As I’ve been researching and writing about my American Seligman relatives, I’ve also been busy trying to learn more about my German ancestors. I wrote to about five different people in Gau-Algesheim, names I found on websites or through contacts from JewishGen or two Facebook groups, Tracing the Tribe and German Genealogy, including Klaus Cook. I’d been trying since September 7 to find someone to help me learn whether there were any records of Jewish births, marriages and/or deaths from the town where I knew Sigmund, Bernard and Adolph Seligman were born. I had gotten no responses—not even one saying that they had no such records.
I also contacted a woman named Dorothee Lottman-Kaeseler. I had found her name on the website describing the restoration of the Gau-Algesheim cemetery, and she did write back to me. She was very helpful and eventually she managed to find someone to pay attention to my emails. Imagine my delight when the other morning I woke up to this email:
On behalf of our registrar, Frau Hemmkeppler, I am hereby replying to your genealogy request, which we have received on 15. Oct. 2014 via email.
At first, please note, that due to age, we do not have any electronic archives of our historical records. However, we have put in extra efforts and were able to manually trace the following information related to the name of Seligmann:
Siegesmund Seligmann, DOB: 24. Dec.1829 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 67/1829
Salomon Seligmann, DOB: 15. Mar.1832 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 19/1832
Carolina Seligmann, DOB: 18. Mar.1833 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 25/1833
Benjamin Seligmann, DOB: 10. May 1835 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 36/1835
Bernhard Seligmann, DOB: 23. Nov.1837 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 49/1837
Hyronimus Seligmann, DOB: 14. Dec.1839 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 75/1839
August Seligmann, DOB: 10. Dec.1841 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 88/1841
Adolph Seligmann, DOB: 29. Sep. 1843 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 52/1843
Mathilde Seligmann, DOB: 31. Jan. 1845 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 4/1845
Paulina Seligmann, DOB: 29.01.1847 in Gau-Algesheim, Reg-Nr. 5/1847
All the beforementioned persons are the children of Moritz and Eva Seligmann (born as Eva Schoenfeld). ….
There was the birth record of my great-great-grandfather Bernard, his brothers Sigmund and Adolph, and seven other siblings, all born in Gau-Algesheim, all the children of Moritz and Eva Schoenfeld Seligmann. I was so excited. I now had seven more relatives to learn about and, most importantly, the names of my great-great-great-grandparents, Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld.
I have now been in touch again with Bernie Brettschneider and hope to obtain copies of these records and also to learn if there are any other records of these individuals or of others who might be their children, spouses, and so on.
I am deeply grateful to Klaus Cook and the other people in the Facebook groups and JewishGen, to Dorothee Lottmann-Kaeseler and to Bernie Brettschneider for their assistance, and I am excited to see what else I can learn about this part of my family. I am also in touch with Walter Nathan, who was the man behind the cemetery restoration in Gau-Algesheim. Walter and I are trying to find what connections there may be between my Seligmanns and his Seligmann family, and I am learning more and more about how Jews lived in Germany in the 19th century.
When I started down this path less than three years ago, I never imagined how much I would learn about the world and its history by simply researching my own little family. I never imagined I would make contact with people in Germany and Romania and Poland, have cousins all over the world and talk to people whose lives have been so interesting. The gifts I receive from genealogy continue to surprise me and warm my heart.
And I now am thinking that someday in the not too distant future I will visit Gau-Algesheim and see where my Seligmann ancestors lived. And Iasi to see where my Goldschlager and Rosenzweig ancestors lived. And Tarnobrzeg, Poland, to see where my Brotman ancestors lived. In fact, that last one is being planned for this coming spring. And then there are all the places right here in the US where I can go to walk in the places where my ancestors lived—New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Santa Fe, Colorado, and who knows where else? The adventures continue.