Family and Descendants of
Francisca V. (née Schwertfeger) Schlia
= Frances V. (née Schwert) Schlee
(1856 - 1936)

Spouse: August J. Schlia
= August J. Schlee
(1851 - 1923)

Family portrait of August and Francisca (née Schwertfeger) Schlia / Schlee, probably taken about 1898 in Buffalo, New York. Seated are August and Francisca. On Francisca's lap is Michael. Standing, left-to-right: August ("Gus"), Jr., Francis ("Frank"), and John.

Photo provided by Rita (née Schleer) Penberthy. Click for enlargement (61K).

Francisca Schwertfeger was born On August 24, 1856, in Mittel-Golmkau, south of Danzig, West Prussia. The village is today Golębiewo-Średnie, Poland. Francisca was a daughter of Carl and Veronica (née Modrzejewska) Schwertfeger. Francisca was baptized as "Francisca Rosalia Schwerdfeger" on August 31, 1856. Witnesses were Johann Philipowski and Caroline Modrzejewska.

On May 12, 1878 at Kladau, West Prussia, Francisca married August J. Schlia. August was born in Lagschau on August 20, 1851. He was the son of Jacob and Anna (née Potrotz) Schlyia (note many variants for surname spellings of these families). The Catholic church ledgers of Kladau show that August was baptized as "August Michael Schlyia" on August 31, 1851.

According to John Penberthy (son of Rita [née Schleer] Penberthy and great grandson of August and Francisca), August later in the Prussian army. He lost part of his hand or fingers in battle.

On November 5, 1880 in Lagschau, Francisca gave birth to a daughter, Anna Susanna Schlia. With their infant daughter, Francisca and August emigrated to the United States. They departed Hamburg, Germany on March 25, 1881 aboard the S.S. Hamburg. The Hamburg departure records list them as:

  • Schliha, August, age 30, Lagschau, Arbeiter (= "workman")
  • Schliha, Francisca, age 25, Lagschau
  • Schliha, Anna, age 1, Lagschau
    Traveling with them were Francisca's brother Franz (= "Frank") Carl Schwertfeger, his wife Julianne (= "Julia") (née Schlia) Schwertfeger (a sister to August) and their infant son Johann (= "John"). At Liverpool, England, both familes transferred to the S.S. Canada, arriving in New York City on April 13, 1881. A mis-transcribed passenger manifest lists the Schlias as follows:
  • August Schultz, age 30, male, laborer, Germany.
  • Francisca Schultz, age 25, female, wife, Germany.
  • Anna Schultz, age 1, female, child, Germany.
    The same passenger manifest also mistakenly lists the Schwertfegers as "Schwerfegor."

    The two families settled in Buffalo, New York --- in a German neighborhood known as "The Fruitbelt" due to several of its streets being named after fruit trees. Francisca and August anglicized their names: Francisca became "Frances (née Schwert) Schlee." August became "August J. Schlee."

    Labels on a photograph imply that yet another sibling, "Mary" Schlia / Schlee, emigrated to the United States; however records of the marriage (June 25, 1890, St. Boniface R.C. Church, Buffalo) of Mary to Bernhart (= "Bernhard") Potratz demonstrate that the maiden name of Mary's mother was "Koschmieder," while the maiden name of the mother for August and Julianna was "Potrotzka." Thus Mary was likely not a direct sibling of August and Julianna. (See further information, below).

    According to the Buffalo City Directory, August and Francisca resided in 1890 at 248 High Street (white building) -- apparently next door to Johann (John) and Maria (Mary) (née Schwertfeger) Patzke/Patz), who resided at 250 High Street. During their later years, August and Francisca resided at 255 Locust Street (now a vacant lot) in Buffalo, New York. They raised six children. Despite the implications of the 1900 Census, where it states that four of the four existing children still survived, there is an 1895 baptismal record for Jacob Michaëlew Schlia -- apparently a child who did not survive until the 1900 census.

    August died of pneumonia on June 5, 1923, at the age of 71 (the cemetery records state that he died on June 6th). Francisca died of pneumonia on May 17, 1936, at the age of 79. At the time of her death, she resided at 375 Florida Street in Buffalo (the street address on her interment record is in error). Both Francisca and August are interred in Lot 112, Sec. 8C, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill) in Cheektowaga, NY.

  • August Schlia/Schlee and his wife Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) at their house on 255 Locust Street, Buffalo, New York. Note damage to August's hand. Undated photo.

    Photograph provided by Rita (née Schleer) Penberthy. Click for enlargement, 41K).

    Left-to-right: Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, Rev. Johann (John) Bernard Schwertfeger/Schwert, Grace Elizabeth Mary, Franz Carl Schwertfeger/Schwert, and Johann (John) Schwertfeger/Schwert. This photo appeared in the Buffalo Evening News, which reported "Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schwert of 115 Nevada Street celebrated their golden wedding at which their son, the Rev. John B. Schwert of St. James Church, officiated. The original witnesses, Mr. Schwert's brother John, and his sister, Mrs. Frances Schlee, were present." (1928)

    (Click on photo for enlargement, 64K)

    Parents of Francisca (née Schwertfeger/ Schwert) Schlia/Schlee:

    Descendants of Francisca (née Schwertfeger / Schwert) and August Schlia / Schlee:

    General location of the gravesites of Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) and August Schlia/Schlee, Lot 112, Sec. 8C, United German & French Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY. A map to the gravesite is available here.

    (Photo by Bernard Patz, 2002. Click on photo for enlargement, 101K)

    Graves of Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) and August Schlia/Schlee, Lot 112, Sec. 8C, United German & French Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY.

    (Photo by Bernard Patz, 2001. Click on photo for enlargement, 34K)

    Documents and Other Artifacts:

    • Mary (née Schlia / Schlee) Potratz / Patras: Labels on this photograph imply that Mary (née Schlia / Schlee) Patras was the sister of Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger -- and therefore was the sister of August Schlia / Schlee. Our research shows that Mary Patras was originally "Mary Potratz." Mary married Bernhart (= "Bernhard") Potratz at Saint Boniface R.C. Church in Buffalo on June 25, 1890. As of the 1900 U.S. Census, the couple resided at 255 Peach Street in Buffalo, along with Bernhart's parents, John and Julia (née Klaas/Klass) Potratz. Mary and Bernhart had the following children: Vera, Michael, Marie, and Joseph. Bernhart Potratz was involved with the Schwertfeger (Schwert) and Schlia (Schlee) families at Saint Boniface Church in Buffalo. In 1887, Bernhart was witness to the baptism of August J. Schlee, son of August and Francisca (née Schwertfeger) Schlia. In 1897, he was witness to the baptism of Flora Valentine Schwert, daughter of Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert. Sometime in the early 1900's, Bernhart died. Mary and her children moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where (for reasons unknown to us) she changed their surname to "Patras." As of the 1930 Census, Michael Patras died in Cleveland in April, 1972. Joseph Patras died there in June, 1982. The labeling on this photograph appears to have several errors: 1) Mary was probably not the sister of Julianna and August, as her marriage record lists her mother's maiden name as "Koschmieder," not "Potrotzka," 2) the reference on the photograph to "Chicago" appears to be incorrect, as Mary died in Cleveland in 1946, 3) Mary had at least four children, and 4) Michael had a wife (Edna). "Potrotz" (or its variants of "Potrotzki" and "Potrotzka") was a common surname in the region of Lagschau and Kladau in West Prussia, and thus the Schwertfeger/Schlia/Potrotz/Koschmieder families were probably closely connected well prior to their emigration to the Buffalo region in the late 1800's.

    • 1890 City Directory: Buffalo, NY, City Directory listing for August Schlee, showing his address to be at 248 High Street.

    • Baptismal Record: August Jacob Patz, born on January 23, 1891. Baptized by Fr. Ferdinand Kolb of Saint Boniface R.C. Church, 124 Locust Street, Buffalo, NY, on February 1, 1891. Sponsors were August and Frances Schlia.

    • Citizenship Papers: John Martin Patz, October 26, 1894. Witnessed by Frank Carl Schwert and August Snei (Schlee?).

    • Census Records: August and Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee ("Schlie"), 1900 census records.

    • Census Records: August and Francisca (née Schwertfeger) Schlia/Schlee, 1910 census records.

    • Cemetery Records: August and Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill). (Note that the document lists middle initial of Frances as "V."

    • Obituary: August Schlia/Schlee, June 5, 1923.

    • Interment Record: August Schlia/Schlee, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill).

    • Death Certificate: Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, died May 17, 1936. Certificate is signed by Francisca's son-in-law, William E. Heilbach.

    • Obituary: Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, May 17, 1936.

    • Interment Record: Francisca (née Schwertfeger/Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill). Home address of "325 Florida Street" should read "375 Florida Street." is maintained by Donald P. Schwert, great great grandson of Carl and Veronica (née Modrzejewska) Schwertfeger (Schwert). We seek your assistance in helping us to develop this family history. Correspondence can be mailed to: Donald P. Schwert, 300 Broadway N #204, Fargo, ND, 58102-4720 U.S.A.

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