Who Are These Scheiers and Are We Related to Them?

Today, while avoiding the household tasks I should be doing, I have been making a spreadsheet to show the city directory I collected last week in Washington. I listened to a couple of talks about using city directories to add to what you know about a family and then when we visited the Library of Congress (I have my own official Reader card!) I started going through microfilmed city directories for the city of Milwaukee in search of the Scheiers. As an aside, choosing what to research at the Library of Congress was a very difficult choice. There are so many collections that called to me. Not to mention the history/exhibits side which we didn’t even see. And, difficult as it is to believe, we didn’t make it into the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room (not where the city directory microflims are kept).

The Scheier family has been one of my roadblocks in searching my husband’s family lines. Dan’s maternal grandmother was Pearl Scheier who married Benjamin Riddner and had two children. When I started researching his family, the only known connection was that he and my sister-in-law both had heard their mother refer to “Uncle Louis” and “Uncle Doc” – I think they actually may have met Uncle Doc when they were very young. As I started to search records I was able to document that Louis Scheier and Abe Scheier (a physician) existed in the right time and place. However, for years I was unable to find anything that actually documented their relationship to Pearl, or any of the other Scheier people I could find in the Milwaukee area. Then there was a picture of an older woman taken in Milwaukee, who I guessed was the mother of at least some of these people (why else would it be in my mother-in-law’s possession, right?

likely Zissel Scheier, in Milwaukee

I wonder if she knew who the woman in the picture was.). Intriguing hints but very little real data. This picture is still unidentified to my satisfaction, although I cannot figure out who else it might be.

I applied my usual scatter-shot approach to the problem and started looking at federal censuses, then Wisconsin sites for vital records (trying to find my mother-in-law’s birth record and her parents’ marriage among other things; also looking for anything about her brother who was rumored to have died very young). I’ve written before about some of my difficulties and about finally finding some of the Scheiers in the 1910 federal census which gave me the link between Zissel and her children Pearl, Ida, and Abe. Yay! Pearl and Abe are brother and sister, so “Uncle Doc” was an accurate title. But who is Ida? Never heard of or saw her name before. Huh. Then I found an obituary for Louis that listed his brother Abe and that connection was made.

At some point more recently, I went back to the 1910 census and noticed that Zissel reported having borne 9 children, 8 of whom were still living. So far I had 4 of them, living in this country. How many others came too? Who are they? I have been aware of a number of Scheiers in the Milwaukee area and have collected some of it, thinking they must be related. Sam Scheier, for example, was one of the witnesses for the naturalization application of Abe Scheier. Likely to be a relative, maybe or maybe not a brother. Then there is another picture from my mother-in-law of someone labeled Joseph B. Scheier on the back. Uh-oh, turns out there are 2 Joseph B. Scheiers in Milwaukee, born 5 years apart. One to Sam and one to someone else. So I have guessed that the picture is Sam’s son, and another indication that he is a relation.

Unfortunately, as is obvious, I have had too little true information and too many guestimates and assumptions to be comfortable about all this. So I went to the city directories at the LOC and – huzzah! – I found another Scheier and all of the Scheiers living together at different points. Now

Scheirs all together, 1904

this doesn’t prove that the siblings are in fact siblings, but it is another piece of the puzzle. The “new” Scheier, Julius, was the earliest Scheier I found listed, and seemed to be the key person. Going back to the censuses showed me that he was married and had 4 chidlren (including the other Joseph B.) and two of the children had appeared in the directories once old enough and employed. Looking on familysearch.org has provided me with some information about Julius’s marriage, including the invaluable listing of his parents’ names, and the birth of his three children born in this country, This was also how I pinned down which Joseph B. belonged to which parents. It turns out I was wrong about the picture and if I had only thought about the date on it I would have known that. The picture was dated as well as labelled, and the date was 1919. Sam’s son Joseph would have only been 13 that year, but Julius’s son would have been 18 and probably graduating from high school which is what the picture looks like.

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