Daniel & Jonas Meyer: Early Pioneer Jewish Bankers of San Francisco

Daniel Meyer

Daniel Meyer, 1890s, #WS1874

Daniel Meyer, 1890’s, #WS1874

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Daniel Meyer was born in Sulzburg, Baveria, in 1824.

He was trained there in the business of banking.

He arrived in New York City in 1842.

Nine years later, in 1851, he came to San Francisco.


San Francisco

Once in San Francisco, Daniel and his brother, Jonas, engaged in the tobacco business.

In 1857, the Daniel Meyer Bank was established, which grew to be one of the strongest private banking institutions in the country. Partners included Daniel’s brothers Jonas, Moritz, and Matthias.

Daniel Meyer and brothers at the Daniel Meyer Bank, San Francisco, 1890s, #WS1872

Daniel Meyer and brothers at the Daniel Meyer Bank, San Francisco, 1890’s,

Daniel Meyer was also vice-president of the German Savings and Loan Society and was connected to many large enterprises.

“He was a man of fine character, high ideals and integrity, and was never found wanting in the support of charitable enterprises of every description.”

– Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916


Daniel Meyer was a primary organizer the original Irrigation Districts of California.



Daniel was one of the first large supporters to the Federation of Jewish Charities.



Daniel Meyer married Miss Clara Newhouse in 1852.

They had no children.

Daniel died in 1911.

Home of Daniel Meyer, San Francisco, 1890s, #WS1870

Home of Daniel Meyer, San Francisco, 1890’s, #WS1870

Jonas Meyer

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Jonas Meyer was born in Schwabach, Germany, in 1827.

After arriving in the United States, he spent a year in Baltimore before joining his brother, Daniel, in San Francisco in the tobacco business.

In 1857, he became a partner in Daniel Meyer’s banking establishment.

“Despite his modest and retiring nature, Jonas Meyer, like his brother, Daniel, was a factor in the business and financial life of San Francisco.”

– Rabbi Martin Meyer, 1916



Jonas Meyer married Miss Julia Newhouse.

They had 4 children: Camilla Samson, Mrs. Hattie Simon, Albert Meyer, and Henry Meyer.


Jonas Meyer died in 1882.


  • Martin A. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, San Francisco,  1916).
  • Meyer Family Papers, 1850-2008, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
  • David F. & Mary R. Hoexter, “Daniel Meyer: San Francisco Banker,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 12/3.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Daniel Meyer,” Western States Jewish History 41/2.

David Epstein is curator for this Daniel & Jonas Meyer exhibit.


Jews in the News

   About this Time

Freeing a Captive, San Francisco— 1881

Dr. Aron J. Messing, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, was informed that a woman was keeping a Jewish child, about two and a half years old, as a hostage for a debt, and would, if the money was not promptly paid, have the child baptized and educated as a Christian. Upon investigation of the matter, the rabbi was satisfied that the statement was true, that the claim of the Christian woman holding the child was but a pretext, and that she had made preparations to repel by violence any attempt to succor the boy, in which she was encouraged by her neighbors.

The rabbi obtained the services of a deputy sheriff and police officers, and the necessary legal authority, proceeded to the woman’s house, and after a struggle succeeded in getting the child before Judge Hunt, of the Superior Court, who had granted the writ of habeas corpus in the matter. Upon investigation, after hearing of the facts in the case the judge promptly awarded the child to the care of the rabbi.

—Philadelphia Jewish Record, November 11, 1881 [WSJH, Vol. 16/1].