Genealogy research is like peeling an onion. You peel back a layer, study that layer, and feel a good degree of sweet satisfaction, but there are always more layers, and if you are as lucky as I have been with my Seligmann family, you can keep peeling back more and more layers. Sometimes a new layer brings new tears, sometimes it brings more joy. The two handwritten family trees that Wolfgang and his mother found in their suitcase revealed several new layers of the Seligmann and Schoenfeld families, including the names of all the siblings of my three-times great-grandparents Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld.
One of those siblings was a younger brother of Moritz named Marx Seligmann. From the handwritten trees I knew that Marx had married Rosina Loeser and had two daughters with her, Mathilde and Sophie. I also knew that Marx and Rosina had divorced about ten years after they married or in 1849. I don’t believe I had seen any evidence of a divorce that far back in time in my family, and I assume that divorce was probably pretty unusual back then, or at least not as common as it is now.
The first tree had a confusing comment about someone coming later to America, but it wasn’t clear whether that was Marx or his ex-wife or his daughters. The second handwritten tree was more explicit: Marx had remarried and had gone to New York . The tree seemed to suggest that he’d had a son who married a woman with the birth name Coppel, and that they’d had a daughter who married a film agent. I searched for Marx based on those assumptions and found the record I posted last time.
Assuming that this is the same Marx Seligmann, he had himself married a woman named Sara Koppel, and they had had a daughter named Charlotte. Charlotte had married someone named Max Schlesinger. From that one record, I was able to research further and put together a more complete picture of Marx Seligmann and his descendants.
It appears that Marx and Sara had married not long after Marx’s divorce from Rosina and before leaving Germany because they sailed together as Marx and Sara Seligmann and arrived in New York on August 18, 1849. Marx was 39, Sara 27, and Marx listed his occupation as a merchant. (They are the third and fourth entries from the bottom on the document shown here.)
A year later according to the census taken on August 26, 1850, they were living in New York City and had a four month old son Siegmund (later Sigmund), so Sara must have been just pregnant when they arrived in New York. Marx was working as a cigar maker. They were living in the 13th Ward or the Lower East Side, which then had a large population of German immigrants.
Marx filed a declaration of intent to become a US citizen on November 25, 1850.
By 1860, Marx and Sara had three more children: Jacob, born in 1852; Charlotte, born in 1855; and Mary, born in 1856. The family was still living in the 13th Ward, and Marx was still employed as a cigar maker. The only thing that disturbs me about this census record is that it reports that both Marx and Sara were born in Darmstadt. I assume that Marx, like his siblings, was born in Gaulsheim. However, given how unreliable census records can be, I am willing to put that aside.
By 1870, it appears that Marx had died. He is not listed with his family on the 1870 census, and in the 1872 NYC directory, Sara is listed as a widow. I contacted the cemetery where Sara was later buried, but they had no listing for a Marx or Max Seligmann.
According to the 1870 census, Sarah (now spelled with the H) was the head of household. Sigmund, now 20, was working as a clerk. Jacob, 17, was working in a cigar store, perhaps following in his father’s footsteps. Charlotte was 16 and at home, and Mary was 14 and a dressmaker. They were now living in the 17th Ward, also in the Lower East Side in a neighborhood inhabited by mostly German immigrants.
The first of the children of Marx and Sarah to marry was their youngest child, Mary. She married Oscar Kornfeld on September 11, 1873, when she was only seventeen years old. Oscar was only twenty. Oscar was the son of Charles and Julia Kornfeld, who were born in Austria, according to the 1860 and 1880 census, or Baden, according to the 1870 census. Oscar’s father was a cigar maker like Mary’s father had been, so I wonder if they had met through their fathers. Oscar also followed his father into the cigar business.
By 1880, Mary and Oscar had three children. Their first child, born in 1874, was named Marx, presumably for his grandfather. In 1877, Rose was born, and then Carrie was born in 1879. In addition, Mary’s mother Sarah and her brother Sigmund were living with them at 239 East 51st Street in New York. Both Sigmund and Oscar were working as cigar packers.
Mary and Oscar had another daughter, Lillian, in 1882. According to the 1892 New York State census, Mary and Oscar and their family were living in Long Island City in Queens, where Oscar continued to work in the cigar business.
By 1900 they were living at 1883 Madison Avenue, and Oscar was still working in the cigar business. Their three daughters were still living with them, Rose doing housework, Carrie doing office work, and Lillian working as a cashier. Their son Marx (later Max) married Emma Pisko on April 1, 1900. I cannot locate them on the 1900 census—perhaps they were away on their honeymoon?
As seen in the first record above, Charlotte Seligmann was the second child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann to marry; she married Max Schlesinger in 1874. According to the 1880 census, Max Schleslinger was born in Berlin and was working in 1880 as a supervisor in a tie factory, and by 1880 he and Charlotte had three children: Hattie (or Harriet), born in 1875; Arthur, born in 1876; and Lena, born in 1877.
I found a card for Max in the ancestry.com database for U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes indicating that he became a citizen on October 5, 1877, and was living at 315 East 56th Street, not too far from where Charlotte’s mother and siblings were living at that time. In 1884, they had a fourth child, Louis.
In 1900, Charlotte and Max were living at 202 East 123rd Street with just their two youngest children, Lena (listed here as Lillie) and Louis. Max was still employed in tie manufacturing. Their daughter Hattie (or Harriet) had married George Cain in 1897. George was a banker, and in 1900, they had a daughter Edith, just born that year. They also were living with George’s sister Lucie.
I unfortunately have had no luck locating Max and Charlotte’s son Arthur on the 1900 census or elsewhere. The name Arthur Schlesinger is more common than you’d think (and that doesn’t include the famous historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. or his father, with whom there is no apparent tie), so I’ve not been able to figure out (yet) whether any of the men with that name in New York is the correct one.
Jacob was the next child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann to marry. He married Mathilde Kerbs on April 3, 1881, in New York City. Mathilde was a German immigrant, and at the time of the 1880 census she was living with her siblings in New York City. Both of her brothers were in the cigar business as was Jacob, and so once again I think this was a connection made through the family ties to the cigar industry. Between 1882 and 1888, Jacob and Mathilde had four sons. The first, Max (presumably for his grandfather Marx), was born in 1882, then came Harry (1883), Louis (1885), and Samuel (1888). In 1900, Jacob was still a cigar packer, and the family was living at 303 East 69th Street. They would have one more child, Beatrice, in 1902.
Sigmund, the oldest child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann, was the last to marry. According to the 1900 census, he married his wife Charlotte in 1882. From a death notice I found for Sigmund in the New York Times, I learned that Charlotte’s birth name was Koppel.Thus, the story posted about Marx on the second handwritten tree—that one of his sons had married someone whose birth name was Koppel (or Coppel, as spelled there) —was in fact true. Both Marx and his son Sigmund married women with that surname. My guess is that Charlotte Koppel was a relative of Sarah Koppel, Sigmund’s mother. That guess is supported by two clues: one, Sarah’s mother’s first name was also Charlotte, according to Sarah’s death record, and two, Sigmund’s grandson posted a story on Ancestry.com saying that Sigmund had gone back to Germany to marry Charlotte and suggesting that it had been an arranged marriage.
Sigmund and Charlotte had five children between 1883 and 1896: Mary (1883), Max (1884) (another namesake for Marx or perhaps for Sarah’s father Max Koppel?), Leo (1891), Theresa (1894), and Albert (1896). Sigmund was employed in the insurance industry. In 1900, they were living at 304 East 117th Street.
Thus, by 1900, Marx Seligmann had not only four grown children surviving him in the United States (plus the two daughters born of his first marriage); there were also eighteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild to follow him in the United States, including several named Max or Marx in his honor. Sometimes it amazes me to see just how many descendants one person can have. As I follow the descendants of Marx Seligmann into the 20th century in my next post, I cannot help but think about all the potential lives that were lost for every person whose life was cut short.
 I cannot find Jacob on the 1880 US census.