How Eugene Goldsmith Met May Jacobs

Over four and a half years ago, I wrote about Eugene Goldsmith, my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal’s first cousin.

Eugene was born in 1859 and had lived with his parents, Meyer Goldschmidt/Goldsmith and Helene Hohenfels, and his brother Maurice all his life, first growing up in Philadelphia and then in New York City. Then in 1913 at the age of 54, he married May Jacobs, who was 41.

One of the questions I had about Eugene was how he met his wife May Jacobs. I wrote then:

In 1913, Eugene married May Jacobs in Philadelphia. He was 54, she was 41. May was the daughter of Michael Jacobs and Alice Arnold, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania. May’s father died when she was just a young child, and she and her three sisters were all living together with their mother in Philadelphia in 1910. I’d love to know how May connected with Eugene, who had by that time been living in New York City for over twenty years.

Well, four and a half years after posting that question, I heard from a cousin of May Jacobs, and she may have found the answer. Lynn Hsu wrote to me on the blog that she was the great-granddaughter of Oscar Arnold, who was a first cousin of May Jacobs. Lynn wrote that Oscar was in the business of manufacturing umbrellas in New York City, and since Eugene and his brother Maurice were in the business of selling umbrellas in New York City, we hypothesized that Eugene knew Oscar from business and that Oscar set up Eugene with his cousin May, who was living in Philadelphia.

But Lynn actually had found several other hints that suggested that there were numerous earlier connections between her Arnold/Jacobs cousins and my Goldsmith cousins. On August 5, 1892, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported that May Jacobs was on the same Atlantic City sailing party as Rose and Florence Goldsmith, the two younger sisters of Eugene Goldsmith. So as early as 1892, some 21 years before Eugene married May, there was a meeting of May Jacobs and Eugene’s sisters Florence and Rose. Whether they had already known each other before the sailing trip isn’t clear, but certainly they did once that trip was over.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, August 5, 1892, p. 8

Also, three years before May married Eugene, she attended his mother’s funeral, as reported by the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent on March 4, 1910:

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, March 4, 1910, p. 14

Why it took Eugene and May until 1913, when he was 54 and she was 41, to decide to get married will remain a mystery. My only hypothesis is that Eugene waited until both his parents had died before “striking out on his own.” His mother died in 1910, his father in 1911. And then Eugene married May in 1913. His brother Maurice never married.

There was one other unexpected bonus connection that I learned about as a result of connecting with Lynn. May Jacobs Goldsmith, the daughter of Alice Arnold Jacobs, was the niece of Clarissa Arnold, Alice’s sister. Clarissa was married to Ernst Nusbaum, younger brother of my three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum, namesake of my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen and my father John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr. I wrote about Clarissa and Ernst and their family here and in many other of the posts that follow that one.

So the tree continues to twist! And thanks to Lynn, I now know even more about the Goldsmith/Goldschmidt and Nusbaum families.


Tracy E. Carnes June 30, 1954-August 26, 2018

I am very sad to report that Tracy Carnes, my fourth cousin, once removed, passed away on August 26, 2018. Tracy had been battling cancer for a number of years and was only 64 when she died. She was survived by her partner Rita Goodman and her sisters Rebecca Alden and Virginia Voges.

Tracy had connected with me almost three years ago when she left a comment on my blog saying that she believed we were related through her grandmother, who was born Celia Nusbaum, but known to Tracy and her family as Sally Carnes. Celia’s story had been a challenge for me as she and her husband Inglis Cameron and their son Edward James Cameron had seemingly vanished in the 1920s. Together Tracy and I combined our information, and through further research we learned much more about her grandparents and father, though some questions were left unanswered. We concluded that the family had probably changed their identity and gone into hiding after cooperating with the government in the prosecution of a securities fraud case in Philadelphia. The story of Celia Nusbaum and her family can be found here and here, titled “The Mystery of the Philadelphia Lawyer.”

Over the last few years I had kept up with Tracy through occasional emails and through her page on the CaringBridge website, where she wrote about her medical treatments and about her courageous and determined fight against cancer. Although not raised Jewish, she had returned to Judaism and found much comfort in her faith and in her life with Rita and their pets. My heart goes out to Rita, Beckie, and Ginger, and to all of Tracy’s loved ones.

May her memory be for a blessing.

Walking in Their Footsteps

About two months ago we did a crazy thing.  We drove five and a half hours from western Massachusetts to Philadelphia and spent just 24 hours in the City of Brotherly Love before turning around and returning home.

So how did this crazy thing happen? I had received an email from my third cousin Jan Sluizer. Her great-grandmother Elizabeth Cohen was the sister of my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen.  We are both the great-great-granddaughters of Jacob Cohen and the three-time great-granddaughters of Hart Levy Cohen.  Jan lives now in California, but she grew up in Philadelphia and was coming east for a high school reunion.  She wanted to know if we could get together.

For several years I have wanted to visit Philadelphia—the place where my earliest American ancestors came in the 1840s, the place where my father was born and raised. Of course, I’d been to Philadelphia many times growing up to visit my grandmother and my aunt.  But I’d never seen where my ancestors lived or were buried. I’d never even seen the places where my father had lived. In fact, I’d never seen Independence Hall or the other historic sights in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, City Hall

I knew that to do everything I wanted to do, I’d need more than 24 hours. But it has been a hectic fall with far too many weekends away from home.  The most we could do was get there on Saturday and leave on Sunday. And to top it off, a major storm was predicted for Sunday, meaning we’d have to hit the road even earlier than we had once hoped.

It was indeed crazy. But I am so glad we did it.

In the hours we had on Saturday, I managed to accomplish a few of the things I’d wanted to do. First, we took a tour of all the places where my Philadelphia ancestors had lived, starting with my great-great-grandparents Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs and my three-times great-grandparents John Nusbaum and Jeanette Dreyfuss all the way to the last place my father lived in Philadelphia before moving to New York and marrying my mother in 1951.  Here in the order in which my family occupied these places (though not in the order we saw them) are my photographs from that day.

Jacob Cohen lived for many years at 136 South Street. His pawnshop was nearby. And this is where he and my great-great-grandmother Sarah Jacobs raised their thirteen children, including my great-grandfather Emanuel.  I do not think these are the same buildings that were there in the in the mid=19th century, but this is the street where they lived.

136 South Street, where Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs raised their children

South Street, looking towards the river

For decades the Cohens lived in this neighborhood where many of the German Jewish immigrants lived.

But my other early-arriving ancestor John Nusbaum lived on the north side of Philadelphia during this same period at 433 Vine Street and 455 York Street. We drove down these streets, but again the buildings that were there in the era are long gone, and I didn’t take any photographs here. It was mostly warehouse buildings and abandoned or run-down buildings.

Since my Nusbaum ancestor was a successful merchant, I imagine that in his time this area was quite desirable, in fact more desirable than area south of the city where the Cohens lived.  Today, however, the South Street neighborhood is quite chic and inhabited by young professionals and clearly more desirable than the neighborhood where the Nusbaums lived.

Although my great-great-grandparents Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum lived almost their whole married life in Santa Fe, their last years were spent in Philadelphia at 1606 Diamond Street. Bernard died in 1903, and Frances in 1905.  During that same period Bernard’s daughter Eva Seligman Cohen, my great-grandmother, and my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen were also living on Diamond Street. That neighborhood is also in North Philadelphia.  Here is a Google Streetview of that street today. I don’t think these were the buildings that were there in the early 1900s, but I am not sure.

I had better luck as I moved further into the 20th century.  In 1920 Emanuel Cohen and Eva Seligman Cohen, my great-grandparents, were living on Green Street close to what is now the downtown district of Philadelphia.  It is a lovely tree-lined street with cafes and historic brick townhouses in what is clearly a gentrified neighborhood. I wonder what it was like when my great-grandparents and my grandfather John Cohen lived there in 1920.

2116 Green Street—where in 1920 my great-grandparents Emanuel and Eva Seligman Cohen lived as well as my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen

We did not have time to get to the West Oak Lane neighborhood in North Philadelphia where my father lived with his parents in 1930 at 6625 North 17th Street, so that’s on my list for when we return.But here is a Google Streetview shot of that street:

6600 block of North 17th Street, Philadelphia

I did find the apartment building where my father and aunt were living with their grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen in 1939 when she died. It is in the downtown area of Philadelphia and still called the Westbury Apartments.

Westbury Apartments on 15th Street where my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen lived with my father and aunt in 1939

In 1940, my father, aunt, and grandmother were living in North Philadelphia at 106 Venango Street.  That building is no longer there unfortunately.  It is now a commercial area with warehouses and factory-like buildings.

But In 1950 they were living on North 21st Street in this building—another lovely tree-lined street not far from the center of the city.

North 21 Street in Philadelphia where my father, aunt, and grandmother lived in 1950

136 North 21st Street, my father’s home in 1950

Touring the city this way was enlightening because it provided some insights into the patterns of gentrification and how they have changed since 1850.  My ancestors for the most part started in the southern part of the city and as they moved up the economic ladder, they moved north of the city to an area that was newer, less crowded, and more “gentrified.” But today that pattern has reversed. Young professionals want to live close to downtown and have returned to the neighborhoods closest to the center of the city like Green Street and South Street.  The neighborhoods around Venango Street and Diamond Street were long ago abandoned by those moving out to the suburbs in the post-World War II period and are now depressed sections of the city.

After a visit to the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Liberty Bell and a walk along Market Street, we met Jan for dinner in the area known as Rittenhouse Square, another gentrified neighborhood with lots of boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Meeting Jan was a delight. We had long ago connected by email when Jan shared all the stories about her father Mervyn Sluizer, Jr., and her grandfather Mervyn, Sr., and the rest of her family. Now we were able to meet face to face, share a meal together, and connect on a deeper level than email allows.

Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell

The following day the rain began, but I was determined to try and see where my ancestors were buried. Our first stop was Mikveh Israel synagogue, where we met Rabbi Albert Gabbai, who took us to the second oldest Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Mikveh Israel has been in Philadelphia since before the American Revolution and was where my earliest Cohen ancestors belonged. It was then located about a mile from 136 South Street where Jacob Cohen lived. Although the original building is long, long gone, the synagogue still is in that same neighborhood, now on North 4th Street.  According to the rabbi, it now attracts empty nesters who have moved into downtown Philadelphia. Another example of urban gentrification. Jews who long ago left downtown are now returning in their later years.

Rabbi Gabbai drove us to the Federal Street cemetery, the second oldest Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, where he patiently and generously guided us with a map to see the gravestones of Jacob and Sarah Cohen as well as the location of Hart Levy Cohen’s grave (his stone has either sunk into the ground or otherwise disappeared).

Federal Street cemetery of Congregation Mikveh Israel

Location of Hart Levy Cohen’s grave. My 3x-great-grandfather

Jacob and Sarah’s grave is marked by one of the largest monuments in the cemetery:

While we walked through the cemetery, I also spotted the stones for Jan’s other great-great-grandparents, Bernard and Margaret Sluizer, and her three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Sluizer. I was very touched when I realized that Bernard and Margaret Sluizer are buried in the plots that abut Jacob and Sarah’s plots.

Grave of Meyer and Margaret Sluizer

I also found a stone for Joseph Jacobs, my 3-times great uncle, brother of Sarah Jacobs Cohen.

Joseph Jacobs, brother of Sarah Jacobs Cohen

Unfortunately, it was pouring by this time, and I could not find any small stones to put on the gravestones to mark my visit, which left me feeling as if I’d let my ancestors down.

After leaving Rabbi Gabbai, we drove north to the two other Philadelphia cemeteries where my ancestors are buried: Mount Sinai and Adath Jeshurun.  Fortunately they are located right next to each other, and I had carefully written down the location of the graves I wanted to visit at Mount Sinai from the records I found on Ancestry. (I did not have that information for Adath Jeshurun, but only a few ancestors are buried there as compared to Mount Sinai.)

Unfortunately, despite my good planning, I had no luck. There was no office and no one at the cemetery; there was no map posted of the cemetery. And there were no obvious markings in the cemetery identifying sections or plots. And it was pouring.

My ever-patient husband sat in the car and drove slowly around as I walked up and down the drives and walkways with an umbrella and in my orthopedic boot,[1] looking for Cohens, Nusbaums, Katzensteins, Schoenthals, and Seligmans.  This was the only one I could find for any of my known relatives:

Simon Schoenthal and family at Mt Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia

This is the stone for Simon Schoenthal, my great-grandfather’s brother, and his wife Rose Mansbach, who was also related to me by the marriage of her cousin Marum Mansbach to my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein’s sister Hannchen. It also marks the burial place of two of their children, Martin and Harry, as well as Harry’s wife Esther, and their son Norman. I was delighted that I had found this marker, but nevertheless disappointed that I could not find the place where my grandfather John Cohen is buried along with his parents, Emanuel Cohen and Eva Seligman. Nor did I find any of the others I had been hoping to visit.

From there we headed home, leaving Philadelphia exactly 24 hours after we’d arrived. It was a wet and long trip home, but I still was glad we had made this whirlwind visit. I was able to meet Jan, I saw places where my ancestors lived and are buried, and we were introduced to the city where so many of my relatives have lived. It was not enough, so we will have to return. Next time we will need to spend at least 48 hours!


[1] I had broken my ankle a few weeks before the trip. It’s better now.

Schopfloch: A Lesson in Gravestone Symbols

The last ancestral town we visited on our trip was Schopfloch in Bavaria where my three-times great-grandfather John (born Josua) Nussbaum was born in 1814.  I wrote a long post about Schopfloch when I was doing my research of my Nussbaum relatives.  The town dates back to the 13th century, and there was a Jewish community there in the 14th century.  As early as the 17th century, there was a synagogue, a mikveh, and a school in Schopfloch. In 1867, there were almost 400 Jews in the town out of almost 2000 residents. Today Schopfloch is a small town of about 3000 people, about half the size of Gau-Algesheim and slightly larger than Jesberg, but four times the size of Sielen.  There is no Jewish community there now.

My 4x-great-grandparents, Amson Nussbaum and Voegele Welsch, died in 1836 and 1842, respectively, and I thought they were likely the last family members to have died in Schopfloch. Six of their eight children immigrated to the United States before 1860; there were two additional daughters for whom I had birth information, but no information as to whether they had married or had children or where or when they had died. I am still searching for the documents Angelika Brosig used to document this Nussbaum family.  But, as far as I knew, there was no one left in Schopfloch from my Nussbaum family after 1860.  Would I find anything relating to my ancestors in this town?

I had arranged for Jutta Breittinger, who works at the Schopfloch town hall, to be our guide; since Frau Breittinger said she did not speak English well, she had recommended that we also hire a translator. When we met Frau Breittinger, we were soon joined by the translator and his wife, whose names I never quite caught. They were all very helpful and very earnest in their desire to help us and inform us about the Jewish history of Schopfloch.

Our three guides told us the same thing we had heard in the other small towns we’d visited: before the Nazi era, Jews and Christians had worked and lived together without any problems. As described by our translator, Lachoudisch, the secret language developed in Schopfloch, is evidence of this co-operative relationship.  Most Jews in Schopfloch were involved in horse and cattle trading, and market day was on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish traders relied on their Christian neighbors to assist with business on Saturdays, using their “secret language” as a way of communicating with them in confidence.

Frau Breittinger told us that she and a number of other Schopfloch residents were now studying Lachoudisch to keep the language alive.  At the end of our visit, we purchased Lachoudisch Sprechen by Hans-Rainer Hofmann, a small book about the language which includes a list of Lachoudisch words and their German equivalents.  It was very interesting to see some of the Lachoudisch words—-some derived from Hebrew like yes (“kenn”) and no (“lou”) and night (“Laila”) and please (“bewackasha”), some from sources I can’t determine like “kiss” for the word “kiss,” which is neither German nor Hebrew for the word we use for kiss in English.  It’s all rather fascinating and also amazing that people in Schopfloch are trying to keep this language alive.

We walked around the corner from the Rathaus to what is now called Bahnhofstrasse but was once called Judengasse.  It was here that the synagogue once stood.  Here is an old photograph of Judengasse with the synagogue on the far right. Below is a photograph of a model of the way the synagogue once looked:

Judengasse before the Holocaust

Model of old synagogue

There is no building now where the synagogue once stood; it is essentially an empty lot between two other buildings.  A plaque marks where it once stood. As I wrote in my earlier post, this synagogue, like so many throughout Germany, was destroyed on Kristallnacht in November, 1938, and by then all the Jews had left the town.  The town, which once had almost 400 Jewish residents, had become “Judenfrei.”

Plaque marking the location of the former synagogue

Empty lot where synagogue once stood

Judengasse today (now called Bahnhofstrasse)

Across the street from the location of the former synagogue was the building which was once the Jewish school.

Former Jewish school

We then walked through the town and up the hill to get to the Jewish cemetery.  I was very surprised to see how large the cemetery was, given how small the town was (and still is).  There are almost 1200 stones there, making it larger than any of the synagogues we had seen in the Hessen region, but it served not just Schopfloch but also several other towns nearby.  The cemetery is actually quite beautiful.  There is a stone wall that surrounds the entire cemetery.

But sadly many of the stones, especially the older ones, are not at all legible.  Some are sinking into the soft ground or already have disappeared.  And the further back we went in the cemetery to reach the oldest stones, the harder it was to find stones that were legible.  The oldest legible stones I could find were from the 1880s, and thus I knew I was not going to find the stones for my 4x-great-grandparents who died before 1850.

Once I came to that realization, I decided instead to focus on the stones I could read, and there were some very interesting ones there. Several people had asked about the hand symbols in one of my earlier posts:

Scholem Katzenstein, my 3x great-grandfather, Haarhausen cemetery

As I explained, those are the symbols indicating that the person buried there descended from the tribe of the high priests, the Cohanim.  But there were other symbols in the Schopfloch cemetery that I’d not seen before.

For example this one shaped like a tree trunk, which symbolizes a premature death—someone whose life was cut short.

Or this one with a palm tree. I was unfamiliar with this as a Jewish gravestone symbol, so I asked the members of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook.  I got wonderfully helpful responses, including a translation of the text.  What we deduced from the text and from Psalm 92 (“the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree”)  is that the date palm is a symbol of righteousness; the man buried here was probably a rabbi, and the text refers to his philanthropy and his scholarliness.  He’s not my relative, but I am glad I looked into the meaning of his stone.  His name was David Ballenberger 1815-1881.

This one interested me because of the unusual way the Hebrew letters were carved. Notice also the two completely eroded stones behind it. Could those be the stones for my Nussbaum 4x-great-grandparents? I don’t know.

Finally, I found this one very interesting:

It has three symbols on it: a butcher’s knife, a shofar (the horn blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and a knife used for circumcision. I asked my friend Brett Levi to translate this for me, and he confirmed that the text indicated that the man buried there had been a shochet (kosher butcher), a shofar blower, and a mohel (person trained to do ritual circumcisions).

After visiting the cemetery, we walked back to town hall, where we saw the model of the former synagogue depicted above. After purchasing the Lachoudisch book, we said goodbye to our guides and headed out of Schopfloch.

We were excited to be going to our last stop, Heidelberg.  I have no genealogical connection to the city, and these last three days of our trip were going to be days to relax, enjoy a beautiful city, and look back on everything we’d seen. I had scheduled a walking tour of Worms for part of one of the days, but otherwise, we were going to be on our own.

So we took a deep breath, got back into our Nissan Juke, and set the GPS to take us to Heidelberg. We were ready for the last leg of our trip and had plenty of time to get to Heidelberg and return our rental car before 6 pm when the Hertz office closed.

But it was not to be.

Something I Never Expected to See

I want to share two documents that I thought I’d never see.  In preparing for our upcoming trip to Germany, I’ve been trying to find guides who can help me in the various places we plan to visit.  One of those guides is a man named Aaron.  Although Aaron is based in Cologne and will be our guide while we are there, he also asked where else we were visiting and whether we needed any help finding records.

I mentioned to him that probably the one place I had had the worst luck finding any records—online or elsewhere—was Schopfloch, the small town in Bavaria where my Nussbaum ancestors once lived.  Some of you may recall that all I had were the notes left behind by a researcher named Angelika Brosig, who died in 2013.  Angelika had a lot of information about the birthdates of the children of Amson Nussbaum and Voegele Welsch, my four-times great-grandparents, including a name and birthdate for my three-times great-grandfather, Josua Nussbaum, who became John Nusbaum in the United States.  I knew these facts were accurate because they were consistent with the information in the Nussbaum family bible kept first by my three-times great-grandmother Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum and later by my great-grandmother Eva May Seligman Cohen.  But I had no images or transcriptions of original records

Even after contacting several people who knew Angelika Brosig and had worked with her, I had no luck figuring out where she’d gotten this information.  But Aaron had better luck—he found the death records for my four-times great-grandparents, Amson and Voegele.  This gives me hope that perhaps other records exist and that someday I may find them.

Death record of Voegelein Nussbaum

Death record of Voegelein Welsch Nussbaum, October 2, 1842

As transcribed and translated by Leon and Cathy from the German Genealogy group on Facebook, this says:

Vogelein Nussbaum, Wittwe des Amson Nussbaum, geb. Welsch, stirbt in einem Alter von 60 Jahren und 7 Monaten plötzlich am Schleimschlag Sonntag Abends am zweiten /2/ Oktober 1/2 5 Uhr 1842, und wird beerdigt Tags drauf am 3. dess. Abends 5 Uhr. Arzt wird nicht gebraucht. No. 132.

Vögelein Nussbaum, widow of Amson Nussbaum, born Welsch, dies at the age of 60 years and 7 months suddenly due to mucoid impaction on Sunday evening on 2nd October, half before 5 o’clock, 1842, and is buried on the next day in the evening 5 o’clock. Doctor is not needed.


Death record of Amson Meier Nussbaum, 1837

Death record of Amson Meier Nussbaum, June 7, 1836

Leon and Cathy translated Amson’s death record to say:

Amson (Meier) Nussbaum, merchant, here no. 132, married, consumption, 8th this evening at 8 o’clock, 58 years old.

Thank you to Aaron for his persistence and hard work in locating these records. And thank you also to Leon and Cathy from the Facebook German Genealogy group!  Danke!!

My Ancestral Town: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

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 tra...

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

St Francis Cathedral

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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oldest house in the US

oldest house in the US

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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...

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

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

Old Fonda, courtesy of Pete Scott and Voces de Santa Fe

etching of 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.

Map of the City Plan, showing Street, Park and River Improvements Proposed to the City Planning Board.”
N. L. King
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

La Fonda Hotel today


View from the bar on the roof of the hotel

20160526_152600649_iOS 20160527_021136309_iOS

La Fonda lobby

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

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

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 buggy

Arthur Seligman’s mud wagon

Arthur Seligman's home in Santa Fe

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.


The Mystery of the Philadelphia Lawyer: Part I

I am taking a short break this week from the Schoenthal story to return to a mystery I discovered in the Nusbaum family line. Back in April I wrote about the strange disappearance of Celina Nusbaum, my second cousin, three times removed.  Celina was the granddaughter of Ernst Nusbaum, brother of my 3x-great-grandfather John Nusbaum.  Her life story was intriguing, and I was frustrated that I could not find some closure to her story.

Here’s what I knew: Celina was born in November 1881 in Philadelphia, daughter of Edgar Nusbaum and Viola Barritt.  She had married Hamilton Hall Treager Glessner in 1904, and their daughter Marian Glessner was born in 1906.  But by 1910, the marriage was over, and Celina had returned with her daughter to her parents’ home.  Celina was working as a dress designer, according to the 1910 census.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Abington, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1377; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1375390

Year: 1910; Census Place: Abington, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1377; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0064; FHL microfilm: 1375390

Celina remarried in August 1912.  Her second husband, Inglis E.D. Cameron, was a lawyer who had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1909.  He must have been somewhat well-regarded there because he was selected as toastmaster for the class banquet:

Inglis Cameron from UPenn 1909 yearbook

Penn Law 1909 Cameron

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin March 15, 1909

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin March 15, 1909


Celina and Inglis had a son, Edward James Cameron, born in June, 1915.  On the 1920 census, Inglis, Celina (Selena on the census record), Marian, and Edward (called James there) were living in Philadelphia, and Inglis listed his occupation as a lawyer for a manufacturer. (His name was really butchered by the census enumerator, but this is definitely his family.)

Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1624; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 617; Image: 269

Year: 1920; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1624; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 617; Image: 269

I was able to find Inglis in the 1925 NYC directory as a lawyer in midtown Manhattan, but residing in Philadelphia.

Title : New York, New York, City Directory, 1925 Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989 [database on-line].

Title : New York, New York, City Directory, 1925
Source Information U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989 [database on-line].

I found one brief news item in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Inglis Cameron as a lawyer, dated April 17, 1924:

Inglis Cameron atty april 17 1924 p 12

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 17, 1924, p. 12

I am not quite sure what to make of this article.  It appears that Inglis was representing a client whose identity he would not or could not reveal, but that the newspaper believed was the Fifth Avenue Coach Company, a New York bus company that was seeking to establish business in Philadelphia.

After that, I could not find any trace of any of them; Celina, Inglis, Marian, and Edward James Cameron all seemed to have vanished.  I could not find them in any directory nor on either the 1930 or 1940 census.

But a woman named Sally Carnes with a husband named Donald Carnes and a son named E. J. Carnes surfaced in Texas, in the 1940s.  Why is that relevant? Because this death certificate made it very clear to me that Sally Carnes was the same woman as Celina Nusbaum Glessner Cameron: Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.

Her parents were Edgar Nusbaum and Viola Barritt, and the informant was her daughter from her first marriage, Marian (using her married name Pattinson).  This had to be Celina.  When I then searched for Carnes in Houston, it led me to the death certificate of Donald Carnes, who had a son named E.J. Carnes: Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. iArchives, Orem, Utah. Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. iArchives, Orem, Utah.

The initials E.J. for E.J. Carnes?  To me that had to be Edward James Cameron using a different surname, that of the man I assumed was Celina/Sally’s third husband, Donald Carnes.  But I had no further record for Inglis Cameron, no earlier records for Donald Carnes, and no marriage record for Sally and Donald Carnes.  There are further details of my search described here in my earlier post, but the bottom line is that I had no definite answers as to what happened to Inglis or how Celina became Sally Carnes and ended up in Houston.  Even searching for descendants of Marian Glessner Pattinson led me nowhere.

Enter Tracy Carnes, who left a comment on my blog in October. Tracy wrote that she was the daughter of Edward James Carnes, who was the son of Donald Carnes and Lena Claire Nusbaum (Celina was sometimes identified as Lena), also known as Sally Carnes.  That is, Tracy is my fourth cousin, once removed. And she had some answers to my questions and some fascinating information about her grandmother, Sally Carnes, who had once been Celina Nusbaum:

Tracy wrote:

My grandmother, Lena Claire Nusbaum (as listed on my father’s death certificate) or Sally Carnes, was a dressmaker. She had a knack for making fat women look thin and thin women look shapely. I stayed with her in Houston one summer for about a week, and she had dress forms, patterns she was making, and wedding dresses in the works. Mother (Margaret Hannah Barnes Carnes) told us that Sally had the patent on the metal slider that adjusts bra straps. She also designed a slip for Babe Didrikson Zaharias for golfing, called the “super-stride.” Mom and dad said that Sally Carnes had a line of clothing called, “Sally Smart” and four dress factories in Philadelphia lost during the depression. Sally also owned a Russian Tea Room. We don’t have any documentation to support these stories.

So I set out to find some documentation.  I thought the easiest story to validate was the one about the patent on a bra strap slider so I used Google Patents to try and locate such a patent.  Although I did not find one for that specific invention, I did find three patents that were issued to Celina Cameron.  The first, Patent No. 1709337, was filed July 12, 1926, and was issued on April 16, 1929.  That patent was for a garment combining a skirt and bodice.  In her application, Celina wrote:

This invention relates to women’s garments, more particularly garments combining a bodice and skirt. In connection with garments embodying the general characteristics mentioned, I seek to retain all the advantages of the skirt as considered from the esthetic standpoint, and yet afford the wearer the utmost comfort with regard to freedom of leg movement 0 without entailing exposure within the confines of the skirt.

Celina Cameron patent 2-page-001 Celina Cameron patent 2-page-002 Celina Cameron patent 2-page-003


A second patent, No. 1797714, filed May 17, 1929, and granted on March 24, 1931, was also for a garment, this one for a negligee, as described in the application:

This invention relates to garments of the negligee class and of a type intended more particularly for women.  The object of my invention is to provide a slip-on garment of the kind referred to which is simple in design, yet highly attractive in appearance; which is easily and quickly put on or taken ‘off and which ordinarily affords complete protection, but when desired permits the back of the wearer to be exposed for sun or heat treatment to the exclusion of all other parts of the body.

Celina Cameron patent 1-page-002 Celina Cameron patent 1-page-003 Celina Cameron patent 1-page-004

Perhaps this was the slip designed for Babe Didrikson Zacharias?

The third patent issued to Celina Cameron, No. 1834331, was for a modification to the first invention so that it could be reversible.  That patent application was filed on February 19, 1930, and the patent issued on December 1, 1931.

So although I did not find a patent for a bra strap slider, there certainly was truth to the family story that Celina had patented some of her clothing designs.  And from the dates on these patents, I knew that at least until 1930 when she applied for the third patent, Celina was still using the name Celina Cameron.

As for the four dress factories, I found two possible companies.  The first was Cameo Dress Company, which Inglis listed as his company on his World War I draft registration in September, 1918.

Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Philadelphia; Roll: 1907636; Draft Board: 17

When I Googled this company, however, I found that the company had been incorporated on February 27, 1918, by Edgar Nusbaum, Celina’s father. Edgar had for many years worked as a clerk for the railroad, not as a manufacturer.  I assume that he incorporated this business for his daughter Celina, who had listed her occupation in 1910 as a dress designer.  Although Inglis had been working as a lawyer as of the taking of the 1920 census, in the 1921 Philadelphia directory his listing simply says Cameo Dress Company.

But Cameo Dress Company ran into some bad luck.  The company fell victim to thieves at least twice in the spring of 1921, and then suffered a devastating fire in 1922.

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9. 1921, p 3

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9. 1921, p 3

And then just two months later, there was a second theft:

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 25, 1921, p 3

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 25, 1921, p 3

This article made reference to a theft ten days earlier, so it seems that Cameo Dress was subjected to (at least) three thefts in the spring of 1921.

Then, in February 1922, there was a devastating fire:

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 22, 1922, p. 3

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 22, 1922, p. 3


Was this really all just bad luck? The article about the fire notes that it “started beneath a stairway from an undetermined origin.”  Was someone targeting Cameo Dress Company?

Because almost all of the databases of online newspapers do not include any Philadelphia newspapers after 1922, I could not find out what happened to Cameo Dress Company after the fire.  But there had been an earlier fire that also seemed to involve the Cameron family.  Reginald on the Philadelphia Genealogy group on Facebook found a listing from the Philadelphia fire department’s annual report for 1914:

I then found this news article:

Mayfair fire

Mayfair fire 2

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 9, 1914, p. 5

Although I have not yet found anything else about Mayfair Manufacturing Company, I did find it rather strange that another company owned by Inglis Cameron had been damaged by a fire.  As with Cameo Dress, it was a company occupying the third floor of a building.  That time the fire department had opined that it could have been spontaneous combustion—dirty rags, I suppose.

(Of course, I am very glad that they saved the kitten.)

I did not find any documenation for a Sally Smart line of clothing or for a Russian tea room owned by Celina, the last two stories Tracy had shared in her comment about her grandmother .

But what Tracy and I were really interested in was why her grandmother Celina and her father Edward James had moved to Texas and changed their names to Cameron.  Tracy said that her father, Edward James Cameron/Carnes, had died in 1984 and that she had known that he had died with a secret, but not what it was.  Then about 20 years ago, Tracy and her brother received a phone call from an old friend of their father who shared what he knew.  Tracy sent me the notes she and her brother had saved from that phone conversation.  That led me down yet another research path.

To be continued….


One New Database, A Whole Lot of Answers: The Social Security Applications and Claims Index


Back in January when I was researching my Nusbaum relatives, I ran into a dead end.  My great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum had a sister Miriam.  Miriam married Gustavus Josephs and had a daughter named Florence born in Philadelphia in 1880.  Florence had married Louis Siegel in 1903; Louis was also from Philadelphia and was working as a traveling salesman.  I found Louis and Florence on the 1910 US census, but after that, things got fuzzy.

I wrote then:

Sometime thereafter, Louis must have become ill.  He died on September 30, 1915, at the State Hospital for the Insane in Norristown, Pennsylvania.  According to his death certificate, he had been ill for three years and had been hospitalized since November 19, 1913.  His cause of death was general paralysis of the insane or paresis.  He was only 43 years old.

Although I only have one document to support this, it appears that in 1913, Florence and Louis had had a child, a daughter Marion.  On the 1920 census, Florence Siegel was living with her father Gustavus Josephs and her brother Jean Josephs, both of whom were working at a mill as manufacturers, presumably of fabrics, as discussed in an earlier post.  Included in the household was a seven year old girl named Marion Siegel.  Although she is described as the daughter of the head of household, it seems apparent that Marion was Florence’s daughter, given her age and her surname.

Gustavus Josephs 1920 census

When her father Gustavus died in May 1924, Florence continued to live in the home at 2020 North Park Avenue; she is listed as a dressmaker in the 1925 Philadelphia directory residing at that address.  Unfortunately, that is the last document I have for Florence.  I cannot find a marriage record or a death record for her, nor can I find any definitive document for her daughter Marion.

Despite searching for every Marion with a mother named Florence, I could not find either of them on any document after that 1920 census and the 1925 directory.

And then just about a month ago, added a new database to its collection—the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 (“SSACI”).  Ancestry describes the new database this way: “This database picks up where the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) leaves off by providing more details than those included in the SSDI. It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.”

I was a bit overwhelmed.  This could be an incredibly helpful tool, but it meant going back and searching through it for any and all ancestors who were alive in the 1930s when Social Security was enacted and who might have applied for its benefits.  That’s a lot of ancestors!  But I slowly plodded through, and for the most part, I found either confirmation of what I already knew or a tidbit of information that was interesting on its own, but not terribly helpful in terms of further research.

But with Marion Siegel, the daughter of Florence Josephs, I hit the jackpot.  Here is Marion’s record in the SSACI: U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

What did I learn from this? Well, it confirmed that Florence Josephs and Louis Siegel did have a daughter, as the 1920 census record suggested.  It also gave me her birth date, birth place, her date of death, and, most importantly, her married name—Kane.  I then was able to search for a marriage record and found this one from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Marriage Index on Ancestry:

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans' Court. "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951." Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885-1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

So now I knew that Marion Siegel had married Louis Kane in 1932. [See UPDATE below; they were actually married on January 1, 1933.]  Since they were married in Philadelphia, I assumed that they were living there after getting married, but I could not find them at all on the 1940 census in Philadelphia.  But then I found a 1952 ship manifest for a cruise from the West Indies to New York with three passengers with the last name Kane: Louis Kane, Marion Kane, and Lois Kane.  The ages for Louis and Marion were correct, and Marion’s birthplace in New Jersey was also correct.  And they were living at 573 Washington Street in Brookline, Massachusetts—a neighborhood I know well since my daughter once lived right near there as does a close friend from college.

Year: 1952; Arrival: New York, New York via West Indies; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8085; Line: 1; Page Number: 237

Year: 1952; Arrival: New York, New York via West Indies; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8085; Line: 1; Page Number: 237

Knowing now that Louis was born in Connecticut and that the family was living in the Boston area, I was able to find a number of additional records for Louis and Marion Kane and their daughter Lois. In 1930, Louis was living with his parents in Newton, Massachusetts, according to the census of that year.  Louis was the son of Harry and Jessie Kane, both of whom were born in Connecticut and were the children of Russian immigrants.  Harry Kane was the owner of a furniture business, Kane Furniture, which further research revealed later belonged to Louis.  It was apparently quite successful, as this article  from the April 18, 1954 Boston Herald indicates.

Kane photo

Kane furniture text

By then finding Louis and Marion Kane in several directories and passenger manifests, I learned Louis’ precise birth date, which then led me to the SSDI, where I learned that he had died in October 1963.  Unfortunately, I could not find an obituary for him.  He was only 53 when he died, and Marion was just 51.  What happened to her between 1963 and 1994 when she died?  I did not yet know.

UPDATE: On July 2, 2020, many years after writing this blog post, I received a message from Jackie at Temple Beth El of Hollywood, Florida, who told me that Louis and Marion had joined that synagogue in July 1961 and that she had further information. From Jackie I learned that Louis and Marion had been members from July 1961 until December 7, 1984, when Marion resigned from the synagogue. According to their application for membership, Marion and Louis were married on January 1, 1933, not in 1932 as the Ancestry record indicated.  Most importantly, Jackie had a letter in the file sending condolences to Marion on the death of her mother Florence. The letter was dated June 28, 1968, and with that additional information I was finally able to find an obituary for Florence Josephs Siegel Hageman in The Philadelphia Inquirer stating that she died on June 18, 1968. Thank you, Jackie!

While searching for information about Louis and Marion, I also found an article revealing that their daughter Lois Kane had played an important part in the prosecution of a murder case in Boston in 1954 when she was just a teenager.  As described in many newspaper articles, eighteen year old Ronald Blumenthal had committed a brutal murder of 53 year old Ora Schornath in July, 1954; he had beaten, stabbed, and strangled her in her home.  Blumenthal had then described the murder to Lois Kane and another friend, suggesting that he had committed it.  When the victim’s body was discovered and the crime was described in the newspapers, Lois realized that Blumenthal’s story could in fact be true.  She informed the police, and Blumenthal was arrested.  He ultimately confessed and pled guilty to second degree murder on October 1, 1954.  He was sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled in 1967, over the objections of Schornath’s brother.

Lois Kane part 1

Lois Kane part 2

Lois Kane part 3Lois Kane part 4

Boston Herald, July 31, 1954, p. 4.  (For more information on this case, see also “Boy Tells Thrill Killing,” Boston Daily Record, July 30, 1954, pp. 3, 6; “Ronnie Pleads 2d Degree Murder Guilt, Gets Life,” Boston American, October 1, 1954 (p. 3); “Killer’s Parole Opposed,” Boston Record American, October 6, 1966, p. 5; “Brookline ‘Thrill Killer’ Wins Parole,” Boston Record American, February 2, 1967.)

I then searched for more information about Lois Kane.  I wanted to know what had happened to this courageous young woman. Once again, the SSCAI was a valuable resource.  I found this entry. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

I now had her birth and death dates and locations, and I had two married names, suggesting that she had married twice, once to someone named Sisson and once to someone named Brooner.  In the Florida Marriage index, I found a listing for a Lois F. Kane who married H. Michael Sisson in November 1960 in Dade County.  Unfortunately I have had no luck yet finding out anything about Michael Sisson; I cannot find him on any documents that predate or postdate their marriage in 1960.   But I will keep looking.

Either Michael Sisson died before January 1, 1982, or he and Lois had divorced by then, because on that date Lois Florence Sisson married James C. Brooner in Broward County, Florida.  Seeing that Lois’ middle name was Florence confirmed for me that I had the right person, based on the SSACI.  I knew from the SSACI that Lois died in 2006, but as with her father Louis, I’ve had no luck finding an obituary.  I don’t know what she did after the Blumenthal case or how she ended up in Florida or whether she had children.

One thing that bothered me about the entry for Lois on the SSACI was the listing for her mother’s name: Marion Hageman. Even though I was reasonably confident that I had the correct Louis, Marion, and Lois Kane, I had to find out why the SSACI listing had Marion’s name as Hageman, not Siegel, which was her birth name.

Searching for Marion Hageman answered a number of the unresolved questions.  In particular, it told me more about what had happened to Florence Josephs after her first husband Louis Siegel died in 1915.  On the 1930 census I found a Marion Hageman listed as the daughter of Ely and Florence Hageman, who were living in Philadelphia, Florence Joseph’s hometown.  I was pretty sure that this was Marion and Florence (Josephs) Siegel, given the birth places listed for them and their parents and the ages.  It seemed that Florence had married someone named Ely Hageman.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2136; Page: 26B; Enumeration District: 1075; Image: 53.0; FHL microfilm: 2341870

Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2136; Page: 26B; Enumeration District: 1075; Image: 53.0; FHL microfilm: 2341870

Ely Hageman is listed on the 1930 census as born in Florida, but later documents indicate he was born in Virginia.  He was working as a salesman for a furniture company in 1930.  (Looking back at what I already knew about Marion’s then future husband Louis Kane, I wondered whether her stepfather Ely introduced her to Louis, who after all was living in the Boston area, quite far from Philadelphia where Marion had been living.)

I was able to locate a marriage record on the Philadelphia marriage index indicating that Ely Hageman and Florence Siegel had married in 1929.  In 1940, Ely and Florence were still living in Philadelphia, where Ely was still working in the furniture business.  Sadly, four years later Ely died from a coronary occlusion brought on hepatitis and diabetes, according to his death certificate.  He was 67 years old. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I do not know what happened to Florence after Ely died.  She did take a trip with her granddaughter, daughter, and son-in-law in 1953, as this passenger manifest indicates. Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1949-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1949-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

But I have not found any record after that indicates what happened to Florence after that.  Did she move to Boston to be closer to Marion, her only child, and Lois, her only grandchild? Or did she move to Florida, where her granddaughter Lois had married by 1960 and lived thereafter? I don’t know.  Yet.  [See UPDATE above. I know now that Florence died on June 18, 1968, in Philadelphia.]

But isn’t it amazing how one new database entry led to so much more information?  Thank you, Ancestry, for adding the SSCAI.




Some Perspective on my Nusbaum and Dreyfuss Ancestors

Right now I am pretty absorbed in following up on the Seligmann trail in Germany and the US and in preparing for my trip, both in terms of travel details and in terms of trying to find as much information as I can about the Brotmans.  I’ve been spending time going back over the Brotmanville Brotmans, hoping to find some clues I missed before the DNA results corroborated the family story that Joseph and Moses Brotman were brothers.

But before too much time goes by, I want to reflect a bit on my Dreyfuss and Nusbaum ancestors.  In many ways they typify the German Jewish immigrants who arrived in America in the 1840s and 1850s.  They started as peddlers, they eventually became the owners of small dry goods stores in small towns, and for many of them, they remained dry goods or clothing merchants.  Unlike my Cohen relatives, who were pawnbrokers for the most part, or my Seligman relatives, who started as merchants, but became active in politics and civic and military matters in Santa Fe and elsewhere, my Dreyfuss and Nusbaum ancestors began and stayed Pennsylvania merchants, even into the 20th century.

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

Harrisburg Market Square with Leo Nusbaum store

In addition, the Dreyfuss and Nusbaum families almost all stayed in Pennsylvania where they started.  There were some who went to Peoria, though most returned to Pennsylvania, and a few who went to Baltimore, but overall the Dreyfuss and Nusbaum families started in small towns in Pennsylvania and in Harrisburg and eventually moved to Philadelphia.  As far as I’ve been able to find them, many if not most of their descendants also stayed in the Philadelphia area.

But beneath what might appear to be a very consistent and predictable pattern of living was a lot of turmoil.  These were families who endured terrible tragedies—many children who died young from disease or from accidents, and many children who lost a parent at a very young age.  Tuberculosis ravaged the family, as did heart disease and kidney disease.  One member of the family died in the Great Fire of San Francisco.  There were also a tragic number of family members who took their own lives.

In addition, this was a family that went from poverty to comfort and then suffered financially when the 1870 Depression struck, causing many of the stores to close and forcing family members into bankruptcy.  Yet the family in general rebounded, started over, and once again became merchants with successful businesses in most cases.

The other pattern I’ve noticed in the Nusbaum and Dreyfuss lines is assimilation.  Although there were certainly examples of intermarriage and conversion among the Cohen and certainly the New Mexican Seligman lines, that tendency to assimilate and move away from Judaism seemed even more widespread among the Dreyfuss and Nusbaum descendants.  There were fewer people buried at places like Mt Sinai in Philadelphia, fewer indications of synagogue membership or other participation in the Jewish community.  Perhaps those early years in the small towns where they were likely the only Jews in town took a toll on the role that Judaism would play in their lives and their identities.

Overall, these two lines were very hard to research and write about.  Not because they were hard to locate, although the Fanny Wiler mystery kept me going for quite a long time.  But because there was just so much unhappiness, so much suffering.  When I think back to their roots, coming from two small towns in Germany, Schopfloch and Hechingen, I wonder whether those early immigrants ever questioned their decision to leave Germany.  I assume they left for economic opportunities and freedom from the discrimination they faced as Jews in Germany.  Presumably they believed they had found both when they arrived and as they settled into life in Pennsylvania.  And in many ways they had.  They were free to worship, or not worship, as they saw fit.  They were able to make a living, own property, even own businesses.  They survived.



But all the tragedy and loss they endured had to wear on them in many ways.  Many of the family lines ended without any descendants.  I have had more trouble finding current descendants than I’ve had with the other lines I’ve researched.  I don’t have one relative with the name Nusbaum, aside from my father, whose middle name is Nusbaum.   The family seems to have disappeared, blended into other names, other families, other traditions.

For that reason, as hard as it was, I am happy that I was able to document and tell their story: where it began in Germany, how it continued in Pennsylvania, and what happened between their arrival in the 1840s and in the century that followed.

Where Am I? Where Am I Going? Tarnobrzeg


Polski: Tarnobrzeg, Panorama nocna osiedla Ser...

Polski: Tarnobrzeg, Panorama nocna osiedla Serbinow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time to take stock and figure out where I am and where I have been and, of course, where I am going next.  I have “finished” my research on the Dreyfuss and Nusbaum families, and when I say “finished,” I know that as with all my family lines, I am never finished.  I always have more to do—whether it is trying to go back further in time or trying to connect with descendants.  There are a number of unanswered questions, as there always are and always will be.  I will write up something to bring some closure to what I know about these two family lines within the next several days.  But for today, I just want to think about where I am more generally.

I have now done many of my father’s paternal lines.  Starting with the Cohens, I’ve also covered the Seligmans, the Schoenfelds, the Nusbaums, and the Dreyfusses (Dreyfi?), and, of course, all the other names that came with later generations: Sluizer, Weil, Selinger, Bacharach,  Wiler, Simon, Meyers, Dinkelspiel, Hano, and so on.   I’ve also missed a few lines.  I haven’t yet focused on the line that starts with Hart Levy Cohen’s wife, Rachel Jacobs, or with Jacob Cohen’s wife, Sara Jacobs.  I haven’t looked at all at the line that begins with Voegele Welsch, wife of Amson Nusbaum.  And I am sure there are other maternal lines I need to explore.  Of course, those are often the hardest because the names have disappeared from the family, and each of those ancestors dates back close to 200 years ago.  But eventually I will get there.

And next I will explore my father’s maternal lines, the Schoenthals and Katzensteins: more German Jews who came to Pennsylvania in the 1840s or so.  Who knows what stories, what adventures, what heartbreaks I will discover along the way.

But before I turn to the Schoenthal and Katzenstein families, I have several other questions to research and address.  The Seligmann family tree continues to grow both backwards in time and horizontally, thanks to my cousin Wolfgang and all the research he has done.  Their stories continue to fascinate and also horrify me.  I am also in touch with the daughter of Fred and Ilse Michel, and she has shared stories and photographs with me.

There are also lingering questions regarding the Goldschlagers, now that I’ve found two other families with that name and roots in Romania.  We are hoping to hire a Romanian researcher to help us learn more.

And finally, there are those ever elusive Brotmans.  Although I am not putting any more hope (or much time) into using DNA as a tool to find my Brotman ancestors, I still have hope that something will turn up.  Just this past week someone contacted me, asking about Chaye Fortgang, Joseph Brotman’s first wife and the mother of the first four Brotman children, Abraham, Sophie, David, and Max.  He has Fortgang family from Grebow, a town less than ten miles from Tarnobrzeg and also the town that David and Abraham Brotman gave as their home on the ship manifest when immigrating to the US.  Perhaps by researching the Fortgang family, I will also learn about Joseph Brotman and his family.  In addition, I am focused on the Brotmanville Brotmans, hoping that that line will lead to more answers.

English: Gmina Grębów COA Polski: Herb gminy G...

English: Gmina Grębów COA Polski: Herb gminy Grębów (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition, I will be visiting Tarnobrzeg in person in just about a month.  We will be hiring a guide who also does genealogy research, and we will be joined by my newly-found cousin Phyllis, the niece of Frieda, the woman who matched my mother as a close cousin through DNA testing.  Phyllis and I have chosen to believe that our grandmothers were in fact first cousins, and we are hoping to find some evidence to corroborate it.  So although I am not writing about it on the blog, much of my time right now is spent researching for this trip.  Once I am there, I will share my experiences on the blog, so stay tuned.

Photograph of Tarnobrzeg Main Square.

Photograph of Tarnobrzeg Main Square. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)