Jacob Elias: Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneer Merchant & Leader

Jacob Elias

Values Code: I-E-L-P



Jacob Elias arrived in Los Angeles with his two brothers, Raphael and Israel in 1851 or 1852.

They opened a dry goods store, naming it Elias Bros.

Elias Bros. was located in the Temple Block and is now the site of the current Los Angeles City Hall.

Early Temple Block a Few Years Later, before Trolley Tracks. Eventually This became the Site of City Hall.

Real Estate

Jacob Elias believed in the value of Los Angeles real estate.

He owned 35 plots in today’s Hollywood.

In 1860 Elias purchased Rancho San Rafael – currently the City of Glendale.




In 1854, at the founding of the city’s first charitable organization, the Hebrew Benevolent Society, Jacob Elias was selected as Secretary and Treasurer.

In 1857 he was elected President.

The Hebrew Benevolent Society survives today as the Los Angeles Jewish Family Service.

In 1854 Jacob Elias wrote the petition presented to the Los Angeles City Council requesting land for a Jewish cemetery – which was granted.

The plaque, dedicated in 1968 reads:

Dedication by Victor Carter, Norton Stern, Founder of Western States Jewish History Association, Justin Turner, William Blumenthal


The Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles (1854) First Charitable Organization in the City, Aquired This Site by Deed on April 9, 1855 from the City Council for a Sacred Burial Ground. This Property Represented the First Organized Community Effort by the Pioneer Jewish Settlers.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 822

Plaque Placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, September 29, 1968



Jacob Elias was a Charter Member of Los Angeles Masonic Lodge #42 which still functions today. Elias was elected as the first Senior Warden.

Later he was elected as Master of the lodge.


In 1859 Jacob Elias traveled to New York City to marry Cecelia Simpson who was from a colonial Sephardic family.


More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Elias, Jacob. Jacob Elias: Early Los Angeles Pioneer, Merchant & Jewish Leader.; 38/ 3&4.
  • Elias, Jacob; Merchant, Land Holder and Early Pioneer Community Leader; LA; Norton Stern; 41/3

We need pictures of Jacob Elias, his family and businesses. Please contact us.


More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

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