Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Schell Journey from Erfweiler to Quincy

First, obviously, I took some time off from writing this blog, but I didn’t realize it had been 6 months! I never intended for it to be that long, but this summer was just to nice to be indoors working on anything. Then, my sister, Cindy, and I made a genealogy trip back out to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in October. And now, here we are and it’s almost 2015! Procrastination may have played a part in this delay, too. So, now it’s time to get back to work on this blog.

This blog tells the story of John and Barbara Schell’s [johann Schehl] journey from Erfweiler, Germany to Quincy, Illinois. I must warn you that some of this is speculation. I have not found reliable primary sources to prove some of this, and I will try to let you know what is proven.

John and Barbara left LeHavre, France on February 11, 1832 aboard the ship Edward Quesnal heading for New York City. John put this date on his declaration of his intent to become a citizen and I did find the passenger record for the ship when it arrived in New York on March 15, 1832. This arrival date was also on his declaration of intent. The problem with the ship’s passenger list is that John and Barbara were the last ones listed on the page; I can find no continuation where the children would be listed. There were two daughters born before they left Erfweiler, Germany and would have been teenagers in 1832. It is possible that they could have remained behind with relatives, but they had a son, Peter, born in LeHavre, France, either in 1828 or 1830. He should be somewhere on the passenger list, but I haven’t located him.

Now comes an interesting tale about their son, John, Jr. who was about 11 years old when they left LeHavre. The family must have arrived in LeHavre about 1825. Their is an Adams Co., IL history that has a biographical sketch of the family and it says that they stayed in LeHavre for seven years. While there, they somehow became acquainted with the great American author, Washington Irving! I was very skeptical about this tale until I found a book written by Washington Irving where he mentions John, Jr. by name and that the family later moved to Quincy. It seems as though Washington Irving took young John, Jr. back to New York with him where he employed him as a servant. In this same autobiography, Irving gives the date they left LeHavre and the name of the ship. He also is traveling with companions Charles J Latrobe and Albert-Alexander de Pourtal├Ęs. With the name of the ship and an approximate arrival about a month later in New York, I was able to locate the passenger list. The first person listed has the first name partially covered by something, but what can be made out is “gton Irving, Esq”. But down farther on the list is CJ Latrobe and A de Pourtalis! This has to be the ship with Washington Irving. Also listed elsewhere is a John L(?) Schnell, however, the age looks like it is written as 22! John, Jr. was only 11 so I assume it is a clerical error. But this encounter with Washington Irving did take place!

While in New York City, Barbara gave birth to a daughter, Philippine, on November 25, 1833. Again, I haven't located primary proof of that birth. Most of the sources have the family arriving in Quincy in 1835. This is based upon two different histories of Adams Co., Illinois but I do not know who gave the information. The second of the histories was printed in 1879 before Barbara Schell had died and it says they arrived in Quincy in 1835. After they arrived in Quincy, Barbara gave birth to another daughter, Maria Anna, but the information I got from Marjorie Martin Jones gives the birth year as 1834! Again, I have no confirmation of a primary source. But it does look as though the family arrived sometime 1834-1835. Another son, George, was born in Quincy on September 22, 1839.

Lockport bartlett color crop.jpgNow for the interesting journey from New York City to Quincy, Illinois. This information was taken from that Adams County history book that had the biographical sketch of the family. I must caution you that the book was printed in 1919 more than 30 years after Barbara has died and there is no way to know who gave the information. I assume it was a family member but the journey had been 84 years before this book was published. But here is what it said. They left New York City and headed toward Buffalo and Lake Erie. I am thinking they may have traveled up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal which had opened in 1825. From Buffalo they crossed Lake Erie and arrived in Cleveland, Ohio.
(Sorry about the fuzziness on the above map) If they debarked at Cleveland, then they probably took the Ohio and Erie Canal which had opened by 1833 and would have taken them from Cleveland down to the Ohio River. From there, they took a boat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to their journey's end in Quincy, Illinois. It was an all-water route, if this is correct, which was probably a lot easier than traveling over land by wagon!

The Ohio Canal map was found at the website The US map is from a collection from the University of South Florida. Their website is Source: Dixon Ryan Fox, Harper's Atlas of American History (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers , 1920) 38 Map Credit: Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman.