Sanger, Isaac (1836–1918)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: December 3, 2020

Isaac Sanger, merchant and first of the Sanger Brothers, the son of Elias and Barbetta (Mandelbaum Heller) Sanger, was born in Obernbreit am Main, Germany, in 1836. He spent his early years working with his family at everything from wine making to weaving and selling at neighborhood fairs. At age thirteen he apprenticed in a dry-goods house. The first brothers were sent to America as each reached sixteen. In 1852, after a voyage of more than a month, Isaac arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, to live with and work for his mother's brother, Jacob Heller. A few years later his brother Lehman joined him, and then brother Philip arrived. Isaac moved to Texas in 1857 via New Orleans and Houston. He and a Mr. Baum opened Baum and Sanger on the edge of the wilderness, in McKinney, thirty-five miles north of Dallas. When Lehman came to Texas the Sanger brothers and Baum moved to Weatherford, sixty miles west of Dallas on the frontier, where they encountered anti-Semitic prejudice. When the Civil War broke out the brothers joined the Confederate forces. At the end of the war, almost destitute, they returned to Texas, and Isaac was elected or appointed district clerk of Parker County. They started a store in Millican, with Morris Lasker as a partner. Lasker moved on to Galveston, where he later became a civic leader. A yellow fever epidemic subsequently caused the Sangers to close their Millican store and move to Bryan. In the 1860s they followed the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, opening stores through north central Texas. They branched south to Waco, north to Sherman, and west to Fort Worth, and even built a store in the Panhandle town of Clarendon. Isaac spent most of his time on the road at auction sales in New Orleans and later deserted the Texas frontier in order to man the company's New York buying office for fifty years. The Sanger brothers were respected throughout Texas by the time the railroad reached Dallas in 1872. There they established their headquarters. By the turn of the century Sanger Brothers had become the largest dry-goods company west of the Mississippi. In addition to their retail stores, the brothers established a wholesale business second in importance only to Marshall Field's in Chicago. Isaac Sanger died in New York on January 17, 1918.

Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Leon Joseph Rosenberg, Sangers': Pioneer Texas Merchants (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1978).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
  • Jews
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Natalie Ornish, “Sanger, Isaac,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

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July 1, 1995
December 3, 2020

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