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Presenter: Paul King
The early North American Jewish fur trader was a pioneer in pushing the frontier westward by drawing upon the traditional ancestral trades of military provisioning, rural peddling, and urban merchandising. This presentation, combining the micro-history of family genealogy and the macro-history of continental expansion, illustrates the dynamics of religious survival and assimilation among three would-be family dynasties: the Solomons and Harts of Quebec and the Gratzes of Pennsylvania. Patriotism and partnerships often fluctuated with patents for land access or purchase; large families, with widespread intermarriage, inevitably disconnected, but some retained the memory of the stem ancestor over the generations. This paper draws not only upon an ample and expanding literature about Jews engaged in 'the Indian trade', but also upon the author's recent correspondence with descendants of two of these families.