Philadelphia Latvian Baptist Youth Society

Ansis Silaray

Ansis Silaray

Hans Silaray (Ansis Silarājs, also known as John Silaray) was born March 15, 1887, and immigrated to the United States in 1907. In 1910, according to the federal census, he lived at 1500 N. 10th St. in Philadelphia, where he worked as a waiter in his brother Ernest's restaurant.1 Also living in the home was Ernest's wife, Emily; mother, Baba; sister, Annie; and two non-Latvian boarders.

He married Latvian immigrant Lena Deklau (possibly Deklav) in 1914.2 Although he was christened Ansis, by then he had adopted John as his name, according to the couple's marriage certificate.

According to the 1920 federal census, John and Lena had a 2-year-old daughter, Alida (1917–1972), and lived at 507 Paxon St. in Philadelphia. John was by then working as a carpenter. Also boarding in the home were his brother-in-law, Hans Johnson, and nephew, John Johnson, both of whom also were carpenters.3

By the mid-1920s, the marriage between John and Lena was over. John moved west to Chicago, where in 1928 he married Beulah E. Cyrier.

John's biography at this point contains inconsistencies. On his petition for naturalization4, he stated that he was born in Stockholm, Sweden; that he was originally known as Johannes Hendrik Silaray; and that his nationality was Swedish, although his last foreign residence was in Latvia. John Silaray also claimed to have no children, although according to both his 1918 draft registration and the 1920 census, he did.5 (His brother, Ernest, was born in 1883 in Kuldīga, Latvia.)

John (Ansis) Silaray died in 1952.6


1. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 June 2017), Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia Ward 20 > ED 354 > image 12 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

2. "Pennsylvania Civil Marriages, 1677-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 May 2023), John Silaray and Lena Deklan, 21 Feb 1914; citing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Register of Wills Offices from various counties; FHL microfilm 1,276,973.

3. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

4. National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, 1906-1991; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: Rg 21. Silaray also claimed on his 1942 draft registration card to have been born in Stockholm.

5. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

6. "United States, Social Security Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT), 1936-2007", database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2023), John H Silaray.