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Levi Strauss
Birth: Feb. 26, 1829
Death: Sep. 26, 1902

German-American clothier, best known for inventing of the quintessential American garment - the blue jean. He was born Loeb Strauss in Buttenheim, Bavaria (now Germany) on February 26, 1829, the youngest son of a Jewish dry goods peddler. In 1847, two years after his father’s death, Loeb immigrated to New York with his three sisters. There, they were met by his older brothers Jonas and Louis, who had already made the journey and had started a dry-goods business, called “J. Strauss Brothers & Co.” Young Loeb soon began to learn the trade himself, and by 1850 he had Americanized his name to “Levi.” Upon learning of the California Gold Rush, Levi decided to emigrate to San Francisco to make his fortune: not by panning gold, but by selling supplies to the throngs of miners who arrived daily in the big city to outfit themselves before heading off to the gold fields. In January of 1853 he became an American citizen, and in March he arrived in San Francisco, establishing a dry-goods business under his own name and also serving as the West Coast representative of the family’s New York firm. He soon sold all his trade goods except a roll of canvas. Levi saw his opportunity when he learned that "up in the diggings," where the miners worked, pants wore out very quickly. So Strauss made some pairs of riveted canvas trousers to sell to miners. More and more miners were coming to Strauss and asking him for a pair of those canvas trousers. Not entirely happy with canvas, Levi started using denim, a new cotton fabric from Genoa, Italy. The weavers there called the fabric "genes.” Strauss changed the name to "jeans" and later he called his pants "Levi’s". Whatever the name, Levi’s new pants were hugely popular with cowboys as well as miners. By 1866 Levi had moved his growing firm to spacious quarters at 14-16 Battery Street, where it remained for the next forty years, the Eastern sales office remained with Jonas Strauss in New York. In his mid-thirties, Levi was already a well-known figure around the city. He was active in the business and cultural life of San Francisco, and actively supported the Jewish community. Despite his stature as an important businessman and community leader, he insisted that his employees call him Levi, and not Mr. Strauss. He knew that demand would be great for these riveted "waist overalls" (the old name for jeans), so Levi brought Jacob Davis to San Francisco to oversee the first West Coast manufacturing facility. Initially, Davis supervised the cutting of the blue denim material and its delivery to individual seamstresses who worked out of their homes. But the demand for overalls made it impossible to maintain this system, and factories on Fremont and Market Streets were opened. As the end of the 19th century approached, Levi stepped back from the day-to-day workings of the business, leaving it to his nephews. In 1890 - the year that the lot number "501" was first used to designate the denim waist overalls - Levi and his nephews officially incorporated the company, though by this time he had begun to concentrate on other business and philanthropic pursuits. During the week of September 22, 1902 Levi began to complain of ill health and he died on September 26, 1902. Levi's estate amounted to nearly $6 million, the bulk of which was left to his four nephews and other family members. (bio by: Edward Parsons) 
 
Burial:
Home of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum
Colma
San Mateo County
California, USA
GPS (lat/lon): 37.6767, -122.45493
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 1608
Levi Strauss
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Levi Strauss
Added by: Jeffrey A. Mack
 
Levi Strauss
Added by: Jeffrey A. Mack
 
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