The name “Grossman” is apparently a very common Ashkenazic surname which was widely diffused throughout Central and Eastern Europe. On one Internet site specializing in Jewish genealogy (www.jewishgen.org) researchers found 108 towns in which Grossmans lived in the nineteenth century. These towns were situated within the present confines of the following modern nations: Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Lithuania, Belarus, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
As I indicated above I was able to trace our family back as far as Moishe and Zeesle Grossman, who were born sometime at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Moishe and Zeesle had two children whom I know of, Noah and Jacob. Noah, the older of the two, married Miriam and had four children, three of whom emigrated to the United States. In order these were Leah (remained in Europe, but her son Milton Berg emigrated to the U.S.), Moishe (entered the U.S. in 1890, followed by his wife Temma and two children in 1892), Chaya Fraida (entered the U.S. in 1888 with her husband Jacob Dov Berman) and Ethel Pearl (entered the U.S. in the 1890s). Jacob Grossman, unlike his older brother, also emigrated to the United States (1892), probably by himself. He was followed by his wife Chaya Riva and five children three years later (1895). These are the earliest members of the Grossman family I have been able to identify.
Location of Sudilkov
According to oral tradition the Grossmans hailed from a small town called Sudilkov (also spelled “Sudilkow” or “Sudylkow”), once located in what is now western Ukraine. I know this because Joy Marcus, a granddaughter of Chaya Fraida and the most reliable source on this matter, was told by her grandmother that she came from “Sidilkev”, which I have identified as Sudilkov. In addition, Beverlee Fine, the granddaughter of Jacob Grossman was told by her mother, Sylvia Rockler, that Jacob came from “Gitomer”, which must certainly be Zhitomir, also spelled “Jitomir” or “Zhytomyr”. The latter is the nearest city to Sudilkov, which explains why Jacob told his children he was from there, and not the little town. It would be the equivalent of one’s saying he were from Los Angeles instead of Pasadena. Furthermore, Muriel Fischer, the stepdaughter of Milton Berg (son of Leah Grossman), reports that Milton came from “Radamis”, probably to be associated with Radomisl, also spelled “Radomyshl”, a sizable town just northeast of Zhitomer.
It seems probable that at some point in their lives Leah and her husband moved from Sudilkov to Radamisl. Naturally, Milton told his descendants that he was from there. Finally, Steven Silverberg, grandson of Ethel Pearl Grossman, told me (with some hesitation) that he thinks Ethel may have come from Pinsk, but this seems rather unlikely in light of the rest of the evidence. In fact, he is contradicted by his aunt Lenore Grossman, Ethel’s daughter, who is certain that her mother came from an area which was sometimes Poland, sometimes Russia. Sudilkov, not Pinsk, lay within the disputed region.
The testimony of Joy Marcus is certainly the most reliable for two simple reasons. First, she is the oldest of the four witnesses cited above. Second, she was born in 1913, while her grandmother Chaya Fraida, who came from the Ukraine, lived until 1949. Therefore, she personally knew her immigrant grandmother for over three decades! This was not the case with Beverlee Fine, who was only nine years old when her grandfather Jacob Grossman passed away in 1934. Muriel Fischer, although twenty-four years old when her mother Sophie Berman married Milton in 1950, had been living in Minneapolis since 1938. Therefore, she would not have seen Milton very frequently during the thirteen years he was married to her mother in Chicago. Steven Silverberg was only three years old when his grandmother Ethel Grossman passed away. Among the above Joy knew her Grossman immigrant grandparent the best. Moreover, she was in a position to question her over a very long period of time, so much so that she was able to determine precisely from which town she came. Her testimony is contradicted only by that of Steven, who was unsure of his information. In summary, we can safely conclude that Sudilkov was the town from which the Grossmans fled in the 1890s.