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Andrew Schrock (1803-1855) and his descendants

Andreas Schrack (Schrag)

This material was used in the Andrew Schrock family presentation at the Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center’s “Schrock Immigrant Day” on June 19, 2010.

(The following is for personal use only and not to be used in published form without permission.)

My name is Magdalene Schick. I grew up on the farm next to Andrew and Anna Schrock, not far from here in Washington Township, Woodford County, Illinois. I played with their children Andrew Jr. and Mary—many times by the stream flowing nearby, and I worked on my parents’ farm as children were expected to do. My parents were Joseph and Magdalene Augspurger, and we had a large farm and plenty of money to care for our large family of ten children. One of the things I remember about my father was how he loved his wine!

I was only six years old when I heard father and mother talking about the dreaded cholera sickness that was making so many people die that August of 1855. Then they told me that Father Andrew had taken care of his sister Magdalena, who died of cholera the night before, and the next day he died of cholera too. I felt so sorry for my playmates Andrew and Mary and their sisters and brothers, I cried myself to sleep that night. Father Andrew was buried near his farm in a cemetery on Peter Guth’s farmland. Andrew’s wife Anna was a sister to Peter’s wife, Susanna.

I remember how Andrew and Mary’s Uncle Peter Guth, Uncle Johannes Schrock, and cousin Joseph Schrock took on the responsibility of caring for Anna and her children.

But who was going to finish the big brick house Father Andrew had been building for his family? Andrew and Mary had carried all the bricks for the house and once in a while, I had helped them. I was looking forward to worshiping with them in the special room upstairs, but that had to wait until years later when some of the older children finished the house. That lovely big brick house stood for many, many years.

Time passed and we all grew up. Eleven years after Father Andrew died, Andrew and I were married in 1866. Soon we were blessed with our first child Magdalena, and with her in tow, we moved to Lamar, Missouri, where a number of people we knew lived. In two years little Elizabeth, “Lizzie” as called her, joined our family. We should have been happy, but we weren’t. Come to find out, Andrew wasn’t a very responsible husband and father. He came and went as he pleased and didn’t provide for us very well. I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it through those years. At least with Andrew gone so much of the time, another child didn’t arrive until seven years later, when our first son, Samuel, was born; then Edward, and finally, ten years later, Andrew, namesake of his father and grandfather.

Andrew Sr.’s son, Andrew, Jr. and his family

But I just could not continue living like this—not knowing where we would get money for food and clothing. The two girls were married to boys from Nebraska– Ed King and Will Unzicker—and so we all decided to pull up stakes and move to Nebraska. The girls and I rode in the passenger section of an “immigrant train” and the boys rode in the baggage car. We left Andrew behind in Missouri where he worked as a blacksmith from time to time.

After our move, we seldom saw or heard from Andrew. He would occasionally visit us in Nebraska. He would go to Sam’s gas station, barefooted, much to Sam’s irritation. One day during the early 1920s we told him goodbye and he walked off down the road and we never heard from him again. Someone told us later that Andrew had gone to Portland, Oregon, in 1924. We advertised for him out in that area but got no response. My dear playmate and husband had abandoned his family years earlier, but it made my heart sad to realize he was never coming back and was probably living a miserable life. Perhaps losing his father at such an early age had affected him more than I realized, for he was never quite able to meet the challenges of providing for and loving a family. He was known to have said, “When I feel I can no longer be of use on this earth, I’ll jump in the river.” Sam still believes Andrew drowned himself in the Columbia River.

My son Samuel was born in Lamar, Missouri, and had been named Samuel Truman after John Anderson Truman who lived in Lamar. (You would know him years later as the father of Harry S. Truman.) After moving to Holdrege, Nebraska, at age 13 and living on the farm six miles north of town for a while, Sam learned to love and master all aspects of farming. He was one of the pioneer farmers of Holdrege and farming captured him the rest of his 98 years. Why in the Phelps County Courthouse cornerstone is “one perfect corn ear raised by Sam Schrock in 1910!” He was the very opposite of his father, Andrew. As a family, we worked hard and knew how to make the most of what we had. That first year we broke 15 acres of sod. And I could tell my oldest son would make something of himself when that first winter we had no money to buy fuel, Sam took his two brothers and with their two little white mules gathered 15 wagon loads of buffalo chips and corn stalks so we could survive the cold winter with a little bit of comfort. We lived in that sod house for ten years.

I sent Samuel to a sod schoolhouse two months in the spring and two months in the fall. Every morning he left home carrying his own chair, walking one mile in the rain, snow, sleet, hail, blizzard, or Nebraska heat, to sit around a long wooden table in the center of the room.

In 1903 Samuel married a sweet, kind woman, Helen Sauer, and they bought a 1000-acre farm near Holdrege. Sam used his good business sense again and again. He bought a grinder and mixed his own feed using a scoop of corn, a scoop of cobs and a bundle of atlas sorgo. Using this method his cattle feeding program continued to show a profit. The Great Depression didn’t seem to have a great effect on him.

After moving to town by no means did Sam slow down. He built one of the first service stations and the first locker plant for Holdrege. He used parolees from the penitentiary for farm labor, and the results were successful. Sam was good to them and one stayed on with him for five years. Sam was a “go-getter”, thrifty and seemed to know how to make things turn a profit. He thought about retiring, but he couldn’t just sit around, so he bought an old hotel and Ragan and one in Atlanta and used the lumber to build a large building in Holdrege, The Schrock Building, for many businesses.

That son of mine was always thinking up something new. He bought the ice plant and delivered ice to the railroad so travelers would by is ice. He built an IGA grocery store, and during WWII, when housing was short, he remodeled many old houses and apartments. Then, when in his 60s and 70s, he went back to farming. One of my grandson’s said, “When Dad moved to town, he quit raising pigs and raised little girls, but it doesn’t seem that Sam ever stopped farming a day in his [99-year] life.”

Now one of those girls was Violet May. Her chores were helping her father outside on the ranch, picking up cobs for the fire; working in the fields with her horses named Dick and Fanny and John and Frank—the tamer ones. After fieldwork, in the evening she would go to the pasture and get the cows. When Violet was seven years old Mama made lots of doll clothes for her doll, but when Sammy was born not long after, Mama said, “Aren’t we lucky we have all these doll clothes for the baby? And one Christmas Violet’s Mama told her that she’d outgrown her toys and since they had nothing to give to brother Sammy they wrapped up her bank, coffee grinder and teddy bear and gave them to Sammy. Mama decorated the teddy bear with red trim on his arms so Sammy wouldn’t recognize him.

Violet had some bad memories of her “controlling” father, my son Samuel Truman, but she said she never heard her parents quarrel, argue or fight. She remembers the huge house her father built in Holdrege, where she was later married, and that house was later described in the Holdrege Daily Citizen as, “the house that Sam Schrock built in 1926, now a Bed and Breakfast.”

Sammy, who received all of Violet’s toys and doll clothes, lived with four sisters. He had very distinct impressions of his father, Samuel, Sr., “He was ornery and self-centered.”

One of his earliest memories was riding to town with his father in the 1914 Republic truck around 1920. His feet couldn’t touch the floor. Sammy thinks the truck was actually a 1916 model but his father wanted it to coincide with the year of his son’s birth—he wasn’t above stretching the truth to fit his pleasure! He was flamboyant and larger than life. Sam, Sr. had a love for music and passed this on to several in his family.

Sam, Sr.’s children remember some of his quotes: “Style and education ruin the country;” “I can talk myself into trouble and I can talk myself out of trouble,”  (his wife, Helen, on the other hand, used to say, “Silence is golden,” and be embarrassed at what her husband said); “Hello, I’m Sam Johnson.”  (Everyone knew who he was—this was just part of his personality. Sam was a Democrat and of German descent, but he managed to live comfortably in Phelps County with its preponderance of Swedes and Republicans.)

The “ranch” (our land 12 miles north of Holdrege) was always important to our family, but my son Samuel wouldn’t sell the property to his son and namesake. He was going to sell to another family, but his wife Helen stuck up for her family and wouldn’t sign the papers. About 20 years later Sam Jr. and his sisters approached their 94-year-old Papa and were able to buy it—at more than market value! About this same time my son’s children (Sammy was appointed conservator) had to take over his affairs, and Sam was furious at this loss of control and never really forgave his children for doing this. Sammy once commented, “Papa used to brag about me to other people, but he never complimented me to my face.”  This caused my grandson to change his behavior with his own children. He put his sons in charge of the farming at an early age and they are in control of themselves and independent.

Much of the information about the Andrew Schrock family is taken with permission from the book Schrock Farms 1908-2008, copyrighted and compiled by Sharon Schrock and Nancy Morse.

Additional Information

Birth Record of Andrew Schrock, Sr.

Translation of birth document:

Mayor’s office in Gondrexange, arrondissement of Sarrebourg, 14 Messidor XII of the French Republic [July 3, 1804], birth certificate of André Schrack, born the same day, about 8 a.m., son of Joseph Schrack, miller, and Marie Neyehouser, living at the said Gondrexange. The sex of the infant has been recognized to be male. The baby has been presented to me by the witnesses, Antoine Honquet [spelling taken from the man’s signature], 36, mason, and Hubert Barthelemy, 40, school teacher, both living in the said Gondrexange. And following the declaration made to me by Joseph Schrack, father of the child, they have signed [the document]. Prepared according to law by me, Joseph Thiébeau, mayor of the community (commune) of Gondrexange, serving as a public official for recording vital statistics of citizens (l’état civil).

Guardianship bond

(for $10.00) for Andrew’s children, dated 10 Aug 1857:

Know all Men by these Presents,

That we Anna Schrock, Peter Guth, Johannes Schrock and Joseph Schrock…

for the use of Anna Schrock, Andrew Schrock, Mary Schrock, Peter Schrock and Madaline Schrock, minor heirs of Andrew Schrock, late of said County, deceased….

The document contains signatures of Peter Guth and Johannes Schrag (Anna’s brothers-in-law), Joseph Schrock, her nephew; and the mark of Anna Oyer Schrock.

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