Mark Jacobs & Family
Values Codes I-E-L-P
Curator’s Note: Early Jewish Pioneers in the West seem to “settle” in two different ways.
If they settled in what was to become a large city, they tended to remain there.
If they initially settled in smaller communities, they often tended to move around to other smaller communities in their lifetime.
Mark Israel Jacobs was born in 1816 in Poland. His family migrated to Manchester, England in 1828.
Mark Jacobs operated a clothing shop in the early 1840s.
In 1844, faced with impending bankruptcy and a robbery of questionable circumstances causing him to come under suspicion, Mark Jacobs narrowly escaped to Baltimore, Maryland.
By 1851, the Jacobs family was settled in San Diego.
In San Diego, Mark Jacobs, with a Jewish partner, Charles A. Fletcher, ran a general merchandise store, La Tienda Barata (Cheap Store).
In the mid-1850s, Mark Jacobs opened a “newspaper and periodical depot.”
In the fall of 1851, Mark Jacobs, Charles Fletcher and Lewis A. Franklin, another English-born resident, met together at the latter’s home to worship for the High Holy Days.
This is the first recorded Jewish religious observance in Southern California.
In November, 1856, Mark Jacobs ran for the office of Justice of the Peace in San Diego – and was defeated.
In 1857, Mark Jacobs and his family moved to San Bernardino where his daughter Leah and her husband resided.
There Mark and Hannah Jacobs became proprietors of a store and hotel.
Mark Jacobs, with his sons-in-law Marcus Katz and Maurice A. Franklin, established the San Bernardino Hebrew and English Academy in 1868, to meet the education needs of their children.
This Jewish day school, the first such Jewish institution in the West, provided a full range of general and religious studies.
Mark Jacobs and his family moved to San Francisco eight years later.
In San Francisco, Mark Jacobs was as active in Jewish life as he had been in San Diego and San Bernardino.
He was elected vice president of Congregation Ohabai Shalome in 1873. This orthodox congregation was established in 1864.
In 1867, Mark Jacobs sent his sons Lionel and Barron to Tucson, Arizona to establish the Mark I. Jacobs Company, a general merchandise firm.
By 1875, the Jacobs firm had expanded to become one of the largest mercantile establishments in Arizona Territory and it was renamed Lionel M. Jacobs & Company.
The firm expanded to include a profitable exchange business and a loan business.
In 1879, Lionel and Barron Jacobs established the Pima County Bank, which was the first banking institution in Tucson.
Today this bank is known as the Valley National Bank.
Lionel Jacobs, who had been secretary of the San Diego Lyceum and Debating Club in 1856, was active, together with Barron in the formation of the Tucson Literary Society in 1873.
Lionel Jacobs was appointed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1871 and elected to the Seventh Territorial Legislature and served on the Tucson City Council.
Both brothers served terms as Territorial Treasurer.
Mark Jacobs was in his early thirties when he married Hannah Solomon, who had been born in England. They had twelve children.
Leah Jacobs, the oldest of the Mark I. Jacobs children, married Marcus Katz, in San Diego in 1853. It is believed to be the first Jewish marriage in Southern California.
Marcus Katz served as San Bernardino County Treasurer from 1858 to 1865 and also served as San Bernardino Wells Fargo agent from 1858 to 1874.
Marcus Katz had a stationary store in San Bernardino and was a notary public.
Hannah Jacobs died in 1872, in San Francisco.
Mark Jacobs died in 1894.
They are buried in the family plot in the Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, California, south of San Francisco.
More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:
- Jacobs Brother; Jacobs Brothers; Arizona Bankers; 1890; Arizona; 19/1
- Jacobs Family; Mark I. Jacobs Family: A Discursive Overview; San Diego; Golden, Richard L. & Arlene A.; 13/2
- Jacobs, Mark Israel and his Successful Family; California and Arizona; 1816-1894; Norton Stern; 41/4
To enlarge pictures, simply click on them.
Stan Schwartz is Curator for this Jacobs Family Exhibit