Setting Up Shop in the Old West: Mercantile Interests

The Southwest Jewish Archives collections contain photographs offering the look and feel of "Main Streets" throughout the Southwest. These images show different general stores established in cities and towns in New Mexico and Arizona by Jewish businessmen and their families. In addition, we have added related items, such as advertisements or images of a store's interior.

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Bibo Store, Bernalillo, NM, circa 1903

Photo 1903: Identified by Arthur Bibo, March 3, 1961

Joseph Bibo (bow tie) and his wife in front of his store at Bernalillo, New Mexico. Boy with the dog - James Bibo (their oldest son) deceased; next to him Milton Bibo (2nd son); girl in wagon Reina Bibo (Stolaroff) (their daughter)

From the notes on the back of the Archives photograph written by Arthur Bibo, and dated 3/4/61. "Photo 1903, [ notes by Arthur Bibo, dated 3/4/1961] Simon Bibo sold his interest with Joseph Bibo in this store in 1892. Then my father Emil Bibo was in business with Joseph Bibo until 1899. Building no longer stands."

The Jacobs block in Tucson
Spiegelberg Block Illustration, New Mexico
Spiegelberg advertisement from the 1882 Business Directory and Gazeteer of New Mexico
Newspaper advertisement for the I. E. Solomon store
50 centavos script distributed by the Spiegelberg bank

"Another Civil War Story," accompanies this 50 centavos script distributed by the Spiegelberg bank. It was prepared by Mrs. Willi (Flora) Spiegelberg and can be found in the Museum of New Mexico (MNM) in Sante Fe.

At times during the Civil War there was a great scarcity of small silver coins, and in order to remedy this inconvenience to business the Federal government granted the privilege to reliable, trustworthy merchants and bankers to issue "Script." It was paper money like our bank notes or greenbacks, in amounts of Ten, Twenty and Fifty cents. The names of the merchants, or bankers was printed on this white Script paper, and they were responsible for the amount of every issue. This Script was given the unpleasant nickname of "Shindplaster," possibly by those who disapproved of it.

Spiegelberg Brothers were among the first merchants and bankers out West to have been granted the privilege to issue the Script, and they considered it a great honor.

During the Civil War the Second National Bank of Sante Fe New Mexico was organized. Lehman Spiegelberg was elected President and Willi Spiegelberg Cashier. At that time it was obligatory for the President and Cashier to personally sign all greenbacks, it was indeed a strange sight to see thousands upon thousands spread out to dry.

I. E. Solomon, Dealer in General Merchandise
A & B Schuster Company early 1920's store in Holbrook, Arizona
Interior of the Schuster's Holbrook store, circa 1890

At far left, Max Schuster and at far right Adolph Schuster.