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



Sign for Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bernard Seligman and other merchants

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Santa Fe Trail around 1845 plus connecting tra...

Santa Fe Trail around 1845 plus connecting trading routes to commercial hubs and ports in the USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)







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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


[11] Parish, p. 15


[12] Twitchell, p.477.


[13] Tobias, pp. 43-44.


[14] Tobias, pp. 42-43.


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


[16] Parish, p. 23, 129.


[17] Twitchell, p. 477.




Gau-Algesheim and the Seligmans: My Great-great-grandfather’s Birthplace and What I Learned

Coat of arms of Gau-Algesheim

Coat of arms of Gau-Algesheim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From several documents and historical references, I know that Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather, and his brothers Adolph and Sigmund were born in a small town close to the Rhine River called Gau-Algesheim in what was then the Hesse Darmstadt region of Germany. Today it is located in the Mainz-Bingen district in the Rheinland-Pfalz state in Germany.   Gau-Algesheim is about 15 miles southwest of Mainz and 40 miles southwest of Frankfort, Germany.  Its population in 2012 was under seven thousand people, and it is less than five miles square in area.[1]   From the photographs posted on the town’s official website, it appears to be a very charming and scenic location.  There are wineries nearby, and tourism appears to be an important source of revenue for the town.[2]



What was Gau-Algesheim like almost 200 years ago when my ancestors were living there?  How long had my Seligman ancestors been there, and were there any family members who remained behind after Bernard and his brothers left? How long had there been Jews living in Gau-Algesheim, and are there any left today? These were the questions that interested me the most about my great-great-grandfather’s birthplace.

There is a book about the history of Jews in Gau-Algesheim written by Ludwig Hellriegel in 1986, Die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden, but unfortunately there is no copy available online, and the closest hard copy is in the New York Public Library.  I tried to borrow it through my university’s interlibrary loan program, but was it was not available for lending.  Thus, I’ve had to piece together bits of information from Wikipedia,, the Gau-Algesheim website, and to get some answers to my questions, relying on Google Translate in order to read the sources written in German.  What follows is a very brief skeletal history of Gau-Algesheim overall and in particular of the history of Jewish life there based on these limited secondary sources.

Gau-Algesheim has ancient roots.  There is evidence of graves dating back as far as 1800 BCE, and evidence of a settlement during Roman times as well.  In the 700s a church and a monastery were established.  Gau-Algesheim was part of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and during that time was under the control of various different officials and jurisdictions within the Empire and often the subject of disputes and battles for control.  See  It was part of Napoleon’s empire until 1812, and then eventually became part of the nation state of Germany in the mid-19th century.


Gau-Algesheim. Rathaus am Marktplatz.

Gau-Algesheim. Rathaus am Marktplatz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its Jewish history dates back to at least the 14th century.  By the 14th century, the town had developed into a commercial center.  Many merchants and artisans lived in the town, including herring merchants, blacksmiths, bakers, barbers, coopers, tailors, and shopkeepers.  The monasteries owned a lot of the land, and there was also a fairly large class of nobility.  By 1334, there must have been a Jewish community in Gau-Algesheim because in that year a head tax was imposed upon the Jewish residents.  According to Wikipedia, Jews were required to pay this additional tax because they were considered the property of the crown and under its protection.[3] There was also a Jewish cemetery in existence during the 14th century.  However, this community must have been a very small minority, and the Jews were certainly considered outsiders by the Catholic majority.  In 1348 there was a flu pandemic in the region, and Jews were accused of poisoning the water, such accusations then leading to pogroms across the region.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My sources do not reveal anything about Jewish life in Gau-Algesheim between 1400 and 1800, but the population in 1790 was reportedly only nineteen (it’s not clear whether this refers to people or households, but I assume it refers to total people).  In 1808 there were three Jewish families, and in 1819 only six Jewish families.  In 1857, the Jewish population was fifty people, and the Jewish population peaked in Gau-Algesheim in 1880 when it reached eighty people or 2.6% of the total population of the town, according to the alemannia-judaica website.  (JewishGen puts the 1880 population at only 66.[4])  According to alemannia-judaica, a synagogue is not mentioned as being in the town until 1838. It was described as very old and in poor condition in 1850 and was rebuilt in 1861 and renovated again in 1873-1874.  There was also a mikveh and a religious school, although it seems that there was a joint school with the nearby town of Bingen. (Bingen, by comparison, had 542 Jews in 1880, amounting to almost eight percent of its overall population; it was only six miles away from Gau-Algesheim. By further comparison, Mainz had a Jewish population of about 3,000 in 1900, and Frankfurt had almost 12,000 Jews in 1900.)[5]

The tiny size of the Jewish population in Gau-Algesheim in the 19th century in the years when my ancestors were living there surprised me.  How did my family end up there?  And why did they leave? I don’t know the answers to the first question at all and can only speculate about the second and will write more generally about it in a later post.   But what I want to focus on for now is what happened to the Jewish community in Gau-Algesheim after my great-great-grandfather Bernard and his brothers left in the middle of the 19th century.

It appears that my ancestors were not the only Jews to leave Gau-Algesheim.  By 1900, the Jewish population had declined to 27 people; in 1931 there were only 31 Jewish residents.  Presumably many of these Jews had immigrated to another country, and many may have moved to the larger cities in Germany.  In the Reichstag elections of 1933, the Nazi Party only received 26.6% of the vote in Gau-Algesheim with the Center Party carrying almost half the vote.  Unfortunately, that did not reflect the overall vote in Germany, and the Nazi Party took control of the country, soon dissolving the Reichstag and all other political parties, ultimately leading to World War II and the Holocaust.  Whatever Jews were left in Gau-Algesheim before World War II either left the town or were killed by the Nazis.

There is no Jewish community there today.  The Jewish cemetery remains, however, although it was desecrated during the Holocaust and has been vandalized several times since then.  In 2006, Walter Nathan, whose father was born in Gau-Algesheim, visited the cemetery and was so disturbed by the condition of the cemetery that he decided to work to have it restored and to create a memorial to those who were buried there and also to those who had been killed in the Holocaust.  On November 9, 2008, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the memorial was dedicated by Nathan and many members of his extended family.[6]  Included in the headstones remaining in the cemetery was this one for a woman named Rosa Gebmann Seligmann who was born in 1853 and died in 1899 and married someone who was probably my relative.

With the help of two members of the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group, I can provide this translation of the German and the Hebrew on the headstone.  The German says, “Here rests in peace my unforgettable wife and good mother Rosa Seligman, nee Bergman, born May 11, 1854, died Feb.1 8, 1899. Deeply missed by her husband and children.  The Hebrew at the bottom says, “Here is buried Mrs. Roza wife of Alexander Seligman Died (on the) holy Shabbos 8(th day of) Adar 5659 by the small count. May her soul be bound in the bonds of life.”

There is also a plaque in town commemorating the Jewish citizens of Gau-Algesheim who were killed by the Nazis. It says, as translated by Google Translate, “The city of Gau-Algesheim commemorates their Jewish fellow citizens who were victims of Nazi violence and domination.”


There is another plaque hanging on the wall of the cemetery listing the Jews born in Gau-Algesheim who were murdered during the Holocaust according to Memorial Book: Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945.  It says, “Standing in this sacred place our hearts turn to the memory of those who fell victim to the violence of the Nazis, and we vow to keep their memory alive. In solemn testimony of the unbroken faith that connects us with them, their names are referred to in profound awe. We say the Kaddish—the prayer for the dead— and remember the terrible tragedy of the Jewish people.”

Among the names listed on this second plaque were these individuals: Bettina Elisabeth Arnfeld born Seligmann (1875), Johanna Bielefeld born Seligmann (1881), Anna Goldmann born Seligmann (1889), and Moritz Seligmann (1881),.[7]

On the site, I found two more Seligmanns born in Gau-Algesheim: Jacob Seligmann, born April 8, 1869, who became a resident of Neunkirche and emigrated in 1935 to Luxembourg, and Laura Seligmann Winter, born June 9, 1870, who was also a resident of Neunkirche and immigrated to Luxembourg in 1935. [8]

These may have been my relatives.  Given the small size of the Jewish community that lived in Gau-Algesheim, I have to assume that at least some if not all of those named Seligmann were related to my great-great-grandfather Bernard and were thus related to me.  When I saw those names, I was stunned.   Because I have not found where my Brotman relatives lived in Galicia, because I have not found any Goldschlagers from Iasi who were killed in the Holocaust, because my Cohen relatives left Europe long before Hitler was even born, I had not ever before seen the names of possible relatives who were victims of the Holocaust.  But Bettina, Johanna, Anna, Moritz, Jacob, and Laura Seligmann—they were likely the nieces and nephew or the cousins of Bernard, Sigmund, Adolph and James Seligman.  They were likely my family.

Now I need to see what I can learn about them and what happened to them.  I need to be sure that their names are not forgotten.  This is what I know so far from the Yad Vashem names database:

Bettina Elizabeth Seligmann Arnfeld, born March 17, 1875, was residing in Muelheim Ruhr, Dusseldorf, Rhine Province, and was deported to Theresienstadt on July 21, 1942, and she died there on January 23, 1943.



Johanna Seligmann Bielefeld, born March 13, 1881, was living in Mainz during the war.  She died in Auschwitz.



Anna Seligmann Goldmann, born November 30, 1889, was living in Halle der Saale, Merseburg, Saxony Province.  She was deported from there May 30, 1942.  Her husband Hugo Goldmann, born in 1885, and their daughter Ruth Sara, born in 1924, were also deported that same day.  They were all murdered.



Moritz Seligmann, born in 1881, was not listed in the Yad Vashem database.  On the memorial plaque placed at the cemetery in Gau-Algesheim the only notation after his name is Verschollen, which means “missing, lost without a trace,” according to one source.



Jacob Seligmann, despite escaping Germany in 1935 and moving to Luxemburg, did not escape the Nazis.  He was killed in 1941 in Luxemburg, according to the Yad Vashem website.

Laura Seligmann Winter, who may have been Jacob’s sister, was a widow; on August 28, 1940, she also was killed in Luxemburg.



I will continue to look for more records that will tell something about the lives of these people and their families so that they can be remembered not only for how they died but also for how they lived.


“Dachau never again” by Forrest R. Whitesides – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –














[1] See



[2] See



[3] See



[4] See



[5] See



[6] See








[8] [8]



One Lovely Blog Award—A Nice Start to the New Year



My new year started off on Thursday morning in just the right way.  First, my daughter texted me to tell me that her baby, my grandson Remy, had slept through the night for the first time.  Then I checked my email and saw there was a new post from one of my favorite bloggers, Pancho of The People of Pancho.  She’d been nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award and was very excited.  I was excited for her because I really enjoy her blog about her family research and about her childhood growing up in the Panama Canal Zone.

But imagine my surprise as I read through her blog post to see that she had in turn nominated me for The One Lovely Blog Award!  I am so honored and flattered to have received this nomination.  So Pancho, thank you so much for this nomination and for starting my year off with this great ego boost!

Now part of the deal in accepting this nomination is that there are certain rules to follow.  Here are the rules for this award:


  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog. (Thanks again, Pancho!)
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!).
  4. Contact your bloggers to let them know that you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award


So… seven things about me? In no particular order, here are seven rather random thoughts about who I am:


  1. My family is the center of my life, and not just my dead ancestors! My living and breathing family—those who have known me since birth and childhood and those I’ve only known since adulthood. I have been married for 38 years to the guy I met working at a day camp back in 1973. I still am amazed by how wonderful a man he is.  My children and grandchildren give me endless joy.  I am writing this blog for them, whether they realize it or not. SONY DSC
  2. I taught law for 32 years—copyright, trademark, antitrust, and contracts law. I retired last spring, and so far retirement has been wonderful! I have more time to pursue genealogy, and I am exploring various volunteer projects that give me a chance to work with children and use my teaching skills.
  3. I love animals, especially cats and dogs. I have never met a cat I didn’t like. They are all beautiful to me. I love dogs also, but not as much as I love cats. Except my dog. I love her as much as my cats.smokey luna sibling love
  4. The Outer Cape in Massachusetts—the location of the towns of Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown—is my favorite place in the world. No place else is as beautiful to me. Put me on the beach in the National Seashore or overlooking Cape Cod Bay, and my mind immediately clears. IMG_0341
  5. I am a die-hard Red Sox fan and have been for 39 years…ever since 1975 when the Red Sox lifted me out of the doldrums and stress of my first year of law school. This year might have been the hardest season ever to be a Sox fan, from last to first to last again. Go Sox….2015?
    English: Boston Red Sox Cap Logo

    English: Boston Red Sox Cap Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  6. Reading has been my favorite pastime since I was very young. I am always reading something for pleasure. My tastes are pretty eclectic, but mostly I read novels, biographies, and memoirs. I thank my mother for getting me hooked on books at a very early age. My favorite two books from childhood are The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  The first taught me that books could create a whole imagined world where anything can happen; the second taught me that books could make me care enough about well-developed and well-written characters—even a spider—that I would cry over them.  I still cannot think about the ending of Charlotte’s Web without getting choked up.
    Cover of "The Phantom Tollbooth"

    Cover of The Phantom Tollbooth

    Charlotte's Web

    Charlotte’s Web (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  7. Since I first started reading books on my own as a child, I have always been inspired by good writing. I have always, always, wanted to write. Work, family, and life got in the way.  This blog has been a gift for me—I finally get to write what I want to write the way I want to write it.  Thank you to all my readers and followers for giving me an audience and the encouragement and the inspiration to keep on writing.  I share this nomination with you all.


And now my turn to recognize some of the blogs that have inspired me and that teach me something about genealogy, about writing, and/or about life.  First, Pancho already recognized three of my favorite blogs: Bernfeld Family of Galicia & More,  The Genealogy Girl, and Shaking the Tree.  I  would also have  nominated these three as all are wonderfully written, very expressive, and very well-researched genealogy blogs.  All three touch me and help me all the time.

I would also re-nominate The People of Pancho for all those reasons and also Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, though I know that Jana nominated Pancho thus must herself have been nominated.  So those are five genealogy blogs that I would also have  nominated even though they’ve already been nominated.  But I will spread the wealth and nominate a different group of fifteen.

These are in no particular order, but the first group are all genealogy blogs that I enjoy reading, find helpful, are amazingly well-researched and well written.

1.  Root to Tip

2. The Family Kalamazoo

3. The Lives of My Ancestors

4. The Legal Genealogist

5. Genealogy Sisters

6. Moore Genealogy

7. Genealogy Lady

8. One Rhode Island Family

To demonstrate that I do have interests outside of genealogy, here are seven non-genealogy blogs that I enjoy:

9. wmtc:  formerly, We Move to Canada, a blog originally (not surprisingly) about Laura Kaminker’s move to Canada from the US, but now much more than that: politics, books, travel, personal reflections, dogs, baseball, you name it—all clearly and beautifully written and often very provocative.

10. The Joy of Sox:  the very first blog I ever read—all about the Red Sox.  Allan Wood’s latest book about the Red Sox, Don’t Let Us Win Tonight,  has made me an even bigger fan.

11. BJJ, Law, and Living–the thoughts and experiences of the blog owner, who is a recent law graduate and mother

12.  Wellfleet Today—the ins and outs and ups and downs of running a B&B in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.  Amazing photographs.

13. Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle—ever since I discovered this site a few years ago, I no longer have to wait 24 hours to find out what obscure answers I missed, and I also get to read all the rantings of Rex and his followers.

14. Over the Monster–another Red Sox blog

15. The TTABlog–a blog I followed regularly while teaching trademark law.  Although I am retired and no longer reading it regularly, I want to recognize it because it was tremendously helpful to me while I was teaching.

So those are my fifteen nominations.  Now I have to go tell them all they’ve been nominated.  I hope they are as pleased as I was by my nomination.








Change of Plans

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: "...

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: “To a good year” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was going to post about Gau-Algesheim this morning, but have decided to wait until after Rosh Hashanah.  It’s an important post (to me, at least), and with so many family and friends celebrating the holiday, I thought it might get lost in the shuffle.  So I will wait until Sunday to post it.


In the meantime, I also will be busy celebrating the holiday and so will take a short break from writing and researching so that I can focus on the holiday and my family.


For everyone out there, whether you celebrate this holiday or not, let’s hope for and work for a year of peace everywhere—within our families, our communities, our countries, and our world.  Shana tova!




Happy New Year, Shana Tova, and Happy Blogiversary!


A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditional...

A shofar made from a ram’s horn is traditionally blown in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish civic year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will post tomorrow morning about the town in Germany where my Seligman ancestors were born and what I learned about my family by researching that small town called Gau-Algesheim.  But for now—I have three events to recognize.


First, it was a year ago today that my cousin Judy set up the blog and I made my first blog post.  It had no text—just a posting of my great-grandmother’s death certificate.  I was learning how to use WordPress, and I don’t even know if anyone saw that post other than Judy and me.  I didn’t actually post anything substantive until October 4 when I wrote my first post about what to expect from the blog.  But I will always celebrate September 23 as my “blogiversary” for another very good reason.  September 23 was my grandmother Gussie Brotman Goldschlager’s birthday.  She would have been 119 this year.

So happy birthday, Grandma, and happy blogiversary to me!  Thank you all for being with me on this journey.  I can’t believe in a year that I have made so much progress in learning about my mother’s family and my father’s family, although I am humbled by how much more I have to learn.

And there is another reason for posting today.  Tomorrow night is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  So it is not only the beginning of a new year for me with my blogging and genealogy adventures, it is a time for being thankful for all our blessings and for being reflective about the year that has gone by and the year to come.  So let me reflect for a moment on this past year.


First and foremost, this year has brought the miracle of more children into the family.  I am particularly grateful for the birth of my grandson Remy, now over three months old, a happy, smiling baby with a sweet and calm disposition.  Two of my cousins also had new grandchildren this year, and perhaps there were others I don’t even know about yet who have enlarged our family tree.




Second, I am grateful for the continuing presence in my life of my family—both my immediate family and my extended family—and for all my friends who are like family to me.   I wish for you all a new year of good health, peace of mind, gratitude for all you have, and joyfulness.

Third, I want to thank and recognize all my genealogy friends—fellow bloggers, Facebook genealogy group members, the people at and JRI Poland and Gesher Galicia, and, of course, Renee Steinig, my mentor who has inspired me and taught me so much.  May we all continue to work together to break down brick walls, to find our roots, and to honor our ancestors as best we can.

Shana Tova to you all!  May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year, and may it be a sweet year for everyone.



English: Symbols of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish N...

English: Symbols of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year: Shofar, apples, honey in glass honey dish, pomegranates, wine, silver kiddush cup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Magic of Photography

As I wrote last time, I did not have any photographs of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen despite the fact that my father lived with her for many years of his childhood and the fact that she took many pictures of him and his sister.  When I received some photographs from my cousin Marjorie’s cousin Lou Mahlman, in the mix was this photograph of Marjorie with Arthur Seligman and a woman who Lou said was Arthur’s wife Franc.  The photograph was taken in 1932 in Atlantic City.

Arthur Seligman, Marjorie, and Eva May Cohen, 1932 Atlantic City

Arthur Seligman, Marjorie, and Eva May Cohen, 1932 Atlantic City


But when I showed the photograph to my father, he said that the woman in the photograph was not Franc, but his grandmother, Eva Seligman Cohen.  I was so excited to hear him say that and to watch his face when he saw her face in the photograph.

There was another photograph, also from Atlantic City in 1932, in which Arthur Seligman is sitting with two women on the beach.  The initial version we saw was overexposed, but Arthur “Pete” Scott, Arthur Seligman’s grandson, was able to enhance the photo, and once my father saw the enhanced version, he said that the woman sitting next to Arthur Seligman is also his grandmother.

Eva M. Cohen, center, 1932 (Arthur Seligman, right)

Eva M. Cohen, center, 1932 (Arthur Seligman, right)

So now we have two photographs of my great-grandmother Eva May Seligman Cohen, or Bebe, as she was known by all her grandchildren.  Thank you, Marjorie, for sharing these with all of us, and thank you, Lou, for scanning and sending them, and thank you, Pete, for enhancing the second photograph.  With these two photographs, we all now have a face to put with the name and the deeds of this wonderful woman who gave so much to others.

The Seligmans: My New Mexican Ancestors—An Introduction

State flag of New Mexico copyright friendly picture

Flag of New Mexico

Although my parents did not talk very much about their ancestors or families when I was a child, one of the claims my father often made with pride was that his great-uncle had been the governor of New Mexico.  I used to find this both amusing and irrelevant.  A seemingly distant relative who died 20 years before I was born?  Why would I care about that? And New Mexico? How could we possibly have a relative—a Jewish relative—who came from New Mexico? We were from New York and Philadelphia—we were not from the Southwest; we were not cowboys.  Who was this relative, and how in the world did he get to be a governor?  It all seemed rather preposterous—like saying we were descended from Napoleon or George Washington.

Not that I doubted that my father was telling the truth. It just seemed unimportant to me—until I started to delve into my family’s history.  As I started to research and read about this side of my family, I realized how remarkable and interesting a story it is and what a uniquely American story it is.  But before I get to that story, I need to begin at the end and explain how the story of the New Mexican Seligmans is part of my family’s story.

I have written quite a bit about my great-grandparents, Emanuel and Eva M. Cohen, and in particular about my great-grandmother Eva.  You may recall that it was Emanuel and Eva who took in Emanuel’s brother Isaac and his teenage son when Isaac’s wife died.  It was Emanuel and Eva who opened their home for Emanuel’s uncle Jonas’ funeral.  And it was Eva who took care of my father and his sister for almost ten years when my grandparents were both unable to do so.  Both my father and his cousin Marjorie have described Eva as the sweetest, most loving, and kindest woman.

Eva was a Seligman, the daughter of Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum.  She was born in 1866 in Philadelphia, but moved with her parents to Santa Fe, New Mexico when she was a young girl.  She returned east to go to Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia, and while there, she met Emanuel Cohen and married him in 1886 when she was only twenty years old.

Eva Cohen in the Swarthmore Bulletin

Eva Cohen in the Swarthmore Bulletin 1885-1886


Marriage announcement of Emanuel Cohen and Eva Seligman

Marriage announcement of Emanuel Cohen and Eva Seligman

(Matrimony Notice,  Friday, February 5, 1886, Jewish Messenger (New York, NY)   Volume: 59   Issue: 6   Page: 6)

Together she and Emanuel had four sons, one of whom, Herbert, died as a toddler.  Their son Maurice ended his own life after suffering from cancer, and their son John, my grandfather, was disabled by multiple sclerosis as a young man when my father was just a little boy.  So Eva endured more than her fair share of tragedy, yet somehow she remained a positive and loving person who seemed to have an incredible ability to care for others.

One of my great disappointments was not having a photograph of Eva.  She wrote inscriptions on many of the photographs I have of my father and his sister, but she must have been taking many of the pictures and thus is not in any of those in my family’s collection.  I suppose that is consistent with what I know about her—someone who was focused on others and not on herself.

My father and his cousin Marjorie are the only surviving grandchildren of Eva and Emanuel Cohen, and my siblings and I are the only great-grandchildren.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been very fortunate to receive from Marjorie’s maternal cousin Lou a number of photographs of Marjorie and others, and I was thrilled to be able to see the face of the woman with whom I’d had such wonderful conversations this summer.  Below are several photographs of Marjorie as a child and as a young woman, including some with and of  her parents Stanley and Bess Cohen.

Stanley Cohen World War I

Stanley Cohen World War I


Marjorie and her mother Bess Craig Cohen

Marjorie and her mother Bess




Set Marjorie and Stan

Marjorie and her father Stanley

Stanley Cohen 1928

Stanley Cohen 1928

Marjorie 1933

Marjorie 1933

Marjorie and Bess 1933

Marjorie and Bess 1933

Marjorie Cohen

Marjorie Cohen with Pete-page-001

Marjorie with Pete from Our Gang

Marjorie and her parents Stanley and Bess Cohen at her graduation from Trinity (DC), c. 1947

Marjorie and her parents at her graduation from Trinity (DC), c. 1947

Marjorie as a student at NY Dramatic Arts Academy

Marjorie as a student at NY Dramatic Arts Academy

Marjorie model 2-page-001


Marjorie and her father Stanley 1981

Marjorie and her father Stanley 1981

Included in that group of photographs was a photograph that Lou had labeled as Bess and Stanley 1923, but when I showed it to my father, he said that it was his parents, John and Eva (Schoenthal) Cohen.  When I compared it to the only other photograph I have of my grandparents together, it was obvious that this was John and Eva, not Stanley and Bess.  I was delighted to have another picture of my grandparents.

Eva Schoenthal and John Cohen, Jr. 1923

Eva (Schoenthal) and John Cohen, Jr. 1923


John and Eva Cohen  c. 1930

John and Eva Cohen
c. 1930

Also mixed into the group of photos from Marjorie’s cousin Lou were a few taken in Atlantic City during the summer of 1932 that finally allow me to see the face of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.  I will post those in a later post.