Why Alabama? #usa #lithuania


Marcia Segal
 

A distant cousin (Aron Joseph Kaplan) emigrated from Lithuania to the US, circa the 1890s. He was in Savannah, Georgia by 1897 (appearing in the city directory), and in Birmingham, Alabama by 1906 (where he was married). What was the draw for Jews going to the Southern US? I haven't yet found his immigration papers, which would help know where and when he arrived--although I'm told Galveston, Texas was a point of entry for the arrivals to the South. He had family in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C., so there must have been a draw for him to go elsewhere (he was on speaking terms with those parts of the family). Guidance welcome, and thanks in advance.

Sincerely,
Marcia Segal


Adam Turner
 

Birmingham was a fast-growing steel town at the turn of the 20th century. With the economy booming, there was lots of economic opportunity in catering to the needs of the recently-arrived steelworkers - clothes, shoes, food, etc. 

The ISJL has plenty of background information as a jumping-off point: https://www.isjl.org/encyclopedia-of-southern-jewish-communities.html

Adam Turner


David Cherson
 

Jews were drawn to the south for the same reasons that Jews were drawn to other areas of the country (i.e., not NYC).  Whether it be business or work opportunities.  You can study the emigration patterns of people who had relatives and/or incentives to understand just how people did emigrate.
 
One business that many Jews in the South did engage in is the dry goods business.  I recall Soupy Sales (Milton Supman) telling the joke that his dad had outfitted all of the Klan in North Carolina with white sheets.

David Cherson