Brokaw Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Brokaw Meaning
Brokaw is the Americanized surname for the descendants of
Bourgon Broucard
, the Huguenot who came
to Dutch New York in 1675. Broucard
himself was French-speaking and probably of
French origin. But the Broucard name may
have derived from a Flemish word broekaert
of uncertain meaning
.
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Brokaw Resources on
The
Internet

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Brokaw Ancestry

Bourgon
Broucard, the Huguenot immigrant, had
connections with the French-speaking city of Mouscron in present-day
Belgium
and with Mannheim along the Rhine in Germany, both towns close to the
French
border. He and his wife Catherine
Lefevre departed Amsterdam with other Huguenots for Dutch New
York in 1675.

America.
Broucard was pronounced Brokaw in America but it was probably
not until
the early/mid 1700’s that it began to be spelt that way.
The family lived at first in Brooklyn. In
1684 they moved to Long
Island and in 1702 Bourgon acquired land in Somerset county, New Jersey
where
there had been a Dutch settlement. Indeed Brokaws
tended to have Dutch wives during the 18th century. Somerset
county
was to be the family home for the next hundred years or so.

New Jersey. From Bourgon’s son John came
Isaac Brokaw who apprenticed as a clockmaker and then established his
own
practice in Elizabethtown in the 1770’s.
His son Aaron continued the business after Isaac’s death in 1826. Isaac’s younger brother Bergon fought in the
Revolutionary War and remained afterwards in Somerset county. Descendants here include the newscaster Tom
Brokaw and, through Mary Brokaw who married Jacob Bogart, the actor
Humphrey
Bogart
.


From Bourgon’s
son Abraham came his son Isaac, born in 1719, who lived long enough to
see through the Revolutionary War. At the age of 78, it was
said, he travelled with his son David to upstate New York to look for
land and was killed when he fell off his wagon. The names of the
children of Isaac Brokaw and his wife Maritje were recorded in a large
Dutch Bible, dated 1725, which has been preserved.



One
of
Isaac’s sons was Caleb Brokaw,
a
farmer and mason who lived at Weston in New Jersey.
Another line in New Jersey from Isaac led to
Isaac Vail Brokaw.
This
Isaac moved to New York and organized a
clothing firm with his brother William called Brokaw
Brothers
. Business
was so good that by 1890 Isaac was said to have become one of the
wealthiest men
in the city. His sons Irving and George
were notable sportsmen in New York society.

Ohio.  The largest number
of Brokaws in America in 1840 had been in New Jersey.
But by 1880 the largest number were in Ohio
and the same is true today. Among
the early Brokaws were:

  • George
    Brokaw
    , a pioneer who came in 1802 and made his home in Athens
    township,
    Harrison county. He lived to be 86. His grandson Thomas Ray Brokaw was a
    watchmaker and jeweler in Philadelphia who returned to the old
    homestead to
    farm in 1912.
  • and John A. Brokaw who
    first came to Ohio with his parents in 1822. He
    returned in 1831 after his father Abram had died and made
    his home in
    Liberty township, Knox county. He died
    there in 1893 at the grand age of 88. The
    following commentary appeared in 1881:
“John
Brokaw followed
farming and shoemaking, by which he gained a competence for his old
age. Mr.
and Mrs. Brokaw started poor in life. When they arrived in Knox
county, he had
a horse and wagon, with a few household effects and three dollars
twelve and
one-half cents in cash. They had thirteen children, all of whom
did well, thus
showing that they were carefully and judicially trained.


South Dakota. Tom
Brokaw
the newscaster is ten generations removed from Bourgon
Broucard. His great grandfather Richard
P. Brockaw, having served in the Union army, came out west in 1881 and
founded
the town of Bristol, South Dakota. The
Brokaw House, built in 1883, was the first structure in the town
.

 


Select Brokaw Miscellany

Bourgon Broucard.  The Register of Ancestors of the Huguenot Society of New Jersey  tated that the family of Broucard came from La Rochelle in France and that Broucard was at one time an honored and most noted name there. However, there seems to be little evidence to back this claim.

Simon Brocard was a young Huguenot silk-weaver working in London in 1616.  But there is no record of where he came from.

Broucard or variants of the name can be traced in the records at Mannheim along the Rhine in Germany from the early 1600’s.  And Bourgon Broucard married his first wife Marie du May at  the Walloon church there in 1663.

Bourgon was described at the marriage as “a native of Moucron in the Low Countries,” although there are few records of the Broucard name in Moucron.  Moucron is the Walloon spelling for the modern French-speaking Belgian city of Mouscron. Historically the old commune of Mouscron was part of Flanders.

Marie died in Mannheim in 1666.  No death records existed at that time in Mannheim.  But it may be conjectured that the plague which decimated much of Mannheim also claimed her and their young daughter.  At the end of 1666 Bourgon remarried in Mannheim to the young French woman Catherine Lefevre.  Three children were born to them before their departure to New York in 1675.

Caleb Brokaw in New Jersey.  Caleb, the son of Isaac Brokaw, was born in Somerset county, New Jersey in 1746.  He married Jane Van Nostrand Brokaw, his second cousin, in 1768 and later fought in the Revolutionary War.

He was a farmer and mason and lived in Weston, New Jersey.  He died in 1814 and was buried in the old family cemetery in Hillsboro township, Somerset county. His great great grandson Caleb Brokaw visited the site in 1915 and copied the following from his tombstone:

“In memory of Caleb Brokaw who died on May 8, 1814 in the 68th year of his life.This spot contains the ashes of the just Who sought no  honors, betrayed no trust,

This truth he proved in every path he trod,  An honest man, – the noblest work of God.” 

George Brokaw of Harrison County, Ohio.  George, the son of Abraham and Judith Brokaw, was born at the family home in Somerset county, New Jersey in 1755. He enlisted in the Continental army and fought under George Washington in the Battle of Long Island in 1777.  After the War he married and moved to Pennsylvania where he and his wife Jane raised twelve children.

But George was in the search for new land.  In 1802 he headed west to the frontier and Harrison county, Ohio.  It was said that he spent the first year living in a tent before he constructed the first frame house of the county and his family could join him.  George later helped build the Crab Apple Presbyterian church in what became Athens township.

George Brokaw was a weaver by trade.  He lived to the ripe old age of eighty six and died in Athens in 1842.

Isaac V. Brokaw’s Ancestry 

Bourgon Broucard from Mannheim (1645-1720) m. Catherine Le Fevre

Abraham  Brokaw from Long Island (1684-1747) m. Marietje Davids

Isaac Brokaw from New Jersey (1719-1799) m. Marietje Van Nostrand

Isaac C. Brokaw from New Jersey (1759-1838) m. Maria Van Nortwick

Simeon Brokaw from New Jersey (1792-1854) m.
Prudence Vail

Isaac Vail Brokaw from New Jersey (1735-1913) m. Elvira Gould.

Isaac V. Brokaw’s House on East 79th Street.  In 1887 Isaac V. Brokaw commissioned the architects Rose & Stone to design a grand French chateau on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street, across from Central Park.  Three years after construction began, the great home was completed.

Brokaw and his wife, the former Elvira Gould, lived in the mansion with their daughter Elvira and three sons.  To help the family get along they employed a houseman and helper, a butler, two footmen, two cooks, a chambermaid and parlor-maid.

Here on June 10, 1896 “the most fashionable wedding of the season” took place when their daughter Elvira married Carl Aage Vilhelm Frederick von Fischer-Hansen “from an ancient and noble Danish family.” Unfortunately, his ancient and noble lineage could not keep him from a prison term on Blackwell’s Island some years later for complicity in bribing a witness.

Isaac Brokaw died in 1907, leaving an estate of nearly $12.5 million. When his wife died, their son George begrudgingly lived on in the house he intensely disliked – because of its size and cost of maintenance through two marriages (the first to Clare Boothe who would later become Clare Boothe Luce).  His life in the mansion was in fact forced on him by his brother and the courts.  Finally in 1935, George Brokaw would die of a heart attack. His wife Frances would marry the actor Henry Fonda and have two children, Jane and Peter.

After George’s death the house laid empty until 1946 when it was taken over as office space by the Institute of Radio Engineers.  In 1965, to much outcry, the building was demolished.

Tom Brokaw’s Ancestry

Bourgon Broucard from Mannheim (1645-1720) m. Catherine Le Fevre
– John Brokaw from Brooklyn (1680-1740) m. Sarah Teunis Van Middlesward
— John Brokaw Jr. from New Jersey (1709-1804) m. Maritje Van Cleef
— Bergon Isaac Brokaw from New Jersey (1756-1813) m. Jane Suydam
—- Joseph Brokaw from New Jersey (1782-1855) m. Hannah Post
—– Joseph Brokaw Jr. from New York (1816-1861) m. Sarah Patterson
—— Richard Patterson Brokaw from New York (1843-1909) m. Anna M. Hyde
——- William Loren Brokaw from Michigan (1869-1943) m. Elizabeth Meurer
——– Anthony Brokaw from South Dakota (1912-1982) m. Jean Conley
——— Tom Brokaw from South Dakota (born 1940) m. Meredith Lynn Auld.

 

Select
Brokaw Names

Bourgon
Broucard
the
Huguenot immigrant was the progenitor of the Brokaws in America.
Isaac Vail
Brokaw
was
a pioneer New York clothing merchant who in 1890 was said to have been
one of
the wealthiest men in the city.
Tom Brokaw
was the anchor and managing
editor at NBC Nightly News from 1982
to 2004
.

Select Brokaw Numbers Today

  • 1,200 in America (most numerous in Ohio)

 

 

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