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The Speedwell left Rotterdam and traveled for about 2 1/2 months until it arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 21, 1751 with 212 passengers. Daniel Schumacher was one of those passengers.  He traveled with no family, was from Hamburg, Germany and indicated that he was 22 years old and a “candidate of theology”.

With his background in theology, he became the first Lutheran minister in Halifax.3 While there he married Catharina Hown on July 3, 1753.  In Philadelphia in 1754 he presented, to Henry Melchior Muhlenberg of the “College of Pastors”, papers that indicated that he had studied theology in Germany and was therefore ready for ordination.  Due to the high demand for people with such credentials and willingness to serve, he was sent Reading, Pennsylvania to be an interim pastor until his credentials could be verified.

The Lutheran authorities in Germany were not able to substantiate his credentials and were alarmed to learn that Daniel had performed ceremonies he was not authorized to do and he had deserted his wife in Halifax.  In response, Daniel indicated “that he was persuaded to marry her while under the influence of liquor and that he could not live with her because of her homely appearance…” 6  The report went on to indicate that Daniel continued with his drunken ways.

By the time of the investigation he had already been accepted with several congregations and the people appreciated his bravery, poetry and art.  Daniel kept detailed records of his ministerial acts plus he made decorative baptism certificates for some people.  One of his record books lists about 1700 baptisms and for about 250 of those he noted that he made fraktur type certificates. Several of his fraktur are still in existence and images may be found in several places including the Philadelphia Free Library.10

In about 1759 Daniel was living in LeHigh County, Pennsylvania where he married Maria Elizabeth Steigerwalt and they had seven children.

Apparently, he continued with his drunkenness and cursing. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg a German Lutheran pastor was visiting the churches that were having difficulties and in his journal dated July 5, 1770 he wrote “…When we had eaten a little we sat out again and rode five miles to the other church – also a union church – in Weisenberg township.  We arrived at two o’clock and found a fair number of people assembled.  There we met our fellow laborer Deaconus Jung and even the dismissed preacher (Daniel) Schumacher…The dismissed preacher has asked me beforehand for an opportunity to speak with me, but when I looked for him after the service, he was not there.  Accordingly, I sent him word to see me early tomorrow morning in the locality I was scheduled to be in at that time.” “July 10, Tuesday.  The dismissed preacher came to see me early in the morning…I took him aside and remonstrated with him in love and mercy concerning this dangerous and soul-damaging conduct and way of life…now he should reflect, I said, on whether his known vices – such as drunkenness, cursing, etc. are to be called motes or beams.” (The History of Weisenberg Church, pg 9)14

There is quite a bit written about Daniel’s transgressions and his art some of which are listed in the resources section below.  Rev. Frederick Weiser translated Daniel’s records of ministerial acts and said:

“When it comes to evaluating the life of Daniel Schumacher and his ministry, we should consider that he was responsible for the baptisms of close to 1700 children, and served at least as many families.  Here are people who might have been lost to the church if it had not been for him.  In spite of the limitations his incomplete training posed for the ministry, he made an important contribution to Lutheranism in at least four counties of southeastern Pennsylvania and to the development of Pennsylvania German culture.”6 Additionally, his records are a genealogy goldmine for many.

by Daniel Schumacher

Click the image to see more of Schumacher’s work at the Philadelphia Free Library Fraktur Collection

Daniel Schumacher is my biological 6th great grandfather on my father’s side.

  1. Landry, Pete. “Glossems on Historical Events, Conditions and Movements: Immigrant Ships: Halifax.” Glossems on Historical Events, Conditions and Movements: Immigrant Ships: Halifax. January 1, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.blupete.com/Hist/Gloss/ImmigrantShips1750-52.htm#Speedwell.
  2. Young, J. Christopher. “Lunenburg Township First Families 1750-1784.” Welcome to the Wizard’s Cove. January 1, 1997. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.seawhy.com/fifamscn.html.
  3. Punch, Terry. “Restless Reverand. Saltscapes.  March/April 2007.  Accessed September 7, 2014. http://goo.gl/KydZ9w
  4. Rejoice My Heart for a New Year Begins.” Blog- Free Library. December 22, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://libwww.freelibrary.org/mobile/blog.cfm?id=1653.
  5. Newspaper.com Brossman, Schuyler C. “Genealogy Column 98.” Lebanon Daily News, August 16, 1968.
  6. Newspaper.com Brossman, Schuyler C. “Genealogy Our Keystone Families.” Lebanon Daily News, August 23, 1968.
  7. Fry, J. “The History of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reading, Pa., 1751-1894.” Google Books. January 1, 1894. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://goo.gl/BuVDwn.
  8. “Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, Volume 1.” Google Books. January 1, 1907. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://goo.gl/OHEJPA.
  9. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  (Daniel Schumacher’s record were translated by Frederick S. Weiser in 1967 in a book called Ministerial Acts (Baptisms and Confirmations) of Daniel Schumacher, Lutheran Pastor 1754-1774 and this book is part of the records in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985.
  10. “FLP – Fraktur: Search Results List.” Free Library of Philadelphia’s Digital Collection of Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Manuscripts. January 1, 2014. Accessed September 7, 2014.  http://goo.gl/lctBrT
  11. Earnest, Russell D. “The Online Newsletter of Earnest Archives and Library.” Earnest Archives and Library. June 1, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://goo.gl/WyZDrN.
  12. Wertkin, Gerard C. “Encyclopedia of American Folk Art.” Google Books. January 1, 2004. Accessed September 7, 2014.  http://goo.gl/Gmh3OC
  13. Schertzer, Francine. “March 9, PA Books: “The Heart of the Taufschein”.” PCN: Pennsylvania’s Neighboorhood. January 1, 2014. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://goo.gl/45GbwX (This is a link to a TV show discussing Tauschein and about 20:26 Daniel Schumacher is discussed.)
  14. Ancestry.com. A history of Weisenberg Church [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
  15. Snyder, Teresa L. “Desktop Genealogist Unplugged.” “Owed” to an Ugly Wife. July 1, 2008. Accessed September 8, 2014. http://desktopgenealogistunplugged.blogspot.com/2008/07/owed-to-ugly-wife.html.

No Story Too Small offered a challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor. 
Each of my posts for this challenge will include in the title “52 Ancestors Challenge” and will have the tag of 52Ancestors.