There are not many California pioneers of 1850 remaining in the state. Most of them have died; others have moved away. Louis Davidson, one of the oldest merchants in Mokelumne Hill, is one of the few citizens of that town who have lived in the sate half a century. Mr. Davidson is a native of Prussia and a son of Hersh and Gertrude (Gerson) Davidson, both of whom were born and passed their days there, his father dying in his seventy-eighth year, his mother in her seventy-fifth year. Hersh and Gertrude (Gerson) Davidson has four sons and a daughter. One of their sons, Meyor Davidson, is a cloak manufacturer at San Francisco.
Louis Davidson was educated in Prussia and reared in the Hebrew faith. He came to New York at the age of sixteen years and secured a position as a clerk in a store, handling general merchandise, and later was given charge of a mercantile house at Elmira, New York. In 1850 he sailed from New York, en route for California, and had a somewhat rough passage at the outset. He and his companions crossed the Isthmus of Panama on foot and had to wait long for a vessel bound for San Francisco. He had managed to save eight hundred dollars and it cost him the whole amount to land on California soil. He came direct to Mokelumne Hill and opened a primitive store in a tent, in which a few articles of merchandise were displayed on a line, somewhat as clothing is hung out to dry.
Mokelumne was then a lively mining town and he sold goods right along at a paying profit and was able to add to his stock; but he was obliged to give credit, more or less, and in that way lost some money. In 1856 the business part of the town was burned and his enterprise was completely wiped out of existence. At two o’clock p. m. on the day of the fire he was on the stage going for new stock. He conducted business in a tent, while building a new store on the site of his old one, and was prosperous until 1873, when his store was again burned. He at once built the store in which he has since carried on his trade, and his career has been one of almost uniform success. His store is not now large enough to accommodate his large stock, and he constantly draws upon an extensive reserve stock stored in several large warehouses nearby.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.