Given Sutin ancestors’ common Belarusian roots and surname, one could make a case that we’re all related. Thus our tree begins with an unknown Sutin patriarch, although no evidence has been found to indicate that we share this mutual ancestor. Documented links between the seven ancestral lines described are tenuous in some cases and nonexistent in others. Perhaps relationships between these lines will be discovered as exploration of our family history continues.
Available data regarding Sutin ancestors indicate that most of them came from the Minsk Region of Belarus. Belarus, in eastern Europe, today is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Prior to the 20th century today’s Belarus belonged to several countries, including the Russian Empire, Poland, and Lithuania.
Many Sutin ancestors were unaware of their exact birth dates, as frequently they were not recorded. Thus these people knew only the seasons in which they were born—during potato digging, for example. They often chose specific birth dates when one was needed for official purposes.
Explanations to guide your reading:
The small superscripts beside each name indicate information sources for that individual. A listing of all sources can be found at the conclusion of this document.
A genealogical numbering format has been used. Each descendant’s name is preceded by a number shown in the index at the end of this document. Women are indexed by their maiden names, and as applicable individuals’ multiple marriages are indicated by lower case letters. Numbering begins with the oldest known ancestor. Using my index number as an example:
1.2.2a.4.2a.4.1a Donna Susan Sutin
1 – Unknown Sutin Ancestor
2 – Unknown Ancestor 2 (son of Unknown Sutin Ancestor)
2a—Nachum Ha’Levi Sutin (second child of Unknown Ancestor 2; Nachum’s first marriage)
4—Gedalia Sutin (fourth child of Nachum and his first wife, my great grandfather)
2a—Moishe Chaim Sutin (second child of Gedalia, my grandfather; Moishe Chaim’s first marriage)
4—Irving Sutin (fourth child of Moishe Chaim and his first wife; my father)
1a—Donna Susan Sutin (first child of Irving Sutin, me; my first marriage)
My two children then became 1.2.2a.4.2a.4.1a.1 and 1.2.2a.4.2a.4.1a.2, and so on.
The varying amounts of information about individuals are directly related to the amounts of information people provided.
When disagreement was found between descendant reports and/or with official documents, an effort has been made to identify the most accurate data.
Translations of non-English names vary. When available, spelling provided by the individuals or their direct descendants has been used.
Out of respect for people’s privacy, individuals’ contact information is not included.
Special thanks to Phil Sutin, who provided much guidance and painstakingly edited this document.
The father(s) of Ancestors 1 through 7 are unknown. However, someone at the forefront of each line adopted the name Sutin. In the late 1830s and early 1840s the Jewish people, by order of the Czar’s government, were required to acquire surnames, probably for taxation and conscription purposes.
Documentation of the Belarusian town named Sutin lends credence to the suggestion that some people, not necessarily related but from the same locale, adopted the surname of their town, Sutin. However, available data regarding Sutin ancestors indicate that they came from towns near Sutin, but none came from Sutin.
Sutin is approximately 80 kilometers/50 miles from Minsk, the capital of Belarus and has existed since 1560 as a small village, currently of 1,200 residents with 83 persons per square mile. It’s located at the end of a mostly unpaved gravel road through a thick forest that goes no farther than Sutin. Residents are primarily farmers working fields with sickles and horse-drawn plows. No one in the village remembers anyone named Sutin, nor do they recall any Jews living there.
1.1 Ancestor 110
A 1986 letter from Aya Dviri Shahaf to Albert Sutin in Toronto indicated that Berra’s father may have been named Nachum. However, no further evidence of Berra’s father’s name has been found, nor can it be assumed that, if Nachum was his father, it was Nachum Ha’levi Sutin.
Spouse: Relke*5,6,7,8,11 Different sources identify different husbands of Relke. She is believed to have had three husbands: Ancestor 1 (the unknown father of Berra); Nachum Ha’levi Sutin, with whom she had four children; and Areya “der Alte” Sutin, with whom she had Irachmiel. However, the ages of those believed to be her children and the fact that Nachum apparently fathered five additional children do not fit this theory. It’s also possible that three different women named Relke were these men’s wives.
1.1.1 Berra (Berrell) Sutin5,12
Occupation: Tombstone carver, rabbi
Some sources indicate that Itzchak had 13 or 14 children from two marriages. At least one descendant believes he had 18 children from three marriages.
Spouse: Miriam Buchavista5,13 188.8.131.52a.1 Rifka Sutin5
Hilel was an estate manager for a nobleman in the Minsk area. Later he was a hotel owner and a timberland manager in Russia. Following the 1917 revolution he moved to Mainz in Dec 1918, and ran a Jewish bookstore there until he died. He became a German citizen of the state of Hesse 3 Sep 1927 or 1929.
Hilel and Emmy’s son Alexander and his wife Grete arranged for them to immigrate to the U.S.. The government agreed, but Hilel died of natural causes several months before he was to receive his visa, which was possible because Hilel was born in Russia and the country's quota was largely unused at the time. However, Emmy was born in Germany and she reverted to the vastly oversubscribed German quota upon Hilel's death, going from 180 in the Russian quota to 48,331 in the German quota. Thus she was left to die at the hands of the Nazis.
Spouse: Emmy Lehmann17,18,23,22
Birth: 17 Mar 1888, Mainz, Germany
Death: 1942, Auschwitz, Poland
Father: Oskar Lehmann (1858-1928)
Mother: Toni Rabinowitsch (1869-1926)
184.108.40.206a.2.1 Boris Sutin17,7,5,18,19,24
Alexander Sutin arrived in Germany in December 1918. In the spring of 1933, the Nazis kicked him out of the University of Frankfurt where he was in his last semester of pre-medical studies. He went to the Netherlands to talk to Lehmann relatives, asking them to support his return to medical school. They refused.
In about 1935 he went to a work camp in Holland, where people were trained to go to Palestine. There he met Grete Kohlmann, who was to become his wife. Her sister married an entrepreneur; Alexander and Grete followed this sister and brother-in-law to England. Later, her parents followed.
On 16 Sep 1938 Alexander and Grete arrived in the U.S. from London, England on the SS American Banker, and lived in New York City. In the 1930s, emigration was limited by a quota system; Germany’s quota was closed, but because he and his family had Russian heritage they could get into to the U.S. using the less used Russian quota. Harry Winston, a famous New York City jeweler, helped Alexander and Grete immigrate to the U.S. He suggested that Alexander join a guild in England so he could gain entre to the corresponding union in America.
In 1941 Alexander’s company transferred him to Detroit, where he later (1946-1970) worked for General Motors as a pattern maker. When computers displaced him, he worked in small pattern-making shops for a few years before retiring. In one of these jobs, he helped build a mock-up of the train cars in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.
In 1971 Alexander and Grete returned to Europe for the first time since 1938. At Boris’ London home Alexander saw his brothers for the first time since 1936.
Spouse: Grete Kohlmann17,5,18,29,30,31,32
Birth: 8 May 1917, Mosbach, Germany
Death: 31 May 2003, Medford OR
220.127.116.11a.2.2.1 Philip Colman Sutin17,5,18,32
Phil met his wife in Ann Arbor while in graduate school. He went to the St. Louis Post Dispatch from graduate school in 1966 as an intern, stayed until retirement in June 2011. He was a reporter covering local government, transportation, and infrastructure. From late 1972 to late 1975, he was St. Louis City Hall reporter for the paper, and from 1986 to 1992 he served as the paper’s assistant suburban editor. Sponsored by a fellowship from the American Political Science Association. In Sep 1970 he took a leave to attend the University of California-Berkeley to study urban affairs and journalism
Spouse: Catherine Immormino5,18
Birth: 25 Jun 1945, Chicago IL
Education: BA University of Michigan
Occupation: Reporter and writer
Kathie was a reporter for the Associated Press in Dallas TX and the Metro East Journal, East St. Louis IL. Later she became the public relations executive for Harris-Stowe College in St. Louis, now Harris-Stowe State University. After the birth of their first child, she worked part time as editor of the Missouri Jewish Post and Opinion for 18 years. She is a free-lance writer producing articles on local government, transportation, development, health care and travel.
18.104.22.168a.22.214.171.124 Jason Douglas Bart Sutin17,5,18
Semon went to Palestine in the 1930s, arrived in Geneva with his family in 1954. He established a taxi company and the first limousine service (with American cars) to cater to the international conferences that were occurring at the time. He got into real estate and built the Hotel Rex and later started the largest company in Geneva in the furnished rental business. When Albert Sutin asked Boris about him, Boris said that Semon would be “too busy” to talk to him.
Spouse: Sina Reiman36,37
Birth: 1914, Riga, Russia
Semon and Sina Reiman were divorced.
126.96.36.199a.2.3a.1 Irene Soutine36,37
Occupation: Owner of Terranias SA, real estate company that rents apartments
Education: Studied economics in Geneva and at the University of Michigan
John Sutin grew up in Geneva where he attended primary and secondary school. He spent some time in the U.S. before settling down in Paris, France from 1975 to 1992, then returned to Geneva. Since 2002, John has been a residential property professional well known for his particular interest in renewable sources of energy, in particular solar energy. In 2008, John received the first prize for private construction of photovoltaic cells in Switzerland. He also has a passion for aviation and horses.
Spouse: Harriet Clark18,40 188.8.131.52a.2.3b.1a.1 Tara Sutin18
Occupation: Owner of Dinemec Studios of Geneva, Switzerland; also head of media department at the Geneva campus of Webster University
Dinemec Studios of Geneva, Switzerland contains up-to-date audio and video studios and produces music albums. Paul accompanied New Age musician Steve Howe on several albums.
184.108.40.206a.3 Abraham Sutin5,42,8,43,44,16
Burial: Puchowitzer Section of Mount Hebron Cemetery
Abraham first left Puchowitz about 1905, leaving Baila, Ben, and Meyer behind. Because he didn’t send money for the family as planned, Baila had to earn money transcribed letters dictated by villagers. Abraham worked for a bookbinder in New York, was displeased with what the “new world” was doing to the Sabbath, and so returned to Puchowitz. He found that he couldn’t provide for his family there, so he returned to New York in 1921. World War I broke out, after which there was a waiting period for visas.
Spouse: Baila (Bella) Rudolph5,6,44
Death: 25 Jul 1971
Baila and three sons left Puchowitz for Warsaw to await visas in 1920-21. After six to nine months in Warsaw, she sailed for New York with her three sons, arriving in August 1921.
220.127.116.11a.3.1 Benjamin Sutin5,6,8,44,29,45,34
Although Meyer was born in 1905, son Stewart says that as a child he often was told how his mom used a bogus birth date on his papers so that he would receive a “child’s rate” passage on their ship to the new world. Hence official records show 1906 as his birth year.
Meyer told Stewart a story related to the uncertainties his family faced during World War I and the Russian revolution. Cossacks raided their village, looting, burning, and conscripting youngsters. One Cossack attempted to rape Meyer’s mother in their small cottage. The Cossack officer in charge came to the cottage, shot the rapist, offered his apology, and left.
Meyer was 14 when he, his mother and two brothers came to the U.S. They entered on Polish passports as Russian passports were unavailable. Meyer was placed in a 1st grade class because he couldn’t speak English, but was fast-tracked as his language and learning progressed. He graduated at a normal age from Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, and petitioned for U.S. citizenship 22 Jan 1926
Spouse: Lillian Green5,6,48,46,44,49
Birth: 21 Jul 1907, NY
Death: 19 Jul 1997, Tamarac FL
Lillian initially went to work at AT&T as a telephone operator until a teaching job became available. Anti-semitism was prevalent at AT&T. Lillian’s supervisor thought she was Protestant since she was blonde and had the last name of Green, a name adopted by her parents after their arrival in the U.S. Lillian never revealed her religion, since during the depression any job was dear.
18.104.22.168a.3.2.1 Ruth Sutin5,6,8
Marriage: 1979, NY
Spouse: George Armiger5,6 Ruth majored in art in college, taught art in New York City and had an art studio there. She also was co-producer of the Gary Moore Show for seven years.
22.214.171.124a.3.2.2 Stewart Edward Sutin5,6,48,46
Education: BA Penn State University (History), MA Georgetown University (Latin American Studies), doctorate University of Texas-Austin (Latin American History)
Marriage: 1970, New York
Stewart worked in banking for almost 30 years, including 16 years with the Bank of Boston (the last four as president and division executive for international private banking), and eight years as senior vice president of Mellon Bank. From 2003 to 2007 he was president and CEO, Community College of Allegheny. Since 2007 he has been a professor at University of Pittsburgh
Spouse: Rowna Levitt5,6,48,46
Birth: 1947, NY
126.96.36.199a.188.8.131.52 Matthew “Matt” Brendan Sutin5,6,48,46