One of the great advantages I had when I was researching my Santa Fe Seligman family was the availability of numerous newspaper articles about members of the family. Because my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and his son Arthur Seligman were both important business and political leaders in Santa Fe, there was extensive coverage of their lives—and not just their business and political lives, but also their personal lives. The news articles gave me great insights into their personalities and the way they were perceived in their communities.
Now my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann has uncovered more articles—not only about the Santa Fe Seligmans but also about their relatives abroad.
My favorite article of those uncovered by Wolfgang is this one, an obituary of my three-times great-grandmother Babette Schoenfeld Seligmann from the February 2, 1899 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Death of Mrs. M[oritz] Seligman
Hon. Bernard Seligman received the sad intelligence today, that Mrs. M. Seligman, mother of Bernard and Adolf Seligman, of this city, died at Gau-Algesheim, Germany, January 15, 1899, at the advanced age of 89. She left seven children, two daughters and five sons, all living, in England, Germany and the United States. Mrs. Seligman was a remarkable women in many ways, she brought up her children to be honorable and valuable citizens, as might be inferred from the honored career of the two sons who have for so long been esteemed members of this community, and who are so widely respected throughout New Mexico. Mrs. Seligman was a woman of rugged and sterling good sense, and a just, affectionate parent, and the many friends of Messrs. Seligman in this territory will sympathize with them in their loss.
The Sante Fe New Mexican reporter could not have known Babette, so the descriptions must have come from her sons Bernard and Adolf. They reveal so much about Babette’s personality and how she was perceived and loved by her sons.
Here she is on the far right with two of her sons, James on the left, Adolf on the right, with her granddaughter Anna Oppenheimer in the center and her daughter-in-law Henrietta on the far left. (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the dog.)
I thought this little news item that Wolfgang found was also interesting. It is an announcement of the dissolution of a London wine business owned by three of the Seligmann brothers: Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann, his younger brother Hieronymus Seligmann, and the youngest sibling, James Seligman. James, who was born Jakob, was the brother who left Germany for England and Scotland, unlike my great-great-grandfather Bernard and his brother Adolf, who went to New Mexico, or August and Hieronymus, who stayed in Germany. The notice announced the takeover of the wine business in England by James alone as of the end of July, 1890.
I knew that James had been a wine merchant, but was not aware that his brothers were his partners initially. James was ultimately quite successful and, according to my cousin Lotte, owned hotels in Great Britain.
Wolfgang also found a notice in the July 15, 1930 issue of the London Gazette notifying those with possible claims against the estate of James Seligman of his death on March 11, 1930, and outlining what they needed to do to pursue those claims. It’s interesting that a man as successful as James died intestate (i.e., without a will). The National Provisional Bank Limited and James’ widow Clara had been appointed administrators of his estate. It was the settlement of James Seligman’s estate and the bank’s search for his heirs that led me to so many other Seligmann relatives.
Two articles that Wolfgang sent were stories I’d not seen before about my great-uncle Arthur Seligman. The first is a profile of him published in the January 13, 1904, Santa Fe New Mexican (p. 9). The biographical information I have reported elsewhere so I will just quote a few excerpts from this article, written when Arthur was a County Commissioner in Santa Fe.
Describing the current status and success of the Seligman Brother’s mercantile business in Santa Fe, of which Arthur was then a director and secretary-treasurer, the article states, “Model methods, courteous treatment, absolutely fair dealing, and prompt service have characterized the business of the firm since 1856, and are today the mottoes of the two young men [Arthur and his younger brother James L. Seligman] conducting it.”
About Arthur specifically, the article states that he “is very popular in his home city. [His success in the election as a County Commissioner] is good evidence that he is liked and respected where best known. It is a fact universally acknowledged that he has filled the important position of County Commissioner for the First District, for the past three years with marked ability, constant efficiency, and great benefit to the taxpayers and property owners, and that he has aided greatly in bringing about a very large and gratifying reduction in county expenses since taking office on the first of January, 1901.”
The article then goes on to praise his other roles and accomplishments, concluding by saying, “He is as enterprising, progressive and good a citizen as Santa Fe can boast of.”
Six years later Arthur was elected mayor of Santa Fe and was featured on the front page of the April 6, 1910, issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican. The articles provide a biography and a description of his plans for Santa Fe during his upcoming term as mayor.
Twenty years later, Arthur would be elected governor of New Mexico. Here he is attending the 1932 Democratic convention in Atlantic City, accompanied by my cousin Marjorie Cohen and my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, his sister.
Much thanks to my dear cousin Wolfgang for finding and sharing these articles about our relatives.