I admit there are times when I look for stories that have their beginning in East Perry County, Missouri, but end up taking us on a trip elsewhere. I found one of those today.
The story begins with the birth of Sarah Schirmer on September 14, 1876. Sarah was the daughter of Christian and Hermine (Petzoldt) Schirmer. She was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. This is her baptism record.
We find Sarah in the 1880 census from Brazeau Township where her father was a carpenter.
While Sarah was growing up in Perry County, we find her future husband, Zachariah Cecil, in Pulaski, Virginia in the 1880 census where his father was a farmer.
Zachariah was the son of Mitchell and Rebecca (Mitchell) Cecil. If men would take their wives surnames after marriage, then Zachariah’s father would have been Mitchell Mitchell. I was able to follow this Cecil family using a family history on Ancestry.com back to William Cecil, who was born in 1665 in Maryland when it was still a colony. Also, another ancestor, also a Zachariah Cecil, fought in the American Revolution as indicated on this application for a descendant to become a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.
There is also evidence that one of Zachariah’s ancestors was a pastor. I’m sure there is no chance he was a Lutheran pastor.
Below is a map of Pulaski, Virginia. About a year ago, I had the occasion to visit Mount Airy, North Carolina, which is not that far from Pulaski. Mount Airy is the birthplace of Andy Griffith, and they proclaim themselves to be the Mayberry of TV fame.
In 1900, Sarah was 22 years old and living with her uncle, Charles Schirmer, as a servant.
By the time of the 1900 census, the Mitchell Cecil family was living in Grayson County, Texas where Mitchell was a farmer and Zachariah was working on the farm with him.
Although I could not find any documentation, according to the same family history on Ancestry.com, Zachariah Cecil married Sarah Schirmer on June 16, 1908 in St. Louis, Missouri. I would love to know how a Texas farmer named Cecil would ever get matched up with a Schirmer from Perry County, Missouri. However, we know it happened.
Zachariah and Sarah had two children, both boys who had very interesting names. Their firstborn was Howard Taft Cecil, born in 1909. This child was born about one month after William Howard Taft was inaugurated as President of the United States. The second son was named Woodrow Wilson Cecil. He was born in 1912. Later in 1912, Woodrow Wilson defeated both Taft and Teddy Roosevelt to become President. It was a very unusual election in which a sitting President and a former President lost to a future President. In the case with the Cecil child, I find it interesting that they named this son after a Presidential candidate who had yet to be elected. I guess they knew how the election was going to turn out. I do find it amazing that these parents name one of their boys after a Republican President and another after a Democratic President.
A map showing land ownership in Texas was published in 1908. That map shows the piece of property owned by Zachariah Cecil.
His land was right next to Wright Creek. Back in Virginia, Zachariah lived near Peak Creek. Back in Missouri, Sarah lived near Brazeau Creek. Now they ended up near Wright Creek. I guess you could say they finally got it Wright. Here is a present day map of this Cecil property.
Zachariah is called a farmer, a gardener, and a truck farmer in various documents, but I found this city directory for Sherman, Texas in 1926 which has the fascinating term, “huckster” used to describe his job.
One definition I found described a huckster as someone who sells items out of a truck on the roadway.
Sarah Cecil died in 1934; Zachariah died in 1940. They are both buried in the West Hill Cemetery in Sherman, Texas. If you look at both of the above maps, you will see that the Cecils could have seen this cemetery from their house.
I cannot help but wonder if the Brett Cecil who has pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals is tied into this Cecil family. I do know that Brett Cecil comes from a county in Maryland that is adjoining the county in which the Cecils from this story lived back in the 1600’s.