Solomon Sweet, Early Jewish Pioneer Merchant of Visalia, California

Solomon Sweet

Values Codes I-E-L-P


Solomon Sweet of Visalia, #WS1844

Solomon Sweet was born in Kriegsheim, Germany in 1827.

Solomon Sweet arrived in New York City in 1843 at the age of 16.


During his lifetime he would become an influencial factor in the development of the San Joaquin Valley and of City of Visalia.


Along the way

Solomon Sweet clerked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin traveled on sleighs through Canada to Niagara Falls, from there to Buffalo, and then New York City. There he took the steamer, Georgia, to the Isthmus and then the steamer, Columbia, to San Francisco.


Solomon Sweet’s diary was concise:

“Left New York on the steamer, Georgia, for Panama.

“Walked across the Isthmus and took the steamer, Columbia, for San Francisco.

“Landed in 1851” –Visalia Times Delta, December 9, 1950.


Solomon Sweet worked for a time in Stockton, California, then moved to Agua Fria, a mining town in Mariposa County at the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley – now a ghost town.


San Joaquin Valley

Solomon Sweet opened his own store until 1857, when he moved to Visalia in the lower San Joaquin Valley.

Footnote: The buyer of his Agua Fria store decided to build a storage celler underneath,and in doing so, struck a rick pocket of gold ore.



In Vasalia, Solomon Sweet purchased the store of Nathan Baker.

He first partnered with James Wells, then J.M. Fox and finally, his brother, Simon Sweet.

The company then became S. Sweet & Co. – the best known merchantile firm on the lower San Joaquin Valley.

S. Sweets & Co. of Visalia, circa 1880., #WSJH V2/#2.

S. Sweets & Co. of Visalia, circa 1880.,
#WSJH V2/#2.

S. Sweets & Co. acted a a bank for their customers, before regular banks were established.

Solomon Sweet participated in the long struggle to induce the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a line through Visalia.

As the economy of the San Joaquin Valley grew, S. Sweets & Co. grew into a complete department store.

His son, Adolph and two nephews, Adolph and Leon were brought into the department store firm as they grew up.

Solomon Sweet Co., Visalia, 1890s, #WS1846



Solomon Sweet became a Director of the Visalia & Tulare Railroad and Vice President and Chairman of the Committee of the California Fruit & Wine Company.

He was member of the Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade in San Francisco.



Solomon Sweet was a Trustee and one of the founders of the Jewish Orphan Asylum of San Francisco



Solomon Sweet was a Royal Arch Mason.



Solomon Sweet married Annie E. Phillips of New York in San Francisco, in 1860.

After his marriage, the Sweets lived in San Francisco, with Solomon traveling to the San Joaquin Valley by rail.

Together they had 9 children, Albert, Milton, Walter, Louise, Estelle, Ida, Bertha, Adolph, and Mabel.


Solomon Sweet died in 1899.




Soloman Sweet Street Sign in Visalia - Today.

Solomon Sweet Street Sign in Visalia – Today.


For more information on Solomon Sweet, see the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California, by Annie R. Mitchell, WSJH, Vol. 2, Issue #3, 1970.
  • “Jewish Businessmen of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties,” from Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern, California, 1891, WSJH, V34, #4, 2002

Any additional information or pictures would be appreciated.