HomeNovember 2021They Face the Public Square

They Face the Public Square

    The four Frankel brothers, Samuel, Michael, Emil and Marcus, Jewish immigrants from Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic), came to California in the mid 1800s and opened a country store on Rancho Los Nietos (modern day Downey) in 1870. Three years later they were doing so well they were able to expand and take over the general store of fellow Jewish businessmen Lewin & Hirschfield in downtown Santa Ana. The brothers were featured in the local press, which noted that “The store of Messrs. Frankel Brothers… [is] one of the leading features of the town. They face the Public Square, and do a large trade,” and that “The two stores of Spurgeon and Frankel are doing a heavy cash business.” The success was short-lived, however, and the Frankels eventually sold their business to yet another Jewish businessman, Levi Gildmacher, who ran it for decades, creating one of the most enduring Santa Ana shops well into the early 1900s. It’s interesting to note that this one shop passed hands from one Jewish immigrant to another, which was typical of most immigrant groups then and now. Keeping it in the family, so to speak.

Dalia Taft archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit www.jewishoc.org/history. You can also contact Dalia at daliat@jccoc.org or at (949) 435-3400. The Orange County Jewish Historical Society is a program of the Merage Jewish Community Center and is fully funded by the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.

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