In my last post, I described the research path I followed to determine whether and how Julius and Joe Goldfarb were related to my grandmother Gussie Brotman. After much searching, I had established the following with some degree of certainty:
Julius and Joseph Goldfarb were both sons of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb. Sarah and Sam had lived in Grombow/Grebow, Poland, before immigrating to the United States, which was the same town my great-uncles Abraham Brotman and David Brotman had listed as their home on the ship manifest when they immigrated in 1889. Sam Goldfarb had arrived in 1892, Sarah in 1896. Sarah came with four children, Julius (Joel), Morris (Moische), Gussie (Gitel), and Bessie (Pesie). They had sailed to Philadelphia, and in 1900, they were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, where my great-grandfather’s brother Moses Brotman was also residing. By that time, Sarah and Sam (called Solomon on the 1900 census) had had two more children: Joseph and Leo (or Lewis). Sam was working as a tailor, perhaps even in my grandmother’s first cousin Abraham Brotman’s factory in Pittsgrove, New Jersey.
By 1902, Sam and Sarah had moved to the Lower East Side of New York City where their seventh child, Rosie, was born on February 9, 1902. They were living across the street from my grandmother and her family on Ridge Street; my great-grandmother Bessie (Brod) Brotman was then a widow, as my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman had died in 1901. According to the 1905 census, Sam Goldfarb was working as a cloak maker.
In 1910, the Goldfarbs were living on Avenue C in New York, and Sam was still working as a tailor in a cloak factory. Their son Julius was working as a conductor on a street car, and Morris as a cutter in a neckwear factory.
In April 1910, Sam and Sarah’s daughter Gussie married Max Katz, a window decorator who was born in Russia; on the 1910 census, Gussie and Max are listed as living with Max’s parents in Brooklyn. According to the marriage index on FamilySearch, Gussie Goldfarb’s mother’s birth name was “Brohmen,” one of the clues that made me think that Sarah was a relative of my great-grandfather, Joseph Brotman.
In 1915, Gussie and Max had moved out on their own and were living on Malta Street in Brooklyn. Max was working in the men’s clothing business.
I found another clue for Sarah’s birth name on her son Julius’ marriage license, as indexed on FamilySearch: Sarah Brothman. Julius married Ida Hecht in November, 1913. In 1915, Sam and Sarah and the remaining five unmarried children (Morris, Bessie, Joe, Leo, and Rose) were still living on Avenue C in the same building as my great-uncle Hyman Brotman and his family. Sam was still working as a tailor, as was his son Morris.
Based on these two New York City marriage index listings, one for the marriage of Gussie Goldfarb and one for the marriage of Julius Goldfarb, it looked like their mother Sarah’s birth name was Brothman or Brohmen. To find out more, I would need to order the actual records plus any other vital records that might reveal Sarah’s parentage and family. So I ordered these two marriage records; I also ordered the birth record for Sarah and Sam’s last child, Rosie.
The marriage record for Gussie was consistent with the information on the NYC marriage index, except that it was evident that Gussie’s mother’s name was not spelled Brohmen, but Brotmen, on the actual certificate.
The actual marriage record for Julius Brotman and Ida Hecht was also consistent with what I’d seen on the index in terms of Sarah’s birth name—Brothman. But the record revealed a new mystery.
Ida’s mother’s birth name certainly looks like it was Taube Brotman, doesn’t it? (The index said Braitmer.) Who was this? Perhaps Taube Hecht had come to see my aunt as a baby not simply because her daughter Ida was married to my grandmother’s cousin Julius; maybe she came because she herself was a Brotman relative. I decided to put that mystery aside for the time being and focus on Sarah Goldfarb.
And Rosie Goldfarb’s birth record made me really scratch my head. It gave Sarah Goldfarb’s name before marriage as S. Braud or maybe Brand. Not Brotman or Brothman or Brotmen. I was confused. Was it Brod? Was Sarah actually my great-grandmother Bessie Brod’s sister, and not the sister of my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman. Obviously I needed to do more digging.
Having first worked backward in time, I now worked from 1915 forward to see what else I might find to help me determine if Sarah Goldfarb was a Brod or a Brotman. Both Julius and his brother Morris registered for the draft in World War I. I’d already seen the draft registration card for Julius, but had not seen the card for Morris. It added no new information, but confirmed that he was born in “Grombow Galicia Austria.”
On February 2, 1919, Morris married Anna Grinbaum in Brooklyn, according to the NYC marriage index. I ordered a copy of his marriage record, and his record listed his mother’s birth name as Sarah Brod. Now I had two records that indicated Sarah’s birth name was not Brotman, like my great-grandfather, but Brod, like my great-grandmother. I wanted to hit my head against the wall!
Tragedy struck the Goldfarb family when Sarah and Sam’s oldest daughter, Gussie, died on May 13, 1919 at age 29 from acute lobar pneumonia. As far as I can tell, Gussie and her husband Max Katz had not had any children. On Gussie’s death certificate, her parents’ names are listed as Solomon Goldfarb and Sarah Brotman. Another point for Brotman.
In 1920, Sam and Sarah only had three children still living with them: Joe (22), Leo (20), and Rose (18). Joe and Leo were both working as clerks for an express company, and Rose was working as a dressmaker. Sam was no longer working; he was now 64 years old. They were living on Williams Avenue in Brooklyn; I now knew that the “S. Goldfarb” on Williams Avenue listed in my grandfather’s notebook had to be either Sam or Sarah Goldfarb.
But where was their daughter Bessie? She had been living with the family in 1915, so I assumed she had married sometime between 1915 and 1920. I searched for her in the NYC marriage index, but there was no listing for a Bessie Goldfarb. Instead I found this record from the Michigan marriage database on Ancestry:
This is most definitely my cousin Bessie Goldfarb: she was born in “Austria,” her father was named Sam, her mother Sarah Brothman. But why was she a resident of Detroit? And how did she knew Meyer Malzberg? And most confusing, if she married him on August 9, 1914 as this record reports, was she really living back in Brooklyn when the NY census was taken in 1915?
It got even more bewildering. In 1910, Meyer Malzberg was living with his father and sister in New York City, working as a stock clerk in a department store. In fact, although he was born in Russia, he and his family had been living in New York City since their arrival in about 1900 (records conflict). So what were he and Bessie doing in Detroit in 1914?
In June, 1917, when Meyer registered for the World War I draft, he was still living in Detroit, working as a driver for the Detroit Creamery Company. He also claimed an exemption from service because he was supporting his father, his wife, and a child. So by 1917, Meyer and Bessie had had a child.
But if Meyer and Bessie had had a child between 1914 and 1917, why was Bessie living with her parents in New York in 1915 while Meyer was still apparently living in Detroit? A little more research revealed that that first child, a son named Norman, was born in New York in May, 1915; although the NY census is dated on the form as June 1, 1915, it must have been actually enumerated before then since the baby is not listed.
My best guess is that Bessie had come back to New York to have her baby where her family was living while Meyer stayed in Detroit to earn a living. Unfortunately, I was unable to find Bessie and Meyer on the 1920 census, but their second child Gustave was born in Brooklyn in 1919 and their two youngest sons Burton and Saul were born in Jersey City in the 1920s.
Obviously, the stay in Detroit was relatively short-lived, and Meyer and Bessie had returned to the New York metropolitan area before 1920. In fact, when I looked back at my grandfather’s notebook, I noticed that there was an entry for M. Malzberg at 361 2d Street, JC, or Jersey CIty:
Bessie’s brother Julius and his family were also living in Jersey City in 1920, and Julius was continuing to work in the liquor business; by 1920, they had two young daughters, Sylvia and Gertrude.
To review: as of 1920, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living with their children Joe, Leo, and Rose in Brooklyn; Julius and Ida were living in Jersey City; Morris and Anna were probably living in Brooklyn; Gussie was deceased; and Bessie and Meyer were living in either Jersey City or in Brooklyn.
At this point in my research, I started to move beyond 1920 and to look for living descendants to see what I might learn about the family and specifically about Sarah Goldfarb. I was very fortunate to find two of the descendants of Julius and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb. And they provided me with extensive family history notes that a member of the Goldfarb family had researched years before. More on what I learned from that research in my next post.
But for now, a summary of the clues I’d found so far about Sarah Goldfarb’s connection to my grandmother: three marriage records and one death record for Sarah’s children indicated that Sarah’s birth name had been “Brot(h)man,” but one marriage record for Morris and one birth record for Rose said it was “Brod” or “Braud.”
The evidence seemed to weigh in favor of Sarah being perhaps a sibling of my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman. Also pointing in that direction was the fact that when they first came to the US, Sam and Sarah had lived in the same town as Moses Brotman, my great-grandfather’s brother.
But then by 1902, Sarah and Sam had moved across the street from my great-grandmother after my great-grandfather had died. Did that suggest that Sarah was Bessie’s sister and had moved to New York to be closer to her widowed sister? Was Sarah a Brod, not a Brotman, as the wedding certificate for Morris and Rose’s birth certificate indicated?
Plus there were some conflicting clues raised by the naming pattern. If Sarah had a sister named Bessie (my great-grandmother), would she have named a child Bessie? But Sarah also had a son named Joseph who was born before my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman died. Would she have given a son the same name as her brother? Ashkenazi Jews don’t name their children after living relatives, so these name choices certainly confused the matter.
The evidence certainly was not conclusive. I needed more.
 Although the documents I found spelled the town several different ways, Grembow, Grombow, and Grebow, I believe that the last is the correct spelling. I searched JewishGen, and the only town with a name similar to those names that had had a Jewish community before the Holocaust was Grebow, the town I visited in 2015, the town right near Tarnobrzeg.