David Hirshfeld: Pioneer Jewish Merchant of Bakersfield California, an 1891 Description

David Hirshfeld

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Curator’s Note: We recently found part of a large book that appears to have been published in 1891, titled Memorial and Biographical His­tory of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, California

The book lists many of the German-born Jewish merchants and professionals played an important and interconnected role in the economy of the San Joaquin Valley.

In reading these biographical sketches, please note the language of the time, as well as the affection given to the subjects. The author is unknown.

Below is one of the entries, edited slightly for our museum.


David Hirshfeld, one of the leading merchants of Kern County, is a native of Germany. He came to California as a boy, in 1871, and landed in Santa Ana, where he received his first business experience.

David Hirshfeld, Kern County, CA, #WS1397

In the following year he went to Lower California, during the placer-mining boom, and remained there for a little over two years, when he returned to American soil, and shortly afterward to Bakersfield where he has remained ever since.

Hirshfeld became a member of the firm of Hirshfeld Bros. & Co., which established for themselves a reputation for fair dealing and trustworthiness in every hamlet in the county.

He dissolved his business connections with his former associates and established for himself the Pioneer Store, in 1890.

This store is one of the most complete establishments in Central California.

It occupies a spacious, new and solid brick building, constructed especially for the present occupant.

The stock contained in this building is the largest in Kern County.

The proprietor has local buyers in San Francisco and in the East, who supply him daily with new and fashionable goods, which enables him to give his customers the best for the least money.

The store is lighted with six electric arc lights, which gives it the brilliancy of day at night.

Four lines of the rapid cash transmitter forward file cash receipts to the cashiers’ desks.

Improved elevators are used for the handling of heavy goods.

The Pioneer Store has the best ventilated basement in the city.

It is 58×100 feet, and is filled with heavy goods.

Bakersfield, CA, old train station, vintage postcard

David Hirshfeld occupies an enviable position as a business man in Kern Valley.

His success is due mainly to that sterling trait of character that he never misrepresents anything in business, and that he never resorts to the “Cheap John” way of doing business in holding out five cent inducements in order to gain $5 advantage over the unwary.

Mr. Hirshfeld takes a lively interest in home affairs which tend to forward the material interests and development of his town and vicinity, and as a citizen and social companion, is highly esteemed.


  • “Jewish Businessmen of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties,” from Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern, California (1891), reprinted in Western States Jewish History 34/4.