||Manuscript note with interesting association of four important early Jewish Americans. Note is signed, "Solomon Etting", [secretarially penned note for Joseph Simon], November 3, 1785, Lancaster [PA]. Addressed in lower left corner to Mr. Jacob Cohen, Richmond Virginia.
"Please pay unto Mr. Barnard Gratz on Order seventeen shilling & six pence it being a book debt appearing against you from Nov. 1780 - agreeable to the Dipreciation."
Barnard Gratz, American merchant; born in Langendorf, Germany, 1738; died in Baltimore, 1801. When about seventeen years of age he emigrated to the United States, arriving in Philadelphia in 1754. For a time he was engaged in the counting-house of David Franks, but subsequently he entered into partnership with his brother Michael, trading with the Indians and supplying the government with Indian goods. On Oct. 11, 1763, he became a naturalized British subject. He was one of the merchants who signed the Non-Importation Resolutions adopted Oct. 25, 1765. After the outbreak of the Revolutionary war he took the oath of allegiance to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Nov. 6, 1777). Gratz was also one of the signers of a petition presented to the government in 1783 for the abolition of an objectionable oath of office. About the time of the outbreak of the American Revolution he was appointed parnas of an unorganized congregation of Philadelphia Jews, which was ultimately known as the Congregation Mickveh Israel, on whose board of trustees he later served.
Solomon Etting (1764–1847), businessman, political figure, and Jewish civic rights leader, also born in York, Pa., became a shohet at the age of 18, the first American Jew to serve in this capacity. At first a hardware storekeeper, Solomon subsequently became a banker, a shipper, a founder of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and an important businessman. He was prominent in the Baltimore Republican Society, a Jeffersonian political club. He was a leader in the defense of Baltimore against the British in the War of 1812, during which his 18-year-old son Samuel was wounded in the battle at nearby Fort McHenry. Etting was a "manager" of the Maryland State Colonization Society, which sought to promote the resettlement of blacks in Africa. Etting was active in the Baltimore German Society and served as its vice president from 1820 to 1840. Although he was not involved in any Jewish organization in Baltimore, he supported the synagogue of his youth, Mikveh Israel, in Philadelphia. In 1801 he purchased land for a Jewish cemetery in Baltimore. He also led in the struggle for Jewish civic rights, opposing the Maryland law requiring of officeholders a Christian oath. As early as 1797 he appealed to the State Legislature on behalf of a "sect of people called Jews, deprived of invaluable rights of citizenship and praying to be placed on the same footing as other good citizens." This petition initiated a three-decade struggle, which ended successfully in 1826. Soon thereafter, Etting served as a Baltimore councilman. Solomon Etting's second wife was the daughter of the prominent leader Barnard Gratz .
Joseph Simon (c. 1712–1804), pioneer U.S. merchant and land speculator. Simon, whose birthplace is unknown, lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1732 and opened a general store. His business prospered, and he began to trade with Indians, accepting land in payment for his goods. In addition, the colony of Virginia granted Simon large tracts of land in the area which is now Kentucky. As his holdings were valueless while they remained vacant, Simon encouraged settlement by establishing a network of traders to supply the inhabitants of the backcountry with the goods they required. During the French and Indian War, Simon supplied General Braddock's army, and during the Revolution he performed the same service for General Washington (Encyc. Jud).
Jacob Raphael Cohen (1738?–1811), U.S. ḥazzan. Cohen was born in North Africa. He served as ḥazzan in England before being sent to Montreal's Congregation Shearith Israel in 1778. Bound again for England, Cohen was detained in New York, and became minister of Congregation Shearith Israel there (1782–85). Later he replaced hazzan*Seixas in Philadelphia's Congregation Mikveh Israel, remaining in that office until his death. Cohen was frequently called upon to fulfill all ritual functions. He kept a meticulous record of marriages, circumcisions, deaths, and memorial prayers, an important source of data for Jewish history in Montreal, New York, and Philadelphia. He was assisted by his son, Abraham Hyam Cohen (d. 1841), who succeeded him.