University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kohlberg, Ernst, 1857-1910
Title: Kohlberg, Ernst, Papers
Dates: 1875-1904
Abstract: The Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904, document the lives and work of Kohlberg and his wife Olga through correspondence and images.
Accession No.: 1932; 1935
Extent: 2.5 in.
Language: Materials are written in English and German.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Contents

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.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Kohlberg, Ernst, 1857-1910. -- Archives
Kohlberg family
Kohlberg, Olga -- Archives
Pennybacker, Anna J. Hardwicke, 1861-1938
Subjects (Organizations)
El Paso Women’s Club -- History -- 20th century
National Federation of Women’s Clubs -- History -- 20th century
Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas
German Americans -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
Gold mines and mining -- Mexico -- Aguascalientes (State)
Jews -- Texas -- History
Women -- Societies and clubs -- Texas -- History -- 20th century
El Paso (Tex.) -- History -- 19th century
Jesús María (Aguascalientes, Mexico) -- History -- 19th century

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ernst Kohlberg Papers, 1875-1904, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

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



2Q396 Letters of Ernst Kohlberg concerning his trip from Germany to the United States of America, 1875-1877
Letters from Ernst Kohlberg in Jesús María, Mexico, 1881
Letters from Olga Kohlberg to Anna Pennybacker, 1903-1904