Jacob Stern: Pioneer Jewish Merchant of Rio Vista in the Sacramento Delta

Jacob Stern

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Jacob Stern was born in Bavaria in 1856.


Jacob Stern of Rio Vista CA

Jacob Stern of Rio Vista CA

Along the way . . .

In 1874, Jacob Stern journeyed to San Francisco, California.

Soon thereafter, he moved to Nevada, where he worked briefly as a clerk.


Rio Vista

In 1886, Jacob Stern returned to California, settling in Rio Vista in the Sacramento Delta, where he opened the general merchandise and grain firm of J. Stern & Co. on Main Street.

A furniture warehouse was added in 1890, on Main and Second Streets, complete with tables, chairs, parlor furniture, and chamber sets.

Jacob Stern would advertise in the local River News that:

“J. Stern & Co. was the leading General Merchandise store – the only place where one could find a full line of groceries, hardware, agricultural implements, saddler, dry goods, boots and shoes, clothing, furnished goods, crockery and glassware, fancy goods, notions, clocks, jewelry, tin and willow-ware.”

In 1892, a fire destroyed most of the business section of Rio Vista.

Stern had new merchandise rushed from San Francisco to fill the needs of the community.

A new brick building on the corner of Main and Second Street became the new home of J. Stern & Co.

Rio Vista Parade, Turn of the Century

Rio Vista Parade, turn of the last century

In 1897, Jacob Stern moved back to San Francisco, though he remained active in J. Stern & Co. in Rio Vista.

J. Stern & Co. remained open until 1942.



Jacob Stern was a member of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

He was also active in the Federation of Jewish Charities.



Stern was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Concordia Club.



Jacob Stern married Hattie Wangenheim in 1883.

Together they had three children: Newton W. Stern, Mrs. Walter J. Samsonand Mrs. Harold M. Friesleben.


Jacob Stern died in 1916.


  • Martin A. Meyer, The Jews of San Francisco (San Francisco: Emanu-El, 1916).

Samantha Silver is the curator of this Jacob Stern exhibit


Jews in the News

   About this Time

A San Joaquin Valley, California Marriage — 1894

Miss Rose Levy [of Visalia, Tulare County] and Henry Ellis of Newman, Stanislaus County, were united in marriage Sunday evening at the residence of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Moses Levy. The officiating clergyman was Rev. M. S. Levy of San Francisco.

Mrs. A. F. Baker played the wedding march. Miss Mabel Brownstone of Lemoore was the bridesmaid. The bride was given away by her father. The ceremony was very impressive.

An elaborate supper was served. The young couple were the recipients of many handsome presents. They will make their future home in Newman. Their many friends wish them a life of great prosperity and unclouded happiness.

—Daily Delta, Visalia, January 30, 1894 [WSJHQ 11/2] Newman, California was named for Simon Newman, a pioneer merchant and agricultural broker of the San Joaquin Valley. Rabbi Myer S. Levy was serving Congregation Beth Israel of San Francisco at this time.