Other Early Interconnected Kern County Pioneer Jews
Values Codes: I-E-L-P
The Hirshfeld Brothers:
Lesser, Herman, Marcus, and David
Lesser Hirshfeld was one of four brothers who came from Germany to America. A family of pioneer merchants.
Lesser Hirshfeld was known as “Cristobel” because of his friendly relationships with local Hispanics.
In 1872, he was the first store keeper – along with Morris Jacoby - in the Panama Settlement, located eight miles southwest of Bakersfield.
“One day a Mexican friend stopped at the store and invited Hirshfeld, or Cristobol, as he was known by his patrons, to come with him to a dance at a road house a few miles down the road. Business was dull, and a part of the science of mercantile success is to maintain friendly relations with one’s patrons, so Cristobol saddled his horse. Arriving at the dance, the merchant was impressed by the presence of a large number of strangers and a display of fire arms unusual even for a dance in the early days, and he was not long in deciding the character of his fellow guests.
“Hirshfeld took a perfunctory part in the festivities and did the proper thing by treating everyone including the outlaws to drinks and cigars, and then making some excuse about a business engagement, he took a circuitous route back to his store, gathered up his cash and galloped by another round-about way to town.
“He came back next day expecting to find his place robbed, but nothino had happened. This was Thursday, and that night the pioneer merchant again galloped to town with his day’s receipts.
“The same process was repeated Friday and Saturday, and Hirshfeld had about exhausted his ingenuity in inventing reasons to give his clerk for passing the nights in town, but when he got home Sunday morning there was no need for further explanation.
“In the night, Tiburcio Vasquez, (A famous California bandit), and his men appeared masked and held a parley in front of the store with some of Hirshfeld’s neighbors. It developed later that the neighbors convinced the outlaws that Hirshfeld had gone to town and taken all his money with him.
“Thereupon the gang threw oflf the masks, entered the store, called for drinks and paid for them; called for another round and did not pay; called for a third round and paid, and disappeared on their horses in the darkness.”
“Any discerning person will understand that Vasquez, with the courtesy for which he was noted, did the proper honors of the time and the occasion just as though the proprietor had been present, and the proprietor, when he returned, fully appreciated it.”
–A History of Kern County, by Wallace Melvin Morgan
Herman Hirshfeld went into business in Havilah, the new Kern County county seat during the boom gold mining years of the 1860’s.
He started working for Morris Jacoby and eventually became a partner.
In 1869, Herman Hirshfeld operated a branch of the Havilah business in Bakersfield – with Morris Jacoby.
In 1868, Havilah Lodge, #148, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized. Herman Hirshfeld was Vice Grandmaster.
In 1872, the Kern Lodge, #202, Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized in Bakersfield. Herman Hirshfeld was Noble Grandmaster.
Herman Hirshfeld was listed on the Kern County Board of Supervisors in 1880.
Marcus Hirshfeld arrived in Tehachapi in 1874.
He purchased Ed Green’s general mercantile business.
In the 1870s, Marcus Hirshfeld also operated a store in nearby Old Town, (Williamsburg), three miles west of Tehachapi.
In 1877, Marcus Hirshfeld was named Postmaster of Old Town.
1881, Marcus Hirshfeld sold his interest to Isador Asher and went north to Bakersfield to join his brother, Dave.
Marcus Hirschfeld married Minna Asher.
In 1871, Dave Hirshfeld worked in Santa Ana.
In 1872 he placer (surface) mined in Baja California.
In 1874, he joined his brothers in Bakersfield at Hirshfeld Brothers & Co.
“Dave Hirshfeld occupies an ebviable position as a business man in Kern valley, and his success is due mainly to that sterling trait of character — that he never misrepresents anything in business.
“Mr. Hirshfeld takes a lively interest in home affairs which tend to forward the material interests and development of his town and vicinity, and as a citizen and social companion is highly regarded.”
–Pen Pictures of the Garden of the World: Memorial & Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, California, Lewis Publishing.
In 1889, Hirshfeld Bros. & Co. was bought out by Emile and L.M. Dinkelspiel of San Francisco.
Morris Jacoby was born in Prussia.
Morris Jacoby became an American citizen in 1868
M. Jacoby and Co. was one of the first Jewish merchandising firms in Kern County.
The company sold wool, hides and grain in Havilah.
In 1869, with Herman Hirshfeld, J. Cohn, and E. Cohn, Morris Jacoby opened a branch of the Havilah business in Bakerfield.
M. Jacoby & Co. takes pleasure in announcing to the people of Kern River Island that they have opened a Variety Store at Bakersfield, and begin to solicit a share of patronage. Their stock comprises:
Dry Goods * Groceries * Clothing * Boots and Shoes
Provisions * Hats and Caps * Hardware
–Havilah Courier, August 24, 1869
In 1872, with Lesser Hirshfeld, he opened branch in town of Panama.
Morris Jacoby served as a member of Bakersfield’s first Board of Trustees.
In 1869, Morris Jacoby was elected First Corresponding Secretary of the International Order of Odd Fellows #148, in Havilah.
In 1872, the Kern Lodge, #202, Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized in Bakersfield with Morris Jacoby as Recording Secretary.
In 1883, Morris Jacoby took part in an “incident:”
“In October,1883, Morris Jacoby and two companions transported some gold bullion belonging to the Big Blue mine by wagon to the Southern Pacific rail stop at Caliente. While on the road, they were stopped by two armed and masked bandits who demanded their cargo.
“Jacoby advised the outlaws that the gold they demanded had been shipped the week before in another conveyance. The would-be bandits believed Jacoby and disappeared into the nearby brush.
“The masks did not keep Jacoby from identifying the bandits as James and Fletcher Burton. He accompanied Kern County Sheriff, William Bower, into the Kern River country to arrest the brothers.
“Jacoby and Bower were successful, placing James and Fletcher Burton in the Kern County jail in Bakersfield on charges of attempted robbery.” –Wild West Magazine, October, 2006
Otto Belau, with Dave Hirshfeld sold a business to the Hochheimer Brothers in September, 1900.
That business eventually became Brock’s Department Store, and later, Gottschalk’s Department Store.
Sam Blum owned a merchantile business and bank in Cordova, Alaska.
Sam Blum married Bertha Hochheimer.
Malcolm Brock was born 1878 to Julian Brock and Mattie Hochheimer Brock, owners of Cohn & Brock, a retail clothing store in San Francisco.
For his first full time jobin 1894, Malcolm Brock worked for Uncles Moses and Amiel Hochheimer in Willows.
In 1906, Malcolm Brock went to San Francisco to look into construction possibilities after the Earthquake-Fire.
1909-1922 Malcolm Brock worked in Cordova, Alaska to managing Uncle Sam Blum’s Blum, O’Neill General Merchandise Company and First Bank of Cordova. He became a partner and President.
Malcolm Brock returned to Bakersfield to help reorganize troubled family business during a serious recession.
Malcolm Brock finally bought Hochheimers’ with approval of creditors and renamed the store – Brock’s.
Malcolm Brock was the oldest son of Amiel and Bertha Hochheimer
In 1898, he graduated from the University of California.
Malcolm Brock then returned to Willows to work in family business.
Monroe Hochheimer was the second son of Amiel and Bertha Hochheimer.
In 1908, he, too, joined the family business.
Jacob Asher (Auscher)
Jacob Asher was the first, prominent Jewish resident of Kern County.
In 1850, in Havilah, a mining boom town, Jacob Asher owned a “Two-tabled Billiard Salon” with a Mr. Sanderson
In 1867: Asher and Sanderson’s place was the polling place in the first Kern County election.
Jacob Asher was elected Kern County Coroner in 1871.
Jacob Asher married Rose Asher
Jacob Asher was elected Kern County Coroner in 1871
Albert Asher, born later that year, was probably the first Jew born in Kern County.
Charles Asher (Auscher)
Charles Asher wasborn in Poland and brought up in Prussia
He had two brothers, Arthur and Isador
Charles Asher came to New York City where he married Anna Marx.
The Ashers first settled in Ransburg, California now a ghost town northeast of Mojave on US395.
Charles Asher moved to Tehachapi around 1896, where his uncle was established. Anna Asher had relatives in Kern County.
Asher Brothers had stores in Tehachapi, Mojave, Taft Randsburg and Lancaster.
Charles Asher was the largest single shareholder in the Yellow Aster Mine, the richest mine at the time in California
Charles Asher donated $250 towards construction of the Tehachapi community church.
Charles Asher served on the cemetery board—though it didn’t have a consecrated Jewish section.
Charles Asher married Anna Marx before traveling to California.
They had two sons and a daughter: J. Leslie, Albert, (aka Alden Nash, screenwriter), and Ruth.
Charles Asher is buried in the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles..
In 1869, Elias Cohn merged his business with M. Jacoby & Co. to form Cohn, Jacoby & Co. at Havilah, Bakersfield and Tehachapi.
The partnership included, M. Jacoby, H. Hirshfeld, J. Cohn, and E. Cohn.
In 1870, the firm reorganized when Jacob Cohn left the partnership.
In 1868, Havilah Lodge, #148, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized.
Elias Cohn, was installed as Noble Grandmaster.
For more information on these and more Kern County Jewish Pioneers, 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 Exhibit.
More information is always welcome.