Hoe (digging at Stony Point Center)
Hoe (digging at Stony Point Center)

My great-great-great grandmother, Chana Shames, has a bizarre and beautiful migration story. Like many stories involving Jewish immigration to the USA, hers began in Russia’s Pale of Settlement, and was motivated by the wave of pogroms following the “May Laws” in 1881. Unlike many stories of Jewish immigration to the USA, however, the Shames family immigrated directly to Colorado, and with the belief that they would be members of a socialist agricultural commune.
A businessman and former confederate officer, Emanuel Saltiels proposed the creation of a “Colorado Zion” to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and convinced them to fund the so-called Cotopaxi Colony (CC) and the export of 50 Jewish immigrants to Cotopaxi, Colorado. The Shames family, including Chana at age 10, were among these immigrants, eager to reach their goldene medina, their “golden land.”
Upon arrival in 1882, though, they faced horrific circumstances: extreme dehydration, failed crops. The land that Saltiels had claimed was arable was worthless. Saltiel also allegedly inflated costs, and failed to build enough houses, keeping the HEAS funds for himself. In 1884, CC was disbanded. Chana and her family moved to Denver where she met her future husband, Philip Quiatkowski.
Though CC was a failure, the connection to farming lasted in our family. For me, a hoe is more than a tool; it is a connection to Chana. She hoed the rocky ground of Cotopaxi, and I hoed the stony ground of Stony Point.

Place(s): Russia,Pale of Settlement
Year: 1882

– Sarah Quiat

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more