by
his second wife, Rebekka, who was
the daughter of another
Buttenheim cattle merchant.
By the time Strauss was born,
poverty and restrictive legislation had
prompted local Jews to begin to
immigrate to the United States. The
Jewish community, in fact, dwindled
steadily until it dissolved in the
1890s — the synagogue went out of
use in 1892 and has long since been
incorporated into one of the local
Hirsch Strauss' death in 1846 from
tuberculosis prompted Rebekka to
move to America the next year.
After an arduous voyage, she, Levi
Strauss and his two sisters joined two
of Strauss' older half-brothers who
already had emigrated and ran a dry
goods business on New York's Lower
East Side. Strauss followed the lure
of the California gold rush and
founded the clothing business that
made him both a wealthy man and a
Today, the Levi Strauss Co. employs
some 20,000 workers in 69 countries.
As the museum puts it, Strauss "dis-
covered his personal vein of gold —
not the precious metal, but cloth."
Strauss died in San Francisco in
1902, but he never forgot
Toward the end of his life, he sent
money back to maintain the town's
Jewish cemetery. The little walled
graveyard still lies on a hill outside
town amid lush, rolling farmland —
and weathered tombstones there still
mark the graves of Strauss' father and
a brother. ❑
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_ Detroit Birsiness
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Come See What We've Been Up To!
@LUNCH & DINNER 7 DAYS A WEEK
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2555 W. 12 Mile Rd.
For more information on the
Levi Strauss Museum, visit
srs, corner of Coolidge