Researches after the Descendants of
John Christian Schell and John Schell
Pastor of St. Charles Church in Detroit, Michigan - 1896
Continued from previous page
The war was coming to a close. By treaty of November, 1782, Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States. Peace did not arrive an hour too soon. The country was exhausted. Tryon county, whose name was changed about that time into Montgomery county, was spoliated and laid to waste. Hardly anything was left, but the fertile soil and an abundant spirit of industry and enterprise in the citizens who had remained true to the American cause. It was computed two years before the close of the war, that one-third of the population had gone over to the enemy, that one-third had been driven from the country, or been slain or had been murdered by the enemy. And yet, among the inhabitants of the remaining third, in June, 1783, it was stated, at a public meeting held at Fort Plain, that there were three hundred widows and two thousands orphan children.
The Schell family had done their share to support the cause of American Independence, and they had received their share also of the damages, destruction and ravages of the war which had been necessary to bring them that Independence. Before the war, the people of Tryon county had clamored, "either to be free or die." Many of the good citizens had to die to bring freedom to the nation. The Schell family had the father and one son killed, one son crippled for life, one daughter scalped, two sons captured and abducted, their homestead lain in ashes, all this happened, because they stood faithful to the American cause. John Christian Schell was the leader of his family to fight the enemy of his country. He died like a hero faithful and loyal to the American cause, being killed by the enemy of his country, the tories and Indians. His blood was needed to cement the foundation of this grand Nation; his life was given for his countrymen.
Schell's twins, Henry and Mark, were born Oct.7, 1770, and were nearly eleven years old when they were captured and taken to Canada by the tories and Indians; the boys and savages got along very well together and became quite attached to each other; the lads learned the Indian language. They were and remained the friends of the Indians during the rest of their lives. When afterwards the Schells, Henry and Mark, had settled in Upper Canada, there was no Indian who struck their neighborhood, but received their hospitality. The twins showing themselves bright young men, attracted the notice of Captain Laws, an officer in the British army. By some negotiation he got them away from the Indians and kept them under his own super- vision and care. Mark was placed out as an apprentice to learn the tailoring trade. Henry became the favorite of the Captain and was his companion in his various journeys.
* Captain Laws received a commission from England to establish and lay out a town site at Bay Chaleur. He selected his party for this arduous undertaking, which required sturdy and hardy men. Young Henry Schell was not thought unfit to accompany the Captain in this difficult expedition. but his presence was desired more to furnish agreeable company. They started from Quebec, by vessel, in the fall of 1784 or 1785. The weather had been fine that fall up to November. They made a late start, thinking that they would be able to reach Bay Chaleur before the winter set in. They had not been out many days, when the weather changed and it rained and then turned colder; it snowed and froze hard enough to form a great amount of ice on the rivers. They drifted around through slush and ice for three weeks. About Christmas the weather moderated; they forced their way through the ice, and finally in the winter they reached their destination in Bay Chaleur. They effected a landing and went to work to build cabins to have shelter for the party. It is not known to the writer, at what part of Bay Chaleur the town site was located: if it were on the South side of the Bay, the project of the British Government might have been in connection with the immigration of loyalists to New Brunswick, in 1783, from the United States, where they were unwelcome citizens and were considered enemies of the country. When the town was laid out, Captain Laws patented 100 acres adjoining it in his own name and 100 acres in the name of Henry Schell. Whether these patents have ever been recorded is not known. Captain Laws and Henry Schell returned to Canada.
* The Captain had a great affection for young Henry, and wanted him to remain with him and establish himself under his protection. But Henry and Mark had been away from home already eight years, and according as they grew older, they became more homesick. Henry Schell would have accepted readily the offers of Capt. Laws; but he liked to see his dear mother once more before making a decision. The more the twins conversed with each other about their family and friends, the more they longed to return home. They did not fear the distance; the country was at peace. Their ingenuity would furnish them the means to reach their destination. They decided to undertake the journey, and bid farewell to their Canadian friends. To defray the expenses of their long journey, they furnished themselves with pins, needles, and trinkets to sell along the way - which had to be traveled entirely on foot. It did not take long to accomplish their journey, for they did not linger on the way. The attractions of Schell's Bush furnished them speed on their march.
* But what a change! The old home seems not the same - the large blockhouse is not there. Their mother has grown older; and where is their father? Denis is missing - Fred is lame - Eve is deformed. But after all the afflictions and calamities, the Schells rejoice in meeting; the twins who had been given up for lost or dead, have returned! The suddeness of delight mixes tears of joy, many smiles, and laughs of bliss. Their too recent misfortunes are for awhile forgotten. All the neighbors soon appear to welcome Henry and Mark home. It is joyful news for the family of John Schell, uncle of the returned twins. They all immediately wish to see the boys. Their cousins and Mary Moyer, the adopted daughter, run to welcome them home. The boys of the neighborhood fill the yard and cannot get through shaking hands with their former playmates: the girls also crowd around Henry and Mark, and marvel at their noble countenance and manly bearing. The twins feel that the Mohawk Valley is the happiest place on earth. After joyful demonstrations of the happy reunion, the events, occurrences and incidents of both sides have to be told and retold. The losses and afflictions have to be lamented again. The death of the father and brother is again cause for mourning. Wounds already healed are reopened. Hardship and suffering cause again a shuddering. Brave deeds of the war make again their bosoms swell. The losses of the neighborhood are recounted and pitied. Anger rises in their breasts at the traitorous tories: a sigh is heaved at the remembrance of the war. God is blessed in His Almighty Providence and His Holy Will is praised. All are thankful that the bad times are over and that there is a happy reunion in the Schell family.
A few years after this, Mrs. Maria Schell died. In the Nineties of that Revolutionary century, one after the other of John Christian Schell's remaining children married, taking to themselves partners of their own nationality. When lastly Henry Schell married Mary Moyer in 1794, a division of goods was made. Henry retained the homestead. All had been married in the Mohawk Valley. When one of the children in Canada a desirable home, at no great cost, one after the other followed, until finally, in the spring of 1798, Henry Schell sold the homestead and also moved to Canada. Henry settled between Hamilton and Niagara, at a place now called Grimsby, Lincoln County. A year or two after that he moved to Markham, York County, Ontario - near the home of Mark Schell. The twins always sought each other's company.
First generation: N.N. Schell, Of Baden Baden.
Second generation JOHN CHRISTIAN SCHELL and MARIA SCHELL
DENIS SCHELL, Born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. in 1756, was not married when wounded by the Tories and Indians in July, 1782. He died the ninth day after being shot.
JOHN CHRISTIAN SCHELL, born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. about 1759, married there, Elisabeth ________. He died in Michigan.
FREDERICK SCHELL, born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. about the year 1762, married there, N.N. He died at Markham, Ontario.
EVE SCHELL, born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. about the year 1765, married there, Mr. Plank.
MARY CATHERINE SCHELL, born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. about the year 1768, married there, Adam Kaiser.
MARK SCHELL Twins, born at Schell's Bush, N.Y. 7th October, 1770.
Mark Schell married at the old home, Delila Casler, born at the Mohawk valley, N.Y. He moved to Markham township, York county, Ontario, 24 miles North of the city of Toronto, where his family were born and where he remained until 1842, when he moved with his son Peter to Sanilac county, Michigan. Delila Casler died in Markham before 1842.
Mark Schell died from an accident: going from the village of Lexington, Michigan to his home, in crossing a creek and stepping from one stone to another, he missed his step and fell on a washboard he was carrying under his arm; his side was punctured by the sharp edge and the result proved fatal. During his illness, his twin brother Henry, then 75 years old, walked all the ways from Ingersoll, Ontario to Sanilac county to visit his sick twin brother. A great affection always existed between those twins and they were lonesome without each other. That long walk from Ingersoll to Sanilac county in return, must have been very arduous to the old gentleman even in those days of pedestrianism: it would be so now even in these days of fast trains, electric cars and bicycles. Mark Schell died in Worth township, Sanilac country, Michigan , ? June, 1845, and was buried in the Bardwell cemetery, in that vicinity.
Henry Schell married at Schell's Bush, in 1794, Mary Moyer, born at the Mohawk valley, 14th August, 1775. Mr. and Mrs. Moyer died in 1777, and Mary was adopted by John Schell.
Henry Schell moved in 1798, to "Nellis Settlement," at the "forty miles creek" in the township of Grimsby, between Hamilton and Niagara. One or two years later, he moved to Markham, Ontario, 24 miles North of Toronto. Here all his children were born except Henry and Elisabeth, the two elder. Henry Schell died at Ingersoll, Ontario, at the residence of his son Daniel, 12th, April, 1859. His wife Mary Moyer died at the same place, 26th September, 1860.
ELISABETH SCHELL, born at Schell's Bush, about the year 1773, married there, Peter Martz. They moved to Markham, Ontario. She died 12th April, 1858, at Ingersoll, Ontario.
It is ironic that the strong and independent family that fought so hard and lost so much in that great American war for freedom from British tyranny should ultimately choose to make their new home once again on British soil. And so it is today that we find thousands of descendants from that famous Schell's Bush family scattered throughout both Canada and the United States - a testimony to freedoms hard won and battles barely survived.
There are five generations of Schells listed here. I hope that other Schell descendants will e-mail me for more info. Several of us would like to enlarge our databases for the Schell family. Thank you for the opportunity to do this in honor of my in-laws' ancestors.
Two newspaper accounts of the Schells, including an exciting account of Maria, "The Angel at the Gate".
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Newspaper Accounts of the Schells
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