Marcus Schiller (1823-1904)

One of San Diego County’s early pioneers, Marcus Schiller, was born in Vronka, Prussia, in 1823. He received his early education in the public schools in Posen, and through extensive travel in all the principal European countries.

He arrived in California in 1853 and engaged in the clothing business in San Francisco for a period of two years. He moved to Old Town, North San Diego, in 1856, entering the general merchandising business with Joseph S. Mannasse. He acquired ownership of many valuable county properties, including the Encinitas Rancho, and a large portion of the San Dieguito Rancho. These ranchos were stocked with thousands of head of cattle, horses, and mules. He also acquired large real estate holdings in Old Town, and later when Father Horton laid out the New Town in 1867, he acquired large additional holdings in New Town and in Roseville, outstanding among which was the Schiller and Mannasse addition.

Marcus Schiller was one of San Diego’s most generous and philanthropic citizens. He contributed generously to the building of the first telegraph line into San Diego, and to the lobby maintained in Washington for the purpose of bringing the Texas Pacific Railway to San Diego. He also contributed some twenty acres of valuable land for the right of way for the Tom Scott Railroad, and was a stockholder in the Texas, Gila & San Diego Railway. Schiller was a member of the Board of Trustees of the City of San Diego who had the far vision and the courage to set aside 1400 acres of land for our City Park (now beautiful Balboa Park), and his name, together with the names of his associates, has been memorialized in enduring bronze in Balboa Park for this outstanding public service.

For many years Mr. Schiller was president of Temple Beth Israel, and a member of its board of directors. He was a prominent and active member of the Benevolent Association, and in the words of Samuel Fox, Mr. Schiller was a leading spirit in all welfare and charitable work in San Diego. He served as Master of San Diego Lodge No. 35 of the Masons, and was also a member of the Chosen Friends Lodge.

Mr. Schiller was married in September, 1861, to Miss Rebecca Barnert, and had nine children: Harry and Laura, now deceased, Celia, David, Hannah, Bertha, Leon, Nathan, and Hattie, the latter now Mrs. W. N. Landis.

Mr. Schiller’s outstanding hobby was fine old furniture, and the members of his family have many pieces of priceless furniture which he acquired in the pursuit of this hobby.

Mr. Schiller died March 19, 1904, but will live in the memory of those who knew him best as one of San Diego’s most outstanding pioneer citizens.

[from Heilbron, Carl. History of San Diego County v.2: Biography. San Diego: San Diego Press Club, 1936. (pages 77-78)]

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