by Iris Buten Newman Feb 1997, revised by Max Buten Dec 2006.

The following is thanks mostly to my father, Harry Mish Buten, from stories he told us when we were young, and from notes that he put together after he and Mother talked to Dvorah Sirota in Jerusalem in 1959. Information on the Polson and Levansky branches has been amplified through the research of Melissa Lori Shingles, the great great niece of Fannie Fineman Polson, the wife of Joshua (Joe) Polson. (MS)

The Polyvensky Family in Buten

In the 19th century, the family lived in the town of Byten, on the River Schara, in Russsia (52 54 N, 25 29 E). The town is still there; the area is now part of Belorus. The y in Byten is pronounced "you", so Byten is pronounced Byuten, like our name. It rhymes with Rasputin.

The patriarch was named Isah Simcha. He eventually moved to Jerusalem, where he died and was buried on the Mt. of Olives. (HMB 59)
His son, Moishe Michel, also moved to Jerusalem with his wife, about 1905. He was a rabbi at Yeshiva Aitz Chaim in Jerusalem. He and his wife are also buried on the Mt. of Olives. (HMB 59)

While still in Byten, the couple had four children, Lionel (Yehudah), Michael, Max (Mordechai), and Judith.

Polyvensky becomes Polson – Levansky – Buten

Young men could avoid conscription for 6 years or more in the Tsar's army (Lincoln) if they were the oldest son of the family, so the family split in three. Our family name, Polyevensky (or Polyevansky or Polyavinski), was divided between two sons. Lionel took Polson and Michael took the last name Levansky. Max, left without any of the family name, took the name of the town, Buten.


Lionel Polson moved to 20 St John St, Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, where his two sons, Moses and Joshua, and daughter Fannie (or Fanny or Fay) were born, and then to Montreal. "I checked the Burial Registry at the Jewishgen website and found out that Lionel died in March of 1954 and is buried in the Baron de Hirsch cemetery in Montreal. I then checked the Montreal directories on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal's site and found Lionel's addresses over the twenty year period he lived in that city. According to the directory, his daughter Fannie (listed as Fay) lived with him for many years. I haven't found her place of burial yet. Another link mentions Regnai Zive, living in Ayrshire, Scotland, who married Lionel Polson and had a daughter Judith in 1912. (This link does not mention Lionel's son Joshua, who was born 4 years earlier.) I'm not sure what happened to Josh's mother (death? divorce?) but the Jewish Genealogical Society has a 1931 marriage record for Lionel Polson and a woman named Pearl Rosenbaum." (MS)

Mish Buten's datebook for 1945 has "Lionel Polson, 2842A Park Ave, Montreal."

Moses (Moshe) Polson was in the British army in WWII in the Middle East, where he died and was buried in the Beirut cemetary. "I found a memorial page for him here. Apparently Moshe died on November 17, 1943 in a roadside accident in Syria. I found another mention of him on a different website and it says that he had joined the British Army to fight the Nazis."(MS) Later she added "I found a record for Moshe Polson on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site. I am also attaching a death notice that appeared in the Palestine Post on November 25, 1943."

Joshua Polson, born 1908-06-01, came from Montreal to Philadelphia in 1926, stayed initially with the Max Buten family, and worked in the M. Buten & Sons warehouse for many years. "He married Fannie Fineman sometime after 1938. She was about 16 years older than Joe. At her death in 1959, they were living at 415 Ritner St. in Philadelphia. She is buried in Roosevelt cemetary in Philadelphia."(MS)


Levensky moved to Chicago. In 1934, Lionel Polson came through Detroit on his way to Chicago to visit his brother, "Rabbi Michael Levansky" in Chicago. (MS) After he died, "Mrs. M.M. Levinsky, 3449 Douglass Blvd, Chicago" (HMB 45), his widow, Rachel, moved to Israel, lived in Bet Hatikvah and in 1959 was living in B'nei Brak. (HMB 59)

"I found an obituary for one of Michael's daughters at http://juf.org/news_public_affairs/article.asp?key=7288. Her married name was Ruth Kaufman and it mentions her parents' last name as Levensky. She died in April of this year (2006) and was the last surviving child of Michael and Rachel." (MS)



Max Buten 1865-1929 Fannie Buten 1865-1946

Max Buten, a yeshiva student with a wife, Fannie (nee Kass, born 1864 or 1865-09-25), and a daughter, Sophie (HMB 45), came to Philadelphia in 1889, according to the census of 1900.(JLW) Fannie was his 3rd cousin (HMB 37). He was in business as a glazier in 1897, opened up a glass store by the next year, and with his sons expanded it to sell paint. Eventually the family had a chain of stores and prospered.

Their eight children: Sophie (Friedberg)(1889-05-10 to 1945-02-15), Annie (Goldberg) (1891-12-10 to 1962-03-11), Isadore (1893-09-08 to 1966-11-), J Sam (1895-10-27 to 1984-01-04), Lottie (Josephs)(1898-03-01 to ), Mottie (1900-02-17 to 1963-03-12), Esther (Levin) (1902? to ), Harry (Mish) (1904-06-12 to 1971-04-05).

Children of Harry M & Nettie Buten (1902-10-12 to 1998-03-02):

Note to our cousins: please send Max your names, dates, descendants, links etc.


Judith, the daughter of Moishe Michel, apparently married a man named Serota in Europe. Their son, Jacob Serota, came to Jerusalem at the age of 5 in about 1905 with his grandfather. Jacob married a widow, Dvorah Sofer. (HMB 59) Jacob was first cousin to the 8 children of Max Buten and the two Polson children.

Somewhere along the line, parts of the family took up residence in England or Scotland long enough to acquire British citizenship. (IN)

Jacob & Dvorah's children, (second cousins to Lionel, Hessel, Evelyn, Sylvia, Elsie, Leonard, Elinor, Warren, Ira, Marc, Marcia, Marjorie, Joan, Max, Iris, David, Bebe, etc.) were

  1. Moshe Shaul, born 1925, a Rabbinic scholar and teacher at a yeshiva
  2. Hannah Yehudith Bergman, born 1927. Married Joseph Moses Bergman
  3. Isaac Zeb (Itzhak Zeev), born 1928 - 3 children. Rabbinic scholar & teacher at a yeshiva.
  4. Haya Rizel Weisfish - born 1930. 5 children
  5. Yafa Eisenstein - 1 child
  6. Malka Milstein - no children
  7. Yona Braverman - recently married.
  8. Samuel Serota, born 1940? Rabbinic student, unmarried.
  9. Marcia Serota, born 1943? Kindergarten teacher.

Hannah married Joseph Moses Bergman and had 7 children (Information as of 1959: Rebecca, Jacob, Leah, Abraham, David, Dronah, Nachum. (HMB 59) The children are third cousins to Lita, Stephen, Kenneth, Norma, Eric, Judy, Mitchell, Michael, Michael, Gary, Matthew, Collin Mottie, John, Melissa, etc.


(HMB 37) Harry M Buten, on the back of a bill dated July 21, 1937
(HMB 45) Harry M Buten, dates noted in datebooks for 1945 and 1963
(HMB 59)) Harry M Buten, notes dated Jerusalem, 6-17-59
(MS) Information on the Polson and Levansky branches has been greatly amplified through the research of Melissa Lori Shingles, mlsgenealogy (at) att (dot) net, sent to Max Buten by email in Nov-Dec 2006. Melissa is the great great niece of Fannie Fineman Polson, the wife of Joshua (Joe) Polson.
(IN) Oral history from Iris Buten Newman, as emailed in 1997
(Lincoln) Lincoln, W. Bruce: The great reforms: autocracy, bureaucracy, and the politics of change in Imperial Russia, DeKalb, Ill: Northern Illinois University Press, 1990 (p.158:) As of 1874 … every Russian male now had to register for military service between the ages of 16 and 20 … a 15-year term … with those who had the least education serving the longest terms (up to six years) in the active forces. … Men … who could claim to be only sons … could request exemption from the draft.

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This page last updated December 10, 2006.

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