Eleazer Block, the First Jewish Lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri in the Early 1820’s

Eleazer Block

Values Codes I – H – E – L


Eleazer Block was born in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1797.

His father, Jacob Block, came to America from Bohemia in the early 1790s.

He settled in Virginia and opened grocery and mercantile stores in Baltimore, Maryland, Williamsburg, and Richmond, Virginia.

Eleazer grew up in Richmond, Virginia.

He attended the College of William & Mary, graduating in 1814.


St. Louis, Missouri

In 1817, Eleazer Block traveled west to St. Louis, Missouri.

There, he became was the first Jewish lawyer in St. Louis.

Map of St. Louis, 1819/20, during the residency of Eliezer Block

Map of St. Louis, 1819/20, during the residency of Eleazer Block

In 1821, Block’s law office was on the northeast corner of Pine and End.

He also invested in Missouri real estate with his relatives.


In 1826, his cousin, Simon Block, died.

Eleazer Block became the guardian of Simon’s 10 children, though the children did not live with him.

They remained in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with Simon’s widow.


Moving on . . . .

Some years later, Eleazer Block returned to Richmond.

There, he worked in his father’s mercantile stores.

Block and his family then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where there was an organized Jewish community with access to a synagogue, something that wasn’t available in St. Louis at that time.


In 1835 The Block family resided in Baltimore, where Eleazer Block acted as a commission broker.

In 1840, Eleazer Block attempted to establish a seminary of classical learning in New York City with the guidance Rabbi Isaac Leeser.

“There is no man among us, who possesses more general and classical knowledge, than Eleazer Block.”

— Rabbi Isaac Lesser, 1847

When several of their children made their homes in New Orleans, Eleazer and Abigail Block moved there to be near-by.



In the mid-1820’s, Eleazer Block married Abigail DePass (b.1800), the niece of Gershom Mendez Seixas, who was the “Patriot Rabbi” of the Revolutionary War. 

Together they had 8 children: Rehine David, Rosalie (1828-1911), Sarah (1833-1912), Eleanor (1834-1900), Josephine (1839-1924), David Judah (b.1840?), Herman Mendelsohn (b.1841), and Louisa Salome (1846-1847).

Eleanor Block married Henry J. Labattwho created a name for himself in the California Wild West. [Click Here]


Eleazer Block died in 1886 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Abigail DePass Block died in 1893.



  • Walter Ehrlich, Zion in the Valley: The Jewish Community of St. Louis, Volume 1 (Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press, 1997).
  • Ira Rosenwaike, “Eleazer Block – His Family and Career,” American Jewish Archives (Nov. 1979).

Samantha Silver is curator of this Eleazer Block exhibit.