Abraham Blochman: Early Jewish Pioneer Businessman, Banker & Community Leader

Abraham Blochman

Abraham Blochman, Gold Country, San Luis Obispo, & San Diego, #WS1506

Abraham Blochman, Gold Country, San Luis Obispo, & San Diego, #WS1506

Values Codes I – E – L – P

 

Abraham Blochman  was born at Ingenheim, Alsace, France in 1834.

In 1848, his widowed mother and her children came to America.

 

Along the way

Abraham Blochman worked as a clerk in a store in Helena, Arkansas and taught French on the side.

In 1851, the attraction of the Gold Rush brought him to California, via the Isthmus of Panama.

He was naturalized on May 6, 1861.

 

The Gold Country

From San Francisco, Abraham Blochman went to see his brother, Lazar, in the gold mining region.

When this brother died, he was interred in the Jewish cemetery in Sacramento.

Abraham Blochman tried his hand at placer (surface) mining along the Yuba River, and he clerked in a number of stores in the towns north of Sacramento.

In the spring of 1858, the Jewish Weekly in San Francisco reported that he had been elected Secre­tary of the Nevada City Hebrew Benevolent Society in Nevada County, California.

 

San Luis Obispo

In the fall of 1858, Blochman opened a general merchandise store in San Luis Obispo with Moses Cerf as his partner. They soon ex­panded to other nearby coastal towns.

These stores took in a great deal of farm produce in trade, which resulted in Blochman, Cerf & Co. opening an office in San Francisco as commission merchants to dispose of the wheat, hides, and wool which they acquired.

Blochman also became owner of a number of cattle and sheep ranches, an agent for “IXL Line,” and had an interest in a number of woolen mills in San Francisco.

A Jewish visitor to San Luis Obispo noted that Blochman, Cerf & Co. was one of the two Jewish-owned stores that had the largest business there, and one of the few firms that bought produce from the ranches in the region.

Blchman’s prosperity in the Central Coast was interrupted by the drought and depression of the mid- and late-1870’s.

In 1881, the family moved to San Diego.

 

San Diego

In San Diego, Abraham Blochman founded another general merchandise store, and pros­pered.

In 1893, he and his son, Lucien, organized the Blochman Banking Company.

For over a quarter century, it was one of the most important banks in San Diego, and carried on consider­able business in Mexico.

 

Civic

Abraham Blochman  was active in various civic capacities in San Di­ego.

He was a member of the San Diego City Council from 1893 to 1898.

For thirty years, he was San Diego’s acting French Consul.

He also welcomed French naval officers whenever a French battleship came to port.

 

Community

The Blochman family was  active in the life of Congregation Beth Israel of San Diego, which had came into being in 1861.

Temple Beth Israel, San Diego, CA, 1884, #WS1514

In 1886,Abraham’s wife, Marie Blochman, organized a religious school for the congre­gation.

For much of the time, San Diego’s Jewish community was too small to retain a rabbi, and Abraham Blochman functioned as the officiate at funeral ser­vices.

In 1904, he succeeded Marcus Schiller as president of Congregation Beth Israel.

 

Family

In 1865, Abraham Blochman married Marie Sarassin, a native of France.

They had eight children, five of whom survived to adult­hood.

Abraham’s son Lucien Blochman was elected a San Diego City Councilman in 1897 and 1905.

 

Abraham Blochman died in 1915.

Source

  • Norton B. Stern, “Abraham Blochman: Businessman, Banker, & Community Leader,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.