Fonds GA 91 : Accrual 2000 - Schantz Russell Family fonds : 2000 accrual

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Schantz Russell Family fonds : 2000 accrual

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CA ON00351 GA 91 : Accrual 2000

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  • 1881-1951 (Creation)

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Biographical history

The Schantz Family in North America is large and widespread; alternative spellings of the last name includes variations such as Tschantz, Shantz, Shonts, and Schanz.
The family descended from Jacob Schanz (June 12, 1710-February 5, 1781) who emigrated to the United States of America in 1737 and settled in Pennsylvania. In 1810 Jacob’s son Christian Shantz (July 11, 1769-April 7, 1857) came to Waterloo County and settled at Freeport on the Grand River.

Christian’s son Benjamin Shantz (September 2, 1811-November 9, 1868) was an early Waterloo County inhabitant and one of the founders of Port Elgin, Ontario where he settled in 1854 and established a grist and flour mill. Benjamin married Lydia Kolb (May 13, 1814-November 9, 1862) on April 10, 1842 and together they had ten children; Josiah K. Schantz (December 5, 1834-August 3, 1913), Catharine Schantz (May 17, 1836-February 28, 1917), Hannah Schantz (April 1, 1838-August 20, 1841), Christian Schantz (January 20, 1840-?), Tobias Schantz (April 10, 1842-April 16, 1925), Abraham K. Schantz (September 20, 1844-?), Benjamin K. Schantz (December 5, 1846), Menno K. Schantz (January 31, 1849-July 6, 1888), Lydia K. Schantz (August 17, 1851-July 16, 1900), Sarah K. Schantz (April 1, 1854-April 10, 1878), and Enoch K. Schantz (October 7, 1856-May 25, 1888).

When Lydia died in 1862, Benjamin remarried his housekeeper, Margaret Swinton. Benjamin and Margaret left Port Elgin, Ontario and settled in Dallas County, Missouri. Correspondence in the collection between Benjamin and his son Tobias recount Benjamin’s settler experiences in Dallas County, Missouri.
The Schantz Russell Family Papers centre around Tobias Schantz, his wife Mary Schantz and their descendants, drawing together primary sources relating to several early pioneering families of Waterloo County, primarily the Schantz, Moyer/Meyer and Bowman families, and material relating to descendants of the Moyer pioneers of Lincoln County, Ontario.

Custodial history

Tobias and Mary married in 1863 and had eight children. In 1864 Tobias attended the Eastman National Business College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Tobias worked in mills for many years; in 1866 he and Mary moved from Port Elgin to Hawkesville, in 1877 to Conestogo and in 1883 to Berlin, where they lived at first on Benton Street. In 1887 they bought two acres of land from Samuel Schneider and built a house, 43 Schneider Ave., where the family resides to the present day. Tobias became a book agent and a nursery stock agent for various companies including E.D. Smith, and in 1900 went to Alberta with some of his sons to homestead. Back home in 1907, he continued to pursue his business interests to his death in 1925.
Tobias and Mary Schantz had eight children, whose lives are documented to varying degrees in the fonds.
Orpheus (1864-1951) worked first for his uncle Levi N. Moyer in Cedar Falls, Iowa and then moved to Chicago. Although he made his living as a dry goods merchant he had an abiding interest in ornithology, botany , geography and geology. He was an early member of the Geographical Society and was a popular author and lecturer. He was a prolific and engaging correspondent.
Etta (1866-1900) trained to be a teacher in Berlin, Ontario and also worked in Chicago from 1893-1897 while staying with Orpheus and his family. She married Ward White in 1897; in 1900 he went to Alberta with Etta's brothers and father to homestead. Etta died in May of that year, shortly after giving birth to Dorothy White, now Dorothy Russell.
Sophie (1869-1958) trained in Chicago at the Chicago Froebel Association to be a kindergarten teacher . She was never able to work as a teacher, however: she returned to Berlin after Etta's death to help care for the baby and found her certificate invalid for kindergarten teaching in Ontario. Sophie worked for many years as clerk and then head of the china department at Woolworth's and retired in the 1930's.
Austin (1871-1959) also worked in Chicago for a time before moving to Council Bluffs, Iowa, thence to Alberta to homestead.
Frank (1874-1962) remained at 43 Schneider Ave., working at R.D. Lang dry goods until retirement in the 1930's. He acted as head of the family, helping support his mother, sisters, niece Dorothy and his father Tobias, looking after family affairs both locally and in Alberta. He was also an enthusiastic bird-watcher and amateur naturalist, traits which seem to run in the family. Frank was active in community work and served as secretary-treasurer of the K-W Orphanage Board, helped found the K-W Field Naturalists, belonged to the Waterloo Historical and K-W Philatelic Societies, was active in the United Brethren and was President of the Schantz Family Reunion Association for many years.
Arthur (1876-1958) homesteaded in Alberta and remained there the rest of his life.
Florence (1879-1938) spent varying periods of time between 1900 and 1912 keeping house for her brothers Arthur and Austin in Alberta. After that she worked at Woolworth's until her death in 1938.
Herbert (1883-1912) was the last child, was always in poor health and suffered from epilepsy.

Scope and content

Contents: The bulk of this accrual consists of correspondence from Orpheus Moyer from 1881 to 1951, the year he died, adding significantly to the holdings of family letters.

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Donated by Harold Russell in 2000.


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  • English

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