Arthur Seligman, My Great-great Uncle, Part I:  Child of Immigrant to a Business and Political Leader

Arthur Seligman 1903 courtesy of Arthur Scott

Arthur Seligman 1903 courtesy of Arthur Scott

My great-grandmother’s younger brother Arthur was the youngest child of Bernard and Frances Seligman, my great-great-grandparents, and the only one who was born in Santa Fe. He rose to the highest heights in New Mexico, elected twice to serve as the governor.  His story is another remarkable one—the story of the son of a German Jewish immigrant who less than 80 years after his father first arrived in America was elected governor in a state with a very small Jewish population.

There are many sources outlining Arthur’s life as well as many primary sources. I relied in part on Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Old Santa Fe: The Story of New Mexico’s Ancient Capital (Rio Grande Press 1925), pp. 477-478; the article on Arthur Seligman on the National Governor’s Association website; the article in The Dictionary of American Biography; and the vocesdesantafe website for much of the general background, but also used many primary sources such as newspaper articles, census reports, and school and city directories to fill in the details.

Arthur was born on June 14, 1871.  He grew up in Santa Fe and made several trips as a young child on the Santa Fe Trail back East with his mother to visit her family.  He attended public school in Santa Fe, and then in 1885 he, along with his older sister Minnie and brother James, traveled across the country to Philadelphia where Arthur, Minnie, and James attended Swarthmore, as had their older sister Eva, my great-grandmother, before them.  Arthur then attended Pierce Business College in Philadelphia.

When he returned to Santa Fe after college, he worked as a clerk and then as a bookkeeper at his family’s business, Seligman Brothers.  In 1896 when he was 25, he married Frankie E. Harris, usually referred to as Franc.

Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 42-43; Page: 489; Year Range: 1892 Sep - 1896 Jul

Cuyahoga County Archive; Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1810-1973; Volume: Vol 42-43; Page: 489; Year Range: 1892 Sep – 1896 Jul

She was four years his senior and a widow with an eight year old daughter named Richie Harris.  Although they were married in Ohio where Franc had been living, they moved to Santa Fe after they married, and Richie took Arthur’s surname as her own.  It’s not clear whether Arthur ever legally adopted Richie since she is identified as his step-daughter on the 1900 and 1910 census reports. I am curious as to how Arthur met Franc, but so far I have not been able to find an answer.

On February 14, 1898, Arthur and Franc’s son Otis Perry Seligman was born.  On the 1900 census, Arthur listed his occupation as “merchant dry goods.”  When the Seligman Brothers business incorporated in 1903, Arthur was named treasurer and secretary of the corporation with his older brother James serving as president and general manager.  On the 1910 census, he still listed his occupation as a dry goods merchant.

But at the same time that he was helping to run the business, Arthur was also very involved in local politics.  As early as 1893 when he was 22, Arthur was already  serving as a clerk in the local elections that year. (“Election Proclamation,” Santa Fe New Mexican (March 23, 1893), p. 4).  In 1896 he was elected to be a delegate to the state Democratic Party convention in Santa Fe.  (“Democratic Primaries,” Santa Fe New Mexican (May 25, 1896), p. 4)  That same year he was also nominated as a candidate on the Populist ticket at their convention in Santa Fe.  (“Populists in Council,” Santa Fe New Mexican (October 28, 1896), p. 4)

In 1900 Arthur was a candidate for county commissioner on the Democratic ticket. (“Personal Mention,” Santa Fe New Mexican (October 26, 1900), p. 4)  He ended up defeating his Republican opponent in a close race where most Democrats on the ticket lost in the election.  (“The Official Count,” Santa Fe New Mexican (November 13, 1900), p.4) In fact, the race was so close that his opponent challenged the results.  (“Election Contests,” Santa Fe New Mexican (December 13, 1900), p. 4) His opponent claimed that Arthur had used intimidation to discourage his opponent’s supporters from voting.

aseligman election challenge 1900

(“Election Contests,” Santa Fe New Mexican (December 13, 1900), p. 4

Although I could not find a follow-up article regarding this challenge, I assume it was unsuccessful.  Arthur served on the County Commission for many years and was soon its chairman.

In 1903 he also served as treasurer of the New Mexico commission to prepare for the St. Louis World’s Fair. (“World’s Fair Commission,” Albuquerque Daily Citizen (June 3, 1903), p.5)  In 1905 he was serving as the chairman of the Santa Fe County Commission.  In that capacity he was active in arguing in favor of statehood for New Mexico. (“They Want Their Debts All Paid,” Albuquerque Citizen (December 11, 1905), p. 6)  He was a delegate to the New Mexico Democratic Convention in 1906. (“Aftermath of Democratic Convention,” Albuquerque Citizen (September 14, 1906), pp. 1, 5)

In April, 1910, Arthur was elected mayor of Santa Fe by 193 votes.  (“Democrats Take All in Santa Fe, Arthur Seligman Mayor by a Majority of 193,” Santa Fe New Mexican (April 6, 1910), p. 8) Two years later, however, he was defeated by his Republican opponent for mayor, Celso Lopez.  (“Twenty-One Towns Elect Officers,” The Kenna Record (April 12, 1912), p. 8)

New Mexico become a state on January 6, 1912, and Arthur became involved in statewide politics.  When the chairman of the state Democratic Party resigned in January 1912, Arthur was named as a potential replacement.  (“Democratic State Chairman to Resign,” Santa Fe New Mexican (January 31, 1912), p. 5)  A later article, however, indicates that Arthur did not then serve as chairman, but as secretary of the Democratic Party in New Mexico in 1912. (“Congressman H.B. Fergusson Renominated by Democrats,” Las Cruces Sun-News (September 13, 1912), p. 1).  In 1912 he was also serving on the Natural Resources Commission ( Polk’s Arizona and New Mexico pictorial state gazetteer and business directory : 1912-1913. [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005).   He also served as Road Commissioner and was responsible for some important improvements to the roads and bridges in New Mexico.  (See, e.g., “Road Bond Deal Finally Closed by Treasurer,” Albuquerque Journal (July 8, 1915), p. 3; there are many other articles about Seligman’s role on the Road Commission on and on; see also Twitchell, op.cit.)

In September, 1916, he was elected chairman of the State Democratic Party.  (“New Mexico State News,” Estrella (September 16, 1916), p. 3).  The Democrats did well in the 1916 election in New Mexico, and the Albuquerque Journal praised Arthur’s work as chair:

democratic state chair praised 1916

(“Arthur Seligman’s Work,” Albuquerque Journal (November 12, 1916), p. 6).

The election was not without some controversy, however, as the Republicans ran a rather nasty ad attacking Arthur Seligman:


(Western Liberal (October 27, 1916), p. 7)

The ad insinuated that Seligman had schemed to advance his own interests and that of the banks in the context of a bond issue to finance road improvements when he was serving as Road Commissioner.  Although I cannot find any more about these claims and cannot even understand much of what the ad is alleging, it does not appear that this ad hurt Seligman himself or the Democratic candidates in the 1916 election.

In 1920, Arthur was still serving as Chairman of the Democratic Party Committee, but apparently faced some opposition to his continued service.  (“M’Adoo in Favor With Democrats,” The Deming Headlight (June 4, 1920), p. 1)  However, he defeated that opposition and continued serve as state chairman after the convention.  (“Arthur Seligman Chosen Chairman for Another Term,” Albuquerque Journal (August 27, 1920), p. 1)

Despite his heavy involvement in political matters, Arthur still listed his occupation as a dry good merchant on the 1920 census.  Franc’s daughter Richie, meanwhile, had married John Whittier March and had had a son George in 1919.  Franc and Arthur’s son Otis was working as a bank clerk in 1920 and living with his parents in 1920. In June 1921 Otis married Doris Gardiner.

The Seligman Family in the 1920s

The Seligman Family in the 1920s Arthur, Doris (Otis’ wife), Mary Ann Gardiner (Doris’ mother) , Franc, and Otis Courtesy of Arthur Scott

The 1920s brought even greater political success to Arthur.  By 1921, there was talk that he might be a candidate for governor in 1922.  (“Governorship Race May Be Largely Battle of Santa Fe for Both Parties,” Albuquerque Journal (December 21, 1921), p. 1).  Although he was not nominated as a gubernatorial candidate in 1922, he was promoted to the national Democratic Committee representing New Mexico.  In turn, he resigned as state party chair and was praised by many for his long service on behalf of Democrats in New Mexico although one delegate spoke against him.  (“Arthur Seligman Boosted to National Committee,” Albuquerque Journal (February 24, 1922), p. 1)

Strangely, I could not find many news articles mentioning Arthur Seligman between 1923 and 1929 on either or, although he was still serving as the New Mexico national committeeperson for the Democratic Party during those years according to the few news articles that mentioned him.  (E.g., “Santa Fe is for Al Smith,” Estrella (May 12, 1928), p. 3)

Meanwhile, his business career was changing as well.  In 1925, he was not only running Seligman Brothers, he was also president of the First National Bank of Santa Fe.  (“New Mexico State Items,” Estrella (June 20, 1925), p. 2)  Ralph Emerson Twitchell wrote that Arthur had been vice-president of the bank since 1912 and became president in 1924.  In the 1928 Santa Fe directory, he is listed only as president of the bank with someone named Evelyn Conway now running Seligman Brothers.

By 1929, Arthur Seligman was already a very successful man both in politics and in business, but he was not done yet, and in 1930 when he was 59 years old, he achieved what would probably have been amazing to his parents, both of whom had died many years before—he was elected governor of New Mexico.

More on that in my next post.

Arthur Seligman, c. 1925 from Twitchell, p. 479

Arthur Seligman, c. 1925 from Twitchell, p. 479

Seligman Brothers Company 1849-1928: The Rise and Fall of an American Business

Pete's copy of Santa Fe


Although not a human member of my family tree, Seligman Brothers Company was a tremendous factor influencing the history of my Seligman family.  Because this business was such a huge part of the family history, I decided to devote a separate post to the history and development of the business over time.


As described here, Sigmund Seligman had started the business in 1849 with Charles Clever.  Then Clever had left to pursue a career in law, and Bernard had joined with his brother in the business. Later, their younger brother Adolph joined the business.  Bernard withdrew, at least in name, for a while, and after Sigmund died in 1876, Adolph took over running the company.  The business thrived, using the Santa Fe Trail to bring goods from the East to Santa Fe and the surrounding territory.


Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Santa Fe New Mexican ran an article on January 21, 1903, discussing the history of the business.  The article described the way business had operated before the Santa Fe Railway system connected Santa Fe to other markets by train beginning in the 1880s:


“[A]ll goods brought into New Mexico were freighted by wagons drawn by oxen, mules and horses over the famous Santa Fe Trail from Kansas City.  Santa Fe was then the business center of the territory.  This was the distributing point for the entire region.  Money was plentiful, there were no banks…. Gambling and speculation consequently ran riot. Goods were freighted in once a year and mails were received from the east once a month….”  (“The Oldest Firm in the Southwest,” Santa Fe New Mexican, January 21, 1903, p. 1)


English: "Arrival of the caravan at Santa...

English: “Arrival of the caravan at Santa Fe” — Copy of original lithograph ca. 1844 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Marc Simmons, an expert on the history of the Santa Fe Trail, wrote, “Before the first bank was chartered in Santa Fe in 1870, Seligman Bros., in addition to its mercantile activities, engaged in private banking.  … The firm also helped finance construction of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.”





Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Another article written in the Santa Fe New Mexican in 1915 gave more detail about the early nature of the business:


“In the early years of its existence the old firm was engaged in a general merchandise business and bought and sold everything needed by the Indians and the Spanish and American settles of that period.  There was much bartering with the Indians and early settlers, as there was comparatively little actual money in the country and goods of all kinds were traded for skins, blankets, goods of all kinds, whatever the people had to offer and which could be turned into money in the markets of the East by the venturesome traders.” (“New Store at the End of the Santa Fe Trail Recalls the Ancient and Honorable History of Seligman Bros. Institution,” Santa Fe New Mexican, March 29, 1915)


The store moved in 1856 and then returned to its original location in 1890.  The 1903 article pointed out that although the store had originally carried a wide range of items including not just dry goods, but also groceries, hardware and crockery, after the move in 1890 it had limited its inventory to dry goods (clothing, hats, shoes, boots, carpets and “kindred lines”).


The 1915 article described the growth of Seligman Brothers wholesale business after the arrival of the railroad and the growth that followed:


“While Seligman Brothers carried on a retail business, the rapid development of the surrounding country and the establishment of stores in the new settlements formed in the outlying districts made it necessary that an immense stock be carried from which to supply the needs of the country merchants. This led to the building up of a wholesale business which in its day and generation was a marvel to the jobbers and manufacturers of the more populous trading centers of the East and North who could not understand how it was that a single concern in the sparsely populated country around Santa Fe could possibly need stocks of goods aggregating a quarter million of dollars in value, yet Seligman Brothers had, in fact, nearly always had, that much money invested in merchandise in order to be able to take of the country merchants who depended up them for supplies.” (“New Store at the End of the Santa Fe Trail Recalls the Ancient and Honorable History of Seligman Bros. Institution,” Santa Fe New Mexican, March 29, 1915)




English: Comparison map showing the Santa Fe T...

English: Comparison map showing the Santa Fe Trail and the Atchison. Scanned from: Santa Fe Railroad (1922), By the Way – A condensed guide of points of interest along the Santa Fe lines to California, Rand McNally and Company, Chicago, Illinois. Category:Atchison Category:Historical maps of the United States Category:Railroad maps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thus, Seligman’s was successful on both a retail and a wholesale level. As I wrote in my last post, in 1903 Adolph Seligman withdrew from Seligman and Brothers, and the business was then incorporated as Seligman Brothers Company.  Bernard’s older son James became a stockholder and the president and general manager of the business with Bernard’s younger son Arthur, also a stockholder, serving as the treasurer and secretary.   The 1903 Santa Fe New Mexican article reported on the change in ownership and the withdrawal of Adolph from the business, observing that “the business of the corporation will be continued is all respects as heretofore” and that “The firm of Seligman Bros. is the oldest in the southwest.  It is well and favorably known through the section and has a high reputation for fair dealing and honesty.  The members are progressive and up-to-date, and there is no doubt that it will command a high percentage of the favor of the public and secure a large share of business.  It has done so for fifty years and indications are that it will do so for many years to come.”  (“The Oldest Firm in the Southwest,” Santa Fe New Mexican, January 21, 1903, p. 1)


The 1915 article reported on another relocation of the business and, like the article written twelve years earlier, predicted continuing growth and success for the business.  (“New Store at the End of the Santa Fe Trail Recalls the Ancient and Honorable History of Seligman Bros. Institution,” Santa Fe New Mexican, March 29, 1915)


Despite that optimism, it appears that the 1920s were not very good for the business.  A few ads indicate that things perhaps were not going as well as they once had.


1920 Seligman Bros. ad

1920 Seligman Bros. ad


Seligman Bros ad May 5, 1922 Santa Fe New Mexican

Seligman Bros ad May 5, 1922 Santa Fe New Mexican


Although I do not have any source explaining specifically why or when the business closed, in 1928 it was still listed in the Santa Fe city directory, but with a woman named Evelyn Conway as its general manager.  James and Arthur had moved on to different lines of business, as I will discuss.  By 1930 Seligman Brothers Company was no longer listed in the directory and presumably was out of business.  Perhaps competition from those other stores had had an impact on Seligman’s business.  Whatever the cause, it is sad that after more than seventy-five years as one of the first and most important businesses in Santa Fe, the store disappeared forever.[1]


Thanks once again to my cousin Arthur “Pete” Scott, who provided me with most of the news clippings discussed in this post. For more on the history of the buildings where Seligman Brothers was located from 1849-1926, see his article here.  There are also additional photographs located at that site.  In addition, Pete wrote an article about the history of the company, located here.



[1] William Seligman,son of Adolph Seligman, did continue for at least some time the family tradition in the dry goods business in Santa Fe.  He operated a store in Santa Fe under the name Seligman’s from at least 1948-1959.  In 1960, the store was listed in the Santa Fe Directory as simply Willie’s Shop for Men.  (“New Haberdashery to Open at La Fonda,” Santa Fe New Mexican, November 30, 1958.)  I do not know how much longer the store stayed in business.  There is no business called Seligman’s currently listed in the Santa Fe business directory.




Jews on the Santa Fe Trail 1848-1871:  My Great-Great-Grandfather Bernard Seligman and his Brothers



Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman was born on November 23, 1837 in Gau-Algesheim, Germany.  When I learned about the small town in Germany where my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman was born, I was not surprised that he had decided to move away when he reached adulthood.  Gau-Algesheim was itself a very small town, and the Jewish population was tiny—perhaps 60-80 people during the 1840s and 1850s when Bernard was growing up.  The opportunities for a young Jewish man must have been very limited—socially and economically.  My research of the town indicated that by 1900 the Jewish population had declined dramatically.  My great-great-grandfather and his brothers were therefore not unlike many others who moved out of their small hometown to seek greater opportunities.

Before leaving Germany, Bernard received what was described as a “first class education in the public and commercial schools of his native land where he also gained considerable actual business experience while employed a wholesale establishment there.”[1]  According to a book written in 1925 by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, then the official state historian for New Mexico, Bernard Seligman had been associated with the Rothschild banking house in Frankfort-on-the-Main before coming to the US.[2]

Bernard was not the first of the Seligman brothers to arrive in the United States. His older brother Sigismund or Sigmund, born in 1830 in Gau-Algesheim, had arrived in Santa Fe in 1849.  At first, Sigmund found work as a photographer, running a daguerreotype portrait studio for a few years.[3]  But within a few years he and another recent German immigrant named Charles Clever “formed a business partnership … under the firm name and style of Seligman and Clever, engaging in general merchandizing and freighting over the old [Santa Fe] Trail.”[4]

This photo is claimed to be the oldest photograph of Santa Fe, taken about 1855.  You can see the sign for Seligman and Clever on the right.  At one time one of the streets in this photograph was called Seligman Street.


Sigmund’s younger brother Bernard, my great-great-grandfather, arrived in the United States on March 23, 1857, coming aboard the ship Mercury and landing in New York.  On the record for the passenger manifest it says that his occupation was a merchant.[5] Twitchell wrote that Bernard initially settled near Philadelphia and worked for a cotton manufacturing business.[6]  He is said to have arrived in Santa Fe in 1858, taking a position in his brother Sigmund’s business, according to Bernard’s obituary. [7]

When Sigmund’s partner Charles Clever resigned from the business a few years later to become a lawyer, Bernard became a partner with his brother Sigmund in the business, and it was renamed S. Seligman and Bro.  Some years later a third brother, Adolph, born in 1845, also settled in Santa Fe and joined his brothers’ business in the 1860s.[8]

As described by William J. Parish in “The German Jew and the Commercial Revolution in Territorial New Mexico 1850-1900,” New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. 35, p. 1 (1960), until the arrival of Jewish German immigrants like the Seligmans, the trade conditions in the New Mexico territory were quite rudimentary, a few small stands relying upon traveling merchants to provide them with merchandise.  According to Parish, heavy taxes and the high cost and risk of travel made many reluctant to deal in the region.  Storekeepers could not rely on these traveling merchants to supply an adequate inventory of goods.  Thus, few merchants established permanent roots in the area.

English: "Arrival of the caravan at Santa...

English: “Arrival of the caravan at Santa Fe” — Copy of original lithograph ca. 1844 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These conditions provided a substantial opportunity for Jewish German immigrants like my ancestors, the Seligmans. Beginning in the 1840s around the time that Sigmund immigrated, there were a number of recent Jewish German immigrants who brought a thriving economic base to Santa Fe and other New Mexican cities based on transporting goods from the eastern United States over the Santa Fe trail to the New Mexican territory recently acquired by the US after the Mexican War ended.[9]

As postulated by Parish, German Jews came to the US with a particularly good background to take advantage of these entrepreneurial opportunities.  Parish discusses how historically Jews in Western Europe, although foreclosed from entering many trades, had been allowed to take on the role of the moneylender, a livelihood to which Christians had an aversion and, in some cases, a religious opposition, thus leaving that unpopular job for their Jewish neighbors.  Although this created some hostility and resentment (as seen, of course, in The Merchant of Venice and the character of Shylock), it also provided Jewish men with the opportunity to develop skills in banking, business, and capitalism.  Jewish immigrants brought these skills with them to the US wherever they settled, and, as Parish points out, those who came to New Mexico had a profound impact on the fledgling economy that existed there.

This is a photograph of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman (far left) with two other Santa Fe merchants,  Zadoc Staab and Lehman Spiegelberg,  and  two Kiowa Indian scouts.

Bernard Seligman and other merchants

Freighters on the Santa Fe Trail, Bernard Seligman, Zadoc Staab, Lehman Spiegelberg and Kiowa Indian scouts Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe


The growth of the economy is illustrated by the growth in the number of Jewish merchants in Santa Fe from 1850 to 1870.  In 1850 there were eight such merchants; by 1860 that number had doubled to sixteen.[10]  By 1870 it had doubled again to 32; clearly, my relatives had arrived at the right place at the right time.[11]  These merchants were not transient traveling merchants.  They established permanent businesses and stayed in the community.

Twitchell provided this vivid description of the scale of the Seligman brothers’ business:

“A Fair exemplar of the magnitude of the business of this firm is recorded in the fact that one caravan, conducted by firm, loaded at the Missouri river eighty-three wagons of merchandise consigned to the firm at Santa Fé, each wagon carrying not less than three tons of high class freight.  Another record in the books of the firm shows the payment of $30,000 in transportation charges on one caravan alone, all of the merchandise having been disposed of to New Mexican buyers within the brief period of three weeks after arrival in Santa Fé[. N]early three quarters of a century disclose an aggregate of more than fifteen millions of dollars.”[12]



Thus, by the 1860s, the Seligman Brothers’ business was thriving.  They and the other Jewish merchants had brought a reliable source of goods to Santa Fe for the first time.

These merchants, however, were not involved in any of the traditional practices of Jewish life.  According to Henry J. Tobias, the author of The History of the Jews in New Mexico, although these men identified as Jews, there was no evidence of any regular Jewish observance in Santa Fe during those early days—no evidence of a synagogue or any form community prayer or celebration, no observance of dietary laws.[13]  The Jewish population was less than five percent of one percent of the overall population at that time, and the Jews had to adapt to living in a culture where they were such a tiny segment of the community.

Most of the Jewish residents in the 1860s were single men, although a few women and families were starting to arrive.  In 1860 there was a celebration of Yom Kippur at the home of Levi Spiegelberg, another Jewish merchant, who had recently married a Jewish woman from Germany.  Tobias speculated that perhaps the arrival of Spiegelberg’s bride, one of only two Jewish women in the town at that time, made the others nostalgic for the traditions from back home and thus inspired this day long observance of fasting and prayer.[14]

After the Civil War[15] and after his younger brother Adolph had arrived in Santa Fe, Bernard moved back east to Philadelphia for several years.  Parish pointed out that there were no Jewish single women in Santa Fe in the 1850s and 1860s, and that while some Jewish men intermarried, most went back east to find a Jewish woman to marry.[16]  Sigmund never married, and Adolph did not marry until he was in his 60s, but Bernard went back east and found a Jewish woman from Pennsylvania, my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum.  She was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1845, but by 1860 she and her family had moved to Philadelphia.  Bernard and Frances married on March 28, 1865, and my great-grandmother Eva (named Evalynn at birth) was born the following year on May 27, 1866 in Philadelphia.  According to the Philadelphia city directories for 1867, Bernard was in business with his Nusbaum in-laws at that time.

On August 17, 1867, Bernard and Frances had a second daughter, Florence; the baby only lived five weeks and died on September 26, 1867.  She was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia, along with many of the Nusbaum family members (and also many of my Cohen relatives).  A third child, James Leon Seligman, was born on August 11, 1868, and then another daughter, Minnie, was born on October 31, 1869.  All of these children were born in Philadelphia, and Bernard, Frances and the three surviving children are all listed in the 1870 census as living in Philadelphia in the 13th Ward. Bernard is also listed in 1871 in the Philadelphia directory.

Bernard, however, must have been traveling back and forth between Santa Fe and Philadelphia because he is also listed in Santa Fe on the 1870 census, living with his brother Sigmund and two clerks.  Bernard is listed as owning $25,000 worth of real estate and $20,000 in personal property. (Strangely, Sigmund only claimed $20,000 in personal property and no real estate, despite being the founder of the store and the full time resident.)

At some point, however, in 1871, Bernard and Frances and their children relocated to Santa Fe, and their last child, Arthur Seligman, was born on June 14, 1871, in Santa Fe, the first family member to be born in that city.  According to Twitchell, Frances Nusbaum Seligman was one of only eight women living in Santa Fe at that time who did not come from a Spanish background.  Twitchell described my great-great-grandmother as “a woman of rare beauty, great intelligence and charming personality.”[17]  Although I will write about the Nusbaum family at a later time, for now I can say that they were a large and successful Philadelphia family with a German Jewish background; it must have been very difficult for Frances to leave her family behind and move all the way to Santa Fe, a frontier town far different from Philadelphia.

My great-grandmother Eva was only five years old when she made that cross-country trip with her parents and her siblings, leaving Philadelphia temporarily behind. She lived there for ten years, and when she was fifteen years old, she returned to Philadelphia for college and married my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen when she was twenty.  She lived in Philadelphia for the rest of her life.  But most of the Seligman family developed and maintained deep roots in Santa Fe, ties that still exist today for many of their descendants.


In my posts to follow, I will first write about the years that my great-grandmother lived in Santa Fe, 1871-1881, and about her family.  Then I will write about the years that followed, including the story of my great-great-uncle Arthur Seligman and his career as a political leader and ultimately governor of New Mexico.


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)







[1] “A Good and True Man Called Home,” Santa Fe New Mexican, February 3, 1903.


[2] Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Old Santa Fe: The Story of New Mexico’s Ancient Capital (The Rio Grande Press 1925), pp 476-478.  I found a few errors in Twitchell’s account of Bernard Seligman, including the birth year of his brother Sigmund and the birth places of his first three children.  I cannot independently verify some of his other assertions, unfortunately, but report them here as they were reported in Twitchell’s book.


[3] Arthur Scott, “My Grandfather’s Birthplace on the Santa Fe Plaza,” found at

[4] Twitchell, p. 477.  It is important to note that there was an entirely separate Seligman family that settled in Bernalillo, New Mexico around the same time that my Seligman ancestors were settling in Santa Fe.  As far as I can tell, there is no familial relationship between the two families and the “other” Seligmans came from a different region in Germany, but one never knows.  Henry Tobias and Sarah Payne, “Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico: The Seligman Family” (The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, 2005).


[5] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Bernhard Seligmann, 23 Mar 1857; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, ARC identifier 1746067; Ship Mercury, departed from Havre, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.)


[6] Twitchell, p. 477.  Bernard’s obituary claimed that he had come to Santa Fe directly after immigrating, but it makes sense that he would have spent some time in the east since he arrived in NY in 1857 and is said to have arrived in Santa Fe in 1858.  Also, perhaps it was that initial stay in Philadelphia that caused him to return to Philadelphia some years later and to meet and marry my great-great-grandmother.


[7] “A Good and True Man Called Home,” Santa Fe New Mexican, February 3, 1903.


[8] Arthur Scott, “Seligman Brothers—Pioneer Jewish Entrepreneurs of Santa Fe and the New Mexico Territory,”




[9] Parish; also,  Gunther Paul Barth, Instant Cities: Urbanization and the Rise of San Francisco and Denver


(Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 71-73.


[10] Parish, p. 15.  See also Henry J. Tobias, A History of the Jews of New Mexico (Univ. N. Mex. Press. 1990), p. 40-41.


[11] Parish, p. 15


[12] Twitchell, p.477.


[13] Tobias, pp. 43-44.


[14] Tobias, pp. 42-43.


[15]  During the Civil War, Bernard served as a captain and quarter master for the Union Army.   Arthur Scott, “Seligman Brothers—Pioneer Jewish Entrepreneurs of Santa Fe and the New Mexican Territory,” at   See also Tobias, p. 54.


[16] Parish, p. 23, 129.


[17] Twitchell, p. 477.