Friday, January 6, 2017

John Schell Jr. Encounters Washington Irving

Previously in this blog, I related the story of my two-times great uncle having encountered Washington Irving before the family had left for America from LeHavre, France in 1832. The story goes that 11 year-old John Jr. went back to New York City with Irving who employed him as a house servant. I do not know if John Jr. rejoined the family in New York City before they left for Quincy in 1834 or if he remained with Irving for awhile. I had related in that previous blog ["John and Barbara Travel to America"- June, 2014] that I had found one biography and another biography written by Irving himself that both had references to John Jr. So, I was fairly certain it had happened. Since that time, I have uncovered further incontrovertible proof that the family had encountered Washington Irving.       

Below is the further proof I have found of this relationship. This is in addition to the two biographies.
Washinton Irving
I was able to find the passenger record that has Washington Irving as a passenger. The first part of his name is unreadable but what can be read is "ngton Irving Esq". The age reported for that person is within reason to be Irving. But the main reason I believe this to be the correct passenger list is because Irving, in his biography, mentions traveling with C.J. Latrobe and a man with a surname of de Pourtalis". Those two names appear on the same passenger list. There is also a passenger listed as "John L Schnell, age 21". Even though the name is slightly mispelled and the age is significantly off, I ascribe these errors to a clerk who could have possibly copied incorrectly. 

John Wood
Next, while on a research trip in October, 2016 to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found a deed from Quincy, Illinois where Washington Irving bought two lots in the John Wood Addition to Quincy. John Wood is considered one of the, if not the, founder of Quincy. This deed was executed in 1835. Then I later found a deed from Quincy where John Schell Jr bought the same two lots from Irving in 1846. I believe Washington Irving bought the land with the intention of selling the land to his servant when he was older. In 1835, John Jr. would have been about 14 years old. There really would not be any other reason why Irving would be buying land in Quincy, Illinois. What I do not know at this point is if Washington Irving was actually in Quincy in 1835 buying the land. I do know that the 1846 deed was executed by a proxy, his nephew, Pierre M Irving. 

The last evidence I found was perusing the on-line Newspaper Archive on the Quincy Public Library site. An 1893 article from the Quincy Daily Herald mentioned Irving as having bought land in Quincy and later transferring it to John Jr. And a 1913 article in the same newspaper, said John Jr. had bought the Gault House Hotel on Hampshire St. and had renamed it The Irving House. 

All of this evidence points to one thing.....our ancestor, John Schell Jr. definitely had encountered Washington Irving in the 1830s. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Special Tribute

I want to conclude this Veterans Day project on the paternal side with honoring a person who very quietly lived through the World War II era, but had to have had a lot of worry. That person is Beatrice Markus Schell, the mother of Jim, Charles, Richard, and William. All four of her sons were involved in the war, although in different areas. She had to have great concern for the three that were in harms way in the Aleutians, in Europe, and at sea. Keep in mind that this is a woman who had lost both her husband and father in June of 1935, just a few years before her sons were involved in the war. She had three young children at home to take care of plus her mother, Mary Husam Markus. I can’t imagine the worry she must have had. She knew of war and the possibility of injury or even death because she was about twenty-five when her brother, Norbert, was injured in World War I. Her son, Charles, was injured in France in 1944. She persevered through these difficult times and that was due, in a large part, to her deep Catholic faith.
I believe this photo was taken around 1942. From left to right in the front are Mark, William, Beatrice, Charles, Carl, and Martha. Standing in the back are James and Richard. This is probably one of my most treasured photos.

This concludes the series of paternal ancestors who served this country in the military. I'm certain there are others; they will come to light as the research proceeds. Hopefully, next Veterans Day there will be more to add to the list. Hope you have enjoyed reading about our martial forebearers! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bernard Husam, German-born Civil War Soldier

   Bernard was born as Johann Bernard Husam near Albersloh, Germany on February 7, 1825. His parents were Johann Theodore Husam and Catharina Husam. He claims to have immigrated to the United States in 1855. Bernard received his citizenship papers on November 3, 1860 at the courthouse in Quincy, Illinois. He lived on a farm in rural Gilmer Township, Adams County. After he retired, he and his wife, Elizabeth Jacobsk├Âtter Husam, moved into town and lived on Lind Street in Quincy about 1899. Bernard died in Quincy on January 16, 1909.

    Bernard enlisted in the Union army on September 22, 1864 in Quincy; he enrolled in the service at Springfield on October 14, 1864. He served in the Civil War until May 18, 1865; the muster-out roll is dated June 4, 1865. The war had ended on April 9 with Robert E Lee’s surrender. Bernard was a member Company F, 10th Illinois Infantry Regiment. According to a history of the 10th Illinois Infantry, they were a part of General Sherman’s attack on Atlanta, Georgia and his subsequent March to the Sea and then up through the Carolinas. At this point, I can only assume Bernard was in the March to the Sea and the Carolina campaign. He was not enlisted in time to be a part of the attack of Atlanta. His muster roll documents indicate “present” for November, 1864-June, 1865. 

This concludes the series of paternal ancestors who served this country in the military. I'm certain there are others; they will come to light as the research proceeds. Hopefully, next Veterans Day there will be more to add to the list. Hope you have enjoyed reading about our martial forebearers! 

Next: A special tribute to conclude this Veterans Day project.

I have a blog about the maternal side of the family at

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Norbert W Markus

Norbert Markus was a grand uncle who was born in Quincy, Illinois on  September 19, 1896 to parents John William Markus and Mary Anna Husam Markus. He had attended parochial school and had graduated from Quincy (public) High School. He then attended and graduated from St. Francis College which would later become Quincy college and is now known as Quincy University. Later he attended the University of Wisconsin and was taking commercial courses. He was working for Smith, Barney & Company in 1942; so I assume he was taking classes dealing with the financial sector. 
    He left Quincy in 1914 and went to live with his sister (Mrs. Charles Meyer) in Chicago. He went to work for the John B Rogers Amusement Company where it looks like he was helping set up stage productions. In 1915 he had been helping set up productions in Wisconsin and Indiana, An article in a Quincy newspaper says that in June, 1915 he took a position as a social entertainer at a fashionable hotel in Portland, Maine. 
    After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in May, 1917, Norbert entered officer training school at Ft. Sheridan (US Army). In about October, 1917 he was ordered to France during World War I. Norbert was a second lieutenant in the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion, First Division. On or about May 18, 1918 he was severely wounded near Soissons. The bullet went through his side but didn’t hit anything vital. He got up and led his men to a shell hole where one of them bound up his wound. About 6-7 hours later, he crawled to an aid station. He would later receive the Distinguished Service War Cross for this action. 
    Then in early June, in a battle near Cantigny, he was hit in the foot by enemy fire. It has been said that after he was wounded, he remained at his machine gun until it was exhausted. He would later receive the Distinguished Service War Cross for his bravery and was cited by the French commander-in-chief. By September he would get the cast off of his foot and he wrote his parents that he was ready to get back to the front. But he also indicated that there was a  chance he could be sent home to be an instructor. After getting out of the hospital, he did not see any more action on the battlefield; however he did go into Germany with the Army of Occupation. He returned to the hospital for a short while and was then ordered back home. In December, 1918 he did finally return home for a few days, but was ordered to the hospital at Ft. Sheridan for treatment. “Nobby” as his friends called him had returned a true hero from the Great War.  
Norbert and his mother, Mary Husam Markus

Next: Bernard Husam, Norbert's Grandfather

I have a blog about the maternal side of the family at

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Richard P Schell

Richard Schell served in the US Navy from March 30, 1944 until August 22, 1946. He attained the rank of lieutenant, junior grade (JG). This is the rank between a lieutenant and an ensign. He was stationed in Boston during the war according to his daughter, Chris Decker and son, Mark Schell. What I can infer from the research I have found, which is very little so far, is that he was involved in engineering. I found his entry from the yearbook of the University of Illinois where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. This fits with the register (pictured below) that shows his classification as "E-VS". I found an explanation of that classification as "officers of the Volunteer Reserve appointed to the line for special service in engineering duties." I have no idea what those duties were at this time. This is the correct Richard Schell because his file number matches the number on a Veteran Burial Card that I found.
    Richard married Catherine Eleanor Sutkus in Boston on July 14, 1946. I was told that they had met at a USO club in Boston. 
    One funny story that Uncle Chuck told us concerned all four of the brothers when they were all home at the same time. Being the only officer, Richard was seated at an "officers" table for dinner by Chuck, Jim, and Bill! I can't imagine the Schell brothers doing that, can you? 

Next: Norbert W Markus of Quincy

I have a blog on the maternal side of the family at

Friday, November 13, 2015

Charles A "Chuck" Schell

    Charles “Chuck” Schell was born in Quincy, Illinois on January 13, 1924 to parents Carl J Schell and Beatrice Markus Schell. Charles was inducted into the US Army on February 14, 1943 at age 19. He headed for Camp Barkley, Texas in March, 1943 and was there until May of that same year. From June, 1943 until May, 1944 he attended Texas A&M University and the University of Oklahoma.  

  In June, 1944 he reported to Camp Howze, Texas where he became a member of the 103rd Infantry Division (US Army) and of the 409th Infantry Regiment. He sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on 6 October 1944 aboard the USS Monticello. This troop ship was originally the Italian luxury liner, Conte Grande. The ship arrived in Marseilles, France on 20 October 1944. The regiment remained near Marseilles until November 9 when they started moving to take up front-lines positions. When they got to the town of Provenchere, France (near St. Die), they were attacked by enemy forces right around Thanksgiving. A shell hit Charles’ helmet and knocked him unconscious during the attack. He was evacuated to a hospital in Nancy, France where he spent the next 6 weeks until New Years Day, 1945 recovering from the injury. He lost his hearing in one ear for the rest of his life. 
     After recovering, he chose not to return home. He was familiar with the German language and was assigned clerical duties in Bad Homburg, Germany. From there he was assigned to work in the military government headquartered at Luetgen Villa in Hof, Bavaria. It was there that he met his future wife, Johanna Morawetz. She had come to the base seeking work after escaping from Czechoslovakia ahead of the advancing Russian army. Talk about fate….. she was told they had no work for her, so she was just about out the door when one of the guys asked her if she took shorthand! She said she could, in both English and German! They hired her immediately. Just think, a few more steps out the door and she would have been out of his life forever! They were married in a civil ceremony on on July 29, 1946 followed by a Catholic Church ceremony the next day. 

    The map below shows the route that the 409th Infantry Regiment took through France and into Germany. The red arrow indication where Charles was injured. The green arrow is the approximate location of the Schell/Schehl ancestral village of Erfweiler. Had he not been injured, he would have passed within 13 miles of Erfweiler! 

As I mentioned previously, he could have gone home after being injured, but he chose to stay. As the document below shows, he and others received the Good Conduct Medal. Knowing Uncle Chuck as I have especially over the past several years of "mining" him and Aunt Joan (Hansi to many of us) for genealogy information, I don't doubt his deserving the medal. 

Next: Richard P Schell

I have a blog on the maternal side of the family at

Thursday, November 12, 2015

James W Schell

                                                                                  James W Schell was born on November 9, 1917 in

Quincy, Illinois to parents Carl J Schell and Beatrice Markus Schell. He was 25 when he enlisted for service in the US Army on January 7, 1942 at Camp Grant, Illinois. Jim was a member of the 807th Engineer Aviation Battalion. They played a little known, but very important part in the Pacific theater of World War II against the Japanese. This battalion was sent to the Aleutian Islands… the chain of islands the extends southwest from the Alaskan Peninsula toward Asia. 
     The Japanese had invaded the islands of Kiska and Attu in June, 1942. At midnight on August 31, 1942, two companies of the 807th followed the assault party and took Adak Island. The plan was to build an air base, but estimates were that it would take 3-4 months to construct this base. High surf and bad weather made the landing of supplies very difficult. Since a Japanese attack could occur at any time, they had to disperse their heavy construction machinery so as to not provide the enemy with an easy target as Battleship Row had been at Pearl Harbor. And they had to build some crude roadways in order to carry out this dispersion. The nearest source of replacement equipment was Seattle; so they couldn’t afford to lose a lot of equipment. 
     The 807th completed an amazing task by having an adequate base for fighter planes built within 10 days! Remember, the estimate was 3-4 months! This involved building a dike to keep ocean water out and bulldozing a new channel for a creek so the water wouldn’t back up behind the new dikes.

By September 10, American fighter planes were landing at the new base unbeknownst to the Japanese. The first American attacks on  Kiska Island followed on September 14. The Japanese did not discover the new base on Adak Island until the end of the month. By that time the 807th had constructed a runways for bombers. In order to construct this bomber runway, the engineers had to remove sand and replace it with soil from nearby hills. The skill and excellent construction practices of the American engineers was far and above their Japanese counterparts on Kiska which used convicts for labor and only had small dumps trucks. 
     In early 1943, the Americans invaded the island of Amchitka which is located next to Kiska. They ran into many problems with this adventure. The winter was very severe, the Japanese were able to easily attack since they were close, and construction was taking longer than had been planned. On May 30, 1943, one-third of the 807th unloaded at Massacre Bay on the Japanese-held island of Attu. I do not know if Jim was a part of this particular invasion force. The initial assault party had landed there two weeks prior. While attempting to construct a base there, they had to contend with Japanese attacks, rains, and uncomfortably low temperatures. By July 29, 1943, the Japanese had evacuated the Aleutian Islands that they had held. 
     You may wonder why this action in the Aleutians was so important to the war effort. The Japanese plan had been to invade the Aleutians and set up bases there from which they could carry out future attacks on the United States. It would have been far easier for them to carry out attacks from Alaska than to travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean to attack.  
I learned a couple of side stories about Jim’s service from his daughter, Judy Waumans and his wife, Jean. It seems that his group constructed their own whiskey still. That made them quite popular up there in the extreme cold weather! I guess their engineering skills were not just for building bases! Jim became good friends with one of the cooks; so he was always able to get a little extra food. Sounds like a survival skill to me! When they got their allotment of wood to burn in their stoves, many times they would burn much of it that first night just to savor some warmth for a little while. And they also told me that Jim had to have all of his teeth pulled while serving over there…. without the advantage of novocaine! I cannot imagine that, nor do I want to  imagine that! 

Jim married Jean McComb in Spokane, Washington
on September 22, 1944.

Next: Charles A Schell

I have a blog on the maternal side of the family at