“The Merchant of Sonoma”

THEY SAY THAT THERE IS never any “first Jewish settler” anywhere — because no matter who it is, some other Jew was there beforehand. Better instead to say “first known Jewish settler.” And in the case of Sonoma, that honor and claim falls to Solomon Schocken: immigrant, ship’s cook, entrepreneur.

This month marks the 140th anniversary of the opening of the well-stocked “S. Schocken – General Merchandise” store on Sonoma Plaza, in the building previously occupied by General Mariano Vallejo’s military barracks (now a museum). To introduce him to the Sonoma Index-Tribune‘s readership, I wrote a piece on Mr. Schocken for the paper’s June 1999 quarterly magazine. Please enjoy.

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