Colonel Marcus H. Hecht, Pioneer Boot & Shoe Manufacturer of San Francisco

Marcus Hecht

Marcus Hecht of San Francisco

Marcus Hecht of San Francisco

Values Codes I – E – L


Marcus Hecht was born in 1844 in Hainstadt, in the Duchy of Baden, Germany.

In 1848, at the age of 4, Marcus Hecht left with his parents, Helene and Elias Hecht, and his brothers and sisters for America via Rotterdam, London, and on to New York City.


Along the way . . .

The family proceeded to Baltimore, where the older sons — Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob — soon found jobs that sup­ported the family and allowed their younger brothers, Marcus and Louis Jr., to go to school.

In the early 1860’s, Marcus Hecht opened a shoe store in Balti­more.

He later moved to Boston, where he also operated a shoe store.


San Francisco

By 1860, the older Hecht brothers had established them­selves in San Francisco as importers and jobbers of boots and shoes.

Marcus Hecht joined them by the late 1860’s.

Marcus and Louis Jr. were made partners, and the five broth­ers soon built a very prosperous business.

Hecht shoe advertisement

Hecht shoe advertisement

By the early 1870’s, Hecht Bros. & Co. and, another firm they established with Thomas Buckingham, Buckingham & Hecht, were major manu­facturers of boots and shoes, and wholesalers of the same products — plus leather and shoe findings.

They had a manufacturing plant and a wholesale display showroom.

For several years, Marcus Hecht was president of The Emporium Company, as well as president of Buckingham & Hecht.

The Emporium, Vintage Postcard

The Emporium, Vintage Postcard

He was also a director of the Mercantile Trust Company.

By the 1890’s, Hecht Bros. & Co. had become a bond and investment securities firm, while shoe manufacturing carried on under Buckingham & Hecht.



Marcus H. Hecht was active in Republican politics, and in 1884 he was chosen as a Presidential Elector by the Republican Conven­tion. He was also a candi­date for Congress on the Republican ticket.

One commentator described him as“a self-made man, who has risen from an humble sphere by dint of hard work and tireless energy.”

Marcus Hecht became a Colonel in the California National Guard.

During the administration of Mayor Phelan, he served as a Fire Commissioner of San Francisco.


In 1871, Marcus Hecht married Alice Arnold.

Together, they had four daughters: Mrs. Mark Gerstle, Mrs. William Gerstle, Mrs. John Rothschild, and Mrs. Julian S. Stein.


Colonel Marcus H. Hecht died in 1909, and was interred at Home of Peace in Colma, south of San Francisco.

“Marcus Hecht was widely known as a great extemporaneous speaker, a charitable man, and was associated with many Jewish organizations.”

— Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916


  • Norton B. Stern, “MarcusHecht,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.
  • Martin M. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, 1916). 

David Epstein is curator of this Marcus Hecht exhibit.


Jews in the News

–About This Time–

A Conversion in San Francisco — 1865

Admitted — On Monday last, the respected wife of Mr. (Simon) Appel, a co-religionist, was received into the Holy Covenant by the Rev. Dr. (Henry A.) Henry. The lady has been married to Mr. Appel about a year, and her amiable qualities have endeared her to all who have had the pleasure of her acquaintonce (sic.).

— The Hebrew, San Francisco, Wednesday, September 20, 1865 [WSJHQ 6/2]

Rabbi Henry A. Henry was spiritual leader of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.