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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 2 Collections and/or Records:

Shwayder Family Papers and Samsonite Corporation Records

Identifier: B245
Overview The Shwayder family of Denver, Colorado, is best known for the luggage company Samsonite Corporation, which the family founded and operated. Isaac and Rachel Shwayder had migrated from Manchester, England to Colorado in 1881 and eventually settled in Denver. In 1910 their son, Jesse Shwayder, opened a small luggage factory in Denver with his father along with his brothers Mark, Maurice, Benjamin, and Solomon Shwayder. The company started as Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, was later...
Dates: 1896-2002

Ted and Jessie Shwayder Harsham Photograph Collection

Identifier: B101
Overview Jessie Shwayder Harsham (named after her grandfather) is a descendant of the Shwayder family, one of the first Jewish families to settle in Colorado. Her husband, Ted E. Harsham, digitized many of the extended family photographs. The first member of the extended family, Abraham Rittmaster, arrived in Colorado in the early 1860s and encouraged other family members, including the Rachofskys, Kobeys, and Shwayders to join him in his successful dry goods enterprise in Central City, Colorado. Some...
Dates: 1880-2006