The family story is that Max Levitt (d. 1935) changed his name to Levitt from Levitas because he thought Levitas "sounded too fancy." My mother-in-law remembers that her maternal grandfather Max Levitt had a sister, Sophie, who married Samuel Litwin, (I wrote about one of their sons here) and a brother, who ran a garter manufacturing company in New York City. I am collecting more information on these siblings with the hope of finding out more about Max Levitt's origins.
Since my mother-in-law couldn't remember Max's brother's given name, I started by searching census records at ancestry.com for the surname Levitas in New York City (all boroughs), no first name, born in Austria in 1865 +/- 5 years. The top results show a given name of Emanuel (or a variation on the name):
Sure enough, when I looked at a couple of the images, the occupation is Manufacturer of Garters:
|1910 U.S. Census, Brooklyn, NY: occupation for Emanuel Levitas|
|1920 U.S. Census, Brooklyn, NY: occupation for Emanuel Levitas|
So I've started with census records (Federal census records, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, N.Y State census records for 1905 and 1915, and New Jersey State census record for 1895) and pieced together this family. Soon I hope to share more of what I have found on this Levitas family beyond census records.
See the family in a variety of census records from 1895 to 1915 here. And see them in more census records from 1920 to 1940 here.