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Theresa Marx Ferrin  (b. 1846, d. 1911)
Theresa Marx Ferrin
Theresa Marx Ferrin aided early Tucsonans through her work as a practical nurse and herbologist. She was also a founding member of the Jewish Ladies Benevolent Society which organized religious services for the Jewish community and raised funds for its first synagogue.

Region: Tucson and Southern Arizona
Theme: Women and Community Building

Theresa Marx was born in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. with her family. In San Francisco, she worked as a milliner, prior to marrying Joseph Ferrin, a merchant and tailor. In 1878, the young couple moved to Tucson, where Joseph and his brother-in-law opened a store on the corner of Meyer and Cushing Streets (where the Cushing Street Bar and Grill is now located). Theresa and Joseph lived in the back of the building which housed the store. Theresa used her training in natural and herbal remedies to aid the community by caring for the sick as a practical nurse. She accompanied Dr. John Handy, Tucson's only doctor, on emergency calls and became known as the "angel of Tucson" for her helpful work.

In 1884, Theresa and other Jewish women founded the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society to assist new immigrants and to organize religious services for the Jewish community. Indicating the trust the community placed in her, Theresa kept the Torah in her home for 20 years, until their synagogue was completed. She also participated in a drive to raise funds to build Temple Emanua-El, the first synagogue in Arizona. It was completed just months before her death in 1911. This site is now the Jewish History Museum.

To learn more about Theresa Ferrin consult the files of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson or the Jewish History Museum at 564 S. Stone Avenue in Tucson. The former site of the Ferrin's store is at the corner of Cushing and Meyer Street in Tucson's Barrio Viejo. The exterior of the Cushing Street Bar and Grill still contains the original adobe.

Photo Credits:
Theresa Marx Ferrin - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson

 

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