Silvester Schiele

Family tree

The immediate background of Silvester (also spelled Sylvester) Schiele has been looked into with some success by Amos Thomas of the Brazil RC.

Described by Harris as “my most intimate Chicago friend, and one of the three who first met with me for dinner on Thursday evening, the 23rd of February, 1905”, Schiele became the first President of the club in Chicago, remaining a constant member till his death in 1945.

Perhaps the best source for the background of Silvester Schiele comes from the family bible which is still in the possession of his descendants.

Sylvester (sic) according to the IGI was born on June 29, 1870, in the small township of Montgomery, Pennsylvania, a few miles South of Williamsport. However, the Bible suggests otherwise. It was presented to his wife, “Mrs. Elizabeth Schiele by Her Husband, M. Schiele. April 8th 1882.”

On the page labelled ‘Births’, the entries include:- Michael Schiele Nov 2 1831 in Germany
Mary Margaret Miller born May 15 1839 in Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Krieble born April 3 1844 in Penn
Reuben Jacob Schiele born June 27 1857 Ohio
David Franklin Schiele born Sept 6 1859 Ohio
William Albert Schiele born July 4 1868 Indiana
SILVESTER SCHIELE born June 29 1870 Indiana
Nathan Cook Schiele born Jan 31 1879 Indiana
Andrew Draton Schiele born Dec 20 1882 Indiana
Charles Oscar Schiele born Feb 1 1885 Indiana
There were also six girls and an eighth boy.

In the section in the Bible marked ‘Deaths’, entries include:- Mary Margaret Schiele first wife of Michael Schiele died July 28 1866 in Clay County, Indiana

Michael Schiele died Sept 12 1897 in Clay County, Indiana Elizabeth Schiele died February 12 1922 in Clay City, Indiana Silvester Schiele died Dec 17 1945 in Chicago, Illinois

Michael, born in Germany, married Mary Miller on July 13 1856, in Medina County, Ohio (Travis), some 4 or 5 years after arriving in New York.

According to the IGI, Mary was born in Springfield, Fayette, Pennsylvania, but was of German stock. In their 10 years of marriage, she produced six children but died in 1866 in childbirth, after bearing twins, Rosena who died 3 months later, and Mary Elizabeth who lived until January 10 1948.

A few months later, on February 12, 1867, Michael married Elizabeth Krieble, the union producing a further nine children including Silvester.

The 1880 U.S. Census for Harrison Township, Clay County, Indiana, describes Michael as a farmer, assisted by his sons, Reuben, David and Henry, while Sylvester (sic) and the younger sons and daughters were “at home”. In ‘The History of Clay County, Indiana’ by Battery, published in 1889, there is a section about Michael Schiele. This describes him as:

“farmer and stock raiser, the fourth child of Michael and Mary (Smith) Schiele, both natives of Germany. The subject of this sketch emigrated to America in the spring of 1852, landing in New York City, whence he went to Montgomery County, Penn.” Michael is said to have left Pennsylvania with just 27 cents in his pocket.

After two years in Pennsylvania, 1852-3, he went from there “to Ohio, where he remained until 1861, when he moved to Indiana, stopping a few months in Owen County, then going to Harrison Township, Clay County, where he has since lived.” Owen County is adjacent to Clay County so the move was not a major one.

The mention of Montgomery, PA appears to confirm the Bible and IGI references to Montgomery County, an area frequented by the Pennsylvania Dutch or more properly Deutsch, and Michael’s wife is described elsewhere as being of “German parentage”. Travis in a ‘History of Clay County’ of 1909 describes them spending eight years probably in Copely in Medina County, West of Akron. This must have been from 1853-1861.

According to Battery, Michael was not brought up to be a farmer but after 8 years at school in Germany, he followed his father, also named Michael, into the trade of shoe making. In fact, the young Michael worked as a shoemaker in America until he could afford to buy land for farming. When the family moved to Indiana, their circumstances soon changed. James Walsh quoting Paul Harris says that the family lived in a log cabin in their early days in Clay County and the site of this and of the family farm has been identified by Rtn Amos Thomas of the Brazil RC. By 1889, this farm had grown to one of over 220 acres, triple the size of the one in 1870 when Silvester was born. Michael’s son Reuben later became one of the most prosperous farmers in the County.

The 1880 Census shows Michael as born in ‘Prussia’, the fourth son of an earlier Michael Schiele and his wife Mary Magdalene Smith (Schmidt??). This older Michael, Silvester’s grandfather, was born in Wittenberg, according to Travis, and was also married there. Wittenberg is a small town halfway between Leipzig and Berlin in the area called Halle and had come under Prussian control in 1815. This university town was where Martin Luther nailed his tracts to the church doors. It was from here that Silvester’s father made his way to New York.

It has not been possible so far to trace the German origins of Silvester Schiele.

Historian Basil Lewis, 9 October 2005