Bernhard Sinsheimer: Early Jewish Pioneer Merchant of San Luis Obispo, California

Bernhard Sinsheimer

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P


Bernhard Sinsheimer was born in 1848 in Burstadt, province of Daerstadt, Germany, the son of Simon and Claire Sinsheimer, Simon’s second wife.

Two of his brothers, Aaron (1838) and Henry (1854), were also born in Burstad.


Along the Way . . . .

Bernhard Sinsheimer came to the United States and was naturalized in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1874.


San Luis Obispo

Sinsheimer came to San Luis Obispo in late 1874.

He was employed as a clerk in the general merchandise firm of Pollard & Beebee for two years.

Together with his brother, Henry, he purchased the business in 1876.

Bernhard Sinsheimer ran the business, Sinsheimer Bros.while Henry acted as its purchasing agent in San Francisco.

Sinsheimer Bros. Adv. in The Daily Republic, San Luis Obispo, 1889

Sinsheimer Bros. advertisement, The Daily Republic, San Luis Obispo, 1889

In 1884, Sinsheimer Bros.purchased a lot on the east side of Monterey Street at Rose Alley, building a brick store 40 feet wide and 100 feet in depth with an iron front.

Today, the Sinsheimer Building is regarded as one of the best-preserved iron front structures in the United States.

Sinsheimer ^Sinsheimer's Bros. Store-San Louis Obispo,CA [1920's] #WS1656-^

Sinsheimer’s Bros. store, San Louis Obispo, CA, 1920’s, #WS1656

In 1898, Bernhard and Henry dissolved their partnership.

Bernhard Sinsheimer left San Luis Obispo to make his home in San Francisco, where he became a grain broker.

With his son, Silas, Bernhard established the firm of Sinsheimer & Co. in San Francisco, brokers of grain and beans during the pre-World War I period.

Bernhard’s older brother, A. Z. Sinsheimer, reorganized and incorporated the San Luis Obispo business as full owner, but retained the Sinsheimer Bros. name.



Bernhard Sinsheimer was vice-president of the First National Bank of San Luis Obispo.

He also served as a Town Trustee.



In San Francisco, Bernhard Sinsheimer was a member of Congregation Emanu-El.

He was known as a generous contributor to Jewish causes, including the Federation of Jewish Charities of San Francisco.



Bernard Sinsheimer was an officer in the San Francisco Knights of Pythias.

He was also a member of the Concordia Club in San Francisco.



Bernhard Sinsheimer married Miss Fannie Stone in San Francisco in 1881.

Mrs. Bernhard Sinsheimer (Nee)Fannie Stone ^San Francisco,CA [1881's, WS1966

Mrs. Bernhard Sinsheimer (née Fannie Stone), San Francisco,CA, 1881, #WS1966

Together they had two children: Silas and Helen.


Bernhard Sinsheimer died in 1928.


  • Norton B. Stern, “The Sinsheimers of San Luis Obispo,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 6/1.

David Epstein is curator of this Bernhard Sinsheimer exhibit.