Isaac Goldberg: Early Jewish Pioneer of the Arizona Territory

Isaac Goldberg

Values Codes  I – E – L


Isaac Goldberg was born between 1837 and 1841 in Piotrkow, northeast of Lodz, Russia/Poland.

Along the way . . . 

Isaac Goldberg followed his brother, Hyman, to the United States, and came to San Bernardino, California.

Hyman sent Isaac and his brother-in-law, Phillip Brachman to La Paz, Arizona after a gold strike was announced in 1863.

They went on to Weaver and then to Prescott, Arizona.


Arizona Territory

In Prescott, Goldberg acted as a barkeeper.

Arriving in Tucson in 1861 (according to his obituary), he opened a general merchandise store called I. Goldberg & Co.

He was also involved in freighting and well-digging.

Isaac Goldberg was famous as an optimistic but unsuccessful prospector, picking up the nickname Lomo de Oro” (Gold Lion), as he spent his time away from the store on searches for gold and silver.

“I. Goldberg, Esq. of Tucson is here on business.  He is one of Arizona’s pioneer businessmen.  There is scarcely an enterprise or a part of the Territory that he has not been in to.”

The Arizona Sentinel, 1878 



Isaac Goldberg married Amelia Lazarus in the early 1870’s in San Bernardino.

They had four children: Emma, Arthur, Aron, and Ann.


Goldberg left Arizona for San Bernardino, California around 1890 where he wrote his memoirs at the request of the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society and forwarded them in 1894.


Interesting Quotes from Memoirs

One morning, as I entered the barroom, my fancy dispenser of exhilarating fluid asked me if I desired a nice cocktail compounded, and I had hardly assented, when a rough customer whom I did not previously observe told me, with a frightful oath, that I must, instead, take a drink, at his expense, accompanying his request with a terrific display of murderous weapons.  Filling the tin cup to the brim with fiery liquid, he ordered its instant disappearance on pain of death, and I seemingly complied with the rudely accentuated demand.  But when I had consumed a portion of the unrelished draught, I abruptly dashed the remainder into the blood-shot eyes of the demented ruffian.  This unexpected attack so confused him, making him temporarily blind, that the barkeeper and I had but little difficulty in overpowering, disarming and biding him, prior to confining him in an adjacent log pen.    Although he soon escaped from our chamber of penance, owing to the frailty of its construction, he could not find me to wreck his vengeance upon my innocent head, and shortly afterwards, becomingly apologized for his abominable meanness.


We pioneers of Arizona were afflicted by desperadoes, foes frequently as dreadful as the dreadful, detested and dangerous aborigines.  In those days of bold adventure, we usually traveled with as many associates as possible, and I will, although almost unwillingly, remember that when I prepared for my lengthy trip back from Prescott to Viver’s, I expected to be accompanied by six others.  But owing to the business which delayed be, I was obliged to proceed alone, with the expectation of catching-up with them.   By my diligence as a pursuing horseman, I did overtake my friends, at a few miles, from our destination, only they were dismounted and dead.  Few, except pioneers, have witnessed a sight like that which almost unmanned me and caused the cold chills of death itself to invade my trembling frame.  There they lay, all six of them, not only lifeless, by naked and shockingly mutilated from head to foot.  Barbarity had accomplished its worst upon the bodies of my lately breathing friends, as though implacably angry because their souls were beyond the reach of the relentless scalping-knife.  With a heavy heart I hurried into Viver and gave the alarm.  The citizens hastened to the disastrous scene, and gave the victims a common burial.

Scalping by Indians, vintage postcard

Isaac Goldberg passed away in 1901.

He is buried in Beth Shalom’s cemetery in San Meteo, California.



  • Isaac Goldberg, “Reminiscences of an Arizona Pioneer,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 2/3.

Regina Merwin is the curator for this Isaac Goldberg exhibit.