I know I told you that we’d meet the other Wissmanns today but I’m not feeling one with the words tonight so I’m giving you a short post that’s related to one of those other Wissmanns – the other Ludwig to be exact. But first…
My boss is fond of saying that every box at the National Archives contains a story. And it’s true – some of them are pretty boring but some of them are pretty exciting. I, on the other hand, am fond of pointing out that you never know who you’ll meet in the records. One day I’ll tell you about the day I ran into Lizzie Borden. And boy did she have an ax to grind.
My favorite box – make that file – in the whole entire National Archives is a great example of people I never expected to meet when I opened the folder. At first, I just thought I was going to find a letter written by the U.S. Marshall in Arizona about pesky cowboys and disturbances at a little place called Tombstone and some guys named Earp who helped to restore order. I expected that – it was the whole reason I was in the file in the first place. But then I ran into General Sherman – that General Sherman – who sent a lengthy telegram complaining about cowboys – everybody hated on cowboys back in the day. Last but not least, I met a grocer in Prescott, Arizona named Morris Goldwater who wrote a letter about a lawsuit he was involved in. Morris’ nephew Barry would eventually become the most famous Goldwater Republican ever.
You just never know who you’ll meet – or run into – in the records.
That’s what happened when I was looking at the manifest for the ship that brought the other Ludwig Wissmann to America in 1923. Ludwig’s on Line 24. But it was Line 7 that caught my eye.
Did I run into someone else I knew in the records?
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
Today's little Margaret Mary's birthday! She is the youngest of Max and Anna's six children and was definitely a bit of a surprise. But she was a good surprise!
Since she's my mom - and she likes it when people make a big deal out of her birthday - she gets a special post! Happy Birthday Mom! Hope you're special day is special! We're so glad that you're a part of our family!
Margaret Schellhardt celebrates her birthday
I’ll be honest with you – I’ve spent a lot of time lamenting my place in the family. Well, not so much my place because there is definitely something to be said for being the baby. I think it’s more that I suffered from an “I don’t know where I fit in because all my cousins are so much older than me” complex. It’s actually something my mom suffers from too since her siblings were and are so much older than she is. We’re kinda weird in betweeners.
But really that in between spot is actually the sweet spot.
In a way, we’ve been made adopted members of every other sibling’s family unit – whether there’s room for us or not! We cross over the family in a way that doesn’t happen much these days. So, while it’s been years that most of the cousins have seen each other, I actually see a lot of you at least once or twice a year. Sure, I’m the quiet one in the corner but I like being there!
And there’s another benefit too. I get to experience a lot of things that the rest of you didn’t. Kinda like this day a few years ago when some Schellharts and Wissmanns (and those cross-over Hendersons) got together for dinner. Sitting on the left next to my dad is Louisa Wissmann – “Aunt Louisa” who was our de facto family matriarch for decades after the passing of our own matriarch in 1987. Her daughter Mary – “Cousin Mary” – is between our own Uncle Bill and Aunt Betty. And there I am on the end – that weird in betweener.
There we were - three generations gathered around a table.
Just like they were in 1938.
I told you we’d get to know the Wissmanns today so let’s go around the table and get acquainted.
In the center is Mathilda Horn Wissmann Schoener. As family matriarch, she deserves her own post so we’ll cover her later.
This is Alphonse and Louisa (nee Hoffeins) Wissmann’s family. Alphonse was Nanny’s brother – the younger of the two brothers. You might’ve known him as Uncle Al. Alphonse and Louisa were married in February 1926. Seated in front of them are their children – Al and Mary or Cousin Al and Cousin Mary.
Cousin Al was the oldest of the Wissmann grandchildren – born in April 1927, he edged out Charles Schellhardt as oldest by just a few months. Hey, we can’t all be #1 all the time! Cousin Mary was born a few weeks after Bill Schellhardt in December 1928. At least from the photos, it seems that the Alphonse Wissmann family and Schellhardt family were very close. And always at the zoo. We’ll get back to that another day.
This is older brother Alfred “Uncle Freddy” Wissmann and his wife, Catherine (nee Krotock). Married in June 1926, they had three children who are seated in front of them. Don’t mind the little girl in the corner picking her nose – that’s just Aunt Helen Schellhardt. Oldest son Alfred was born in February 1928. Daughter Kathleen was born in 1933 before being joined by younger sister Eleanor in 1935.
Like our family, each of these families has branched off and grown into their own strong family trees.
But this picture from 1938 reminds us that we all started out from the same seedlings.
Tomorrow, we’ll meet the other Wissmanns.
SS Vaderland Manifest - CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
While I know you’d like to drag out our examination of this manifest over four weeks like I did the last time, I think we can probably cover everything in one post. Well, I’ll try anyway. If you get tired of reading, just take a break and come back later.
We’ve been spending a lot of time on the Schellhardt part of our family – and for good reason, it’s the name of our website! But it’s time to meet the maternal side of the family – Nanny’s relatives. The best place to start is with her immediate family - her parents, Ludwig and Mathilda Wissmann, and her brothers, Alfred and Alphonse. Lucky for us, they just happen to be on the manifest that we’re looking at today!
This manifest is for the S.S. Vaderland which sailed from Antwerp via Dover (the English Dover, not the Delaware Dover, FYI) on September 23, 1905 and arrived at the Port of New York on October 2, 1905.
The Wissmann family is listed on Lines 8-11. The patriarch of the family, Ludwig, is first. He’s listed as a 34 year old married male carpenter from Eichenbiehl, Germany. His wife, Mathilda (or Mathilde) is listed next – a 32 year old married female with no calling or occupation. She, like her husband, is listed as being from Eichenbiehl, Germany. Their sons, 3 year old Alfred and 11 month old Alphonse, round out the list. They could all read and write – although I think this was an over-exaggeration when it came to the boys! The final destination for all – the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Why isn’t Anna Wissmann listed on this manifest?!
Let’s see how well you’ve been reading these posts.
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
Again, it’s the second half of the manifest that always floats my boat. The family does not have tickets to their final destination although – unlike Max – they have quite a bit of money in their possession - $400 to be exact. With inflation, that’s like…a whole lotta coin in today’s money!
The next two columns are intriguing – it’s kind of hard to make out whether Ludwig was previously in the United States but Mathilda was – and this will be important to remember when we meet her sister Ida in a few days. So, who are they joining in the States? According to the manifest, Ludwig’s brother-in-law, W. Pet. Parr at the Delanco Hotel in Philadelphia. I’ve never heard of the name Parr but where have we heard Delanco before? Anna Wissmann lived with relatives in Delanco, New Jersey after living in an orphanage as a child. Delanco Hotel. Delanco, New Jersey. Coincidence? Misunderstanding? Mistake? I ended up spending my lunch hour doing what archivists should never do – researching. I tried to track down the Delanco Hotel without any luck. So then I did what archivists really shouldn’t do – I started making conjectures. What if there was no Delanco Hotel? What if they were confused and meant Delanco, New Jersey? I haven’t found the answer yet but I will not rest until I get to the bottom of it!
The rest of the manifest is routine – nobody was an anarchist, a polygamous, or a forced child bride. They were all in good health and without any physical deformities. Ahh, the perfect immigrants!
Tomorrow – a more personal look at the Wissmann family.
Anyone figure out why Nanny wasn’t on the manifest yet? Come on #19, you know you’ve got this!
We’re celebrating another birthday today! #20, Karen Schellhardt Bade, is today’s birthday girl! Happy birthday Karen! We’re so glad you’re a part of our family!
Anna Wissmann as a baby ca. 1908
Today is a very important day! It kicks off my birthday week! It’s a jammed pack celebatory week in honor of ME! Six more days until my birthday!
Oh yeah, there are a few other birthdays this week too. I guess we should celebrate those too.
All kidding aside, today is an important day as it marks the 105th birthday of Anna Wissmann Schellhardt (Nanny). She was born February 24, 1908 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – her parents' first American-born child and only daughter. She joined olders brothers Afred and Alphonse who were born before the family emigrated from Germany in 1905.
But rather than me writing about Anna, I’m going to let her tell her own story.
A HUGE thank you to Terry Knuttel for sharing this with us to add to our family archives. In 1977, Terry had to do a family history project for school and Nanny, 69 years old at the time, wrote this card to her. I think it is a vitally important addition to our archives. If anyone else received communications such as this from Nanny or other relatives, please, please consider sharing it here!
Happy Birthday Nanny!
[front of card] Tell Mother I will write her a long letter.
Dear Terry Mom + Dad.
Terry this is a very hard thing for me to write about. You see Nanny was in an orphan asylum until I wa[s] eight years old and I really don’t remember much about those days. I know when Grandmom took me out I went to live with a cousins and their mother. I do have some very nice thoughts about that. It was in Delanco N.J. and we had a canoe and they taught me how to swim + row a canoe. Then my Mom bought a little house and we came home to live. I went to St. Peters school and I was very proud of going. We lived in that house until we all got married. I can’t recall much of my childhood. I went to work when I was 16 yrs. and enjoyed that. Over
So I guess the next best thing or happy thing was when I met your Granddaddy and got married. When your mother was born and when she was 6 wks. old we went to Germany. We only stayed a year their and was glad to come home. We bought a little house and was never so happy. Until Pop got the business. So that was 25 years of my life and then Pop died and I moved to Oreland. We had lots of nice times together. Love Nanny
I often say that I have a small family but a lot of relatives. My parents, #32, and I are a compact four-person unit that occupies a tidy little branch on a family tree that dangles with a multitude of relatives.
When I began this website, I intended it to be for and about those Schellhardt relatives – Max and Anna’s children, their children’s children, and now their children’s children’s children (that’s four Schellhardt generations, in case you’re counting.) It was intended to honor our people.
But a funny thing happened while I delved more deeply into our family history.
I started to become acquainted with a whole extended network of relatives who played roles in Max and Anna’s lives. Most are people whom I’ve never met – they are merely faces in photographs and names on government forms. I began to realize that those faces, those names, those people were our people’s people. And that makes them ours too.
It’s time to get to know the Wissmanns, the Horns, and the Schaefers and their connection to our Schellhardt generations.
Here's a sneak peak at some of the people we'll meet next week.
L - Alphonse and Louisa Wissmann with children, Al and Mary, C - Max and Anna Schellhardt, Charles and Bobby, Mathilda holding Anne, Bill, Helen R - Alfred and Catherine Wissmann with children Freddie, Cathleen, and Eleanor
This might be hard to believe but there was a time, not so long ago, when Number 33 wasn’t the adventurous, bee-bopping, gal about town that she is now. Her life was confined to where she could get to on surface roads or at least any place where merging wasn’t required.
Maybe it was because of a lackluster Driver’s Ed program.
Maybe it was because her mother insisted on driving everywhere.
Maybe it was because Number 33 didn’t have a cool car like this!
Margaret Schellhardt on the street in Oreland, Pennyslvania
And now I will make my case for a family book group.
Do me a favor and take a look around you. Go ahead. I won’t start again until you take a
So, who lives in a vacuum?
No one right? For one thing, it would be rather cramped inside and for another the dust allergies would be killer!
Okay, so I’m not actually talking about your Hoover, Bissell, or (you lucky souls) Dyson.
I’m talking about the world around us. We don’t exist in a vacuum – people, places, events, external forces impact each of us. Things are happening all around us that influence our choices, decisions, and actions.
And all of that – that will be history one day.
Our family isn’t notable and will not be written about in the history books – we’re certainly no Kennedys – but they lived in historical times. To gain a better appreciation of our family, we need to understand the world and times that our ancestors lived in – whether it was Philadelphia in the 1920s, Germany in the 1930s, or the suburbs in the 1960s.
As an archivist and a personal hoarder of all things paper, I am saddened to tell you that aside from one known letter, Max and Anna didn’t leave us with any primary source material. No heart-warming love letters, no rambling diaries, no notes to tell us about their lives, the times in which they lived, their history. But I have some things in store that I hope will make up for that.
To complement those things, I thought, well, why not form a book group. We could all read the same book about a specific time period so when I started blogging about it, we’d all be on the same page and maybe have a better understanding of the people in our past.
Or I can just do all the reading and tell you about it.
But…if you’re interested, consider reading the following so that you’re ready for our adventures in March –
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen
Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski
I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 by Victor Klemperer
That’s right, people – we’re going back to Germany.
Listen, I realize that I haven’t exactly blogged the family stories in any type of chronological order. I’m sorry if that’s bothersome but it’s my process. And you never screw around with someone’s process.
I’m a firm believer that if you release a hope, a dream, a request to the world, it will come back to you. I know it’s true because for months I kept asking the universe to build a CVS in the new shopping center by my house. Lo and behold, that CVS is now open for business! These days, I keep asking the universe for more customer service oriented CVS cashiers. It’s the little things in life, you know?
In another example, just two weekends ago, I called my mom in exasperation wondering why nobody was coming to play with me on this website. Two days later, I started getting emails and Facebook messages from various relations about what they could do to help. And I thought to myself, next time, I’m going to ask the universe for a million dollars.
So, in that “the universe will give me what I ask for” vein, I thought I’d post some wishes that I have for this website. Okay, they’re really wants. Wish. Want. Potato. Potahto.
1. A vintage Schellhardt [Tree] Growing tee-shirt from the 1991 Schellhardt Reunion. And pictures from that reunion. Better yet, pictures of attendees wearing those tee-shirts at that reunion.
2. A guest blogger once a month. I’m a generous kinda girl – I’d be willing to turn Notes from Number 33 into Notes from Number 9 or Notes from Number 4-GG (that’s great-grandchild). Think about it. I bet you have awesome stories and insights to share. And quite frankly, I wasn’t around for a long time. You need to bring me up to speed on what the family was doing…especially in the 70s. Admit it, everyone was out disco-ing!
3. A family book club. It wouldn’t be required reading. I’d even allow Cliff Notes. Come back tomorrow to find out why I think this is a stellar idea!
4. The liquor license from Schellhardt’s Café. I don’t even know if bars needed liquor licenses back in the old days and my responses to the Philadelphia City Archives have gone unanswered. If I can’t get the license, I’d love a picture of the front of the bar.
5. A chartered bus trip on a journey that I’ve entitled “Walk Where They Walked.” Hear me out – the Kennedy family (yes, that Kennedy family) used to take a family trip every summer during which they all climbed into chartered buses and visited the Boston spots that were important in their family history. I’m pretty sure Teddy played tour director and narrated the whole thing. If Kennedys can, Schellhardts can! We could charter a bus and drive around the streets of Philadelphia. Who wouldn’t want to see where the Schellhardts got their start?
There you have it, Universe. Now do your thing!
It’s our last Manifest Monday for the Sierra Ventana! Let’s bid bon voyage by discussing fun immigration facts! Warning - this is a little long so just grab a cup of coffee and settle in.
If you study immigration history, you’ll quickly learn that there were major waves during which immigrants came to America. In fact, someone else’s family research shows that there were Schellhardts in America as early as the 1780s. These Schellhardts and their short Shelhart descendants are related to us somehow but I’ll tackle that in my post “The Long and Short of It.”
Okay – back to our Schellhardt immigration story. Max emigrated to America in 1924 which was actually pretty late in the immigration game. This time period was pretty significant – both for Germany and America.
What was Max emigrating from? He came of age during the Weimar Republic when things weren’t exactly great in Germany – think strikes, hyperinflation, putsches. Not exactly good times for an 18 year old carpenter, right? Sure, things stabilized a bit in Germany in the late 1920s but you can’t blame a kid for wanting to get out while the gettin’ out was good.
Then there was America. Sure, Lady Liberty was all “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” But by the mid 1900s, the American government was like whoa! Hold on one second. We can’t just let anyone in. Hey, I get it. I love people but I have a hard time letting them in too.
So, the U.S. Government instituted a bunch of laws that restricted who they’d let in to America. It seems like they really only wanted literate white people from northern and western Europe. And they sure as heck only wanted them to have one wife!
In 1921 and 1924, Congress enacted laws that restricted the annual quota of immigrants to a percentage of each nationality that was resident in the United States at the time of the 1910 census. According to the Immigration Station at Ellis Island, approximately 315,000 immigrants arrived in 1924. One of those was Max Schellhardt.
The above is all just background for the columns we’re going to examine today. If anyone can make a long story longer, it’s Number 33. Have I told you about the movie War Horse?! I urge you to take all of the following information with a grain of salt – see, there’s another facet of this period of immigration history. It was marked by waves of young men looking for work who ultimately intended to return to their country of origin. This isn’t something you admit when you’re "immigrating," at least on paper. When I was in my early 20s, K-Mart was giving away atlases if you signed up for a credit card. I would’ve said anything to get that free atlas. I kinda feel like Max might’ve said anything just to get to America. That doesn’t make us liars…we just both really wanted something. Max got a future with some money and I got a bunch of maps.
Anyhoo...here are Columns 20 - 26
Column 20 – Purpose of Coming to America
Whether alien intends to return to country whence he came after engaging temporarily in laboring position in the United States – NO (sure…)
Length of time alien intends to reside in the United States – ALWAYS (at least until 1934...)
Whether alien intends to become a citizen of the United States – YES (uh-huh!)
Column 21 – Ever in prison or almshouse or hospitalized for care and treatment of the insane or supported by charity? If so, when? – NO (like, who is going to admit to that?!)
Column 22 – Whether a polygamist? – NO (clearly, this was way before everyone had their favorite Sister Wife on TLC)
Column 23 – Whether an anarchist? – NO (seriously, back in those days you did not want to identify as an anarchist!)
Column 24 – Whether a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or all forms of law, etc.? – NO (they still ask this question when you’re employed by the Federal government!)
Column 25 – Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promise, or agreement, expressed or implied, to labor in the United States? – NO (cuts down on the mail-order grooms)
Column 26 – Whether the alien had been previously deported within one year? – NO
Well, that's it for the Sierra Ventana manifest. I hope you’ve enjoyed our in depth examination! Join us next week as we go further back in time to look at the manifest of the S. S. Vaderland, the ship that brought the Wissmann family to the United States!
Max - second to last line. CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA