Jews of the Wild West a Multicultural True Story

Paint Horse Press  2012


This book traces the lives of two Jewish families, the Staabs and the Ilfelds, who left Germany in the 1800s and settled in Santa Fe and Las Vegas, New Mexico. Starting with nothing but their honesty and business acumen, these families became wealthy and powerful. They contributed to their communities with energy and generosity. Each page tells of the adventures of a member of the family and is accompanied by a colorful drawing by the author.

It was Abraham Staab who lent the Archbishop money to the build the cathedral in Santa Fe. When the church couldn’t repay the loan, Abraham made it a gift. To show his appreciation, the Archbishop put the name of God in Hebrew accompanied by a Jewish star over the side entrance to the cathedral. Julia Staab, Abraham’s wife, was saved from harm one day while traveling by stagecoach. Her companion, a nun, had once nursed Billy the Kid back to health. When the famous robber discovered who was inside the stagecoach, he did not rob or harm them. In 1865, Charles Ilfeld came to Santa Fe and later moved to Las Vegas where he started a department store that still exists today. One of his nephews, Ludwig, lent a horse to Teddy Roosevelt to ride in the Rough Riders’ parade. Subsequently, Charles’ brother married a Staab and the Staabs and Ilfelds became one large extended family.

Additional vignettes throughout the book provide examples of the important role Jews played in settling the American Wild West. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Have You Read...