Part II: The Benefits of Teamwork

So who was Frederick Selinger, and how did he fit into the family? And who was Fanny Selinger’s mother?

In Part I, I described the research I had done first with Val Collinson in 2014 and then separately with Shirley Allen during the summer and fall of 2015 to try and find the connections between all our various Selinger relatives. Through that research we had established with a fair degree of certainty that Julius and Alfred Selinger, who married two of my Cohen cousins, sisters Augusta and Fanny, were themselves brothers, the sons of Seligmann Selinger and Breinle Hofstadter. We had also established that Helena Selinger Auerbach, who had been Val’s great-grandmother, was a first cousin to Julius and Alfred and the daughter of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdorfer.

Relationship_ Julius Selinger to Helena Selinger

We also had established that Fanny Selinger Rosenthal, Shirley’s grandmother, was also a daughter of Abraham Selinger, but Shirley and I had not found any document that revealed whether her grandmother Fanny was a full or half sister to Helena and the other children of Abraham Selinger; we had not found her mother’s name or where she was born.

And I still didn’t know how Frederick Selinger fit into the question.

We also knew that Abraham Selinger had immigrated to England by 1871 because he appeared on the 1871 UK census with a second wife, Gali, along with several children: Sigfried, Helena, Cornelia, and Oscar.  By 1881, Abraham had died, and his widow Gali was living with some different children: Morris, Flora, and Sidney, plus Oscar.  Aside from Helena, who were all these children, and where were they born?  I had no birth records for Cornelia, Morris, Flora, Sidney, or Oscar.

So by late November, we had many answers, but many questions remained.

Fast forward again to January 13, when I again heard from Shirley.  She had received a copy of the marriage authorization for Fanny Selinger and Jacob Rosenthal from the Chief Rabbi in London.  It confirmed that Fanny was the daughter of Abraham and that she was born in Hurben, but did not reveal her mother’s name.  Although we did not have any new information, the new communication inspired us to try again to get answers to our primary questions: Who was Fanny Selinger’s mother?  And how did Frederick Selinger fit into the family, if at all?

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred
Courtesy of Shirley Allen

After reviewing everything we had, I decided to post on the German Genealogy group on Facebook for information about records in Ansbach , where Oskar Selinger had claimed to be born on his UK naturalization record.  Although I was unable to find Ansbach birth records for the appropriate years, my friend Matthias did find two websites with information about Abraham Selinger in Ansbach: one, a website listing past and present tobacco businesses in Germany; Abraham Selinger was listed as the manager of Equity and cigar-tobacco factory in Ansbach from 1862 until 1871. Thus, it made sense that Oscar Selinger was born in Ansbach.

The second website was even more revealing.  It was an Ansbach police report from 1870 reporting the arrest on May 31, 1870 of Abraham Selinger from Hurben, manager of a cigar factory,  for fraud.  Perhaps that is why 1871 was both the last date he had the cigar business in Ansbach as well as the first year he appeared on UK records.

But it also meant that the children I believed had been born to Abraham in the 1850s—Frederick, Fanny, Morris, Flora, and Sidney—were probably not born in Ansbach if Abraham’s business there didn’t start until 1862.  So where were they born?  Shirley continued to contact various offices in Germany, and I tried to think of new paths for research.

And then I had the best idea I’d had yet.  While doing all this work with Shirley in 2015, I had somehow forgotten about my correspondence with Val Collinson back in 2014.  Maybe Val had made some new discoveries or would have some new ideas.  I wrote to Val on January 22, 2016, and now we had three heads working on the mysterious Selingers.

Filament Productions

Filament Productions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The emails started flying back and forth among the three of us, and it became clear fairly quickly that Val and Shirley had some relatives in common, that is, relatives they both had met or at least had heard of.  I just sat back, enjoying the fact that I had brought these two cousins together.  They both were descendants of Abraham Selinger:  Shirley through his daughter Fanny, Val through his daughter Helena.  We weren’t yet sure whether Helena and Fanny were full or half-sisters, but in any event Shirley and Val, who’d never heard of each other before and who live about 60-100 miles apart in the UK, are third cousins.  I was thrilled that I’d brought these two wonderful family researchers and cousins together.

Shirley and Val both had lots of information about the marriages and descendants of some of the other Selinger siblings and also some wonderful photographs, but neither had any information about Frederick and neither was sure as to the identity of the mother or birthplaces of Fanny, Cornelia, Morris, Flora, or Sidney.

And then on January 29, 2016, the walls started tumbling down.  Val found this on Ancestry:

JPF Ludwigshafen page

Ludwigshafen?? Where was that? It’s a town very close to Mannheim.  Could be this OUR Fanny? Val asked me to follow up because I have the broadest Ancestry subscription (All Access), and I was able to pull up a scan of the actual record.  And not only did I find birth records for Fanny, I found them for three other children, all born to Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdorfer, his first wife.

The four children born in Ludwigshafen were:  Babetta, born in 1853, died in 1854; Flora, born in 1855 (later Flora Wallach); Fanny, born December 5, 1856; and  Sigmund (later Sidney) born in 1858.  We finally had a birth record for Fanny, and we knew now that she was in fact a full sister to Helena as they were both the daughters of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.  Val and Shirley were officially third cousins.


Fanny Selinger birth record from Ludwigshafen Ludwigshafen, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1798-1875 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ludwigshafen Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875. Stadtarchiv Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen, Deutschland.

Fanny Selinger birth record from Ludwigshafen Ludwigshafen, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1798-1875 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Ludwigshafen Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875. Stadtarchiv Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen, Deutschland.

So that left three children whose birthplaces were still unknown: Morris, Cornelia, and, of course, Frederick.  Since Morris and Cornelia were both born before 1862 when the Selinger family arrived in Ansbach and after 1848 when the family had moved to Mannheim, I assumed that they were probably born in Mannheim.  The 1881 census recorded Cornelia’s age as 18, two years younger than Helena, whom they reported as twenty. But even English census records are unreliable.  Helena would have been turning 22 that year; maybe Cornelia was really 19 or 20 and thus born in 1850 or 1851.  The 1881 census said Morris was 28; he was probably born in 1852 since Babetta, the child who died in 1854, was born in 1853, in Ansbach.  Cornelia and Morris would also probably have been the children of Abraham and Rosalia since there were four children born to that couple even after Cornelia and Morris were born.

So I went back to the Mannheim records because my initial search had been only for the years between 1853 to 1859; now I searched the set of records before it, dating from 1842 to 1852.  And there they were, birth records for Cornelia (1850) and Morris (1852).  And Helena (1849).  All three were the children of Abraham Selinger and Rosalia Wilhelmdoerfer.

landesarchiv_baden-wuerttemberg_generallandesarchiv_karlsruhe_390_nr-_2862_bild_147_4-1229196-147 Birth record for Helena Selinger from Hurben

Birth record for Helena Selinger from Mannheim (center, left page)


So there are two birth records for Helena, one in Hurben, one in Mannheim.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, Val found yet another document:

Abraham Selinger - Ansbach, Germany JPG

(I cannot understand why neither the Ludwigshafen nor the Ansbach registers showed up for me when I searched.  Val has a magic touch with the search engine logic that I don’t have.)

I then retrieved the image of the actual document:

Abraham Selinger Lutheran register Ansbach


Abraham Selinger family in Ansbach Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ansbach Lutheran Parish Register Extracts. Digital images Tobias Brenner Collection.

Abraham Selinger family in Ansbach Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Ansbach Lutheran Parish Register Extracts. Digital images Tobias Brenner Collection.

This document revealed two more things: that Gali’s birth name was Kohn and that she and Abraham had had another child before Oskar, Isidor, who died when he was an infant. So now I had a record confirming that Oscar was born in Ansbach and that his mother was Gali Kohn, not Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.

Shirley, Val, and I had pretty much closed the circle on the children of Abraham Selinger.  But despite all our efforts, we still had not found one record for Frederick Selinger.  If he was born in 1856 as his passport application and his death certificate indicated, he should have been included with those children born in Ansbach.  He would have been born around the time of Flora or Fanny, maybe even a twin of one of them.  But he wasn’t there. And he wasn’t in the Mannheim records or the Hurben records.

So something did not make sense.  Frederick was not the child of Abraham Selinger with either of his wives.  I was convinced of it now.  So who was he? What was I missing?


P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is the part of the story where I just want to kick myself.  I went back once again to the Hurben birth records and looked more closely at the children born to Seligman Selinger.  There were nineteen of them.  NINETEEN.  Nine were born to Seligman and his first wife between 1835 and 1844.  They all were born too early to be Frederick.  Ten children were born to Seligman Selinger and his second wife, Breinle Hofstadter, between 1849 and 1866.  There were five girls and five boys from that second marriage.  The five boys were Heinrich (1852), Julius (1853), Sigfried (1855), Hugo (1860), and Alfred (1866).  Julius and Alfred were the two who had married my Cohen cousins Augusta and Fanny.  That left Heinrich, Sigfried, and Hugo. Could any of them be Frederick?

Sigfried.  Hmm, I thought.  That could have become Frederick, maybe?? But he was born December 29, 1855, and Frederick was born in December 1856, according to his US death certificate and his US passport application.  So what, I thought? People lie! He made himself a year younger. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that Sigfried was Frederick.  The disparity in the dates in December for his birthday (the death certificate said December 27, the passport application December 21) didn’t bother me either.  Jews in Europe might not have known their birthday on a Gregorian calendar, only a Jewish calendar.  Frederick might have just known that his birthday was close to Hanukkah and nothing more precise than that.

I went back to Ancestry to look at the records I had for Frederick.  The earliest two—his 1880 marriage record and the 1880 census—list him as Fred, not Frederick.  Fred could be a shortened version of Sigfried, couldn’t it?  So I decided to search for Sigfried Selinger.

Marriage record for Frederick Selinger and Rachel Cohen 1880

Marriage record for Frederick Selinger and Rachel Cohen 1880

And I found this ship manifest from 1872:

Siegfried Selinger ship manifest 1872 to Baltimore The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

Siegfried Selinger ship manifest 1872 to Baltimore
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

Siegfried Selinger, sixteen years old, arrived in Baltimore in June 1872, when Sigfried Selinger of Hurben would in fact have been still sixteen years old.  I thought that this could very well be the man who became Frederick Selinger.  Supporting this assumption was the fact that his marriage record states that he was from Baltimore and that he ended up marrying a woman from Washington, DC, so it would make sense that he would have entered the US through Baltimore, as his naturalization papers indicated.    (They also say he entered the country in June 1871.  People lie!  People forget!)

Frederick Selinger passport application National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 378; Volume #: Roll 378 - 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891 Description Volume : Roll 378 - 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891

Frederick Selinger passport application
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 378; Volume #: Roll 378 – 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891
Volume : Roll 378 – 14 Jul 1891-31 Jul 1891

And when I searched for Fred Selinger in Baltimore, I found two listings in Baltimore directories, one in 1875, one in 1878.  I am quite certain I have found Frederick and now know that he was Sigfried Selinger,  the son of Selinger Seligmann and Breinle Hofstadter.  He was the middle brother to his brothers, Julius and Alfred, who followed him to the US in the following decade and married respectively the aunt (Augusta) and the sister (Fanny) of Frederick’s wife Rachel.

So why do I want to kick myself? Not only because I should have seen this much, much earlier, but because Ralph Bloch in fact told me he thought Sigfried could be Frederick way back in August, 2015.  I’d forgotten that until I reviewed all the old emails to write this blog post.  I probably saw his comment and forgot it or thought that I needed more proof.  And I got caught up in searching for Fanny and the other Selingers and for some reason assumed Frederick had to be the child of Abraham.  I could have so easily searched back then for Sigfried in the US and found what I found just this past week.

But actually I am so glad that I didn’t.  Because if I had done that in August, I might never have continued searching and working with Shirley and Val.  I might never have brought Shirley and Val together, third cousins who’d never known each other before.  I would have missed out on all the fun Val and Shirley and I have had as we worked together to solve this mystery.  That makes this all very worthwhile.

All this, you might say, for people who aren’t even my blood relatives? For people who happened to marry my distant cousins Rachel, Augusta, and Fanny?

It’s moments like this that I want to say, “We are all cousins.  Our families are all entangled.  And every person’s life, every person’s story is worth remembering and is worth memorializing.”





The Benefits of Teamwork: Part I

In my recent post, I mentioned that I had been working with two other researchers on the mystery of the three Selinger men who married my Cohen cousins.  Frederick Selinger had married my cousin Rachel Cohen in 1880 in Washington, DC.  Rachel was the daughter of Moses Cohen, my three times great-uncle (brother of my great-great-grandfather Jacob).  Julius Selinger had married Augusta Cohen in 1884 in Washington, DC; Augusta was the daughter of Moses Cohen, Jr. and niece of Rachel Cohen.  Finally, Alfred Selinger had married Fannie Cohen in Washington, DC, in 1893.  Fannie was also a daughter of Moses Cohen, Jr., also a niece of Rachel Cohen, and a sister of Augusta Cohen.

Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922

Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922


Way back on July 22, 2014, when I first posted about the three Selinger men, I had speculated that they all had to be related.  Both Julius and Frederick had documents indicating that they had been born in Hurben, Germany.  Alfred and Julius had lived together in DC before they’d married, and Alfred had traveled with Julius and Augusta to Europe before he married Augusta’s sister Fannie.  But I had nothing to support that speculation besides that circumstantial evidence.

Then a month later on August 5, 2014, I wrote about the marriage of Eleanor Selinger to Henry Abbot.  Eleanor was the daughter of Julius Selinger and Augusta Cohen; Henry was the son of Hyams Auerbach (Abbot) and Helena Selinger (some records say Ellen or Helen).  I was curious as to whether Helena Selinger was somehow related to Julius and the other Selinger men, Alfred and Frederick.  I thought that she might be since how else would an American woman have met an Englishman? And the shared name seemed too uncommon to be pure coincidence.


Eleanor Selinger Abbot and Abbot family-page-001

Eleanor Selinger Abbot (center) with the Abbot family Courtesy of Val Collinson


As I wrote then, I had contacted the owner of an Ancestry family tree who turned out to be Eleanor Selinger and Henry Abbot’s great-niece: Val Collinson.  Val and I exchanged a lot of information, but we could not at that time find any definitive evidence linking Helena Selinger, her great-grandmother, to Frederick or Julius or Alfred.  All were born in Germany, but it seemed from the records in different locations.  Helena’s marriage record indicated that her father’s name was Abraham Selinger, whereas Julius had indicated on his passport application that his father was Sigmund Selinger.  We were stumped.  And that was that.  Or so I thought.

Fast forward a full year to August, 2015, when I received a comment on my earlier blog post about Eleanor Selinger and Henry Abbot from someone named Shirley Allen, whose grandparents were Jacob Rosenthal and Fanny Selinger:

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Fanny Selinger Rosenthal and her husband Jacob Rosenthal and their children Gladys, Daniel, and Alfred
Courtesy of Shirley Allen

I’ve been delving into my paternal (Rosenthal) family history. I’ve found that my grandfather Jacob Rosenthal was married to Fanny Selinger. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything further about Fanny other than she was born in Germany, probably in 1857. However, I’ve recently come upon a wonderful paper lace invitation to the 1873 wedding of Hyams Auerbach and Helena Selinger that you referred to. What I don’t know is why Fanny would have been invited. Clearly she and Helena were related – but how ?

Needless to say, I was intrigued.  Maybe Fanny Selinger was related to Helena and/or maybe she was related to Julius, Frederick, and Alfred.  Shirley and I communicated by email, and we both started digging.

Invitation to the wedding of Helena Selinger and Hyms Auerbach Courtesy of Shirley Allen

Invitation to the wedding of Helena Selinger and Hyms Auerbach
Courtesy of Shirley Allen


I found a website called Jewish Genealogy of Bavarian Swabia (JGBS) that had records for Hurben and located 25 Selingers in their database, including those for Alfred and for Julius, who were the sons of Seligman Selinger and Breinle Hofstadter and thus were brothers, as I had suspected. Shirley and I both thought that Seligman Selinger had been Americanized to Sigmund by Julius on his passport application and that the birth records for Julius and Alfred confirmed that they were in fact brothers.

I also found a birth record for Helena Selinger, whose father was Abraham Selinger, not Seligman Selinger.  Abraham and his wife Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer had six children listed: Seligman (1842), Raphael (1843), Pauline (1845), Karolina (1847), Heinrich (1848), and Helena (1849). Pauline, Karolina, and Heinrich had all died as young children, leaving Seligman, Raphael, and Helena as the surviving children of Abraham.  Here is Helena’s birth record from Hurben in August 1849.

Helena Selinger birth record from Hurben

Helena Selinger birth record from Hurben (third from bottom)


But what about Frederick?  And Fanny? And was there a connection between Helena’s father Abraham and the father of Julius and Alfred, Seligman Selinger?

A little more digging on the JGBS site revealed that both Abraham Selinger and Seligman Selinger were the sons of Joachim Selinger, thus confirming that they were brothers and thus that Helena was a first cousin to Julius and Alfred.

Marriage record from Hurben for Abraham Selinger, son of Joachim, and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer

Marriage record from Hurben for Abraham Selinger, son of Joachim, and Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer (second in page)


Seligmann Selinger, son of Joachim, marriage to Breinle Hoftsadter

Seligmann Selinger, son of Joachim, marriage to Breinle Hoftsadter (second from bottom) 1848


That meant that Eleanor Selinger, daughter of Julius Selinger, had married her second cousin, Henry Abbot, son of Helena Selinger.


But that still left us wondering about Frederick Selinger and Shirley’s great-grandmother Fanny Selinger.  How did they fit into this picture?

I contacted Ralph Bloch, the webmaster for the JGBS website, and he was extremely helpful.  More helpful than I realized at the time, but more on that later.  Ralph also could not find any evidence that Fanny was born in Hurben, and he reassured me that the birth records for Hurben were quite complete.  He even searched through the original pages to be sure that Fanny hadn’t somehow been missed when the records were indexed. (There was a Fany Selinger born in the 1830s, but that would have been far too early for Shirley’s ancestor.) Ralph also sent a photograph of Seligman Selinger’s headstone, which confirmed that his father’s name was Joachim or Chaim, his Hebrew name.

Seligman Selinger gravestone


So once again we hit the brick wall.  We still had not found either Frederick or Fanny.  Shirley said she would pursue it on her end, and I turned back to the other research I’d been doing when I received Shirley’s comment.

Not much happened again until late November when I heard again from Shirley, telling me that she had received a copy of Fanny Selinger’s marriage certificate, which revealed that Fanny was the daughter of Abraham Selinger.  Now we could link Fanny to Helena, also the daughter of Abraham, as well as to Julius and Alfred, Abraham’s nephews. But we didn’t know if Fanny and Helena were both the daughters of Rosalia Wilhelmsdoerfer.

Shirley’s research of UK records showed that by 1871 Abraham was married to a woman named Gali, and we assumed that Abraham had left Hurben at some point, that his first wife Rosalia had died, and that he had had several children with Gali.  That is what the UK census records from 1871 seemed to reflect. Abraham and Gali were living with Sigfried (28), Helena (20), Cornelia (18), and Oskar (4).  But there was neither a Fanny nor a Frederick.


Abraham Selinger and family 1881 UK census Class: RG10; Piece: 555; Folio: 86; Page: 3; GSU roll: 823397 Description Enumeration District : 10 Source Information 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871.

Abraham Selinger and family 1881 UK census
Class: RG10; Piece: 555; Folio: 86; Page: 3; GSU roll: 823397
Enumeration District : 10
Source Information 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871.

Abraham died in 1880, and in 1881, Gali was living with four children, but aside from Oskar (13), they were all different from those on the 1871 census: Morris (28), Flora (surname Wallach) (25), and Sidney (23).  Now I was really confused.  Who were these people, and where had they been in 1871?  Flora was presumably married to someone named Wallach and now a widow, but Morris would have been eighteen in 1871 and Sidney only thirteen. Where were they living?  Who were they? None of those children were listed on the Hurben birth register on the JGBS site; in fact, there were no children listed for Abraham Selinger and any wife in Hurben after Helena’s birth in 1849.

Gali Selinger and family 1881 UK census Class: RG11; Piece: 472; Folio: 118; Page: 55; GSU roll: 1341103 Description Enumeration District : 9 Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881

Gali Selinger and family 1881 UK census
Class: RG11; Piece: 472; Folio: 118; Page: 55; GSU roll: 1341103
Enumeration District : 9 Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881

I assumed that Morris, Flora, Sidney, and Oscar, all born after 1850, were born in a different place and perhaps to a different mother.  Certainly Oskar had to be Gali’s child since he was so much younger than all the rest and only four on the 1871 census.

Searching again on Ancestry, I found a new record:  an entry for Abraham, Rosalia, Seligman, and Raphael Selinger on the Mannheim, Germany, family register dated November 26, 1848.  What were they doing in Mannheim? By that time the three younger children, Pauline, Karolina, and Heinrich, had died.  Perhaps they needed a change of scenery.  But what about Helena? She was born in Hurben in 1849.

Then I found a second Mannheim family register that included Helena, the final entry on the page:


Abraham Selinger and family, Mannheim register Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

Abraham Selinger and family, Mannheim register Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mannheim — Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Mannheim, Germany.

My friends in the German Genealogy group,  Heike Keohane, Matthias Steinke, and Bradley Hernlem, came to my rescue and translated it to read, “Helene, his daughter, here born the 22 August 1849.”  So Helena’s birth is entered on the Hurben birth records (on the same date) and on the Mannheim records.  I’ve no idea which is the correct birthplace; maybe Rosalia went home to Hurben to give birth and returned to Mannheim afterwards where the family was living.

But perhaps now I could find out where Frederick was born, not to mention Morris, Flora, Sidney, and Oscar. Maybe they were born in Mannheim.  I checked the Mannheim birth records from 1853 through 1866 and found not one person named Selinger.  I checked over and over, looking at each page until my eyes were blurry.  There were no Selingers born in Mannheim during that period that I could find.

Then I discovered that Oskar Selinger had listed Ansbach as his birth place on his UK naturalization papers and thought that perhaps the family had moved from Mannheim to Ansbach.

Oscar Selinger UK naturalization papers The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 54 Description Description : Piece 054: Certificate Numbers A20701 - A21000

Oscar Selinger UK naturalization papers
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 54
Description : Piece 054: Certificate Numbers A20701 – A21000

I had no luck locating Ansbach birth records for that period, and by then it was Thanksgiving, and other matters distracted me, and I put the Selinger mystery on the back burner.

To be continued…..

Why I Love the Internet: The World Wide Web


Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet continues to provide me with so much more than access to information.  Through my blog, Ancestry, Facebook, Google, and ordinary old email, I continue to find and be found by cousins all over the world.  In the last two weeks, I have seen my network of cousins expand and greatly enrich my knowledge and understanding of my family history.  So a few updates.

First, I heard from a relative of Margaret Swem, the wife of Felix Schoenthal, my Boston relative, and she filled me in on the background and family of Margaret.  Quite interesting information that I will add to the post about Felix and his family.  Once again, having a blog proved useful because Margaret’s relative found my blog by Googling Margaret Swem’s name.

Second, an Israeli second cousin, once removed, of my husband found me through my tree on Ancestry.  I haven’t even done very much yet on my husband’s family, but through this new cousin we’ve learned a great deal about the Shrage family in Zabarazh, a town once in Galicia but now part of Ukraine.  It’s been very exciting learning from our new Israeli cousin.

Third, I’ve heard from a descendant of Hettie Schoenthal, one of Simon Schoenthal’s younger children about whom I’ve yet to blog.  This new cousin has shared some of Hettie’s own remembrances of her life as well as other stories.  I am looking forward to incorporating some of those into the blog as well as some photographs.

Fourth, I’ve been in touch with two British relatives of the UK Selinger cousins, relatives of Julius, Alfred, and Frederick Selinger, all of whom married my Cohen relatives.  I then put the two of them in touch as they had not previously known each other despite being cousins.  That gave me great satisfaction, and now all three of us are hunting for answers about the connections among some of the Selingers.

Fifth, I am in touch with a Goldfarb cousin and hoping to learn more about this recently discovered branch of my Brotman family line.  I just received a huge package of information that I need to go through, enter into my tree, and research.

Sixth, another Hamberg cousin just contacted me this morning.

And last but definitely not least, my cousin Wolfgang in Germany sent me new information about our Seligmann family line.  He and his mother received four new documents about our ancestors.  The first reveals two more generations back in the line of Jacob Seligmann, my four-times great-grandfather from Gaulsheim, Germany.  I will be blogging separately about these documents and what they revealed in the next few days before I return again to the children of Simon Schoenthal.

English: internet Español: internet

English: internet Español: internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turning on my computer in the morning has become a real treat, waiting to see who has found me, who has responded to my inquiries, and which cousin has new information to share.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my good fortune.  Sure, there are still many people who don’t reply to my emails or Facebook messages, but for every person I have found or who has found me, I am so deeply grateful.  The family tree keeps growing, and with it so does the world-wide web of fascinating and generous people whom  I can call my cousins.

Thanksgiving: More Gifts, More Gratitude

cemetery sign for Mikveh Israel

It’s been a week or so of amazing gifts.  First there was the package from Gau-Algesheim with the records and book relating to my Seligmann ancestors and the amazing help I received from Ralph Baer and Matthias Steinke with translation of these items.

Then a day or so after the Gau-Algesheim package arrived, I received a gift from my third cousin once removed Todd Graham.  Todd is the great-great-great-grandson of Jacob Cohen, my great-great-grandfather.  Todd wrote to tell me that he had been to the Federal Street cemetery in Philadelphia where many of our mutual Cohen ancestors are buried and that he had taken photographs.  He asked if I wanted to see the photos, and I said of course.  So here are the photographs I received from Todd.

First is a photograph of where our ancestor Hart Levy Cohen is buried.  There is no stone visible, and the rabbi at the cemetery explained to Todd that they believed that the stone had sunk beneath the surface and was buried underground.  I have written to the rabbi and asked whether there is anything we can do to uncover the stone or to mark the gravesite in some other way.

Burial Site of Hart Levy Cohen

Burial Site of Hart Levy Cohen

This photo shows where Hart’s children Lewis and Elizabeth are buried.  Again, the stones are not visible, but this is the location of their graves.


Burial sites for Elizabeth Cohen and Lewis Cohen (Hart's children)

Burial sites for Elizabeth Cohen and Lewis Cohen (Hart’s children)

Todd also took photographs of the stone for Jacob and Sarah Cohen.  Although I had a photo of this stone before from Rabbi Albert Gabbai, I am hoping that these will be easier to read so that I can learn what the Hebrew inscription says.

Jacob and Sarah Cohen monument Jacob Cohen headstone by Todd Jacob Cohen monument by Todd jacob headstone edit 1


Todd also found the stones for three of Jacob’s children.  First, a new photograph of the headstone for my great-grandparents Emanuel and Eva (Seligman) Cohen and my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr.

Headstone for Emanuel, Eva and John Cohen

Headstone for Emanuel, Eva and John Cohen

Side of Emanuel Eva and John by Todd

Next are photographs of the headstones for Emanuel’s brother Reuben and his wife Sallie Livingston Cohen and of their son Jacob Livingston Cohen.

Reuben and Sallie Livingston Cohen

Reuben and Sallie Livingston Cohen

Jacob Livingston Cohen

Jacob Livingston Cohen


And finally, this is a photograph of the headstone for Todd’s great-great-grandparents Lewis and Carrie (Dannenbaum) Cohen and his grandparents William and Helen (Cohen) Bacharach.  Lewis Cohen was also the brother of my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen.

Bacharach and Cohen headstone

Bacharach and Cohen headstone

Thank you so much, Todd, for these photographs, and I hope that we can do something to honor the graves of Hart, Lewis, and Elizabeth Cohen.

There is one more gift I want to acknowledge, and it came totally unsolicited and from a total stranger.  About two weeks ago I received a comment on the blog from someone who had found a set of matches on a website selling vintage items.  The matches were for a business called Selinger Associates at an address in Washington, DC.  Kimberly Crosson, the woman who commented on the blog, had purchased these matches and was now asking me whether this business was connected to the Selingers on my blog.  I was skeptical at first, I must admit.  I thought it was some kind of scam or spam.  But I emailed Kim and found out that not only was she not looking to make money, she was incredibly kind-hearted and generous and just wanted to get the matches to someone in the family—for no charge.

I checked the address and found that this was Eliot Selinger’s business.  Then I tracked down a descendant of Eliot Selinger and asked him if he was interested in the matches, and he was, so I put him in touch with Kim so that she could send him the matches.  I asked only for some pictures of the matches, so here is what Kim sent to me.  You can tell these are from a different era once you see the picture on the matches.

Selinger matches cover Selinger matches reverse


So once again, let me express my thanks to all these generous people, especially Todd and Kim for these photos, but to all who have helped and continue to help me with my research. I could never have done all this on my own.

And now I will be taking a short break from blogging for Thanksgiving.  May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you all for supporting me and providing me with so much help as I continue to learn about the lives of my ancestors.





A wonderful email from a Selinger cousin

Yesterday I received an email from Ann Griffin Selinger, whose husband was John Reynolds Selinger, Sr.  John Selinger was the son of Maurice Selinger, Sr., and the grandson of Julius Selinger and Augusta Cohen, the oldest child of Moses, Jr, and Henrietta Cohen.  I was so touched by the stories that Ann had to share about her husband John and his family that I asked her whether I could quote from her email on the blog and share these memories of her family.  She graciously gave me permission to do so, and so here they are with just a few side comments by me.  Ann’s language is italicized, whereas mine is in regular font.

My husband, was John Reynolds Selinger, 1933-2007, born in Washington, DC as was his brother, Maurice Arthur Selinger, Jr.  For a time we lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland and one day we received a visit from Eliot Selinger who apparently lived around the corner from us with his family. We had exchanged mail a few times without meeting, but never looked into whether we were related.  He told us at the time that he thought we were related and that his father and John’s grandfather were brothers – Frederick and Julius.  We had been under the obviously false impression that Julius had no siblings.  

Interestingly, Mildred Selinger, Dr. Maurice A. Selinger’s wife, having lived in Washington her whole adult life, lived with us just before she died in 1981.  I see that Eliot died a year later.  He must have knocked on our door just before he died.


The comment about Julius and Frederick Selinger being brothers  was a very important revelation for me because it confirmed what I had suspected.  I assume that Alfred Selinger was also, given that he lived with Julius and traveled with Julius and Augusta before marrying Augusta’s sister Fanny.

Here is a bittersweet story about Eleanor Selinger, the daughter of Julius and Augusta  who married Henry Abbot and moved to England as discussed here.

Years earlier, John and I were in England and he said he would like to see if he could find his Aunt Eleanor.  
We were successful and made arrangements to have tea with her in her apartment just before we left London.  When she opened the door, John was astonished to notice she looked exactly like his Dad who had died over ten years before.  We had a lovely visit.  She shared that she loved to play cards, but had a hard time see the cards now.  So the next day we had some “jumbo faced” cards sent over to her from Harrod’s – a fun idea.  She called us to say she was so flustered when the delivery man said he was from Harrod’s that she had a hard time buzzing him in.  Very sweet – a wonderful connection that pleased my husband very much.  We flew home the next day and then received word a day later that she had died.

Ann also told me more about the accomplishments of Dr. Maurice Selinger, her husband’s father, who along with his brother Jerome were probably the first doctors in the extended Cohen family, as discussed here.

Dr. Maurice Selinger, my father-in-law, who died before John and I were married, served in World War I and World War II as a physician.  He was a very dedicated doctor who gave his all to medicine and his patients.  He was very highly regarded in the Washington medical world.  He was instrumental in bringing three hospitals together (Garfield, Emergency, and one other – can’t remember) to form the new Washington Hospital Center. I remember just after we were married going to a diabetes center in Maryland that was dedicated to Dr. Selinger.  I know nothing more about that.  Amazing what you don’t pay attention to when you are young.
They lived in a lovely home on California Street, NW – should look up the number, that is now the Embassy of Venezuela.

Washington Hospital Center   "WHCExtGarden". Via Wikipedia -

Washington Hospital Center
“WHCExtGarden”. Via Wikipedia –

And finally this story about John’s father Maurice and his grandfather Julius and the Selinger’s jewelry store on F Street discussed here.

John always told the story that when his father was a young boy he would earn his allowance by winding the clocks on F Street that were installed by his grandfather, Julius.  They also put the clock in the tower of the old National Savings and Trust Building downtown.  Years later, John became a banker and worked as a Vice President in that same bank.


National Savings and Trust Building, Washington, DC "15th, New York, & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW" by AgnosticPreachersKid - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -,_New_York,_%26_Pennsylvania_Avenue,_NW.jpg#mediaviewer/File:15th,_New_York,_%26_Pennsylvania_Avenue,_NW.jpg

National Savings and Trust Building, Washington, DC
“15th, New York, & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW” by AgnosticPreachersKid – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_New_York,_%26_Pennsylvania_Avenue,_NW.jpg#mediaviewer/File:15th,_New_York,_%26_Pennsylvania_Avenue,_NW.jpg


There is nothing better than hearing and preserving these family stories.  They take the facts and inferences I make from government documents come to life and fill them with the love and respect that these people deserve.  Thank you so much, Ann, for sharing these with me.  I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.




Rachel Cohen and her Descendants: The Last Chapter of the Family of Hart Levy Cohen

Finally, I come to the youngest child of Moses Sr. and Adeline Cohen, Rachel Cohen.  This line is the last line of the extended family tree of Hart Levy and Rachel Jacobs Cohen, my great-great-great grandparents.  Although there are still quite a few unanswered questions in the Cohen saga, once I write about Rachel and her family, I will have covered all of the known descendants of Hart and Rachel, including both the Philadelphia branch and the Washington branch of the family, as best I can at this point.  I will reflect on the DC branch and on the overall Cohen family once I’ve written about Rachel.

On January 10, 1880, Rachel, as I wrote earlier, had married Frederick Selinger of Hurben, Germany, the presumed older brother or cousin of both Julius and Alfred Selinger, who married Rachel’s nieces Augusta and Fannie Cohen, respectively.

When I last wrote about Frederick and Rachel, I thought that they had had only two children, Fannie and Monroe, but further research uncovered that there may have been another child.  There is a record for a male child born in Washington, DC, on January 9, 1881, whose parents were “Rachael Cohen” and “Frederick Sclinger”—clearly an erroneous transcription of Selinger.  There is also a death record for a three year old child named Reuben Sellinger dated December 12, 1884, so born in 1881.  Although I do not have the death certificate for that child, it certainly seems that this must have been the same child born to Rachel and Frederick in 1881.  I am going to see if I can obtain the death certificate to learn what happened to Reuben.  Rachel and Frederick did have two children who lived to adulthood, Fannie, born in 1882, and Monroe, born in 1888.

As I researched more deeply into the story of Rachel and Frederick, I also learned that Frederick was not always in the furniture business.  In fact, in 1880 when he married Rachel, he was listed only as working as a clerk in a store.  The 1882 DC city directory gives more insight into what type of store; it says he was a pawnbroker.  The 1886 directory adds to this by listing Rachel Selinger as a pawnbroker and Frederick as a clerk.

Tradition symbol of pawnbrokers--three connect...

Tradition symbol of pawnbrokers–three connected balls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remembering that Moses and Adeline Cohen had at times been pawnbrokers, I now think that Frederick was working in what was at first his mother-in-law’s business (Adeline was living with the newly married couple in 1880) and then his wife’s business.  The 1887 and 1888 directories also list Rachel as the pawnbroker and Frederick merely as a clerk.  Rachel is one of the very rare married women I have found as working outside the home and listed separately in a directory.  This is even more surprising given that Rachel had a child born in 1882 and in 1888 and had lost a child in 1884.  On the other hand, I found numerous ads which refer only to Fred Selinger as the pawnbroker.

F selinger ad march 17 1882 f selinger ad may 14 1884

In 1890, Rachel, Frederick and their family were living in Sioux City where her brothers JM and Hart as well as her mother were then living.  The 1890 Sioux City directory lists Rachel as the owner of a general store and Frederick as the manager.  The 1892 directory does not list Rachel, but lists Frederick as working as clerk for JM Cohen, his brother-in-law.  The 1892 directory lists JM as a broker, meaning a real estate broker, which is the occupation given for him on the 1890 Sioux City directory.

By 1895, Rachel, Frederick and family had returned to Washington, DC, residing at 1424 7th Street, NW.  Frederick was working in a clothing store, according to the 1895 directory.  The 1896 directory has Rachel listed as in the clothing business with Frederick as a clerk.  By 1898 they had moved to 1502 7th Street, NW.  Again, Rachel is listed as in the clothing business, and Frederick is listed as a clerk.  On the 1900 census, Rachel is listed without an occupation, and Frederick is listed as a merchant of dry goods.  The 1900 directory included him in the category of second hand clothing.  There was no listing of Rachel in the 1900 directory or in the 1901 directory, which still had Frederick at 1502 7th Street in the clothing business.

Then in 1904 there is a change; Frederick is now in the furniture business, but in 1905 Rachel appears again in the directory in the clothing business; Frederick has no occupation listed.  They were still at the same address.  In 1906, 1907, and 1908, Rachel’s business is given as men’s furnishings, and Frederick is listed as a clerk. Their two children Monroe and Fannie are also listed as clerks in some of these years.

Rachel and Frederick’s daughter, Fannie, married Aaron Hartstall in 1908; Aaron was a paperhanger. The Washington Star of March 24, 1908, included this report of the wedding

:Fannie Selinger Hartstall marriage evening star March 24, 1908 p 7


Although the erratic pattern of Rachel and Frederick’s occupations made me wonder about their financial situation, it would appear from this description of the wedding that they were able to afford a fairly expensive celebration for their daughter’s wedding.

Aaron and Fannie Hartstall’s son Morton was born on January 20, 1910. Aaron continued to work as a paperhanger throughout the next three decades.

In 1910, Frederick and Rachel were now living at 317 R Street NW, and Frederick was in the furniture business, according to the census.  No occupation was given for Rachel.  Their son, Monroe, who was 22 in 1910 and living at home, was working as a clerk for the government at that time. Given his occupation as described on later documents, I believe he was a clerk for the US Post Office, or what we now call the US Postal Service.

Frederick was no longer selling furniture in 1911; he was now, like his son, a clerk at the post office.  Both were living at 317 R Street; I assume Rachel was as well.

In 1912, Monroe married Estelle Roth of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, as described in this article from the Washington Evening Star:


Monroe Selinger wedding 1912 evening Star July 10, p. 7

The young couple settled in Washington, DC.  In the 1912 DC directory, Monroe is listed as a post office clerk and residing at 126 Randolph Place; his father is listed at the same address in the directory.  Rachel’s name is not included in the listing.

In 1914, Monroe and Estelle had their first child Adelyn, and they were now living at 31, 1430 NW.  Three years later their son Eliot was born.    Monroe was working for the US Post Office, according to both his World War I draft registration and the 1917 directory, which gave his address now as 1440 Oak Street NW, the same address listed for his father Frederick. Monroe was also at the same address and still working for the post office on the 1920 census. By 1921, however, he had left the post office and was working as a clerk for the O’Donnell Drug Company.

I could not find Rachel on the 1920 census, but I did find Frederick living as a lodger at 103 Maryland Avenue right near the US Capitol and working as a clerk at the post office like his son Monroe. Rachel was not listed with him.  In the DC directory for 1921, Frederick was listed as a clerk for Sanitary Grocery and residing at 103 Maryland Avenue.  I do not know where Rachel was or for how long she and Frederick may have been living apart.

Then tragedy struck on May 30, 1923, when Monroe and Estelle’s daughter Adelyn died; she would have been only nine years old.  I have ordered her death certificate and will report on her cause of death once I receive it.

UPDATE:  I’ve received Adelyn’s death certificate.  She died of meningitis and mastoiditis, a bacterial infection of the mastoid bone, which is located behind the ear.  According to WebMD, these infections are usually caused by a middle ear infection that has not been successfully treated.  Once again, I am grateful for modern medicine and all that pink amoxycillin my kids took for ear infections.

Notice also that the informant on the death certificate was Aaron Hartstall, Adelyn’s uncle, her father’s brother-in-law.  I assume that her parents. grandparents and aunt were too distraught to provide the details for the death certificate.

Adelyn Singer death certificate May 30, 1923

Adelyn Singer death certificate May 30, 1923

Rachel still did not appear in the 1924 directory, but Frederick did.  He is listed as “bg mgr” of Washington Salvage Company and residing at 1913 14th Street NW. I also could not find Monroe in the 1924 directory.

By 1928, Monroe had switched to the clothing business, and he, Estelle, and Eliot, their remaining child, had moved to 1465 Girard Avenue, NW.

Frederick is listed in that 1928 directory as the manager of North Capital Salvage, residing at 733 North Capital Street, NE, and then, in 1929, both he and Rachel are listed at that address, both working for North Capital Service.  On the 1930 census, they are still at that address, and Frederick is listed as the owner of a general store.  Perhaps North Capital Service was the name of that store.   Rachel and Frederick were by this time almost eighty years old, living together and working together.  Three years later in 1933, they were listed as living together at 1438 Meridian Place, NW, without any occupations.

That was the last listing I found that includes Rachel.  In 1934, only Frederick is listed at that address, and on the 1940 census, Frederick is listed as a widower, living with his daughter Fannie Hartstall.  Although I have not yet found a death record, Rachel must have died in either 1933 or 1934.  She would have been 79 or 80 years old.

The extended family lost two other members during that time period.  Aaron Hartstall, Fannie Selinger Hartstall’s husband, who had continued to work as a paperhanger throughout this entire time, is listed on the 1938 Washington Directory, but must have died between 1938 and 1940 because Fannie is listed as a widow on the 1940 census.  Aaron would have been about 62 years old. Fannie continued to live at 705 Allison Street, NW, where she and Aaron had lived for many years; in 1940, her father Frederick and her brother-in-law Isaac Hartstall were living with her.

Fannie not only lost her husband and her mother during this period; she also lost her brother Monroe. Although Monroe is listed on the 1935 DC directory as a salesman for the People’s Army and Navy, he does not appear again.  I cannot find him or his family on the 1940 census.   The November 29, 1949 announcement in the Washington Post of his son Eliot’s engagement referred to him as “the late Monroe Selinger,” so Monroe must have passed away sometime between 1935 and 1949.  In fact, Eliot and his mother Estelle were living in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1945, after Eliot completed his military service, so it would appear that his father had died before 1945. He would have been only 61 years old. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a death record or an obituary for Monroe Selinger or Aaron Hartstall or Rachel Cohen Selinger.

Meanwhile, the next generation had become adults by 1930.  Morton Hartstall, the son of Aaron and Fannie, was twenty years old in 1930, and he was then working as a clerk for the Chamber of Commerce.  In 1931 he was still working for the Chamber of Commerce and still living at home.  By 1934 he had changed jobs again and was working as a salesman for a store called Goldenberg’s.  He was still at home on Allison Street with his parents.

On January 20, 1935, Morton married Kathryn Wolfe, who was also a Washington, DC, native. I was fortunate to find an article online about this history of a building located at 1330 Pennsylvania Avenue, NE, that mentions Morton and his livelihood and the restaurant he owned at that location for a few years in the 1930s:

Morton Hartstall 1330 Penn Ave restaurant1330 Penn Ave pic at page 13

(The article goes on to describe the rest of the history of the building, which is still being used as a restaurant today.)  In 1940 Morton and Kathryn were living with her parents in Washington, DC; Morton was now the owner of a “cleaning shop,” and Kathryn was a stenographer for Social Security.

Morton Hartstall 1940 census

Morton Hartstall 1940 census

As for Eliot Selinger, the only other grandchild of Rachel and Frederick Selinger to survive to adulthood, one record says that he served in the US military from March 16, 1943, until May 7, 1943.  I wonder whether his release in May was related to his father’s death.  As stated above, he and his mother were living in Hartford in 1945, but returned to Washington in 1946.  He was engaged to Jane Ruth Simon in 1949, and they had two children.  Eliot was the owner of Selinger Associates, a hardware manufacturer’s representative, a business he established in Washington after the war.

I do not know when Frederick Selinger died.  He was 83 in 1940, the date of the last record I have for him.  His daughter Fannie died in January, 1967.  She was 84.  Both lived far longer than their spouses.

Unfortunately, Fannie’s son Morton did not live as long as his mother did, but rather like his father, he died before he turned seventy. He died in April, 1977, when he was 67 years old.  His wife Kathryn was still alive in 1995; I have no later record for her.  I do not know whether Morton and Kathryn had any children.

Morton’s first cousin Eliot also was not blessed with longevity, but sadly like his father Monroe, he died before he turned 70.   He died on September 1, 1982, and was only 64 years old.  His wife Jane died June 13, 2008.  They are buried at Washington Hebrew cemetery and were members of Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Eliot Selinger obit 1982


Looking back over the life of Rachel Cohen Selinger and her children, I see a life that seems to have had some ups and downs.  Frederick changed jobs fairly often, they moved fairly often, and they may have even lived separately for some period of time.  They lost a child early in their marriage.  On the other hand, they worked together and lived together for many years, ending up together until Rachel died in 1934.

Their two children who survived to adulthood, Fannie and Monroe, seem to have had more consistent patterns in their lives.  Fannie was married to Aaron for many years, and he worked at the same location as a paperhanger for all of that time.  Their son Morton owned a couple of businesses of his own.

Monroe worked as a postal clerk for several years and then became involved in clothing sales.  He and his wife Estelle lost a young child, as his parents had many years earlier, but their surviving child, Eliot, owned a successful business in Washington for many years and had two children who survive him.

With that, I have now tracked as best I can all of the descendants of Hart Levy Cohen and Rachel Jacobs, my great-great-great grandparents.  It has been quite a journey, and before I move on to my next line, the Seligmans, I need to spend some time looking back and thinking about the bigger picture and the lessons I’ve learned from studying my father’s father’s father’s family.







820 F Street: Follow Up


File:International Spy Museum.JPG

The 800 block of F Street, NW, Washington, DC
Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia


In my post yesterday about Selinger’s jewelry store at 820 F Street in Washington, DC, I had asked about that location and what might have been reflected in the windows of the store.  My ever-reliable medical consultant/cemetery photographer is now also my Washington architectural researcher.  He sent me this link that provided this information about the history of one of the buildings on that block, the Adam House, that may have housed the Selinger store:

“The building, built in 1878, was originally leased to J. Bradley Adams, its namesake. Adams, a book salesman and stationer, later owned the building. The building housed an impressive amount of retail establishments and offices throughout the years. The building is done in a High Victorian Italianate style, with friezes and ornate moldings, as well as a gable with the year the structure was built (either 1876 or 1878, it’s unclear).”

My brother also found this website, which includes the same photograph of Selinger’s jewelry store and dates it as taken in 1920[1], after World War I, when there was suddenly a surplus of military watches available for sale to the public.  On this page, I also found an ad for Selinger’s from the Washington Post in May, 1920, reinforcing the conclusion that the photo was taken in 1920.  Neither of these pages indicates who took the photograph or for what purpose.  (I had originally thought that the photograph was a family photograph, but it appears not to have been.)

UPDATE: My cousin and fellow genealogist Jean Cohen found this information about the Selinger photograph from the Library of Congress at

Title: Selinger front, 820 F, N.W., [Washington, D.C.]
Date Created/Published: [ca. 1920]
Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 8 x 6 in.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-npcc-29219 (digital file from original)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: LC-F82- 4412 [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Title from unverified data provided by the National Photo Company on the negative or negative


The Library of Congress page also states that the photograph was a gift from Herbert A. French in 1947.  Herbert French was a  photographer as well as the owner of the National Photo Company; he donated his entire collection to the Library of Congress, including the photograph of Selinger’s.




The ad says that the store was located at the corner of 9th and F Street, so it might have been in the Warder Building,  which was built in 1892  near the Adams House.





Both buildings are today used to house the International Spy Museum.


Int  Spt Museum 820 F St


The building across the street, seen in the reflection of the Selinger’s window, is the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, part of the Smithsonian.  It was originally the building for the US Patent Office.


Old Patent Office Building, Washington D.C.

Old Patent Office Building, Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

F Street NW, view from Patent Office - Washing...

F Street NW, view from Patent Office – Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you to my brother Ira for finding most of these sources.








[1] For those who may wonder, a photograph taken in 1920 would no longer have a valid US copyright and is thus in the public domain.  Shorpy’s may be selling copies of it, but that does not include or suggest a copyright still exists on the photo.




Wonderful Surprises and Gifts

I had two wonderful surprises this week.  Usually I am hunting down family members, hoping for a response.  Twice this week I heard from relatives who found me.

Lou, a relative by marriage, is a cousin of my cousin Marjorie.  He had visited Marjorie recently and heard about my contact with her.  He sent me two wonderful photographs of Marjorie.  One is posted here: a photograph of Marjorie and her parents, Bessie and Stanley Cohen, at her graduation from Trinity College in Washington, DC, probably around 1947.  I’d never seen a picture of any of these family members before, and it was so meaningful to be able to see Marjorie’s face after spending time getting to know her on the phone this summer.  I hope to be able to meet her in person in the coming months.  I also was excited to see what my great-uncle Stanley looked like and what his wife Bessie looked like.   It really helps to bring these people to life when you can put a face to the name.  Bessie and Stanley look so proud of their daughter, a college graduate back when most women did not even dream of going to college.  (The second photograph I will post when I get to my Seligman relatives as it depicts two of them.)

Bessie and Stanley Cohen with their daughter Marjorie at her graduation

Bessie and Stanley Cohen with their daughter Marjorie at her graduation

The second wonderful surprise came in the form of a comment on the blog from a descendant of Julius and Augusta Selinger, their great-grandson Cito.  He had just accidentally found the blog while searching for something else and was pleased to see and learn more about his family’s history.

He then sent me this wonderful photograph of his great-grandfather Julius’ jewelry store.  Although the photograph is not dated, if you look at it closely, you can read the larger sign in the window that says “Sale…Watches…$4,” and see at the bottom “Price during the War +15.”  I am not exactly sure what that means, but I assume that the reference is to World War I, dating the photograph during the second decade of the 20th century.

Selinger's Jewelry Store 820 F Street, Washington, DC

Selinger’s Jewelry Store 820 F Street, Washington, DC

That makes sense because the young woman to the right standing in the doorway is assumed by the family to be Eleanor Selinger, the daughter of Julius and Augusta who married Henry Abbot and moved to London in 1926.  Eleanor would have been about 22 years old in 1917 when the US entered World War I.  I love being able to see Eleanor’s face also.  She has such a searching, pensive look on her face—what was she thinking?  You can see the reflections of a crowd of people looking into the window as well as some of the buildings across the way.  The store was at 820 F Street in Washington, DC.  Perhaps some of you recognize that location?

Thanks to both Lou and Cito for generously sharing these photographs and for contacting me.  I am so happy that you both were able to find me.  I also received photographs from another family member this week, my cousin Jack, the great-grandson of Joseph Cohen, who was my great-grandfather Emanuel’s older brother.  I will post some of those photographs next week after I have a chance to scan them.

So it’s been a great week to be doing genealogy research.  I am feeling very fortunate for all the gifts that genealogy has provided to me.  Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!


The Children of Augusta Cohen and Julius Selinger


Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922

Julius and Augusta Cohen Selinger passport photos 1922

Moses, Jr., and Henrietta’s daughter Augusta celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband Julius Selinger in 1909, as described in my earlier post.  Their children were all still living at home as of 1910, but the next two decades would see them all finding their own independent paths.  Julius continued to work as a jeweler in his store, Selinger’s, and in 1922, he and Augusta along with their daughter Eleanor traveled to Germany, the British Isles, and France, apparently for health reasons, according to Julius’ passport application.  That application contains photographs of both Augusta and Julius, shown above.

Sydney, their oldest son, had become an optician as early as 1906 when he was 21 years old.  Although he was still living at home in 1910, on September 3, 1917 he married a woman named Grace Bloch.  Although I have not yet found an official marriage record,  I know from other records that Grace, Sydney’s wife, was born November 20, 1895 or 1896 in Danville, Pennsylvania, and I found this newspaper announcement of  the marriage of Sidney Selinger of Washington, DC, and a Ruth Bloch, daughter of Samuel Bloch,  in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Sydney and Grace Selinger marriage announcement 1917

Sydney and Grace Selinger marriage announcement 1917

(Sunday, September 9, 1917, Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 27)

I am not sure why the paper gave her name as Ruth, as every census report shows that Samuel Bloch’s daughter was named Grace.  But since they also spelled Sydney’s name incorrectly, I assume it was just an error.

Sydney and Grace did not have children, and they lived in Washington, DC, at least until 1940.  They both seemed to be working in the retail jewelry business in 1940, and even in 1930 Sydney listed his occupation as in the jewelry business, no longer as an optician, presumably in the family jewelry store, Selinger’s.  By 1956 Sydney and Grace had moved to Hollywood, Florida, where they lived for the rest of their lives.  Sydney died in May, 1967, and Grace three years later in May, 1970.

Selinger ad

Harry, the second son of Augusta and Julius Selinger, was in the Selinger’s jewelry business from at least 1910 when he was 22 until at least 1935, the date of the last record I have for him.  Harry claimed an exemption from the draft for unspecified physical reasons in 1917 and was still single at that time.  He married Mary Jessop on August 22, 1924, when he was 36; it appears that he and Mary did not have children either as there were none listed as living with them on the 1930 census when Mary was 43, six years older than Harry.  I could find no record of either Mary or Harry after 1935.

Both of the next two sons, Jerome and Maurice, became doctors.  I believe these may have been the first descendants of Hart Levy and Rachel Cohen to become doctors.  Both also served in World War I, as depicted in this picture of Jerome and Maurice in the Washington Evening Star in 1919.

Selinger brothers 1919 WW 1

(Sunday, January 5, 1919,Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC), Page: 62 )

Jerome served overseas from August 7, 1917 until March 1, 1919, serving as a doctor in a mobile hospital unit overseas.  Maurice also was already a doctor when he registered for the draft in 1917 and thus also must have served in a medical role during the war.  He graduated from Georgetown Medical School in 1915. (Wednesday, June 16, 1915, Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 11)

Jerome married a widow named Ethel Chase Keith in 1921. Ethel was born Ethel Bird Chase in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, on November 7, 1886, the daughter of Plimpton Beverly Chase and Anna Bird and a descendant of one of the oldest families in central Ohio. (Their home, the Beverly Mansion, is now used as an event venue.)

Ethel was a 1910 graduate of Bryn Mawr College. (Register of Alumnae and Former Students By Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, 1922, p. 28)      She had married Benjamin Franklin Keith in Washington, DC, on October 19, 1913, when she was 26, and he was 67.  Benjamin F. Keith was a widower, and he died the following year on March 26, 1914, just six months after marrying the much-younger Ethel Bird Chase.   Mr. Keith was a well-known entertainer and theater owner in Boston; the B.F. Keith Opera House was named in his memory (now just known as the Boston Opera House).

So how did Jerome meet Ethel, I wondered.  I found a passenger manifest dated August 23, 1914, just over five months after Keith’s death, listing Ethel Chase Keith as a passenger on a ship sailing from Liverpool, England, to Quebec, Canada.  At first I thought she was traveling alone, but then I noticed that the entries above hers were for a Harold B. Chase, born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, obviously Ethel’s brother, and Harold’s wife Ruth Caroline Chase.

Ship manifest dated August 23, 1914 for the Megantic from Liverpool to Quebec

Ship manifest dated August 23, 1914 for the Megantic from Liverpool to Quebec

The names seemed familiar, so I checked my family tree, and sure enough, Myer Cohen, Sr., Jerome’s uncle, had a daughter Ruth who married a man named Harold Chase just about a year before in October 29, 1913, the same month that Ethel had married Benjamin F. Keith.  So Ethel must have either known Jerome already, as he was Ruth’s first cousin, or she was introduced to him by her brother and sister-in-law.  It appears that Ethel was living with Ruth and Harold at that time as well as traveling with them.  Unlike the case with  her first husband who was more than forty years older than she, this time Ethel married a man three years her junior.

Jerome and Ethel had two daughters, born in 1923 and 1928.  They lived in Huntington on Long Island, NY, then in Manhattan, and then in Fairfield County in Connecticut.  They were active in various charitable activities, and for some time Jerome was the health director for the town of New Canaan, Connecticut.  Jerome and Ethel did a great deal of traveling, according to the numerous passenger manifests.  According to Wikipedia, Ethel died in 1971.  Jerome lived until April, 1984, and was 94 when he died.

His younger brother and fellow doctor Maurice returned to Washington DC after World War I where he practiced medicine (a general practice, according to the 1930 census).  He was living with his parents and sister in 1920 and practicing medicine.  He married a woman named Mildred ( I have not yet located a marriage record for Maurice and Mildred).  Mildred was born December 23, 1899, in Easton, Pennsylvania, according to one ship manifest.  On the 1930 census they reported that they had been married for five years, so I am assuming they were married in 1925 or so.

Maurice Selinger and family 1930 census

Maurice Selinger and family 1930 census

They had two sons, one born in 1926 and the other in 1934.  In 1940, Maurice was still in a private medical practice, and in addition to his wife Mildred and their two sons, his father Julius was living with them.  Julius was now a widower, as Augusta had died in 1936 at age seventy.  Although I cannot find a death record for Julius, he was 87 in 1940, so I imagine that he died sometime in the next decade.  Maurice died on August 26, 1965, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  His wife Mildred died March 27, 1981, and is buried beside him.

The youngest child and only daughter of Augusta and Julius was Eleanor.  Eleanor was still living at home in 1920, working as a bookkeeper at the jewelry store.  During the decade from 1910 to 1920, her comings and goings were recorded regularly in the Washington Evening Star—whether it was visiting her cousin Aimee Cohen in Baltimore or friends or other relatives, there were numerous society tidbits about her visits.  In 1922, she went with her parents to Europe, including England.  In 1924 she was still living at home and working as a bookkeeper.  In 1925 she traveled alone to England, and then I lost all evidence of her on

Washington Star, January 16, 1916

Washington Star, January 16, 1916

I finally found a marriage record for her in; she married Henry Mortimer Abbot on March 25, 1926.  But then I could not find her as Eleanor Abbot.  A little more digging, and I finally realized that she and Henry were living in London.  Their marriage record said he was born in England, and the passenger manifest dated April 14, 1926, showed Eleanor and Henry Abbot traveling to England.  But then the 1928 directory for Washington, DC, listed Eleanor Abbot as residing in Washington without any listing for Henry.  I thought perhaps she had divorced Henry or perhaps he had died, but then there were many trips by Eleanor alone almost every other year through the 1920s and 1930s between England and the US.  I was quite perplexed.

Fortunately, I was able to find another family tree on which listed both Henry Abbot and Eleanor Selinger.  What was particularly interesting to me was that this tree revealed that Henry Abbot was originally Henry Auerbach, son of Hyams Auerbach and Helen Selinger.  Another Selinger? Helen Selinger was born in 1850 in Germany, according to that tree, making her a contemporary of Julius and Frederick Selinger, who were also born in Germany in the 1850s.  Could Helen be Julius’ sister or cousin? Had she arranged for her son to meet and marry Eleanor, his cousin? I don’t know the answer to those questions just yet, but I have a lead that may help me find out.

I contacted the owner of the Auerbach tree, and she wrote back to me telling me that Henry Auerbach/Abbot was her great-uncle, her father’s brother, and that she had visited Eleanor and Henry many times at their home in London and that they never had children.  She said that her father’s family, the Auerbach/Abbot family, was in the fur business and made many trips back and forth to the United States for business.  I asked her for more information about Henry and Eleanor and am awaiting her response.  Henry died in 1965, and Eleanor died in 1979.

Thus, the five children of Augusta Cohen and Julius Selinger all thrived as adults and seem to have had comfortable lives.  Three of their four sons stayed in Washington, DC, although Sydney eventually retired to Florida.  Two sons ended up in the family jewelry business, Sydney and Harry.  Two sons ended up as doctors, one in Washington and the other in New York and then Connecticut, and their daughter, a bookkeeper, ended up marrying an Englishman and moving to London.  Of the five children, only the two sons who were doctors had children, two each, so that Augusta and Julius had four grandchildren.  Two of their children, Jerome and Eleanor,  seem to have met their spouses through a family connection. Their parents, an immigrant and the daughter of an immigrant, must have been very proud of their children and their accomplishments.