Fonds GA 232 - Schantz Russell Family fonds : 2013 accrual

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Schantz Russell Family fonds : 2013 accrual

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CA ON00351 GA 232

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  • [18--]-[ca. 1919] (Creation)

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Physical description

107 cm of textual records and other material
96 photographs : b&w ; 17 x 11 cm or smaller

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Biographical history

The Shantz Family in North America is large and widespread; spelling of the last name includes variations such as Tschantz, Shantz, Schantz, Shonts, and Schanz. The family as a whole is descended from Jacob Schanz (b. 1710) who emigrated to the United States in 1737 and settled in Pennsylvania. In 1810 Jacob’s son Christian came to Waterloo County and settled at Freeport on the Grand River in 1810.

Christian’s son Benjamin, born in 1811, was not only an early Waterloo County inhabitant but was one of the founders of Port Elgin, Ont., settling there in 1854 and establishing a grist and flour mill. After his first wife, Lydia Kolb, died in 1862, Benjamin, then 52, quickly remarried, this time to his 23-year old housekeeper, Margaret Swinton. He then left Port Elgin with his new wife and settled in Dallas County, Missouri. Correspondence from him to his son Tobias recounts his life there and is full of details illuminating settlers’ experiences in the United States at the time.

The Schantz/Russell Family Papers centres around Tobias and Mary Schantz and their family, drawing together primary sources relating to several early pioneering families of Waterloo County, primarily Schantz, Moyer and Bowman families, and includes also materials relating to descendants of the Moyer pioneers of Lincoln County, Ont. Tobias was born in Freeport in 1842, the fifth of Benjamin Schantz’s 15 children, and moved to Port Elgin ( christened “Normanton” by the Post Office) in 1854. There he met Mary Moyer, who was descended from Samuel Meyer who came to Lincoln County, Canada West, in 1800. The Moyers were generally fairly well educated; some of Mary’s school papers from the 1850's survive in the collection. The two families were closely connected before this time, as Moyers were also fairly widespread in Waterloo County. Tobias’ siblings and cousins were spread from Port Elgin to Alberta (where a large contingent of Schantz’s had gone) to the mid-west and western United States. Mary Schantz’s eight siblings all travelled and settled more than once, from Pennsylvania to Berlin, Ont., to Iowa and Illinois. The correspondence among members of this generation reflects the way of life and concerns of these very mobile settlers of the 1860's and 1870's.

Tobias and Mary married in 1863 and had eight children. In 1864 Tobias attended the Eastman National Business College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; a good deal of his work from that year survives to document business education of the time. 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. From the diaries, notebooks and correspondence he kept, he would appear to have been a sensitive and introspective character, deeply concerned with spiritual matters. His letters and diaries show him in his role as husband and father, and illuminate family life at the time, whereas his business papers shed light on the literary tastes of the community as well as on local gardening and landscaping.

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. Many of his letters to his brother Frank are present in the collection. 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. There are approximately 100 letters present written by Etta, most to her sister Sophie, but others to her father and family. Some correspondence by Ward White is also present.
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. There is present in the fonds much correspondence written to Sophie from family and friends, as well as a small amount of ephemera material belonging to her.
Austin (1871-1959) also worked in Chicago for a time before moving to Council Bluffs, Iowa, thence to Alberta to homestead. There is correspondence present from Austin, mostly to his brother Frank and sister Sophie.
Frank (1874-1962) is well represented in the fonds by correspondence and other textual materials as he 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. He is represented in the fonds by correspondence to his brother Frank. There are a few childhood papers and drawings done by Austin and Arthur which were preserved and among Florence’s belongings.
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. There are many letters from her to Sophie in the fonds. Two trunks of Florence’s childhood belongings give insight into a girl’s life of the period, containing scrapbooks, poetry, decoupage cutouts, clippings, schoolbooks, music, etc.
Herbert (1883-1912) was the last child, was always in poor health and suffered from epilepsy. There are a few letters from him present in the fonds.

The Bowman Family papers which are present in this fonds result from Frank’s friendship with Hervey Bowman (perhaps also his cousin?), who left all his belongings to Frank when he died. Some of the most significant local material in the fonds originates with the Bowman family. Isaac Lucius Bowman was born at Freeport in 1830, and was founder and principal of the Freeport Academy from 1867-1872. This very early educational institution is here documented with Proceedings of the Academy, ephemera, and two photographs of the members of the Academy. I. L. Bowman then trained to be a Provincial Land Surveyor, and many of the very early plans and maps in the fonds are from the Bowman Family belongings. Of his four sons, three also became surveyors and Engineers, while Hervey attended the Universities of Toronto and the Leipzig. His files relate mostly to his educational pursuits, but include some other family-related materials.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Accural consists of textual and graphic materials created or accumulated by members of the Schantz families. Primarily includes photographs of members of the extended Schantz family and friends. Also contains ephemera, and school notebooks. Arranged in series as follows: Series 5. Schantz, Florence Annie Catherine, 1897-1938 ; Series 6. Schantz, Franklin Abram, 1874-1962 ; Series 9. Tobias and Mary Schantz Family ; 12. Photographs ; Series 15.4. Russell, Dorothy, 1900-2006: Education ; Series 15.6. Russell, Dorothy, 1900-2006: Teaching ; Series 16. Schantz, Sophie, 1869-1958 ; Series 17. White, Etta Schtanz, 1866-1900 ; Series 18. Schantz, Orpheus, 1864-1951 ; Series 22. Schantz, Arthur, 1876-1958 ; Series 23. Schantz, Herbert, 1883-1912 ; Series 24. Schantz, Austin, 1871-1959.

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Donated in 2013 by Harold Russell


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  • English

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Related records can be found in GA 91 and its accruals as well as GA 215.

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