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J. C. Mueller Family - Part 3: The Ancestors And German Relatives Of Louise F. W. Schirmer

Part 3 of "The J. C. Mueller Family"


III. The Ancestors And German Relatives Of Louise F. W. Schirmer

For many years the birthplace of Louise Schirmer Mueller had been assumed to have been Eisenach, Germany. This is the place that is chiseled in stone in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, as her birthplace. (One obituary of Louise Schirmer Mueller gives her birthplace as "Eisenbach"!). This may have been merely a matter of convenience; it must have been easier to use Eisenach, which is fairly well-known for its association with the Wartburg, Luther, and Bach, rather than Wünschensuhl, which was her actual birthplace.

A persistent story in the family claims relationship of Louise Schirmer's family to the family of Gustav Schirmer (born 1829, Königsee, Saxony, died 1893, Eisenach), who came to the U.S. in 1840 with his parents. (Dictionary of American Biography) He later established a music store and a music publishing house that became known far beyond the U.S.

There were many reasons to assume a relationship. Gustav Schirmer came from the same general area of Germany that Louise Schirmer came from, and in the U. S. he was in the New York area, as were Louise and Amelia Schirmer. He arranged for his children to be educated in Weimar, a cultural center during the 1800's. In 1873, Gustav Schirmer sent his wife and children to Weimar for two years (Dictionary of American Biography), Furthermore, some of the given names were common to both families, viz., Gustave, Rudolph. No common ancestor has been found, but the line has been traced to what seems like a possible relationship.

In 1978, the birthplace of Louise F. W. Schirmer was established as Wünschensuhl by Bernhard Wilke, husband of Elisabeth Schirmer, the grand-daughter of Louise Schirmer's brother, Oswald Schirmer.

Information on the ancestry and family of Louise Schirmer was much more difficult to secure than information on the J. C. Mueller family. Although Aunt Tillie doubtless could have told us much more in her later years, she was extremely close-mouthed about it, except for noting on various occasions that there was a Schirmer descendant about the age of Marilyn Mueller living in Germany. She was obviously reluctant to talk or to tell about the relationship of the Borners and the Schirmers, and it was only after the death of Aunt Tillie (Ottilie Mueller) that some of the ancestry and relationships became clarified.

One of the old stories that persisted in family circles was that Tillie had been in love with a cousin in Germany. (She and her mother, Louise Schirmer Mueller, had visited the Oswald Schirmer family in 1905, during which visit they were also in Eisenach, Wünschensuhl, and Ober-Ingelheim. In the family collection there is a picture of Stedtfeld, where the Oswald Schirmer family was living. It is inscribed "Zur Erinnerung an die Tagen vom 25. Mai bis 2. August 1905. vom Familie O. Schirmer." ("In remembrance of the days from May 25 to August 2, 1905. From the O. Schirmer Family.") Later, as Tillie grew older and was still unmarried, the family apparently agreed that she would be allowed to marry Gus Borner, the son of Amelia Schirmer Borner, and a first-cousin of Tillie's, the same relationship as her cousin in Germany. I assume that one of the purposes of Tillie's visit to New York (with her mother, Louise, and brother, Rudolph, and Laura), was at least partially romantic. She and Uncle Gus were married in the next year, on April 19, 1911.

Uncle Gus and Aunt Tillie had no children, and the fact that she and Gus were first-cousins was a closely guarded secret, at least while I was growing up. Although I frequently asked Aunt Tillie for information on the family in the 1950's, little information on the Schirmers and Borners was given out. She professed to have forgotten the details; on other matters regarding the family, she had no difficulty with her memory!

As I pursued information on the Muellers, Kreisles, Mayers, and Thomas's during the 1960's and 1970's, much information was secured, and for most of the families I was able to secure the birth and death records from municipal or church sources in West Germany. The Schirmer facts became the only emaining unknown. This was particularly vexing for me, because of the supposed family relationship to the Gustav Schirmer of the music business.*

*At one point in the late 1940's I was in the New York office of G.Schirmer and toyed with the idea of asking to see the current Schirmer head, but I didn't, and the opportunity was lost forever. I was a friend of one of the Schirmer employees, who actually encouraged me to go in to meet "Mr. Gus." (This would have been Gustave Schirmer 3rd, a grandson of the original founder, Gustav.)

In 1971, a letter to Rudolph E. Schirmer [the younger], 1711 Fernald Point, Santa Barbara, California, was returned, marked "addressee unknown."

My attempts to secure birth certificates or even basic information included several letters to East German officials and bureaus who were supposed to have the information. Nothing helpful was received; it seemed the records needed were always in another location or not available.

In 1976, prior to traveling to East Germany for the first time, I wrote to Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke at her last known Weimar address. I was hoping that we would be able to see her during our trip. I had not written to her previously, and the last exchange of letters between Aunt Tillie and Elisabeth had been sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. The R. G. Mueller family had visited Elisabeth Schirmer and her mother in Weimar in 1938, just before the beginning of World War II. When we arrived in Weimar, our efforts to locate the Wilkes seemed likely to be unsuccessful. There were telephones in the hotel, but no directories. I was told I might check at the police office (Volkspolizei).

I had virtually given up hope, but we (Harold E. Mueller and I) decided to walk around the picturesque city, and while walking I noticed "Bertuchstrasse,"the name of the street of Wilke's last known address. We looked for doorbells near the door, and found some bells with name plates, one of which was empty. About that time an elderly man was leaving the little courtyard, and I inquired if he knew the Wilkes. He said that he did, and told me that the Wilkes were living in Erfurt, and their daughter, Dagmar, was living in Arnstadt. He also said that a nurse at the Hospital in the Labor ("laboratory") knew how to get in touch with them and their daughter, Dagmar, who had become a surgeon.

Not encouraged, the next day we stopped by the hospital, which was near the train station, just before our departure, and to our surprise, found the nurse. We conversed with her in German. She gave us the current addresses of the Wilkes and Dagmar, and we gave her our expected hotel in Eisenach. We then left for Eisenach, not at all certain that we would make contact with the Wilkes.

When we arrived in Eisenach, we went to our hotel and found that we had been shifted to another hotel, which made the prospects even dimmer. However, we checked in, had dinner, went for a walk past the Bach birthplace, and returned to our hotel. Much to our surprise, soon after, the telephone rang, and it was the Wilkes, who, in the meantime, had called all other hotels in town (I think there were only three hotels in Eisenach). We arranged to meet the next day, which we did, and had a short visit. The Wilkes gave me some information, and agreed to try to find the birth certificate of Louise Schirmer. (See photos.)

Finally, in 1978, the missing document was obtained through Bernhard Wilke, the husband of Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke. Louise Friederike Wilhelmine Schirmer was born March 5, 1849, in Wünschensuhl*, a village not far from Eisenach. She was baptized on March 18, 1849, also at Wünschensuhl. The two middle names are, of course, the feminine versions of Frederick and William. These names may have had family associations or may have been a bow towards the Prussian ruler of the time. The reigning Prussian king at the time of Louise's birth was Frederick William IV, 1795-1861, King of Prussia, 1840-1861. "Frederick refused the crown of a united Germany offered him (1849) by the Frankfurt Parliament on the ground that a monarch by divine right could not receive authority from an elected assembly." (The Illustrated Columbia Encylopedia, Vol. 8, p. 2373). She must have been proud of the names, for she continued to use the initials of her middle names throughout her life.

*Ironically, the birthplace of Louise Schirmer had been visible all along. In Aunt Tillie's diary (see Appendix) of her German visit of 1905, she wrote that on June 13, "we all went in a rig to Wünschensuhl, to visit mama's old home, church cemetery, and met a number of relatives." This happened while Tillie and her mother were visiting the Oswald Schirmer family in Stedtfeld, near Eisenach.

Her father was Johann Friedrich Schirmer, (Anspänner und Schultheiss) ["Spinner"?], and village mayor or chief magistrate. (Amelia Schirmer's obituary mentions that her father was prominent in his town and a judge; the inference was that it was Weimar. Instead of Weimar the reference is probably to Wünschensuhl. He may have held a position comparable to a justice of the peace.) The mother of Louise Schirmer (and presumably Amelia and Oswald Schirmer, older sister and brother, respectively, of Louise) was Kath. Marg. Rebeka Schrön, who was baptized Feb. 26, 1811 in Burkhardtroda (which is nearby), and who married Johann Schirmer on Jan. 22, 1830. (Oswald Schirmer was the apparent source for the middle name of Leo Oswald Mueller, 1884-1962.)

The father of Louise Schirmer, Johann Friedrich Schirmer, was born April 30, 1810 in Wünschensuhl, and was baptized a few days later, May 3, 1810, in the same place. He was the son of Johann Adam Schirmer and Anna Catharina Heuss Schirmer. I have been unable to trace the ancestry farther back than this. The G. Schirmer family might be only one or two generations from this Johann Adam Schirmer, whose birthdate might have been in the 1780's. One of the G. Schirmer family members of the 18th century was a prominent instrument and piano maker and is mentioned in several music encylopedias. Fetis, in his 19th-century dictionary, mentions a Johann Georg Schirmer, "piano manufacturer, d. 1790,"according to the Dictionary of American Biography.

In 1982 the Wilkes met Robert and me in Eisenach, and we drove to Wünschensuhl, a short drive. It is a very small village, not much more than a crossroads. I would guess that there were not more than 15-20 houses in the village. As in most rural areas in Germany, the farmers live together in the village, and go out to work their farms. We visited the tiny church, which was locked (see photo). Bernhard made some inquiries at the house nearby, probably the parsonage, and said that the minister who had provided family information was no longer there. There were no graves in the small churchyard, and when we went to the cemetery, we found only what seemed to be recent graves.

The family line of the Schirmers, as implied from known birth certificates and obituaries is as follows:

Johann Adam Schirmer married Anna Catharina Heuss Schirmer. Their son:

Johann Friedrich Schirmer, born April 30, 1810, Wünschensuhl, death date unknown, married Kath. Marg. Rebeka Schrön, baptized Feb. 26, 1811, in Burkhardtroda, Jan. 22, 1830.


I. Amelia Schirmer (Borner), born 1845, Weimar, died Feb. 2, 1912, in New York, married George Borner.


Walter, born 1865

Gustave, born 1867 (married Otillie Mueller) August, born 1869

William, born July 14, 1871, in New York Louise, born Aug. 27, 1873, died before 1880?

Frederick, born 1877

II. Oswald Schirmer, born May 1, 1847, location unknown, death date unknown.


Otto Schirmer, born June 9, 1878, married Anna Hartung, died Aug. 14, 1935 (age: 58).


Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke, born c.1917, married Bernhard Wilke, born c. 1915. During a visit with the Wilke family in 1982, Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke indicated that she was 65, which would place her year of birth as 19l7, and that her husband, Bernhard, was 67, which would make his year of birth 1915 (both years an approximation).


Dagmar Wilke, born c. 1948

III. Louise Schirmer (Mueller), born March 5, 1849, Wünschensuhl, not Eisenach, died Oct. 14, 1914, Austin, Texas, married J. C. Mueller.


Ottillie Mueller (Borner), born 1878, married Gustave Borner. (Five other children not listed. See Chapter I.)

* * * * *

The Schirmer family line of music publishers, summarized from Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Music, 7th Edition:

Johann Georg Schirmer, Sondershausen, married in 1781. His son, Ernst Ludwig Rudolf, b. Sondershausen, May 8, 1784, came to New York in 1840.

His son, (Friedrich) Gustav (Emil) Schirmer, born in Königsee, Sept. 19, 1829, died in Eisenach, Aug. 5, 1893, married Mary Fairchild, and had five daughters and two sons.

The younger son, Gustave Schirmer, who was born in New York, Feb. 18, 1864, died in Boston, July 15, 1907, organized Boston Music Company in 1885.

He and his older brother, Rudolph Edward Schirmer, born in New York, July 22, 1859, died Santa Barbara, Cal., Aug. 19, 1919, became partners in G. Schirmer after their father's death in 1893.

Gustave Schirmer 3rd, was born in Boston, Dec. 29, 1890, and died in Palm Beach, Fla., May 28, 1865. He was the son of Gustave, the grandson of Gustav, and was president of G. Schirmer, Inc., from 1919-1921 and 1944-1957.

* * * * *

Another Gus Schirmer became known as a stage-director, talent coordinator, and producer of musicals and TV shows. See Dallas News article, "New Director Trims Gustav," Mar. 12, 1960, by John Rosenfield. Schirmer was to become stage director for the Dallas summer musicals in 1960 at the State Fair Music Hall.

"The musical firm of which Gus is a namesake was founded by his great- grandfather, the first Gustav Schirmer, who came to America from Saxony before the Civil War. Grandfather Gustave Schirmer II succeeded him, then Gus' father, Gustave III was president from 1944 until recent retirement in favor of his brother, Rudolf."

"Gus was never in the high-brow music business. 'That's why I am Gus not Gustav IV,' said Gustav III's son."

Gus Schirmer was credited as "Talent Coordinator" for the 1987 "Miss USA Pageant" on CBS Television, Feb. 18, 1987. His name has appeared on other televsion shows in the same capacity.

* * * * *

As of APR. 3, 1989

added, 2-3-93:

An additional indication of a relationship between Louise Schirmer Mueller and the Schirmers of the music publishing house is suggested by the visit of Robert and Leona Mueller to the Schirmer store in New York City in 1922. Robert and Leona were apparently on a business and pleasure trip to New York, during which time Aunt Pina (with other help) stayed with us. I was a little more than two years old at the time. The day's events also included a contact with the Mueller relatives in the area.

From Leona's detailed notebook/diary of the trip, the entry for Tuesday, Sept. 12, 1922 mentions their visit to and luncheon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On their way back to the hotel:

"....about 3:30 we left the Museum and took the Bus to Schirmer's Music Store 43rd St. bet 5rh & 4th Ave. saw Mr. S. a few min. then R bought me organ book --we went back to the hotel I stopped in to get C.E.'s Erector set at Macy's then on to Hotel--Robt & I packed our trunks R had a phone call from the Muellers and tried to get them--got Victor Mrs. Tolle came by & then we 3 went to Fountain room for dinner...."

The brief visit with Mr. Schirmer is inconclusive in regard to showing a relationship, but at least it suggests that the Muellers of Austin were aware of some relationship, however distant it may have been.

Within five years of this trip, my father, Robert Mueller, had died and contact with the Schirmers and the Henry Mueller family was lost.

Victor = Son of P. H. Mueller (brother of J. C. Mueller) of Newark, N. J. 41 years old in 1922 based on information on picture, below. On their wedding trip in 1912, Robert and Leona visited the Henry Muellers.

C. E. = Carl Edward Bock

Mrs. Tolle = long time San Antonio friend who was on the S. S. Creole on Robert and Leona's wedding trip to New York in 1912. I stayed with the Tolles on Dakota Street in San Antonio on weekends when I was at Hondo during World War II.

Added 5-12-94:

In a letter from Bernhard Wilke dated 18 April 1989, Bernhard stated that Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke died on 29 Mar 1989. In a note from Dagmar Wilke, daughter of Bernhard and Elisabeth Schirmer Wilke, dated 10. 01. 93 (10 Jan. 1993), stated that her father, Bernhard, had died 15.09. 1990 (15 Sept. 1990). Apparently she has moved into her parents; former apartment, which is somewhat larger than the one she lived in when we were there in 1982. Her current address: Dr. med Dagmar Wilke Julius Fucik Str. 19B O-s018 Suhl Tel Suhl 62487.

A new five digit postal code may now be required.

Owner/SourceHarold Mueller
Date3 Feb 1993
PlaceWünschensuhl, Thuringen, Germany
Linked toLouisa Friederike Wilhelmine SCHIRMER

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