Walking in the footsteps of my pioneer Levy family

Mary Levy Peachin visits the Bisbee-Douglas Jewish Cemetery March 11, 2020. (Courtesy Mary Peachin)

As a third-generation Arizonan with pioneer roots dating back to 1903, the year Phelps Dodge opened its Douglas smelter, it is difficult to match the historical pride I feel.

The stories gleaned over the years are incredible. During two major 1911 Mexico Revolution battles in Agua Prieta, residents climbed anything two stories or higher to watch.

My father told me that he watched from the hillside. It also is likely my family watched from the two-story Elks Club that was within walking distance of their home. Another two-story house on Fifth Street had a photo published of residents crowded onto the roof watching a 1911 battle. Folks also climbed on top of boxcars in the railroad yard. My grandfather Jacob Levy sold uniforms to Pancho Villa. My uncle jumped into a ditch along the fenceless border with Agua Prieta to avoid being shot.

At the cemetery, memories of those historic days raced through my mind as tears welled in my eyes. It was as if I had walked into my own version of Ancestry.com. Seeing the desecration in this place where some of my relatives are buried, was an incredible, emotional experience. During the day-long trip, I saw the homes of my uncles and aunts and grandparents, plus the Douglas Historical Society located in the Douglas/Williams home, and the Gadsden Hotel preserved as it was when my great-uncle played dominoes there.

All of us left feeling that we owe it to these pioneer families to enable them to rest in peaceful surroundings rather than vandalized rubble.