(By Our Salt Lake City Correspondent, Fred L. W. Bennett)
Simon Bamberger, one of the most distinguished figures in Utah and the leading Jewish citizen of the state, died yesterday at the age of 81. He had the triple distinction of being the first Jewish, the first non-Mormon and the first Democratic governor of Utah, as well as of having served as chief executive of the state during the war.
He was born in Darmstadt, Germany, on Feb. 27, 1845, and in his early years he was taught by his father, who participated in the German revolution under the leadership of Carl Schurz, the principles if liberty and equality. At the age of 14 years, he sought the opportunities of the new world, joining a brother, Herman Bamberger, who had previously crossed the Atlantic. He was entirely unacquainted with the English language and his education was only that of common school training. He made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, and the necessity of providing immediately for his own support caused him to accept temporary employment in a bowling alley. While thus engaged he utilized every available hour to study the English language by means of such school books as were available and the newspapers. He was for a brief time at Muncie, Ind., which was followed by the period of his residence in Cincinnati, and then he went to Terre Haute, Ind., and afterward to Indianapolis.
For a number of years young Bamberger shifted about from place to place in the states of Ohio, Missouri and Wyoming, engaging in various enterprises, such as retail and wholesale stores, trading posts and small banking business.
Eventually Mr. Bamberger settled in Salt Lake City, where he became interested in hotel ownership and in mining, and in his long and arduous trips through the Utah mountains he was successful in locating various profitable mining claims, which, in the course of years, constituted the basis of the major source of his wealth. He also built a small railroad to a coal field in southern Utah, and in later years he was the builder of an electric interurban line between Salt Lake and Ogden, which was one of his most successful enterprises. His life was the tangible expression of the belief of William Howard Taft that after a man has accumulated a sufficient capital to provide for his family, his life should be devoted to public service.
Mr. Bamberger was first called to public office when he was made a member of the Salt Lake board of education, on which he served for several years. His course in that connection was most progressive. He advocated higher salaries for school teachers, and there is no man in Utah who displayed more practical friendship toward the teachers and the interests of the schools. He was afterward elected to the state senate of Utah, and in 1916 was chosen by popular suffrage to the office of chief executive of the state.
That Mr. Bamberger was a most charitable man is known through the testimony of hundreds whom he helped, and yet his giving was of a most unostentatious character. It won him, however, the appreciation and gratitude of many whom he had befriended.
Throughout his life Mr. Bamberger was a loyal Jew. He participated in Jewish activities and was a member of the B’nai B’rith and other Jewish organizations.
The citizenship classes of the League for American Citizenship were opened last night at its downtown headquarters, 123 Second Avenue, New York, with a large number in attendance. There were present Italians, Jews, Hungarians, Russians, Greeks and Czecho-Slovaks. An address of welcome was made to the students by Harold Fields, Executive Director of the League, welcoming them to the classes and inviting them to partake of the many benefits that are to be gained in this work.
The citizenship class sessions of the League are held at the Downtown Headquarters at 123 Second Avenue. The classes are primarily intended for those who desire to secure their citizenship papers this year.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.