Herman Shwarz and Elizabeth Fleishman Shwarz: Early Jewish Pioneers of Napa, California

Herman Shwarz and Elizabeth Fleishman Shwarz

Values Codes  I – E – L


Herman Shwarz was born in Germany in 1848.



Herman Shwarz arrived in Napa, California in 1871.

In 1871, Herman and his new wife, Elizabeth, opened a hardware store that, by 1906, was the largest of its kind in the North Bay area, serving Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.

Along with the usual tools and farming implements, the store sold stoves, paints, camping equipment, hunting and fishing supplies, and all manner of household goods.

The store even provided a gasoline pump in front.

The business was eventually turned over to Herman and Elizabeth’s sons, William, David, and Max Shwarz.



Herman Shwarz married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Fleishman shortly after he arrived in Napa.

Their daughter, Minnie, received as a wedding gift an ornate Queen Anne home with stained glass windows.

The home still stands at the corner of Seminary and Calistoga Streets, and is known as La Belle Epoque Inn.

Minnie Swarz's wedding gift

Minnie Swarz’s wedding gift, now La Belle Epoque Inn.

Their son, Max Shwarz, married Jeanette Manasse, the daughter of a prominent Napa Jewish family.

The couple had three daughters: Henrietta, Minnie, and Helen.

Jeanette Shwarz passed away while the girls were still quite young, which led to a second marriage for Max Shwarz to Jeanette Marks, the first woman graduate of Tulane College in New Orleans.

Another son, William Shwarzmarried Hattie K. Zeimer of San Francisco. Their daughter, Muriel Hilda, born ca. 1901, would marry Roland Rummelsburg and later Walter Grauss, son of Felix and Mattie Grauss.

Upon her death in 1989, the Muriel Hilda Grauss Trust dispensed $1.7 million to the Napa synagogue, Congregation Beth Sholom, for a new sanctuary in memory of her parents, William and Hattie Shwarz.



  • 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 Herman and Elizabeth Shwarz exhibit.