Collection: Jon Walter
Jewish Merchants in Walnut Ridge
The history of early Walnut Ridge businesses is full of Jewish ancestry. Most of the Jewish merchants that settled in this area in the 1800’s started as foot merchants, who delivered their wares from town to town and rural areas.
Many of the first businesses in Walnut Ridge were owned by Jews, including Isaac Less, Arthur Riegler, Marcus Berger, Sam Levitt, Jacob Reinach, and Gus Neustadler.
The building in this picture is one example of a store established by Jewish Merchants in Walnut Ridge. Bloom’s Department Store, started by three brothers – David, Dolph, and Charles Bloom. According to the book “A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas”, by Carolyn Gray LeMaster, Bloom’s Department Store grew to be one of the largest in North East Arkansas by 1919.
Bloom’s Department Store burned to the ground in November, 1930. Most locals would know this spot on Main Street as Van-Atkins today.
I have not been able to pinpoint the exact date on this picture, but can guess that it is between 1908 and 1914 based on the buildings present and the style of the postcard. The streets are dirt, and you can see a litter of pigs walking in front of the building. The streetcar is visible on the far left.