Harry Isaacs: Pioneer Jewish Freighter & Saloon Keeper in Early of San Francisco

Harry Isaacs

Harry Isaacs of San Francisco 1816 - 1862

Harry Isaacs of San Francisco, 1816 – 1862

Values Codes I – H – E


Harry Isaacs was born in London in 1816.

He was educated in London, where his father, Israel Isaacs, was a wholesale butcher and “Butcher to the King.”

Isaacs was both the Dispenser of Alms for the Montefiores and the Paymaster for the Rothchilds.

“Educated in London and living there until early manhood, Harry Isaacs was conserving his strength and vitality which he freely gave later for the benefit of the country of his adoption.”

– Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916

Along the way . . . .

Harry Issacs came to the United States, settling first in New Orleans, about 1842.

There, he enlisted in the American Army in the war against Maximilian I of Mexico.

After the war, he moved to California in 1851, settling first in Monterey County.


San Francisco

In 1852, Harry Isaacs moved to San Francisco.

First, he became a wharfinger on Long Wharf, which extended 2,800 feet out on San Francisco Bay, and later became Commercial Street.

He then went into the freight business and ran The Identical Saloon.

San Francisco Bay 1850

San Francisco Bay, 1850, vintage postcard


Harry Isaacs was known for his interest in Jewish charitable affairs.



Isaacs was a member of the International Order of B’nai B’rith and of the Masonic Order, Scottish Rite.


Harry Isaacs married Miss Kate Davis of London.

Together, they had  3 children: Mrs. Rachel Mogenstern, Mrs. Max Abrahams, and Josh D.


Harry Isaacs died in 1862 at the age of 46.


  • Martin A. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, 1916).

David Epstein is curator of this Harry Isaacs exhibit.


Jews in the News

–About This Time–

Exchange of Letters in San Francisco — 1854

San Francisco, October 7, 1854.

To the President of the First Hebrew Benevolent Society:

Dear Sir: — The enclosed Comptroller’s Warrant for $333.33, received by me for one month’s salary as the late Mayor of this city, I beg you will accept, to be devoted to the charitable objects of your society.

Very respectfully,

Your ob’t ser’t,

C. K. Garrison.

San Francisco, October 11, 1854.

To the Hon. C. K. Garrison, late Mayor of the City of San Francisco:

Sir: — Your favor of the 7th inst., has been received, enclosing Comptroller’s Warrant for $333.33, received by you for one month’s salary as the late Mayor of this city, to be accepted and devoted to the charitable objects of our society.

In returning thanks for this act of bounty which weighs light in the scale of your many generosities, we feel grateful for the assistance it will afford in alleviating the sufferings among the distressed of Israel, and with the conviction that it was the just reward of a noble and honest discharge of public duties, we will exert our abilities in complying with your benevolent request.

Yours, very respectfully,

Henry J. Labatt, Secretary.

—Alta California, quoted in The American Israelite, Cincinnati, November 24, 1854 [WSJHQ 7/2]