In 2004, I
found some new information about my Great Grandparents and my Grandfather on my father's side of the Schoenfelder family.
Even though my Great Grandfather went by the name of Oskar further research has clarified that his real name was Max Oskar
My Great Grandmother
was Christiane Charlotte Amanda Schönfelder, her maiden name was Oertling from Neumuenster, Germany.
Max Oskar was
born on August 5, 1868 in either Schönheide or Schneeberg, Saxony. His father (name unknown) was a Judge who died around
1879 when Oskar was only 11 years old. Oskar came from a family of 11 children. He was the only boy with 10
sisters. Two of his sisters immigrated to the United States and lived in San Francisco and Karl also mentioned that
his dad, Oskar had one sister who had a linen lace factory in the heart of Overwald, Saxony and another (Oschatz,
had a broom factory possibly in Schönheide). I hope that further research will confirm this information concrete.
The following information I gained by
contacting the high-school in Werdau as well as the town archives office. Two wonderful women answered my emails requesting
any information that they may have to help in my research. So, before I add this new info, I'd like to thank Birgit
Bauer from Stadtarchiv Werdau, the Town Archives in Werdau and Beate Piehler from the Werdau high-school
(Gymnasium) for which the following information would still have been unknown.
To visit the Werdau High School (Gymnasium)
And for a full "school chronicle" or history
of the school in English click here.
Max Oskar Schönfelder was active since 1885 in Werdau as an auxiliary teacher. From 1888 to 1892 he was a constant
teacher first at the II. Citizen school, later in the Ith citizen school in Werdau.
In May 1892, Oskar Schönfelder left Werdau for a stay of several years in San Francisco, California. Oskar travelled
through-out the United States at this time and mostly spent time visiting his sister/s that lived in San Francisco.
In August 1894, he returned and worked again in the II. Citizen school. To beginning of school year 1905 a constant position
for teachers in the Ith citizen school arose as a result of the death of a colleague for it. The II. Citizen school was an
elementary school for worker children and children of simple people. Citizens better posed sent their children on the 1889
inaugurated Ith citizen school. Within this school there was a "higher daughter school" starting from 1909. These made possible
girls an education over 8. School year outside. Girls were certified in the six-form high school (High School) only in completely
few cases. The twin daughters of Max Oskar Schonfelder were not under it. They probably visited the Ith Citizen
school. School documents from this time are not available from the school or the city archives.
The oldest existing certifications and klassenbuecher are from the years around 1930. One of the twin sons of Max Oskar
Schönfelder visited the six-form high school. This would have been my Grandfather, Karl Heinrich George Schönfelder. Beate Piehler found a school report for Karl from the school year 1918/1919 and she indicated
that he did very well in school.
In 1929, Oskar Schönfelder was among the teachers’ staff in the so-called “Mädchenschule”
(all-girls-school). He had been awarded the title “Oberlehrer”. This title was given to teachers
when they worked very successfully and when they had enough experience in their job. In the all-girls-school girls could learn
for 9 years then.
that time teachers were paid a good wage, which assisted the family in living a very comfortable lifestyle. The “school
chronicle” mentioned above, indicated that a teacher who had an education was called a “High Teacher”
and their records show that from 1908 these teachers could earn 3600 Reich marks annually & could be increased up to 7.200
marks depending on seniority plus “house money” of up to 500 marks per year.
In comparison, someone who worked in the textile industry would make a little more than 1.000 marks. Obviously a teacher made a wealthy wage at that time and so it is possible that Karl’s stories of
living a formal lifestyle were quite possible.
only banknotes in denominations of 100 and 1000 Mark were issued. Since the yearly average wage at the end of the 19th century
in Germany was around 1000 Mark - these bills were merely used between bank, firms and the very rich. The normal use of money
was restricted to coins. These banknotes are extremely rare and valuable.
some old German money here:
more on how in the early 1900’s Germany found themselves broke because of inflation:
Amanda had six children born in Werdau, Germany. We believe that the oldest two boys were Oskar Karl
Schönfelder born 1897 and then Michael Stephen Schönfelder born 1899.
We know that both of them were killed around 1914 during WWI as many of the high school students at that time were
called up to serve with no one returning.
all we are left with are family stories from Grandpa Karl. At one point he shared that his two older brothers went to
war and because the family knew that they were never to return, all their belongings, clothes, pictures etc. were burnt.
THis could be a reason why finding information about them is hard to find.
however had some amazing information on Oskar and Amanda's first set of twins. Their daughters Helene
Marie Carola Schönfelder was born on the 27th of June 1902
in Werdau and died on the 4th of February 1995 in Dresden - living to 93 years of age and Maria Clara Henriette Schönfelder (also born on the 27th of June 1902) died on 22nd of December 1998 in Dresden
- living to 96 years of age.
This was absolutely
amazing to hear that we had family alive in Germany just 9 years ago without us even knowing. This has been exciting
and now I have another place to research. We do know that the twin daughters never worked until after WWII when for
awhile they had to help maintain the railway lines when the communist Russian regime took control in what became East
Germany and the area "on the other side of the iron curtain". With most of the German men gone it was the women who
were left to work. We also know that they were in Dresden during the infamous fire bombings.
Another set of twins were born on January 19, 1906 (possibly born on
their mothers birthday). More information from the Werdau archives indicated that complete names of the twins were:
Karl Heinrich Oskar Schönfelder, born to 19.1.1906 in Werdau, deceased to 2.3.1906 (March 2nd 1906)
Karl Heinrich George Schönfelder, born to 19.1.1906 in Werdau, (emigrated)
Brigitte Bauer, the schoolteacher in Werdau emailed me to say that
she found a commemorative volume, which was printed on the occasion of a great celebration when the Realschule (High
School) was 50 years old. All former students and teachers were invited. What Brigitte said
was that my Grandpa Karl left school before his examinations because it seems that the family moved from Werdau
to another place called GISPERSLEBEN near Erfurt. There my Grandfather worked as an estate manager of a greater
To see a Google Earth arial view of
Gispersleben - click here
A lot of information has been clarified from the help of Brigit Bauer the Werdau Archives office. First she shared that there is no
records that indicate that Grandpa Karl had been married in Germany before he immigrated to Canada.
There had always been the question as he had told stories of his girlfriend/fiancé "Hildegard" and that he was going to move here first with her to follow. He always carried a picture of her and I've added it here.
Just click on her name to view. As it turned out he said that she later changed her mind and decided
to stay in Germany for fear of the unknown, the rugged country and the savage Indians. Little did she know
that in a few years time... her country would become the devastated unknown.
Another gem was information on where the Schönfelder's lived
while in Germany. Here is part of a translated email that she sent September 15th, 2004.
Max Oskar Schönfelder and its family lived first
in Werdau in the Ferdinandstrasse 30 which actually is closer to Zwickau. Later they moved into the Zeppelinstrasse
19. This house was built in 1912. In 1912, a Mr. Pampel, Wollhaendler from Werdau bought the building site. According to our
old directories Pampel as well as another old lady and the family of Oskar Schönfelder lived in the house beside
the family. So far we know, Max Oskar Schönfelder neither owned the house in the Zeppelinstrasse nor in the Ferdinandstrasse
and also no other house in Werdau.
To see a Google Earth View of Ferdinandstrasse 30
Just click on this link.
1929 still lived Oskar Schönfelder in the Zeppelinstrasse
19. Oskar died in February 1932 at the age of 64 but not in Werdau.
To see a Google Earth View of Zeppelinstrasse 19
Just click on this link.
In the next directory of 1934 Oskar's widow is no longer registered, also no other family
member. I take it that Christine Charlotte Amanda Schönfelder geb. Oertling left Werdau after the death of her husband. Neither
Max Oskar Schönfelder nor his wife Christiane Charlotte Amanda geb. Oertling deceased in Werdau. The registers were scanned
to 1953. Probably they deceased elsewhere (possibly in Dresden with their twin daughters)
Karl Schönfelder kept in contact with his mother after his father died but the communication soon ended during during
World War II. The German marc had become worthless and so all their money was useless. Amanda told her son, Karl
that they had to fill wheelbarrows full of money just to have enough money to buy bread. Because the
war created difficult times for them, "Grandpa Karl" would send boxes of food and money to his mother and sisters but
that soon stopped after he received a letter stating that they were not receiving any of his gifts.
At the end
of World War II, one of Karl's sisters letter's indicated that his mother had died somewhere in the years 1945
- 1946 during World War II and that she is tombed (buried) in Oskar's family's vault. Maria &
Helene, the twins were in Dresden at the time.
did share that his family was well off financially... and research shows that teaching was seen as a prestigious
occupation. He told stories of living in a very formal lifestyle and that they lived in a large estate with
full house support that included maids, a full time nurse, maintenance men, drivers etc. His family also enjoyed
time at their summer home, which was only a few miles away.
tuned as further information is found.