• Mississippi Jewish Merchant Settler Seeks To Collect Debt

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    ISAAC EICHELSTEIN, a Jewish settler and merchant, arrived in Mississippi in 1853 and married Jeanette Schwartz in 1856.

    Offering a 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ ALS from Eichelstein to Henry Coulter, Brownsville, Miss., May 27/53. “I sent you my Act wich [which] I have against Mr. John Ballard, and I want you to collect for me if he wont paid, sue him right off and sent me answer about it to Brownsville, Miss.

    “Yours Respectfully,

    “Isaac Eichelstein”

    Verso indicates that the $14.50 debt was paid on June 23, 1853, signed by Coulter.

    Jews settled along the Gulf of Mexico from earliest times; they came via Mobile and New Orleans. There are records of their early presence in what is now Biloxi, on the Gulf Coast, and Natchez, on the Mississippi River. By the 1830s, these communities had Jewish cemeteries. High cotton prices, cheap land and steamboat traffic stimulated population expansion, bringing a considerable number of Jews from Germany and Alsace who made a living as peddlers and small storekeepers. The first congregations formed in the state were in Natchez and Vicksburg in the early 1840s, both trading towns on the Mississippi River. Between 200 and 300 served in the Confederate army.

    In the three decades following the 1828 creation of Madison County, the area’s population grew rapidly. In 1830, the U.S. Census found 2,806 free people and 2,167 enslaved Black people in the county. As cotton farming increased, so, too, did the enslaved population. By 1860, more than 18,000 of the county’s approximately 23,000 residents were enslaved Black people. Merchants and peddlers with last names such as Eichelstine and Abram lived in Madison County by 1850, but the first known Jews in Canton did not appear in historical records until the 1860s.

    One small piece missing in left margin, not affecting any words. Light soiling with heavier soiling on the verso.

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