Saturday, July 19, 2014

Family History 8: A Dutch Reformed Past (Schenck)

For the last couple weeks I have been looking at my Grandma Schenck's family, the Millers (her father) and the Wises (her mother). The week before that, I looked at the 1920s, when my parents were born. Today I flashback from the year 1930 to look at my Grandpa Schenck's family, my namesake.

1. In the year 1930, my father turned 6 and was living with his parents, brothers, and (at that time) one sister in Indianapolis. At that time, his father Dorsey was running a church, I presume, either out of his own house or out of one he was buying or renting ("Riverside"). Perhaps he was also running a store out of the front room of his house or another house. My mother turned 4 and was living in Frankfort, where her father Harry was teaching at Frankfort Pilgrim College.
Dorsey the butcher/store owner

Most of my parents' grandparents were still living as well.
  • My mother's father, Harry Shepherd's parents, of course, had already been gone for over thirty years, having died when he was just a boy before the turn of the century. 
  • But my Grandma (Verna) Shepherd's parents were both alive and living in Kokomo, Indiana.
  • My Grandma (Esther) Schenck's Old German Baptist parents were both still alive and living in Camden, Indiana--Amsey and Salome Miller
  • My Grandpa (Dorsey) Schenck's parents were both also living around the Frankfort area when the year 1930 dawned. 
2. However, in October of 1930, Samuel Schenck, my Grandpa Schenck's Dad, would die of a burst appendix. It was only a little more than a week before my father's 6th birthday. My Dad had a few memories of him and visiting his farm just north of Frankfort, pleasant memories. We drove around looking for it some twenty years ago but couldn't find it. I believe my Dad had memories of his funeral.

I'm assuming that Samuel and his wife were Methodists, since they are buried at New Hope Methodist Church just north of Frankfort. Samuel had an aunt whom I know was a fairly involved Methodist (Mary Ghere). My Dad's Aunt Lula was certainly a Methodist, Samuel's youngest daughter.

It was always a treat to visit Aunt Lula just outside Michigantown. When I was a boy, she always had sheep on her property and served farm meals that were always to my liking. Her house was at a bend on a country gravel road (I used it as the setting for my first of countless unfinished novels ;-) She was a member of the Woman's Temperance Union until she went into the nursing home across the street from Frankfort Camp Meeting.

Aunt Lula's house outside Michigantown
I don't know how engaged Samuel was with the Methodist Church, but my grandfather led him to the Lord while he was in the hospital. He had a very narrow sense of who was truly a Christian and who wasn't, and this means at least that Samuel consented with a prayer asking God to forgive his sins. At that time, he was apparently taken from Frankfort to St. Joseph's hospital in Kokomo--the very hospital where Tom and Sophie were born, my youngest two. I suspect if the event had taken place fifty or sixty years later, he would have survived.

Samuel was born in Clinton County in 1871. The story of his mother (Ellen Ghere) is quite interesting, although sad. Her father brought her to Frankfort, Indiana from Pennsylvania when she was only about six years old, in 1847. But he left the family in 1849 with the "Forty-Niners" for the Gold Rush and the hopes of getting rich. They never saw him again. He died in Sacramento, California in September of 1854.

Samuel was about 14 years old when his grandmother--the abandoned Mennonite wife--died. He seems to have moved around a fair amount himself. In 1900, he was a traveling salesman in Rush County. In 1910 he was a farm manager in Carroll County (it may have been here that one of my grandfather's sisters became acquainted with Esther, who would become his wife 10 years later). In 1920 Samuel was back in Frankfort as a farmer, perhaps on the land where he would live the rest of his life. But in 1930, the year he died, he seems to have taken on the role of a laborer on a dairy farm.

3. Samuel's father, Henry, was born in Ohio in 1833. At some point in between 1850 and 1860, probably after his father died in 1855, he would strike out on his own from northeastern Ohio to the Crawfordsville area of Indiana. He seems to have married a woman from Indiana about that time, Elizabeth, but I don't know whether he married her back in Ohio or when he arrived. He seems to have taken a niece and another boy with him, assuming he didn't have a child at 14.

That wife, Elizabeth, would apparently die before their tenth year of marriage. Somehow he would meet the Ellen ("Ella") from Frankfort I mentioned above and marry again in 1864. By the time my great grandfather was born they had shifted slightly east to the Frankfort area for good. Henry, as almost everyone settling in Indiana at that time, was a farmer.

4. In the 1930 census, whoever answered the door to my great grandfather Samuel's house led the census taker to think that his father was born in Holland. Maybe they asked something like, "And where was your husband's father from?" Misunderstanding the question, someone must have answered, "Oh, his family's from Holland originally."

True enough, but a couple hundred years before. The original American pronunciation of my last name is SKANK, sad to say, although thankfully I was long out of high school before those sounds came to be used in pop slang to refer to a trashy woman. The Dutch pronunciation is a little more complicated, but it rounded off to "skank" after a few generations here in America.

A lot of Dutch Reformed Schencks seem to have made their way through northeastern Ohio in the early 1800s. I suppose most of them ended up in Michigan. The frontier seems to have beat the Dutch Reformed out of my ancestors.

William Schenck was born in Monmouth, New Jersey in 1804. But by 1840 he was in Butler County, Ohio. He is listed as Schyler Schenck in the 1850 census. He is thus quite likely the William Schuyler Schenck who was christened in a Dutch Reformed Church in Monmouth, New Jersey in 1804.

William lived from 1804 to 1855 and died in Butler County, Ohio. As I said above, his son Henry (born in 1833 there) seems to have headed to Indiana immediately upon his father's death.

5. From this point going back, the names become increasingly Dutch and increasingly repetitive, often skipping a generation.

a. One Roelof Schenck seems to have come to New York from Holland in 1650. He had a son named Garret in 1671, still in Flatlands, New York. Garret is the one that moved the family to Holmdel Township, Monmouth, New Jersey. He died there in 1745.

b. Garret had a son named Kortenius, Koert for short. He lived and died in Monmouth County, living from 1702 to 1771, dying right before the Revolutionary War.

c. But Koert's grandson, also named Koert wouldn't miss out. In between was another Garret who unfortunately died even before his father (1725-61). His grandson Koert however was twenty-five on July 4, 1776. Koert fought in the Battle of Germantown under General Forman. He then went on to become a tanner.

d. All of these, from the first Garret born in the US to revolutionary soldier Koert's son Garret, died in New Jersey. It was only with William Schuyler Schenck, his middle name after his great-grandmother's family, that they left Jersey for the west.

Ruins of Bleijenbeek Castle in Holland
6. The Roelof that came to America from Holland in 1650 seems to have come from a family of some status in the Netherlands. His great, great, great grandfather seems to have been one Dederick I Schenck van Nydech in the 1400s. His son then Dederick II (1481-1525), and his son Dederick III (1514-1560). This last person apparently was born at a castle called Bleijenbeek near Afferden.

Roelof's grandfather was a Peter VII Schenck Van Nydeck (1547-89). Peter was apparently a general, although I don't know what war. Finally, Roelof's father was Martin (1584-1650), who lived in Utrecht, where Roelof was born.

I put this entire lineage in biblical genealogical form here for Father's Day.
Earlier posts:

1. The Revivalin' Twenties
In the Year 1920 (Dorsey Schenck)
From Quaker to Pilgrim (Harry Shepherd)
The Great Generation (my parents)

2. The Depression Thirties
Dutch Reformed Past (Samuel Schenck)
North Carolina Flashback (Eli Shepherd)

3. Passing Generations
Old German Baptist Heritage 1 (Amsy Miller)
Old German Baptist Heritage 2 (Salome Wise)

6. The Divisive Sixties
Flashback to Jamestown (Champion Shelburn)

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