Elias Jacob: Leading Jewish Pioneer Merchant & Farmer of Visalia, California

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Elias Jacob

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Elias Jacob of Visalia, CA 1885, #WS1840

Elias Jacob of Visalia, CA 1885,
#WS1840

 

Elias Jacob was born in Germany, in 1841, where his father was a merchant.,

 

Elias Jacob made his way to California, in 1852, when he was only 12 years old and went to work with a relative in his store in Stockton, California.

 

Along the way

In 1856, Elias Jacob was working at Millerton, California, and in 1859, he came to Visalia, which was rapidly becoming the trading center for the lower San Joaquin Valley.

His sister, Susie Jacob, married Hyman Mitchell in Stockton, and when she died, he later married her sister, Dora Jacob.

 

Visalia

Hyman Mitchell had business interests in Visalia. When he died suddenly in 1859, Elias managed Mitchell’s business for his sister.

From 1860 until 1959, Elias Jacob had his own merchandising businesses in Visalia with other stores in surrounding areas.

At one time his nephew, Michael Mitchell, was a partner.

During the 1870’s his firm was known as Jacob & Reinstein.

 

With land selling as low as $1.25 to $2.50 an acre, Elias Jacob begain to by land and lots in Visalia.

He improved his properties with artesian wells, putting down as many as eight on some single tracts, using the flow of water both for irrigation and for storage.

 

Elias Jacob was one of the directors of the Visalia-Goshen Railroad, built in 1874, thus connecting Visalia with the rest of the state.

He then became a partner in a large brick warehouse capable of storing 8,000 tons of grain – while it was waiting to be shipped to markets everywhere.

 

Elias Jacob retired from the mercantile business in 1876 and devoted the rest of his life to farming.

He brought the new Berry Steam Harvester to the Valley, and once grew a 30,000 acre crop of wheat.

In 1891, Elias Jacobs owned 45,000 acres of Tulare County, 200 horses and mules, 2,000 cattle, and 12,000 sheep.

 

Fraternal

Elias Jacob became a member of Visalia Masonic Lodge #128 and served as Master – 1866 thru 1868 – and Grand Master in 1876.

The Masonic Hall in Visalia, 1892, WS1850

The Masonic Hall in Visalia, 1892,
WS1850

During the Civil War the Masonic Lodge had a shortage of funds to pay its mortgage. Elias Jacobs bought the building so that his lodge would continue to have a place to meet. He also purchased adjoining properties.

 

Civic

Elias Jacob became a citizen in 1866.

In 1866, Kern County was split from Tulare County.

The California State Legislature appointed Elias Jacob as one of the four Commissioners to ascertain the financial responsibilities of the two counties.

In 1876, the State Legislature approved the issuance of bonds for a new Tulare County Courthouse in Visalia.

Elias Jacobs purchased them all for $20,300. The cornerstone was laid in a large ceremony. Elias Jacob, as Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge, was given the honor of being the Orator of the Day.

The First Tulare County Court House funded by Bonds purchased by Elias Jacob, #WS5608

The First Tulare County Court House funded by Bonds purchased by Elias Jacob, #WS5608

Community

Elias Jacob was a supporter of the Pacific Hebrew Orphans’ Asylum of San Francisco and the Hebrew Home (for Seniors) in San Francisco.

He also bequeathed money to the Visalia Masonic Lodge and to the Masonic Widows and Orphans’ Home.

 

Elias Jacob died in 1902. He had never married.

Elias Jacob is buried in the Jewish section of the Visalia City Cemetery.

Jacob Street, located in the heart of Visalia is named in his honor.

Elias Jacob Street Sign in Visalia, #WS1842

Elias Jacob Street Sign in Visalia,  #WS1842

The whole community appreciated Mr. Jacob’s personal char­acteristics, recognizing in him a citizen who gave the best of him­self for the public advancement.

 

For more information on Elias Jacob see the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Elias Jacob of Visalia, by Annie R. Mitchell, WSJH, Vol. 1, Issue #4, 1969.
  • “Jewish Businessmen of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties,” from Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern, California, 1891, WSJH, V34, #4, 2002

Any more pictures would be appreciated.

 

 

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