Thursday, July 07, 2011

Jews of Jackson County: Part V: The Brash Family

As mentioned in the previous post, the 1870 census listed teenage David Edrehi living with a young man, Benjamin Brash.  Benjamin Brash does not appear in the census a decade later, but the Brash family was well established in the Marianna before 1880 (the Florida Memory website of the Florida State Archives cites the Project Mosaic to state that the Brash family arrived in Jackson County in 1874). Solomon Brash, born in Germany in 1828 was married to Henrietta, born about 1833, also in Germany or, more specifically, Prussia. The 1880 census shows Solomon and Henrietta living with two sons, Henry, born 1857 (Florida Memory), and James born about 1860, both in Prussia. There was possibly a third son, Isaac, who died in 1880 at the age 20, and is buried in Bainbridge, GA (unless “James” is an Anglicization or mistaken transcription of “Isaac” and, in fact, Isaac and James are the same person).

To make matters more confusing, C. Davis Turner, writing in the 1940s recalled that Solomon Brash had two sons that lived with him in Marianna: Henry and Mannie (or Marnie). Turner wrote that this Mannie moved to Jacksonville, but I can’t find any other record of this Mannie Brash. There was also a Brash daughter not mentioned by Turner or listed in the census, Bertha, who married Isadore Kwilecki of Bainbridge, GA in Feb. 1880. The ceremony was conducted at the Brash family home by P. Dzialynski. [Columbus Enquirer, 2/26/80]. This must have been Philip Dzialynski, who is profiled in Canter Brown’s article “Philip and Morris Dzialynski: Jewish Contributions to the Rebuilding of the South,” American Jewish Archives 1992). C. Davis Turner wrote in his Temple Beth El notes that a wedding held at the Marianna Air Field during World War II was the first Jewish wedding ever conducted in Marianna, but the Kwilecki-Brash ceremony was certainly the first, and for more than sixty years, the only Jewish wedding held in Jackson County.

Solomon Brash was a dry goods merchant , operating the firm of “S. Brash and Son.” In addition, H. Robert, a young man described as a nephew to Solomon Brash, also born in Prussia, worked as Brash’s clerk and lived with the family in 1885 (Turner also wrote that Brash had a second young Jewish clerk named Newmark). Solomon’s son Henry (not to be confused with a cousin also named Henry Brash who was a Confederate veteran and established merchant in Apalachicola, where the “Henry Brash house” stands to this day – Robert Rosen mixes up the two men in his excellent Jewish Confederates) clearly integrated into his new community with great speed and success. Marianna elected Brash mayor three times in the 1880s – Rachel Heimovics has written that Brash was the first Jew elected major Florida. I have not confirmed the dates of Brash’s terms. If anyone in Marianna would check out the courthouse records, I would be grateful.

Henry married Sarah Zellnicker of Mobile in November 1887. The couple moved to Tampa in 1894 where, according to Rachel Heimovics “they opened a haberdashery, raised five children, and helped found a congregation.” Henry and Sarah Brash were pillars of the Tampa community for decades where Sarah was deeply involved in the United Jewish Relief Society and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (a juxtaposition you don't see every day). Back in Marianna, Henrietta Brash died in 1903 and her husband Solomon followed in 1914. It appears that they continued to live in Marianna until their deaths, but I have not been able to confirm this. Both were buried in Bainbridge, bringing to a close the forty year connection of the Brash family with Jackson County.

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