Deadwood's Jewish American History
Harris Franklin, his wife Anna, and son Nathan arrived in Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1877. A Jewish immigrant from humble beginnings, Harris Franklin earned his fortune through the wholesale liquor business and gradually diversified into cattle, gold mining, and banking.
Between 1883 and 1890, the Franklins purchased four parcels of land in order to build their lovely home with all the modern amenities. In 1891 Harris and Anna Franklin commissioned Simeon D. Eisendrath, a Jewish architect from Chicago, to design their home. While the Queen Anne-style house was being built, a local newspaper reporter wrote, "When completed the residence will equal in point of beauty anything of its kind west of Omaha." That the home was the focus of considerable attention and admiration is apparent by the many news articles written about the house. The Franklin's house was centrally heated, plumbed with hot and cold running water, and lighted by electricity; servants were summoned by electronic bells, and the owners communicated by telephone—the beau ideal of a modern American house in any urban center.
The Franklins moved into their elegant residence in 1893 and immediately began entertaining, including hosting a party for their only child Nathan who married Ada F. Keller on September 14 of that same year. A mere three years later, Anna Franklin hired the Chicago firm of Mitchell & Halbach to redecorate the interior of the house. Soon after the house redecoration was completed, Anna's health began to fail, and on January 10, 1902, she died.
Three years after Anna's death, Harris Franklin sold the home for a token $1 to Nathan and Ada. Like his father, Nathan was an important businessman and community leader. In addition to owning the Palace Pharmacy, he was the president of First National Bank.
Nathan and Ada Franklin raised their only child Anna Mildred (b. 1894) in the elegant home at 22 Van Buren Street. Like their parents, the younger Franklins continued to entertain in the home and also made improvements to the interior in 1904.
In 1914 and again in 1916, Nathan Franklin was elected Mayor of Deadwood. At the conclusion of his second term in 1918, Nathan and Ada made plans to move to New York City to be closer to their daughter Mildred and father Harris Franklin. The home passed from the hands of the Franklin family on June 12, 1920 when they sold their fine Deadwood home to William E. and Alice Adams for $8,500.