Home  Epstein Index    Megibow Index   

Megibow Family History

A Beginning

L’Dor VaDor: From Generation to Generation

Introduction J. Gary Fox

As a family historian my goal is to leave to future generations a heritage of who their ancestors were and how they lived.

My daughter, Jessica Fox Epstein, married into the Megibow/Epstein family and I hope this work will be of interest for both my grandchildren and the extended Megibow family.

The focus of this report will be on the early immigrants and 1900-1930 time periods. There are many more records from that period that I have not yet evaluated.

I’m surprised that either on the Internet or on Ancestry.com, with 55 million public family trees, I did not find a comprehensive and detailed history on this very successful and notable family.  As immigrants in the early 1900s from Lubny, Poltava, Russia (now Ukraine) they achieved remarkable success in business, medicine and art. 

What follows is the “bare bones” of family research in that it is mostly based on public records – censuses, naturalization papers, passenger lists etc.  All these records are now preserved and almost all can be accessed on the Internet. They’ll be here long after we are gone.

What is fragile and fleeting and most important to family history is the oral history of our ancestors.  What was it like in steerage? How did you live?  What did you do and why? What was your life like … your joys and pains?

If you want to contribute to future generations, grab a recorder and start interviewing.

Megibow surname – A great gift to family researchers!

When reviewing historical documents you almost always find alternate or incorrect spellings of a surname.  A spoken name is recorded by an official, and if the person speaks it in a foreign language,  it is likely to be spelled incorrectly.  

Until we find an early record in Yiddish or Hebrew, we may never know the original spelling. We do know all family members assumed the Megibow surname by the 1920’s.

My thanks and thanks of future researchers’ for their choosing a unique surname that simplifies and makes all research much easier.  Try researching Epstein or Smith or Fox.

  It is likely that all Megibows are related to these early immigrants.

And, please, don’t ever believe the myth that the name was assigned by an Ellis Island Immigration official.  In processing up to 10,000 immigrants a day, they did not have time to give family advice and certainly did not provide last and first names to family members. The only documents they had, and now we have, were the ship passenger lists i.e.  manifests, that a ship purser or official filled out while they were on the way to New York. Immigration officials simply reviewed these documents and interviewed the immigrant based on them.  No other documents were created. 

The many English spellings of the surname.

Mesubowsky, Schaje -1907 Baltic Manifest

Mezibowsky, Hersch - 1907 Baltic Manifest

Meshbowsky, Josif - 1909 Lituania Manifest

Megiborsky (1910) US Census

Meshibowskaja, Sonja Arrival Ellis Island (1911)

Megibowsky (1913) Naturalization David Megibowsky to David Megibow

David changes name officially to Megibow (1913) from Megibrivsky/Megiborsky as shown in the Kings County (Brooklyn NY) Naturalization Index. 

The rest of the family simply started using Megibow.

 From Lubny to West New York, New Jersey 

In the 1920 US Census, the recorded Megibows, twenty-eight in number, all lived in close proximity in West New York, NJ. The five family units were:

Household Headed by David


Born abt.

David Megibow



Tillie Megibow



Mary Megibow



Morris Megibow




Joseph Megibow



Samuel Megibow



Harold Megibow



Lucile Megibow



Gertrude Megibow



Charles Slaman (border)



Original Record at


Household Headed by Harry

Harry Megibow



Sovia Megibow



Lenis Megibow



Lewis Megibow



Isaiah Megibow



Solomon Megibow



Original Record at


Household Headed by Sophie

Sophie Megibow



Louis Megibow



Mary Megibow



Ida Megibow



Sammie Megibow



Original Record at


Household Headed by Alexander

Alexander Megibow



Anna Megibow



Raymond Megibow



Abraham Megibow



Bertha Megibow



Samuel Megibow



Original Record at


Household Headed by George

            George Megibow      34

            Fannie Megibow        30

Original Record at      


 Megibow Occupations

Megibows were a very cohesive family that migrated and remained together in a small geographical area.   A family story is that some of the Megibows were successful in Russia in the liquor i.e. Vodka, business. Perhaps some monies were taken to the US to help start their business careers.

George Megibow, b.1889, became a very successful and wealthy business man.  As early as 1920 he was opening an office in Manhattan. From a real estate record at that time:

FOLSOM BROTHERS, Inc.  Leased for Elizabeth Ervin the 3d floor of 100 East 29th St. to George Megibow.

And there is this NY Times article in 1927 related to his Union City Bus Company.

 “WANTS NEW COMPANY TO GET BUS FRANCHISE; Megibow Asks Elimination of Seven Favored Bidders to Save Five-Cent Fare. June 5, 1927

Elimination of the seven favored applicants for bus franchises, the bids of which are under consideration by the Board of Estimate, and the award of a franchise to some new company not linked with any existing traction company, to operate a city-wide system on a five-cent fare, was urged yesterday by George E. Megibow, President of the Union Bus Corporation.”

Joyce Megibow Freedman commented that, her father, Louis Megibow’s factory produced most of the military patches for the military in World War II. 

From Census records of 1920 and 1930, many Megibows worked for or in an Embroidery factory. George owned an Embroidery factory by the 1940’s, but in the 1920 census he is listed as a “Salesman” for one.

 Natalie Miller Epstein recalled some stories her mother, Mary Mae Megibow (b. 1904) told her.

 Uncle George Megibow built a very prosperous embroidery business with several factories.

George was the brother of Joseph (Meshibowskaja) Megibow (b. 1874). 

Joseph’s wife, Sophie worked in her apartment and cut and sewed embroidery pieces for George’s operation.

“She was paid almost nothing … pennies.”

When Louis came home one day and saw his mother sweating and working in the apartment, he took the pieces from her and said, “You’re not doing this anymore …we’ll find some other way to get by.”  And they did.

In the 1930 Census, Sophie is now living in a high rent apartment next to Louis’ family apartment.  Louis is now working as an apparently successful sewing machine salesman.

Natalie also remembers enjoying working as a teenager in the candy stories Sophie managed in Brooklyn and Bayonne in mid 1940’s.

1910 Census

The 1910 US Census is the earliest one with Megibows, then Megiborskys. The Census enumerator lists 14 people apparently in one apartment or “unit”; 11 Megibows and 3 borders.  The size of the apartment(s) is not recorded.  Bathroom time must have been interesting.

George is listed as a traveling salesman and the brothers are working as contractors for a shop.

All adults are listed as being able to read and write.  This census, unlike the future ones, did not distinguish whether the person was able to read and write English. That all were educated indicates to me that they had some status and income in their Lubny community.

Immigration of apartment members in this unit was between1906 to 1910

Name                          Age

David Megiborsky       33

Tessie Megiborsky      33

Mary Megiborsky          7

Morris Megiborsky       5

Joseph Megiborsky     3

Samuel Megiborsky      0

Samuel Jurs                27

Morris Puderman        21

Louis Magiborsky        24

Abraham Magiborsky  26

Joseph Magiborsky    36

Golde Magiborsky      60

Geo Magiborsky         21

Isidor Barr                 19

Passenger List 1907

We first find the Patriarch Schaje (Solomon) and Matriarch Golda in the passenger list of the Baltic which arrived in New York August 30, 1907.  While in response to a question of Health, Schaje said “Good” the official noted it also as “fragile”. Their destination is a D. Mezobowsky who is living at 196 Riverdale, Bronx.

Fortunately, we find that they are NOT Anarchists, Polygamists, nor do they plan to overthrow the US and its Institutions. (See Manifest questions)

Also on the same ship and helping Solomon and Golda through the journey were their son, Hirsch and his wife Sonya.





Hirsch (Harry)

Sone (Sonya)










Harry and Sonya are going to stay with someone (can’t read) at 17 W. Houston St, NY.

 Besides the ocean travel, the next most “dangerous part” of the voyage for the immigrant is getting through the medical inspection.  Twenty percent on average were detained for a period of time for a more thorough medical check.  It is unlikely that anyone traveling gave an answer to their physical and mental condition as anything less than “Good”.

The process is laid out in this interesting 1905 article of an interview at Ellis Island with the Commissioner of Immigration.


Regards Gary Fox

Princeton Junction, NJ


   PS  My hope is someone in the direct Megibow family line takes up the torch.  I have many other lines …Fox, Morgan, Holbrook, Podorolski, Schwartz, Miller and Epstein … to work   on and to report.

     The Megibows are lovely, interesting and deep

But I have other lines to seek

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep

(Apologies to Robert Frost)

 Contributors who helped build the history

A Special shout out to Eric Zied whose great research skills laid the early foundation.

Joyce Megibow Freedman

Bobbi Freedman Silber

Natalie Miller Epstein

Mary Wilson

Rothstein Borenstein

Hey ... your name can be here too!