Thank you, Dayton, Ohio, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Annapolis, Maryland, and TTT on Facebook


Dayton-ohio-skyline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my post about the descendants of Leopold Nusbaum, one of the unanswered questions was what happened to Cora Frank Lehman and her daughter Dorothy Gattman after Cora’s second husband Joseph Lehman died in 1959.  I could not find any answers—until I looked to Dayton, Ohio, for help.

First, some background: Cora Frank was the third child of Francis Nusbaum Frank, the only child of Leopold Nusbaum to survive to adulthood.  Cora had married Jacques Gattman in Philadelphia in 1903 and had had one child, Dorothy, in 1905.  Then in 1906, Jacques died at age 31 from a stroke.  Cora had married her second husband, Joseph Lehman of Dayton, Ohio, in 1913, and then moved with him to Dayton.  Dorothy grew up and went to high school in Dayton, but I had no luck finding any record for her after 1925, when she was listed in the Dayton, Ohio, directory as a student.

Cora and Joseph were still living in Dayton at the time of the 1930 census and the 1940 census and were listed in Dayton directories in the 1950s.

I was able to find Joseph Lehman’s death in 1959 on the Ohio Deaths database on, but I could not find his burial place.  I was also unable to find any record for Cora after the 1959 Dayton directory.  I thought she must have left Dayton after Joseph died, but I had no idea where she went.  She was not in the Pennsylvania database for death certificates, which runs through 1963, nor was she in the Ohio Deaths database, which runs until 2007.  I thus thought she had left Ohio and either lived past 1963 in Pennsylvania, where she’d been born and raised, or gone wherever her daughter Dorothy had gone.

But where had Dorothy gone?  Since I had no marriage record for her, I had no surname.  I tried searching every way I could to find her, but had no luck.

That’s when I decided to look for assistance in Dayton.  I contacted the Jewish Genealogical Society of Dayton for some information, and two women there, Marcia and Molly, co-presidents of the society, helped me locate where Joseph and Cora were buried—in the cemetery for Temple Israel in Dayton, one of three Jewish cemeteries in Dayton.  Molly also found in the cemetery records Cora’s date of death—April 14, 1967.  But unfortunately they were not able to find an obituary or any other document that revealed where Cora died or what happened to her daughter Dorothy.

But Molly gave me one other piece of invaluable advice.  She suggested I contact Ellen at Temple Israel.   I emailed Ellen, and she emailed me back first with information about where Joseph and Cora were buried in the cemetery and, most importantly, Cora’s address when she died in 1967: the Beaux Arts Hotel in New York City.  I was so excited and immediately tried locating Cora and Dorothy in New York City.  But I had no luck since I still didn’t know Dorothy’s surname.

But while I was having no luck, Ellen had continued to search, and forty minutes after her first email, I received an email saying that she had found Cora Lehman’s obituary:

Cora Frank Gattman Lehman obituary

Cora Frank Gattman Lehman obituary


And there it was:  Mrs. Albert Rosenstein! That had to be Dorothy. And now I knew that at least in 1967, she was living in New York City at the Beaux Art Hotel at 310 East 44th Street.

Now that I had Dorothy’s married name, I was able to find Dorothy and Albert Rosenstein on the 1930 census.  This was clearly the right Dorothy—right age (27), right birthplace (Pennsylvania), and right birthplaces for her parents (Pennsylvania and Mississippi). Dorothy and Albert were living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and further research revealed that Albert was born and raised in Lancaster, had graduated from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and was in the art wares business.

Ellen at Temple Israel in Dayton was also able to find this photograph of Dorothy’s confirmation class.  We could not figure out from the list of names on the back which one is Dorothy.  If anyone has any clue as to whether this list is in any order that would help identify Dorothy, please let me know.

1919 Confirmation Class of Temple Israel, Dayton, Ohio, courtesy of Temple Israel

1919 Confirmation Class of Temple Israel, Dayton, Ohio, courtesy of Temple Israel

Dorothy Gattman class names-page-001

But I was not yet done.  I didn’t know whether Albert and Dorothy had had any children.  I had to find them on the 1940 census.  Once again I hit a roadblock.  I could not find them.  Although I found entries for them in the Lancaster directories up through 1939, there was no 1940 directory on line, and they did not appear in the 1941 directory.  Where had they gone?

Using the address listed in both the 1930 US census and the 1939 Lancaster directory, 71 Spencer Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I searched for that address on the 1940 census.  There were Rosensteins living at that address, but not Albert and Dorothy.  Instead, Albert’s parents Morris and Sara Rosenstein were living at 71 Spencer Street.  Where were Albert and Dorothy? Why were his parents living in the house that Albert and Dorothy had owned in 1930 and lived in just a year earlier? Morris and Sara had lived at a different address in 1930.

Although I found an Albert Rosenstein living at 162 West 56th Street in the 1940 New York City telephone book, there was no Albert Rosenstein living at that address in the 1940 US census report.  I did find one Albert Rosenstein in New York City on the 1940 census, but he was single, born in New York, about four years younger than my Albert would have been in 1940, and a dress salesman.  On the other hand, he was living at 162 West 55th Street, just one digit off from the address where an Albert Rosenstein was listed in the 1940 telephone book.  So…was this a different Albert Rosenstein from my Albert Rosenstein?  I think so, but then where were my Albert and Dorothy Rosenstein in 1940?  I still am not 100% sure.

I was, however, able to find death records for both Dorothy and Albert.  Dorothy died on January 12, 1975, and Albert died on June 25, 1979.  They are buried at Forest Lawn Gardens Memorial Park in Pompano Beach, Florida.  I was able to locate a photograph of their headstone on FindAGrave:


I had no idea who Phyllis Rosenstein was.  She was eleven years younger than Albert, five years younger than Dorothy, so clearly not their child.  There was no sister named Phyllis living with Albert’s parents in 1920 or 1930, so I did not think she was his sister.  His only brother, Louis, was married to a woman named Blanche.  So who could Phyllis have been?

With the help of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I learned that Phyllis was Albert’s second wife.  He married her on February 10, 1976, when he was 77 years old.  I have to say that I am not sure Dorothy would be so thrilled having Albert’s second wife buried with them under the same headstone, but maybe I am just old fashioned.

I called the cemetery to see if perhaps they had any obituaries or other relevant records, but they did not.  Thus, there were still some loose ends here. Where were Dorothy and Albert between 1939 and 1975? Did they have any children?

The Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook again provided me with some great assistance.   One of the TTT members found a 2014 bulletin from Congregation Shaarei Shomayim in Lancaster which listed Dorothy G. Rosenstein and Albert Rosenstein on its January yahrzeit list. (A yahrzeit is the anniversary of a death on the Jewish calendar when relatives light a candle and say kaddish in memory of the deceased.)  I checked a Jewish calendar, and while Dorothy’s yahrzeit could fall in January, Albert’s would not.  I emailed the synagogue, and another helpful person, Martha, responded telling me that both Albert and Dorothy had yarhzeit plaques there (though the January yahrzeit was for Albert’s uncle with the same name, there was a separate one of my Albert).  Martha, however, had no record indicating who had paid for those plaques  or whether there were any children or other descendants of Albert and Dorothy.

I still did not know if Albert and Dorothy had had children, though it now seemed unlikely.  Then the TTT group helped me again.  Since Albert was a 1922 graduate of the Naval Academy, I had thought perhaps he’d been sent overseas in 1940.  Although the US had not entered World War II as of 1940, I did find a military record indicating that Albert had been activated in 1932 and was discharged in 1959.  At the suggestion of a TTT member, I wrote to the US Naval Academy Alumni Association to see if they had any records.  Last night I received an email from the US Naval Academy Alumni Association, Memorial Affairs representative which included two items: the obituary for Captain Albert Rosenstein and his photograph and biography from the yearbook from 1922, the year he graduated from the Academy.

US Naval Academy alumni magazine Shipmate, October 1979

US Naval Academy alumni magazine Shipmate, October 1979

It does seem that my hunch was correct—that Albert was serving in the Navy during World War II and thereafter for many years.  I am now searching for more information about his military record.  And the obituary also answered one more question.  It does not appear that he and Dorothy had any children, or at least none who survived him.

It’s amazing to me how much I was eventually able to learn about Dorothy and Albert when just a week ago I thought I never would find out anything about her. I would never have gotten this far without the generous assistance of those three women in Dayton, Ohio: Ellen, Molly, and Marcia.  Thank you all very much!  And thank you as well to Timothy from the USNA Alumni Association, Martha from Congregation Shaarei Shomayim, and to my many wonderful colleagues at the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group.  Once again—it took a village.

Ellen from Temple Israel in Dayton also sent me these photos of the headstones of Joseph and Cora Frank Lehman.

Cora Frank Lehman headstone Joseph Lehman headstone lehman headstone

UPDATE:  Here are the death certificates for Dorothy and Albert.  Dorothy’s confirms that she was in fact the daughter of Cora Frank.

Death certificates_0001

Death certificates_0002

Morton Tinslar Seligman:  Naval Hero, Part I

Midshipman Morton Tinslar Seligman c. 1918  Courtesy of Arthur Scott

Midshipman Morton Tinslar Seligman c. 1918
Courtesy of Arthur Scott

The story of Morton Tinslar Seligman is a fascinating one.  Morton, the son of James Leon and Ruth Seligman and my first cousin twice removed, was a decorated Navy hero in World War I and in World War II, but his name is also clouded by accusations that he leaked important classified information to a member of the press after the Battle of the Coral Sea during World War II.

Morton was born on July 1, 1895, in Salt Lake City, but grew up in Santa Fe, attended the University of New Mexico and then the US Naval Academy, from which he graduated in June, 1918, as described earlier.  After he graduated from Annapolis, he was commissioned as an ensign and was assigned to the U.S.S. Manchuria transport service.  By July, 1918, he was overseas engaged in submarine patrol off the coast of England and France.  After the war ended, he was promoted to lieutenant j.g., and from December, 1918, until October, 1919, he was engaged in an operation to clear the North Sea of mines.  He returned to New York in November, 1919, having overseen twenty subchasers in his command. Of those twenty, one was lost at sea due to explosions and fire, one was damaged so severely that it was not safe to sail it back to the US, and one was damaged but did eventually return.  No crew members were lost as a result of these damages, and his mission was completed successfully.

Morton Seligman WW 1 service history page 1

Morton Seligman WW1 service history

New Mexico Commission of Public Records, State Records Center and Archives; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Series Title: Service Reports; Series Number: 18.1.6; Box Number: 10899; Collection Name: New Mexico Adjutant General Records; Collection Number: 1973-019

For his service, Morton was awarded the Navy Cross for distinguished service.  (“Servicemen Cheer Hero at Canteen,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 21, 1943, p. 18)  His commendation read:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Morton Tinslar Seligman (NSN: 0-34590), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. C-272, engaged in the important and hazardous duty of sweeping for and removing the mines of the North Sea Barrage during World War I.

I am not sure where Morton was stationed once he returned to the US, but as of August 19, 1925, he was stationed in Honolulu as part of the aviation corps, according to a wedding announcement in the San Francisco Chronicle.  On that date, Morton married Eleanor Reynolds, the daughter of Ziba Wells Reynolds, who had been a pay director in the Navy; her brother Lieutenant Stewart Reynolds was also serving in the Navy.  The article, reprinted below with a photograph of the bride, reported that Morton was assigned to Honolulu for the next three years.  (Another article stated that his Honolulu assignment was for two years, and that appears to have been more accurate.  “Sail from San Pedro,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 1925, p. 14)

Morton Seligman marriage article 8 19 25

San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 1925, page 14

On August 29, 1925, Morton and Eleanor sailed out of Los Angeles to Hawaii on the SS Calawaii, arriving in Honolulu on September 5, 1925. (National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 02/13/1900 – 12/30/1953; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3422; Roll: 083; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85)

Two years later they returned to California on the SS City of Honolulu, departing June 18, 1927, for Wilmington, California, where Morton was assigned to V.F. Squadron 6, a fighter squadron, part of the US Navy Battle Fleet. ( U.S., Military Registers, 1862-1985[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.)

Although he is listed as residing in San Diego in the 1929 San Diego city directory, he must have been reassigned during that year to Washington, DC, with the Bureau of Aeronautics. (“Mrs. Seligman Leaves for Washington, D.C.,” San Diego Union, September 23, 1929.)

It seems that the marriage did not survive long thereafter because by April 3, 1930, the date of the 1930 census, Morton was divorced, and he was living with a fellow Navy aviator in Washington, DC.  He was still with the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1931, according to the Washington city directory of that year, although he was temporarily attached to the US Marine Corps as part of a special assignment to transport aircraft to Port au Prince, Haiti, in October, 1931. ( U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.)  He returned from Haiti on November 2, 1931, giving the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington as his address. (Year: 1931; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5067; Line: 7; Page Number: 64.)

Lt. Morton Seligman c. 1932  Courtesy of Arthur Scott

Lt. Morton Seligman c. 1932
Courtesy of Arthur Scott

By 1933, Morton was living in San Diego and was remarried to a woman named Adela.  I cannot find a marriage record or any other document that reveals Adela’s birth name, but she is listed with him as his wife on the 1933 San Diego city directory. He was now a Lieutenant Commander with the VF-1-B squadron, according to the U.S. Military Register for the year.  He and Adela were still living in San Diego as of 1939, according to that year’s directory, and Morton was still serving in the US Navy. According to the US Military Register for 1939, Morton was now a commander at the Naval Air Station in San Diego.  The 1940 census also has Morton and Adela living in San Diego, Morton’s occupation still as a naval aviator. By this time, Morton was 44, Adela was 41.   Morton had been serving in the Navy for over 20 years.  ( U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.)

In October, 1941, Morton risked his life in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue two naval aviators who died when their plane crashed into the bay off the coast of San Diego.  According to the San Diego Union:

“Comdr. Morton T. Seligman, Naval Air station executive officer, made a dramatic attempt to rescue the fliers a few minutes after the crash.  Speeding to the scene of the accident in a crash boat, Cmdr. Seligman discovered that no one aboard was a diver.  Despite the fact that he had never donned a diving helmet in his entire navy career, the officer put on the helmet and diving suit, instructed the crew of the crash boat how to operate the air pumps and then dived overboard. 

“In 25 feet of water, Cmdr. Seligman discovered the bodies of the airmen in the smashed plane.  In trying to extricate them, Cmdr. Seligman suffered severe cuts on his left hand from jagged pieces of metal and wood.”  (“Two Fliers Die As Navy Plane Falls Into Bay,” San Diego Union, October 5, 1941, p. 1)

Two months later, the US would enter World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, a place where Morton had once served.  Not long after, Morton was an officer on the USS Lexington, which was destroyed during the Battle of the Coral Sea, which took place from May 4 through May 8, 1942.  The battle was described as follows on the official US Navy website Naval History and Heritage Command:

“The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and eastward from New Guinea, was the first of the Pacific War's six fights between opposing aircraft carrier forces. Though the Japanese could rightly claim a tactical victory on "points", it was an operational and strategic defeat for them, the first major check on the great offensive they had begun five months earlier at Pearl Harbor. The diversion of Japanese resources represented by the Coral Sea battle would also have immense consequences a month later, at the Battle of Midway.  ….. 

“Preliminary operations on 3-6 May and two days of active carrier combat on 7-8 May cost the United States one aircraft carrier, a destroyer and one of its very valuable fleet oilers, plus damage to the second carrier. However, the Japanese were forced to cancel their Port Moresby seaborne invasion. In the fighting, they lost a light carrier, a destroyer and some smaller ships. Shokaku received serious bomb damage and Zuikaku’s air group was badly depleted. Most importantly, those two carriers were eliminated from the upcoming Midway operation, contributing by their absence to that terrible Japanese defeat.”

English: Battle of the Coral Sea

English: Battle of the Coral Sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The website also notes that “The U.S. Navy [was] tipped off to the enemy plans by superior communications intelligence” that helped them in their fight against the Japanese in this battle.

As for Morton’s role, a US Navy Cruise Book described the battle and the USS Lexington’s role in that battle in great detail.  According to this source, on the morning of May 7, 1942, the aircraft carrier was hit by five torpedoes and numerous bombs.  Although seriously damaged, the ship did not sink, and by 1 pm it was on even keel and only had one fire burning.  Then another major explosion occurred, caused by gasoline vapors igniting below the deck.  Several fires started, and by 5 pm the commanding office of the ship, Admiral Fitch, ordered the crew to abandon ship.  After the admiral and the crew had left, “Captain Sherman and his Executive Office, Commander Morton T. Seligman made a final inspection of their vessel amid flying debris, smoke and flames.  They then slid down a line, with the commanding officer being the last to leave—just as the torpedo head locker exploded, shaking both from the line and into the sea.  All but 26 officers and 190 men were rescued (including seven brothers aboard named Patten), and it is thought that none of these casualties occurred by drowning after abandoning ship.”

( U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2011. Original data: United States Navy. Various U.S. Navy Cruise Books. Navy Department Library, Washington, D.C.)

English: USS Lexington (CV-2), burning and sin...

English: USS Lexington (CV-2), burning and sinking after her crew abandoned ship during the Battle of Coral Sea, 8 May 1942. Note planes parked aft, where fires have not yet reached. Removed caption read: Photo # NH 51382 USS Lexington burning during the Battle of Coral Sea, May 1942 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For his service and heroism aboard the Lexington, Seligman was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.  His citation read:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross to Commander Morton Tinslar Seligman (NSN: 0-34590), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of this profession as Executive Officer of the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action on 7 and 8 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea. During and after that battle Commander Morton directed the damage control and fire fighting parties, inspecting and visiting all critical parts of the ship. He personally assisted in removing all the wounded in many places. His distinguished leadership and timely decisions contributed greatly to the success of our forces and was largely responsible for the small loss of life that occurred when the ship was abandoned. Commander Seligman’s conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

Navy Cross

Navy Cross

A month later, Morton Seligman would be caught up in a controversy involving another major Pacific battle, the Battle of Midway.  More on that in Part II.