Julius Jacobs: Pioneer Jewish Merchant, Insurance Salesman, and Assistant United States Treasurer

Julius Jacobs

Julius Jacobs, Assistant Treasurer of the United States, San Francisco, #WS2279

Julius Jacobs, Assistant Treasurer of the United States, San Francisco,

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Julius Jacobs was born in the town of Samotschin, Prussia, in 1840.

His father was the village schoolmaster.

At the age of thirteen, Julius Jacobs made his way to San Francisco via Panama, arriving in 1853.


“On his arrival in this country he systematically set out to educate himself by night study.  He succeeded to a remarkable degree.  He read extensively on the most diverse subjects, and his excellent memory enabled him to retain a vast collection of facts that quick intelligence co-ordinated.  He spoke and wrote well.  His taste in literature was cosmopolitan, and included English and foreign poets, scientific, political, and sociological writers from whom he quoted freely.” 

— Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916


San Francisco

Upon his arrival in California, Julius Jacobs was employed by C. & T. L. Horn, at that time the largest tobacco house in San Francisco.

Soon afterwards, he moved to Folsom, where he engaged in the general merchandise business and began a second career as an insurance salesman.

Before he was 21, Jacobs headed a chain of stores at Folsom, Georgetown, and other towns in the Gold Country, all under the name of Julius Jacobs & Co.

Later, Julius Jacobs became a partner of the firm of Gridley, Hobart & Jacobs in Austin, Nevadaduring a short-lived Gold Rush in that area.

In the early 1860’s, Jacobs returned to San Francisco, retired from the mercantile business and entered the general insurance field.

The insurance firm of Potter, Jacobs & Easton was formed in 1874. Jacobs was active in the firm until his death.

He also built a fine art collection, including one of the most famous Gold Rush paintings, Sutter’s Mill, by Charles Nahl.

"Sutter's Mill," by Charles Nahl, Vintage Postcard

“Sutter’s Mill,” by Charles Nahl, vintage postcard



Julius Jacobs belonged to the Montefiore Lodge of B’nai B’rith and held the high office of first vice-president of the Grand Lodge of District #4He was a member of the Fidelity Lodge of the Masonic Order, and to the Bay City Lodge of the Odd Fellows.



Julius Jacobs, along with retired California Supreme Court  Judge Heydenfeldt and Professor Felix Adlerhelped develop the Free Kindergarten Movement on the West Coast.

Jacobs was the director and treasurer of the Pioneer Kindergarten Society for many years.

In 1898, Julius Jacobs was appointed byPresident McKinley as Assistant United States Treasurer in charge of the San Francisco Sub-Treasury.



In 1860, Julius Jacobs helped found the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Folsom and was elected secretary.

In San Francisco, he served as vice-president and trustee of Congregation Emanu-El.



Julius Jacobs married Sarah Adler in 1869.

They had 3 children: Lester, Mrs. Florence Hoffman, and Alfred.

Julius Jacobs passed away in 1907.


  • Norton B. Stern, “Julius Jacobs: Assistant United States Treasurer, Merchant & Community Servant, San Francisco, Folsom & Nevada,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.
  • Martin A. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, 1916).

David Epstein is curator of this Julius Jacobs exhibit.


Jews in the News

   About This Time

The First Jewish Girl to Graduate from the University of California — 1883

Miss Fannie Bernstein, graduated at the State University last week, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Miss Bernstein is the first Jewess to receive these honors in the history of our University, and she has earned them in the face of many obstacles.

—The Jewish Times, San Francisco, March 30, 1883, WSJH, Vol. 6, #1.