Adolph Levi: Early Jewish Pioneer and Businessman of the San Diego Area

Adolph Levi

Adolph Levi of Julian and San Diego #WS1527

Adolph Levi of Julian and San Diego, CA, #WS1527

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Adolph Levi was born in 1858 in western Bohemia in a village called Langendorflas.

He had four brothers, Simon, Nathan, Isaac, and Rudolphand one sister, Rosa.


San Diego Area

In 1877, at age eighteen, Adolph Levi joined his older brothers Simon, Nathan, and Isaac in San Diego, California.

Simon Levi was working for their uncle, Samuel Steinerat Steiner, Klauber & Co., a grocery and general merchandise store at 7th and Island Avenues in downtown San Diego.

After a year at Steiner, Klauber & Co., Adolph Levi set out on his own and eventually settled in Julian City, where his brother, Isaac Levi,owned a store.


Adolph Levi's Julian Store, 1890s #WS1526

Adolph Levi’s store, Julian, CA, 1890’s,

Adolph Levi purchased a grocery business, which he expanded to a sawmill and livery stable.

With partner, Joseph Marks, Adolph Levi owned Oak Grove Ranch, fourteen miles north of Warner Hot Springs.

In Julian, they built the brick building that would eventually become the Julian Drug Store.

When he married and started a family, Adolph Levi moved to San Diego, where he went into the hack and livery stable business.

He owned several hack companies and stables around San Diego, including Diamond Livery Stable at 521 7th, Pacific Coast Hack and Transfer Lineand Levi’s Hack and Transfer Co.

Levi was also involved in real estate. He owned land from the ocean to Lakeside.

Adolph Levi Livery Stable, San Diego. #WS1528

Adolph Levi’s livery stable, San Diego, CA, #WS1528


In 1885, Adolph Levi traveled back to his birthplace in Bohemia to attend his sister’s wedding.

There, he met Eleanora Schwartz. The two were married and returned to Julian.

Eleanora and Adolph had a son, Edgar, and a daughter, Selma.

Later, Adolph and Edgar owned Adolph Levi & Son Livestock, and had ranches and dairy farms all over San Diego County.



Adolph Levi was deeply involved with the Jewish community.

He, along with his brother, Simon, and Samuel Fox were instrumental in selecting the site and completing the first building of Congregation Beth Israel at 2nd and Beech Streets in 1889.

Adolph Levi and Samuel Fox selected the second building site at 3rd and Laurel in 1926.

Levi was the fourth president of Congregation Beth Israel from 1912 to 1926, following his brother, Simon.

Although the five brothers all lived in San Diego at one time, only the descendants of Adolph and Eleanora reside in San Diego today.

Rudolf, Adolph, Isaac, Simon, & Nathan Levi, San Diego, 1879. #WS1525

Rudolf, Adolph, Isaac, Simon, & Nathan Levi, San Diego, 1879, #WS1525


  • Henry Schwartz, “Levi Saga: Temecula, Julian, San Diego,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 6/3.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Simon Levi,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.

Stanley & Laurel Schwartz are curators of this Adolf Levi exhibit.