Ernst Schowengerdt – A Brief Biography

Ernst Jacob Schowengerd (“t” was added in the U.S.A.) was born in Lienen near Munster, Germany, in 1824.  His mother was Anna Maria Rahen and his father was Johann Adolph Brinkmann.  Johann’s previous wife was Anna Catharina Schowengerd and Johann had assumed the Schowengerd farm name as his surname.  Anna Catharina died in 1808 leaving only one son Friedrich Wilhelm Schowengerd as a result of that union.  After the death of her husband in 1830, Anna Maria decided to sell their farm in Lienen and planned to emigrate to the U.S.A. with her two sons and two daughters.  Friedrich Wilhelm, later referred to as simply “William,” left first for America with his wife, Catharina Sophia Elisabeth Hilgedieck, in 1834.  William and Elisabeth lived most of their lives near Marthasville, Missouri, where they died and were buried.  Another son of Anna Maria’s, Eberhard Friedrich Wilhelm Schowengerd, also preceded his mother to America in 1835; he was later referred to as simply “Friedrich” and initially settled in Marthasville, probably with William.  Friedrich later moved to Berger, Missouri, and finally to Independence where he died in 1899.  Ernst came to America in 1837 at the age of thirteen with his mother Anna Maria and two sisters, Anna Catharine and Friederike Elisabeth.  The youngest sister, Friederike Elisabeth, is believed to have died of cholera in the port of New Orleans shortly after their arrival.  The eldest sister, Anna Catharine, later married and moved to Illinois but her husband’s last name is unknown.  At age 20 Ernst married Elizabeth Huckriede, resided on his farm in Hopewell, and reared seven children.  Two sons, John W. and Franklin E., played a significant role in the development of Warren and Montgomery Counties.  In 1880 Ernst and two associates, Henry Kamp and John Middlekamp, bought one thousand acres of land at one dollar per acre.  In 1867 Ernst moved to Warrenton and purchased a mercantile store where he and his sons, John and Franklin, built an extensive trade.  Ernst was very public spirited and served two terms as treasurer of Warren County.  He also built a spacious home for himself and family in Warrenton which remains to this day a beautiful and historic monument to his achievements.  Elizabeth died in 1885 and in 1887 Ernst married Sarah Shellorz Wightman, widow of Thomas F. Wightman of St. Louis, at the same time that his son, Franklin, married Laura Lorena Wightman, Sarah’s daughter, in a most unique double wedding ceremony of Father-Son marrying Mother-Daughter!  Franklin continued to live in the Warrenton home until his death in 1960.  This property was later donated in trust to the Missouri Historical Society by Margaret and Neal, children of Franklin and Laura; Margaret continued to live in the home until her death in 2002 at age 101 after which it was turned over to the State of Missouri in accordance with the trust agreement.  Neal died at age 93 on 16 August 1992.

In 1873 John W. Schowengerdt married Caroline Marie H. Strack, daughter of Rev. Charles Strack of Pitts, and continued in the mercantile business with his brother, Franklin, for several more years in Warrenton.  However, in 1882 failing health compelled John to take up residence on a farm in Bellflower which Ernst had given to him.  In 1886 Ernst built this beautiful mausoleum for his family in Bellflower where he was buried upon his death in 1891.  John’s health improved on the farm and laid out the town of Bellflower in 1891.  He built a handsome residence in town and established a thriving merchandising business there.  The children of John W. and Caroline were: Maggie E., born in 1875; Ernest C., born in 1877; George H. V., born in 1881; Lizzie Mary, born in 1884; Carry L., born in 1886; Katie A., born in 1889; Henry B., born in 1891; and John H., born in 1894.  All of these children are now deceased and their descendants are residing throughout the United States but predominantly in: O’Fallon, Jefferson City, Mexico, Winfield, St. Peters, and St. Louis, Missouri; Long Beach, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Mission Viejo, San Luis Obispo, Foster City, and Costa Mesa, California; Alexandria, Virginia; and Tucson, Arizona.

     Note:  Major source was Rev. Charles Wesley Schowengerdt, Our Schowengerdt Heritage, 1973. Clarifications of emigration records were obtained courtesy of : (1) Don Ebbeler citing excerpts from Friedrich E. Hunsche, Auswanderer – Chronik der Gemeinde Lienen, 1990;and (2) Wilhelm Hilgedieck who provided copies of original emigration papers from Lienen.


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