Jacob & Co.

December 14, 2009

Then: Jacob & Co. was the second store established in the area in 1872, also serving as a post office and Wells Fargo & Co. Express location.

This scene captured in the summer of 1874, one of the earliest known photographs of Fresno, shows the small wood-frame building of Jacob & Co. at the southeast corner of Mariposa and H streets, which was a general merchandise store, a post office and a Wells Fargo & Co. Express office. The business had an essential piece of technology for the Wells Fargo service attached to the building: a telegraph pole.

Along with its goods and services, Jacob & Co.’s proximity to the Central Pacific Railroad line that cut across the plains helped make the little store a hub of activity.

Built by Millerton storekeeper and postmaster Otto Froelich, who arrived in the newly settled town in 1872, Jacob & Co. was the second store established in the area.

Elias Jacob and Louis Einstein, who ran stores in Visalia, Centerville and Kingston, joined H.D. Silverman to buy out Froelich in 1874. That year, there were only 55 buildings in the town, including four general stores, three hotels, saloons, law offices, blacksmith shops and the printing office of a newspaper called the Fresno Expositor.

In an 1874 photo of Jacob & Co. — one of the earliest known Fresno photographs — the three proprietors are believed to be at the center on the porch. A man at left stands with a hand cart while a woman, dressed in her finery, stands on the steps with her little girl.

A scarce commodity in the new, hot, dusty, settlement is seen in the foreground center and at right: young trees, planted no doubt for future shade, and thus protected by wood frames.

The store’s place at this prominent corner was short-lived.

In 1875, Jacob sold his interest to Einstein and Silverman, who built one of the town’s first brick buildings and moved the business to an adjacent lot.

After Silverman’s death in 1877, Einstein took on partners Leopold and Henry Gundefinger, and the business became known as Einstein and Co.

JOHN WALKER/ THE FRESNO BEE

Now: The former Jacob & Co. location at Mariposa and H streets is now a downtown Fresno parking lot hidden from view by a large hedge and a graffiti-marred utility box. The old Security Bank building is at left, and partially seen at far right is Chukchansi Park. Across the street from this site is the Greyhound bus station.