Charles Rheinauer, born Mar. 5, 1846, was one Ocala's most significant Jewish businessmen, and overall, a most noteworthy contributor to the city’s beginnings. Born in Germany on March 5, 1846, son of a Jewish cantor, he immigrated to Georgia, USA with big dreams. Shortly after marrying Emma Hohenberg in Watumpka, Alabama on June 5, 1890, he migrated to Florida. Charles, and his brother Maurice, established a retail dry goods business in Ocala under the family name, Rheinauer and Brothers. Locally, it was situated on the south side of the town square. Its presence was so impressive, that the building was known as the Rheinauer Block. The Rheinauer's line of merchandise included men's and women's clothing, shoes, carpets, and other household goods. With state-wide expansion, Rheinauer and Brothers soon developed into one of the finest Clothier shoppes in Florida. Although it developed into a successful retail merchandising chain, the chain did not remain under the family’s ownership. The last Rheinauer’s store closed its door in the early 1990’s.
Beyond their principal business, Charles Rheinauer was involved in a number of community activities and commercial enterprises. He served as the Vice-President of the Ocala Iron and Machine Works, a founder of the Ocala Board of Trade, the forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, and founder and director of the first bank in Ocala, the Merchants National Bank. He became the presiding officer of the Hebrew Society of Ocala and was credited with promoting Thomas Edison's incandescent electric lamp which subsequently was introduced to the community.
With a noted friendship and collaboration with Latin American freedom fighter Jose Martí, La Criolla Cigar Company, was established. With another entrepreneur achievement, Mr. Rheinauer became its president. With thousands of Cubans immigrating to the area as factory workers, it became the core of what came to be “Marti City” (located on the West Broadway section of Ocala). During the latter years of the 19th century, La Criolla is recorded as one of the largest cigar factories in Florida. Years later, it relocated to Tampa’s “Ybor City” due to milder climate conditions.
In 1906, with his prominent community position, Charles Rheinauer became the second Jewish to serve as the Mayor in Ocala.
Mr. Rheinauer experienced all these achievements and prominence within the walls of what is now Seven Sisters Inn. Moving into their home in 1895, Charles and Emma Rheinauer were its second owners. Mr. Rheinauer remained there until his death on May 18, 1925, at the age of 79. Emma survived Charles by nearly 17 years and died at the age of 74 on May 7th 1942. They are both buried locally in the only Jewish cemetery in Ocala, the Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery, located north of downtown.
Research based on municiple recorded documents (public information), biographical documents, such as Scenic USA = Florida, and works by David Cook, an Ocala Historian (see below).
Review the only found publication with full and well researched chronicle of Ocala's History.