Levi & Hyman Mitchell: Early Jewish Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California

Levi & Hyman Mitchell

Levi Mitchell of Visalia, CA, WSJH V2/3

Levi Mitchell of Visalia, CA, #WSJH V2/3

Values Codes I – E – L


Levi Mitchell was born in 1810 in what we now call Germany.

His brother, Hyman Mitchell, was born in 1814.

The family came to the United States in 1817 to live with a brother, Dr. Jacob Mitchell, in Little Rock, Arkansas.


Along the way . . .

Sometime before 1850, the brothers, Levi and Hyman Mitchell came to California.

They opened a store in Stockton.

Levi traveled to the mining camps to sell merchandise from the store.

Hyman handled the day-to-day business in their store.

Hyman lived in Stockton, where he married Susie Jacob, sister of Elias Jacob. [See our Elias Jacob exhibit.]

Susie and Elias had two daughters, Michael and Bertha.

Susie Mitchell died in 1857, and a year later, Hyman married her sister, Dorothea Jacob.

In 1866, Levi Mitchell married Annie Stargarth in Stockton.

They had four children: Joseph, Michael, Jacob, and Hyman II.


Visalia & White River

Levi Mitchell moved to the lower San Joaquin Valley and opened a store in Millerton in 1852, followed by another store in Visalia on Main Street.

Hyman Mitchell moved to Visalia in 1857, after the death of his first wife.

East Main Street, Visalia, CA, vintage postcard

The Kern River Gold Rush of 1855 established Visalia as an important trading center – the only town between Stockton and Los Angeles.

One of the growing mining camps nearby was Tailholt on the White River.

In 1860, in partnership with Archie Donaldson, Levi Mitchell built the White River House, which became one of the Valley’s best known hotels.

Across the street, Levi opened a store.

In 1862, he was appointed Postmasterand the name of the town was changed to White River.

The miners knew that Levi Mitchell was good for a “grubstake.”


Hyman Mitchell died suddenly in 1859. He is buried by his first wife, Susie, in Stockton’s Temple Israel Cemetery.

When Levi Mitchell died in 1885, his wife, Annie, was faced with running the business.


  • Annie R. Mitchell, “Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 2/3.