Hello fellow Transylvanian Schullers,
My grandfather was George Schuller, the son of George Schuller and Anna Friedl. He was born in the town of Agnethlen in Transylvania. (I believe it is now called Agnita.) February 29, 1876. He apparently was educated as far as 7th grade. The little that I know of him is heavily clouded by a lot of family "folklore," most of which I have determined to be incorrect.
The customary story was that he was from Saxony and that he had served in the German army prior to his immigration. Reportedly he started out in the Engineers, but injured his back and was transferred to repairing boots. I am told that he had a girlfriend (apparently of higher social standing) named "Regina," and it is speculated that he came to the United States to "make his fortune," and either send for Regina or return to Agnethlen. Purportedly he and his best friend stowed away on a cattle boat to come to the States. It was said that the two made a pact that neither would marry until a prescribed advanced age, however his friend supposedly broke the pact shortly after his arrival.
It's a lovely and perhaps probable story, but does not agree with the evidence. There exists an old albumen family portrait, very faded, that shows George (apparently the eldest surviving child) with his mother, two sisters and a younger brother. I presume that his father was deceased at this time. My grandmother said she thought his brother's name may have been John, but didn't know his sister's names. What made this photo interesting and helped the "legend" to unravel is that George was dressed in his military uniform! It was not a German army uniform, but a uniform of the Austro-Hungarian army. The cloth appears to be a standard field grey with a dark stand-up collar (Infantry?) bearing a single 6-pointed star on each side (Senior Private?). Resting on his knee is what appears to be a standard cloth fatigue cap. Unfortunately, I am unable to make out any distinctive features on the belt buckle or the national or state cockade on his cap. One distinguishing item is a sort of dark colored aiguillette attached to his left epaulette with 5 "pom-pom" type balls and a small whistle suspended from it. The only photo I have seen showing such an ornament was of a non-commissioned officer of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie, or military police.
There is another photo said to be of my grandfather's sister and her husband. He is wearing an all dark colored Austro-Hungarian "military" uniform. His rank is distinguished by three 6-pointed stars on either side of the standing collar and the collar is outlined by a light colored tape or piping. On the table next to him is a rigid shako with a winged device on the front. It has a vertical oval between the wings and the oval is topped with either a crown or a horse's head, not unlike a chess piece. The photo was marked with the photographer's name, Johann Polder, and the location of his gallery, Schassburg, (now called Sighisoara) the birthplace of the historical Dracula. I wish I could find a good book on pre-1900 Austro-Hungarian uniforms and regalia so I could learn more about these pictures.
According to his naturalization petition, he emigrated to the United states from Bremen, Germany on or about the 24th day of June, 1901, arriving at the port of New York on the vessel 'Koenigin Louisa.' He indicates that he had resided in the United States continuously since August 6, 1901. An examination of the Morton Allan Directory for the year 1901 indicates that the North German Lloyd Line (from Bremen to New York) had an August 6th arrival of the Koenigin Luise.
It is not known how long he stayed in New York, but his petition for naturalization was filed on June 9th, 1905 at Sharon, Pennsylvania in the Comon Pleas Court of Mercer County. A trip to the Farrell/Sharon, PA area turned up the following information:
"In February, 1900, ground was broken for Mr, Buhl's Sharon Steel Company plant, and an extensive advertising plan got underway for workers...The Sharon Steel Hoop, the American Sheet and Tin Plate, and the American Steel and Wire companies opened plants within the boundaries of the new settlement and sparked another influx of workers..."
A search of the few available city directories showed that in 1903 there was a "George Shuler" (wife Ella) employed as a foreman, living at 4 Linden Place. Whether or not that was my grandfather, I don't know. There is nothing within the family "folklore" to indicate that he had ever been married before marrying my grandmother. A check of the nearby Youngstown, OH in 1979 showed about 60 or more Schullers, including about a dozen Georges and even an Orville (my father's name.)
He left Sharon a few years later. Why, I'm not sure, but a bit more of the Farrell history indicates that there was a financial panic in 1907. The town seems to have weathered it O.K., but George was apparently on the move. A photo exists that was taken of George at the studio of Barnes & Isch of Muncie, Indiana. A check of their directories shows that the studio was in operation at 206 1/2 South Walnut somewhere between 1903 and 1906. There were no George Schullers listed as residents during this time, but in 1901-02 a John Shuler, employed at Republic Iron and Steel lived at 2701 South Vine Street. Coincidence? Probably.
His naturalization petition indicates that he had resided in Illinois since November 28, 1907. He first appears in the Peoria, Illinois city directories in 1908, listed as a wiredrawer at the recently opened South Bartonville works of Keystone Steel and Wire Co. He was then boarding at the Illinois Hotel in Bartonville, where my grandmother worked cooking and cleaning rooms. Apparently he left Keystone some time during 1909 or 1910, for he shows up in the 1910-11 directory as a bartender at the Illinois Hotel. He married my grandmother, Ola Ann Claudin, on May 8, 1913. He was 37 years old and she was 18. I am told this is the same difference of age in his parents. My uncle, George Wilbert Schuller was born November 17, 1913. Another, Wilbur Grant Schuller was born May 28, 1916. My grandfather tended bar for seven years, but eventually went back to work as a wiredrawer at Keystone November 15, 1917. I am told that he was very pro-military and tried to enlist in the United States army, but was denied because of the times and his "German" heritage. He quit on August 20, 1918, and hired back on again in a different department on September 11, 1918. He was discharged June 6, 1919. His employment record states the reason as "Refused to work Sunday May 11th or any Sunday, says 6 days a week enough even though we are in a tight pinch - Agitator."
After that, he opened a shoe repair shop in Bartonville. Family legend said it was a trade he had learned while serving in the "German army." The shoe repair business was the only other job he would work during his lifetime.
He had three more sons, Eugene Lee Schuller, born August 18, 1920, Orville Calvin Schuller (my father) born November 5, 1923, and Robert Paul Schuller, born March 16, 1925. Eugene, Orville and Robert served in the military during WWII, Eugene and Robert in the Navy and Orville in the Army Air Force. Robert was killed in action July 22, 1945.
George Schuller (my grandfather ) died October 23, 1951 in Peoria, IL of a heart attack. I was not born until February 18, 1952, so I never knew him. Ola, his wife, and sons George and Wilbur are also now since deceased.
If any of you would care to email me at email@example.com, (or firstname.lastname@example.org after February 28th), I would be happy to forward you scans of family photos in case you would like to check for any family resemblances.
By the way, we seemed to be pre-disposed to heart trouble, kidney stones and gall stones. Cataracts seem to appear somewhere between age 55-70 and macular degeneration around 80. Life expectancy of the Schuller males seems to be around 82. And yes, we are Lutherans!
I hope to hear from some of you to see if we might be "connected." Good luck with your searching!
Gregory Alison Schuller
West Peoria, Illinois