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About Joseph Weil
Michigan was declared a state in 1837. Ann Arbor was the first Michigan community where a colony of Jews settled in the 1840s, during the German-Jewish immigration. The five Weil brothers and their parents arrived in 1845; they conducted Sabbath and holiday services in their home. Michigan's first Jewish cemetery was established in 1848/9. The site is on the east lawn of University of Michigan's Rackham Building, noted with a historical plaque.
Starting out as farmers and peddlers, the Weil brothers later operated a prosperous tannery with over 100 employees. Jacob Weil, educated in European universities and a rabbi, was elected alderman in Ann Arbor and invited to the faculty of the University of Michigan, which he declined in order to continue as president of the family tannery firm. By 1873 the Weils had moved to Chicago to expand their business, J. Weil and Bros. Jewish immigrant families followed the route of the railroad across southern Michigan to Chicago, establishing themselves in the mid-19th century not only in Ann Arbor, but also in Ypsilanti, Jackson, and Kalamazoo. Maurice Heuman was elected mayor of Jackson, Samuel Folz in Kalamazoo.