Julius Isay is one of the most prominent businessmen of Owyhee County, being the senior member of the firm of Isay & Gombrig, dealers in general merchandise, both at De Lamar and Silver City. A country has but one chief ruler, be he king, emperor or president. Comparatively few men can attain to the highest offices in civil or military life, but commerce offers a broad and almost limitless field in which one may exercise his powers unrestrained and gain a leader-ship as the head of a chosen calling. Drawing the lessons which we do from the life of Mr. Isay, we learn that the qualifications necessary for success are a high ambition and a resolute, honorable purpose to reach the exalted standard that has been set up. From an early age he has depended upon his own resources and has won the proud American title of self-made man.
Mr. Isay was born near Treves, Germany, September 22, 1862, his father, Mark Isay, being a prominent cattle dealer in that country. He obtained a good education in the excellent schools of his native land, and when eighteen years of age determined to cross the ocean and see what fate had in store for him in the land of freedom of which he had heard such favorable reports. He was well acquainted with the German and French languages, but knew no English; and although he had energy and ambition he had no capital. On the completion of the ocean voyage he made his way to Indiana, where he had an uncle living, to whom he stated his desire to become independent in life. This relative very kindly fitted him out with a peddler’s pack of notions, and with these on his back he started out of the town, his uncle accompanying him as far as the cross roads and bidding him good-bye with the parting remark, “Take which road you like and don’t come back until the end of the week.” Thus began the mercantile career of a most successful and enterprising businessman. A stranger to the language and the customs of the country, his natural intelligence was brought into play and he soon learned enough to enable him to carry on a brisk trade. After three months spent in going from house to house selling his goods, he turned his attention to the butcher’s trade, which he learned in Churubusco, Indiana; and in September 1882, he went to Chicago, where he worked in meat-packing houses until the latter part of March, 1884.
That date marked Mr. Isay’s arrival in Silver City, where he conducted a meat market until the fall of 1890. In January 1891, he purchased a small stock of general merchandise and opened a store in De Lamar, carrying on operations on a small scale. Gradually, however, his trade in-creased in volume and importance, and in 1895 the firm of Isay & Gombrig was formed, the latter being a brother-in-law of the former. They bought out a large business at De Lamar, and since that time, owing to their liberal and honorable business methods, their success has been almost phenomenal, and they now command at their two large stores in De Lamar and Silver City the most extensive retail trade in the county of Owyhee.
Mr. Isay was married, in 1891, to Miss Sophia Gombrig, who was born in the same town in Germany in which her husband’s birth occurred. They have one child, a daughter, Hattie. Theirs is a most pleasant home and their hospitality is enjoyed by many friends. Mr. Isay is a Royal Arch Mason and is now serving as senior warden of the lodge and high priest of the chapter. He also belongs to the order of the Knights of Pythias. In politics he is a stanch Democrat, un-swerving in his allegiance to the principles of that party, and in 1898 he received its nomination for the office of county commissioner. His dreams of securing a home and fortune in America have been realized, and his life demonstrates the opportunities that are here afforded young men of energy and perseverance.