Sanger, Fannie Fechenbach (1857–1898)

By: Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1995

Updated: February 16, 2019

Fannie Fechenbach Sanger, philanthropist and community leader, was born in W├╝rttemberg, Germany, in 1857. She immigrated to the United States in 1866 with her parents, and the family settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. While living in Cincinnati, Fannie met Alexander Sanger, a German immigrant. Sanger moved to Texas in 1872 to join his brothers in their growing chain of retail stores along the Houston and Texas Central Railway; the Fechenbach family moved to Dallas in 1876. Three years later, with Alexander and his brother Philip Sanger assured of the success of their Sanger Brothers in Dallas, Fannie and Alex were married. The couple had one son. As the wife of a prominent and prosperous merchant, Fannie Sanger became a member of the city's social and civic circles. She decorated her South Dallas mansion with European art and became a prominent art patron. She also devoted much time to charitable work and was a leading member in such organizations as the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Association, the Dallas Woman's Home, the King's Daughters, and the Allegro Club. She was active in the affairs of Temple Emanu-El, which her husband had helped organize soon after his arrival in Dallas. In the spring of 1898 she organized the Jahrmacht, a German-style fair that was held to raise money for construction of a second Temple Emanu-El building in downtown Dallas. The successful event raised $11,000, and ground for the new structure was broken the same year. After a subsequent summer in Europe, she returned to New York City to visit friends and relatives, became ill, and died there on November 1, 1898. More than 500 people gathered to meet her cortege at the train station in Dallas on November 4, and two days later a mile-long procession formed from the Sanger residence, where hundreds attended her funeral, to the Jewish Cemetery, where she was buried. Dallasites of various races, economic classes, and denominations, all of whom appreciated her generosity to their city and admired her elegant ways, mourned the sudden death of this prominent young woman. She was survived by her son and husband, as well as her brother, S. W. Fechenbach.

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Elizabeth Brooks, Prominent Women of Texas (Akron, Ohio: Werner, 1896). Henry Cohen, David Lefkowitz, and Ephraim Frisch, One Hundred Years of Jewry in Texas (Dallas: Jewish Advisory Committee, 1936). Dallas Morning News, November 2, 5, 7, 1898. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Sanger, Alexander). Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).

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

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Sanger, Fannie Fechenbach,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022,

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December 1, 1995
February 16, 2019

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