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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Adventurous experiences in many localities came to an end with the permanent settlement of Mr. Cohen in Sacramento, which place had won his liking during previous brief sojourns and thus became the eventual inducement affecting his decision to establish here a permanent business headquarters. Like the majority of the German people, his talents have led him into different lines of merchandising and in his youthful years, when he had no capital whatever, he earned a livelihood through the strenuous existence of a peddler. Through all of his changes of residence and bis variations in forms of work, he has retained his deep devotion to the Jewish religion and his love for the race of which he is a member. This does not prevent him from being a true and loyal citizen of his adopted country. His interest in national issues is constant and his belief in Republican principles leads him to support that party in all national campaigns.

 Near the city of Posen, Germany, Mr. Cohen was born April 17, 1843, being a son of S. and Sarah Cohen, whose residence in the father- land continued until death. His early educational opportunities were small indeed, for the necessity of self-support forced him to leave school to take up occupative labors. The trade which he learned, that of a baker, occupied him until he left Germany at the age of seventeen and came via Hull, England, to America, settling in New York City and securing work as a baker. Next he took up peddling and thus earned enough to pay his passage to California in 1863, when he traveled via Nicaragua and there took the Moses Taylor to San Francisco and thence came to Sacramento. As a peddler he visited the principal mining camps of Eldorado county. In about six weeks he returned to San Francisco, where for one year he sold fruit at the Metropolitan theatre. Upon his return to Sacramento he bought a cigar and fruit store, but this he sold at the expiration of about twelve months, returning thereupon to New York City via Panama and resuming business pursuits there with a partner. A year later he removed to Williamsburg, N. Y., where for two years he carried on a store. Next he engaged in merchandising in Chicago. Ill., after which he was similarly occupied successively at Silver City, Idaho, for six months, and then located in Virginia City, Nev. A few months later he was burned out in the big fire of 1875 with a total loss, after which, in January, 1876, he became a permanent resident of Sacramento and began anew.

 As an assistant in the establishment owned by his brother, Benjamin Cohen, a dealer in carpets and oil cloth, Mr. Cohen remained for nine years, meanwhile saving his earnings so that finally he was able to buy out a cigar store on J between Fifth and Sixth streets. Two years after he had bought the business he disposed of it and spent three months in European travel. Upon his return to Sacramento he bought from Edward Busch the present cigar store at No. 326 J street, and at this place he since has conducted a jobbing and retail business in cigars and tobacco. In all of his travels and his sojourns in various parts of the country he has retained his devotion to the tenets of the Golden Rule, and has been a liberal and active contributor to various charities, both private and institutional. Fraternally he is connected with the Elks, the B. B. 's and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while in politics he is a staunch Republican and a patriotic supporter of the institutions of his adopted country.

There is no ostentation, no attempted display or show in the acts of Isidor Cohen. By hard labor and close attention to his own business, he has acquired a modest fortune. The spirit of true, genuine philanthropy seems to have been born in him. His deep interest in the welfare of the poor little orphans has made him a central figure in the bestowal of permanent charity for the care of the helpless orphan children of this community. The Orphans' Home is largely indebted to his beneficent acts for its existence. He established comfortable quarters for the boys at the earliest stage, and later founded an orchard, and garden, where the older boys and girls might learn the art of agriculture; also provided choice cows for their dairy. The expense of conducting each and all of these is borne by Mr. Cohen. Recently he conceived and put into execution the idea of having those orphans old enough to work, cultivate the gardens and orchids, and after the products necessary for the use of the home, the surplus should be sold and the proceeds credited to the producers on their own account. These amounts are given to the producers in proportion to their earnings, and placed in a savings bank to the credit of each. The first statement of accounts showed that ten or twelve had bank accounts ranging from $5 to $20 each. There is no man in this community who has a more charitable heart than Mr. Cohen, who now devotes his entire income to pure and unselfish charity. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011