Leopold Lazarus: Early Jewish Pioneer of St. Helena, California

Leopold Lazarus

Lazarus Family Portrait

Lazarus family portrait

Values Codes  I – E – L


Leopold Lazarus was born in France in 1827.

Lazarus left France in 1848 at the age of 21, to seek his fortune in America.


Along the way

Leopold Lazarus journeyed from New Orleans to California.

In California, Lazarus engaged in the mercantile trade and mining.


St. Helena

In 1862, he moved to St. Helena, California.

Lazarus operated a general merchandise store in St. Helena until 1875.

In 1866, he was appointed as the Agent for Wells, Fargo & Company in St. Helena.



Leopold Lazarus was elected City Treasurer and served five terms.



In 1863, Lazarus married Julia Straus, a native of Alsace.

The couple had four children: Alfred, Leon, Leontine Rose, and Sylvain.

Sylvain Lazarus seemed to inherit his father’s adventurous spirit and spent time in Nome, Alaska before returning to California, where he became a lawyer and then judge in the Superior Court of San Francisco.

Greeting postcard from St. Helena, CA


  • 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 Leopold Lazarus exhibit.