Key figures in the banking history of Tucson and Tombstone, Barron and Lionel Jacobs initially began their financial careers as merchants and suppliers. In 1867 they partnered with their father, Mark Israel Jacobs, to expand the family's mercantile business, the Mark I. Jacobs Company, from San Bernardino to Tucson. Mark Jacobs was a Polish-born Jew who worked as a men's clothing retailer in England before moving his family to California, settling first in San Diego in the 1850s and later in San Bernardino and San Francisco. Lionel and Barron were his two oldest sons and eventually became the patriarchs of the Barron family. The Arizona branch of the Jacobs enterprise flourished and in 1869, Mark I. Jacobs moved to San Francisco to coordinate the company's purchase and shipment of merchandise to Arizona. By 1871, Lionel and Barron began to offer financial services in addition to their mercantile business including exchanging gold coin for paper money, providing short term loans, holding savings deposits, redeeming checks and drafts, and collecting payments for settlers in Tucson, Tombstone, and surrounding areas. The Tucson population and economy boomed in the mid 1870s, especially after the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Jacobs brothers' enterprises expanded. By 1875 the firm had become one of the largest mercantile establishments in Arizona Territory and the brothers renamed it Lionel M. Jacobs and Company. In 1879 they partnered with Phillip William Smith to open the Pima County Bank, the first formal financial institution in Tucson. In 1880 Smith and the Jacobs expanded their business by opening the Agency Pima County Bank in Tombstone (they changed the name of this institution to the Cochise County Bank in 1881). Both banks did well - the Pima County Bank won a banking war with several Tucson competitors and became the First National Bank of Tucson in 1882. The bank later evolved into the Bank of Tucson, the Consolidated Bank of Tucson, the Arizona National Bank, and the current Valley National Bank. Along with their financial success the Jacobs brothers also achieved political success. Lionel was appointed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1871. He was also elected to the territorial legislature and served on the Tucson city council. Both Lionel and Barron also served as treasurer for the territorial legislature.
Scope and Content
The correspondence series contains 961 letters and is organized alphabetically by author. The series consists of a large number of letters written to the Jacobs brothers and their mercantile and banking operations. The collection includes letters from individual customers and businesses regarding their accounts, letters from other banking institutions regarding customers, and letters from suppliers and shippers regarding the mercantile business. The correspondence also includes a significant number of letters written within the Jacobs family. There are number of early letters from Mark Jacobs to his wife, Hannah, as well as a few written to his sons, Lionel and Barron. There are also quite a few letters written by Lionel to Barron as well as a few from their youngest brother, Albert, and a number from their sisters and brothers-in-law. The financial documents series contains 2,191 documents, sorted and alphabetized by type and then by institution or organization. The bulk of financial documents consist of processed checks, collection and returns forms, and receipt postal cards. The financial documents also include account books, balance sheets, bills, inventory lists, order forms, protest cards, receipts, and tax receipts. These documents reflect both the mercantile and banking enterprises of the Jacobs family including L. M. Jacobs and Company, Pima County Bank, Agency Pima County Bank, Cochise County Bank, and First National Bank. The small collection of ephemera contains 32 items and is organized alphabetically by type. The series includes circulars, invitations, labels, and some miscellaneous handwritten notes. Also included are photocopies of two letters about Indian affairs in Arizona in the nineteenth century. Prominent individuals included in the collection include David Neahr, forwarding agent, Leopold Wolf, San Francisco and New York purchasing agent, the Goldwater family, and Albert Springer, a banking partner, and Isaias W. Hellman of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles.