THE SCHWERTFEGER / SCHWERT FAMILY:

Family and Descendants of
Franz Carl Schwertfeger
= Frank Carl Schwert
(1852 - 1932)

Spouse: Julianna Catharina Schlia
= Julia Anna Schlee
(1854 - 1938)
daughter of Jacob and Anna (Potrotzka) Schlia



Franz Carl Schwertfeger / Schwert, born 15 Nov. 1852(?), died 25 April 1932.

(Click on photo for enlargement, 57K)

Franz Carl Schwertfeger was the son of Carl and Veronica (née Modrzejewska) Schwertfeger. He was born on November 15, 1852 in Mittel-Golmkau, West Prussia. The village is today Golębiewo-Średnie, south of Gdansk, Poland. The 1852 baptismal ledger from nearby Gardschau shows that Franz was baptized on the same day, with the witnesses being "Joseph Fedrezejewski" and "Franciszka Modrzejewska."

On February 17, 1878, at Kladau, West Prussia, Franz married Julianna Catharina Schlia, daughter of Jacob and Anna (née Potrotzka) Schlia. Julianna was born on May 20, 1854, in Lagschau, West Prussia. She was baptized on June 4, 1854, with witnesses to the baptism being Johann and Julianne Potrotzki (exact relationships to Anna unknown to us). The marriage ledger lists her name as "Catharina Schlia." The spelling of Julianna's original surname is variable. Among the documents in Kladau and Buffalo are: "Schlia," "Schlija," "Schlieja," "Schlie," and "Szlya."

In Lagschau on February 10, 1879, Julianna delivered a son -- who was unnamed and unchristened ("ungetauften Sohn") apparently as a consequence of stillbirth. On November 12, 1880, again in Lagschau, she delivered another son: Johann Bernard Schwertfeger.

With their infant son, Franz and Julianna 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:

  • Schwertfeger, Franz, age 28, Lagschau, Arbeiter (= "workman")
  • Schwertfeger, Julianne, age 26, Lagschau
  • Schwertfeger, Johann, age 1, Lagschau
    Traveling with them were Franz's sister Francisca (= "Franciska" or "Frances") (née Schwertfeger) Schlia, her husband August Schlia (who was Julianne's brother), and the couple's daughter Anna. 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 the Schwertfegers as follows:
  • Schwerfegor, Franz; age 28; male, laborer; Germany.
  • Schwerfegor, Marianne; age 26; female; wife; Germany.
  • Schwerfegor, Johan; age 1; male; child; Germany.
    The passenger manifest also mistakenly lists the Schlias as "Schultz."

    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. Franz, Julianna, and Johann anglicized their names to "Frank Carl Schwert," "Julia Anna (née Schlee) Schwert, " and "John Bernard Schwert."

    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 Julianna and August was "Potrotzka." Thus Mary was likely not a direct sibling of Julianna and August. (See further information, below).

    One of the few remaining artifacts of the family's journey is a small pitcher, used by Julianna to feed her baby.

    Notes written by Olive Mammoser record the memories of her mother, Martha (daughter of Franz and Julianna), recounting what she had been told of her parents' journey:

    I remember my mother telling me that when her parents came to the United States, it was by boat. I don't know which one, from what harbor, where they docked, or what year. But she said that Uncle John was just a small baby in their arms. So maybe it was 1881 or 82.

    On their way to Buffalo by train, someone gave them an orange and a banana for lunch, and they tried to eat the peelings. They were in their 30's at the time and never seen or tasted an orange and banana before.

    Franz Carl Schwertfeger / Schwert, night watchman. (Undated photo).

    (Click to enlarge, 21K)
    When they arrived in Buffalo, they didn't know where to go or what to do. Someone looked out a window on Main Street in downtown Buffalo -- and saw them standing there on the street corner with all their belongings and a small baby in their arms. They said they looked like "they just got off the boat" and invited them to their home, fixed them a meal, and had them stay until Grandpa found a job and home of their own. Their name was HALL, and they became very close friends.

    In Buffalo, Franz worked as a machinist and as a night watchman. The 1900 Census indicates that by that year Julianna had given birth to eleven children, five of whom were deceased. We have only been able to identify the names of two: Anna Juliana Schwert (1889) and Flora Valentine Schwert (1897). The 1900 Census also indicates that Julianna could not read, write, or speak English.

    The family resided at several addresses in Buffalo, including 44 Ralph Place, 152 Orange Street, and 115 Nevada Street. The Schwertfegers / Schwerts were Roman Catholic and held particular reverance for Saint Anne de Beaupre.

    Records provided by Geri Ellerbrock present the following as Franz's U.S. citizenship status:

  • Frank Schwert
  • Country: Germany
  • Naturalization: 24 Oct 1888
  • Declaration of allegiance, Erie County: 21 Oct 1886
  • Cert. or Vol. # 26 page 378, Superior Court # 2291
  • Witnesses: Mathias Feist and Charles D. Wilson

    Cemetery records indicate that Franz died of "nephritis" on April 25, 1932. Cemetery records indicate that Julianna died of "nephritis" on May 30, 1938. Olive Mammoser recalls her grandmother's death and the funeral in Julianna's house, 115 Nevada Street:

    Everyone came to the house -- relatives, friends, and neighbors. They were in every room, kneeling and saying the rosary. She saw a vision of the Blessed Mother at the foot of the bed. She was laid out at home. They brought the coffin in through the front window (which had to be removed). In those days when someone died, they placed a wreath of flowers by the front door, and people would come all hours of the day and night. I never saw so many people, and the house was loaded with flowers. Everyone loved Grandma.

    Franz and Julianna are interred in Lot 54, Section 6, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill) in Cheektowaga, NY.


  • Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) Schwertfeger/Schwert, seated with baby Martha. Standing, left to right, are their children Elizabeth, Frank, Johann (John), Joseph, and Paul. Photo taken in Buffalo, NY, in 1894.

    (Click on photo for enlargement, 166K)

    Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) Schwertfeger/Schwert, Buffalo, NY, USA, 1900. Standing, left to right, are their children Elizabeth, Paul, Frank, Joseph, Johann (John), and Martha.

    (Click on photo for enlargement, 71K)



    Schwertfeger/Schwert house at 44 Ralph Alley, Buffalo, NY. Front row, left to right: McKenna girl (?), Franz Carl Schwertfeger/Schwert, Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) Schwertfeger/Schwert, Mary Rose (née Wagner) Schwert, Martha (née Schwert) Mary. Back row: Friend of Johann B. Schwert, Rev. Johann (John) Bernard Schwertfeger/Schwert, Elizabeth (née Schwert) Mayer, Joseph August Schwert, and Frank J. Schwert. (Date of photo is unknown). Ralph Alley ran from 142 Burton to 713 Virginia Street. Later, Ralph Alley was renamed Ralph Place.

    (Click on photo for enlargement, 20K)


    50th wedding anniversary of Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) Schwertfeger/Schwert. Left-to-right: Franciska (Frances) (née Schwertfeger Schwert) Schlia/Schlee, Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) 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)

    Julianna (née Schlia/Schlee) Schwertfeger/Schwert, with her roses. (Undated photo).

    (Click on photo for enlargement, 93K)


    Parents of Franz Carl Schwertfeger / Schwert:

    Descendants of Franz Carl and Julianna Catharina (née Schlia / Schlee) Schwertfeger / Schwert:


    Graves of Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, Lot 54, Sec. 6, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill), Cheektowaga, NY. A map to the gravesite is available here.

    Photo by Bernard Patz (1999)
    (Click on photo for enlargement, 84K)


    Documents and Other Artifacts:

    • Ship Passenger List: S.S. Canada, sailed from London to New York City, arriving on April 13, 1881. Passenger list includes "Franz" (age 28), "Marianne," (age 20) and "Johan" (age 1) Schwerfegor, arriving from "Germany." Record is from the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

    • Ship Passenger List: The passenger list for the S.S. Polynesia (arriving in New York City on April 18, 1887) includes ("211") Jül?a Schlieja, possibly the mother of Julianna Schlia, wife of Franz Carl Schwertfeger/Schwert. If true, the record shows that she accompanied Carl and Veronica Schwertfeger and three of their children to the United States. A larger, denser version of this passenger list is available here. Document is from from LDS Microfilm #473087.

    • 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, he was witness to the baptism of August J. Schlee, son of August and Franciska (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.

    • Baptismal Record: Joseph August Schwert, baptized as "Joseph Bernhard Schwert," on July 27, 1884, Saint Boniface R.C. Church, 124 Locust Street, Buffalo, NY. (Note spelling of Julia's, August's, and Frances' names as "Schlia").

    • Baptismal Record: Paul J. Schwert, née Paul Bernhard Schwert, January 27, 1888, Saint Boniface R.C. Church, 124 Locust Street, Buffalo, NY. (Note spelling "Schlia" for both Julia and Frances).

    • Baptismal Record: Aurelia Julia Schwert, daughter of John and Augusta (née Lorenz) Schwertfeger/Schwert, baptized on February 16, 1896, Saint Boniface R.C. Church, 124 Locust Street, Buffalo, NY. (Sponsors were "Franz" and Julianna Schwertfeger/Schwert).

    • Baptismal Record: Flora Valentine Schwert, February 21, 1897, Saint Boniface R.C. Church, 124 Locust Street, Buffalo, NY. (Note spelling of parents' names as "Frans Schwert" and "Juliana Schlia").

    • 1900 U.S. Census: Data cards for Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert.

    • 1900 U.S. Census: Enumeration data for Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert. This confirms their emigration to the United States to have been in 1881.

    • 1905 Enumeration: June 1, 1905 enumeration listing for Franz Carl Schwertfeger/Schwert and his family. Shows professions of all their children except Rev. Johann (John) B. Schwert. Lists their residence at 44 Ralph Alley to have been in the 1st District of the 5th Ward. Shows arrival of Franz and Julianna into the U.S. to have been 24 years earlier, placing it at ~1881.

    • Bread Recipe: Bread recipe of Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, in possession of Martha (née Schwert) Mary.

    • Marriage Record: Joseph August Schwert and Catherine Ehrler, August 23, 1913, Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church, 1107 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. (Note spelling of Julia's maiden name as "Schlie").

    • Cemetery Lots: Official lot records from the United German & French Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY, for Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert.

    • Cemetery Plot Map: Map showing location of exact burial plot for Franz Carl and Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, Lot 54, Sec. 6, United German & French Cemetery (Pine Hill), Cheektowaga, NY. Map also shows nearby location of the grave of Dorothy (née Schwert) and Gerald M. Steffan.

    • Obituary: Franz Carl Schwert, April 25, 1932.

    • Death Certificate: Franz Carl Schwert, died in Buffalo, NY on April 25, 1932.

    • Interment Record: Franz Carl Schwert, April 28, 1932.

    • Death Certificate: Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, died May 30, 1938. Certificate is signed by her son, Paul J. Schwert.

    • Obituary: Julianna (née Schlia) Schwertfeger/Schwert, May 30, 1938.

    • Interment Record: Julianna (née Schlia) Schwert, June 2, 1938.


    Schwertfamily.net 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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