This is the genealogy info I've compiled on our Zabels. My wife, Marcia (ZABEL) SCHOONOVER, is a great-great-granddaughter of Carl Wilhelm ZABEL, one of four ZABEL brothers that settled in Woodbury and Afton, Minnesota in the 1860’s. Her parents Fred and Mabel ZABEL moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota in 1935.
From 1843 to 1854 over one million Germans immigrated to America. The journey of our ZABEL ancestors to Afton, Minnesota began in 1843 in Fahrenwalde, Germany, a small village near the Polish border. Johann Friedrich ZABEL, born about 1775, was a shepherd’s assistant and the first ZABEL to live in Fahrenwalde. Johann Friedrich ZABEL married his second wife Helene GLUTZOW in 1811 and died in Fahrenwalde in 1838. Ten of his fourteen children immigrated to America between 1843 and 1854 and lived near Niagara Falls and the city of Buffalo in Niagara County, New York.
Between 1865 and 1870 four of their sons -- Carl Wilhelm, Gottfried, Gottlieb and Carl Friedrich -- migrated from Niagara County, New York to Washington County, Minnesota and settled in the St. Croix Valley near Afton. In New York the ZABEL sons Carl Wilhelm, Gottfried and Gottlieb were tailors and Carl Friedrich was a grocer, although in Minnesota farming would also be a part all of their lives. These four ZABEL brothers and most of their descendants remained in Washington County and are buried in seven cemeteries near and in Afton. In the early 1900s Carl Wilhelm ZABEL’s grandson William Henry ZABEL moved to Minneapolis to work for the Soo Line Railroad. In 1907 when he was 22 years old William Henry married Ida GROSS. William Henry ZABEL, his son Fredrick Otto ZABEL, and his father-in-law Otto GROSS all worked at the Soo Line Railroad shops in Minneapolis. Fredrich Otto ZABEL and his grandfather Otto GROSS upholstered railroad cars and William Henry ZABEL repaired and maintained the cars.
And now Part II of this story: Bob and Marcia SCHOONOVER coincidentally moved to Afton in 1966, based partly on Fred ZABEL’s positive memories of family reunions in Afton and Valley Creek, and before they knew any of this earlier history about ZABEL’s in Minnesota. About 35 years later, in 2001, they became interested in genealogy and discovered that the Afton area they lived in was also where Marcia’s great-great-grandparents had lived more than 135 years earlier.