- Dennis Wepman
Strauss, Levi (26 February 1829–26 September 1902), clothing manufacturer, was born Loeb Strauss in Buttenheim, Bavaria (now in Germany), the son of Hirsch Strauss, a dry goods peddler, and Rebecca Haas. His father died in 1845, and two years later Strauss immigrated with his mother and three sisters to the United States, where they joined his two older half brothers, Jonas Strauss and Louis Strauss, in New York City. Changing his name to the more pronounceable Levi, the young man began at once to travel with his brothers, peddling notions and dry goods, such as needles, thread, scissors, buttons, combs, ribbons, and bolts of cloth. Jonas Strauss prospered in this trade sufficiently to open a small retail shop in 1848, and three years later Louis became his partner. Soon after the store opened, Levi Strauss moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he lived with a relative and continued the life of an itinerant peddler, selling goods from his brother’s New York store. His sister Fanny Strauss married David Stern, a dry goods peddler from the Midwest, around 1850, and the couple went to San Francisco, California, drawn by the city’s gold-boom economy. Stern established a modest dry goods business and invited Levi to join him....