The story of Julius Goldbaum and the origins of his early liquor company in Tucson, AT
Born in Colorado 15 years before it became a state, his father murdered and scalped by Geronimo’s Indians, Julius Goldbaum, was accounted as a pioneer in Arizona with a reputation for providing strong drink to the denizens of Tucson and vicinity.
Before Julius, there was Marcus Goldbaum, born in Prussia in 1835. With wife, Sara, in the mid-1850s, he emigrated to America, settling in Denver, Colorado. There, the second of seven children, Julius was born in 1861. Trained in the butcher’s trade, Marcus in 1869 moved his growing family to Tucson where he set up the Pioneer Butcher Shop. Tucson and all of what is now Arizona had been part of the New Mexico Territory until 1863, when Congress created the new Arizona Territory. From 1867 to 1877, Tucson was the capital and the population was growing. In an ad Marcus in fractured English told townsfolk his shop was “ready to supply all customers with as good beef at as low rates as can be done elsewhere in town.”
Tucson’s growth apparently was too slow for Marcus because he soon moved his butcher shop 80 miles north to Florence, Arizona, a newly created town on the banks of the Gila River. The fertile land there was expected to draw farmers to the area. Apparently not fast enough for Marcus. After a brief stay in Florence, in 1870 he moved his shop again 130 miles north to Wickenburg, Arizona, where he subsequently was elected justice of the peace.
Ever restless, by the early 1880s Marcus had moved again, this time to Benson, Arizona, a rail terminal about 45 miles south of Tucson. Now he had expanded beyond butchering to dealing in beer and liquor. He also advertised making his own carbonated beverages and running a restaurant serving meals “in private rooms, day or night,” suggesting libidinous activities. Still Marcus was not content. Catching gold fever, he turned over operating the businesses to his wife and set out prospecting in the nearby Whetstone Mountains.
As one writer has observed: “It was a bad idea.” Geronimo’s Apaches were on the warpath. They raided Marcus’s mountain cabin, killed him, ransacked the place and took what they wanted. A cavalry patrol found him days later but did not immediately recognize that the prospector was Marcus Goldbaum because he had been scalped. A etching by the famous Western artist, Frederic Remington, in the book “On the Bloody Trail of Geronimo,” caught the scene. The dead man was only 51.
Julius was 25 and living in Tucson when his father was killed. He had moved there from Colorado in 1877, working as a bartender at the Park Saloon and subsequently at the Gem Saloon, owned by his uncle Isador. Several years later Goldbaum moved to open his own establishment. The Arizona Daily Citizen reported that in 1885 he had purchased a saloon on Church Plaza. He called it “Jule’s Club Saloon” where he sold beer, liquor, cigars and other smoking materials. Within eight months he relocated his establishment to Congress Street “…on account of his thorough knowledge of the business, with courteous treatment of his patrons, such a business was established that he found his location too small to do justice to a steadily increasing trade,” said the newspaper.
Meanwhile Julius was having a personal life. In October 1889, he married Jennie A. Konigshofer at the home of her parents in Alameda, California. How the two met is not on the record. The daughter of a prominent Alameda businessman, she was 20 and Julius was 28. He brought her back to Tucson to a combination store and residence he called Julius Goldbaum Co.
The couple would have three children, Martha, Harold and Sara. In addition to being hailed as a mother, Jennie proved to have been an asset to Julius in running his businesses. She actively assisted with the work and when Goldbaum formally incorporated in 1899, she was made a member of the board.
In addition to his business acumen, Goldbaum had a sense of design that translated into the styling of his liquor bottles and labels. He was not a distiller but a “rectifier,” that is, mixing and blending raw whiskeys obtained by rail from distillers in Kentucky and elsewhere in the East, and selling the results as his own proprietary brands. Among them were “Old Hoss Pony Whiskey,” “Three Star Bourbon,” “Jule’s Bourbon,” “Liberty Bell Bourbon, and “Jule’s Diamond Monogram.” Examples of bottles and labels are shown throughout this post.
Goldbaum also was responsible for an iconic “back-of-the-bar” bottle, a quart-sized container that is highly sought by collectors. Shown here it advertised “Jule’s (Six Stars) Bourbon. It is particularly notable for its rich amber color, with the enameled stars and lettering blending perfectly into the gold decor. One observer has called the bottle “a magnificent display of craftsmanship and art” adding: “Some back bar collectors will view this example as possibly the finest back bar bottle in existence.” One recently sold for $22,000 plus the 15% auction house premium.
In Tucson Goldbaum’s gained a reputation for being highly literate. Not only was he able to write eloquently in English, he also was able to read and write in both Spanish and German, the latter likely taught him by his parents. He was well established in Tucson after two decades of residence there, having early joined the town’s volunteer fire department, an avocation that could be a means of upward social mobility.
After attaining memberships in several local fraternal groups and helping organize a building and loan organization, Goldbaum was elected to the Tucson City Council in 1890. The Arizona Daily Citizen wrote that “the clear-headedness which has always distinguished him renders him eminently fit to do justice to the progress of our city in the administration of its affairs.”
Julius’ business activities also were singled out for praise in an 1891 book that focussed on business men and firms “Who Have Made the Territory.” Of Goldbaum, it enthused: “He started his business in 1886, and by careful attention to his patrons and close application to his business, it has increased until now it ranks as the first of its particular kind in the city. Mr. Goldbaum is also very much interested in public affairs and, having a genial, courteous and affable manner, his friends are legion.”
Over time, Goldbaum’s mercantile endeavors expanded to selling German gourmet foods and a variety of cheeses. He also became the area distributor for Pabst beer from Milwaukee, Anheuser Busch beer of St. Louis, Mescal Baganora liquor and Los Dos Naciones All-Mexican Tobacco Cigars. In the late 1890’s, he bought the Café Richelieu, an upscale local restaurant. He also was selling products all across Southern Arizona, and even into northern Mexico, using a cadre of traveling salesmen, including several of his brothers. Customers included mining camps and individual merchants.
Eventually this expansion brought down Julius Goldbaum & Co. The economy of many Arizona towns was dependent upon mining. As gold, silver and mineral strikes waxed and waned, local merchants either prospered or went broke. Known for his generous spirit, Julius provided many of his goods on credit. Beginning in 1902, his salesmen had trouble collecting outstanding debts as mining camps closed and settlements increasingly were becoming ghost towns.
By 1903, Goldbaum was forced into bankruptcy, an event that clearly was highly painful to him. In his papers, now with the Arizona Historical Society, is an undated scrap on which he had written his thoughts: “Will I be compelled to quit? I guess I will, but wait a while, have made a world of acquaintances during 20 years, would like to bid them good bye.” Although Julius Goldbaum, Inc. was defunct, the Arizona entrepreneur remained in Tucson for about five years selling real estate and operating the Cafe Richelieu. As a sign of the townspeople’s continued faith in him, he was offered and took an active role in running the Tucson Grocery Company.
In 1808, after his “long goodbye,” Julius joined Jennie in retiring back to her home town and family members in California. The 1910 census found the couple residing at 2141 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, next door to the Konigshofer ancestral home where lived her brother, a prominent local business man. Their unmarried daughter, Sarah, was with the couple. Asked about his occupation, Goldbaum told the census taker, “none.” He was, however, very active in the Alameda Elks Club and investing in California real estate.
In 1927 Julius Goldbaum at the age of 66 died at home after what the local paper said was a brief illness. His funeral services and interment were private and I have been unable to find his final resting place. By that time all of his immediate family had left Arizona. Goldbaum’s papers, however, are in a repository at the Arizona State Historical Society. Those documents provide a wealth of information for historians on how a pioneer entrepreneur and whiskey man conducted business in the old West.”
Additional Notes: Julius Goldbaum Inc was located where Old Artisans is now in the Presidio District (Tucson, AZ)