Concept

Paragon Oil

Résumé
Paragon Oil was an American oil company, founded in 1925 in New York City by the Schwartz family, and sold to Texaco in the late 1950s. It is not related to the Paragon Oil Company operating today in Brooklyn. Paragon Oil was founded by brothers Henry, Irving, Robert, Benjamin, and Arnold Schwartz. The brothers, and their sister Bess Schwartz Levy, were first-generation Americans, all born between 1896 and 1909 in Brooklyn, New York. Their parents were Sam (Sholem) (née Chernofski) Schwartz, born circa June 1866, and Lena (Liba Chasia) Krakofsky, born circa March 1871, who were Jewish immigrants originally from the Mala Berezianka, Kivshovata, Tarascha, and Belaya Tserkov (Bila Tserkva) area, south of Kiev in Kiev oblast, Ukraine, who had immigrated to the United States between 1891 and 1895. The family's original surname had been spelled in various Russian Empire records as Chernofski, Cherninsky, Chernuavsky, and/or Chernyansky, derived from the Russian word for "black" and was changed to Schwartz, the German word for "black", upon emigration. Sam was the oldest or second oldest of seven Chernofski/Schwazrtz siblings, six of whom came to the US, and had originally been a leading blacksmith who owned many horses, wagons, and vast property in and around Belaya Tserkov. Despite this well-off background, the family was poor upon arrival in New York. Sam worked once again as a blacksmith, but now in eastern Brooklyn. When they were young, elder brothers Henry and Irving went door-to-door in Brooklyn carrying around sacks of coal on their backs, peddling it to the nearby homes and residential buildings to earn extra money for their family. At that time, some large commercial buildings had oil-fired furnaces, but residential buildings did not. A combination of factors, including the equipment available at their father's blacksmith shop and the experience of their relatives back in Ukraine who were involved in the whale oil business, led to the brothers experimenting, designing, and finally building the first oil heaters designed for residential buildings, which eventually earned the family several patents on the design.
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