Johann Schuttler, who are your parents?
My immigrant third great grandfather Johann Schuttler was born in Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms, Germany in 1829 and came to the United States in 1849 to live with his uncle Peter Schuttler, “The Great Chicago Wagon King.”
For as long as Johann’s great grandsons and other descendants have been researching their family tree, nobody has ever verified the names of Johann’s parents. Obviously, one of his parents would have to be a sibling of his uncle Peter Schuttler.
My Great Uncle John, Johann’s great grandson, began researching his family tree, including his Schuttler ancestors, in his teens. That was the early 1920s. He did not stop researching until he passed away in 1999. His cousin Frank Eckebrecht also searched for John Schuttler’s origins for decades.
There are no records for Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms retained online for researchers. But I’ll get to that…
So the search continues for Johann’s parents and my intent this week is to relate what the family lore, records, and newspaper articles in the United States tell of my wagonmaker ancestor Johann Schuttler from Wachenheim.
Please note there are two Lutheran marriage records from Chicago that say Johann Schuttler was born in Wachenheim on September 26, 1829.
In 1850, Johann first appears on an American record – the Federal Census – living in Chicago with his wagonmaking uncle Peter Schuttler, Peter Schuttler’s wife Dorothy and their three children Peter, Katharina, and Henry. He is 20 years old. According to that census, Johann had been in the United States for 1 year. His first name was already Americanized to John. Later censuses, and his voter registration also support the 1849 year as his immigration year.
His Uncle – The Great Chicago Wagon King
Peter Schuttler came to the United States as a poor young man from Wachenheim in 1834 when he was 22. He worked in Buffalo and Ohio as a wagonmaker. In the early 1840s he moved to Chicago and started a small shop. Because of Chicago’s geographic location, the wagons were an excellent place for travelers to the West to purchase their transportation.
Schuttler wagons were used by pioneers, Mormons, and eventually 49ers to head west.
I found an article in the Chicago Tribune from late summer 1861 listing the names of the Vice Presidents of the Chicago War Committee that attended a war rally at Bryan Hall with other well-respected members of the Chicago community. Peter Schuttler was one of the Vice Presidents. They discussed treasonous actions, the South, and attack on Fort Sumter, and made resolutions in support of the War Department, and they, as members of the community, native born and immigrant alike, resolved to aid in the suppression of the rebellion by volunteering for the army and aiding them with supplies. It is a fascinating read. A perspective was given on behalf of German immigrants. I could go on and on. The article printed their speeches and resolutions. If you have a newspapers.com account and would like to read it, click here.
Sometime after the rally, Peter Schuttler solicited for and earned a contract with the federal government in 1861 to produce artillery trucks and supply wagons for the Grand Army of the Republic. That contract is attributed to what made his family so wealthy. Old newspapers and old genealogical records have been more accurate regarding Peter Schuttler than basic sources like Wikipedia that are editable by anyone online.
Maybe a history of Schuttler Wagons should be created. I would love to read something like that.
Johann Starts a Family
On December 4, 1853, Johann married my immigrant third great grandmother Louisa Gerbing in St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in Chicago. She was the daughter of immigrants Martha Nicolai and Johann Friedrich Gerbing.
Nine months later in late August, 1854, my second great grandmother Christine Katharina (Katy) was born. Katy later married immigrant Fritz Eckebrecht.
By 1855 John, Louisa, and Katy were living in their own dwelling in Chicago’s North Ward according to the Illinois census.
In September 1856, John and Louisa welcomed their son Charles (Karl Wilhelm) into the world. According to John’s 1890 voter registration, 1856 is also the year he became naturalized. Any such record from the courthouse in Chicago was lost in the Chicago Fire of 1871, unfortunately.
Charles later married Delia Bolton.
In August of 1858, John and Louisa had their second daughter, Louise Elizabeth Maria (Lizzie). Louise later married Edward Fuller.
In 1860, John, Louisa, and their three children are found on the Federal Census living in Chicago, Ward 7. John’s occupation is listed as wagonmaker. In several Chicago City Directories from 1861-1869, John’s occupation is listed as sawyer or wagonmaker. It is in 1870 that he starts to be listed as Foreman, at Peter Schuttler Wagon Company in the Chicago City Directories.
By 1863, John and Louisa had welcomed a fourth child into the world. Little Loretta. The following year she contracted cholera and died on September 9, 1864. Two days later, my third great grandmother Louisa passed. On September 12, 1864, John went to Graceland Cemetery and purchased the Schuttler family plot. It was in the cemetery file from Graceland that I learned the dates and causes of death of Loretta and Louisa. I also learned more about Katy Schuttler Eckebrecht’s half-sibling and stepmother.
According to family lore, at this point in my second great grandmother’s life, because her mother had passed away, Katy went to live with her uncle Peter Schuttler. Also according to the lore was that she didn’t like living there. There is a story that she couldn’t keep her napkin on her lap or something like that. Who knows how long she lived there because by early 1865, the Great Chicago Wagon King Peter Schuttler had stepped on a rusty nail, contracted a blood infection, and passed away. His son Peter II took over the reigns of the wagon company.
One other thing to note from family lore is that the richer Schuttlers in Chicago – I believe Peter II – would buy clothes for John’s children.
In early February, 1865, John remarried. He married German immigrant Caroline Lehman who may have been pregnant. In early April, 1865, William Frank was born. Caroline had a brother named William by the way. Whether the child was adopted or his mother was Caroline, nobody can say for sure. Take a guess, you may be correct. Then in 1868, John and Caroline welcomed a daughter they named Caroline (Carrie).
When the Chicago Fire happened in October of 1871, John packed his family in his Schuttler wagon, left town, and they all watched the fire from the prairie. When they went home, it was considered a family miracle that their home did not burn. Sadly, Schuttler’s Wagon Company did in fact burn down so they built a newer, bigger factory.
Between 1870 up to his date of death, various Chicago City Directories listed John’s occupation as foreman, Peter Schuttler Wagon Company.
The Census Oddities Post-Louisa’s Death
The 1870 Federal Census was the first Federal Census after the death of my third great grandmother. According to the 1870 census the family was living in Chicago’s 10th Ward, and someone informed the census taker that John did not just have the occupation of foreman but he was “foreman – Peter Schuttler wagons.” They also informed the census taker that the 5 year old boy living there was named Peter. William Frank, who would have been 5 is not to be found on that census.
The same was on the 1880 census with his occupation and also for the name of the child that would be the same age as William Frank. By that point my second great grandmother was not living there, because she was married to Fritz Eckebrecht with children in 1880.
By the time of the 1900 Federal Census, all of John’s children had moved out of the house. It was just John and Caroline. It was stated to the census taker that he was born in September of 1829, that his year of immigration to the United States was 1849 and that he was a Naturalized citizen. Also, the census taker transcribed that he was unable to read, unable to write, could not speak English, and that he owned a home that was mortgaged. One more tidbit on that census was that the census taker was informed that John was married for 46 years to Caroline Lehman. He was not. He was married to her for 45 years. Also, Caroline was noted as having the ability to speak English, and was the mother of 5 children and 4 were alive. I count two.
Since John did not speak English, and I suppose with all of the Germans in Chicago he had no need to, who had been giving the information to the census takers in English since 1870? Likely his second wife?
William Frank/Peter – According to the 1865 Chicago birth index, the child born in April 1865 was named William Frank and later censuses, City Directories, death record, and his mother’s death notice referred to that individual as William Frank.
There is one more record to note for John that I found (outside the church records that will be explained in an upcoming week), as I previously mentioned, in 1890, John indicated on his voter registration that he was born in Germany and was naturalized in 1856 in the Courthouse of Cook County.
Newsworthy Events at Schuttler Wagons during Johann’s Tenure
The following events took place at Schuttler Wagons during Johann’s tenure. Some of these events happened while he was the Foreman. These events were all found in articles in the Chicago Tribune.
- In 1858 there was a small fire at the factory. Some wood shavings caught on fire. It was put out before anyone was harmed.
- The same type of fire happened in 1859 and was put out before it quickly spread.
- In 1861 the company obtained a contract with the Grand Army of the Republic.
- In March of 1866 another wood shavings fire happened and was put out before it spread.
- Later that year, Schuttler wagons were used by showman P.T. Barnum at the Paris Expedition.
- One week before the Chicago Fire of 1871, Schuttler Wagons had purchased land to go ahead with building a better, larger factory. Talk about timing!
- In December 1876 a worker was cleaning oil off machinery when a belt broke loose, threw him to the ceiling, and killed him instantly.
- Labor unrest/marches of 1877 shutdown all of the factories in the factory district and notably Schuttler Wagons was one of those companies.
Johann’s Death and the Schuttler Cemetery File
On January 21, 1906, at age 76, John Schuttler passed away. His death certificate listed no parents. On January 23, 1906, his death notice ran in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago’s German language newspaper Abenpost. I have both. The notices listed his residence, age, current wife, the names of his four living children (including Frank Schuttler) and stated he was a grandfather and great grandfather, as well as the date and time of his funeral at Graceland Cemetery. (My great grandmother Caroline Eckebrecht was already married with children. Therefore, some of my grandmother’s siblings had likely met their great grandfather John Schuttler.) No parents or relatives in Germany were listed on either notice. He did not receive the type of obituary his cousin Peter Schuttler II received that took up most of one page of the Chicago Tribune.
The John Schuttler Graceland Cemetery file contained information on the death dates and causes of death for Louisa and Loretta since any other previous information regarding their deaths would have burned in the Chicago Fire of 1871. The file also contained a diagram of how the coffins were placed for burial on the Schuttler plot. The plot does not contain my ancestor Katy Schuttler Eckebrecht, nor does it contain the grave of my great grandmother Caroline Eckebrecht Leies. But my great grandmother was mentioned in the file as a living heir of John as was John’s and Louisa’s daughter Louise Schuttler Fuller. Also mentioned was John’s daughter’s Carrie.
The Schuttler plot contains the graves of Louisa, her daughter Loretta, her son Charles (d 1896), John, Caroline Lehman (d 1910), and William Frank (d 1918.)
Why did the file contain the names of the living relatives? They were mapped out in the file on pupose. After William Frank passed away, his sister Carrie had an affidavit placed in the Schuttler cemetery file as to his paternity so he could be buried in the plot next to Caroline Lehman. She was the one that mapped out my third great grandfather’s living descendants.
For me the file was a bit of a goldmine because without it, I would not have learned what happened to my third great grandmother Louisa.
This is the end of Part 1 –
The rest of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenges for April are as follows and will continue featuring Johann Schuttler:
-Week #15 Challenge is DNA – (Part 2 – Do my three DNA tests help at all? I promise to keep my Ancestry.com rant to a minimum.)
-Week #16 Challenge is Out of Place – (Part 3 – What the Mayor of Wachenheim sent me regarding Peter Schuttler’s siblings and ancestry.)
-Week #17 Challenge is At Worship – (Part 4 – Research of the people mentioned in the Lutheran Church Records in Chicago and what church records may be on Archion.de.)
Do you know who his parents really are?