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30 July 2010

The poem of a Shopkeeper

In his book The Jews of Ireland: from Earliest Times to the year 1910, Louis Hyman shares a poem written by Myer Joel Wigoder (1856-1933), who was a settler of Dublin about 1890. I think it tells a story common to so many of our ancestors.

When first in Dublin I arrived,
I shed hot bitter tears,
Penniless in a foreign land,
I faced the coming years.

Upon a frugel scale I lived,
So as to pay my way,
How hard I toiled that I might earn,
A few shillings each day.

I did not scorn to carry a bag.
And deal in humble wares,
My back bent low, I carried on,
Heedless of stones and stares.

In such a way I struggled on,
Scarce knowing what to do,
I changed my trade a score of times,
Ever trying something new.

Still, my spirit was unconquered,
And my confidence survived,
I forgot my previous failures,
And as a shopkeeper thrived.

Pictures, frames or writing paper,
I have all one may require,
Come to me and get your custom,
If things you do desire.

His work in the picture framing business must have finally paid off for him, as we see in the 1911 census, he had eight children living with him. He was at this time a Russian born widower.

The records of this family are in The Jews of the British Isles.

The far reaching influence of the Fordon Jews

Over the generations, families move for many reasons, and I am constantly amazed at how widespread our families become. My own great grandfather, Morris David Rosenbaum, a Polish Jew, was born in Fordon, Poland in the early 1830's. Over time his journey took him to New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco and eventually to Utah.
It was then with great interest that I was reading the book The Jews of Ireland, by Louis Hyman. In his chapter on the Dublin congregation he writes, "In 1829, the eleven families of the congregation appointed the Rev. Isaac Davidson to be Reader, shochet, and mohel. Davidson was born in Fordon, in the duchy of Posen, settled in England about the year 1820, and was for some time the reader and sochet in Sunderland and Brighton, apart from an interval as private secretary to Solomon Herschell, the Chief Rabbi of England."

The records of this family can be found in the Jews of the British Isles, and The Jews of Europe.

Jewish residents of Dublin.

The history of the Jewish people in Dublin is actually a long history. In the mid 17th century, the first synagogue was established, opposite Dublin Castle. In the early 1700's the earliest Jewish Cemetery was established. From this early start the population eventually fell to just a few dozen. In the 1820's, Dublin once again saw the beginning of immigartion of families. In the case of the Jews, most came from Germany and Poland. By 1900, the Jewish population of Dublin had increased to over 3000 people.

The history of Dublin, and indeed all of Ireland's Jews, has been beautifully documented at The Jewish Museum in Dublin. The museum is located in the arear of Dublin, near Portebello College, home to a large portion of the Jewish community of the early 1900's.

The growth of the Jewish community came at a very valuable time for family researchers. The 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland were able to document these families. Since the census takers recorded the religion of every resident we are able to get a good picture of the Jewish Community. The records can be viewed free of charge at This resource is just to incredible for any Irish researcher to pass up.
The records of the Irish Jews can be found in the Jews of the British Isles.

19 July 2010

The Kino/Knowles family of Russia and London

The story of the family of Charles Julius Kino is one of great mystery. Family tradition states that he was born in Russia and eventually made his way to England during the 1870's. A search of the 1881 census seems to verify parts of this story (FHL film# 1341005).In this we find Charles and wife Louisa living at #3 Edinburgh Terrace in London. Included in the household are the three children, Hugh C., Margaret M., and Guy J. F.

From the marriage record we find that on 15 Apr 1874, under the direction of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, Charles Julius Kino age 33, the son of the late Israel Henry Kino and Louisa Essinger, age 24, the daughter of the late Max Essinger, were married at the home of the bride's mother, 24 Belize Road.

To this point things are pretty straight forward, but then the fun begins. At some point shortly after the 1881 census, the family of Charles Julius Kino changes their surname. The new name is Knowles, which is obviously of great importance to the author. By the 1901 census, Louisa is listed as a widow. because of this I searched for a will for Charles Julius Knowles. Upon finding the will, that is when the mystery began. In the indexes to the Principal Probate Registry, I find not one, but two wills for Charles Julius Knowles.

The index lists a first probate granted 20 Mar 1900 to Hugh Charles Knowles, worth 1.2 million pounds and a second probate granted 6 Jul 1900 to Guy John Fenton Knowles for almost 400,000 pounds. A further search of the original wills, shows the first will to be a beautifully written document, listing many relatives and organizations that he supported, while the second will is basically just a few short paragraphs.

With this information, many questions are left unanswered, but two are of particular interest. First, why did this obviously successful man change his name? Secondly, why the difference in the way the sons were treated. While both amounts would be very nice inheritances, one is still 3 times as large as the other. Hopefully further research will answer some of these questions.

The records of this family are in The Jews of the British Isles.