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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The subject of the sketch was born about 1860 in the town of Kovel, government of Volhynia, Russia. His father was the chief rabbi of the town and died before Moses was ten years old. For some time it was the ambition of his mother and others who eared for his education that he should ultimately occupy his father's position. Fate, however, decreed otherwise. One of his guardians was a regularly admitted legal practitioner and prepared him for the practice of law.

In 1882 M. S. Wahrhaftig came to the United States, and after a few weeks' stay in New York arrived in California, where he has resided ever since with the exception of about a year spent in Oregon. Ignorant of the English language, and without means, he was obliged for some time to eke out an existence by manual labor, especially on farms, for which he acquired quite a taste. We thus find him in his early career riding a hay-mower or rake, as well as walking behind a plow. Among his other occupations were assaying and printing. To the latter art he contributed most of his first ten years' residence in the metropolis of California. He was initiated into the San Francisco Topographical Union in 1890, but till the same year acquired a ten-acre tract of land at Orangevale, where his mother and a brother and family settled with him. An invasion of locusts in 1891 caused considerable damage to his fruit ranch, and it became necessary for him to fall back on the printer's case for earning a livelihood for himself and the folks on the ranch. Coming to Sacramento, for some time he worked in the printing offices of Carraghen and Anderson, State Printing Office, A. J. Johnston's printing office and others until about 1894, when the great railroad strike took place. He then conceived the idea that another daily paper could be published in Sacramento, and The Daily Times was thereupon founded. It supported the People's party, and lasted until after the November elections. He then connected himself with the North California Herald, a pioneer German paper published in Sacramento, for which he worked as reporter, solicitor and compositor. At the same time he was reading law.

In August, 1897, Mr. Wahrhaftig was admitted by the Supreme Court of the state of California to the practice of law in all the courts of the state, and later on in the federal courts. Judge A. P. Catlin recognized his ability by offering him room in his own law offices. It did not take long before he acquired a lucrative practice and ever increasing clientele. He has never left Sacramento, where he is now located in the Nicolaus Building. His profession has not rendered him exclusive. From time to time he contributes articles for newspapers and has written some short stories dealing with Jewish life in Russia. He is a member of several brailehes of the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternities, Sacramento Turn Verein, of nearly all local Jewish religious fraternal or benevolent societies, and is affiliated with almost every National Jewish organization, in all of which he takes a very active interest.

In October, 1908, Mr. Wahrhaftig married Miss Irma R. Levy, then a teacher in the public schools of Sacramento county, and prominent in literary, art and fraternal circles. She is the daughter of E. R. Levy, a pioneer merchant of Folsom. His comfortable home has been blessed with a son and daughter. 

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