Select Levy/Levine Surname Genealogy

Here are some Levy/Levine stories and accounts over the years:

The Levi Name

The name Levi means "joined to" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah and his name refers to Leah's hope for Jacob to join with her:  

“Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi” (Genesis 29:34). 

Levi was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi (the Levites).  In the New Testament Levi was a byname of the apostle Matthew.

Levi and Other Surname Variants

The main surname variants are Levi, Levy, Levin and Levine.  The following are their approximate numbers in the English-speaking world.

Numbers (000's)

Early Levys in London

There were four Levy brothers born in the Tavistock and Russell Square area of London in the late 1780’s - Lewis, Moses, Nathaniel and Daniel.  One source has their parents as Lewis and Elizabeth Levy of Upper Smithfield Road, London. 

Lewis married twice.  Some of his descendants ended up in Australia.  Little is known about Moses.  Nathaniel and his wife Sophia moved to West Ham and both were buried in the West Ham cemetery.  Daniel Levy married Amelia Jacobs of the Jacobs family in glass and chinaware. 

Lewis Levin the First Jewish Congressman

Lewis Levin was one of the most popular public speakers of his era, much quoted and anthologized.  He was born in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from college there.  He briefly taught school in Mississippi before having to leave town after having been wounded in a duel. 

He later moved to Philadelphia and it was there that he made his mark as a politician.  In 1905 a veteran Pennsylvania journalist and politician, Alexander McClure, recalled in his Old Time Notes of Pennsylvania Levin as being one of the shrewdest and most persuasive politicians of his time. 

“A brilliant adventurer named Lewis C. Levin was the acknowledged leader of the Native American element that had erupted during the summer of 1844 in what is remembered as the disgraceful riots of that year in which Catholic churches and institutions were burnt by the mob. 

He was one of the most brilliant and unscrupulous orators I have ever heard.  He presented a fine appearance, graceful in every action charming in rhetoric and utterly reckless in assertion.  I have heard him both as a temperance and political orator and I doubt whether during his day any person in either party of the State surpassed him on the hustings.  He was elected by a good majority and was re-elected in 1846 and '48, thus serving six consecutive years as a representative from the city."

The Levys and the Monticello Estate

First it was Uriah Phillips Levy who rescued Jefferson’s Monticello estate in 1834.  Then in 1879 it was his nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy who performed a re-rescue. 

But in 1911 Jefferson Monroe Levy’s dedication and hard work came under attack.  Maude Littleton, a New York socialite, led an anti-semitic campaign to oust the house from Levy’s control and to present it to the nation as a national shrine for Thomas Jefferson.  After more than a decade of public pressure and private turmoil, Levy was finally worn out.  He reluctantly sold the house to the newly-formed Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation and died three months later.

Morris and Molly and Sam Levin

Morris and Molly Levin had fled anti-semitic Europe in the 1890's at the time of the pogroms when Russia's government were booting Jewish families from their homes and giving their lands and possessions to others. To escape, Morris Levin had to hide in a hay wagon, at great peril, to avoid capture by the Russian troops. 

Morris and his wife Molly settled in Dayton, Ohio.  Morris was a tinsmith who worked in the heating and roofing industry.  He crafted hand-made duct work and hand welded tin on roofs.  He was described by family members as having a passive nature.  This was balanced by Molly, a deeply religious woman with the stronger personality. 

Sam Levin was the second oldest of their five children.  He started out as an attorney, but only practiced for a few years - choosing the riskier and more exciting world of business.   In 1943, he started his first business, a wine store on Third St. in Dayton.  He later purchased some old farmland and constructed a drive-in theater and trailer park that Dayton natives will recognize as the Sherwood Twin Drive-In.  All told, Sam's movie theater empire consisted of seventeen theaters in the Dayton, Ohio area - 13 drive-ins and 4 in-house. 

Some ventures bombed, however.  His Polynesian-themed restaurant in downtown Dayton failed miserably. And he tried car insurance and almost lost his shirt. 

His biggest financial success
in fact came late in life.  He became a nimble player in commodity futures - soy beans and pork bellies – and made his fortune there.

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