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Solomon Israel

Birthplace: Nevis, Barbados or, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Death: circa 1795 (76-93)
Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Selomah Solomon Israel de Pisa and Catherine Israel de Pisa
Husband of Mary Israel
Father of George Washington Israel, Sr.; Eleanor Jane Wood; Michael Israel, Sr.; Pleasant Daniel Israel; Felix Walker Israel and 1 other
Brother of Shakerley Israel

Occupation: planter
Managed by: Russell Glenn Smith
Last Updated:

About Solomon Israel

He was almost certainly a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors came to Amsterdam from Spain. The identification is supported by DNA on his male-line descendants, who belong to haplogroup J2.


In the 1790 census district, Solomon Israel lived near Coffey's, who later became relatives when Sarah Coffey married Michael Israel.. Michael, Johnson and Tilpe israel lived nearby as well. The Alloways and the Eppoersons were also neighbors. Children of these families married.

From a web posting:

My ancestor, Solomon Israel, was born circa 1710 at Hempstead, Queens County, NY. He married Mary Johnston 29 Jun 1734 in St. George Episcopal Church, Hempstead, NY. They had at least three children:

  • Eleanor [my ancestor],
  • Michael, and
  • Jesse Israel.

Solomon moved his family south to Albemarle Co, VA. where his son, Jesse, served in a VA unit in the Rev. War. They moved on south to Wilkes County, NC, where Solomon was listed in the 1790 census. Solomon may have lived in Buncombe County, NC, before going to Wilkes County


  • Date born 2: 17174
  • Census: 1790, Wilkes County, North Carolina: 1 white male, 1 white female (may have been Solomon Wood)
  • Military service: Sep 1758, Virginia Colonial Militia, Albemarle County, VA
  • Property: 07 Dec 1782, Deeded 115 acres to grandson Solomon Wood Deed Book 8, Albermale County, Virginia, p. 75
  • Residence 1: 1790, Not Stated, Wilkes, North Carolina5
  • Residence 2: 1830, Not Stated, Buncombe, North Carolina6


Marriage: 29 Jun 1733, St. George Episcopal Church, Nassau or Hempstead, New York

Family tradition and pure speculation

From link to PDF

According to most surviving family traditions, Solomon Israel was born in 1713 in Amsterdam and came to America as a Dutch trader. Neither the date nor the location of birth is certain however. Some families have cited 1710 and 1717 as possible dates of birth. At least one descendent seems positive that Solomon lived in Westphalia,

Legal records indicate that there were several Sephardic Jews with the last name of Israel in New York in the late 17th and early 18th century, many of whom had landholdings in the Caribbean.

Solomon’s descendents have produced no indisputable evidence of a Dutch trader named Solomon Israel, and have not found any birth record of a Solomon Israel that we can attribute to our Solomon with any Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to Amsterdam.

Sephardic Jews from Portugal were among the first wave of immigrants. These Jews had been expelled from Spain the year of Columbus’ famous adventure; however, many continued to live in Portugal disguised as Christians. In the early 1600s, many Sephardic Jews moved to Amsterdam to escape the Inquisition. Once there, they openly resumed their Jewish traditions and took on Hebrew names. Solomon Israel was one such name.

The Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam tended to be wealthy and politically influential. Most were involved in trade, and some helped establish the Dutch West Indies trading company. The Jewish community in Amsterdam established trading networks between Amsterdam, Brazil, the Caribbean, and colonial America. Sephardic Jews were encouraged to develop and maintain foreign connections, and many were given grants to move overseas.

It is therefore quite conceivable that Solomon was a Dutch trader who arrived in Long Island in the early 1700s. He would perhaps have been an ambitious young man with sufficient funds to purchase property... and take a wife.

Descendents have wondered why a Jew would marry an Episcopalian. If Solomon was a Jew, a mixed marriage would not, in fact, have been at all unusual. Although Long Island was home to numerous Dutch (it was under Dutch control until 1663), it had few Jew, and they were considered the Jews to be a great catch.

A southern planter

According to Reverend Edgar Woods in his 1901 volume, Solomon’s son Michael Israel and his wife Sara Graves were the first Jewish people to settle Albemarle County, Virginia in 1757. Michael would have been 20 years old. Sarah was only 19. Their first child (Mary) was already about 2 years old. They patented 80 acres in the area of North Garden, south of Charlottesville. This area was called the Cove of Ragged Mountains near Thomas Mountain.

In 1782, Solomon was almost 70 years old. His youngest son Jesse had died in the Revolutionary war in 1777. Michael had been an active participant in the militia and had fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. Solomon wanted to move to Wilkes County, North Carolina to be with Michael and Sarah (who had moved there in 1178 or 1779). Some families from Albermarle County had already moved there.

Accordingly, Solomon deeded his 115 acres to his grandson Solomon Wood (Eleanor’s son) on Solomon Israel Jefferson’s land.

We do not know if Solomon and Mary moved to Virginia with Michael and Sarah. We do know that their daughter Eleanor married John Wood in Albemarle County in 1760, and Solomon purchased land nearby in 1764. It seems quite likely that the entire family moved to the area at the same time.
When Solomon purchased his land in 1764, he was listed under the title of ‘planter.’ This title indicated that Solomon was already a major landholder. Solomon initially purchased only 20 acres in the area near Stockton’s Thoroughfare, from Henry Terrell for 7 pounds.

Solomon and Mary appear in a 1790 Wilkes County, North Carolina census. It is unlikely that Solomon owned any land at this point, and he probably lived on Michael’s property. This property was on the North Fork of Warrior Creek, near the Burke County.

Eight of Michael and Sara’s 9 children also lived in the area, and some married into families that had lived near the Israels.

Solomon died in 1795. Some descendants claim to know the location of his grave, but hold that knowledge secret.

The significance of a name

Solomon Israel is certainly a name that has been associated with Sephardic Jews. Solomon’s descendents (sic) have expressed strong opinions on the matter. Many assert that a man who married an Episcopalian could not possibly be a Jew. Others report that it was not uncommon for European Christians to assume old biblical
names in the 17th century. Alternative views are proposed just as strongly. In 1901, Edgar Wood referenced the Israels as the first Jewish family to settle in Albermarle County in his History of Albemarle County in Virginia. One branch of descendents indicates that the family spoke Hebrew through the 19th century. Solomon left us with very little evidence to support either viewpoint, however.

"All Jews in Colonial America (AJHS Oppenheim Collection), 1650-1850":

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Solomon Israel's Timeline

Nevis, Barbados or, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Sampson County, North Carolina, United States
Albemarle County, Virginia, United States
Albemarle County, Virginia, Colonial America
Sussex, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 85
Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States