Since their arrival on the Santa Fe Trail, the Jewish spirit of community collaboration has spurred their involvement in all civic affairs. One of the most significant contributions to the city occurred during the construction of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. During the latter part of the 19th century Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy sought financial help from the Jewish merchants to complete construction of the church. In gratitude for their assistance, above the doors of the main of entrance an inscription is featured in the ancient Hebrew Tetragrammaton of YHWH, the Hebrew name for God, which is articulated as Yahweh or Jehovah.
The First to Arrive
Sigmund Seligman arrived in Santa Fe in 1849 from Gau-Algesheim, Germany. His brother Bernard soon followed and helped establish Seligman & Cleaver, a dry goods store on the Plaza. Some of the other early freighters to arrive via the Santa Fe Trail included Zadoc Stabb and Lehman Spiegelberg, who also established businesses. Zadoc Staab and his brother, Abraham, were major suppliers of dry goods for the army during the Civil War. They went on to become the largest wholesale traders in the Southwest. From left to right: Bernard Seligman, Zadoc Staab and Lehman Spiegelberg with Kiowa Indian scouts.
The tombstone of Abraham Staab in the family plot at Fairview cemetery. A more diverse population began to settle in Santa Fe following its inclusion as a U.S. territory in 1850. The first non-Catholic cemetery was established by the Masons and Odd fellows in 1853. In 1884 the Fairview Cemetery was also added to the list of cemeteries in Santa Fe. Fairview, located in the northwestern part of town, helped to accommodate the growing population. Fairview was the first cemetery to reserve a Jewish section for burial.