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USGenWeb Archives for Alabama

Mordecai Family Part 2

By Sabra N. Sudb erry, as published in the West Alabama Gazette, Millport, AL 4/2/03.

Sabra N. Sudberry, 2003.

Lamar Co. Heritage: Mordecai Family

I must make a correction to last week's column. The address for the Lamar Co. Genealogical and Historical Society is P.O. Box 793, Vernon, AL 35592. Membership is $16 for the year.
Last week I began discussing some of the early history of the Mordecai family. So as not to be confused I must elaborate on the particular line I was discussing. The immigrant ancestors to this area, Isaac D. and Zipporah Russell Mordecai, were both Mordecai descendants. The line I discussed last week was her line. I will explain this in more detail.
Zipporah, who is buried on a hillside in the Spring Hill community, was born July 10, 1781 in Baltimore; and was the oldest daughter of Revolutionary soldier, Philip Moses Russell. He was born in Portsmouth, England, in July l747. He was a Surgeon's Mate in the Revolution, serving from Pennsylvania. Both he and his wife received a pension from his service. He married Esther Mordecai on November 1, 1780 in Philadelphia. Esther was born December 12, 1762 and died July 26, l846 in Philadelphia. She was the daughter of Rev. Mordecai Moses Mordecai and Zipporah de Lyon, the topic of last week's column. Philip died August ll, l830.
Zipporah de Lyon, mother of Esther, was born in Savannah, Georgia, on February 10, 1738 and died in Baltimore, Maryland on April 6, l806. She was the daughter of Abraham de Lyon, who had escaped from the Inquisition in Portugal to London, where he married, June 5, l732, to Esther Nunez. She died in Pennsylvania on July 11, 1785. Abraham and his father-in-law were among the 42 Jews sent to Savannah, Georgia, by London's Jewish community. They arrived on July 11, 1733. De Lyon had been a wine-grower in Portugal. He got a grant from Oglethorpe to develop wine-growing, but the project failed when the Portuguese-born Jews, fearing the defeat of Oglethorpe by the Spaniards in Florida, fled northward during l740-41.
Esther Nunez was born in Portugal as a Catholic of Jewish descent (called by the Portugese "New Christians," and baptized as Theresa Nunes Ribeiro. All of her ancestors were "New Christians." The letter from Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern is confusing at this point, but it appears that Esther Nunez was the daughter of Diogo Nunes Ribeiro who married Gracia de Siquera, born in Portugal about l678, remarried on Aug. 8, l72_, becoming Rebecca Nunes. She followed her husband to Savannah, arriving November 12, l733.
Diogo Nunes Ribeiro was born in Idanha a Nova, Beira, Portugal, in l668. He probably died in Charleston, SC. He practiced medicine in Lisbon, became very interested in Judaism and was tried by the Inquisition for trying to convert friends and family. He escaped to London about l725-26 where he formally converted to Judaism as Samuel Nunes, and remarried his wife in the Jewish rites. He was the leader of the Jews to Savannah and rescued the colony there from an epidemic.
Diogo's father was Manoel Henriques de Lucena, born Portugal, about l643. It was not unusual for Portuguese to have different family names from parents. (Talk about confusing genealogy!!) Manoel married Zipporah___.
Gracia de Siquera, wife of Diogo, was the daughter of Andre de Siquera, born about l646 in Portugal. He married Izabel Maria da Veiga.
Next week I will continue discussion of this most interesting family. Anyone wanting to contribute any information, please email me at or send mail to P.O. Box 972, Sulligent, AL 35586.

Webmaster's Note:  Sadly, Sabra has passed away since submitting this article to the site.

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