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31 August 2011

Lazarus David Family

One of the newest additions to the Knowles Collection, is the history of the Lazarus David family. Lazarus David was born in 1734, most likely in Swansea, Wales and died on 22 Oct 1776 in Montreal, Canada. He married Phoebe Samuel, daughter of Ezekial Samuel, of Rhode Island in 1761. The history which includes information on over 750 people is a wonderful documentation of an important Jewish family.

The lives of the members of this family touch many parts of the world. In addition to Canada and the United States other countries of influence include France, Italy, West Indies, England and Ireland. One of most amazing things is how many different people were involved in either the military or government affairs. These included;

  1. Eleazer David, b. 8 Jun 1811 son of Samuel and Sarah (Hart) David. He married Eliza Lock Walker dau of Capt. Charles Walker formerly of 15th and 24th Regiments.

  2. Golda Adela David, b.13 Jan 1846 in Piza, Italy dau of Eleazer and Eliza (Walker) David. She married John S. Dyde whose father was Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria.

  3. Baruch Frederick Weber Hart, b. 22 Nov 1814, son of Benjamin and Harriot (Hart) Hart, he married a Miss Davis, niece of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

  4. William Solomons, b. 28 May 1777 in Montreal, son of Ezekial and Elizabeth (Dubois) Solomons. He was an Indian Department Interpreter. He had 4 children with an Indian girl, Agibicocoua before later marrying Marguerite Johnson and fathering ten more children.

The David family is truly a remarkable family full of service to various nations and peoples. These records have been added to the Knowles Collection -Jews of the Americas and will be available after the next update.

26 August 2011

The Jews of Yemen

The history of the Jews of Yemen is a very interesting story, full of things that are very unique to them. The way they arrived in Yemen, the way they lived, and the relationship they had were all different from other communities, even those in the same region.
There has been a Jewish presence in Yemen for centuries. While we may not know exactly when they arrived, it most likely was in the 7th century BCE. The local tradition states that Jews left Jerusalem after they heard Jeremiah warn of the destruction of the Temple in 629 BCE. Historian's lean more toward the arrival of the Jews in 900 BCE. They believe these Jews were part of King Solomon's traders. Whichever is the correct time frame, it is a long history.
The early years of the Jews being in Yemen, was a time of of peace and strength. The rulers of the time had a large section of their people who converted to Judaism, then in the 3rd century, the ruling family also converted, which made Judaism the religion of those who governed. The Jewish rule ended in the early 6th century when the Ethiopians took power.
Ethiopian ruled ended in the seventh century, and because of it, life for the Jews would never be the same. At that time the Muslims took control which made the Jews now a lower class, no longer the equals of others.
They were now required to pay special taxes, and lost most all contact with other Jewish communities, they were isolated in many ways. The isolation from other communities had a lasting influence. Their culture and lives began to resemble those of the Arabs, the only people they had contact with. This period lasted till the 1200's when the Rasulides Tribe of Africa ruled the area. They were in control till the mid 1500's when the Turk's took over.
In 1630, the Zaydis tribe took control from the Turks and again the Jews were forced into a period of history that was most unkind to them. Restrictions were put back in place, they were no longer allowed to live in the cities, they also could not build any home that was taller than a Muslim home. In the late 1600's, part of the community was drive out to Mawza, on the Red Sea. There many starved and died. Later they were brought back to help the economy, because they were the skilled craftsmen and artisans. This pattern continue for the most part until 1948 when Israel became a state. By 1950 the majority of the Jews of Yemen had immigrated to Israel.
Today, the Jewish community of Yemen is very small and because of years of being subjected to unfair laws and rulers have lost most of their Jewish identity. There are now those within the community trying to restore the honor that was lost, may their work be blessed.

22 August 2011

IAJGS 2012 Paris, France

As we have now completed the 2011 conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), we can begin to look forward to next year's event. The conference will be held in Paris, France from the 15th to the 18th of July 2012. The organizers already have a website available ( that provides information as it becomes available.

I look forward to seeing everyone there.

20 August 2011

The Jews of Arlington National Cemetery

Over the last week I have been attending the 2011 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference (IAJGS) in Washington D.C. It was a wonderful week of attending classes, reuniting with old friends and meeting new people. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW) did a wonderful job.

As it was held in our nation's capital, there were a lot of incredible sites to visit and history to be learned. The night before the conference began I was able to visit Arlington National Cemetery, final resting place of thousands who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
It is a beautiful, reverent place to visit. While walking the grounds I began to notice the many Jews who had given their lives and were remembered at Arlington. One example, was the headstone of Dennet S. Gurman (born 31 Aug 1924), of New York. He and the nine other men listed all lost their lives on 4 Jul 1945, at Celebes Island in the Southwest Pacific.

As I viewed this stone, I found myself wondering how many other Jewish soldiers were at rest at Arlington. A little searching led me to the home page of the conference sponsors, the JGSGW. There, at is located a wonderful database of 5219 Jews at Rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The database is searchable by name and very user friendly. Using the name of Dennet S. Gurman that I found on the stone, I was able to get the additional information located below.

This record also included a photo of the headstone, which looks much like the one I took. Most of the records do include the photo as well. A special thanks to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington for the time they took to honor those who gave their lives for all of us.

May they never be forgotten.

09 August 2011

Curacao to Panama, the Fidanque Family

According to a family tree that was donated over thirty years ago to Malcolm Stern, the earliest mention of the name of Fidanque occurs in 1634 when the name appears in the records of the Altona cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Hamburg. The family tree of the Fidanque family begins with Benjamin Fidanque who died in Curacao in the early part of the 1700's.
The tree, compiled by Elias Alvin Fidanque, is a beautiful work that tells the story of a family whose influence spreads from their beginnings in Amsterdam through many parts of the world, including, Curacao, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, St. Thomas all the way to New York. As one reads the information on the tree, it becomes very important of the great service this family has provided to others for many generations. A few examples, as taken from the text on the tree include;

  • Abraham Haim Fidanque, who died in 1813 in Curacao, was one of the original founders of the Curacao Burial Society (Hebra) in 1783, and many times President and Treasurer of Congregation Mikve Israel in Curacao.

  • Jacob Fidnaque, of whom it is said: "He never lost a friend or made an enemy" served Congregation Beraha Hashalom in St. Thomas as Reader and Sexton from 1828-1837.

  • Joseph Fidanque, who died in Panama on February 5, 1933, was Reader and Minister to Congregation Kol Shearith Israel, in that city.

  • Benjamin Delvalle Fidanque, who died in New York City on February 23, 1937, likewise served his people as Vice President of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York.

All generations have shown that service to others takes priority over their own needs. This is shown in a beautiful quote left for members of the family and should be read by all. It states "

We have a worthy heritage to sustain: Acceptance of ourselves; identification with our God; loyalty to our faith; service to our fellow-men."

This family tree, built through service by an incredible family, can be found on microfilm through the Family History Library (Film # 1013428). The records have also been added to the Knowles Collection- Jews of the Caribbean and will be available after the next update.

08 August 2011

Family Bible of Abraham DeJacob DeLeon of Jamaica

One of the newest additions to the Knowles Collection is a copy of some of the pages from the family Bible of Abraham De Jacob De Leon of the island of Jamaica. Originally donated to Malcolm Stern at Hebrew Union College, the papers were filmed and added to the microfilm collection (FHL Film # 1013428) of the Family History Library in 1977.
The Bible itself was given to Abraham De Jacob De Leon by his father Jacob De Leon and bought of Abr. Cohen De Leon on May 12, 1736 at a cost of 50 cents. Although he received it in 1736, his first entries are before that date as he seems to try and catch up on past events. A few notable events include;

  • "I was born this 8 May 1702 a fryday night at nine o'clock."

  • "I was married 25 August 1732 at Mrs.Modi Martin house in Spanishtown, Jamaica".

  • "It was please God to deliver my wife safely between Ten and Eleven before nune with a Son. We gave him name Abraham of a Satterday. God give him long life".

The entries continue on through the births of the other 8 children, at which time the bible appears to have been given to the oldest son, Abraham, as he then makes entries for each of the births of his nine children. Following those entries are a few entries entered by Jacob De Leon, the oldest son of Abraham. He provides the following;

  • "26 September 1786 It has pleased God to take unto himself my honored, dear, and beloved father, his remains were carried to Spanishtown and buried. God restore him in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen."

  • "I was married the 4 October 1789 at New York to Miss Hannah Hendricks."

  • "My dear Mather departed this life 10 Jany 1792. Her remains was entered in Spanishtown Jamaica."

The entries are a loving tribute to multiple generations of a loving family. These records have now been added to The Knowles Collection - Jews of the Caribbean and will be available after the next update.

02 August 2011

Czech Republic Birth, Marriage and Death Records at

In recent months I have tried to show the valuable databases that are available free of charge at Today I have been using the database of Czech Republic, Northern Moravia, Opava Archive Church Books, 1571 - 1905, available through the Historical Record Collection page.

The collection has over 200,000 images taken from 1684 rolls of microfilm of the Provincial Archives of Northern Moravia in the Czech Republic. The records include images from the Roman Catholic, Evangelic Lutheran, Reformed and also the Jewish congregations. They are the original records which were created by the local priests and rabbis. The places covered by the collection,

for the Jewish records are listed below.
Once a location is identified, the records are easily accessible by simply clicking on that location. While the records are not search able by name, if you know the location and a year the event took place, it is quite easy to find the available records.

The records, such as the birth record below are another great source available free of charge at