Rudbart Seligman was born Grune Rotbard to Israel Meyer
Rotbard and Esther Milsky in Porozow in August, 1888.
According to her sister Mary, the familyís surname had
originally been Rudy. Her family
lived in a one-story, two-room wooden house on
Subbotskaja Street without
internal plumbing, heated by a
Meyer was a shoemaker who also drove a horse-drawn wagon for a living. Theirs was a
strictly kosher home, blessed with six children.
fleeing difficult conditions in Eastern Europe for the
U.S. in record numbers during this period, and the Rotbards were no exception.
the first to emigrate, arrived in 1906 at age 19.
He took the given name Louis and and the spelling "Rudbart"
and settled initially in
Brooklyn, New York, where he lived when Grune arrived
at age 19 on July 13,
1907. She sailed
the S.S. Prinzess Alice
from Bremen and arrived at Ellis Island
with $3.00 in her pocket. Louis
became a fruit peddler and in 1910 moved with
his wife, two eldest children and Grune, now known as
Gussie, to Newark, New Jersey. He eventually found work
making doors and bought a lumberyard that flourished for much of the rest of
the century. He was also a successful real estate developer.
moving to Newark, Gussie got a job
as a hat trimmer
for Louis April the Hatmaker. In 1913 her brother Yankel (who became Jack) arrived,
followed a year later
by her sister Chaitche,
who became Ida. Gussie, who already spoke Yiddish and
Polish, began to study English at night. It
was at night school that she
Abraham Seligman, her husband-to-be. She married him in 1914 at her brotherís home at 125 Broome
Street. The wedding reception was held at a secondhand furniture store owned by
her aunt, Rose Milsky Rasnick, also originally of Porozow,
and uncle Abraham Rasnick.
in Bobruisk in Minsk Gubernia, had been
inducted into the Russian army and had deserted in late 1904,
leaving Russia immediately thereafter together with his
elder brother Nachum (Nathan). They went first to Germany, then
England. Abe had landed at Ellis Island in the spring of 1905
and gone to work with cousins in Massachusetts in a shoe
factory. From Massachusetts he had moved to New York and
then New Jersey in 1912.
After their marriage, Gussie moved in with Abe at 184 Prince
and gave birth to their elder son Edward there in 1915. Son
William was born three years later.
Gussie's father died, her mother Esther and
youngest sister Mary joined the rest of the family in the U.S.,
arriving in 1922. Mary went to live with Louis
in Passaic and
Esther stayed with Gussieís family, augmented by the birth
of daughter Frieda at Essex Private Hospital in 1925. Esther died in 1945 at 88 and is buried in Newark.
Herschel, Gussieís youngest brother, never joined his
siblings in the U.S. Instead, he emigrated to Argentina, where an aunt and uncle had
preceded him. Herschelís story was the subject of an article
that appeared in the Winter, 1996 edition of
Avotaynu, the International Review of
Jewish Genealogy, that can be viewed
a short stay in Elizabeth,
Gussie and Abraham lived the rest of their lives in
They were enumerated in the
1930 Federal Census at 587
S. 10th Street, accommodations they rented for $42 a month. During most
of her married life, Gussie helped her husband out with his
many retail businesses, keeping the stores clean and waiting
on customers. At various times, he operated a candy store, a
fountain, a cigar store, a hardware store and a
grocery. He also owned and operated two rooming houses.
Gussie doted on
her grandchildren and always had cookies at the ready for
their weekly visits to her home at 34 Renner Avenue in
Newark. She cared little for fashion and seldom did much to
enhance her appearance. Among her joys were long
walks and rides in the car, hot baths at Bradley Beach on
the Jersey shore and trips to Newark's Prince Street market,
where she bought ethnic Jewish foods. Friday night Sabbath
meals were a family ritual for which Gussie would usually
bake challah. She overcooked most meats, but made
excellent chicken soup, chopped liver and pinwheel cookies.
She kept a more-or-less kosher home, but the family never belonged to a
loved by her three children, her in-laws, her six grandchildren and the rest
of her family, she died on
November 9, 1960. Abraham died three years later. Both are interred in King
Solomon Cemetery in Clifton, New Jersey.