Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Soupcoff Town of Origin--Kind of--and Major Political Connections

(If you're in the Baltimore area, I'm giving a talk on Sunday at JGSMD.)

Earlier, I wrote about Samuel Soupcoff, a world-renowned mining engineer.  I looked in multiple sources to try to find where this branch of the family lived, only to find either "Russia" or him lying and saying he was born in Pittsburgh.

Recently, FamilySearch added some new passport applications.  So I searched the collection for different families I'm researching and found some very interesting information.
Samuel Soupcoff Passport Application, 1919, Page 1

Samuel Soupcoff applied for a passport in 1919.  He gave a lot of information about himself including the fact that he was living in Salt Lake City, and his father was still living in Pittsburgh. He also gave his place of birth.
Samuel Soupcoff's Birthplace
Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the town is, other than that it was in Russia.  I've had suggestions that this says Koshoff or Kozhoff, as well as Rostoff and others.  Any ideas?  The town was likely near what is now Kuna and Gaysin, Ukraine.  Although his brother Jacob Soupcoff/Lorenz said he was born in Bessarabia, so it could be in that direction as well.

The rest of the passport application is quite interesting.  Samuel attached a reference letter--from the governor of Utah!
Letter of Reference for Samuel Soupcoff from the governor of Utah
Simon Bamberger, governor of Utah, vouched for Samuel Soupcoff both socially and in business.  Samuel is said to have been "connected with the Guggenheim interests in the development of their western properties."  The governor vouched for Samuel's "loyalty, integrity and ability."
Samuel Soupcoff Passport Application, 1919, Page 2
Samuel's identify was certified by Reed Smoot--a US Senator!  Mr. Smoot was also a leader in the LDS church.

And there was a photo of Samuel as well.
Samuel Soupcoff
It seems that Samuel Soupcoff, a Jewish Russian immigrant, was quite well-respected in Utah, having had a governor and senator vouch for him.  If only he'd had better handwriting when he mentioned his town of birth!  And it turns out that he knew even more influential people.  Take a look at his obituary.
Samuel Soupcoff Obituary; Brooklyn Star; 1930

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  1. Great find! He must have been a most interesting person.

  2. Hi - I noticed this after poking around the internet to learn more about my mother's family. They are Soupcoffs from Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. It seems to be the same family. They are originally from Russia and owned a box factory, both in Russia and Pittsburgh. Anyway, wanted to reach out to see if it was the right match. Thanks. Jack

    1. Yes! And I'd love to be in touch! Please email me at laradiamond AT gmail DOT com.