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Joske, Julius (1825–1909)

Diana J. Kleiner Biography Entry

Julius Joske, the founder of Joske's department store, once "the largest store in the largest state," was born in Birnbaum, East Prussia, in 1825, the son of Abraham and Rebecca Joske. His family later moved to Berlin. Julius emigrated from Germany to San Antonio in 1867 and established his first store on Military Plaza. He wanted to be near the supply depot that served military installations in Texas, Indian Territory, and Mexico. Before the railroads reached San Antonio, the store received its merchandise by freight from Indianola, Galveston, and Corpus Christi. For six years Joske accumulated money before selling the business and in 1873 returning to Germany to close his house there. He brought his wife, the former Henriette Wolfsohn, and five children to San Antonio later in the year and reestablished his business in a small adobe house on Austin Street. After Albert and Alexander Joske entered the firm, it was renamed J. Joske and Sons. Two years later Joske moved to Alamo Plaza across from the Menger Hotel site, and later to a larger site on the plaza. After his retirement in 1883 the firm came to be known as Joske Brothers, and in 1903 Alexander Joske purchased the interests of his father and brother. At the time Joske's featured fans, parasols, and corsets, in addition to military and outdoor equipment. Julius Joske died in 1909.

Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas, 4-vol. edition. Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).


  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
  • Jews

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Joske, Julius,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 06, 2021,

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April 27, 2019