Jacob Scheffler Family Travels to America
by Mary Ann Moczygemba Watson
Envisioning a better life for their four sons, Jacob and Magdalena Scheffler left their homeland in Silesia departing on the Archimedes from the Hamburg seaport on April 19, 1855, for Hull, England. In Liverpool, England, they embarked on the Isaac Wright and arrived in New York on May 29, 1855. The ship’s manifest documented their ages as: Jacob, age 47; Magdalena, age 45; Franz, age 22; Carl, age 18; Johann, age 12; and Thomas, age 9.
The family first settled in Karnes County where they became members of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM Catholic Church in Panna Maria. Magdalena’s name was evident in the sacramental records when she served as a Baptism sponsor for Florentina, the daughter of Joseph and Josepha Pawlik, on September 2, 1857 (entry #27); Franciska, the baby of Jacob and Eva Pruski, on November 9, 1857 (entry #33); and Agnes, one of the twin daughters of Simon and Josepha Janta, on February 7, 1858 (entry #48).
In 1859 Jacob Scheffler was recorded with 8 cattle worth $48. He paid a poll tax of $1 along with state and county taxes totaling $1.12 (Karnes County Tax Assessments, 1859). Only one year later, the federal census taker enumerated the Scheffler family in Goliad County. Jacob’s occupation was listed as farmer with real estate valued at $300 and personal property worth $200. Thomas, the youngest son, was not recorded, and no further information about him has yet been found.
On September 11, 1865, the Scheffler family returned to Panna Maria for the joyous occasion of their son Charles’ marriage to Anna [Joanna] Długi (entry #31). She was the daughter of Silesian immigrants, Marianna Fridrich and Albert Długi. Joseph Pawlik and Joseph Moczygemba were witnesses for this ceremony. Charles Scheffler and his new bride Anna made their home in Goliad County.
Farming 63 acres of land, the Jacob Scheffler family continued to prosper. They owned 4 horses valued at $75 and 20 cattle worth $120 (Goliad County Tax Assessments, 1865). By 1868 Jacob’s son Charles had joined his father in the farming venture, and together they managed 100 acres (Goliad County Tax Assessments, 1868).
In 1870 the census enumerator visited Jacob and Magdalena on their farmstead in Goliad County. He noted that Magdalena was keeping house and that Jacob was still actively farming. Early in the new year of 1871, Jacob rode to the neighboring DeWitt County Courthouse to register his swine mark (Marks and Brands, 5 January 1871, Book C, p. 127, #2007).
On October 29, 1878, Jacob and Magdalena celebrated the wedding of their oldest son Franz who married Katharina Kolodziej at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Yorktown (entry #7). The witnesses were Thomas Olejnik and Josef Bomba. The bride was only an infant in 1854 when she had journeyed to America with her parents, Maria Smyk and Simon Kolodziej.
Previously John Scheffler, the third son of Jacob and Magdalena, had married Franciska Jaskoła, the daughter of Josepha Hadrion and Adam Jaskoła, on June 22, 1873 (Karnes County Marriage Records, Book B, p. 96, second entry), and the newlyweds lived in Goliad County. Tragically Franciska died sometime after 1877 leaving John with two young children. Possibly with a mutual understanding of caring for one another, the aging Jacob and Magdalena moved in with John’s family. The 1880 census listed John Scheffler as head of household with Robert, age 4; Caroline, age 2; Jacob, age 70; and Magdalena, age 68. Another daughter-in-law joined all of them when John remarried. Father Pelczar, the pastor in St. Hedwig, performed the wedding of John Scheffler, a widower, and Anna, the daughter of Vincent Gans [Ganz], on November 21, 1881 (Annunciation of the BVM Catholic Church Marriage Records, second entry).
The following year, the family mourned the death of their matriarch, Magdalena Scheffler. She died on June 29, 1882, and her funeral Mass was offered two days later at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Meyersville where she had been a member for over 20 years. The priest noted in her burial record that “…during her illness she was several times fortified with sacraments.” After his beloved wife’s death, Jacob lived 10 more years. On September 27, 1892, Jacob passed away and was buried the next day in Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery.