My Seligman Great-Great-Grandparents:  Two Pioneers Who Made A Difference with Integrity and Kindness

By the 1890s, my great-great-grandparents were “empty nesters.”  Their daughter Eva, my great-grandmother, was married to Emanuel Cohen and raising her family in Philadelphia.  (I’ve written about my Cohen great-grandparents here.) Their son James was working as a draftsman for the Department of Interior in Salt Lake City, Utah; he would marry Ruth V.B. Stevenson in 1893 in Salt Lake City, and have two children, Morton Tinslar Seligman, born July 1, 1895, in Salt Lake City, and Beatrice Grace Seligman, born December 4, 1898, also in Salt Lake City.  By 1900, however, James, Ruth and the children had moved to Santa Fe, where they were living next door to Bernard and Frances.  James was working as a clerk in a dry goods store, presumably the Seligman store.

Bernard Seligman and James Seligman and families 1900 US census

Bernard Seligman and James Seligman and families 1900 US census  Year: 1900; Census Place: Santa Fe Ward 4, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Roll: 1002; Enumeration District: 0126; FHL microfilm: 1241002

Arthur, the youngest child of Bernard and Frances, had returned to Santa Fe after college in Philadelphia, and in 1896, he married a widow named Frankie E. Harris in Cleveland, Ohio.

Marriage certificate of Arthur Seligman and Frankie E. Harris

Marriage certificate of Arthur Seligman and Frankie E. Harris Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 42-43; Page: 489; Year Range: 1892 Sep – 1896 Jul

Frankie had an eight year old daughter Richie from her first marriage who became a part of the Seligman family.  In fact for her ninth birthday on August 3, 1897, Bernard and Frances hosted a birthday party for Richie and 42 of her friends in their Santa Fe home.

Ritchie Harris birthday snip

City News Items Date: Tuesday, August 3, 1897 Paper: New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) Volume: 34 Issue: 138 Page: 4

(This same “gossip column” also reported that Arthur and James Seligman and some friends were going on a two week fishing trip soon after this birthday party.)

Arthur and Frankie had a son together just a year later; Otis Perry Seligman was born on February 14, 1898, in Santa Fe.  Thus, by 1900, Bernard and Frances had four grandchildren living in Santa Fe plus three more grandsons living in Philadelphia, including my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen.

On the professional side, I could not find any specific references to Bernard’s political activities or his business activities during the 1890s although the 1900 census listed his occupation as a dry goods merchant.  In 1894 he seems to have taken an extended trip to Europe, including to Germany and to Italy.

Traveling Seligmans 1894

Saturday Small Talk Date: Saturday, October 27, 1894 Paper: New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) Volume: 31 Issue: 214 Page: 4

From this clipping it is hard to know whether or not he was traveling with Frances.  I also wonder who the relatives were in Italy and who he was visiting on the Rhine.  Was this purely for pleasure or was it a business trip?  I don’t know.

At some point after this trip, however, Bernard and Frances moved back to Philadelphia.   Bernard was living in Philadelphia when he died on February 3, 1903, at age 65 from myocarditis.  He was residing at 1606 Diamond Street at the time.

Bernard Seligman death certificate

When I looked back to see where my great-grandmother Eva was living at that time, I was hardly surprised to see that she, her husband Emanuel Cohen, and their three sons were also living at 1606 Diamond Street as of the 1900 census.  In fact, in 1900, Emanuel’s brother Isaac and nephew were also living at 1606 Diamond Street after the death of Isaac’s wife.  Thus, Eva and Emanuel Cohen, my great-grandparents, were housing not only their three children, but also at least four other family members, Eva’s parents and Emanuel’s brother and nephew.

According to his obituary, Bernard (and presumably Frances) had moved back to Philadelphia three years before his death, to “recuperate from over-work.”  The obituary goes on to say that Bernard had been doing well until sometime in the prior year when he had a “severe stroke of paralysis which weakened him considerably.”  The paper noted, however, that he had been improving and that no one thought that he was near death.  The obituary described his death as “shocking” and reported that the day before his death he had appeared fine and had even sent a dispatch relating to business matters to his son Arthur.

bernardseldeathnmex

“A Good and True Man Called Hence,” Santa Fe New Mexican, February 3, 1903, p. 1

The obituary recounts all of Bernard’s many accomplishments, both political and business, and describes him as follows:

“Mr. Seligman was a pioneer in New Mexico, and during his residence of over forty years in this city and territory, was one of the most progressive, shrewdest and brightest businessmen and citizens of the commonwealth.  He was a man of the strongest integrity and keen perception and high courage, public spirited and thoroughly posted on public affairs, indeed a valuable and good citizen in every sense of the word, a loving husband and a kind and indulgent, yet at the same time, a firm and sensible father.  He was a prominent and important factor in the building up of the commercial, educational, civic, moral, and material interests in this city and county and of the entire territory.  A good and true man has gone to the great beyond.”

What can I possibly add to that? Only that I wish that I had known him.  I stand a bit taller knowing that I am descended from Bernard Seligman.

Just two years later, my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum Seligman also died.  She died in Philadelphia on July 27, 1905, at age 59.

Frances Seligman death certificate

She had been living at 1431 Diamond Street at the time of her death.  Again, I checked to see where my great-grandparents Eva and Emanuel Cohen were living, and 1905 Philadelphia directory, their address was, not surprisingly, 1431 Diamond Street, and they still had their three sons and Isaac living with them in 1910 as well.

Frances was described in her obituary in very loving terms:

“She was a beautiful and accomplished woman, as good as she was beautiful and as beautiful as she was good, and of a most lovable and gentle disposition.  She was an exemplary wife, a fond and good mother, and a dutiful and loving daughter.  Indeed she was all that is implied in the phrase ‘a thoroughly good and moral woman.’  … She will be especially remembered by the poor people of [Santa Fe], to whom she was particularly kind.  Many and many truly charitable deeds have been put to her credit.”

The obituary further commented:

“From the moment of her arrival to within a few years ago, when she commenced to spend most of her time in Philadelphia, she was a social leader, admired, respected and popular.  She was a woman without guile and always ready to lend a helping hand in social as well as in charitable work.”

frances seligman obit July-27-1905 new mexican

(“Gentle, Good Woman Gone,” Santa Fe New Mexican, July 27, 1905, p. 1)

While I was impressed and proud when I read my great-great-grandfather’s obituary, I was very moved and emotional in reading about my great-great-grandmother Frances.  The words “good,” “gentle,” and “kind” are the same words that I have heard my father and my cousin Marjorie use to describe their grandmother, Eva Seligman Cohen, the daughter of Frances Nusbaum and Bernard Seligman.  She seems to have inherited or learned those very traits from her parents, two people who left the city of Santa Fe a better place by the time and the effort that they spent in caring for their community while they lived there.  As I will describe, their surviving children also left their mark, my great-grandmother Eva by her kindness and caring for others, and her two brothers James and especially Arthur by their service to Santa Fe and New Mexico.

bernard

Bernard Seligman

francis

Frances Nusbaum Seligman

These two photos were given to me by my cousin Arthur Scott.  They were taken from a video made by his sister of family photos in their home.  The one of my great-great-grandmother Frances is so far the only photograph I have of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “My Seligman Great-Great-Grandparents:  Two Pioneers Who Made A Difference with Integrity and Kindness

    • Thanks, but this really was an easy one for that for a few reasons: one, the Seligmans were quite prominent in the Santa Fe community; two, it was a small community that had its own newspaper that is available online; and three, my cousin Pete is also a family historian and has collected news clippings over the years for his own research—long before I even knew he (or most of these Seligmans) even existed!

      So you might want to hire Pete! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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