They no longer make citizens like Jonas Bergheim. An immigrant from Germany and one of the first Jewish residents of Boulders, Bergheim built a successful business and gave far more than he took.
Bergheim arrived in Boulder in early 1878, after immigrating to New York. Boulder had a population of just under 3,000.
A few years later, he bought the Boston Clothing House on Pearl Street, which included hats, men’s clothing, boots, shoes and trunks. He renamed J. Bergheim & Co. and years later J. Bergheim & Son when his son Milton joined the company. The store has gained a reputation for high quality men’s clothing.
While building his business, he also helped build the community.
He was an early member of the Colorado Chautauqua board of directors and served as treasurer for decades, according to his obituary. As an original subscriber in the effort to build the Boulderado Hotel in 1909, he helped secure Boulders’ future in business and tourism. His many memberships included fraternal organizations, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, and he also served in the Colorado National Guard.
Bergheim and his friend Frank Wood, a man of wood, teamed up in a quarry at Bluebell Canyon, known as the Bergheim-Wood quarry. The quarry provided materials and jobs for the growing city.
Unsurprisingly, Bergheim was included in the group of notable citizens who wrote the first charter for the town of Boulders in 1917.
Everyone knew him and called him Joe. Joe’s generosity has led him to help others, giving credit in his store to those going through tough times. As vice president of the Boulder Building and Loan Association, he has helped low-income residents buy homes, believing that owning a home gives a person dignity and encourages them to invest in their community.
His writing had to be something special. According to Jane Valentine Barkers’ book “76 Historic Homes of Boulder, Colorado,” Bergheim wrote the names of University of Colorado graduates on their graduates from the first class in 1882 until 1910.
During this time, he lived with his wife, Henrietta, and their two children in a small house in downtown Boulder.
Bergheim died of illness in 1931. Boulder had a population of over 11,000, but with only a small number of Jewish residents, the city did not have a synagogue. At his funeral, attended by hundreds of people, Rabbi Friedman of Temple Emmanuel in Denver, the oldest synagogue in the Rocky Mountains, officiated.
Bergheim made his mark as a successful pioneer trader, but as the Daily Camera stated in a 1927 article, None gave more generously, none gave their time and abilities more generously. .
His 50 years of contributions to Boulder have helped seal the city’s success, including not only its governance, but downtown Boulder, tourism, education and culture in Chautauqua.
Bergheim never claimed credit for his contributions, so unfortunately his house at 1313 Pine Street, known as Myers-Bergheim House, is not known (the Harbeck-Bergheim House on the hill is named after of his son). You can walk to the remains of the Woods Quarry (sic), but Bergheim’s name is omitted.
Call his life of good character old-fashioned, but Bergheim’s selfless achievement should be celebrated.
Carol Taylor can be reached at [email protected] She and Silvia Pettem alternate the story column In Retrospect.
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