Scope and Contents
Correspondence, photographs, news clippings, citizenship paperwork, a confirmation certificate, a book on the history of Temple Israel, guides to Jewish cemeteries in the area, and an oral history document the lives of members of the Schwartz and Stein families within the Schulenburg area's Jewish community and the history of, and events at, Temple Israel from 1925-2020. Of particular interest is the "History of Temple Israel" which not only delivers the history of the founding of the synagogue, but also gives background on many of its members -- including some genealogy information -- and descriptions of the surrounding communities.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Schwartz/Stein Family [Schulenburg] papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.
Biographical / Historical
In 1887, brothers Max and Julius Schwartz opened a mule and horse barn in Schulenburg. They became one of the largest dealers in horses and mules in the Southwest, and remained in business for forty-two years. Both brothers were very involved civically in Schulenburg. Max Schwartz served on the City Council for many years and was a deputy sheriff. Julius Schwartz was president and longtime board member of the First National Bank of Schulenburg.
Helen Strauss was born in Chicago, Illinois, 20 December 1881 to Simon and Caroline (Nathan) Strauss. Helen grew up in Chicago and she and Julius were married there in 1902. Julius Schwartz died in 1943 and Helen died in 1968.
Hirsh Nathan Schwartz was born in Schulenburg, Texas, to Julius and Helen Schwartz, 12 March 1909. Hirsh lived in, and attended, high school in Galveston while his family remained in Schulenburg. While living in Galveston, Hirsh attended B'nai Israel where he was confirmed on 29 May 1925, by Rabbi Henry Cohen. After graduating from Ball High School he attended the University of Texas at Austin where he was a member of Phi Sigma Delta and received a letterman sweater for track. He received his law degree from UT in 1932.
Hirsh Schwartz and Felice Marks were married in 1933. The couple had three daughters: Jean Marie (1934), Phyllis Helen (1937), and Paula (1954). Paula married Richard Stein in 1975.
Hirsh was drafted in July 1943, and served as an officer in the United States Navy during World War II.
Hirsh was an attorney and banker who became one of Schulenburg’s most prominent citizens. He served as president or vice-president of the local Chamber of Commerce for twelve years, receiving their Outstanding Citizenship Award in 1955. Schwartz was also president of the First National Bank, and helped found a local industrial foundation that sought to bring industry to Schulenburg. Schwartz capped off this long civic career by serving as mayor of Schulenburg from 1964 until his death in 1981.
Mr. Schwartz died in Puerto Rico, 9 June 1981, and Felice died 11 November 2002. Both are buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Hallettsville, Lavaca County, Texas.
History of Temple Israel: In 1904, the Jews of Schulenburg and the surrounding towns decided to establish a formal congregation. To raise money for the fledgling group, members decided to auction off the naming rights of the congregation. Coleman Asher, a seventy-year-old widower who owned a grocery store in Hallettsville, made the winning bid and named the congregation “Beth Asher” after himself. Not much is known about the forty-year history of Beth Asher congregation. For many years, the group met in a rented room on the ground floor of the Odd Fellows Hall in Hallettsville.
In 1945, the Jews of the Tri-County area decided to reorganize the congregation with a new name and constitution. They based their new bylaws and constitution on those of the Reform Congregation Emanu-El in Houston. The members chose the name Temple Israel, and its first meeting was held in Hallettsville. The congregation had members in Columbus, Schulenburg, Edna, Cuero, La Grange, Weimar and Flatonia. In December, 1946, the congregation began to discuss building the first synagogue in the Tri-County area. The Odd Fellows Lodge in Hallettsville, where the congregation had been meeting, decided to move, further prompting Temple Israel to build a home of their own. The first question was where to build it since the members of Temple Israel were scattered in eight different towns. Congregation members voted overwhelmingly to build the synagogue in Schulenburg, since it was the geographic center of the region. Hirsh Schwartz was president of the congregation at the time, and he and his sister, Amy, donated land in Schulenburg for the new building. Schwartz also led the fundraising effort, which collected money from local gentiles as well as Jews in other cities. In 1951, Temple Israel dedicated its first synagogue building on Baumgarten Street in Schulenburg, using the same Torah that had belonged to Beth Asher in Hallettsville. Clergy from three different Houston congregations participated in the event. Rabbi Robert Kahn of Temple Emanu-El led the dedication service and gave the keynote address. Cantor George Wagner of Congregation Beth Yeshurun sang and Rabbi Robert Schur of Congregation Beth Israel gave the closing prayer. Oscar Brown, the mayor of Schulenburg, took part in the ceremony as did the pastor of the First Baptist Church. The congregation was now Reform, using an organ during services and using student rabbis from Hebrew Union College for the High Holidays.
Excerpted from: https://txjhs.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/07/TJHSJuly2016.pdf