Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Tulchin Boy, Who Befriended Presidents, Governors and More!

I've been trying to track Samuel Soupcoff and his family for years.  My grandfather had told me that the Pittsburgh Soupcoffs were related to his Pittsburgh Supkoffs, but he didn't know how.  The Soupcoffs had come to America earlier than my Supkoffs, and I was trying to find the Soupcoff town of origin.  But in most cases, they simply stated "Russia," although one of Samuel's brothers, in his name change application, said that he had been born in Bessarabia--and in other places he stated Germany.  And Samuel's father went back to visit family and said he had been in "Podolian," which would be the Podolia Guberniya where my Supkoff (then Zubkis) family was living.  But I wanted to narrow it down to a specific town to see its proximity to my family.

Because Samuel was famous, I thought that perhaps there would be more recorded about his origins.  But he either claimed he was born in Russia or Pennsylvania.  I looked in many (many) places.  Since he lived in Salt Lake City for much of his adult life, I spoke to local experts at the Family History Library, but they couldn't think of resources beyond those I'd already checked.
Nothing in the US gave his place of birth except for that one passport application, which was pretty much illegible.  It seemed like the Soupcoffs, despite being covered in news stories across America, didn't want their Russian Empire origins to be found.

Well, I found him.  And whatever was scrawled on that passport application was a lie.
Samuel Soupcoff Birth, 1884

Shalom Srul Zubkov (the Hebrew only gives his name as Shalom) was born to Moshe and Malka in the town of Tulchin on February 11, 1884 (about 2 months off of the April date he used in the US).  Samuel's parents, in America, were known as Morris and Mollie Soupcoff.  (I found this record via  I did have a mention of this branch changing its town of registration to Tulchin, so it makes sense that Samuel would have been born here (although none of his older siblings' births seem to have been registered in Tulchin).

(As a personal note, my mother's maiden name was originally Tolchinsky, meaning "from Tolchin/Tulchin."  So I passed through Tulchin when I was in Ukraine in 2016, not realizing there was a Supkoff/Soupcoff connection.  Once in America, my great grandmother Mollie Supkoff, who had cousins in Tulchin, married Isadore Tolchin.)

In America, Samuel used the middle name "Magee."  It's unclear why he adopted this name--perhaps he thought it sounded higher-class or more American.   I wish I knew his reasoning, since it wasn't a typical Jewish immigrant name in the early 20th century!  And maybe it helped.  This Russian immigrant from Tulchin, ended up befriending governors and presidents, and more.  Oh--and remember how the whole point of my figuring out where the Soupcoffs were from was to prove/disprove a connection?  Well, I actually recently figured that out with the help of one of Samuel's great-nephew's DNA and some documents from Alex Krakovsky's wiki.  Samuel was my third cousin, three times removed.

You can now like my page on Facebook:

or .

Want to get future blog posts emailed to you automatically?
Enter your email address:

No comments:

Post a Comment