Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who is Henry Shanower?

Records show that my great-great-great-great-grandfather was Jacob Shanower (1785-1829), born near York, Adams County, Pennsylvania. But the only record of Jacob Shanower’s father, Henry Shanower, that I know of is a reference in the book Portrait & Biographical Album of Hillsdale County, Michigan, 1888. On page 413, in a short biography of William Shaneour (1842-1923), the text states:
"His father, David Shaneour, is a native of Adams Co., PA, where he was born Jan. 27, 1813, the son of Jacob Shaneour and the grandson of Henry Shaneour . . ."
Don’t be thrown by the alternate spelling of the last name Shanower as Shaneour. One branch of the family still retains that spelling, so it’s not unusual. But what’s frustrating is that this reference gives no other information about Henry Shanower. Who were his parents? Where and when was he born?

Members of the Schonauer (yes, another variant spelling) family immigrated to the USA from Europe in the middle of the eighteenth century. Hans Schonauer (1688-1749), also known under the Americanized name of John, immigrated about 1744-45 and settled in Cocalico township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Originally from Switzerland, his family had been persecuted for being Anabaptists. Hans “John” Schonauer’s particular sect seems to have been Mennonite.

Hans “John” Schonauer’s nephew, Jost Schonauer (1707-1777), sometimes known as Joseph, sailed from Germany on the ship Phoenix and arrived at the State House at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 1, 1754. He settled in in Cumru township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, the next county over from where his uncle Hans, already five years dead, had settled. Jost seems to have been Lutheran, not Mennonite.

Many of the descendants of these men are recorded. Jost Schonauer’s descendants are traced down to the present. There doesn’t seem to be room to fit Henry Shanower into Jost’s branch of the family tree.

Jost’s uncle Hans “John” Schonauer seems a better candidate as a forefather of Henry Shanower. Could Henry be Hans’s grandson? Hans “John” and his wife Ursula had seven known children, three of them sons: Christian (1717-?), Abraham (1722-1762), and Jacob (1724-1764). I have found little trace of the eldest child Christian after his birth, although he was alive when his mother Ursula made her will in 1764. Second son Abraham’s will mentions two daughters, names unrecorded, but no sons. Hans’s third son Jacob, however, married Maria Magdalena Haldeman (1738-1820) and had two children, John Shonower (about 1760-?, yet another variant spelling) and Barbara Shonower (abt 1762-?), before he died in January 1764. Jacob’s wife, Maria Magdalena, is reported to have been pregnant at that time with a third child, whose name, gender, and birth date remain unknown. If this child survived birth and infancy, and if it was a boy, could this third child have been Henry Shanower?

That’s the theory that a couple other Shanower family researchers have developed. It’s an attractive theory. This child born after its father Jacob Schonauer died would have been born in 1764. That’s a perfectly reasonable birth year for the father of my great-great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Shanower (1785-1829), the one I began this post with.

Maria Magdalena Haldeman Schonauer re-married after the death of her husband Jacob. About 1764, not long after her first husband died, she wed Joseph Van Gundy (abt 1740-abt 1795) and had seven more children.

Court records show that Jacob and Maria Magdalena Schonauer’s son John Shonower inherited his father’s estate at the age of fourteen in 1774. But I can find no further mention of John or of his sister Barbara or of their unnamed sibling born after their father’s death. I had hoped to find mention of any of these three Shonower children with Maria Magdalena’s new family, the Van Gundys. But no luck.

There are other Schonauers in Pennsylvania at this time that are probably related, but don’t yet fit with certainty into either the Hans or Jost branches. One is Anna Schoenauer (another variant), who about 1755 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, married Christian Gehman as his second wife. There are indications that Anna Schoenauer is related to Hans “John” Schonauer and his nephew Jost Schonauer. Anna came from Hochstetten, Canton Bern, Switzerland, the area where Hans “John” and Jost were both born. Her soon-to-be-husband Christian Gehman arrived in the USA at the same time and on the same ship, Phoenix, as Jost. But I don’t know exactly how Anna is related to Hans and Jost. Her offspring wouldn’t have had the last name of Shanower anyway, so she’s not Henry Shanower’s mother, but Anna is an example of other Shanowers that don’t fit clearly into the known branches.

Two of these dangling Shanowers are Jacob Shanower, orphan, and his deceased father, John Shanower. In 1750 the Orphans Court of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, appointed John Bare as this Jacob’s guardian after his father’s death, since Jacob was still a minor. Who are these unknown Jacob and John Shanower? Could they somehow correspond to the Hans “John” Schonauer and his son Jacob that are already part of the family tree?

The answer to that seems to be “no.” It’s true that Hans “John” Shanower’s death date is recorded as 1749, so if he’d left any minor children as orphans, they could logically have had guardians appointed in 1750. But Hans “John” Schonauer didn’t leave his children orphans. His wife, Ursula (1690-1773), was still alive in 1750 and would remain so for twenty-three more years. Perhaps Ursula Schonauer married again, this time to John Bare, and her new husband was appointed guardian of her children. But I know of no record of a second marriage for Ursula. And even if such a second marriage did occur, Hans “John” and Ursula Shonauer’s son Jacob was born in 1724, so he was no longer a minor when his father died. The age of majority was then 14 years old, and the Jacob born in 1724 would have been 26 years old in 1750. In fact, none of Hans “John” and Ursula Schonauer’s seven children were minors in 1750. Their youngest, also an Ursula (1732-1766), was about seventeen when her father died, and the next year she married Abraham Hershberger. None of these Schonauer children would have needed a guardian because of minority.

So in any case, Henry Shanower springs upon the scene without any proven forebears. It’s reasonable to assume that he’s related to the Hans “John” and Jost Schonauer family. But how does he fit in? Maybe it’s true that he was the third child of Jacob and Maria, still waiting in the womb when his father died. Or maybe he was the son of Christian Schonauer, of whom so little is known. Or maybe someone introduced an inaccuracy into the records. Who knows? Errors are likely. But I hope that one day the puzzle piece that will solve the riddle of Henry’s origin will turn up.

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