Henry Jastro: Early Jewish Pioneer and Civic Leader of Bakersfield, California

Henry Jastro (Jastrowitz)

Henry Jastro of Bakerfield, #WS1388

Henry Jastro of Bakerfield,

Values Codes: I-E-L-P


Henry Jastro (Jastrowitz) was born in 1848 or 1850 in Hamburg, Germany.


Along the way

Henry Jastro arrived in New York in 1863 on the ship Simona.

Henry Jastro handled freight in Arizona, worked in cattle business in Wilmington (Los Angeles port area),  and as a livestock drover and freighter for Phineas Banning on Catalina Island.

Henry Jastro then became a trail boss on cattle drives in the San Joaquin Valley, Nevada and Arizona.



In 1872, Henry Jastro  established a ‘first-class’ Bakersfield Brewry, furnishing beer to the area.

In 1874, he became an associate for the Kern County Land Company in Bakersfield.

It was Henry Jastro who advised Alphonse Weill to move to Bakersfield and become the distributor for his beer.


In 1885, Henry Jastro produced the first cotton crop in California.


In 1890 he bought the Bakersfield’s Gas & Electric Company, with H.A. Blodgett, and added coal to its sales and  distribution. This utility company later merged into San Joaquin Light & Power Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

In 1903, Henry Jastro was Manager of the Kern County Land Company, controlling 1,395,000 acres in  California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico, as well as the local utility company that Jastro owned.

Henry Jastro  served as a board member of Bakersfield Sandstone Brick Company



Henry Jastro  served five terms as President of the National Livestock Association.

He was an active member of the California State Fair Association.

He was a member of the Southern Hotel Association Board of Directors.

Between 1892-1916, Henry Jastro served on the Board of Supervisors. Many public works projects completed during his administration.



Henry Jastro was a member of both the Elks and Masons.



Henry Jastro married May Baker, daughter of Colonel Henry Baker, founder and namesake of Bakersfield.

Together they has six children, three who survived to adulthood: Harry, May, and Carolyn.


May Jastro died in 1894.

She is buried in Union Cemetery, Bakersfield.


Henry Jastro died in 1924 while staying at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

He was buried in the Union Cemetery in Bakersfield with both Masonic and Elk rituals.

Henry Jastro Gravesite in Bakersfield

Henry Jastro Gravesite in Bakersfield


For more information on Henry Jastro, see the following:

  • We Brought Sinai to San Joaquin, The Story of the Jews of Kern County, by Shirley Ann Newman, Temple Beth El, Bakersfield, CA 1998.
  • Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California, by Annie R. Mitchell, WSJH, Vol. 2, Issue #3, 1970.
  • “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

Regina Merwin is Curator of this Henry Jastrow Exhibit.

Gilbert Gia suggests that you refer to his biography of Jastro at www.historicbakersfieldandkerncounty.com/busin