Aaron Fleishhacker & Sons, Mortimer & Herbert: Jewish Pioneer Merchants, Manufacturers, Bankers and Philanthropists of San Francisco

Aaron Fleishhacker & Sons: Mortimer & Herbert

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P


Aaron Fleishhacker was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1820.


Along the way . . . 

At the age of 25, Aaron Fleishhacker immigrated to the United States, first settling in New Orleans.

There, he engaged in a general merchandise business.

After a few years, he moved briefly to New York City until he heard the “call of the West.” 


San Francisco

Aaron Fleishhacker arrived in San Francisco in 1853.

He engaged in general merchandising in the Gold Country of Sacramento and Grass Valley, as well as Virginia City and Carson, Nevada.

“During his residence among the various characters in the mining camps of Nevada, Aaron Fleishhacker, father of the Fleishhacker boys, was known as “Honest Fleishhacker.”  The name was well earned and given to him through his reputation of always keeping his word.” 

— Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916

Returning to San Francisco, Fleishhacker established a manufacturing plant for the making of paper boxes, and a general paper business – both of which grew to very large enterprises.



Mortimer Fleishhacker Sr.

Mortimer Fleishhacker Sr.

Aaron Fleishhacker was one of the founders of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

He was also active and affiliated with almost every Jewish philanthropic organization in that city.



Aaron Fleishhacker married Miss Deliah Stern of Albany, New York, in 1857.

Together, they had eight children, six of whom survived to adulthood: Mrs. Ludwig Schwabacher, Mrs. S. D. Rosenbaum, Mortimer Fleishhacker (1866-1953), Herbert Fleishhacker (1872-1957), Mrs. S. C. Scheeline, and Mrs. Frank Wolf.

Mortimer and Herbert organized the American River Electric Company, an early hydroelectric generation venture. In time, they had more than a dozen power plants and factories in operation.

Herbert Fleishhacker

Herbert Fleishhacker

The brothers were also influential in the banking industry, operating various banks that eventually became Crocker 1st National Bank.

The family was deeply philanthropic and responsible for many of the area’s cultural and landmark institutions, including the Fleishhacker Zoo, which later became the San Francisco Zooand the Fleishhacker Pool in San Francisco, famed as the world’s largest saltwater swimming pool, which remained in operation until 1971.

Aaron Fleishhacker died in 1898

Mortimer Fleishhacker died in 1953.

Herbert Fleishhacker died in 1957.

Fleishhacker Zoo, now named the San Francisco Zoo, Vintage Postcard

Fleishhacker Zoo, now San Francisco Zoo, vintage postcard

Fleishhacker Zoo Engine, Vintage Postcard

Fleishhacker Zoo engine, vintage postcard

Fleishhacker Pool, Largest Salt Water Pool in the World, Vintage Postcard

Fleishhacker Pool, largest salt water pool in the world, vintage postcard

“Herbert Fleishhacker was my grandfather’s business partner in developing Pebble Beach.  When he and S.F.B. Morse went to buy the Hotel Del Monte and the 20,000 acres of the Monterey Peninsula including Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove, his patrons, the Crockers wanted nothing to do with it.  It was 1919 and Mr. Fleishhacker, head of the Anglo Bank, found him the money he needed and became his partner. They were friends for life.”

— Submitted by Charles Osborne


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