My German Ancestry

SchrammCoatofArms
Schramm- Coat of Arms

Beginning with Mom

The first Schramm in my life was of course my lovely Mother Barbara Ann Schramm. Mom was born to Robert Andrew Schramm and Josephine Paro on November 15, 1948 at Mother Cabrini Hospital in the Bronx, New York.

Mom
Mom-Barbara Ann Schramm. Photo taken in Rockaway, Queens, New York. Credit: Aunt Laura

My Grandmother moved to Far Rockaway, Queens with my Mother and her siblings where she was raised. She never spoke much about her Father but she did treasure telling us tales of growing up in a big family of eight siblings. She spent many years away from her family on a farm with what she recalled as Mr. and Mrs. Shot, and these were her fondest memories. There were some darker tales of living with an Aunt Lizzie, in which my later genealogy research uncovered was her Great Aunt Elisabeth Schramm, also known as “Lizzie.”

The only memories she ever shared with me about her Father was that he was a World War II veteran and his death. I tried researching her family for her while she was alive but never got that far. After Moms passing in 2010, I decided to dig deeper and try to find out about her family as much as I could.

The Breakthrough

My sister Colette resides in England and had been working on our family tree for many years but our Schramm’s were one of our hardest brick walls. We both decided contacting local parishes or synagogues in Manhattan would be a great start as we had found Census records indicating last known addresses for my Grandfather were in Harlem. So I started e-mailing a bunch of them and to my surprise, we got a hit!

St. Joseph's
St. Joseph’s of the Holy Family- 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Harlem, New York

St. Joseph of the Holy Family Church had records for my Grandfather and his family going back to the 1800’s. The day I decided to visit that church was like standing in a dream. There were tears, lots of them! It was overwhelming to stand in a place knowing my Grandfather (who died before I was born), this mystery man stood on those same floors once. Receiving baptismal records for almost three generations of my family took my breathe away. They finally had names! St. Joseph was also able to tell me where in Germany my family came from, Bavaria. Mom always thought they were from Frankfurt or Berlin.

Grandfather

Granda Robert
Granda Robert Andrew Schramm- WWII PFC 26th Infantry Regiment Company K

This is the only image I have of my Grandfather. My Aunt Laura gave it to me when Mom got sick, and it was the first time I had a face to go with his name.

Robert Andrew Schramm was born May 31st, 1921 to Andrew Bancruting Schramm & Emma Neese in New York, New York.

GrandpaRobertBaptismalRecord
Baptismal Record obtained on 5-13-14 from St. Joseph of the Holy Family for Robert Andrew Schramm

As you can see below, by the age of 12 my Grandfather was an orphan. His older brother John Schramm took both him and George to raise. John was barely a man himself at 18 and newly married with a small child himself. I have a feeling John was a central part of my Grandfather’s life as paperwork will indicate.

GrandaRobertTimeline

Census records indicate that my Grandfather worked in a Lumber yard with his two Brothers George Frederick Schramm and John J. Schramm. George Frederick has been a brick wall for me but World War II would take both my Grandfather and Great Uncle John to Europe.

WWII began on September 1, 1939 and ended September 2, 1945. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and so the United States entered WWII. I had researched draft history and soon realized neither my Granda nor his brother John were drafted. Out of over 50 million soldiers 20% were drafted. Fact sheet below:

ww2Draftfacts

To see just how deadly this war was visit World War II Museum Archives

I racked my mind trying to understand why at 22 years old my Grandfather would join the Military. He had seen so much hardship already. So, I decided to compare and see who jumped first John or Granda?

GreatUncleJohnMilitaryTimeline
Great Uncle John J. Schramm’s Military timeline
GrandaRobertsMilitaryTimeline
Granda Robert Andrew Schramm’s Military Timeline

I realized that John played such a big role in my Grandfathers life because just four months after he joined WWII my Grandfather followed suit. This is a man that raised my Grandfather, and got him his job at the lumber yard. I can only imagine what Granda was feeling when his older brother was shipped off to war.

What drove them to want to fight this battle?

The only clue I have is that their Grandfather Adam Schramm (My 2x Great Grandfather) left Bavaria in 1882. Bavaria was surrounded by civil unrest during the 1870’s due to the Franco-Prussian war. The Country also faced revolutionary uprisings due to religion and Monarchies. I assume my Grandfathers family did not like the political turns that were taking place in their Country that would become part of Germany today. Perhaps their political, social and religious views were of a different sort.

Service

Granda Robert served in the 26th Infantry Regiment as a PFC with Company K. They were Blue Spaders.

26thInfantryRegimentPhoto

The 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry passing through the railway viaduct north of Bütgenbach, Belgium, on the Monschauer St. (N647) towards Bütgenbach. The railway viaduct was part of the line running from Losheim/Eifel (Germany) to Trois-Ponts, Belgium, and had been blown up by the retreating German troops.

A brief description on Granda’s Regiment and what they accomplished:

In 1941, the regiment once again stood with its sister regiments and prepared for war in Europe. In World War II, the 26th Infantry led America’s first-ever amphibious assault in North Africa, fought at the Kasserine Pass, assaulted Sicily at the Amphibious Battle of Gela, invaded Normandy, conquered the first German city of the war at Aachen, vaulted the Rhine and attacked all the way to Czechoslovakia by war’s end. The regiment, commanded by Colonel John F. R. Seitz, conducted three amphibious assaults, and earned seven battle streamers, a Presidential Unit Citation, and five foreign awards.

Beginning another occupation of Germany, the Blue Spaders bore the United States national colors at the Allied Victory in Europe parade, and served as guards at Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Thus began a lengthy stay in Germany, first as conquerors and later as friends and allies. Called again to serve in the United States after a reorganization of the army, the unit was redesignated 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry and had a very short stay in the United States.- Wikipedia

Combat Chronicle:

World War II

Activated: 16 January 1941.
Overseas: 26 August 1944.
Campaigns: Northern France, Rhineland,
Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe.
Days of combat: 210.
Distinguished Unit Citations: 1.
Awards: MH-1; DSC-43; DSM-1; SS-955; LM-11;
SM-47; BSM-5,558; AM-81.
Commanders: Maj. Gen. Roger W. Eckfeldt (January
1940-August 1943), Maj. Gen. Willard S. Paul
(August 1943-1 June 1945), Brig. Gen. Harlan N.
Hartness (June-July 1945), Maj. Gen. Stanley E.
Reinhart (July-November 1945), Maj. Gen. Robert W.
Grow (November-December 1945).
Returned to U.S.: December 1945.
Inactivated: 29 December 1945.

Combat Chronicle

The 26th Infantry Division landed in France at
Cherbourg and Utah Beach, 7 September 1944,
but did not enter combat as a Division until a
month later, 7 October. Elements were on patrol
duty along the coast from Carteret to Siouville,
13-30 September, and the 328th Infantry saw
action with the 80th Division to which it was
attached, 5-15 October. On 7 October the 26th
relieved the 4th Armored Division in the
Salonnes-Moncourt-Canal du Rhine au Marne
sector, and maintained defensive positions; a
limited objective attack was launched, 22 October,
in the Moncourt woods. On 8 November the Division
went on the offensive, took Dieuze, 20 November,
advanced across the Saar River to Saar Union, and
captured it, 2 December, after house-to-house
fighting. Reaching Maginot fortifications, 5
December, it regrouped, entering Saareguemines 8
December. Rest at Metz was interrupted by the Von
Rundstedt offensive. The Division moved north to
Luxembourg, 19-21 December, to take part in the
battle of the Ardennes breakthrough. It attacked at
Rambrouch and Grosbous, 22 December, beat off
strong German counterattacks, captured Arsdorf on
Christmas Day after heavy fighting, attacked
toward the Wiltz River, but was forced to withdraw
in the face of determined enemy resistance; after
regrouping, 5-8 January 1945, it attacked again,
reached the Wiltz River, and finally crossed it, 20
January. The Division continued its advance, took
Grumelscheid, 21 January, and crossed the Clerf
River, 24 January. The 26th Division then shifted to
the east bank of the Saar, and maintained
defensive positions in the Saarlautern area, 29
January-6 March 1945. The Division’s drive to the
Rhine jumped off on 13 March 1945, and carried the
Division through Merzig, 17 March, to the Rhine, 21
March, and across the Rhine at Oppenheim, 25-26
March. It took part in the house-to-house reduction
of Hanau, 28 March, broke out of the Main River
bridgehead, drove through Fulda, 1 April, and
helped reduce Meiningen, 5 April. Moving southeast
into Austria, the Division assisted in the capture of
Linz, 4 May. It had changed the direction of its
advance, and was moving northeast into
Czechoslovakia, across the Vlatava River, when the
cease-fire order, was received.- 26th Infantry Division History

Granda’s battles were far from few, and one can only imagine the visuals he was exposed to during this time. Looking at his Division gives me great admiration for all of them. They fought many battles and worked tirelessly to free civilians from oppression.

His return from WWII would find him fathering my Mother her twin brothers Robert, and George, and her sister Helena. Granda struggled with alcoholism upon his return as his death record indicated. The diagnosis on the death certificate reads “Acute and Chronic Ethanolism: Fatty Liver.” The day the certificate arrived in the mail, I opened it in anticipation and was immediately met with grief. He was just 48 years old, he was single and the next of kin was none other than his older brother, my Great Uncle John.

GrandaRobertsHeadstone
Granda’s Headstone, located at Long Island National Cemetery in  New York.

Great Grandfathers

My Great Grandfather Andrew Schramm was born March 18, 1888 to Adam Schramm & Margaret Stark in New York, New York.

GreatGrandaAndrewBaptismal
Andrew Schramm Baptismal-obtained from St. Joseph of the Holy Family on 05-13-14

Like my Grandfather, his father was also baptized at the same church. After many calls and e-mails to several churches in the Harlem area I located a marriage record for my Great Grandfather at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on 126th street. Visiting was extremely emotional because once again I was standing in a place that my family once stood.

Andrew married Emma Neese on November 30, 1912.GreatGrandaAndrewMarriageCertificate

The Mother indicated on the marriage record is incorrect, Mary Bomer was a stepmother to my Great Grandfather. His mother Margaret Stark died when he was just 3 years old only a few days after giving birth to his younger sibling Adam Pancratius Schramm.

I am still learning about Andrew personally and all I can really find from census records and directories is that he moved back and forth between Stamford Connecticut and Manhattan like his father. The most memorable thing I learned was from his WWI draft card because it provided a description of him. He had blue eyes, light brown hair and was a medium build. It is no wonder where my Uncle George’s blue eyes came from because Granda had them too.

  • Adam Schramm was born to Johann Schramm & Elisabeth Schmitt December 1856 in the town of Stadtsteinach in the district of Kulmbach, Bavaria, Germany.

The district of Kulmbach is surrounded with history from the House of Hohenzollern, the Romanian Empire and even Hitler. I have done loads of extra research on all of the empires, the wars, and the change in geography. It really is way too much to include but if you’re interested the keywords to join my search are House of Hohenzollern, The Romanian Empire, and District of Kulmbach.

Why did my Great Grandfather leave?

According to German History Documents Between Bismarck’s appointment as minister president of Prussia in 1862 and his departure from office in 1890, almost 3 million Germans left their country in search of a better life abroad. Many of them went to the United States. These emigrants included land-hungry peasants and workers from rural backgrounds, as well as artisans and shopkeepers hoping to make a new start. Between 1874 and 1879 emigration decreased somewhat, but after 1880 economic fluctuations fuelled the next and largest wave of emigration, which only began to subside in the mid-1890s.

It goes on to say:  The difficulty of distinguishing between the various factors, social, political, and economic, which combine to produce such a result, can scarcely be overestimated; but the immense preponderance of natives of the agricultural districts amongst the emigrants point to the defective conditions of agriculture as the main source of the discontent with home surroundings, which must always precede any migration of population. Putting for a moment this important factor on one side, due weight must be allowed to the social and political causes which combine to produce the result. Amongst these may be enumerated the attitude of the German government prior to 1890 towards the great body of German Socialists, and the discontent felt, at any rate in time of peace, with the German military system.

My 2nd Great Grandfather Adam boarded the SS Mosel in 1882 and arrived in New York on March 20th.

GreatGreatGrandfatherAdamSSMOSEL
S.S. Mosel
GreatGreatGrandaAdam'sPassengerlist
Castlegarden.org

Seeing that my 2nd Great Grandfather was a farmer makes me understand his reasoning for leaving. According to the German History Documents emigrants were struggling with poor agriculture. This would create a reasoning behind his departure.

GreatGreatGrandaAdam'sOathofNaturalization
Adam’s Oath of Naturalization

Adam became a citizen in 1887 and made a life in New York and Connecticut working as a brass finisher.

My Grandmothers and Grandfathers of Bavaria

  • 3rd Great Grandfather- Johann Schramm born about 1829 in Stadtsteinach, Bavaria, married Elisabeth Schmitt 10 June 1851.
  • 4th Great Grandfather- Nikolaus Schramm born 7 May, 1810 in Stadtsteinach, Bavaria married to Margaret Kodisch.
  • 5th Great Grandfather- Christoph Schramm born 14 Okt, 1784 in Württemberg married to Rosina Weilandin 4 April, 1809.
  • 6th Great Grandfather- Nikolaus Schramm born about 1764 in Württemberg to Christoph Dietrich Schramm (Mother unknown) married Barbara Rolferthin.
  • 7th Great Grandfather- Christoph Dietrich Schramm born 17 Aug, 1744 in Württemberg married to Rosine Katharine.
  • 8th Great Grandfather- Johann Dietrich Schramm born about 1713 in Württemberg, married Catharina Sara Hoffman 17 Nov, 1739.
  • 9th Great Grandfather- Johann Bernhard Schramm born about 1693 in Württemberg, married to Maria Barbara.

I am thankful to the church of latter day saints for translating and referencing these new records in Germany because they were not available these last couple of years. There were baptismal records and marriage records to help me get this far. I am continuing to research and dig for more.

*Fun Facts about the name of Schramm-

  • The meaning of Schramm is to “Scratch” “Skin” or “Scar”
  • There is a town in Germany called Schramberg: The origins of Schramberg date back to the year 1293, when the locality was first described as “Schrammenberg” (“wounded” or “scarfed hill”). From 1643 Schramberg was the centre of the Herrschaft Schramberg, belonging to Further Austria until 1805. From 1805 Schramberg was part of the Kingdom of Württemberg.

This journey has helped me understand who I am, where I come from and most importantly connect with the ones who brought me here. I have a lot of DNA research that goes so beautifully with all this research but that is a whole new post.

Until next time

Stay Blessed xo

Josette

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