Volume 1, Number 3, Spring 1993
An Old Jewish Cemetery Restored
The old cemetery was in shambles and the members of the Cochise County
Historical Society were not going to let it remain in that shameful
condition. Jeanne Williams, a noted western writer who was president of
the group at that time, called Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives. Could we
Could we help? We responded immediately and on November 22 we
took students who were members of Hillel's Challenge organization at the
University of Arizona and headed for Douglas. When we reached the cemetery
members of the Cochise Society, a surprising number of volunteers, and
probationers under the professional leadership of Edward E. Skinner were
already at the work of restoring the old Bisbee-Douglas Jewish Cemetery.
Throughout that day in 1992 the work went on--weeds were uprooted, broken
headstones replaced and now the area, only a couple of hundred yards from
the Mexican border, was gaining a look of respectability.
Several names on the headstones were identifiable and now some
families have been traced and have contributed funds to aid the cleanup.
Contributions also came in from throughout Southern Arizona, from people
who had read of the project in newspapers. One woman--not Jewish--walked
up to me in the cemetery. She said she had a very special feeling that she
must help Jews and she wanted to contribute to the cleanup project. Her
gift was substantial and will aid the restoration work.
David Eppele, who has a cactus nursery at Bisbee, decided the cemetery
would hold its southwestern look if it was planted with cacti; he carried
out the project himself. Tom Campbell, Superintendent of Schools for
Cochise County, took it upon himself to do the grueling work of re-fencing
the cemetery. Again the southwestern look was retained by restoring the
barbed wire fence.
Cochise County has a long and colorful pioneer Jewish history. In that
county before the turn of the century Jews were deputy sheriffs, mining
entrepreneurs, cattlemen, lawyers, bankers and mayors. We shall tell that
story in a future issue of Southwest Jewish History. Meanwhile on
Sunday, April 25 at 1 p.m. the old Bisbee-Douglas Jewish cemetery will be
re-dedicated. You are invited. For directions call the Southwest Jewish