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 NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
 North Manchester, Indiana

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N.M. Airport
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Oppenheim-125 Yrs
Peabody Retirement
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Source: Aurora (1910) Ad:

 IT PAYS TO TRADE at
B. OPPENHEIM & CO.'S
BIG DOUBLE STORE

Finest line of Clothing and Gent's Furnishing Goods in the city.
We sell the famous Hart Schaffner & Marx fine clothing.
We show the largest line of Ladies' ready-to-wear goods in Wabash county,.
Buy shoes of us and save money.
Leaders and Makers of Low Prices.


Source: Aurora (1912) Ad:

It Pays to Trade at
B. OPPENHEIM & CO.'S
Big Double Store

 Largest stock of Dry Goods, Clothing, Carpets, Rugs and Shoes in Wabash county.
Agents for Hart Schaffner & Marx and Clothcraft fine clothing.
Call and see when in the city. No trouble to show goods.

B. OPPENHEIM & CO.      North Manchester, Indiana


Source: Notarized Declaration, Wabash Co. Partnership & Firm Record, Book 1, p. 8:

February 21, 1921. Ben Oppenheim being duly sworn on oath says that he is the sole owner and proprietor and constitutes the sole member of a business conducted by him in the town of North Manchester, Wabash County, State of Indiana, in the name of B. Oppenheim & Company, and as such is engaged in the mercantile business of buying and selling dry goods, clothing, carpets and general merchandising. And that he further certifies that there is no other person connected with him in the conducting of said business who has a financial interest therein. That the only person having an interest in said business is Ben Oppenheim, North Manchester Indiana, and none other.


Source: Notarized Certificate of Partnership Engaged in Business, Wabash Co. Partnership & Firm Record, Book 1, p. 71, June 11, 1925:

Jean J. Oppenheim being duly sworn upon his oath says that B. Oppenheim and company is a firm and co-partnership engaged in the drygoods and clothing business, having its place of business at 122 East Main Street, North Manchester, Wabash county, and State of Indiana. That said partnership is composed of Ben Oppenheim and Jean J. Oppenheim who compose the members of said firm of B. Oppenheim and Company and none others. That Ben Oppenheim resides at 203 West Main Street, North Manchester, Indiana, and that Jean J. Oppenheim resides at 307 North Wayne Street, North Manchester, Indiana and the names herein given are the sole and only members constituting said firm of B. Oppenheim and Company.


Source: Aurora (1927) Ad:

B. OPPENHEIM & COMPANY

Oppenheim's is North Manchester's largest store. One-half of the store displays a complete stock of men's togs, and the other half ladies' apparel and dry goods. During 1926 the store celebrated its 50th anniversary. The quality of merchandise and the excellent treatment of customers are the magnetic forces of Oppenheim's business house. The large display windows in the front of the store are a recent improvement which add a great deal to its attractiveness.

The store was established in 1876 by J. Oppenheim and it has gradually grown in size until the present modern establishment has been attained. Oppenheim's have been consistent boosters of Aurora and of our school.


Source: Oak Leaves, September 18, 1947, Display Ad:

In North Manchester Since 1876
The Store for College Men and Women
Manchester's oldest store again extends a hearty welcome to old and new students. May your stay here this year be a most happy and memorable one.
Oppenheim's


Source: NMHS Newsletter  Aug 1985

ELEVEN DECADES GREAT!

 Phil Oppenheim, the present owner of the Oppenheim Department Store in North Manchester, is the great grandson of Jacob Oppenheim, who founded the business in 1875. This family-owned business is located in a community of 6,000 people in the heart of a farming area forty miles from Fort Wayne.

Jacob Oppenheim is the first Jew who settled in North Manchester. He was born in East Prussia, and came to America as a young man in 1870. Members of the family preceded him to America, and they settled in Detroit, Michigan. Shortly after his arrival in Detroit, Jacob became a peddler. In 1873, Jacob and Louis Jacobs formed a partnership and opened the New York Store in Paw Paw, Michigan. On January 8, 1875, the True Northerner of Paw Paw carried the following advertisement for the New York Store:

Piece goods, cloth cashmeres, coating, melton, cheviots, beaners, chinchillas, jeans, satines, etc.

The store also advertised:

Flannels, linseys, checks, felt goods, caps, hosiery, notions and the largest stock of men’s and boy’s ready made clothing ever brought to Van Buren County.

The partnership was dissolved in 1875. According to Phil Oppenheim, Jacob came to North Manchester in the same year with his share of the Paw Paw stock—worth about $500—and opened his own store, Oppenheim’s New York Cheap Store. Phil explained that the term “New York” implied the highest quality, while “Cheap” was synonymous with value. We found one article which mentions the fact that, when Jacob arrived in North Manchester, there were thirteen competitive dry goods stores already established, but “he chose his site and hung out his shingle.”

When Jacob Oppenheim started his business, he no doubt had many of the items listed in the advertisement quoted earlier. In addition to men’s, boys’, and ladies’ clothing, Jacob also sold groceries. As he prospered, Jacob purchased the building, which was subsequently enlarged as he added new lines. He later stopped selling groceries.

The Oppenheim store did cash and credit business, as was the practice of the local merchants. We examined the first ledger kept by Jacob, and it is interesting that he entered every sale written in Yiddish. With few exceptions, the entries show sales from 5¢ to $1.50. All of the early bills from suppliers were posted in a book. Records of credit to customers were kept in Yiddish until they were all written in English.

Ben Oppenheim Founded Telephone Company

The history of the business is inextricably tied up with the history of the Oppenheim family. When Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Oppenheim came to North Manchester, they brought with them one son, Ben, who was seven years old and who was born in Germany. Four other Oppenheim children—Ike, Fanny, Ida, and Etta—were born in North Manchester. In 1883, Jacob already had a successful business and erected a large home at 205 West Second Street. Unfortunately, he died in October of 1883, a month before the family moved in. Jacob was buried in Detroit, Michigan. His unmarried daughter, Fanny continued to live in the family home until she died in 1966.

When Jacob died, his oldest son, Ben, took over the management of the business. Later he was joined by his brother, Ike, who remained in the store until 1922. In addition to the store, the two brothers shared ownership in a local wholesale business. When Ike stepped out of the store, he became the sole owner of the wholesale business. Later Ike sold this business and became a manufacturer’s representative. Ike and his wife, Etta, had no children, and they lived in a large home a few blocks away from the house Jacob had built.

Ben continued to manage the business, which expanded. It developed into the largest department store in the area, with an excellent reputation. The store motto was, and still is, “…the best place to trade, after all.” For many years, Ben was also a wool merchant. In addition, he purchased many lots in the area for future development. In 1943, Ben was honored by the local Kiwanis Club, which presented him with the “Star Service Award” for service to the community. Ben was a founder of the North Manchester Telephone Company.

Ben was married to Nettie Kahn, who was born in Wabash, Indiana. They built a house and lived at 203 West Main Street. She was related to the Newberger family, prominent in the Wabash community. Meyer Newberger enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 15, 1863. He was one of the Indiana Civil War soldiers who died in Andersonville, Georgia on September 21, 1864. Nettie Kahn Oppenheim was a charter member of the North Manchester Women’s Club, organized in 1893. Ben Oppenheim died in 1950, and he and Mrs. Oppenheim are buried in the Rodef Sholem Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana.

Jean Oppenheim, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Oppenheim, was born in North Manchester in 1896. He attended a preparatory school in Chicago, and later was graduated from Columbia University in New York. His first job was with the banking firm of Abe Ackerman in Fort Wayne. In 1922, Jean entered the family business, with which he was associated until his death in 1949. Jean’s major civic interests involved the bringing of new industries to North Manchester.

The Oppenheims must have built solidly. Like many stores which built on a sound foundation, they survived the Depression of the 1930s and continued to grow and prosper.

Continuing with the family history, Jean and his wife, Valerie (who died in 1971), were the parents of a daughter, Barbara, born in 1922, who is the wife of a doctor, Albert B. Eisenstein, and son, Jay Philip, who was born in 1925. Phil was graduated from Notre Dame in 1948, and entered the family business. Since the death of his grandfather, Ben, in 1950, Phil has been the owner and manager of Oppenheim’s. The present store is a half block in depth and is located just across the alley and two buildings east of the original building which housed the family business. The sales space now occupies the ground floor and basement, with many departments. On the second floor are the business offices and stock rooms. The store continues to do business with some families who have been trading with Oppenheim’s for about one hundred years. A number of retired sales people of the store still live in North Manchester, and the store continues to enjoy a good reputation in the community. Phil is a supporter of many local causes. His wife is a member of the board of directors of an area hospital.

For many years, the Oppenheims were the only Jewish family in North Manchester. At one time, another Ben Oppenheim family moved to the community, but did not remain there for long. One other Jew, Jerome Greengard, came to North Manchester about twenty years ago, and he continues to own a ladies’ dress store on the main street across from the Oppenheim Department Store.

Members of the Oppenheim family had many friends among the German Jewish families in Fort Wayne, whom they entertained in their homes in North Manchester. Ike and his wife, Etta (who are buried in New York City), left the Oppenheim Foundation, whose chief beneficiaries are Manchester College in North Manchester and Achduth Vesholom Congregation in Fort Wayne.

In our research, we discovered that, between 1900 and 1967, twenty-four Oppenheims were buried in the Shearith Cemetery in Goshen, Indiana. Relatives of the North Manchester Oppenheims owned stores in the Indiana cities of Goshen and Milford, and in the Michigan cities of Detroit, Kalamazoo, Jackson, and Dowagiac. Maurice Oppenheim is the owner of the I. Oppenheim Clothing Store in Dowagiac, founded by his father in 1873.

The story of the Oppenheim family and store in North Manchester has not ended. Phil Oppenheim continues to run the business and maintain the excellent reputation earned over the years since Jacob opened his small store in 1875.


 Source: News-Journal, August 6, 1962

Oppenheim Store Interior Changes

Changes completed recently at the Oppenheim store affords merchandise retail space on the ground floor level from street to alley in both rooms, the west basement from street to alley, and the east basement from street well back to the alley. It is the completion of changes that have been in progress over a period of years. When the original store rooms were built, they extended only part way back to the alley. Along the alley a store room was built, that was used for storage of wool, back in the days when clothiers were the principal buyers of wool from farmers. In later years the room was used for storage. Under the west part of the storage room was a basement. Several years ago Phil Oppenheim had excavated the earth dividing the storage room basement and the west room basement, creating a basement from street to alley. This basement and the basement of the east room were converted into a drapery, rug and home furnishing department.

Recent changes included moving the stairway to the front of the west room, connecting the two basements, and conversion of the east basement into a Budget Shop.

The retail space of the east room at street level has been extended back to the alley, and an additional archway cut between the two rooms, well to the rear. The east room space to the rear has been converted into a children's wares department.

An additional improvement yet to be installed is the marquee across the front of both store rooms, replacing the awning now in use.