From Cigars to Security, and Heartbreak and Heart Disease: The Family of Jacob Seligman

The second child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann was Jacob.  As I wrote in an earlier post, he married Mathilde Kerbs in 1881, and they had four sons and one daughter: Max (1882), Harry (1883), Louis (1885), Samuel (1888), and Beatrice (1902).  Jacob was a cigar packer, and the family was living at 303 East 69th Street in 1900.  Max and Harry were both working as salesman, according to the 1900 census.


The family suffered a terrible loss when Max died on November 25, 1903.   He was only 21 years old.  He died from typhoid fever and pneumonia.

Maxwell Seligman death certificate 1903

Maxwell Seligman death certificate 1903

In 1905, the remaining members of the family were living at 212 East 40th Street.  Harry was a police officer, Louis an errand boy, and Samuel a stock keeper (I assume in a store).  Their father Jacob was still a cigar packer.

On July 17, 1907, Samuel, the youngest son, married Frances Hooton, the daughter of William Proctor Hooton and Hannah Newman.

Marriage certificate of Samuel Seligman and Frances Hooton

Marriage certificate of Samuel Seligman and Frances Hooton

Seligman - Horton marriage page 2

William was born in England and was a shipping clerk; Hannah (usually referred to as Annie) was his second wife.  His first wife Deborah Newman (perhaps Annie’s sister?) died in 1879, leaving him with four children.  After having two children with Annie, including Frances in 1886, William lost his second wife Annie when she died on November 27, 1887.  William himself died in 1901 when Frances was only fifteen, and she ended up living with one of her sisters, working as a dressmaker. [Thanks to the generosity of Chip Bennett, a relative of the Hootons, I am able to share some photographs of Frances Hooton Seligman and her children.]  When Samuel and Frances married, he was only nineteen and she was 21.

Their first child Marion was born a year later in July, 1908.

Marion Seligman photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Marion Seligman
photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

In February 1910, their second child Maxwell was born.  According to the 1910 census, the family was living at 349 East 82nd Street, and Samuel was working as a special officer for the Highway Department.   A third child was born to Samuel and Frances in 1913; his name was William.

Frances Hooton Seligman with Max and Marion and her niece Ethel   Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Frances Hooton Seligman with Max and Marion and her niece Ethel
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett


Meanwhile, the other children of Jacob and Mathilde Seligman were still living with their parents in 1910.  Jacob was still in the cigar business, and Harry was still working as a city police officer.  Louis had no occupation listed, and Beatrice was only eight years old.

Harry married Rose Weis on March 24, 1912.  Rose was the daughter of Joseph/Ignatz Weis and Henrietta Schoen, Hungarian immigrants.  Her father was an upholsterer.  As far as I can tell, Harry and Rose did not have any children.  In 1915, Harry continued to work as a police officer.  He and Rose were living at 349 East 84th Street, according to the 1915 census.

Jacob Seligman died on December 16, 1915.  He was 63 years old.  His son Louis was married a year and a half later; he married Fannie Zinck on June 2, 1917.  She was born in Alsace-Lorraine in about 1889 and immigrated to the US around 1902.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any more about Fannie’s background.  Louis and Fannie did not have any children.

According to his World War I draft registration, Louis was employed as a canvasser by his brother Samuel in 1918; according to Samuel’s registration, he was self-employed as a watchman.  What would Louis have been doing as a canvasser for a watchman?  They were living not far from each other, Louis and Fannie at 506 East 83rd Street, Sam and Frances and their children at 242 East 85th Street.  Harry and Rose were also nearby—at 409 East 84th Street; Harry (using the name Henry on his draft registration) was still a New York City patrolman.  I found it interesting that all three brothers were in some aspect of the security business.

Their mother Mathilde Kerbs Seligman died on March 12, 1918; she was 54 years old.  Beatrice, the youngest sibling, was only sixteen years old and orphaned.  She moved in with her brother Louis and his wife Fannie, according to the 1920 census.  They were then living at 307 East 78th Street; Louis listed his occupation as special officer on night patrol, and Beatrice was a typist. In 1920, Harry and Rose continued to live at 409 East 84th Street, and Harry continued to work as a police officer.  Sam, Frances, and their three children were still living at 242 East 85th Street, and Sam was still working as a night watchman.

Things remained pretty much the same in 1925.  Louis, Fannie, and Beatrice were still living on 78th Street.  Louis was now working as a mechanic, according to the 1925 New York census; it looks like Beatrice’s occupation was a correspondent.  I am not sure what that means.  Samuel and his family were still on 85th Street.  Sam had his own business, and his two oldest children were working: Marion doing clerical work and Maxwell as a helper—perhaps in their father’s business?  I have not been able to locate Harry and Rose on the 1925 New York census.

Marion Seligman as a young girl photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Marion Seligman as a young girl
photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Samuel and Frances Seligman’s son Maxwell married Helene Sumner on August 25, 1927.  Helene was the daughter of Edward Sumner and Priscilla nee McCarthy, who were English-born immigrants; her father was an engineer. Maxwell was only 17 years old when they married (although listed as 22 on the marriage record, all other records indicate he was born in 1910); Helene was listed as 17, but all her earlier records say she was born in 1912, making her only 15 in 1927. Given how young they were, I might have thought that Helene was pregnant (and maybe she was), but their first and only child, Joseph, was not born until 1929.

Maxwell Seligman as a young boy Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

Maxwell Seligman as a young boy
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

The 1920s ended very sadly for the family.  On March 9, 1929, Samuel Seligman died; he was only 40 years old and left behind his wife Frances and their three children.  He died from angina pectoris and myocarditis—heart disease.

Samuel Seligman death certificate 1929

Samuel Seligman death certificate 1929


Marion was 21, Maxwell 19, and William only 16 years old when their father died.  Frances remarried a man named Frank Mildrum on February 16, 1931, according to the records in the New York marriage index on Ancestry, although according to the 1930 census, she was already married to Frank, as she is listed as his wife and living with him and two of her children, Marion and William, in the Bronx.  Frank also had a thirteen year old daughter Florence from his prior marriage.  Frank was a private detective.  Marion Seligman was working as an office clerk.

Louis Seligman did not live much longer than his brother Samuel.  In 1930 he and Fannie as well as his sister Beatrice were still living at 308 East 78th Street.  Louis had his own business in protective alarms, and Beatrice was a clerk for an express company, according to the census.  But on October 23, 1931, Louis died from luetic aortitis and chronic myocarditis at age 44. Heart disease had contributed to the death of yet another family member.  Of the four sons born to Jacob and Mathilde Kerbs Seligman, only Harry was still alive.

Louis Seligman death certificate 1931

Louis Seligman death certificate 1931

By 1930 Harry and his wife Rose had moved in with her parents and siblings in Brooklyn, and Harry was no longer working as a police officer, but instead as a clerk in a brokerage house.  Harry was 49 years old; he had been working for the police force since at least 1905. Why would he and Rose have moved in with her family after all those years living on their own? Was Harry disabled? Had he reached eligibility for retirement? Did the police force even have a pension back then? According to this article from the official New York City website, there was some form of pension for police officers dating back to the 19th century.

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that Harry died just seven years later on March 6, 1937.  He was fifty-six years old and died from “coronary thrombosis with cerebral and pulmonary emboli induced by generalized arteriosclerosis.” (The parents’ names on this certificate are clearly in error, but this is also clearly the correct Harry Seligman, son of Jacob and Mathilde.)

Harry (Henry) Seligman death certificate 1937

Harry (Henry) Seligman death certificate 1937

The New York Times March 7, 1937

The New York Times March 7, 1937


Beatrice Seligman had been orphaned by the time she was sixteen, and now she had lost all of her siblings by time she was 35 years old.  In 1940 she was living as a lodger on West 99th Street and still working for the express company as a stenographer.  She was single and 38 years old.  After that, I cannot find her.  I don’t know whether she ever married or what happened to her after 1940.  I don’t know when she died.

Of the five children born to Jacob and Mathilde Seligman, only one, Samuel, had had any children.  As noted above, Samuel and Frances Seligman’s son Maxwell married Helene Sumner as a teenager, and they had a son Joseph born in 1929.  I saw on Ancestry that Joseph died when he was three years old in 1932.  When I received the death certificate, I was shocked.  Joseph had been hit by a car on 85th Street between Second and Third Avenue and had sustained a fractured skull.  How could something like this happen to a three year old child?

Seligman, Joseph death page 1 Seligman, Joseph death page 2

It appears that the marriage between Maxwell and Helene did not survive the death of their son.  In 1939, Maxwell traveled with his brother William to Key West, Florida.  On the 1940 census Maxwell and William were both living with their mother Frances Hooton Seligman Mildrum, who had been widowed again when Frank Mildrum died in June, 1939.  Frank’s daughter Florence was also living with them.  Maxwell and William were both working as collectors for a detective agency; according to the 1940 census, both Maxwell and William had been living in the same house in 1935, suggesting that Maxwell’s marriage had ended by then.

William Seligman as a young boy Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

William Seligman as a young boy
Photo courtesy of Chip Bennett

As for Marion, Samuel and Frances Seligman’s other child, she married Howard Fairweather on July 3, 1932.  He was the son of Howard and Margaret (Duffy) Fairweather.  This also appears to be a marriage that did not last.  On the 1940 census, Howard and Marion were living on Undercliff Avenue in the Bronx.  Although Marion was working as a secretary at Star Protection Company, Howard had no occupation listed.

Marion may have been more than a secretary; she may have been THE secretary of the company.  According to an article from the New York Times dated January 27, 1940 about a labor strike at the company (Star Electric Protective Company, a burglar alarm company), Marion Fairweather was at that time the treasurer of the company.

Marion Fairweather burglar alarm strike

Marion and Howard had no children.  In 1942 Howard was serving in the armed forces as a private and still listed his status as married.  He reported that his occupation was as a non-public police officer, so I assume a private detective.  After that I have no records for them together.  Marion traveled alone several times in the 1950s.  Perhaps they were still married, but I have no documentation for either of them until their deaths.  Howard Fairweather died in Atlantic City in 1976; Marion Seligman Fairweather died July 27, 1988. Her last residence had been in New York City.

William had enlisted in the military on 1942.  In July, 1953, he traveled  to Bermuda. It appears that William never married.  William P. Seligman is listed in the New York City telephone directory in 1959 and 1960, and there is a Max Seligman as well, but I don’t know if it is the correct Max since even within the family there were several Max Seligmans.  William died on June 2, 1964.  His death notice in the New York Times mentioned only his sister Marion Fairweather as a survivor so Max must have predeceased him.  Unfortunately I cannot locate a death record or obituary for Max.

The New York Times, June 4, 1964

The New York Times, June 4, 1964

None of the children of Samuel Seligman had children, and Samuel was the only child of Jacob Seligman to have children, and thus the line of Jacob Seligman, son of Marx and Sarah Seligmann, ended when Marion Seligman Fairweather died in 1988.  Looking back at their story, this seemed to be a family that was succeeding in America—three sons who were all involved in personal and property security in some form or another.  But they were also three sons who died far too young in addition to the fourth son who died as a very young man.  There was the tragedy of a three year old child killed by a car and the marriage between his two young parents that failed not long after that death.  It is also a family that has no living descendants to carry on the names or the stories of these people.

Descendants of Jacob Seligman and Mathilde Kerbs

Descendants of Jacob Seligman and Mathilde Kerbs




9 thoughts on “From Cigars to Security, and Heartbreak and Heart Disease: The Family of Jacob Seligman

  1. Wow, a lot of sad events. Could the child have broken away from someone’s hand? Re the heart disease, my father’s aunt’s death certificate lists that, but through a family story there is a good chance it was suicide. All that tells me is even after we find documents we have to keep working on all the puzzle pieces. Of course, this doesn’t have anything in particular to do with your relative.,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful job, Amy. You have a keen eye for detail, certainly a scholar’s love of research…and a nice way with words, to paint the past into present.

    I’ll look forward to following your blog.


  3. Same Chip. Tried to reply using the facebook option…didn’t work. So I used my capecodchip email. I love the Cape, too. Lived there for 10+ years. Sometimes kayaked in your neck of the Cape. Great memories!

    Just tried (again) to comment using the fb icon (so my photo, would accompany my comments)…still get an error message. Hmmm…technology glitch? 🙂


  4. Pingback: The Last of the Children of Marx and Sarah Seligmann: Mary Kornfeld and Her Descendants « Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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