Southwest Jewish History


Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 1992

The Drachman Brothers: Arizona's Pioneers with Courage and Faith: They Blazed Trails in Commerce, Public Service and Religion

The name Drachman appears on a street and on a school in Tucson, one of Arizona's most important cities in territorial days. Like the Goldwaters, the Drachmans were vital in developing the territory and also, like the Goldwaters, were very Jewish in those early days. At the start there was an interesting connection between the two families for on the ship that brought the Goldwater brothers to the United States in 1852 was sixteen year old Philip Drachman. Philip was a refugee passenger who carried the same hopes, the same anxieties as the Goldwaters in coming to the "Golden Medina"-Golden land.

Philip had left his home in Piotrkow near Lodz in Russian Poland for the same reasons the Goldwaters and thousands of other young Jews had fled. the reason for the flight is catalogued in a book, Memoirs written by his grandson, Roy P. Drachman, who became a millionaire philanthropist in the twentieth century. Neither Roy nor any of the Drachmans from the second generation in Arizona remained Jewish, yet Roy wrote of the flight of his grandfather and grand uncle Samuel:

"When these two boys were growing up they were destined, as all Polish boys were, to be Russian soldiers when they reached the age of thirteen. Conscription by the Russian army was a foregone conclusion. But Harris and Rebecca Drachman were determined that their two sons would somehow avoid service in the army of the hated Russians. For two or three years before Philip reached the age when he would be picked up by the Russians, they planned his escape. Families in the area often spirited their male offspring out of the country to avoid service in the Czar's army. The Drachman parents removed some floor boards from on of the rooms in their small home and began to dig by hand a cellar into which Philip could hide. At night they would carry the soil out of the house and spread it over the ground so it would not be noticed. This went on for months and months until they had a place to hide their oldest son, who was soon approaching the age of conscription.

"When the Russians came looking for Philip they were told by the parents that he had run away. He was actually hiding in his cellar room where he lived, beneath the floor of his home, for many months while arrangements were made to send both Philip and Sam to England and eventually to the United States. Philip had health problems most of his adult life, and he felt they stemmed from the months he spent in the damp hole underneath his home. It was said he came to Arizona for the warm, dry climate. Thus he may have been Tucson's first health seeker!"

The first generation of Drachmans in Arizona Territory strongly maintained their Jewish heritage, both religiously and socially. There is a question as to when Philip first came to Tucson. It is often said he visited the Old Pueblo in 1854 enroute to San Bernardino, California where a sister lived. In any case, it is certain that correspondence from the Goldwaters lured him into coming West. There is no remaining record of his travels but it seems quite certain that he was in Tucson in 1857 and the record of his naturalization is dated October 16, 1860 in the California city where Augusta, his sister, resided. Other existing records show that Philip did follow the Goldwaters to the Colorado River area and in 1863 was a member of a group called the "Colorado River Farming and Stock Raising Association". Among other pioneer Jews who were members of that group were J.S.Hyman, Moses Mannassee and Isaac Goldberg. By 1864 the census of the Territory of Arizona listed Philip Drachman as a thirty-year-old merchant with real estate valued at $1,000 and a personal estate of $4,000. The listing of his age is confusing, but the census-takers of those days were not very accurate. Nevertheless, Philip joined with Goldberg to by land along the river at La Paz, and they also began merchandising not only on the Colorado, but also in Prescott and Tucson.

By 1870 Drachman and Goldberg had a store in Tucson and an early advertisement shows clearly the enterprise of the two merchants in bringing to the frontier store a great variety of products in spite of the difficulties of transportation. the newspaper ad read: "Dry Goods consisting of Hats and Caps of every description...Cloaks, Shawls, Boots, Shoes...A large stock of old Rye Whiskey and the best California Wine and Brandy...A large stock of groceries, Butter, honey, Cheese, and Dried Fruits which we offer for sale; wholesale and retail."

The next ad the Merchants ran clarified the way they did business: "Goldberg and Drachman, also a Cash Store."

Philip Drachman had come to a desert frontier that was virtually "judenrein", determined to keep his faith. He made the long and difficult trip to New York City to find a Jewish bride. She was Rosa Katzenstein and in a memoir written long after her adventure in coming West she wrote a fascinating description of the journey from a comfortable home in New York City to the wilds of Arizona:

"I married Philip Drachman in New York city on April 1, 1868 on a steamer called: Arizona."

"We arrived at Aspinwall, Panama and crossed the Isthmus in wagons and on the other side boarded another steamer called "Senator." We arrived in San Francisco on May 13, 1868 and remained there two weeks before taking a steamer for Los Angeles arriving there four days later. We spent a couple of weeks more in Los Angeles before starting for San Bernardino where my husband's sister lived. We left Los Angeles early in the morning by stage coach and arrived in San Bernardino that evening about six o'clock after a hard day's ride over very rough roads (today it takes about an hour's ride, if the modern freeway is not jammed).

"I remained in San Bernardino until October... We started for Tucson on October 21, 1868. We traveled in a fourhorse ambulance which was a relic of the Civil War. We had provisions and camped out ... the first night we camped out and I could not sleep on account of the howling of the coyotes. The horses were tied to the side of the wagon. Our bedding was spread on the ground and that is the way we slept.

"When we were ready to start in the morning, I looked for my sunbonnet, which was made of straw with ruffles of gingham. All I could find was the ruffles...the horses had eaten the straw. All I had to wear was a bandana handkerchief on my head until we arrived in Yuma. In Yuma, I bought a hat and it was a sight. A big straw hat with immense roses trimmed all around. they were all colors, but it was the best I could get.

"We traveled at the rate of twenty-five miles per day and camped near stage coach stations where I saw the roughest and worse class of men. As we traveled we passed many graves of poor people who had been murdered by Indians or the desperate characters. We were detained enroute by many mishaps to our team.

"The first station we stopped at after leaving Yuma was called Gila City, a mining camp where an American woman lived - the only one I saw until we reached Tucson. When we got to a station called Blue Water, we found a team with ten armed men to escort us to Tucson. On the ground at the stage station was lying a man who had been wounded by the Apaches. The Apaches were very bad in those days.

"After another long and tedious journey across the desert, where there was nothing but cactus, sand and brush and occasionally an immense freight team which they called "Arizona Schooners", and mighty glad we were to see them, we arrived in Tucson. We reached Tucson on November 15, 1868 after a long and tiresome journey."

That trip took almost a month from San Bernardino, California to Tucson; today, without a traffic light anywhere on the route, the same distance can be covered in nine or ten hours in an air-conditioned automobile equipped with stereo tape-deck and the AAA nearby to call in case of mishap.

Philip Drachman was the patriarch of the family that was to make its mark in Arizona history for generations. In the business world, like other pioneers on the frontier, Philip had both good times and bad times. He was in freighting as well as merchandising. He also had government contracts which at times were fruitful and at other times difficult to collect on. In 1870 Drachman and Goldberg sent eight men out to cut hay north of Tucson in the San Pedro Valley. The hay was to be sold on government contract to Camp Grant. Sixty Apaches attacked the crew, killing the wagon-master before a contingent of soldiers drove them off. The Indians had already looted the wagons, taking grain, food, clothing and other supplies. Drachman and Goldberg entered a claim to Washington for the losses, but bureaucracy delayed the claim until after Drachman had died and finally in 1903 the claim was dismissed on the grounds that the Indians had not been in amity with the United States at the time of the attack. Amity? It was outright warfare in those days and the losses to the Apaches were very real.

Despite troubles with the government, Philip was not one to waddle in misery. He soon was in real estate. In 1881, he was the owner of a popular saloon in Tucson. The Arizona Daily Star wrote:

"Phil Drachman has filled up his new saloon in a costly manner. The counter is inlaid with rare pictures, and the whole place has an air of tone and elegance. It is named "Post Office Exchange". Paul Jenkie, late of the Mint, presides behind the bar. The place will be opened to the public this afternoon. Location: the corner of Congress and Church Streets, near the printing office."

Five years later, the Star noted that Drachman had purchased a cigar store. On November 9, 1899 Philip Drachman died of pneumonia. He and Rosa had ten children and the youngest, Phyllis, was a year old when her father died in Tucson. Now Rosa Katzenstein Drachman, that courageous pioneer who had crossed the desert in a discarded Civil War ambulance, had to raise her children alone. The family lived in a home with dirt floors - a home without indoor plumbing, electricity, gas stove, or any sort of air conditioning to ease the brutal summer heat of the desert. To help support the big family, the older three boys, Harry, said to be the first Anglo boy born in the Arizona Territory, Mose and Emanuel all went to work, and all established themselves well in Tucson. The other seven children - Rebecca, Myra, Albert, Minnie, Lillian, Esther and Phyllis, all left in their adult years.

Philip Drachman, who was 66 at the time of his death, had served the territory well. He had been in the House of Representatives of the Fourth Territorial Legislature, was a charter member of the Society of Pioneers and one of the founders of the B'nai B'rith Lodge in Tucson. He was buried with Masonic rites and his obituary in the Weekly Citizen read:

"The death of Mr. Drachman has cast a gloom over the entire community, and many were the expressions of sorrow heard this morning in the business houses and on the streets when the sad news was announced."

The children of Rosa and Philip Drachman left two interesting legacies. Harry, the eldest son, was a great pioneer on his own. He rose from a cashboy at the Jewish-owned White House dry goods store and then shoe clerk at the Zeckendorf Department Store to own his own shoe store. He served as both tucson city treasurer and county clerk, was a school district trustee, county assessor and a state senator. Wherever he went, he lauded the great virtues of living in Arizona and he soon became known as Harry Arizona Drachman.

His brother Mose followed the Drachman line of loyalty and service. He was a school board member, city councilman, the first secretary of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, member of the Arizona Board of Regents and a state senator. There are two interesting stories about Mose Drachman. One of the stories he liked to relate was the story of his youth when doomsayers were predicting that a comet would appear in the sky and would bring an end to the world if it hit the earth. In his memoirs, Mose recalled the night of June 23, 1881 "when we were all in bed and asleep, when about ten o'clock we were awakened by a terrific explosion. The house rocked back and forth as if it had been a boat. The glass in every window came clattering to the floor. No need to ask what happened. The comet had hit Tucson.

"We rushed outside looking up at the sky. There where the comet had been there was nothing at all. My mother gathered the six of us children around her. "We all die together," she said. There was no doubt in our minds that the end had come.

"...a man came running down the street. He said to us, "Are you scared? It was only the powder house across the tracks. It blew up".

An even more important not was left in his memoirs. He wrote: "My marriage (to Ethel Edmunds) did not please the rest of my family.We were Jew - not very strict Jews - but they thought I should marry a Jewish girl. Strange as it many seem not one of them married a Jew and only one of my sisters married a Jewish man. So I located in Phoenix until the clouds rolled by."

the only second generation Drachman to marry in the faith was Rebecca who wed Sol Breslauer. One of the daughters of Ethel and Moses, Rosemary Drachman Taylor, wrote the popular book, Chicken Every Sunday, which was made into a movie. Neither the book nor the movie had any of the Jewish background of the Drachmans.

As an oddity of Arizona pioneer Jewish history, Emanuel, the third son of rosa and Philip, became famous for his development of an amusement park and theaters in Tucson. It is said that he was a fine baseball player and threw the first curveball in Arizona. A grandson of Philip Drachman, Roy, in his later years was a successful land developer and a great philanthropist in Tucson.

Philip Drachman was most important to the early development of the Arizona Territory, but it was his brother who contributed more than any other pioneer in strengthening Judaism in the desert frontier. Throughout early Southwestern history the story of "meshpocha' is repeated. The term relates to the extended family. It was a very frequent occurrence for a brother to send to the old country or to the East coast for another brother to come West, for an uncle to send for a nephew, and so forth through family ties, through meshpocha, the Jewish community of the southwest grew.

And so it was that Philip convinced his brother Samuel to come to Arizona in 1867. Samuel Harris Drachman had resided in Charleston, South Carolina and had joined the Confederate Army. Reportedly he was at Fort Sumter when it fell. In the confederate army he fought under General Beauregard and supposedly was advanced to the rank of colonel. In Tucson, he was often greeted as "Colonel Drachman".

For a brief period on his voyage to Arizona and then in Tucson, Samuel Drachman kept a diary and a scrapbook in which he placed clippings of Jewish events throughout the world. As a diarist he was no Samuel Pepys, but what he wrote tells us much about the observance of Judaism in Arizona territorial days even before there were temples or rabbis. Drachman took ill the first day at sea, but even that did not keep him from logging his story. These are excerpts from the diary of Samuel Harris drachman.

May 21, 1867: "I left New York at 20 minutes to 1:00. Had a good company see me off. Got acquainted with a Mr. Adler ...At 2:00 we past (sic) the New York bar, first thing on board were all closed in. Tickets examined. Took sick for first time at 5:25 p.m."

May 22, 1867: "5 a.m. cold and cloudy. At 8:30 clear and pleasant smooth sea. At 11, passage tickets were taken and dinner tickets in place. At 12 inspection, 240 miles run the first 24 hours. 8 p.m...pleasant, singing and music, everything looks lovely."

(on May 28 he reported that the weather was clear, but that he had a sick headache.)

May 31, 1867: "Very rough and stormy. Very heavy rain...suffered with sore throat. A man died in second cabin at 1 p.m., was buried at sea."

June 10, 1867: "Cold, but clear weather, distance run 254 miles. 6:30 p.m. great fog and head wind. 9:30 p.m. all clear and moon shining. Today was the second day of Pentecost."

June 12, 1867: "Weather clear, but very cold. All alive on board getting their baggage. General joy on board, last day's run 230 miles. Past Golden Gate. Came in sight of San Francisco at 11:30 a.m. Landed at 12. Stopped at International Hotel."

[On June 21 Drachman left San Francisco, arriving at San Pedro harbor two days later. The next day he took the stage to San Bernardino where his sister lived and where he would meet Jennie Miguel, the Jewish girl he would marry. He now prepared to head for Tucson to meet his brother Philip. The trip by stage through the desert of California began August 19.]

August 22, 1867:"Arrived at Arizona City at 7 a.m. awful hot, could not leave as expected. For the first time in my life I slept on a roof, went to bed at dark."

August 25, 1867:" Up at sunrise, cloudy. Took breakfast at 8. Had a slight pain in my stomach. At 6 p.m. excitement about a drunken Dutchman. Went to bed at 9:30, had to get up about 10:30 on account of rain, went back at 11. Slept bad that night."

[Samuel Drachman was delayed leaving Arizona City because he was called to act as a court clerk, probably because he was one of the few there who was literate. Drachman reported in his diary that one case concerned a man fined $100 for selling liquor to an Indian. After his involuntary service Drachman continued his journey to Tucson, arriving September 4, 1867. He went to work in the Goldberg-Drachman store and now his diary gives a picture of bachelor life on the frontier - playing cards, drinking and talking well into the night. Yet there was another side to Samuel Harris Drachman; he held strongly to his Jewish faith as his diary now indicates.]

September 29, 1867: "Headache, dizziness and pain in the eyes, had to be in bed the whole day, took four pills at night...felt very dreary on account of Rosh Hashana."

September 30, 1867:"No better, had to say prayers in bed, felt real bad."

October 1, 1867:"The second day of Rosh Hashana somewhat better, but had to keep in bed yet."

October 8, 1867:" 2 p.m. took a shave and a shampoo. At night which was Kol Nidre night [Joseph] Goldwater and Isaac Allershansen and myself were talking about San Francisco. Went to bed at 9. [Joseph Goldwater was the great uncle of Senator Goldwater, but there are no records left of Allershansen.]

October 9, 1867:"Got up at 8:30 fasted well, slept part of the day, at night felt unwell. [Drachman later noted the Succoth holiday, but continued to write about his recurring illness. Was it the desert heat, or the even more unaccustomed chile that was upsetting the colonel? He never explained in his diary. One other diary entry is revealing. On November 1, 1867 he wrote "today being the anniversary of the death of poor mother, wrote to Father."]

By 1872 Samuel Drachman was in business on his own. He had a general merchandise store, bid on government contracts and traveled widely throughout Arizona, the Territory of New Mexico into Old Mexico and as well to San Francisco. By 1874, he was listed among the most prominent traders in Tucson with a gross of $50,000 for the year. Listed ahead of him were the pioneer Jewish bankers, Barron and Lionel Jacobs, with a gross of $130,000 and Zeckendorf and Bros. at $108,000. Drachman fared well in the business world of the desert frontier until he suffered a serious reversal arising from failure to collect on a government contract.

In between business exploits, Sam Drachman found time to search for a wife and found Jennie Miguel, daughter of a pioneer Jewish merchant in San Bernardino, California. He married Jennie and brought her to Tucson, where she joined in early pioneer life. At a Purim Ball held in Tucson it was reported that Jennie came dressed as a "Tamale girl"; it was not noted whether salsa was part of her makeup!

In public life, Sam Drachman was a spirited and dedicated man. He served on the Tucson City Council, was elected to the Eighth Arizona Legislature and for nine years was a leader in building the city's public school system. Colonel Sam also had a fine sense of humor. What follows are a few of the "Ten Commandments" found on the wall in Drachman's cigar store:

I. Thou shalt have none other cigars to smoke than those kept by S.H.Drachman.

II. Thou shalt not beg, but shalt buy thy chewing tobacco from S.H.Drachman.

III. Thou shalt not defraud, but shall pay unto S.H.Drachman that which is his due.

IV. Thou shalt not kiss, neither shalt thou make love to the hired girl in the absence of thy wife, but thou shalt buy cigars and tobacco of S.H.Drachman and live in peace.

V. Honor thy mother and treat thy father to one of S.H.Drachman's Havana Cigars.

VI. Thou shalt have but one sweetheart and in her presence thou shalt smoke but the fragrant Key West cigar, sold by S.H.Drachman.

IX. Love and honor thy mother-in-law. Go to S.H.Drachman's for thy cigars and be forever blessed.

Along with humor, Drachman held very strong religious feelings. He was not a rabbi, nor the son of a rabbi, but he did more in Arizona's territorial days than anyone to keep Judaism alive in the Desert Southwest. In 1890 he was one of 17 incorporators who contributed $3.50 each to form the Jewish Cemetery Association. He led informal holiday services and in 1910, when the territory's first house of Jewish worship was established, Samuel Drachman became its's first president - president of Temple Emanu-El.

Moreover, Drachman went to unbelievable lengths to further Judaism. He took it upon himself to travel widely, not only in Arizona, but in Texas as well, to officiate at wedding ceremonies of Jewish couples. Considering the difficulties of travel in those early days, Sam Drachman was performing a true 'mitzvah' -a good deed. A Phoenix newspaper article of October 25, 1894 describes the lay rabbinical efforts of Samuel Harris Drachman in this excerpt from one of his wedding appearance:

"One of the most brilliant social events that Phoenix journalists have had the pleasure of recording occurred last evening in the marriage of Hugo Zeckendorf of Tucson and Miss Rebecca Goldberg of this city.

"Mr. Zeckendorf is the son of Aaron Zeckendorf, who some forty years since founded the business house now run under the name of L.Zeckendorf & Co., the largest mercantile establishment in the Territory....Miss Goldberg has claimed Phoenix for her home for many years past, and around the history of the young couple is entwined the social life of both cities.

"The wedding took place at the residence of Mr. Aaron Goldberg on East Adam Street. the ceremony was private, witnessed only by the immediate relatives and friends of the contracting parties.

"The handsome parlors were profusely decorated with palms and flowers and at 7:30 the bridal train was announced and standing under a bower of roses the happy couple were pronounced man and wife by Chief Justice Baker with the impressiveness of the civil ceremony. Immediately following, Rabbi S.H.Drachman (the title of rabbi was the journalistic inventiveness of the reporter) officiated in the marriage ceremony of the Jewish church and in conclusion delivered the following words of advice and counsel to the newly wedded:

"My beloved children, the ceremony of marriage, civil and religious, has been performed, and you now stand before God and the world as man and wife. You have freely and voluntarily appeared before this hymeneal altar to form a perpetual union, and to enter into a solemn, sacred and civil contract which is universally recognized, honored and sanctioned by our Supreme ruler of the universe, agreeable with Mosaic dispensation and in conformity with the rules, customs and laws of our country, you have agreed with each other to form a conjugal bond in form and in deed. (Now "Reb" Drachman turns to the groom with some words that were sure to please all women attending the ceremony).

"You, dear Hugo, the faithful maiden whom you have chosen to accompany you during your life's journey, I have known since childhood as a dutiful daughter in Israel and I am confident she will be a dutiful wife unto you. She leaves a mother's home and care to cling to you through life. To her and to her only you owe your fidelity, tender care, love and devotion in the hour of trial and tribulation as well as in hours of joy and prosperity, for you will remember with gladness that woman is the noblest gift to man, the brightest jewel on earth, the sweetest flower in the path of life. (Having won the women to his side, the volunteer preacher now gave advice to the bride.)

"You, my dear Beckie, in assuming the duties of wife, it is expected that you will meet your husband with kindness and affability, with reverence, love and devotion."

Drachman brought much happiness to others, but as happened to many frontier families, tragedy struck his family. Jennie and Samuel had four children. One of their sons, Sol, died as a young man.

Sam, as Philip before him, was buried in Masonic rites in 1911 in Tucson. Sixteen years later Jennie died and while Jewish pioneers were at graveside, the wife of the volunteer 'rabbi' of the Desert Southwest was buried with the reading of a Christian Science Service.


This is a chapter from a forthcoming book, Cheese Blintzes and Chorizo by Abraham Chanin.