Benedict Feigenbaum: Early Pioneer Jewish Merchant of Northern California & San Francisco

Benedict Feigenbaum

Benedict Feigenbaum of San Francisco

Benedict Feigenbaum of San Francisco

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P


Benedict Feigenbaum was born in Binswangen, Bavaria, Germany in 1834.

He was educated in his home town, and in Augsberg for high school.

Feigenbaum arrived in the United States in New York City at the age of 19.


Along the way  

In New York City, Benedict Feigenbaum became a bookkeeper for a wholesale shoe firm, and afterwards for the wholesale clothing firm of D. H. Goodman & Co.


San Francisco

In 1855, Feigenbaum came to San Francisco.

He was immediately hired by Frank Wolzer, a merchant of Eureka, California.

One year later, Feigenbaum formed a partnership with Henry Rohner in a town called Eel River.

They also operated stores in Fortuna and Eureka until 1865.

Eel River Vintage Postcard

Eel River Vintage Postcard

In 1868, Benedict Feigenbaum moved permanently to San Francisco.

There, he formed a partnership with his brother, Joseph Feigenbaumand Louis Schwartzchild.

Their firm was known as the California Notion & Toy Company.



Feigenbaum served as treasurer of theRepublican Party in California.



Benedict Feigenbaum was a member ofTemple Emanu-El.



Feigenbaum was a Mason.



In 1866, the first wedding was held in Congregation Emanu-El on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

At that time, Benedict Feigenbaum married Hannah Lowenthal of Frankfort am Main.

Rabbi Elkan Cohn performed the ceremony.

Their two sons were Lionel B. Feigenbaumwho married Gertrude Napthaly, and Julius Feigenbaumwho married Rose Stettheimer of New York.

Both sons continued running theCalifornia Notion & Toy Company in later years.


Benedict Feigenbaum died in 1896.


  • Martin A. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, 1916).
  • Fred Rosenbaum, Visions of Reform: Congregation Emanu-El and the Jews of San Francisco, 1849 – 1999 (Berkeley: Judah L. Magnus Museum, 2000).

David Epstein is curator of this Benedict Feigenbaum exhibit