Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, My 3x-Great-Grandparents of Oberlistingen

I have once again been truly fortunate as I begin my in-depth research of my Goldschmidt line. Not only do I have the benefit of the research done by Roger Cibella and David Baron, but through Roger and David, I have now connected with another Goldschmidt cousin, Art Mansbach, my third cousin, once removed. And Art, the great-great-grandson of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, has a treasure trove of pictures and documents and other items related to the Goldschmidt family. Art discovered a box of photographs in his father’s attic, and fortunately most of them were labeled with the names of those depicted. From Roger, David, and Art, I now have a fair amount of information about our mutual ancestors, Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander, as well as pictures of them.

My three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt was born in about 1783-1784 in Oberlistingen, Germany. (His birth date is inferred from his death record, to be discussed below.) He was the oldest son of my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, though he had two older half-brothers from his father’s prior marriages.

Seligmann Goldschmidt

According to Art and as reported on Roger Cibella and David Baron’s website, Seligmann was by trade a spice merchant. He also fought under General Bluecher against Napoleon at Waterloo and was cited for bravery and given a silver snuff box for his service. Art owns the snuff box and shared these  (unfortunately blurry) photographs of this heirloom:

 

Although I have not found a marriage record, I assume that Seligmann married my three-times great-grandmother Hincka Alexander sometime before December 1, 1818, when their first child was born. According to her death record and gravestone, Hincka was born in Wolfhagen on September 14, 1797. I don’t yet know the names of her parents or whether she had any siblings.

Hincka Alexander Goldschmidt

Seligmann and Hincka had their first child, a daughter named Sarah, on December 1, 1818, according to her death record. Sarah was followed by seven other children: Jacob (1822), Levi (1824), my great-great-grandmother Eva (1827), Beile or Bette (1829 or 1830), Abraham (1832), Meyer (1834), and Rosa (1837).

 

All but Beile/Bette would end up immigrating to the United States, starting with Jacob who arrived before 1850 and ending with Sarah, who arrived in 1882. Thus, I will be able to report a fair amount about each of their lives and their families and will be devoting separate posts (probably multiple) to each one of them.

Seligmann and Hincka, however, did not leave Germany with their children. Hincka died on January 4, 1860, in Oberlistingen; according to her death record, she was 63 years old:

Hincka Alexander Goldschmidt death record
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 502, p.82

 

Although the part of the gravestone that included her name is broken off, it is obvious that this is her stone as it identifies her as the wife of Seligmann Goldschmidt and also because the date of death is consistent with that in the record above. Unfortunately, however, it did not enable me to learn Hincka’s full Hebrew name and thus her father’s name:

UPDATE: Thank you to Lara Diamond for pointing out that Hincka’s name is partially legible at the very top of the stone—it says Hincka Sara! But for some reason her father’s name was not included.  Thank you, Lara!

Goldschmidt, Hinka (1860) – Kassel-Bettenhausen“, in: Jüdische Grabstätten <http://www.lagis-hessen.de/en/subjects/idrec/sn/juf/id/6511&gt; (Stand: 24.3.2015)

 

The inscriptions is translated as follows:

Wife of Seligman Goldschmidt from Oberlistingen.

Born on the 23rd of Elul [5] 557

Died on Thursday, 10th Tewet,

and buried on Friday, the 11th Tewet [5] 620

Jewish era.

Her soul is bound in the bond of life.

Her husband Seligmann died nine years later on April 8, 1869; he was 85 or 86 years old, according to this death record:

Seligmann Goldschmidt death record
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 387, p.70

 

His headstone is in better shape than that of his wife Hincka:

Goldschmidt, Seligmann (1869) – Obervorschütz“, in: Jüdische Grabstätten <http://www.lagis-hessen.de/en/subjects/idrec/sn/juf/id/13188&gt; (Stand: 8.8.2014)

 

The inscription is translated as:

a sincere man among the generous ones.

He walked the path of the good.

He distributed his bread among the hungry.

He was God-fearing throughout his life.

Aaron, called Seligmann,

Son of Jacob. Died with a good reputation

on Thursday, the 27th Nisan, and buried

on Friday, the 28th of the month in the year

[5] 629 after the small count. His soul is bound in the bond of life.

One interesting insight here is that Seligmann’s Hebrew name was Aaron.

I love how this inscription revealed a bit about Seligmann’s personality and how he was perceived by his family; I wish the same had been done for Hincka. When Seligmann died in 1869, almost all of his children were in the United States, as had been many of them when their mother Hincka died in 1860. I wonder if they came home to Oberlistingen to bury their parents and whether they helped to determine the language that would go on their parents’ gravestones. Why was their mother’s inscription limited to the bare facts whereas their father’s was more descriptive and loving?

In posts to follow, I will explore the lives and families of each of the children of Seligmann and Hincka.

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Several people raised questions about the meaning of “schutzbrief” in my prior post. I am researching those questions and will report back soon.

 

Introducing the Goldschmidts of Oberlistingen

It’s a new year, and it’s time to start the story of a new line in my family. As I was finishing the history of the Katzenstein family, I pondered which line I should work on next. Growing up, I’d only known the surnames of some of my ancestors: Cohen, Seligmann, Nusbaum, Schoenthal, Katzenstein, Brotman,  and Goldschlager, the lines I’ve focused on so far. I did not ever hear the names Jacobs, Schoenfeld, Hamberg, Goldschmidt, Brod, or Rosenzweig. Those names had disappeared when the women took their husbands’ names and gave their children only their husbands’ names. But after researching the husband’s lines, I learned the birth surnames of their wives. 

So now it’s time to go back and find the stories of these other families. I have decided to start with the Goldschmidt line—the family of my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt who married Gerson Katzenstein. She was the mother of my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal and the grandmother and namesake of my grandmother Eva Schoenthal Cohen. It made sense to start with the Goldschmidts because they are entangled in several ways with both my Katzenstein relatives and my Schoenthal relatives, as you will see. Also, I am intrigued by the idea of following the direct female line of my paternal grandmother–from Eva Schoenthal to Hilda Katzenstein to Eva Goldschmidt.

Thanks to the incredible work of David Baron and Roger Cibella, I can trace my Goldschmidt family back to my fifth-great-grandparents, Falcke Jacob, born in about 1697, and his wife Sara (surname unknown), born in about 1704.

My Goldschmidt ancestors came from Oberlistingen in the Hesse region of Germany, just a few miles from the village of Breuna, where my Hamberg ancestors once lived, about fourteen miles from Sielen where my Schoenthal ancestors lived, and about fifty miles north of Jesberg where my Katzenstein relatives lived.  Oberlistingen is in fact a small village within the larger township of Breuna, which also includes Niederlistingen, another small village very close to Oberlistingen. The two villages are sometimes referred together as the two “Listingens.”

 

Years ago David and Roger put together a website that traced the history of the Goldschmidt family and Oberlistingen and included excerpts from Chapter III of Dieter Carl’s book, Die Juden Geschichte Beider Listingen [The Jewish History of the Two Listingens] (Herausgegeben vom Gemeindevorstand der Gemeinde Breuna, 1999), as translated by Joseph Voss.

According to Dieter Carl, Jews had been expelled from the Hesse region by Duke Phillip the Generous in the mid-16th century in response to pressure from Martin Luther.  Then in 1592 Lord Moritz allowed a few Jews to settle in the region. Eventually more Jews settled in the Hesse region, but restrictions were imposed.

Carl provided this helpful background:

The unique position of the Jews derived from the nature of their religion, on one hand, and, on the other hand, stemmed from the nature of a people who had no citizens rights, who were not fully free, and stood outside of the established Christian society.  Therefore the Jews had gained the special protection of the Feudal lords needed for their security and livelihood for economical activity and housing.  Originally this protection was in the hands of the Kaiser, but in time it transmitted down to local Dukes.  ….  [T]he Dukes of Hessen … gave to certain families a letter “schutzbriefe” of protection–the legal basis for living in these rural areas.  The receiver of the schutzbriefe had to pay a reasonable sum and had to provide other services for the Lord.  The protection letter gave the Jews the legal right to trade and lend money.

For a long time Jews could not become artisans, farmers or civil servants, but only moneylenders or traders.  In order to limit the number of Jews in Hessian towns and villages, the letter could not be inheritable.  In reality though, the letter was passed down from father to eldest son with a small sum paid in order to continue that right.  This was beneficial for the right to do business and who could establish a family; hence the authorities could control the size of the Jewish population.  All the Jews for whatever reason did not possess the Schutzbrief, the youngest sons and unmarried daughters were the so-called “Unvergleitete” or disinherited.  From these large groups were created the Jewish under classes   or “Unterschicht”.  These consisted mainly as the “knechte, or the worker/ servants, the men and women who served the Schutzjuden in their employ.  In part they lived in great poverty and some resorted to begging for their livelihood.

According to Dieter Carl, the first Schutzbrief in Oberlistingen was given in 1724 to someone known as Juden Falcke, as seen in this letter dated October 19, 1724:

I, the undersigned am writing because I am protected by the esteemed sires of Malsburg.  I wish to become a member of the Oberlistingen community with permission to reside there.  I have obtained all of the rights to function in this community as a Jew and who has officially received these rights along with your right to cancel my contract.  Furthermore I am obligated, if the community is in need of money, and if I have the means to provide a loan without interest without damage to myself, I will make an advance to them if the need arises.  All of what is said here and recorded is based on free will and opinion, which my signature authenticates.

Signed 19 October 1724

Juden Falcke

Who was Juden Falcke? Was he related to me?

My fifth-great-grandparents Falcke Jacob and Sara had three children: Jacob Falcke, born in 1729; Joseph Falcke, born in 1734; and Blume Falcke, born in 1740.  Following the March 31, 1808 decree requiring Jews in the region to adopt surnames, Jacob Falcke adopted the surname Goldschmidt. Carl concluded that the “Juden Falcke” who received the first Schutzbrief for Oberlistingen was Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt, my four times great-grandfather. His brother Joseph adopted the surname Neuwahl and eventually also received a Schutzbrief to live in Oberlistingen.

Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt was married three times.  His first wife was named Bela, with whom he had one son; his second wife was Judith Arons, with whom he also had one son. Jacob’s third wife was my four-times great-grandmother, Eva Reuben Seligmann,[1] whom he married on November 24, 1780. [2]

Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann had four sons:  my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann and his brothers Lehman, Meyer, and Simon. Dieter Carl also listed an unnamed daughter, and David Baron found a reference to this daughter in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute.  Her name was Jette, and she was born May 4, 1793; she married David Grunewald of Hoexter, Germany—the region that is the focus of Alex Bernstein’s research. According to his research, Jette died on August 4, 1822, and did not have any children.

CORRECTION: David Baron pointed out that I had misread Bernstein’s research. He found that Jette Goldschmidt did have children with David Grunewald before her death. First, a son Jacob Grunewald was born May 5, 1820; a second child was stillborn on July 30, 1822. Jette died five days later, presumably from complications from childbirth. Jacob Grunewald married and had fourteen children. Later I will return to these Goldschmidt cousins and report on them more fully.

Although I am primarily interested in my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann and his descendants, I will also write about his brothers, in part because his brother Simon was married to Fradchen Schoenthal, sister of Levi Schoenthal, my great-great-grandfather from Sielen.  Yes, my family tree continues to twist and bend.

 

[1] There is no known familial connection between Eva Reuben Seligmann, who was born in Warburg, Germany, and my Seligmann ancestors from Gau-Algesheim.

[2] This information all comes from Dieter Carl’s book as excerpted on the Cibella-Baron website. I will be focusing only on the children of my direct ancestor, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt.