Matrilineal Monday: Where Were the Children of Sarah Gitel Broida in 1900?



Sarah Gitel Frank holding baby- possibly Theodore? Son Philip standing to the right of her, husband John sitting. The other 3 boys are probably Joseph standing, Louis in center, and Max sitting on right.


Broida Family (Click to see Family Tree.)

Sometimes our ancestors have big changes in their lives but we cannot easily determine what happened. It may have been between censuses- those 20 years between 1880 and 1900 are especially brutal for finding out family information since most of the 1890 census was lost- or there are no city directories available, or newspapers are hard to come by, or ??? The John and Gitel Broida family, however, made our research somewhat easier by making a big move to Denver, Colorado around 1900. We have found the census as well as city directories for the time, so can piece together a bit of what was going on.

Gitel’s tenth child, Harold Broida, was born in 1897 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they had lived most of their lives after immigrating from Russia. Gitel developed pulmonary tuberculosis, possibly after Harold’s birth, or the pregnancy may have brought it on or exacerbated the condition. The family decided to move to Denver, Colorado, likely to provide fresh, clean air for Gitel to make her breathing easier. There may also have been clinics or doctors there who specialized in treating tuberculosis, since so many with respiratory problems vacationed in the mountains or moved from the industrialized, polluted cities to the west for their health.

We know that the Broidas were living at 1102 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh in 1899.

By the 1900 US Federal Census, we find John and Gitel in Denver at 1655 Eliot Street, inside the city. Son Joseph J. Broida, age 18, is living with them, and little Harry (Harold) Broida, age 2. These two boys were their oldest and youngest. Why take only two to Denver? Where were the other children?

We know that Gitel was ill while there. There is no proof that they moved there after she got sick, though it makes sense. Instead, they might have moved to Denver and then she became ill. If they did, however, make the move because she already was ill, the less work she had to deal with, in addition to the move, the better. So it is understandable that she would take just the youngest toddler, Harry, of their dependent children. Maybe Joseph went with them to help support the family. He was working as a clerk in a ‘clothing house’ so was bringing income home, as did John who was working in ‘men’s furnishings.’ This time period was the end of the 1893 depression, so it probably took a couple of breadwinners to support a family. (They also had 4 boarders in the home, so that would have added to their income, but possibly increased Gitel’s workload.) The Broidas had been merchants in Pittsburgh too, so another possibility was they were branching out to start a business in Colorado.

The Broidas valued education, as their children were often listed as attending school in the censuses, so moving those of school age would have been disruptive.

We can only imagine how difficult things must have been for Gitel. She had moved from the horrors of anti-Semitism in Lithuania/Russia to the US, possibly leaving most of her family behind, and then struggled to make it as a poor immigrant in the big cities of the US. The hard decisions Gitel may have had to make with the move to Denver for her health may have made her previous troubles pale in comparison, especially if she knew she might die while away from her other sons. How could she chose to go herself? How could she choose which boys to leave?

Thankfully, the family was very close, and immigrants were used to taking care of their nieces and nephews while parents were in the process of moving to a new country or state to get established.

So what happened to the other boys?

Louis, who was 16 in 1900, and his brother Max (written as “Moros” on census), age 15, were living with their paternal aunt, Kate “Kaile” (Broida) York (1855-1938) and her husband, Joseph York, and their nine children in Carnegie Ward 1, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Uncle Joseph was a dry goods merchant, and two of his sons, born in Russia as he and Kate were, were clerks in a dry goods business- possibly his? Nephew Louie also worked as a dry goods clerk, while Morris attended school. The family employed a live-in servant- probably much needed with 13 other people living in the household!

NOTE: It would have to be Max living in this household, not Morris. “Moros” is the name on the census sheet (Is that ‘Max’ with a Yiddish accent?), and age 15, Aug 1885 birthdate listed; attending school. Max Broida was born 11 Oct 1886 and would be attending school, but Morris was only four, being born in 1896.

Son Theodore “Dave” Broida, age 7 in 1900, was living in Pittsburgh with his maternal uncle, Jacob Frank, his Aunt Maud, and their three children: Mortimer “Morty” Frank, Hilda Frank, and Bessie Frank, plus a servant. With “David Brody” listed as the nephew of Jacob Frank, it answered another question we had asked for years- how were the Broidas related to the Frank & Seder store? Recently a cousin told us that Gitel’s maiden name was Frank, and this 1900 census told us that her brother was Jacob Frank, who took his wholesale business into the retail sphere and became an important name in Pittsburgh and other cities.

Phillip Broida, age 13, cannot be found in the 1900 census, neither on nor FamilySearch. We also don’t know where young Morris, age four, was staying in 1900. Please let us know if you have any more information as to who might have been caring for these boys while their mother, her husband, and two siblings were out in Denver, desperately hoping that Gitel would regain her health, but that was not to be.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) 1899 City Directory for John Broida: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

2) See related posts below, plus posts the remainder of this week:

Mystery Monday- Gitel/Gertrude (Frank) Broida:

Tuesday’s Tip: Broida Family Research in Denver Colorado Repositories:

Those Places Thursday: Denver Colorado and the Broida Family:

3) 1900 US Federal Census for Louis and Morris Broida with Joseph York as Head of Household:Year: 1900; Census Place: Carnegie Ward 1, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1366; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0354; FHL microfilm: 1241366

4) 1900 US Federal census for David Brody with Jacob Frank as Head of Household: Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 6, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1358; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0117; FHL microfilm: 1241358

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4 thoughts on “Matrilineal Monday: Where Were the Children of Sarah Gitel Broida in 1900?”

  1. Hi,

    Frank and Seder was a clothing store that several Broidas worked in and that is likely how the connection between Broidas and Franks resulted in marriage. I do not know if they knew each other first and then worked in the store or vice versa. But a review of Pittsburgh directories shows several Broidas working for the company over time.


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