Isaac Sanger was born in Bavaria in 1836. By 1852 he was in New York City.
By 1857, the year he was naturalized, he was in New Orleans. But that year he left New Orleans and headed west. “Texas is a land of promise,” he said. “Texas has a great future. My brothers and I will open stores in north Texas. We plan to go forward with Texas.”
Isaac Sanger opened the first Sanger store in McKinney that year. The store’s stock was delivered from Houston by ox wagon. The trip took one month. Brother Lehman joined Isaac, and they opened stores in Decatur and Weatherford.
In 1861, when sesession and war came, Lehman buried three hundred dollars in gold six feet deep, and the two brothers joined the Confederate Army.
After the war, Lehman dug up his gold. Brothers Philip, Samuel, David, Jacob, and Alexander joined Isaac and Lehman. As the Houston and Texas Central railroad laid track north from Houston in the late 1860s and early 1870s, the Sangers built stores in the railroad towns: Millican, Bryan, Hearne, Calvert, Bremond, Kosse, Groesbeck, Corsicana, Dallas, Sherman, Waco. On average, the first stores were the size of today’s two-car garage.
Soon after the Texas and Pacific railroad reached Fort Worth in 1876, the brothers opened a dry goods store here on Houston Street. This ad is from the 1877 Fort Worth city directory. As the Sanger chain grew, the brothers opened a buying office in New York City, an advertising department, a credit union. Among early Sanger salesmen were Frank James, brother of Jesse James, and Herbert Marcus, who would found Neiman-Marcus in 1907.
The brothers ran big ads . . .
and small ads.
This is the Sanger building in Dallas about 1910. Isaac Sanger died on January 17, 1918.
This is the Sanger building in Fort Worth, built in 1929 and designed by Wyatt Hedrick. The Fort Worth store closed about 1932.
After the Fort Worth store closed, in 1943 the building was remodeled and became the largest United Service Organizations (USO) club in the country. After the war J. C. Penney moved in from next door and stayed until the early 1970s. Part of the building is now lofts.
The surviving Sanger stores became Sanger-Harris stores in 1961 and were absorbed by the Foley’s chain in 1987. The Sanger name was gone. The motto of the seven Sanger brothers—“Forward with Texas since 1857”—had survived 130 years.