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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Goldstein

by Robert Goldstein
UID=867


The Goldstein family history started as many others did in Europe. The grandfather, Rueben, was born in Russia in approximately 1831, and the grandmother, Anna, was born in Germany. They met in Europe and were married, and their first child Charles was born in England in 1869. The rest of their eight children were born in Canada and the United States. Of the children that survived there were three boys - Charles, Isadore and William and five daughters - Molly, Minnie, Flora, Ester and Belle. Rueben was by trade a furrier and worked for many companies, including the Hudson Bay Company. He also was into many other lines of work, such as, having property that he developed into agriculture and also into a fish saltry, which will be discussed a little later. He also ran various small stores and was in mining and related fields when he was in Alaska.

He left Europe and came to Canada and lived in various locations, including Montreal and Winnipeg, Manitoba. He left Canada and came then to the United States and lived on the Sacramento River in California in a town called RioVista where as noted he had a fish saltry. Regretfully, it failed; so he went to San Francisco where he again worked in the fur business. After that it was on to Seattle and then to Juneau in approximately 1883. He had a trading post on what is now South Franklin Street with a store on the ground floor with the living quarters above. He lived there until his death about 1900. Both he and Anna, who died about 1910, are buried in Seattle. Their son William, who was killed in a hunting accident, is also buried there. It was noted that at one time, Rueben filed a mining claim on twenty acres in what was then almost the entire town site of Juneau. At one time, in both his name and Annaís, their claim was approved. However, the claim was appealed, and it eventually went to a court in San Francisco under the name of Behrends vs. Anna Goldstein; and at that point the family lost the case and the town site of Juneau reverted to the people that had had it prior to the suit.

The children lived in various other locations. Charles, Isadore, Minnie and Belle all stayed in Juneau. Molly married and lived in Seattle. Flora also married and lived in Southern California, and Ester went to the eastern part of the United States after her marriage. Of the ones who stayed in Juneau, Charles was in the fur business, and for many years flew to various parts of the Interior on fur buying trips. The furs would be brought back to Juneau and sold or sent down to other locations and manufactured into garments and returned to their store in Juneau. In approximately 1914, he built the Goldstein building in the main part of town where the building was occupied as offices, apartments and at one time the Territorial Legislature met in the building. In February 1939, at the height of the Taku wind, the building caught fire, and the interior was totally destroyed. It was not rebuilt until the middle of the 1940ís, and still stands in its present location.

Belle married Dr. Robert Simpson, whom she met on a trip to Iditarod, and she returned to Juneau with her new husband. He was an optometrist, and they operated the Nugget Shop on lower South Franklin Street. They eventually built the Simpson Building which is across from the Goldstein Building, where she operated the Nugget Shop with various offices upstairs, until her death. Minnie, also stayed in Juneau, and was employed by her sister in the Nugget Shop until her death. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Isadore eventually went into the business, which had been founded by his mother and father, changing the name to A. Goldstein. It was a fishing and general store. At one point about 1910, he went to Iditarod searching for gold and was there for several years, while the store was still operated. Regretfully, the gold rush and Iditarod were not too successful, and he returned to Juneau and went back into the fishing supply business. In 1917, the time of World War I, he joined the Army and went to France until 1919. After his discharge, he again returned to Juneau. He was on the city council for several years, and in the1930ís he became Mayor for several years.

Juneau was going through many changes at that particular point, and his tenure as Mayor involved the building of the Juneau-Douglas Bridge and the general strike at the Alaska Juneau Mine. The strike turned violent with a riot in downtown Juneau, which divided the town for many years. After that episode he then retired as Mayor and stayed in his own line of work. Due to his health, he was forced to close the store; and he and his wife, Carol, moved to San Francisco. He died in 1959, and he and his wife are buried in a suburb of San Francisco.

The family was very active in the affairs of the city and many fraternal organizations. They always felt very strongly that Juneau was their home, and they were very proud that they had the privilege of living here.