In July, I received an email from my friend Beate Goetz; Beate is the woman who not only was our guide when we visited Bingen in May—she was one of the first people from Germany who helped me with my research, starting back almost three years ago. We’d had a lovely time with Beate while in Bingen, and she wrote an article about our visit for the local newspaper, Allegemeine Zeitung. It was wonderful to relive the experience through Beate’s eyes and remember our time together.
With some help from Google Translate and Wolfgang, I’ve translated her article; my apologies to Beate for any errors, for which I take full responsibility:
In the Footsteps of the Ancestors
US-American Amy B. Cohen and Wolfgang Seligmann have Common Bingen roots.
In November 2014, Amy Cohen from Massachusetts turned to the Arbeitskreis Judische and asked for help. She was in search of meaningful documents about her ancestor Moses, later Moritz, Seligmann, who was born in either Gau-Algesheim or Gaulsheim in the 19th century.
It soon became apparent that Moritz Seligmann was born on January 10, 1800, in Gaulsheim, the son of the merchant Jacob Seligmann and his wife Martha nee Mayer, who came from Oberingelheim. Also, his grandfather Hirsch Seligmann was born in Gaulsheim.
Moritz Seligmann was married twice: first with Eva Schoenfeld from Erbes-Buedesheim. The wedding was on February 27, 1829, in Gaulsheim.
The year before, Moritz Seligmann had wanted to transfer his place of residence to Gau-Algesheim, as Ludwig Hellriegel wrote in his little book, The History of the Jews of Gau-Algesheim. However, the town council rejected this and stated that “there are already a large number of Jews in the local community.” And “that it is not advisable to overpower the church with Jews.” But when Moritz Seligmann submitted a testimony to the mayor’s office of Gaulsheim of his unblemished reputation, he was allowed to become a citizen of the city.
After the death of his first wife Eva on the birth of their son Benjamin, Moritz Seligmann married her sister Babetta Schönfeld, as was customary at that time. Bernard Seligmann, Amy Cohen’s ancestor, came from this marriage. He and his brothers Adolph and Sigismund (from the marriage with Eva) went to America around 1850. The brothers settled in Santa Fe and established the prosperous business, Seligman Brothers. They transported goods from the East Coast on the Santa Fe Trail and sold them in Santa Fe.
Since 2013 Amy Cohen has been collecting her family history research in a blog. The coincidence was that radiojournalist Wolfgang Seligmann found Amy’s blog and soon they found out that they have the same ancestor in Moritz Seligmann. While Amy’s ancestor Bernard Seligman was finding happiness in America, Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August had stayed in Gau-Algesheim. His grandfather Julius Seligmann had started the Christian line in the family as he converted when he married Magdalena Kleisinger, who was Catholic. From 1939, the family lived in Bingen.
Wolfgang Seligmann had strong support in his family research from his recently deceased mother, Annlis, who tirelessly gathered the documents and mastered the old German script.
So a few weeks ago the two Seligmann descendants met when Amy Cohen came with her husband Harvey. In addition to Mainz and Gau-Algesheim, Bingen was on the travel schedule of the guests. Together we went on a tour of the town that led along the houses and stolpersteine to remember the extensive family associations of the Seligmann, Gross, and Mayer families.
Also, we visited the synagogues and the Memorial and Meeting Center of Judische Bingen in Rochusstraße and also took countless photos before the visit to the Jewish cemetery ended the tour.
Shortly after her journey, which led the couple to Koblenz, Koln, and Heidelberg, Amy Cohen wrote how impressed she was by visiting the cemetery. “The people behind the names and stories I had researched seemed to me so close and very real, and I realized how close my Seligmann relatives were to the Bingen local community.”
 Only one correction to the caption under the photo: Harvey’s surname is not Cohen. I kept my birth name, just to make things easier for future genealogists. 😊