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Jacob Kaufman was born to Joseph Kauffman and Anna Stroh in North Easthope Township in Upper Canada on July 15, 1847. He was the third of ten children born to Joseph and Anna. During his youth, Jacob worked on the family farm. As a young adult, Jacob found a position working as a sawyer in the sawmill owned by Henry Ratz in Gads Hill, Ontario.
In March 1877, Jacob married Mary Eidt Ratz and together they moved to Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario. Jacob and Mary had seven children. Only two of their sons and two of their daughters reached adulthood; Emma Ratz Kaufman, Alvin Ratz Kaufman, Milton Ratz Kaufman, and Edna Louise Kaufman.
In 1877, Jacob and his father-in-law, Henry Ratz, established a planing mill and a sash-and-door factory. The business was successful and in 1888 a new factory was constructed. Jacob eventually bought out Henry Ratz from the company and the business was incorporated as Jacob Kaufman Limited in 1916.
Jacob was a founder of the rubber footwear industry in Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario. In 1903, Jacob started a rubber firm called Merchants Rubber. The company specialized in producing rubber footwear and rubber garments for fisherman and miners. Merchants Rubber was eventually absorbed by Canadian Consolidated Rubber of Montreal along with its major competitor, Berlin Rubber. In 1907, Jacob and his son Alvin Ratz Kaufman formed the Kaufman Rubber Company Limited, which continued as the Kaufman Footwear division of William H. Kaufman Incorporated until 2000 when the company declared bankruptcy.
Jacob was a member of the Zion Evangelical Church throughout his life and served as a trustee for 35 years. Jacob was also actively involved in civic and community initiatives, supporting causes such as the local Children's Aid Society, the Kitchener-Waterloo Orphanage, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the YMCA, the YWCA and the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital.
Jacob died on April 20, 1920.
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Revised by NM in September 2018.
Lynn E. Richardson, “KAUFMAN, JACOB,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 17, 2018, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kaufman_jacob_14E.html.