The Schuknecht family of Hume, Allegany Co., N.Y.

By Larry B. Schuknecht


This family history is a collection of both established facts and stories told by older members of the family. Those members of the family who contributed to this effort before they passed away were Frieda Gillette, Francis Ballard, Byron Zimmer, my grandparents Frederick A. Schuknecht III and Helen Schuknecht, Victor & Ruth Bennett, Ray Lilly and Arthur John & Florine Bennett. Some stories may be more fiction than fact, but I find that often there is some basic truth to them upon which elaboration has been added. I have included all of the stories in this book for future generations to enjoy and add to. The genealogical records of the Parents and Grand-parents of Christian Schmidt and Sophia Krueger were found in early church records which are available through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Throughout the story-wherever possible I give the reader some indication to the source of the subject. It is my hope that future generations will find this story interesting and enlightening.

Frederich Theodore Schoknecht

On January 19, 1853 Frederich Theodore Schoknecht and Friedericka G. Schmidt were married in Damm, Mecklenberg, Germany by Pastor Philip Fleishmann I. The witnesses were Henrick Michelson Sr. and Jr. (1). Later in 1853 they decided to leave Germany and emigrate to America. When Frederich & Friedericka were standing at the ticket station waiting to buy their passage Friedericka saw a man holding a little baby and crying. She asked Frederich why the man was crying, where was his wife? Frederich told her he did not know so they approached the man and asked him "what was the matter?"

The man told them that he and his wife were on a ship to America when his wife gave birth but died shortly afterwards. He did not want to go on without her but the ship would not turn around so he tranferred to the next ship going back to Germany after his wife was buried at sea. He explained that he now had no money and no wife. Frederich told him that he would have money. They took his unused tickets and paid him the money they would have cost them otherwise. (2)

Friedericka Georgina Schoknecht-nee Schmidt

According to their grandson Byron Zimmer they set sail from Bonn on the ship Sedan but it is more likely they left Lubeck or Stettin aboard the Sidon which was an immigrant boat operated by the Cunard Line. Byron said that it was a combination paddlewheel and sailing vessel and that is the type of vessel seen on a poster for the Sidon which I observed aboard the Queen Mary at Long Beach, California. According to Byron the ship stopped at Hull, England where the vessel picked up a lot of Irish with their potatoes. The Germans had brought a lot of Rice with them. The journey took six weeks.

An 1846 drawing of the ship Sidon operated by the Cunard Line.

About two weeks after Frederich and Friedericka had left Germany her brother Johann C. Schmidt also set sail for America and by good fortune arrived at New York at almost the same time on Jan. 10, 1854. they proceeded to travel up the Erie Canal to Rochester, N.Y. and settled there. It is believed that Johann Schmidt had been to America at least once before this and probably had returned to Germany to arrange the emigration of the balance of his family. They were his parents- Christoph (Christian) Friederick Wilhelm Schmidt and Sophia (Krueger) Schmidt and their younger children Christian Jr., Sophia and Mary who joined the others in July of 1854.

When Frederich, Friedericka and her brother Johann arrived in America the original destination was Wisconsin but when they reached Rochester, N.Y. during their passage up the Erie Canal they recognized the splendid advantages there and decided to stay. Friedericka's brother Christian went on to Iowa for a time but shortly returned to Rochester.

Frederich Theodore Schoknecht was born on Feb. 22, 1827 to Johann Schoknecht and Mary Sfirneka (3). Shortly after coming to America Frederich anglicized his first name to Frederick. His wife Friedericka was born on May 31, 1836. Her father Christian Schmidt (Sr.) was born on Sept. 11, 1796 in Doimsul, Mecklenberg, Germany to Johann Niclaus Schmidt and Maria Christina (Krulle) Schmidt. Christian's grand parents are believed to have been Niclaus Schmidt Sr. and his wife Elizabeth (Moeller) Schmidt, Chistoph Dauk and his wife Maria. Friedericka's mother Sophia (Krueger) Schmidt was born in 1808.

John C. Schmidt

Johann C. Schmidt was born on July 24, 1826 and by 1856 had angicized his first name to John. It seems that it was his impetus which brought the family to America. He apparently took to the American ways easily and with quite some success. He operated a grocery in the city of Rochester, N.Y. and may have been something of a lone shark. Connected with and run in conjunction with the grocery was a wood lot where John sold fuel and firewood to the city residents before Coal became popular. (2) Frederick Schuknecht's 1910 Obituary states that he worked his first two years in Rochester as a Cabinet Maker.

About this time the Genesee Valley Canal was completed and the Caneadea Indian Reservation had been opened for settlement. John heard about the abundant hardwood in the area of Fillmore, N.Y. and the reservation and took his brother-in-law Frederick down there to inspect it. Subsequently they bought one hundred acres of Lot 63 on halves from Mordicai McPherson for $1,012. on May 9, 1856. (4) On April 24, 1856 John and Frederick contracted with Mordicai to Supply enough Hemlock lumber to build one house 20 feet by 24 feet and one and one half stories high, consisting of framing, roof, shingles, and siding to enclose this house for $50 with the materials delivered at Mordicai's mill in Hume. (4)

John Schmidt owned a canal boat which Frederick and Friedericka operated on the Genesee Valley Canal hauling firewood from Fillmore to Rochester. Crews of men cut the wood and oxen were used to move the log's and wood to the banks of the Canal. Byron Zimmer stated that Christian Schmidt Jr. worked with and supervised the wood cutting crews. (2)

An image of a wood cutting crew using Oxen for motive power

Christian (Sr.) and Sophia Schmidt were living in Rochester, N.Y. but the rest of the family felt that the work Christian was doing was too strenuous. Their son John found 20 acres of land in Caneadea where a place was built for them to retire to. Although they were comfortable, they missed the rest of the family until Fred and Friedericka moved permanently on to the property in Fillmore which became the home of the Schuknecht's for the remainder of their lives. (2)

The work of cutting and clearing the timber on the Fillmore Reservation property, hauling it on the canal to Rochester and it's subsequent sale went on for two years.

Catherine (Roth) Schmidt

In 1859 John Schmidt met Catherine Roth and asked her to marry him. Her health was not the best so she left Rochester to stay with Fred and Friedericka in Fillmore. After a couple of month's there John and Catherine were wed in Caneadea. They had a house built on the south west corner of the property jointly owned by John and Fred. In later years this particular piece of property was referred to as Johann's Hufe being German for John's Land. They did not stay there long but returned to Rochester and carried on the business of selling fuel wood and expanding the merchandise they handled in the store they owned and operated. (2)

Christian Schmidt Jr.

In 1860 Christ Schmidt Jr. met and married Elizabeth Lotz and they settled on another farm on Dutch Hill near Fred and Friedericka.(2)

Christian (Sr.) and Sophia Schmidt found life in Caneadea too hard on them so in 1862 they returned to Rochester where they took up residence in close proximity to John and Catherine. They lived there until Sophia passed away in 1868. Christian then moved to Fillmore and spent the rest of his days living with Fred and Friedericka until his death in 1878. (2)

Elizabeth (Lotz) Schmidt

Frederick and Friedericka's first daughter Theresa Loise was born in Rochester on Jan. 2, 1855. She married Julian Wells and she died on May 8, 1922. The story is told that when Theresa was an infant she fell from the Canal boat that Frederick and Friedericka operated into the water. Just before Theresa was crushed between the boat and a bank or structure her mother reached over the side of the boat and pulled her out of the water. (5)

The rest of the nine children of Frederick and Friedericka were all born in Fillmore. They were-

Henrietta Maria (May 16, 1857-March 14, 1933), married Frank Patterson

Louise Christina (Feb. 14, 1859- Aug. 16, 1927) married Henry P. Zimmer

Sophia Elizabeth (May 10, 1861- June 17, 1946) married Frank Ritter

Emma Sophia (Aug. 11, 1863- Dec. 24, 1923) married Judson Gillette

Maria Fredericke ( Feb. 2, 1866-April 22, 1924) married George Beardsley

Frederick John (Oct. 2, 1867- Oct. 5, 1955) married 1. Mary Schuknecht, 2. Margaret McJury

George Karl (April 17, 1870- 1945) married Elda Minne Whiting

Albert Theador (Feb. 17, 1872- Nov. 28, 1946) married Florence Beardsley

Frederick & Friedericka

Friedericka Schuknecht in 1903
Frederick Theodore Schuknecht in 1903

Frederick was rather short being only about five feet tall while Friedericka was over six feet tall. She was a hard working woman who was thought of as a slave driver by her grandson Byron Zimmer. Byron wrote that she was very knowledgeable about soil and crops and that she was always consulted before any planting was done. Frederick was very experienced at grafting fruit trees and was very proud of his Orchard. His three boys looked after it and they derived an income from it by shipping Apples to Rochester. Both Frederick and Friedericka had brilliant minds and liked to read. They were very religious and were faithful members of the Lutheran Church. (2)

Miss Frieda Gillette who was named after her grandmother wrote- "When our grandparents went to live on the farm which was for so long their home, they attended a Lutheran Church on Basswood Hill in the Town of Caneadea. It amazes me that they could go that distance, however they went only every other Sunday and on the other Sunday's some of these German families from the Dutch Hill area came to grandfather's home and he read a sermon from a book which was printed in 1862 and is all in German". Friedericka was a very serious person and very firm in her convictions. Frederick was the humorous one, always telling jokes and loved a good time. His grandson Byron Zimmer loved him and during the summers of his youth would stay with them and every day he would go riding with his grandfather. Byron said that he loved to ride with him as he knew where to stop so he could go into the woods to pee.

One day Fred told Byron not to tell his grandmother but they would go to the fair in Wellsville on a certain day and spend the day there. Byron said that when they got to the fair Fred was just like a boy, buying popcorn and the likes.

Often when they brought their Canal Boat into Fillmore Friedericka would stay on the boat while Frederick would hike over the hills to get to the property which he was always impatient to do. Once they had a hired man who helped on the boat. While they were in Fillmore he went into town and later returned intoxicated. When he got back on the boat Friedericka told him to get off and never come back and kicked him into the canal head first. Friedericka was not someone to cross.

Frederick adds to the farm and becomes a U. S. Citizen-

On the 20th of Oct. 1860 Freiderich Schoknecht contracted with Maria minard to buy 25 1/2 acres of ground and also a small piece of ground for the purpose of erecting a Sawmill for the sum of $303.00 to be paid by cutting all of the Beech, Maple, Ironwood and Birch from the remaing part of lot 62 of which the 25 1/2 acres was a part of, at the rate of Eleven Schillings per cord. On the 29th of October 1860 Frederick Schuknecht became a citizen of the United States before Judge Martin Grover in the Angelica Court House. Obviously between the 20th and the 29th he had decided to change his name from Freidetich Schoknecht as written on the Maria Minard contract to Frederick Schuknecht as written on his Citizenship papers and always spelled as such afterwards.

That Frederick did erect some type of of a Sawmill is likely since a receipt dated Oct. 23, 1873 shows that J. B. Whitteck of Whitteck & Brooks paid him $6.00 for lumber. This was probably located at the mouth of what was always referred to as the Mill Stream where it met Rush Creek.

Over the years small parcels of land were purchased to add to the farm until it finally consisted of 200 acres.

The Children of Frederick & Friedericka

The nine children of Frederick & Friedericka all grew up to adulthood and their stories are interesting and enlightening. At the time of Frederick's death in 1910 Theresa and Jullian Wells lived in Pike, Henrietta and Frank Patterson also lived in Pike. Louisa and Henry Zimmer lived in Rochester as did Sophia and Frank Ritter. Emma and Judson Gillette lived in Fillmore. Mary and George Beardsley lived in Hume. Frederick J. (who was a widower) lived in Caneadea. George lived in Medford, Oregon and Albert was farming the old homestead in Fillmore.

Frank & Sophia Ritter

Frank Ritter

Frank Ritter who was the founder of the Ritter Dental Co. was attrcted to and mattied Sophia Schuknecht. They became important benefactors to the people of Rochester and Sophia to the rest of the family during the Depression years. Frank was born in Bavaria and immigrated to America in 1870. He worked as a Cabinet Maker in New York City before settling in Rochester in 1872. He was noted as a hard worker and thrifty. Within a year after arriving in Rochester he had saved enough to start his own business making ornamental carvings for Parlor furniture, His first marriage to Elizabeth took place in 1874 and they had two daughters, Adda and Laura. When the 1880 Census was taken Sophia Schuknecht was a member of the household working as a servant. At a later unknown date Frank married Sophia. It is not known what had become of Frank's first wife Elizabeth. Sophia's nephew Byron Zimmer stated that Frank was attracted to Sophia's brilliant mind and stature, being tall like her mother.

Sophia (Schuknecht) Ritter

Frank's furniture business grew and shortly in 1887 he became involved with a Mr. Dewell Stuck of Michigan in developing an adjustable Dental Chair. The success of this product led to other Dental equipment being introduced in the mid 1890's and Frank and Sophia became very wealthy. They lived on East Avenue in Rochester across the street from George Eastman. Byron Zimmer stated that both Frank and Sophia served on the Board of Trustee's of the Rochester Institute of technology and that their financial contributions helped to build R.I.T. to what it is today. According to the R.I.T Library Frank was named to the first board and served for more than a decade. Quoting the R.I.T. What's in a name "Mr. Ritter was a manufacturer of Dental Chairs and furniture and his business always participated in the cooperative training program of the school. He strongly believed in the value of a technical education and remained commited to the building of the Mechanics Institute." In 1968 an Ice Arena at R.I.T. was built and named in Frank's honor. Another entity that Sophia aided was the St. James Home for the Aged at 1262 South Ave. in Rochester which also was one of the beneficiaries in her will. Byron Zimmer also stated that at one time she owned a Textile School in Buffalo. It is said that Sophia offered her brothers and sisters a free education at R.I.T. and this offer may have extended to her nieces and nephews. It is not known if any of the family took advantage of this offer, but Byron Zimmer believed that her brother Frederick may have attended the Mechanics Institute.

Sophia Ritter and her mother visit the Family in Fillmore in the 1920's. From left to right- Sophie's Chauffeur, Frederick J. Schuknecht (II), Sophia Ritter, Friedericka Schuknecht, Robert Schuknecht

In 1920 Sophia purchased a house and lot in the village of Hume from Albert and Cora Boller which she assigned life use to her brother Fred's second wife Margaret. When Sophia died on June 17, 1946 she left title to the property to Margaret. When Margaret passed away on Nov. 22, 1947 that title passed to Fred. During the Depression she made visits to the old farm in Fillmore to visit her nephew Frederick III and his family and brought gifts of clothing and probably helped with food items. Every two years Sophia would buy her brother Frederick a new car. In 1935 Sophia took out an Annuity policy with the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. which quarterly paid a small amount to her brother Frederick as a retirement income and upon his death was distributed between his three children. At the time of Sophia's death the other beneficiaries of her estate were the Brick Presbyterian Church of Rochester, Mrs. Victor Bennett, Mrs. Margaret Schuknecht, Miss Francis Patterson and Mildred Beardsley Sattler.

Frederick John and Mary Schuknecht arrive at the farm about the time of their marriage.

Frederick John Schuknecht II

Frederick John & Mary Sophia Schuknecht about the time of their wedding

Frederick John Schuknecht was the oldest of the three sons of Frederick Theodore and Friedericka Schuknecht. He was born on the farm in Fillmore on Oct. 2, 1867. On Dec. 27, 1894 he married Mary Sophia Schuknecht who was the daughter of John Frederick and Frederica Zimmerman Schuknecht of Caneadea. Mary was born on April 29, 1876 in Caneadea. It is quite possible that Frederick J. and Mary Sophia were distantly related but when questioned about it family members always denied it. Mary's father- John Frederick Schuknecht was born in Germany in 1837 and died of stomach Cancer Feb. 13, 1907 in Hume. His father was John Schuknecht and his mother's name was Poshal. Frederica Zimmerman Schuknecht was born in Germany in 1842 and died in Caneadea on April 1, 1904 of Acute Appendicitis. Her father was John Zimmerman and her mother was Maria Oldenburg. John Frederick and Frederica Schuknecht immigrated to America in June 1867 and she was pregnant with their daughter Alvena at the time. Francis Ballard related the story to me that Frederica's family were wealthy merchants and did not approve of her marriage to John Frederick who was a Carpenter and they disowned her. When Frederica's mother died, she received a document from Germany which stated that the money which she had been given at the time they immigrated was her inheritance.

The home of John Frederick & Frederica (Zimmerman) Schuknecht in Caneadea, the three girls are Mary (in white), Abby and Alvena.

John Schuknecht was a fine builder and cabinet maker, and Francis Ballard of Warsaw, N.Y. owned several pieces of furniture that he had made. They were of the typical 1880's Victorian style with heavy turned legs and dark walnut wood. supposedly he built the house that they lived in and the one next to it. (7)

Frederica is said to have been an invalid in her last years but managed to earn some income by making quilts. Several of those Quilts are still in the family, as is a cherry measuring and layout stick which she used in the quilting. (7)

possibly Rose Mountain

When Frederick John and Mary Sophia were married they built a house in Caneadea not far from her parents place. One of the closest neighbors of the John F. Schuknecht family was David A. Mountain and his family. He and his wife Catherine (the daughter of Captain William Rock of Belfast) had eight children who were Anastasia, Rose, Mary, William, David, Stephen, Agnes and Elizabeth. (3) Mary Sophia Schuknecht kept two autograph books in the 1880's and 1890 which include many entries from the Mountain children. It is clear that Mary and Rose Mountain were close during their youths and remained so into adulthood.

Caneadea District School no. 10 where rose was the Teacher

Rose Mountain became a School Teacher as did her sisters and taught in the Caneadea District School no. 10.(3) Frederick and Mary Schuknecht's daughter Ruth attended this School and from three letters written by Mary to Rose it is evident that young Ruth was also fond of her teacher, Rose. When Mary died in 1909 Rose gave those letters to seven-year old Ruth with instructions that she should keep them until she grew up. Ruth kept them her entire life.

By the time the 1900 Census was taken Frederick John and Mary Sophia were living in the Town of Hume and that he was working as a Home Carpenter. Interestingly the previous household on the Census report was John J. Schuknecht born in 1827 and his wife Georgas who was born in 1826. John's given occupation was a retired Farmer. What the relationship between John J. and our family of Schuknecht's might have been is unknown.

Frederick J. and Mary S. had three children, Ruth was born on Nov. 24, 1901, Frederick A. was born on Aug. 20, 1905 and Robert was born on March 12, 1908. Mary's constitution was weakened by the birth of Robert and she died of Pneumonia on June 12, 1909 with her husband and sisters close by her side. (7) Byron Zimmer stated that Frederick was devastated by Mary's death and he told Byron he did not know if he could go on without her, but of course he did. Byron also said that he turned to his sister Sophia Ritter for comfort and help. When the 1910 U. S. Census was taken Frederick's household in Caneadea included his 18 year old niece- Lucetta Patterson who's occupation was recorded as a housekeeper. It is obvious that Lucetta was there to help Frederick care for the three children who were now motherless. Frederick's occupation was given as a Farmer.

Margaret A. McJury

It has been said that with the responsibility of caring for three children he looked for a woman to help him raise them. In some way he met Margaret A. McJury of Pembroke, N.Y. and they were married on Feb. 12, 1912 in the Town of Hume. I once heard Margaret referred to as a Mail Order Bride and since she was 45 years old and not particularly attractive there may be some truth to that.

Shortly after their marriage Frederick and Margaret with the children moved to Pembroke and lived in a house on the north side of Route 5 just west of the present Thruway overpass. During this time Frederick worked at general carpentry.

The Pembroke School students in 1916, Ruth Schuknecht is standing, 7th from the left , her brother Frederick III is standing at the far right and Robert may be the boy nealing in front of Ruth.

Around 1918 Frederick and Margaret moved back to the farm in Fillmore where Fred's mother Friedericka was still living by herself. They signed an informal agreement to purchase the farm from Friedericka and to give her free use of four rooms of the downstairs of the house and two rooms upstairs and to supply her with eggs, butter, milk, firewood and water for the rest of her natural life. On April 15, 1919 Frederick and Margaret purchased the Farm from Sophia Ritter for $2,500.00. When the 1920 U. S. Census was taken Friedericka was still living at the farm with Frederick and Margaret but shortly afterward she moved to Rochester to live with her daughter Louisa Zimmer and her family and Frederick and Margaret moved to Hume to a house Sophia Ritter had purchased for them.

About this same time The farm was named "Twin Elms" after two Elm trees which stood about 20 feet apart and were linked by a large limb from one to the other. These stood in a hollow on the west side of the farm near the Sugar bush.

An envelope for the "Twin Elms" farm with young Robert standing under the arch.

Frederick buys a Sawmill and his children mature into Adulthood

Frederick's son in law ( Ruth's husband) Victor Bennett once told me the story that in 1918 Frederick was contracted by Houghton College in Caneadea to build a girl's dormitory. One of the stipulations was that the framing was to come out of timber from a wood lot owned by the College. To achieve this Frederick bought an old Sawmill in Wiscoy and in the wintertime he and Victor took two teams of horses and Bobsleds to the hill above the village and removed the iron parts of the mill. At that time the mill was quite old and all of the wooden parts of the track and carriage had rotted away. The mill originally had three head blocks and knees but by the time they had loaded all that they felt the bobsleds could carry they decided to leave one head block and knee behind. That head block and knee probably is still remaining in the woods at the top of Wiscoy Hill where they left it. They moved the Sawmill parts to Houghton and set it up and accomplished the task of sawing the framing lumber of the dormitory with it. Ray Lily (the husband of Frederick's grand-daughter Winona) told me that the dormitory had two floors besides the basement and that it had a spiral staircase. Frederick built the staircase for the first to second floor in the basement after which he hoisted it up into place. Then he built the staircase for the first floor to basement and when he was finished the jointing was so precise that you could not tell where one stair unit ended and the other started.

The old Sawmill that Frederick bought is a "Steele's no. 2" made by the Moravia Foundry and Machine Company of Moravia, N.Y. It may have been made as early as 1880 as Company literature existing from that date mentions that model Sawmill. I believe that the Sawmill was originally built in Wiscoy at a foundry which once stood on the bank of Wiscoy Creek. John S. Minard in his 1896 book Allegany County and it's People states that in 1842 Miles Dodge built a Furnace and foundry and conducted an extensive business increasing its facilities until they constructed steam engines and mill machinery. I once visited the owner of the old planing mill in Wiscoy and was given permission to go through the building. In the attic I found wooden patterns for parts of the sawmill and at one time Wiscoy also had a Machine Shop and I believe that there was some connection between that business and the one in Moravia. Frederick had the Sawmill in a building in the valley near the mouth of the mill stream and I was told that he powered it with a 12 cylinder engine out of a Rickenbacker car.

In the mid 1920's Frederick J. built a new gambrel roof barn on the old farm. It is presently difficult to determine when and where Frederick and Margaret and the other members of the family moved to or from since several factors can not presently be reconciled. Photographs show Frederick J. Schuknecht's children- Ruth, Frederick Alton III and Robert at the farm in Fillmore as teenagers. This substantiates the assumption that they moved there in 1918 or 1919.

From left to right is Robert, Frederick III and Ruth at the farm in Fillmore

Frederick Alton Schuknecht III

What is puzzling is Frederick Alton (III) may have moved back to and lived in the Pembroke or to the Akron area in the late 1920's when he met Helen Cummings of Clarence Center. The following is the story of their meeting as told to me by my grandmother- Helen.

Helen Julia Cummings about 1928 or 1929

One day Fred's friend Ernest Becker was planning a trip tp Akron, N.Y. to see Viola Cummings who he had become acquainted with and would later marry. Ernest asked Fred to come along with him. When Ernest and Fred met up with Viola, Fred was soon smitten with a little red headed girl who was there. Fred asked Ernest who the red headed girl was and found out that she was Viola's sister- Helen Cummings. They began dating and were married on Dec. 27, 1927. Helen's mother Fredericka Cummings did not approve of Fred but this did not deter them from their nuptials.

Frederick A. (III) and Helen (Cummings) Schuknecht with their late 1920's Model T Ford Coupe.

After Fred and Helen were married they purchased a house in Akron, N.Y. on Indianola Ave., where their first son-Frederick Alton Schuknecht IV was born on March 4, 1929. At the time Fred worked for the State on New York but when the Depression hit and a new State Administration took over, he was laid off. With no work available he began cutting firewood but this was not enough to pay the bills and they lost the house they had almost paid for to the bank. Then they moved for a short time to a house on Pork Ridge on Hunts Corners Rd. in the Town of Newstead. Fred's father-Frederick J. offered them the use of the Farm in Fillmore and they moved to and lived there for the next decade and a half.

The Depression was hard on them as it was on everyone. They basically lived off of what the farm could produce but the clay and gravel ground was not good for growing most vegetable crops. There was a Sugarbush on the farm where they produced maple syrup. Fred had purchased a new Ithaca Lefever 16 gauge shotgun in 1926 and he used this to hunt for meat. For each Squirrel he delivered to the Fillmore Hardware Store he was given two shotgun shells. One shell he would use to get another Squirrel to barter and the other shell would be used to take a Squirrel for the family.

Byron on the left and Fred IV on the right

On June 6, 1932 Helen gave birth to a second son- Byron Oscar Schuknecht. Sadly he was born as a Hemophiliac and died when he was only eight years old. He was a frail boy who bruised easily and once he broke a leg when he slipped on the wet floor where his mother was mopping. He still wanted to go to School so badly that his mother would carry him out to and put him on the bus each morning and when he arrived at School he would be carried in. Helen wrote in her scrapbook that all he ever wanted was a cowboy suit and a guitar and he loved making paper airplanes. He was riding on the back of a hay wagon sucking on a Timothy straw when he pierced a blood vessel in his gum and began bleeding which they could not stop. This was on a Wednesday. He went into the Fillmore Hospital where they attempted to cauterize the wound but the blood vessel burst out in another place and although he was given many blood transfusions he passed away on Monday night, August 5, 1940. I think my grandmother Helen always carried Byron close in her heart even though he was gone and this event strengthened her faith in God and had an influence on many of her later actions in life.

Byron & Fred in the foreground with other foster boys.

Frederick A. IV was often called Junior but was nicknamed Joe by his Weiler cousins, and Byron was nicknamed Benny. In the late 1930's or early 1940's Fred and Helen took in Foster children while in Fillmore. Some of them were Bob Leisering, Dan West, Jenny Marshall, Billy De Rock and James Melvin.

The Rush Creek Railroad Trestle

Here I depart from the family story to elaborate on the construction of a Trestle across Rush Creek in 1908 which had it's southern end cutting through a northern corner of the Schuknecht farm. This Trestle played a part in the Family story which will be told in the next paragraph.. The construction of the Railroad Trestle was a major event in the village of Fillmore and became a prominent feature of the Dutch Hill area. The newspaper clipping gives details of the Trestle and it's construction.

End of the Depression, World War II and the move to Clarence Center

Fred III and Junior at the Trestle guard shack

On Dec. 7, 1941 War was declared on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. One week before Christmas Frederick A. III and his brother in law Victor Bennett were hired by the Erie Railroad to guard the Railroad Trestle which crossed the Rush Creek valley. They were paid $150. a month and Fred was supplied with a sawed off shotgun. Fred tested the shotgun by shooting at a pail near the creek from the top of the Trestle. When it failed to even dimple the paint on the pail he swapped it for a Savage 22 bolt action rifle reasoning that he could do more damage if he could at least hit something. Fred and Victor performed guard duty until Sept. 1944. That same year Fred IV (Junior) suffered a burst Appendicitis and was in the Warsaw Hospital for two weeks.

The Erie Railroad Trestle across the Rush Creek Valley

On Nov. 7, 1944 Fred and Helen and Junior moved to Helen's mother's home in Clarence Center and on Nov. 22 Fred was hired at the Certainteed Plant in Akron. Fred's father-Frederick J. was not pleased that they were leaving the farm and moving to Clarence and he threatened to disown him. Fred & Helen with Junior lived with Grandma Cummings until 1946 when they bought and moved to a farm a short distance north of the Cumming's place on Salt Rd.. During the 1950's Fred began growing flowers and vegetables in Cold Frames and around 1960 Fred and Junior built a redwood and glass greenhouse where they started many plants but mainly melons and Geraniums. They usually planted 2 to 4 acres of Melons each year which thrived on the rich black loam in the flood plain where the farm is on Salt Rd. These melons were sold by the roadside and often on Main St. in Clarence in Helen's sister Elvira Weiller's front yard on the east hill. Fred and Helen lived on Salt Rd. until 1978 when they moved permanently to Florida. In 1969 Helen retired from Harrison Radiator in Lockport and Fred retired from Georgia Pacific (successor to the Bestwall and Certainteed Corporations) in Akron. Fred passed away in Florida on Nov. 7, 1987 and Helen passed away in Florida on Dec. 20, 1995.

Standing are Ruth (Croop) and Fred Schuknecht IV. Robert Schuknecht (son of Frederick II) is seated with the young author beside him at Silver Lake, Perry, N.Y.

Frederick the IV or Junior married Ruth Marie Croop and they had three sons- Larry (the author) born March 1949, Frederick V-born Aug. 1953 and Robert-born Nov. 1955. Fred retired from Harrison Radiator in Lockport after working there for 30 years and he and Ruth moved permanently to Florida. Ruth passed away on oct. 1, 1992 and Fred passed away on June 9, 2010.

Ruth Schuknecht, Eldest Child of Frederick II

Ruth (Schuknecht) Bennett at Victors Saw Mill.

Ruth who was the first child of Frederick John and Mary Sophia Schuknecht married Victor Hugh Bennett on May 17, 1922 in Short Tract in the Town of Granger. Victor was born on July 4, 1898 in Short Tract to Arthur John Bennett (May 1869- ) and Edna (Baldwin) Bennett (Aug. 1862- ).

Arthur John Bennett was the son of Hugh Bennett (1846-1878) and Annie Walbridge (1848- ). In the 1880 U.S. Census Arthur John lived with his grandparents- Joseph and Eliza on their farm in Granger. Edna (Baldwin) Bennett was the daughter of George W. Baldwin (Oct. 1834- ) and Alice Baldwin( Jan. 1833- ).

Hugh Bennett was the son of Joseph Burr Bennett (1813-1883) and Eliza Jemmison (1811-April 19, 1884). Joseph was born in England and Eliza was born in Ireland. Eliza was Joseph's second wife, His first wife was Catherine A. McGlynn (1816- ) and she gave birth to nine children. Then Joseph had ten children by Eliza.

George W. Baldwin was the son of Enos Baldwin who moved to Short Tract in 1823 and was a Captain in the local Militia. He was a Justice for 32 years (3).

Eliza Jemmison was the daughter of Robert Jemmison of York, Livingston Co., N.Y.

Joseph Burr Bennett was the son of Henry (1772-May 3, 1862) and Mary Ann Bennett (1770-1842). He was born in Dorchester, England and came to America with his mother and siblings in 1831. Joseph and Mary had ten children.

Ruth and Victor Bennett had five children, they are-

Arthur John Bennett-Feb. 10, 1923-Feb. 3, 1991

Winona (Lilly) Langley- April18, 1924-

Marcella Weaver- Feb. 12, 1926-

Barbara Copeland- Sept. 12, 1932-

Robert Bennett- May 12, 1936-Jan. 29, 1937

From Left to Right: Marcella, Barbara, Winona holding her son Eugene and their mother Ruth Bennett at her brother Fred's home in Clarence Center Circa 1946

For a period of time Victor & Ruth lived in Hammondsport, N.Y. before moving to Fillmore around the time of the Depression. In 1953 when they lived in Hume with Ruth's father-Frederick John, Ruth decided to try weaving to earn some extra money. She sold baked goods until she had accumulated enough money to buy a loom. Then she bought a new Loom which was delivered unassembled to the rail station in Fillmore. Her father Frederick told her she would never get it set up and working but that was the wrong thing to tell her and she did get it assembled and working. Eventually she obtained other looms both larger and smaller and weaving played an important part in the rest of her life. The other members of the extended family would collect rags and rip or cut them into strips and wind them into balls to be woven into what were called Rag Rugs.

Victor Bennett at his Sawmill

Victor Bennett owned an American Saw Mill Machinery Co. "Hercules" sawmill with a "Log Beam" carriage which he operated for many years. He used a International Harvester 22-36 that his son Art owned as a power source in later years. After Art sold that tractor they used an International "660" Diesel Tractor as a power source until Victor sold the mill. For many years Victor operated a Drag Line for the county of Allegany.

Victor and Ruth's only son- Arthur John married Florine Minard on June 28, 1950. They had no children. On Nov. 12, 1945 Winona Bennett married Ray E. Lilly. They had two children- Eugene V. Lilly (Oct. 1946- ) and Rayona A. Lilly (Nov. 1948- ). Marcella Bennett married Kent M. Weaver on May 12, 1946 and they had three children-Dennis B. Weaver (Feb. 1947- ), Marilyn M. Weaver (Jan. 1950- ) and Harrison W. Weaver (June 1956- ). Victor and Ruth's youngest daughter Barbara married Clinton Copeland on April 11, 1968 and they had no children.

Ray and Winona (Bennett) Lilly

Ruth Bennett passed away on June 24, 1981. On Jan. 8, 1982 Winona Langley's first husband Ray Lilly passed away. Ray had retired from a long career with Rochester Gas & Electric and they had moved to Florida. After Ray's death Winona met a charming man named George F. Langley Jr. and on May 5, 1984 they were married. They had many happy years together and shared a passion for square dancing. Victor H. Bennett passed away on March 2, 1988.

On Feb. 3, 1991 Arthur John Bennett passed away. He had operated a Dairy farm in Fillmore and had retired from a position as Highway Superintendent for the Town of Hume. Arthur appreciated and collected old Tractors, Cars and Trucks. Shortly before his death he purchased two scarce Rickenbacker cars. Marcella's husband- Kent Weaver passed away on July 25, 2006. Kent was born on Sept. 13, 1923 and served as a Sergeant in the U. S. Army in Northern Italy during World war II. He was a graduate of Cornell University and worked for many years at Friendship Dairies. Barbara's husband- Clinton H. "Kinky" Copeland was born on Dec. 16, 1920 and passed away on July 9, 2006. He was a World War II veteran and operated a Tractor repair shop on his families farm in Eagle, N.Y.

Robert & Alice Schuknecht on their honeymoon at Niagara Falls.

Robert Schuknecht

Robert was the youngest child of Frederick John and Mary Schuknecht, born on March 12, 1908. He passed away on May 30, 1980. He married Alice Davis (July 4, 1906-Dec.5, 2000). They had no children. Robert worked for the State of New York Highway Dept. his entire life and he and Alice lived in Rochester, maintaining a cottage at Silver lake in Perry, N.Y. Later after his retirement he built a new home at Silver Lake where he and Alice lived.

George Karl Schuknecht

George Schuknecht standing, William Gillette seated.

George Karl Schuknecht was the second son of Frederick Theodore and Friedericka Schuknecht. He was born on April 17, 1870 in Fillmore, N.Y. on the family farm. George was an adventurous sort and could be considered the black sheep of the family. According to Byron Zimmer he was the only one in the family that drank alcohol but not excessively. When news of the Alaska and Yukon Gold Rush reached Fillmore, he and possibly a friend-William Gillette decided to go there and seek their fortune. George went around Fillmore asking acquaintances to each invest $100. in the venture with promises that if he hit it big, they would share the wealth. He convinced each investor to keep everything confidential and secret and each thought that he was the lone investor until years later when village talk finally exposed the scheme. George and his friend Willian Gillette probably crossed the country by rail and it can be assumed that they went to Seattle where they probably boarded a boat for Skagway, Alaska. It is there that we pick up his trail. On Oct. 12, 1899 he crossed the border from Alaska into Canada and on Dec. 7, 1899 he was issued a Free Miners Permit at Dominion Creek in the Yukon. References to George can be found in Caribou City as late as 1905. By the time of his father's death in 1910 he was living in Medford, Oregon.

It is only speculation on my part that George was accompanied on his journey by his friend Willian Gillette. Some of the evidence that leads me to this conclusion are-

  1. In the 1880 U. S, Census a Wm. B. Gillette and family lived almost next door to the Frederick T. Schuknecht farm and family. William's wife was Laura M. who in 1887 sold part of her farm to Frederick. William and Laura had a son William B. Jr. who was born in 1867. William Jr. and George were more or less the same age, William being 2 1/2 to 3 years older.
  2. The Skagway, Alaska Gold Rush Cemetery contains a monument marked Wm. Gillette-Feb. 21, 1898. After traveling together to Skagway, William probably died of a disease such as Diphtheria which was prevalent there at the time.

George probably worked on the building of the White Pass & Yukon Railroad until it's completion when he proceeded on to the Klondike. If he had any success finding Gold in the Klondike it was most likely modest at best.

George & Minnie West with Russell and Ralph.

After leaving the Klondike George settled in Clatsop, Oregon where he took up the name "West" instead of Schuknecht. This may have been in consequence of the anti- German feelings during the first World War. On April 17, 1919 George West of Clatsop married Elda Whiting in Clark Co., Washington. The 1930 U. S. Census shows Elda Minnie West as being 50 years old and born in Ill. She was 10 years younger than George. That (1930) census shows that George was a Truck Driver hauling Lumber. Their household also included an 11 year old grandson-Russel West and a 9 year old grandson-Ralph West. In 1940 at the age of 70 George was working at a Wood business of his own. Records show that there is a George C. West (1871-1945) buried in the old City Cemetery in Vancouver, Wa.

Judson & Emma Gillette

Emma Sophia Schuknecht

Born on Aug. 11, 1863 to Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht, she was their fourth child. Emma married Judson M. Gillette (March 27, 1856- Oct. 26, 1922) and they owned and operated a farm in Fillmore, N.Y. They had one daughter- Frieda A. who was born on Jan. 13, 1899 and named after her grand mother.

Frieda graduated from Fillmore High School in 1917 with a major in Mathematics. She attended the University of Rochester and in her sophomore year changed her studies to History. Her aunt Sophia Ritter may have influenced her decision to attend the University of Rochester and also may have aided her financially. She graduated in 1921 and accepted a teaching position in the Belfast High School. Frieda lost both of her parents within short period of time, her father on oct. 26, 1922 and her mother on Dec. 24, 1923. In 1923 she joined the faculty at Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y. This became her home for the rest of her life.

She went on to further her education by earning her Master's and Doctoral Degrees from Cornell University in 1927 and 1944 respectively. During the second world War she took on extra teaching assignments to fill the void left by male professors who joined the War effort.

Frieda Gillette

Frieda taught Modern European, Western European, Far Eastern and British History in addition to Political Science. During her teaching career she traveled widely visiting Europe, Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii and the Far East. When she went on a trip to Columbia, South America she was accompanied by Dr. Crystal L. Rork who was a fellow teacher at Houghton College. While in Columbia they were the guests of Rev. and Mrs. Robert Lytle who had previously served at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Fillmore.

Frieda served as the Town of Caneadea Historian and was an authority on Genesee Valley history. She wrote and edited a book entitled And You Shall Remember which was a pictorial history of Houghton College published for it's 1983 centennial observance. She was a member of the Houghton Wesleyan Church from 1975 to 1978 and she taught a weekly women's bible study class. (6) Although Frieda was never married or had children, she had a life filled with young people around her and I am sure that they loved her as much as she loved and cared for them. This is shown by several previous alumni who have recently given to Houghton College in remembrance of her.

Louisa Christina Schuknecht

Louisa Christina Schuknecht

Louisa Christina Schuknecht was the third daughter of Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht born on Feb. 15, 1859. She married Henry P. Zimmer (March 23, 1845-May 9, 1924) of Rochester, N.Y. They had four children- Arthur Zimmer (April 19, 1878- ), Edith Zimmer (March 4, 1881- Nov. 6, 1926), Maude Zimmer (Sept. 1, 1883- Feb. 1, 1943) and Byron Zimmer (July 8, 1889- Feb. 1987). Henry and Louisa owned and operated a successful Grocery store in Rochester. Byron as a youngster spent his summers on the farm in Fillmore with his grandparents. He enjoyed listening to stories his grandmother Friedericka told about the family and her youth and it is to him and his memory that we are able to have some glimpse into the Schuknecht family heritage. (2)

The H. Zimmer store in Rochester with the family standing in front.
Byron Zimmer in his WWI uniform

Byron served in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I as a Railroad Engineer in the 13th Engineer Regiment. He served in France and wrote to his mother on April 4, 1918 that he was operating a French Locomotive doing switching and acting as a pusher on heavy trains that had difficulty getting over a steep grade. After the war he went to work for the Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. from which he retired.

In his final years he resided at the St. James Nursing Home in Rochester. The apartment there was free to him through the benevolence of his aunt-Sophie Ritter.

Henrietta Schuknecht

Henrietta was the second child of Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht being born on May 16, 1858. She married Frank Patterson (Sept. 18, 1845-Feb. 26, 1927) and they had eight children- Ellen (Nov. 13, 1874-May 17,1944), Harry (Feb. 1, 1882-May 11, 1959), Emma (May 21, 1884-Oct. 17, 1965), Fred (March 4, 1889-Sept. 30, 1963), Lucetta (Sept. 9, 1891- ) and Henrietta (Oct. 17, 1900- ). Henrietta (the mother) passed away on March 14, 1933.

Frank Patterson
Henrietta (Schuknecht) Patterson

Albert & Florence Schuknecht with their son Kenneth
Kenneth & Laura Schuknecht

Albert Schuknecht

Albert was the youngest of the children born to Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht, born on Feb. 17, 1872. He married Florence Beardsley (Oct. 5, 1874- ). They had one son- Kenneth (June 21,1899- ) who married Laura Pike (April 2, 1897- ).

Maria (Mary) Fredericke Schuknecht

Mary Schuknecht was the sixth child of Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht, born on Feb. 2, 1865 and passed away on April 22, 1924. She married George Beardsley (April 24, 1861-Jan. 22, 1947). They lived in Hume and together they had seven children. They were-

1. Earl Beardsley-(Sept. 11, 1886-March 16, 1907) married -1.Cora Flint, 2.Hazel Hopper.

2. Ethel Beardsley- (July 22, 1888- ) married Henry C. Smith

3. Emma Beardsley (Feb. 16, 1891-Nov. 29, 1978) married Roy F. Schmidt

4.Rheta Bearsley (Aug. 12, 1893-Aug. 23, 1958) married Russell Allen

5. Edna Beardsley (Jan. 12, 1896-Feb. 5, 1992) married Floyd Robinson

6. Orson Beardsley (Oct. 3, 1899-Sept. 28, 1971) married Helen Toland

7. Mary Beardsley (July 5, 1902- ) married Monroe Flint

Some additional notes on the Schmidt-Smith Family

In the late 19th Century some of the Schmidt families began going by the name Smith. Also about that same time the Schmidt-Smith and Schuknecht families would get together for a annual reunion. By 1913 the reunion was known as the Smith-Schuknecht reunion.

The Smith-Schuknecht reunion held on Aug. 21, 1913. They are -Top row from the left- ? Zimmer, Eleanore Smith, Orson Beardsley, Henry Smith, George Smith, George Beardsley. 4th row- Albert Smith, Judson Gillette, Edna Robinson, Chris Smith, Glen Lilly, Earl Lilly, Howard Wells, Roy Smith, Frieda Gillette. 3rd row- Emma Gillette, Grace Smith, Florence Schuknecht, Nelly Smith, John Schmidt, Rita Beardsley, Emma Schmidt, Ida Lilly, unknown, Fred Lilly. 2nd row- Emma Zimmer, Frank Patterson, Henrietta Patterson, Christian J. Schmidt, Friedericka Schuknecht, Theresa Wells, Julian Wells, Mait Beardsley. Front row- Elizabeth Lilly, Mary Beardsley, Elizabeth Smith, Ken Schuknecht, Doris Smith, Louis Lilly
Another undated Smith / Schmidt-Schuknecht reunion. 2nd row from on the left is Christian J. Smith / Schmidt, Friedericka Schuknecht. Many of the same people from the previous image are in this one.
Henry and Ella Smith with baby Chris

Henry C. Smith

Henry C. Smith (March 17, 1863-Jan. 22, 1947) was the son of Christian J. Schmidt and Elizabeth Lotz. He married Ella McCarthy (Dec. 14, 1864- Feb. 26, 1912) and they had three children- Chris (Nov. 5, 1893-Feb. 16, 1978), Nellie who married W. G. Talbott (March 26, 1896- April 4, 1993) and Margaret ( -July 27, 1919).


  1. The Schuknecht family bible which was unfortunately destroyed in 1978. The family record it contained was copied previous to it's destruction.
  2. Byron Zimmer to Frederick Schuknecht V
  3. Allegany and it's people by John Minard, 1895
  4. Existing written Contract or deed
  5. Frieda Gillette to Larry B. Schuknecht
  6. Obituary for Frieda A. Gillette
  7. Francis Ballard conversation with the Author
  8. Helen Schuknecht Diary-Scrapbook
A gathering of the Schuknecht descendants in the early 1980's. From left: Roy & Marilyn DeVries, Kent & Marcella (Bennett) Weaver with Larry Schuknecht behind them, Barbara (Bennett) Copeland, Clinton Copeland behind her, Fred Schuknecht V holding Adam Schuknecht behind them, Florine (Minard) Bennett with Arthur John Bennett behind her, Alice (Davis) Schuknecht with her brother Gerald Davis behind her, Regina (Holland) Weaver with Harrison "Harry" Weaver behind her, Corrine (Wheeler) Weaver with Dennis Weaver behind her. Seated are: Helen (Cummings) Schuknecht, Fred Schuknecht III, Victor H. Bennett with his daughter Winona (Bennett) Lilly crouching next to him.
The Schuknecht family on the occasion of Frederick T. and Friedericka Schuknecht's 50th wedding Anniversary in 1903. They are- 1. Frederick T., 2-. Friedericka, 3. Ruth Schuknecht, 4. Sophia Ritter, 5. Frank Ritter, 6. Henrietta Patterson, 7. Theresa Wells, 8. Frederick J. Schuknecht
No. 1-Judson Gillette, 2-Emma Gillette, 3-Theresa Wells, 4-Friedericka Schuknecht, 5-Frederick T. Schuknecht, 6-Henry Wells, 7-Floyd Wells, 8-Max Wells.
Friedericka Schuknecht (no. 6) and her daughters. 1- Mary Beardsley, 2-Emma Gillette, 3-Theresa Wells, 4- Sophia Ritter, 5-Louisa Zimmer, 7-Henrietta Patterson.
Friedericka Schuknecht with her sons- Left to right- Albert, Frederick J. and George

Below is a Slider with views of the farm at Fillmore, starting with a view looking north at the farmstead, a view looking south at the back of the farmstead with Dutch Hill in the background, views of Frederick T. , his dog, and Friedericka around the house.

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Making Hay on the Schuknecht farm in Fillmore about 1935 no.1-Frederick J. Schuknecht II, 2-Arthur John Bennett, 3- Frederick A. Schuknecht III, 4- Frederick A. Schuknecht IV, 5-Victor H. Bennett
Frederick T. & Friedericka Schuknecht at the Celebration of their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1903.
The Anniversary Dinner, from Left to right- Friedericka, Frederick T., Frank Ritter, Frederick J. Schuknecht, Mary Schuknecht holding baby Ruth, Albert Schuknecht standing by the doorway, Henrietta Patterson, Sophie Ritter, possibly Theresa Wells, Two unknown gentlemen.
Frederick T. & Friedericka with 8 of their children. George was in the Yukon at the time.
1869 Map of the town of Hume
1869 map of the town of Granger
The 1869 map of the town of Caneadea