Jonas, Joseph

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JONAS, JOSEPH (1792–1869), English-born jeweler who was Ohio's earliest permanent Jewish settler. Jonas arrived at Cincinnati in 1817 and in 1824 became president of the newly founded Bene Israel Congregation, the first in Ohio. He and his brother Abraham both married daughters of Gershom Mendes Seixas. Some years after Rachel Seixas' death, Jonas married Martha Oppenheim. Jonas wrote "The Jews of Ohio" for Isaac Leeser's Occident in 1842. He was a leading freemason and politician and helped organize Cincinnati's Democratic Party. While serving in the Ohio legislature in 1860–61, he advocated compromise with the South. Jonas moved to Alabama in 1867. His brother abraham (1801–1864) arrived in Cincinnati several years after Joseph. He then moved to Kentucky where he was several times elected to the state legislature, and was also prominent in the Masonic lodge. He later moved to Illinois, where he was active in the Republican party as a supporter and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham's son, benjamin franklin (1834–1911), moved to New Orleans where he was active in the Democratic party, served in the Louisiana state legislature, and was elected U.S. senator (1879–85).


joseph: Jonas, in: Occident, 1 (1843–44), 547–50; 2 (1844–45), 29–31, 143–7, 244–7; D. Philipson, in: ajhsp, 8 (1900), 44–57; B. Koln, American Jewry and the Civil War (1951, paperback 1961), 189. abraham: E. Hertz, in: American Hebrew (Aug. 8, 1927), 327, 342; A. Harkens, in: ajhsp, 17 (1909), 123ff. benjamin franklin: D. Philipson, in: ajhsp, 8 (1900), 53; I. Harkens, ibid., 17 (1909), 127; ajby, 2 (1900/01), 518–9.

[Stanley F. Chyet]