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Shwayder Family



The Shwayder family of Denver, Colorado is best known for what became the world-famous luggage company Samsonite Corporation, which was founded and operated by the Shwayder family. The Denver Shwayders can be traced to the Polish town of Suwalk and the Rittmaster and Rachofsky families. Abraham Rittmaster was the father of Joseph, Alexander and Dora. Alexander Rittmaster arrived in Central City, Colorado around 1860. He carried a large sack on his back with notions and dry goods up and down the mountains to supply the miners and their wives up at Blackhawk and Nevadaville. Moses Rachofsky married Dora Rittmaster and they raised sons Abraham, Levi, and Harry and daughter Miriam in Poland. Alexander Rittmaster prospered in Central City and in a few years opened a dry goods store there. He encouraged his nephew Abraham Rachofsky to come to Colorado and paid for his passage to New York. Abraham Rochofsky landed in New York in 1865 and earned enough money to relocate to Central City. Abraham took over the job of taking the sack of notions and supplies up and down the mountain sides. Alexander Rittmaster became wealthy and he and his family went back to New York. He sold the store and business to Abe Rachofsky who sent for his brothers Levi and Harry to help run the business in Central City. Miriam Rachofsky married Abraham Kobesky in Poland and settled Manchester, England around 1871 with children Rachel, Betsy, Mark, and David. Their sons Harris and Ben were born in Manchester and the last name was shortened to Kobey. Their daughter Rachel Kobey married Isaac Shwayder, who had also migrated to Manchester from Eastern Europe. Rachel and Isaac Shwayder had 11 children: Solomon, Dora, Jesse, Raschelle, Mark, Gertrude, Florence, Maurice, Hannah, Benjamin, and Liebe. Rachel Shwayder’s uncle, Abraham Rachofsky, encouraged and helped finance her husband’s emigration to Colorado. Isaac Shwayder first came to Central City, Colorado in 1879 and took over carrying the sack of supplies up and down the mountains. After two years, the rest of his family joined him in Black Hawk, Colorado. In 1888 they settled in Denver, where Isaac Shwayder owned a grocery store and later started a second-hand furniture business. The Shwayder children Franklin School and West High School in Denver and were musical. Solomon Shwayder, the oldest brother, was awarded a scholarship to the University of Denver and later graduated top of his class at DU law school. In 1910, Jesse Shwayder opened a small luggage factory in Denver with his father, Isaac, and brothers, Mark, Maurice, Benjamin, and Solomon. The business became incorporated as the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company in 1912, and it eventually changed its name to Samsonite Corporation.

Found in 17 Collections and/or Records:

Box 1, circa 1880-2006

 File — Box B101.01.0001: Series B433.07 [Barcode: U186020739750]
Identifier: B101.01.0001

Box 3, 1922

 File — Object B433.07.0003: Series B433.07 [Barcode: U186020739776]
Identifier: B101.07.0003

Family of Jessie and Nellie Shwayder, circa 1922

Identifier: B063.05.0041.00083

Jesse and Nellie Shwayder sit for a family portrait surrounded by their five children. All members of the family are looking at Norma, the baby, who sits center on Jesse's lap and is the only individual looking at the camera. The other children are, left to right, Dorothy, Fay, King, and Ruth.

Dates: circa 1922

Family Trees and Charts, Between 1970-2007

Identifier: B433.01.0001.0001

File contains trees and charts of the four families, Moses Rachovsky, Ancestors of Jessie L Shwayder Harsham, Shwayder Relationship Diagram, Descendants of Abraham and Miriam Rachovsky Kobey (prepared by Judy Kunreuther, descendant of Harry and Hannah Shwayder Berry), and family sources.

Dates: Between 1970-2007

Hannah Shwayder Berry, circa 1912

Identifier: B100.03.0001.0003.00001

Hannah Shwayder Berry poses for a formal portrait in Denver, Colorado.

Dates: circa 1912

Isaac Shwayder Family, circa 1905

Identifier: B063.05.0041.00085

Isaac and Rachel Shwayder sit for a formal family portrait surrounded by their ten children: Sol, Jesse, Rachel, Mark, Gertrude, Florence, Maurice, Hannah, Ben and Liebe.

Dates: circa 1905

Oral History Interview with Hannah Shwayder Berry, 1981 March 1

Identifier: B098.01.0004.00084

Major subjects covered in the interview include the Shwayder and Kobey (originally Kobersky) families, immigrating to Colorado from Poland, Hannah Shwayder Berry’s grandmother Miriam "Mary" Kobey (a Denver midwife nicknamed the “Angel of Mercy”) and refers to book “The Tale of the Little Trunk”; a copy of the book can be found in the Beck Archives.

Dates: 1981 March 1

Shwayder Family, 1938 March 17

Identifier: B063.05.0013.00026

Rachel Kobey Shwayder sits center left surrounded by her family on her 80th birthday celebration. The Shwayder family pose on a stairway at the Green Gables Country Club.

Dates: 1938 March 17

Shwayder Family, 1938 June 30

Identifier: B063.05.0021.00006

The Shwayder family pose on a stairway at the Green Gables Country Club during Rachel Shwayder's 80th birthday celebration.

Dates: 1938 June 30

Shwayder Family, between 1960-1970

Identifier: B063.05.0041.00082

Three generations of the Shwayder family pose together on steps.

Dates: between 1960-1970

Additional filters:

Archival Object 15
Collection 2
Denver (Colo.) 10
Photographs 8
Colorado 7
Jewish women 6
Jewish children 4