Hannah Marks Solomons: Jewish Pioneer Woman and Her Distinguished Family

Hannah Marks Solomons

Hannah Marks Solomons WS 18/2647

Hannah Marks Solomons, #WS18/2647

Values Codes  I – E – L – P


Hannah Marks was born in Connecticut in 1835, soon after her parents arrived from Europe.

Following the death of her Polish-born parents in 1850, she was raised in the Philadelphia home of an uncle.


San Francisco

Hannah’s brother, Bernhard Marks, preceded her to California, arriving in 1852.

Bernhard had a varied career as gold miner, store clerk, school­teacher, real estate promoter, and as principal of San Francisco’s Lincoln Grammar School.

Bernhard Marks was also the founder of the Central Colony in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1870’s, which be­came the City of FresnoHe introduced the growing of raisin grapes to the Valley.

Hannah came to California in 1853, answering the invitation of a lonely bachelor who had requested her hand in marriage. The bachelor sent Hannah funds for her passage West, but the promised romance did not take. Hannah refused to marry him.

Hannah kept house for Bernhard.

Later, Hannah Marks married the man of her choice, Gershom Mendes Seixas Solomons of San Francisco.

His great-grandfather, Rabbi Geershom Mendes Seixas, was the spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York City during the Revolutionary War.

Seixas Solomons had arrived in San Francisco city in 1854. That year, he chronicled the first Jewish service held in San Francisco, which “took place in a tent-room occupied by Lewis Franklin, situated on Jackson Street near the corner of Kearny Street.” This account was placed in the cornerstone of the first Congregation Emanu-El building.

Though not a man of means, Seixas Solomons became an important Jewish leader.

He was a brilliant orator, helped found the Lovers of Zion Society, and served as presi­dent of the West’s first B’nai B’rith Lodge, Ophir No. 21 in 1857, and as secretary of Congregation Emani-El from 1867 to 1871.



Hannah Marks Solomons created an exciting household.

It became an honor to be invited to one of the many social and intellectual events held at her home.

Hannah and Gershom brought eight children into the world.

Three of them made very substantial names for themselves.

Lucius L. Solomons became a noted attorney in San Francisco, and served as president of District Grand Lodge No. 4, B’nai B’rith.

Dr. Adele Jaffa (nee) Solomons WS 14/1960

Dr. Adele Jaffa (née Solomons), #WS14/1960

Adele Rosa Solomons became a medical doctor, and in 1895 mar­ried Dr. Myer Jaffa, a professor of chemistry and nutrition of the University of California.

Selina Solomons was a leader in bringing the vote to California women, almost a decade before it became part of the  U.S. Constitution. She authored How We Won the Vote in California: A True Story of the Campaign of 1911.

Salinas Solomons WS 16/2302

Salina Solomons, #WS16/2302

Hannah’s fifth child was Theodore Seixas Solomons, who was a pioneer explorer of the Sierras. He traveled, surveyed, and mapped the major portion of the high mountain route that became the John Muir Trail. [See the book, Solomons of the Sierra: The Pioneer of the John Muir Trail, by Shirley Sargent.

Hannah Marks Solomon died in 1890.

Solomons' Family Portrait WS 16/2305

Solomon family portrait, #WS16/2305

Bernhard Marks, Hannah's Brother, Founder of the Fresno Colony in California WS 16/2314

Bernhard Marks, Hannah’s brother, founder of the Fresno Colony in California, #WS 16/2314


  • Norton B. Stern, “Hannah Marks Solomons,” Western States Jewish History 28/3.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Hannah Marks,” Western States Jewish History 41/2.