The Schwarz Family
Christoph M. Schwarz
Ten-year-old Christoph emigrated from Prussia with his parents and four younger siblings (including Charles) in 1844. The family settled on a farm near Edwardsville. As a young man, Christoph earned his living as a violinist, playing gigs and giving music and dance lessons.
The Civil War broke out in April of 1861. In August, Christoph joined up as a musician with the Fremont Hussars, a Union cavalry unit organized in St. Louis. He left behind a wife and 8-month-old daughter. After the war, Christoph purchased Oak Hill Farm near Edwardsville. There he and Charlotte raised five children, among them sons William, George, and Elmer.
William C. Schwarz (son of Christoph Schwarz)
William was born while his father was away serving in the Civil War. He began his music career at age ten playing cornet in the Joseph Brendle band. William organized the Edwardsville Enterprise Band in 1885 and led the band as its director. Band members included William’s brothers George and Elmer.
William never married. The 1900 census of Edwardsville shows the 38-year-old music teacher living with his widowed father on Schwarz Street (named for his family). In 1907, William partnered with Edward Ballweg to open a retail drugstore. He patented a design for a 4WD automobile transmission the same year (the Madison County Archival Library holds the original patent document).
William lived on Schwarz Street for the rest of his life. In his later years, he tuned and rebuilt pianos.
Charles Schwarz and the Schwarz Sister Orchestra
Charles was six years old when his family emigrated from Prussia in 1844. He grew up on the family farm near Edwardsville. By 1870, Charles had a wife and an infant daughter. Over time, Charles and Frances raised nine daughters and a son.
Charles, who played in his nephew’s Enterprise Band, passed a love of music on to his children. Eight of them formed a band called the Schwarz Sisters Orchestra in the late 1890s. In the 1899 photograph above, the band members range in age from 29-year-old trombonist Jessie to 6-year-old Ruth on the bass drum. Jessie’s husband William Thomas served as band director.
Only Jessie reported her occupation as a band musician to a census-taker, in 1910. Minnie is listed as a music teacher in the 1900 census. The band played for dances and other social functions until the early 1910s.
“City has long been noted for musical organizations,” Edwardsville Intelligencer, 75th anniversary edition, November 14, 1937. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.
Edwardsville Intelligencer. Various articles.
Edwardsville Intelligencer. Madison County centennial edition. 1912. Various articles. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.
Find A Grave. Accessed February 5, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/index.htmlfindagrave
“From Missouri: Competent and Experienced Officers; The Attraction of Gen. Fremont’s Name Organizing the Army; Gen. Fremont’s Body Guard; &c,” New-York Times, September 3, 1861. Accessed February 5, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1861/09/03/archives/from-missouri-competent-and-experienced-officers-the-attraction-of.html
Illinois State Archives. Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls (database). Accessed January 31, 2020. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/datcivil.html
National Park Service. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database. Accessed January 4, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm
Springer, Jessie. Music in Edwardsville: Early-1900. Manuscript. December 1959. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.
Travous, Rachel Louise. [Notes on band history from information gained from W.C. Schwarz]. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.
United States census records and other public records.