Four Weddings and a Funeral: More Twists and Turns

My last post covered the migration of several Nusbaum/Dreyfuss family members to Peoria, Illinois in the 1860s. Meanwhile, back in Pennsylvania, the rest of the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss clan was growing during the 1860s.  In Philadelphia, two of the Nusbaum brothers and two of the Dreyfuss sisters were seeing their families grow and their children grow.  Other family members were still in Harrisburg. By the end of the decade, even more of the family would have relocated to Philadelphia.

The Civil War was having at least some minor financial impact on the family.  For example, John Nusbaum was liable for $26.79 in income tax to the federal government in 1862 under the terms of the Internal Revenue Act of 1862 That law was enacted to raise money to help pay for the expenses incurred by the Union in fighting the Civil War.  It was the first progressive income tax imposed by the federal government.  For anyone whose income exceeded $600 a year, a tax was imposed based on the level of income.

For John Nusbaum, whose income was valued at $892.96 in 1862, that meant a tax of $26.79.  According to one inflation calculator, $892.96 in 1862 would be worth about $20,000 in 2014.     For someone with stores in Philadelphia and Peoria (and possibly still some interest in a store in Harrisburg) and who reported $6000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal property in 1860,[1] that does not seem like a lot of income, but I have no idea how that was determined back then. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

By 1863 John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum, my three-times great-grandparents, had seen their two older sons move to Peoria, but they still had one son, Julius, and two daughters at home in 1863: Frances, my great-great-grandmother, who was eighteen, and Miriam, who was only five years old in 1863.  Plus 1863 had started off with another new baby in the family.  Lottie Nusbaum was born on January 1, 1863.  Jeanette would have been almost 46 years old, and her first born child Adolphus was going on 23.

I have to admit that I have some questions about whether Lottie was actually the child of John and Jeanette.  Jeanette must have been close to the end of her child-bearing years.  They had not had a child in five years.  Could Lottie have been a child of one of their sons, raised as the child of her actual grandparents?  Or a child they adopted?  I have no way of knowing.  Lottie had no children, so even if I could figure out some way to use DNA to answer my doubts, there are no descendants to use for DNA testing.

On Lottie’s death certificate, the informant was Mrs. E. Cohen, that is, my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, Lottie Nusbaum’s niece and Frances Nusbaum Seligman’s daughter.  Eva filled in the father’s name as John, but put unknown for the mother’s maiden name.  Eva certainly knew her grandmother Jeanette’s name.  (Eva is the one who held and maintained the family bible for many years.) Did she not know her grandmother’s maiden name? Was she too grief-stricken to remember? Or was she suggesting that Jeanette was not in fact Lottie’s real mother?  I do not know, and there is no one left to ask.  But it did not do anything to resolve my doubts about the identity of Lottie’s parents.   Maybe I am too skeptical.  Maybe she was just a menopause baby. Maybe John and Jeanette were missing their boys so much that they decided to have one more child. Or maybe not.  What do you all think?

Lottie Nusbaum death certificate Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Lottie Nusbaum death certificate Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

In any event, just as John and Jeanette were emptying their household of their sons, they had a new baby to raise.  The family was still living at 433 Vine Street in 1862, according to the Philadelphia city directory, but in 1864 they are listed at 455 York Avenue.  That address is about two and a half miles north of Vine Street, and as I’ve discussed earlier, Jews began to move north in Philadelphia as their socioeconomic status improved.

By 1865, John and Jeanette’s house on York Avenue was a little emptier.  By that time Julius had joined his brothers in Peoria, and on March 28, 1865, my great-great-grandmother Frances married Bernard Seligman.  For several years they lived in Philadelphia, and Bernard was apparently in business with his brothers-in-law in a firm called Nusbaum Brothers and Company.  They had four children between 1866 and 1869, including my great-grandmother Eva.  Then in 1870, Bernard returned full time to Santa Fe with Frances and their children where Frances and Bernard lived for almost all of the rest of their lives, as discussed in my Seligman blog posts.

Nusbaum Brothers and Company 1867 Philadelphia Directory U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Nusbaum Brothers and Company 1867 Philadelphia Directory U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

John’s brother Ernst was also in Philadelphia during the early 1860s.  He was a clothier, working at 55 North Third Street and living at 626 North 6th Street.  He and his wife Clarissa had another child in 1861, Frank, bringing their family up to six children ranging in age from newborn to ten years old.  So both Ernest, who was 45 when Frank was born, and John, who was 49 when Lottie was born, had new babies in their homes in the 1860s.

Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum also had a sibling living in Philadelphia.  Her sister Caroline (Dreyfuss) Wiler had also moved from Harrisburg to Philadelphia by 1860.  She and her husband Moses Wiler were living at 466 North 4th Street in 1862 with their four children, who ranged in age from Eliza who was twenty to Clara who was twelve.  Moses was in the cloak business.

The following year the Wiler household became a bit smaller when Eliza Wiler married Leman Simon on September 9, 1863, in Philadelphia.  Yes, Leman Simon.  Do you remember that name? He was the brother of Moses Simon, who married Paulina Dinkelspiel and started the migration of Nusbaums to Peoria.  So once again, my family tree groans and twists a bit.  Eliza and Paulina were already related, at least by marriage.  Eliza’s mother Caroline Dreyfuss was the sister-in-law of John Nusbaum, Paulina Dinkelspiel’s uncle.  Sometimes these people make me want to pull out my hair!  Imagine, I am casually researching Eliza, and I see her husband’s name and think, “Leman Simon.  Hmmm, that sounds familiar.”

So by 1863 the Simons, Nusbaums, Dinkelspiels, and Dreyfusses were all somehow interrelated, often in more than one way.

But it gets worse.

By 1866, Moses Pollock and Mathilde (Dreyfuss Nusbaum) Pollock had also moved to Philadelphia from Harrisburg. In 1868, Flora Nusbaum, the daughter of Mathilde Dreyfuss and Maxwell Nusbaum and step-daughter of Moses Pollock, married Samuel Simon.  I have mentioned this before because Flora Nusbaum is my double first cousin four times removed since both of her parents were siblings of one of my three times great-grandparents, Flora’s father being John Nusbaum’s brother, her mother being Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum’s sister.  Now Flora was marrying her first cousin Paulina’s brother-in-law Samuel Simon, who was also her cousin Eliza’s brother-in law.

Groan…. Maybe this chart will help.


So all three Simon brothers were now married to someone in the clan: Samuel to Flora Nusbaum, Leman to Eliza Wiler, and Moses to Paulina Dinkenspiel.

The wedding of Samuel Simon to Flora Nusbaum (Pollock) seems to have been a celebration worthy of all that interconnectedness.  Here is an article from the Harrisburg Telegraph of October 20, 1868, republishing an article from the Philadelphia Sunday Mercury that described their Philadelphia wedding.  It’s really worth reading to get the full flavor of both the wedding and “social media” in the 1860s.

flora pollock wedding part 1

flora pollock wedding part 2

flora pollock part 3

The strangest part of this article is not the detailed description of the lavish, extravagant wedding celebration, but the reporter’s mistaken assertion that Flora was not Jewish.  Certainly her parents were both Jewish, and even her stepfather Moses Pollock was Jewish.  The reporter’s statement that “the pure religion of love had broken down all sectarian barriers” seems a bit strange for a wedding announcement, even if it had been an interfaith wedding.  But why would the reporter have thought Flora wasn’t Jewish?

The overlapping branches of the family were well represented in the bridal party: Clara Wiler and Simon Wiler, the children of Moses and Caroline (Dreyfuss) Wiler; Frances Nusbaum, the daughter of John and Jeanette (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum; Arthur Nusbaum, son of Ernst and Clara Nusbaum; and Albert Nusbaum, son of Maxwell and Mathilde (Dreyfuss) Nusbaum and brother of the bride.  I do not know who the Schloss family is or the Goldsmiths, at least not yet, but I fear more double twists yet to be uncovered.

So the extended family was doing quite well, and there were lots of new families being formed and babies born, but unfortunately there also was one big loss in the 1860s.  Leopold Nusbaum, who was still living in Harrisburg in the 1860s, died on December 24, 1866.  He was buried at Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Philadelphia.  His widow Rosa and sixteen year old daughter Francis moved shortly thereafter to Philadelphia, where they moved in with John and Jeanette Nusbaum, whose household had been reduced by two when Julius moved to Peoria and Frances married.

Below is a photo I found while searching for old images of Harrisburg.  I was so excited when I saw the name on the store at the far upper right—Leo Nusbaum!  Although this photo was dated 1889, Leopold Nusbaum’s name was still on the store even though he had died almost 25 years earlier.

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

The only Nusbaum family members left in Harrisburg by the end of the 1860s were Mathilde (Nusbaum) Dinkenspiel, her husband Isaac, and their daughter Sophia.  Their daughter Paulina (Dinkenspiel) Simon was living in Baltimore, and their son Adolph was in Peoria.  Their youngest child Sophia married Herman Marks, a Prussian born clothing merchant, in 1869, and they settled in Harrisburg as well.  Perhaps they were the ones to keep Mathilde’s brother’s name on the store.

Thus, by the end of the 1860s, most of the extended family was living in Philadelphia, with a small number living in Peoria, a few in Harrisburg, and a few in Baltimore.



[1] $600 in 1860 would be worth about $17,000 today, and $20,000 in 1860 would be worth about $571,000 today.  Not too shabby for someone who had come to America around 1840.

7 thoughts on “Four Weddings and a Funeral: More Twists and Turns

  1. It’s certainly possible that Lottie was John and Jeanette’s daughter. Personally knowing people that have had children in their late 40’s and a ggg grandmother that was 47 when she had her last child I think it’s highly likely.
    OTOH, I understand why the death certificate is troubling. Some of the inaccuracies researchers find are in fact surprising considering that they come from close relatives.


    • Thanks for your thoughts. You are right that Jeanette very well could have had a child at 46, though for those days that would have been a pretty old mother. My grandmother was 35 when my mother was born in 1930, and she was considered an old mother. But it certainly is not unlikely. And I have seen terrible errors on death certificates also. But Eva was notoriously careful, according to my father, so it just seems odd. But I think it’s more likely that Lottie was John and Jeanette’s daughter than otherwise. We will never know…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Lottie was adopted. The discrepancies on the death certificate are just too strange. Coupled with Jeanette’s advanced age, well, it’s all just a bit off. And the description of that wedding; My goodness, it sounds like something out of a movie–“costly diamonds and other precious stones, that reflected back the gaslights in all the colors of the rainbow.” Wow! Very strange about the reporter getting the bride’s religion wrong too. Great post, Amy!


    • Thanks, Leslie! It was a fun one to write up. I loved that wedding article for so many reasons—just one more example of unreliable journalism… As for Lottie, I remain confused. Anything is possible, and it’s frustrating not to have any way to find out without digging up her bones and testing her DNA!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. From my own experience: the baby might have been an illegitimate child of a family member, an orphan of the family, the love child of the husband, the child of a very close friend whose mother had died, or, yes, their child.


  4. Pingback: There Were No Survivors: A Tragic Ending to a Family with Plenty of Tragedy « Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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