From Odessa and back again – Jacob Leviton

I did not discover Jacob Leviton, son of Aaron and Goldie, until I had nearly finished researching the vast Leviton family in Chicago. He was on the 1930 census staying with his sister Sophie Welcher. Eventually I found him first travelling to Chicago from Odessa via Liverpool with his father in March 1908. Unfortunately the name on the manifest was spelt Lewiten, a combination of letters I had not tried. And unfortunately I cannot read the profession of Jacob and Aaron. Jacob was recorded as married and 35 years old. Their relation in Odessa was Jacob’s sister, L Mesirow, who lived at Malaya Arnautskaya 50, the first time we get a picture of where this family might have been living in Odessa. The house is in the middle of the long street near Pushkinskaya. There is no mention of Jacob’s wife as being their closest relation. Most of the rest of their family was in Chicago.

Malaya Arnautskaya 50

Their destination was Chicago and the home of Harry Welcher on Stoneman Street, who is down as Jacob’s uncle, whereas it should have said his brother-in-law, the husband of his sister Sophie.

In 1911, Jacob is again travelling from Odessa, this time via Antwerp, to Chicago with both his parents, Aaron and Goldie, and Jacob Mesirow with his wife and widowed mother. All the men are described as merchants. Both families are travelling to the Welcher family now live on Le Moyne Street. Both list cousins as their nearest relations in Odessa. The Leviton cousin lives at Ekaterininskaya 85 on the corner with Malaya Arnautskaya, very close to their Mesirow daughter at Malaya Arnautskaya 50.

Ekaterininskaya 85

Odessa 1888 centre

Malaya Arnautskaya was highly populated with Jews, possibly many of whom were small businessman, who had left the Moldavanka area, becoming more successful and helping their children take up professions as the Levitons were doing. The Mesirow cousin, Lazar Mesirow, lived at Vorontsovskaya 46, a street that runs from the edge of Moldavanka south of the Jewish cemetery to the railway lines and was filled with small factories and warehouses where it ran by the railway. The road has now changed names but if the numbers were similar the house would have been near the tracks, but it is very difficult to find numbers now and there were probably more houses in the past. The sections of the street shown below are closer to Moldavanka where more houses remain. It does not have the style of the centre, but it may have been a place where a factory owner could live by his work.

Vorontsovskaya

Odessa 1901 Vorontsovskaya bottom left

Jacob next appears in New York on his World War I registration. His name appears as Jacob Aaron Leviton, boarding at the Lipschitz home at 120 W. 114 Street. His occupation is manager of the Velcher Bros cigar packing company on East 18th Street, and his nearest relation is his father in Chicago at 1929 Fowler Street. His birthdate is 20 February 1875, age 43.

West 114th Street

There are two Welcher brothers living on the Upper West Side, one quite near Jacob at West 111 St and the other at West 189th St. Jacob is the only member of the Leviton family living in New York, though he is working for his brother-in-law’s family business which has offices in Chicago and New York. He is also the only one who has not settled down with a wife and children. He may also be the only brother of Moishe Leviton, born in 1879, who died in the pogrom.

Jacob does not seem to be someone who fills in records unless they are absolutely necessary or filled out by someone else.. He next appears on his sister’s 1930 census, living with her and her daughter, Alice, 20, on Morse Ave, shortly after the death of her husband, Harry, who died in December 1928. Jacob is listed as single, 52, and a salesman for a cigar company. It was around this time, in 1927, in Chicago that Jacob applied for naturalisation. He must have been working for the Chicago branch of the Welcher cigar company. He was living at 2033 Pierce St, very near Wicker Park, where much of the Leviton family was living in the 1920s. On the application he gives his birthdate and place of birth, Pereyaslav, and says that he is divorced, giving no details of his wife.

Possibly Jacob went to live with his sister to help her after her husband died. There are no more records for Jacob that I can find. On the final naturalisation form, written in 1929, he gives his wife’s name as Anna and says that they were married in August 1905 in Odessa and that his wife was born in Odessa in 1884. He states that he came to the US in August 1911 and his wife came in 1919 and still resides in the US. He says he has no children. At this point he was living at 1635 Morse Avenue with his sister. He received citizenship in September 1930 and had moved to 1222 Farwell Ave, the street next to Morse Ave.

 Farwell Avenue

Sometime later I found a final document that might belong to Jacob. On the 1910 census, there is a Jacob Levitton living at 70 W. 113th St, one street over from where Jacob was living in 1918. Jacob, 35, is living with a wife Hannah, 28, and a daughter Minnie, 6. Jacob is listed as being born in Illinois and Minnie in New York, but much of the rest of the information is listed as unknown – where Hannah was born and Jacob’s job. It seems as if the information was volunteered by someone outside the family, maybe a neighbour. There are blanks in the columns for number of years in present marriage and number of children born and alive.

Jacob Levitton New York 1910 census

Also living in the building are a widow of independent income and a lodger, a 35-year-old music teacher. Jacob’s birthdate and age vary with the years and the ages of this Jacob and Hannah are quite close. He would have come to New York from Illinois. Could Minnie have been Hannah’s daughter? She might have been born in 1904 before Jacob and Anna married. If any of these facts are true. Possibly Jacob did have a daughter. Possibly Anna and Minnie came to America shortly after Jacob arrived in 1908. Did they then return to Odessa after the 1910 census, with Anna and Minnie remaining in Odessa until 1919, while Jacob returned with his parents in 1911? Or did they split up in New York and Jacob returned to Odessa late in 1910, only to return again to New York in 1911? There are no more records that I can find for Anna or Minnie in New York or Chicago. There are several Anna and Minnie Levitons in both cities but none are right. They may have married and slipped through the net. They may have returned to Odessa. There is one death record in 1932 for a Jacob Leviton of the correct age in Los Angeles, and two records, one in 1969 and the other completely un-dated, in Chicago with no age. Although I have found out quite a bit about Jacob, I still feel this family is unknown and has slipped from my fingers, so I will probably keep on searching.

 

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One thought on “From Odessa and back again – Jacob Leviton

  1. hello, I wonder if you can tell me anything about the Nalivaiskys, who lived, I think, on 4 Malaya Arnautskaya street. best regards, George

    Like

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