Looking forward: Skiing on the Blue Trails

Having looked back to see what I have learned, I have also gained some insight into to what I still want to learn and what I need to do to get there.

There are a number of unresolved questions.  For me, the most important issue remains determining where our family lived in Galicia.  I am currently assuming that our family came from Dzikow Tarnobrzeg, but it’s only based on two forms completed by Hyman, one referring to Jeekief as his birthplace, the other referring to Giga as his birthplace.  Hyman’s forms had so many inconsistencies in terms of birth date and other facts that I do not want to rely too heavily on it being Dzikow Tarnobrzeg since, as my last post said, forms are not necessarily reliable.  Plus I am speculating that Jeekief/Giga is a phonetic spelling of Dzikow.  Plus there was another Dzikow in Galicia.  But I have to start somewhere, so that’s my current focus.

I am just starting to work with the sources available for documents from Galicia, and I need to devote a lot more time to learning how to search and how to interpret those forms.  I am networking with some other researchers who are also searching in that region or who are also searching for the surname Brotman.  So far nothing relevant has turned up.  I plan to take an online course in May that may help me become a better researcher with respect to these resources and documents.

The second goal I have for my research is trying to locate any other children or siblings of Joseph and/or Bessie.  My brother recalls that my aunt thought that Joseph had four older children in the United States—that is, four who were older than the five children he had with Bessie.  We have found two of those four—Abraham and Max.  There is another Brotman family from Passaic, New Jersey, that I am trying to learn more about.  From what I can tell, it seems there were two brothers, Jacob and Benjamin, who could possibly be sons of Joseph, born after Abraham but before Max.  I have been in touch with relatives of theirs, but as with the Brotmanville Brotmans, I can’t seem to find anything that links their family to ours.  I need to learn the name of the Passaic brothers’ parents before I can begin to determine if there is a connection.  I have the same goal with Brotmanville Brotmans, but without more research of European records for Moses Brotman, I cannot get any further.

So those are my two research goals: go further back in time to learn more about Joseph and Bessie’s families and to find links to other possible families in the United States or elsewhere.

I think that this process has a learning curve similar to learning many other new skills.  It reminds me of learning to ski.  At first it goes very slowly; you don’t know what you are doing and figure that you never will.  You find yourself on the ground as much as you are moving on the skis.  It seems like you will never make progress.  Then suddenly you figure it out—you know how to get down a novice trail pretty easily.  You even start to look like you are skiing, and you think, “Wow, I am actually making progress.  I am skiing.”

But then you decide to try a steeper trail, a blue trail.  If you are a skier like I was, you suddenly find you are stuck somewhere on that trail, staring down and thinking, “Whoa! That’s really scary.  I can’t do that!” And you feel like a beginner all over again.  You start falling, your turns get more awkward, and you look like a klutz compared to everyone else.  You start to think that maybe you will never get off those easy green trails.[1]

That’s what I feel like now.  I am standing at the top of a steeper trail, knowing that getting to the bottom will take a lot longer than it did with the green trail.   I don’t expect to find as many pieces of evidence as quickly as I did while looking for US documents.  But I have to start down this trail—I can’t just stay at the top or return to the green trails.  I need to jump off and start the next part of the adventure.  The rewards may not come as quickly, but when they do, I will once again have that feeling of accomplishment.

I hope you will follow me as I go.  I am not sure what I will find or whether I will find anything, but I am ready to try.


[1][1] I have to admit that as a skier, I never actually made much progress getting off the green trails.  I am hoping that I can get further in my genealogy skills than I ever got with skiing.  At least I won’t have to worry about breaking any bones.

4 thoughts on “Looking forward: Skiing on the Blue Trails

    • I didn’t quit—I retired! Two broken ankles were enough to convince me that it was time to switch to snowshoeing.

      As I said, I don’t have to worry about broken bones with genealogy!

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  1. You clearly found your calling as a law professor judging by your very skillful writing ability and passion for research. I’ve got to believe a book will come at some time from all that you are doing, the question is whether it is a novel or an instructional manual for researchers. I do believe with the right approach a novel and a movie actually would find a lot of interest for all of the immigrants who came to the US in the late 1800s to early 1900s and originally settled in NYC

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    • Thank you so much, Bruce! I think it would be fun to write a novel about our great-grandparents’ lives. I don’t know whether I can pull it off, but it is something to think about as I move towards retiring from teaching law. I’ve got a ways to go before I’d feel competent to teach others about research, but giving a class to beginners would be fun. I do love teaching, and I will miss that classroom experience when I retire (but nothing else about the law!).

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