Schoen is a word that means “beautiful” in German. On several previous occasions, I have written stories about people with the surname, Schoen. Today, I am going to attempt to relate what I have found about how that name arrived in this area. The story of the Schoen beginnings takes place in the Apple Creek and Shawnee Townships in northern Cape Girardeau County.
The tale I tell today has a lot of holes in it. There are certainly many unanswered questions. However, there are also a few documents I will be able to display that I normally do not find. I would also like to point out that our museum’s friend, Diane Anderson, recently helped us update our German Family Tree with regard to the Lehner family, and some of that new information will be used in this story. Diane has become a very valuable person on our research team.
I was unable to find a document that I could confidently say was evidence concerning the arrival of the Schoen family to America. What we do know is that the parents in the original Schoen family to arrive in this area were Ernst Friedrich Schoen, Sr. and his wife, Christiane Henrietta (Zechntmeyer) who were both born around 1813 in Germany. The first document I could find showing the presence of this Schoen family in this area was a confirmation record for one of their sons, Gustav Schoen. This record can be found in the books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna in 1854. However, the section of their records in which you find this entry was in a part including official acts performed at a location called Hubble Creek. That is found in Cape Girardeau County. Gustav is #2 on this list of confirmands.
The next record I could find was a baptism record for a child that was born on August 17, 1855. That baptism record can be found in the church books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. That record was followed by a death record for that baby on August 21, 1855. We find a few useful tidbits in the baptism record. First, we find the maiden name of Mrs. Schoen, and I am guessing that what we have is the best effort of a transcriber at figuring out the spelling of that name, Zechntmeyer. Second, the record states that this was the 6th child in this family. I was only able to find this child and three others, so it’s possible that this family left a child or two in Germany, or that a couple of them may have died previously. Third, this record says this baptism took place in the home, not at the church. Here is that baptism record from Trinity.
We also have the death record for that baby.
A land office record shows Ernst Schoen buying a piece of property in 1856.
The next record we have for the Schoen family can be found in the 1860 census. We find them living in the Apple Creek Township. Sometime before 1860, Christiane Henrietta died because she is not shown in this census. We do not have a death record for her. This entry shows 3 children in their teens.
Next, I will turn my attention to the oldest child on the above census, Gustav Adolph Schoen, who happens to be today’s birthday boy. Gustave was born in Germany on December 29, 1840. The only place I found Gustav’s birth date was in his confirmation record shown before. When the Civil War was being fought, Gustav served in the Union Army. Toward the end of that war, he filled out a draft registration that indicated that he had already participated in that war.
Gustav became the father of a child, apparently out of wedlock, which was born to a girl by the name of Maria Magdalena Heinig. The child’s name was Ernestine Wilhelmine Schoen, and she was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is that baptism record.
This situation gets a little difficult to follow, but I think I figured some of it out. Maria Magdalena Heinig, the mother, married Johann Lorenz Hoehl in 1867. That couple had a child by the name of Susan in 1868, and we find this family in the 1870 census for Shawnee Township. The census taker wrote the name as Hall, not Hoehl.
Please note that the child born to Gustave Schoen is not found in this family. It took me a little while to find that girl. I am pretty sure I found her living in the Michael Proehl household in 1870. Michael was married to a Heinig. Minnie would be the daughter of Gustav Schoen, but she is not shown with the Schoen surname in this entry. By the way, the John in this entry would have been the orphan, John Burroughs.
Minnie Schoen would die in 1873 at the age of 10. Her death record can be found in the Immanuel Lutheran, Altenburg books, but I choose not to show it. Meanwhile, in 1865, Gustave Schoen got married himself. He married Anna Lehner on February 12, 1865.
Anna Lehner was the daughter of Matthias and Theresa (Jungmeyer) Lehner. She was born on January 3, 1847 in Austria. Her family is another one that I cannot locate documentation for their immigration. I do know that Anna had two sisters, Theresia Lehner who married Wilhelm Lueders, and Susanna Lehner, who married Heinrich Birner. Both of them ended up living in Wittenberg, Missouri and are characters in my book, Wittenberg ’03. That Lehner family originated in the Shawnee Township. We find the Lehner family in the 1860 census, but Anna was not listed with them for some reason. We find Gustav and Anna as married in the 1870 census for Apple Creek Township. They were living with Gustav’s parents and had two children.
According to our German Family Tree, Gustav and Anna had 5 children, all boys. The 1880 census shows four boys.
Although the 1890 Federal census was destroyed in a fire, there was a census taken in that year of men who were veterans. Gustav Schoen shows up in that Veterans census. This document indicates that Gustav had served more than 3 years during the Civil War.
The last son was born in 1882 and died in 1897, so he never showed up in a census. That child, however, does show up in a photograph that was taken of the Gustav Schoen family.
We do not have an exact date for his death, but it was likely in 1898 because that is the year listed on his will. I just include a portion of that will below. It shows that two witnesses to the will were a John Bonney and Josef Lichtenegger.
I have written several posts about Josef Lichtenegger’s family. The Bonney name can be seen on a piece of property very near some land in the Schoen name on the 1930 plat map below.
Anna Schoen can still be found in a census taken in 1900. She was a widow listed as a farmer, with two young men who were said to be farm laborers.
Anna died in 1901. One of the big puzzles in this story is the notable absence of death records and grave sites for the people involved. There is a record for Ernst Friedrich Schoen, Sr. in the old cemetery at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas, but it contains no photo of a gravestone. There are quite a few grave sites in the two cemeteries for that congregation, but not for either Gustav or Anna Schoen. There is just a whole lot of nothing when it comes to looking for documentation for the deaths and burials of people I wrote about today.