While searching the Missouri History Museum's Genealogy and Local History Index, I found an entry for Carl J. Schneider from the weekly periodical Squib. He was mentioned in a biographical sketch. I requested a photocopy from the Missouri History Museum. Although Schneider is a common surname, I thought there was a chance that the entry referred to my great-great grandfather, or to his grandson with the same name (my maternal grandmother's brother). It did not refer to either of them. It was a biographical sketch of a man named John William Schneider. One of his sons was named Carl J. Schneider. The Missouri History Museum thoughtfully included extra information about John William Schneider; they also sent his death certificate and a copy of his death notice.
I looked over the information, and a theory began to form. The biographical sketch said that John William Schneider was born in Erpil, Germany on 25 December 1856. My great-great-grandfather Carl Joseph Schneider was born in Erpel, Neuwied, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany on 22 January 1855. "Erpil" looked like a misspelling of "Erpel." The two men were close in age. John William Schneider's death notice mentioned that he was an uncle, and his oldest son shared a first name and middle initial with my great-great-grandfather. His death certificate stated that his father was William Schneider, born in Germany (likely Wilhelm), and his mother was unknown. Carl Joseph Schneider's father was Johann Wilhelm Schneider, and he was called Wilhelm. His mother was Sibylle Lindlohr, who had died in Erpel on 2 April 1862, when she was only 38 years old. John William Schneider had died of chronic hypertrophic cirrhosis of the liver, but gastric carcinoma was listed as a contributory cause of death. Carl Joseph Schneider had died of stomach cancer. When Carl Joseph Schneider wrote a letter to his wife and children while visiting Germany in 1900, he mentioned receiving "brother's letter." This statement implied that his brother was not living in Germany. I suspected that his brother was John William Schneider. However, I could not prove it right away. Catholic church records from Erpel are not available through the Family History Library. I had information about Carl Joseph Schneider's parents and maternal grandparents from the book Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrei Sankt Peter und Paul Remagen, 1649 bis 1899, by Gerhard Hentschel (Köln: Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde, 2007). However, the book only listed one child for them: a daughter, Maria Anna, who died in 1863 when she was not quite a year old and was buried in Remagen. Carl Joseph Schneider was not even listed as their son, but I knew that he was their son; his marriage certificate names his parents. He was born in Erpel (just across the Rhine River), so he was not recorded in the Remagen book.
In 2010, the book Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrei Sankt Severin Erpel 1615-1875 (Köln: Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde), by Gerhard Hentschel's wife Renate, was published. I obtained a copy, and finally found the proof that I had been searching for. In the list of children of my my 3rd-great-grandparents Johann Wilhelm Schneider and Anna Sibylle Lindlohr, underneath the entry for my great-great-grandfather, was one for Johann Wilhelm Schneider, born 24 December 1856 in Erpel. The two men were brothers.
Carl Joseph Schneider's father-in-law Johann Nagel, his children's only living grandparent, died in Remagen on 15 February 1891. The following year, Carl and his wife and children moved to St. Louis, Missouri to join his brother, his only living full sibling.
I believe that John William Schneider wanted to be found. If I had not received the information from the Missouri History Library, I probably would not have found him. Even though I still would have learned about him from the Erpel Familienbuch, I would not have known that he went to St. Louis. Although researching others with the same surname can lead to finding relatives, this approach does not work so well with common surnames like Schneider, especially in an area like St. Louis, with a large German population. And after learning that his son Ferdinand had died in World War I, I believe that John wanted me to find him too.
Biographical sketch of John William Schneider. Squib, circa 1911. From the collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
John William Schneider. Squib, circa 1911. From the collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
Carl Joseph Schneider. Photo taken at Pietz, 1630 Franklin Ave., St. Louis, Missouri.
Family of Johann Wilhelm Schneider and Anna Sibylle Lindlohr. Hentschel, Renate. Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrei Sankt Severin Erpel 1615-1875. Köln: Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde, 2010.
Certificate of death, Carl Joseph Schneider, 5 November 1901. Ancestry.com. Missouri, Death Records, 1834-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008. Original data: Missouri Death Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
John W. Schneider death certificate, 27 August 1934. Missouri State Board of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics.