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Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Dates:  ca. 1756-1990

Creator:  Minis Family

Summary/Abstract:  The Minis Family was one of the first to settle in Georgia after it was founded as a British colony in 1733. They have been active in business, law, and the military in Savannah and elsewhere for nearly two hundred years. The papers in this collection include correspondence, clippings, diaries, and a prayerbook relating to the family and its history.

Quantity/Physical Description: 5.8 Linear Feet

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  This collection is open for research. However, box 13 is restricted until January 1, 2020 as designated by the collection donor in deed of gift.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 334, Minis Family Papers, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Acquisition:  Gift of Robert P. Minis, 1993

Custodial History:  The Minis Family Papers are part of the Savannah Jewish Archives that were transferred from the Georgia Historical Society to the Breman Museum in 2015.

Separated Material:  Oversize materials and photographs

Related Materials: Mss 394, Henry-Hendricks Family Papers

Processed by:  L. Alexander (1993), M.J. Belanger (2002), and Lindsay Resnick (2015)

Arrangement:  The papers are arranged chronologically by family member.

Biographical/Historical Note: The first generation of the Minis family to come to Georgia shores was Abraham (c.1694-1757) and his wife Abigail (1701-1794) of German origins.  Records indicate that the Minis family as well as the Sheftalls and one Jacob Yowell were Ashkenazim.  See Malcolm H. Stern, "New Light on the Jewish Settlement of Savannah," American Jewish Historical Quarterly, LII, (March 1963), p. 177.  They landed in Savannah July 11, 1733, together with a number of Sephardic Jewish families coming to the colony from Spain and Portugal after a residence in England. For complete biographical information on the family see The Minis Family of Georgia, 1733-1992, by Kaye Kole (Georgia Historical Society, 1992).

Scope and Content:

The Minis family papers include letters, deeds, indentures, clippings, estate records, marriage settlements, genealogies, architectural drawings, scrapbooks, pamphlets, notebooks, and photographs.  They cover the major part of three centuries and six generations of a prominent Savannah, family, give a detailed history of the family, and constitute a particularly rich historical source for the colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods of Savannah history.  Family connections in Philadelphia and South Carolina provide some insight into the history of those areas.

Abraham (ca. 1694-1757), a general merchant, and Abigail (1701-1794), his wife, are represented in the collection only by legal documents (i.e., no personal correspondence): indentures (land grants and deeds to tracts of land), wills and marriage settlements.  Because Abigail survived Abraham by 37 years and was aggressive in her acquisition of lands, many of the land grants, including one from George III, are in her name alone.

The children of Abraham and Abigail were Leah, Esther, Philip, Minis, Joseph, Samuel, Judith, Hannah, and Sarah.  Of these, only Leah (1726-1802), Minis (1736-1771), and Philip (1734-1789) are represented by papers in the collection, although there are references in some documents (especially the parents' wills) to the other children.  Philip was reputed to have been the first white child conceived and born in the colony of Georgia.  He was married in 1774 to Judith Polack (1745-1819) of Rhode Island, and, like his father, was a successful merchant.  With one exception, the materials representing Philip Minis are all documents, including a marriage contract and a number of records relevant to Philip's involvement in the Revolutionary War and its aftermath, his mercantile interests, and his extensive activities in the Jewish congregation in Savannah.  From the hand of his elder sister, Leah, however, are two original letters addressed to Mordecai Sheftall (1735-1797) at Sunbury concerning shipments of foodstuffs in early 1777, and for their brother Minis Minis, there are several records of land holdings.

The offspring of Philip and Judith Minis were Abigail, Frances, Abraham, Isaac, unnamed infant daughter, Hester, and Philippa.  Included in the collection are brief records of Frances' (1776-1822) marriage and Abraham's (1778-1801) untimely death, but there are extensive records for their younger brother, Isaac (1780-1856), who became a citizen of note in Savannah.  Recorded are his role as purveyor of supplies to the U.S. military and efforts to recover moneys due him; the prenuptial agreement with Dinah Cohen (1787-1874) of Georgetown, SC, prior to their marriage in 1804; his extensive dealings in Savannah real estate, including the "Constitution Hill" lands; his relationship with his children, particularly Abraham ("Abram") (1820-1889), whose power of attorney he held; and the complications attendant upon the settlement of his estate.  His wife Dinah survived him by 18 years and is represented in the collection by family correspondence; by her official pardon and oath of allegiance to the U.S. government following the Civil War; and by documents relative to the administration of her complex estate.

The two individuals around whom the most numerous and historically rich materials in this collection center are the son and daughter-in-law of Isaac and Dinah, Abraham ("Abram") (1820-1889) and Lavinia (Florance) (1825-1923) Minis.  Extending from the time of their engagement in October, 1850, to Abraham's death in 1889, the exchange of letters between Savannah and Philadelphia (Lavinia's childhood home and where she almost invariably summered with her and Abram's children), gives a daily account of family occurrences:  births, progress, and education of their children; illnesses, treatment thereof, and deaths in the family; detailed descriptions of weddings, dinner parties, and other social events; shopping and current prices for items of clothing and household commodities; hiring, training, and supervision of servants; the social institution of calls paid and received; and family and neighborhood news and gossip.

Information, however, regarding Abram's commodity brokerage and shipping firm (particularly with regard to cotton), the economy generally, and local and national politics can also be found in this collection. This correspondence is addressed largely to business associates and competitors, and to friends such as Joseph Story Fay (1812-1897), one-time Savannah mercantilist and Abram's first employer, who eventually left Savannah to return to his native Boston.  Fay in the 1860s writes tellingly of the anguish of watching the dissolution of his country and the realization that cherished Savannah friends are, at least technically, now the enemy.  He includes frequent observations both before and after the Civil War (there are no letters from him for the War years) on national politics and the economy, the miserable condition of the South under Reconstruction, his and Abram's personal finances, his (Fay's) antebellum connection with the Central Railroad Company, and his and Abram's association with the Union Society and its Bethesda Orphanage. Ancillary to the above materials are correspondences from Lavinia Florance Minis' parents Jacob L. Florance (1803-1867) and Hannah Levy Florance (1806-1870) of Philadelphia; from Abram's numerous siblings and their spouses, and, rarely, from Lavinia's ("Venie's") siblings.  The content of these is devoted almost entirely to family matters.

Abraham and Lavinia's children were Jacob Florance (“J.F.,” 1852-1936), Maria (1853-1941), Rosina (1855-1856), Isaac (1857-1893), Abram (1859-1939) and Lavinia Florance (1864-1944).  Each is represented in the collection, several by letters to their father beginning in their childhood when they were in Philadelphia for the summer.  The correspondence gives accounts of childhood illnesses, celebrations, schooling, and, in adult years, of business matters (J.F. and Isaac joined Abram in the firm, A. Minis & Sons, and Abram went into the legal profession.)  In the latter connection, Abram's subseries includes many papers relative to matters of family business, his marriage in 1902 to Mabel Amelia Henry (1870-1971) of New York, and the general history of the Minis family. Abram's son, Abram Minis, Jr. (1903-1998), of the sixth generation, continued that interest, and his papers in the collection are principally reflective of that concern.

At intervals throughout the collection occur certain legal documents, usually recording land transactions.  Most of these do not reveal any connection with the Minis family, but they may refer to property that later came into the family's possession.  Series 2 is composed solely of letters between Abraham Minis (1820-1889) and his fiancée/wife Lavinia Florance Minis (1825-1923), with occasional enclosures from their children.

Collection Inventory

Box

File

Description

Date

 

1

1

Chart: "Names of the Grantees of… Lots in Savannah” (oversized)

ca. 1756-1768

1

2

Cohen, Belle M. (1772-1862)

 

1836-1844

1

3

Cohen, Joseph (1810-1834) obituary

 

1834

1

4

Cohen, Octavius (1814-1876) and Henrietta L. (?-1914)

 

1845-1876

1

5

Etting, Edward J. (1803-1862) and Theodore M. (1846-1866) papers

1861

1

6

Etting, Gratz (1850-1884) papers

1870

1

7

Florance, Hannah L. (d. 1890) papers

ca. 1851-1870

1

8

Florance, Jacob L. (1803-1867) papers

ca. 1851-1857

1

9

Genealogy manuscript and correspondence transcriptions

ca. 1960-1973

1

10

Genealogy manuscript and correspondence transcriptions

ca. 1960-1973

1

11

Genealogy manuscript and correspondence transcriptions

ca. 1960-1973

 

Box

File

Description

 

 

 

 

 

2

1

Hays, Isaac Minis (1847-1925) correspondence

1893

2

2

Hays, Sarah Ann (Sally) M. (1811-1854) papers

ca. 1824-1832

2

3

Henry, Lavinia M. (1864-1944) papers

1870-1915

2

4

Indenture (Forced Sale): McIntosh/Jacobs/Nunis (oversized)

1790

2

5

Indenture (Forced Sale): McNeill to Myers (oversized)

1824

2

6

Indenture: Cohen to Jacobs (oversized)

1795

2

7

Indenture: Evans to Lamb (oversized)

1814

2

8

Indenture: Lamb, Sarah I. to Minis, Isaac (oversized)

1816

2

9

Indenture: Lamb to Evans (oversized)

1814

 

 

Indenture: McIntosh to Jacobs (oversized)

1790

2

10

Indenture: Moses, Philip to Cohen, Gershon (oversized)

1774

2

11

Indenture: Moses, Philip to Jacobs, Jacob (oversized)

1773

2

12

Indenture: Nunez/Cohen/Jacobs (oversized)

1784

2

13

Indentures: Minis to McNeill and McNeill to Myers

1820-1824

2

14

Ketubah (marriage contract): Hendricks, Justina L. and Henry, Henry S.

1856

2

15

Levy, Jacob C. (1788-1875)

1827-1863

2

16

Levy, Moses C. (c. 1749-1839)

1837

2

17

Levy, Samuel Y. (1827-?)

1836

2

18

Levy/Cohen/Phillips: Misc. and Unidentified Materials

undated

 

 

Map: Lands held by Minis, Abigail (oversized)

1767-1769

2

19

Marks, Frances M. (1776-1822) - wedding announcement

1794

2

20

Marriage Settlement: Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Florance, Lavinia (1825-1923)

1851

2

21

Marriage Settlement: Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Florance, Lavinia (1825-1923), documents relating to

ca. 1856-1859

2

22

Minis, Abigail (ca. 1701-1794) papers

ca. 1758-1824

2

23

Minis, Abraham (1694-1757) papers

ca. 1756-1769

2

24

Minis, Abraham (1778-1801) papers

1784-1801

 

 

 

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

 

 

 

3

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 1

Oct.-Dec. 1850

3

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 2

Jan. 1851

3

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence - 3

Feb. 1851

3

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 4

Mar. 1851

3

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 5

Apr. 1851

3

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 6

May 1851

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

4

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 7

Jun. 1851

4

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 8

July-Oct. 1851

4

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 9

Sep.-Dec. 1852

4

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 10

Jan. 1853-Oct. 1854

4

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence - 11

May 1855

4

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 12

June 1855

 

 

 

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

 

 

 

5

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 13

July-Oct. 1855

5

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 14

Sept. 1856

5

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 15

Apr. 1857-Oct. 1858

5

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 16

Aug. 1859

5

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 17

Sep. 1859

5

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 18

Oct. 1859

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

6

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 19

1860

6

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 20

Oct. 1865-Feb. 1866

6

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 21

Mar.-May. 1866

6

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 22

Jun. 1866-Sep. 1867

6

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 23

Sep. 1868-Oct. 1869

6

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 24

Mar.-Apr. 1870

6

7

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 25

May 1870

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

7

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 26

Jun. 1-15, 1870

7

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 27

Jun. 16-30, 1870

7

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 28

Jul.-Oct. 1870

7

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 29

Oct. 1871-Oct. 1874

7

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence - 30

Jun.-Jul. 1876

7

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 31

Aug. 1876

7

7

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 32

Sept. 1876

7

8

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 33

Oct. 1876

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

8

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 34

Nov. 1876

8

2

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 35

Aug. 1877-Feb. 1880

8

3

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 36

May 1880

8

4

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 37

Nov. 1880-May 1883

8

5

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) and Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 38

Nov.-Dec. 1884

8

6

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) correspondence- 1

1834-1853

8

7

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) correspondence- 2

1854-1859

8

8

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) correspondence- 3

1861

8

9

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) correspondence- 4

1862-1869

8

10

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) correspondence- 5

1870-1889

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

9

1

Minis, Abraham (1820-1889) letter press copybook; Minis House; Fay correspondence

1855-1865

9

2

Minis, Abram (1859-1939) papers

1876-1929

9

3

Minis, Abram (1859-1939) Scrapbook

1895-1929

9

4

Minis, Abram (Bob), Jr. (1903-1998) papers- 1

1922-1954

9

5

Minis, Abram (Bob), Jr. (1903-1998) papers- 2

1954

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

10

1

Minis, Abram (Bob), Jr. (1903-1998) papers- 3

1955-1983

10

2

Minis, Abram (Bob), Jr. (1903-1998) papers- 4

1987-1989

10

3

Minis, Abram (Bob), Jr. (1903-1998) papers- 5

1990-1992, undated

10

4

Minis, Cecilia (1832-1887) papers

1851-1876

10

5

Minis, Dinah C. (1787-1804) papers

ca. 1845-1874

10

6

Minis, Florence P. (1913-1971) papers

1913-1971

10

7

Minis, Frances (Fanny, 1923-1915) photocopies

1846-1893

10

8

Minis, Isaac (1780-1856) papers

ca. 1800-1856

10

9

Minis, Isaac (1857-1893) papers

1876-1893

10

10

Minis, Jacob Florance (J.F., 1852-1936)

1859-1936

10

11

Minis, John L. (1844-1922) papers

1923-1989

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

11

1

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 1

1842-1856

11

2

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 2

1859-1860

11

3

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 3

Mar.-Jun. 1860

11

4

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 4

Jul.-Dec. 1860

11

5

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 5

1861

11

6

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 6

1863-1869

11

7

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 7

1870

11

8

Minis, Lavinia F. (1825-1923) correspondence- 8

1874-1923

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

12

1

Minis, Leah (ca. 1726-1802) papers

ca. 1777-1802

12

2

Minis, Lorane Havely (c. 1918-2014) papers

ca. 1972-1975

12

3

Minis, Mabel H. (1870-1971)

1870-1970

12

4

Minis, Maria (1853-1941) correspondence

1861-1879

12

5

Minis, Maria (1853-1941) correspondence

1880-1890

12

6

Minis, Maria (1853-1941) correspondence and clippings

1890-1911

12

7

Minis, Maria (1853-1941) papers

1846-1853

12

8

Minis, Minis (1736-1771) land grant copy (oversized)

ca. 1756-1758

12

9

Minis, Philip (1805-1855) - papers relating to duel

1832

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

13

1

Minis, Philip (ca. 1734-1789) copies

ca. 1775-1789

 

 

Minis, Philip (ca. 1734-1789) Continental Army payments (oversized)

 

13

2

Minis, Rebecca (Becca) Gratz (1830-1912) papers

1859-1912

13

3

Minis, Theodore (1825-1950) obituary

1850

13

4

Padelford, Edward (ca. 1799-1870) tributes (oversized)

1870

13

5

Pember, Phoebe (1823-1913)

1855-1961

13

6

Phillips, "Grandmother" correspondence

undated

13

7

Phillips, Clavius (1838-1920) and Georgina Cohen (1841-1909)

1868-1910

13

8

Phillips, Eugenia Levy (1819-1902), articles about

ca. 1962

13

9

Phillips, Fanny (1884-1976), address books

ca. 1957

13

10

Phillips, Fanny (1884-1976), letters to, regarding antiques

ca. 1915-1930

13

11

Phillips, Georgina (1871-1964) and Olmstead, Florence - correspondence

ca. 1922-1950

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

14

1

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964), Fanny (1884-1976), and Georgina (1871-1964) - "My Trip Abroad" travel journal

ca. 1915-1930

14

2

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964), Fanny (1884-1976), and Georgina (1871-1964) – copper engravers’ plates for calling cards

ca. 1900-1920

14

3

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964), Fanny (1884-1976), and Georgina (1871-1964) - greeting cards

ca. 1900-1962

14

4

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964), Fanny (1884-1976), and Georgina (1871-1964) - miscellaneous

ca. 1922-1966

14

5

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964), Fanny (1884-1976), and Georgina (1871-1964) - recipes

ca. 1859

14

6

Phillips, Henrietta (Daisy, 1869-1964) - letters to

ca. 1924-1960

14

7

Poem: "German Club of Savannah," possibly written by Minis, Cecilia (1832-1877) or Minis, Louisa Gilmer (1852-1921)

1867

14

8

Taylor, Fanny Cohen (1840-1938)

Dec. 1864-Jan. 1865

14

9

"Travels on Cape Breton by Morris, Morton (possible pseudonym for Minis, Maria, 1853-1941)

1889

14

10

Trusteeship: Fay/Minis

1857

14

11

Unidentified and Undated Items

undated

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

15

1

Minis, Louisa Gilmer (1852-1921) and Minis, Maria (1853-1941) correspondence [RESTRICTED UNTIL 2020]

Jan. 1889

15

2

Minis, Louisa Gilmer (1852-1921) and Minis, Maria (1853-1941) correspondence [RESTRICTED UNTIL 2020]

May 1886-Dec. 1888

 

 

Box

File

Description

Date

 

16

1

Minis Family Prayerbook

ca. 1750

16

2

Cohen/Levy/Phillips Genealogical Materials (oversized)

undated

16

3

Henry/Hendricks/Tobias Genealogical Materials (oversized)

undated

16

4

Levy/Florance Genealogical Materials (oversized)

undated

16

5

Minis Family Genealogical Materials (oversized)

undated

 

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