Mark & Bertha Levison: Jewish Pioneer Merchants of Virginia City, Nevada

Mark Levison

Mark & Bertha Livison, 1862, Virginia City, Nevada, #WS0211

Mark & Bertha Levison, 1862, Virginia City, Nevada, #WS0211

Values Codes I – E – L


Mark Levison was born in 1824 in Nijmwegen, Holland.

His surname was Levy, but Mark’s father, Jacob, changed it to Levison.


Along the way . . . 

During the mid-1840’s, Mark Levison moved to Norwich, England.

In 1849, he moved on to the United States, first to the Midwest, then New Orleans and, finally, California.

In 1852, Levison opened a restaurant in Placerville, California.

He then opened a clothing store.

Mark Levison was naturalized in 1855.


Virginia City, Nevada

In 1862, Mark Levison and his family moved to Virginia City, Nevada, where they opened a clothing store.

In 1869, the Levisons moved their store to Truckee, California, after the Central Pacific Railroad was completed.

However, when the railroad did not bring business to Truckee, they returned to Virginia City.

In 1871, a devastating fire destroyed the Levison’s home and business, along with most of Virginia City.

In 1875, Mark Levison moved to San Francisco where he founded an insurance brokerage firm.

Virginia City, Nevada, Mid-1860's

Virginia City, Nevada, mid-1860’s


Mark Levison was a member of the King Solomon Lodge of B’nai B’rith in Virginia City.

He was also a member of B’nai B’rith Nevada Lodge # 52.



Mark Levison’s wife, Bertha Roman, was born in 1841 in Zduni, Poland (Prussia).

Bertha Roman came to America in the late 1950’s and headed West in 1860, settling in Placerville, where her sister lived.

Both Mark and Bertha spoke a form of Western Yiddish called taytsh.

Mark married Roman in 1862, in Placerville, California.

Together they had four children: Jacob (b.1862), Jennie, Alma, and Charles.

Jacob Levison grew up to be President of Fireman’s Insurance Company from 1917-1937.


Bertha Roman Levison died in 1892.

Mark Levison died in 1907.



  • Norton B. Stern, “Mark and Bertha Levison: Hangtown & San Francisco, California & Virginia City, Nevada,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.

Samantha Silver is curator of this Mark Levison exhibit.