Mystery Monday- Gitel/Gertude (Frank) Broida

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.
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-

The lack of knowledge concerning the death date, place, and final resting place of  a woman who bore 10 children and now has countless great-great-grandchildren has always puzzled me. Gitel, as she was called by the family, seemed to have just faded away. I have searched on and off through the years, hoping that more would be available to help find this dear woman. Finally, there is, though not all questions are answered- yet.

One big clue was a transcription from The Jewish Criterion of 1 May 1936, page 22:

J. J. Broida for two sets Chumoshim and Machseirim in memory of his mother,
Sarah Gitel Broida and wife, Fannie Broida.


“J. J.” would be Joseph Jacob Broida (1882-1958), who married Fannie Glick. This notice told me that Gitel’s formal first name was “Sarah.”

Then I started thinking about information I had found for a ‘Sarah G. Broida”- I had not known who that was until I started comparing what I knew about Gitel and what I was seeing about Sarah. They were the same person!

Family oral history was that Gitel died at age 39 of tuberculosis, so I had surmised her death year as being 1898. We knew she had passed away sometime between the birth of their last son, Harold (25 Dec 1897), and the time that John “Zelig” remarried in 1904. The date given for Sarah G’s death on was 14 Apr 1901, so it fit within the parameters. Sarah G. was buried in Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Cemetery in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, as was the Broida’s little son Samuel who died at just 2 years of age. (See Samuel Broida- An Unknown Son of John (Zelig) Broida and Gitel Frank?) Hmmm, the evidence is increasing…

A most intriguing part of this search was that we found “Gussie”, John, their oldest son Joseph J., and youngest son Harold (See Harold and Leah (Schreiber) Broida of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), in Denver Colorado for the 07 Jun 1900 US Federal Census. They were not just visiting, as John was employed as a merchant in dry goods, and Joseph was working as a clerk in a clothing house; they also had a husband, his wife, and the couple’s two children boarding with them in their rented home. As John’s wife was listed as “Gussie,” I initially thought maybe he had already remarried. Checking the census entry further revealed that he had been married to his wife “Gussie” for 19 years, so the woman had to be Gitel. The census also listed that “Gussie” had borne 10 children but only 7 were still living, which lends credence to the find about baby Samuel. The family was listed as living at 1655 Eliot in the 1900 Denver City Directory, and again in 1901, same residence, but John was working in men’s furnishing goods at a business at 1628 Latimer.

Why were they in Denver, Colorado??? John and family had always worked in the clothing business, and had lived in or near the city. As one family member put it, “… I can’t picture Zelig out on the wild frontier.” But cool, pure mountain air was considered a cure-all at the turn of the 20th century. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, hundreds of ‘sanitariums’ and hospitals were started in the mountains, touting all sort sof health benefits in their advertising throughout newspapers and magazines. Maybe Zelig and Gitel had moved out to Colorado to ‘find the cure’ for the cough that Gitel had that eventually became tuberculosis. They would probably have taken their oldest son to help the family with income and caring for the youngest son and Gitel, if she was already ill.

Did Gitel die in Colorado? Death certificates were not required in Colorado until 1900, but that was not enforced until 1925. Denver was in Arapahoe County until 1902, so if Gitel died in 1901, her death may be recorded in Arapahoe rather than Denver County; I have a query out to the Vital Records Department. Or did she choose to go home to see her other children, once she knew she was not getting better in Colorado, and then die in Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh did not start recording deaths until 1906, so we cannot learn the answer there. Jewish customs dictate that it is important to honor the dead by burying them as quickly as possible, so this seems to me the more likely scenario. What do you think? Any cousins out there who can help us answer these remaining questions?


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) 1900 US Federal census for Gussie and John Broida: Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Roll: 120; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0126; FHL microfilm: 1240122. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Accessed 11-19-2013.

2) Denver, CO City Directory, 1900 and 1910: U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

3) Lest one think that genealogy is just a matter of entering a few names and shaky leaves will tell you everything else, here is just a partial list of records reviewed in one afternoon of searching for Gitel’s death date and burial place (Indexes & websites searched for Gitel’s grave, all accessed 11-25-2013.):

Find A Grave:

Denver Obituary Indexes 1900-2000

Denver Area cemeteries:

Riverside in Denver: and

All Adams Co. Cemeteries listed at (contains a portion of Riverside cem, and was part of Arapahoe Co. prior to 1902)

Fairmount Cemetery @ Removals from the Hebrew Burying and Prayer Ground were re-interred in the Emanuel Sections of Fairmount. Their website does not indicate any Broidas buried there, but I have a query out to them.

Denver Public Library Digital Collections:

4) PA Dept of Health death Indices:


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