One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker honors Rabbi Henry Cohen known as the “First Citizen of Texas” by U. S. President Woodrow Wilson. The marker was erected in 1980 by the Texas Historical Commission.
“Called the “First Citizen of Texas” by U. S. President Woodrow Wilson, Rabbi Henry Cohen, an internationally known humanitarian, was born in London, England. He came to Galveston in 1888 as spiritual leader of congregation B’Nai Israel and served for 64 years until his death.”
“In 1889 he married Mollie Levy (1862-1951) and they had two children. After the disastrous storm of 1900, Texas Governor Joseph D. Sayers appointed Rabbi Cohen to head the Central Relief Committee. From 1907 until World War I he helped shiploads of immigrants become settled in cities around the country. During World War I he was instrumental in influencing Congress to provide Jewish naval chaplains. Appointed to the Texas Prison Board by Governor Dan Moody, Rabbi Cohen introduced measures for more humane treatment of prisoners. He assisted New York slum residents in moving south. He fought for social justice for persons of all races and creeds. He helped foster the spirit of brotherhood and interfaith goodwill existing in Galveston today.”
“When Rabbi Cohen died, the Commissioners Court of Galveston County called him one of this country’s greatest humanitarians and spiritual leaders.”