I received Tillie’s death certificate yesterday, and as I expected, it did not contain any new information about where our family lived in Galicia. It does, however, confirm that she was the daughter of Joseph and Bessie Brotman (not that I had any doubts) and was born in Austria. Of course, it has a different birthdate from other documents; some documents say she was born in 1884, some 1887, and this one says 1882. The ship manifest which lists her as a passenger in 1891 has her age as six years old, giving her a birth year of 1884 or 1885. The month of her birth is also inconsistent. The 1900 census said her birthday was in February; the death certificate says August.
Interestingly, the death certificate itself has two different ages listed for Tillie at her death. On the left side (filled out by her son Joseph, as far as I can tell), it says she was born in 1882 and was 73 years old at the time of her death, i.e., February 1956, which would be consistent with a birthday of August 23, 1882. It also says she was a resident of NYC for 71 of those years, however, meaning she arrived when she was two years old, i.e, in 1884. Well, we know she came in 1891, so that can’t be correct. On the right side, typed in by the hospital, it says her approximate age was 70 years old at the time of her death, meaning she would have been born in 1886. So…let’s compromise and say she was born in February, 1884, which is what her own parents told the census taker in 1900.
What the certificate really confirmed for me, however, is what an excellent memory my mother has. She had just told me over Thanksgiving that Tillie had lived on the Grand Concourse with her sons Joe and Harry and that she had died at a hospital on Welfare Island. I have to say that when I saw both those facts confirmed in the death certificate, I was very impressed (though not surprised) that my mother had remembered such specific details, especially since I often can’t remember things that happened much more recently.
I was curious about Bird S. Coler Hospital where Tillie died because my mother had very sad memories of visiting her aunt there. It had opened in 1952 as a public hospital on Welfare Island (now called Roosevelt Island) as a rehabilitation and long-term nursing facility, so it was a relatively new hospital at the time Tillie was there. It still exists today, now called Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, and still functions as a public chronic care facility.
I am now just waiting for Hyman and Sophie’s marriage certificate, and I think I will have all the American “vital records” that exist for Joseph and Bessie and their seven children.
- Another day, another death certificate, and more confusion (brotmanblog.wordpress.com)
- Tillie’s Story (brotmanblog.wordpress.com)
- The Illusion of Accuracy: Hyman Brotman’s Story (brotmanblog.wordpress.com)