Peter Schemm - Fredericka Rosina Schill Family Group

Parents   Parents
  Johann Jobst Sebastian Schemm Eva Barbara Stroebel   Johann Adolph Schill Fredericka Kumph
  b. 8 Jun 1767 in Dottenheim b. 1830 in Dottenheim   b. 17 Jun 1806 Wurttemberg b. 17 Oct 1808 Wurttemberg
  d. 30 Set 1854 in Dottenheim d. 17 Mar 1891 in Dottenheim   d. 19 Dec 1845 Philadelphia d. 17 Aug 1891 Philadelphia
Peter Schemm Fredericka Rosina Schill
b. 30 Mat 1824 in Dottenheim, Bayern, Germany b. b. 31 Dec 1831 in W├╝rttemberg, Germany
d. 12 Sep 1898 at Niagara Falls, New York d. 23 May 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Relationship Events
Marriage 30 May 1850 Peter Schemm to Frederick Rosina Schill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Johann Adolph Schemm b. 22 Dec 1850 and d. 25 Mar 1856 in Philadelphia
  Peter A. Schemm b. 20 Jul 1952 in Philadelphia; single, no children, d. 7 Jun 1909 in Philadelphia
  Fredericke Mathilde Schemm b. 24 Mar 1854 in Philadelphia m. abt. 1870 William T. L. Warthman (b. 2 Dec 1848 in Philadelphia, d. 23 Feb 1909 in Philadelphia); three children: Mary Anne, Charles B., and Bertha Fredericke Warthman); d. ?
  Caroline Bertha Schemm b. 8 Nov 1856 in Philadelphia; m. in Philadelphia 29 Nov 1882 Joseph Franz Wittman, (b. 3 May 1843 in Baden, Germany d. 23 Apr 1913 in Philadelphia); two children: Joseph Peter and Louis Carl Wittman; d. 25 Nov 1916 in Philadelphia
  Catharine "Katie" Schemm b.1 Mar 1858 in Philadelphia; m. 20 Apr 1882 in Philadelphia Lyons Mackey Mussina (b. 1858 in Lock Haven, Clinton, Pennsylvania, d. 21 Sep 1936 in Wernersville, Berks, Pennsylvania); one child: Louisa Mussina; d. 19 May 1886 in Philadelphia
  Louisa Schemm b. 21 Dec 1860 and d. 16 Feb1886 in Philadelphia; never married, no children
Emma Christina Schemm b. 21 Apr 1863 in Philadelphia; m. in Philadelphia 21 Apr 1885 Henry Kuehnle (b. Dec 1859 in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic, New Jersey, d. 20 Jul 1937 in Egg Harbor City); six children: Emma Louise, Katherine Sophie, Henry, Jr., Florence Rosina, Louis Charles, and Charles Fortner Kuehnle; d. 24 Oct 1926 in Egg Harbor City
  Anna R. Schemm b. 3 Mar 1965 in Philadelphia; m. 1) Eugene Kolb 21 Oct 1885 (b. 24 Mar 1858 in Philadelphia, d. 6 Sep 1901 in Philadelphia); m. 2) 23 Nov 1912 in Philadelphia Joseph G. Stelle (b. 13 Feb 1862 in Washington DC; d. 26 Sep 1940 in Upper Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania); no known children; d. 19 Sep 1915 in Philadelphia
Amelia Schemm b. abt. 1866 in Philadelphia; assumed d. before 1880 census. No trace.
  Caroline M. Schemm b. 23 Mar 1867 in Philadelphia; m. 1910 Robert Alfred Zimmerman (b. 29 Nov 1864 in Philadelphia, d. 26 Aug 1920 in Philadelphia); no children; d. 1 May 1947 in Philadelphia
  Emilie Schemm b. Jan 1869 in Philadelphia; m. 17 Oct 1889 in Philadelphia Charles A. Baake (b. 30 Oct 1863 in New York City, d. 29 Jan 1914 in Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey); four children: Peter Schemm, Helen, Elsie, and Mildred S. Baake; d. unknown
  Clara Schemm b. 2 Feb 1871 in Philadelphia, m. 1) 31 Oct 1894 in Philadelphia Phillip J. Wasmuth (b. 1869 in Pennypack Woods, Philadelphia, d. 7 May 1897 in Philadelphia); 2) Charles P. Kopp (b. 29 Jul 1869 in Pennsylvania, d. 3 Jan 1920 in Hatfield, Montgomery, Pennsylvania); one child (adopted) Frank Large Kopp; d. 15 Jun 1937 in Hilltown, Bucks, Pennsylvania;
  Gertrude Laura Schemm b. 23 Oct 1873 in Philadelphia; m. 16 May 1912 in Philadelphia Richard Levis Binder (b. 23 May 1869 in Philadelphia, d. 20 Mar 1920 in Philadelphia); no children; d. 23 Jul 1951 in Philadelphia

What We Know About This Family


Peter Schemm was an immigrant of humble beginnings from Dottenheim, Bavaria, Germany who with some luck and a lot of hard work came into the business of owning a renowned brewery in his own name. That endeavor made him a relatively wealthy man, which in turn made the family's events subject to newspaper coverage. He committed suicide by jumping into the water and tumbling over the falls at Niagara in the tragic and shocking act that is still spoken about well over 120 years later (among brewery aficionados and descendants).

An Overview of Their Lives

Fredericka, hereinafter called by her middle name, Rosina, arrived as an infant from Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Germany with her parents. Three siblings were born after their arrival, and then her father died as a fairly young man, leaving his widow to raise the children on her own. From census information, it appears they may have turned their home into a boarding house. The death of one of her two brothers is recorded. The other brother appeared in a baptism record, then disappeared. I assume he died young. Her sister, Mathilde, married Ernst Gross, a Philadelphia butcher who moved after his wife's death to Egg Harbor City where his wife's niece by marriage, Emma Kuehnle, was living with her family.

Peter left his home in Dottenheim at the age of 19 to pursue opportunity in America. One biographer wrote that he came from generations of brewers and coopers. A descendant of a family who stayed in Germany sent baptismal records and family history that spoke of their farmland. That land exists today (2018) as a beautiful berry farm, and Schemms descended from Peter's father are still there. It's possible he learned brewing on that farm, but I've never seen a written history of that. He settled initially and worked on a farm in the Maryland area before migrating to Philadelphia by 1850, when he and Rosina were married.

From the 1860 census, I discovered the Schemms were running a hotel/saloon from their home. The barkeeper and waiter lived with them. There can be no doubt that this enterprise put him in touch with beer manufacturers. He joined in a partnership interest, bought out the widow's share of his partner, and became the sole owner of the brewery that brought him wealth and fame. He was noted for strictly adhering to the quality for which Bavarian beer was known. On the 1870 census, he defined himself as a brewer. Meanwhile, their family was flourishing. Their first two children were boys, and I like to think of the trick mother nature played on them when she heard them postulate it was time for a girl. Peter and Rosina had thirteen children between 1850 and 1873. The last eleven were all girls. Their large family of daughters was also renowned for their number. Sadly, their first-born son died at age 6, and it seems they had a daughter born in 1866 who died young. Two of their grown daughters died within months of each other as young women. All of the daughters married, most later than the 18 to 20 years of age that seemed common in that era. Two of them married twice after being widowed (Anna and Clara).

From newspaper entries in the Inquirer in the 1890's, it appears the younger sisters visited their sister, Emma Kuehnle, in Egg Harbor City often. Her granddaughters spoke often of their Aunts Gertie (Laura Gertrude), Clara, and Liney (Caroline), and Emilie lived in nearby Atlantic City after her marriage. Rosina's mother lived in the family home for many years before her own death. Peter, the only surviving son, never married. He joined in partnership with his father and the brewery's name was changed to Peter Schemm & Son. Peter was an art collector, and had an extensive collection that he kept in a specially built gallery at his office. He directed in his will that the collection be sold with the proceeds to go to his estate.

The Schemms lived in a three-story brick house with a mansard roof and a three-story back house on 931 N. Eighth St. The dimensions were 25' x 114' (from the 1909 will of Peter A. Schemm describing the property in which he had a 1/9 interest). The dimensions seem to indicate this was a row house with a narrow front entrance and the property extending far back.

Peter retired from active ownership of the brewery in about 1892, and spent his time visiting friends and colleagues. He developed cataracts that medical intervention did not improve, and it appears he was suffering from depression. The family's life was up-ended in 1898 when Peter traveled to Niagara Falls and committed suicide. Because of his renown and the manner of his death, the event was widely covered in the press, and these articles with facts gleaned from the family at the time give us information about his life. Rosina died less than two years later. Son Peter continued running the brewery until he developed a stomach ailment in 1909. He put the company up for sale, and the transaction was in process when he died in 1909.

Proof of Relationship

This generation of ancestors is one of the more recent ones, and family history had his name and a very basic history: "He was a millionaire brewer with eleven children who jumped over Niagara Falls." Research added to the story and corrected some of those details. In actuality, he was not quite a millionaire. His estate was valued at $200,000 plus the house and a half interest in the brewery (which sold a decade later for about $500,000). He and Rosina also had 13 children, not 11. The documents discovered all reinforce proof of relationship.

The Mystery of Amelia

Working with the family story, I contained the research my aunt began in the 1960's when she drove to Philadelphia and discovered the newspaper articles written about Peter's death. Up until then, she thought that story had been a much embellished family legend. The articles mentioned the married names of the daughters still living at the time of his suicide. Their married names were an aid in tracking them after their marriages. Information obtained from Laurel Hill Cemetery revealed the existence of their first-born son, Johann Adolph, who had died young. In reviewing all the records obtained in the past ten years, I noticed that one of the articles written after his death mentioned 13 children. So the search for the 13th began. A review of the 1870 Census showed Amelia, age 4, which put her birth at about 1866. She did not appear on the 1880 census. She would have been 14 then, too young to have married. Most of the siblings had baptism records. Most had records of their marriage dates, and most had records of their deaths. Nothing could be found for Amelia. To add to the mystery, her name did not appear on the burials at Laurel Hill even though Peter had bought the lot before the year of her birth. Neither is her name inscribed on the memorial with the brother who died young. Rosina's father and one brother were moved from the cemetery where they had been buried to Laurel Hill to lay in peace with Rosina's mother at Laurel Hill. Based on the mention of 13 children and her appearance on the one census, I have included Amelia as one of the children, but what happened to her and the missing records are a mystery.

The documents section for this family includes many records plus newspaper clippings.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is complete. The solution of the mystery of Amelia would be satisfying, but not necessary for the purpose of defining direct ancestry.


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