Saturday, July 5, 2014

The First Schoppman Immigrants

Lizzie Reiter Metzner
The ancestors of my great-grandmother, Lizzie Reiter Metzner, arrived in America in the 1840s and settled in Allen County and Adams County, Indiana – basically the Fort Wayne area.  It’s not easy to piece the earliest immigrants’ lives together when all you have is names, places, and dates.  We have no anecdotal information from oral tradition, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, or photographs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put together a reasonable picture of who they were.  Let’s start with Lizzie’s great-grandparents on the Schoppman side. 

In the family tree below, Lizzie’s great-grandparents are circled in orange -- Heinrich Conrad Schoppman, better known as Conrad, and Anne Margrethe Sophie Dorothea Turnau, who went by Margaret.   Conrad and Margaret were both born in the little village of Ilvese, in a region called Westphalen (or Westfalen) Prussia -- Conrad on July 9, 1791 and Margaret on Feb. 3, 1795. 

Their baptisms were recorded in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Heimsen, Westphalen, as was their marriage on August 24, 1817.  Six weeks later Margaret gave birth to their first child, a boy. In all, they had 9 children between 1817 and 1837.  Four, and perhaps six, made it to adulthood.

-          Heinrich Friedrich Conrad Schoppmann, b. 11 Oct 1817; death unknown

-          Sophie Wilhelmine Luise Lisette Schoppmann, b. 11 Nov 1819; death unknown

-          *Johann Dietrich Friedrich Schoppmann, b. 23 Nov 1821; d. 28 Jan 1903 Indiana

-          Heinrich Conrad Wilhelm Ferdinand Schoppman, b. 16 Feb 1824, d. 6 Feb 1904 Indiana

-          Sophie Luise Lisette Amalie Schoppmann, b. 11 Nov 1826, d. 2 May 1827 Germany

-          Johan Friederich Hermann Schoppmann, b. 4 Mar 1829, d. 18 Mar 1829 Germany

-          Sophie Wilhelmine Friederike Schoppmann, b. 27 Nov 1830, d. 22 Oct 1839 Germany

-          Karolina Wilhelmine Luise Schoppmann, b. 29 Aug 1833, d. 18 Jul 1905 Indiana

-          Sophie Luise Lisette Schoppmann, b. 3 May 1837, d. 13 Mar 1920 Indiana

*our ancestor

The year that Conrad brought his family to America is unknown.  Lengthy search of passenger records have revealed only one sketchy record which may indicate that they arrived as early as 1841. It has so little detail that I can’t say for certain that it’s the correct family.  But no other obvious family is listed in the passenger records after that, so the 1841 record may be correct.

The first record of this family in America is the 1850 Federal Census for Indiana.   On 2 October 1850, Conrad and two of his sons’ families are recorded in close proximity to each other in Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana.  Their last name is recorded as Shuckman, which is probably how it sounded to the census taker when one of the family members -with a thick German accent- recited their last name.

1850 Federal Census, Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana

Notice in the census record above that brothers Dedrick[sic] and Wm[William] are listed next to each other, presumably because they lived on adjoining property.  Their father Conrad is recorded several families down the list. He is living with his wife Margaret and two daughters, Mena (short for Wilhelmine) age 17, and Eliza (for Lisette) age 13.  Dedrick and Conrad are laborers – probably working as farm hands until they can purchase their own property.  William is a farmer.

By 1860, all three men have their own land.  According to the U.S. Agricultural Schedule for Allen County, Conrad owned 10 acres. This would have been sufficient to grow food for his own table, tend to some chickens and a dairy cow, and trade some of his production for goods at the local general store.  The Population Census for that year shows that their grandson Henry, the 11-year-old son of William, is living with them. He is there almost certainly to help around the farm and also to relieve some of the financial burden from his father, a common practice.

William was doing the best with 170 acres of land.  Deadrick[sic], our direct ancestor, owned 70 acres. An 1860 plat map of Madison Township shows the location of their property, though the map’s acreage for each person is different than reported in the Agricultural Schedule.

Our Schoppmann families owned property in sections 30 and 31 of Madison Township.  The three blue lines above underline their names.  Top line is a simple "W.S." and 30 acres.  The vertical line highlights D. Shuckman with two pieces of property, each at 40 acres.  And the angled line is for "W. Schuckman" and another 40 acres.  It appears that Conrad, their father, owned the 10 acre strip of land in section 30, right between "W.S." and the D. Schuckman's property. Someday a visit to the Allen County Courthouse will help verify the location and quantity of their property --                     and I'll get a better map!!!

By 1870, Conrad and Margaret are living alone at the advanced age of 79.  According to the census record it appears they no longer own the 10 acres of land since the column for real estate value is unmarked. Given their age, they may have sold it to one of their sons.  Their personal property value was only $100, so they were living quite a simple life – a bed, table and chairs, some bedding, clothes, a few dishes, and perhaps a washtub for laundry. 

                  Shopman Coonrod, age 79, male, white, farmer, property value $100, born in Prussia
                          Shopman Margaret, age 79, female, white, keeping house, born in Prussia

The 1880 History of Allen County, Indiana includes one settler’s recollection of life in Madison Township in the 1840s. Our Schoppman ancestors probably lived in a very similar way:  

      In the erection of our dwellings, we used neither lumber, shingles, nor nails. The shell was made of round logs, covered with clapboards and weighted with poles. The floors were made of puncheons, and the doors of the same material, fastened together with pins, and hung on wooden hinges, with a wooden latch on the inside, to which was attached a buckskin thong, to open it from without. For window-glass, we used paper, well oiled with tallow or lard; and in lieu of stoves, we cut out a part of one end of the house, and built a “crib,” within which we erected back walls and jambs of clay, well packed by pounding. Our chimneys were built of mud and sticks, and our houses generally contained but one room, which served the purpose of parlor, bedroom and kitchen.
     We had but little money, and but little need of it. Our rifles supplied us with meat in abundance, and we raised our corn, potatoes and wheat. Deerskins, mink and coon skins were the only articles that would, at all times, command money. They almost constituted our currency.

     We were obliged to work hard, but we enjoyed good health, and were as sociable as brothers and sisters. There were no doctors, and no attorneys; and in fact, we had but little employment for the talent of either profession.

The newspapers in Fort Wayne are a treasure-trove of genealogical information, and I’ve found a slew of obituaries for our family, but not for our Conrad and Margaret.  They had lived in the county for about 30 years so I’m disappointed to not find a nice obituary for each with a little summation of their lives.  Nevertheless, their deaths were officially recorded in the Death Records of Allen Co., Indiana. 
Con Schoppman was recorded as 82 years old, having died of old age on March 31, 1873. Margaret Schoppman’s death record notes that she too died of old age, at 80 years and 6 months. She died on January 9, 1875 and is buried next to her husband at Saint John Lutheran Cemetery in Adams County, Indiana.  Their markers have not been found.

View of Saint John Lutheran Cemetery in Decatur, Adams County, Indiana

Their son, Johann Dietrich Friedrich Schoppman (1821-1903), carries on their name for another generation in our family tree.   

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