52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1 -Aaron Lazarus Samuel – A Fresh Start

I only made it to Week 18 of last year’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks“. (I have all kinds of excuses, but I’ll spare you the experience of listening to me whine.) I’m going to try again. This year I’m combining the 52 Weeks challenge with Thomas MacEntee’s “Genealogy Do-Over.”

For 2015, there are weekly themes associated with each of the 52 weeks. Appropriately, Week One is “A Fresh Start.” So – who to choose?? I decided to choose my 3rd Great-Grandfather, Aaron Lazarus Samuel , who was the first of my father’s direct line to arrive in the United States. I checked last year’s blog posts for any mention of Aaron. Turns out he was the first post in last year’s 52 Ancestor’s challenge!! Come on! Seriously? Yup – last year I chose the “ancestor” by closest birth-date to the posting date. Aaron was born on January 4, 1824.

What to do…..? I’m sticking with Aaron. This post will focus on his “fresh start” in the United States as well as an opportunity to revisit and “do-over” my previous research related to him.

So here goes…….

As part of the Genealogy Do-Over, I spent yesterday re-doing my files related to Aaron. It was tedious but well worth the time. I realized I had attributed a marriage date to him that most likely is incorrect. I created a Research Log for him, adding the information I have compiled and created a list of items “to do.”

To avoid repeating the rather thorough (IMHO) account of Aaron’s life from my previous post, I will focus on the aspect of “starting over.”

The Margaret Evans

Aaron and his family (his wife, Phoebe and their eight children, aged 9 months to 10 years) arrived in the United States on August 22, 1857. They sailed from London on the Margaret Evans, a packet ship that had 7 cabins. According to the ship’s manifest, there were 230 persons aboard (182 adults, 25 children and 18 infants. This only adds up to 225 so I don’t know how the other 5 were counted in – crew, perhaps? Two people died on the voyage.) If you divide the number of passengers by the number of cabins, you arrive at 33 per cabin. That can’t be right! So, obviously. many of these passengers traveled in steerage. The Samuels must have had some money at that point though. They were listed as travelling on the upper deck – much better than I thought!

I wanted to determine why Aaron would make such a dangerous voyage with his large (and young) family. Considering he had petitioned for protection from debtors, I thought perhaps that would be a reason to leave. The debtor notice appeared in the Dec.5, 1854 issue of the London Gazette. Aaron was due in court on Dec. 19, 1854. I have been unable to find information regarding the disposition of his case.

London Gazette, Dec. 5, 1854, page 3981
Like many immigrants, maybe Aaron was just looking for a better life for his family. I checked the passenger manifest to see if perhaps they were travelling with other family, No results there.
Perhaps there was family already in the United States? I checked the 1860 census for the possibility of relatives living nearby.
By the time of the census in 1860, Aaron and his family had been in the United States just shy of three years. The family had already moved from their place of arrival (224 W. 26th Street, New York City, NY) to Hoboken, NJ. There were only two people bringing in money to the family – Aaron (age 36) and his son, Maurice (age 15.) Both were working in the cigar industry. Aaron and his wife, Phoebe had 10 children by 1860, the youngest was only 6 months old. 
Following the lengthy Samuel family listing, there were 5 entries for a Levy family from England. Louis Levy (age 46), Julia Levy (28) and three children: Morse (3), Laurence (2) and Michael (1). Phoebe’s maiden name was Levy, so perhaps these are relatives? I’m putting this on my To-Do list for further investigation. The oldest child was born in New Jersey in 1857 so the timing is good. I got a bit distracted by this idea and spent an hour looking for the Levy family in passenger records and other censuses. I did find Louis in 1880 – he was working in watch parts. Hmm…..Aaron’s father, Lazarus was a watchmaker, so this may hold promise. Back to “starting over”…….
Hoboken in 1857 probably was a tough place in which to survive. But, surviving anywhere at that time, with a large family and little income must have been difficult. (It’s not so easy in 2015 either!)
Aaron and his family moved to Brooklyn in 1870. Two more children had been born. In the next 17 years, Aaron’s family would move 4 times, not unusual for the time.
Aaron Samuel’s Brooklyn Residences
With thanks to Google Maps
According to the the US Censuses for 1870 and 1880, the 1875 NY Census, various IRS Tax assessment forms and NJ/NY City directories, Aaron worked in the cigar industry until his death on May 28, 1887. Six of the children he had with Phoebe would die before 1900. Several traveled to other parts of the country, including Massachusetts and Texas.

His son, John (born February 24, 1857) was only 9 months old when the family arrived in the United States. John stuck around Brooklyn and went on to become my 2nd Great-Grandfather. So I guess I have to be thankful for the whole idea of starting over. If not for that, I  might not even been here!!

Week Two Topic: King

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