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Seeligson, Michael (1797–1867)

Diana J. Kleiner Biography Entry

Michael Seeligson, first Jewish mayor of Galveston, was born in Holland in 1797 to Sephardic Jewish parents, whose ancestors had fled to northern Europe from the Spanish Inquisition. He moved to Texas from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1828, accompanied by his wife, Adelaide Gottschalk, an aunt of the noted American composer Louis Gottschalk. The couple had seven children. Seeligson lived briefly in Houston in 1839, where he had a store near the steamboat landing, and then settled in Galveston. There he was elected alderman in 1840 and 1848 and served as mayor of the city in 1853. His administration was noted for introducing measures to recover the city's waterfront. He also worked for the annexation of Texas to the United States. Seeligson later bought 4,400 acres of land near Goliad, Texas, where he established a ranch and spent the remainder of his life raising cattle. He died on October 9, 1867, and was buried in Galveston's Hebrew Cemetery. Seeligson was a member of Galveston's B'nai Israel Congregation.

Henry Cohen, David Lefkowitz, and Ephraim Frisch, One Hundred Years of Jewry in Texas (Dallas: Jewish Advisory Committee, 1936). Earl Wesley Fornell, The Galveston Era: The Texas Crescent on the Eve of Secession (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). S. C. Griffin, History of Galveston, Texas (Galveston: Cawston, 1931). Andrew Morrison, The Industries of Galveston (Galveston?: Metropolitan, 1887). Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).


  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Seeligson, Michael,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 11, 2021,

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