Those Places Thursday: Another Denver Colorado Repository

Gilbert Broida in Wrestling Tourney, May, 1935. In "The West End Press", May 3, 1935, (no vol.) No. 64, page 4, column 1.
Gerald Broida in Wrestling Tourney at 8:20, May 6, 1935. In “The West End Press”, May 3, 1935, (no vol.) No. 64, page 4, column 1.

Broida Family (Click for Family Tree)

Incredible resources spring up on a daily basis, whether they are just becoming available online or whether they are just now showing up in my search results. A  recent find is the University of Denver’s “Digital DU.”

Some of our Broida family went to Denver around 1900 (John and Gitel Broida, and their sons Joseph Broida and Harold Broida), then returned to Pittsburgh after Gitel died; Pittsburgh was where many of the family had settled earlier. (See previous posts, including this one about the Broidas in Denver.) A son who had stayed in Pennsylvania with family while his mother was ill, Theodore “Dave” Broida, married in Aurora, CO, in 1916, then lived in the Denver area and raised a family. It was puzzling why Dave moved to Denver, of all places, but the recent repository find gives us some clues. So do recent serendipitous comments when talking with the generations that were closer to the time and people.

One dear cousin who is an incredible, deep well of Broida information told me this week that Gerald Broida told her years ago that young Jewish boys used to ride the trains west, selling candy to passengers; his father, Dave Broida, was one of them. One day Dave got off the train in Denver, fell in love with the place, and decided to move there. Gerald had also commented that the 1916 wedding of Dave Broida and Lucy Shatzke was the first Jewish wedding in Arapahoe County, Colorado.

A second conversation that same night with a different family member revived her memories of Dave Broida sending the three sisters a box of 100 pieces of Double Bubble Bubble Gum from Denver occasionally during the war years, when food and candy was rationed. Bubble gum used latex rubber for its chewiness, but rubber and manufacturing facilities were needed more for tires for jeeps and military trucks, gaskets, seals, inflatable vests, etc., so bubble gum was hard to come by in the mid 1940s. The young girls rationed out their sweet treasure of bubble gum from their great-uncle, and no doubt were envied by friends. “Dave and Lucy [Broida] were in the candy business” she said also, and the light bulb went on. Here was more information to corroborate that Dave had been one of the young boys selling candy on a train as they were off to see the world. A rest stop in Denver with the clean air (compared to polluted Pittsburgh) and beautiful mountains even higher than those of Pennsylvania may have made him realize he had found the home for his heart. He would have had knowledge of candy wholesalers to buy his wares for the train, so getting into the candy business later would have been logical.

In the 1920 US Federal Census, however, Dave was mistranscribed as being a ‘machinist’ but is actually a ‘merchant’ in the furniture business.

The next US census, in 1930,  lists Theodore D. Broida as a salesman for novelty goods. That could be candy and all those impulse items at the register. A 1940 census entry has not yet been found for the family, but would be very useful. City directories or newspapers might have more information to verify Dave’s occupation, so a Google search was next. The search found The West End Press article above. While about G. Broida being in a wrestling tourney at a weight of 145 pounds (he was 17 then), Gerald Broida was Dave and Lucy’s son. The link led to “Digital DU.”

There are 633 hits on The West End Press at “Digital DU” but “Broida” does not have any hits, so either the search engine does not go into pages of the newspaper, or else I haven’t figured out how to use the website. (There is an advanced search and even a how-to, but still no Broida results though we know there is at least one mention in the newspaper.) A note to the digital librarian may help, so that is on the agenda. Looking through other areas of the site, however, showed more interesting areas to peruse. There is a “Special Collections and Archives” section that provided more clues to our family story. Apparently Denver, as suspected, was a location that a lot of people with ‘consumption’ (tuberculosis), such as Gitel Broida, moved to, looking for a cure for their disease. It became a problem for Denver to grow so fast, and more sanitariums were founded to serve those who needed medical care. The Digital DU website lists the “Jewish Consumptives Relief Society Records” from the organization founded by Eastern European Jewish men in 1904 (so too late for Broida records), many of whom had the disease themselves. (See image of Patients Undergoing Heliotherapy– likely Gitel Broida underwent the same treatment years earlier.) The Jewish population of Denver was growing and thriving as well, and the Special Collections and Archives contain Jewish artifacts as well as documents.

This website appears to be worth investigating further, especially how to navigate and search more effectively.

Searching nearby universities and their digital libraries is a great resource for family historians- otherwise, how would we have known that Gerald Broida weighed 145 lbs. in 1945 and wrestled in a Jewish league?


Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) 1930 US Federal Census for Joseph Shatzke, head of household- Year: 1920; Census Place: Aurora, Adams, Colorado; Roll: T625_155; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 8; Image: 207. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

2) 1930 US Federal Census for Theodore Broida, head of household- Year: 1930; Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: 232; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0220; Image: 1045.0; FHL microfilm: 2339967. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002.

3) Jewish Consumptives Relief Society Records –

Patients undergoing heliotherapy-

4) Special Collections and Archives-

5) The West End Press article-

6) Denver University’s Digital DU



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