The life of Philip Benjamin (1779-1852) remains a mystery. But a review of his legal woes in the 1820s when he was trying to raise a family paints a clear portrait of him as a swindler. The first-generation Jewish American was in and out of court, losing case after case, with the same ineffectual attorney, […]
I got woefully lost tracing my family’s Jewish roots and fell into a familiar trap. Like many family history researchers on the Internet, I wanted to believe that I was related to the great Moses Levy, a New York merchant who commissioned portraits for most family members. My fifth grandmother was a Levy, Eva Levy. […]
Nothing is worse than the crushing blow of dashed expectations, especially when it comes to genealogy research. I had high hopes that a recent visit to Charleston, S.C., would turn up something — a gravestone, a house, a place of business, anything — related to my fourth great-grandfather, Philip Benjamin (1779-1852). My spirits rose when […]
Beware of what you might find when researching your family history. My family in particular seems to have more than its share of ghosts in the closet. Here are a few that I’ve discovered so far.
When Judah P. Benjamin fled the country following the Civil War — he needed to skedaddle since he’d served as Secretary of State for the Confederacy — there was only so much he could take with him. First, the portly attorney could only fit so much on his horse, which he rode through the South, […]
My self-appointed mission: To drive all the way to New Orleans for a special viewing of clothes belonging to my third great grand uncle Judah P. Benjamin. With any luck, the Touch the Wig tour would end with a precious co-mingling of DNA, so that genealogists many years from now would know that I’d made […]