Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rubenstein -> Sugarman?

In the last post, I'd tracked the Rubenstein family to Syracuse, NY.  But then they disappeared completely--no matches in the 1920, 1930, or 1940 US Census.  So I began to search for some of the other Rubenstein children who I knew existed based on their birth records.

Since Rubenstein is a common name, I decided to start with Bunya, who had married Azriel Lempert.  I found a possible match:
Lempert Family Boat Record, 1906
I found a 1906 boat record for Asriel, Bune, and infant Mine Lefanti; Asriel is listed as being a butcher.  But it says that they lived in Kowno, which is modern-day Kaunas, Lithuania.  This is quite a distance from Nezhin, so could this be the right family?  My first thought was that I would need to keep searching, but I noticed that this family was going to Syracuse, just like the Rubensteins.  They were going to join their uncle Susmen Zuckerman who lived at 212 Montgomery Street in Syracuse.  This is the same address that Chatzkel and family were going to in order to join Chatzkel's son Isidor Rubenstein!  So it looks like this is Bunya Rubenstein Lempert!  It looks like they had moved to Kaunas for the year after marriage for some reason.

I was unable to find a record for Liba Devora, but if she had married in Europe, I wouldn't know her last name.  She also may never have left Europe.

I started searching for Yuda Rubenstein.  I did a double-take--there was a boat record for Idel Rubenstein, which was the child for whom I found a 1908 death record.  Maybe he was related?
Boat record for Idel Rubenstein (line 23) and Riwe Rubenstein (line 27), 1906

Idel is listed as being from Niezin and heading to Syracuse; perhaps he took his dead brother's name to be sure to evade the Russian Army's draft?  Riwe is noted as being Idel's sister.  And they are going to their uncle Sigmund Sugarman at 212 Montgomery Street!  Interestingly, Riwe lists her last residence as having been in Kowno, just like the Lemperts.  So there are Yuda & Rivka.

What about Chaim who was listed as the closest relative that Chatzkel and family had left in Europe?

Boat record for Chaim Rubenstein & Family, lines 4-8, 1923
Chaim & family didn't arrive until 1923; he came with his wife Pesia, and children Sosia, Risa (probably named after his mother Risha), and Morduch.  They had left their daughter Ester Turova in Chernigoff (Chernigov, the largest city near Nezhin); everyone had been born in "Nieshny."  The person they were going to join was interesting--Chaim's brother, "J. Sugarman" in Buffalo.  Here was the Sugarman name again!  And why would a Rubenstein's brother be a Sugarman?

Back to Syracuse, where I needed to find who was at 212 Montgomery Street in the 1910 census.  Remember, this is where Chatzkel & family were going to join Chatzkel's son "Isidor" and where some of Chatzkel's children were going to their uncle Sugarman/Zukerman.

I looked for the Sugarmans and found that a "Sigmun Sugarman" was living in Syracuse in 1910--but around the corner from 212 Montgomery.  But then I looked for Sigmund in 1911 directories--and found that 212 Montgomery was his business location--he had a tailor shop at 212 Montgomery!
Syracuse, NY 1911 Business Directory, with Sigmund Sugarman at 212 Montgomery
I looked for other Sugarmans in Syracuse and Buffalo (because of the Buffalo mention in Chaim Rubenstein's boat record) and got a surprise--a Sugarman family that looked just like Chatzkel's family except for the last name!

Samuel Sugarman & Family, 1920 United States Census (lines 81-87)
In 1920, Samuel & Sarah Sugarman (could this be Yehoshua Wolf & Sara Rubenstein?) were living in Buffalo with their children Abraham (Avraham?), Lillian (Leah Devora?), Mary (Mariasha?) and toddler Ruth (born in New York).  There is also 60-year-old Charles (Chatzkel?) Sugarman living with them.

Could the Rubensteins have changed their name to Sugarman?  I looked for the other children to see what happened.

Chaim didn't come to America until 1923, so I looked in the 1925 New York State census.  Sure enough, there were Hyman (Chaim) and Bessie (Pesia) Sugarman with children Sonny (Sosia), Ruth (Risa), and Max (Morduch).  This Silverman family stated that they had been in the US for 18 months--so this seems to be Chaim Rubenstein's family!
Hyman Silverman & Family, 1925 New York State Census

How about Yuda?  He was probably the Isidore that Chatzkel and family had been joining.  Sure enough, Buffalo had an Isadore Sugarman!  He was married to Rebecca and had children Seymore and Albert.

It seems like the Rubensteins became the Sugarmans!  Why would they do this?  Or is it all just a coincidence and is a different family?  The hunt continues....  Continued here.


  1. I really enjoyed your article - and following you on the hunt!

    Catherine (@OshawaJournal)

  2. Chaim Rubinstein was my grandfather any my father was Morduch, which became Max. Their name was changed from the actual name of Sugarman because there was a widow in the town who had no children and she adopted Chaim. As an only child of the widow Rubinstein he would not be conscripted into the army. Two other sisters of my dad my aunts, were named Ruth (Risa)and Sonia (Sison). Jim Sugarman 561-762-3818

    1. Hi, cousin!

      I'll give you a call; I have your grandparents' marriage record that I'd love to share with you. I wonder if this story is true just a generation off, as Chaim's siblings were Rubenstein in records as well. Perhaps his father Chatzkel is the one who was adopted by the widow?

  3. There were several Rubenstein families in Buffalo, NY. I know there were two families that each had a Harold Rubenstein, one of which was my grandfather, born in the early 1900's. There was confusion as to whether his family came from Russia or Lithuania. I wonder if he's related to your Rubensteins.

    1. Benjamin Hyman Rubenstein, I'm connected to the chain somehow but there are thousands of Rubensteins.... So fun to read up about...