Simon Newman, Jewish Pioneer Founder of Newman, California in the Central Valley

Simon Newman

Simon Newman, #WS1415

Simon Newman, #WS1415

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“It can be said that Stanislaus and Merced Counties are fortunate to have had a man of the caliper of Simon Newman

He recognized the almost unlimited opportunities of this fertile and productive farming region, one of the choice areas in California.” –Edgar M. Kahn

Simon Neumann was born in 1846, in Willmars, Baveria, to Josef and Monna Nussbaum Neumann.

Simon Neumann was the fourth of seven children, Ricka, Fanny, Solomon, Simon, Julia, Sigmund, and Marianne.


Along the way

His sister, Fanny Neuman married Sol Wangenheim in 1859. They were the first of the Neumann family to arrive in California. Sol had come to California in 1853, did well in merchandising, and made enough to return to Europe to marry Fanny – a common Jewish story in the Wild West.

In 1862, Sol Wangenheim arranged for his brother-in-law, Simon Neumann to come to the American West.

Simon Neumann, now Simon Newman, took the fastest route, crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and arrived in San Francisco at the age of 16.

Simon Newman was frugal and ambitious. He spoke Hebrew, German, and soon, English – all the while learning American customs.


In 1862 the Comstock Mines in Virginia City were booming. Sol Wangenheim was partner in  a wholesale food business there, so Simon Newman went to work for him and learned “the trade.”

In 1864, when production slowed in the Comstock, Sol Wangenheim moved his store to Markleeville in Alpine County and Simon came with him.


San Joaquin Valley

In 1869, Simon, backed by his brother-in-law, went into business for himself at Hill’s Ferry in the San Joaquin Valley, situated at the junction of the San Joaquin and Merced Rivers.

Simon Newman’s business grew, and so did his reputation.

2,500 farmers and ranchers grew and raised wheat, vegetables, cattle and sheep – with Simnon granting them credit on their upcoming crops, etc.

The Newman Train Station at the "end of the line."

The Newman Train Station at the “end of the line.”

By 1877, Simon had his store and a 4,000-ton grain warehouse, and was shipping 15,000 tons of agricultural produce a year – while also operating ranches, buying land, raising cattle and sheep.

In 1877, Simon Newman married Pauline Strauss of San Francisco, and then established his residence in San Francisco, traveling weekly, by train, to Hill’s Ferry.

His brother, Sigmund Newman, stayed on in the Valley as his resident manager.


Newman, California

When Simon Newman heard that the Pacific Railroad was to build it’s Valley Line into the San Joaquin Valley, he gave 320 acres of land to the railroad just a few miles away from Hill’s Ferry and there created a town site called Newman, where the railroad was to terminate.

Business and the new town flourished as the little town of Hill’s Ferry shut down and moved to Newman, both the people and even some of it’s buildings.

In 1898 Simon Newman consolidated all his ventures into the Simon Newman Company.


Simon Newman was one of the organizers of the Pacific Vinegar and Pickle Works, and an investor in the North Alaska Salmon Company.

Lemon Packing in Newman, CA Vintage Postcard

Lemon Packing in Newman, CA Vintage Postcard

By 1970, still in family hands, the Simon Newman Company was one of the largest family-held agricultural enterprises in California.



During the Civil War, Simon Newman was a member of the Virginia City Militia, spending many days and nights guarding gold and silver in government offices from Confederate sympathizers.

In 1903, Simon Newman founded the Bank of Newman. The bank grew and was eventually merged with the United California Bank.


Simon Newman Store in Newman - still there today but not open, #WS1412

Simon Newman Store in Newman – still there today but not open. His faded name can be seen on the building. #WS1412


Simon Newman joined the Odd Fellows in 1875 and remained active throughout the rest of his life



In San Francisco he became a pillar of Temple Emanu-El – a member of the Board of Directors and also served a President of the Congregation.



In 1877, Simon Newman married Pauline Strauss of San Francisco., the daughter of Louis and Lena Strauss. Rabbi Elkin Cohn of Temple Emanu-El officiated.

Simon and Pauline Newman had five children, Rose, Minnie, Louis, Edwin, and S. Walter


Simon Newman died in 1912.

He is interred in the Home of Peace Cemetery of Temple Emanu-El in Colma.


For more information on Simon Newman in Western States Jewish History, see

  • Simon Newman and Newman, California, by Edgar M. Kahn, Vol. 2, Issue#1, 1969
Newman Sign Today. Newman Exit in Route #5 just North of the Harris Ranch, about 4 mile East. Stop and enjoy.

Newman Sign Today. Newman Exit in Route #5 just North of the Harris Ranch, then about 4 miles East. Stop and enjoy. Great coffee shop!