Who was Sarah Goldfarb? Searching for Answers

In my last post, I described the research path I followed to determine whether and how Julius and Joe Goldfarb were related to my grandmother Gussie Brotman. After much searching, I had established the following with some degree of certainty:

Julius and Joseph Goldfarb were both sons of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb.  Sarah and Sam had lived in Grombow/Grebow, Poland, before immigrating to the United States, which was the same town my great-uncles Abraham Brotman and David Brotman had listed as their home on the ship manifest when they immigrated in 1889.  Sam Goldfarb had arrived in 1892, Sarah in 1896.  Sarah came with four children, Julius (Joel), Morris (Moische), Gussie (Gitel), and Bessie (Pesie).  They had sailed to Philadelphia, and in 1900, they were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, where my great-grandfather’s brother Moses Brotman was also residing.  By that time, Sarah and Sam (called Solomon on the 1900 census) had had two more children: Joseph and Leo (or Lewis).  Sam was working as a tailor, perhaps even in my grandmother’s first cousin Abraham Brotman’s factory in Pittsgrove, New Jersey.

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

By 1902, Sam and Sarah had moved to the Lower East Side of New York City where their seventh child, Rosie, was born on February 9, 1902.  They were living across the street from my grandmother and her family on Ridge Street; my great-grandmother Bessie (Brod) Brotman was then a widow, as my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman had died in 1901.  According to the 1905 census, Sam Goldfarb was working as a cloak maker.

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

In 1910, the Goldfarbs were living on Avenue C in New York, and Sam was still working as a tailor in a cloak factory.  Their son Julius was working as a conductor on a street car, and Morris as a cutter in a neckwear factory.

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

In April 1910, Sam and Sarah’s daughter Gussie married Max Katz, a window decorator who was born in Russia; on the 1910 census, Gussie and Max are listed as living with Max’s parents in Brooklyn. According to the marriage index on FamilySearch, Gussie Goldfarb’s mother’s birth name was “Brohmen,” one of the clues that made me think that Sarah was a relative of my great-grandfather, Joseph Brotman.

In 1915, Gussie and Max had moved out on their own and were living on Malta Street in Brooklyn.  Max was working in the men’s clothing business.

Gussie Goldfarb and Max Katz 1915 NY census New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 51; Assembly District: 22; City: New York; County: Kings; Page: 148

Gussie Goldfarb and Max Katz 1915 NY census
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 51; Assembly District: 22; City: New York; County: Kings; Page: 148

I found another clue for Sarah’s birth name on her son Julius’ marriage license, as indexed on FamilySearch: Sarah Brothman.  Julius married Ida Hecht in November, 1913. In 1915, Sam and Sarah and the remaining five unmarried children (Morris, Bessie, Joe, Leo, and Rose) were still living on Avenue C in the same building as my great-uncle Hyman Brotman and his family.  Sam was still working as a tailor, as was his son Morris.

Based on these two New York City marriage index listings, one for the marriage of Gussie Goldfarb and one for the marriage of Julius Goldfarb, it looked like their mother Sarah’s birth name was Brothman or Brohmen.  To find out more, I would need to order the actual records plus any other vital records that might reveal Sarah’s parentage and family.  So I ordered these two marriage records; I also ordered the birth record for Sarah and Sam’s last child, Rosie.

The marriage record for Gussie was consistent with the information on the NYC marriage index, except that it was evident that Gussie’s mother’s name was not spelled Brohmen, but Brotmen, on the actual certificate.

katz-goldfarb-marriage-page-1 katz-goldfarb-marriage-page-2

The actual marriage record for Julius Brotman and Ida Hecht was also consistent with what I’d seen on the index in terms of Sarah’s birth name—Brothman.  But the record revealed a new mystery.

goldfarb-hecht-marriage-page-3 goldfarb-hecht-marriage-page-4

Ida’s mother’s birth name certainly looks like it was Taube Brotman, doesn’t it? (The index said Braitmer.) Who was this? Perhaps Taube Hecht had come to see my aunt as a baby not simply because her daughter Ida was married to my grandmother’s cousin Julius; maybe she came because she herself was a Brotman relative.  I decided to put that mystery aside for the time being and focus on Sarah Goldfarb.

And Rosie Goldfarb’s birth record made me really scratch my head. It gave Sarah Goldfarb’s name before marriage as S. Braud or maybe Brand.  Not Brotman or Brothman or Brotmen.  I was confused.  Was it Brod? Was Sarah actually my great-grandmother Bessie Brod’s sister, and not the sister of my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman.  Obviously I needed to do more digging.

goldfarb-rosie-birth

Having first worked backward in time, I now worked from 1915 forward to see what else I might find to help me determine if Sarah Goldfarb was a Brod or a Brotman.  Both Julius and his brother Morris registered for the draft in World War I.  I’d already seen the draft registration card for Julius, but had not seen the card for Morris.  It added no new information, but confirmed that he was born in “Grombow Galicia Austria.”[1]

morris-goldfard-ww1-draft-reg

Morris Goldfarb World War I draft registration Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1765780; Draft Board: 104

On February 2, 1919, Morris married Anna Grinbaum in Brooklyn, according to the NYC marriage index.  I ordered a copy of his marriage record, and his record listed his mother’s birth name as Sarah Brod.  Now I had two records that indicated Sarah’s birth name was not Brotman, like my great-grandfather, but Brod, like my great-grandmother.  I wanted to hit my head against the wall!

goldfarb-grinbaum-marriage-page-1

 

Tragedy struck the Goldfarb family when Sarah and Sam’s oldest daughter, Gussie, died on May 13, 1919 at age 29 from acute lobar pneumonia.  As far as I can tell, Gussie and her husband Max Katz had not had any children.  On Gussie’s death certificate, her parents’ names are listed as Solomon Goldfarb and Sarah Brotman.  Another point for Brotman.

katz-gussie-death

In 1920, Sam and Sarah only had three children still living with them: Joe (22), Leo (20), and Rose (18).  Joe and Leo were both working as clerks for an express company, and Rose was working as a dressmaker.  Sam was no longer working; he was now 64 years old. They were living on Williams Avenue in Brooklyn; I now knew that the “S. Goldfarb” on Williams Avenue listed in my grandfather’s notebook had to be either Sam or Sarah Goldfarb.

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

Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

But where was their daughter Bessie? She had been living with the family in 1915, so I assumed she had married sometime between 1915 and 1920.  I searched for her in the NYC marriage index, but there was no listing for a Bessie Goldfarb.  Instead I found this record from the Michigan marriage database on Ancestry:

meyer-malzberg-and-bessie-goldfarb-marriage-record-from-michigan-p-1

Meyer Malzberg and Bessie Goldfarb marriage record 1914 Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

Meyer Malzberg and Bessie Goldfarb marriage record 1914
Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

The top image shows the bride and groom, Bessie Goldfarb and Meyer Malzberg, their ages, and that they were residing in Detroit.  It also shows their birthplaces, and for Bessie it is Austria.  The lower image shows the father’s first name, Sam for Bessie, and then the mother’s birth names.  Although it is partly hidden by the fold on the page, it definitely looks like “ah Brothman.”

This is most definitely my cousin Bessie Goldfarb: she was born in “Austria,” her father was named Sam, her mother Sarah Brothman.  But why was she a resident of Detroit? And how did she knew Meyer Malzberg?  And most confusing, if she married him on August 9, 1914 as this record reports, was she really living back in Brooklyn when the NY census was taken in 1915?

It got even more bewildering.  In 1910, Meyer Malzberg was living with his father and sister in New York City, working as a stock clerk in a department store.  In fact, although he was born in Russia, he and his family had been living in New York City since their arrival in about 1900 (records conflict).  So what were he and Bessie doing in Detroit in 1914?

In June, 1917, when Meyer registered for the World War I draft, he was still living in Detroit, working as a driver for the Detroit Creamery Company.  He also claimed an exemption from service because he was supporting his father, his wife, and a child.  So by 1917, Meyer and Bessie had had a child.

Meyer Malzberg World War I draft registration Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 2024027; Draft Board: 06

Meyer Malzberg World War I draft registration
Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 2024027; Draft Board: 06

But if Meyer and Bessie had had a child between 1914 and 1917, why was Bessie living with her parents in New York in 1915 while Meyer was still apparently living in Detroit? A little more research revealed that that first child, a son named Norman, was born in New York in May, 1915; although the NY census is dated on the form as June 1, 1915, it must have been actually enumerated before then since the baby is not listed.

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

My best guess is that Bessie had come back to New York to have her baby where her family was living while Meyer stayed in Detroit to earn a living.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find Bessie and Meyer on the 1920 census, but their second child Gustave was born in Brooklyn in 1919 and their two youngest sons Burton and Saul were born in Jersey City in the 1920s.

Obviously, the stay in Detroit was relatively short-lived, and Meyer and Bessie had returned to the New York metropolitan area before 1920.  In fact, when I looked back at my grandfather’s notebook, I noticed that there was an entry for M. Malzberg at 361 2d Street, JC, or Jersey CIty:

Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

Bessie’s brother Julius and his family were also living in Jersey City in 1920, and Julius was continuing to work in the liquor business; by 1920, they had two young daughters, Sylvia and Gertrude.

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

To review: as of 1920, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living with their children Joe, Leo, and Rose in Brooklyn; Julius and Ida were living in Jersey City; Morris and Anna were probably living in Brooklyn; Gussie was deceased; and Bessie and Meyer were living in either Jersey City or in Brooklyn.

At this point in my research, I started to move beyond 1920 and to look for living descendants to see what I might learn about the family and specifically about Sarah Goldfarb.  I was very fortunate to find two of the descendants of Julius and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb.  And they provided me with extensive family history notes that a member of the Goldfarb family had researched years before.  More on what I learned from that research in my next post.

But for now, a summary of the clues I’d found so far about Sarah Goldfarb’s connection to my grandmother: three marriage records and one death record for Sarah’s children indicated that Sarah’s birth name had been “Brot(h)man,” but one marriage record for Morris and one birth record for Rose said it was “Brod” or “Braud.”

The evidence seemed to weigh in favor of Sarah being perhaps a sibling of my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman.  Also pointing in that direction was the fact that when they first came to the US, Sam and Sarah had lived in the same town as Moses Brotman, my great-grandfather’s brother.

But then by 1902, Sarah and Sam had moved across the street from my great-grandmother after my great-grandfather had died.  Did that suggest that Sarah was Bessie’s sister and had moved to New York to be closer to her widowed sister? Was Sarah a Brod, not a Brotman, as the wedding certificate for Morris and Rose’s birth certificate indicated?

Plus there were some conflicting clues raised by the naming pattern.  If Sarah had a sister named Bessie (my great-grandmother), would she have named a child Bessie? But Sarah also had a son named Joseph who was born before my great-grandfather Joseph Brotman died.  Would she have given a son the same name as her brother?  Ashkenazi Jews don’t name their children after living relatives, so these name choices certainly confused the matter.

The evidence certainly was not conclusive.  I needed more.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Although the documents I found spelled the town several different ways, Grembow, Grombow, and Grebow, I believe that the last is the correct spelling.  I searched JewishGen, and the only town with a name similar to those names that had had a Jewish community before the Holocaust was Grebow, the town I visited in 2015, the town right near Tarnobrzeg.

My Brotmanville Cousins: Searching for Answers

One thing I have been trying to do as part of my preparations for our visit to Tarnobrzeg and the surrounding towns is a last ditch effort to find some other clues as to where my Brotman ancestors lived.  I have gone back through the research I’ve done on my great-grandparents and their Galician born children, Abraham, Max, David, Hyman, and Tillie, and have found no new clues.  Then I realized that now that I have some DNA confirmation that my great-grandfather Joseph was the brother of Moses Brotman of Brotmanville, I needed to go through their records as well to see if I could find some new clues.  I had done an initial search a few years ago, but had not yet gone back and checked it more thoroughly.

Moses Brotman

Moses Brotman courtesy of his granddaughter Elaine

What I already knew was that Moses Brotman had had many children, some born in Europe, some born in the US.  His oldest (known) child was his son Abraham, who was born in Europe.  Abraham Brotman had originally settled in New York City and established a cloak factory there, but was invited by those who created the Alliance Colony in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, to start a factory there to employ the residents when the farming season ended.  Eventually, a section of Pittsgrove was named Brotmanville in his honor.[1]

At this point I will not tell the full story of the Brotmanville family in America; that will have to wait. My immediate objective in reviewing my research of the Brotmanville Brotmans was to see if I could find any records that revealed where Moses and his family had lived before arriving in the US.  So I had to focus first on those who had been born in Europe, not those who were born in the US, although that meant also looking for records for the children born here to see if those records revealed the birthplaces of their European born parents

What I knew from the descendants and from my earlier research was that Moses had been married twice and Abraham had been the child of his first marriage.  Although the census records for Abraham are in conflict about his birthdate, the earliest to include his age, the 1900 census, reported his birthdate to be November 1863, long before Moses married Ida, the woman with whom he immigrated to America.

1900 US Census for Abraham Brotman

1900 US Census for Abraham Brotman Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: 993; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993

Looking at the 1900 census report for Abraham, by 1900 he and his wife, Minnie Hollender, had been married for 13 years and had had six children, five of whom were still alive.  All six children were born in the US.  Abraham reported that he had arrived in the US in 1884, three years before marrying Minnie.  Their children as of 1900 were Joseph (10), Samuel (7), Gilbert (6), Nephtaly (later Herman) (4), and Leah (2).  They were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, and Abraham was working as a manufacturer.[2]

The 1910 census for Abraham and his family is only somewhat consistent with that of the 1900:  his age is 47, still giving him a birth year of 1863, but now his birthplace is reported as Russia. He and Minnie now reported that they had had eleven children, nine of whom were still alive.  In addition to the five listed above, there were three more daughters and one more son.

Abraham Brotman 1910 US census

Abraham Brotman 1910 US census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: T624_908; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0154; FHL microfilm: 1374921

The 1920 census reported one more child and once again had Abraham’s birthplace as Austria.  However, he now claimed to be 48, thus born in 1872, not 1863 as previously reported.  Later records also made him ten years younger than had been reported on the 1900 and 1910 census reports.  Genealogists generally assume that the records closest in time are more likely to be accurate than those later in time (and people are more likely to make themselves younger as they get older), so I am inclined to assume that Abraham was born in 1863.  It also makes more sense that he was 21 when he immigrated, not 11.  But where was he born? Austria? Russia? And in what city or town?

Since both the 1930 and the 1940 census reported his birthplace as Austria, I am inclined to discount the 1910 and assume that the 1900, 1920, 1930 and 1940 census reports indicating his birthplace as Austria are more accurate.  And, of course, “Austria” meant within the Austria-Hungary Empire, just as it did for my great-grandparents and many other immigrants from that region, including Galicia.

But then where more specifically was he born? Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a death record for Abraham, and the death records I have for his children are no more specific.  For example, the death certificate for his oldest child, Joseph, only reports that his father’s birthplace was Austria.

Joseph Brotman death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Joseph Brotman death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Samuel’s death certificate says that his father’s birthplace was Russia.

Samuel Brotman death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Samuel Brotman death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Abraham’s youngest child, Aaron, who was born in 1911, died as a young man in 1939 from heart disease.  His death certificate indicates that his father was born in Austria.

Aaron Brotman death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Aaron Brotman death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Those were the only sources I have located so far that reflect anything about where Abraham was born.  I also had no records of what his mother’s name was nor did I have any indication of full siblings for Abraham, only the half-siblings born through his father’s second marriage.  So I then turned to Abraham’s father Moses and his children to see if there was more to learn through their records.

The earliest record I had found for Moses was his petition for naturalization, filed in 1894.  It had his birthplace as Russia.  It also said that he had arrived in the US in 1885.

Moses Brotman petition for Naturalization

Moses Brotman Petition for Naturalization “New Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-29863-26750-98?cc=2057433&wc=M73R-4NL:351145001,351187001 : accessed 14 May 2015), Salem > Petitions for naturalization 1888-1895 > image 95 of 96; county courthouses, New Jersey.

The 1900 US census reported his birthplace and date as Austria in November 1844.  It also reported that he had immigrated in 1886 and that he was a farmer.  Like his son Abraham, he was living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey with his wife “Chay”  (probably Chaya), to whom he’d been married for sixteen years.  (Abraham was already 37 in 1900, indicating that Abraham was not Chaya’s son.) Moses and Chaya had had eight children, seven of whom were alive, according to the 1900 census.  The seven were Sadie (16), Katie (13), Samuel (10), Lilly (7), Isaac (5), Bessy (2), and Lewis (three months)[It is spelled “Lewis” on the census, but according to his grandson, his name was actually spelled “Louis.”]  The youngest four were born in New Jersey, Katie in New York, and Sadie and Samuel reportedly in Austria.  Of course, that made no sense to me—if Katie was older than Samuel, how could he have been born in Austria if she was born in New York? Had Moses and Chaya returned to Europe at the time Katie was born? Or was the census just in error?  If they really had immigrated in 1886 and if Samuel was 10 in 1900, he must have been born in the US.

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

The other thing that struck me as very strange about this report was the fact that Moses had a son named Samuel as did his son Abraham.  In 1900 Moses’ Samuel was ten; Abraham’s was seven.  So Abraham’s son Samuel had an uncle three years older with the same name.  When I turned to the 1910 census report for Moses and his family, that became even stranger, as now Moses had had another child, a son named Joseph, who was seven as of 1910.  Abraham also had a son named Joseph, who was seventeen in 1910. So Abraham’s son Joseph had an uncle Joseph who was ten years younger than he was.  In addition, both Moses and Abraham had daughters named Lilly or Lillian; Moses’ daughter was born in February 1892; Abraham’s daughter was born September 5, 1898. Why would Moses and Abraham have given their children the same names? Perhaps they were named for the same ancestors, but it must have been awfully confusing in Pittsgrove to have two Samuel Brotmans., two Joseph Brotmans, and two Lilly Brotmans running around that small community.  It sure doesn’t help genealogists either.

The 1910 census report for Moses now had his wife’s name as Ida, which was a common Americanization of Chaya.  Moses was now working as a presser in a clothing factory, presumably the one owned by his son Abraham.  As with the 1900 census for Abraham, Moses’ birthplace is now given as Russia, not Austria.  He and Ida had six of their children living with them: Samuel (20), Lilly (15), Isaac (14), Bessie (12), Lewis/Louis (10), and the above-mentioned Joseph (7).  The birthplace for all the children was New Jersey, except for Samuel, whose birthplace was reported as Russia, same as his parents. Sadie and Katie were no longer living with their parents. Unfortunately, I have not yet found any records for what happened to Sadie or Katie, although their father’s obituary revealed their married names and their residence as of 1935 in Philadelphia.

Moses Brotman 1910 census

Moses Brotman 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Roll: T624_908; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0154; FHL microfilm: 1374921

It took me forever to track down Moses Brotman and his family on the 1920 census, and although I am not 100% certain this is the right family, I am fairly certain that it is.  The head of household is Morris Brotman, wife Clara—another common Americanization of Chaya.  Morris was reported to be 70 years old, so born around 1850, not far off from his birthdate on the 1900 census.  Birthplace is given as Russia for Morris, Austria for Clara, and it reported that immigrated in 1887, close to the 1886 reported in 1900.  The most convincing support for this being the right family are the names and ages of the children: Lillian (21), Louis (20), Bessie (19), and Joseph (17).  Although Lilly would have been 25 and Bessie 22, the sons’ ages are accurate; maybe they lied about the daughters’ ages to make them appear more “marriageable.”  The family was now living in Philadelphia, not New Jersey, which at first I found odd.

Moses Brotman 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1634; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1095; Image: 530

Moses Brotman 1920 US census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 32, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1634; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 1095; Image: 530

But then I checked for the older sons, Samuel and Isaac (now Irving) and found that both had married between 1910 and 1920 and were living in Philadelphia.  Although I still have not located the two older daughters Sadie and Katie, perhaps they also had married by then and moved to Philadelphia.  Maybe Moses and Ida/Clara/Chaya also moved there to be closer to all their children.

Thus, I now had conflicting birthplaces for Moses—one census said Austria, two said Russia.  I looked at the 1930 census, and once again there was a conflict.  Now Moses’ birthplace was reported as Austria-Hungary, then crossed out with “Europe” written above it. His parents’ birthplace, however, was given as Austria-Hungary.  Moses was now 80 years old, and he and his wife (now Ida again) and their youngest son Joseph (28) were living in Vineland, New Jersey, near Pittsgrove. So as with Abraham, the birthplace for Moses fluctuated back and forth between Russia and Austria with no specific town or city mentioned. Perhaps Moses really did not know where in Europe he was actually born.

Moses Brotman 1930 US census

Moses Brotman 1930 US census Year: 1930; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: 1327; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0060; Image: 434.0; FHL microfilm: 2341062

Moses died on September 23, 1935.  His death certificate said he was born in Austria in 1847 and that his parents were named Abraham Brotman and Sadie Berstein, also born in Austria.  His grandson Aaron Brotman was the informant, Abraham’s youngest son who would die himself just a few years later.  Moses’ wife’s name was given as Rachel Rice.  This has caused considerable confusion for the family.  Was this a third wife? A mistake?

Moses Brotman death certificate_0001_NEW

In the obituary for Moses, it says he was survived by his widow, but did not name her.  It did, however, name all his children (including the married names for Sadie and Katie, as indicated above) and their residences.

Moses Brotman obituary

Moses Brotman obituary Courtesy of his granddaughter Elaine, source unknown

I found the death certificate for his youngest child, Joseph, who died less than a year after his father on July 26, 1936, from bacterial endocarditis.  He was only 34 years old.  On his death certificate, Moses’ birthplace is once again given as Russia, and Joseph’s mother’s name is reported to be Rachael Rice. The informant was Joseph’s half-brother, Abraham Brotman.

Joseph Brotman (Moses' son) death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Joseph Brotman (Moses’ son) death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Since Moses’ wife on the 1910 census was Ida and since Joseph was born in 1902, it would seem likely that Ida was Joseph’s mother.  Or could Chaya have been Rachel Rice and then died after Joseph was born? Was Ida a third wife? And was she the same woman as Clara, the wife listed on the 1920 census, or was that a fourth wife? My own personal hunch was that Rachel, Chaya, Ida and Clara are all one and the same person.

Although I was able to find the death certificate for Irving Brotman, it had no information for the name of his mother, had his father’s name as Morris, and had no information for their birthplaces.  I was, however, able to find the following entries in the New Jersey, Births and Christening Index on Ancestry.com for two of Moses’ children:

Name: Liza Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 2 Feb 1892
Birth Place: Pit, Salem, New Jersey
Father’s name: Moritz Brotman
Mother’s name: Chai Reis
FHL Film Number: 494224
Name: Brotman
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 12 May 1897
Birth Place: Pit , Salem, New Jersey
Father’s name: Moses Brotman
Father’s Age: 45
Father’s Birth Place: Austria
Mother’s name: Clara Rice
Mother’s Age: 30
Mother’s Birth Place: Austria
FHL Film Number: 494236

Notice that the mother’s name was Chai Reis on the first, then the more Americanized Clara Rice on the later one.  These were both created before the 1900 census listing of Moses’ wife as Chaya, the 1910 listing as Ida, the 1920 listing as Clara, or the 1930 listing again as Ida.  Notice that the surname is Reis/Rice, the same surname given for Moses’ wife on his death certificate in 1935 and that of his son Joseph in 1936.  I find this last bit of evidence enough to conclude that Rachel Rice was the same woman who married Moses in 1884 or so, immigrated with him and their first two children, and gave birth to and raised nine children from Sadie, born in 1884, through Joseph, born in 1902.  In 1940 after Moses had died, Ida (aka Chaya-Clara-Rachel) was living with her son Lewis/Louis and his wife Jean and their daughter Elaine in Vineland, New Jersey.  According to Elaine, Ida died about three years later.  Unfortunately I have not yet located a death record or obituary for Ida.

Lewis Brotman 1940 US census Year: 1940; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2327; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 6-76

Lewis/Louis Brotman 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Vineland, Cumberland, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2327; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 6-76

Thus, reviewing all the records I had found had not brought me any closer to learning exactly where Moses Brotman or Abraham Brotman had been born or where they had lived in Europe.  But while searching, I stumbled upon something else.  I will report on that as my last post before I leave for my trip.

[1] Relatives of the Brotmanville Brotmans say family lore is that the family was from Preszyml, a town about 90 miles from Tarnobrzeg, Grebow, and Radomysl nad Sanem, the other ancestral towns where possible family members lived. But I have not found any record supporting that family lore.

[2] A few geographical facts are necessary to understand the locations discussed in this post.  Brotmanville is an unincorporated community within the township of Pittsgrove so Pittsgrove is listed on the census records, not Brotmanville.  The colony where Baron de Hirsch and others created the farming settlement for poor Jewish immigrants was called the Alliance Colony. Vineland is a neighboring community where many of the Brotmans lived over the years.

Brotman Update! The Trials and Tribulations of DNA Testing

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am now delving into a part of genealogy research that is the hardest thing I’ve yet done in this project: DNA testing.  I am not and never was a science or math person.  My head starts spinning when I see too many numbers and/or scientific terms.  Reading about DNA results is like reading Russian or Chinese for me.  The words are not at all familiar, and the numbers have no meaning in the world in which I am used to operating.  Terms like SNP, centimorgan, autosomal, and others I can’t even keep in my head at all mean little or nothing to me, even after reading several articles and websites defining the terms.

I say all this by way of disclaimer.  Everything I am writing about today is foreign to me, and I am still trying to get help to be able to comprehend these test results more fully and to figure out what I can learn from them.

Having said all that, here’s the story.  Those who have followed this blog for a long time know that one of my brick walls was trying to find out whether my Brotman great-grandparents, Joseph and Bessie, were related to the Brotmans who settled in southern New Jersey in the 1890s and founded the town that is called Brotmanville.  My Aunt Elaine had told my cousin Jody and her husband Joel that Joseph had had a brother who moved to New Jersey where the town was named after him. Through my research and contacts with members of the Brotmanville Brotman family, I learned that Moses Brotman, a contemporary of Joseph Brotman, also had a father named Abraham and also was from Galicia, as was Joseph.  The Brotmanville Brotmans believed that Moses was from Przemyl, which is about 100 miles from Tarnobrzeg.  But none of us had any documentation of the family in Galicia or anything more than anecdotal evidence of a connection or birthplace.

brotmanville

My aunt’s story about Brotmanville

So last spring I decided to try DNA testing to see if I could break through this brick wall.  My first thought was to do a Y-DNA test on a male descendant of Moses and a male descendant of Joseph.  It had to be a father-son-grandson-great-grandson connection to get a reliable Y chain as Y DNA is only passed from fathers to sons.  I found one great-grandson of Moses Brotman who qualified and also asked one of my second cousins who was a direct male descendant of Joseph. We had the tests done by Family Tree DNA or FTDNA.  It took about three months for both test results to return, and it showed that my Moses descendant Larry and my Joseph descendant Bruce shared 34 of 37 markers on their Y-DNA.

English: A DNA microarray. Français : Une puce...

English: A DNA microarray. Français : Une puce à ADN. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had no clue what that meant.  According to a woman who works for FTDNA, it meant that there is a high likelihood of “some genetic connection,” especially since the two lines share the same surname, Brotman. By “some genetic connection,” she meant that at some point in time the NY Brotmans had a common ancestor with the Brotmanville Brotmans.  It might have been as recently as Abraham Brotman, the father of Joseph and perhaps the father of Moses, or it might have been centuries ago.  The fact that Bruce and Larry have 34 out of 37 markers that were identical indicates that there is some family tie—but those three different markers suggest that there were mutations.  Those mutations might have occurred between Bruce and his father or his father and his grandfather or even earlier.  Or they might have been on Larry’s side.  There was no way to know from the Y DNA results alone.

So my contact at FTDNA suggested that the next step would be to try a different DNA test called an autosomal DNA test, which is better at predicting the degree of connection—i.e., would better tell us whether Joseph and Moses were brothers, both sons of the same Abraham Brotman.  My contact at FTDNA said that if we could get two of the grandchildren of Joseph and Moses to take the autosomal test, it would tell us if they are likely second cousins.

As I understand it (and remember the disclaimer above), autosomal DNA is DNA we inherit from both of our parents.  We got an X from our mothers and either a Y or an X from our fathers to determine our sex.  The other 22 pairs of chromosomes are also made up of genetic material we get from both parents, and those 22 pairs are our autosomal DNA.  But it is not obvious which half of each pair came from which parent.  This is where I start getting that deer in headlights look and feel.

But what I’ve been told and what I’ve read indicates that autosomal DNA testing is quite useful in figuring out the degree of relationship between two people.  So I asked Elaine, Moses’ granddaughter, and my mother, Joseph’s granddaughter, if they would take the autosomal DNA test through FTDNA, called the Family Finder test.  If the test showed that they were second cousins, we would have fairly strong evidence that their grandfathers, Moses and Joseph, were brothers.  My mother and Elaine agreed to take the test, and once again we waited for results.

English: The structure of DNA showing with det...

English: The structure of DNA showing with detail showing the structure of the four bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine, and the location of the major and minor groove. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those results came in about a week ago.  First, I got Elaine’s results, and then a few days later, I received my mother’s results.  And they matched!  FTDNA predicts their relationship to be second cousins!  Of course, this is not definitive proof.  DNA testing is just a prediction, but at this degree of closeness, it is considered quite strong evidence, especially with the anecdotal evidence behind it, that is, the shared surnames, the shared father’s name, my aunt’s story, etc.  Elaine and my mother share 334 centimorgans.  That seems to suggest close cousins.

And then there was more.  Although Elaine and my mother were each other’s closest matches, my mother had a second very close match to a woman named Frieda.  She shared 292 centimorgans with Frieda, and Frieda was another predicted second cousin.  But Elaine was not a close match to Frieda, although she was listed as a possible third to fifth cousin.  So who was this Frieda?  The FTDNA page listed Brod as one of her ancestral names and one of her ancestral towns as Radomysl nad Sanem, which is about 20 miles from Tarnobrzeg, where I believe Joseph and Bessie lived.

I emailed the person in charge of Frieda’s results, her niece Phyllis, and we have now started trying to figure out how Frieda is related to my mother.  Since Frieda is listed as a likely second cousin, she could have shared a great-grandparent with my mother.  But since Frieda is not as close a match to Elaine, they did not share a great-grandparent. That could mean that Frieda and my mother are both the great-granddaughters of  the parents of Bessie Brot/Brotman whereas my mother and Elaine are both the great-granddaughters of  the parents of Joseph Brotman and Moses Brotman.

And since Bessie was Joseph’s first cousin, that could explain why Elaine is a more distant cousin than my mother is to Frieda but still related to both.  Elaine is not directly descended from Bessie’s line, but is directly descended from Moses Brotman, who would also have been Bessie’s first cousin if Moses and my great-grandfather Joseph were brothers.  Elaine would have some of the same genetic material as Frieda as a third cousin, but not as much as she has with my mother, her presumed second cousin.

Screenshot (24)

A screenshot of the chromosome browser showing where on my mother’s chromosomes Elaine and Frieda match her DNA

Have I lost you yet?  I am trying to create a chart and will post it once I am sure I have it right.

This was incredible news for me.  First, finding the connection between Elaine and my mother was corroborating evidence of our tie to the Brotmanville Brotmans.  Second, finding Frieda gives me an opening to find out more about Bessie and Joseph and where they lived.

But I am once again at a stumbling block.  Phyllis knows only that her great-grandmother, Frieda’s grandmother, was named Sabina Brod and was from Radomysl nad Sanem.  She does not know anything more about Sabina’s family—who her parents were or who her siblings were.  Sabina moved to Germany with her husband in the early 20th century and died there in the 1930s.  As far as Phyllis knew, Sabina had no relatives who were in the US.  Neither Phyllis nor I have found any definite records of our Brod or Brodman or Brotman relatives in Galicia.

So for now all we have is the DNA results.   And I am struggling to understand them and to learn more from them.  And it is a struggle for me.  If there is anyone out there reading this who is comfortable with this type of data, I’d love an advisor who can assist me.

But for now it feels like I have found another opening into the mystery of my Brotman ancestors.  I feel one step closer to knowing where they lived and who their families were.

English: DNA replication or DNA synthesis is t...

English: DNA replication or DNA synthesis is the process of copying a double-stranded DNA molecule. This process is paramount to all life as we know it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

More Manna from Heaven: Of Bessie, Joseph, Max and the Brotmanville Brotmans

As I wrote yesterday, the notes of the conversation with my Aunt Elaine about the family history are remarkably accurate.  Although much of what was in there I had learned either from my mother or brother or cousins or from my own research, there were a few stories in the notes, a few comments, that revealed something I had not known for sure before.  Keeping in mind the overall accuracy of the information that my aunt gave to Joel, it is very interesting to think about this additional information.

For example, there are some details about Bessie and Joseph that were revealing.  According to the notes, Bessie and Joseph were first cousins.first cousins  Although family lore did say that Joseph and Bessie were cousins, I did not realize that they were first cousins. Since both Joseph and Bessie had the surname Brotman or Brot, it seems that their fathers must have been brothers. What’s odd about this is that it means that Joseph’s father Abraham had a brother who was also apparently named Joseph, if the records are accurate.  It seems unlikely, given Jewish naming patterns, that Abraham would have named his son the same name as his brother, unless the brother had died.  Since Bessie was younger than Joseph (her husband), that is not possible.  The other possibility is that Bessie’s father and Joseph were both named for the same ancestor.  And, of course, the final possibility is that the records that indicated that Bessie’s father’s name was Joseph were incorrect.

Joel’s notes also indicate that after Joseph’s first wife died, leaving him with four children, “they decided” that Bessie should marry Joseph to help with the children.they decided  The notes don’t indicate who made the decision, but it probably was not Bessie. It’s sad to think of my great-grandmother being put in that situation, and it certainly takes the idea of any romance out of the equation.  But Joseph and Bessie went on to have five children of their own, so I’d like to assume that although it may have started as an arranged marriage for the convenience of Joseph, that love grew with time and the shared experiences and children that Joseph and Bessie had.  Call me a romantic.  I know that I am.

After Joseph himself died in 1901, the notes report that Bessie did laundry work to make money to support herself and her children, including Sam, who was just an infant, Frieda, Gussie, Tillie, and Hyman.  Tillie and Hyman were working in sweatshops, so Gussie, my not-yet-seven year old grandmother, stayed home to take care of Frieda and Sam.  Not long after, out of desperation, Bessie married “the shoemaker Moskowitz,” who my aunt reported to be very stingy.  He had five children of his own. moskowitz

I assume that my aunt’s source for these stories was my grandmother, who obviously resented Philip Moskowitz and chose to live with her sister Tillie in Brooklyn instead of staying with her mother and Sam and Frieda when Bessie remarried, so I know I have to consider the source.  My great-grandmother Bessie lived with Philip for many years, more years than she lived with Joseph, and she was buried near him, not Joseph, when she died. Bessie and Philip Moskowitz headstones As with her marriage to Joseph, her relationship with Philip may have started out of need and convenience, but it also must have developed into something more.  Or at least I hope it did.

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

Of course, it is also possible that the source of this information was Bessie herself.  Bessie did not die until 1934, when my aunt was seventeen years old.  Knowing my aunt’s interest in the family history, I assume that she must have talked to her grandmother Bessie herself as she grew up, so perhaps the stories are not just my grandmother’s version of the facts, but Bessie’s version as well.

One other comment from these notes is a rather sweet one that I hope Max Brotman‘s grandchildren and great-grandchildren will appreciate:

max mason

 

Obviously, Max, who was probably the most successful businessman of the Brotman children, was also a very generous man.  He provided food to my mother’s family during the Depression.  Here is a great-uncle I’d never even heard of, someone my mother was too young then to remember, who helped out my grandmother and her family in a time of need.  Thank you, Max.

Max Brotman

Max Brotman

 

The final tidbit from the notes from Joel’s conversation with my aunt is this one:brotmanville

 

In case you cannot read that, it says, “Brother came to America landed in NJ started a chicken farm. So successful that they named the town after him.”  The quote points back to Joseph.  This is obviously a reference to Brotmanville.  Although it is not entirely accurate—Brotmanville was named for Abraham Brotman, who started a manufacturing business to employ the residents whose farms were failing, not for Abraham’s father Moses, who had the chicken farm—the note nevertheless provides support for the claim that we are in fact related to the Brotmanville Brotmans.  As you may recall, Moses Brotman also had a father named Abraham, as revealed by his headstone and death certificate.Moses Brotman headstone Moses Brotman death certificate_0001_NEW

 

He was born in 1847 in Galicia, making him a contemporary of Joseph, my great-grandfather.  I cannot rely on these notes alone to assert with any certainty that Moses and Joseph were brothers, but given the overall accuracy of what my aunt told Joel, it is enough evidence for me to start once again to try and find a connection.  If we can find that connection and also learn where Moses Brotman lived in Galicia, it will help to answer a number of lingering questions.

Moses BrotmanHe certainly has the Brotman cheekbones.  Could this be what Joseph looked like also?

 

 

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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)

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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.