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17 June 2017

Louisiana Deaths, 1850-1875, 1894-1960

The state of Louisiana has always been an important place for the Jewish people. With a major port and being a natural link to the Caribbean area, many early Jewish families in the United States can tie their own ancestry to the records of the state. Now, FamilySearch has added over 800,000 death records to its free collection.
This database, Louisiana Deaths, 1850-1875, 1894-1960, includes an index and the images of Louisiana death certificates. The records from 1850-1875 are for Jefferson parish, while the other years include the statewide records. Doing a search for the surname Cohen yields almost 700 records of death. Included in those was the name Littman Cohen who died at the age of 76 in 1876. The index is shown below;


The information includes the names of parents and spouse, as well as the place of birth and death. This is all of the information that came from the original death certificate (shown below)which is also included in the database.


This is another great source for those with family ties to Louisiana and as usual is available for free at www.familysearch.org.

10 May 2017

The Jews of Burma (Myanmar)

Recently, I have had the opportunity to take another look at a most interesting family, the Battat family.  It was almost 6 years ago when I was first introduced to their history and I found it amazing. At that time I was given access to a collection of records that I called the records of the Battat Family of Iraq. This collection had histories and documents that traced the family through the lands of Persia, which is modern day Iran. Now, this same family is taking me on a journey to another area of the world, Burma.
The history of the Jews of Burma is much different than that of Iran, and it covers a much shorter time frame. The first Jew to be recorded in the records of Burma, was Solomon Gabirol, an 18th century commander in the army of King Alaungpaya, however the first group of Jews didn't start to arrive until the mid 1800's.
It was at this time that Jewish families like the Battat's, most of whom were from India and Baghdad, first started establishing communities in Burma. These groups, who were mostly merchants, established businesses dealing with cotton and rice trading, and prospered under the British rule in places such as Rangoon and Mandalay. It was during this time that the Jewish population peaked at around 2,500 people. However, this all changed in 1942.
With the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942, the Jewish community began to leave the country. With the Japanese and the Nazi's being allies it was not a place that the Jews felt comfortable being, so most fled to India. Later those who had stayed immigrated to Israel and the United States. The family of Ezekial Moses Battat and his wife Sally, had actually left even earlier, in 1931.

The family of 10 arrived in New York on 4 November 1931 on board the SS Olympic. At the time of the Petition for Naturalization in March of 1934, the family had established their new home in San Francisco, California. The 1940 United States Census (shown below) shows the births of the children all in Burma.


The Jewish population of Burma today is probably well under 100 people, but hopefully the traditions they established will now be carried on by the descendants of those families that once flourished there.

01 May 2017

Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) in Israel Happy Birthday Israel


HAPPY 69TH BIRTHDAY ISRAEL

David Ben-Gurion, who was the first prime minister of Israel, publicly read the Declaration of Independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. According to the Jewish calendar, this was the fifth day of Iyar, the eighth month of the civil year, in the year 5708. The anniversary of this date on the Jewish calendar is known as Yom Ha'atzmaut and usually falls in April or May of the Gregorian Calendar.


07 April 2017

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland - Join Us 23 April 2017


Sunday, April 23, 2017
Pikesville Library meeting room
1301 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville, Maryland

The Knowles Collection: What is it and How Do I Use It?

Looking forward to see you there.

04 April 2017

British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986, 1992-1993

In the past this blog has written about some of the collections available at FamilySearch.org for Britsh Columbia. The databases tend to provide a lot of very valuable information for those researching their own families. Now FamilySearch has updated the British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986, 1992-1993 collection. This collection now contains almost one million records.
Included are many types of death registrations, including overseas casualties, delayed death registrations, and delayed registrations of Native American deaths.  Also within this collection are a large amount of registrations of deaths of members of the Jewish community. Although there are almost one million records, most images are covered by privacy laws and cannot be shown. Hopefully as time passes the images will be added.
In an attempt to see what information can be gained from this collection I did a search for Boris Cohen, who I know died in British Columbia. Boris was born in September 1928 in Arborg, Manitoba and died on 26 February 1985 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was buried at the Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster, Vancouver, British Columbia.
The death records found for Boris Cohen did not disappoint. Below, is the record from this collection.
Thanks to this record we now know that Boris was the son of Morris and Rose Cohen and was the husband of Tamara Lewerton. All of this information is wonderful for those looking for more information on their ancestor.
As with all FamilySearch records, this can be searched for free from any computer. 

06 March 2017

Missouri, Reports of Separation Notices, 1941-1946

Recently, I have been looking into the records of a prominent Jewish family from the St. Louis, Missouri area. In many ways they were like so many other families who had settled in the United States looking for somewhere to raise their growing family without the restrictions of their homeland.
In the 1920 United States Census we find the family of Max and Mary Cohen and their 6 children. Max, a shoemaker and Mary his housewife were both Russian Jews, who had made their home on Carr Street in St. Louis. The record of the family is shown below.


By 1940, the family, now including 9 children had moved to a new home, at 1453 Hamilton Avenue, still in St. Louis. The children in the family were making their living by working in pharmacy's, both as Registered Pharmacists or Clerks working in the pharmacy. The 1940 United States Census lists on the family over two pages, as shown below.



The records above are nice to establish the family unit and to place them together in St. Louis, however other than names, ages and occupations they really don't tell us their individual histories. However, thanks to a database found at FamilySearch.org, we may be able to add some nice information to at least one child. That database, Missouri, Reports of Separation Notices, 1941-1946, are the records of those leaving the military after World War II. The original records are held at the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Searching this collection, which includes almost 350,000 records, I searched for the son, Julius. In the 1920 census he is listed as being an infant, less than 1 year old, and in 1940 he is shown as being 21 years of age, which tells us he was likely born 1919 or 1920. The other clue we have is that in 1940 his occupation was listed as being a stock clerk.
Using that information, with the knowledge of name, age and occupation, searching the database identified the following record.


If there was any doubt that this Julius, who gives his date of birth as 25 Aug 1919, the clincher is that he gives his address as 1453 Hamilton Avenue, the same address as the 1940 U.S. Census. The additional history that we learn about Julius, tells an incredible story. During his service in World War II, he is listed as serving the the following battles, Normandy, North France, Rhineland and Central Europe. From this service to his new country he was awarded various medals, including an amazing 6 Bronze Stars. What an incredible example of providing service to your country and to those in other countries that you may never had met before. What a great example.
A special thanks to the Missouri State Archives for making these records available.

27 February 2017

IAJGS 2017- Orlando, Florida, Registration is Now Open


The registration for the 2017 IAJGS Conference On Jewish Genealogy is now open. All of the information can be found at the conference website iajgs2017.org.

16 February 2017

Jews of Haiti

While today the Jewish community of Haiti is not large, the island has a very complex history of the Jewish people. It is believed that the first Jew to arrive in Haiti was Luis de Torres, who was travelling as an interpreter for Christopher Columbus, however the first true community was established by Dutch Jews in the early 1630's.
When the French colonized Haiti in 1633 these Dutch Jews immigrated from Brazil to work on the sugar plantations. Only 50 years later the Jews were expelled from all French Colonies, including Haiti, when the French passed the Code Noir (Black Code), which forbade the practice of any religion other than Roman Catholic. Some Jews however were able to stay in Haiti under special residence permits. The Jews who stayed were broken into two groups, Portuguese Jews from Bordeaux and Bayone, and the Jews of Curacao.  These two groups of Jews settled apart from each other, with the Portuguese Jews settling in the Southern part of the country, and the Jews from Curacao the Northern part.
Haiti was much like the rest of the Caribbean countries where there was a lot of movement of the Jews between the islands. This was because of many different reasons, but included, fleeing restrictions on religion, the Islands falling under the control of unfriendly countries and the destruction caused by storms and weather.
A great example of the movement of Jews around the Caribbean is the Moise family. Abraham Moise Sr. was born in Alsace in 1736. As a young man he left home and after a voyage over the ocean arrived on the island of San Domingo. There he made his home and established himself as a businessman. Around 1779, he traveled to the French Colony of St. Eustatia, an important center for the shipping trade. It was there that he met Sarah, who would become his wife.
Abraham and Sarah had 9 children, 7 sons and 2 daughters. Of these children the first 3 were born on the island of San Domingo. It was the 4th child, Hyam who was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti on 18 Mar 1785.
In the early 1790's there was an uprising against landowners on San Domingo, which forced the Moise family to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs. The family then made passage off of the island and made their way to Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston, the family prospered, not only in business but also in service to their new country. The family tree is full of family who served during the Civil War, and at least one early member who served in the Revolutionary War.
In later years, the country of Haiti, came to the rescue of many families during the Holocaust. In 1937, Haiti issued visas to Jewish families trying to escape the Nazis. Today, the Jewish community numbers under 100, however their influence on the Caribbean and United States Jewish communitys is incredible, proof that very few people can make a difference, a valuable lesson for all.