Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family Origins

Excerpt from Chapter 1
My Father, Fred L. Schumaker (1908-1963)

Family Origins.
Family legend has it that my father's remote ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch, who came to America from Holland in the seventeenth century at the invitation of William Penn. They reputedly settled in Germantown, once known as Shoemakertown, which is now a part of Philadelphia. Legend also has it that one of the Shoemakers founded the first tavern in the state.

Like many legends, it appears that large portions of this “family history” have been mixed up with the histories of other, more illustrious settlers. There were Schumacher families, Dutch Quakers, who immigrated to Germantown in the 1680's from the city of Kreigsheim in the Palatinate. One Schumacher came over in 1683 as an indentured servant to Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown. In 1709, most these Schumachers were naturalized and changed their names to the English spelling. For most of the early 18th Century, they lived in a small community called “Shoemakersville,” which was near Germantown. The Schumachers did intermarry with the original thirteen families of Germantown, but, most importantly for this story, none of them were directly related to members of my own family, who came from an entirely different region of Europe.

My own genealogical research indicates that my father's ancestors were actually from Alsace-Lorraine. Most evidence suggests that they were Protestant German farmers living in and around present-day Cleebourg, a small town in Lower Alsace, although before that they probably lived in Holland. It is unknown exactly why the family immigrated to America, although it is likely that they did so as a result of religious persecution. Under Louis XIV, the French annexed Alsace-Lorraine in the late 1600's and attempted to impose the French language and Roman Catholicism on the local population, a policy my ancestors would naturally have resisted.

The Schumaker family in the mid-1920's:
L.J. and his children Frederick, Virginia, Dorothy and Elsie.
My father's 4th Great Grandfather, Rudolph Schumacher, immigrated to Loudoun County, Virginia in 1752, along with his wife and many of his seven children. My father's 3rd Great Grandfather, George Shoemaker, farmed in Loudoun County, Virginia. He was married to Anna Maria Barbara of Salzburg, Austria, and had 10 children. Dad's 2nd Great Grandfather, George Shoemaker, Jr., was a farmer. He married Margaret Miller and moved to Armstrong County, Western Pennsylvania, in 1802. They had 10 children. Dad's Great Grandfather, Daniel Shoemaker, was a Pennsylvania farmer. He married Catherine Ringer around 1830 and had 11 children. Dad's Grandfather, Lebbeus James Shoemaker, married Emily Coulter in 1878 and had six children. Lebbeus was a Protestant minister in Western Pennsylvania in the late 1800's and early 1900s. Dad's Father, my Grandfather, Lorraine James (L.J.) Schumaker, married Dora Turner in 1907 and had four children: Frederick (my father), Dorothy, Elsie and Virginia. L.J. Schumaker also started the American Cone and Pretzel Company in Philadelphia in the early 1900s, a growing business that remained in the family until the early 1960's. The Schumaker family has lived in America for eight generations.

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