The Methvin-Cunningham-McManus-Swartz Family:Information about Henry Michael Hyams
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Henry Michael Hyams (b. 04 Mar 1806, d. 25 Jun 1875)Henry Michael Hyams (son of Samuel Myers Hyams, Sr. and Miriam Levy) was born 04 Mar 1806 in Charleston, SC, and died 25 Jun 1875.He married Laurel Ambrose.
Notes for Henry Michael Hyams:
Henry Michael Hyams (1806-1875), a lawyer and cousin of Judah P. Benjamin, was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1830. In the 1830s, he was a member of a vigilante committee to oppose antislavery interests. He was elected as a Democrat to the state senate in 1855 and served as lieutenant governor of Louisiana, 1860-1864. His son, Henry M. Hyams Jr. (1846-1887), a lawyer of New Orleans, Louisiana, was the son-in-law of Baton Rouge Judge W. R. Rutland. Henry M. Hyams, [Jr.]'s daughter, Judith Hyams Douglas (1875-1955), also a lawyer of New Orleans, was a civic and social leader and was active in women's clubs.
Henry Michael Hyams is the author of the wonderful and informative "Memorandum for my Children" (see below) written while he was Lt. Governor of Louisiana (1860-64).A typewritten transcript of the memorandum was found in the Cunningham Collection, a non-public collection of the papers of my grandparents, William Peyton Cunningham, Sr. and Mildred Hill Cunningham, on March 22, 2002.
[My grandfather's collection is located in the archives of the Natchitoches Genealogical & Historical Museum, 2nd floor of the Old Courthouse Building in Natchitoches, LA.]
I later found the origin of the memorandum:in the book, "Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Statesman" by Robert Douthat Meade (Oxford University Press, 1943), Meade utilizes quotes liberally from the memorandum, and states in a footnote on p. 381, fn. 9 to Chapter 1: "From original memorandum of Lieut. Governor Henry M. Hyams, Sr. of Louisiana, written in a family Bible about 1860.Copy through courtesy of Hyams's granddaughter, Mrs. Judith Hyams Douglas of New Orleans. . . "
MEMORANDUM FOR MY CHILDREN
"My father, Samuel Hyams emigrated from England to Charleston, S.C. about the year 1765 or 66, and married my mother [Miriam Levy] a year or so afterwards. She was the daughter of Eleazer Levy of Holland, who was a man of great education and highly instructed in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages and literature of that day. The family in Holland had some connection with the introduction and discovery of Vaccine distribution of the Government organization, from which it presumed and obtained the soubriquet of "Coo," which was familiarly attached afterward to a sister, said to have been of great beauty and a dashing woman in the Court of Holland, and she became the wife of a very opulent Spanish merchant named De Mendoz [NOTE: Miriam's sister Eva married Solomon de Mendes; it was this couple's daughter, Rebecca de Mendes, who was the mother of Judah P. Benjamin (1811-1884), called the "brains of the Confederacy"]. The issue of this marriage was the mother of J. P. Benjamin, who became later the Attorney General of the Confederate States, but prior to that, he was a distinguished United States Senator from the State of Louisiana, and at this writing, is a prominent member of the Bar of England, being a Queen Councillor and having at all times a retainers fee of from 100 to 500,000 pounds English money.
"During the time [of] the Hyams family, residents of both Spain and Portugal, their women were considered the most beautiful women and naturally attracted the attention of both the Grandees of Portugal and Spain, and intermarriage became [came] naturally between the Portuguese Grandees and the Tadasequa, who were the first of all the army of Spain and considered the first of any note in all Europe, as it is a matter of history that at that day the educated rich and the proud Spanish Grandees, Jews exiled as they were, held in all the Capitals of Europe a social position high above the native Jews and especially in Holland and Germany. From the family and the intermarriage between these Portuguese and the Tadasequa are traced the family of Hyams, which means 'the peace of God be always with this family,' are traced the name of Montijo, which means the same thing as the "Hyams," and was changed because these people became Catholics to save their property and values, and which the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon the Third, is now considered the head.
"My father's mother was supposed to be German, though her father's father was a Polish officer, the family was either of Riga or Wilna. An insurrectionary and unsuccessful revolt in which he was involved and said to be the Commander of the Revolution, sentenced him to , commutation, however, to expatiation or rather banishment caused him to be sent at once as a refugee over two centuries ago, 1650, to Ireland. His eldest son was born and raised there, as a printer and publisher, which was considered at that time the highest of positions to any one who was not of the purple born. A daughter Catherine, my father's sister, also born in Ireland, who received a finished education, as a linguist and musician at the Convent of Irelandaises in Paris. She was known as the beautiful little Kitty Hyams, afterwards as the pretty little Kittie "Hyde," having been adopted by Lord Hyde, and sent to this country to be educated and converted to Catholicism. In the after years she was attached to the unhappy household and fortunes of the unfortunate Princess De Lamballe and Marie Antoinette. She was the Maid of Honor to the Princess and she performed many secret missions for the royal house. She was especially the favorite of Marie Antoinette and was the confidante during all of her troubles. She was written the memories of the Princess Lamballe and also the secret memories and last moments of Marie Antoinette. She also wrote a work entitled, "Venice under the yoke of France and Austria." At the age of 86 years she visited the United States to visit her brother, Samuel M. Hyams, of New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the father of Lt. Gov. Henry M. Hyams and Samuel M. Hyams of this state. Her style of writing was forcible, and attracted the attention of all the European Governments of that time, caused her to be an exile and driven into Italy, where later on she died. Although residing in foreign lands nearly all of her life, she was exceedingly English in her views and politics; hating Napoleon above all things on earth; in all her writings she fully shows this hatred. She is known as the Marochiness de Solari.
"My father's three brothers all emigrated to South Carolina and died there. All being soldiers in the Revolutionary War; portions of whom now reside there and in Louisiana. Some of my grandfather's family went to the northern portion of the United States locating in Quebec and Montreal, those being known as the Catholic portion of the family, having emigrated from France and being converted to Catholicism during the reign of Catherine de Medici. I remember when as a child being told by my father that his father the Polish General, an exiled soldier, removed from Ireland to England and was considered well read in all the historic law, and especially the Jewish laws known at that time, and was of the ten others who were ordered to visit Lord George Gordon in the tower when Jewish ceremonies required the presence of ten persons and it being well known that this eccentric nobleman had embraced Judaism. The true word of our name was Haim, "The staff of life," from this word it means "Eternal Life." Some ancestors Anglicized it to its present orthography, the same word Montijo means the same translation in Spanish. In France there are many who spell the same name Hein, but from all knowledge we have the name comes from either Portugal or Spain.
"(Signed) Henry M. Hyams
Lt. Gov. of Louisiana"
[NOTE: This memorandum is undated, but since he signed as "Lt. Governor of Louisiana" and held this office only between 1860 and 1864, presumably this was written during that time frame].
Information from Eric J. Brock (EricJBrock@aol.com), author of the book, "The Jewish Community of Shreveport," on 2/7/2003 (sent to Sandra Prudhomme Haynie):
"Most of the Hyams men married Catholic women, hence the shift in religious observance over the course of the late 19th century. . . Henry Hyams [was] Lt. Gov. during the Moore administration at the beginning of the Civil War. His wife (maiden name Ravenscamp, as I recall) was Catholic as well but he was Jewish. They are buried in Lafayette Cem. #1 in N.O. and several of their children are at Rapides Cem. in Pineville (in fact two of their children are among the cemetery's earliest marked graves, both having perished in the early 1840s in a steamboat accident)."--
A distant cousin, Bill Groce, wrote, "The Hyams had a fascinating history.Do you have information on Lt. Gov. Henry Michael Hyams?He owned over 1 million dollars of land in New Orleans prior to being stripped of all land possessions by the North."
Miriam Levy, mother of Henry Michael Hyams, was a sister of Judah P. Benjamin's grandmother, Eva Levy.
Collection on Henry Michael Hyams is available from the Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University.Their collection is described at a web page, "Manuscript Resources on the History of New Orleans after the Civil War in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University" at http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/guides/no3.html
The Hyams Collection is desribed thusly on the web page:"This collection consists of 313 items and seven printed volumes. Papers consist of letters of Henry M. Hyams pertaining to the political situation in Grant Parish, Louisiana, in 1873, and the causes of the Colfax riot. Papers of Henry M. Hyams Jr. relate to his work for the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims, 1882-1887. Documentation of Hyams family lawsuits concerns litigation and recovery of Hyams family lands, principally by Judith Hyams Douglas. Land patents and plats, 1843-1863, concern property in Carroll, St. Landry, and Caldwell Parishes, Louisiana, and in the district north of the Red River, and in parts of Texas. Seven printed legal briefs concern Hyams family cases heard before the Louisiana Supreme Court."
File located on Rapides Parish site at:www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/la/rapides.htm:
Henry M. Hyams Family Papers, 1843-1953, Grant Parish and New Orleans, Louisiana
JEWISH CEMETERY (Pineville) - Rapides Parish:Inscription on a historical plaque in front of the cemetery:"The Jewish Cemetery.The earliest Jewish settler in the Alexandria-Pineville area was Henry Michael Hyams, whose name appeared in the 1830 census. . ."
Directions:The Jewish Cemetery is located on Main Street in downtown Pineville, bounded by Mt. Olivet Cemetery on the right.The property is fenced on all four sides, and almost all burials have full-size flat slabs with engraving on the slab.Hebrew inscriptions on most of the slabs were not translated; however, other inscriptions with genealogical information are included.Tombstone inscriptions were recorded by Jane P. McManus, 30 October 1992, and submitted July, 2000.
There is a Hyams genealogy chart in the monumental volume "First American Jewish Families" by the late Rabbi Malcom Stern. Copies of two editions of the book (I think the later was retitled soemthing like "American Families of Jewish Descent") are in the library at B'nai Zion Temple.
More About Henry Michael Hyams:
Author: Abt. 1862, "Memorandum For My Children".
Burial: Unknown, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, LA.379
Office Held 1: Bet. 1860 - 1864, Lieutenant Governor, Louisiana.
Office Held 2: Bet. 1860 - 1864, Lt. Governor of Louisiana.
Children of Henry Michael Hyams and Laurel Ambrose are:
- +Henry Michael Hyams, Jr., b. 1846, d. 1887.
- Miriam Ravencamp Hyams, b. 19 Jun 1835, d. 01 Mar 1844.
- Kosciusko Ravencamp Hyams, d. date unknown.
- Samuel Eleazer Hyams, b. 08 Jul 1841, d. 10 Oct 1942380.