A Woman of Size and Strength

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic this week is Random Fact.  

Elizabeth Schuh grave

While I was researching a great-great uncle, John C. Reinhardt, I found an article in the Sabetha Herald about John’s recollection of his childhood in the Amana Colonies in Iowa.[1]  I found this interesting since he is my great grandmother’s brother and our common ancestor is his father (my great-great grandfather).  In the article John mentions that his great-aunt was a school teacher for more than half a century.  She weighed 225 pounds and was 6 feet 2 inches (random fact). The name of the great aunt was not mentioned in the article.  I figured this was my great-great-grandfather’s connection to Amana, and this is one of the reasons he probably chose to go there upon arriving in the US.  I had corresponded with the Amana Heritage Society previously when needing information on my great-great-grandfather.  I wrote to them once again and they were able to provide with information about the aunt. 

Here is their answer to my inquiry.

“We took some time to peruse the Inspirations=Historie, The Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis, and another resource and came up with the following information:

The Aunt was Elizabetha Schuh born in Nussloch near Heidelberg, Baden, 26 May 1831.  She came to Ebenezer Society in September 1847, then to Amana in October 1863.  Died in Amana 25 May 1908.  Our Internal records of Amana Society indicate that she came with the Bortz family with the intention of going to live at Galion, OH.  I make the assumption, that because they were all from the Heidelberg area, and that’s where the Rappites had their stronghold before founding the communal society at Zoar, they were familiar with both us and them.  The Bortz Family another outside source claims that her parents did not approve of her relationship with a certain boy so they shipped her to America.  We cannot corroborate this fact, but she did come with another family and not hers.

To her physical size, the Inspirations=historie call her a ‘person of size and strength’ so her exact measurements are not documented.  The histories do not give her occupation in Ebenezer or Amana.  All communal-era teachers were men.  The excepton was the knitting school was usually taught by women.  So this could have been her job.  As I mentioned, her occupation is not documented.”

Amana Heritage Society[2]

I was able to find her on the 1870 United States Federal Census[3] and the 1885 Iowa Census[4] and on both census records her occupation is listed as housekeeper not a teacher.  I also found her the ship passenger list.  She departed from Le Harve, France and arrived at the Port of New York on 9 September 1847 on the ship Harve.[5] Above her name on the passenger list are the names of the Bortz Family, Adam (57), Margaret (47), Catherine (22), Susanna (19), Elizabeth (17), Philippina (12).[6]  It is interesting that they have a daughter named Elizabeth about the same age as Elizabeth Schuh.  I also noticed the names Susanna and Philippina are also names used in the Schuh family.  Now I wonder what the Bortz family connection is to the Schuh’s, or were they just friends.? This is why genealogy never ends.   I also found her grave on find-a-grave (see above). [7] 

I now have all these questions.  How did Elizabeth feel about being sent away to a new country without her family at just 16 years old?  Did she see her family of origin ever again?  What was so awful about the boy she was seeing that she needed to be sent so far away? 

Elizabeth never married and I wonder if she had a happy life. 

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Sabetha, Kansas, Sabetha Herald, Wednesday, December 9, 1936, Pg. 4.

[2] Email from the Amana Heritage Society to Gail Grunst dated Friday October 13, 2017.

[3] Year: 1870; Census Place: Amana, Iowa, Iowa; Roll: M593_396; Page: 131B; Family History Library Film: 545895

[4] Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

[5] Year: 1847; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 069; Line: 15; List Number: 677

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.


Heirloom Quilts

002    003

This weeks topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  is Heirloom. 

I have several things that have been handed down to me mainly from my mother’s side of the family.  Today I want to focus on two quilts made by my great-grandmother, Eva Reinhardt.  My great-grandmother came to America from Germany  with her parents in December 1879 when she was 21 months old and her brother John was four months old[1]. Eva’s parents, Conrad and Anna Reinhardt, settled in Amana, Iowa.[2]  I always wondered what attracted them to the Amana Colonies.  Did they belong to the Community of True Inspiration in Germany?  I don’t know the answer to this yet.  Usually people tend to settle in places where they have relatives or friends.  Who did Conrad and Anna know in the Amana Colonies?  As it turns out Conrad had an Aunt that lived in Amana.  Maybe there were others as well, however at this point I can only find the aunt.   

Aunt Elisabeth Schuh came to the Ebenezer Society in September 1847 at age 16 and then to Amana in October 1863.[3] She did not come with her own family, but came with the Bortz family with the intention of going to live in Galion, OH.[4]  According to the Bortz family, Elisabeth’s parents did not approve of her relationship with a certain boy and shipped her to America.[5]  She is described as 6’ 2” tall and 225 lbs.[6] or a person of size and strength.[7]  Elisabeth spent her life in Amana and it appears she never married.  Elisabeth Schuh was born on May 26, 1831 in Nussloch, Baden, Germany[8] and died on May 25 1908 one day shy of her 77th birthday.[9]  She is buried in the Amana Cemetery in Amana, Iowa.[10]

Conrad and Anna only stayed in Amana a little over three years and then moved to Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.[11]  Eva was five years old at this time and spent the rest of her youth in Ottawa, Illinois.  She became a milliner and seamstress.  Her daughters, Helen and Frances, inherited her seamstress skills.  Frances earned her living sewing first in a sweat shop and later in bridal shop.   My grandmother, Helen, was a housewife and sewed for her family.  She made quilts out of my mother’s old dresses and mine too.  I liked to looking at them and remembering the dresses.  Unfortunately, those were not given to me, and I don’t know what happened to them.

In 1985 my mother and I made a research trip to Amana, Iowa and visited the Amana Heritage Museum.  I saw many items in the museum like my grandmother had in her home, but what really grabbed my attention were the quilts.  They were just like the ones made by my great-grandmother Eva.  Now when I look at these quilts that I inherited, I think of my heritage, Eva, and Amana, Iowa.

If you would like to read more about the Reinhardt Family see the following blog posts.

Conrad Reinhardt

Great Grandmother Eva  

John Conrad Reinhardt

Aunt Liz’ Secret Life

Aunt Emma’s Two Lives

Aunt Agnes a Love Story

Remembering Grandma

Memories of Aunt Fran

Thinking of Uncle Ralph

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

[1] Germans to America (Vol. 34). (1993). Wilmington, DE, DE: Scholarly Resources.

[2] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[3] Amana, Iowa,  Amana Heritage Museum, Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis

[4] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[5] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[6] Sabetha, Kansas, Sabetha Herald, Wednesday,  December 8, 1936, page 4.

[7] Amana, Iowa,  Amana Heritage Museum, Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis

[8] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[9] From Find-a-grave website: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2228228/memorial-search?firstName=elisabeth&lastName=Schuh&page=1#sr-106053138

[10] https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2228228/memorial-search?firstName=elisabeth&lastName=Schuh&page=1#sr-106053138

[11] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa