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07 December 2010

Naar Family of St. Thomas and New Jersey.

In the last few blog entries much as been written of the influence of the Dutch Jews in the Caribbean. These Jews were some of the earliest settlers in places such as Suriname, Curacao, Barbados and St. Thomas. The question has been asked, why is this so important if you are researching your early American families? The answer is very simple, because so many of our early American Jewish communities were started by or influenced by people who had ties to these Caribbean nations.
A great example of one of these early influential Jews with Caribbean ties is David Naar. David Naar was very established in Elizabeth, New Jersey.In New Jersey he was active in politics and the publishing business. In 1843, he was appointed Mayor of Elizabeth an well as a judge in Essex County. He was very much a partisan democrat.
Ten years later, in 1853, he purchased the Trenton True American newspaper and became the editor. He was never afraid to voice his opinion, and during the civil war he spoke out against Abraham Lincoln. This led to threats of mob violence. Because of this he was forced to shut down his publication for 3 months, during the height of the war, in 1861.
A search of the 1870 United States census shows his family. David, his wife Sarah ( D'Azevedo) and some of their children. Four years after this census was taken, David retired from his position of editor. During his career, he was also the State Treasurer as well as a member of the Common Council for Trenton.

From the 1870 census, we find that David his wife Sarah and some of the children were born in St. Thomas. As we know from the earlier post about the history of St. Thomas, there were only about 9 Jewish families in St. Thomas at the turn of the 19th century. In the collection of the Family History Library,are the birth records of the Jewish Congregation from 1786 - 1954 (FHL Film # 882, 930). From these records we can piece together some of the family, including 2 brothers for David and four siblings for Sarah.

While there may be more possibly siblings for David and Sarah, these were the only ones found in the records in St. Thomas. As with many of the families who made homes through the Caribbean, the Naar family appears to be an old established Sephardic family. In the collections that were left by Malcolm Stern, is found a beautiful hand drawn pedigree of the Naar family. Although time has not been kind to it, the tree is still a wonderful resource for anyone researching the Naar family. David, son of Joshua is located at the top center of this tree, with his children going upwards to the right from him. That part of the tree has been blown up below (click on either for a larger view)

As with many of these early families it will now become very important to try and take the records back Into the Dutch records and then further on to the records of Spain and Portugal.

Some of the records of the Naar family are already in the Knowles Collection -Jews of The Americas database and others are now being added to the Knowles Collection - Jews of the Caribbean database.

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