Sunday, July 6, 2014

Benjamin Benas – what I know

Last week I wrote about my great grandmother, Goldie Benas, which piqued my curiosity again about her parents.  And as typically happens, I’ve been off in a million different directions so I need to document what I do know about her father, Benjamin Benas.

Benjamin was born in about 1826 in Posen, Germany.  He may have come to the United States aboard the Stephani which arrived in New York from Hamburg on 21 July 1845.  There was a young 19 year old Mechanic on board by the name of Benjamin Benas but I need to confirm if that was my Benjamin.

California Voter’s Registrations show that he was naturalized in San Francisco County on 6 September 1855.  What took him to California? 

In 1860 Benjamin was living in Vallejo with his brother, Solomon, and in 1865 he was living in San Francisco at 13 Kearny.  By 1870 he was back in Vallejo and had settled down with his wife, Fredericka (or Frances) and three children, Isaac, Goldie, and Max.  In 1868, Benjamin was a charter member of the Naval Chapter, No. 35, R.A.M. (from History of Solano County: comprising an account of its geographical position).  And Voter’s Registrations in 1867, 1876, 1880, and 1886 show him in Vallejo so my hunch is he never left.

Except maybe in 1892 when he died.  His certificate of death shows his date of death was 17 April 1892 and his previous residence was Amador County and that his place of death was Falley’s or Talley’s.  Take a look and let me know what you think it says.

DC Benjamin Benas

Solano County is roughly 80 miles from Amador County – did Benjamin go there to die?  From the death certificate, it looks like he died from an abscess and carcinoma of the intestines – probably not a pleasant way to die.  I hope his family was with him and that he wasn’t away from home and alone.

Based on the age listed on his death certificate (65 years, 3 months, 23 days) his date of birth would have been 25 December, 1826.

The notice in the newspaper doesn’t tell me much.

Benas Benjamin Obit 19 Apr 1892
San Francisco Chronicle
April 19, 1892
Page 10

Benjamin is buried in Hills of Eternity in Colma, California, where his wife Fredericka was later buried with him.

Benas Benjamin Grave
Photo courtesy of Diane Reich

In researching for this blog post, I stumbled across the Solano County Genealogical Society website and found a few things listed that might be of interest – an Index to Property and Owners and Township Lists from 1878 and a Deed Index showing deeds pertaining to Benjamin from 1864 and 1861.  My request and check are in the mail!

What do I need to research in order to learn more about Benjamin:
  • Confirm if the Benjamin Benas who arrived in New York in 1845 was my Benjamin Benas.
  • Obtain naturalization records from San Francisco County from 6 September 1855.
  • Figure out the parents of Benjamin and Solomon Benas – easy, right?
  • Learn more about Naval Chapter, No. 35, R.A.M.
  • Wait – patiently – for information from the Solano County Genealogical Society. 
And that’s what I know.  For now.


  1. And for your question about how he got to California, look into passenger lists of ships going from New York to California. During the Gold Rush, lots of men traveled to California. I have a distant great uncle who went from Maine to California as a young man, and returned to Maine to settle. Good luck!

  2. I don't want to discourage you from getting the naturalization record, but don't be surprised if it offers very little, if any, genealogical information (like exact place of birth or parents names). I've gotten records from this era and they are no where near as detailed as naturalization records from after the 1900s.

    Good luck with your search, I look forward to reading about what you find!

  3. I wonder if there was a great hospital in Solano that drew him there. Or perhaps he was on a little vacation when he took ill and died. Did other family members live there?