James Seligman: More Items from Wolfgang

When I wrote the recent post about the news articles my cousin Wolfgang had found about our Seligman(n) relatives, I had forgotten that a month earlier Wolfgang had sent me some other items he’d found about our relative, James Seligman—brother of Bernard, my great-great-grandfather, and August, Wolfgang’s great-grandfather. Somehow that earlier email had gotten lost in the mess that is my inbox. My apologies to Wolfgang!

A little more background on James: He was the youngest child of Babette Schoenfeld and Moritz Seligmann, born in about 1853 in Gau-Algesheim. By the time he was 28 in 1881 he had immigrated England where he was a wine merchant in Kilpin, Yorkshire, in conjunction with his brothers August and Hieronymus, who were living in Germany. He took sole control over that business in 1891.

London Gazette, March 20, 1891

In 1887, James married Henrietta Walker Templeton in London. In 1901, they were living in Scotland, but by the 1920s they had returned to England and were living in Birmingham where he remained for the rest of his life.

Henrietta died on October 4, 1928, and a year later in December 1929, James married his second wife Clara Elizabeth Perry. Clara was 45 years younger than James; she was 31 when they married, he was 76. He died just three months after they married on March 11, 1930. Clara remarried two years later and died in 1981. James did not have children with either of his wives.

Wolfgang found an obituary for James in the March 14, 1930 issue of the Birmingham Gazette:

b Birmingham Daily Gazette, March 14, 1930, p. 3

Mr. James Seligman

Death of Birmingham Hotel Expert

The death has occurred at the age of 77 of Mr. James Seligman, of 11 Yately-road, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Formerly in business in Scotland, where he owned a number of hotels, Mr. Seligman was managing director of the Grand and Midland Hotels, Birmingham, and of the King’s Head Hotel, Sheffield.

He was an expert on all business matters connected with hotel management, and was often consulted by proprietors and managers of hotel establishments in all parts of the country.

He was the sole proprietor of Seligman and Co., wine merchanges, Colmore-row, Birmingham, and although ill in bed, was dealing with business affairs up to within a few hours of his death.

A great lover of music, Mr. Seligman was a regular concert-goer and an enthusiastic supporter of musical societies.

A funeral service will be held at Perry Barr Crematorium on Saturday.

From the obituary, Wolfgang knew where James had lived and captured this photograph of the former residence from Google Maps:

James Seligman residence in Birmingham, England

He also sent me this photograph of the Grand Hotel in Birmingham where James had been the managing director:

Grand Hotel, Colmore Road, Birmingham, England 1894

Interestingly, Wolfgang located an ad for Seligman’s Wine Merchants in the October 30, 1969, Birmingham Daily Post. It was still located on Colmore Row in Birmingham and called Seligman’s almost forty years after James died in 1930.

Birmingham Daily Post, October 30, 1969, p. 3

Thank you again to Wolfgang for sharing these items which shed more light on the personality and life of James Seligman, my three-times great-uncle and Wolfgang’s great-great-uncle.

Seligman(n)s in the News

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.

 

 

 

Gau-Algesheim and Bingen: My Seligmann Family

Mural in parking lot—it says We Love Gau-Algesheim

On our second night in Germany (May 3), we had a truly joyful and unforgettable experience: dinner with Wolfgang and his family—his wife Bärbel and their twelve year old daughter Milena.  We met in the small town of Schwabenheim, located about halfway between Bingen, where we were staying, and Undenheim, where Wolfgang and his family live.  I could not remember the name of the restaurant, but fortunately I was able to WhatsApp with Milena who told me it was zum Engel.  The atmosphere was perfect—an old stone building divided into smaller rooms with just a few tables. It was a good thing that for much of the time we had our room to ourselves because there was much laughter throughout our meal.

All three Seligmanns understand English, but I wanted to practice my German.  So we switched back and forth, often with many questions about which word to use (on my part) and some inevitable misunderstandings based on use of the incorrect word (again, on my part). It could not have been a more enjoyable and relaxing evening—remarkable given that I’d never met Milena or Bärbel before and had only met Wolfgang the day before. The food was also excellent—salmon, potatoes, and my first experience with the white asparagus that is so popular in Germany—“spargel.” Es war lecker, as they say.  When Wolfgang asked at the end of the evening whether we wanted to have dinner with them all the next night, there was no hesitation.  “Of course,” we said.  (I think the German equivalent expression is “genau”—a word we heard over and over when we listed to Germans converse with each other.)

The following day Wolfgang, Harvey, and I traveled to Gau-Algesheim, the birthplace of my great-great-grandfather, Bernard Seligman, and of his younger brother August Seligmann, Wolfgang’s great-grandfather. But first Wolfgang took us to see the Rochus Chapel outside of Bingen where his grandparents and father and uncle hid during the bombing of Bingen during World War II. It is lovely church perched high above Bingen surrounded by trees and views of the valley and of the Rhine.  It was easy to see how this must have been a peaceful sanctuary for Wolfgang’s family and others during the bombing.

View from Rochuskappelle

Rochus Chapel

Inside Rochus Chapel

View of the Rhine from Rochus Chapel

Parklike grounds around Rochus Chapel

In some ways the survival of Wolfgang’s grandfather, father, and uncle is a miracle. Julius Seligmann was born Jewish, but converted when he married Magdalena Kleisinger, who was Catholic.  Their sons, Walter and Herbert, were raised as Catholics.  But in Nazi doctrine, that should not have mattered.  Julius had “Jewish blood,” and so did his sons.  Many of those with Jewish ancestors who converted or who were raised as Christians were not spared from death by the Nazis.

When I asked Wolfgang why he thought his grandfather, father, and uncle survived, he said that his mother always said that the Bingen Nazis were stupid. Or that perhaps the police in Bingen somehow provided protection. As I wrote earlier, Wolfgang’s father Walter did forced labor on the Siegfried Line during the war and there were restrictions placed on the men in terms of their occupations, but they were not deported or tortured.  I am thankful for that; otherwise, my dear cousins Wolfgang, Bärbel, and Milena would not be part of my life.

After leaving Rochus Chapel, we drove the short distance to Gau-Algesheim where we were to meet Dorothee Lottmann-Kaeseler, another German dedicated to preserving and honoring the history of the Jews in Germany.  Dorothee and I had connected several years back through JewishGen.org when I was searching for information about Gau-Algesheim.  She had worked on a cemetery restoration project with Walter Nathan, a man whose father’s roots were in Gau-Algesheim; Walter and his family had escaped to the US in 1936.  Dorothee and I have been exchanging information through email for several years—going far beyond my initial inquiries about Gau-Algesheim, and she is a regular reader and frequent commenter on my blog.  I was very much looking forward to meeting this friend in person, and she is terrific—outgoing, energetic, interesting, smart, and very insightful.

Dorothee

But it took some chasing to catch her! We drove up the road below the cemetery, and Wolfgang spotted what he believed was her car up on the hill near the cemetery gate.  We got out of the car and clambered up the hill only to see that Dorothee’s car had disappeared.  (We were a few minutes late arriving.) So we ran back down the hill, got in Wolfgang’s car, and raced back down the road where we again spotted Dorothee’s car.  She had driven back down, thinking we might have missed her.  It was like a scene out of a bad romantic comedy!

Anyway, after introductions were made and hugs exchanged, we all drove back up to the cemetery gate. Dorothee was accompanied by a Gau-Algesheim resident named Manfred Wantzen, who had the key to the cemetery.  But before we entered, Dorothee reminded us that in fact there were very few stones in the cemetery.  This was not an act of Nazi destruction; this was an act of stupidity on the part of a man in the 1983 who may have had good intentions. He thought the cemetery needed to be cleaned up and asked permission of the Jewish community in Mainz (which oversees the cemetery).  They agreed without asking what he planned to do.  The man then proceeded to remove the stones so he could cut the grass.  Some he placed against the cemetery wall, but others were carted away and lost forever.

The Gau-Algesheim cemetery—with stones removed.

Dorothee, Wolfgang, and Manfred Wantzen

View of Gau-Algesheim from the cemetery gate

When Dorothee and Walter Nathan worked to preserve what was left of the cemetery, several plaques and markers were placed on the wall outside and inside the cemetery, one to commemorate those who were killed in the Holocaust and others to honor the memory of those who were buried in the cemetery but whose stones were no longer there.

Unfortunately, there were no stones to be found for my 3-x great-grandparents, Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld, who were undoubtedly buried in that cemetery.  There were likely many other relatives buried there, including Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann, but the only family member whose stone survived is that of Rosa Bergmann Seligmann, August’s wife and Wolfgang’s great-grandmother.  But even that discovery was bittersweet as her stone had been vandalized several years ago by some local teenagers. Wolfgang and I each placed a stone on her grave to mark that we had been there and to honor her and all the other Seligmanns buried there.

Headstone for Rosa Bergmann Seligmann, great grandmother of Wolfgang

Although I left the cemetery disappointed and somewhat disheartened, my spirits were lifted when we drove into Gau-Algesheim and I got to see this little town of 7000 people where my ancestors had once lived. I have written before about Gau-Algesheim and seen photographs, but it was an entirely different experience being there in person and imagining a young Bernard Seligmann running through the narrow streets into the main square of the town where Langstrasse and Flosserstrasse meet and where the town hall and the fountain are located.  Here is Wolfgang standing where perhaps our mutual ancestors Moritz and Babetta once stood with their children:

Wolfgang in front of town hall in Gau-Algesheim

Medieval tower topped by Gothic addition

Town hall

Dorothee had arranged for us to meet with the mayor of Gau-Algesheim, Dieter Faust.  We sat in his office where everyone but Harvey and I spoke rapid German.  I tried to understand, but it was futile.  The mayor was extremely engaging and clearly excited to have two descendants of Gau-Algesheim residents visiting, and after signing his guest book and taking photographs, we all went to lunch—in an Italian restaurant in the middle of this small German town.  And it was excellent! Somehow we all managed to converse and even managed to discuss American, French, and German politics with Dorothee and Wolfgang acting as interpreters.  It was a delightful experience.

Burgermeister Dieter Faust, Dorothee Lottman-Kaeseler, Wolfgang Seligmann, Manfred Wantzen, me, and Harvey

The mayor and me

Two proud descendants of the Seligmanns of Gau-Algesheim

Outside the restaurant where we were treated to lunch by the mayor

After lunch, Herr Wantzen and Dorothee guided us through the small town where we saw what had once been the synagogue in Gau-Algesheim.  It closed before 1932 because there was no longer a Jewish community in Gau-Algesheim. Today it is a storage shed behind someone’s house.  But the stained glass window over the door and the windows convey that this was once a house of prayer. A shul where my ancestors prayed almost 200 years ago.  It was awful to see its current condition, and I wish there was some way to create a fund to protect and restore the building before it deteriorates any further. I am hoping I can figure that out.

Plaque marking former synagogue

Former synagogue of Gau-Algesheim

We walked then along the streets where my family had once lived, saw the building where Wolfgang’s grandfather Julius once had a shop, and the street where my great-great-grandfather Bernard and his siblings were born.  It was surreal.  And emotionally exhausting.

Building where Julius Seligmann once had a wine shop

Maybe our ancestors once lived in this grand half-timber house on Flosserstrasse?

House built into the old wall that surrounded the town in medieval times

The castle of Gau-Algesheim

Our last stop was the Catholic Church in Gau-Algesheim, which Herr Wantzen was very excited to show us.  It was beautiful—far larger and more elaborate than one might expect in such a small town.  And a striking contrast to the size and condition of the abandoned synagogue.

Catholic church in Gau-Algesheim

We said goodbye to Dorothee and Herr Wantzen and returned to our hotel for a rest, and then at 6, Wolfgang picked up us again for dinner with his family in Bingen. We went to another very good restaurant, Alten Wache, and again had a wonderful time.

Bärbel, Milena, and Wolfgang—my dear cousins

After dinner we all climbed up the many steps to the Burg Klopp, the medieval castle that sits at the top of the hill overlooking  Bingen. As the sun began to set, the views were awe-inspiring. But I was already starting to feel emotional about saying goodbye to my wonderful cousins, Wolfgang, Bärbel, and Milena.  When Milena said to me in her perfect English that she was going to miss me, my eyes filled with tears.

Some new friends along with our new cousins. 🙂

Milena and a photographing tourist

View as we climb up to Burg Klopp

It was very hard to say goodbye, but I know that I will see my Seligmann cousins again—somewhere, sometime.  And until then, we have WhatsApp, email, and all our wonderful memories.  Auf wiedersehen, Wolfgang, Bärbel, Milena—and Bingen, Gau-Algesheim, and Mainz.  It was time to move on the next step of our journey.

Gau-Algesheim

 

 

 

Photo Analysis: Why You Should Ask an Expert

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

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.

Uncle Adolf and Grandmother Gau Algesheim

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.

 

Onkle Adolf

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.

Anna Oppenheimer maybe

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:”

Tante Glori

 

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 Arnfeld nee Seligmann

Anna Oppenheimer maybe

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.

Uncertain see ava report

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

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:

gramdfather Adolph and great aunt Minnie_rev

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.

Tante Heni

Tante Heni

 

Minnie Seligmann

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.)

Adolph Seligman in Egypt

James or Adolf?

Onkel Jakob

James Seligman

Onkle Adolf

Adolf Seligman

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.cohn@comcast.net 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.]

 

 

 

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More Photographs of Gau-Algesheim

My friends and former colleagues Barbara and Rene just returned from a trip to Germany.  Rene’s family lives not too far from Gau-Algesheim, and he and Barbara were kind enough to travel to my ancestral town and take some photographs.  Some of these have text that I need to get translated.  As I’ve observed from other photographs of this town, it appears to be a charming, small town with lots of character.  I think that Barbara and Rene have really captured that impression of the town.  Thanks so much, Rene and Barbara!

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[Ralph tells me that the sign lists the hours of the mayor of Gau-Algesheim.]

 

 

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[According to Ralph, this is a list of local businesses in Gau-Algesheim.]

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[Translation by Chip:

JACOB’S PILGRIMAGE

Pilgrim Hospitals

Pilgrim Hospitals, also called Hospices, were, in the Middle ages, the only place where destitute Pilgrims could find a bed for the night, a bowl of soup and care for their suffering. Often consisting of only a sleeping hall (large communal bedroom), the kitchen, a dining room, and a small chapel, as well as stalls and barn.

Many pilgrims often had to share the sleeping area, and follow very strict “Rules of the House.”

In cities, the hospices were often better equipped, or were part of a cloister. Here in Gau-Algesheim you have to imagine a rather meager hospital which, possibly, had to provide for the poor and sick of the place.

 

 

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[According to Chip, “The sign over the “1726” (from the photos, the sign appears to be in the Town Hall), loosely translated, means that Lothar Francis, the elected Archbishop, built (financed the reconstruction of)) the building.”]

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A Few New Tidbits about Moritz and Babetta, My Great-great-great-grandparents

I am working on a blog post about the descendants of the last child of Marx and Sarah Seligmann, Mary Seligman Kornfeld, but am awaiting some documents before I can post it.  So I am going to digress in this post from that line and return to my three-times great-grandfather, Moritz Seligmann (who was, of course, an older brother to Marx Seligmann).  When my cousin Wolfgang sent me the handwritten family tree he and his mother found in their magic suitcase, he had originally not included the pages about Moritz, thinking I had all the information I needed about Moritz and his children.  I asked him to send them to me anyway so that I would have the full document, even if there was no new information.

But in fact there was some new information or at least information that corroborated or clarified assumptions I had made based on inference, anecdotes, and other documents.

 

The first page names Moritz and his first wife, Eva Schoenfeld.

Handwritten notes about Moritz 1

 

 

The next page lists the children of Moritz and Eva Schoenfeld.  I had wondered what had caused Eva’s death and also what had happened to their son Benjamin.  This page answered both questions.  Benjamin died shortly after his birth as did his mother, so I assume it was related to childbirth.

This page also provided confirmation and new information about when the other children died.

Handwritten notes about Moritz 2

 

On the third page, the writer identified Babetta Schoenfeld as the second wife of Moritz Seligmann and lists their children.  There were several bits of important new information here. One is the date of Babetta’s death: January 15, 1899.  It also states that she was 89 years old.  This information helps to confirm that the photograph of the family group with the elderly woman was in fact a photograph of my three-times great-grandmother Babetta.

Handwritten notes about Moritz 3

The other bit of interesting information on this page is in the list of children.  The last child listed is Jacob, and it indicates that he was in England.  This is further corroboration of the fact that Moritz’s brother James Seligman who immigrated to England was in fact named Jacob at birth and is most likely the Onkel Jakob in the family photograph with Babetta, below.

Uncle Adolf and Grandmother Gau Algesheim

In addition, from this page I was able to learn when several of the other children of Moritz and Babetta had died.

The remaining pages cover some of the children of Moritz: Pauline, Hieronymous, August, and Mathilde.  Although I did not find any really new information on these pages, they do provide additional confirmation of the information I already had as well as some dates I did not have.  Unfortunately, some of the writing is not legible, and so I cannot determine what those additional words say.  If anyone can read them, let me know.  I’ve circled the words I cannot read.

Handwritten notes about Moritz 4 to be translated

UPDATE:  My friend Dorothee in Germany tells me that the words after Joseph and Moritz indicate that they were both married and also both divorced.  Thank you, Dorothee!  My friend Ralph added to this, saying the words to the far right of Joseph say, “Son and daughter.” Unfortunately, I have no records for Joseph’s children.  Ralph also said that to the right of Martha, it says in part “Floersheimer,” which was her married name.  Thank you, Ralph!

 

 

 

Handwritten notes about Moritz 5 and 6 Handwritten notes about Moritz 7 to be translated

UPDATE:  Dorothee says that the symbol before Artur means “doctor” and the words after Artur say “in Baden-Baden, married.”  Thank you again, Dorothee!  Ralph added that the word next to Emil Ochs could be Mailand (Milan), which would make sense since Bettina entered Switzerland from Italy, as I wrote here.  Thank you again, Ralph!

 

 

 

More Hidden Treasure from Wolfgang’s Magic Suitcase

http://www.wpclipart.com/money/. Per the licen...

http://www.wpclipart.com/money/. Per the license: These images are public domain. License . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have had many exciting finds through the course of my search for my family history: wonderful photographs and letters, newspaper articles, government documents, birth and marriage and death certificates, and so on.  But for me some of the most special finds have been the family trees prepared by other members of my extended family, like the family tree prepared by my Aunt Elaine.  These trees are special not only for the information they convey, but also because they tie me to someone else who cared about the family history and wanted it preserved for posterity.

So you can imagine how excited I was when my cousin Wolfgang sent me a four page family tree prepared at least 75 years ago by one of our Seligmann cousins in Germany.  We know that this tree was prepared by a child of Karoline Seligmann, the daughter of my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann and his first wife, Eva Schoenfeld because the tree refers to Karoline Seligmann and her husband Siegfried Seligmann as “our parents.” Karoline (sometimes spelled Caroline or Carolina) and Siegfried had five sons and two daughters: Heinrich, Eva, Wilhelm, Emil, Eugen, Rosa, and Carl.  Two of the sons died in infancy, Wilhelm and Carl, , and one I cannot account for beyond his birth, Heinrich. Emil, Eugen, and Eva all died during the Holocaust.  Only one child survived the Holocaust, their daughter Rosa, who immigrated to the US in 1940.  I discussed Karoline’s children here.  I don’t know which child created this tree.

Wolfgang thought Emil was the most likely author of the tree, so for simplicity purposes I will refer to it as Emil’s tree and to its author as Emil.  (The last date given on the tree is 1909, and unfortunately it stops with the generation of Karoline and Siegfried and does not include their children.)  Although I cannot be sure which of the surviving children—Emil, Eva, Eugen, or Rosa—was my fellow genealogist, I am extremely grateful to whoever created this tree because it provides me with one more generation of my Seligmann and Schoenfeld relatives—the siblings of my three-times great-grandfather, Moritz Seligmann, and the siblings of my three-times great-grandmother, Babetta Schoenfeld (Eva’s sister).  It, of course, also raises new questions and new pathways for research.

Starting with page 1 of the tree:

Page 1 of Emil's tree

Page 1 of Emil’s tree

It says at the top, “Our great-grandparents in Gaulsheim: a) fathers side: Jacob Seeligmann, his wife: (Merle) Marta nee Mayer (Gaulsheim).”  I found it interesting that the early spelling of the family name was Seeligmann.  Marta (Martha) Mayer’s name is consistent with the record I obtained for the marriage of their son Moritz to Eva Schoenfeld.  Jacob and Marta were my four-times great-grandparents.  According to prior records I’d obtained, they were both born around 1773.

According to Emil’s tree, Jacob and Marta had ten children. Until seeing this tree, I had only found three: my three-times great-grandfather Moritz and two other sons, Leopold and Isaac.  I had found Leopold and Isaac on the Steinheim Institute website, but not the other seven children.  According to the Emil tree, they were Simon, Martha, Mina, Caroline, Marx, Salomon, and Babette.

The next section of the first page and the second page provide information for the ten children of Jacob and Marta.  For Simon and Isaac, it seemed that Emil had no information, except that Simon was living in Bingen. The entry for Leopold simply says “in Gaulsheim.”    But then on the second page of the tree (see below), Emil returned to Simon, Isaac, and Leopold and listed what appears to be the names of their children.  It looks like he thought Simon had two sons, Louis and Richard, and Isaac had a son named Hermann.  Leopold’s children were Malchen, Sigmund, Sophie, August, and Roschen.

Page 2 of Emil's tree

Page 2 of Emil’s tree

This, however, is not consistent with what I found on the Steinheim website.   According to the Steinheim website, Isaac was born in 1795 and died in 1860.  He seems to have lived in Gaulsheim all his life.  The Steinheim site states that Isaac married Rosine Blad and that they had five children: Pauline, Magdalena, Henriette, Ludwig (Louis), and Richard. My best guess is that Ludwig and Richard are the same people who Emil listed as Louis and Richard.  I don’t know whether Emil is correct or the Steinheim site is correct as to whether they were Simon’s sons or Isaac’s sons.  I also don’t know where Hermann fits into the family.  Was he really Simon’s son and Emil had it backwards?  I don’t know.

There is also some inconsistency between Emil’s facts for Leopold and the information on the Steinheim website.  The Steinheim site lists Leopold’s wife as Caroline Marum, and I found a marriage record for them dated December 17, 1849.

Marriage Record of Leopold Seligmann and Caroline Marum

Marriage Record of Leopold Seligmann and Caroline Marum

Leopold Seligmann marriage record

According to the Steinheim site, they had five children: Amalie, Rosalie (Roschen?), Sophia, August, and Therese.  Emil did not have Therese or Amalie, but had instead Malchen and Sigmund. I don’t know which information is more accurate.

For Jacob and Marta’s daughter Martha, Emil wrote that she married Benjamin Seeligmann. To the right of Martha’s name is a box that says, “Our grandparents in Bingen.” Then next, for our mutual ancestor Moritz, Emil wrote “our grandfather in Gau-Algesheim.”  There is a date underneath that looks like 13-2-1877; I believe that must be his date of death.  But how could Martha and Moritz, sister and brother, both be Emil’s grandparents? Well, that will become clear later on.

For Mina, it says that she was the wife of Leopold Mayer of Oberursel and that they had one child, Adolf Eduard, who died and was never married. I wonder if this Mayer was a relative of Mina’s mother Marta Mayer.  The next child of Jacob and Marta, Caroline, married Moses Moreau (?) of Worrstadt, and they had four children whose names are written underneath; the first I cannot decipher (maybe Markus?), but the other three are Albert, Bertha, and Alice.

The last entry on the first page is a long one for Marx Seligmann.  With the help of the kind people in the German Genealogy group on Facebook, I was able to get a sense of what happened to Marx.  He married Rosina Loeser on June 11, 1838.  They were legally separated in June 1848, and he agreed to pay support for the children.  They were divorced in February, 1849.

On page 2 of the Emil tree, Emil continued with the facts about Marx Seligmann.

Page 2 of Emil's tree

Page 2 of Emil’s tree

This is the hardest part of the document for me to understand, despite help from Wolfgang and the German Genealogy group.  At the top are listed the names of the two daughters of Marx and Rosina: Mathilde and Sophie. But what does it say underneath?  All my German helpers agreed that is says, “Underage ??? in Amerika.”  One thought it said “Wife in Amerika,” another thought it said “Later in Amerika.”  Who went to America?  And when did they go? I have started looking, but so far have not had any luck.

(As I was finishing this post, Wolfgang sent me another handwritten version of this tree with more information about Marx and a few others.  I need to finish deciphering that one and then will update with more information.)

Emil wrote that Salomon had a wife named Anna Chailly of Mainz and a son and daughter, whose names are not listed here.  I found an entry in the Mainz Family Register database on ancestry.com for Salomon and his family, and his children were named Emilie, Mathilde, Siegmund, and Jacob.  Jacob married Dora Rosenberg in 1887, and they had a daughter named Anna Dora, born in 1890.  I have not yet found any further information for the other three children of Salomon and Anna.

Finally, for Babette, the tree recorded that she had died unmarried and had lived in Gaulsheim.

That completed Emil’s entries for the children of Jacob Seeligmann and Marta Mayer.  He then drew a horizontal line across the page as if to start a new section.  Under that line he wrote, “Isaac Seeligmann and his wife Felicitas nee Goetzel of Bingen.”   I was totally confused when I saw this; was this the same Isaac Seligmann, the son of Jacob and Marta, about whom Emil had written already?  Underneath the names of this Isaac and Felicitas was a list of their children, and they were not the same names that I had found on the Steinheim site, discussed above, for Jacob and Marta’s son Isaac.  Instead, the following names were listed: Benjamin, Theodor, and Martha.  Who were these people?

According to my German Genealogy helpers, under Benjamin’s name it says, “Our grandfather from Bingen.” Suddenly something clicked.  This was the Benjamin Seeligmann who married Martha Seligmann, the daughter of Jacob and Marta and the sister of Moritz.  Remember that Martha and Benjamin had also been named as Emil’s grandparents.  This section of the tree is reporting on Emil’s other great-grandparents, the other Isaac Seligmann and his wife Felicitas Goetzel, and their children.

Was this Isaac Seeligmann related to Jacob Seeligmann, my four-times-great-grandfather?  They all lived in the Bingen-Gaulsheim area.  I’ve yet to find any documentation linking the two different Seligmann families, but my hunch is that they were in fact cousins if not brothers, meaning that Benjamin Seeligmann might have married a cousin, Martha Seligmann.

Emil then reported on his grandfather Benjamin’s siblings.  Theodor was living in Nancy (in France, presumably), and he had a son August who lived in Paris.  Martha married Isaac Cahn of Mainz, and they had a son Adolf Cahn.

That brings me to the third page of Emil’s tree.

Page 3 of Emil's tree

Page 3 of Emil’s tree

This page is primarily devoted to Emil’s grandparents Benjamin Seeligmann and Martha Seligmann.  He provides their birth and death dates and then the names of their seven children: Siegfried, Emilie, Hermann, Karoline, Ferdinand, Lambert, and Bertha.  Under their names, Emil reported on who some of them married, including his father Siegfried, who married Karoline Seligmann.  Suddenly the rest of the tree made sense to me.

Emil’s father Siegfried was the son of Martha Seligmann; his mother Karoline was the daughter of Moritz Seligmann.  Moritz and Martha were siblings, so Siegfried and Karoline were first cousins.  Thus, Emil’s paternal grandmother Martha and his maternal grandfather Moritz were sister and brother.  Now if in fact Benjamin Seeligmann, Martha’s husband, was also a cousin, there is truly a remarkable amount of inbreeding there.  Here is a family chart that will (I hope) help to visualize these relationships:

Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

 

The last entry on the third page provided me with the death dates for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld, information I had not had before.

Finally on page four Emil discusses his maternal great-grandparents, a) the family of Jacob Seligmann of Bingen, already discussed under his paternal great-grandparents; and b) the family of his grandmother Eva Schoenfeld, sister of my three-times great-grandmother Babetta Schoenfeld, the sister who married Moritz Seligmann after Eva died in 1835.

Page 4 of Emil's tree

Page 4 of Emil’s tree

As I already knew, Eva and Babetta were the daughters of Bernard Schoenfeld and Rosa Goldmann of Erbes-Budesheim.  I also had records of the names and births of most of their children.  Emil’s list confirmed these and added one more for whom I did not have a record, Alexander.  The children as listed on Emil’s tree are Alexander, Eva and Babetta (described as the first and second wives of Moritz Seligmann of Gau-Algesheim), Maria Anna (wife of Alexander Levi of Kirchheimbolanden), Sara (wife of Leokov (?) Kahn of Bubenheim), Zibora (wife of Karl Levi of Alzey and mother of Albert, Bernhard, and Berta), and Rebecca (wife of Salomon Goldmann of Kirchheimbolanden).  Then at the bottom Emil listed the children of Maria Anna and Alexander Levi: Fridolin, Leonhard, Judith, Lina, Hedwig, Elise, and Ottmar.

I was recently contacted through Wolfgang by one of the grandchildren of Zibora Schoenfeld Levi and am hoping to learn even more about my Schoenfeld ancestors.

What a treasure trove this tree is!  Such a gift from one of my predecessors as a family historian—someone who died during the Holocaust and who left behind evidence not only of his ancestors’ lives, but of his own.  Now it is my job to try and fill in the details and continue the story.

 

 

 

The Faces of My Past: The Magic of Photography

I received some remarkable photographs from my cousin Suzanne, the daughter of Fred and Ilse Michel.  Fred, as I wrote about here, was the grandson of August Seligmann, who was my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman’s brother.  Fred would have been my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen’s second cousin, making him my second cousin, twice removed.  Suzanne is thus my third cousin, once removed.

Suzanne sent me a number of photographs, including some taken of prints that had hung in her childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  For example, here are two prints of Bingen, Germany, the town where Fred Michel lived and also where our mutual ancestor Moritz Seligmann lived (in Gaulsheim, now part of Bingen) before moving to Gau-Algesheim.  It is also close to where my cousin Wolfgang now lives, and he identified the location and some of the structures depicted therein.

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Bingen 3

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

These prints show the city of Bingen’s location at the intersection of the Rhine River and the Nahe River.  According to Wolfgang, the tower in the river is called the Mäuseturm or “tower of mice,” and the church on the hill in the top print is the Rochuskapelle or the chapel on Rochus Hill.  Wolfgang said that his grandfather Julius and his family survived the last part of World War II in the Rochus chapel. Wolfgang told me that much of the city of Bingen was destroyed by British bombers in November, 1944.  The bombs destroyed the apartment whereJulius Seligmann and his wife and sons lived, so they moved to the Rochuskappelle, which the monks had opened for those who had lost their homes and their possessions.

On the reverse of the top print is written, “So that you always think of Bingen and your friends: ???-Kathi-Rainer und Christa Güttler. Bingen, Nov,11, 1974.”  The reverse of the second print says, “The loving Ize and his wife to remember Bingen from Gret and Kath Scharer.”   Based on the captions on these photographs from an album that belonged to Fred Michel, these were close friends.

Courtesy of the family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the family of Fred and Ilse Michel

scharers in album

These prints of Bingen before the war and the photographs of Fred’s friends made me think about what was lost during the war.  Not just all the millions of people who died, but also the landscape, the history, and, for the many who were lucky enough to emigrate, their homeland.  Perhaps these old prints and the pictures of his friends helped keep some of those happier memories alive for Fred Michel.

Here is a photograph of Fred Michel and his mother Franziska Seligmann Michel taken when Fred was a young boy, when he likely could never foresee leaving Germany and moving to a place called Scranton:

Fred Michel and Franziska Seligmann Michel  Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Fred Michel and Franziska Seligmann Michel
Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Here is a photograph of Franziska’s headstone.  She died four years before Fred left for America.

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

I believe these are photographs of Fred as a young man, taken in Munich in 1928, according to the caption:

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Although he is not identified in the photographs above, here is a photograph of Fred with Ilse and his children sometime around 1960, and it appears to be the same man many years later:

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

I was quite excited about these two portraits. I know who is in these photographs because of the inscriptions on the reverse:

August Seligmann

August Seligmann Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Rosa Goldmann Seligmann

Rosa Bergmann Seligmann Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

August was my great-great-granduncle, the brother of Bernard Seligman.  Here is a picture of Bernard, my great-great-grandfather.  Can you see any resemblance between the two brothers?

Bernard Seligman

Bernard Seligman

Rosa’s headstone is the one that was terribly defaced in the Gau-Algesheim cemetery.

closeup of Rosa Seligmann headstone

And here are the portraits that intrigue me the most.

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Who are these people?

On the reverse of one of these is the following:

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

By editing and zooming and enlarging the script below the photographer’s information, I was able to see more clearly what was written there:

enhanced snip photo 2

I could decipher Seligmann there as well as von Gau-Algesheim to the right, but I was not able to read the word underneath Seligmann.  I posted the snip of this to the German Genealogy group on Facebook, and two people there confirmed that the word was the German word for “grandfather.”  One of the two also insisted that the name was Schafmann, not Seligmann, but I still am sure that it says Seligmann, and not only because I know that was the family’s name.  What do you think?

So if this man was a Seligmann and a grandfather, who was he?  Since the portrait belonged to Fred Michel, I would have assumed that it was his grandfather, that is, August Seligmann.  But the man in this portrait does not appear to be the same person as the man in the portrait above, which was clearly labeled August Seligmann.  So my thought/hope was that this was the grandfather of Fred’s mother Franzeska, who must have given these old pictures to her only child.  If that is the case, then these two portraits depict my great-great-great-grandparents, Moritz Seligmann and Babetta nee Schonfeld.

But Moritz was born in 1800 and Babetta in 1810.  I wondered whether there would even have been photography portraits like these in their lifetime.  I looked again at the label on the back of the photograph of Moritz and saw that the photographer was Hermann Emden of Frankfort.  I took a chance and googled the name, not expecting anything.  I was quite surprised and happy to get numerous hits for Hermann Emden.  His full name was Hermann Seligmann Emden, and he was a very well-known and successful Jewish photographer and artist.  Here is the entry from the Jewish Encyclopedia for Hermann Seligmann Emden:

German engraver and photographer; born at Frankfort-on-the-Main Oct. 18, 1815; died there Sept. 6, 1875. Early evincing a love for art and unable to afford an academic education, he entered an engraving and lithographic establishment as an apprentice, endeavoring especially to perfect himself in the artistic side of his work. In 1833 he left Frankfort and went to Hersfeld, Darmstadt, and Bonn. His portrait-engraving of Pope Pius IX. and his views of Caub, Bornhofen, and the Maxburg belong to this period. He also turned his attention to photography, then in its infancy, and was one of the first to establish a studio at Frankfort-on-the-Main. He made his reputation as photographer by the work “Der Dom zu Mainz und Seine Denkmäler in 36 Originalphoto-graphien,” to which Lübke refers several times in his “History of Art.” Emden was the first to compose artistic photographic groups (“Die Rastatter Dragoner,” “Die Saarbrücker Ulanen,” etc.), and was also among the first to utilize photography for the study of natural science.

You can see some of his more famous works here.

Once I saw that Emden died in 1875, I was even more certain that these were portraits of Moritz and Babetta Seligmann.  August would have only been 34 when Emden died, and the man in that portrait is quite clearly older than 34.  It has to be his father Moritz. Moritz and Babetta had to be quite comfortable, I would think, having their photographs taken by such a successful photographer.  I also wonder whether Emden was a relative.  Seligmann was a fairly common name, and it was often used as a first name as well as a surname.  But perhaps further research will reveal some familial connection.

But for me what is most important is that I am looking at the faces of my three-times great-grandparents.  I never ever thought that would be possible.

Our Ancestral Towns Seen Through My Cousin’s Eyes

My newly-discovered cousin Wolfgang Seligmann lives close to our shared ancestral towns of Gau-Algesheim and Erbes-Budesheim.  Erbes-Budesheim is where Babetta Schoenfeld was born and raised; Babetta is my 3-x great-grandmother and Wolfgang’s great-great-grandmother.  Babetta married Moritz Seligmann, and together they settled in Gau-Algesheim where they had a number of children, including Bernard Seligmann, my great-great-grandfather, and August Seligmann, Wolfgang’s great-grandfather.

Here is a recent photo of Wolfgang with his wife Barbela and daughter Milena—my beautiful German cousins.

Barbela, Milena and Wolfgang Seligmann

Wolfgang went to both Gau-Algesheim and Erbes-Budesheim recently to take some photographs of the towns and to look for the houses where our ancestors lived.  In Erbes-Budesheim, he looked for the houses at 77 and 80 Hauptstrasse where the Schoenfelds lived almost 200 years ago, but unfortunately those houses must have been torn down, and now a new street and a factory stand where those houses must have stood.  But Wolfgang took some photographs of other houses, including one at 50 Hauptstrasse, to capture what the Schoenfeld house might have looked like and also to depict the type of homes they saw on their street.

hauptraße Nr 50 Nr 50a

 

Wolfgang also visited the Jewish cemetery in Erbes-Budesheim.  He reported that there were only a few headstones left and none for the Schoenfelds.  Here are some photographs he took of the cemetery.  It looks like such a peaceful and scenic spot.

Friedhof 1 Friedhof 2 Friedhof 3

Although Wolfgang did not locate any Schoenfeld headstones there, this older video taken in 2010 does show some headstones with the Schoenfeld name, so I wonder whether these have been destroyed since that video was taken.

Wolfgang also visited Gau-Algesheim and took some photographs there.  First is a photo of Flosserstrasse, one of the main streets in Gau-Algesheim.  Our ancestors Moritz and Babetta and their children lived on Flossergasse, which no longer seems to exist, but must have either been a prior name or a smaller street off of the main street.

Flosserstrasse

Flosserstrasse

The other main street in Gau-Algesheim is Langgasse.  The store owned by Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August and his grandfather Julius was on this street, and the house where Julius and his wife Magdalena lived until relocating to Bingen was also located on Langgasse. Because the original building is no longer there, Wolfgang also sent me this newspaper clipping which depicts on the left what Langgasse looked like in 1900 and when Julius lived and worked there.

Langgasse in 1900

Langgasse in 1900

Langgasse

Langgasse today

This is the town center where Langgasse and Flosserstrasse meet.

Gau Algesheim

 

Finally, Wolfgang also visited the Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim.

Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim

Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim

There was only one headstone with the Seligmann name on it, and it was for Rosa Bergmann Seligmann, the wife of August Seligmann and Wolfgang’s great-grandmother.  He must have been quite disturbed by what he saw there.  Here are two photographs of Rosa’s headstone taken in the 1950s and posted on the alemannia-judaica website:

 

This is what the headstone looks like today as captured by Wolfgang, Rosa’s great-grandson:

Rosa headstone another of Rosa Seligmann's headstone closeup of Rosa Seligmann headstone Rosa Seligmann headstone

According to Wolfgang, the cemetery was vandalized in 1998 by “some idiots,” as Wolfgang described them.  He commented that even today there is some anti-Semitism in Germany.  Although Wolfgang noted that there are not many who feel this way, it only takes a few to do damage like this.

I am so very grateful to my cousin Wolfgang for taking these photographs.  There is something very touching and special about seeing these towns through the eyes of my cousin, a fellow descendant of Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld.  I know he looks at these places with the same sense of connection that I would feel if I were standing in those places, and I look forward to standing there with him in the hopefully not too far off future.

All photographs on this post except the two from alemannia-judaica are courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann.

 

 

 

New Seligmann Discoveries: Erbes-Budesheim and the Schoenfelds, Part I

While you all may have thought that for the last several months I was obsessed with Nusbaums and Dreyfusses (and I guess I was), there were several other things happening in my genealogy life (not to mention my actual life) that I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet.  One of the biggest things was the discovery of documents and information about another line of my family, the Schoenfelds, and another ancestral town, Erbes-Budesheim.

Erbes-Büdesheim in January 2006

Erbes-Büdesheim in January 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who are the Schoenfelds?  Moritz Seligmann, my 3-x great-grandfather from Gau Algesheim, married two Schoenfeld sisters (not at the same time, of course).  First, he married Eva Schoenfeld and had four children with her, and then he married her younger sister, Babetta, my 3-x great-grandmother, the mother of Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather.  Moritz and Babetta had seven children together in addition to the four born to Eva.

Because the birth names of women often disappear, it is all too easy to overlook the family names and lines that end when a woman changes her name to that of her husband.  Although I was always aware of the family names of Goldschlager, Brotman, Cohen, Nusbaum, and Seligman (as well as those from my paternal grandmother’s side, not yet covered on the blog), I had no awareness of a family connection to the names Rosenzweig, Dreyfuss, Jacobs, and Schoenfeld.  Discovering the Schoenfeld name, like discovering those others, was an exciting revelation and addition to my extended family tree.

So how did this happen?  As I wrote back on December 1, Ludwig Hellriegel’s book about the Jews of Gau Algesheim revealed that Moritz Seligmann was born in Gaulsheim and had moved to Gau Algesheim as an adult.  That discovery had led me to the Arbeitskreis Jüdisches Bingen and a woman named Beate Goetz.  Beate sent me the marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld, which revealed that Eva was the daughter of Bernhard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann from Erbes-Budesheim.  (Now I also know another maternal name—Goldmann.)

Marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld February 27, 1829 Gaulsheim, Germany

Marriage record for Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld February 27, 1829 Gaulsheim, Germany

From there I contacted the registry in Erbes-Budesheim to ask about records for my Schoenfeld ancestors, and within a short period of time, I received several emails from a man named Gerd Braun with an incredible treasure trove of information and records about my Schoenfeld ancestors.

But first, a little about Erbes-Budesheim.  Erbes-Budseheim is a municipality in the Alzey-Worms district of the Rhineland-Palatine state in Germany.  It is located about 25 miles south of Gaulsheim where Moritz Seligmann was born and grew up and about 27 miles south of Gau Algesheim where Moritz and his family eventually settled.  The closest major city is Frankfort, about 46 miles away.

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The town has an ancient history, dating back to the Stone Age, according to Wikipedia.  Like many regions in Germany, it was subject to various wars and conquerors throughout much of its history.  During the Napoleonic era in the late 18th, early 19th century, Erbes-Budesheim and the entire Alzey region were annexed as part of France; after 1815 it was under the control of the Grand Duchy of Hesse.

Although originally a Catholic community, after the Reformation Erbes-Budesheim became a predominantly Protestant community.  Some sources say that there was a small Jewish community in Erbes-Budesheim as early as the 16th century, but as of 1701, there were only 15 Jews (two families) living in the town.  A third family lived there in 1733, but even as late as 1824 and throughout the entire 19th century, the population did not exceed 23 people.  The Jews in Erbes-Budesheim for much of that history joined with Jews from neighboring communities for prayer, education, and burial.

By 1849, however, one Jewish resident named Strauss had dedicated the first floor of his home for prayer services, and it was furnished with the essential elements for a synagogue: Torah scrolls, an ark, a yad, and a shofar, for example.  Perhaps this is where my 4-x great-grandfather Bernhard Schoenfeld went to daven [pray] when he and his family lived in Erbes-Budesheim.

Strauss home where the Erbes-Budesheim Synagogue was located  http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/erbes_buedesheim_synagoge.htm

Strauss home where the Erbes-Budesheim Synagogue was located
http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/erbes_buedesheim_synagoge.htm

 

There is also a Jewish cemetery in Erbes-Budesheim.

On this video you can some headstones with the name Schoenfeld from the Erbes-Budesheim cemetery.

By 1939, there were only eight Jews left in the town, and it would appear from the allemannia-judaica website that none of these survived the Holocaust.

Thus, Erbes-Budesheim was never a place where a substantial Jewish community existed, and it makes me wonder what would have brought my ancestors there.  Why would anyone want to be one of a handful of Jews in a community?  In my next post, I will consider that question and share the documents I received from Erbes-Budesheim.