Two immigrant brothers arrived in New Philadelphia in the late 1870s and, before too long, operated one of the largest tanneries in Tuscarawas County. One of those brothers built a home on the fringe of downtown New Philadelphia, a home his family would live in for over forty years.
A note: House numbers and street names often change over time. The Schauffler name is often misspelled in historical records.
Frederick Shauffler (1851-1934) and his brother William (1861-1939) boarded the Steamship Rhine in Bremen, Germany at the beginning of October 1877 for their journey to the United States and a new life. The two were born in the town of Göppingen in the German state of Württemberg to Ludwig (1818-1885) and Christine (1821-1876) Shauffler. The two learned the tanning trade as youths and it was in this trade that they planned to support themselves once in the United States. A tanner prepared the skins of animals in order to produce leather by hand. Tanning, because of the natural process involved was often relegated to the outskirts of towns. This spared the community from the horrible smells associated with the process.
An older brother, Karl (1850-1913), had already settled in Ohio several years earlier, likely in Cincinnati initially and then later in Cleveland. After arriving in Tuscarawas County around 1878, the two brothers found work in the tanning trade at the tannery then being operated by the Bigler Brothers on the southern edge of New Philadelphia. The two were boarding in the home of an elderly Swiss immigrant on Beaver Dam Road when the 1880 census was taken. Frederick, for some reason, travelled to the Cincinnati area in 1881 where he married German immigrant Caroline Gross (1859-1939). The couple then returned to New Philadelphia in 1882 and, three years later, welcomed their son Harry William (1885-1947).
Frederick and William met with success in their trade and, when a subsequent owner of the tannery was forced to liquidate some of his assets, the two brothers purchased the tannery outright in the late 1890s. A couple of years before acquiring the tannery, Frederick and Caroline purchased part of the southern half of a lot on the west side of what was at the time called South 5th Street (2nd Street SW). William, now married and a father himself, had acquired a home on what was called South 3rd Street (2nd Street SE). The construction of Frederick and Caroline’s new home, and the establishment of the tannery now called “Schauffler Brothers”, both occurred between 1896 and 1900.
The home that Frederick and Caroline built was constructed in the very popular Queen Anne style of architecture. Built in the cross-gable form, the home had a small porch on the north side of the home with the decorative posts and woodwork typical of the Queen Anne style. Additionally, the gable ends of the home were adorned with the decorative wood shingles and brackets common to that type of home. An unseen feature of the house was a trap door on the porch which led to the home’s cellar. This feature is known because, in November 1901, an elderly friend of the Schaufflers fell through the open trap door and suffered a near fatal injury. Whether this trap door was on the home’s front or rear porch is not clear.
Once he finished school, the Schauffler’s son obtained experience in the tannery office before moving to work with a merchant in Cleveland. Eventually, he made his way to western New York where he married and lived the rest of his life. Frederick and Caroline, meanwhile, travelled back to Germany twice between 1906 and 1914 to visit their extended families. In the midst of their second trip in 1914, World War One broke out, temporarily trapping the couple in wartime Germany. They eventually made their way home aboard the SS Rotterdam in October 1914, barely navigating a heavily mined English Channel. Around the same time another ship, the SS Potsdam, was damaged by a mine and locals at first feared the Shaufflers may have been aboard.
The Schaufflers were active in the community as well during the time they lived in the home, supporting their local churches and donating funds to the construction of Union Hospital. They also made a point of traveling to visit their son’s family in New York from time to time. The Schauffler Brothers business closed sometime after 1923 and Frederick retired to his home for a decade before his death in the summer of 1934. Caroline lived in the home for another five years before she passed away in the summer of 1939. The Schaufflers are buried in a family plot in East Avenue Cemetery in New Philadelphia.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.