Kruger, Sam (1882–1952)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Updated: May 27, 2016

Sam Kruger, jeweler, one of five children of Herschel and Bayta Krugerman, was born on May 1, 1882, in Schershov, Ukraine. Herschel Kruger, a Jewish shingle-maker, lived in extreme poverty. As a teenager, Sam Kruger went to Odessa, Ukraine, on the Black Sea, and worked as a watchmaker. His ultimate destination lay in the United States, though, where he founded Kruger Jewelry Company, the forerunner of the Zale Jewelry Corporation. When Sam was eighteen, he and his brother moved from Odessa to a nearby town and started a small jewelry business. They immigrated to the United States in 1904, arriving in New York, then around 1907 moved to Fort Worth, Texas. There Kruger met Fania Feldman, who had immigrated through Galveston from Sevastopol. They were married on March 24, 1912, and had two children. Kruger and his brother Julius named their original Fort Worth jewelry store Kruger Brothers Jewelry. Julius eventually moved to Bisbee, Arizona, and Kruger brought his other relatives from Ukraine to New York and Fort Worth, where he trained them in the jewelry business. His sister, Leeba, married into the Zale family (then using their original name Zalefsky), and her sons, Morris and William, joined the Kruger jewelry business. In 1912 they moved to Wichita Falls and opened the Kruger Jewelry Company. In 1926, when Morris Zale was in his twenties, he thought of starting a credit jewelry store, and Kruger gave his nephew the resources to open what became the first Zale Jewelry Store. Kruger's mother, whom he could not bring out of Ukraine, died of starvation. His wife, Fania Kruger, became a well-known poet. Kruger died in Wichita Falls on November 21, 1952, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin.

Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


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

Natalie Ornish, “Kruger, Sam,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 25, 2021,

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February 1, 1995
May 27, 2016