Flora Langermann Spiegelberg: Grand Pioneer Woman of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Flora Langermann Spiegelberg

Values Codes I-E-L-P

Flora Spiegelberg of Sante Fe, NM, #WS0390

Flora Langermann Spiegelberg of Sante Fe, NM,
#WS0390

 

 

Flora Langermann was born in New York City in 1857.

When Flora was two months old, her mother took her to San Francisco, California, where her father, Colonel William Langermann, was a distinguished officer in the California State Militia.

In 1866, Colonel Langermann died.

Flora and her mother returned to New York.

 

In 1869, Mrs. Langermann and Flora moved to Germany to further Flora’s education.

 

In 1874, Flora Langermann met Willi Spiegelberg in Nuremberg.

Willi Spiegelberg had returned to Germany from fourteen years in New Mexico to find a bride.

He was a junior partner in the Spiegelberg Brothers mercantile firm (making around $50,000 per year!), which was founded in 1849 by his elder brother, Solomon J. Spiegelberg.

 

Flora Langermann married Willi Spiegelberg in Nuremberg in 1874.

 

In 1875, the Spiegelbergs arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Flora brought her middle class European style to the West.

As the wife of a prominent citizen and businessman, Flora Spiegelberg’s job was to host other prominent families, particularly the wealthy New Mexicans with Spanish ancestry (Ricos and Patrons).

Willi and Flora Spiegelberg hone in Sante Fe, NM, 1880s, #WS0388

Willi and Flora Spiegelberg hone in Sante Fe, NM, 1880s,
#WS0388

 

In 1879, Flora Spiegelberg worked to create the Santa Fe Academy, the first non-sectarian school for girls in the city.  She purchased an Adobe and hired a teacher for the 12 Jewish and Protestant pupils.

In the early 1880s, Flora Spiegelberg’s fundraising campaign paid off.  With $1,000 and an acre of Federal land on the site of old Fort Mercy, she built a three room schoolhouse, complete with a playground and garden.

Flora taught sewing, needlework gardening and nature study.

 

Flora developed a friendship with Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.

She kept close ties to the Santa Fe Catholic community, conducting two religious schools – one on Saturday for Jewish children and one on Sunday for Catholic children.

 

In the late 1880s, Flora and Willi Spiegelberg returned to New York, where many members of the Spiegelberg family lived.

 

While in New York, Flora Spiegelberg founded the Boys Vocational Club and the first Jewish Working Girls Club.

 

Flora Spiegelberg was instrumental in creating New York City’s garbage collection system, which she based on the European sanitation system.

She served on the boards of the New York City Health Commission, the Street Cleaning Department, the Bill Board, the Public Water Commission and the Daylight Savings Commission.

Willi Spegelberg, Sante Fe, NM, #WS0391

Willi Spegelberg, Sante Fe, NM,
#WS0391

 

Flora Spiegelberg published the novel Princess Goldenhair and the Wonderful Flower in  1917 and a collection of short stories called Grandma Flora’s  Animal Stories in 1906.

Her radio play, The Enchanted Toy Store of Fairyland was broadcast by CBS in the 1930s.

 

Family

Flora and Willi Spiegelberg had two daughters, Betty and Rose.

 

Flora Spiegelberg died in 1943 in New York at the age of 87.

Willi Spiegelberg died in 1929 in New York City.

 

More information on the Spiegelbergs can be found in the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Spiegelberg, Flora Langermann; Flora Langerman Spiegelberg: Grand Lady of Santa Fe; New Mexico; Lawson, Michael L.; 8/4

More: A History of the Jews in New Mexico, by Henry J. Tobias,  University of New Mexico Press, 1990.

Samantha Silver is the Curator for this Flora Spiegelberg Exhibit.

Click on Pictures to enlarge.