Monday, January 28, 2013

Bill Schell- the Early Years

Before I get into my story, I have noticed that if you get email notifications of new postings that the actual post is in the email. I find it much easier to read the post if you click on the blue title in the email. That will take you directly to the post in an easier-to-read format.

My dad, William John Schell was born in Quincy, Illinois on September 14, 1925. He was the son of Carl Joseph Schell and Beatrice Mary Juliana Markus. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of stories about his growing-up years in Quincy, although there must have been quite a group of boys in the neighborhood around 17th and Broadway. The picture here shows the “Rat Gang” in 1933. This was provided by my Uncle Chuck who is pictured in the front row on the far right. Dad is in the front row, third from the right- looking down. Between them is a name we heard often growing up- Artie Clarke. They caught these rats in a lumberyard that was located nearby. I am not certain what they did with these rats, but apparently from the picture, they did not become pets! One of our favorite stories about Artie Clarke involved shaving off eyebrows. I guess there were a group of friends who decided for, God only knows what reason, to all shave off their eyebrows. Well, I guess poor Artie was the first one to do it, and as you might have already guessed, he looked so ridiculously funny that no one else would do it! Some friends, huh? I’m not sure how old they were, but I’m guessing after having taught junior high school, that would have been about the right age.
Dad’s family consisted of six boys and one girl- poor Aunt Martha, she must have been pretty tough to put up with six brothers! Cindy knew the feeling for a little while. She had to put up with us four brothers until mom and dad evened the score at four each.

Pictured here is the family home on Broadway in Quincy. It was a great old house built around 1893 by my great grandfather, William Markus. I found an announcement in the paper saying it was built at a cost of $2,500. Using an inflation calculator, that translates to a little over $61,000 in 2011 dollars! It became a two-family home. My great grandparents, William and Mary Husam Markus, built the house and my grandparents, Carl and Betty Markus Schell raised their family there. Tragedy struck this home in June of 1935 when my grandmother lost not only her husband  but also her father. Carl died suddenly on June 8 and my great grandfather died June 29. Dad was not quite ten years old when he lost his father and grandfather. I cannot even imagine the grief. It is a testament to her strength that Grandma Schell was able to raise such a  great family and did it as a single parent. And remember, this was 1935, during the Great Depression! 

Like I said before, it was a great old house. I would kill to have a pantry like grandma had. There was a large formal dining room just off the kitchen. In the front, was a living room that may have been called a parlor in its day. There was a large room off both the dining room and the parlor. I’m not sure what they called it, but I do remember the large, wooden sliding doors that disappeared into the walls. I remember pretending that they were elevator doors- we were so easy to entertain when we were children! I do remember going up to see Grandma Markus in that front bedroom upstairs whenever I visited. She was nearly blind and in her mid-eighties by then. I cannot say I remember much about her since she passed away in 1957 and I was about nine. And that leads to the big problem with genealogy- we don’t get interested in it until it’s too late to ask the questions that we really would love to have answers for. 

'Nuff said for now! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How I Got Into This

Sometime back in 2008, something sparked my interest in family history; I wish I could remember what that spark was, but it’s lost to me at this point. I do remember what my first acquisition was though. While visiting my dad’s brother, Mark, in Quincy, he gave me three family group sheets that had been sent to him in about 1987 from Marjorie Martin. The families shown were Reinold Schell, Peter Florian Schell, and Peter Schell (my great grandfather, second great uncle, and second great grandfather, respectively). She had sent these sheets in hopes he might have other family information. Uncle Mark had no idea who Marjorie was and neither did I. But, oh, how that would change! This eventually led to one of the happiest moments that I have experienced on this genealogical journey. Marjorie had done these family group sheets in 1976 and had her address included. Now we are talking about 2008 when I obtained these from Uncle Mark. I had no idea if Marjorie would have been at the same address or, indeed, if she was even still with us! Part of genealogy is taking these shots in the dark! I was also in possession of a record from the LDS church that had Marjorie’s name and the same address. There was also another name Terry Sparks with a different address but from the same general area as Marjorie. Who were these people? Would they still be at the same address? There’s only one way to find out- write a couple of letters. I did and I really did not expect to get anything back. You can imagine the surprise when I received a letter from Terry. They were living in the same residence; Marjorie was Terry’s mom! This had to seem like a bolt out of the blue to them; we exchanged emails and got to know each other a little better. To make a long story short, Marjorie and Terry descended from Peter Florian Schell and I had descended from Reinold Schell. We were truly cousins! These are the kind of discoveries that keep me going.

Terry and Marjorie
But the story does not end there. It gets better! In the summer of 2010, I was planning a trip out to see friends in California. I had planned to get off the train in Salt Lake City for a couple of days and use the Family History Library maintained by the Mormons. I would then continue on out to the Bay Area and visit the friends. Cindy, my sister, who is working on her husband’s genealogy in addition to helping me once in a while, found out about my plans. She decided it would be fun to go, too. She talked our sister, Staci, into going along. So, the three of us, that is, me and Lucy and Ethel, were on our way by car to Salt Lake City. I couldn’t, at times, help  but think of the Ricardos and Mertzes trip to Hollywood! After finishing up at the library, Cindy said, “You know, Terry and Marjorie live near San Bernardino--- that’s only a day’s trip from here!” Pass up a chance to meet some cousins we had never heard of? Not a chance! So, now we were off to actually meet them in person. I can’t even begin to describe the joy we all had in spending that day together. Unfortunately, Marjorie, who was in her 90s was beginning to suffer from dementia, but we could easily see that she was enjoying every minute of our visit. We are so happy that we took the time to do that because we lost Marjorie in 2012.

After our wonderful day-long visit with Terry and Marjorie, I took the train north to the Bay Area while Lucy and Ethel (AKA Cindy and Staci) took a rather circuitous route back to Iowa! They could start a blog just about that trip!

‘Nuff said for now!

Below are the descendents of Peter Schell

Carl Joseph Schell is who I am descended from and Cornelia Laura is who Terry and Marjorie are descended from.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Welcome to My World!

      I should say, "Welcome to my obsession!" I have been at this genealogy thing long enough now that it is time to start sharing some of my "finds". Besides sharing with family, I also hope that there may be others out there who are researching some of the same lines and will want to do some collaboration. I find that this is one of the most fascinating aspects of family research- you never know what you will find! It's like traveling down a river without a map; you never know what's around the next bend! 
    What I hope to share are some of the interesting stories about our ancestors and, hopefully, let you in on how I found these things There are some events that are going to be based on my best guesses at this point. Either the documentation is not available OR it has not been located. I will always try to remember to tell you when that is the case. This leads me to another hope- someone else out there in the blogosphere may have either new documentation or a different take on things.  If you come to different conclusions about something I have posted, please, let me know. You know what they say - two heads (or in this case, many) are better than one. You may "see" something that I don't! 
     This blog is called "The Schell Seekers", but understand that this is about my paternal line. So other family names will be included. The lines that will be covered are: Schell, Markus, Husam, Kolker, Jacobskoetter, Zwick, Scheiner, Mertz (not Ethel!), Schaut, Scheid, and Sanders. There are a few other obscure names that I am not including at this time.  I am not certain how often I will be posting new material. I would hope it could be a couple times per month - but no promises at this point. Also, I will be doing a different blog on my maternal side, as of now unnamed. So, either make a comment on this blog or send me an email (my email address is in the 'About Me' section. Look for the first posting soon. I'll be telling you how I got into this "magnificent obsession"!