30 September 2010
28 September 2010
In the middle of Stuttgart, Germany lies the Prague Cemetery. While the gates are locked and the grounds are not accessible, it is still possible to see the headstones of some of our ancestors. Thanks to the work of those who have passed this spot, some of the information is now available. From these pictures, the records of some of the residents of Stuttgart will continue to be preserved. Hopefully all the records will one day be preserved.
The records from this cemetery can be found in the Jews of Europe database.
20 September 2010
Some of the recent additions to the Knowles Collection shows just how much influence one family can have. The Peixotto family becomes a prominent American Jewish family. However, their journey to America is an interesting one.
The Maduro and the Peixotto families, both left Spain to avoid persecution. As with so many others, they made their way first to Amsterdam and then on to Curacao, in the Caribbean. On Aug 18, 1765, Samuel Levy Maduro, son of Moses Levy Maduro married Leah Cohen Peixotto in Curacao. She was the daughter of Daniel Cohen Peixotto. Samuel Levy Maduro then assumed the name of Peixotto. Members of this family then made their home in New York City, arriving in about 1807. Once in America this family married into many other early Jewish families.
Remnants of this family can be found throughout the world Some of the most notable are:
- Daniel Levy Maduro Peixotto (18 Jul 1800-1843) Born in Amsterdam, the son of Moses Levy Maduro Peixotto. educated in Curacao, he came to new York with his father, and graduated from Columbia at age 16. He then received his medical degree three years later at the age of 19. Frequent contributor and editor to various newspapers. Very active in politics. Also President of the New York Medical Society.
- Benjamin Franklin Peixotto (13 Nov 1834-1890). Son of Daniel Levy Maduro Peixotto, he was an attorney, American Consul and journalist. Went to Cleveland and became editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At time of the persecutions of Rumanian Jews, he was appointed by Pres. Grant to be Consu-General to Rumania. His influence led to Rumania being granted Sovereign Kingdom status in1878.
- Daniel Levy Maduro Peixotto (17 Mar 1854-24 Oct 1898). Captain of the Third Regiment United States Volunteer Infantry. Born in New York, he died in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, from a fever contracted during the Spanish American War. He was military governor and provost marshall of Guantanamo Bay.
The list of distinguished members of this family is almost endless. Their lives impacted not only America but many countries. They are truly an example of the good that can be done in a new homeland. The records of this family can be found in The Jews of The British Isles, The Jews of Europe, The Jews of The Americas and The Jews of the Caribbean. More records are being added now and will be availble in upcoming updates.
The Jewish community of Morocco was at one time a thriving prosperous group. Today, the population has dropped from over a quarter of a million people as recently as the 1950's, to a group closer to 5000 in size. Today, the largest community is in Casablanca.
The Jewish community dates back over 2000 years, which Jewish colonies in Morocco even before it became a Roman Empire. Under the Romans, the Jews of Morocco enjoyed being treated as equals. Other important times in the history of the Jews of Morocco:
- In the 7th century, many Jews fleeing Spain, settled in Morocco and brought with them a modern life.
- Jews lived in peace until 1033, when thousands of Jews were murdered in Fez, and the women were taken into slavery.
- In 1066 the Almohades came to power and conditions improved for the Jews community.
- In 1391 Jewish refugees arrived from Spain and brought strength to the community. This continued between 1492 and 1497 when people arrived from Spain and Portugal.
- Beginning in 1438, the Jews were forced to live in special quarters, called mellahs.
- The condition of the Jews only started to improve with the election of a French Protectorate in 1912. At this time they were given equality and religious autonomy.
- In 1948 there were about 270,000 Jews in Morocco. However as times became more uncertain, many emigrated to places such as Israel, United States and France. Today the ancient community may not have the same numbers but hopefully the heritage is still alive.
17 September 2010
The second group to make Shanghai home, were the Jews fleeing the Bolsheviks in Russia. They arrived in the early 1900's. The third group to arrive,in the early 1930's, were the Europeans who were fleeing the Nazi's. Shanghai wasn't necessarily their first choice, but it was somewhere that was willing to accept them. At one time this community numbered over 30,000 people. They were a prosperous people, establishing themselves in their new homeland.
In February of 1943, in an attempt to satisfy the Germans who wanted the Japanese to implement the final solution in Shanghai, the Jews were moved to the "Ghetto" where they lived in a very confined, tightly packed area. A few years after World War II ended, civil war came to China. This caused all refugees to flee again. This led to not only the closing of synagogues and businesses, but to the end of the Jewish community.
The community as it was may now be gone, but what is left of this time however is an incredible collection of stories about the Jews who lived in Shanghai. Three people, Georg Armbrüster, Michael Kohlstruck, Sonja Mühlberger have published Exil Shanghai 1938-1947 , a Collection of articles on the Jewish community of Shanghai, China, composed primarily of refugees from Germany and Austria, during the period of 1938-1947 (FHL book #951.1301 F2e) This source also includes a CD that includes a list of 14,800 foreigners registered with the Japanese police (CD #1497)
Anyone who has family in Shanghai from this time frame, would be well advised to investigate this book.
In the early 1900's, Dr. Barnett A. Elzas compiled the records of the Jewish Cemeteries of South Carolina (FHL film #1013426 item #15). While most of the graves give just birth and death information, sometimes the information from the tombstones gives much more. Such is the case of the information for Marcus Baum.
16 September 2010
15 September 2010
The first Jews in Hong Kong began arriving shortly after it was ceded to Great Britain by China in 1842. As most of the Jews were transfers from such places as Canton, the community did not grow very fast.
Most of the early Jews were from Baghdad and had connections to the Sassoon family. In the early 1880's there were probably not more than 60 or 70 Jews in Hong Kong, most if not all were Sephardic. Up until the late 1950's the population did not grow a great deal, most likely never more than 300 Jews during this time. The change that took place however is that in this time the community evolved to where probably 2/3 were now Ashkenazic. Today, the Jewish community numbers about 7500. Some of the major milestones within the community are:
- The Jewish Community was first established in 1857.
- The Hong Kong Jewish Cemetery, located in Happy Valley on the Island of Hong Kong was established by a grant in 1858. It was expanded in 1904.
- First synagogue established in 1870.
- New synagogue in memory of Leah Sassoon built in 1881.
- Only Jewish governor of Hong Kong, Sir Mathew Nathan served in early 1900's.
Today, the majority of Jews in Hong Kong are from the United States, Great Britain and Israel.
The first entry is from the 1861 Census of England. Living at #4, Lower Road in Islington, is the family of Joseph Andrade. A very typical family, mom, dad and one daughter. What is unusual is the father's occupation. he is listed as a"Ostrich Feather Manufacturer". Up until this moment, I always thought this was the job of the Ostrich.The second entry was from the 1891 Census of England. According to the transcript online, Harris Dancyger was listed as being a "water maker". This would be an incredible talent to have, and be a wonderful thing for our world. However, if you look at the original census, you will find that he is actually a watchmaker.
Sometimes, it pays to take a closer look at the original records.
14 September 2010
A check of the 1901 British Census finds the family of Harris Dancyger living at 35 Scarborough Street in Whitechapel.
From this census we find that Harris age 48, is a Jewish Minister from Russia. His wife, Jane is also 48 and is herself from Russia. From the census we find that there are 7 children still living at home at the time of the census. In addition to the family of Harris we find three other families of the same surname. While the name is not a common one and they are most likely all related, the census just doesn't give us enough information to know for sure.
There is however a great source for this time frame. In 2004, Miriam Pollak released her great work on the Jewish Chronicle of London. That work, The Jewish Chronicle Project; Personal Announcements 1900-1909 (FHL CD#2697) is a must for those researching England families at the turn of the twentieth century. In searching the database for the surname Dancyger, we get 6 hits. Of those hits, one adds a great deal of information to what we already know. It says:
Death 28 Oct 1904
The records of the Dancyger family can be found in the Jews of the British Isles.
10 September 2010
04 September 2010
02 September 2010
In the collection of the Family History Library, there is a most interesting document. On film #1013426 item #6, you will find the records from the Mordecai Sheftall family bible. In the pages of this book (such as the page at right), the vital records of the Sheftall family of Savannah, Georgia are recorded. While it is not many pages, it begins to tell the story of a wonderful family.
The story of Mordecai Sheftall is an important one in the history of the United States,and in the history of the early Jews in the United States. Some important information of his life, includes;
Born 2 Dec 1735 to Benjamin and Perla Sheftall, immigrants from England.
- At age 17 began his profession as a merchant, trading in deer skins.
- Age 18, bought 50 acres in Vernonburg, which was near Savannah.
- Married Frances Hart of Charleston in 1761, and by 1767 they owned about 2000 acres, where they began raising cattle.
- In 1772 he donated 11/2 acres for the establishment of Georgia's first large Jewish Cemetery.
- Took a very active part on the American side of the Revolutionary War. He was commissioned as a Colonel, making him the highest ranking Jew in the American Army.
- 1782, elected by Congregation Mickve Israel to its board of directors.
- In 1790 he was appointed President of the Congregation
- He died on 6 Jul 1797.
The story of the life of Mordecai Sheftall is one of service and charity. He gave all he had to others, included using his own funds to pay for the needs of the men who served under him in the war. He provided their food, clothing, uniforms and even their guns. He truly gave everything for what he believed in.