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19 November 2015

So Much To Be Thankful For

Here in the United States we are one week away from the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a time for all of us to pause and remember all the things we have to be thankful for. The holiday was first proclaimed a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. This was during the U.S. Civil War, a time when brother fought against brother, and one of Americas darkest times. I feel that the establishing of the Thanksgiving holiday at that time was not an accident, it showed that if we came together we can heal almost anything. With all that is going on in the world today, I feel the need to put in writing some of those things that I am thankful for as someone searching for his own ancestors.



Morris David Rosenbaum


 I am thankful for all my family that I never knew in life. Many lived in a different time, in places far away from me, yet the legacy they left behind has touched me in many ways. As I have read their stories, I have laughed with some and cried with others but I have been blessed by them all. I truly believe that in order to know ourselves we must know those who came before.








Trinidad, Colorado

  I am thankful for a supportive family that occasionally joins me on this journey.  They have grown familiar with stopping when we travel to see the home of an ancestor and they only mildly complain when they hear a story for the tenth time. Even a grandchild who enjoys searching through cemeteries (this obviously skipped a generation).




Willesden Cemetery, London

I am thankful for all those who preserve the history and memories of our ancestors.  For the archivists who preserve records, historians who document the past, and those societies and individuals who give of their time to clean and protect the burial grounds of our ancestors. We may never see them doing it, but because we can view those treasures, we know they were there.


Family History Library, Salt Lake City


 I am thankful for all those people who make the records of our people available to us. Genealogy websites that allow us to research in our homes, bloggers who keep us updated on new happenings, and speakers and teachers who travel the world guiding through the process, it could not be done without you.






Paris, France

I am also very thankful for the incredible people who no matter what happens in the world, they are always willing to put aside their own needs and help one another. It truly is a blessing to know that even as we try to link our families together, we are all truly brothers and sisters. I am very proud and thankful to have such a  wonderful genealogy family.




Happy Thanksgiving to all, may you and your families have a very blessed holiday.

16 November 2015

Delaware Vital Records, 1650-1974

The amount of basic vital records located on sites such as FamilySearch, Ancestry and My Heritage continues to grow. These records are some of the best sources for birth, death and marriage records available to people searching for more complete information on their ancestors. FamilySearch has now added the collection, Delaware Vital Records, 1650-1974 to its free Historical Collections. This collection, which also includes bible and cemetery records, contains over 3.1 million images.
The records are typewritten and give some very good information for researchers. Below, you will see that the information provided on the birth, marriage and death records can be very helpful in identifying family connections. 




 The images above, come from the FamilySearch wiki page for this collection. In addition to these examples, there is also a good amount of information on this collection. It is always a great idea to read the wiki pages as they can be a great source of information.

11 November 2015

We Remember All Who Have Served, (part 1, Pre 1900).

Cemetire du Pere-Lachaise, Paris.
Today in America it is Veterans Day, when we pause for a moment to honor all the military veterans, both men and women who have sacrificed their time, their families and even their own lives to defend freedom in all parts of the world. In other parts of the world they celebrate it under different names such as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. In the United States, the Jews have been a part of the military since almost the beginning of the country. In the mid 1730's, Jews, most of whom were of Spanish or Portuguese descent were enrolled in the militia. From that time till now, men and women have served their country with honor. Today, I would like to mention just a few of the men who served with honor and courage. Those men played a valuable part in making the United States the country it is today.
During the American Revolution we find the account of Lieutenant Colonel David Salisbury Franks, who began his military career in the 1770's.  He was arrested in Montreal for speaking against King George III. In 1776, he was appointed to be the Paymaster to the American garrison in Montreal. When the army retreated from Canada he joined up with a Massachusetts Regiment. In 1778, he ordered to service as Aide de Camp under General Benedict Arnold. After General Arnold's Treason, Franks was cleared of any suspicion of wrong doing and at the end of the war was given 400 acres of land for his service.
It shouldn't be surprising that lieutenant Colonel Franks would have such patriotic feelings toward the United States. He had the great example of his brother in law, Haym Salomon, who was perhaps one of the greatest hero's of the American Revolution. During the Revolutionary War, there were many delegates to congress and officers in the Army, who because of their service had become unable to pay their daily expenses. By not being home on their farms or at work they had lost that source of funds to help during these rough times. Haym Solomon, a great patriot stepped in and provided money to the Colonies and also to these men to help them keep pushing forward the work of independence. Many of the early leaders of the United States were the benefit of his act, and his great act put him in a very hard situation. He was put in prison by the British for his act of Patriotism to his new homeland. He was after a few years able to escape and went right back to serving his country. He helped broker loans between the US and other countries and he became quite well know, he was even authorized to call himself "Broker to the Office of Treasury of the United States" . However, even though at the start of the war he was a wealthy man by the end of it he lost most of that money. The service that these men gave is by no means limited to one war, it was repeated time and time again throughout our history. A few examples of the great service given by Jewish military personnel are as follows;

War Of 1812.
  1. Commodore Uriah P. Levy. He was the Master of the Brig-of-War Argus during the War of 1812. In a battle in the British Channel he was captured and put in prison for a time. Upon his death in 1862, he was the highest ranking officer in the United States Navy. His service was over 50 years.
  2. Levi Myers Harbi. He began his military service very early, serving in the War of 1812 at the age of 14. During that time he was also a prisoner of the British by escaped after 2 years by swimming away. For over 52 years he served his country and fought for freedom all over the world, eventually becoming a Captain. During his service he also served in the Mexican War, the Seminole War and was a ships commander in the fight against pirates in Tripoli and Algiers. He also took a leave form his service to help the fight for independence in Texas. his final service was as a Commodore for the Confederate Army in the US Civil war.
The Civil War. 

 This is no doubt one of the darkest times in our nations history. The prospect of brother fighting brother can never be a good thing, however even in this dark time, Jews came forward to serve. It has been said that the percentage of Jews withing both the armies was far higher than the percentage of Jews within the general populations. While exact numbers may not be known, various sources give the number of Jews who joined the Union army as being over 2,000 from New York alone. Many stories have been written about this war, but a few people stand out to me as incredible examples;
  1. Edward S. Solomon. Colonel of the 82nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which had over 100 Jewish men. He fought at many of the famous battles of the war. He was sited for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg. Post war he was appointed by President Grant to be the Governor of the Washington Territory.
  2. General L. C. Newman. From New York he died of wounds received at Chancellorsville, but not before President Abraham Lincoln arrived at his bedside to present his commission as a General.
  3.  Captain Edward M. Moise. from Georgia he was a cavalry officer. He was usually in the front of his company and on one day alone he had three different horses shot out from under him. Yet he never stopped.
  4. Captain Ullman. Commander of Company E of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry. After the war he continued to serve his country. He finally lost his life along side General George Custer in 1876.
War Memorial, London.
We could go on and on with stories of the bravery of those who have served us. Yet the most
important thing to remember is that in the case of the Jewish servicemen, most did not have a long history in the United States. Many were immigrants or the children of immigrants who answered the call to step in and defend their new country. It was and continues to be the ultimate act of service toward millions of people they will never meet. May we always keep them in our thoughts, not just on this special day.



Happy Veterans Day to all.




06 November 2015

The Jews of Trinidad, Colorado

Trinidad, Colorado is a small city in the Southeastern part of Colorado. Its history dates back to the time of the Spanish traders who took advantage of its close proximity to the Santa Fe Trail. However, it wasn't until the early 1860's that large numbers of immigrants began to arrive. They came as a result of coal being discovered in the region and they wanted to take advantage of that. By the late 1860's the population of Trinidad reached about 1200 people. Trinidad incorporated as a city in 1876, a few months before Colorado became a state and in 1878 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached Trinidad which helped it become a community ready for growth.
Part of that growth was the establishment of a Jewish community which happened in 1883. In 1872, two brothers, Henry and Sol Jaffa arrived in Trinidad to manage the store owned by their friend, Henry Biernbaum.  Eventually the Jaffa brothers established their own store which they called the Jaffa Brothers Trading Company. After time, a third brother, Sam,
arrived in Trinidad. In 1883, that first congregation, Congregation Aaron was established. The name Aaron came from the name of the father of the Jaffa brothers, who was a Rabbi in the old country. That congregation had 24 members and the friend of the Jaffa's, Henry Biernbaum served as its first president. In 1889, the first Synagogue (at right) was dedicated. At this time the congregation had 46 men and their families.
The synagogue, which today is the oldest in Colorado, still standing at its original location, serves not only the Jews of Southeastern Colorado bot also Jews of the neighboring area of New Mexico. It stands only about 20 miles from the New Mexico state line. A few miles away is located the Trinidad Masonic Cemetery, of which part contains the burial ground of Congregation Aaron (see below). 
It is the amazing people who established these incredible pioneer congregations that helped move the Jewish people west. Its also some very dedicated and loving people who keep their history and memories alive. We should all be thankful for them.

03 November 2015

The Far Reaching Jews of Fordon- part 8, The Possible Original Name of the Auerbach Family

In the previous post on this blog, I discussed the Auerbach family from Fordon in Poland and their influence as merchants in the western United States. The stores that they established in Utah were a part of the fabric of the state for well over 100 years.  In this article I will attempt to show some records that hopefully will start the discussion on the names of the family before the adoption of surnames.
The first Auerbach to arrive in Salt Lake City was Frederick who arrived sometime before to 1857. The records show that Frederick was the son of Hillel Auerbach and his wife Bertha Friedman. In the records of Fordon we find the marriage of Hillel Auerbach to Bertha Friedman on the 3rd of February 1829 (See Below).

We also find that the groom was 29 years old and his bride 28 at the time of the wedding. Further, we find that the father of the groom is listed as Tobias Auerbach and Simon Friedman is the father of the bride. A further search of the records finds a marriage in 1840 of Raphael Auerbach and Pauline Friedman (see below).


In addition to the bride and groom having the same fathers listed as in the previous marriage we also now add their mothers. Maria Hirsch is the wife of Tobias Auerbach and Maria Levin is the wife of Simon Friedman. From this we now know that Hillel and his brother Raphael married sisters, Bertha and Paulina Friedman. Its at this point where things start to get interesting.
1. In the will of Frederick Auerbach, which was probated on 20 July 1896 in Salt Lake City, he lists various items including;
  1. To my cousin, Marion S. Adler, of Newburg, New York, the sum of $250.00
  2. To my cousin, Fannie Tobias, of Newburg, New York, the sum of $100.00
A search of the various census records of the United States finds only one possibility for these two cousins. In Newburg, New York, beginning with the 1855 State Census we find Marion and Fanny as the daughters of Jacob Tobias and his wife Charlotte. It also states that Charlotte was born in England, as was their first child, Theodore Abraham Tobias. Since mom and Theodore were born in England, I conducted a search of the Civil Registration marriage records hoping to find a marriage of Jacob and Charlotte.
In those records I found that Jacob Tobias, a dealer in gold and silver, age 28 and Charlotte Francks  of full age were married on 19 December 1849 at Newcastle under Lyne, Stafford, England.
Also, it states that Jacob is the son of Abraham Tobias and Charlotte the daughter of Abraham Francks. 
2.  Also in his will, Frederick states,
 "To my sister, Rosa G. Meyer, of salt Lake City, Utah, two shares of the company."
 Searching the records for Rosa, I was able to find her death certificate (see below).
 In addition to verifying the parents names, a key piece of information we receive here is the date of birth, 15 Jan 1831. Returning to the records from Fordon, we find on that same date, one year earlier the birth record of Rosa, however the name of the parent is of interest here (see below).


On this record, the original name is crossed out and the name Hillel Abraham is written in. This appears to be the same woman.
So what does all this mean? Since the records of Fordon show that the time between 1820-1830 is when most Jews adopted surnames I believe this records at least can lead us in the direction that the name Auerbach was adopted by Hillel some time around the birth of his first child Rosa. Prior to the adopting of the name Auerbach, he would have been Hillel son of Abraham, or as in the case of Rosa's birth, Hillel Abraham. We know from his marriage his father was Tobias, but it appears the Abraham replaced the name Tobias.
This is also shown in the case of son Jacob Tobias. He was born around 1821 then marries in England in 1849. He would not have appeared in any other records between the two dates, he would have been Jacob son of Abraham as well. 
Hopefully further research into the Auerbach's of Fordon will help us verify the family and link the generations together.