Hannah Marks Solomons: Activist Jewish Pioneer Woman and Her Distinguished Family

Hannah Marks

Hannah Marks Solomons WS 18/2647

Hannah Marks Solomons
WS 18/2647

Values Codes  I-E-L-P

Hannah Marks was born in Connecticut in 1835, soon after her parents arrived from Europe.

After the death of her Polish-born parents died in 1850, she was raised in the Philadelphia home of an uncle.



Hannah’s brother, Bernhard Marks, preceded her to California, arriving in 1852.

He had a varied career as gold miner, store clerk, school­teacher, real estate promoter and as principal of San Francisco’s Lincoln Grammar School.

Bernhard Marks was as the founder of the Central Colony in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s, which be­came the City of Fresno.

Marks introduced the growing of raisin grapes to the Valley.

In 1853, Hannah came to California to keep house for Bernhard.

A lonely bachelor who wanted to marry her, on the basis of the good reports he had heard, sent Hannah the funds for her passage West.

The promised romance did not take, and Hannah refused to marry him.


Home & Family

Later, Hannah Marks married the man of her choice, Gershom Mendes Seixas Solomons, of San Francisco.

His great-grandfather, Rabbi Geershom Mendes Seixas, was the spiritual leader of Congregation Sherith Israel of New York City during the Revolutionary War.

Gershom Mendes Seixas Solomons was a member of this old Sephardic family, and had arrived in the city in 1854.

Seixas Solomons chronicaled, in 1854, the account of the first Jewish service in San Francisco that “took place in a tent-room occupied by Lewis Franklin, situated on Jackson Street near the corner of Kearny Street.” This writing was placed in the cornorstone of the first Congregation Emanu-El building.

Though not a man of means, Seixas Solomons became an important Jewish leader.

He was a brilliant orator, helped found the Lovers of Zion Society, and served as Presi­dent of the West’s first B’nai B’rith Lodge, Ophir No. 21, in 1857, and as Secretary of Congregation Emani-El from 1867 to 1871.


Hannah Marks Solomons created an exciting household.

It became an honor to be invited to one of the many social and intellectual events held at her home.



Hannah and Seixas brought eight children into the world.

At least three of them made very substantial names for themselves.

Lucius L. Solomons became a noted attorney of San Francisco, and served as President of District Grand Lodge No. 4, B’nai B’rith.


Dr. Adele Jaffa (nee) Solomons WS 14/1960

Dr. Adele Jaffa (nee) Solomons
WS 14/1960

Adele Rosa Solomons became a medical doctor.

In 1895 she mar­ried Dr. Myer Jaffa, a professor of chemistry and nutrition of the University of California.


Selina Solomons became a leader in the long process to bring the vote to California women almost a decade before it became a part of our U.S. Constitution.

She also wrote: How We Won the Vote in California: A True Story of the Campaign of 1911.


Salinas Solomons WS 16/2302

Salina Solomons
WS 16/2302


Hannah’s fifth child was Theodore Seixas Solomons, who was a pioneer explorer of the Sierra.

He traveled, surveyed and mapped the major portion of the high mountain route that was to become the John Muir Trail.

See the book: Solomons of the Sierra: The Pioneer of the John Muir Trail, by Shirley Sargent.


Hannah Marks Solomon died in 1890.


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

  • Solomons, Hannah Marks; Hannah Marks Solomons; San Francisco; Stern, Norton B.; 28/3
  • Solomons, Hannah Marks, Pioneer Jews of San Francisco, Part Two, M-Z, Norton Stern, 41/2

Photo Gallery [New photos always welcome]

Note: To enlarge any photo, click on the middle of it.

Solomons' Family Portrait WS 16/2305

Solomons’ Family Portrait
WS 16/2305


Bernhard Marks, Hannah's Brother, Founder of the Fresno Colony in California WS 16/2314

Bernhard Marks, Hannah’s Brother, Founder of the Fresno Colony in California
WS 16/2314