Jews of the gold rush

One of the wonderful things about this blog is the opportunity for us to learn from each other.  I recently received the following as a comment, and it had SO MUCH great information, I decided to share it as a post.  Thanks, Nan ! 

You can also visit Nan’s blog, , which has some great local history.

Nan’s post:

I am researching, and have been for the past four, five, six years–yes it becomes an obsession as you said–the Jewish pioneers of Humboldt. What I have found is that when Humboldt Bay opened up, Jewish immigrants from Western Europe flocked here to open up mercantile establishments; Augustus Jacoby being the one of most renown. Aside from his historical “storehouse” he was instrumental in getting the road built between Arcata and Weaverville. Others are the Fleishmans, the Manheims, the Feigenbaums –one whose first name I cannot recall at them moment, as there were several of them– was in business with Henry Rohner at the time Rohnerville was founded. There were the Greenbaums and the Greenwalds–a colorful family–their son Samuel rode with the Rough Riders and left all his military memorabilia to the Humboldt Historical Society; their daughter Minnie married David Wood, son of LK Wood; there was also Jake Loewenthal whose grandchildren some folks still around might have known. Most of the others left the area, mainly for San Francisco. There were many others. I have stories to tell and I have been writing them down–one was published in the Humboldt Historian awhile back–about Minnie and David and the train that fell into Mad River when the bridge collapsed, killing their two little girls; (you can see all their headstones, including Minnie’s parents in the Greenwood Cemetery). Another story is about the first “Emerald Triangle”–an opium trade the went between Japan, Hawaii, British Columbia and Humboldt that a fellow named Wiley started; Louis Greenwald got involved in it as Wiley’s “lieutenant” and wound up spending time in prison for his bad judgment–also lost his wife over it.


9 Responses to Jews of the gold rush

  1. Nan Abrams says:

    I am so happy that I came across your blog . . . I have shared it with a fellow researcher–she is researching the Jews of the Gold Rush over all of northern California, and we share information. We rely a lot on She has been teaching me how to use it most effectively as a research tool. I highly recommend it.

    • lynette77 says:

      Oh, I spend all kinds of time on

      It makes me want to add something to all those ads and commercials asking folks to cooperate with the 2010 Census–Do it for future genealogists !!! 🙂

  2. olmanriver says:

    Nan, in 1869 John Briceland moved to the area which would later be named after him and bought out a small store owner named Jim Filer. An early account mentioned that he was a Jew. At that time there was only the Collier cabin there. It was a shrewd business move by Briceland, as it was good range land, but even more so located him on the route that all the inland sheep ranchers would use ten years later to get their wool to the coast. Briceland town first grew around being strategically placed on that route, before the tan oak industry boom.
    Utilizing Chinese laborers John McMillin built a road to Briceland in 1878, now called the Old Briceland road. In 1879 the Ray brothers had finished the last 4 1/2 miles from the Shelter Cove end. A newspaper clipping mentions non-stop mule trains coming and going from the ranches to Garberville to Shelter Cove.
    I hope Jim Filer left the area under amicable and equitable terms as he was in the right place but a little too early.

  3. olmanriver says:

    pardon me, that 1878 McMillin road was from Garberville to Briceland.

  4. …and the Wool Growers Association warehouse still stands on Church street, in Garberville. It is the current home of Branscomb Refrigeration. I give tours upon request. Bullshistory is part of the tour package…

  5. olmanriver says:

    Wool I’ll be, ain’t that somethin’ that a pair of “yarn spinners” like you and Janet would end up there? I consider both of you both quite proficient in your chosen mediums.

  6. olmanriver says:

    I care enough about your historical accuracy to eat some crow here Lynette (and Ernie). The 1915 History of Humboldt tells us that after John C. Briceland bought a small store from the Hebrew Jim Filer, he enlarged the store and ran it for only three years before he sold the building and goods. So he did partake of the Shelter Cove to Garberville trade route but not in the late 1870’s when the mule trains were really rolling through. John Briceland later built the 25 room Briceland Hotel, but was primarily known as a successful stockraiser whose holdings reached 1400 acres at one point.

  7. olmanriver says:

    Really, I do need to grovel a bit….for history’s sake… can’t even read my notes right…I am salting my own foot as I type…Filer and Collier got bought out in 1889, not 1869. So Briceland was in on the sheep boom for those three years. I double checked every other item in the post. Sorry. I really do respect your efforts here to get it right.

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