Emil and Fanny (Butzel) Heineman were prominent Jewish citizens of Detroit in its pioneer days. Emil Heineman was born December 11, 1824, at Neuhaus on the Oste, near Hamburg. He left his homeland in 1851. In 1860 he married Fanny Butzel whose family also came from Bavaria. Both Emil and Fanny were very involved in the Jewish community. Fanny served as president of the Detroit Ladies Society for the Support of Hebrew Widows and Orphans, and Emil, a successful businessman and community leader, was president of the Beth El Hebrew Relief Society.
Having gained experience in his younger years as a clothier, Emil opened his own clothing shop in Detroit in 1851 selling ready-made clothing and men's furnishings. His two brothers-in-law, Magnus and Martin Butzel, were admitted to partnership in 1862, and the firm became "Heineman, Butzel and Company.” Heineman spent 35 years in mercantile life in Detroit, seeing a great many changes in his industry. From furnishing military uniforms to Michigan troops at the outbreak of the Civil War to donating clothing to fugitive slaves passing through on their way to Canada and freedom, and along the way, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the city.