Genealogy Express


A Collection of Biographical Sketches of Jews
that Have Distinguished Themselves in
Commercial, Professional and
Religious Endeavor
Published by
S. B. GOODKIND, Publication Manager
403 Gardner Building, Toledo, Ohio.

SAMUEL WILKOFF.  Luck and success are not so closely allied as many people suppose.  When a man is apparently lucky his good fortune is usually attributable to efforts on his part which are not known to the general public.
     This is the opinion of the majority of men who have won their own way in the world.  Such a man is Mr. Samuel Wilkoff, of Youngstown, Ohio, who was born in Alitta, Suwalki, Guberne, Russia, in 1862, the son of a prominent Rabbi and Shochet.
     At the age of thirty-seven, Mr. Wilkoff decided to come to America, and landed in this country with but one cent in his pocket.  He peddled tinware for three months, and then went to Beaver Falls, Pa., where he at last was able to buy a horse an wagon and continue peddling on a larger scale.  Then followed a year in Barberton, Kans., where he tried his hand at farming, but decided that he did not want to make this his life work.  He returned to Beaver Falls and peddled junk for three years, going from there to Akron, where he started to scrap iron yard in partnership with his brother and a Mr. Charles Wisbutsky.  After eight months Mr. Wilkoff bought over the interest of Mr. Wisbutsky, and continued the yard fro thirteen years.  He then went to Youngstown, and in partnership with his brother operated a yard under the firm name of Wilkoff Brothers.  Later he organized a company, composed of his brothers William and Dave and his son Isaac, where they are at the present item doing a fine business.
     One year after Mr. Wilkoff arrived in America he was married to Miss Wilkoff arrived in America he was married to Miss wilkowsky of Beaver Falls, Pa., and they have four children, two sons and two daughters.  One of the sons is in business with his father, and a daughter is attending Beaver Falls College.
     Mr. Wilkoff is a member of Hungarian Schule, was formerly Vice-president of Manuel Schule, and Western Star, and former Treasurer of O. B. A.  He is very charitable and subscribes to all worthy institutions.
Source: Prominent Jewish Americans - Publ. S. B. Goodkind, American Hebrew Publishing Co., Toledo, Ohio - Page 322
WILLIAM WILKOFF.  This is the story of a man who was always doing something, and whatever he did he did in a big way; of a man who went through life undaunted and always remained true to himself; a man who never gave up an attempt if he saw that he was right; a man who, through foreign born and comparatively mature when he landed on these shores, became the head of a remarkable and new industry; whose shining example one cannot but wish to emulate, and whose persistent, hard work and a spirit of "go to it" are so remarkable and so unusual.  To read of the accomplishments of William Wilkoff is like recalling to mind again the exploits of mediaevel knights, who fought a battalion of devils, but through obstacles stood in their way and though the work was hard and reward by no means certain, still in the end they won their laurel-crown, simply because they would not give up.
     He was born on Sept. 14th, 1864, at Alita, Government of Suvalk, Russia, the son of Judah and Lippe Wilkofsky, both since deceased.  His father was a scholar and Shochet and the traditions of the family were rabbinical.  One of his uncles was also a Shochet, so that it seemed most natural that the subject of our sketch should follow the same vocation.  But fates decreed otherwise.
     In 1882 the young Russian immigrant landed in New York.  He was eighteen years old and escaped from the country that gave him no opportunity for developing his natural talents, hoping that in this land of opportunity he would be finally able to secure a foothold and establish himself in life.  The first job he found was work on a railroad in the vicinity of Pittsburgh at $1.50 per day.  Her considered this a very munificent wage and felt thrills of delight at being able to make so much money.  A little later, however, he exchanged this occupation for that of a peddler, selling forks and knives and then dry goods in the many country towns around Pittsburgh.  Soon afterwards he bought a team and a horse and started collecting and selling rags.  In 1886 he went to Kansas with a brother, and the two young men attempted to become farmers.  The venture did not prove a success, and they returned to Pittsburgh.  They went to peddling again, this time to Beaver Falls, Pa., where, after two years, they saved about $1,000, which enabled the brothers to go into the junk business.  The business had a steady development and some twenty years ago it was removed to Youngstown, the city of iron and steel.
     Youngstown is a remarkable community, being the mining center of the iron and steel industry, the principal site of some of the largest foundries in the country, and rapidly grown city which owes everything to its natural location, and is no place for idlers or people who are anxious to lead a life of pleasure, but is the city of the hard worker, the man of brain and industry, the man of energy and diligence.  Mr. Wilkoff found the place congenial for his type of character and with the wonted energy the Wilkoff Company was started, a remarkable concern, manufacturing iron and steel, and another, The Youngstown Steel Car Company, a concern manufacturing industrial cars.  Mr. William Wilkoff is the President of both corporations, the two brothers being members of the firm.  Mr. Wilkoff is one of the incorporators of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, capitalized at $50,000,000  The original capital was but $600,000, but the rapid growth of the firm necessitated an enlargement of its activities so that the capital was increased.  For some time Mr. Wilkoff served as a director of this corporation, but recently he gave it up, being two much taken up by the other industrial concerns over which he presides.
     Mr. Wilkoff is proud of the fact that the Russian Jew has risen so high in American Jewry.  He is a typical instance of the enterprising spirit of the Russian Jew with his indomitable and ever-striving ambition.  It is this ambition that enabled him to suffer want and privation in the dreary days of his stay at Beaver Falls, and it is this ambition that placed him so high in the business and social life of Youngstown.
     Mr. Wilkoff is by no means satisfied with a mere business success.  He strove to fit himself into the communal life of Youngstown, and is an active member of many charitable organizations.  True, he never found time to hold office in any of the innumerable societies and lodges to which he belongs, but wherever he comes, he is warmly welcomed and universally admired and esteemed.  Mr. Wilkoff is a member of the Rodeph Sholom Congregation; he is not a reformer, but a liberal Orthodox, believing as he does that it would be much better for the younger generation to have Reform Judaism that to have nothing.  He himself has had a Jewish religious training of the highest possible type and he was a Yeshiba Bochur in "the old country."
     On Jan. 16, 1894, he was married to Fannie Cohen, born in Cleveland, Ohio.  there are three sons, of whom the oldest, Louis, is married; Ralph is a student at the Culver Military Academy at Culver, Ind., and Arthur attends school.  Mr. Wilkoff is a very active charity worker, sharing with her husband his interest in communal work and being a member of every organization to which he belongs.
     Mr. Wilkoff looks young for his age and his presence radiates a spirit of confidence and self-possession and success, which he attributes largely to hard work and absolute honesty in all his dealings with others.
Source: Prominent Jewish Americans - Publ. S. B. Goodkind, American Hebrew Publishing Co., Toledo, Ohio - Page 323




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