From the American Scene: Gold Rush Days
When gold was discovered in California in 1848, adventurous men from every corner of the world came swarming in, and almost overnight transformed the land of somnolent missions and indolent presidios into rowdy mining camps and bustling boom towns. Among the first to reach the bonanza region were more than a few Jews. Like all the others who had set out for the latest and most dramatic frontier, they experienced many hardships in getting to their destination: they had come by foot or by prairie schooner over the great plains, by ship from Panama or around Cape Horn. Louis Rose, a pioneer in San Diego and its city treasurer and postmaster at various times; Emanuel Linoberg, who came from Poland and wound up in Sonora as member of the town council; Morris Schloss, friend of the Mexican bandit Joaquin Murietta and later, by a typical frontier reversal of role, a member of the San Francisco Vigilantes—one can name hundreds who entered the region with the first waves of gold-seekers.
Indeed, when the High Holidays were celebrated in 1849, there were already more than a hundred Jews in San Francisco alone, while many others were scattered among the towns that had sprung up around the mining regions. They met little intolerance or prejudice in those free and easy days. The miners would “give with an open hand for any church that was started, whether they ever expected to go inside of it or not,” one old-timer recalled, “and no matter what the denomination. It was all the same to them whether it was the Catholic Church or the Methodist or the Jewish Synagogue. ‘sure,’ they’d say, ‘give em a house to pray in.’”
About the Author