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Jacob Elsas Family Papers

Identifier: Mss 137

Scope and Contents

Researchers studying the Jacob Elsas Family Papers will gain insight into the life of a major Jewish businessman in Atlanta, Georgia. All material is arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within each folder.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1888 - 1932

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Wurttemberg, Germany, dry goods retailer Jacob Elsas, a Union Army veteran, arrived in Atlanta in 1868 from Cartersville, Ga., via Cincinnati, Ohio. The 26-year-old merchant operated three businesses by 1870, advertising the Fairmount jeans brand name in his Star Store on Whitehall Street, today's Underground area. When Elsas shifted from retail to manufacturing, he joined forces with Isaac May, forming Elsas, May & Company in January 1872. The two Jewish immigrants from Germany established the Southern Bag Factory, located on Pryor and Mitchell streets on the second floor of Atlanta's old slave market house. By early 1876, the partners chartered the Fulton Cotton Spinning Company, soon to be one of the two earliest cotton mills in Atlanta. The spinning mill produced cotton bags for flour and feed grains. In 1881, Fulton Cotton Spinning purchased the eight-acre historic Civil War ruins of the Atlanta Rolling Mill destroyed by the Confederacy to prevent it from falling into Union hands in September 1864. The mill opened with 12,000 spindles and 450 looms. The first homes in Cabbagetown, then called Factory Town, were also built in 1881.


0.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




Jacob Elsas (1842-1932) was the founder of Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills in Atlanta, Georgia. At one time the mill was the largest employer in Atlanta. Papers consist of a personal letter copy book and obituaries of Jacob Elsas founder and owner of Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, and over 600 letter copies of outgoing correspondence between Jacob Elsas and his business associates and family. Of special interest are: ALS Jacob Elsas to Col. E.C. Hyatt, July 17, 1899 regarding Jewish attendance at services at his son's boarding school; ALS Jacob Elsas to Mr. Joseph Banigan, December 8, 1897 regarding a possible strike of mill hands; ALS Jacob Elsas to Chief Manly, December 1887 (letter 489) regarding a disturbance involving mill hands.


All material is arranged alphabetically by subject and chronologically within each folder. The folders of the copy book are organised in page order

Physical Location

The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Jacob Elsas Family Papers, Mss 137
Sandra Berman
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States