Abram Anspacher: Jewish Grain King & “Old Man Benevolent” of Early San Francisco

Abram Anspacher

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Abram Anspacher, of San Francisco

Abram Anspacher of San Francisco

Abraham Anspacher was born in 1818 in the Bavarian town of Weimar, Schmiedau.

He came to America in 1839, avoiding the draft, and settled first in Cincinnati, Ohio, then Louisville, Kentucky, and then Evansville, Indiana, where he be­came a leading merchant.


San Francisco & Livermore

In 1868, Abram Anspacher and his family arrived in San Francisco.

He established a hay and grain business, and a large store in Livermore called Anspacher & Bros., which eventual included his son and son-in-law.

Abram Anspacher and his wife, Babette, maintained homes in both San Francisco and Livermore. They were among the earliest commuters.



“Old Man Benevolent,” as Anspacher was called, joined Congregation Emanu-El and served a term as president.

He also served as president of the Eureka Benevolent Society.

Anspacher was also a major supporter of the Pacific He­brew Orphan Asylumwhere he funded the Anspacher Band.

Anspacher also served as vice-president of the Jewish Alliance of California when it was organized in 1891.

He was a life member of the Jewish Publication Society.

Anspacher purchased the personal library of Rabbi H.A. Henry for the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati.

Abram Anspacher was among the most generous Jewish philanthropist in the his­tory of San Francisco — a major feat considering the many munificent Jews in the annals of the city. 

The Anspacher Orphans Band, 1890s, WS1954

The Anspacher Orphans Band, 1890’s, #WS1954

As important as his deeds of benevolence were, it was said that he was especially loved and respected for his personal goodness, piety, and religious fervor.

Anspacher used to give to charity about twice as much as he could afford, in order to prod an especially wealthy and prominent family to give what he thought they should be giving.


Abram Anspacher was also active in the Masons and B’nai B’rith.



The Anspachers had five children who lived to adulthood, three sons and two daughters: Simon, Joseph, Phillip, Addie, and Emma.


Abram Aspacher died in 1907.

He is buried in Temple Emanu-El’s Memorial Park in Colma, California


  • Norton B. Stern, “Abram Anspacher,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.


Jews in the News

— About This Time —

Rosh Hashanah, San Francisco — 1865

Never before in the history of California was the Jewish New Year so universally celebrated as the one just passed. Each and every store was closed, and all passed congratulations, one to the other, and the strife which agitated in our midst, regarding congregational matters, seemed to be forgotten. Even our Christian fellow-citizens mingled in our joys, and the wholesale dealers manifested it by closing their places of business earlier than usual and visiting our synagogues during the day.

Thanks to God, that we live in a country where prejudice is unknown, where every man can worship his God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and where our co-religionists are respected more, and held in higher esteem, than on any other part of the globe.

Our places of worship were crowded to repletion, and hundreds could not obtain admission…

—The Hebrew, San Francisco, September 29, 1865 [WSJHQ 3/4]