Ezekiel Solomon, forefather of all the Solomons of Killarney, was the first Jewish immigrant to settle in what is now the U.S. state of Michigan.
Born around 1735 in Berlin, Germany, Ezekiel arrived at Mackinac Island, in the narrows between Lakes Michigan and Huron, in 1761 and quickly established himself as a fur trader. By 1765, he and his partner were operating the Solomon-Levy Trading House at Fort Michilimackinac, then a British military post. In 1779, he joined a group of businessmen to open a general store there.
Ezekiel married Louise Dubois, also called Okimabinesikwe, a Roman Catholic. They had six children: Samuel, Ezekiel Jr., William, Elizabeth, and Sophie.
As the Americans and British battled over various lands at the head of the Lakes, Ezekiel re-established his business, first at St. Joseph Island, then Drummond Island, to avoid coming under American rule. Ezekiel died around 1808. All of the locations at which he had operated his businesses were eventually turned over to the Americans.
In 1828, the Solomons still living at Drummond Island migrated to Penetanguishene when the British garrison transferred there. The Killarney Solomons are all descended from William (third son of Ezekiel and Louise) and Agibicocona.
Brother Thom Smith, a Franciscan friar in Indian River, organized the reunion held in May at Fort Michilimackinac, now a National Historic Landmark.
On Saturday, the group met at the Ezekiel Solomon historical marker, located just outside the Fort. They were given a tour and watched a re-enactment of Ezekiel’s capture in 1763 by Chief Pontiac’s warriors. [He and several others were taken to Montreal and ransomed, after which he returned to the Fort and resumed trading.] A buffet dinner and social evening topped off Saturday’s events.
Marlene Anderson, a resident of Kinross Michigan and also a descendant of the Killarney Tysons and Payments, brought two large binders of information about her Solomon ancestors for everyone to browse through.
On Sunday morning, they all traveled by ferry to Mackinaw Island, took a carriage ride to St. Anne’s Church for a historical presentation, and attended mass.
About 60 people gathered for the weekend event, including several current and former Killarney residents from the de Lamorandiere, Solomon, and Beaucage families.