Throughout the 19th century, Jewish people throughout much of Europe saw an increase in hostility, which led to a mass migration of Jews to the United States. Early in the century, it appeared to be the decline, before Jewish hatred bit back with a vengeance.
The first half of the century saw a wave of Jews coming from Central Europe with an increase from the East, which former U. S. Senator Barry Goldwater and former Republican candidate for president could trace his father’s side of his family. What they found was acceptance of them as Jews once they reached American soil. For the first time in their lives, they were not treated as any different. The hostility and violence Jews faced throughout Europe could not be found.
Michael Goldvasser, born in 1821, who would later change his name to Goldwater, was one of those who fled his home country of Poland to keep from being conscripted by the Russian Tsar. He made his way to Paris, where he faced hostility that other Jews faced. Eventually, he moved to London and married an Englishwoman who was Jewish. News of gold in California is what motivated them to leave London for the United States.
The difficulties they faced in America were no different from Gentiles. There were no laws separating Jews from Gentiles in regards to marriage, having and raising children, pursuing business interests that would have been forbidden by the various European governments they fled.
Americans never forced them to convert and never brought about an exile. From the very foundation of English colonies turned to states, they were free to worship or not worship as they wished.
Abraham Hyman Emanuel was not one those who experienced what European Jews experienced, or most Americans. He was born in the United States in 1838 to a family who had done rather well for themselves. Being born and raised in Philadelphia did bring him to close proximity of Jews who had fled Europe.
At the age of 12, news of gold in California reached him. He, along with a classmate, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Christian grandson of Commodore Vanderbilt planned to run away together to California. The school they attended together put no obstacle in place for Emanuel being Jewish. All that mattered was his parents’ ability to pay for the school as any other student.
They took a course of action that seemed quite natural at the time. They ran away and boarded a ship to Panama, since there was no train to California at the time. Those who could afford it, travelled by ship due to it being faster and safer than travelling over land.
Commodore Vanderbilt was waiting for them in Panama and took them both in. Cornelius Vanderbilt remained with his grandfather. Emmanuel ran away and reached California.
Rather than race towards the gold, as so many others did, he continued with his education and became a clerk for Judge McAlister. McAlister was an old friend of his fathers who was Christian. He never saw Emmanuel as the Jewish son of a Jewish friend, but simply the son of a friend.
Michael Goldwater may have followed the news of gold like others, but did something most did not. He took his family with him, which ment the likelihood of his sons meeting Jewish women later in life was far from likely. Most men went to California and left their families behind. As far as Jewish movement west, it was predominantly men. There was no Rabbi in California or Arizona, so Goldwater did his best to fill the role in both.
When news broke of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Emmanuel left California for Nevada where he was no longer under his father’s influence or protection. He became a mine foreman and opened a livery stable and freight business.
When he heard of silver being struck in southern Arizona, he left Virginia City for Tombstone. Upon arrival in what would become Cochise County, he would spend the next three decades there helping to build Tombstone into more than just a mining town.
During those thirty years, he would have come across Barry Goldwater’s grandfather. He may not have been a Rabbi, but Goldwater was the closest anyone had in Arizona and California.
He became a superintendent for a mining company and a lumber company without anyone thinking of him as anything other than capable. Being Jewish was not seen as a hinderance, including the selling of stock to Wyatt Earp, who never questioned the deal or the man.
Less than a year after selling the stock to Earp, Cochise County was formed with Tombstone as the County seat. Territorial Governor Fremont named Emanuel as Cochise County Supervisor. Emmanuel was a Jewish Republican who felt the hatred of him being Jewish for the first time when the heavily Democratic Territorial Legislatures refused to accept any slate from the Governor.
Fremont created a new list with the only name being the same was Emanuel, which was rejected again, making it clear they would not allow a single Jew to be a supervisor. He was forced, under tremendous pressure, to withdraw his name.
In 1889, he became a clerk for Judge Sloan and seven years later, won his election for Mayor of Tombstone. It was the first of three consecutive victories. As Mayor, he managed the decline as best he could and did prevent it from becoming a ghost town as other mining towns had.
Unlike the Territorial Legislatures, the people of Tombstone did not care if he was Jewish or Christian. All that mattered to them was his ability to do the job.
What cost him a fourth election was allowing for the creation of Tombstone Light and Gas Works. It was crucial for the survival of the town, but the residents did not see it that way. He lost the following election by a narrow margin.
It was not long after that he returned to California. When he died, he left no living relatives, but no sign of a life left unlived. From the moment he left California, he was no longer under his father’s shadow, but went through life built on his own ability and wealth.
Tombstone may be known for Wyatt Earp, but there is far more to the town that continues to this day. Emanuel, during his three terms as Mayor was instrumental in keeping the town going. The town never returned to its heights as a mining town, but it never faded to history as so many others did.
About 50 years later, Arizona born Barry Goldwater ran for the U. S. Senate and won his first of many terms. The people of Arizona knew his father and grandfather were both Jewish, since they were instrumental in building Arizona from territory to state.
The only times he was reminded of his Jewish father was in Washington, where Democrats made it an issue. Despite his honorable service as and achieving the rank of Major General, he was seen as a Jew, rather than an American. The demographics may have shifted in Arizona between Emanuel and Goldwater, but never did with the Democrats.