Oh, Happy Day! Tillie Hecht Mystery, Part II

I was just about to throw in the towel.  I couldn’t find one additional clue about Taube Brotman Hecht and whether she was related to me.  There were no records online to help.

According to the 1900 and 1905 census records, Jacob Hecht and his wife Tillie lived in the Lower East Side and then by 1910 had moved to Brooklyn.  Jacob was a tailor, and in 1910 their son Harry was working as a bookkeeper in a department store and their daughter Ida was also employed, but I can’t quite make out her job: operator in a button or butter something?

jacob-and-tillie-hecht-1910-census

Jacob and Tillie Hecht 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 16, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_964; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0329; FHL microfilm: 1374977

Ida Hecht occupation on 1910 census

Ida Hecht occupation on 1910 census

In 1913, Ida married Julius Goldfarb, as noted in an earlier post.  In 1915, Jacob and Tillie Hecht and their other seven children were living in the same building as Sam and Sarah Goldfarb, Ida’s in-laws, and Hyman and Sophie Brotman, my grandmother’s brother and his wife.  Jacob was working as a tailor, and Harry was working as a salesman; the other children were still in school.

sam-goldfarb-and-family-1915-ny-census-bottom-left-and-top-right

Hecht family 1915 NY census;  New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85

Jacob and Tillie Hecht still had the seven other children living with them in 1920, now on East 4th Street in New York City; Jacob continued to work as an operator in a cloak factory and Harry as a salesman in a department store.  David Hecht was working as a clerk for the War Department, and Etta, Gussie (listed as Augusta here) and Sadie were all working as stenographers.  The two youngest children, Rose (listed as Rebecca here) and Eva, were not yet employed.

jacob-and-tillie-hecht-1920-us-census

Jacob and Tillie Hecht and family, 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 2, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1188; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 226; Image: 1055

Meanwhile, Ida and her husband Julius Goldfarb and their children had by 1920 moved to Jersey City, NJ, where Julius was in the liquor business.  Within five years, almost all of the Hecht family had followed them to Jersey City, including Jacob and Tillie.  As you can see from this segment from the 1925 Jersey City directory, Jacob and Tillie were now living at 306 4th Street, and right above their listing is a listing for their son Harry.  He was working as a clerk for none other than Herman Brotman: my great-uncle, my grandmother’s brother Hymie.  Another piece of the puzzle was fitting together.

Hechts in 1925 Jersey City directory Title : Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory, 1925 Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Hechts in 1925 Jersey City directory
Title : Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory, 1925
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

But there were two other Hechts listed here at the same address as Jacob and Tillie: Jean and Shirley, both working as stenographers.  I wasn’t sure which daughter was now using Jean and which was now using Shirley, but I guessed that Jean was probably Gussie and Shirley was probably Sadie. David, Etta, Rose, and Eva were not listed.  I could not find them elsewhere either.  Was Etta married? Rose and Eva were young enough that they could have still been in school, but where was David, who would have been 29 in 1925?

Fortunately, I was able to find a few of the Hechts on the 1930 census, which answered some of those questions.  In 1930, Jacob and Tillie were still living in Jersey City with David, Rose, and Eva (listed as Evelyn here).  Jacob was no longer working, but David was working as a real estate broker and Rose and Eva were both working as stenographers.

Jacob and Tillie Hecht 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1353; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; Image: 602.0; FHL microfilm: 2341088

Jacob and Tillie Hecht 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1353; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0100; Image: 602.0; FHL microfilm: 2341088

Their son Harry Hecht had moved to Brooklyn by 1930 and was now married to a woman named Sophie; they had two children.  Harry was the proprietor of a store.

Harry Hecht and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1522; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 1357; Image: 271.0; FHL microfilm: 2341257

Harry Hecht and family 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1522; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 1357; Image: 271.0; FHL microfilm: 2341257

As for Etta, Gussie, and Sadie, I assumed they were married, but I couldn’t find them.  And at that point I hit a wall. I could not find any of the Hecht daughters on the NYC marriage index.  Because the family had moved to New Jersey, and New Jersey has so far refused to put even an index of its birth, marriage, or death records online, there was no simple way for me to find marriage records for them in New Jersey. I assumed that Gussie/Jean and Sadie/Shirley had married between 1925 and 1930 and that Etta had married between 1920 and 1925, but paying for a search for these certificates did not seem like a wise use of my resources.

I already had two documents that said that Tillie Hecht’s birth name had been Taube or Toba Brotman: her son Harry’s birth certificate and her daughter Ida’s marriage certificate; there was also a ship manifest for a Taube Brodt from Tarnobrzeg.    In addition, I had found this entry on the SSACI for a Jean Gross, giving me not only information about Jean Hecht’s married name, but also another confirmation that Taube’s birth name was Toba Brotman:

Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

The additional marriage certificates for the remaining daughters might have given me further confirmation that their mother’s birth name was Taube/Toba Brotman, but what I really wanted to know was who Taube’s parents were.  And that meant finding either her marriage certificate or her death certificate, not her children’s marriage certificates.  But before I could do that, I wanted some rough idea of when she died so that I could make a reasonable request of my researcher in Trenton.

That meant finding the 1940 census to see if Tillie Hecht was still alive in 1940.  The New Jersey archives allows public access to death certificates up to 1955; I had to hope that Tillie had died in New Jersey before 1955.

I was able to find Tillie Hecht on the 1940 census; she was still living in Jersey City at 306 East 4th Street.

Tillie Hecht and family 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50

Tillie Hecht and family 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50

She was now a widow, so Jacob had died since the 1930 census. It also says she was sixty years old whereas Tillie would really have been at least sixty-four.  There were two adult children living with her: Dave, who was listed as 35 and not employed, and Ruth, who was 26 and working as an assistant in a doctor’s office.  David Hecht should have been 45 in 1950, and Rose would have been 36. Had Rose changed her name from Rebecca (1930) to Ruth in 1940?  Had Tillie shaved ten years off the ages of herself and both of her children, or was there possibly another Tillie Hecht living in Jersey City, born in Austria?

I decided to assume for search purposes that this was the right Tillie Hecht and to ask my researcher to see if she could find a death certificate for a Taube or Tillie Hecht between 1940 and 1955.  And then I waited.

But while I was waiting, I also emailed Tillie’s great-granddaughter Sue and asked her what she knew about her Hecht relatives: what were the married names of her grandmother’s sisters? When did Jacob and Tillie and their children die? Did she know anything else that might help me find out how Tillie Brotman Hecht was related to my Brotmans, if at all?

Sue then spoke to her cousin Renee, one of Tillie’s grandchildren (Jean Hecht’s daughter), and filled me in on what Renee had told her.  It was an email filled with a great deal of information, but the part that was most critical to solving my question about Tillie Hecht was this one:

Tillie (Toba) Brotman came to U.S. at 10 years of age she thinks. 2 brothers were already here…redheads …or at least one was. The brothers sent Tillie to a house in St. Louis…to work…learn English, or both. Renee remembers her mother and Aunt Etta (also a Hecht girl) taking the subway to Brooklyn to see “The Uncle” who must have been one of Tillie’s brothers.

I read this paragraph several times, trying to sort out what it meant.  First, the fact that Tillie had come to the US at ten was consistent with the Taube Brodt I’d found on the 1887 ship manifest, listing Taube as eleven at that time.

Second, Renee reported that Taube had had two brothers here already— and that they were redheads.  That stopped me in my tracks—my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, my grandmother’s sisters—all were redheads.  Red hair is recessive and not all that common.  Could this just be coincidence? A Brotman from Tarnobrzeg with red hair had to be related to my family.

My grandmother with her two daughters, my Aunt Elaine and my mother 1933

My grandmother with her two daughters, my Aunt Elaine and my mother 1933.  All redheads.

But who were these two brothers? And why did they send Taube to St. Louis? I had no record of any Brotman from my family arriving before 1887 when Taube Brodt arrived.

I then read Sue’s email again.  This time a different paragraph jumped out at me:

Renee recalls meeting a cousin also named Renee who she thinks was the daughter of one of Tillie’s brothers. As she recalls, they owned a hardware store on Lexington Ave. and 59th in NYC.  Renee thought that both Renees were named for an Aunt Irene.

A big, loud bell went off in my slow-witted brain.  I knew who that second Renee was.  She was Renee Brotman, daughter of Max Brotman, my grandmother’s older half-brother.  Renee had married Charles Haber, and they owned a hardware store on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street in New York City.  I emailed Renee’s daughter Judy to confirm that that was in fact the address.

Max, Sophie, Rosalie and Renee

Max, Sophie, Rosalie and Renee Brotman. Max was my grandmother’s half-brother.

Suddenly I knew exactly who Toba Brotman, aka Taube Brodt, aka Tillie Hecht, was.

She was my grandmother’s half-sister, the missing sibling I had long ago, years ago, given up on ever finding.  I had searched and searched and found not one shred of a clue.  I only knew she existed because my Aunt Elaine had listed all of the children of Joseph Brotman, including those with his first wife Chaye, on her family tree.  There had been a daughter named Sophie, according to my aunt.

Family Tree drawn by Elaine Goldschlager Lehbraum

Family Tree drawn by Elaine Goldschlager Lehbraum

max mason

My aunt had all the other names right—could she have been mistaken about Sophie’s name? Was it really Toba or Taube or Tillie?

Plus there was another thing that troubled me: if Tillie Hecht was really my grandmother’s sister, it meant that my grandmother had two sisters using the name Tillie: her full sister Tillie, the one my mother knew well, Tillie Brotman Ressler, and this other half-sister Tillie Brotman Hecht.  How could there be two sisters with the same first name?

Tilly Ressler 1944

Tilly Brotman Ressler 1944.  My grandmother’s sister. And also a redhead.

But then I thought some more.  Tillie Hecht’s original name had been Toba; Tillie Ressler’s original name had been Tema.  They were not given the same name at birth; they both had just adopted the same Americanized nickname in the United States.  Maybe that’s why my aunt thought of Tillie Hecht as Sophie? Maybe some in the family still called her Toba or Taube and that sounded like Sophie to my aunt? (Those of us who knew her well knew how my Aunt Elaine could mangle a name.)

And who was this Aunt Irene that the two Renees were named for? A clue for that came from my cousin Judy; she said her mother Renee had originally been named Ida, but it was changed to Irene soon after she was born.  Irene then evolved into Renee.  When I saw “Ida,” I recalled that Ida was often a secular name for girls named Chaye.  Chaye was the name of Joseph Brotman’s first wife, the mother of Abraham, David, Max, and “Sophie.” Max Brotman had named his daughter Ida (then Irene) for his mother Chaye.  If Tillie Brotman Hecht was in fact “Sophie,” it made sense that she also named her first daughter Ida for her mother Chaye.

It all made sense.  But I knew better than to rely on family lore.  I needed some kind of official record to back up my hypothesis.

And then it arrived.  Tillie Hecht’s death certificate:

tillie-hecht-death-certificate

Her father was Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather. Tillie Hecht, born Toba Brotman, was my grandmother’s half-sister.  The Hecht children, all eight of them, were my mother’s first cousins.  I had found the long missing Sophie, only she was really Toba.

There were still questions to address, but for the moment, I just was content to wallow in the joyous mud of discovery.

 

Who was Tillie Hecht? Another Brotman Mystery

If you had asked me three years ago when I started this blog whether I’d still be finding new Brotman relatives three years later, I’d have laughed. I had so little information about even my great-grandparents.  And yet here I am in 2016 having found a whole new Brotman/Brod family of relatives based on a name in a baby book from 1917.

The discovery of Julius Goldfarb and his family, in particular his mother Sarah Brotman/Brod, was a true blessing.  Now I have corroboration of where my great-grandparents lived in Poland, and I have a better picture of my grandmother’s extended family and the people who were part of her life when she was a child and an adult.  I also have several newly discovered living cousins who have already enriched my life.

Even more amazing to me is the most recent discovery of Taube Hecht because that discovery was even more far-fetched.  Remember that in my aunt’s baby book the last name on the list of visitors was Mrs. Taube Hecht.  At first I’d had no idea who she was.

Aunt Elaine baby book 5

Then while researching Julius Goldfarb to figure out how he was related to my grandmother, I obtained a copy of his marriage certificate.  Julius Goldfarb had married Ida Hecht, and on their marriage certificate it said her father was Jacob Hecht and her mother’s name was originally Taube Brotman, now Taube Hecht.  I had wondered whether Ida’s mother was also somehow related to my grandmother’s family.

goldfarb-hecht-marriage-page-3

In researching Taube Brotman Hecht, I learned that she was also known as Tillie and that she’d had eight children with Jacob Hecht: Harry (1892); Ida (1894); David (1896); Gussie (1899?); Etta (1900); Sadie (1903); Rose (1906); and Eva (1908).

On the 1915 New York State census, the Hecht family was living in the same building on Avenue C in New York City as Sam and Sarah Brotman/Brod Goldfarb and as Hyman Brotman, my great-uncle, and his family.  It certainly seemed possible that Taube was related to my Brotman great-grandparents and to Sarah Brotman/Brod Goldfarb.

sam-goldfarb-and-family-1915-ny-census-bottom-left-and-top-right

1915 NYS census with the Hecht family, the Goldfarb family, and the family of Hyman Brotman

So I jumped for joy—perhaps another relative, another set of clues about my Brod/Brotman relatives.  And then I jumped back into the research, hoping that Taube Brotman Hecht would provide more clues about my elusive relatives from Galicia.  I figured that with eight Hecht children to research, I would undoubtedly find more clues from birth, marriage, and death certificates.  But alas, the Hechts proved to be far more elusive than I’d hoped.

I started by searching for birth certificates.  Since I knew from the Goldfarb family records provided to me by my cousin Sue that Ida Hecht Goldfarb was born in New York City on October 19, 1894, and that the Hechts were still living in New York City in 1910 when the US census was taken, it seemed quite likely that all eight children, born between 1892 and 1908, were also born in New York City.  I searched the New York City birth records databases on Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Steve Morse’s website, and I could only find birth records listed for two of those eight children: the firstborn, Harry, and the last born child, Eva.  The other six children are just not there at all, no matter how I spelled their names, no matter how many wildcards I used.  Jacob and Taube must not have filed a birth certificate at all for those other six children.

In addition, when I asked my regular researcher at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to find Harry’s birth certificate, she was unable to do so because it was a certificate marked “S,” meaning a later filed certificate.  Those are not on the microfilms at the FHL.  Instead I had to ask someone in NYC to go to the archives there to dig up Harry’s birth certificate.  It hadn’t been filed until 1906 when Harry was already fourteen years old.  I wonder what would have prompted the family to file it at that point in time.

harry-hecht-birth-certificate-resized

But the certificate is quite interesting.  It shows that in 1892, Jacob and Taube (“Toba” here, the Hebrew name) were living at 33 East Houston Street in New York City, that they were both born in Austria, and that Jacob (like Sam Goldfarb) was a cloaks operator.  Jacob was 25 when Harry was born, Toba only twenty, meaning they were born in about 1867 and 1872, respectively.

And most importantly, Harry’s birth certificate records Toba’s name before marriage as Toba Brotman.  Brotman! I was right that Ida’s marriage certificate said “Brotman,” not Braitmer as it had been indexed.  And, of course, this meant that there was a real chance that Toba, like Sarah Goldfarb, was related to my great-grandparents in some way.

And then I looked at the certificate I’d ordered for Eva Hecht.

eva-hecht-birth-certificate-resized

She was born on January 30, 1908, at 38 Montrose Avenue in Brooklyn.  On the 1910 census, the Hecht family was living at 48 Boerum Street in Brooklyn, which is right around the block from 38 Montrose Avenue.  So far, so good.  But then I looked at her parents’ names: JOSEPH Hecht and Tillie ROTHMAN.  Was this in fact the same Eva Hecht? The father was 40 years old, meaning born in about 1868; the mother was 37, so born about 1871. Those years were very close to the ages Jacob and Taube would have been in 1908.  Both parents were born in Austria, as were Jacob and Taube.  And the father “Joseph” was a tailor, as was Jacob Hecht.

Given all these similarities and the fact that by that time Taube was using Tillie on the census records, I have to believe that this is in fact a birth certificate for Eva Hecht, daughter of Jacob and Tillie/Taube/Toba Hecht.  And if it has Jacob’s first name wrong, it could very well have Tillie’s birth surname wrong.  Rothman does sound like Brotman, and many family members spelled Brotman as Brothman.  Perhaps the person filing the birth certificate, Mrs. Ida Goldman, just had bad hearing or the family’s accents were hard for her to understand.

So I had one new solid piece of evidence that Taube Hecht was born Toba Brotman and one rather shaky document that was at least somewhat supportive of that assumption. And, of course, I had Ida’s marriage certificate as well.  What else might I find? If there were no more birth certificates, could I find other marriage certificates or death certificates? Would the census records provide any more clues? So I decided to start from the beginning and search for records about the Hecht family.

The earliest census on which they appear is the 1900 US census.  The family was then living at 64 Broome Street on the Lower East Side.  The information for Jacob Hecht (spelled “Hect” here and indexed by Ancestry as “Hast,” making this a tough one to find) has some inconsistencies.   His birth year is 1870, so a year or two later than the other records indicated.  His birth place is Russia, not Austria.  But he is working as a tailor.  His wife’s name is listed as Mitilda, which certainly could be Tillie, and she also is listed as born in Russia, not Austria.  Her birth year is given as 1875, also several years later than her children’s birth records indicated.

Hecht family 1900 US census Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1094; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094

Hecht family 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1094; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0290; FHL microfilm: 1241094

The names of their children also have some consistencies, some differences.  The first born, Harry, was born in 1892; that was consistent with Harry Hecht’s birth record.  The second child, however, is listed as Annie, born in 1893.  That should be Ida, the second child, who, according to the Goldfarb family papers, was born in 1894.  The third child, David, was reported to be four years old (the birth year is not very legible); that is consistent with David’s name and birth year on later census reports.  The fourth child is Yetta, who is listed on later reports as Etta; she is reported to have been seven months old when the census was enumerated in June 9, 1900, meaning she would have been born in October, 1899, not October 1889, as the census record has it recorded.  A birth year of 1899 is consistent with later census reports for Etta.

What this census record also revealed was that Jacob and “Miltilda” had been married for nine years, or in 1891.  It also said that Jacob had been in the US for only twelve years and arrived in 1887 (though it looks like 1777).  “Mitilda” had arrived earlier and had been in the country for fifteen years or since 1885 (though it looks like 1875 was written over it).  With this additional information, I searched for both a marriage record for Jacob and Taube/Tillie/Mitilda and for immigration records.

I had no luck finding a marriage record in the New York City marriage databases on Ancestry, FamilySearch, or Steve Morse’s website.  I guess it’s not surprising that a couple who failed to file birth certificates for their children also had failed to file a marriage record.  I am still hoping that some record will show up.

As for immigration records, I am fairly certain that I found the ship manifests for Taube.  I found two manifests, first a German manifest for the ship Moravia, dated July 9, 1887, sailing to New York from Hamburg.  On that manifest is a passenger named Taube Brodt, an eleven year old girl, and her name is bracketed with two other passengers, Eva Singer, a 38 year old woman, and an eleven month old baby named Ascher Singer, presumably the son of Eva.  And all three are listed as last residing in “Tarnobchek.”  That is, Tarnobrzeg—the home of my great-grandparents Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod.

Taube Brodt ship manifest 1887 Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1736 Description Month : Direkt Band 059 (3 Jul 1887 - 29 Dez 1887)

Taube Brodt ship manifest 1887
Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1736
Description
Month : Direkt Band 059 (3 Jul 1887 – 29 Dez 1887)

The second manifest is also for the Moravia, but is the American manifest, written in English, and dated July 21, 1887, the arrival date in New York; it also lists Taube Brodt and the Singers as coming from Tarnobchek.

Taube Brodt 1887 NY ship manifest Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 509; Line: 1; List Number: 911

Taube Brodt 1887 NY ship manifest
Year: 1887; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 509; Line: 1; List Number: 911

But who were Eva and Ascher Singer? And why was this eleven year old child traveling with them? My great-grandfather arrived in 1889, my great-grandmother 1891; Sarah Brod/Brotman Goldfarb didn’t arrive until 1896.  So if Taube Brodt was their relative, who was she going to and why was she leaving home at such a young age? And where did Taube Brodt and Eva and Ascher Singer end up after they disembarked in New York City in July 1887?

Although I can find many women named Eva Singer, there is only one born in Austria who arrived in 1887 and who had a son who would have been born in 1886.  But that Eva’s son’s name is Herman, and that Eva was older than the one who sailed on the Moravia with Taube.  Maybe that is the right Eva, and Ascher became Herman.  That Eva’s birth name was Goldman, according to the listings in the SSCAI for two of her children.

And I had little luck finding an Ascher Singer.  The only record I could find that might fit was a marriage record dated 1910 for an Ascher Singer marrying Lena Laufer.  I ordered that marriage record, and it shows that Ascher’s parents were Seide Singer and Taube Druckman.

singer-laufer-marriage-page-1

When I saw the name Taube, I wondered—could Ascher have been Taube Brodt’s baby, not Eva’s? Maybe Taube wasn’t only eleven.  Taube’s age on the census records and her children’s birth certificates suggest she was born in 1871 or 1872, not 1876, as the ship manifest would suggest.  So maybe she was really fifteen, not eleven, when she emigrated.

But that is the only record I can find for Ascher Singer, and there is no way to know for sure whether it is the same person who sailed with Taube on the Moravia in 1887 or whether Taube Druckman was really Taube Brodt.

Plus even if this is the right Eva or the right Ascher, I’ve no idea how they are connected to Taube Brodt or anyone else in my family. And maybe they weren’t.  Maybe Taube just happened to be traveling with them.  But then where was she going and to whom? And was this even the same person who married Jacob Hecht in about 1891? If so, she would have been only 15 in 1891 if she was eleven in 1887.  Maybe Taube Brodt isn’t even Toba/Taube/Tillie Brotman Hecht?

Now what could I do?  Besides pull my hair out.  I kept on looking.

And then the most amazing thing happened. One of my toughest brick walls came tumbling down and when I least expected it.

 

 

Who was Sarah Goldfarb? The Plot Thickens

My search for answers as to how Sarah Goldfarb was related to my grandmother’s family had thus far led me to conflicting evidence.  Three of her children had listed her birth name as a version of Brotman on their marriage records, and the death record of her daughter Gussie also listed Sarah’s birth name as Brotman. Brotman, of course, was my great-grandfather Joseph’s surname.

katz-gussie-death

Two records, however, indicated that her birth name might have been Brod.  The birth record of her daughter Rosie in 1902 indicated that her birth name was something different—Braud, which appeared to be a phonetic equivalent to Brod. Brod or Brot was what I believed was the birth name of my great-grandmother Bessie.  And the marriage record of Sarah’s son Morris in 1919 reported Sarah’s birth name to have been Brod.

goldfarb-grinbaum-marriage-page-1

So was Sarah a sister of Joseph or a sister of Bessie? Since she had named one child Bessie and one Joseph, the naming patterns weren’t helpful and were in fact bewildering.  Was neither Joseph nor Bessie her sibling?

And their residences in the US also presented confusing evidence.  Sarah first had lived near the Brotmans, who settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey; then she and Sam had moved across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie after Joseph Brotman died in 1901.  Had Sarah moved to help her sister? Or her sister-in-law? Nothing was definitive.

As I indicated in my last post, a great-grandchild of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb, my cousin Sue, sent me extensive family history notes that someone in her extended family had compiled back in the 1980s.  I will refer to these materials as the “Goldfarb family research.” There were no original documents in these papers, but rather handwritten charts and notes that someone had recorded based on the research he or she had done.

I scoured those notes looking for additional clues.  Most of the information about Sam and Sarah Goldfarb confirmed what I’d already found.  There was also a lot of information about Sam Goldfarb’s siblings and their families and descendants.  Although these were not my genetic relatives, I nevertheless added them to my family tree and looked at the notes carefully, thinking that this information might also lead me to clues about my own relatives. Most importantly, the genealogist who compiled the Goldfarb family research agreed with my conclusion that the Sam and Sarah had come from Grebow, Poland, the same town I had visited in 2015 and the town that my great-uncles David and Abraham Brotman had listed as their home on their ship manifest in 1889.  That was reassuring.

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889

David and Abe Brodmann on the Portia 1889 Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13156

Perhaps the most useful part of the Goldfarb family research were the notes that reflected more recent marriages and births and deaths than I had yet located and the names of descendants and their spouses. For example, although I had been able to find information that indicated that Joseph Goldfarb, Sam and Sarah’s fifth child, had married a woman named Rebecca “Betty” Amer, I did not know when or where they had married. According to the Goldfarb family research, Joe and Betty had married on September 17, 1922, in Brooklyn.  But I cannot find any entry in the NYC marriage index on either Ancestry or FamilySearch or through Steve Morse’s website to confirm that.

Since their first child Marvin was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1923, I thought that perhaps Joe and Betty had married in New Jersey, not Brooklyn.  I asked my researcher in New Jersey whether she could find a marriage record for them in New Jersey, but after a diligent search, she was unable to find a marriage record there either. Perhaps Joe and Betty never filed a marriage certificate?

Meanwhile, I continued searching for the Goldfarbs going forward from 1920 where I’d left off.  In 1925, Sam and Sarah were still living on Williams Avenue in Brooklyn with their daughter Rose, who was now 22.  Sam (listed here as Solomon) was no longer working.  Living at the same address were Sam and Sarah’s son Morris and his family; Morris was a grocery store owner.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

In 1925, Julius and Ida Goldfarb were living in Jersey City, according to the Jersey City directory for that year.  Listed right above Julius is a Joseph Goldfarb, and listed right below him is a Leo Goldfarb.  Although I could not be sure, I assumed that these were Julius’ brothers Joe and Leo (especially since Leo was not living with his parents in Brooklyn according to the 1925 NY census).

Jersey City directory 1925 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

Jersey City directory 1925
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory

That was then confirmed when I searched for their sister Bessie (Goldfarb) and her husband Meyer Malzberg.  I had not been able to find them on the 1920 US census nor on the 1925 NY census, but when I saw that their child Burton was born in 1923 in Jersey City, I decided to check that 1925 Jersey City directory for the Malzberg family.  Sure enough, there they were living at 247 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, the same address listed for Leo Goldfarb.  So in 1925, four of Sam and Sarah’s six surviving children were living in Jersey City; only Rose and Morris were still living in Brooklyn.

1925 Jersey City directory Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

1925 Jersey City directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Original sources vary according to directory.

Then on October 4, 1926, Sam (Solomon) Goldfarb died at age seventy.  I ordered a copy of his death certificate:

goldfarb-samuel-death-page-1

Sam had died from heart disease.  His father’s name was Julius; obviously, Sam and Sarah had named their firstborn son for Sam’s father.

But the one item that made me stop when I obtained this record was Sam’s birthplace: “Tarnobjek, Austria.”  I knew this must have been Tarnobrzeg—the very town I had visited in 2015, the place also known as Dzikow, the place I had long assumed was the home of my great-grandparents, Bessie Brod and Joseph Brotman, and that is only a few miles from Grebow.  Here was one more piece of the puzzle helping me corroborate that Tarnobrzeg and its immediate environs was where my great-grandparents had lived before emigrating from Galicia.

After Sam died, Sarah continued to live on Williams Avenue with her daughter Rose, and by 1930 her son Leo had moved back there as well.  He was working as real estate salesman. Morris was also still living on Williams Avenue, though now in a different building down the block; he was still the owner of a grocery store.

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census

Sarah Goldfarb 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1493; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1220; Image: 15.0; FHL microfilm: 2341228

Julius and Joe Goldfarb and their families were still living in Jersey City in 1930; Julius was the owner of a real estate business, and Joe was working as a salesman for a biscuit company.  Bessie was also living in New Jersey in North Bergen where her husband Meyer Malzberg owned a delicatessen.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45 Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census

Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: North Bergen, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1358; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 0351; Image: 859.0; FHL microfilm: 2341093

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census

Joseph Goldfarb and family 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1355; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 0152; Image: 753.0; FHL microfilm: 2341090

Sarah Goldfarb, like her husband Sam, died when she was seventy years old; she died on July 2, 1937.  Her death certificate was the most important and the most revealing of all the vital records I ordered for the Goldfarb family:

goldfarb-sarah-death-page-1 goldfarb-sarah-death-page-2-resized

Her son Joseph, the informant on the death certificate, reported that Sarah, who died from hypertension complicated by diabetes, was the daughter of Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz. I stared at this record for many minutes.  This was a huge revelation.

Joseph is the same name listed on my great-grandmother Bessie’s death certificate as the name of her father.  That certificate had named her mother as Bessie Broat, but I was and remain convinced that the informant, Bessie’s bereaved second husband Philip Moskowitz, was confused and thought he’d been asked for Bessie’s maiden name, not her mother’s maiden name.  Notice also that Bessie, like Sarah, suffered from diabetes.

Bessie was Joseph's second wife and mother of five children

Bessie Brotman Moskowitz

In addition, on Bessie’s marriage certificate from her marriage to Philip, she had given her father’s name as Josef Brotman and her mother’s as Gitel Brotman.

bessie philip marriage certificate

Things were starting to make more sense—to some degree.  It was starting to look like Sarah Goldfarb was my great-grandmother’s sister, not my great-grandfather’s sister.  Sarah and Bessie both had parents named Joseph and Gittel.  They both had suffered from diabetes. They both had daughters named Gussie or Gittel.

The naming patterns are fascinating.  In Eastern Europe, Ashkenazi Jews followed certain traditions in naming their children.  First, a child was to be named for a deceased relative, not a living relative.  Second, although there were no strict rules, generally children were named for the closest deceased relative—a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, and so on.

Sam and Sarah named their first son Julius for Sam’s father; their second son Morris was not named for Sarah’s father Joseph, suggesting that Joseph Brod was still alive when Morris was born.  But when her third son was born in 1897, she did name him Joseph, presumably for her father, who must have by that time died. That would mean that my presumed great-great-grandfather Joseph Brod died between 1886 and 1897.

The same rules would generally apply to the naming of daughters. Sam and Sarah named their first daughter Gittel, presumably for Sarah and Bessie’s mother Gittel Schwartz Brod.  Gittel (Gussie) Goldfarb was born in 1890, suggesting that Sarah and Bessie’s mother was deceased by then. My great-grandmother Bessie named her first daughter Tillie in 1884, which might indicate that her mother Gittel was still alive.  But when she had my grandmother in 1895, her second daughter, she named her Gittel, presumably for her mother. Thus, Gittel Schwartz, my presumed great-great-grandmother, must have died between 1884 when Tillie was born and 1890 when Gittel Goldfarb was born.

So at first I thought I had solved the mystery and thought that Sarah had to have been Bessie’s sister.  But then things started getting murky again.  Why did some records refer to Sarah’s birth name as Brotman, some as Brod? Why did records sometimes refer to Bessie’s birth name as Brot or Brod, sometimes as Brotman? What the heck did this all mean? Were these really two versions of the same name?

And then I recalled that the ship manifest that I had assumed was possibly the one listing my great-grandfather used the name Yossel Brod.  I wasn’t sure this was in fact my great-grandfather, but if it was, why was he using the name Brod, not Brotman?

Joseph Brotman ship manifest

Yossel Brod on ship manifest Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: S_13155

I know that family lore says that my great-grandparents, Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod, were cousins.  I know also that sometimes children in Eastern Europe used their mother’s names as surnames, not their father’s names.  Could Joseph Brotman, my great-grandfather, have been the son of a woman named Brod who was a sibling of the Joseph Brod who fathered Sarah and Bessie? Or was it the other way around? I have no record for Joseph Brotman’s mother’s name aside from the reference on his death certificate to “Yetta.” Moses Brotman’s death certificate lists his mother as Sadie Burstein.  Neither helps me here at all. And I’ve no idea how accurate either is anyway.

Unfortunately, the Goldfarb family research papers did not shed any further light on this question either, but merely contained the same information I’d found on the actual records about Sam and Sarah.

What am I to make of this? I have asked one of the Goldfarb descendants to take a DNA test, but given my experiences with DNA testing, I don’t hold out hope for much clarity from the results. But it’s worth a try.  If anyone else has any ideas or reactions, please let me know your thoughts.

The big question remains: was Sarah Brot(man) Goldfarb a sibling of my great-grandmother Bessie? Or a sibling of my great-grandfather Joseph? What do you think?

And perhaps even more importantly, are Brod/Brot/Brodman/Brothman/Brotman all really the same surname?

But the story continues when I turned to the question of … who was Taube Hecht? And it gets even better.

 

 

 

Searching for Gold….farbs: A Brotman Genealogy Adventure

Today is my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager’s birthday; she was born on this day in 1895.  And so it is very appropriate that on this day, which also is the third anniversary of this blog, I return to my Brotman family story.  This is the story of the mystery cousins I discovered last fall—the Goldfarbs.

Back on December 7, 2015, I wrote about my aunt’s baby book from 1917, and I mentioned that on the list of those who came to see my aunt as a newborn were a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Julius Goldfarb.  When I asked my mother if she knew who they were, she vaguely recalled that they were somehow cousins of my grandmother, but she wasn’t sure whether the actual cousin was Julius or his wife, whose name she thought might have been Ida.

Aunt Elaine baby book 5

I also wrote back in December about my grandfather’s pocket calendar and notebook and all the wonderful information and insights I found there.  Among those bits of information were addresses for two other people named Goldfarb: S. Goldfarb, who lived at 577 Williams Avenue, and two entries for Joe Goldfarb, one at 464 East 93rd Street and one at 191 Amboy Street.  I assumed these were relatives connected to Julius, but had no idea how.

Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

Grandpa Notebook page 1 addresses Joe Goldfarb

With those limited hints, I started researching, and I found quite a bit.  In fact, I connected with two of the descendants of Julius and Ida Goldfarb, and I fully intended to write about the Goldfarbs sooner, but somehow the Schoenthals took over my blog, and poor cousin Julius was shelved for over ten months.  Now it’s time to return to this story and reveal what I learned from these tidbits of information.

First, I searched for Julius and Ida Goldfarb because I had two names to work with and because Julius Goldfarb seemed like it would be less common than Joe Goldfarb.  I easily found Julius and Ida and their children on the 1940, 1930, and 1920 census reports; all three reports had them living in Jersey City, New Jersey.  In 1920, Julius was working in a liquor business; in 1930 he was the proprietor of a real estate business, but in 1940 he was again in the liquor business, now working on his own account.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1920 US census lines 70-73 Year: 1920; Census Place: Jersey City Ward 3, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1043; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 135; Image: 1104

Julius Goldfarb and family 1920 US census
lines 70-73
Year: 1920; Census Place: Jersey City Ward 3, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1043; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 135; Image: 1104

The 1920 census said that Julius was born in Austria and was 33 (so born in about 1887); the 1930 census reports his age as 42 and birthplace as Poland.

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45 Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

Julius Goldfarb and family 1930 US census, lines 40-45
Year: 1930; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: 1352; Page: 29A; Enumeration District: 0075; Image: 209.0; FHL microfilm: 2341087

On the 1940 census he is 52 and reports his birthplace as Austria.  Julius and Ida had four daughters: Sylvia (1915), Gertrude (1917), Ethel (1923), and Evelyn (1925).

Julius Goldfarb and family 1940 census lines 13-17 Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2406; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 24-197

Julius Goldfarb and family 1940 census lines 13-17
Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2406; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 24-197

All of this was very interesting, but it didn’t help me figure out if this was the right Julius Goldfarb or how he was related to my grandmother. Or was it Ida who was the relative? So I continued searching.

Julius’ World War I draft registration contained no new information, except the fact that his liquor business in 1917 was a saloon and that he and his family lived at the same address as the saloon: 27 Cole Street.  The draft registration also provided me with a more precise birthdate for Julius, March 18, 1885.

Julius Goldfarb World War I draft registration Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712213; Draft Board: 10

Julius Goldfarb World War I draft registration
Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712213; Draft Board: 10

Then things started to get more interesting. I located the World War II draft registration for Julius, and although it had a different birthday, March 12, 1885, instead of March 18, I knew this was the right person, given that the address was the same as the address on the 1940 census for Julius as was the occupation (liquor store) and his wife’s name (Ida).  But the big revelation here was Julius’ birthplace—Grebow, Poland, the same place that my great-uncles Abraham and David Brotman had listed as their residence on the ship manifest when then immigrated to the US.  My heart skipped a beat.  It definitely looked more and more possible that Julius was a cousin.

Julius Goldfarb World War II draft registration The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for New Jersey, 04/27/1942 - 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 2555983; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

Julius Goldfarb World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for New Jersey, 04/27/1942 – 04/27/1942; NAI Number: 2555983; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147

So I searched then for a marriage record for Julius and Ida, and on FamilySearch I found the index listing for it, and now I was truly excited.  According to the index on FamilySearch, Julius Goldfarb’s mother was named Sarah Brothman.  I’d seen my great-grandfather’s name spelled that way instead of Brotman (and sometimes Brodman), and it seemed more and more likely that Julius Goldfarb was my relative, probably through my great-grandfather’s side of the family.

The index listing also included Ida’s birth name—Hecht.  I recalled from my aunt’s baby book that there was a visitor named Mrs. Taube Hecht (see the last name listed on the image above).  Now I knew that that was Ida’s mother.

But more importantly, I now knew the names of Julius Goldfarb’s parents, Sam and Sarah, and that enabled me to search for them and find additional records.

On the 1910 census, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living on Avenue C in New York City with six children, including Julius, who was then 25.  The others were Morris (23), Bessie (18), Joseph (12), Leo (11), and Rosie (9).  Joe and Leo were born in New Jersey and Rosie in New York, but the rest of the family were listed as born in Austria.  Sam was working as a tailor in a coat factory, Julius as a conductor for a car company (I assume a streetcar company), and Morris as a cutter in a neckwear factory.

From this census record, I now knew that Joe Goldfarb, who was listed twice in my grandfather’s list of addresses, was a brother of Julius and that he was born in about 1898. The 1910 census also revealed when Sam and Sarah had immigrated.  Sam had arrived in 1892, Sarah and the European born children in 1896.

Sam Goldfarb and family 1910 US census, lines 8-17 Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025

Sam Goldfarb and family 1910 US census, lines 8-17
Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025

Knowing the names of the other children of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb helped me locate them on other census records.  The 1915 New York census record proved quite revealing.  Sam and Sarah were still living at 131 Avenue C in New York City with Morris, Bessie, Joseph, Leo, and Rose (Julius was now married), and Sam was still working as a tailor, as was Morris.  When I looked down the page from where Rose Goldfarb is listed at the top of the right hand side of the page, I saw a very familiar name—Hyman Brotman, my grandmother’s brother Hymie.  Hyman and his wife Sophie (spelled Soffie here) and their three sons were living at the same address, in the same building, as the Goldfarbs.

Sam Goldfarb and family 1915 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 84

Sam Goldfarb and family 1915 NY census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 84

And then right below the Brotman family was the Hecht family—Jacob and Tillie Hecht and their children.  I assume these were the parents of Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Sam Goldfarb’s wife. (Tillie is often an alternative name for Taube.)  They also were living at 131 Avenue C in the same building as Hyman Brotman and his family and Sarah and Sam Goldfarb.  The coincidences were clearly not just coincidences.

And it only got better.  I found Sam and Sarah Goldfarb on the 1905 New York census, living with seven children—Julius, Morris, Bessie, Joseph, Leo, and Rose, plus another daughter, Gussie, who was seventeen, two years younger than Morris and two years older than Bessie.

Sam Goldfarb and family 1905 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 32

Sam Goldfarb and family 1905 NY census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 32

I assumed that this newly discovered daughter named Gussie had married between the 1905 NY census and the 1910 US census since she was not living with the family in 1910, and my search revealed that she had married Max Katz on April 12, 1910.  I found her marriage on FamilySearch indexed as Josi Gossi Goldfarb, daughter of Sam Goldfarb and “Sarah Brohmen.”  Another piece of the puzzle tying Sarah Goldfarb to my great-grandfather.

But what was even more exciting about the 1905 New York census was what it revealed about where Sam and Sarah Goldfarb and their children were living: 85 Ridge Street in New York City. Why was that exciting? Because my great-grandmother Bessie Brod Brotman was living across the street at 84 Ridge Street in 1905 with my grandmother Gussie and her siblings, Tillie, Frieda, and Sam.  There seemed to be no denying the fact that Sarah Goldfarb was somehow related to my grandmother’s family.

1905-ny-census-for-bessie-brotman-and-family

(My great-grandmother’s name is badly butchered here as Pearl Brauchman, but there’s no question that this is Bessie Brotman and her children, Tilly, Gussie, Frieda, and Sam; when Bessie married Philip Moskowitz, her second husband, in 1908, her address was 84 Ridge Street.)

I also now understood why Julius and Joe Goldfarb would have been listed in the baby book and the address list. In 1905 when she was ten years old, my grandmother was living right across the street from Julius and Joe Goldfarb and their siblings. Joe was just a year or two younger, and like my grandmother, he was the first American born child of his parents.  Of course, Joe Goldfarb would be listed in the address book. Twice, in fact. Of course, Julius and Ida would have come to see my grandparents’ new baby in 1917.

There was still one prior census to find: the 1900 US census.  The Goldfarbs were a little harder to find on this one because Sam was listed as Solomon here, and several of the other names don’t quite match.  Although Sarah is listed as Sarah and Bessie as Bessie, there are two sons listed as Joseph; one, I assume, was Julius, given the approximate age. Morris was listed as Moses, Leo is Lewis, and Gussie as … Kate? Despite these discrepancies, I am quite certain that these are the right Goldfarbs. The immigration years are consistent with the 1910 census; Sam (Solomon) is a tailor.  The parents and older children were born in Austria, and the ages are close if not precisely the same.

Sam Goldfarb and family 1900 US census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Sam Goldfarb and family 1900 US census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Again, what is particularly interesting here is where they were living: in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, where Moses Brotman and his extended family were living in 1900.  In fact, Moses Brotman and his family are listed on the very next page of the census report in 1900. And Moses Brotman was the brother of my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman.  One more piece of evidence that Sarah was a Brotman and related to me through my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman.

Moses Brotman 1900 census

Moses Brotman 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

I had one more type of document to search for before moving forward and finding more recent records for the Goldfarb family, and those were ship manifests for the Goldfarbs. Although I’ve not yet been able to locate one for Sam Goldfarb, I did find one for Sarah and the children who were born in Europe, Julius, Morris, Gussie, and Bessie.

Sarah Goldfarb and children on ship manifest 1896 The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Number: 4492386; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series: T840; Roll: 25

Sarah Goldfarb and children on ship manifest 1896
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Number: 4492386; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series: T840; Roll: 25

Once again the names don’t match exactly. Sarah is Surah, a Yiddish version of Sarah.  Julius is Joel— Julius must have been the Americanized version of the Hebrew name Joel.  Morris was Moische—again a Yiddish name they changed in America.  Gussie was originally Gitel—as was the case with my grandmother Gussie.  And Bessie was originally Pesie.  The manifest indicates that they were all detained, and I need to find out more about that. It also says that they were going to Surah’s husband, Shlomo Goldfarb.  Shlomo is a Yiddish version of Solomon.  My guess is that Shlomo became “Sam” as the family Americanized their names.  (I also think the enumerator in 1900 heard Gitel as “Kate.”)

And the icing on the cake is that the manifest lists their last residence as Grembow—or more likely, Grebow as Julius listed it on his draft registration almost fifty years later.

So these were my cousins.  I was sure of it.  But was Sarah Brothman/Brohmen Goldfarb my great-grandfather’s sister? How could I determine the answer to that question?  I needed to order some actual records, search more deeply.  More in my next post.

 

 

 

Auschwitz

I have really been struggling to figure out how to write about our second day in Poland, which started with a trip to the ghetto established by the Nazis in Podgorze, across the river from Krakow, and ended with a trip to Auschwitz.  We had an incredible guide, Tomasz Cebulski from Polin Travel.  He is a scholar in the field of the history of Polish Jewry and the Holocaust as well as an articulate, thoughtful, and sensitive person, and he wanted us to understand on a deeper level the methodology used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.  Without Tomasz and his way of preparing us for Auschwitz, I do not think we would have fully appreciated the horror of what we were seeing.

The ghetto in Podgorze.  The empty chairs evoke the chairs that were left behind by those who had been sitting while awaiting the transports that took them to the camps

The ghetto in Podgorze. The empty chairs evoke the chairs that were left behind by those who had been sitting while awaiting the transports that took them to the camps

Having said that, there is just no way that I can do the same for anyone reading this post.  Most of us have seen photographs; we’ve seen movies and read books about Auschwitz. Many of us have been to Yad Vashem and/or the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We think we understand what happened there.  But we don’t.  Even being there, I still don’t.  The more you learn about it, the less you understand.

What we learned from Tomasz was how ingenious the Nazis were in using psychology and technology and the instinct for greed to enlist not only Germans but citizens of other countries including France, Austria, Hungary, and Poland into their program for annihilating the Jewish population of the world.  And Jews weren’t helpless sheep being led to the slaughter; they also were the victims of the Nazi propaganda machine and its use of psychology to create the impression that somehow all would be fine in the end.   Corporations like IBM and many others saw the opportunities for making fortunes in developing the technology and equipment needed to facilitate the operation of the Nazi death machine.  Jews were also used as slave labor in the companies of many industrialists; Oskar Schindler was the exception, doing something to protect these people who were being forced to work in his factory across the river from Krakow and close to the concentration camp at Plaszow, which we also visited.

 

Ghetto Wall in Podgorze, built to look like headstones to demoralize the Jewish residents

Ghetto Wall in Podgorze, built to look like headstones to demoralize the Jewish residents

And the world sat back and let it happen, pretending that things could not be that bad, that focusing on the war effort itself was sufficient, and that there really could not be such things as death camps.  That a place like Auschwitz could not exist.  Are we any better today? Just as the Jews could not believe that they would be slaughtered like animals but that things would be okay in the end, so do we all.  We delude ourselves over and over again into believing that we can’t do anything to stop genocide, just as the world did during World War II.  We bend to the profit motive, and we buy into propaganda.  We forget, and we move on.

But Auschwitz is still there.  Although the other death camps were destroyed by the Nazis when they realized that they were losing the war (see Note below), Auschwitz survived more or less intact.  The Nazis did bomb the gas chambers and the crematoria, but there was enough evidence left to show the world what happened there.  And the fact that the Nazis made one serious error—placing the gas chambers and crematoria adjacent to barracks for concentration camp prisoners who could witness how they were being used—also ensured that history would not allow the Nazis to cover up their satanic ways completely.

Auschwitz memorial

Auschwitz is still there.  You can stand on the watchtower, and you can see the foundations of hundreds of barracks almost as far as the eye can see.  You can see the crematoria, the remains of the gas chambers, the barracks, the train tracks.  You can see the confiscated property of the people who were killed there—glasses, suitcases, clothing, ritual objects. Their hair and their prosthetic devices.  The glass case exhibiting baby clothes made me weep.  The clothes of children younger than my grandsons—evidence of the complete evil of these animals who watched babies get carried to their deaths with their mothers.  More than anything else, that devastated me.

How do you walk away from this and still have faith in humanity?  How can you have hope that good and beauty and love will prevail when there is so much capacity for evil? How can you ever trust anyone to be compassionate, fair, understanding?

You just have to.  Because it is just too painful to think that people can be so evil.  Because in fact most of us are good and loving and compassionate and fair.  Because we have no choice but to see the beauty and the love and the hope or we would all just give up and fall into the darkness.  We have to walk away, and we have to get up the next day and embrace life.  Otherwise, the Nazis and all the other evildoers in the world defeat us.  Yes, we need to stand up to evil.  Yes, we cannot close our eyes and hide.  But we also have to go on seeing the good in each other and loving each other as best we can.

 

*************************

Important Note: Although the other death camps were substantially destroyed by the Nazis to hide their genocidal activities, there is a movement to preserve the limited remains of the Belzec death camp in eastern Poland.  You can read about that project here.  It’s in German, but you can use Google Translate to read it in English.  There is some urgency as the property is to be sold at a public auction on June 22.  Please help preserve this place as another reminder us of our potential for evil and our need to fight against it.

UPDATE:  Due to public pressure, the auction has been cancelled, and the money already collected will be used for preservation.  The organization is no longer collecting donations.

Krakow

We arrived in Krakow after a pretty much sleepless night on the train, and the weather was nasty—very cool and raining hard.  Once again, we overpaid a cabdriver (though not by nearly as much) to get to our hotel at 7 am, where our room was, as expected, not ready.  (Check-in wasn’t until 3 pm.)  But the young man at the reception desk was so friendly and helpful that it immediately changed my outlook.  I highly recommend the Metropolitan Boutique Hotel in Krakow—a small and friendly hotel with an incredibly professional, efficient, and friendly staff.  Although the location on a small side street at first seemed odd, we soon realized how ideal that location was—about ten minutes from the main square in Krakow and even closer to the Jewish Quarter in Kazimierz.

Our sleeping accommodations from Prague to Krakow

Our sleeping accommodations from Prague to Krakow

After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to venture out and see the city.  We took umbrellas, but fortunately we never had to open them; the skies never turned blue, but the rain was gone.  We walked to the market in the main square of Krakow where we had planned to go on two group walking tours that day, one of the Old Town, the other of the Jewish quarter.  When we got to the main square, vendors were just starting to open their stands, and the square itself was fairly empty.  The square is magnificent in size—reportedly, the largest public square in Europe.  There are cafes and shops surrounding the square as well as a number of churches and government buildings.  We wandered around a bit, and there was almost a Fanueil Hall feel to the place—a large indoor market lined with souvenir stands.  Unfortunately, the weather really was not great, but we did take a few photographs.

IMG_2625 Main Square Old Town Krakow 5 24 IMG_2626 Cloth Hall Main Square Old Town Krakow IMG_2627 Krakow Street IMG_2628 Krakow Street scene

Krakow main square krakow

After some deliberation, we decided to go on a tour of the Jewish Quarter in the morning and Old Town in the afternoon with SeeKrakow.  Our tour guide was a middle-aged Polish man who spoke English well, and the group of about sixteen people was quite diverse in background.  We were the only people from an English speaking country.  There were people from Spain, France, Belgium, and Switzerland.  They all understood English; it was embarrassing.  We were the only people in the group who could not speak a second language.  Most of the others could speak three.  The American educational system is an utter failure in preparing our children for the global world we live in.

Anyway, we marched off with our leader (whose name escapes me, perhaps for good reason), and after a few stops, I realized that he was not a good fit for me.  Maybe it was the contrast to Andrea and Helena, our guides in Prague; maybe it was the nature of being on a group rather than private tour.  The tour leader was knowledgeable and pleasant, but I felt that he had a personal agenda to promote instead of providing an in-depth and historical view of the Jewish Quarter.  Over and over his message seemed to be that Poland had always been tolerant and accepting of its Jewish citizens and that the Polish people were also victims of the Holocaust.  What he said is historically accurate in many ways, but it was the way he delivered his message and his seeming defensiveness that troubled me.

After about the first hour, I started to think that (a) I didn’t want to go on the Old Town afternoon tour with this guide, and (b) I didn’t want to continue on the Jewish Quarter tour with this guide.  When we realized that his tour would not give us a chance to enter into any of the synagogues we passed (which he did describe, but at times showed us only the back or side of the building), we made a decision to leave the tour and explained to the guide that we wanted to spend more time in the Quarter rather than continue with the group.

Unfortunately, I had made one serious error in planning our itinerary—I had failed to check a Jewish calendar beforehand, and I had not realized that our one day in Krakow would be the holiday of Shavuot.  That meant that many of the synagogues, at least those still operating as synagogues, would not be open to the public for tours that day.  (It was also the Catholic holiday Pentecost, meaning that many stores and offices were also closed that day.)  If I could have changed one thing on our trip itinerary, I would have added at least another day to our stay in Krakow—not only because of the conflict with Shavuot, but also because we just did not have enough time to do the city justice.

But when you are traveling, you do what you can do.  So over lunch, we realized that we did not have time to see many of the sites in Krakow outside the Jewish Quarter—the Wawel Castle and the churches and other buildings we’d only glimpsed in Old Town.  We also realized that our sleepless night was catching up with us.  So we spent the afternoon wandering through the Jewish Quarter, soaking up what we could, and visiting the places we could enter.  I hope that someday we can return to Krakow and see the city in more depth.

Unlike the Jewish Quarter in Prague, which as I wrote was substantially torn down in the late 19th century, most of the structures from the original Jewish Quarter in Krakow are still standing—the winding cobblestones streets and old worn buildings have been there for hundreds of years.  As our guide said, Krakow’s Jewish quarter is much more “authentic” than that in Prague because it reflects the way the ghetto looked when it was a ghetto. It also reflects more of the wear and tear of time, neglect, and the war.  Here are some photos of the square where the Jewish market once operated; it still operates as a market—a flea market when we were there, although, of course, there are no Jewish vendors or customers today.

IMG_2631 former Jewish marketplace, still a market 5 24 IMG_2633 former Jewish marketplace

We saw six still-existing buildings in the Krakow Jewish Quarter that were once operating synagogues. As with the synagogues in Prague, the only reason they are still standing is that the Nazis found the spaces useful for storage.  The oldest of the existing synagogue buildings, appropriately referred to as the Old Synagogue, was built at the beginning of the 15th century.  Its interior was destroyed by the Nazis, and it was then used for storage during their occupation of Poland.  Today the building is operated as a museum, displaying Jewish ritual objects and a historical exhibition of Krakow before and during the Nazi occupation.

IMG_2641 Old Synagogue IMG_2642 front of Old Synagogue old synagogue 2 old synagogue krakow

The second oldest synagogue still standing is the Remu’h Synagogue.  It is still an active congregation, so we were not able to enter it during our visit, nor we could enter the Old Jewish cemetery that is located adjacent to the synagogue building.  All I could get was the one photograph through the gate.  The Remu’h synagogue was built in the mid-16th century, and its interior also was substantially destroyed by the Nazis and then used for storage.

Remu'h Synagogue

Remu’h Synagogue

Both the Old and the Remu’h synagogues are located on what was the main square in the Jewish quarter where today there are numerous restaurants, many providing “Jewish” dishes on their menus (but not kosher) and klezmer music at night.  It’s a very pretty square, but the faux Jewishness is clearly intended to manipulate Jewish tourists like us, coming to see a world that no longer exists.

IMG_2643 main square in Jewish Quarter Krakow 5 24 IMG_2644 Jewish Quarter Krakow

The High Synagogue was the third synagogue built in Krakow, sometime after the Remu’h but also in the 16th century.  It was called the High Synagogue because the prayer hall was located upstairs.  We were able to climb those stairs and visit the former prayer hall because today it is a museum.  The exhibit there was very moving.  Several families of former Krakow Jews provided photographs to the museum of their families, depicting what their lives were like in the 1920s and 1930s before the Nazis arrived.  I was surprised to see very modern-looking families, engaged in activities like skiing and boating, as opposed to the images I had had in my head of ultra-Orthodox men with payes and long black coats.  As in Prague, by the early 20th century Jews in Krakow were full citizens, no longer required to live in a ghetto.  Many were quite successful merchants, and their families lived very comfortable and modern lives.

IMG_2639 High Synagogue IMG_2640 Jewish quarter Jewish school

Of course, it doesn’t matter whether they were Hasidim or assimilated, but I have to admit it made it easier for me to identify with these people, knowing their lives were not unlike mine.  Reading the stories of what happened to these families was heartbreaking.  Even though someone survived in these families and was thus able to preserve the photographs and the stories, each of these families lost many members during the Holocaust.

The only other synagogue building we could enter was that of the former Kupa Synagogue.  It was built in the 17th century, and like the other synagogues, was severely damaged by the Nazis.  We were able to enter the building and see the prayer hall, where people seemed to be setting up for some event.  We are not sure exactly how this synagogue is used today since it was open for visitors on the holiday.

Back of Kupa Synagogue

Back of Kupa Synagogue showing the ghetto wall

 

We also stopped to see the outside of the Isaac Synagogue, also built in the 17th century and now the headquarters for Chabad in Krakow, and the newest of the synagogues, the Tempel Synagogue, a Reform synagogue built in the mid-19th century.  Neither was open to visitors.

Tempel Synagogue

Tempel Synagogue

IMG_2638 Izaak Synagogue now Chabad

Isaac Synagogue

 

But next to the Tempel Synagogue is the JCC of Krakow, which was open and where we spoke with a woman at the reception desk.  She told us that they have 500 members, although only 120 are “registered” Jews.  The JCC provides educational and cultural programming, Shabbat dinners, and holiday celebrations, and aims to revive a Jewish community in Krakow.  It was uplifting to be in this new building and see some signs of hope for the very small Jewish community that exists today in Krakow.

jcc krakow

We ended our walk through the Jewish Quarter on that somewhat high note.  We later returned for dinner at the Klezmer Huis, where we ate “Jewish-style” food and listened to Klezmer music (sung by three young people who I assume are not Jewish, but who were excellent).

IMG_2646 Klezmer Huis IMG_2648 Klezmer Huis harvey IMG_2649 interior of Klezmer Huis IMG_2650 IMG_2652 Klezmer peformers

But although that was fun (if somewhat corny), it did not really cover up the reality.  Before World War II, there were about 65,000 Jews in Krakow, and they made up about 25% of the city’s population.  Today, as I said, there are 120 Jews living in Krakow.  Walking those streets and seeing the old houses once occupied by Jewish families, entering those once flourishing synagogues that are now just museums, seeing those photographs of the families who were destroyed, I could not help but feel thousands of ghosts following us around.  What would Krakow be like today if the descendants of those 65,000 people were alive? My day in Krakow left me angry and very sad.

The second day of our visit to Poland we learned more about what happened to those people.  More on that in my next post.

 

 

Home Sweet Home

We are back from our trip, and I have so much to say that I don’t even know where or how to start.  Traveling to a different place can change your whole view of the world, of your place in the world, and of yourself.  This trip did that in so many different ways.  I have hundreds of photographs to sort and label, a lot of notes to transcribe and ponder, and so many thoughts and memories floating through my head that I need to write them all down before I forget them.  So I can’t just start blogging in detail about the trip right away.  I will certainly report about the parts of the trip that related directly to my own family—the trip to Poland in particular—once I have it all digested.

For now I have these overall thoughts and a few photographs to share.  First, standing in the former Jewish quarters in Prague, Krakow, Budapest, and Vienna, some of which still have several synagogues (a few even still in operation), is a chilling and horrifying experience.  For me, these places that once bustled with Jewish grandparents, mothers, fathers, and children, going to work and going to school and going to shul, were a graphic and vivid reminder of what the world lost in the Holocaust.  Had it not been for the Nazis, these Jewish communities could and likely would still exist, adding to the culture and economy of these places and of the world just as they did for hundreds of years before their Jewish citizens were murdered.

A street in the former Jewish Quarter of Krakow

A street in the former Jewish Quarter of Krakow

Nothing made this more painfully vivid for me than standing in Tarnobrzeg, the town where my Brotman great-grandparents lived, a town that was once 75% Jewish and where not one Jew lives today.  The only signs that there were once Jews there were a small plaque on the library, a building that had once been the synagogue, and a Star of David near the gate to the neglected Jewish cemetery, where only a handful of headstones remain.

gravestone on the ground in the Jewish cemetery in Tarnobrzeg

gravestone on the ground in the Jewish cemetery in Tarnobrzeg

Second, every person, Jewish or not, should visit Terezin and Auschwitz.  I cannot say more.  The places say it all.  You cannot go to these places and not be changed.  No matter what you may have read or seen or heard about the Holocaust, you cannot be prepared for what you experience walking in those places of terror and death.  I have only two photographs of Terezin and no photographs of Auschwitz.  I could not bear to think about taking a photograph while standing where so many were slaughtered.

Terezin

Terezin

Third, I had little idea what life was like under Soviet domination in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary until we met several people who had lived during that era.  We were lucky to have guides in Prague, Poland, and Budapest who had witnessed the changes and were able to describe to us how different life was before and after the Soviets left in the late 1980s, early 1990s.  Today all these places are clearly capitalist, for better in many ways, for worse in others.  Seeing Starbucks and McDonalds and KFC everywhere amidst the old buildings in these gorgeous cities is jolting, but much better than seeing empty store windows and children forced to march at rallies to support the “state.”

Despite all the sadness that we felt as we learned about the past in these places, overall we experienced these cities as places of joyfulness, liveliness, and overall comfort.  Yes, there were beggars and homeless people, especially in Budapest, and I am sure that outside the areas where tourists congregate there is plenty of poverty and misery.  But each of the cities we visited were beautiful places filled with incredible and fascinating architecture, a huge number of cafes and restaurants and bars, museums teeming with people, cobblestone streets crowded with tourists and tour groups, and the sounds of happy, excited people.  There was music everywhere—in the streets, in the churches, and in the concert halls.

Dohany Synagogue in Budapest

Dohany Synagogue in Budapest

We had an incredible time.  Our tears and sadness were well-balanced with times of pure joy—climbing the tower to see all of Prague, clapping to Klezmer music in Krakow, walking along the river in Budapest, and eating unbelievable pastries in Vienna.  We heard music in every city, we stood in awe in Gothic cathedrals, we watched people laughing and drinking and eating in the cafes, and we walked and walked and walked until our feet were numb.  We had an incredible time.

Musikverein in Vienna

Musikverein in Vienna

 

 

One for the Road: How I Found Another Brotman

This will be my last post before we leave on our trip.  I wanted to leave on a high note with a new discovery—a Brotman line I’d not discovered until the last week or so.  Perhaps this is a good omen for what I might find when in Poland.  I might post a bit while away—depends on internet access, time, and energy.  But I will report on the trip either as it unfolds or after I return, so stay tuned.

*********

In my last post I reported on the conflicting results of my search through the records of the families of Moses and Abraham Brotman of Brotmanville, New Jersey.  I was looking for any shred of evidence that might reveal where they, and thus perhaps my great-grandparents, had lived in Europe.  What I found was that some records said Moses was born in Austria, some said Russia.  Same for Abraham.  And not one record named a town or city.  Thus, I had not gotten any closer to any answers.

But while reviewing the documents I had and checking and double-checking my tree, I did find something somewhat anomalous.  In doing my initial research of Moses’ family, I had not been able to find them on the 1920 census, as I mentioned in my last post.  In trying to find the family, I had searched for each of the children separately, and I had found a Joseph Brotman living in Davenport, Iowa, according to the 1915 Iowa state census.  I admit that I had not looked very carefully (BIG mistake) and had jumped to the conclusion that Moses’ son Joseph had been shipped out to Iowa to live with another family since I couldn’t find Moses or Ida or any of the siblings listed on that census.  (This is one reason I keep my tree private on Ancestry—I’d hate to mislead someone else while I am doing preliminary research.)

But in now reviewing my original preliminary research, this just struck me as strange.  So I went back to look more carefully.  First, I pulled up the census record for Joseph.  Instead of being a list or register as with other census reports, Iowa had separate cards for each resident.  Here is the one for Joseph Brotman:

Joseph Brotman 1915 Iowa census  Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest

Joseph Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest

You can see why I made that initial mistake.  He was born the right year (1902) and the right place (New Jersey).  He was Jewish, his father was born in Austria, mother in Russia.  All those facts certainly seemed to suggest that he was the son of Moses and Ida Brotman.  So I had entered this record for Joseph on to my tree in Ancestry.

But this time I took the next step—were there other Brotmans in Davenport on that census? First I saw a Lillian Brotman.  I thought, “Hmmm, maybe two siblings were sent to Iowa?” Remember—Moses had a daughter named Lillian, as did Abraham.  So I looked at Lillian’s entry in the 1915 census.

Lillian Brotman 1915 Iowa census  Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

Lillian Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

She was living at the same address as Joseph, was also born in New Jersey, and had a father born in Austria, a mother in Russia.  Like Joseph, she had been in Iowa for three years.  So I thought that this had to be Joseph’s sister.  But this Lillian was 16 years old, and Moses’ daughter Lillian was born in 1892, so she would have been 23 in 1915. Could it be Abraham’s daughter Lillian? She was the right age, but somehow that just didn’t make much sense.

I decided to go through the cards in the census by flipping backwards from Joseph’s card and then found several other Brotmans at the same address: Albert (2), Eva (37), and May (10).  May also had been born in New Jersey, Albert in Iowa, and Eva in Russia. Who were these people? Were they related to MY Brotmans in some way? I assumed Eva was the mother of these four children, but who was the father? And where was he?

So I searched for the family by using Eva’s names and the names of the children, and I found them on the 1910 census living in Philadelphia.  The husband’s name was Bennie, wife Eva (32), and four children: Lily (11), Florence (10), Joe (8), and May (6).  These ages lined up with the ages of the children on the Iowa census five years later, but the census record said these children were born in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey. The father, Bennie, was 33, born in Austria with parents born in Russia, and had immigrated in 1894, according to the census.  He was a cutter in a clothing business.  He and his wife had been married for 12 years or since 1898.

Bennie Brotman 1910 census

Bennie Brotman 1910 census Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1386; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0019; FHL microfilm: 1375399

Bennie Brotman 1910 census
Source Citation
Year: 1910; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1386; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0019; FHL microfilm: 1375399

What had happened to their daughter Florence? And where had they been in 1900? Were they related to my Brotmans? I first searched for their missing daughter, and I found an entry in the Iowa, Select Deaths and Burials 1850-1990 database:

Name: Flora Brotman
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Single
Age: 13
Birth Date: 1900
Birth Place: Philadelphia
Death Date: 23 Aug 1913
Death Place: Davenport, Iowa
Burial Date: 24 Aug 1913
Father: Ben Brotman
Mother: Eva Siegel
FHL Film Number: 1480948
Reference ID: p186 r59

 

This document provided me with Eva’s birth name and Flora’s birthplace.  I thought that the family must have been living in Philadelphia in 1900 if that is where Flora was born, but I could not find them on the 1900 census living in Philadelphia.  I searched again for Flora, and this time found a birth record—not in Philadelphia or even in Pennsylvania, as the death record and 1910 census had reported.  Rather, she was born in, of all places, Pittsgrove, Salem County, New Jersey, on July 19, 1900, to Benj. Brotman (born in Austria) and Eva Sigel (born in Russia).  Once I saw Pittsgrove, my heart beat a little faster.  This more and more seemed like a member of the Brotmanville Brotman family—someone I had not ever located or researched before.  Who was he? How was he related, if at all, to Moses and Abraham?

Name: Flora Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 19 Jul 1900
Birth Place: PIT, Salem County, New Jersey
Father’s name: Benj Brotman
Father’s Age: 24
Father’s Birth Place: Aug.
Mother’s name: Eve Sigel
Mother’s Age: 22
Mother’s Birth Place: Russia
FHL Film Number: 494247

 

I searched for them on the 1900 census again, but this time in Pittsgrove, New Jersey.  It took some doing, but finally found Benjamin listed as Bengeman Brotman, listed at the very bottom of the same page as Moses Brotman, just a few households away.  The census reported that he was 24, a cutter, and married for one year.  It stated that he and his parents were born in Austria, that he had immigrated in 1888, and that he was a naturalized citizen.  At the top of the next page were the listings for his wife Eva and daughter Lilly, just a year old.  The other children had not yet been born.

Bengeman Brotman 1900 US census

Bengeman Brotman 1900 US census

Ben Brotman's family 1900 census Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Ben Brotman’s family 1900 census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

 

From this census, I knew that Benjamin Brotman had lived in Pittsgrove right near Moses Brotman, had married Eva Siegel and had had at least two children in Pittsgrove before moving to Philadelphia, where they were living in 1910.  By 1913, the family was living in Davenport, Iowa, where their daughter Flora died.  But where was Benjamin in 1915 when the Iowa census was taken? And was he related to Moses Brotman?

Looking one more time, I found him listed in the 1914 Davenport, Iowa, directory as a peddler, living with his wife Eva at the same address where she and the children were listed in the 1915 Iowa census. I also found him in the 1915 directory at that address, but with no occupation listed, and in the 1918 directory at a new address, 1323 Ripley, the same address given for his son Joseph, listed as a chauffeur, and his daughter Lillian, listed as a bookkeeper. A very similar series of entries appears in the 1919 directory. In both Benjamin still had no occupation listed.  If he was living in Davenport in 1914, 1915, 1918 and 1919, why wasn’t he in the Iowa census?

One more search of the I0wa 1915 census produced this result:

Benjamin Brotman 1915 Iowa census Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

Benjamin Brotman 1915 Iowa census
Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses, 1856, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 as well various special censuses from 1836-1897 obtained from the State Historical Society of Iowa via Heritage Quest.

At first, I didn’t know why this card was separated from the family’s cards.  Looking at this card, however, revealed the reason: Benjamin is described as an invalid, and under “Remarks” it says, “Tuberculosis Hospital.”  He was not living with his family. Benjamin was sick with the dreadful disease that caused suffering for so many and their families.  Perhaps that is also what killed his daughter Flora.  Of note on this card is that his birthplace was Austria and that he had been in the US for 27 years, that is, since 1888, consistent with the 1900 census though not the 1910 census.  Also, as with the other members of the family, Ben had been in Iowa for three years or since about 1912.

But what happened to Ben after 1915? Did he recover? Is that why he appears in the 1918 and 1919 directories? On the 1920 census Ben is listed with Eva and three of their surviving children, Lillian, Joseph, and Albert, and a new son Merle, only four years old.  It would seem that Ben had not only recovered, but had returned home and fathered another child.

Benjamin Brotman 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Rock Island Precinct 4, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: T625_402; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 128; Image: 1078

Benjamin Brotman 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Rock Island Precinct 4, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: T625_402; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 128; Image: 1078

The family was living in Rock Island, Illinois, right across the Mississippi River from Davenport, Iowa.  Ben was not employed, but Lillian was a bookkeeper and Joseph a salesman at a general store.  Their daughter May was listed on the 1920 census as an inmate at the Institution for Feeble-Minded Children in Glenwood, Iowa, over 300 miles away from Rock Island.  She was still there ten years later according to the 1930 census.

English: Downtown Davenport, Iowa looking acro...

English: Downtown Davenport, Iowa looking across the Mississippi River from Rock Island, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I followed the family forward into the 1920s, Benjamin seemed to have died or disappeared.  In the 1921 Rock Island directory, Eva Brotman is listed as a widow. And in the Illinois, County Marriages 1810-1934 database on FamilySearch, I found a marriage listing for Eva Brotman and Abe Abramovitz on July 26, 1923, in Rock Island.  In 1930, Eva was living with her second husband Abe and her two youngest sons, Albert (listed incorrectly as Abe) and Merle (listed incorrectly as Muriel), who were then 18 and 15, respectively.  They were all still living together ten years later, according to the 1940 census.

Eva Siegel Brotman Abromovitz and sons 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Rock Island, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: 553; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0084; Image: 716.0; FHL microfilm: 2340288

Eva Siegel Brotman Abromovitz and sons 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Rock Island, Rock Island, Illinois; Roll: 553; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0084; Image: 716.0; FHL microfilm: 2340288

It seemed I had reached the end of the line for Benjamin Brotman, but I had no death record, and I still had no idea whether he was related to me or to the Brotmanville Brotmans.  I kept searching for a death record, and instead I found this:

Ben Brotman World War I draft registration Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1544482; Draft Board: 1

Ben Brotman World War I draft registration
Registration State: Colorado; Registration County: Denver; Roll: 1544482; Draft Board: 1

A World War I registration for a Ben Brotman born in 1876, no birthplace listed, living in Denver, Colorado.  I might not have given it much thought but for the name given as his nearest relative: Moses Brotman of Alliance, New Jersey, his father.  Moses Brotman of Alliance is the Brotmanville Moses Brotman (Alliance was the name of the community where the Brotmans settled, part of Pittsgrove, now called Brotmanville.).  This Ben Brotman was his son. The age fit exactly—the Ben Brotman living in Pittsgrove in 1900 was 24, thus born in 1876, just like the Ben Brotman living in Colorado in 1918, son of Moses. I had no child listed for Moses named Benjamin, and if this was in fact his son, he was born before Moses married Chaya/Ida/Clara Rice.  That is, this could be Abraham’s full brother from Moses’ first wife, whose name I did not know.

But could I be sure that this was the Ben Brotman who had lived in Pittsgrove, then Philadelphia, then Davenport, Iowa? And if so, what was he doing in Colorado in 1918 when this draft registration was filed? After all, Ben Brotman, Eva’s husband, had been listed in the 1918 and 1919 Davenport directories.

The draft registration listed the Colorado Ben Brotman as a porter at Oakes Home in Denver.  I googled that name and found that Oakes Home in Denver was an institution for patients suffering from tuberculosis.   Was Ben really an employee there or was he a patient?  There is no indication on his draft registration that he was in poor health and not able to serve in the military.  Had he gone there as a patient and recovered sufficiently to be employed but not yet enough to return to Iowa?

As you might imagine, I was now more than a bit confused.  If this was the same Ben, had he then returned to Iowa at some point in 1918, been there in 1919 and 1920, and then died by 1921, as Eva’s listing in the 1921 Rock Island directory suggested? I needed to find his death certificate, and I had no luck searching online in Iowa, Illinois, or Colorado.  As I’ve done before, I turned to the genealogy village for assistance.

I went to the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook and found a number of people who volunteered to help me.  One person found an entry on Ancestry from the JewishGen Online World Burial Registry for a Bera Brotman who died on January 4, 1922, who was born about 1877, and who was buried at the Golden Hills Cemetery in Lakewood, Colorado.  It seemed like a long shot.  Was Bera even a man? The birth year was close enough, but if Eva was a widow in 1921, the death date was too late.  There was a phone number for a contact person at the cemetery listed on the entry, so I called him.

Name: Bera Brotman
Birth Date: abt 1877
Death Date: 4 Jan 1922
Age at Death: 45
Burial Plot: 10-097
Burial Place: Lakewood, Colorado, United States
Comments: No gravestone
Cemetery: Golden Hill Cemetery
Cemetery Address: 12000 W. Colfax
Cemetery Burials: 3839
Cemetery Comments: Contact: Neal Price (303) 836-2312

The contact person checked the cemetery records and confirmed the information listed on JOWBR, but gave me one more bit of critical information: Bera’s last residence was the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in Denver.  By googling the JCRS, I found that JewishGen had a database of records from there, and when I searched for Ben Brotman on the JCRS database, I found this record:

JCRS record for Ben Brotman from JewiishGen

JCRS record for Ben Brotman from JewiishGen

This Ben Brotman had to be the one who had been at one time living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and then had moved to Davenport, Iowa.  This was the Ben who had married Eva and had six children.  He had twice been a patient at the JCRS.  First, he’d been admitted when he was 41 or in 1917, when he listed his status as married, and then he’d been admitted again when he was 45 or in 1921, when he listed his status as divorced.  The pieces were starting to come together.  Perhaps Ben had in fact been in Denver in 1917, recovered enough to register for the draft there in 1918, then returned to his family in Davenport sometime in 1918 through 1920.  He then had to return to the JCRS in Denver in 1921, where he died in January, 1922.  By 1921 he and Eva had divorced, and Eva had listed herself as a widow in the directory, as many divorced women did in those days when divorce was stigmatizing.

I emailed the cemetery contact person and explained that I thought Bera was really Ben, and he agreed to change the records.  But I still had some nagging doubts.  Was the Ben Brotman who had died in Colorado in January, 1922, and who had lived in Davenport also the one who was the son of Moses Brotman, as indicated on the draft registration?  I needed the death certificate to be sure, and perhaps it would also tell me where Ben was born, helping to answer the question that had started me down this path in the first place.

I ordered the death certificate, and it finally arrived just the other day.

Benjamin Brotman death certificate

Benjamin Brotman death certificate

Ben Brotman died on January 4, 1922, of pulmonary tuberculosis at the J.C.R.S Sanitorium.  He was 45 years old and born in 1876, and he had been a tailor.  He had contracted TB in Davenport, Iowa, and had had it for ten years, or since 1912, which would mean around the time the family had moved to Iowa.  (That makes me wonder even more whether his daughter Flora had also died of TB, since she died in 1913.)  The doctor at JCRS who signed the death certificate said that he had attended Ben since September 7, 1921, which must have been when he was admitted the second time.  The certificate stated that Ben had been a Denver resident for three months and 28 days, indicating that he had been elsewhere before returning in September.  It also reported his marital status as divorced.  Finally, his place of birth was given as Austria, and his parents were also reported to have been born in Austria.

And then the answer I’d been seeking: his father’s name was Moses.  This was then most definitely the same Benjamin Brotman I had traced from Pittsgrove to Philadelphia to Davenport to Denver to Rock Island and back to Denver.  This was the son of Moses Brotman, my great-grandfather’s brother.

And then the (hopefully accurate) big revelation:  his mother’s name was Lena.  For the first time I had a record of the name of Moses’ wife prior to Ida/Chaya/Clara Rice.  Lena.  She very well might have been the mother of Abraham Brotman.  I don’t know.  There is a big gap between Abraham’s presumed birth year of 1863 and Benjamin’s birth year of 1876.  There must have been other children in between, I’d think.  Or perhaps Lena was Benjamin’s mother, and Abraham’s mother was an even earlier wife of Moses. But since both Abraham and Benjamin named their first daughters Lillian and at around the same time, I think that both of these girls were named for their grandmother Lena, who must have died before 1884 when Moses married his second wife Chaya.

I made one more look back at the records I had for Moses and for Abraham and realized that I had not re-checked the 1895 New Jersey census.  Since it only listed names, not ages or birthplaces, I had not thought it important in my search for where they’d lived in Europe.  Moses and his family are listed on the page before Abraham and his family on that census.   Abraham is listed with Minnie and their first three children, Joseph, Samuel, and Kittella (presumably Gilbert).

Abraham Brotman 1895 NJ census Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Abraham Brotman 1895 NJ census
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Moses is listed with Clara and the five children they had had by 1895: Sadie, Katie, Lillie, Samuel, and “Abraham.”[1] But also listed with Moses is a name I had overlooked during my preliminary research: Bennie.  He was listed in the 5-20 year old category, and if this was the Ben Brotman of Iowa and Denver, he would have been 19 years old in 1895.  There he was—Benjamin Brotman, the son I had overlooked and who very well could have been the full brother of Abraham Brotman.

Moses Brotman 1895 NJ census Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

Moses Brotman 1895 NJ census
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels.

What I don’t know and will likely never know is why Ben and Eva left New Jersey. Why did he go to Davenport, Iowa?[2]  The whole story is rather sad. He doesn’t even have a headstone at the Golden Hills cemetery.  I have identified some of his descendants, and perhaps when I return, I will try and contact them.

Although I was very excited to find this lost Brotman, unfortunately I still don’t have any record identifying a specific town or city where the Brotmanville Brotmans lived in Europe.  But soon I will head off to Tarnobrzeg, Poland, the town I still think is the most likely ancestral home of my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman.

 

 

 

 

[1] I found this very strange—did Moses really have another son named Abraham? The Abraham listed on the 1895 New Jersey census was five years old or younger, meaning he was born in 1890 or later.  Samuel was born in 1889, but must not yet have turned five; Lily was born in 1892.  The only other child born between 1890 and 1894 was Isaac (who became Irving), not Abraham, so I assume this entry on the 1895 census was a mistake and that “Abraham” was really Isaac.

[2] In doing this research I kept tripping over another Brotman family—a family living in Rock Island that owned the theaters in town.  However, they do not appear to be related.  The patriarch of that family, Jacob Brotman, was born in 1848 in Minsk, Russia, and had lived in London before emigrating to the US sometime after 1901.   Since Joseph and Moses were born around the same time but somewhere in Galicia, it seems unlikely that Jacob was a close relative.  But anything is possible.

Where Am I? Where Am I Going? Tarnobrzeg

 

Polski: Tarnobrzeg, Panorama nocna osiedla Ser...

Polski: Tarnobrzeg, Panorama nocna osiedla Serbinow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time to take stock and figure out where I am and where I have been and, of course, where I am going next.  I have “finished” my research on the Dreyfuss and Nusbaum families, and when I say “finished,” I know that as with all my family lines, I am never finished.  I always have more to do—whether it is trying to go back further in time or trying to connect with descendants.  There are a number of unanswered questions, as there always are and always will be.  I will write up something to bring some closure to what I know about these two family lines within the next several days.  But for today, I just want to think about where I am more generally.

I have now done many of my father’s paternal lines.  Starting with the Cohens, I’ve also covered the Seligmans, the Schoenfelds, the Nusbaums, and the Dreyfusses (Dreyfi?), and, of course, all the other names that came with later generations: Sluizer, Weil, Selinger, Bacharach,  Wiler, Simon, Meyers, Dinkelspiel, Hano, and so on.   I’ve also missed a few lines.  I haven’t yet focused on the line that starts with Hart Levy Cohen’s wife, Rachel Jacobs, or with Jacob Cohen’s wife, Sara Jacobs.  I haven’t looked at all at the line that begins with Voegele Welsch, wife of Amson Nusbaum.  And I am sure there are other maternal lines I need to explore.  Of course, those are often the hardest because the names have disappeared from the family, and each of those ancestors dates back close to 200 years ago.  But eventually I will get there.

And next I will explore my father’s maternal lines, the Schoenthals and Katzensteins: more German Jews who came to Pennsylvania in the 1840s or so.  Who knows what stories, what adventures, what heartbreaks I will discover along the way.

But before I turn to the Schoenthal and Katzenstein families, I have several other questions to research and address.  The Seligmann family tree continues to grow both backwards in time and horizontally, thanks to my cousin Wolfgang and all the research he has done.  Their stories continue to fascinate and also horrify me.  I am also in touch with the daughter of Fred and Ilse Michel, and she has shared stories and photographs with me.

There are also lingering questions regarding the Goldschlagers, now that I’ve found two other families with that name and roots in Romania.  We are hoping to hire a Romanian researcher to help us learn more.

And finally, there are those ever elusive Brotmans.  Although I am not putting any more hope (or much time) into using DNA as a tool to find my Brotman ancestors, I still have hope that something will turn up.  Just this past week someone contacted me, asking about Chaye Fortgang, Joseph Brotman’s first wife and the mother of the first four Brotman children, Abraham, Sophie, David, and Max.  He has Fortgang family from Grebow, a town less than ten miles from Tarnobrzeg and also the town that David and Abraham Brotman gave as their home on the ship manifest when immigrating to the US.  Perhaps by researching the Fortgang family, I will also learn about Joseph Brotman and his family.  In addition, I am focused on the Brotmanville Brotmans, hoping that that line will lead to more answers.

English: Gmina Grębów COA Polski: Herb gminy G...

English: Gmina Grębów COA Polski: Herb gminy Grębów (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition, I will be visiting Tarnobrzeg in person in just about a month.  We will be hiring a guide who also does genealogy research, and we will be joined by my newly-found cousin Phyllis, the niece of Frieda, the woman who matched my mother as a close cousin through DNA testing.  Phyllis and I have chosen to believe that our grandmothers were in fact first cousins, and we are hoping to find some evidence to corroborate it.  So although I am not writing about it on the blog, much of my time right now is spent researching for this trip.  Once I am there, I will share my experiences on the blog, so stay tuned.

Photograph of Tarnobrzeg Main Square.

Photograph of Tarnobrzeg Main Square. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This is NOT a test even if it looks and sounds like one!

As promised, here is a chart to illustrate one possible way that my mother Florence, Elaine and Frieda are all connected.

New PDF Chart showing relationships of Moses Joseph Bessie et al-page-001

 

There are a LOT of unknowns and assumptions here.

First, we are assuming that Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brot were first cousins, as family lore says.  If so, then one of Joseph’s parents was a sibling to one of Bessie’s parents.  On this chart, I am assuming that Joseph’s father Abraham was a sibling to Bessie’s mother Gittel Brot because I don’t think Abraham would have named a son Joseph if he had a living brother named Joseph.

Second, we are assuming based on DNA results that Joseph Brotman and Moses Brotman were brothers, making their children first cousins and their grandchildren, here Florence and Elaine, second cousins.  The DNA results seem to support that assumption.

Third, we are assuming that Florence and Frieda are also second cousins based on the DNA results, meaning that Gussie Brotman and Sabina Brod were first cousins, meaning that one of Gussie’s parents and one of Sabina’s parents were siblings.  Here, I am making the assumption that Bessie Brot, Gussie’s mother, was the sister of Sabina’s mother, but it could be that Bessie was Sabina’s father’s sister.  I don’t know whether Brod was a name Sabina got from her mother or her father because in Galicia in those times, the state often treated Jewish children as illegitimate if their parents had only a Jewish marriage ceremony and thus assigned the mother’s name to the children instead of the father’s.  So either is possible here.

So what does this all mean? Well, hold on because this is where it gets a bit slippery. Taking the above chart as true (which is still very speculative), it means that Elaine, Florence, and Frieda are all third cousins since they all have the same great-great-grandparents, i.e., whoever were the parents of Abraham Brotman and Gittel Brot.  (I don’t know whether Brotman and Brot were two versions of the same name or two completely different names in the family; both exist as surnames so they could be as unrelated as someone named Rosen is to someone named Rosenberg, for example.)

BUT Elaine and Florence are also second cousins (as well as third cousins) since they are the children of first cousins (Louis and Gussie) and the grandchildren of siblings (Moses and Joseph Brotman).  AND the same is true for Florence and Frieda: they are second cousins because they are the children of first cousins (Gussie and Sabina) and the grandchildren of siblings (Bessie and the parent of Sabina).

Cousin_tree

So my mother is a second cousin to both Elaine and Frieda (since her grandparents were first cousins), BUT Elaine and Frieda are not second cousins, only third cousins.  Their grandparents (Moses Brotman and Sabina’s parent) were not first cousins, just second cousins.

That is consistent with the DNA results which showed my mother as a second cousin to Elaine and also to Frieda but showed Elaine and Frieda as likely third to fifth cousins.

I have no idea whether that is a help or not.  In fact, I think I am more confused now than before.  Please tell me if that makes no sense.  Ask me questions.  Test my thinking.  Please.

And a big THANK YOU to my new cousin Phyllis for helping me sort through all of this!