I am delighted to announce that my newest novel, Santa Fe Love Song, has been published and is available in both paperback and e-book format on Amazon here. Like my first novel, Pacific Street, Santa Fe Love Song was inspired by the lives of real people—in this case, my great-great-grandparents Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum—and informed by my family history research. But as with my first book, Santa Fe Love Song is first and foremost a work of fiction.
It is a double love story—a story of Bernard’s passion for his newly adopted home in New Mexico and of his deep love for a young woman in Philadelphia. How will he resolve the conflict between those two loves? That is the heart of the novel.
But this is also an adventure story because the first part of the book tells of Bernard’s arrival from Gau-Algesheim, Germany, his adjustment to life in Philadelphia, and then his challenging and exciting trip on the Santa Fe Trail when he moves out west to work with his brother Sigmund. On that trip Bernard faces many different obstacles and learns to love the American landscape. He transforms from a German Jewish immigrant into an American pioneer and businessman.
As with Pacific Street, I wrote Santa Fe Love Song with my children and grandchildren in mind. This time I also decided to get my grandsons involved in the project. Nate, 10, and Remy, 6, became my illustrators. As I told them stories about Bernard and Frances, they created drawings that told those stories visually. I am ever so grateful to my two wonderful grandsons for their work, and I hope that someday their grandchildren will cherish these books and the illustrations and honor the memories of their ancestors Bernard and Frances.
I hope that you also will find Santa Fe Love Song a worthwhile and enjoyable read. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you! I appreciate all your support.
Marcel (born Mayer) Goldschmidt, the fourth child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, died in 1928 and was survived by his wife and first cousin, Hedwig Goldschmidt, and their four children, Jacob, Nelly, Else, and Grete. Hedwig and two of those children, Jacob and Grete, would survive the Holocaust. Nelly and Else were not as fortunate. This post will tell the story of Hedwig and the two children who escaped.
Grete and her husband Berthold Heimerdinger and their daughter Gabrielle were the first to leave Germany. They arrived in New York on June 22, 1934, and were going to Berthold’s brother Leonard Heimerdinger in New York City.
Two months later Berthold declared his intention to become a US citizen. He was working as a securities dealer at that time, and the family was residing at 1212 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Grete’s mother Hedwig came to visit them in New York in April, 1935, for a four month stay, listing her son Jacob as the person to contact back in Frankfurt,1 but Hedwig returned to Germany after her visit. She returned for another visit two years later on October 29, 1937, but this time listed her residence as Zurich, Switzerland, where her contact person was a friend named Julius Wolf.2
Sometime thereafter Hedwig must have left Switzerland because when she arrived in England on March 18, 1938, she listed her last address as Amsterdam.3 I don’t know where she was during World War II. More on that in a later post. By 1952, she was living in the United States.In 1940, Grete, Berthold, and Gabrielle Heimerdinger were living in Queens, New York, and Berthold was working as a jewelry dealer.4 According to Berthold’s draft registration for World War II, he was self-employed.
Grete’s brother Jacob arrived in New York on August 30, 1941, from Lisbon, Portugal, with his last residence being Nice, France. On his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Jacob listed his occupation as an art dealer, like so many of his extended family members from Frankfurt.
According to his World War II draft registration completed the following year, Jacob was living at 26 East 63rd Street in New York and listed Herman Goldschmidt as the person who would always know where he was. Herman was his cousin, the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene Goldschmidt II, and was living at the same address, 26 East 63rd Street.
Thus, Jacob was living with his cousins, not his sister Grete. Jacob did not list an occupation on his draft registration, but listed his place of business as the same address as his (and his cousins’) residence, 26 East 63rd Street. (Note also that on the naturalization index card for his mother Hedwig above, she also listed 26 East 63rd Street as her address in 1952.)
Jacob had reported on his declaration of intent that he was not married and had no children. However, David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research reported that Jacob married in France on June 20, 1940, and thereafter had two children born in France, one in December 1941 and one in 1952. Although I have no documentation of the marriage or the births of the children, I did find airline documents showing that the wife and two children visited Jacob in New York City during the 1950s.[^5] By 1964, Jacob had relocated to France, presumably to be closer to his family.5
Gabrielle Heimerdinger, Grete and Berthold’s daughter, married Erwin Vogel on September 8, 1943, in New York City.6 Erwin was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 23, 1921, to Kurt and Edith Vogel, and had immigrated to the US with his family in 1937, coming from Antwerp, Belgium. They settled in Chicago, where they were living in 1940.7
On his 1942 draft registration for World War II, Erwin was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, and working for the Stevens Institute of Technology, from which he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1944. Gabrielle and Erwin had four children.8
Thus, Hedwig and her son Jacob and her daughter Grete and Grete’s family all survived the Holocaust. Grete’s husband Berthold Heimerdinger died in June 1961 at the age of 71.9 Hedwig died on December 9, 1964; she was 87.10 Jacob Goldschmidt died in October 1976 in France. He was eighty years old.11
Grete was the last surviving child of Marcel and Hedwig Goldschmidt. She lived a long life, dying on January 2, 2003, in New York at the age of 98.12 She had outlived her daughter Gabrielle Heimerdinger Vogel, who died January 19, 1990, in Rockville, Maryland, where she and her family had relocated in 1972.13 Gabrielle was 65 and was survived by her husband Erwin and their four children.
Grete and Jacob were fortunate to have left Germany when they did. The other two siblings, Else and Nelly, faced tragic deaths at the hands of the Nazis, as we will see in my next post.
- Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 80, Ship or Roll Number: Albert Ballin, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 ↩
- Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 ↩
- Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest 1938, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1158, Month: Mar, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 ↩
- Berthold Heimerdinger and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02732; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 41-614, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census ↩
- This information came from his mother’s death announcement in the December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 ↩
- Gabrielle J Heimerdinger, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 8 Sep 1943, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Erwin Vogel, License Number: 21889, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 ↩
- Kurt Vogel and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00934; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-447, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. ↩
- “Unconventional Aeronautics Engineer Erwin Vogel, 88, Dies,” The Washington Post, October 28, 2009, found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102703825.html ↩
Berthold Heimerdinger, Social Security Number: 085-28-3608, Birth Date: 10 Sep
Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Jun 1961, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩
- December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 ↩
Jacob Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 085-28-0743, Birth Date: 1 Jul 1896
Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩
Greta Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1904, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 2 Jan 2003, Father: Marcel Goldschmidt
Mother: Hedwig Goldschmidt, SSN: 064167857, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 ↩
Gabrielle Joan Heimerdinger, [Gabrielle Vogel], Birth Date: 16 Dec 1924, Birth Place: Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 19 Jan 1990, Father: Berthold Heimerdinger, Mother: Grete Goldschmidt, SSN: 102185390
Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 ↩
One of the great advantages I had when I was researching my Santa Fe Seligman family was the availability of numerous newspaper articles about members of the family. Because my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and his son Arthur Seligman were both important business and political leaders in Santa Fe, there was extensive coverage of their lives—and not just their business and political lives, but also their personal lives. The news articles gave me great insights into their personalities and the way they were perceived in their communities.
Now my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann has uncovered more articles—not only about the Santa Fe Seligmans but also about their relatives abroad.
My favorite article of those uncovered by Wolfgang is this one, an obituary of my three-times great-grandmother Babette Schoenfeld Seligmann from the February 2, 1899 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Death of Mrs. M[oritz] Seligman
Hon. Bernard Seligman received the sad intelligence today, that Mrs. M. Seligman, mother of Bernard and Adolf Seligman, of this city, died at Gau-Algesheim, Germany, January 15, 1899, at the advanced age of 89. She left seven children, two daughters and five sons, all living, in England, Germany and the United States. Mrs. Seligman was a remarkable women in many ways, she brought up her children to be honorable and valuable citizens, as might be inferred from the honored career of the two sons who have for so long been esteemed members of this community, and who are so widely respected throughout New Mexico. Mrs. Seligman was a woman of rugged and sterling good sense, and a just, affectionate parent, and the many friends of Messrs. Seligman in this territory will sympathize with them in their loss.
The Sante Fe New Mexican reporter could not have known Babette, so the descriptions must have come from her sons Bernard and Adolf. They reveal so much about Babette’s personality and how she was perceived and loved by her sons.
Here she is on the far right with two of her sons, James on the left, Adolf on the right, with her granddaughter Anna Oppenheimer in the center and her daughter-in-law Henrietta on the far left. (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the dog.)
I thought this little news item that Wolfgang found was also interesting. It is an announcement of the dissolution of a London wine business owned by three of the Seligmann brothers: Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann, his younger brother Hieronymus Seligmann, and the youngest sibling, James Seligman. James, who was born Jakob, was the brother who left Germany for England and Scotland, unlike my great-great-grandfather Bernard and his brother Adolf, who went to New Mexico, or August and Hieronymus, who stayed in Germany. The notice announced the takeover of the wine business in England by James alone as of the end of July, 1890.
I knew that James had been a wine merchant, but was not aware that his brothers were his partners initially. James was ultimately quite successful and, according to my cousin Lotte, owned hotels in Great Britain.
Wolfgang also found a notice in the July 15, 1930 issue of the London Gazette notifying those with possible claims against the estate of James Seligman of his death on March 11, 1930, and outlining what they needed to do to pursue those claims. It’s interesting that a man as successful as James died intestate (i.e., without a will). The National Provisional Bank Limited and James’ widow Clara had been appointed administrators of his estate. It was the settlement of James Seligman’s estate and the bank’s search for his heirs that led me to so many other Seligmann relatives.
Two articles that Wolfgang sent were stories I’d not seen before about my great-uncle Arthur Seligman. The first is a profile of him published in the January 13, 1904, Santa Fe New Mexican (p. 9). The biographical information I have reported elsewhere so I will just quote a few excerpts from this article, written when Arthur was a County Commissioner in Santa Fe.
Describing the current status and success of the Seligman Brother’s mercantile business in Santa Fe, of which Arthur was then a director and secretary-treasurer, the article states, “Model methods, courteous treatment, absolutely fair dealing, and prompt service have characterized the business of the firm since 1856, and are today the mottoes of the two young men [Arthur and his younger brother James L. Seligman] conducting it.”
About Arthur specifically, the article states that he “is very popular in his home city. [His success in the election as a County Commissioner] is good evidence that he is liked and respected where best known. It is a fact universally acknowledged that he has filled the important position of County Commissioner for the First District, for the past three years with marked ability, constant efficiency, and great benefit to the taxpayers and property owners, and that he has aided greatly in bringing about a very large and gratifying reduction in county expenses since taking office on the first of January, 1901.”
The article then goes on to praise his other roles and accomplishments, concluding by saying, “He is as enterprising, progressive and good a citizen as Santa Fe can boast of.”
Six years later Arthur was elected mayor of Santa Fe and was featured on the front page of the April 6, 1910, issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican. The articles provide a biography and a description of his plans for Santa Fe during his upcoming term as mayor.
Twenty years later, Arthur would be elected governor of New Mexico. Here he is attending the 1932 Democratic convention in Atlantic City, accompanied by my cousin Marjorie Cohen and my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen, his sister.
Much thanks to my dear cousin Wolfgang for finding and sharing these articles about our relatives.
I am very sad to report that my cousin Pete passed away on July 11, 2017. Regular readers of this blog may recognize Pete’s name—his full name was Arthur George Scott, but he was born Arthur George Seligman. Pete was my father’s second cousin, and I found him several years back when I was researching my Seligman(n) family line.
Connecting with Pete was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had while researching my family history. Pete was fascinated by history and was extremely knowledgeable about the history of his hometown, Santa Fe, and about our family’s contribution to the history of that city. Because of Pete’s extensive background and incredible generosity, I was able to learn a great deal about our American Seligman history. And I was able to share with him my delight in learning about our German ancestors and relatives. He quickly became a friend as well as a cousin.
Pete was the great-grandson of Bernard Seligman, who, along with his brothers Sigmund and Adolf, traveled the Santa Fe Trail in the 1850s and helped to establish Santa Fe as an important trading post. Their store Seligman Brothers was on the main plaza in Santa Fe for close to eighty years.
Pete’s grandfather was Arthur Seligman, the governor of New Mexico from 1931 until his death in office in 1933. I wrote extensively about Arthur Seligman on the blog, as well as about Pete’s father Otis Seligman; without Pete’s help, I would not have been able to learn and share as much as I did about the contributions the Seligmans made to American history.
Pete and his dear friend Mike Lord along with several others also created and contributed to a historical website called Voces de Santa Fe. If you enter Arthur Scott or Pete Scott into the search box there, you can see some of the incredible work Pete did, researching and writing about not only his family’s history, but also the general history of Santa Fe and the region. I relied on Voces for many of my stories about the Seligmans and early Santa Fe.
Pete was very proud of his family history, as well he should have been. Pete inherited the pioneer spirit of his great-grandfather Bernard and the commitment to public service of both his great-grandfather and his grandfather and namesake Arthur Seligman. Rather than try and write a biography of Pete myself, I am including in this post the beautiful obituary written by Pete’s daughter, Terri. Thank you, Terri, for allowing me to share this.
A Life Well Lived, Loved, and Learned
Arthur George Scott (Seligman), also known as Pete and Art, aged 79, last residing in Bradenton, FL, died on July 11, 2017 at home, in his sleep due to many complications from a lifetime of Type I Diabetes.
He was born on January 27, 1938 to Doris Seligman (Gardiner) and Otis Seligman in Santa Fe, NM. He was given his stepfather’s last name of Scott in 1943 after his father passed away when Pete was just starting public school in Santa Fe.
While obtaining his BS in Civil Engineering from New Mexico State University, he married his first wife Marilyn Bicksler. After participating in ROTC and graduating from NM State University, he provided service to the US Army as a Lieutenant, giving education to many younger recruits during the late 1950’s Cold War. After providing his service to the United States, he grew his hair long and never cut it short again; he added a beard and mustache for good measure.
He acquired Type I Diabetes just out of the US Army, while beginning a lifetime career in the United States Geological Survey. Lucky to survive the diabetic coma that announced a new path in his life, Pete moved forward and never gave up.
He loved his career and work friends at USGS in Santa Fe, NM, surveying rivers and dealing with Diamondback Rattle Snakes in the desert. And at USGS in Reston, VA, he travelled and wrote hydrologic journal papers on rivers and lakes from the Clinch River Valley to Canada/US Great Lakes, and to Brazil educating on water resources. He called it “The best job in the world”. Part of that “best job” involved a lot of travel, which he relished and he learned from the people in every society, city, or country he visited.
Pete inspired all of his creativity, scientific knowledge and self-sufficiency to his children, Terri and Janice. They remember his paintings, remodeling of the house, and collecting NM historical artifacts. Terri and Janice closely followed in his footsteps of science and creativity.
In 1980, while living in Reston, VA he met and married his current, devoted, and loving wife, Bonnie Sharpless Scott. Their marriage was 37 years strong. They spent many exciting and tumultuous times, helping to raise two teenagers, travelling, working, playing, and loving. Bonnie, a professional hairdresser, always took care of trimming Pete’s hair and beard to ultimate perfection. Now, that’s true love. Their travels were magical from the Galapagos Islands seeing Darwin’s creatures, to Africa viewing Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro, and hanging in Jamaica getting dreadlocks, and onto Thailand appreciating the majesty of nature, then sailing in the Caribbean, as well as a Brazilian cruise up the Amazon River.
Pete leaves behind many people, including his two daughters, Terri and Janice; Janice and husband Matthew’s children, Alexander and Wesley; Terri and husband Jeffrey’s children, Joshua and Nicholas; his niece, Jhette Diamond; and most significantly, his wife, Bonnie. In addition, Pete leaves behind very favored pets, including dogs: Koda II, Sunny, and Tipper, plus birds: Bubba, Tico, and Cisco. And very importantly, he leaves behind a legacy and brilliant history with many extended family and friends.
Type I Diabetes was a major obstacle in Pete’s life, as well as his family’s lives. He kept all his limbs, but lost most of his eyesight, most of the use of his hands, and his legs were very painful and eventually lost function, at which point he had to accept a wheel chair, all due to Diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, he never gave up hope and learning. His last days were spent with Bonnie making cigar box guitars, and learning to play slide guitar blues.
If you would like to help his family heal from the loss of Pete, please learn everything you can about Type I Diabetes and feel free to make a donation to the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) or your local chapter of The Lighthouse for the Blind. We only ask this, in Pete’s name and memory, so that young people who have no choice and acquire this disease can live better and longer lives than Pete was allowed.
I will miss Pete very much; although we had long ago finished our collaboration on the family history, we had stayed in touch. In March, 2016, while in Florida, Harvey and I traveled to Bradenton, Florida, and had a very enjoyable and interesting evening with Pete and his beloved wife Bonnie. We met their dogs and parrots and shared stories about our lives and our history. I feel so very fortunate that we were able to spend that time together. Here is a photo I took when we were together.
My heart goes out to Pete’s family—his wife Bonnie, his daughters Terri and Janice, and his grandchildren. May his memory be a blessing for his family and for all of us who knew him.
About 45 minutes outside of Santa Fe is a true natural wonder, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It was not a place that we had on our original itinerary, but while in Boulder with my college friends, one of those friends suggested that we take the side trip to see this place. She described it in ways that made it seem like something we shouldn’t miss, and she was right. I am so grateful to her for making this suggestion. This had to be one of the most awe-inspiring places I’d ever seen. I will let my photographs speak for themselves, but keep in mind that these were taken with an iPhone 5s camera and that the colors and the textures are even more amazing in real life.
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.
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:
The sky over Santa Fe feels wide open, and the uniformity of the color of the buildings gives the place an aesthetic unity that is both appealing and quite unreal.
When we met with Pete’s friend (and now our friend) Mike to learn about the history of Santa Fe, he likened Santa Fe to an adobe amusement park. He pointed out that it was not until the 1950s that the uniform adobe look was mandated; historically there was a great deal more diversity to the architecture of the city, as you can see from this photo that Mike shared with us, dated in the 1890s.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Below is the building located where Seligman Brothers’ store was once located, across the street from La Fonda:
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.
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.
Then he took us to Fairview Cemetery, where many of my Seligman and Nusbaum relatives are buried.
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.
First, I spent four days with three of my best friends in the world. We met our freshman year in college and spent four years living in the same dorms, talking, laughing, debating, consoling, sharing, and confiding in each other. Although it was hard to get together in the years we were all raising families, in the last ten years or so we have gotten together every couple of years. We got together this time in Boulder, Colorado, where one of my friends now lives. It was my first time in the Rockies, and we hiked and walked all over Boulder, ate great food, and enjoyed good company and beautiful views. And as if not one day had passed since we graduated over 40 years ago, we talked and laughed and debated and consoled and shared and confided in each other.
Then I met up with my husband at the Denver airport, and we began our travels together. We spent about 24 hours in Denver, and in that time we explored downtown Denver and then explored my genealogical roots in the city where my paternal grandmother spent much of her childhood. More on that to come.
From Denver we drove all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, stopping in Raton, New Mexico, for a night, and arriving in Santa Fe the next day by lunch time. I had lots of thoughts during that drive as we observed a part of the United States I’d never seen before, some of it incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring and other parts that made me appreciate the struggles that so many Americans experience day to day. More on that to come as well.
And then we got to Santa Fe, the main destination of our trip. Santa Fe is a city with an incredibly long and rich history, including my Seligman family’s own personal history there, about which I’ve written extensively. Being in this place that had been the home of my great-great-grandfather and his family—and where they had contributed so much to its commercial and political development—-was very moving and exciting. And then there is the art, the glorious landscapes, the architecture.
The last leg of our trip took us to Taos where I again was inspired to think about the history of this country as well as its amazing landscapes and vistas. It’s no wonder that so many artists were inspired by the scenery and the light and the skies over New Mexico.
I will be writing about the trip in the days that follow, and then I will return to the story of my family. I have much to do after all these days away from research and from blogging. I have missed the work and my family, my cats, and my friends, but as always, it’s good to get a break, some new perspectives, and a chance to reflect on all the wonders that life brings.
Sometimes you need to hire an expert to help with hard questions. With the help of the genealogy village—my fellow bloggers and the members of the various Facebook groups and JewishGen—I have been able to find and learn more than I ever imagined. But when it came to some of those mystery photos that bewildered and frustrated me, I decided it was time to find an expert, and the expert who came highly recommended—for good reason—is Ava Cohn, a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the Photo Genealogist.
I had originally sent Ava this photo of my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager because I was curious about identifying the other people in the photograph.
But Ava and I discussed it, and she concluded that without more information and more photographs, it would be impossible to make much progress identifying total strangers who lived over a hundred years ago. I really appreciated Ava’s honesty, and when she asked if I had any other photographs that might be more amenable to her analysis, I looked back to consider some other options.
I had concluded tentatively from my own analysis and comparison to other photographs and the inscriptions on the photograph that the older woman was probably my three-times great-grandmother Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann, and the two men labeled Onkel Adolf and Onkel Jakob were probably Babetta’s sons, Adolf and James, brothers of my great-great grandfather Bernard Seligman. Adolf, like my great-great-grandfather Bernard, had left Germany and settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and James had moved to Great Britain. I had learned that James was not a common name for boys in Germany in the 19th century so it was likely that he was born Jakob and adopted the name James after emigrating. Also, my cousin Lotte, who had met James Seligman when she was a young girl, thought that “Onkel Jakob” resembled the man she remembered as James Seligman.
But I was not at all sure who the two younger women were, especially the woman to the left in the photograph. I’d asked on the blog if anyone could read the inscription near her picture, but no one was certain what it said. The woman in the center appeared to be labeled Anna Oppenheimer, but I couldn’t understand why she would be in the photo. Anna Oppenheimer was the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and the granddaughter of Babetta. But why of all the grandchildren would only she be in this photograph, especially since her mother was not included, just two of her uncles?
Ava studied the photograph as well as my blog posts, my family tree for the Seligmann family, and other photographs of the Seligmann family, and then sent me a detailed and thorough analysis of her own conclusions, which I found well-founded, fascinating, and persuasive. With her permission, I am sharing some of her report.
I thought Ava’s analysis of the overall relationships among those in the photograph based on traditional posing in studio photographs of families was quite interesting:
In the mystery photograph, the family is posed in a typical family grouping of five individuals seated and standing around a large library table upon which is a dog, perhaps the family pet. The photo has been taken in a photographer’s studio with an appropriate backdrop for the time period. The two individuals on the left hand side appear to be a married couple while the elderly woman seated on the right could be mother or grandmother to one or more of the individuals in the photo. The man on the right, probably a son and the young woman in the center holding the dog could be related but are not married to each other.
Ava concluded that the photograph was taken in 1896-1897. Here is part of the reasoning for her conclusion:
To establish a year for the photograph, I looked at the clothing worn. Since what we know of the family’s comfortable economic status, it is logical that they are wearing up-to-date fashions, for the most part. The elderly woman, as is customary for many older women, is not as fashionable as the two younger women. Her dress, with multiple small buttons down the bodice, is a typical style of the 1880s as is her bonnet. The other two women are wearing clothing from the latter half of the1890s, post 1895. By this point in time the enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves of the 1893-1895 time period have become less full with the vestige of fullness above the elbow. The man on the left is wearing a high Imperial collar, common in the 1890s.
Ava agreed that it was reasonable to conclude that the elderly woman labeled “Grossmutter Gau Algesheim” was Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann and that the man on the right, labeled Onkel Adolf, was her son Adolf Seligman, brother of Bernard and a resident of Santa Fe in the 1890s. At that time Adolf was in his fifties (born in 1843) and unmarried. Ava thought that the man labeled Onkel Adolf in the photo appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Ava did not think the woman in the center was Adolf’s wife, Lucy, since Lucy would have been only about fourteen in the mid-1890s and did not marry Adolf until 1902.
Rather, Ava opined that the woman in the center was in fact Anna Oppenheimer as labeled. She would have been nineteen or twenty in 1896-1897:
It appears that she is wearing a wedding or engagement ring in the photograph. The writer of the inscription has used Anna’s maiden name, Oppenheimer, as opposed to her married name, Anna Kaufman, so, along with the absence of Max Kaufman in the photograph, I believe that this photo was taken before her marriage to Max. Again, having a marriage certificate for Anna and Max could confirm why the writer used Anna’s maiden name here instead of her married name.
Unfortunately, I do not have a marriage record for Anna, and there is no record of any children born to her and her husband Max Kaufman so it is impossible to determine when exactly they married.
That left the two remaining people in the photograph: Onkel Jakob and the woman sitting on the left side of the picture whose name I could not decipher in the inscription. Ava agreed that “Onkel Jakob” was James Seligman. So who was the other woman?
Ava believes that she was James/Jakob Seligman’s wife, Henrietta Walker Templeton, who was born in England in 1866 and married James Seligman in London in October 1887. Ava read the inscription next to the woman to be “Tante Heni:”
Heni is a nickname for Henrietta and clearly shows the relationship with the writer of the inscription because of the informal use of a nickname. Tante (Aunt) could be one by marriage not necessarily by blood. In the mystery photo Heni appears to be about age 30-31.
In addition, Ava interpreted the posing as indicative of a marital relationship between Jakob and the woman seated in front of him, saying, “The manner in which he is posed with his arm around the back of Heni’s chair suggests their relationship.”
This made perfect sense to me. Ava speculated that perhaps James and Henrietta had come to Gau-Algesheim to celebrate their tenth anniversary with the Seligmann family, which would have been in 1897. I also recalled that Lotte had mentioned in an email dated July 6, 2015, that James and his English wife (whom Lotte referred to as Hedy) had visited “the continent” once. Lotte was born in 1921, so would not remember a visit in the 1890s, but the fact that James and his wife visited during Lotte’s lifetime in Germany makes it even more likely that they had in fact visited on earlier occasions. Lotte also said that James returned after Henrietta’s death in 1928.
Ava even analyzed the dog in the photo.
Given that the same dog appears in both the mystery photograph and the one of Bettina Arnfeld nee Seligmann (born 1875), I thought I’d include that here. It is clearly the same dog. I had considered that the dog may have belonged to the photographer but given how calm he/she appears in the photographs, I believe he was a family pet. The photo of Bettina was taken roughly 3 years after this one, circa 1900. The photo of Bettina may have been an engagement picture as she and Adolf Arnfeld married in 1900.
Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld was the daughter of Hyronimus Seligmann, Babetta’s son and brother of Bernard, Adolf, and James, among others. She was Anna Oppenheimer’s first cousin. So whose dog was it? Certainly not James or Adolf since neither lived in Germany. Perhaps the dog belonged to Babetta? She is the only common link between the two young women pictured with the dog. Babetta died 1899; if Ava is correct and the photograph of Bettina was taken in 1900, perhaps Bettina inherited the dog from her grandmother?
I was quite satisfied and persuaded by Ava’s analysis of the family photograph. But she didn’t stop there. I had also supplied her with additional photographs to help with her analysis of the family photograph. For example, I sent her this one, which I believed was a photograph of Babetta as a young woman.
I had based that conclusion on the fact that another photograph that I paired with the one of the woman was labeled Grossvatter and thus presumably was my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann.
But Ava disagreed about the identity of the young woman:
I did a comparison of the older photograph of a young woman that you supplied. This photograph is roughly dated circa 1859-1861 based on clothing and hairstyle as well as the type of image, most probably a daguerreotype popular in the 1850s and very early 1860s. The young woman appears to be in her teens and no more than 20 years of age. This eliminates the possibility that this earlier likeness is Babetta who would have been 49-51 years old. But there is a possibility given the provenance of the photograph and the resemblance to Babetta that this is one of her daughters, Pauline or Mathilde. It is unlikely to be her niece/stepdaughter, Caroline. Given that the photo was obtained from the Michel descendants, Pauline is the most likely candidate. Further research, documentation and comparison photographs would be needed to make a positive identification.
Although I was quite disappointed to think that this was not Babetta, the more I considered Ava’s analysis and the more I looked at the photograph of the young woman and the one of Moritz, the more I realized my error. The frames on the two photographs are quite different as is the style and the posing. I had just jumped to the conclusion that because Suzanne had sent these two photographs in the same email that they were of a couple. That’s why sometimes you need to hire an expert!
Finally, Ava also did an analysis of the wonderful photograph that my cousin Davita had sent of a man she said was her grandfather, Adolf Seligman, and his favorite sister, Minnie, riding camels in Egypt:
I was quite surprised but also persuaded by what Ava had to say about the identity of the people in this photograph; she is quite certain that the woman is in fact Henrietta Walker Templeton, and the more I studied the photograph, the more I agreed.
The Egypt photo is roughly dated based on her suit and hat as being taken in 1910. That would make Heni 44 years old. Her face has aged from the earlier photo and she’s put on a bit of weight, not uncommon approaching middle age. She is very stylish in the 1897 photo and likewise in the 1910 one. In both, she has chosen an up-to-date suit rather than a dress. Her dark hair is the same style. Notice the “dip” in her bangs on the right side of her forehead. It’s the same as the earlier photo. Her eyebrows, nose and mouth are the same as is the overall attitude captured by the photographer.
After I read Ava’s comment, I checked the emails that Lotte had sent me and saw that she had described James’ wife as “big and pompous.” The woman Ava concluded was Henrietta certainly does have a certain air of superiority in both of the photographs.
Also, I have absolutely no record of any kind supporting the existence of a Seligmann sister named Minnie, so already had had questions about Davita’s description. Thus, I was open to the idea that it was not Minnie, but someone else. I hadn’t considered Henrietta since I believed that the man was Adolf, as Davita said. Why would Henrietta from England be riding a camel in Egypt with her brother-in-law Adolf, who lived in Santa Fe?
But Ava raised a question as to whether this was in fact Adolf. If the photograph was taken in 1910, why would Adolf, who had married in 1902 and had three children by 1910, be traveling to Egypt? The more I looked at the earlier photographs of Adolf and Jakob/James, the more I became convinced that the man on the camel is in fact James, not Adolf. Ava also agreed that it seems quite likely that it is James, not Adolf, in the photograph, but that without more information, we can’t be entirely sure, especially since Davita, the source of the Egypt photograph, believed that it was her grandfather Adolf. (Adolf died before Davita was born, so she had never met him in person and only had this one photograph that she had been told was of her grandfather.)
Thus, although without more photographs and/or records we cannot be 100% certain, I am persuaded that Ava’s conclusions are correct about the likely identities of the people in the group photograph, the portrait of the young woman, and the Egypt photograph.
It was well worth the fee I paid to have the benefit of Ava’s expertise. I highly recommend her to anyone who has questions about an old photograph. If you are interested, you can email Ava at Sherlock.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website at http://sherlockcohn.com/ You will probably have to wait quite a while because her services are very much in demand and she devotes a great deal of time to each project, but it will be worth the wait.
[I was not paid or required by my contract with Ava to advertise her services; I am writing this blog post as a service to others who might be interested.]
While I have been researching the Dreyfuss clan and all their heartaches, a few other items have come up in my research that are worth blogging about before I move on to the last line of the Nusbaum clan (and more heartache). I have a number of exciting discoveries relating to my Seligman relatives, some new cousins, some new stories, and some DNA work to write about. Today I want to share two stories that my cousin Pete, the grandson of Arthur Seligman and great-grandnephew of Simon Nusbaum, shared with me from the website to which he contributes, Voces de Santa Fe.
The first is a story about Simon Nusbaum, the son of John Nusbaum and brother of Frances Nusbaum, our mutual ancestors. Simon was my great-great-granduncle, the one who settled in Santa Fe after years in Peoria, and who became the postmaster there and the deputy treasurer of the New Mexico territory. Pete’s story is about Simon and the house that he owned and its history.
See also Voces de Santa fe here.
It’s very sad to me that the house no longer exists, but I am happy to report that Nusbaum Street does still exist. One more thing to add to my travel plans: a walk down Nusbaum Street.
Pete’s second story is about his grandfather Arthur Seligman, my great-granduncle. When Arthur was the governor of New Mexico, the elevator that goes into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park was completed, and the governor was referred to as the “father of the elevator.” Arthur’s story tells the story behind this remarkable engineering accomplishment and our ancestor’s role in implementing it.
Here is a photograph from Pete’s personal collection of the day that the elevator was officially opened. Governor Seligman is in the front row wearing a black coat and a bow tie. To his right is his wife, Mrs. Franc E. Seligman; to his left is his step-daughter, Richie Seligman (Mrs. John March); Harold Albright, Director of the NPS; Wilbur Lyman, Secretary of Interior; and US Senator, Bronson Cutting.
The link below will take you to the whole article that Pete wrote about this event and the elevator.
Thank you, Pete, for sharing these pictures and stories with me and with my readers.