Nathan Goldtree: Early Pioneer Merchant of San Luis Obispo, California

Nathan Goldtree

Nathan Goldtree of San Luis Obispo

Nathan Goldtree of San Luis Obispo

Value Codes  I – E – L – P


Nathan Goldtreeoriginally Nathan Goldbaum, was born in 1838, in Adelnau, a region of Posen, Prussia.

He moved to San Francisco in 1856, when he was 18 years of age.


San Luis Obispo

In 1857, Nathan Goldtree arrived in San Luis Obispo, California, and began to amass his fortune.

First, he opened a small store at the old Quintana Corner.

Business was brisk and money plentiful. The firm thrived.

In 1865, his brothers, Isaac, Marcus, and Morris joined him in the business, which they called Goldtree Bros.

They moved from their original modest store to a brick block, which they built themselves on the most prominent corner in San Luis Obispo.

In 1868, they had the first large advertisement in the first edition of the San Luis Obispo Pioneer News:


The Oldest Business House in San Luis Obispo. Established, 1856.

Keep constantly on hand, and offer for sale to the public, their well selected and complete stock of all kinds of DRY GOODS, CLOTHING, hats & caps, boots & shoes AND furnishing goods, of every description for Men, Women, Boy’s and Misses wear.

Together with a large assortment of groceries and provisions, paints, oils, varnish, medicines, stationery, tinware, crockery, lamps, liquors ETC.

All of our Goods are PURCHASED AT AUCTION, and we assure the Public that we are enabled to sell Cheaper than the Cheapest!

All kinds of Country Produce taken in exchange for Goods purchased. Call and examine our stock before purchasing elsewhere.

All Orders from the Country promptly attended to.

— San Luis Obispo Pioneer News, January 4, 1868

The business continued until 1898.

Nathan Goldtree also served as vice-president of the Narrow Gauge Railroad Co., which would become the Pacific Coast Railroad.

He later served on the Committee of 421, which helped make way for the Southern Pacific Railroad to link San Luis Obispo with other California Central Coast towns.

Additionally, he was a founder of the banking house of Jack Goldtree & Co.



Nathan Goldtree served for many years as the treasurer and trustee of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.

He was also a director of the Old Peoples’ Home on Lombard Street.



Nathan Goldtree was a member of the Mason’s King David Lodge #209 in San Luis Obispo.

He was also a member of Bay City Parlor of the Odd Fellows.



In 1878, Nathan Goldtree married Miss Augusta Kaminski.

Together, they had four children: Haidee, Morris Nathan, Sidney Ausgust, and Palmyre.

They had homes in both San Luis Obispo and San Francisco.

Nathan Goldtree retired to San Francisco in his later years, and died in 1902.


  • 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 Nathan Goldtree exhibit.

Thanks to Jurgen Pfaff, whose wife is the a descendant of Nathan Goldtree, for additional information.