David Shirpser: Early Jewish Pioneer of the California Gold Country, British Columbia, Alaska and Los Angeles

David Shirpser

Values Codes I – E – L – P


David Shirpser was born in 1827 in Thorn, Poland.

He had five brothers and two sisters: Isadore, Adolph, Herman, Leopold, Louis, Rosalia, and Cecelia.


Along the way . . . .

Around 1850, Shirpser journeyed to America, where he settled in the California Gold Country where he opened a clothing store.

In 1859, David Shirpser headed to Victoria, British Columbia.

There he joined his brothers, Herman and Leopold Shirpser in the clothing business.



In 1867, David Shirpser left Victoria for Sitka, Alaskawhere he set up a merchandising business.

Sitka Totems

Sitka Totems

He was joined by his brother, Emanuel that same year.

Together, they were among the signers of the Sitka City Charter.

Sitka, Alaska Home in Winter, Vintage Postcard

Sitka, Alaska Home in Winter, Vintage Postcard

As their merchandising business slowed down, they joined an experienced fur trader and worked around Kodiak Island and Cook Inlet for a number of seasons.

In 1874, David Shirpser moved to San Francisco.

Finally, in 1882, David Shirpser and his brother, Leopold, settled in Los Angeles

There, they established a men’s clothing store at 53 N. Spring Street.



In 1862, David Shirpser led the first meeting of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, B.C.

He was the First President of this congregation.

In 1863, Shirpser served as Treasurer of Chevra Bikkur Cholim of Victoria.



David Shirpser married Rebecca Jetta (b.1820) in the late 1850s.

He had two stepsons: Sol Shirpser (1850-1941) and Emanuel, and one daughter, Cecilia (1859-1882).


 David Shirpser died in 1895 in Los Angeles.

Rebecca Jetta died in 1896.

They are buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.


  • Sol Shirpser, “Alaskan Memoir,” Western States Jewish History 10/1.
  • The Sitka 1870 Census

Samantha Silver is curator of this David Sirpser exhibit.