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30 November 2011

Finding Jewish families in the Border Crossing records into the United States.

As we all know, the United States of America became home to so many of our Jewish families in the period from the 1880's till after World War II. For this reason many of us begin our searches in records such as passenger arrivals at Ellis Island and U.S. census records. While these types of records are great sources for locating our families, they sometimes are lacking in the information they provide. Another wonderful source that should be used more often are the Border Crossing records of those arriving into the United States, from Canada and Mexico.

The records of the arrival on American soil from Mexico are available for various time frames for port of entry's in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The search able indexes to the record cards can be found on the Family Search website. They can be found in the catalog or also has them available. The information that these records provide is amazing. The records of the arrival in Laredo of the Chayo family shows all the information that can be taken for each record.
On 26 Jun 1920, the family of Ezra and Farida Chayo arrived at Laredo, Texas. The record at left is the card for Ezra Chayo, a merchant. According to the record he is 35 years of age, born in Aleppo, Syria. His family is of Turkish descent and he is a Hebrew who speaks Yiddish. The record also states that they are on their way to Argentina via New York City. It is very doubtful that all of this information could be found on either a record from Ellis Island or a census record.
In addition to Ezra, the cards for his wife Farida, and children Nazilla, Elias, Marcos and Violet are found. The cards for Marcos (b.1917) and Violet (b. 1919) give Mexico as the place of birth while the others list Aleppo. All of this is wonderful information for tracing your family.
The border crossings for those entering the United States from Canada are also available through FamilySearch or Ancestry. many of the records, such as this one for the family of Abraham Abugou are taken from the passenger lists of those arriving at US ports from Canada. This one is from St. Albans, Vermont.
The record shows Abraham, his wife Sonia and their daughter all from Lithuania. It states that they will be living with his sister Eta Abugou Littman at her home in Worcester, Mass.
While this is still great information, it is not quite as detailed as the records from Mexico. Regardless of this, it is another reminder of how important it is to check every possible record when researching our families. The story these documents create can be most vital for researchers.

29 November 2011

Lt. Gen. Milton J. Foreman, military hero

One of the newest additions to the Knowles Collection, the Foreman/Fuhrmann Family records includes the histories of some amazing people. The records document the family of Gerhard Fuhrmann and their journey from Dirmstein, Germany to the United States.
Once they arrived in the United States the family became well established in Chicago. The family can be found throughout the records of that wonderful city. Of all the great people in the family, one especially stands out, Lt. General Milton J. Foreman.
Milton J. Foreman, was born in Chicago to Joseph and Mary (Hoffman) Foreman. He studied and became a lawyer. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1899. He was active in politics and served on the city council. In 1895 he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard. He served as Captain , First Illinois Cavalry, Spanish American War. He worked his way through the ranks in the military and in 1920 was appointed Brigadier General. In 1921 he was named Major General and commanded the 33rd Division. He finally retired in 1931 and was promoted to Lieutenant General.
Lt. Gen. Foreman was a true American hero. From his service in the Spanish American War and World War 1, he was recognized for his actions. He was awarded for bravery the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service medal, Silver Star citations, the French Legion of Honor and the Belgium Order of the Crown. Maybe the greatest award came when during World War II, a merchant ship was named the S.S. Foreman.
A truly great family and a remarkable man. The records of this family will be in the Knowles Collection after the next update.

28 November 2011

Edith Elizabeth Jales, Paddington, London

The headstone below is that of Edith Elizabeth (Coulson) Jales, wife of Frederick William Jales. She died in 1930 in Paddington, London, England. She and Frederick were married in June of 1905, also in Paddington. She is buried in the Paddington Cemetery on Willesden Lane.

I would be most interested if anyone has any additional information on this family.

21 November 2011

The Jews of Uzbekistan

Various traditions state that the Jewish community of Uzbekistan, dates back between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. These traditions tell of Jews going into exile after the destruction of the Temple, or fleeing Persian persecution. Which ever history is correct, it shows the long history of the Jewish people of the area now known as Uzebekistan. As they were forbidden to own their own land, most of the early Jews into Uzebekistan were merchants.

With a few exceptions, the Jews of Uzbekistan have lived under hardship and turmoil. Their homeland has over the generations been invaded by many people or groups who wrecked havoc on central Asia. During the 14th century, the land was under the rule of Tamerlane. The Jews of the time, especially those who worked as weavers helped the area prosper. In fact Samarkand, the capitol city was also became a major Jewish city.
After the death of Tamalane, the conditions under which the Jews were forced to live became worse. As new people took over they would enact laws that would take away rights from the Jewish people.

Under Muslim rule, Jews were forced to live in the Jewish quarter, they had to wear certain clothes, and they had restrictions upon the way the built their homes. These conditions stayed with the Jews until the 1868 Russian invasion.

After the Russian invasion, the Jews had some rights restored to them, and they were given equality with the Muslims. One right that was restored was the ability to freely acquire property, they could finally own their own homes. During this time the Jewish community flourished. Some became wealthy cotton merchants, while others owned large amounts of land and buildings. The Jewish community during this time reached about 75,000 people.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 again changed the lives of the Jews. Free enterprise and the freedom of religion were outlawed. Where before the revolution there were more than 30 synagogues in the city of Samarkand, by the middle of the 1930's there was only one. The Jews were being driven into communism.

The modern day Jewish community is not what it once was. It is believed that over a million Jews fleeing the Holocaust passed through the country. Of those, a little more than 200,000 stayed. By 1970, only about 100,000 remained. Today the Jewish population of Uzebekistan is about 20,000, and the majority of those live in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. Uzebekistan gained it's Independence twenty years ago in 1991. Times have not been easy and many have immigrated to Israel and the United States.

Through generations of persecution, the Jews of Uzebekistan have somehow been able to keep their Jewish identity. At this time of year as many around the world are celebrating Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of our ancestors, who overcame much and never lost that identity.

14 November 2011

Ten Powerful "Search" Features at

As we continue the search for ancestors, we often turn to the various databases available on the Internet. There are many wonderful places to search for those missing family members, if only we knew the best way to search through the records, and where to begin. One of those websites is
Now, Phill Dunn, author of the Brit-Ish Heritage Forum blog has broken down how best to use the search engine. Its an incredible help to all those looking in Familysearch for their families. His article can be found at
Phill is a very accomplished researcher who specialises in London and big city research. His years of experience searching for those tough to find ancestors, has taught him how best to work through the various databases. Using that knowledge to help us all through Familysearch, we be a benefit to many. Even long time users of Familysearch will find this very helpful. Please visit his blog to learn how.

11 November 2011

Remembering Our Veterans


The Jews of Monaco

I have just returned from London, where I was able to revisit the Willesden Jewish Cemetery. While there, I was able to view the headstones of a prominent family with ties in many parts of the world, the Mosenthals. Adolph Mosenthal was born in Germany in 1812, his wife Henrietta was born in 1822, also in Germany. Together they left Germany and in the late 1840's arrived in South Africa. Once in South Africa he established a family business, that became one of the largest players in the trading of diamonds. In a later post I will talk a lot more of this family. It is what was listed on the headstone of Robert Mosenthal that drew my attention to this post.

On his headstone (at right) it states that he died on 28 Mar 1884 in Monte Carlo. His death, like some other British Jews, being given as taking place in Monaco, brings up interest as to the Jewish community located there.

Prior to World War II there were a few Jews who lived in Monaco, maybe only 250-300. They were for the most part Ashkenazic Jews from France. During the war as the Jews faced persecution from the Nazi's, the government stepped in and issued false identification papers to Jewish residents to protect them from being sent to the camps. The police, however did arrest some and and turned them over to the Nazis. In a great show of support, Prince Louis II refused to dismiss any Jewish government workers and protected people such as Edouard de

Rothschild from being handed over to the Nazi's for almost certain transportation to the camps.
The current Jewish community was officially organized in 1848. Most of the Jews in Monaco are not official citizens but residents who are mostly from France and the United Kingdom. There are also a few Jews from France and North Africa.
The entire Jewish population, both citizens and non-citizens number about 1000, located mostly in Monte Carlo. This would mean that the community makes up about 3% of the entire population, which would mean that only Israel has a higher per capita total of Jewish residents in the entire world.