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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published March 10 2012

Halgrimson: Businessman was familiar figure around Fargo

When Fargo businessman Maurice Kaufman was interviewed for a Forum story in 1941 after 56 years of working at the Alex Stern Clothing Co., he was still coming to work at 8:30 a.m. and working until 6 p.m.

By then he had become a familiar figure in Fargo’s downtown as he stood outside his store on days when business was slow and the weather was fine.

He was believed to know the names of more people in Cass County than anyone else. And Kaufman continued to work into his advanced age because, he said, “I believe that a man should wear out, not rust out.”

Kaufman was born in Woodland, Calif., March 18, 1868, but after living in San Francisco for a while, Kaufman’s father took the family back to Duerkheim, Germany, for their education and then returned to America.

Kaufman came to Fargo Aug. 16, 1885, and started work with his brother-in-law, Alex Stern, when he arrived. The store was then on the southwest corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North. The fire of 1893 destroyed most of downtown Fargo, including Stern’s store.

After the fire, the firm moved to another location farther south on Broadway, and in 1903 they settled at 22 Broadway, where Old Broadway is now.

Inside the front door was a small table with a chair. Kaufman would perch on the table as he visited with friends. No one ever remembered him sitting in the chair.

While he was not involved in politics, friends wrote Kaufman’s name on the ballot during a city election and he was elected constable, although he never qualified for the office.

Kaufman was an avid golfer into his later years, playing every Sunday during the summer when the weather permitted. His golf group was known as “the oldest threesome in the United States.” Along with Kaufman, 73, it included T.A. Quirk, 82, and Col. M.F. Steele, 80 – a total of 235 years between them. The story on Kaufman also mentioned that this golfing threesome contained a Jew, a Catholic and a Protestant; of which they were all proud.

Kaufman became vice president of the Alex Stern firm in 1893, holding that position until 1916, when he became president. He remained active in the business until he became ill in the summer of 1947. Kaufman died on Dec. 31, 1947.

Until it was destroyed by fire in 2000, the structure that sat north of the Fargo National Bank (now Fort Noks) was called the Kaufman Block. It was built in 1903 and for many years housed Kresge’s, which was called, at the time, a “five-and-dime superstore.”

Kaufman and his wife, Sarah E. Kuhn, who were married at Champaign, Ill, in 1896, lived at 402 8th St. S. Fargo. That building is no longer there, but it has not been destroyed. In 2001, it was moved to 1123 5th Ave. S., to serve as additional space for the law firm of Garylle Stewart and Wayne Solberg at 1129 5th Ave. S., which is also a historic house.


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Soruce: Forum files