Thursday, June 19, 2014

John and Barbara Schell: On their Way to America

In the last post, Johann and Barbara Schehl were preparing to leave Erfweiler for America. They traveled to the port of LeHavre-de-Grace, France where they resided for seven years. Johann had a job as an inspector of ship loading. While in LeHavre, Barbara gave birth to Peter on December 13, 1828. They would eventually leave for America aboard the ship Edward Quesnal on February 11, 1832. That means if they resided in LeHavre for seven years, then they arrived about 1825  from Erfweiler. I have located the passenger record from this ship arriving in New York City on Mar 14, 1832 and this information agrees with Johann’s “Intent to Naturalize” which I also have. So, I am fairly certain that this passenger record is the one. The only problem I have with this passenger record is the absence of daughter, Apollonia, who would be about age 13 and Peter who would be about age 4. Johann and Barbara’s names are at the bottom of the ship register page. It is possible that there was a following page that was not microfilmed. I don’t believe they would have been left behind, but I don’t have an explanation as to why they are not on the ship’s register.

Another son, Johannes (John Jr.) was also not on the ship’s register. But that leads to a very interesting tale and explanation. The family’s biography that I found in an Adams County history volume claims that Johann, while in LeHavre,  became acquainted with the famous American author, Washington Irving (of “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” fame). It claimed that Irving took a fancy to son John Jr. who would have been about age 11 or 12 and his parents gave permission for John Jr. to accompany Irving back to New York. It is always important to check for accuracy of statements like this. So, I went to the library of the University of Northern Iowa here in Cedar Falls to look for information about this claim. I really did not have much hope of finding anything that might prove this claim. I found a biography (by Stanley T. Williams) and an autobiography by Irving that both have references to John Schell! Therefore, I can verify that our ancestor did travel to New York City with the famous author, Washington Irving in 1832.

I have not been able to find anything about John and Barbara’s life in New York City except that their daughter, Philippine, was born there on November 25, 1833. She would later be known as Phoebe and married John Schwitring. Their last name would eventually be “Americanized” to Sweetring; they resided in Adams County, Illinois.

John, Barbara and family would leave New York probably sometime in 1834. Their daughter, Philippine was born in November, 1833 and their daughter, Maria Anna, was born in Quincy, Illinois in 1834. In the next posting, I will show the interesting, all-water route that the Schell family took from New York City to Quincy, Illinois and their early life in Quincy.

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