22 November 2017

The Naturalization of Foraj (a.k.a. Joe or Fred) Fallos

Foraj Fallos, sailing from Beirut, came to the United States in 1907.  Even though I "should" be able to find him in census records from 1910 through 1940, I have been unable to do so.  Not a single one.  It's been rather frustrating.

That doesn't mean I know nothing of Mr. Fallos, however.  Other records have helped to shed a bit of light on his life and time in the United States.

jfallaswwidraftWorld War I Draft Registration

According to his World War I draft registration dated 5 June 1917, Joe Fallas was born 15 February 1892 in "Syria, Turkey." He was noted as being a naturalized citizen of the United States, but also a "citizen or subject" of Turkey.  His race was given as Turkish Jew.  Joe was living in Atlanta, Georgia and working as a clerk in a European grocery store.

In September of 1918, while still living in Atlanta and working as a fruit merchant, Joe was ordered to report to the local board for military duty.  He was inducted into service the last day of the month, and sent to Fort Thomas in Kentucky for training.  Joe was honorably discharged about 10 weeks later.

Naturalization Records

On the same day he registered for the draft, "Joe Fallos (Foraj Fallos)" officially declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States of America.  He again recounted his birthdate was 15 February 1892, but was more specific with his birthplace:  "Lepa, Syria, Turkey."


I must admit this confused me a bit, given my little knowledge of the history of this area of the world.  I understood Syria and Turkey to be part of the Ottoman Empire, and Aleppo's relatively close proximity to Turkey, but failed to recognize a couple of things:  (1) The Ottoman Empire was also called the Turkish Empire and/or Ottoman Turkey – ugh, probably should have known that, and (2) the tumult of the time.  Though the Turkish War of Independence was a couple of years off, I think the following from Wikipedia provides a basic explanation of how Aleppo figured into the relationship between Syria and Turkey:

At the end of World War I, the Treaty of Sèvres made most of the Province of Aleppo part of the newly established nation of Syria, while Cilicia was promised by France to become an Armenian state. However, Kemal Atatürk annexed most of the Province of Aleppo as well as Cilicia to Turkey in his War of Independence.

According to the Declaration of Intention pictured above, Joe renounced "forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to Mehmed V Emperor of the Ottomans." He also signed off on not being an anarchist nor a polygamist.

Joe Fallos received his Certificate of Naturalization four years later, in June of 1921.

jfallaspassportappUnited States Passport Application

The pictures always make these a fabulous find, don't they? About a year after receiving his Certificate of Naturalization, Joe decided to take a trip that required a passport.  On his May 1922 application, he once again reiterated his birth date and place – 15 February 1892 at Aleppo, Syria.  Joe, a "naturalized and loyal citizen of the United States," also provided his father's name was Abraham Fallas, deceased.  Quoting from the document,

I emigrated to the United States, sailing from Beirut about April 20th, 1907, that I resided 14 years, uninterruptedly, in the United States, from 1907 to 1922 at N.Y., Baltimore, Texas, Ga.; that I was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the Federal Court of N. District of Ga. at Atlanta, on June 27th, 1921, as shown by the Certificate of Naturalization presented herewith...

And therein lies a reason for failing to find him in the census records! He sure did move around a lot.  At this point in time, Joe was living in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia and working in a delicatessen.  He was planning to visit Syria (Damascus and Aleppo), Egypt, France, and Italy "for pleasure," leaving from the port of N.Y. later in May.

Marriage Record

I'm not able to see a scan of the original marriage record for Joe Fallas, but the extracted information is from the New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940 database at FamilySearch.  He, aged 40, married Alton Matut, aged 25, on 11 November 1932 at Manhattan, NY.  Both members of this couple were born in Syria, Turkey.  The names of each of their parents were also included in the record:  Joe's being Joseph Fallas and Mary Cohen, and Alton's being Nathan Matut and Esther Rofe.

maconcitydirectory1955City Directories

It appears Joe brought his new bride back to Macon, Georgia after the wedding.  They can be found in the 1934 Macon city directory, living at 124 Bay Street.  Joe was a grocer, and Alton was now going by the name of Alice.  The 1948 directory for the same city shows Alice living at 2438 Napier Avenue.  Her husband is still a grocer, but is now going by the name of Fred Fallas.  The next year, though still in Macon, Fred and Alice have moved again to 1610 Telfair Street.  The couple remained at that address in 1950.

I should also note that 1610 Telfair Street was also the grocery business address.  Fred and Alice were residing in the rear of the building, so presumably their business was in the front.  Is this how they avoided the census taker?

The 1953 through 1956 city directories for Macon, Georgia each contains the Fallas couple, still residing and working at 1610 Telfair Street.  Alice is also specifically noted as being a clerk at "Fred J. Fallas Grocery."

pvtjfallasDeath Record and Tombstone

According to the Georgia Death Index, Fred Fallas died 5 November 1956 at Bibb County, Georgia.

As you might imagine, the order in which I placed each of the sources in this post is not the order in which they were found.  What started me on the trail to uncover information about Joe Fallas was his tombstone, located in the Congregation Sherah Israel section of Rose Hill Cemetery.

Joe's military issue tombstone was produced at the Georgia Marble Company of Tate, Georgia, and bears the Star of David along with the following inscription:

Joe Fallas
Pvt 31 Rct Co
Gen Svc Inf
World War I
February 15, 1892
November 5, 1956



  1. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok.

    I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.


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