The Goldfarbs in America 1892-1910

As seen in my last post, from US records we know that Sam/Solomon Goldfarb likely arrived in the US in about 1892 and was about 32 years old at that time. Four years later his wife Sarah Brod Goldfarb and their four oldest children—Joel (Julius), Moische (Morris), Gitel (Gussie), and Pesie (Bessie)— arrived in Philadelphia on September 13, 1896. Sarah was about thirty years old, Joel was ten, Moische eight, Gitel four, and Pesie only two.

In 1900, they were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. According to that census record, Sarah and Sam had been married eighteen years in 1900, meaning they were  married in 1882. Sarah had given birth to six children by that time, and all six were living with them. As listed on the 1900 census record, they were Joseph (actually Joel and later Julius, born in 1884), Moses (later Morris, 1885), Kate (really Gussie,1888; although the record says 1880, it also says she was 12), Bessie (1890), Joseph (1897), and Lewis (later, Leo, 1899). The errors in the names likely were due to the enumerator not understanding what he was told. The first four children were born in Europe, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were born in New Jersey.

Here is a photograph of young Joe and Leo Goldfarb shared with me by Joe’s granddaughter Alyce:

Leo and Joe Goldfarb, c. 1901. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Sam was working as a tailor. Sam and Sarah’s oldest child, listed here as Joseph, but actually Joel and later known as Julius, was 15 and working as a tailor also. The three other older children were in school, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were home with Sarah.

Solomon Goldfarb and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

One question that intrigued me was why did Sarah and Sam settle in Pittsgrove? I knew that in 1900 Sarah’s sister Bessie and brother-in-law Joseph Brotman were living in New York City.1 And I knew that in 1900 Joseph’s brother Moses Brotman was living in Pittsgrove.2 Why would Sarah and Sam have chosen Pittsgrove over New York? At first I assumed it was because Moses lived there.

But when I looked at Moses Brotman’s record on the 1895 New Jersey census, I noticed that living right next door to him was the family of Lazer (Louis) and Minnie Goldfarb—Sam Goldfarb’s brother and sister-in-law.

Families of Morris Brotman and Lazer Goldfarb, 1895 NJ census, Locality or ImageSet: Pittsgrove
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1895

This tells me two things: one, that Sam and Sarah probably settled in Pittsgrove because Sam’s brother was there when Sam arrived in 1892 (although I cannot find Sam on the 1895 New Jersey census) and two, that Moses Brotman’s family and the Goldfarbs were connected through blood or marriage or at a minimum by their prior residence in Europe. I think it’s safe to assume that these two families knew each other well from the old country and in the new.

Interestingly, in 1900 when Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living in Pittsgrove, Sam’s brother Lazer/Louis Goldfarb was living on Delancey Street in New York City’s Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie were living.3 So Sam’s brother moved away from Pittsgrove within a few years of Sarah’s arrival there.

But as seen in 1905 New York State census, Sam and Sarah also soon moved from New Jersey to the Lower East Side, following Sam’s brother Louis. But even more exciting to me was to see where Sam and Sarah were living in 1905—85 Ridge Street—right across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie and my grandmother and her siblings, who were living at 84 Ridge Street. My great-grandfather Joseph Brotman died in 1901, and perhaps Sarah was drawn to New York to help her widowed sister Bessie.

Samuel Goldfarb, 1905 NYS 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, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905

Bessie Brotman and family 1905 NYS 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: 59  Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 (Terrible errors in names, but this is the right family.)

Sam and his two oldest sons, Julius (20) and Morris (19), were all working as cloakmakers, meaning likely doing piece work at one of the sweatshops in New York. Gussie (17) and Bessie (15) were in school. Joseph, now 8, was at home, and presumably so was Louis/Leo (5). And Sarah had had another child—Rosie, who was three, bringing the total number of children to seven—four boys and three girls. Rosie was born on February 9, 1902.

Rose Goldfarb birth record, New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWR-NVT : 11 February 2018), Rosie Goldfarb, 09 Feb 1902; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 7347 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,983,509.

By 1910, the family had moved from Ridge Street to 131 Avenue C in New York. Sam was working as a tailor in a cloak factory, but Julius, now 25, was working as a conductor for a car company, presumably meaning a streetcar, and Morris, now 23, was a cutter for a neckwear company. The other children were all at home except Gussie.

Samuel Goldfarb 1910 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Gussie Goldfarb had married Max Katz on April 11, 1910, in New York. Max, the son of Louis Katz and Becky(?) Shuster, was born in Russia in 1884.

Marriage of Gussie Goldfarb and Max Katz,New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24ZW-DLF : 10 February 2018), Marx Katz and Josi Gossi Goldfarb, 12 Apr 1910; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,503,728.

In 1910 Gussie and Max were living with Max’s parents in Brooklyn, and Max was working as a window dresser, but had been out of work for 25 weeks in the past year. His father owned a candy store.4

Thus, as of 1910, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb still had six of their seven children living at home. The next five years would bring more changes.


  1. Joseph Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0283; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Moses Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Louis Goldfarb and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 41; Enumeration District: 0291; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Louis Katz and family, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 26, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_978; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0796; FHL microfilm: 1374991,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

The Brotmanville Brotmans

One of the questions raised early on by several of the Brotman cousins was whether and how we were related to the Brotmans of Brotmanville, NJ.  The history of Brotmanville is quite interesting and something I knew nothing about until I started this project; in fact, I’d never heard of Brotmanville at all.

Brotmanville was established by Abraham Brotman to provide jobs to the Jewish community that had settled in nearby Alliance, New Jersey.  Alliance was founded to be an agricultural community for Jewish immigrants and funded by the Baron de Rothschild.  As The New York Times reported:

In the 1880’s, pogroms and anti-Semitic laws in Russia caused a historic exodus of Jews. Most ended up crowded into tenements in American cities. But some Jewish thinkers urged their brethren, as one of them wrote, “to become tillers of the soil and thus shake off the accusation that we were petty mercenaries living upon the toil of others.” And so hundreds of Jews established agricultural colonies on land bought for them by charities and philanthropists.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/22/nyregion/22colony.html

As Richard Brotman, Abraham Brotman’s great-grandson, reports in a film he made in the 1980s about Brotmanville, the land was difficult to farm, and many people needed an alternative way to earn a living.

Abraham Brotman, himself a recent immigrant from Galicia, had established a successful coat factory in Brooklyn, NY, and decided to relocate it near Alliance to provide jobs for the people who lived there.  Abraham moved with his wife Minnie and their children and his father Moses and his wife and children to southern New Jersey, where eventually a portion of the community was named in his honor.

Many of the Brotmans descended from Moses and/or Abraham Brotman stayed in the southern New Jersey/Philadelphia area, including Judge Stanley Brotman, Rich Brotman’s father, who recently retired from the federal bench at age 89.  In addition, Moses’ granddaughter (through a child of Moses’ second wife), Elaine Ashin, still lives in nearby Vineland.  I spoke with Elaine last week to try and find out more about her grandfather, but unfortunately he died when she was just a few months old so she knew very little about him or his background.

Moses Brotman (photo courtesy of Elaine Ashin)

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Bruce and Dennis Brotman remembered meeting with Judge Brotman many years ago and attempting to trace some family connection.  Although they cannot recall finding anything specific, they all left believing that there was some family tie.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find anything that reliably demonstrates that tie.  Moses Brotman was born in Austria in 1847, making him a contemporary of our Joseph Brotman.  Elaine Ashin sent me this photo of Moses’ headstone last week, and I was very excited when I saw it because Moses’ father’s name was Abraham.  I thought perhaps Moses and Joseph were brothers, making us all closely related to the Brotmanville Brotmans.

Photo courtesy of Elaine Ashin

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I ordered a copy of Moses’ death certificate from Trenton, NJ, and it arrived the other day.  It confirmed that Moses’ father’s name was Abraham.  However, it listed Moses’ mother’s name as Sadie Bernstein, not Yetta as listed on Joseph’s death certificate.

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So I see four possibilities: one, Moses and Joseph are not related at all, but it’s just coincidence that they both had fathers named Abraham Brotman.  Two, either Joseph’s death certificate is wrong as to his mother’s name or Moses’ death certificate is wrong as to his mother’s name, and they are brothers.  Given that we have seen that so many records, even death certificates, have errors (Frieda’s birth year,Hyman’s place of birth, etc.), it certainly is possible that one is wrong, that both are wrong or that both are right.  Three, it could be that Moses and Joseph are half-brothers and that Abraham had two wives and children with both, just as Moses and Joseph both did.  Four, perhaps they are distant cousins sharing a common ancestor named Abraham for whom both their fathers were named.

Unfortunately, we may never know.  In order to learn more, I would need to find documents from Galicia that would trace the history back further.  So far I am still not even sure what town our family came from nor where Moses’ family came from, so that is a difficult task.

So at the moment, the lawyer in me says there is just not enough evidence to conclude with any degree of certainty that we are related in any direct way to the Brotmans of Brotmanville.  But I have not given up, and I will keep looking or find someone in Poland who perhaps can search for me.