The Mendelson Family: Pioneer Inn Keepers of San Juan Capistrano and More!


 The Mendelsons

Values Codes  I-E-L-P


The Jewish population of some of the early communities of what became Orange County, California in 1889 was rather substantial, as indicated by a statement in an Anaheim newspaper in 1880:

“On Wednesday, owing to the closing of many stores on account of it being a Jewish holiday [Yom Kippur], the town was abnormally quiet and dull.”



Morris A. Mendelson

Morris A. Mendelson and his brothers and sisters were all born in Calish, Poland.


Orange County

(Split from Los Angeles County in 1889)

Mendelson brothers OC

Morris A. Mendelson was a merchant/tailor with a store on what is now Lincoln Avenue.

He was known for some of the funny ads he placed in the local newspaper:

“Young man! Ain’t you ashamed to go see your girl in those old clothes? Pitch them over the back fence and give M.A. Mendelson & Co. your order for a nobby ‘sparkling’ suit. She will be surprised and pleased at your improved appearance.”



In 1874, Morris A. Mendelson was one of the three men who conducted the first High Holy Day services in what is now Orange County, at that time still part of Los Angeles County.

In 1878, Morris Mendelson was one of the five men who incorporated the Anaheim Hebrew Cemetery Association.

His activities received a good deal of attention in the press over the years.

Morris’s social, religious, and business life were mentioned regularly.


Max Mendelson

Max Mendelson was born in Calish, Poland in 1837.


Along the way

Max Mendelson was made a citizen in St. Louis in 1861.



Max and his family moved to San Juan Capistrano and built the Mendelson Mission Inn.

Max and his wife, Clara had seven children.

Mendelson Mission Inn Postcard

Mendelson Mission Inn

The Mendelson Mission Inn stood until the middle 1930s.

Morris and Max’s families stayed in close contact throughout the years.


Louis Mendelson

Louis Mendelson was born in Calish, Poland in 1840.

He was in business in Anahein in 1870, but in 1871 moved to Baja California – the first known Jewish settler.


Mendel Mendelson

Mendel Mendelson lived in San Francisco.



The Five Mendelson Sisters

There were five Mendelson sisters: Helena, Rachel, Libby, Lena, and Hannah.

Rachel Married Philip Davis in 1864, and Helena married Gustav Davis in 1873. Philip and Gustave were brothers.


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

  • Two Orange County Pioneer Families: Mendelson and Davis, Vol. 44 No. 3/4

Photo Gallery [New photos always welcome]

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