The German Jewish immigration of the mid 19th century caused a demographic explosion of the American Jewish community from a mere 5,000 in 1830 to approximately 250,000 in 1880. Economic opportunity, the California Gold Rush and a general American migration to the frontiers of the west, led thousands of these immigrants to try their luck as peddlers and merchants in San Francisco and other mining towns in the Wild West.
When Levi Strauss arrived from Bavaria with his family in 1847 he initially settled in NY. The Gold Rush enticed him to open a branch of the family’s dry goods business in San Francisco in 1854 where he serviced the mining community. Two decades later he began marketing Levi’s pants, which were the world’s first blue jeans with rivets to secure the pockets in the rough environment the miners operated in. Josephine Marcus was the daughter of German Jewish immigrants in NYC who migrated to California and later to Tombstone, Arizona where she married the legendary Wild West figure Wyatt Earp.
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