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. 

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