Select Brokaw Surname Genealogy

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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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.

.  Broucard was pronounced Brokaw in America but it was probably not until the early/mid 1700ís 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 Bourgonís son John
came Isaac Brokaw who apprenticed as a clockmaker and then established his own practice in Elizabethtown in the 1770ís.  His son Aaron continued the business after Isaacís death in 1826. Isaacís 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 Bourgonís 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 Isaacís 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. 

.  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

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 1,000 surnames.

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