While researching my Goldschlager/Rosenzweig relatives, I have also been continuing to work towards an answer to the question
of where in Galicia my ancestors Joseph and Bessie Brotman lived. The discovery of David Brotman, Joseph’s son from his first marriage, provided a new jumpstart to that research because David had listed two different home towns on his documentation: Tarnof on the ship manifest and Grambow on his naturalization papers. Unfortunately, that information seemed to conflict with what I had from Hyman’s papers—Jeekief and Giga.
After consulting with a few people in the field, my best guess is that the family came from Tarnobrzeg, then called Dzikow. A town called Grebow or Grybow is close by, and I am wondering whether David was born in Grebow, near Tarnobrzeg, when Joseph was married to Chaye Fortgang, and that Joseph moved to Dzikow/Tarnobrzeg when he married Bessie and when Chaim/Hyman was born. It’s a guess, but it’s the best I think I will be able to do, given the unreliability of the US records and our ancestors’ memories.
Having decided to make the assumption that Tarnobrzeg was the Brotman ancestral home, I then again researched the available resources online such as JRI–Poland, Gesher Galicia, and JewishGen, to see if there were any records that might be relevant, adding the surname Fortgang to my search since that is what David’s death certificate said had been his mother Chaye’s maiden name. I could not find any, and then I checked to see what records were even available in general for Tarnobrzeg.
I wrote to Stanley Diamond, the creator of JRI-Poland, and this is what he informed me: “Among all the towns listed [on JRI-Poland], Tarnobrzeg is the one with the fewest surviving records. They are the 1889-1911 births that are in the Polish State Archive branch in Sandomierz (for which we now have digital images) and the 1912-1937 birth records in the town hall in Tarnobrzeg.” Obviously, all of those records are too late for our family as the last child born in Galicia was Tillie in 1884. Just our luck—our relatives had to come from the place with the fewest surviving records.
Stanley told me not to give up all hope—that new records are sometimes discovered over time. And I will certainly keep renewing my search periodically, hoping that something does turn up. But for now, I think I have to accept the limitations of our ability to learn everything about our past.
So am I content with this? No, of course not. It’s particularly frustrating because it means I cannot go back any earlier than Joseph, Bessie and Chaye to find our earlier ancestors. I think that I can learn to be comfortable saying that my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman probably came from the Tarnobrzeg region of Galicia. That’s much better than what I could say last summer when I really started digging for answers. But being even 99% sure is not the same as knowing for certain, and I am not even close to 99% sure.
For those who are interested, here are two websites about Tarnobrzeg, the town where my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman probably lived.