LEOPOLD GULDMANN A SAGA OF THE WILD WEST

 

researched by Rolf Hofmann (HarburgProject@aol.com) using parts of Dayle Friedman Rabinowitz's biography

 

 

 

Since 1745 the Guldmann family had lived in Harburg, a small romantic village in the County of Oettingen (which after 1806 became part of Bavaria), beginning with Laemle Alexander, who was accepted to settle in Harburg by the Count of Oettingen-Wallerstein, after he and his family had been expelled from nearby Monheim (then being part of the Duchy of Pfalz-Neuburg), together with all the other Jewish families who had lived there since 1698. Laemle Alexander's great-grandson, the butcher Hajum Hirsch Guldman (1804-1886), had eight children. His older son Samuel (1840-1909) took over his fathers business.

 

Hajums younger son Leopold (1852-1936) in 1870 emigrated to the USA. He took the boat "Cimbria" to New York and moved to Watertown (Wisconsin), where he worked for seven years as clerk for his brother-in-law Morris A Hirsh, who had immigrated from Fellheim near Memmingen in Bavaria and owned the New York Store in Watertown. There he became accustomed to the American way of business life. Around 1877 he moved further west towards the Rocky Mountains, where silver ore was detected in great quantities, a fact that attracted thousands of adventurers and businessmen alike. In Leadville and Cripple Creek Leopold Guldmann opened shops and started supplying silverdiggers and other fortune seekers with their basic needs.

 

His trading posts were successful, because he used to buy and sell in cash. He bought huge quantities of merchandise from bankrupt companies and sold them at cheap price. His Rocky Mountain business was very successful, so in 1879 he founded the "Golden Eagle Dry Goods Company" in Denver (Colorado). With his solid business principles he even survived the silver panic of 1893, when other companies and banks had great losses by the decline of the silver value. By this time Leopold Guldman had taken his nephews Max and Rudolph (also born in Harburg) into the business. He bought land in Denver in an area that later was to become the center of the city and in 1905 built the "Golden Eagle Dry Goods Department Store" (at the corner of Lawrence Street and Sixteenth Street), an impressing and fine architecture.

 

As Leopold Guldmann had become one of the wealthy and respected merchants of the Wild West, a real "Merchant Prince" in these days, in 1912 he built his Guldman Mansion in one of Denver's best living quarters (at the corner of Humboldt Street and Tenth Avuenue), planned by the famous architect Aaron Grove. This building later was known as the Bonfils Mansion, as Frederick Bonfils (owner of the Denver Post) had acquired this building around 1914 under circumstances which actually never were really cleared up.

 

Leopold Guldman enjoyed the later years of his success. He used to spend the cold winter months at the Cote d'Azur in France. And he used to give away freely from his fortune to people and institutions of all kind. When he died in Denver in 1936 he had already become a well known patron and philantropist, because of his various charitable foundations during his lifetime. The Golden Eagle Dry Goods business went on until 1939 when it finally was closed down. The department store building was later "razed" like so many other old buildings of Denver and replaced by a modern office building. Leopold Guldman's splendid home, the "Guldman Mansion" survived him for quite a while, until it was also demolished in the 1960s and replaced by an apartment building, known as Cheesman Gardens.

 

 

 

 

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