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02 September 2010

Mordecai Sheftall of Savannah, Georgia

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.

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