Adolph Seligman: A Rift in the Family?

Before I continue to write about the children of Bernard and Frances Seligman, I want to write about Bernard’s other siblings, most importantly Adolph Seligman, the third Seligman brother who settled in Santa Fe.   I am aware of one other brother, James, who settled in England, but there may have been and probably were other siblings.  Bernard’s obituary referred to siblings in Germany and in England who survived him, and the age gaps between Sigmund (1830), Bernard (1837), Adolph (1840 to 1845), and James (1853) suggest that there may have been other children born in the gaps between those years.  I have found one other record for an August Seligman (1841), who may have been another sibling, but I have only two mentions in German indices for August to rely on.

For now, however, I will focus on the life of Adolph Seligman.  Adolph was born between 1840 and 1845, according to various records, and he arrived in the US in 1863, as seen on the two ship manifests below.  The first indicates that he was born in Gau-Algesheim, was a merchant, and was 20 years old.  He sailed from Hamburg on the Germania on August 22, 1863, and arrived in New York on September 7, 1863.

Adolph Seligman lines

Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 017; Seite: 545 Description Month : Direkt Band 017 (10 Jan 1863 – 26 Dez 1863) The Germania, Departure from Hamburg to New York on August 22, 1863

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2014), 233 - 3 Sep 1863-3 Oct 1863 > image 63 of 409; citing National Archives, Washington D.C.

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Oct 2014), 233 – 3 Sep 1863-3 Oct 1863 > image 63 of 409; citing National Archives, Washington D.C.  Arrival September 7, 1863

This was apparently the maiden voyage for this ship.  To see a photo of the ship and more about it, click here.

Although Adolph landed in New York City, he was definitely in New Mexico by 1868 because he appears on the IRS tax assessment records there for that year, residing in Elizabethtown.  On the 1870 census he appears as a dry goods merchant living in Colfax, New Mexico.

By 1873, he was residing in Santa Fe, and he is listed with his brother Sigmund and with Julius Nusbaum, Bernard’s brother-in-law, as one of the principals in Seligman Brothers and Company on the 1873 IRS tax assessment list. (As discussed here, Bernard withdrew from the business in 1873, and Adolph and Julius took his place as owners of the company.)

Adolph 1873 tax assessment

1873 IRS Tax Assessment for Adolph Seligman The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for the Territory of New Mexico, 1862-1870, 1872-1874; Series: M782; Roll: 1; Description: Monthly and Special Lists; 1869-1874; Record Group: 58, Records of the Internal Revenue Service, 1791 – 2006.

On the 1880 US census, Adolph was living with Bernard and his family in Santa Fe; both Bernard and Adolph listed their occupation as general merchants.  (In addition to Adolph, Bernard also was providing a home for his father-in-law John Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandfather, and Simon Nusbaum, his brother-in-law, that year.)

Seligman and Nusbaums on 1880 US census santa fe

1880 Census for Bernard Seligman and household Year: 1880; Census Place: Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Roll: 804; Family History Film: 1254804; Page: 27A; Enumeration District: 040; Image: 0056.

Adolph was still living with Bernard and his family (and Simon Nusbaum) in 1885.  On April 6, 1886, Adolph was appointed postmaster for Santa Fe and continued in that position until at least July, 1889.

In 1890, Adolph was elected president and his nephew Arthur Seligman and two other men were elected officers of a corporation organized for a mining venture.  According to an article dated April 26, 1890, in the Santa Fe Sun, the mine, called the Chester mine, was “a fine mine and its development will disclose ore of startling richness.  The last fifty-six sacks of ore taken from this mine yielded the owners $1,700 per ton in Denver.  The gentlemen engaged in this enterprise are all energetic men of business and well deserve the success that is sure to follow their work.”

Santa Fe Sun, April 26, 1890

Santa Fe Sun, April 26, 1890

It seems that Adolph must have struggled with some health issues during the late 1890s as I found two news articles, one dated 1900 after a trip to Europe and one dated 1898 after a trip to Santa Rosalia Hot Springs, Chihuahua, both mentioning how his health was improved after these vacations.

adolf 1894 europe trip

Date: Saturday, November 10, 1900 Paper: New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) Volume: 37 Issue: 226 Page: 4

Adolf 1898 trip health july 11 1898 SF NM p 4


(The 1900 trip may explain why I cannot find Adolph on the 1900 US census.)

Adolph then went through some transitions at the Seligman’s family business. The Santa Fe New Mexican of January 21, 1903, announced that Adolph had withdrawn from the business as of December 31, 1902, and that a new corporation had been formed under the name Seligman Brothers Company with Frances, James, and Arthur Seligman as stockholders.  James was to be the president and general manager and Arthur the secretary and treasurer of the newly formed corporation.  Bernard was described as the senior member of the company, representing its business as a buyer in the east (as by that time Bernard and Frances were living in Philadelphia, as discussed here).

So what happened to Adolph?  Had he been pushed out, or he had retired for health reasons? Was there a rift in the family or just an independent decision to leave?  I don’t know.  In the 1903 New Mexico city directory, Adolph is listed as a saloon owner in Santa Fe.  An ad in the May 2, 1904 Santa Fe New Mexican reveals that at that time, Adolph was back in the dry goods business, selling men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes.

May 2, 1904 Santa Fe New Mexican

May 2, 1904 Santa Fe New Mexican


In fact, during the next decade or more, Adolph appears to have been in competition with his brother’s company, as seen in this ad from the Santa Fe New Mexican in 1911. Notice that the clipping has an ad for Seligman Brothers on the left side and one for Adolph Seligman Dry Goods on the right side.

1911 aselnmexoct12.1911.jpg

October 2, 1911 Santa Fe New Mexican


Meanwhile, Adolph’s personal life had also changed around the same time as these changes in his work life.  Adolph was single until 1902, and then when he was about sixty years old, he married Lucille Gorman, who was only nineteen years old at the time. Did this change in his personal life have anything to do with his withdrawal from Seligman Brothers?  I do not know.

Adolph and Lucille had a daughter Minnie in 1903, the year after they married, and then had five more children:  Jacob and Adolph, Jr. (1909),[1] William (1911), Gladys (1915), and Mildred (1919).

On the 1920 census when he was reported to be 76 years old, Adolph reported no occupation; Lucille was working as a seamstress.

Adolph Seligman and family 1920 US census

Adolph Seligman and family 1920 US census Year: 1920; Census Place: Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Roll: T625_1080; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 129; Image: 123

Adolph died soon after this census was taken.  He died on February 12, 1920, from locomotor ataxia.  He was about 76 years old, although his death certificate reported his birth date to be September 29, 1840, and his age to be 79.

adolph Seligman death cert

New Mexico, Deaths, 1889-1945,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Sep 2014), Adolf Seligman, 12 Feb 1920; citing Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico, reference Item 3, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistic

I am not sure whether this birthdate is accurate, given the ages on all the other records, and also given that the death certificate said his birthplace was Cologne, Germany, which is inconsistent with earlier records placing his birth in the Hesse-Darmstadt region just like his brothers Sigmund and Bernard. The ship manifest for his trip from Hamburg in 1863 also said that he was from Gau-Algesheim.

Lucille was left with six children ranging in ages from a year old to seventeen years old, and she herself was only 37 when Adolph died.  In 1930 she was listed as a widow on the census with no occupation, but her three oldest children were employed, Minnie as a salesperson, Adolph, Jr., as a tailor, and Jake as an electrician.  All six children were still living with her, now ages eleven to 27 (although Minnie’s age was listed as 23 on the census).  Sometime after the census was taken but during 1930, Lucille remarried.  She is listed as Lucille, wife of Frank C. Daniels, in the 1930 Santa Fe city directory.

Adolph, Jr., died the following year on June 13, 1931; he was only 22 years old.  I was not able to access a death certificate to determine his cause of death.  Lucille died a year after her son on November 10, 1932, under the name Lucille S. Daniels.  She was 40 years old.  I don’t know her cause of death either.

Her widower Frank Daniels, who had married Lucille just two years earlier, took on the responsibility for her three daughters and her son William, all of whom were still living with him as late as 1940, some using the surname Daniels. Frank was working as a carpenter for a building supply company.  Minnie was now 37 (35 on the census) and working as bookkeeper for a building supply company; William, 28, was also working as a bookkeeper for a building supply company.  (I assume that Frank, Minnie, and William were all working for the same company.) Gladys was 24 and working as a cashier for the power company.  Mildred was 21 and had no occupation listed.

Jake, who had been living with his siblings and stepfather Frank in 1932 according to the Santa Fe city directory of that year, married Adela Roybal sometime soon thereafter.  He continued to work as an electrician.  He and Adela had one child. Two of Adolph’s children never married or had children, Minnie and Gladys.  William married Mae Leeper, and they had four children.  William served as a city councilman in Santa Fe.  Mildred married David Roberson and had one child.  Many of Adolph and Lucille’s descendants continue to live in Santa Fe.

There are many unanswered questions about Adolph and his life after 1902.  Like his brothers Sigmund and Bernard, he was a risk-taker and a pioneer, both following in his older brothers’ footsteps and also finding his own path.


[1] Although several records indicate that both Jacob and Adolph, Jr., were born in 1909, neither appears on the 1910 census, and on the 1920 census, Adolph was reported to be eleven whereas Jake was said to be only ten.  The 1930 census has Adolph as 21 (meaning a birth year of 1909), but has Jacob’s age as 18, meaning a birth year of 1912.  Adolph’s headstone has a birth year of 1909.  Jacob’s obituary states that he was born on September 9, 1909, as does his entry in the SSDI.  I will have to request a search from the New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records to determine the exact birth dates, which will take as much as 12 weeks to process.

9 thoughts on “Adolph Seligman: A Rift in the Family?

  1. What an intriguing story! Certainly, if Adolph resigned his interest in the Seligman family company for health reasons, it must have affected a remarkable cure. Judging by subsequent events, he seems to have turned into something of a black sheep in his latter years. I’m instinctively drawn to him!


    • Yes, his story is one that raises lots of questions. As for his health, since he died from a condition that is a consequence of syphilis, I am wondering whether the earlier illnesses were also side effects of that disease. So maybe his health really never “improved,” Thanks for your thoughts!


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