A few years ago I proudly introduced my grandson to his great great great great grandfather Levi Spiegelberg, depicted on a monument in the Santa Fe rail yard (Levi is 2nd from the right seated with his hand tucked into his jacket) The monument shares a brief history of the Spiegelberg accomplishments in the early frontier town of Santa Fe. As a child, I was captivated by my mother's stories of the young Levi Spiegelberg who, in 1848 at the young age of 17, traveled from Prussia to join his brother Solomon in Santa Fe, NM. They started the extremely successful Spiegelberg Brothers mercantile company. His four other brothers joined the business in the following years. In 1852, Levi had gone to Independence Missouri to lead 25 ox drawn wagons loaded with merchandise, back to New Mexico. Somewhere along the Santa Fe trail, Levi fell deathly ill. Thinking he might have cholera, the teamsters were leaving him to die in a small sod hut by the side of the trail. From the wagon train following Spiegelberg's, the future Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean-Baptiste Lamy, could see the stalled wagons and a fallen man being carried into a hut. Lamy, who was returning to Santa Fe with a group of nuns, Sisters of Loretto, stopped to assist. Recognizing that Levi did not have cholera, he was loaded onto Lamy’s wagon where he was nursed back to health by the clergy. They traveled on to New Mexico where they laid the foundations of modern Santa Fe. Lamy forged the religious and spiritual center of his new home with the construction of the St. Francis Cathedral. The Loretto nuns went on to build the Loretto chapel for the girls academy they founded. Levi Spigelberg went on to build his financial and mercantile company on the Santa Fe Plaza. On the land he purchased from the Arch bishop Lamy, Levi built the first non adobe structure along San Francisco St. The building still stands but was unfortunately "adobified" in the 1960's.
The Spiegelberg Brothers Company built 1858.
I share these stories to humanize the Spiegelberg Brothers recently defaced monument.
Its destruction is personally painful. Seeing the memory of my ancestor's remarkable lives dehumanized is unsettling. I'm deeply saddened by the devolving humanity that is stirring these hateful acts. That moment of compassion Jean Baptist Lamy showed to Levi Spiegelberg has lasted generations and is partially why I'm here today.
Four years ago I moved to Santa Fe and set to work building a sculpture to commemorate a moment of compassion between two extraordinary men. The future archbishop of Santa Fe saved the life of a Jewish merchant along the Santa Fe Trail. The two part sculpture "Signs of Life" consists of "In His Eye" when Jean Baptist Lamy saw a "Falling Man", Levi Spiegelberg. The sculpture is now complete and is currently on display till May 2020 at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden as part of the exhibition "HUMAN NATURE".
"Signs of Life" with "Falling Man" and "In His Eye" at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Arch Bishop Jean Baptist Lamy
That was the history of my future. The history of our future is today and the paths are clear. We will either devolve into hatred or evolve with compassion. Either path will affect us for generations to come. When humanity is under attack we are all falling and can only hope and prey that compassion has our back.