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 www.Ancestry.com 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.