In 1793, a fur trader named Jacob Franks built an outpost in the tiny settlement of Green Bay. Franks established business and personal relationships with the Native American residents, commencing more than 200 years of Wisconsin Jewish history.
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Alfred Sumberg, Ph.D., recalls a 1955 visit to Hurley, a town known for alcohol and prostitutes, as part of his studies of Wisconsin Jewish history. He called a Jewish merchant, who said he could meet Sumberg in the afternoon. Sumberg visited the courthouse in the morning, where he nearly collided with a man in the hallway. That afternoon, Sumberg visited the store and realized that the man in the courthouse was the merchant, who had been in court on charges of operating a bordello.
Sumberg remembers that "Sort of in a period of confession, [the merchant] said, 'I'm in business here a long time, and you probably don't know the kind of business I'm in. The Jewish community thinks I'm terrible, yet I'm active in the synagogue, so they can't care too much."