Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dr. Jacob Soupcoff/Lorenz, Insurance Fraud Organizer, Gambling House Proprietor--and Physician

Jacob Soupcoff (later Lorenz), born around 1869, was a son of Morris and Mollie Soupcoff and a sister of "beautiful Jewess" Anna.  He came to America in approximately 1886.  He became a physician--but seems to have a record of getting into legal problems.
Jacob Soupcoff Petition for Naturalization; Pittsburgh, PA; 1894
In 1894, Jacob petitioned to become a US citizen.  But the very next year he made nationwide news for insurance fraud.  Jacob and his co-conspirators would find accidents reported in the local newspaper and then claim that they had been injured in those accidents.
New York Post, May 10, 1895



The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), May 10, 1895


Even after this, he was still allowed to practice medicine, as in the 1900 census, his profession was "physician."


The next year, he married Lillie Wilson in Pittsburgh.
Jacob Soupcoff & Lillie Wilson Marriage License Entry; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 1901
Jacob continued his medical practice which specialized in "diseases of men and diseases of the skin", regularly advertising in the newspaper.
Jacob Soupcoff Medical Practice Ad
However, soon after, Jacob (along with Lillie) was back in the news.
The Daily Courier; Connellsville, Pennsylvania; February 5, 1903
In 1903, Jacob and Lillie were charged with "larceny, assault, and running a gambling house" after they were alleged to have intimidated a gentleman into returning his cards winnings to them.  But they fought back.  The very next day, a follow-up article appeared in the newspaper.
The Daily Courier; Connellsville, Pennsylvania; February 6, 1903
Lillie Soupcoff asserted that the plaintiff had assaulted her.  Meanwhile, both Soupcoffs were being detained.  The newspaper then said that the trial "promises sensational features."  What a tease--this was the last mention I was able to find of this case in the newspaper.

Perhaps this affected Jacob's medical practice.  The next year a newspaper advertisement notifying of a change of name appeared in a Pittsburgh paper.
Pittsburgh Press, May 12, 1904
I requested the records from the case that had been referenced and found the following in the package that soon arrived:
Jacob Soupcoff/Lorenz Name Change Request
This confirms that Jacob's parents were Morris and "Mamie" Soupcoff.  However, it states that he was born in Bessarabia!  His father was from Podolia, as were my Supkoff branch.  While Bessarabia was just south of Podolia, it was definitely a different place.  I haven't been able to resolve this--and unfortunately he did not give the name of a Bessarabian town.

Jacob wanted to change his name because it is of "foreign or (sic) orthography, and hard to pronounce," with no mention of his legal problems.  It does not state where "Lorenz" originated.

In the 1910 census, Jacob and Lillie Lorenz were living in Pittsburgh with their children Manie and Violet.  Jacob is a doctor born in "Germany" rather than Russia.  In 1920, the children were going by Robert and Violet and Jacob magically was born in Pennsylvania.  And in 1930, the children were M.R. and Violet, and Jacob was again claiming to have been born in Germany.  At this time, they owned their $40,000 house and had a servant living with them.

Jacob died of liver cancer on December 19, 1907.  Although he changed his name from "Soupcoff," he is buried alongside many of his Soupcoff siblings.
Jacob Lorenz Grave

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