A Guide to the Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904
Born in Beverungen, Prussia, Ernst Kohlberg (1857-1910) immigrated to Texas in 1875 with Solomon C. Schutz and settled in El Paso, then called Franklin. Kohlberg worked in stores owned by Schutz on both sides of the Rio Grande, studied Spanish, and became deputy United States consul in El Paso del Norte, Mexico, and assistant postmaster in Franklin. After losing all his money investing in a gold mine in Jesús María, Mexico, Kohlberg moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a clerk. Returning to the renamed El Paso in 1881, he opened a cigar store with his brother Mortiz. Five years later, the brothers established the International Cigar Factory, the first cigar manufacturer in the Southwest, which later expanded to Philadelphia. During an 1884 trip to Germany, Kohlberg met and married Olga Bernstein, who founded the first kindergarden in Texas and, with her husband, the Mount Sinai Jewish Congregation. Kohlberg was elected to city council in 1893 as a Republican. Additionally, he was active in developing railroads, banks, and electricity in El Paso and owned the St. Regis and St. Charles hotels. In 1910, Kohlberg was shot and killed by John Leech, whom Kohlberg was suing for delinquent rent on the St. Charles.
Kohout, Martin Donell. “Kohlberg, Ernst.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed January 21, 2011.
The Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904, document the lives and work of Kohlberg and his wife Olga through correspondence and images. Photocopies in German and typed English translations of letters from Kohlberg to his parents in Beverungen, Germany (1875-1877), detail his trip from Germany to El Paso and ldescribe ife in Texas, including his work as a store clerk, relations with Native Americans and Mexicans, and his impressions of America. Kohlberg’s son Walter added photocopied illustrations of the steamship Kohlberg took to America, the hotel he stayed at in New York, plans for a dam, and house floor plan to the transcript. Untranslated letters (1881) written in German by Kohlberg from Jesús María, Mexico, probably describe his investment in a gold mine there. Photocopies of letters Olga Kohlberg wrote as President of the El Paso Women’s Club to Anna Pennybacker (1903-1904) discuss women’s suffrage, compulsory education, and the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, of which Pennybacker was president.
This collection is open for research use.
Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection processed by archives staff, 1932-1935. Subsequent revisions made by Patti Woolery-Price, December 1992.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers