The Life and Travels of Julius Scheier

Uncle Julius, my husband’s great uncle Julius Scheier, was not on the family radar until I started doing the family history. There were 3 Scheiers who were known about: grandmother Pearl, Uncle Doc, and Uncle Louis. As I have written before, these relationships weren’t certain but based on what my mother-in-law called them.

Uncle Julius was likely the first of the Scheier family to arrive in the United States, having come in about 1885. At least this is the date he gave on the 1900 federal census. I have not yet found any documentation about his arrival, or about his naturalization, although he was recorded as naturalized on both the 1900 and 1920 censuses. I’m still searching for the 1910 census where he and his family were enumerated. (For some reason all of this Scheier family has been very hard to find in the 1910 census.)

As the first Scheier here, Julius was the person each of his siblings came to and seem to have relied on when they immigrated. He was already established in Milwaukee with a job and a young family. Julius had married Cecelia Pokras on 5 June 1890, in Milwaukee.

Scheier - Pokras marriage record

Finding the index to their marriage on lead me to send for the marriage record. Here it is.

There is a lot of information on this record, even more than I hoped for. Julius gave his birthplace as Dubno, Russia. He listed both parents, including his mother’s maiden name (Masec or Mases, the handwriting is hard to decipher). Celia also listed both parents with mother’s maiden name. She gave her place of birth as Kiev, Russia and her age is noted as 24. So, although from the federal censuses I had some information, this marriage record provided both corroboration and new information.

The first census, the 1900, that shows the young Julius Scheier family lists a step-daughter, Bertha, born in September 1885 in Russia. This census also lists Celia and Bertha as having immigrated in 1887. It begins to look like Cecilia and a young daughter Bertha might have came to the US with her parents and a sister. Her parents and another female are in the Wisconsin 1895 census in Milwaukee, and in the 1905 Wisconsin census the elder Pokrases are living with a Sarah Arnow. I haven’t yet found the immigration records that would document this family’s passage.

Based on the city directories I have searched so far, Julius and his family were in Milwaukee up to 1893. Then Julius was not listed for 2 years. Then he and Bertha (only the working single woman was listed in those years) were listed again through 1907 which was the latest directory I viewed on our Washington DC trip. I also have Julius on the 1900 federal census and the 1905 Wisconsin census. I have searched for the 1910 census without success so far. And the 1920 shows Julius and his family in Spokane Washington. Then the 1930 shows Celia and youngest son Joseph back in Milwaukee, living together and both widowed.

So where were they in the few years from about 1893 to 1896, or why was no one listed in the Milwaukee city directory? And why can’t I find them in 1910? And when and why did they go to Spokane? And many other questions.

Julius and Celia had three children: Max S. (b 1891), Herbert (b 1895), and Joseph B. (b 1901). Bertha also took the name Scheier. Looking for information about the children starts to answer some of my questions. The first thing I noticed on the censuses was that son Herbert was listed as born in Texas although the other sons were born in Wisconsin. Further evidence about Herbert turned up the information that he was educated at Harvard, where his home address was given as Spokane. His WWI registration in May 1917 in Spokane also showed that he was a student at Harvard University. And the WWI registration listed his full birth date and birth place – Henderson, Texas. Henderson Texas is in north east Texas, not far from the Louisiana border. What in the world was Julius Scheier doing there in 1895? So far I have no clue.

When I searched for son Max I found a record of his burial in Milwaukee in 1910. He died in March 1910 and was buried in Milwaukee. Hm – so far I haven’t found any other information about how he died or where. I do assume that it was in Milwaukee or close by, since I would doubt that the family would have taken him back to Milwaukee to be buried if they were very far away. And youngest son Joseph B. was born in Milwaukee in 1901, so they were back from Texas by then. Thus, although I haven’t yet found the 1910 census, there is evidence that the family was only in Texas for a few years and then back in Milwaukee until 1910 or later.

Based on Herbert’s Harvard listing, they were probably in Washington by 1913. When I did a general internet search for Julius Scheier, I turned up a Federal Reporter report of a district court case in Washington that referred to both Julius and Louis and a bankruptcy they had filed for their partnership, Scheier Brothers. This case was dated June 2, 1911 in Washington state. Since I have also not yet found Louis Scheier in the 1910 census, this opens new questions about where both Julius and Louis were. And what was the business that the Scheier Brothers engaged in? The 1920 census for Julius listed him as a storekeeper of a grocery, and working on his own account (as opposed to being a worker).

Sometime between 1920 and 1926, the family moved back to the Milwaukee area. Julius died in January 1926 in Wisconsin. An obituary for him provides some information

Julius Scheier obituary

about his family (including a married name for Bertha, yay!) and his career. It also says that he was a 35 year resident and merchant of West Allis (just west of Milwaukee). This doesn’t agree with the city directories searched or the federal censuses found so far. He likely was a resident and merchant in West Allis at the time of his death but he doesn’t seem to have been there for 35 years. An index of deaths and burials found on the website for the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee
shows Julius’s burial in Spring Hill as well as Cecelia’s and Max’s, and Bertha’s. Cecelia died in September 1943.

I am left with questions about why this family spent some time in Texas and then why, later, they relocated to Spokane Washington for a number of years before returning to Milwaukee. This will send me off to search for histories of these two communities to see if I can figure out what would have attracted Julius to move there.

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