As I continue to explore my paternal grandmother’s lineage, I am constantly learning new aspects of American history. It began by learning that my French grandmother’s mother was born in San Francisco, California in 1862. While she married, bore my grandmother and died in Paris, Flora Alexandre started out in the United States. Of course I pondered why this might have been.
Some people do genealogy the way some people do bird watching. In each case, some people try to have the most family members on their tree or the most birds on their “life count.” I use genealogy the same way I enjoy bird watching. I want to know as much as I can find out about each individual person or variety of bird. I clearly needed to understand why a French family (which by now I knew to be Jewish) would have born a daughter in California in 1862.
The pursuit led me to reading about the European Jewish merchants, including her family, who went to the towns and cities of the booming California gold rush and set up shop. Correspondence with a record keeper of the first synagogue in San Francisco (established in 1849) let me know that my great grandmother’s family had worshiped there. I was able to find her extended family in the San Francisco census records of 1870 and 1880. And as I read further I learned of another prominent Jewish merchant living and worshiping in Congregation Emanu-El—-Levi Strauss.
Such a gold mine of information. As you can see I couldn’t resist a parting pun.