A more diverse population began to settle in Santa Fe following its inclusion as a U.S. territory in 1850. Catholicism had been the only religion in the state for 248 years. The Mason and Odd Fellows established the first non-Catholic cemetery in 1853. In 1884 the Fairview Cemetery was the created to provide space to the town’s growing population. The cemetery is located at the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Cordova. The cemetery continues to be in use today. Fairview was the first cemetery to reserve a Jewish section for burials. Memorial Gardens Cemetery, located in the southeastern part of Santa Fe, began in the 1950s, also has a Jewish section.
Jewish Merchants Arrived on the Santa Fe Trail
The settlement of New Mexico’s Ashkenazi Jews from Germany and other European countries began with the merchants who trekked the Santa Fe Trail from 1848–1871. Many chose Santa Fe at the end of the trail as their new home. Growth for this community stagnated in 1878 when the railroad bypassed Santa Fe in lieu of Las Vegas sixty miles to the north. Las Vegas became a major commercial hub with a large Jewish community that ran mercantile businesses. In 1881 the Montefiore Cemetery began in Las Vegas becoming one of the first Jewish cemeteries west of the Mississippi.