Betty Spiegelberg

“By Gingo! What a beautiful woman in these war times. A fellow might be tempted to kidnap her.”

The following excerpt is from Flora Spiegelberg's Reminiscences of a Jewish Bride on the Santa Fe Trail written in August of 1937.

"My brother-in-law Levi's wife was young and very beautiful and at that time was the fifth American woman in Santa Fe. Their only pleasant recreation was a buggy ride every Sunday to visit the nearby Indian pueblos and watch them mold pottery and make gold and silver jewelry.

One Sunday as they drove past General Sibley's headquarters they noticed that some of the officers and soldiers arose and stared at them. The following day an old pioneer friend told Levi: "When you drove past military headquarters Sunday, I overheard this remark: 'By Gingo! What a beautiful woman in these war times. A fellow might be tempted to kidnap her.'"

To protect his wife, Levi's three brothers slept in an adjoining room with loaded guns to ward off any attempt to kidnap her. My brother-in-law forbid his wife even to look out of her bedroom window, but one day she heard a woman crying and moaning under her window: "For God's sake, help me! I am starving and bleeding to death." Remembering her husband's warning, she ran across the yard into the store to call him, but it was full of soldiers shouting and fighting for provisions.

So she rushed back to her room, and when the crying and pitiful appeals continued, she could not resist any longer and looked out of the window and saw a young Negro girl, who begged for help. Assisted by her Mexican maid, she dragged her into the house, washed and fed her, and sent for a doctor. The girl had been stolen from her master's plantation by General Sibley's soldiers, assaulted and abused by them. The Spiegelberg brothers not only bought her freedom, but also a man slave and adopted an Indian girl the Confederate soldiers had captured."

Biographical Information

Levi Spiegelberg followed his brother Solomon to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1848. Together they formed the partnership of Spiegelberg Brothers, an extremely successful merchant enterprise. Like many pioneer Jewish men, Levi wished to marry within his faith. Those who could afford the expense, often returned to Europe to find a Jewish bride. Betty married Levi in 1848. She arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the early 1860's after taking the railroad to the end of the Missouri and then traveling up the steep Santa Fe Tail by ox train.

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Betty Spiegelberg.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Betty Spiegelberg." (Viewed on October 28, 2020) <>.


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