Route 66

MY MOTHER’S ANCESTORS included a Seligmann family, which can be traced back to the area around Ichenhausen Bavaria in Germany.

In January 1995, we visited Arizona in the USA and drove along a stretch of Route 66 on our way from Lake Havasu City and the Grand Canyon. On the way, we spotted a tiny settlement called Seligman . Even though its name differed to my ancestor’s family name by having only one ‘n’, we felt that we should make a small break there.

Seligman on the Santa Fe Railway is named after Jesse Seligman of JW Seligman & Co, who helped finance the railway and others in the area. The founder of the company was Jewish from Germany. Many German Jews who migrated to the USA with surnames ending with a pair of consonants, such as Seligmann and Wolff, dropped the final consonant on arrival in the States.

Seligman looked like a typical ‘boondocks’ place. It was just what I expected to find in the Wild West despite the dismal weather and the snow on the ground.

We came across a pen in the centre of the town. A weathered notice next to it said that the enclosure contained an ageing buffalo that was once displayed at Buffalo Bills Wildwest Show. My wife suggested, frivilously, that she should should into the pen to pose for a photograph next to the sign.

Despite being 7 months into pregnancy, she began climbing the fence around the pen, and stopped suddenly. What we thought was empty, was not. The pen housed an enormous, sleepy, aged buffalo. She had a lucky escape!

Later, we arrived at the Grand Canyon where the snow fall had been heavy. We were fortunate to see this spectacular geological area decorated with snow.

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