In 1853, Strauss became an American citizen. He moved to San Francisco, where the California Gold Rush was still going on. Strauss expected the miners would welcome his buttons, scissors, thread and bolts of fabric. He also brought along canvas sailcloth, intended to make tents and covers for the Conestoga wagons many miners lived out of.
Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. He often led his pack-horse, heavily laden with merchandise, to the mining camps in the Gold Rush country. He learned that prospectors and miners complained about their cotton trousers and pockets tearing too easily. A tailor named Jacob Davis decided to make rugged overalls to sell to the miners. Fashioned from brown sailcloth made from hemp, his trousers has ore storage pockets that were nearly impossible to split. Davis wanted to register a patent, but lacked money. Strauss agreed to help him and they went into partnership.
On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent #139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi's brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Strauss died in 1902 at the age of 73. He was buried in Colma. Strauss had never married and left his thriving business to his nephews Jacob, Louis, Abraham and Sigmund Stern. They rebuilt the company after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The following year, Jacob Davis sold back his share of the company.
A Levi Strauss museum is maintained in Buttenheim, Germany, located in the 1687 house where Strauss was born. There is also a...