A Little More about Selig Stern’s Second Wife, Helene Kugelmann Stern, and Her Family

I know, I know. I said the next post would be about the 3rd Stern brother. But on Sunday evening, I received some unexpected information from Karl-Heinz Stadtler in Vöhl and just knew I needed to share it.

Helene was the daughter of Joseph Kugelmann and Julie Belchen Goldenberg. Joseph and Belchen were married in November of 1823. In fact, they were married twice! They were married by a Rabbi in Adorf, then came back to Vöhl where they were married by the Mayor. They had one son and five daughters: Jakob (1826 – ?), Sarah (1828 – 1886), Bettchen (1832 – ?), Regine (1833 – ?), Theresa (1834 – ?), Helene (1839 – 1900), and Amalie Malchen (1840 – 1858).

Joseph was an active member of the Jewish Community Board, and, along with his next door neighbor Selig Stern, was the head of the Board for a time. According to the tax records, he was a large scale cattle dealer and horse trader, as well as a butcher. He did well for himself and was among the most taxed half of the population of Vöhl.

In 1856, things took a left turn, as it were. He was convicted of forgery and sentenced to a six month penalty in “cartionshaus”. I’m not sure what that word means.

By 1857, things are looking even worse. He’s widowed and his financial situation was sketchy. He sought a loan of 400 guilders at 5% annual interest so that he could provide travel money to his children were had or were planning to emigrate to America, and to pay his court costs. His properties were evaluated. He owned a riding school, a couple of fields, his home, and a “grave garden”, all of which was valued at 1130 guilders. So he was worth a fair bit, but it sounds like he didn’t have a lot of ready cash.

On 3 March 1858, Joseph Kugelmann applied to the Grand Ducal District Office in Vöhl to be released from the Grand Duchy of Hesse in order to emigrate to North America. The parish records, where such things were recorded, states:

Directory above emigrants with and without Discharge of the Vöhl municipality 1858
Joseph Kugelmann emigrated to America with his family. The family consisted of:

  1. Jacob Kugelmann 30 years
  2. Sara Kugelmann 28 years
  3. Bettchen Kugelmann 26 years old
  4. Regine Kugelmann 25 years
  5. Therese Kugelmann 24 years
  6. Lenchen Kugelmann 22 years old
  7. Malchen Kugelmann 18 years

The wife had died earlier. Assets were executed with about 2000M.
No. 1 – 3 – 4 – 5 have already traveled there on a passport. No. 1 secretly ran away on investigation.

“No. 1 secretly ran away on investigation”? So Jakob was also in trouble with the law. Well, perhaps life would be better for them all in America. And perhaps it was, for awhile. But by 1864, Joseph had returned to Vöhl, with daughters Sarah and Helene.

In his email to me Karl-Heinz indicated he suspects Helene’s “condition” may have been the reason for their return. He further suspects that Selig Stern married Helene to protect her, and to have a wife to care for him as he grew older.

In my research of Selig Stern, I got a sense that he was a stickler for rules, and him getting a young woman pregnant and waiting until the last possible second to marry her just didn’t seem to fit with the picture that had formed in my head. But I can see how a man of honor, with strong moral values, and who might have been a bit lonely could have stepped up to marry his neighbor’s fallen daughter.

I’ll be honest, all this information just leaves me with more questions. Why did Jakob secretly run away? When did the other children emigrate? What other reasons prompted Joseph to return to Vöhl? What happened to his children in the States? These all bear researching. And when I’m done digging into the Rothschild family, I’ll go explore the Kugelmann family in more depth. Sounds like they were a colorful bunch!

There will be another post soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to find/take part in a Kristallnacht commemoration event sometime on November 9th. I’ll be going to the online event hosted by Synagogue Vöhl. I know there is also one hosted by The Jewish Federation.

Never Forget.

Published by Elizabeth Foote

I am a wife, step-mother, auntie, daughter, sister, friend. I love family history, restoration projects, counted cross-stitch, quilting, and photography. I am grateful for the blessings that abound in my life.

One thought on “A Little More about Selig Stern’s Second Wife, Helene Kugelmann Stern, and Her Family

  1. Fascinating. I can see that Selig might have rescued a pregnant Helene. But why not find her someone in the US? Perhaps even the father? I think there’s a lot of intrigue here! You may have to research what happened to this family in the US!


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