About Julius Ochs
When Lazarus Ochsenhorn died in 1840, his oldest son became the head of the family, as was the custom, and promptly ordered his sibling, Julius, to abandon his studies and apprentice himself to a bookbinder.
Finding the life of a tradesman dull, and the laws restricting work and marriage for Jews oppressive, Julius emigrated to America in 1845, joining several older siblings in Louisville, Kentucky.
With his command of English, he had hoped to reenter college, but his family again dissuaded him; using the shortened name of Ochs, he compliantly followed the path of so many of the German Jewish immigrants who fled to America about the time of the revolutions of 1848: he became an itinerant peddler.
Before the Civil War Julius wandered widely throughout the South, taking a variety of jobs: a teacher in a small Kentucky girls' school, a watch merchant in Cincinnati, and a clerk in his brother's Louisville dry goods store.
Because of his religious training and fluency in Hebrew, he was often called upon to conduct services for the tiny Jewish congregations in the communities where he lived. Soon he assumed the position of lay rabbi.
In 1855 Julius married Bertha Levy, the plain-faced daughter of a merchant and tailor from Landau, Bavaria. Bertha was as determined and inflexible as Julius was dreamy and accommodating.