This comes from my research into Irving Mills, during which I scoured census records and ships logs (they emigrated from Odessa). The family name in the United States was Minsky; they Americanized their names. The family can be found in the 1900 U.S. census living at 176 Essex Street in Manhattan. Many of their neighbours were fellow Russians.
BUT - regarding the name Isadore I wrote, based on that 1900 census:
"Hyman (Irving's father) was thirty-four years old that June and headed a household consisting of his wife Sophia (thirty years old), and sons Jacob (eight years old) and another son of six whose name is barely legible but could have been Isidor (italics mine)."
I made a mistake writing this. First, neither Isidor nor Isadore are Russian names (although rare in the Jewish diaspora, the names are usually found in England and France). Second, as you can see from the census record (it should expand if you click on it), the writing is indistinct. All of the other family members can be clearly read (with a bit of concentration) but Irving's entry is, well, illegible.
|1900 U.S. census - the Minskys are listed near|
the bottom at 08 (possibly meant to be 108)
I had stared at this entry for long periods. In the end I thought "the name is barely legible but could be Isidor."
Now it has become "fact" that Irving was born Isidor (or Isadore).
From supposition to fact.
It is certainly untrue. I should have simply written that the name is indecipherable.
Irving Mills was the pseudonymous "Joe Primrose," who was given credit for writing "St. James Infirmary," the only song that has his name. Among many other clients (including Milton Berle), Mills managed the careers of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. He started a record company. With his brother Jack he ran one of the most successful music publishing houses of the era.
On the 1896 ship's log which brought the family to the U.S. from Odessa, when Irving was two, their names were recorded as Chaim (a hatmaker), Schifre, Jacob, and Isaac. That should have been enough.
Ps Terry Teachout in his biography of Duke Ellington, Duke: The Life of Duke Ellington, wrote "No biography of (Irving) Mills has been written. The best short treatment of his life and work is in Harwood."