August Schneidenbach: Oxen and Apples and Wheat, Oh My!

When we found out our son and daughter-in-law were going to have a baby I started (not so subtly) suggesting family names in the hope that my grandson would carry a family name. I was a little disappointed when they chose a name I thought wasn’t a family name, but it was a name my son had always loved and it very much reflected who Derek and Melissa were and of course we were going to love our grandson no matter what. Fast forward a couple of years and I finally realized our grandson HAD been given a family name! When my son and daughter-in-law were choosing names I had never gotten far enough with family names to get back to mine and Bart’s third great grandparents so I had forgotten all about having an August in the family and it wasn’t until after Derek’s death that I realized he had chosen a family name all on his own. It was a nice re-discovery.

August SCHNEIDENBACH is Bart’s maternal 3rd great grandfather. I made an error in Sunday’s post- I have no idea which day is actually his birth day. I only know August was born in January of 1840. I chose this day to blog about him but it may or may not be his exact birth day. August’s granddaughter, Jennie Arelia SCHNEIDENBACH married Theodor Hermann MOELLER whom I wrote about here (scroll toward the bottom of the blog post). Here is a photo of August:


From left to right: Ernestine (August’s wife), Bertha (August and Ernestine’s daughter) and August SCHNEIDENBACH. Thank you to Uncle Bob for providing a photo. Joyce had also provided the same photo. I appreciate you guys sharing!

I love everything about family history and writing these stories down for you but one thing I really appreciate is the variety of records I get to look at that give information about family members. One great record I found for August SCHNEIDENBACH was a non-population schedule. This record doesn’t give information about his family and who lives in the home like a census does, but rather it gives information about his business- farming. This census record tells us all about August SCHNEIDENBACH’S farm in the year prior to the census- 1879 and up to 1 June 1880.

What I learned about August is that he owned 55 acres of tilled land and 65 acres of forested land. He valued his land, fences, and buildings at $2,000. August valued his farming implements and machinery at $120 and his livestock at $100. He gave an estimated value for his total farm productions in 1879 including all products consumed, sold, or on hand. That estimated value was $250. I’m guessing that in addition to his home, he had at least five outbuildings including one for the oxen and cow, another for the pigs, another for the poultry, one for the hay and other crops, and a root cellar in which to store butter, apples, etc. He would have had quite a bit of fencing to separate animals from crops and certain animals from other animals. Unfortunately, I don’t have any documentation right now to say exactly how many outbuildings or how much fencing he actually had- I’m just guessing on that part.

August declared 2 acres of mown grassland, 4 tons of hay, and 5 acres of wheat in 1879. On hand as of 1 June 1880 he had:

2 working oxen
1 milk cow
1 “other” (I’m not sure what would have been included in “other” but it was in the broader category of “Neat Cattle and their Products”.)
4 swine
15 barnyard poultry (exclusive of spring hatching)
4 “other barnyard poultry”

In 1879 his farm produced 60 pounds of butter made on the farm, 60 dozen eggs, 115 bushels of wheat, 60 bushels of Canada Peas (dry), and ½ acre Irish potatoes which produced 60 bushels.

That sounds like one busy farmer and farmer’s family! (By the way, that farmer’s family consisted of August’s wife Ernestine Augustina PAFF SCHNEIDENBACH, and their children Ernest, Pauline, Herman, Minnie, Selma, Bertha, Clara, and Agnes. That’s a lot of girls!) In addition to all these animals, crops, and produce, August had a 1 acre apple orchard. I was so excited to find he had an orchard! My 2nd great grandfather also had an apple orchard. When Bart and I put in our orchard we wanted to give a nod here and there to our heritage so we’ve included special trees such as the Arkansas Black apple tree we planted as a nod to my 2nd great grandfather’s Arkansas apple orchard. As it turned out, we hadn’t ordered any orchard trees this year so this week as soon as I realized August had an apple orchard, I got online and ordered this year’s heritage tree to honor the SCHNEIDENBACH part of our history. We ordered the Opalescent variety of apple tree which was grown in Michigan in the late 1800’s. If you’re interested, you can find it at Trees of Antiquity – the website from which we order our orchard trees. You can read a brief explanation of both Arkansas Black and Opalescent antique apple varieties at the New England Orchards website.

Bart and I always thoroughly enjoy reading specific details about our ancestors’ farms. They had so much more of a difficult time farming than we could imagine. I’ve never driven a team of oxen in my life! I can handle the tractor okay (for the basics) but oxen would really intimidate me! And hand churning 60 pounds of butter in a year?! I can’t even imagine! In researching what farming in the 1880’s would have been like in Michigan, I found a very interesting blog post about exactly that topic and it even included diary entries from a Michigan farmer dated August of 1884. I recommend reading it. You can find it at the Michigan in Pictures blog. Be sure to read the final comment on that blog post. It talks about what was the “typical” ethnic German house plan for that time period. For a look at Michigan agriculture, try this website.

If you decide to plant an apple tree this spring to honor August SCHNEIDENBACH, I’d love to hear about it and see your tree! I hope you enjoy your week and appreciate all the technological advances that have been made since August’s farming adventure in 1880!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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