Henry Getleson and Abraham Friedberg: Early Jewish Pioneers of Calistoga, California

Henry Getleson and Abraham Friedberg

Values Codes  I – E – L


Trained as a sculptor in Germany, Henry Getleson came to Calistoga, California in 1866.

By the invitation of Sam Brannan, Getleson built the town’s first general store at Washington and Lincoln Streets.

A sister store in San Francisco was operated by Russian-born Morris Friedberg.

The Calistoga store boasted the first private telephone line in town.

Getleson & Friedberg Adv.

Getleson & Friedberg advertisement

In 1871, Henry Getleson became partners with Morris Friedberg’s brother, Abraham Friedberg.

After a year, Getleson left the partnership.

Felix Grauss, Sr. clerked for the firm for many years before going into business for himself.

It is thought that the disparaging portrait of the Jewish store owner, Kelmar, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Silverado Squatters is based on Abraham Friedberg.



  • I. C. Adams, Memoirs and Anecdotes of Early Calistoga (Calistoga, 1946).
  • Lin Weber, Under the Vine and the Fig Tree: The Jews of Napa Valley (Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, 2003).
  • Henry Michalski and Donna Mendelsohn, Napa Valley’s Jewish Heritage (Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2012).
  • Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, info@jhsnv.org

Lauren Chevlen is curator of this Henry Getleson and Abraham Friedberg exhibit.