Two Photos to Identify—Can You Help?

I am back…sort of! Still working on my first Goldschmidt posts, but before I dive into that matter, I have two wonderful new photographs to share, thanks to my cousin by marriage, Ulrike Michel.

Ulrike is married to my fourth cousin, once removed, Torsten Michel. Torsten and I are both descended from Bernard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann, my fourth great-grandparents; Torsten’s great-great-grandmother Ziborah Schoenfeld was the sister of my three-times great-grandmother Babetta Schoenfeld, wife of Moritz Seligmann, my three-times great-grandfather.

 

I’ve not met Torsten, but when we were in Germany, we spent a day with Ulrike in Heidelberg, as I wrote about here. Ulrike is the family historian in their family, and she and I have been in touch for several years now.

Recently Ulrike found and shared with me two photographs. I am particularly excited by this one that Ulrike believes is Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann:

 

Here is the only confirmed photograph I had of Babetta, and I do see a definite resemblance.  But is it the same woman? Or is it perhaps her sister Ziborah, Torsten’s direct ancestor? What do you think?

The second photo Ulrike sent me is this one.  She believes this could be Franziska Seligmann, granddaughter of Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld and my first cousin, three times removed:

 

Here are the photographs I’d previously found of Franziska:

Franziska Seligmann Michel

 

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

Again, there is a definite resemblance, but is it the same woman? What do you think?

One of the mysteries raised by this photograph is why the Michel family would have had a photograph of Babetta’s granddaughter, who lived from 1875-1933.  Was it simply because she was Ziborah Schoenfeld’s great-niece?

Or was there a second connection to the Michel family? Franziska married Adolf Michel, and I have no information about his background. But Ulrike is now researching to see if Adolf Michel was related to her husband’s Michel relatives. She and Wolfgang are meeting in a few weeks to compare notes and see whether there is an additional overlap between the Seligmanns, Schoenfelds, and Michels.

I’d love your feedback on the photographs. Let me know what you think.

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

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

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

 

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

Handwritten notes about Moritz 1

 

 

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

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

Handwritten notes about Moritz 2

 

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

Handwritten notes about Moritz 3

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

Uncle Adolf and Grandmother Gau Algesheim

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

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

Handwritten notes about Moritz 4 to be translated

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

Our Ancestral Towns Seen Through My Cousin’s Eyes

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

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

Barbela, Milena and Wolfgang Seligmann

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

hauptraße Nr 50 Nr 50a

 

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

Friedhof 1 Friedhof 2 Friedhof 3

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

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

Flosserstrasse

Flosserstrasse

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

Langgasse in 1900

Langgasse in 1900

Langgasse

Langgasse today

This is the town center where Langgasse and Flosserstrasse meet.

Gau Algesheim

 

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

Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim

Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Schoenfelds and Erbes-Budesheim: Part II

In my last post, I wrote about Erbes-Budesheim, the German town where my Schoenfeld ancestors lived, where my 3x-great-grandmother was born, and where my 4x- and 5x-great-grandparents lived.   From the records I was able to obtain, I know that my 4x-great-grandparents Bernhard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann were married and living in Erbes-Budesheim by 1804 when their first child Benedict Baehr was born.

As explained to me by Gerd Braun, the man in Erbes-Budesheim who sent me the documents,  when the French took over control of the region, one thing that they did in 1808 was order the Jewish residents to adopt surnames akin to those used by the Christian population.  Before that, Jews used patronymics.  Thus, before 1808, Bernhard Schoenfeld was named Baer (ben) Salomon[1] and Rosina was Rosina (bat) Benjamin.  The two children born before 1808 were named Benedict (ben) Baer and Taubchen (bat) Baer.  Taubchen was renamed Eva Schoenfeld after 1808.

Here is the birth record for Benedict.  (All the records before 1816 are in French, and my high school French classes came in handy.)  The translations for all of the documents below are in italics.

Benedict Baer birth record 1804

Benedict Baer birth record 1804

Act of birth of Benedict Baer born the 15th of Frimaire[2] at 10 in the morning, the legitimate son of Baer Salomon, merchant, living in Erbesbudesheim, and of Rosine nee Benjamin of Munchweiler.  The sex of the child has been recognized as masculine.  [Witnesses and signatures]

Benedict died just eight months later.

Benedict Baer death record 1805

Benedict Baer death record 1805

Act of death of Benedict Baer, died the 17th of Messidor[3] at 7 in the evening, eight months old, born in Erbesbudesheim and living in Erbesbudesheim.  Son of Baer Salomon and Roes nee Benjamin.  On the declaration made by Baer Salomon, his father, resident of Erbesbudesheim and a merchant, and Francois Colin, resident of Erbesbudeshem, a barber and a neighbor.

A year later, Taubechen (who became Eva) was born:

Birth record of Taubchen Baer/Eva Schoenfeld 1806

Birth record of Taubchen Baer/Eva Schoenfeld 1806

Act of birth:  In the year 1806 on the 2d of June in the afternoon appeared before the mayor of Erbesbudesheim… Baehr Salomon, a merchant, 34 years old, living in Erbesbudesheim, No. 66, and presented to us a female child of him and his legal wife Rosine nee Benjamin born the 2d of June at 5 in the morning and also stated that he wanted to give the child the name Taubchen.  [Witnesses and signatures.]

The children born after 1808 were given the name Schoenfeld, including my 3-x great-grandmother, Babetta.  You will see that on this record, Bernard and Rosine are referred to with surnames.

Babete Schoenfeld birth record 1806

Babete Schoenfeld birth record 1806

In the year 1810, the 28th of February, at nine in the morning, Bernard Schoenfeld, 37 years old, a merchant, and a resident of Erbesbudesheim,appeared before Andre Cronenberger, Mayor of Erbesbudesheim and presented a female child born the 28th of February in the morning of himself and Rosine nee Goldmann, his wife, and also declared that he wanted to give the child the name of Babet. [Witnesses and signatures]

In addition, I received records for other children of Bernard and Rosina Schoenfeld, ancestors I’d not known about before.  The first two are in French, but the last two are in German because they occurred when the region was back under German control.  The two in French follow the format and content of those above and evidence the births of a daughter Marianne, born June 29, 1812, and a daughter Rebecque, born July 20, 1814.

Birth record of Marianna Schoenfled 1812

Birth record of Marianna Schoenfled 1812

Birth record of Rebecque Schoenfeld 1814

Birth record of Rebecque Schoenfeld 1814

The last two are in German.  Thank you to Matthias Steinke for the translations. The first record is for the birth of another daughter, Zibora, in 1818.

 

Birtn record of Zibora Schoenfeld 1818

Birtn record of Zibora Schoenfeld 1818

In the year 1818, the 23rd of May came to me, the mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity of Erbesbuedesheim, county of Alzey, Bernhard Schoenfeld, 45 years old, merchant, residing in Erbesbuedesheim, who reported, that at the 22nd of May at 11 o´clock in the night a child of female sex, which he showed me, was born and whom he intends to give the first name Zibora, and which he declared to have fathered with his wife Rosina Goldmann, 35 old, residing in Erbesbuedesheim.  The child was born in the Hauptstr. nr. 77. This declaration and presentation happened in presence of the witnesses Johannes Knobloch, 55 years old, farmer, in Erbesbuedesheim residing and Jacob Landesberg, 29 years old, farmer, in Erbesbuedesheim  residing, and have the father and the witnesses signed his birth-record and it was read to them. Signatures

The last child of Bernard and Rosine for whom I have a record was their daughter Saara, born in 1820:

Birth Record of Saara Schoenfeld 1820

Birth Record of Saara Schoenfeld 1820

In the year 1820 the fifteenth of October at twelve o´clock midday came to me, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim Bernhard Schoenfeld, 51 years old, merchant, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, who reported, that at the fifteenth October at two o´clock in the morning a child of female sex, whom he showed me, was born and whom he intends to give the name Saara, and he also reported, that he fathered the child with Rosina Goldmann, 41 years old, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, his legal wife. This declaration and showing happened in presence of the witness Johannes Knobloch, 57 years old, farmer, and Jakob Landsberg, 28 years old, merchant, both residing in Erbes-Buedesheim, and have the father and the witnesses with me this present birth-certificate after it was read to them, signed. Signatures

In the midst of all these births, there was also a death.  On February 16, 1813, Salomon Schoenfeld, father of Bernard Schoenfeld, died at age 63 (or is that soixant treize meaning 73?).  His occupation was given as “cultivateur,” or cultivator, which I assume means that he was a farmer.  The witnesses to his death included Benoit Schoenfeld, his son, age 23, a “propietaire”  or owner, but no indication of what he owned.  This must have been a younger brother of Bernard since in 1813 Bernard would have been at least 40 years old.  (His age seems to vary from birth record to birth record.)

Death Record of Salomon Schoenfeld 1813

Death Record of Salomon Schoenfeld 1813

 

There is also a record for the birth of the child of an Isaac Schoenfeld and a Barbe Goldmann who is probably also a family member, though I am not sure what the exact connection was between these Goldmanns and Schoenfelds and Bernhard and Rosina, my 4x great-grandparents. But the number of marriages between a Schoenfeld man and a Goldmann woman are somewhat revealing.  Here is a third such marriage, this one between Rebeka (Rebecque) Schoenfeld, the daughter of Bernhard and Rosina,  and Salomon Goldmann.  Is it any surprise that Ashkenazi Jews come up with thousands of matches when DNA testing is done?  We are all interrelated at so many different levels.

Marriage Record for Rebecque/Rebkah Schoenfeld and Salomon Goldmann

Marriage Record for Rebecque/Rebkah Schoenfeld and Salomon Goldmann

 

 

In the year 1834 on the fifteenth October at ten o´clock pre midday came to me, Andreas Cronenberger mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey:

Salomon Goldmann, 42 years old, merchant, residing in Kirchheimbolanden, Rhein-county, Bavaria, born in …thal, like it was presented to me by a certificate of the district-court Kirchheimbolanden from the 24th of December 1807, which was certified by the district-court in Mainz, the adult son of 1. Joseph Goldmann, 75 years old, during his lifetime a merchant in Kirchheimbolanden, deceased there the 8th of  November, 1800 (some parts here were cut off) 2. Friederike Goldmann, widow, nee Goldmann, 62 years old, without profession residing in Kirchheimbolanden and here present and giving her confirmation and who declared to be unable to write.

And on the other hand, Rebeka Schoenfeld (Schönfeld), 20 years old, born in Erbebudesheim in 1814, like I have seen in the present birth-register of the year 1814, without profession, in Erbes-Buedsheim residing.

Minor daughter of 1. Bernhard Schoenfeld, 62 years old, merchant and owner of a manor, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing. 2. Rosina Schoenfeld nee Goldmann, 55 years old, without profession, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, both are present and giving their confirmation.

The appearing people asked me to do the marriage. The proclamation was published at the main-door of the comunity-building the September 24, 1834 at noon and the second the September 26 at noon in Erbes-Buedesheim and in Kirchheimbolanden the 14th of September the first time and the 21st of September of the same year the second time was made.

Due to the case, that no objections against this marriage appeared, and after reading the sixth chapter of the civil-rights-lawbook which is titled „about the marriage“ I asked them whether they want to marry each other. Both confirmed this question and I declared that Salomon Goldmann, widower from Kirchheimbolanden and the maiden Rebeka Schoenfeld of Erbes-Buedesheim are from now on connected by the matrimony.

About this act this certificate was made in presence of the following witnesses:

Georg Peter Erbach, 54 years old, member of the regional council and manor-owner in Erbes-Buedesheim, a neighbour of the bride, not related.  Johannes Klippel, 45 years old, farmer in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride, Christoph Zopf, 49 years old, farmer in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride,  Johannes Härter, 82 years old, comunity-servant in Erbes-Buedesheim, not related, a neighbour of the bride. After happened reading have all parts this document with me signed. Signatures

I have a couple of observations about this marriage certificate.  First, the groom was a widower and 24 years older than the bride.  Also, Rebeka was younger than her sister Babete or Babetta, my 3x-great-grandmother, yet married before her, even though this would appear to have been an arranged marriage.  Did Babetta object to marrying Salomon? Or did Salomon choose Rebeka over her older sister?

Also, I was struck by the fact that Bernard was described not just as a merchant, as he had been in the records of his children’s births, but as the owner of a manor.  Perhaps this explains why my Schoenfeld relatives were living in this small village with almost no Jewish residents.  Bernard must have  been quite successful to be a manor owner.

Two years after this wedding, Bernard Schoenfeld died.

Death record of Bernard Schoenfeld 1836

Death record of Bernard Schoenfeld 1836

In the year 1836 November 20th, at eight o´clock pre midday came to me, Andreas Cronenberger, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey, 1. the Jakob Landsberg, 46 years old, merchant in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, related as uncle of the below named deceased, and 2. Leopold Schoenfeld, 42 years old, merchant, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, related as sibling of the below named deceased, and have reported to me that Bernhard Schoenfeld, 67 years old, merchant and manor-owner, born and residing in Erbes-Bueresheim, married to Rosina Schoenfeld, nee Goldmann ,56 years old, without profession, residing in Erbes-Buedesheim. Parents were: Salomon Schoenfeld, during lifetime merchant and manor-owner in  Erbes-Buedesheim, 2. Gertrude Schoenfeld nee Judah, during lifetime also residing in Erbes-Buedesheim.

Died November 1836 at three o´clock past midday in house nr 85 in the Hauptstrasse (Mainstreet) here is deceased and have the here present this certificate after it was read to them with me undersigned.

In this record, Bernard’s father Salomon is described as a merchant and manor owner, not a cultivator.  I am not sure how to reconcile that with the earlier record of Salomon’s death. The above record also reveals two more relatives: Leopold Schoenfeld, another brother of Bernard, and Jakob Landsberg, an uncle.  But Jakob Landsberg was over 20 years younger than Bernard.  Perhaps he was a nephew?  Leopold Schoenfeld’s headstone appeared in the video I posted in the last post.  Here’s a screenshot from that video:

Leopold Schoenfeld headstone

Leopold Schoenfeld headstone

Just a few months after Bernard Schoenfeld died, his daughter Babete, my 3-x great-grandmother, married Moritz Seligmann on February 14, 1837.

Marriage record of Babete Schoenfeld and Moritz Seligmann 1837

Marriage record of Babete Schoenfeld and Moritz Seligmann 1837

In the year 1837 the 14th of the month February, at three o´clock past midday to me, Peter Cronenberger, mayor and official for the civil registration of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, county of Alzey came:

Moritz Seligmann, 38 years old, widower of Eva Seligmann, nee Schoenfeld, deceased in Gaulsheim the 12th of May 1835 as it is written in the death-register of the comunity Gaulsheim of the year 1835, merchant, in Gau Algesheim residing, like it is in the birth-records of the community Gau Algesheim to find, adult son of 1. Jacob Seligmann, 63 years old, merchant, in Gaulsheim residing, 2. Martha Seligmann nee Mayer, 63 years old, in Gaulsheim residing, both not present, but giving their permission to this marriage according a notary-certificate of the notary Wieger in Gaulsheim from the 6th of February, 1837,

and on the other hand, Babete Schoenfeld, 26 years old, without profession, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, born the February 28, 1810, like it is stated in the birth-register of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim of the year 1810, adult daughter of 1. Bernhard Schoenfeld, during lifetime merchant, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, deceased 19th of November 1836, as it is stated in the death-register of the comunity Erbes-Buedesheim, 2. Rosina Schoenfeld, nee Goldmann , 56 years old, in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, last named here present and consenting to the marriage. ….

Due to the case, that no objections against this marriage appeared, and after reading the sixth chapter of the civil-rights-lawbook which is titled ‘about the marriage,“ I asked them whether they want to marry each other. Both confirmed this question and I declared that Moritz Seligmann, merchant in Gau Algesheim residing and Babete Schoenfeld, without profession in Erbes-Buedesheim residing, are from now on legally connected by the matrimony.

About this act I made this certificate in the presence of the following witnesses: [Witnesses and signatures]

This marriage record answered a question that I had had about the two sisters both marrying Moritz Seligmann.  According to this record, Eva Schoenfeld had died on May 12, 1835.  Eva died in the aftermath of giving birth to her fourth child, Benjamin, who was born on May 10, 1835.

Her sister Babetta (as it was later spelled) became the instant mother of Eva’s four children, who then ranged in age from Benjamin, not yet two years old, to eight year old Sigmund, who would be the first to come to the US and settle in Santa Fe.  Babetta not only had these four children to care for; she must also have become  pregnant almost immediately after the wedding because my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, obviously named for Babetta’s father Bernard Schoenfeld who had died the year before, was born on November 23, 1837, just nine months and nine days after the marriage.

The last record I received from Erbes-Budesheim was the death record for Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld, dated July 19, 1862.  She was 84 years old.  She was my 4-x great-grandmother.  All I know about her is where she was born, her father’s name, her husband’s name, and the names of her children and some of her grandchildren.  I know that she lost one child at eight months old, an adult daughter in the aftermath of childbirth, and her husband almost thirty years before she died.  It’s not a lot, but it is remarkable to me that I know even that much about a woman who was born in the 18th century in Germany.

Death record of Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld 1862

Death record of Rosina Goldmann Schoenfeld 1862

So what have I learned about my Schoenfeld ancestors and their lives in Erbes-Budesheim from all these documents?  First, they must have been one of only a very few Jewish families in Erbes-Budesheim if the total Jewish population was just 23 people.  Second, they must have been fairly comfortable living in that small town, living as merchants and manor owners.   But there was no future for their family in the town.  Bernard Schoenfeld and Rosina Goldmann had only daughters who survived to adulthood.   To find marriage partners for their daughters, Bernard and Rosina had to look outside of Erbes-Budesheim.  Their 20 year old daughter Rebeka Schoenfeld married a 44 year old widower from a town in Bavaria, about ten miles from Erbes-Budesheim.  Their daughter Eva married Moritz Seligmann and moved to Gau-Algesheim.  Then their daughter Babetta,  my 3-x great-grandmother, married Moritz after her sister died.  These young women must have had no choice but to marry and move away from Erbes-Budesheim.  No wonder the town’s Jewish population never grew and eventually declined and disappeared.

But the cemetery still exists, and Erbes-Budesheim is one more town to add to my list of ancestral towns I’d like to visit one day.

 

 

[1] Gerd Braun did not use the Hebrew terms “ben” or “bat” for son or daughter of, but simply referred to them as, for example, Baehr Salomon.  I am assuming, however, based on Jewish practice, that the second name would have been the father’s first name.  Thus, Baehr Salomon is really Baehr son of (ben) Salomon.

[2] According to Wikipedia,  Frimaire “was the third month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the French word frimas, which means frost. Frimaire was the third month of the autumn quarter (mois d’automne). It started between November 21 and November 23. It ended between December 20 and December 22. It follows the Brumaire and precedes the Nivôse.”  Benedict was thus born about December 6.

[3] Messidor in the French Republic Calendar was equivalent to June 19 to July 18.  The 17th would be equivalent to July 6.

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

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

Erbes-Büdesheim in January 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ

Erbes-Büdesheim in AZ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

 

There is also a Jewish cemetery in Erbes-Budesheim.

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

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

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