Frank & Alfred Berman, Father & Son, Jewish Pioneer Merchants of Coalinga, California

Frank Berman

Values Codes I-E-L


Frank Berman was born in the 1870s in Russia.


Along the way . . . .

Frank Berman came to America in 1908, settling for a while in the Boston area.

He came to California in 1910, seeking a chance to open his own tailor shop.


Coalinga, California

Rents being too high in San Francisco, Frank Berman boarded a train heading south and got off in a town named Coalinga, 70 miles southwest of Fresno.

A cloudburst washed out the railroad tracks in the area, forcing Frank Berman to wait around Coalinga.

Coalinga California, Turn of the Century, Vintage Postcard

Coalinga California, Turn of the Century, Vintage Postcard

He rented a large room at the Kettleman Apartments in downtown Coaliga, at a far lower price than San Francisco, and opened his tailor shop.

By the early 1920s, Frank Berman, Tailor had grown to Frank Berman, Dry Goods & Notions, and still later, Berman’s Department Store.

Frank Berman had purchased the Webb Building at the corner of 5th and Elm Avenue for his dry goods store.



Frank Berman was a member of Congregation Beth Israel of Fresno.



Frank Berman married Tillie Zwang in 1913.

Tille Zwang was the sister of another early Coalinga Jewish settler, Jacob Zwang, who was a Jewish rancher and meat purveyor.

Together they had two children, the one son named Alfred, born in 1914.


Berman's Department Store of Coalinga, #WS2360

Berman’s Department Store of Coalinga,

Alfred Berman

Alfred Berman

Alfred Berman

Values Codes: I-E-L-P

Alfred Berman eventually became the owner-operator of Berman’s Department Store purchasing it from his father in 1959 – and continuing to operate it until 1974.


Alfred Berman was an active member of the Coaliga Chamber of Commerce.



Alfred Berman was a member of Congregation Beth Israel in Fresno.



Alfred Berman was a member of the Elks Lodge and the Rotary Club in Coalinga.

He was also a member of the Horned Toad Derby Association.



Alfred Berman married Evelyn.

Together they had two sons; Mark and Jerold.


Alfred Berman died in 2015.

For more information check the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Frank Berman: Leading Merchant of Coalinga, California, by Dr. Norton Stern, WSJH, Vol. 41, Issue #4.

Other Source:


David Epstein is the Curator for this Berman Family Exhibit

Other family information and pictures would be greatly appreciated.

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