Jewish Routes // Arizona

Defying stereotypes, early Jewish pioneers in Arizona were not just storeowners and bankers, but cowboys, lawmen, ranchers and entertainers. The first known Jewish settler was the German-born Nathan Benjamin Appel, who headed west in 1856 from New York to St. Louis, then followed the Santa Fe Trail to the territory’s new capital, Tucson. Appel went on to lead a colorful life in the Wild West: He married a Catholic woman (there were no Jewish women in the territory), had ten children, and was a sheriff, saloon owner, wagon train leader and merchant. Loyal to his heritage, upon his death in 1901, Appel had a Jewish funeral led by a rabbi.

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