A Brotman, Goldschlager, and Rosenzweig Update: The Baby Book

As you know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, my Aunt Elaine preceded me as the family historian for my maternal side.  Several times notes she made or information she gave to others has led me to more information.  Her information has almost without exception proven to be accurate.  For example, she provided me—indirectly—with the names of my grandmother Gussie Brotman’s half-siblings, Abraham, David, Sophie, and Max.  She provided me with the clue that the Brotmanville Brotmans were our close relatives.  She told me how my grandparents met each other in Brooklyn.

Well, she has done it again.  This time, however, it was not information or notes that she provided, but rather her baby book, which my cousin found in a shoebox of old papers.  It was partially filled out when my aunt was born on October 14, 1917.  Although most of it is blank, the few pages that were filled provide not only further confirmation of relationships about which I was previously aware, but hints at some new ones.

Elaine 1926

Elaine 1926

Here are the pages of the book that have been filled in:

Aunt Elaine baby book p 1

This is my grandfather’s beautifully florid handwriting.  His daughter, my aunt, also had fancy handwriting like this.


Aunt Elaine baby book p 2

My grandmother was never called Grace, always Gussie.  But family lore is that my grandfather’s family thought Grace was more American.


Aunt Elaine baby book 3

My two maternal great-grandmothers!


Aunt Elaine baby book 4

Who are these people?

Tillie Ressler—my grandmother’s older sister

Mr. and Mrs. H. Brotman—my grandmother’s brother Hymie and his wife Sophie

Rebecca Rosenzweig—my grandfather’s cousin, daughter of his mother’s brother Gustav Rosenzweig

Mr. and Mrs. D. Goldschlager—my grandfather’s brother David and his wife Rebecca

Mrs. and Miss G. Goldschlager—my great-grandmother Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager and her daughter Betty

Mrs. and Miss B. Moskowitz—my great-grandmother Bessie Brotman Moskowitz and her daughter Frieda

The next two are not familiar, but provide new paths to research.  Can anyone help me decipher the names?

UPDATE: The last two must have been friends.  Mr. and Mrs. Leon and Ray Kiok and her mother Mrs. Frances Azeraad.  I found them all living together in Brooklyn, but not near my grandparents. I am not sure where they would have met.  Leon was born in Poland in 1886, and Ray’s parents were born in Spain.

Finally, Mr. and Mrs. M. Brotman: my grandmother’s half-brother Max Brotman and his wife Sophie

On the following page were more names.

Aunt Elaine baby book 5

Miss E. Shapiro and fiancé—not known yet

Sam Brotman—my grandmother’s younger brother

Mrs. A. Peter and son—I do not know

Mr. and Mrs. A. Brotman—-my grandmother’s half-brother Abraham Brotman and his wife Bessie

Mrs. D. Brotman—Annie nee Salpeter, wife of David Brotman, my grandmother’s half-brother

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Goldfarb—more on them below

The next three are not familiar—Mrs. Louis (?) Yassky, Miss Rose Botomick (?), and Mrs. Tsulie (?) Hecht.  As far as I can tell, these were not relatives, but friends.

I just loved seeing all these names.  Names that I have researched and know are my family, but names I’d not seen in something like this, something that makes it clear that these people were all really connected to my grandparents in a personal way.  I know that sounds odd.  These were the siblings, mothers, and cousins.  But since I grew up without hearing many of these names, it still was wonderful to see them all listed as the first visitors to see my aunt as a newborn in 1917.

I also found the list of gifts fascinating.  My grandparents did not have money for silver and silk, but someone was very generous in giving these items to them for their first-born child.

One final page—the inside of the back cover:

Aunt Elaine baby book 6
A. Rosenzweig—-my grandfather’s cousin, Abraham Rosenzweig, Rebecca’s brother.  I have speculated, based again on a story conveyed by notes from my Aunt Elaine, that it was either Abraham or Rebecca or Sarah who was accompanying my grandfather Isadore on Pacific Street in Brooklyn when he first laid eyes on my grandmother and declared he was going to marry her.

Back to Mr. and Mrs. Julius Goldfarb.  I asked my mother who they were because in a second old item—a notebook my grandfather used for various purposes that was also used by all three of his children at one time or another[1]—the name Joe Goldfarb appeared twice.  Who were these Goldfarbs?

Grandpa Notebook page 1 addresses Joe Goldfarb

Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

(There’s more great stuff on this page—Sam Brotman is my great-uncle Sam, Feuerstein B. is my great-aunt Betty Goldschlager Feuerstein, Leo Ressler is my mother’s first cousin, her Aunt Tillie’s son; Rae Rosenzweig and Lizzie Horowitz are my grandfather’s first cousins, sisters of Abraham and Rebecca. And there is an S. Goldfarb in addition to Joe.)

My mother said all she could remember was that either Julius or his wife was my grandmother Gussie’s first cousin.  I’d never heard the name Goldfarb before, so what did I do? What all genealogy addicts would do.  I immediately started searching.  And the results of that search will be discussed in a later post once I have filled in more gaps in that story.

But for now, I once again can hear my aunt cheering me on, telling me to keep digging and finding the family stories.

elaine and amy 1953

Aunt Elaine and me 1953






[1] I will share more of that notebook in later posts also.

Finding the Ruby Slippers and Getting Back Home to Where It Started: The Brotmans

[for my aunt, Elaine Goldschlager Lehrbaum, 1917-1995]

Elaine 1933

Elaine 1933

Many of you who are more recent followers of the Brotmanblog may wonder why the blog is called the Brotmanblog.  In the past several months I have barely mentioned the name Brotman because I have been focused on searching for my grandfather’s family, the Goldschlagers and Rosenzweigs.  But if you go back to the beginning of the blog, you will see that my original search focused on my grandmother’s family, the Brotmans.  That’s where I started my genealogy adventures.  It made sense.  My grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager, my mother’s mother, was the grandparent I knew best, the only grandparent I knew as an adult.  She was the only grandparent my husband ever met, though she died a year before we were married.  It was only natural that I would start my journey trying to learn as much as I could about her and her siblings and her parents.  Once I had found as much as I could find about the Brotmans, I then moved on to my grandfather’s family.  The next chapter will be my father’s family.  But it all started with the Brotmans.

Why do I bring that up now? Because this weekend I will finally get to meet a number of the Brotman cousins I only learned about through doing this research.  There will be over thirty of us gathering in NYC to meet and eat and to visit the Lower East Side, where our grandparents and great-grandparents (and for some, great-great grandparents or parents) lived in New York.  We will walk to 81/85 Ridge Street where the Brotmans first lived, now a public school, once a tenement building, and then we will tour the Tenement Museum to learn more about what life was like for all of them.

If you have not read any of my posts about the Brotmans, I have provided links here and below to some that will capture the essence of their lives.  Even if you once did read them, you may want to re-read them if you are joining us this weekend and want to remember some of the details and themes I wrote about months ago.  The Brotman story is the classic Jewish American immigration story, a story of poverty and heartbreak as a family moved from Galicia to NYC in the late 1880s to a story of assimilation and success as the future generations built businesses, moved beyond the Lower East Side, became professionals, and moved to the suburbs after World War II.  My Brotman great-grandparents were hard-working realists who did what they needed to do to survive.

Although I was able to piece together a fair amount about their lives through census reports and other documents and through some stories my mother remembered about her grandparents, aunts, uncles and mother, at first there was no one else besides my mother and my brother to whom I could turn for information.  My cousins shared stories about their grandparents, but they also knew little about the early lives of their grandparents and had no one left to ask either.  So mostly I relied on documentation to learn what I could.  I was able to put together a fairly complete history of the Brotman family in America and decided to move on to my grandfather’s family.

Then, like a gift of manna from heaven, about a month ago my cousin Jody sent me some notes that her husband Joel had taken from a conversation he’d had with my Aunt Elaine years ago about her family.  I’ve referred to one part of those notes before—the story of how my grandmother Gussie met my grandfather Isadore on Pacific Street in Brooklyn, where my grandmother was living and where my grandfather’s cousins the Rosenzweigs were living in 1915.  In the next day or two I’d like to share a few more tidbits from Aunt Elaine, via Joel’s notes.

But before I do, I want to point out that these notes are incredibly accurate.  Although the conversation Joel had with my aunt must have taken place in the early 1980s, my aunt’s memory for details was astonishing.  For example, she refers to the fact that Hyman’s son Emanuel worked for Kislack Realty.  I checked with Manny’s children, and they confirmed that in fact  Manny was President of J.I.Kislak Mortgage Corporation in Newark, NJ., which was a subsidiary of J.I.Kislak, Inc., a large residential and commercial Realtor based in Jersey City.kislack realty Also, my aunt knew that David Brotman worked in the coat industry, that Max was in the cigar business, and that Abraham worked for a deli in Coney Island.

All of these are facts that are backed up by my research.Brotman brothers trades

On the Goldschlager side as well, my aunt’s facts are corroborated by the information I found in my research.  David Goldschlager lived in Scranton, PA, for some time and was in the hat business.  Betty married a man in the dry goods business and moved to Arizona. goldschlager siblings I point out how accurate this information is to demonstrate how remarkable my aunt’s memory was and also so that you will trust the other statements she made and their accuracy when I report on those in upcoming posts.

In some ways finding these notes was frustrating.  If I had found them last summer, much of the time I spent trying to figure out who Max was or whether Abraham was related to us or whether there were any other children would have been unnecessary.  My aunt knew it all, and it is in these notes.

But as Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz (the movie) when she reveals to Dorothy that the ruby slippers could take her home and the Scarecrow asks  why Glinda had not told Dorothy that from the beginning:

Glinda : Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Tin Man: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I – I think that it – that it wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. And that it’s that – if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with. Is that right?
Glinda: That’s all it is!

And then when the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow all say that they should have helped Dorothy figure it out, Glinda replies:

She had to find it out for herself.

And so I did as well.  If I had started with Aunt Elaine’s notes, I never would have worked as hard to learn how to research and find these things for myself.  I would never have felt the amazing sense of satisfaction I’ve gotten from putting pieces together and from finding cousins who could help me put those pieces together.

Having my aunt confirm through these notes what I have learned and what I have done is a real gift. She was someone I adored and miss dearly.  It’s like having her here with me again, hearing her say, “You see, Amy Kugel, I always knew you could do anything you wanted.  And I knew some day you would want to know more about your history, your family.”  But, as Glinda told Dorothy, she knew I had to find it out for myself.


Elaine 1926

Elaine 1926

Elaine Gussie Florence 1933

Elaine Gussie Florence 1933

Elaine high school graduation

Elaine high school graduation

Elaine and Phil 1941

Elaine and Phil 1941

Sam with Gussie and Elaine 1945

Sam with Gussie and Elaine 1945

Elaine and Jeff 1949

Elaine and Jeff 1949

Elaine Jeff and Amy 1953

Aunt Elaine with Jeff and me

Phil and Elaine

Phil and Elaine

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