One thing I have been trying to do as part of my preparations for our visit to Tarnobrzeg and the surrounding towns is a last ditch effort to find some other clues as to where my Brotman ancestors lived. I have gone back through the research I’ve done on my great-grandparents and their Galician born children, Abraham, Max, David, Hyman, and Tillie, and have found no new clues. Then I realized that now that I have some DNA confirmation that my great-grandfather Joseph was the brother of Moses Brotman of Brotmanville, I needed to go through their records as well to see if I could find some new clues. I had done an initial search a few years ago, but had not yet gone back and checked it more thoroughly.
What I already knew was that Moses Brotman had had many children, some born in Europe, some born in the US. His oldest (known) child was his son Abraham, who was born in Europe. Abraham Brotman had originally settled in New York City and established a cloak factory there, but was invited by those who created the Alliance Colony in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, to start a factory there to employ the residents when the farming season ended. Eventually, a section of Pittsgrove was named Brotmanville in his honor.
At this point I will not tell the full story of the Brotmanville family in America; that will have to wait. My immediate objective in reviewing my research of the Brotmanville Brotmans was to see if I could find any records that revealed where Moses and his family had lived before arriving in the US. So I had to focus first on those who had been born in Europe, not those who were born in the US, although that meant also looking for records for the children born here to see if those records revealed the birthplaces of their European born parents
What I knew from the descendants and from my earlier research was that Moses had been married twice and Abraham had been the child of his first marriage. Although the census records for Abraham are in conflict about his birthdate, the earliest to include his age, the 1900 census, reported his birthdate to be November 1863, long before Moses married Ida, the woman with whom he immigrated to America.
Looking at the 1900 census report for Abraham, by 1900 he and his wife, Minnie Hollender, had been married for 13 years and had had six children, five of whom were still alive. All six children were born in the US. Abraham reported that he had arrived in the US in 1884, three years before marrying Minnie. Their children as of 1900 were Joseph (10), Samuel (7), Gilbert (6), Nephtaly (later Herman) (4), and Leah (2). They were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and Abraham was working as a manufacturer.
The 1910 census for Abraham and his family is only somewhat consistent with that of the 1900: his age is 47, still giving him a birth year of 1863, but now his birthplace is reported as Russia. He and Minnie now reported that they had had eleven children, nine of whom were still alive. In addition to the five listed above, there were three more daughters and one more son.
The 1920 census reported one more child and once again had Abraham’s birthplace as Austria. However, he now claimed to be 48, thus born in 1872, not 1863 as previously reported. Later records also made him ten years younger than had been reported on the 1900 and 1910 census reports. Genealogists generally assume that the records closest in time are more likely to be accurate than those later in time (and people are more likely to make themselves younger as they get older), so I am inclined to assume that Abraham was born in 1863. It also makes more sense that he was 21 when he immigrated, not 11. But where was he born? Austria? Russia? And in what city or town?
Since both the 1930 and the 1940 census reported his birthplace as Austria, I am inclined to discount the 1910 and assume that the 1900, 1920, 1930 and 1940 census reports indicating his birthplace as Austria are more accurate. And, of course, “Austria” meant within the Austria-Hungary Empire, just as it did for my great-grandparents and many other immigrants from that region, including Galicia.
But then where more specifically was he born? Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a death record for Abraham, and the death records I have for his children are no more specific. For example, the death certificate for his oldest child, Joseph, only reports that his father’s birthplace was Austria.Samuel’s death certificate says that his father’s birthplace was Russia. Abraham’s youngest child, Aaron, who was born in 1911, died as a young man in 1939 from heart disease. His death certificate indicates that his father was born in Austria. Those were the only sources I have located so far that reflect anything about where Abraham was born. I also had no records of what his mother’s name was nor did I have any indication of full siblings for Abraham, only the half-siblings born through his father’s second marriage. So I then turned to Abraham’s father Moses and his children to see if there was more to learn through their records.
The earliest record I had found for Moses was his petition for naturalization, filed in 1894. It had his birthplace as Russia. It also said that he had arrived in the US in 1885.
The 1900 US census reported his birthplace and date as Austria in November 1844. It also reported that he had immigrated in 1886 and that he was a farmer. Like his son Abraham, he was living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey with his wife “Chay” (probably Chaya), to whom he’d been married for sixteen years. (Abraham was already 37 in 1900, indicating that Abraham was not Chaya’s son.) Moses and Chaya had had eight children, seven of whom were alive, according to the 1900 census. The seven were Sadie (16), Katie (13), Samuel (10), Lilly (7), Isaac (5), Bessy (2), and Lewis (three months)[It is spelled “Lewis” on the census, but according to his grandson, his name was actually spelled “Louis.”] The youngest four were born in New Jersey, Katie in New York, and Sadie and Samuel reportedly in Austria. Of course, that made no sense to me—if Katie was older than Samuel, how could he have been born in Austria if she was born in New York? Had Moses and Chaya returned to Europe at the time Katie was born? Or was the census just in error? If they really had immigrated in 1886 and if Samuel was 10 in 1900, he must have been born in the US.
The other thing that struck me as very strange about this report was the fact that Moses had a son named Samuel as did his son Abraham. In 1900 Moses’ Samuel was ten; Abraham’s was seven. So Abraham’s son Samuel had an uncle three years older with the same name. When I turned to the 1910 census report for Moses and his family, that became even stranger, as now Moses had had another child, a son named Joseph, who was seven as of 1910. Abraham also had a son named Joseph, who was seventeen in 1910. So Abraham’s son Joseph had an uncle Joseph who was ten years younger than he was. In addition, both Moses and Abraham had daughters named Lilly or Lillian; Moses’ daughter was born in February 1892; Abraham’s daughter was born September 5, 1898. Why would Moses and Abraham have given their children the same names? Perhaps they were named for the same ancestors, but it must have been awfully confusing in Pittsgrove to have two Samuel Brotmans., two Joseph Brotmans, and two Lilly Brotmans running around that small community. It sure doesn’t help genealogists either.
The 1910 census report for Moses now had his wife’s name as Ida, which was a common Americanization of Chaya. Moses was now working as a presser in a clothing factory, presumably the one owned by his son Abraham. As with the 1900 census for Abraham, Moses’ birthplace is now given as Russia, not Austria. He and Ida had six of their children living with them: Samuel (20), Lilly (15), Isaac (14), Bessie (12), Lewis/Louis (10), and the above-mentioned Joseph (7). The birthplace for all the children was New Jersey, except for Samuel, whose birthplace was reported as Russia, same as his parents. Sadie and Katie were no longer living with their parents. Unfortunately, I have not yet found any records for what happened to Sadie or Katie, although their father’s obituary revealed their married names and their residence as of 1935 in Philadelphia.
It took me forever to track down Moses Brotman and his family on the 1920 census, and although I am not 100% certain this is the right family, I am fairly certain that it is. The head of household is Morris Brotman, wife Clara—another common Americanization of Chaya. Morris was reported to be 70 years old, so born around 1850, not far off from his birthdate on the 1900 census. Birthplace is given as Russia for Morris, Austria for Clara, and it reported that immigrated in 1887, close to the 1886 reported in 1900. The most convincing support for this being the right family are the names and ages of the children: Lillian (21), Louis (20), Bessie (19), and Joseph (17). Although Lilly would have been 25 and Bessie 22, the sons’ ages are accurate; maybe they lied about the daughters’ ages to make them appear more “marriageable.” The family was now living in Philadelphia, not New Jersey, which at first I found odd.
But then I checked for the older sons, Samuel and Isaac (now Irving) and found that both had married between 1910 and 1920 and were living in Philadelphia. Although I still have not located the two older daughters Sadie and Katie, perhaps they also had married by then and moved to Philadelphia. Maybe Moses and Ida/Clara/Chaya also moved there to be closer to all their children.
Thus, I now had conflicting birthplaces for Moses—one census said Austria, two said Russia. I looked at the 1930 census, and once again there was a conflict. Now Moses’ birthplace was reported as Austria-Hungary, then crossed out with “Europe” written above it. His parents’ birthplace, however, was given as Austria-Hungary. Moses was now 80 years old, and he and his wife (now Ida again) and their youngest son Joseph (28) were living in Vineland, New Jersey, near Pittsgrove. So as with Abraham, the birthplace for Moses fluctuated back and forth between Russia and Austria with no specific town or city mentioned. Perhaps Moses really did not know where in Europe he was actually born.
Moses died on September 23, 1935. His death certificate said he was born in Austria in 1847 and that his parents were named Abraham Brotman and Sadie Berstein, also born in Austria. His grandson Aaron Brotman was the informant, Abraham’s youngest son who would die himself just a few years later. Moses’ wife’s name was given as Rachel Rice. This has caused considerable confusion for the family. Was this a third wife? A mistake?
In the obituary for Moses, it says he was survived by his widow, but did not name her. It did, however, name all his children (including the married names for Sadie and Katie, as indicated above) and their residences.
I found the death certificate for his youngest child, Joseph, who died less than a year after his father on July 26, 1936, from bacterial endocarditis. He was only 34 years old. On his death certificate, Moses’ birthplace is once again given as Russia, and Joseph’s mother’s name is reported to be Rachael Rice. The informant was Joseph’s half-brother, Abraham Brotman.Since Moses’ wife on the 1910 census was Ida and since Joseph was born in 1902, it would seem likely that Ida was Joseph’s mother. Or could Chaya have been Rachel Rice and then died after Joseph was born? Was Ida a third wife? And was she the same woman as Clara, the wife listed on the 1920 census, or was that a fourth wife? My own personal hunch was that Rachel, Chaya, Ida and Clara are all one and the same person.
Although I was able to find the death certificate for Irving Brotman, it had no information for the name of his mother, had his father’s name as Morris, and had no information for their birthplaces. I was, however, able to find the following entries in the New Jersey, Births and Christening Index on Ancestry.com for two of Moses’ children:
|Birth Date:||2 Feb 1892|
|Birth Place:||Pit, Salem, New Jersey|
|Father’s name:||Moritz Brotman|
|Mother’s name:||Chai Reis|
|FHL Film Number:||494224|
|Birth Date:||12 May 1897|
|Birth Place:||Pit , Salem, New Jersey|
|Father’s name:||Moses Brotman|
|Father’s Birth Place:||Austria|
|Mother’s name:||Clara Rice|
|Mother’s Birth Place:||Austria|
|FHL Film Number:||494236|
Notice that the mother’s name was Chai Reis on the first, then the more Americanized Clara Rice on the later one. These were both created before the 1900 census listing of Moses’ wife as Chaya, the 1910 listing as Ida, the 1920 listing as Clara, or the 1930 listing again as Ida. Notice that the surname is Reis/Rice, the same surname given for Moses’ wife on his death certificate in 1935 and that of his son Joseph in 1936. I find this last bit of evidence enough to conclude that Rachel Rice was the same woman who married Moses in 1884 or so, immigrated with him and their first two children, and gave birth to and raised nine children from Sadie, born in 1884, through Joseph, born in 1902. In 1940 after Moses had died, Ida (aka Chaya-Clara-Rachel) was living with her son Lewis/Louis and his wife Jean and their daughter Elaine in Vineland, New Jersey. According to Elaine, Ida died about three years later. Unfortunately I have not yet located a death record or obituary for Ida.
Thus, reviewing all the records I had found had not brought me any closer to learning exactly where Moses Brotman or Abraham Brotman had been born or where they had lived in Europe. But while searching, I stumbled upon something else. I will report on that as my last post before I leave for my trip.
 Relatives of the Brotmanville Brotmans say family lore is that the family was from Preszyml, a town about 90 miles from Tarnobrzeg, Grebow, and Radomysl nad Sanem, the other ancestral towns where possible family members lived. But I have not found any record supporting that family lore.
 A few geographical facts are necessary to understand the locations discussed in this post. Brotmanville is an unincorporated community within the township of Pittsgrove so Pittsgrove is listed on the census records, not Brotmanville. The colony where Baron de Hirsch and others created the farming settlement for poor Jewish immigrants was called the Alliance Colony. Vineland is a neighboring community where many of the Brotmans lived over the years.
Wow; so much research Amy and such a frustrating outcome. My family is rife with multiple children being given the same names (including middle names, because of the way the
Scottish naming pattern works) and it is so frustrating. Most of my lot come from the same small area of Scotland and I have sometimes found three people of roughly the same age, with exactly the same name living in the same town. I know they are related to each other and to me, but it takes ages to figure out how. And of course, the further back I go, the harder it is to confirm identity. I guess that you probably don’t have any more avenues to explore on this question, but I hope you have a enjoyable and successful trip. All the best, Su.
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Thanks so much, Su. I cannot imagine what it was like for all those people running around with the same names. I didn’t like it when there were five Amys in my French class one year—but we all had different surnames at least! I wish they’d all been a little bit more creative with the names! Thanks for your good wishes.
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🙂 I guess it’s the opposite of contemporary naming, which seems to involve making something up and then giving it eccentric spelling.
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So true—I read to a class of third graders this year (8 year olds), and for the life of me I could not remember any of their names except for the few who had names like Jessica and Jonathan.
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You have to wonder what it will be like in 60 or 70 years when there are a whole lot of little old ladies called Savannah and Tayla and Latisha (or some variation on those spellings). But then I guess people called Doris were young once 🙂
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LOL! So true!! 🙂
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Great summary of the rewards and challenges of family research. Kudos on realizing the ‘3rd and 4th wives’ were really the same woman as the 2nd. I too am preparing for a Ancestral/vacation overseas. I find it difficult to organize the information, because I get distracted by more research. 🙂
Thanks, Treena. I know what you mean…I keep trying to focus on the logistics and keep getting distracted. Enjoy Erbes-Budesheim, and please share what you see and learn.
Amy, you are just amazing, and this is all so fascinating! Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you, Bonnie! Without the support of my Brotman cousins, I’d never have gotten this far. I will report back with photos and stories!
Very cool stuff Amy
Sent on the new Sprint Network from my Samsung Galaxy S®4.
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Thank you, Bruce! Hope all is well with you and yours.
Very interesting, as always. I found myself wondering if the confusion over European nationalities could be tied in any way to political convenience, especially as Austrian/German/Hungarian alliances were so intricately involved at that time?
Everything conspires to make your European trip an intriguing and rewarding one. Bon voyage!
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I think that with all the shifting boundaries, it was hard to know what country controlled that region in what is now eastern Poland/western Ukraine. I think people who lived there identified by the town or maybe as Galicia but not as any particular country.
Amy I have a large file to upload to you, is there any that I do it. Email adr., etc. Richard Jacobs
Hi Richard, I think you have my email, but I will email you.
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I am not sure how I found your blog, but I’m glad that I did. I am Robert Brotman and was born in
New Jersey in 1937 and my grandfather’s name was Abraham. However, I am not related to the Brotmanville Brotmans. I never knew about Brotmanville until about 1985 when my son met a grandson of the Brotmanville founder while at NYU film school. The friend made a film about Brotmanville for his school project and I watched it. By the way, I note that you never mentioned Norma,NJ which is another unincorporated village in Pittsgrove near Alliance and Brotmanville. Norma was Abraham Brotman’s wife.
My own Abraham grandfather lived in NYC and his wife’s name was Riva. He had five brothers or
was one of five brothers. He came to the US from Lemberg. He had three sons Harry, Charles and my father Frank. One of my grandfather’s brothers lived in Miami, FL his name was Reeven (sp?). He had a nephew who moved to Philadelphia and spelled his name with two t’s Brottman.
Have you ever come across my branch in your searches?
Hi, Rob. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am on the road but will email you when I get home.
My name is Moshe Ashin, a great grandson of Moses Brotman, grandson of Louis Brotman and son of Elaine Ashin. Great reading! However I would like to make just a small correction. My grandfather Louis Brotman A”H, spelled his name as it appears in the newspaper obituary of Moses Brotman. “Louis” and not Lewis as you have it in the article.
All the best from Israel
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Hello, cousin! I am delighted that you have reached out to me. I have been in touch with your mother for many years now. I will go and make the spelling change. Thanks!
I went back and looked at the post and the census records. In almost every census his name was spelled “Lewis,” not “Louis”—that explains why I used that spelling. I’ve made a note in the post that the family reported that his name was actually spelled Louis. Census enumerators were often not careful about name spellings.
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I think I’m a cousin! The story I heard about my great grandfather Nathan Brotman was that he had immigrated from Europe (Kamenetz-Podolsk) to Philadelphia, but in the first decade of the 19th century had to escape, to Montreal, because of something to do with a union. My Brotmans, in Montreal, had been in touch with Brotmans (and Malamedsons) in Philadelphia for some time. I found a newspaper report of one of my Brotman great aunts’ 1925 marriage, and they listed Brotmans and Malamedsons and names I was unfamiliar with who came to the wedding from Philadelphia.
Please get in touch!
Rich Tasgal (son of Carol Tasgal nee Brotman, originally from Montreal)
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My Brotman family came from Tarnobrzeg, but who knows? I will email you. Thanks for reaching out!