Leopold Sekeles Papers

Collection Summary

Title: Leopold Sekeles Papers
Call Number: MS 93-05
Size: 6.5 linear feet
Acquisition: Donated by Dorothy Grafly
Processed by: JLT, 12-8-1992; JEF, 11-3-1998; AV and MN, 5-2018
Restrictions: None
Note: Related collections: MS 90-02, Charles Grafly Papers, MS 93-04, Dorothy Grafly Collection

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher, to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

The Leopold Sekeles collection contains numerous business and personal correspondences and receipts, to and from Sekeles to a variety of people. Materials in the collection cover a large time span from the 1860s through the 1930s. Sekeles was the father-in-law of American sculptor Charles Grafly through the marriage of his daughter, Frances Sekeles.

The most poignant letters to the couple come from the children, both Frances and Frank. Frank wrote letters from several locations across the United States were he was engaged in taking "the cure" for his ailments. Frances's letters are written from numerous cities including Paris, where she and her husband Grafly were living in an artistic endeavor. There is also a series of letters in the collection from numerous extended family members, primarily nieces and nephews to the couple.

Sekeles was quite generous to both his family and to non-profit religious and charitable organizations and the collection contains much documentation on this. Business correspondences and dividend announcements from a plethora of companies are included in the collection. Much of life during this time period is presented in the observations of people who wrote to the man. What is available from the documentation is that Sekeles was a kind and generous man who respected the value of a dollar and believed in the traditions of his religious and cultural heritage.

The collection is arranged topically then chronologically.


Leopold Sekeles was born in Waldorf, Baden, Germany, on November 23, 1830, and died at Folly Cove, Massachusetts on September 23, 1912. His wife, Philomina Hirsh Sekeles, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 16, 1844, and died at Folly Cove, Massachusetts, September 12, 1922. As a young man, Sekeles immigrated to the United States and took up residence in Oxford, Mississippi. During the American Civil War, Sekeles was registered as a loyal Confederate soldier. After the war, the couple were married and established their home in Corinth, Mississippi. While in Corinth, Sekeles was a partner in the mercantile business of Sekeles and Rubel with partner and relative Abe Rubel. Sekeles also served as president of a bank in Corinth.

The Sekeles had four children in Mississippi but only one survived to adulthood: their daughter Frances. Samuel was born in 1866 and died in 1867. Bernard Lee was born in 1871 and died in 1875. Frank, the couple's third son, survived the longest and died after a long and complicated battle with rheumatism at the age of 18. He was born in 1869. Sometime in the late 1800s, the couple and daughter moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they remained until their respective deaths. Leopold had diversified his financial portfolio extensively and lived quite well off of his investments and stock dividends. The Sekeles' daughter, Frances, married Charles Grafly before the turn of the century and the couple had one daughter, Dorothea Grafly, born in Paris. Leopold, Philomina and son Frank's bodies were buried at the Congregation Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1926, all three bodies were disinterred from the cemetery and were reinterred at Congregation Children of Israel [Temple Israel] Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.

Detailed Description: Series Listing

Series 1 Box 1-7 Personal Correspondence to Leopold Sekeles. Topically and chronologically arranged, this series includes letters from Sekeles' daughter and son and several nieces and nephews. Other correspondence is from family friends and other friends from his days in Corinth, Mississippi.
Subseries 1.1 Box 1-2 Personal Correspondence from Daughter Frances Sekeles Grafly
Subseries 1.2Box 3 Personal Correspondence from Son Frank Sekeles and Others
Subseries 1.3 Box 4-5 Personal and Business Correspondence from Mr. Strauss
Subseries 1.4Box 6 Personal Letters to Sekeles and His Family
Subseries 1.5Box 7 Leopold Sekeles' Correspondence in German and Yiddish
Series 2 Box 8-10 Business Correspondence and Receipts to Leopold Sekeles. Materials from a variety of individuals and institutions. Topically and chronologically arranged. A long series of letters from partner and friend Abe Rubel is included.
Series 3 Box 11-14 Various Materials from the Estates of Leopold and Philomena Sekeles
Subseries 3.1Box 11 FF 1-4 Legal and Other Business Related Documents
Subseries 3.2Box 11 FF 5 Newspaper Articles Regarding William Goldsmith
Subseries 3.3Box 11 FF 6 Correspondence
Subseries 3.4Box 11 FF 7-8 Materials Regarding the Deaths of Leopold and Philomena Sekeles
Subseries 3.5Box 12 Encapsulated Documents
Subseries 3.6Box 13 Ledger Book.
Subseries 3.7Box 14 Items Related to Sekeles and Rubel. Includes artifacts from Sekeles and Rubel, a mercantile in Corinth, Mississippi

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Series 1 ‒ Personal Correspondence to Leopold Sekeles

Subseries 1.1 – Personal Correspondence from Daughter Frances Sekeles Grafly

Box 1FF 1Correspondence, 1889-1890. Letters written from Corinth, Mississippi; Memphis; Knoxville; Chattanooga; Still Pond, Maryland.
Box 1FF 2Correspondence, 1891. Letters written from Still Pond, Maryland; Paris; Switzerland. Charles Grafly is mentioned.
Box 1FF 3Correspondence, 7 August to 19 August 1892. Letters written from Still Pond, Maryland. Charles Grafly is mentioned.
Box 1FF 4Correspondence, 1 July to October 1893. Letters written from Still Pond, Maryland and other locations. Relationship with Grafly progressing.
Box 1FF 5Correspondence, 30 May to 31 August 1894. Letters written from Hotel Bay Head in New Jersey and Thornhurst, Pennsylvania. Comments on death of brother Frank.
Box 1FF 6Correspondence, 3 January to 29 December 1895. Letters written from Paris. She and Grafly are living there in artistic climate.
Box 1FF 7Correspondence, 6 January to 27 April 1896. Letters written from Paris. Tours Paris and the catacombs. Grafly working on Griffith memorial.
Box 1FF 8Correspondence, 4 May to 16 September 1896. Letters written from Paris. She and Grafly have baby daughter, Dorothea, around 8 August 1896.
Box 2FF 1Correspondence, 14 July to 4 November 1897. Letters written from Island Heights, New Jersey.
Box 2FF 2Correspondence, 15-30 September 1898. Letters written from Island Heights, New Jersey.
Box 2FF 3Correspondence, 26-29 September 1899. Letters written from Island Heights, New Jersey.
Box 2FF 4Correspondence, 17-29 September 1900. Letters written from Island Heights, New Jersey.
Box 2FF 5Correspondence, 2-29 September 1901. Letters written from Island Heights, New Jersey. Much information about Dorothy's growth.
Box 2FF 6Correspondence, 22 May to 2 October 1902. Letters written from Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.
Box 2FF 7Correspondence, 15 September to 1 October 1903. Letters written from Folly Cove, Massachusetts.
Box 2FF 8Correspondence, 13 September to 8 October 1904. Letters written from Folly Cove, Massachusetts and Corinth, Mississippi. Discusses exposition in St. Louis.
Box 2FF 9Correspondence, 20 September to 8 October 1905. Letters written from Folly Cove, Massachusetts, some from granddaughter Dorothy.
Box 2FF 10Correspondence, 1915 and 1916. Postcards from Wellesley College where Dorothy is a student. Letters to Philomena about visiting Dorothy at Wellesley.

Subseries 1.2 – Personal Correspondence from Son Frank Sekeles and Others

Box 3FF 1Correspondence, 1883 to 27 June 1888. Letters primarily written from Hot Springs, Arkansas where he taking "the cure" for rheumatism in his legs. Comments on Wichita and its 40,000 population. Letters from Herman Rothschild, cousin, requesting peace between the two.
Box 3FF 2Correspondence, 4 October 1881 to 26 October 1896. Letters regarding Herman Rothschild's health.
Box 3FF 3Correspondence, 10 December 1903 to 7 September 1904. Letters from niece Willa Hirsh in Dayton, Ohio.
Box 3FF 4Correspondence, 3 December 1903 to 6 September 1904. Letters from niece Jenny Brenner in San Francisco.
Box 3FF 5Correspondence, 7 September 1885 to 28 February 1895. Letters from Net Lederer, friend of daughter Frances.
Box 3FF 6Correspondence, 27 September 1892 to 5 December 1897. Letters from Mary Stokes, family friend. Comments on the birth of Dorothea.
Box 3FF 7Correspondence, 13 July 1888 to 6 January 1893. Letters from Gene, family friend in Corinth. Discusses death of Frank.
Box 3FF 8Correspondence, 23 March 1902 to 5 September 1904. Letters from Wichita and St. Louis by three writers: Frances and Belle, nieces, and Joe, nephew. Frances and Belle live in Wichita and Joe travels there from St. Louis. Discuss health and weather in Wichita as well as the boom of the area, an epidemic of measles, orchestra work, and the fact there are no religious services for Jewish people because there is no resident rabbi.

Subseries 1.3 – Personal and Business Correspondence from Mr. Strauss

Box 4FF 1Correspondence, 27 August 1886 to 4 August 1888. Strauss was a family friend who also provided business support. He had connections with the Guarantee Trust Co., and handled deposits for Leopold, Philomena and Frances. He assisted Frances with business transactions through 1939.
Box 4FF 2Correspondence, 20 May 1889 to 4 August 1891.
Box 4FF 3Correspondence, 18 June 1894 to 3 September 1897.
Box 4FF 4Correspondence, 23 February to 10 September 1898.
Box 4FF 5Correspondence, 8 June to 25 September 1899.
Box 5FF 1Correspondence, 14 February 1900 to 29 August 1901.
Box 5FF 2Correspondence, 11 June to 11 September 1902.
Box 5FF 3Correspondence, 17 June 1903 to 7 September 1904.
Box 5FF 4Correspondence, 29 May 1905 to 18 September 1906.
Box 5FF 5Correspondence, 2 June 1907 to 20 September 1909.
Box 5FF 6Correspondence, 3 June 1910 to 7 September 1911.
Box 5FF 7Correspondence, 25 October 1917 to 31 May 1939.

Subseries 1.4 – Personal Letters to Sekeles and his Family

Box 6FF 1Invitations, 19 September 1883 to 23 November 1904.
Box 6FF 2Correspondence from S & M Davidson and Co., 7 September 1872 to 24 March 1883.
Box 6FF 3Correspondence from Mary Price, 10 February to 4 March 1896.
Box 6FF 4Correspondence from Sue Jump, 15 March to 10 September 1896.
Box 6FF 5Correspondence from "Nell," family friend, 17 July 1895 to September 1896.
Box 6FF 6Correspondence from L. M. Taylor, family friend, 16 March 1884 to 29 December 1888.
Box 6FF 7Correspondence from J. M. Crumby, friend of Leopold, 10 December 1891 to 19 May 1893.
Box 6FF 8Correspondence.
Box 6FF 9Correspondence from Freida Rubel, 14 April to 7 September 1896.
Box 6FF 10Correspondence from Hirsh family members, 15 April 1875 to 7 July 1903.
Box 6FF 11Postcards, 26 December 1876 to 13 August 1913.
Box 6FF 12Correspondence, 11 December 1870 to 14 April 1906.

Subseries 1.5 – Leopold Sekeles' Correspondence in German and Yiddish

Box 7FF 1Correspondence, 14 February 1871 to 10 August 1890.
Box 7FF 2Correspondence, 15 April 1891 to 5 October 1894.
Box 7FF 3Correspondence, 3 February 1895 to 5 October 1898.
Box 7FF 4Correspondence, 6 February 1899 to 23 June 1904. Letters and receipts from Sekeles' contributions to religious and other organizations.
Box 7FF 5Hospitals, including Jewish Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives; 10 November 1893 to 30 March 1904.
Box 7FF 6Jewish Publication Society of American, 26 April 1904 to 29 May 1906.
Box 7FF 7Society of the United Hebrew Charities, 8 October 1889 to 7 October 1897.
Box 7FF 8Congregation Adath Jeshurun, 8 September 1889 to 31 August 1890.
Box 7FF 9Foster homes and orphanages, January 1891 to December 1905.
Box 7FF 10Jewish Chautauqua Society, 19 February 1898 to July 1899.
Box 7FF 11Congregation Children of Israel, May 1895 to 11 May 1898.
Box 7FF 12Reform Congregational Kenneseth Israel, March 1891 to 21 September 1899 and 2 March 1903 to September 1906.
Box 7FF 13Miscellaneous receipts for contributions, 5 November 1883 to 1 May 1905; postcards from Oscar Klonower, 1 February 1895 to 18 February 1896; invitations and literature, November 1903 to 28 November 1905.
Box 7FF 14Miscellaneous letters and literature, October 1895 to 22 May 1899.

Series 2 ‒ Business Correspondence and Receipts to Leopold Sekeles

Box 8FF 1Correspondence, Memphis Trust Co., June to 23 August 1905.
Box 8FF 2Correspondence, Harry Hochstadter, 7 January 1893 to 15 May 1903.
Box 8FF 3Correspondence, New York Life Insurance Co., 24 February 1891 to 4 March 1904.
Box 8FF 4Correspondence, Mutual Life Insurance Co. of New York, 1863 to 25 May 1906.
Box 8FF 5Correspondence, Memphis National Bank, 13 January 1890 to 23 August 1905.
Box 8FF 6Correspondence, Manhattan Savings Bank and Trust Co., 18 September 1895 to 23 February 1898.
Box 8FF 7Correspondence, German Bank of Memphis, 15 February 1887 to 22 December 1899.
Box 8FF 8Correspondence, Keystone Watch Case Co., 29 June 1899 to 1 August 1906.
Box 8FF 9Correspondence, Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 20 March 1897 to 29 May 1906.
Box 8FF 10Correspondence, Franklin National Bank, 12 December 1900 to 20 April 1901.
Box 8FF 11Correspondence, Continental National Bank of St. Louis, 10 May 1889 to 24 May 1902.
Box 8FF 12Correspondence, Warwick Iron and Steel Co., 9 November 1900 to 9 June 1906.
Box 8FF 13Correspondence, Catawissa Railroad Co., 2 December 1895 to 19 May 1906.
Box 9FF 1Miscellaneous stock and bank information, 16 September 1884 to 3 August 1906.
Box 9FF 2Correspondence, W. T. Adams Co., 2-10 March 1892.
Box 9FF 3Medical business, 1 April 1881 to 1 January 1917.
Box 9FF 4Correspondence; Mitchell, Fletcher and Co.; 14 October 1899 to 26 May 1904.
Box 9FF 5Legal information, 29 November 1887 to 11 June 1902.
Box 9FF 6Taxes and treasury information, 31 January 1884 to 26 December 1889.
Box 9FF 7Correspondence, Dick Brothers, 19 May to 30 June 1898.
Box 9FF 8Miscellaneous business receipts, 28 January 1876 to 3 January 1924.
Box 9FF 9Miscellaneous business correspondence, 11 April 1875 to 23 June 1912.
Box 9FF 10Miscellaneous banking transactions, Guarantee Trust and Sage Deposit Co., 30 June 1896 to 4 August 1921.
Box 9FF 11Miscellaneous items, Bank of Commerce, 10 January 1890 to 4 July 1896.
Box 9FF 12Miscellaneous items, National Bank of Commerce in Memphis, 12 February 1897 to 11 July 1905.
Box 10FF 1Correspondence, J. Rubel and Co., 25 February to 24 March 1884.
Box 10FF 2Correspondence, Charles Meyer, 23 December 1884 to 9 December 1888.
Box 10FF 3Correspondence, E. Rubel and Co., 18 June 1887 to 25 July 1898.
Box 10FF 4Correspondence, B. Lowenstein and Bros., 15 August 1888 to 29 May 1890.
Box 10FF 5Correspondence, United States Attorney's Office, 21 November 1888 to 26 February 1889.
Box 10FF 6Correspondence, Abe Rubel and also Abe Rubel and Co., 30 August 1882 to 6 January 1906.
Box 10FF 7Correspondence, miscellaneous, 1884-1892.
Box 10FF 8Miscellaneous items, Guarantee Trust and Safe Deposit Co., 1896-1921.
Box 10FF 9Correspondence, H. Gronauer, 1897-1900.

Series 3 ‒ Various Materials from Leopold and Philomena Sekeles Estates

Subseries 3.1 – Legal and Other Business-Related Documents

Box 11FF 1Legal documents.
Box 11FF 2Foreign travel documents.
Box 11FF 3Documents with Fan Grafly acting as power of attorney concerning Knights of Pythias correspondence.
Box 11FF 4Documents from Guarantee Trust and Safe Deposit Co. after death of Leopold Sekeles.

Subseries 3.2 – Newspaper Articles Regarding William Goldsmith

Box 11FF 5Newspapers articles on the death of William Goldsmith.

Subseries 3.3 – Correspondence

Box 11FF 6Correspondence and other documents written by Leopold Sekeles to various recipients, 19 March 1884 to 9 September 1900.

Subseries 3.4 – Materials Regarding the Deaths of Leopold and Philomena Sekeles

Box 11FF 7Information regarding deaths of Leopold and Philomena Sekeles and their reinterrment in Memphis. Documents and financial data about bronze memorial markers which son-in-law Charles Grafly designed. Obituary for Philomena Sekeles included.
Box 11FF 8Continuation of FF 7.

Subseries 3.5 – Encapsulated Documents

Box 12Encapsulated documents: Confederate States of America, District of Mississippi; Congregation of the Children of Israel; Stanley and Co., funeral directors and embalmers; and Thos. Maydwell marble markers.

Subseries 3.6 – Ledger Books

Box 13Ledger books: Ledger pages from Sekeles and Rubel's store, Corinth, Mississippi; Ledger books, bound, with personal finances of Sekeles; and Letter-copying book, Sekeles' handwriting.

Subseries 3.7 – Items Related to Sekeles and Rubel

Box 14Items related to Sekeles and Rubel business in Corinth, Mississippi, including small letter books and artifacts.