POLYAKOV, family of railroad builders and bankers in Russia, headed by the brothers Jacob, Samuel, and Eliezer. They originated in Dubrovno, Belorussia. JACOB (1832–1909) began his economic career as a liquor excise farmer and later went on to railroad construction. He participated in the founding of the Don-Azov and other Russian banks and also acted as the vice chairman of the jewish colonization association in Russia. He received a Russian title of nobility. SAMUEL (1837–1888) was one of the most important railroad builders in Russia. He was responsible for laying over 1,600 mi. (2,500 kms.) of railroads, including the Kozlov (Michurinsk)-Rostov and the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov lines, and strategic railroads in Romania during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. He also founded the South Russian Coal Mining Society and several important banks (Moscow Estate Bank, Don Estate Bank, etc.). He contributed generously to Russian educational and cultural institutions and showed a special concern for technical education (he founded the first technical school for railroad construction in Yelets in 1867 and the first school for mining in Korsun). He was unpopular among Jews because of his refusal to employ Jewish workers in his enterprises, but   toward the end of his life played a role in Jewish public life. He initiated the foundation of the ORT organization, participated in negotiations with the minister of the interior P.N. Ignatyev in 1881–82 and contributed to the construction of the synagogue of St. Petersburg. He received a Russian title of nobility. ELIEZER (1842–1914) constructed railroads in partnership with his brother Samuel and was one of the leading bankers in Moscow. He was president of the Moscow Estate Bank and in 1873 founded the Polyakov Bank. He invested large sums in the development of industries in Russia and Persia. Eliezer was president of the Jewish community of Moscow and received a Russian title of nobility. In 1908, after a crisis befell his enterprises, he was removed from the majority of them by the government. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Mazeh, Zikhronot, 2 (1936), 10–20. (Yehuda Slutsky)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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