HomeJuly 2010Celebrating Orange County’s Jewish History

Celebrating Orange County’s Jewish History

Most of Orange County’s early Jewish pioneers settled in Anaheim and Santa Ana, but there were a few exceptions. One of the most notable was Max Mendelson, who was born in Poland in 1835 and lived in Mississippi and Anaheim before moving to San Juan Capistrano in the late 1870s. There he and his wife Clara opened the Mendelson Mission Inn, which served as a stop for stagecoaches travelling between Los Angeles and San Diego. It quickly became one of the most popular places in town to stay, and locals, who had a hard time pronouncing Max’s first name, renamed him Marcos.

Max was a prominent citizen of the town, serving as its postmaster for many years, and even had a story written about him in a 1930s children’s book. The inn, which later changed its name to the Mendelson Hotel, was located on El Camino Real near Yorba Street, and catered to many movie companies. Mendelson’s family continued to run the 10-room hotel until it was torn down in 1931; today there is a park where it once stood.

Dalia Taft is the archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society of Jewish Federation Orange County and highlights images from the Society’s archives every month. For more information, please visit www.jewishorangecounty.org/historical. You can also contact Dalia at historical@jfoc.org or at (949) 435-3484.


  1. My grandmother was Clara Mendelson, one of seven children, of Edward Mendelson. She was born in 1904 at the Mendelson Mission Inn. Edward Mendelson died in 1912. I am trying to find out the relationship between Max Mendelson and my great grandfather Edward Mendelson. I am also trying to find the correct name for my great grandmother who had married Edward Mendelson. She died in 1914. I have family photos, but confused on the names.

    • Susan, I am also a Mendelson descendant working on our family tree. I do have some information for you and I would love to get copies of what photos you have and I have some photos for you, but mostly my side of the family. I have that Clara was born in 1904 in SJC but I didn’t know at the Inn! I believe that Max (a/k/a Marks) was Edward’s father. I have that Edward’s wife was Constance Conception Forbes whose mother was Maria Luisa Olvera, whose family Olvera Street in Los Angeles is named after. I’m not 100% certain on all this; it’s a work in progress but I’m fairly certain on most. How can we get in touch without putting our email addresses on this public forum?

      • Hi to both of you, I am researching the Forbes family and writing a book about them. I would be very happy to share data with you. I also have lots of Mendelson information, very accurate.

    • Susan and Lily– I am Richard Mendelson’s grandson, and would love to speak to both of you. Let me know if we can exchange emails. Thank you.


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