Hyman Victor was born Chaim Avigdor Chiry in 1883. He changed his name upon acquiring American citizenship in 1921, dropping his surname, and anglicizing his Hebrew first and middle names.
Hyman spent the first 30 years of his life in and around Rezhnoy, a small town (a shtetl) in The Pale of Settlement, the large swathe of Eastern Europe under Russian rule from 1791 to 1917.
In Rezhnoy, Hyman married Henna Rayzel, or Bubbie as she was known by her family.
Bubbie is an amuletic name, Yiddish for grandma, given to Henna at an early age for good luck, because the women in her family had a history of dying young.
Later, upon immigrating to America, Henna changed her name to Rose, most likely an anglicized version of Rayzel. This was after her name appeared in American legal documents variously as Babe, Bobe, and Dobe, prior to her arrival.
Before Hyman emigrated to America in 1913, he and Rose had five daughters: Feige, Ethel, Veilke, Hanna, and Rivke.
Some time in 1913, Hyman set off alone, without his wife and five daughters, to meet his brother-in-law Louis Popper (Rose’s brother) in Chicago. Louis had already emigrated to Chicago from Rezhnoy.
To get to Chicago, Hyman first traveled to Bremerhaven, Germany. He likely got there by rail, but this is impossible to confirm, as the records in Bremerhaven covering emigration during the years 1910-1920 were destroyed by Allied bombing raids during World War II.
In this map, The Pale of Settlement is highlighted in grey. Modern political boundaries are in green – Rezhnoy today is in the independent state of Belarus.
In Bremerhaven, Hyman boarded The Bremen, bound for America.
Hyman arrived at Ellis Island on June 16, 1913. He is listed on line 29:
Name: Chaim Chiry
Occupation: joiner [carpenter]
Able to read and write: yes
Last place of residence: Imdur [near Rezhnoy]
Nearest relative in home country: wife, Dobe Chiry, Imdur
Date of arrival: June 16, 1913
Three years after Hyman arrived in America, he filed the formal Declaration of Intention for United States citizenship:
“It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignity, and particularly to [Nicholas II Emperor of all the Russias], of whom I am now a subject… I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein: SO HELP ME GOD.”
Though still not a US citizen, Hyman was required to register for the draft.
While he was registered in Chicago, Hyman was listed as an employee of the “Government” in Charleston, Virginia, indicating that he was traveling to the Southeast as a migrant laborer.
The 1920 US Census shows Hyman living as a boarder with Jacob and Jennie Sverlow, other Russian Jewish immigrants, at 1403 Rockwell Drive in Chicago. He is listed on line 7 at left.
Exactly four years after Hyman declared his intention to become a United States citizen, the US Department of Labor Immigration Service sent this document to the US Department of Labor Naturalization Service, certifying Hyman’s immigration to The United States at Ellis Island 7 years prior.
This document, filed August 3, 1920, was the next major step in the process of Hyman’s naturalization.
In it, Hyman officially declares his wife Rose and their five daughters back in Rezhnoy: Feige, Ethel, Veilke, Hanna, and Rivke, ages 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
As his immediate kin, this declaration would qualify them for American citizenship the following year, after Hyman’s own petition was fulfilled.
The back side of Hyman’s Petition for Naturalization, granting him full American citizenship, was not completed until November of 1921, in keeping with the five year waiting period following his Declaration of Intention.
“Upon consideration of the petition of [Chaim Chirom], and affidavits in support thereof, and further testimony taken in open Court, it is ordered that the said petitioner, who has taken the oath required by law, be, and hereby is admitted to become, a citizen of the United States of America, this  day of [Nov], A.D. 19.”
The document also officially changed his name to Hyman Victor.
These index cards were created to help government clerks locate completed Petitions for Naturalization. They are sorted by last name using Soundex, a pronunciation-based system which accounts for variations in the spelling of foreign names transliterated into English. For Hyman, there were two cards: one for Victor (Soundex V236); and one for his original surname, recorded inconsistently as either Chiry (Soundex C600, above) or Chirom.
The 1930 US Census provides the first evidence of the Victors living together as a family in America. Between the years 1913 and 1921 Hyman was in Chicago while his wife Rose and their five daughters Feige, Ethel, Veilke, Hanna, and Rivke, were still in Russia.
Upon arriving in America, the girls’ names were anglicized. On the census, the five Yiddish-speaking single white females were recorded as:
Florence, 21, saleslady, ladies wear.
Ethel, 20, general office, furniture.
Valerie, 19, office, retail dry goods.
Doris, 17, saleslady, not employed.
Ruth, 16, no occupation.
Hyman Victor is listed as the head of household, a carpenter, not a veteran of the military, in possession of a radio, and paying a rent of $62 per month at 1312 South Harding Avenue. Rose is listed as having no trade and unemployed.
By 1937, only the two youngest daughters, Doris and Ruth, were still living at home.
The Victors were at a new address: 4119 W. Grenshaw Street.
Hyman Victor’s wife Rose died of coronary thrombosis at the age of “about 59.”
“Rose Victor, late of 4141 Grenshaw avenue, beloved wife of Hyman Victor, dear mother of Florence Lasky, Ethel Malkin, Valerie Alexander, Doris Kapp, Ruth Gurvitz, and five grandchildren, sister of Louis Popper, the late Sam, and Morris Popper, and Jennie Rose Figarsky. Resting at chapel, 4225 W. Roosevelt road, where services will be held Monday, April 10, at 12 noon. Internment Waldheim. Please omit flowers.”
Hyman married Mary Skippin, age 58, the following year.
Hyman’s daughter Ruth Victor with her husband Bill Gurvitz and (left to right) their two sons Jeffery and Lawrence at Leonard Malkin’s bar-mitzvah in 1954.
Jeffery Gurvitz was killed in 1968 at the age of 24 fighting in Vietnam. His story served as the basis for the Academy Award-nominated documentary Regret to Inform, produced and directed by Jeffery’s widow Barbara Sonneborn.
In the 1940’s, Hyman went into the liquor business with his son-in-law Ben Malkin. Soon they helped Bill Gurvitz, another of Hyman’s five son-in-laws, get started with his own store. Ben sold Bill his old icebox at cost. And Hyman, still a carpenter, built him shelves and a bar. Bill named it Victor Liquors. Shots were a nickel and beers were a dime. It is now an empty lot next to an alley on the south side of Chicago.
After Mary died, Hyman married Anna Rubin, 10 years his junior, at the age 73. He died four years later.
Hyman was hospitalized at the University of Chicago A.M. Billings Hospital on April 1, 1960. He died eight days after being admitted.
Cause of death: Carcinoma of the Stomach with Metastasis
Hyman was buried next to his first wife Rose in the Rezinoier Progressive Verein section of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago. The verein was a landsmanshaftn, or immigrant aid society, associated with Hyman’s home town of Rezhnoy, in the Grodno province of the former Russian Empire.
While the cemetery remains, the verein as an organization no longer exists. It is now managed by the sexton Silverman and Weiss.
The Wisconsin granite slabs, at a height of 4′8″, were made by Kornick Monuments, a small business still owned and operated by the Kornick family in the Rogers Park area of Chicago.