Marcus Schiller: San Diego’s Jewish Horatio Alger

Marcus Schiller

Values Codes  I-H-E-L-P

Marcus Schiller, San Diego

Marcus Schiller was born in 1819 in Vronka, Prussia.

Marcus Schiller and a friend, went to Scotland to search for his friend’s inheritance, failing in their quest.


Along the way . . . 

Marcus Schiller arrived in the United States, reaching New York in the 1840’s.

Schiller remained in New York, later traveling South, and then on to San Francisco, in 1853, where he operated a clothing business.

Marcus Schiller moved San Diego in 1856, wanting a milder climate.


San Diego

Marcus Schiller went into business in what is today called Old Town.

After approximately one year, Schiller formed a partnership with Joseph S. Mannasse.

Their general merchandising business was known as J.S. Mannasse & Company, and lasted lasted over 20 years, until 1888.


Real Estate

Like many Jewish Pioneers in frontier towns, Marcus Schiller invested in real estate.

Shiller purchased the Encinitas Rancho in 1860 with Joseph Mannasse for $3,000.

Marcus Shiller later purchased a large portion of the San Diequito Rancho.



Marcus Schiller was involved in San Diego political, social and cultural life.

Marcus Schiller served as a member of the San Diego Grand Jury.

He was involved in forming the San Diego Guards.

Schiller was a member of a committee to study a shorter route to the Colorado River.

Marcus Schiller helped fund the first telegraph line to San Diego and helped maintain a lobbying office in Washington dedicated to obtaining a railroad to San Diego.

In 1869, Marcus Schiller became both City Treasurer and County Superintendent of Schools.

Plaque in Balboa Park

Plaque in Balboa Park


While a member of the Board of Trustees of the City of San Diego he helped set aside 1,400 acres of land for what is now the world famous Balboa Park.



Marcus Schiller was instrumental in establishing the first Jewish synagogue in San Diego, now known as Temple Beth Israel.

Temple Beth Israel in 1884 WS#1514

Temple Beth Israel in 1884

He was also its President until his death.



In 1872, Marcus Schiller became a member of the San Diego Pioneer Society.

He was also a Master in the San Diego Masonic Lodge #35.



Marcus Schiller married Rebecca Barnett in San Francisco in 1861.

Marcus and Rebecca Schiller had nine children.


Tombstone of Marcus and Rebecca Schiller, WS#1511

Tombstone of Marcus and Rebecca Schiller,

Marcus Schiller died at his home in 1904.

He was interred at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Rebecca Schiller passed away in 1921 at age 78.


“Mr. Schiller was a leading spirit in all welfare and charitable work in San Diego”  – Samuel Fox, San Diego Historian


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

  • Schiller, Marcus.. The 19th Century Credit Vise: How Tight Money Squeezed J.S. Mannasse and Marcus Schiller, San Diego, California, 1854-1897. Donald Harrison; 40/1.

Photo Gallery [New photos always welcome]

To enlarge pictures, simply click on them.

Linda Kern is the Curator for this Marcus Schiller Exhibit