John Jones: Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneer

John Jones

Values Code: I-E-L-P

John Jones was born in either Poland or in London of Polish parents in the early 1800’s.

John Jones, Early Jewish Pioneer of Los Angeles

At approximately age thirty-eight John Jones was sentenced to life at Old Bailey and transported to Australia for stealing a breast pin.

England alleviated much of its poverty problems by shipping young immigrants to Australia for both major and minor crimes.

John Jones arrived in Australia, in 1836, and received his certificate of freedom seven years later.



With news of the California Gold Rush, John Jones boarded the British brig HMS Broad Axe in Adelaide, arriving in San Francisco 116 days later, in 1850.

John Jones became an American citizen, in 1859.


(He should not be confused with his non-Jewish contemporary, John P. Jones, who founded the City of Santa Monica, in 1875. and later became a U.S. Senator from Nevada.)


Wholesale Grocer

John Jones came to California, in 1850, and then on to Los Angeles where he went into the wholesale grocery business.

Twice a year, John Jones would close his store for six weeks while he traveled to San Francisco to buy merchandise, attend synagogue, and renew relationships with friends.

In 1853, he also became the first wholesale liqour merchant in Los Angeles.

In the mid-1850’s, John Jones returned to San Francisco for several years.

While there, John Jones served as vice-President of Congregation Sheirth Israel.

John Jones returned with his new wife, Doria, to Los Angeles, in 1863.

A price war with competitor, Harris Newmark, forced him out of business, in 1865.

He joined in partnership in a new wholesale food business with Bernard Cohn, around 1867.

This partnership lasted until 1871, when Cohn dissolved the partnership and joined with Hellman, Hass & Co.

John Jones and his wife, Doria, became land owners and developers.



John Jones Newspaper Adv

John Jones served on the Los Angeles City Council and was the first Jew to become Council President of Los Angeles, in 1871


Community Service

Both John Jones and Doria Deighton Jones, maintained social ties to the Los Angeles Jewish Community.

When the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society was formed, in 1870 – the first womens’ charity organization in Los Angeles – Doria Jones was elected Treasurer.



John Jones married Scottish-born, Dora Deighton, a Christian, in the late 1850’s, in San Francisco.

The Jones’ had three children: Mark Gordon, Constance, and Caroline Adelaide.

Caroline Adelaide, married James, the son of Isaac Lankershim.


John Jones passed away in 1876.

Doria Jones died in 1908.

At the time of her death in 1908, she was one of Los Angeles’ largest developers of the inner city.

Mrs. John Jones Portrait, 1876


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

  • Volume 38: #3/4, pages 39, 124, 164, 173, 213, & 221
  • Volume 42, #2/3, page 111

Picture Gallery


John Jones Tombstone


More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

For more Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers click here for the Table of Contents.

Some, but not all of the Los Angeles Pioneers, can be reached by clicking on their name on the list near the upper right of this page.

Ava Kahn is the Curator of this John Jones Exhibit