Spiegelberg Brothers: Successful Jewish Merchant Pioneers of Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Spiegelberg Brothers

Values Codes I – E – L – P


The Speigelberg Brothers of Sante Fe #WS5673

The Spiegelberg Brothers of Sante Fe, #WS5673

Solomon Jacob Spiegelberg was born in Germany in 1824.

Levi Spiegelberg was born in Cassel, Germany in 1830.

Lehman Spiegelberg was born in Prussia in 1841.

Willi Spiegelberg was born in Natzungen, Germany in 1844.


Along the way . . .

In 1842, Solomon Spiegelberg came to America, where he became the first Jewish merchant to travel the Santa Fe Trail.

Colonel Alexander Doniphan appointed him sutler (civilian supplier of food and other materials to the military) for the troops.

In 1845, Solomon worked for Houghton and Leidensdorfer Co. in St. Louis.

In that job, he studied the mercantile business and learned Spanish so that he could communicate with the Mexicans on his traveling salesman’s route.

In 1846, Solomon became sutler to Colonel Sterling Price’s troops.


Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory

Later in 1846, Solomon Spiegelberg started a small mercantile firm of his own in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Now that he was a settled businessman in Santa Fe, Solomon began bringing his brothersLevi, Elias, Emanuel, Lehman, and Willi – and sisters – Hannchen and Mindelchen — to America.  Siblings Abraham and Eva remained in Germany.

Levi Spiegelberg, the first brother to arrive, joined Solomon in the business, which they called Spiegelberg Brothers.

Their store, located across from the Governor’s palace, sold groceries and dry goods.

The Spiegelberg Building-Santa Fe,NM [1882]

The Spiegelberg Building-Santa Fe,NM [1882]

By 1850, Spiegelberg Brothers expanded beyond the New Mexico Territory.

Like many other successful Jewish retailers in the West, they also became wholesalers, operating at two levels of merchandising.

Emanuel, Lehman, and Willi worked as clerks in the firm when they first arrived in America.

After several years of contributing to the success of the business, they were admitted into the partnership of Spiegelberg Brothers.

Elias Spiegelberg died shortly after his arrival when his house collapsed in the night.

Spiegelberg Brothers set an example for future merchants by importing and exporting goods to and from Europe and New York, advertising in English and Spanish, and providing excellent window displays with “female models.”

The store offered credit to Hispanic workers, who were usually underpaid, and also traded goods for scrip (in lieu of cash) to help ease the financial burden of the clientele.

In 1872, the Spiegelberg brothers started the Second National Bank of Santa Fe.

Lehman was the president and Willi was the cashier.

In addition to their mercantile firm and bank, the brothers invested in mining projects, mail contracts, construction, and land speculation.

In 1866, the Spiegelberg brothers closed the retail business and concentrated their efforts on the wholesale aspect of their firm.



Solomon, Lehman, Emanuel, Levi, and Willi Spiegelberg were members of the local Masonic Lodge.



Lehman Spiegelberg served as treasurer of the German Aid Society.

Willi Spiegelberg was president of the Santa Fe Board of Trade and served as Probate Judge in 1880.

In 1895, President Cleveland appointed Willi Spiegelberg as the Territorial Governor of New Mexico.

The Spiegelberg’s were major funders in the building of  the St. Francis Cathedral in downtown Santa Fe.

In the Spiegelman family’s honor, the Hebrew letters denoting the Jewish word for “God” are part of the stone cap over the large wooden doors of the cathedral.

"God" in Hebrew letters above the front doors of the Cathedral in Santa Fe.

“God” in Hebrew letters above the front doors of the Cathedral in Santa Fe.


The Spiegelberg brothers sought wives in Germany and the Eastern United States, where the Jewish community was larger.

Levi met and married Betty in Missouri; she journeyed to Santa Fe early in 1860.

Lehman married Carrie Leopold from Illinois.

Willi met and married Flora Langermann in Nuremberg in 1874.

Mindelchen Spiegelberg (also known as Hildegarde) later married Albert Grunsfeld, for whom Congregation Albert in Albuquerque was named.

Their son, Alfred Grunsfeld, was a bar mitzvah in 1876 — the first bar mitzvah in New Mexico.

Due to health issues, Solomon Spiegelberg left New Mexico for New York in 1854.

In 1888, Willi and Flora Spiegelberg decided to leave for New York, too.

Although Jewish life was growing in New Mexico, they wanted more for their children.

By 1889, Lehman and Carrie Spiegelberg left Santa Fe, as well.


Solomon Spiegelberg died in 1898 in Meran, Austria.

Lehman Spiegelberg died in 1904.

Levi Spiegelberg died in 1906 in New York.

Willi Spiegelberg died in 1929 in New York City.

Death Certificates of Hildegarde & Albert Grunsfeld, who stayed in New Mexico:

1917 Death Certificate of Sig. Grunsfeld

1915 Death Certificate of Hilde Grunsfeld


  • Michael L. Lawson, “Flora Langerman Spiegelberg: Grand Lady of Santa Fe,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 8/4.
  • Henry J. Tobias, A History of the Jews in New Mexico (Albuquerque:University of New Mexico Press, 1990).

Samantha Silver is the curator for this Spiegelberg Brothers exhibit.

Death certificates where sent to us by Stuart Weinberg, with permission of Genealogy Center in Albuquerque, NM.