The Schulers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any family history and it’s high time I tell you a bit about the Schulers.

In 1866 my great-great-grandfather David Schuler (yes, I’m named for him although I didn’t get his full name, David Louis) and his family disembarked at the Port of New Orleans. They had lived in a small town in Switzerland, Sattel, about 50km east of Zurich. Whenever I mention where my family is from to Swiss acquaintances they always respond in the same way: “Oh, real Switzerland”. Sattel is in Canton Schweiz and allegedly I number Niklaus von Flüe, the patron saint of Switzerland, among my ancestors. I’ve got a genealogy of my Swiss ancestors that goes back six hundred years. That’s a matter of some dispute in the family.

David had been forced to leave Switzerland under a cloud. He had lost all the family’s money playing Jass, a card game distinctive to Switzerland something like bridge only more complicated. The Switzerland of 150 years ago was highly primogenitive—the eldest son got everything—and, since opportunities were limited, that meant that his brothers, sisters, and large extended family ended up either leaving for greener pastures or working for him so when David, the eldest son and head of the large extended family, lost everything that was a substantial disaster. When my mom and dad visited Sattel 40 years ago it was still spoken of in hushed tones.

David and family made their way up the Mississippi and Ohio, presumably by steamboat, and settled initially in Louisville, Kentucky where a number of David’s brothers, sisters, and their families had already made their homes. To this day most of my Schuler relatives are in the areas of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky along the Ohio River. By this time they’re quite distant relatives—fourth and fifth cousins—but we keep track of such things in my family.

Among David’s youngest children was Joseph Louis Schuler, my great-grandfather, also known as “Grandpa Schuler”. There’s a story that he disembarked from the ship they came over on, barely able to walk, potty in hand, but I have my doubts about this story since he would have been 13 years old when they arrived in New Orleans. I think his older brothers and sisters were just ribbing him.

According to the Federal Census for 1870, David and family had their own farm in Kentucky and to all appearances were doing pretty well. By 1880 Joe Schuler had established himself as a milk broker in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m not sure how or why he got to St. Louis but I have some reason to believe that he went there with his father and they established a milk brokering business there. That had been the family business in Switzerland for generations.

By 1900 Joe Schuler had married a woman named Mary Fischer of Bohemian ancestry and they’d had three sons: Joseph (Josie), Fred (Freddie), and Anton (Tony). Fred Xavier Schuler was my grandfather and I think I look a bit like him (nothing to brag about). He operated Grandpa Schuler’s saloon but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Grandpa Schuler had continued in the milk business (my dad used to claim that he was a technological pioneer in the field, being the first to use formaldehyde as a preservative in milk) and somehow had gotten involved in the St. Louis Republican political machine, in which he eventually became very influential.

The saloon or restaurant as it was sometimes called was right across the street from City Hall and Joe Schuler had managed to wangle contracts to feed the judges, inmates in the City Jail, and city hall workers. One of my dad’s first jobs was delivering food to the prisoners in the jail and the workers in the City Morgue. When he wasn’t more than 7 or 8 years old he’d pull his wagon, laden with covered plates, into the jail, the morgue, and other city offices.

By 1920 Joe Schuler was a Justice of the Peace and, according to family legend, each of his sons was handling one of the family businesses: Josie had the milk business, Fred had the saloon, and Tony was in politics. My grandfather had married a beautiful young woman, Esther Wagner, several years previously and Grandpa Schuler, my grandfather, my grandmother, and my dad, Fred, were all living above the saloon at 14th and Clark.

My dad was a rich kid in a very tough neighborhood. His playmates were young toughs and he, in his Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, got more than his share of bloody noses and bruises.

My dad grew up in a condition which might most charitably have been called “neglect” with the exception of his grandfather, Grandpa Schuler. Grandpa Schuler lavished attention (and money) on him as the only male grandchild. Josie had died without children and Tony had three daughters. My dad had his own car (a Model A) at an unconsionably young age.

My grandfather died when my father was around 12. When my great-grandfather died three years later that left my dad effectively head of the family. A year later my dad graduated from high school (Roosevelt High School) and Grandpa Schuler’s money enabled my dad to attend college, law school, and travel to Europe—all during the Depression.

I’ve got a lot more to say about the Schulers and about my dad in particular. Like most of my ancestors they were characters. But, since I don’t want this post to achieve novel length, I’ll close with a single observation.

The experience of my Schuler ancestors differed in some quite notable ways from the typical immigrant experience. In each generation since leaving Europe at least one of the American Schulers has gone back to visit Switzerland. Aunt Agatha (Grandpa Joe’s sister), Cousin Agatha (her daughter), and my dad all visited our Swiss relatives. Consequently, we have more contact with and firsthand knowledge of our Swiss ancestors than is typical of Americans.

As the last male Schuler of my line, Joe Schuler’s last male descendant, I really should visit Sattel. I’ve exchanged emails with one of my distant Schuler cousins every now and again but I really owe it to myself to visit.

19 comments… add one
  • Ann Julien Link

    Hi, thanks for the great post! Could you link to the photo of our dad as a little one that Janice gave us? I”m not sure he’s in a little lord Fauntleroy suit, but something similar.

    You should go to Sattel—I’m sure Janice would love it as well. I would meet you there! Thanks for the recap. One more question: how old was Dad when he got the Model T? The brown one with the orange wheels, wasn’t it? Love, Ann

  • I think it was a Model A. IIRC all production Model T’s were black.

    I believe he was 14 years old—after his dad died, before Grandpa Schuler died.

    As for posting Daddy’s picture I’m planning a longer post sometime filling in more details of him, his childhood, his young adulthood, and a whole series of posts on his European trip.

  • Pat Harris Stott Link

    Hi Dave, I think we are related. My grandmother was Virginia Veronica O’Donnell Schuler and she was married to Anton Joseph Schuler. My mom was their oldest daughter, Virginia who married Charles H. Harris and together produced 10 children. Somehow I have become the family history buff….My husband has been scanning old family photos from the Schuler, Champagne, O’Donnell families. There are a few of your father since he spent so much time with Grandpa and Grandma Schuler…the story is that they wanted to adopt and raise him….he was like a brother to my mom and she missed him terribly. I was on the computer trying to find the Schuler family so I could contact you and give you your dad’s photos. I have been in contact with Marty Dattilo (Ruth’s son) and Dan Thieman (Joan’s son) to share pictures with them. Can’t wait to hear from you.

  • Joseph Fredrick Schuler Link

    Hi Dave, I read your post with great interest. My ancstors are also from Sattel. My father’s name was Joseph Anton Schuler and he had a brother named Frank. They were both born in San Francisco, as was I. My wife and I currently live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Wonder if there is any connection between your family and mine?

  • I’m sure there is although probably fairly distant. I’ll look into the documentation I’ve got that goes back to Switzerland and see what I can come up with.

    BTW, there are lots of related Schulers in the southern Indiana—Ohio—Kentucky area along the Ohio River. That settlement started before the Civil War and I suspect you’ve some number of relatives there.

  • Kathy Geary Brady Link

    I don’t know if your Schuler line from Sattel Switzerland is related to mine or not, but I descend from Alois Schuler, born 12 June 1851, emigrated 1869 from Joehlingen Baden Germany; Alois Schuler married Helena Wallerich, who was born 17 June 1860 in Dubuque Iowa; Helena and Alois lived in southeastern Minnesota; their son, John L. Schuler, married Mary Dirks; their daughter, Louise Schuler, married Ervin Fuller; their daughter is my mother. Alois Schuler’s father was Dominic Schuler, born 18 June 1816 in Unteriberg Switzerland, and Alois’ mother was Josepa Marty, who was allegedly of German-Swiss descent. I’d love to hear from anyone connected to this Schuler line. Thanks for maintaining this site !

  • Wanda Pezzaglia Link

    Would like to make contact with Kathy Geary Brady. Believe we may be connected via Alois Schuler. Am wondering if she has any information regarding brothers/sisters of Alois Schuler born 1851.

  • MERKEL Antoine Link


    The SCHULER’s!

    For your information: I live in Alsace(Strasbourg area of France) and have also SCHULER ancestors from SATTEL (SWITZERLAND)
    Since 1475… And you? Have you a web site or a SCHULER family book?
    excuse my English!

    Antoine MERKEL

  • Heather Schlesinger Link

    If you’re interested, I have scanned copies of a few old news clippings related to Anton (Tony) Schuler.

  • I’d be interested.

  • Pat Harris Stott Link

    Hello Heather,
    I am Anton Schuler’s granddaughter and I would love to see whatever you have.
    Pat Stott

  • Sharon Sabel Pike Link

    Dave, I went to Sattel to visit last summer. It was a GREAT trip! I’d love to compare family ties with any cousins from Sattel. My great-grandparents were Josepf Maria Schuler who married Josefa Magdalena Schuler (very distant cousins). Did you know that Schuler is the most popular surname in Canton Schwyz?
    Spike00 at kih dot net

  • Basil Schuler Hohl Link

    Contact me Dave on my Hotmail regarding The Schuler’s genealogy. Thanks Bas

  • Sarah Matheson Link

    My Mom is Cindy Schuler born in Portland Oregon. Her father was Howard who had a Brother Dale in Lebanon Oregon but born in Temple Texas to Albert Schuler. Albert was married to Ethel Kopplin Schuler. Albert had a brother named Frank from Switzerland and Frank had two daughters Mary and Martha. They also lived in Lebanon Oregon and we’re all seventh day Adventist. Frank Schuler And his brother Albert immigrated in 1880 range, I believe. Frank had either a wife or mother named Eliza. I have a lot of pictures if you’d like to see them


  • Aaron Joseph Shawler Link

    My name is Aaron Joseph Shawler, from Bullitt Co, Kentucky (born in Louisville.). I have been researching my family history for almost 2 years now, so I am relatively new to the world of genealogy. I verify every family member with 3 offline sources, so my information is correct, though it is confusing. The Shawler family name was created 9 generations ago in Bullitt Co by Jacob Shawler (born Jacob Schuler to Adam Schüler.) Beyond Jacob Shawler, I have no verification of the Schuler family other than a jumble of “Adam Schuler/Johanne Schuler/Christian Schuler” with dates of births and dealths that cannot be accurate, though I do believe I corrected some information.

    I am curious to find out if my Shawler family (supposedly from Germany) is related to any of y’all’s family. Yes, I say y’all. Jacob Shawler arrived in Bullitt Co, Kentucky, from Pennsylvania in 1790, if that helps. He is burried in the “Shawler family cemetary” if that helps.

  • Jasmine Lynn Shawler Link

    Hello I’m a descendent of John Shaller born abt 1875-1880 he married a Maria Huber in Pennsylvania. My mother is Vicki Lynn Shawler born1-8-1965 to Rodger Louis Shawler & Phyllis Arlene Shawler (Carr). Bonnie Muriel Fry & Harry Isaac Shawler are my mother’s grandparents. They married in Shelby County.

  • Jasmine Shawler Link

    Hello I am a descendant of Jacob Shawler as well. Almost all of my direct relatives are in Fletcher Ohio cemetery. I am very interested to know of any Masonic ties to any of my direct ancestors. I’m related to Jacob Shawler, George Washington Shawler, Harry Isaac Shawler is my great grandfather. Rodger Louis Shawler of Piqua, Ohio is my grandfather. Kimberly Kay Jolly, Roxanne Arlene Phelps are my maternal aunts all born Shawler in Miami County Ohio. Vicki Lynn Shawler born January 8th 1965 is my mother. The only one of my cousins that’s a Shawler is Chava Shawler of Florida. My son Julian Drake Shawler born November 7th 2016 & Chasmine Evania Lee Shawler are the last Shawler’s of my bloodline. I hope my children will pass down this name. If anyone has a picture of Jacob or any of his new findings, email me Thank you

  • Sharon Pike Link

    I got a message from a distant cousin (DNA match), Lynne Schuler Barna, whose great-grandfather was Franz Heinrich Schuler, born about June 1860 in either Switzerland or Germany. Both were cited in later documents. She has no definite info on his birth location or parents. He immigrated to the US and was in St. Louis by 1883. Do you have any information about Franz Heinrich Schuler?

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