Parents
  Johann Jobst Schemm Eva Barbara Strobel
1787 - 1854 ? - ?
Parents
  440 Johann Adolph Schill Friedericka Kump
17 Jun 1806 - 19 Dec 1845 b. 17 Oct 1808 - 17 Aug 1891
HUSBAND
308 Peter Schemm
b. 30 May 1824
Dottenheim, Neustadt an der Aish-Bad, Windhselm Baynern, Germany
d. 12 Sep 1898
Niagrara Falls, Niagara, New York, USA
WIFE
Fredericka Rosina Schill
b. 31 Dec 1831
Wurtemberg, Germany
d. 23 May 1901
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Relationship Events:
30 May 1850 Marriage Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CHILDREN:
  Johann Adolph Schemm b. 22 Dec 1850 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 25 Mar 1856 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died as a Child Aged 5  
  Peter A. Schemm b. 20 Jul 1852 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 7 Jun 1909 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Unmarried  
  Friedericke Mathilde Schemm b. 24 Mar 1854 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. ?
m.
William Warthman b. 1850 in Philadelphia; d. ? One child: Charles Warthman
  Carolina Bertha Schemm b. 8 Nov 1856 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
m.
Joseph Franz Wittman b. 3 May 1843 in Baden Ger4man; d. 1913 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Two children: Joseph Peter and Louis C. Wittman
  Catharine "Katie" Schemm b. 1 Mar 1858 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 19 May 1886 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
m.
L. M. Mussina One child: Louisa Mussina
  Louisa Schemm b. 21 Dec 1860 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. February 1886
Buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  
Ancestor Leaf Emma Christina Schemm b. 21 Ap 1863 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 25 Oct 1926 in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic, New Jersey, USA
m.
Henry Kuenhle b. 1859 in New York City, New York, USA; d. 1937 in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, USA. Six children: Emma, Henry, Louis, Kathryn, Florence, and Charles Fortner Kuehnle.
  Anna Schemm b. 3 Mar 1865 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. ?
m.
Eugene A. Kolb, b. ? d. ?  
  Caroline M. Schemm b. 23 Mar 1867 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 1927 in ?
m.
Robert Alfred Zimmerman; b. about 1865; d. 26 Aug 1920 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA  
  Emilie Schemm b. Jan 1869 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. ?
m.
Charles Baake; b. 30 Oct 1863 in New York, New York, USA; d. 30 Jan 1914 in Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey, USA. Four Children: Peter Schemm, Helen, Elsie, and Mildred Baake.
  Clara Schemm b. 2 Feb 1871 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. ?
m.
Charles P. Kopp b. ? d. 30 Jan 1920 in Hatfield, Fayette, Pennsylvania, USA. b. ? d. 3 Jan 1920 in Hatfield, Fayette, Pennsylvania, USA
  Gertrude Laura Schemm b. 23 Oct 1873 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; d. 1947 in ?
m.
Richard L. Binder b. 1870, d. ? b. 1870 in ? d. ?
What We Know

 

We know a great deal more than we would have been able to find out about Peter Schemm because he created a sensation in Philadelphia society by obtaining transportation up to Niagara Falls and committing suicide. This event coupled with the fact that he was a successful and well-known brewer in Philadelphia created newspaper stories around the country, which are available in archives to this day.

The story of his life is taken primarily from the Obituary written in the Philadelphia Ledger at the time of his death. That article has been reproduced in the Appendix. We know very little about his wife Friedericka Rosina Schill. She was born in Germany in 1832 and married Peter when she was 18 in Philadelphia.

Peter was born at Dottenheim near Newstadt-on-the-Aisch, Bavaria, May 30, 1821, where for generations past, his family had been brewers. Peter grew up in the brewing trade, learning both brewing and coopering, two trades which were generally carried on together. His family was well to do, but he believed that America offered larger opportunity for him. He arrived at the port of Baltimore at the age of 18 in 1839 and found employment as a farm hand on what was a large farm on Pelair Road on the identical spot which was occupied later by the Van Der Horst Brewery. Seven years later in 1846, he left for Philadelphia, engaging as a brewer and cooper with Dithmar & Bretz, the celebrated Ale and Porter brewers. In 1849, he entered a business relationship with Louis Bergdoll, then being one of the founders of the I. Bergdoll Brewing Co. Retiring the next year to give a place for Mr. Bergdoll's brother-in-law, Charles Booth, Peter formed a partnership with George Nanger as Nanger and Schemm at the 2nd and New Streets, a firm well known in its day, and held happy remembrances for many old citizens in Philadelphia. (The Industries of Philadelphia records that Philadelphia was the first place in this country where Lager Beer was made, and the original brewer was George Manager who had a brewery about 1846-47 on New Street).

After five years of hard work, Peter started a saloon on 238 Race Street, a principal place of resort of the German element of the city. In 1855 he invested his capital in partnership with L. Hauser as L. Hauser & Co. which was renewed after five years as Houser & Schemm continuing until the death of Mr. Houser in 1863 when Mr. Schemm purchased the widow's interest and continued after that time under the name of Peter Schemm. Hauser had a three-story dwelling on the ground floor and a small two-story building next door in which the beer was made. The total daily capacity at the start was 10 barrels. The dwelling and original brewery were used as different offices and a cooper shop, and other buildings were erected on the corner below. A large brewery was erected in 1885, and in 1886 the capacity of the establishment was doubled again when another building, which took the place of the two small houses in which the business had started, was erected. Peter was satisfied with the proportion of his trade, but the popularity of his beer and the expansion in the number of saloons created a larger retailer demand.

Peter gained a reputation in his time for great integrity regarding his product. He was not at all interested in fancy innovations in brewing or for the extensions that were often proposed by promoters and big brewing combinations. He had strong ideas on the way his beer should be served as well. The temperature could be neither too high nor too low and it had to be served carefully. Retailers guilty of neglects in these regards were denied his products.

Peter was a generous giver to charities and to friends of his youth who needed assistance. He contributed to charities and to the many German societies of which he was a member.

In 1885, Peter A. Schemm, Peter's only son, joined the business, and the elder Peter gradually relinquished active management. His eyesight was beginning to fail, but even so, he maintained his daily practice of visiting the brewery two or three times every day, stroll up to Massholder's saloon, a few doors above the brewery and sit with three or four old friends, and every day took his own carriage and driver (rather than using the carriage of his family) to meet with an old friend and stop by the brewery to be sure the beer was not too cold and had been properly drawn. In 1895, the contracting firm of Philip Halbach was engaged to add a large stock house to the Peter Schemm & Son brewery at a cost of $30,000.

Peter had an active family life as well as a successful business. Rosina (his wife) is probably the name her husband used for Friedericka Rosina Schill Schemm as this is the name she put on a few of the census forms, probably to distinguish herself from her mother, who shared the same name and who lived in their household for many years. She and Peter had twelve children, nine of whom were living at the time of their father's death.

The oldest child Johann Adolph was named in memory of his maternal grandfather, and died before his sixth birthday. Peter A. Schemm was born in 1852. His name can be found a few times in the Philadelphia newspapers in and about town. He was an art connoisseur and a collector of paintings. I believe I remember my grandmother telling me that he was also interested in music, and that he played a piano in the "attic". On behalf of his mother, he donated a hospital bed to the German Hospital in Philadelphia after his father died.

He received an ownership interest in the Peter Schemm & Son Brewery while his father was alive, and assumed its management before his father's death.

From his passport application issued on 7 June 1878, we know that he probably traveled abroad, and probably as a relatively young man.

After his death, Peter's art collection was placed for auction. The regret of the family that they were unable to afford any of his paintings was still expressed decades later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Peter's and Fredericka's daughters, we know only a little. Caroline ("Liney"), Emilie ("Millie"), Clara, Gertrude ("Gertie"), and Emma were apparently close as there are a few newspaper notices of the sisters visiting Emma Schemm Kuehnle in her Egg Harbor home.

Peter Schemm and his wife Fredericka suffered a very sad year in 1886 with the deaths of two of their daughters. Louisa died in 1886 at the age of 25 and is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery with her mother. A mere three months later, they experienced their second loss, when their daughter Katie died.

Catharine ("Katie") married L. Mussina and had a daughter Louisa. She is buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia. The notice placed in the Philadelphia Inquirer read:

"On the 19th of May, 1886. Katie, beloved wife of L. M. Mussina and daughter of Peter R. and Fredericka Schemm. The relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral services at the residence of her husband, North 1303 Marshall Street, on Saturday afternoon at 1 o'clock. Interment private. Please omit flowers."

Her daughter Louisa received a $5,000 legacy from her grandfather when he died in 1898. Unfortunately, no census information can be found which would tell us what happened to Louisa after her grandfather's death.

Millie (Emilie), Caroline (Liney), Gertrude (Gertie), and Clara in particular were spoken of by the family in Egg Harbor years after their deaths, and the impression I got is that they were frequent visitors to their Egg Harbor City relatives.

Emilie (Millie) married Charles A. Baake, who came to Egg Harbor City with his parents as an infant in 1864. He attended the public schools in Egg Harbor until the age of 14, when he entered the law office of August Stephany. He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1885 and immediately began his practice in Egg Harbor City. He held numerous posts in Egg Harbor, including Solicitor of Egg Harbor, a member of the Board of Health of Egg Harbor, Solicitor of the Egg Harbor Commercial Bank. He relocated to Atlantic City in 1888 and continued his legal career there. He and Emilie married in October of 1889, and they made their home at 1419 Pacific Avenue. He was a Mason and also a Red Man. He apparently invested in considerable real estate ventures. Sadly, many of these ventures went sour, and after losing a fortune of $200,000 and being sued for divorce by Emilie, he committed suicide in Atlantic City in 1914. Emilie and her family were staying with her sister Emma and Emma's husband Henry Kuehnle in Egg Harbor when they received word of her husband's death.

Emilie's son Peter Schemm Baake (or perhaps her grandson) was in attendance at the wedding of Jean Henderson (daughter of Emma's Schemm Kuehnle's daughter Florence) to Frederick Wiegand in Egg Harbor City on 22 Dec 1945. His wedding gift to the young couple, a large wall mirror, remained a fixture in their home for the couple's life. See the Appendix for more information on the Baakes. There are Baakes in the Atlantic City are to the current date, and I was privileged to make e-mail contact with Peter Schemm Baake's great granddaughter in 2010.

Gertrude, Clara, and Caroline (Liney) both married relatively late and remained childless. The death notices for two of their husbands appear below:

Peter Schemm, Sr. was very active in his profession and in his community. He was a member of the Grand Lodge Odd Fellows, a German Order of the Red Men, Seven Wise Men. He was a Past Master in Montgomery Lodge of Masons, and a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Firmount Park Art Association, the Germany Society, the German Club, Philadelphia Meunnerchor, Jungar Maennerchor, Pfaezer Casinto, Pfazer harmonio, Canstatter Verein, Kreutznacher Saengerbund, Philadelphia Quartette Club, Philadelphia Turnemeinde, Philadelphia Rifle Club, and several others. He was the founder and for many years president of the Philadelphia Lager Beer Brewers Association. He was one of the founders of the National Security Bank of Franklin & Ferard and served as a Director from 1870 until his death. He was also a founder of the Northern Savings and Trust Co. and the Warwick Iron Company and was a member of the Commercial Exchange of Philadelphia.

Peter's cataracts worsened to the extent that he was almost blind, and the certainty that he would be one day completely blind apparently left him very despondent. He could not sleep, and every now and then would remark about ending his life, a comment his friends did not take seriously. His family was more concerned with his depression, and when he did not return home the fateful day that he had disappeared, his son Peter immediately sent dispatches to all the towns his father had been in the habit of visiting and spent all that night in an effort to locate him.

It is believed that Peter planned in advance of his death, giving one of his daughters an extra long hug as he left the house that morning of 12 Sep 1898. He took a carriage to the Goat Island Bridge and told the driver he would walk to get a better view of the rapids. When he reached the center of the bridge, he shouted "Goodbye" and leaped over the railing. A reward was issued for the recovery of his body, but although news articles report a few possible recoveries, all turned out to be unverified. I don't believe his body was ever recovered. The illustration shown appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer article about his death.

Peter Schemm's estate was valued at either $1.6 million or $200,000, depending on which news article was correct (and how much of his property was included in the valuation). Fredericka, his wife, received all his household goods, furniture, a life interest in the distillery and of their home, plus a one-third part of the rest of his estate. The daughter of his late daughter Catherine Mussina was given $5000, and the remaining two thirds was given to all of his remaining children "share and share alike."

Fredericka "Rosina" lived in widowhood for less than three years after her husband's death. She died suddenly at their home on 931 North Eighth Street in Philadelphia of "Apoplexy" on 23 May 1901 and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. (Her son Peter and daughter Louisa are buried there with her). An inscription reading "Johann Adolph Schemm Dec 22, 1850 - Mar 25, 1856 appears on the Schemm memorial on the Schemm cemetery site.

Philadelphia Public Ledger March 24, 1901

Death of Mrs. Peter Schemm

Mrs. Peter Schemm, widow of Peter Schemm, a well-known brewer, died suddenly yesterday at her residence 921 N. 8th Street. Death is believed to have been due to apoplexy. Mrs. Schemm was born in this city 70 years ago and is survived by nine children.

[Although the obituary states that she was born in "this city" (Philadelphia) "70 years ago", her census forms all list her as having been born in Germany where both her parents were also said to have been born].

Peter had two nephews George Paulus and Johann who also immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. These two men were the ancestors of many Schemm descendants in America, George having settled in the Midwest, and Johann in Maryland. Until 2000 or so, the descendants of the other two brothers were unaware that Peter had descendants, and were very glad to discover our existence. The Schemms have a family reunion every year, usually in the Midwest. The ancestry for the other two brothers can be found in the Appendix. I have heard from some of the family, and some have visited Dottenheim, where the town's local residents to this day are very proud of their native son Peter. The house where he was raised still exists there at this time.

 

 

A photo of the Schemm family with their nine surviving children appears below:

 

Brick Walls of Knowledge

 

Most of the vital dates for both Peter and Fredericka are authenticated by various sources. Further genealogical exploration around this family should revolve around their parents. We know the names of Peter's parents, but nothing about their births, deaths, or his other siblings besides the two brothers who came to America. The discovery of Peter's and Fredericka's oldest child Johann Adolph Schill came about recently with the discovery of the burial records. These records do not specify that this child is that of Peter and Fredericka, but his inscription on the memorial and the date of his birth would indicate that probability.

 

 

We know that Fredericka was named for her mother, and we know the names of both her parents. We assume from the burial records at Mount Laurel Cemetery that Heinrich Adolph Schill was her brother, and the census record of 1850 indicates that she had a sister named Matilda (and that her brother, who was still living in 1850, was called "Henry").

Appendix
Name of Item Description of Item   Name of Item Description of Item
P. Schemm's Death Obituary and News about His Suicide Charles Baake Articles about Emilie Schemm's Husband
P. Schemm's Death More News about His Estate and Post Death Schemm Family Tree Family Trees of Peter's 2 Nephews in America
Schemm & Son An illustration of the Peter Schemm & Son brewery Virtual Cemetery Illustration of the Laurel Hill Cemetery Schemm lot and Photo of Tombstone
       
   
   
   
   
   
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