I remember my first time like it was yesterday – the anticipation, the excitement, the thrill of it all.  Filling in those little bubbles on my 2010 census form really made me feel like I counted.  Especially to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Ahh, the census!   It only comes around every 10 years but let me tell you – the information gathered by the Census Bureau is pure genealogical gold.  Even more so, because after the census is taken and the statistical results are tabulated, the information is sealed for 72 years!  If you don’t think the government takes your privacy seriously, you’ve never been involved in a census release!  

Time for a little math lesson – the census is taken every ten years and then released 72 years later so, the 1910 Census was released in 1982, 1920 in 1992, 1930 in 2002, and the 1940 Census was just released last April.  We won’t be seeing another census release for nine more years.  And don’t get all excited about seeing the 2010 Census…that won’t roll around until 2082! 

Now can you understand why genealogists go absolutely bananas when the census is released?!  In the olden days (and by olden days, I mean, pre-Twitter, like 2002), that meant lines out the door at the National Archives so genies could hop on microfilm readers as soon as the census was released at midnight.  Last year, the first time the census was released entirely online, websites crashed left and right as genies across the world tried to track down their great-great aunt Ida or Grandpa Harry on the 1940 Census. 

Before we look at the census records in which the Wissmanns and then the Schellhardts are listed – and the cool information that we can glean from them – I’m going to get all know-it-all archivisty on you because it’s important that I make this crystal clear to you –

The primary function of the census is NOT for genealogical research.  It was a statistical record prepared for statistical reporting purposes.  So, before the age of Ancestry.com, you couldn’t just type in great-great aunt Ida’s last name and get all her information – because, well, the Census Bureau didn’t care about her last name as much as they cared about other stuff (like what they were counting – race, sex, level of education, home owners, radio owners, etc.) Basically, the only way to find Aunt Ida on the census was to have some idea of where she lived when the census was taken so that you could determine the enumeration district (ED) that she lived in.  Once you had the ED, then you had to go through pages of population schedules to find her name.  And then bingo…you hit pay-dirt.  So, yes, it’s a lot easier these days, but I feel that it’s important that we appreciate the records and how to use them.

Okay, I’ve said my piece and I feel much better. 

A few things to know – like ship manifests, the census has changed over time.  In 2010, mostly all of us received census forms in the mail, we filled them out, then sent them back to the Census Bureau.  Easy-peasy.  But in the real olden days, the Census Bureau used enumerators – people they hired to go around every city, every town, every census-designated location (those aforementioned enumeration districts) to get a count of all the people in the country.  They filled out population schedules by hand asking the residents of households a variety of questions.  Some towns have a couple of enumeration districts while cities – like Philadelphia – can have hundreds.  Something tells me that the census enumerator who gathered the Schellhardts’ information in 1940 was happy to relax with a beer when he reached Schellhardts Café at the end of the block! 

I love the census because I love seeing the changes from one decade to the next – arrivals and departures; births and deaths; migrations from place to place; family fortunes rising and falling.  When we begin our examination of the census records, we’ll be able to trace the evolution of our family within a thirty year period.  Not bad for a statistical report, huh?

We’ll start with the 1910 Census and work our way up to 1940!  Since next Sunday is Easter, however, you’ll have to wait until the following Sunday to start our censusational adventure!    
Ahh, who doesn’t remember the awesome 1980s?  People were rocking big hair, half-tops, and leg warmers like nobody’s business.  To heck with cell phones, we had car phones!  The only fun thing to do on a computer was play Oregon Trail.  And don’t even get me started on the Brat Pack (in the movies, not in our family!)

While the 1950s and 1960s saw the Schellhardt family tree grow with the births of grandchildren and 1979 wrapped up with birth of the last grandchild (me, #33!), the 1980s signaled the start of a whole new decade and saw our family explode when many of the Schellhardt grandchildren grew up, got married, and started families of their own.  There were lots of weddings and lots of babies born in the 1980s - 31 great-grandchildren were born in that decade –  with almost a third of them born in 1985 and 1986! 

For me, the 1980s was a time of ring bearers and flower girls; first crabs and First Communions; Cooper sharp cheese and Nabisco cookies; watching Charlotte’s Web in a basement on Penn Avenue and coloring in a basement on Morris Drive.  It was ham and cheese sandwich runs to a nursing home after dinner and stops at Jack Frost on the way to Oreland.  It was Halloweens, and Christmases, and Easters spent with aunts and uncles and more cousins than you could count.       

But like everything, where there is life, there is loss.  The 1980s saw the deaths of our family matriarch and two uncles and we watched an aunt battling a terminal illness that would eventually take her at the beginning of the next decade.  December 1990 was effectively the end of the family of my childhood.  After that, it was time to grow up.    

But in the 1980s, all of that was still in the future.  When I look at the pictures in the 1980 photo album, I just see a family who was busy living and growing. 

Do you have any photos from family events in the 1980s (even if it was your own branch of the family)?  If so, please consider contributing them to our site!  Please email me at schellhardtgenerations@gmail.com.  (wish list – pictures of weddings and/or holidays and pictures of grandchildren/great-grandchildren with Nanny)

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.  

Any keen observer will tell you life’s most interesting moments don’t necessarily involve the loudest people at the table, the centers of attention, or the stars of the shot.  The real action worth watching is happening on the periphery, off-stage, out of focus.  Sometimes you don’t even realize what you’re seeing until you look just a little closer.  

This is why this photo is one of my favorites.  It’s not because of what’s in focus – but what isn’t. 

Can you spot it?
The Schellhardt and Wissmanns gather to celebrate Helen Schellhardt's 8th grade graduation at Schellhardt's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA

Nifty Fifty and Dirty Thirty

Since it’s a birthday day, you get a two-fer!  Two posts for the price of one!  Today marks the birthdays of a Schellhardt grandchild and Schellhardt great-grandchild born 20 years apart!

Little Terry Knuttel – the 26th grandchild – turns 50 today!  Just yesterday she was 49!  Full disclosure – Terry happens to be one of my favorite cousins.  And not just because she showed me the Pacific Ocean for the first time!  Compared to most of my cousins, I met Terry fairly late in life on account of her living all the way across the country but I think she’s pretty awesome nonetheless.  Fun factoid – Terry, like me, is the only daughter and youngest child of a Schellhardt daughter and we are the only granddaughters without a sister.  But she had to contend with three older brothers so I think I probably got off easier!

Today’s second birthday belongs to Frank, Uncle Bob’s oldest grandchild and Helen Jean’s son.  He turns 30 today!  His birthday makes me feel really old! 

Schellhardt Generations hopes Terry and Frank party like it’s their birthdays!  We’re so glad that you’re a part of our family!   

There’s something to be said for being the youngest.  You always know your place.  Last.  Sure, Number 1 knows he’s the first.  And Number 32 knows his number because I told him.  And maybe Numbers 2 and 3 know but after that – who really knows?!  Who really cares?!  Well…we all should.  Just so that I’m not the only weird one who thinks about these things. 

This was actually going to be a game at the Big Schellhardt Reunion of 1991 but it was deemed to be “too hard.”  So we played Moo, Moo, Buckaroo instead.  Not that Moo, Moo, Buckaroo wasn’t challenging…

What we needed was a cousin with enough courage and tenacity to figure it all out.  I think we can all agree that we can thank goodness for Number 33! 

How hard could it be?  It’s not like I was trying to figure out who our godparents are (one of mine is #19 by the way).  Well, it wasn’t a simple feat and it involved combing through old papers, digging into the recesses of my mother’s memory, and one case of Facebook creeping (sorry #10) – but I got it done.  From 1 – 33, I present to you the Schellhardt grandchildren in numerical order.

1.       Chuckie
2.       Diane
3.       Linda
4.       Bobby Schellhardt
5.       Bill Knuttel
6.       Betty Ann
7.       Carole Sue
8.       Stephen
9.       Bill Schellhart
10.   Anne Marie
11.   Debbie
12.   Jean
13.   Joan
14.   Helen Jean
15.   Jimmy
16.   Cate
17.   Cousin Anne
18.   David
19.   Cousin Ed
20.   Karen
21.   Paul
22.   Karl
23.   Kenny
24.   Janet
25.   Michael Peter
26.   Terry
27.   Chris
28.   Margaret Mary
29.   Mary Ellen
30.   Jean Peter
31.   Kimberly
32.   Michael
33.   Denise

I’m pretty sure #12 and #13 are in the right order.  #24 and #25 are in dispute, however, because my mom couldn’t remember who was born first.  Any ideas?

Also, I left off actual birth dates and years because I wasn't sure how people felt about having their ages posted.  

Fun Facts –                                                                                

There are 19 girls and 14 boys

Each family that has more than one son has three sons

15 of the 33 grandchildren were born between 1953 and 1957.  A second baby boom hit between 1960 and 1963 when 8 grandchildren were born.  That means from 1953 – 1963 – 25 grandchildren were born – that’s like ¾ of the family.  (Note, I was never good with fractions so I don’t know if that’s even right)

The age span between oldest and youngest is 28 years

There were no grandchildren born in October

August was the most prolific month – six grandchildren were born in the eighth month 

The busiest time period for birthdays is 2/25 through 3/10 – that doesn’t even include Nanny’s birthday on 2/24 or my mom’s birthday on 2/27  

There is one cousin born on the Fourth of July – #8

There is one cousin born on Tax Day - #2

There are three sets of non-twin cousins who share birthdays - #24 and #25 (same day, same year – 12/12); #3 and #19 (same day, six years apart – 7/8); #7 and #18 (same day, three years apart)

So now you know your number – aren’t you so excited?!

Tell your kids, the great-grandchildren – or as I call them – my contemporaries, not to worry – I’ll work on them next! 

P.S.  Extra credit if you can match up your number with player numbers on the 1964 Phillies roster.