Joseph "Joe" Silverstein

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Joseph "Joe" Silverstein

Birthplace: Probably Ashmyany, near Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania (Russia 1795-1918, but previously Poland)
Death: March 24, 1947 (72)
Immediate Family:

Son of Lazar Silverstein and Fannie Gitlin
Husband of Lena Silverstein
Father of Morris Silverstein; Lizzie Silverstein; Hannah Silverstein 1896-98; Abraham / David Silberstein b.1898-d. 1899; Max Silverstein, 1900-1983 and 3 others

Occupation: Cigar Store/Candy Store
Managed by: Debra Lavender
Last Updated:

About Joseph "Joe" Silverstein

From (Janna Silverstein's tree): Joseph Silverstein

  • B: 12/14/1874 in Russia
  • D: 3/24/1947 in Brooklyn, NY
  • New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives.

Joe Silberstein married Lina Ginzburg March 4, 1893 Cert. 2966 Manhattan G521 Soundex No. 445167. Via New York Brides & Grooms, thanks to the Italian genealogists of NY. The record also appears in New York City Marriage Records ('

  • Event Type Marriage of Joe Silberstein and Lina Ginsburg
  • Event Date 04 Mar 1893
  • Event Place Manhattan, New York,
  • Gender Male Age 23
  • Marital Status Single
  • Birth Year (Estimated) 1870
  • Birthplace Russia
  • Father's Name Lazer Silberstein
  • Mother's Name Lize Ginzburg
  • Spouse's Name Lina Ginzburg
  • Spouse's Gender Female Age 20
  • Spouse's Marital Status Single
  • Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated) 1873
  • Spouse's Birthplace Russia
  • Spouse's Father's Name Abram Ginzburg
  • Spouse's Mother's Name Pere Rosenberg
  • Reference ID cn 2966 GS Film Number 1452476

1905 New York Census Manhattan A.D. 04, E.D. 03 in 1905. Resided 36 Pike St., which is several blocks below Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There were over a dozen families at the address + numerous boarders, Russians and Rumanians (see at bottom of this page).

  • Head Joseph Silverstein M 32y Russia -- Candy Store. Page shows he was a U.S. citizen by this time
  • Wife Lena Silverstein F 30y Russia. US citizen.
  • Son Morris Silverstein M 12y United States
  • Son Max Silverstein M 5y United States
  • Daughter Fannie Silverstein F 1y United States. Census is dated June 1, 1905.
  • Servant Lena Beck F 13y Austria

1910 U.S. Census, Joseph Silverstein, at 208 Broome Street, Manhattan Ward 10, New York (bounded by Norfolk, Rivington, Bowery, Division, on the Lower East Side).

  • Household Gender Age Birthplace
  • Head Joseph Silverstein M 37 Russia
  • Wife Jennie Silverstein F 35 Russia
  • Son Morris Silverstein M 15 New York
  • Son Maxie Silverstein M 9 New York
  • Daughter Rosie Silverstein F 6 New York
  • Daughter Flora Silverstein F 2 New York
  • Race (Original): White
  • Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Head
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1873
  • Birthplace: Russia
  • Immigration Year: Joseph 1891
  • Immigration Year: Lena (Jennie): 1892
  • Father's Birthplace: Russia
  • Mother's Birthplace: Russia
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 11B, Household ID: 208
  • Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Affil. Publ. Number: M1283
  • GS Film number: 1375023, Digital Folder Number: 004449802, Image Number: 00797

The location of Joseph's business, 127 Delancey Street, was the headquarters for 2000 striking East Side bakers on May 1, 1910.

In the 1917 Directory of Directors in the City of New York Joseph Silverstein, 127 Delancey Street, appears as Director of American Cigar & Soda Water Syndicate, Inc. (p. 663).

Registered for WW I Draft in 1918: gave birthdate as November 4, 1872; age 45. Resided 218 Broome St. NYC (3rd Floor) {a block below Delancey Street}; Proprietor Candy Store at 127 Delancey Street, NYC; wife Lena. Naturalized citizen.

In 1918-19, J. Silverstein of 218 Broome Street bought property at W 32nd St. [in Brooklyn] w s, 120 ft s Mermaid ave, 80 x 118.10. hftl, J. Schloss & wife to J Silverstein, 218 Broome st. N Y. & J. J. Shaplro. 201 Madison st. N Y. Mort. $8,000 (31-7048), r s $13. Brooklyn New Daily Eagle Feb. 28, 1919.

Silver Rod Stores. In 1919, Joe Silverstein incorporated his drugstore at 127 Delancey Street as Silver Rod Stores (Drugstore) along with S. & L. Rodnon (Simon and Louis). Simon and Louis Rodnon were partners in Rodnon Brothers Cigars at 140 Delancey Street, according to R. L. Polk & Co.'s Trow New York Copartnership and Corporation Directory, Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx for 1919, page 982. When he registered for the World War I Draft in June, 1917, Louis Rodnon wrote that he was from Poltava, Russia; born Aug. 11, 1888, and was the "owner of a cigar store and garage" at 140 Delancey Street, NY.

The incorporation of Silver Rod Stores of 127 Delancey Street was reported in the trade journal Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter, August 1919, p. 53. It was said to involve "drugs, confectionery and tobacco . . . with $60,000 capital" in -- Drug & Chemical Markets, Volume 5 (1919). It was written up in the journal of the National Association of Retail Druggists, 1919, as "The organizers of the Silver Rod Stores, Inc., of Manhattan, are meeting with fine success in their venture. Their Delancey street store specializes on drugs, confectionery and tobacco. More stores of the same kind are planned. The owners, Mr. J. Silverstein and S. and L. Rodnon are well known in the New York City drug circles and a prosperous future is predicted for their endeavors in the retail drug line" -- p. 1143.

In 1921, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle mentions another venture: Silver Rod Realty, with directors Simon and Louis Rodnon and Joseph Silverstein, 367 Bedford Av. in Brooklyn (Williamsburg, beneath the Williamsburg Bridge), with $10,000 capital. The 1922 Brooklyn and Queens, New York, Copartnership and Corporation Directory, reproduced at, lists "Silver Rod Stores Inc (NY) Simon Rodnon, Pres; Jos. Silverstein, Treas; Louis Rodnon, Sec; Capital $60,000, Directors: Simon & Louis Rodnon, Jas & Morris Silverstein, Max Lipman & John L. Bernstein, variety, 367 Bedford av" in Brooklyn. Is the "Jas" a typo for Jos? There are no James Silversteins in the family. In 1931 Louis Rodnon filed for a patent on a "face powder box" -- a compact. According to his 1917 World War I Draft Registration card, Louis Rodnon was born in Poltava, Russia, "the first of the important cities of southwestern Russia to which Jews from Lithuania and Poland began to flock about the middle of the nineteenth century . . . in the calamitous years 1881-82, when anti-Jewish riots occurred in the government of Poltava, numerous Jews from other places went to Krementchug" (Jewish Encyclopedia). Poltava is a district just east of Kiev in the Ukraine.

In 1923-24, the Coca-Cola Company sued Silver Rod Stores, "operating a chain of stores in Brooklyn and New York," alleging that "a drink represented as Coca-Cola was being sold in these stores." -- The Re-ly-on Bottler: A Magazine of Ideas and Ideals for the Bottling Trade, page 13.

In 1929 Silver Rod Stores opened a mail order business for cigars (and candy and gum), as advertised in the Huntington Long Islander on June 15, 1929. The chain opened its first store in Nassau County, NY, in 1932, as reported in the Freeport Daily Review for April 16, 1932 (.pdf can take a while to open). The announcement of the store opening states

"The Silver Rod stores announce the opening of their first store In Nassau county at 70 South Main street, Freeport.

The Silver Rod Stores were organized in 1919, and the business was started with a nucleus of two stores. Since that time this chain, retailing nationally-advertised cigars, drugs and cosmetics and soda, have been so singularly successful that within the comparatively short time they now are operating 63 stores in New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Passiac, Paterson, Bayonne, Newark, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Jamaica and Flushing. The public's acceptance of the Silver Rod stores has proven its ability over a period of years to render a service to the public, serving more than 300,000 patrons daily.

The organizers of this company, Simon Rodnon. president; Louis Rodnon, vice president: David Rodnon, secretary and Samuel Becker, treasurer, have been the officers since its inception and are still In control of its management. Max Llppman, who has been an attorney at law for years, is chairman of the board, and its board of directors is "Groucho" Marx of the Four Marx brothers and Sam Harris, who is so successfully Identified In the theatrical profession.

The policy of the Silver Rod stores, which is prominently evidenced in every one of its stores, Is the following sign: "Every Item recommended by us has been thoroughly analysed, tested and approved, which Insures your obtaining the best merchandise at unusual values." "Satisfaction guaranteed, or money refunded."

Silver Rod Stores grew to be a chain of over 50 drugstores in and around New York. It is not yet clear whether/when J. Silverstein left the partnership. The involvement of the Marx Brothers was described in an interview with them in the August 26, 1951 Sydney (Australia) Herald:

"The boys had invested heavily in Silver Rod Stores, an organisation of which Sam Harris was president. Having an exalted idea of Mr. Harris's financial acumen, they were somewhat surprised to learn soon after they had acquired the pretty Certificates that affairs were at low ebb. Sales were bad and strict economics were called for. There was a directors' meeting at which Mr. Harris presided. The boys had been warned in advance; no jokes; this was serious business. As the meeting opened, an employee rose to announce that only a raise could satisfactorily balance his household budget. "That seems fair," said Groucho promptly. "A man has to live."

The meeting broke up immediately, and Harris was furious. "How do we cut expenses that way?" he cried bitterly. The second meeting produced an immediate crisis. The general manager, on whom everything depended, announced that he was leaving to launch a new firm of his own. This was a such a shattering blow that Harris could only inquire feebly what new business the gentleman had in mind. "An ice-cream factory," said that worthy. "What flavour?" asked Harpo. Groucho leaped up with a roar. "You dirty double-crosser," he yelled. "You promised no jokes. I could have said that."

But there was no time to repine over the Silver Rod set-back; the family was riding high. They had bought ... a larger car, which [Minnie, their mother] had fitted out with curtains at the windows and pots of flowers, as was her usual custom." The period referred to is probably the 1930s since a previous reference is to Minnie's selling ginger ale to speakeasies (during Prohibition).

In 1934, Silver Rod Stores, Inc., filed a copyright on a pamphlet entitled "Manual of drug dept. salesmanship," No. 8339 in Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [B Group 2. Pamphlets]. Library of Congress Copyright Office. In 1937, 13 Silver Rod Stores were closed for about eight weeks in a labor dispute which involved the Cigar Salesmen's Union and the Pharmacists' Union. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle for April 13, 1937 reported settlement of the walk-out with "a substantial wage increase, a closed [union] shop, vacations with pay and improved working conditions." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of March 4, 1937 mentioned that Simon Rodman, president of Silver Rod Stores, considered that the unions had welched on an agreement.

Simon and Louis Rodnon were involved in a 1941 lawsuit brought by a Gabriel Davidson on behalf of himself and Stockholders of SILVER ROD STORES, INC., also known as the Cress Merchandising Co., Inc., Silver Rod Stores Supply Co., Inc., and Silver Rod Stores, Inc., Appellant, vs. SIMON RODNON and Others, Respondents; JOSEPH SILVERSTEIN and Others, Defendants. In 1939, Simon Rodnon and David Rodnon had been named in a lawsuit, also over Silver Rod Stores stock, which did not mention Joseph Silverstein. Simon and Louis Rodnon were mentioned in a 1957 newspaper article in the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times on the death of Simon's [second?] wife, Ada.

1920 U.S. Census, Joseph Silverstein:

  • Manhattan Assembly District 4, New York, New York, United States
  • "Household Gender Age Birthplace"
  • Head Joseph Silverstein M 46 Russia
  • Wife Lena Silverstein F 45 Russia
  • Son Mario Silverstein (Maxie) M 19 New York
  • Son Rose Silverstein M 16 New York
  • Daughter Flora Silverstein F 11 New York
  • Son Alen Silverstein (Abe) M 8 New York
  • Event Place: Manhattan Assembly District 4, New York, New York, United States
  • District: 365
  • Race (Original): White
  • Can Read:
  • Can Write:
  • Own or Rent:
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1874
  • Birthplace: Russia
  • Immigration Year: 1890
  • Father's Birthplace: Russia
  • Mother's Birthplace: Russia
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 7B, Household ID: 158, Line Number: 93
  • Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Affiliate Publication Number: T625
  • GS Film number: 1821192, Digital Folder Number: 004313915, Image Number: 00356

1930 U.S. Census, Joseph Silverstein:

  • Brooklyn (Districts 0751-1000), Kings, New York, United States
  • Household Gender Age Birthplace
  • Head Joseph Silverstein M 56 Russia
  • Marital Status: Widowed: Lena died in 1928
  • Son Marc Silverstein M 29 New York (b. 1900/01 = Max)
  • Daughter-in-law Martha Silverstein F 23 New York
  • Daughter Rose Silverstein F 23 New York (she was born 1904)
  • Daughter Flora Silverstein F 21 New York (she was born 1909)
  • Son Abe Silverstein M 19 New York (b. 1910/11)
  • Race (Original): White
  • Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Head
  • Birth Year (Estimated): 1874
  • Birthplace: Russia
  • Immigration Year: 1890
  • Father's Birthplace: Russia
  • Mother's Birthplace: Russia
  • Sheet Number and Letter: 3B, Household ID: 67, Line Number: 73
  • Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Affiliate Publication Number: T626
  • Affiliate Film Number: 1539, GS Film number: 2341274
  • Digital Folder Number: 004638825, Image Number: 00109

Oshmaner Brothers Mutual Aid Society, a hometown association, or landsmanshaft, in New York: "An orphanage was founded, subsidized up till this day by a special “Oshmana Orphanage Association” in New York, the treasurer of which is the former Chairman of the Oshmaner Brothers, J. Silverstein. The following schools have received subsidies: a Yiddish language primary school, an Ort Vocational school, a Talmud Tora and a library." See also on LENA SILVERSTEIN page. "Oshmaner" means "from the Ashmyany region" of Lithuania. The Oshmaner organization in NY reserved burial plots for members, as did most home-region-based social welfare organizations.

Silverstein family graves at Mount Judah Cemetery, Ridgewood, NY are in Oshmaner Society plots:

  • SILVERSTEIN, LENA 2-1-296-R01 OSHMANER BRO 4/29/1928
  • SILVERSTEIN, MARTHA 2-1-277-L02 OSHMANER BRO 1/11/1981
  • SILVERSTEIN, MAX 2-1-276-L02 OSHMANER BRO 1/16/1983
  • SILVERSTEIN, MORRIS 2-1-275-L02 OSHMANER BRO 8/25/1978
  • SILVERSTEIN, SADIE 2-1-274-L02 OSHMANER BRO 7/17/1968
  • SILVERSTEIN, MARY 2-1-109-L11 OSHMANER BRO 8/1/1943 (?)

Oshmaner Brothers Mutual Aid. The Oshmaner Society; such groups were formed by immigrants to handle community issues (see Janna Silverstein, Oshmaner Brothers Mutual Aid was a "hometown-association" or landsmanshaft. Over 3000 landsmanshaftn were registered in Manhattan alone in the 1880s, set up by Jewish groups from a particular town or village to maintain the social-aid practices of their old-country, close-knit kehilah. The landsmanschaftn are catalogued at . "As a general rule the name of the hometown appears in the organization" (see [ Yannay Spitzer's work] on Jewish networks).


On the LOWER EAST SIDE, from Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice, Barbara W. Grossman, Indiana University Press, 1991, p. 4: "For turn-of-the-century observers of Lower East Side immigrant life . . . reality meant the fetid squalor of airless tenements packed with as many as 200 people to a six-story building. A typical block in these sprawling slums contained 2781 people and, as one astounded observer noted, not one bathtub. Social workers and journalists, shocked by the human misery, recorded their impressions: ' . . . the abominably crowded conditions, people living in cellars, in rooms without windows or light, sleeping in hallways, on roofs, on fire escapes, unbearable heat in the summer, unendurable cold in the winter, filth, noise, outdoor plumbing, endless hours of labor, smells, spectacles of vice flaunted for the children to see, bags of garbage flung with abandon out of tenement windows on to the hats of respectable citizens passing below. Push-carts, haggling, curses, quarrels, vermin of all kinds, mice, rats, beetles as big as half-dollars, street fights, gang warfare.' To that tragic litany they could have added a chilling statistic: a death rate four times that of other parts of the city. The grueling drudgery of the sweat-shops and the laundries, the daily struggle against hunger and fear, drove many immigrants to despair, their dreams of dignity shattered by the degradation of poverty. . . . [Brice's parents] were part of a great wave of immigration that would bring more than 25 million newcomers to the United States between 1870 and 1930. The population of New York City alone would swell from 1 million people in 1875 to 3.5 million by 1900. Each day thousands streamed through the receiving stations at Castle Garden, and, after January 1892, Ellis Island. Woefully inadequate when it opened, because its architects mistakenly believed immigration had peaked, Ellis Island saw its daily traffic exceed 11,000 by 1907."

On JEWISH IMMIGRATION to New York, from Calvin Trillin's Messages from My Father: There were "tense relations at the turn of the century between the German Jews in New York -- many of whom had become established, respectable businesspeople -- and the horde of impoverished Eastern European immigrants pouring into the Lower East Side. 'The silk-hat banker Jacob Schiff, concerned about the conditions on the East Side of New York (and embarrassed by the image it created for New York's German Jews), pledged half a million dollars in 1906 to the Galveston Project, which helped direct more than ten thousand East European immigrants thgourh Galveston.' In order to disperse the immigrants . . . arrangements were made for jobs in various parts of the South and lower Midwest {quoting Eli Evans, The Provincials} . . . The people who came to this country in the great wave of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe may have looked on America as the land of opportunity, but their experience over generations in the Old Country must have told them that they would be doing well to keep their heads above water. One part of them was waiting for their American disaster . . . [one friend] would say "Next year no worse" (Iber a yor nischt erger in Yiddish). In the immigrant community of that generation, pessimism and fearfulness were endemic. They were compounded by a conviction common amon Jews that no Gentiles could be trusted" [and the next pogrom was just around the corner].


Joseph and Lena SILVERSTEIN came to the US from Vilna, Russia (per son Morris' birth certificate) ca 1890. Family stories say that Joe and Lena were first cousins, and that the family name was changed to Silverstein from Gitlin, though Joe's death certificate says that his mother's maiden name was Gitlin. Unable to find any immigration records so far. -- Janna Silverstein, Oct. 28, 2001.

{Note: Ellis Island was not the only point of entry; it operated only from 1892-1924. Could enter anywhere from Montreal to Boston to Philadelphia to Baltimore, and often from Liverpool, a common stopover for many shipping lines from the continent as well as a common originating departure port. The first really significant wave of Lithuanian immigration to the United States began in the late 1860s, after the American Civil War. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an estimated 300,000 Lithuanians journeyed to America—a flow that was later halted by the combined effects of World War I, the restriction of immigration into the United States, and the achievement in 1918 of Lithuanian independence.}

Read more:


David and Beti Schwartz (Svartz) came to the US from Bucharest after 1895. They ran a Romanian restaurant in NYC through the 1920s. Descendancy is as follows. If you think you may have a connection, please post here and/or drop me e-mail:

  • (1)David Schwartz/Svartz & Beti (Ettamirel) Simoy
  • --\(2)Samuel
  • --\(2)Harry
  • --\(2)Joseph
  • --\(2)Sluva (Americanized to Sadie) m. Morris Silverstein
  • ----\(3)Florence m. Jack Sylvester
  • ----\(3)Shirley m. Lawrence Levine
  • ----\(3)Leonard m. Charna Shear
  • ------\Janna (myself)
  • ------\Steven
  • --\(2)Sophie
  • --\(2)Fannie
  • --\(2)Gussie


view all 11

Joseph "Joe" Silverstein's Timeline

December 14, 1874
Probably Ashmyany, near Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania (Russia 1795-1918, but previously Poland)
July 9, 1893
New York (Manhattan), NY, United States
July 1, 1895
New York (Manhattan), New York
New York (Manhattan)
September 1898
New York (Manhattan)
March 29, 1900
New York, New York, NY, United States
January 12, 1904
New York (Manhattan), NY
New York, New York, NY, United States
New York (Manhattan), NY
March 24, 1947
Age 72