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Jewish Immigration to Muscatine, Iowa 1880 - 1910

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  • Sarah Powelankey (1859 - 1948)
    Sarah daughter of Avraham on her gravestone.* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy : Sep 27 2019, 3:16:19 UTC * Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 4:02:50 UTC
  • Louis Abraham Shames (1891 - 1956)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 3:53:30 UTC
  • Jeannette Margaret Kavich (1896 - 1996)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 3:53:30 UTC
  • Charles Shames (1893 - d.)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 3:53:30 UTC
  • Rebecca Smith (1861 - 1910)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 3:53:30 UTC * Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Oct 8 2021, 4:02:50 UTC

Update - I am discovering that a large number of these early Muscatine families, especially those from Leckava, were related by blood and / or marriage. Reib/Rubenstein was related to Fryer and Weintrob. Gould turns out to be a COUSIN of Reib/Rubenstein. Jacob Brower and Joseph Blieden were cousins; their fathers were brothers, probably with an original surname of GOTS (Hotz). The three Shames (Frieda Miriam Shames Becker, Aaron Barouch Shames, and Sarah Shames Powelankey) were siblings, children of Abraham Leib Shames. Therefore the Shames were related to the Beckers. Barouch Shames appears on the 1889 Hamburg line ship manifest with Samuel Berghaus (Berghauz) and Isak Berghaus. The Beckers, Shames, and Berghauz are related through marriages -- Becker + Berghauz; Becker + Shames. Siegel married Becker.

Some of these families have South Africa branches. The family of Meyer Hotz, brother of Joseph Blieden and of the father of Jacob Brower (Faitel Brower born GOTS) went to South Africa. There is a Reib family in South Africa. There is a Berghauz family in South Africa. Glick and Sheksner have South African branches too.

Update - DNA results on the Ukraine Rubenstein - Reib family link them to the Zagare Reiben family. More investigation needs to be done, but it may be that all the families who were early settlers to Muscatine were indeed from these few villages -- Vieksniai, Zagare, Leckava, Klykoliai, and possibly Telsiai.

"The village of Latskivoh in the Kovno district of Lithuania seems to have had a direct pipeline to Muscatine, Iowa, for example, and one resident of the town in the 1950s had the impression that everyone that arrived there came because of letters from the 'landsleite' [fellow countrymen]."

About Jews in Iowa:

"MUSCATINE has an organized Orthodox Jewry with all the necessities belonging thereto Charles Fryer L Rubenstein and Oscar Weintrauber landed in that beautiful little city in 1882 and when their number increased they have organized the congregation Bnai Moses 1890 and notwithstanding their common poverty during the early days they have managed to build a little synagogue buy two Sepher Torath and engage the services of a minister who acted as schochet chazan and teacher. They number about fifty families and are blessed with many and goad children. For a time nearly all of them continued as peddlers but now a number of them are engaged in various business enterprises and are doing quite well. Mr J Bleeden whose services were engaged immediately after the formation of their congregation continues among them as their schochet even unto this day. SL Cohen Charles Fryer and Greenblatt Brothers are among the leading merchants of Muscatine while M Isaacson L Diamond and B Goldstein are the leaders in congregational and charitable work among the peaceful hard working Jews of that growing city."

Note: Charles Fryer is a relative by marriage of Max Reib Rubenstein. I earlier assumed that L Rubenstein was Max Reib Rubenstein but realize now that it is likely Lippe Rubenstein (Gabriel). Oscar Weintrauber is likely Oscar Weintraub, likely the brother-in-law of Mary Fryer and also a relative of Max Reib Rubenstein and Gabriel Rubenstein. Lipman (Lippe / Gabriel) Rubenstein was the brother of Max Reib Rubenstein, based on newspaper accounts of family weddings from that time. His wife was a Rubenstein and probably related to Max Reib Rubenstein's wife Fannie nee Rubenstein.

From: The Jews of Iowa by Simon L. Glazer, 1903 (Google Books)

More about the synagogue in Muscatine:

Services were evidently conducted before 1880, but no records are
presently available as to where they took place. Personal recollections are vague as to exact dates , but it is quite certain that before 1888, services were held in a hall on W. 2nd Street. A minyan also met in Charles Fryer's house. It was across from the freight house on W. Front Street between Chestnut and Pine. There was a Mikveh in the house and Fryer's home was the center of Jewish life. A flat was finally secured in the second story of a house on 4th and Mulberry over a store called the Beehive across from the courthouse. Many Jews lived in the area and the community lay religious leader was Isaac Helman who guided the Muscatine Jews until 1890, a very important date for that community.

On March 10, 1890 t the first Congregation and what was to be the only one in Muscatine history was founded. It was called B'nai Moses. The Articles of Incorporation were signed by Mr. M. Rubenstein, B. Shames, Jacob Wolff and B. Goldstein. The other charter members were Isaac Helman, Hyman Share, Louis Siegel, Joe Siegel, Simon Lieflander, E. Powelanky and Charles Smith. The Congregation was very poor and money had to be borrowed for a charter. The Articles of Incorporation are quite interesting (see page 146). The name used is "Congregation of Israel of Moses Meier." The "Bible" is the TorahScroll. Jake and Charles Smith were designated to build the Synagogue which they probably started in 1891.

Meanwhile Joseph Bleeden had arrived in New York from Europe. After a few months there, he came to Muscatine to join his landsleite , his townsmen from Europe, and he became the Rabbi of Muscatine's Jewish Community. Religious services and classes were held in his home at 715 East 7th Street near where the Synagogue was being built. The new frame Synagogue was opened for worship, classes, and social events in 1893. (See page 147.) An insurance policy dated March 26, 1894, to cover the cost of the building in case of fire had a face value of $1,500 and was made out to A. C. Smith and N. Click. The Congregation had thirty members, and was very traditional, following all its European customs. Rabbi Bleeden served his landsleite until his death, April 11, 1916, at the age of fifty- eight. His children contributed the interesting picture (see page 148) which shows the 1910 group of Talmud Torah children outside of Rabbi Bleeden's home. Charles Smith soon built a new ark for the Synagogue in 1905 and rather immodestly inscribed his name, which in Hebrew was Bezalel, over the ark with four Hebrew words which mean "And Bezalel made the Ark." These four Hebrew words along with the Hebrew date 5,666 (1905-1906) are inscribed over the B'nai Moses Ark.

Their social life was centered about their Synagogue. In their contribution book, it is interesting to note that their contributions were made in "Shillings."

An interesting interview with an elderly long-time resident was quite revealing. He related how every one came because of letters from the "landsleite" and because they expected to find "gold in the Street." The Jews all lived near 7th Street because it was near the "Schule ." He was a peddler when he first came to Muscatine and he told how each peddler would have his own area in which to sell. He used to go away for three or four months and would travel in an area about 100 miles from Muscatine using Lone Tree, Iowa, as his base of operations. He considered it a good trip if he returned with forty or fifty dollars.

From The Illinois-Iowa Jewish community on the banks of the Mississippi River

This will be an umbrella project for projects on specific shtetls and towns in the Kaunas Province in the Shavli District and nearby in the Telshi District (specifically the towns of Skuodas and Telšiai or Telshi):

  • Šiauliai (Alternate names: Šiauliai [Lith], Shavl [Yid], Shavli [Rus], Schaulen [Ger], Szawle [Pol], Šauļi [Latv], Shavel, Schavli, Shawli, Shaulyai, Shiaulai, Silaliai, Šiaulių)
  • Zagare (Alternate names: Žagarė [Lith], Zhager [Yid], Zhagare [Rus], Żagory [Pol], Žagare [Latv], Zhagar, Zager, Žagarės)
  • Viekšniai (Alternate names: Viekšniai [Lith], Vekshne [Yid], Vyekshnya [Rus], Wieksznie [Pol], Veckshna, Vekshni, V'yekshnyay, Viyekshnyay, Viekšnių, Vekshnyay, Vekshnya)
  • Klykoliai (Alternate names: Klykoliai [Lith], Klikol [Yid], Klikl [Yid], Klikoli [Rus], Klikole [Pol], Klikul, Klykuolių, Klikolyay)
  • Leckava (Alternate names: Leckava [Lith], Liatzkovo [Rus], Latskeve [Yid], Łacków [Pol], Lyatskovo, Letskava, Leckavos, Leckavas, Latskove, Latzkova, Latzkeva, Latzuva)
  • Akmene (Alternate names: Akmenė [Lith], Akmian [Yid], Okmyany [Rus], Okmiany [Pol], Akmyane, Akmenės)
  • Papile (Alternate names: Papilė [Lith], Popelyan [Yid], Popelyany [Rus], Popielany [Pol], Popelian, Papilės, Popyle)
  • Kuršenai (Alternate names: Kuršėnai [Lith], Kurshan [Yid], Kurshany [Rus], Kurszany [Pol], Kuršēni [Latv], Kurschenen [Ger], Kurshenay, Kurshchenay, Kuržėnų, Koršienā)
  • Tryškiai (Alternate names: Tryškiai [Lith], Trishik [Yid], Trishki [Rus], Tryszki [Pol], Tryškių, Trīškē, Trishkyay)
  • Telšiai (Alternate names: Telšiai [Lith], Telshi [Rus], Telzh [Yid], Telsze [Pol], Telsche [Ger], Telši [Latv], Telšē, Teltsch, Telshe, Telschi, Telsh, Telshie, Telšių, Telz)
  • Skuodas (Alternate names: Skuodas [Lith], Shkod [Yid], Shkudy [Rus], Szkudy [Pol], Schoden [Ger], Skoda [Latv], Shkud, Skuodo, Skudoas, Skouds)

(others to be added)


  • Skuodas is 29 miles WSW of Leckava
  • Viekšniai is 15 miles SE of Leckava
  • Klykoliai is 22 miles E of Leckava
  • Telšiai is 28 miles S of Leckava
  • Zagare is 16 miles E of Klykoliai
  • Shavli is 29 miles S of Zagare

Each project will document the familes who lived there in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and discuss their diaspora to places as exotic as South Africa, Glasgow, Scotland, and Muscatine, Iowa! We will also list notable inhabitants and descendants of each town or shtetl.

I started this project because In researching my great grandparents, Max Reib and Fannie Rubenstein, I discovered that Muscatine, Iowa was the destination of a number of families from Shavli province. The families of Muscatine, Iowa were from a number of villages in the Shavli, Kaunas region -- Leckava, Skuodas, Zagare, and Klykoliai for certain. The names in the Bnei Moshe Cemetery from early Muscatine are echoed strongly in the lists of families from these towns:

  • Leckava - Light/Licht, Becker, Lifflander, Levin, Hurwich, Urdangen, Hellman, Rubenstein, Glick, Sheksner, Schoop, Gould, Shames, Berghaus (Sarah Becker Berghaus visited her relative Abraham Becker in Muscatine) and Samuel and Isak Berghaus traveled from Leckava on the Hamburg line with Aharon Baruch Shames
  • Skuodas - Urdangen, Hurwich
  • Klykoliai - Greenblatt, Povalonki, Glattstein, Cohen, Rubenstein, Lifflander
  • Vieksnai - Reeb, Rib, Ryb, Ribas, Rubenstein, Blieden, Markus Medalie, Chotzer, Edelman, Spiro, Shapiro, Sapero, Lourie (Lurie)
  • Zagare - Rieben, Reiben, Blieden (really Hotz, Rabbi Blieden / Bleeden's original surname)

Surnames from other areas

  • Weintrob / Vayntrub / Weintraub / Wintrobe - Volyhnia (Zhitomir, Ostrog, Proskurov)
  • Frejer / Freer / Freyer - Volyhnia (Ovruch, Zhitomir, Proskurov, Radomysl)
  • Reib - Volyhnia (Zaslav)

Did the original settlers of Muscatine - Rubenstein, Reib, Weintraub, Freyer come from Volyhnia and then were coincidentally joined by settlers from Shavli? Or did they have family ties to Shavli?

Muscatine, Iowa Immigrants (Year of Arrival in US of Head of Household)

"The IRO settled roughly twelve hundred Jews in Iowa between 1905 and 1916." Some of them went to Muscatine, although there was already a sizable Jewish population there, as you can see from the list below.


  • Benjamin and Rosa D Goldstein arrival 1878 (Rosa 1885)
  • Charles Fryer and Mary Wintrob Fryer (Freyer) arrival 1882, probably from Volhynia Province, Ukraine (with Gabriel Rubenstein, or Lippe, Max's brother)
  • Benjamin Share arrival 1883
  • Max Reib and Fanny Rubenstein arrival 1885 ("Rieb," on the Moravia arr June 23, 1885), probably from Volhynia Province, Ukraine
  • Simon J Gould arrival 1886
  • Max and Anna Schoop arrival 1886
  • Samuel and Flora Lieflander arrival 1886
  • Max and Mollie Skolnik arrival 1886
  • Joseph and Sarah Powclankey arrival 1883 or 1887
  • Oscar Wintrob (Weintraub, Weintrobe) arrival 1887 or 1892, probably from Volhynia Province, Ukraine
  • Jacob and Dora Goodman arrival 1888 from Gargždai (Telshi district, Kovno Province)
  • Samuel and Lena Lowenthal arrival 1888
  • Ella Siegal, widow, arrival 1888 with son Max age 23
  • Joseph and Bessie Siegal arrival 1888
  • Aharon Baruch Shames 1889-1890, later moved to Jasper, Iowa


  • William E. and Eva Gladstein arrival 1903 (Eva - 1890)
  • Gladstein's sister-in-law Anna Lieflander arrival 1890
  • Harry and Henrietta Gladstein arrival 1890
  • Louis and Fannie Diamond arrival 1890
  • Joseph and Sarah L. Bleeden arrival 1890
  • Edward (Essac) and Fannie Helman arrival 1890
  • Harry and Annie Wolf arrival 1890
  • Jake and Sarah Mark arrival 1890
  • Jacob Ziffren, single, arrival 1890 with daughter Isabel and with mother-in-law Minnie Davis (mother-in-law from Germany)
  • Jacob and Minnie Greenblott arrival 1890
  • H and Mary Sheer arrival 1891
  • Marvis and Minnie Isaacson arrival 1891
  • Jacob N. and Minnie Glick arrival 1892. They were from Leckava.
  • Harman and Mary A. Share arrival 1893
  • Israel and Mariam Pearman arrival 1897
  • Barney and Mollie Urdangen (Vedangen in Census) arrival 1897
  • Abraham and Mary Becker arrival 1899
  • Issac and Emma Skolnik arrival 1899
  • Maer (Meyer?) and Annie Smith arrival 1899 (older couple, parents?)


  • Samuel and Ethel Mark arrival 1900 (Samuel in 1906)
  • Isaac Rosenbaum, single, arrival 1900
  • Max and Hanna Smith arrival 1901
  • Jacob and Jennie Rosenberger arrival 1903
  • John and Rosalie Schuster arrrival 1903
  • Shuster's granddaughter Hilda Brader arrival 1903
  • Schuster's brother William Gretz arrival 1903
  • Max and Fannie Lewin arrival 1904
  • Samuel and Bessie Orwitz (Horwitz/Hurwich) arrival 1905
  • Eli and Sarah Lutskey arrival 1905
  • Samuel and Emma Pernick arrival 1905
  • Hing A and Natalie Tober arrival 1908
  • William E. Gladstein's brother Graham Gladstein arrival 1907

Pre-1905 Listing of Jewish Members of Muscatine Community

  • Adler, Leopold, 1859
  • Bleeden, Joseph, listed in 1893 directory, "Rabbi Jewish Congregation," 715 E. 7th.
  • Block, Marie, d. 1886, aged 90 - David, d. 1894, aged 66 - Meyer, d. 1900, aged 68 - Jacob, 35 Inf. Civil War
  • Biederman, L. & A. , c. 1879, buried in Des Moines
  • Braude, Gedaliah, 1904
  • Brower, Jacob, c. 1895
  • Cooler, Eliezer, 1896
  • Cohn, Sam, bought Jac. Silvermans store - Isaac, father - Louis, d. 1809, aged 62 - Walter, d. 1945, aged 70 - Israel, 1901
  • Davidson, Jacob, dry goods store, c. 1893
  • Davis, Bernard, 1903
  • Diamond, L. , c. 1895
  • Dubinsky, c. 1890
  • Frank, Leopold & Marie, c. 1879
  • Fryer, Chas., 1882, junk business and to Palestine in 1926 - 815 E. 7th; 1882 directory FRHAIER, 1887 directory FREIER, 319 W. Front.
  • Furstenberg, R. & S., c. 1882 - Solomon is 1st burial in Davenport's Tri City Jewish Cemetery, 1902
  • Glass, Sussman (Sam) 1858-1925
  • Glatstein, Wm. , c. 1890, d. 1915 - Harry, c. 1890
  • Glick, Nechemiah, 1893
  • Goldman, 1900
  • Goldstein, B. , c. 1890
  • Goodman, Jacob, c. 1890 - Oscar
  • Greenblatt, Julius, c. 1905
  • Guggenheimer, Hannah, d. 1904, aged 84
  • Heilbrun, 1849
  • Helman, Isaac, c. 1888
  • Hess, Jacob, 35 Infantry Civil War
  • Hoffman, Abraham & Rachel, d. 1903, aged 82
  • Hind, (Heend), Abba, c. 1890 - Ben, 1891
  • Hyman, Nathan, c. 1890
  • Isaacson, Meyer, c. 1890
  • Israel, Jacob, 1839 - 56 directory History - still here in 1856 - William, 1856 - J. E., 1856
  • Jackson, Jacob, d. 1899, aged 52
  • Kahn, Morris, c. 1861 - Simon, c. 1859
  • Kaufman, W. & R. , c. 1876
  • Klein, Isaac, d. 1876
  • Koehler, c. 1890
  • Kohn, Louis, 1905
  • Leibson, Phillip, c. 1895
  • Levin, Moshe, c. 1889
  • Lipmann, E. , c. 1889
  • Lowenthal, Sam., c. 1890
  • Lutski, c. 1900
  • Mayer, S., c. 1872 - David, 1859
  • Nathan, Hyman, c. 1890
  • Neidig., Isaac, 1856 directory - Benj . , in 1856 directory - Morris in 1856 directory.
  • Nimtzowitz, George, c. 1900
  • Oppenheimer, Jacob - Moses, 1859
  • Pearlman, Israel, c. 1900
  • Pernick, Sam, 1905
  • Powelanky, E., c. 1889 - Si., c. 1889
  • Rapp, Charlie, d. 1893, aged 35 - Abraham, d. 1809, aged 80
  • Rosenberg, J., - Synagogue V.P. 1905
  • Rosenheim, 1866 - Leo -• Ulrich - Simon
  • Rothschild, David, c. 1856 - peddler and then established largest general store; son Hesikiah died 1874 - Israel - A., 1868, joined Rothschild Bros.
  • Rubenstein, M. , c. 1890 - L. C. 1882 (Comment - I realized that L. Rubenstein is Lippe -- Gabriel -- Rubenstein)
  • Sanders, Jacob, c. 1905
  • Shamis, Baruch, c. 1890
  • Share, B. , c. 1890 - H. , 1890
  • Sheuerman, Leopold, b. Germany 1837, settled in Muscatine for one year, 1857-1858, before noving to Marengo and Des Moines - Abraham, arrived 1847, in 1859 directory, peddler - Mother, Sarah in Des Moines Woodland cemetery 1795-1879.
  • Shoop, 1890
  • Siegel, Jacob, c. 1889 - Max, c. 1889 - Louis c. 1888
  • Silverman, Chas., 1859 - Jacob, 1849, but left soon after
  • Skolnick, Max, arr. 1889
  • Smith, Jake - Chas., first B'nai Moses President - these two built Synagogue 1890
  • Urdangen, Barney, c. 1889, d. 1934, aged 70
  • Wasserman, Henry, c. 1905
  • Weinstraub, Oscar, c. 1882
  • Winter, Leopold
  • Wolff, Jacob, c. 1874

Emigration from Leckava to Sweden and South Africa

  • Sheksner (changed to Jackelson) - South Africa
  • Glick - Sweden
  • Berghaus - South Africa
  • Eppel (David, Zalel) to Sweden and to Denmark
  • Mitovski to South Africa (married Katz from Vieksniai)
  • Weiss to America

Emigration from Vieksniai to various places

  • Katz to South Africa
  • Reeb to South Africa and Israel

Emigration from Klykoliai to various places

  • Gavronsky to America

My sources were:

  1. - Jewish Gen Family Finder and the databases for Lithuania including birth, death, marriages, taxpayer, and especially the Revision Lists.
  2. obituaries from Muscatine newspapers and headstone transcriptions for early setters to Muscatine.
  3. a free Google online book about Jewish immigration to Iowa -- the short section on Muscatine.
  4. various Internet family trees and other sources that give the origin of these Shavli (Siauliai) district emigrants who went to Muscatine, but also to South Africa, Israel, and Scotland.
  5. books on immigration to small towns in America.

Notable Shavli Descendants

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