27 March 2005

Schneider Family

This week I had originally planned to be in Texas doing some research on my mother's family, the Schneider's. Our cousins from San Diego were planning to do a tour of the ancestral sites, starting with Frelsburg and Bastrop, then moving north to Windthorst. I was going to join them in Frelsburg, since it's not far from Houston and I could stay with Adam, but that would have required being away for a whole week. Things are pretty hectic at work, so it was less stress to just stay home. As it turns out, I was lucky I stayed put, as they never made it to Frelsburg. Aunt Anne has been fading pretty rapidly as the cancer takes it toll, so they started their trip in Windthorst to spend what time they could with her. Mom just told me they have found plenty to keep them occupied in that area. Tackling Frelsburg as well would have required one or two weeks.

When I first developed an interest in family history, there was not much to go on as far as the Schneider's were concerned. Grandpa and Aunt Anne always showed quite a disregard for past events. Plus their father had died when they were very young, severing any ties they may have had with the extended family. All I knew for certain was that my great-grandfather, Henry Schneider, had come to Windthorst with his sister's family (Minna Schneider Ordener) in 1894 from south Texas, and that he was born in 1867. So one day I went to the Florida archives and went through all the Schneiders in the 1870 census, looking for a family with a three-year old named Henry. Found Anna Schneider in Frelsburg as a single mother, and knew it was the right family because Henry had a sister named Minna who was two years older. Next step was to look in Frelsburg in 1860, hoping to find the name of the father by matching Anna and the older siblings. I found a Bernhard Schneider with children that fit, but the wife was named Clara and was ten years older instead of ten years younger. Found Bernhard again in the 1850 Census, and again the children matched, but the wife was Anna Clara and (again) was ten years older instead of younger. I knew I had the right family, as it would make sense for my grandfather, Bernard, to be named after his grandfather, Bernhard. I did not know what to make of the inconsistencies with the wives, however, and gradually deduced that he must have been married three times to women with similar names (I would later learn German Catholic naming customs can be very unimaginative, and the same is holding true for the French Catholics). A little while afterwards I found a book about Texas pioneers that had the whole thing spelled out, and was gratified to learn that I had essentially worked it out myself. Nice to see it confirmed though.

In 1996, Adam and Geoff were planning to go to New Orleans for Jazzfest, and I went with them with the intention of taking a jaunt out to Frelsburg before meeting up with them again on the second weekend. It turns out that Adam had wanted to see something of Texas, so we wound up on a 10 day road trip for research and much needed vacation. I'll save that story for a later post, with pictures if I can get my scanner going again.

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