Frances Nusbaum Seligman, my great-great-grandmother
It is a double love story—a story of Bernard’s passion for his newly adopted home in New Mexico and of his deep love for a young woman in Philadelphia. How will he resolve the conflict between those two loves? That is the heart of the novel.
But this is also an adventure story because the first part of the book tells of Bernard’s arrival from Gau-Algesheim, Germany, his adjustment to life in Philadelphia, and then his challenging and exciting trip on the Santa Fe Trail when he moves out west to work with his brother Sigmund. On that trip Bernard faces many different obstacles and learns to love the American landscape. He transforms from a German Jewish immigrant into an American pioneer and businessman.
Upper left, Bernard Seligman with other merchants and Indians on the Santa Fe Trail
As with Pacific Street, I wrote Santa Fe Love Song with my children and grandchildren in mind. This time I also decided to get my grandsons involved in the project. Nate, 10, and Remy, 6, became my illustrators. As I told them stories about Bernard and Frances, they created drawings that told those stories visually. I am ever so grateful to my two wonderful grandsons for their work, and I hope that someday their grandchildren will cherish these books and the illustrations and honor the memories of their ancestors Bernard and Frances.
I hope that you also will find Santa Fe Love Songa worthwhile and enjoyable read. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you! I appreciate all your support.
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.
Obituary of Babette Schoenfeld Seligmann, Santa Fe New Mexican, February 2, 1899
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.)
Far right, Babette Schoenfeld Seligmann with two of her sons, Jakob/James and Adolf, James’ wife Henrietta, and in the center, granddaughter Anna Oppenheimer.
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.
London Gazette, March 20, 1891
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.
London Gazette July 15, 1930
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.
Santa Fe New Mexican, April 6, 1910, p. 1
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.
Arthur Seligman, Marjorie, Cohen and Eva May Seligman Cohen, 1932 Atlantic City
Much thanks to my dear cousin Wolfgang for finding and sharing these articles about our relatives.
Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over 160 years ago, three Jewish brothers from Gau-Algesheim, Germany, left their homeland as young men and somehow ended up on the frontier, traveling the Santa Fe Trail, bringing goods to the towns of the New Mexico territory just recently acquired by the US after the Mexican War, and eventually establishing a store on the plaza of Santa Fe: Seligman Brothers, a store that lasted over 70 years before closing in the 1920s. One of those brothers was my great-great-grandfather, Bernard Seligman (born Bernhard Seligmann), father of my great-grandmother Evalyn (later Eval) as well as Arthur, who would become governor of New Mexico in 1930.
Santa Fe Trail around 1845 plus connecting trading routes to commercial hubs and ports in the USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve written a great deal about my Seligmann ancestors—too many posts to try and provide links to here. (Just look in the Seligman category to see those posts.) I’ve had great fortune in finding sources not only about the three Seligman brothers who came to Santa Fe, but also about their other siblings, their parents, their grandparents, their descendants, and many of their cousins. And I’ve been especially blessed to find a number of current living descendants, including my cousin Pete Scott (grandson of Arthur Seligman), my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann, my cousin Angelika Oppenheimer, my cousin Steven Seligman, and so many others. The Seligmann/Seligman line seems to have a strong interest in family history; perhaps this is where my own passion for genealogy comes from, my Seligman DNA.
So it should not be surprising that Santa Fe was a city I wanted to visit. It’s a city where my family left a substantial mark and a city that left a substantial mark on them. It’s a city with a long and rich history of its own, one of the oldest cities in the United States, and as I learned, one of the most beautiful.
My cousin Pete was born and raised in Santa Fe, and he has done a lot of research and writing about the history of the city including about our family’s history there. He and his good friend Mike Lord have provided a wealth of information on their website Voces de Sante Fe, and Pete arranged for Mike to meet with us for one of the days that we would be spending in Santa Fe.
By the standards of most major US cities, Santa Fe is quite small. We walked the whole plaza area many times, and most of the major sites in the city are in an area that is no bigger than about two miles square. There are no skyscrapers, and the tallest building we saw in the central part of the city aside from the St. Francis Cathedral was our hotel, which is five stories high.
Below are various shots of the cathedral, which was built between 1869 and 1886:
St Francis Cathedral
The sky over Santa Fe feels wide open, and the uniformity of the color of the buildings gives the place an aesthetic unity that is both appealing and quite unreal.
When we met with Pete’s friend (and now our friend) Mike to learn about the history of Santa Fe, he likened Santa Fe to an adobe amusement park. He pointed out that it was not until the 1950s that the uniform adobe look was mandated; historically there was a great deal more diversity to the architecture of the city, as you can see from this photo that Mike shared with us, dated in the 1890s.
Santa Fe 1890s
For a city of this relatively small size, there is an incredible amount to see far beyond my genealogical interests. We loved the Georgia O’Keefe Museum; not only did we get to see that her artistic style had evolved over the years and that that style had a much broader range than the works with which we were already familiar, we also learned about her fascinating life. Having driven through the New Mexico landscape, we could understand what drew her and so many artists to this place. Santa Fe has long been a place that has drawn artists to its light and its scenery and its independent spirit, and we enjoyed strolling through the galleries along Canyon Road and in the plaza area itself to see what today’s artists are creating.
We also enjoyed seeing the miraculous staircase in the Loretto Chapel. It was built in the late 1870s by a carpenter who claimed he could provide a way to reach the choir loft without taking up too much space in the church’s main level. Somehow he built it without any central support. It’s quite fascinating to see—almost like an optical illusion.
Loretto Chapel from our hotel room
Santa Fe’s long history was evidenced by what is claimed to be the oldest still-standing home in the US, the De Vargas Street house, as well as the first church in the US, the San Miguel Chapel. Both date back to the early 1600s. The Spanish came to this area in the late 16th century, making it the earliest European settlement in the US west of the Mississippi River.
oldest house in the US
Among the earliest European settlers were what we now call Crypto Jews, that is, hidden Jews. We went with Mike to see a very comprehensive exhibit about the Inquisition and the Crypto Jews at the New Mexico History Museum in the former Palace of Governors in Santa Fe. When the Inquisition began in Spain in 1492, Jews were forced either to leave Spain, convert to Catholicism, or be punished, including by execution. Some of the Jews left with Spanish colonists to go to Mexico, but because they were still within the realm of the Spanish empire, they still had to convert or face prosecution as infidels.
In the 1600s, some of those “conversos” who had gone to Mexico migrated to what would later become New Mexico, but even there they were still subject to the rules of the Inquisition. Many, however, continued to follow Jewish laws and honor Jewish rituals, such as lighting candles on Friday nights, covering mirrors when someone died, abstaining from pork, and going to worship (at church) on Saturday instead of Sunday.
Thus, long before German Jewish merchants like my great-grandfather arrived in Santa Fe in the 19th century, there was a population of people with Jewish roots in Santa Fe and other places in New Mexico, even if they did not outwardly (or even internally) identify as Jews.
Of course, my principal historical interest was in those German Jewish merchants, the Seligmans as well as their fellow pioneers, the Spiegelbergs, the Staabs, and others. What was Santa Fe like when they started arriving in the 1840s and 1850s? It is hard to imagine what my great-great-grandfather and his brothers thought when they arrived in this place, having come from Germany where there were so many old and grand cities with towering cathedrals and castles. And what did my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum think when she moved from Philadelphia, itself already quite an established city, to be with her husband Bernard Seligman in Santa Fe?
English: “Arrival of the caravan at Santa Fe” — Copy of original lithograph ca. 1844 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mike shared with us this photo of Santa Fe from 1855 that conveys just how primitive the town’s architecture was at the time that Bernard Seligman and his brothers arrived there.
Santa Fe 1855
And where did my ancestors live and work when they settled in this frontier town? When we were making our travel plans, I had asked Pete where we should stay in Santa Fe, whether there was a place with a connection to the Seligman history there. He suggested La Fonda Hotel. Although the current building was built in the 1920s, it sits on the site of the first hotel in Santa Fe, at one time called the Exchange Hotel. The Exchange Hotel was the building on the other side of the Santa Fe Trail from Seligman Brothers on the plaza in Santa Fe. Here is Pete’s post about La Fonda and the history of the hotels built on that site.
Old Fonda, courtesy of Pete Scott and Voces de Santa Fe
Etching of Santa Fe showing the Exchange Hotel and Seligman Brothers store on the Plaza
On this map dated 1912, you can see that the street to the right (east) of the Plaza running between San Francisco Street (where La Fonda and Seligman Brothers store are/were located) and Palace Avenue was then called Seligman Street.
Map of the City Plan, showing Street, Park and River Improvements Proposed to the City Planning Board.” N. L. King 1912 Thanks to Mike Lord for sending me this map.
Thus, we decided to stay at La Fonda. It was a wonderful hotel, and we are very grateful to Pete for his suggestion. From the moment I walked into the lobby, I knew that I was in a very different part of the country.
La Fonda Hotel today
View from the bar on the roof of the hotel
La Fonda lobby
Below is the building located where Seligman Brothers’ store was once located, across the street from La Fonda:
location of Seligman’s Store as it looks today
I walked into the store that is currently located where Seligman Brothers’ store once stood, thinking about the fact that I was standing where my great-great-grandfather and his family had once sold dry goods to residents of the area.
Although census records indicate that the Seligmans at one point lived on Palace Avenue, there are no longer any visible signs in the city to show where Bernard Seligman and his family lived.
There is, however, a street that was named for his brother-in-law Simon Nusbaum, who had moved to Santa Fe around 1880 and lived with his sister Frances and her husband Bernard Seligman for some time before marrying and living in his own home, which sadly no longer exists.
In the New Mexico Statehouse, a quite grand and beautiful building built in 1966 and renovated in the 1990s, there is a gallery of portraits of all the governors of New Mexico from statehood in 1912 through today, and there on the wall was a portrait of my great-great-uncle, Arthur Seligman, governor from 1930 until his death in office in 1933.
Arthur Seligman portrait in State House
Mike took us to see Arthur’s mud wagon in the New Mexico History Museum and drove us past the house where Arthur and his family had lived in Santa Fe.
Arthur Seligman’s mud wagon
Arthur Seligman’s home in Santa Fe
Then he took us to Fairview Cemetery, where many of my Seligman and Nusbaum relatives are buried.
Otis Seligman, son of Arthur and Franc Seligman
William Seligman, son of Adolf Seligman, and his wife Mae Leeper
James Seligman, my great-grandmother’s brother and son of Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum
Beatrice Seligman, daughter of James Seligman
Ruth V.B. Seligman, wife of James Seligman
Simon Nusbaum, son of John Nusbaum, my 3x-great-grandfather and brother of Frances Nusbaum Seligman
Dora Nusbaum, Simon’s wife; their son John Bernard Nusbaum and his wife Esther Maltby
Nelle Nusbaum Healy, daughter of Simon Nusbaum
Although there was nothing on any of these stones to indicate that these were the graves of Jewish people, I left a stone on many of them, as is Jewish custom when visiting a grave to mark that someone was there to remember them.
Thus, our days in Santa Fe were a wonderful blend of history, art, architecture, and family history. They call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment, and Santa Fe is an enchanting place even if you have no family ties to the place. But for me, it was more than that. Although at times it was hard to imagine what is now very much a tourist-filled place as the old settlement of native Americans, Spanish and Mexican settlers, and then later Anglo settlers like my ancestor, when I could time-travel in my mind to the years when my great-great-grandparents and their children roamed those same streets around the plaza, it was quite magical, and yes, enchanting.
Before this trip, I’d never been to Colorado or New Mexico before. I’d never seen the Rocky Mountains, and although I had been to Arizona, it was almost 20 years ago, and I didn’t get the same perspective that I had this time. This time I found myself truly marveling at the landscape, the mountains, the desert, the overall expanse of land that exists in so much of the United States.
After all, I am a Northeasterner: born in the Bronx, raised in the suburbs of NYC, and a resident of New England since I was eighteen years old. I’ve never lived in the country; I’ve never lived more than 90 miles from a major metropolitan area. I now live a few miles from Springfield, Masschusetts, and about 25 miles from Hartford, Connecticut. Although Springfield and Hartford aren’t huge cities, they are densely populated urban areas without much open space.
It’s true that from our home we can drive thirty minutes or less and be in fairly rural places—farms are nearby, and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire are just two hours away. But even in those places, you don’t see miles and miles of empty road surrounded by undeveloped land with barely a sign or gas station or store to be seen.
So driving through Colorado and especially New Mexico was eye-opening for me. We took I-25 south from Denver and headed to New Mexico. Here we were on an interstate highway, the speed limit 75 miles an hour, and within a short distance from Denver, we began to see mountains. I snapped photo after photo as we sped by, trying to capture the Rocky Mountains from the car.
Fortunately, we decided not to take I-25 all the way to Santa Fe, but stopped overnight in Raton, New Mexico, the first town over the state line from Colorado, about three hours south of Denver. It was not a scenic place. We stayed in a Best Western right off the highway, and the highest rated restaurant in town on TripAdvisor and Yelp was the place right in the Best Western. It was not good. But it was edible. There was no nightlife in Raton, so we rose early to get started on the rest of our journey.
Before we left Raton, however, I’d spotted a brochure for “Historic Raton” in the motel lobby and asked the person at the front desk how to get there. She very pleasantly gave me directions, though I have to think she wondered why I wanted to see the town. The town consisted of two parallel streets of buildings (with two or three cross streets) about maybe a quarter mile long. And almost all the buildings were empty, boarded up, out of business. It was depressing.
But it was important for us to see. This was a town that had once been an important mining town, according to the brochure. Even more recently those stores and building must have been occupied. What did the people who lived in Raton now do for work, besides work at the Best Western and the few fast food places near the highway? Is this why so many people in this country feel so disenfranchised, so angry? Sure, there is poverty in all kinds of places all over the country. Springfield itself has a large population of people who are unemployed or underemployed, living in desperate conditions. But a whole town of almost all empty buildings? What must it be like to live in such a place?
We left Raton with a sense of gratitude for all that we have and with a sense of embarrassment that we generally take so much for granted.
And then we ventured on towards Santa Fe. This time we took Route 64, a two-lane road running southwest into New Mexico. For the first forty miles or so, the road ran straight and flat through miles and miles of ranch land. The endless fields of dry beige and green grass, speckled here and there with cattle, were mesmerizing. We both just kept saying, “This is incredible! Look at how much land there is.” I wish my little iPhone camera could capture the scope of open land we saw. There were mountains in the distance, but overall the land was flat and wide as far as we could see.
Then we entered the Cimarron Canyon area, and the terrain suddenly changed. We were surrounded on both sides by walls of tall evergreen trees and then incredible stone formations above and in front of us as we followed the winding roads up and down and up and down the terrain. It was like going from a huge empty room into a tiny dark hallway that twisted and turned so that you couldn’t see where it would end. And it was gorgeous. It was truly gorgeous.
Entering Cimarron Canyon
And then it got better. We passed through the canyon and emerged at the top of hill overlooking the Eagle Nest area with a large blue lake below us to the left and the mountains shadowing us to our right. In just over sixty miles we had seen three very different types of terrain. And barely a town or even many cars. Who owned all those ranches? Who worked on them? Where did they live? We didn’t know.
From Eagle Nest we drove another thirty miles to Taos, passing through more open land and more mountain roads. We stopped briefly in Taos to stretch our legs, but we knew we were coming back there after our stay in Santa Fe, so we did not take the time to look around.
Quick stop in Taos
After following Route 64 for about 100 miles (and for just over two hours), we picked up Route 68 in Taos to take the “low road” or “river road” to Santa Fe. The first portion of Route 68 was awe-inspiring as we looked down at the Rio Grande and climbed high and twisted roads over the mountains and back down again. In front of us and to our left we could see the white snow-covered peaks of the mountains while to our right we could see the deep gorge that the Rio Grande had carved into the land around it.
Finally, after passing through the rather non-scenic section of Route 68 near Espinola, we arrived in Santa Fe by lunch time. And there we settled for the next four days, having now seen both how beautiful and inspirational our country can be and also how sad and empty it can be.
As our vacation winds down, I am looking backwards at all I’ve seen and done and looking forward to writing about it. Here’s a sneak preview of our adventures in Colorado and New Mexico.
First, I spent four days with three of my best friends in the world. We met our freshman year in college and spent four years living in the same dorms, talking, laughing, debating, consoling, sharing, and confiding in each other. Although it was hard to get together in the years we were all raising families, in the last ten years or so we have gotten together every couple of years. We got together this time in Boulder, Colorado, where one of my friends now lives. It was my first time in the Rockies, and we hiked and walked all over Boulder, ate great food, and enjoyed good company and beautiful views. And as if not one day had passed since we graduated over 40 years ago, we talked and laughed and debated and consoled and shared and confided in each other.
Then I met up with my husband at the Denver airport, and we began our travels together. We spent about 24 hours in Denver, and in that time we explored downtown Denver and then explored my genealogical roots in the city where my paternal grandmother spent much of her childhood. More on that to come.
From Denver we drove all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, stopping in Raton, New Mexico, for a night, and arriving in Santa Fe the next day by lunch time. I had lots of thoughts during that drive as we observed a part of the United States I’d never seen before, some of it incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring and other parts that made me appreciate the struggles that so many Americans experience day to day. More on that to come as well.
And then we got to Santa Fe, the main destination of our trip. Santa Fe is a city with an incredibly long and rich history, including my Seligman family’s own personal history there, about which I’ve written extensively. Being in this place that had been the home of my great-great-grandfather and his family—and where they had contributed so much to its commercial and political development—-was very moving and exciting. And then there is the art, the glorious landscapes, the architecture.
The last leg of our trip took us to Taos where I again was inspired to think about the history of this country as well as its amazing landscapes and vistas. It’s no wonder that so many artists were inspired by the scenery and the light and the skies over New Mexico.
I will be writing about the trip in the days that follow, and then I will return to the story of my family. I have much to do after all these days away from research and from blogging. I have missed the work and my family, my cats, and my friends, but as always, it’s good to get a break, some new perspectives, and a chance to reflect on all the wonders that life brings.
Sometimes you need to hire an expert to help with hard questions. With the help of the genealogy village—my fellow bloggers and the members of the various Facebook groups and JewishGen—I have been able to find and learn more than I ever imagined. But when it came to some of those mystery photos that bewildered and frustrated me, I decided it was time to find an expert, and the expert who came highly recommended—for good reason—is Ava Cohn, a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the Photo Genealogist.
I had originally sent Ava this photo of my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager because I was curious about identifying the other people in the photograph.
Isadore Goldschlager and unknown others
But Ava and I discussed it, and she concluded that without more information and more photographs, it would be impossible to make much progress identifying total strangers who lived over a hundred years ago. I really appreciated Ava’s honesty, and when she asked if I had any other photographs that might be more amenable to her analysis, I looked back to consider some other options.
I sent her this photograph from Fred Michel’s album, which I had discussed here and here and here, but about which I remained somewhat mystified.
I had concluded tentatively from my own analysis and comparison to other photographs and the inscriptions on the photograph that the older woman was probably my three-times great-grandmother Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann, and the two men labeled Onkel Adolf and Onkel Jakob were probably Babetta’s sons, Adolf and James, brothers of my great-great grandfather Bernard Seligman. Adolf, like my great-great-grandfather Bernard, had left Germany and settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and James had moved to Great Britain. I had learned that James was not a common name for boys in Germany in the 19th century so it was likely that he was born Jakob and adopted the name James after emigrating. Also, my cousin Lotte, who had met James Seligman when she was a young girl, thought that “Onkel Jakob” resembled the man she remembered as James Seligman.
But I was not at all sure who the two younger women were, especially the woman to the left in the photograph. I’d asked on the blog if anyone could read the inscription near her picture, but no one was certain what it said. The woman in the center appeared to be labeled Anna Oppenheimer, but I couldn’t understand why she would be in the photo. Anna Oppenheimer was the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and the granddaughter of Babetta. But why of all the grandchildren would only she be in this photograph, especially since her mother was not included, just two of her uncles?
Ava studied the photograph as well as my blog posts, my family tree for the Seligmann family, and other photographs of the Seligmann family, and then sent me a detailed and thorough analysis of her own conclusions, which I found well-founded, fascinating, and persuasive. With her permission, I am sharing some of her report.
I thought Ava’s analysis of the overall relationships among those in the photograph based on traditional posing in studio photographs of families was quite interesting:
In the mystery photograph, the family is posed in a typical family grouping of five individuals seated and standing around a large library table upon which is a dog, perhaps the family pet. The photo has been taken in a photographer’s studio with an appropriate backdrop for the time period. The two individuals on the left hand side appear to be a married couple while the elderly woman seated on the right could be mother or grandmother to one or more of the individuals in the photo. The man on the right, probably a son and the young woman in the center holding the dog could be related but are not married to each other.
Ava concluded that the photograph was taken in 1896-1897. Here is part of the reasoning for her conclusion:
To establish a year for the photograph, I looked at the clothing worn. Since what we know of the family’s comfortable economic status, it is logical that they are wearing up-to-date fashions, for the most part. The elderly woman, as is customary for many older women, is not as fashionable as the two younger women. Her dress, with multiple small buttons down the bodice, is a typical style of the 1880s as is her bonnet. The other two women are wearing clothing from the latter half of the1890s, post 1895. By this point in time the enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves of the 1893-1895 time period have become less full with the vestige of fullness above the elbow. The man on the left is wearing a high Imperial collar, common in the 1890s.
Ava agreed that it was reasonable to conclude that the elderly woman labeled “Grossmutter Gau Algesheim” was Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann and that the man on the right, labeled Onkel Adolf, was her son Adolf Seligman, brother of Bernard and a resident of Santa Fe in the 1890s. At that time Adolf was in his fifties (born in 1843) and unmarried. Ava thought that the man labeled Onkel Adolf in the photo appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Ava did not think the woman in the center was Adolf’s wife, Lucy, since Lucy would have been only about fourteen in the mid-1890s and did not marry Adolf until 1902.
Rather, Ava opined that the woman in the center was in fact Anna Oppenheimer as labeled. She would have been nineteen or twenty in 1896-1897:
It appears that she is wearing a wedding or engagement ring in the photograph. The writer of the inscription has used Anna’s maiden name, Oppenheimer, as opposed to her married name, Anna Kaufman, so, along with the absence of Max Kaufman in the photograph, I believe that this photo was taken before her marriage to Max. Again, having a marriage certificate for Anna and Max could confirm why the writer used Anna’s maiden name here instead of her married name.
Unfortunately, I do not have a marriage record for Anna, and there is no record of any children born to her and her husband Max Kaufman so it is impossible to determine when exactly they married.
That left the two remaining people in the photograph: Onkel Jakob and the woman sitting on the left side of the picture whose name I could not decipher in the inscription. Ava agreed that “Onkel Jakob” was James Seligman. So who was the other woman?
Ava believes that she was James/Jakob Seligman’s wife, Henrietta Walker Templeton, who was born in England in 1866 and married James Seligman in London in October 1887. Ava read the inscription next to the woman to be “Tante Heni:”
Heni is a nickname for Henrietta and clearly shows the relationship with the writer of the inscription because of the informal use of a nickname. Tante (Aunt) could be one by marriage not necessarily by blood. In the mystery photo Heni appears to be about age 30-31.
In addition, Ava interpreted the posing as indicative of a marital relationship between Jakob and the woman seated in front of him, saying, “The manner in which he is posed with his arm around the back of Heni’s chair suggests their relationship.”
This made perfect sense to me. Ava speculated that perhaps James and Henrietta had come to Gau-Algesheim to celebrate their tenth anniversary with the Seligmann family, which would have been in 1897. I also recalled that Lotte had mentioned in an email dated July 6, 2015, that James and his English wife (whom Lotte referred to as Hedy) had visited “the continent” once. Lotte was born in 1921, so would not remember a visit in the 1890s, but the fact that James and his wife visited during Lotte’s lifetime in Germany makes it even more likely that they had in fact visited on earlier occasions. Lotte also said that James returned after Henrietta’s death in 1928.
Ava even analyzed the dog in the photo.
Given that the same dog appears in both the mystery photograph and the one of Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann (born 1875), I thought I’d include that here. It is clearly the same dog. I had considered that the dog may have belonged to the photographer but given how calm he/she appears in the photographs, I believe he was a family pet. The photo of Bettina was taken roughly 3 years after this one, circa 1900. The photo of Bettina may have been an engagement picture as she and Adolf Arnfeld married in 1900.
Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann
Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld was the daughter of Hyronimus Seligmann, Babetta’s son and brother of Bernard, Adolf, and James, among others. She was Anna Oppenheimer’s first cousin. So whose dog was it? Certainly not James or Adolf since neither lived in Germany. Perhaps the dog belonged to Babetta? She is the only common link between the two young women pictured with the dog. Babetta died 1899; if Ava is correct and the photograph of Bettina was taken in 1900, perhaps Bettina inherited the dog from her grandmother?
I was quite satisfied and persuaded by Ava’s analysis of the family photograph. But she didn’t stop there. I had also supplied her with additional photographs to help with her analysis of the family photograph. For example, I sent her this one, which I believed was a photograph of Babetta as a young woman.
I had based that conclusion on the fact that another photograph that I paired with the one of the woman was labeled Grossvatter and thus presumably was my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann.
Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel
But Ava disagreed about the identity of the young woman:
I did a comparison of the older photograph of a young woman that you supplied. This photograph is roughly dated circa 1859-1861 based on clothing and hairstyle as well as the type of image, most probably a daguerreotype popular in the 1850s and very early 1860s. The young woman appears to be in her teens and no more than 20 years of age. This eliminates the possibility that this earlier likeness is Babetta who would have been 49-51 years old. But there is a possibility given the provenance of the photograph and the resemblance to Babetta that this is one of her daughters, Pauline or Mathilde. It is unlikely to be her niece/stepdaughter, Caroline. Given that the photo was obtained from the Michel descendants, Pauline is the most likely candidate. Further research, documentation and comparison photographs would be needed to make a positive identification.
Although I was quite disappointed to think that this was not Babetta, the more I considered Ava’s analysis and the more I looked at the photograph of the young woman and the one of Moritz, the more I realized my error. The frames on the two photographs are quite different as is the style and the posing. I had just jumped to the conclusion that because Suzanne had sent these two photographs in the same email that they were of a couple. That’s why sometimes you need to hire an expert!
Finally, Ava also did an analysis of the wonderful photograph that my cousin Davita had sent of a man she said was her grandfather, Adolf Seligman, and his favorite sister, Minnie, riding camels in Egypt:
I was quite surprised but also persuaded by what Ava had to say about the identity of the people in this photograph; she is quite certain that the woman is in fact Henrietta Walker Templeton, and the more I studied the photograph, the more I agreed.
The Egypt photo is roughly dated based on her suit and hat as being taken in 1910. That would make Heni 44 years old. Her face has aged from the earlier photo and she’s put on a bit of weight, not uncommon approaching middle age. She is very stylish in the 1897 photo and likewise in the 1910 one. In both, she has chosen an up-to-date suit rather than a dress. Her dark hair is the same style. Notice the “dip” in her bangs on the right side of her forehead. It’s the same as the earlier photo. Her eyebrows, nose and mouth are the same as is the overall attitude captured by the photographer.
After I read Ava’s comment, I checked the emails that Lotte had sent me and saw that she had described James’ wife as “big and pompous.” The woman Ava concluded was Henrietta certainly does have a certain air of superiority in both of the photographs.
Also, I have absolutely no record of any kind supporting the existence of a Seligmann sister named Minnie, so already had had questions about Davita’s description. Thus, I was open to the idea that it was not Minnie, but someone else. I hadn’t considered Henrietta since I believed that the man was Adolf, as Davita said. Why would Henrietta from England be riding a camel in Egypt with her brother-in-law Adolf, who lived in Santa Fe?
But Ava raised a question as to whether this was in fact Adolf. If the photograph was taken in 1910, why would Adolf, who had married in 1902 and had three children by 1910, be traveling to Egypt? The more I looked at the earlier photographs of Adolf and Jakob/James, the more I became convinced that the man on the camel is in fact James, not Adolf. Ava also agreed that it seems quite likely that it is James, not Adolf, in the photograph, but that without more information, we can’t be entirely sure, especially since Davita, the source of the Egypt photograph, believed that it was her grandfather Adolf. (Adolf died before Davita was born, so she had never met him in person and only had this one photograph that she had been told was of her grandfather.)
James or Adolf?
Thus, although without more photographs and/or records we cannot be 100% certain, I am persuaded that Ava’s conclusions are correct about the likely identities of the people in the group photograph, the portrait of the young woman, and the Egypt photograph.
It was well worth the fee I paid to have the benefit of Ava’s expertise. I highly recommend her to anyone who has questions about an old photograph. If you are interested, you can email Ava at Sherlock.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website at http://sherlockcohn.com/ You will probably have to wait quite a while because her services are very much in demand and she devotes a great deal of time to each project, but it will be worth the wait.
[I was not paid or required by my contract with Ava to advertise her services; I am writing this blog post as a service to others who might be interested.]
While I have been researching the Dreyfuss clan and all their heartaches, a few other items have come up in my research that are worth blogging about before I move on to the last line of the Nusbaum clan (and more heartache). I have a number of exciting discoveries relating to my Seligman relatives, some new cousins, some new stories, and some DNA work to write about. Today I want to share two stories that my cousin Pete, the grandson of Arthur Seligman and great-grandnephew of Simon Nusbaum, shared with me from the website to which he contributes, Voces de Santa Fe.
The first is a story about Simon Nusbaum, the son of John Nusbaum and brother of Frances Nusbaum, our mutual ancestors. Simon was my great-great-granduncle, the one who settled in Santa Fe after years in Peoria, and who became the postmaster there and the deputy treasurer of the New Mexico territory. Pete’s story is about Simon and the house that he owned and its history.
Pete’s second story is about his grandfather Arthur Seligman, my great-granduncle. When Arthur was the governor of New Mexico, the elevator that goes into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park was completed, and the governor was referred to as the “father of the elevator.” Arthur’s story tells the story behind this remarkable engineering accomplishment and our ancestor’s role in implementing it.
Here is a photograph from Pete’s personal collection of the day that the elevator was officially opened. Governor Seligman is in the front row wearing a black coat and a bow tie. To his right is his wife, Mrs. Franc E. Seligman; to his left is his step-daughter, Richie Seligman (Mrs. John March); Harold Albright, Director of the NPS; Wilbur Lyman, Secretary of Interior; and US Senator, Bronson Cutting.
Courtesy of Arthur “Pete” Scott
The link below will take you to the whole article that Pete wrote about this event and the elevator.
(Was FDR really that tall, or were all those politicos from the West really that short?)
(I just looked it up. FDR was 6′ 2″. Those guys must have been at least 8″ shorter. I am not surprised my relative was short; we are not a tall family. But all three of them together? Didn’t they feed people well out West?)
And I once thought I was the member of my family who’d gotten closest to a future US President when I shook Jimmy Carter‘s hand very early in his run for President. At the time, I’d never heard anything about him and never thought he’d end up as President. I was just being polite to a man who’d come to speak at the school I was attending. And no one took our photograph.
Thanks to my cousin Pete for sharing this. More about the photo can be found here.
John Nusbaum died in 1889, leaving behind his widow Jeanette and their six children: Adolphus in Peoria, Simon and Frances both in Santa Fe, Julius in Iowa, and Miriam and Lottie both in Philadelphia. By 1925 Jeanette and all six children were gone. This post will describe their lives in the decades between 1890 and 1925.
Jeanette and Lottie: In 1890, Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum was a widow, living in Philadelphia with her daughter Lottie. In 1900, Jeanette and Lottie were still living together in Philadelphia. According to the 1900 census, they were living as boarders in the home of another German-born widow named Jenette Oberdorf and her children. Lottie was working as a stenographer, according to two Philadelphia directories in the 1890s.
Miriam and Gustavus: In 1890, Miriam and her husband Gustavus Josephs had one surviving child, Florence, who was now ten years old. Their son Jean was born in 1893. After researching more about Gustavus, I learned that he had served in the Civil War as a musician. According to Wikipedia, “The rank of Musician was a position held by military band members, particularly during the American Civil War. The rank was just below Corporal, and just above Private. In some units it was more or less equal to the rank of Private. During the American Civil War, military leaders with the Union and Confederate Armies relied on military musicians to entertain troops, position troops in battle, and stir them on to victory — some actually performing concerts in forward positions during the fighting.”
Perhaps Gustavus is one of the musicians depicted in one of these videos:
He did not, however, pursue music as a profession after the war. On the 1880 census, he listed his occupation as an embroiderer, and on various city directories in the 1880s he had been listed as a salesman. In 1894 and 1896, he is listed as being in the curtains business, and in 1897 he is listed in business with Laurence Frank in the cotton goods business under the firm name Josephs and Frank Co. Then in 1898 he is still in the cotton goods business, but with a new partner, Louis Wertheimer.
On the 1900 census, Gustavus and Miriam were living with their two children, Florence, now nineteen, and Jean, just six years old. The 1900 census asked women how many children they had had and how many were still living. For Miriam, the census reported that she had only had two children, both of whom were still living. This was obviously not true, as Miriam and Gustavus had had two other children, Milton and Gertrude, who had died. Was this just bad information given by someone who did not know the facts? Or were Miriam and Gustavus just in denial?
Gustavus’ occupation on the 1900 census was listed as manufacturing without specifying the type of goods. The 1901 directory, however, indicates that he was in the upholstered goods business. Then in 1905 he listed his occupation on the directory as “silks.” It appears that he was still in the silk business as of the 1910 census, but I cannot quite make out the word that follows “silk.” I believe it says “silk winder.” According to the Hall Genealogy website list of old occupations, a silk winder “Wound the silk from the silkworm cocoons onto bobbins.”
Interestingly, by 1914 Gustavus had returned to the embroidery business, or perhaps that was what he’d been doing even in 1910 as a silk winder. He is listed as an embroiderer thereafter in subsequent directories as well, although on the 1920 census he is listed as a manufacturer in the mill industry. I am not quite sure what to make of Gustavus’ career path. Were these really all related businesses or even the same business? He certainly seemed to be involved with fabrics throughout in one way or another.
English: A man sitting cross-legged on a stoop and embroidering a piece of silk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Adolphus and Fanny: In 1890, the oldest child of John and Jeanette, Adolphus Nusbaum, was still living in Peoria with his wife Fanny, but he was no longer in business with his brother younger brother Julius. The last Peoria directory to include Julius was the one published in 1887. Adolphus is listed with only a residential address in the 1890 and 1891 Peoria directories, but beginning with the 1895 directory, he is listed as being in the feed business. He was still in the feed business as of the 1900 census and the 1900 Peoria directory.
Then on February 8, 1902, Adolphus died “20 miles from Chicago while en route to Chicago,” according to the Nusbaum family bible. I did not know what this could possibly mean, and I was even more confused when I found a Philadelphia death certificate for Adolphus, given that the last address I had for him was in Peoria.
Why did Philadelphia issue a death certificate? Why was there a Philadelphia address given as the residence? And why was there an inquest pending? I am still searching for an answer to the last two questions and some answer as to the results of the inquest, but I found some answers in this article from the February 9, 1902, Chicago Daily Tribune:
Chicago Daily Tribune, February 9, 1902, p. 4
But this article also raised more questions. As far as I know, in 1902, Adolphus did not have a brother in Philadelphia, unless Julius had relocated there at that time. Simon was still living in Santa Fe. And what had Adolphus been doing in Washington? He must have been traveling by train. Did he have a heart attack or stroke while traveling? Was his wife Fanny with him? I don’t know. It’s also interesting that despite having lived in Peoria since he was barely in his 20s and having married a woman who had been living in Indiana in 1863, Adolphus was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia with the other members of the extended family, including his father John.
Frances and Bernard: In 1890, two of the children of John and Jeanette continued to live in Santa Fe, my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum Seligman and her brother Simon Nusbaum. Frances was busy with her charitable and social activities in Santa Fe. Her children Eva, James, Minnie and Arthur all went off to Swarthmore in Philadelphia in the 1880s, where Minnie died at age eighteen in 1887, as I’ve written about previously. Frances herself died in July, 1905, two years after her husband Bernard. She was 59 years old. As I described when writing about Frances and Bernard, both were warmly praised and well-loved by the Santa Fe community. Both were buried, however, back in Philadelphia at Mt. Sinai cemetery.
It must have been terrible for Jeanette to lose her son Adolphus in 1902 and her daughter Frances 1905, not that many years after losing her husband John as well as so many grandchildren. Jeanette herself died on January 12, 1908, from edema of her lungs, according to the death certificate. She was 90 years old. She was buried along with her husband, her children Frances and Adolphus, and numerous grandchildren and other relatives at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia.
Julius: As for Julius Nusbaum, who had once been Adolphus’ business partner in Peoria, as noted above he was last listed in the Peoria directory in 1887 and then disappeared from Peoria. He next surfaced in 1900 in Grinnell, Iowa, living alone as a single man and working as a tobacco merchant. Grinnell is over two hundred miles from Peoria and over a thousand miles from Philadelphia.
Restored Rock Island Line station in Grinnell, built in 1892. Now a restaurant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What had taken him to Iowa and when had he gotten there? Had he gone into the tobacco business for the same reasons that his father John had gone into the cigar business in the mid-1880s? In 1891 Julius is listed in the Waterloo, Iowa directory as a cigar dealer, and on the 1905 Iowa State Census he is living in Grinnell. It does not thus seem like he was living in Philadelphia in 1902 when Adolphus and Fannie came to visit. Was the newspaper just wrong about that detail, or was the 1905 directory wrong? Certainly Adolphus had other family members to visit in Philadelphia, including his mother Jeanette, his sister Lottie, and his sister Miriam and her family.
Julius is not listed in either the 1904 or the 1906 Waterloo, Iowa business directory, and I cannot find him on the 1910 census anywhere, so I do not know whether he was still living in Iowa at that point. But by 1920 he had returned to Philadelphia, listing his occupation on the 1920 census as a retired cigar merchant and living as a boarder. Living in the same residence with him in 1920 also as a boarder was a 62 year old widow named Fannie Nusbaum who had been born in Germany; this was obviously Adolphus’ widow, Julius’ sister-in-law.
I could create all kind of romantic stories about Julius and Fannie, but they would be speculative for sure. Julius had lived with Adolphus and Fannie in Peoria and had been in business with his brother. Suddenly after working together for over twenty years, Julius left Peoria and moved to Iowa, where he presumably knew no one and where he started an entirely new business selling cigars. Then Adolphus died in 1902, and I can’t find Julius or Fannie anywhere on the 1910 US census or in city directories. Ten years later, Julius and Fannie ended up living together in Philadelphia. Where were they both in 1910? Of course, it could be completely innocent: a devoted brother taking care of the widow of his older brother. And it probably was. I’ve likely read too many novels and seen too many movies. I have no evidence of any such scandalous events. I am sure the story is far less interesting than all that.
Simon: Meanwhile, back in Santa Fe, the other Nusbaum brother, Simon, had settled in as part of the community by 1890. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported in September 1889 that he had returned from a month’s vacation and “looked like a new man,” having gained twenty pounds. There was no further explanation for the comment, but perhaps Simon had had a rough time after losing his father in January of 1889. After that, his life seems to have taken a positive turn. Having served first as a clerk and then as assistant postmaster in Santa Fe, Simon was appointed by President McKinley to be the postmaster there in May, 1898.
His appointment was enthusiastically approved by the press and the people of Santa Fe. On May 5, 1898, the Santa Fe New Mexican opined on page 2, “As good a piece of news as Santa Fe has received for some time was that of the appointment of Simon Nusbaum to be postmaster of this city. This appointment was one that had been strongly recommended by the best and leading citizens of this city and indeed by all those desiring a competent official and a honest and proper man in that important office. Mr. Nusbaum’s political support was also very powerful….He is a skilled accountant and book-keeper, in fact one of the best in the southwest. He … had held several positions of trust and importance in big business establishments, in this territory and in eastern cities.”
The Santa Fe newspaper also quoted from the Peoria Evening Star, which said, “Years ago Nusbaum & Co. were the great dry goods firm of this city. One of the members was Simon Nusbaum. He was a smart, active, pushing man….” Santa Fe New Mexican, May 19, 1898, p. 2.
Simon was still a single man at that point. In 1899 he reportedly bought a fruit farm near Tesuque, New Mexico, apparently for a very good price.
Santa Fe New Mexican, September 28, 1899, p. 4
He later began breeding high bred Belgian hares in partnership with one of his clerks at the post office.
Santa Fe New Mexican, December 6, 1900, p.4
Although Simon was still single as of the 1900 census, he married Dora Rutledge in 1903. It was the first marriage for Simon, who was 57 years old. Dora was only forty. She had a daughter from an earlier marriage, Nellie Rogers, who was born in 1897. Simon and Dora’s son John Bernard Nusbaum, was born on May 15, 1904. On the 1910 census, Simon was now the assistant New Mexico Territorial Treasurer, and he and Dora and the children must have been living in a boarding house because they had seven lodgers living with them. In fact, the 1920 census reveals that Simon and Dora were the owners of that boarding house, which was being managed by Dora. Simon was now 76 years old and Dora was 49.
1916-1925: Years of Loss
When Jeanette Nusbaum died in 1908 at age 90, she had outlived two of her children, Adolphus and Frances, and many of her grandchildren, as well as her husband John. Four of her children had survived her: Simon, Julius, Miriam and Lottie. By 1925, all of those children would be gone. On February 13, 1916, Miriam died of heart disease. She was 57 years old and survived by her husband Gustavus and two children, Florence, who was 36, and Jean, who was 23. Gustavus died eight year later at age 75 of pectoris angina.
Simon Nusbaum died on February 25, 1921. He was 76. Unlike his siblings, he was not buried at Mt Sinai in Philadelphia, but in Santa Fe, where he had lived the last forty or so years of his life. He was survived by his wife Dora, stepdaughter Nellie, and son John, who was only 16 years old. Thanks to my cousin Pete, I have a copy of Simon’s obituary. It reports that Simon had had a stroke in September, 1920 and had not been himself since, but that prior to the stroke, he had been “able to walk around as briskly as he had for decades, and he was a familiar figure in the plaza and sitting on the swing in front of his apartment house on Washington Avenue.” Here is the full obituary:
(Santa Fe New Mexican, February 25, 1921)
I winced at the references to “bad Indians” and “red chiefs,” trying to keep in mind that this was 1921. I was intrigued by the references to Simon’s time living in Missouri and South Dakota, as I have seen no documentation of his time in either place. He was still in Philadelphia in 1860 when he was 17, and he was in Peoria starting in 1863 until 1877. By 1880 he was in Santa Fe. So perhaps he had spent those years in between in Missouri and South Dakota.
The image of Simon as the postmaster sorting the mail in his nightgown at midnight is wonderful.
Just two years later, Simon’s brother Julius Nusbaum died in Philadelphia on January 3, 1923. He was 74 years old and died from “Dil of heart, superinduced by acute indigestion.” I googled this phrase and found that it was often used as description of a cause of death in the early 20th century, but I could not find any medical dictionary that explained what this meant. Dilation of the heart refers to an enlarged heart that cannot adequately pump blood, what we might refer to today as heart failure. But I have no idea what “superinduced by acute indigestion” means or whether that is today considered even medically accurate. Perhaps my medical consultant will fill me in.
Finally, the last of the children of John and Jeanette Nusbaum, Lottie died on December 23, 1925, of nephritis and diabetes. She was 64 years old. Both Julius and Lottie did not have any children.
Thus, as of 1925, all six children of John and Jeanette were gone. Three of them had no children to survive them, Adolphus, Julius, and Lottie. The other three siblings had together six surviving children: the three surviving children of Frances Nusbaum and Bernard Seligman, Eva, James, and Arthur; the two surviving children of Miriam Nusbaum and Gustavus Josephs, Florence and Jean; and the son of Simon Nusbaum and Dora Rutledge, John Bernard Nusbaum. If I include Simon’s stepdaughter Nellie, who was after all referred to as his daughter in his obituary, that would make seven surviving children. And there were the four grandchildren who had died as children, Florence and Minnie Seligman and Milton and Gertrude Josephs.
I have already written about the surviving Seligman children, my great-grandmother Eva and her brothers James and Arthur. In a later post, I will follow up on the other surviving grandchildren of Jeanette Dreyfuss and John Nusbaum, Florence and Jean Josephs and Nellie and John Nusbaum and their families.
By 1880, my three-times great-grandparents, Jeanette (Dreyfuss) and John Nusbaum, and their extended families had not only grown in size but spread across a wider swath of the northeastern United States. Some were still in Harrisburg or Philadelphia, but others were in Peoria, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. Although many were still dry goods merchants, the younger generations were also involved in various aspects of the liquor trade. The family had endured the economic crisis of the 1870s, seeing some bankruptcies and the closings of several stores and businesses. A number of young children had died, and by 1880, of the siblings of John and Jeanette Dreyfuss, only Ernst and John were still alive on the Nusbaum side, while Jeanette’s two sisters Caroline and Mathilde were both still living.
The next two decades brought with it more changes, more weddings, more new children, and sadly more deaths. In my next series of Nusbaum/Dreyfuss posts I will try to bring the various branches up to the 20th century, focusing first on my direct ancestors, John and Jeanette and their children and grandchildren.
As I’ve written, in 1880 John and Jeanette were listed on the census in two different locations, living thousands of miles apart. John was living with their daughter Frances and her husband Bernard Seligman (my great-great-grandparents) in Santa Fe along with his son Simon. Jeanette, on the other hand, was living in Philadelphia with their daughter Miriam and her husband Gustavus Josephs along with Lottie Nusbaum, the youngest child of John and Jeanette, and Milton Josephs, the young son of Miriam and Gustavus who would die from bronchial pneumonia just a few months after the 1880 census was taken. These must have been very hard times for my ancestors, and I will never know whether John moved to Santa Fe for financial reasons or because of marital problems. I will never know whether he was there for a month or a year.
English: A Areal map of Santa Fe, New Mexico during the Railroad era in 1882. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But I do know that John is listed in the 1881 Philadelphia directory as residing at 1129 Master Street, the same address where the Josephs family and Jeanette and Lottie were living on the 1880 census. Whether John was actually back or not is hard to say for sure, but he does not appear again on any Philadelphia directory until 1886, when he is listed as being in the “segar” business and living at 524 North 11th Street, the same address given for his daughter Lottie. Although Gustavus and his family are not listed in the 1881 directory, they show up in the 1884 directory still living on Master Street, so it would seem that sometime between 1881 and 1886, John and Lottie and presumably Jeanette had moved to their own home on North 11th Street.
I found it puzzling that John, after over forty years in the dry goods business, had entered the cigar business. But his store had gone bankrupt, and perhaps this seemed to be a good way to make a fresh start in the 1880s. John was already in his 70s by 1886, so it is even more surprising that he was starting in a new trade instead of just retiring. I did some reading about the tobacco industry and learned that the John Bonsack invented the cigarette rolling machine in 1881, leading to a widespread increase in cigarette smoking (previously, tobacco was either chewed, smoked in a pipe, or hand rolled into a cigar or cigarette). I don’t know whether this technological development had any effect on John’s decision to sell cigars, and I don’t know whether he sold only cigars or also cigarettes, but the timing does seem to be enough for me to think this was not just coincidental. In 1887, John again is listed at the same residence and as being in the “segar” business.
English: Trade card of a cigar dealer after a photograph of Napoleon Sarony, using Oscar Wilde’s popularity during his American trip of 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Meanwhile, the children of John and Jeanette were also finding their way in the 1880s. Adolphus and Julius were still in Peoria, working in the dry goods business, now called Nusbaum Bros. Since Julius had been one of his father’s creditors in the bankruptcy proceedings, perhaps the business was now owned by the brothers instead of their father. Julius was living with his brother Adolphus and sister-in-law Fannie, who had no children.
Simon, meanwhile, had remained in Santa Fe and was still unmarried and living with his sister, my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum Seligman, and her family in 1885 according to the New Mexico Territorial Census of that year. In 1887 Simon was appointed to be a clerk in the US post office in Santa Fe, a position he continued to hold for many years, being promoted to assistant postmaster by 1889 and ultimately to postmaster in 1898.
Miriam and Lottie, the remaining two children of John and Jeanette, were living in Philadelphia. Miriam and her husband Gustavus had a third child in 1882, Gertrude, after losing Milton in 1880. Their second child Florence was then two years old. On November 28, 1888, Gertrude died from diphtheria (croupus form, according to the death certificate). She had just celebrated her sixth birthday less than a month before. Eight year old Florence was once again an only child. The family had lost yet another young child. For Miriam and Gustavus to lose two young children in the space of eight years must have been completely devastating.
As for Lottie, John and Jeanette’s youngest child, she was just seventeen in 1880 and still living at home, as she did throughout the decade.
The decade drew near a close on another sad note for the family when my three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum died on January 24, 1889. He was 74 years old. According to his death certificate, he died from lobular heart disease, chronic cystitis, and diabetes. Notice also that the residential address on both Gertrude Josephs’ and John Nusbaum’s death certificates is the same: 1617 North 13th Street.
John Nusbaum was born in Schopfloch, Germany, in 1814, the sixth child of Amson Nusbaum and Voegele Welsch. He had been one of the pioneers in the family, coming to Pennsylvania in the 1840s, probably starting as a peddler and then establishing himself as a merchant first in Harrisburg and then in Philadelphia. He had seen much success and some failure in his business; he had helped out his siblings and their widows when his brothers Maxwell and Leopold died. He and Jeanette had been the common link that brought together many connections between the Nusbaum, Dreyfuss, Dinkelspiel, Wiler, and Simon families. I imagine that it must have been very hard for the family to lose him. Sadly, I cannot find one obituary or death notice for him.
John Nusbaum’s name lived on in other ways, however. Four years after he died, his daughter Miriam and her husband Gustavus had one last child on July 26, 1893, five years after they had lost Gertrude and eleven years since Miriam had last given birth. They named their son Jean, I assume in honor of Miriam’s father.
Two years later in 1895, John Nusbaum’s granddaughter Eva Seligman Cohen had a fourth son whom she and her husband Emanuel Cohen named John Nusbaum Cohen. He was my grandfather, named for his great-grandfather. Eva must have known her grandfather John Nusbaum very well, not only when she was a young child living in Philadelphia and not only when he had lived with her family for some period of time in Santa Fe, but also because she had moved to Philadelphia for college and then settled there after marrying my great-grandfather in 1886. She must have seen a great deal of him in those last few years of his life.
John Nusbaum Cohen c. 1895
When Simon Nusbaum married at a late age, he and his wife also named a son for Simon’s father. John Bernard Nusbaum was born on May 15, 1904, in Santa Fe. (I assume that the Bernard was for Simon’s brother-in-law Bernard Seligman, who had died the year before.)
And, of course, John Nusbaum’s name lives on today through my father, John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr. It’s a legacy that my three-times great-grandfather well deserved. We may not have a photograph to remember his face, but we will always remember his name.