Today, there are many families around the world named "Silon" but the following summary only refers to one particular family.
The name Silon probably originated in medieval Spain where, among the Spanish Jews, especially of the Andalusian region, there was a long tradition that they were descended from King David. The earliest record of Jews in Spain was in the year 235 when they settled in the town of Abdera. Many of the early Jewish settlers came from Byzantine-controlled Israel, which the Byzantine authorities called “Palaestina”. Many were farmers, Talmudic scholars, and artisans. It was probably the third group that the Silons belonged to. It is not certain whether the family settled in the Muslim south or the Christian north. However, according to the book “Jewish Family Names and Their Origins – An Etymological Dictionary” by Heinrich W. and Eva H. Guggenheimer, it is possible that the name “Silon” was originally “Ben Sillun”, a Hebrew corruption of the city of Barcelona, located in the Christian north. In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain and thereafter settled in all parts of Europe, especially in Western Europe, as well as in North Africa, and the Middle East. In this forced migration, the family may have settled in Venice where the name “Ben Sillun” was shortened to “Silon” originally pronounced SeeYON, a Ladino word meaning “a big seat” or “a big chair” or, more appropriately “sofa”.
In the latter 16th century, there lived in southwestern Poland, a certain Prince Jan Zamojski who established on his land, a settlement named after himself, called Zamosc. He was known to be friendly to the Jews and in 1575, while on a visit to Venice, he invited a group of Sephardim to settle in his town. The Silons were perhaps part of this settlement. After about one generation, many of the Jews in Zamosc, for unknown reasons, migrated to other parts of central and eastern Europe. The Silons migrated to Vilna in Lithuania where they stayed for the next 300 years.
The earliest record of the name “Silon” found thus far, was recorded in the mid-19th century and used by one Haim Silon (I) whose wife’s name was Necha. His son Nathan, along with his wife Gussie, was the first in the family to settle in the United States in 1888, settling in Hoboken NJ and establishing a painting company as well as one of the earliest synagogues in Hoboken – Temple Beth Montefiore. So successful was his business that, by 1898, he was able to save enough money to send for the rest of his family. The first to arrive were his two brothers, Meyer, along with his wife (?) and his daughter Sarah, and Herman (Haim II) who came with his wife Basha and their two sons Meyer (Moti) and Robert. Their third son Herman (Haim III) was born in Hoboken in 1904. The brothers eventually joined Nathan in the painting business. (Apparently, some Silons stayed in Vilna. Four died in the Holocaust when Vilna was under German occupation (1941-1943)).
Haim II died in 1905, presumably from lead poisoning and eventually, the business closed down. In 1925, Herman married Sarah Halperin. They settled in Jersey City and had two kids - Basha in 1926 and Irwin in 1930. The family later moved to Charleston SC. During WWII, Herman served in the Merchant Marines stationed in Italy. After the war, he returned to Charleston but eventually, the family moved back to NJ. In the late 50s, Basha moved to Los Angeles for health reasons, followed shortly by her parents and then by her brother who came in 1960. In 1962, Irwin married Ruth (Bass) and they eventually settled in Arleta in the northeastern San Fernando Valley. Herman and Sarah settled in Van Nuys in the central Valley where they both died two weeks apart in 1979.
Today, Silons can be found all over the US, but mainly in Arleta and Van Nuys in CA, Centennial CO, and also in GA and DE. This page is dedicated to the complete history of the Silon family name, origins, and records. The Silon name is an old family line that originated in medieval Spain and eventually migrated to Lithuania. According to family members, the name has not changed when they first came to the United States in 1888 and it is doubtful whether it was changed for some time before that.
"Silon" is a Ladino word meaning "a big seat". The name could also have been a corruption of the town of Barcelona whose Hebrew word is Ben Sillun or sometimes Bar Cilon. Perhaps the name "Barcelona" has something to do with furniture. “Silon” is also a Celtic word for “seed” from where the word “silo” originates, a French word for “furrow”, and a Hebrew word for “jet plane”.