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Carpenter, Soldier, Tax Receiver


John F. Schoener

John Franklin "Frank" Schoener was born on 2 May 1834 in Womelsdorf, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was the eldest son of John and Harriet F. (nee Stouch) Schoener.


His father died when he was 8 years old, leaving his mother to care for him and his seven siblings. He may have learned carpentry from his uncle John Stouch to help support the family.


By 1850 his widowed mother was living with her brother Hamilton and his family, caring for her son Charles and daughter Lydia. John and his other siblings had struck out on their own.


On 3 October 1855 he married Mary Catherine Froelich in Tremont, PA.


In 1860, he was residing in Womelsdorf and working as a carpenter. His mother was living with him and his family. At that time he had two children, Sarah Margaret "Sadie" and William Moore Schoener. His younger brother, Charles, was also living with them and working for John as his apprentice.


On 15 April 1861, following the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve for a period of 3 months. In response, John enlisted and mustered in as the 1st Lieutenant, Company E of the 14th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on 27 April.


The regiment initially moved to Lancaster, PA and camped on the fairgrounds after arriving on 9 May. In early June, they moved to Chambersburg, PA before marching to Hagerstown, Maryland. They advanced south, occupying Martinsburg, Virginia on 3 July. The regiment moved as far south as Bunker Hill before heading east to Charlestown. On 21 July, they skirmished with Confederate troops before withdrawing north to Harper's Ferry. After they moved to Carlisle, PA they were mustered out on 7 August 1861.


John would later join Company D of the 55th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry as the 1st Lieutenant, mustering in on 25 November 1862. He would spend his time with the regiment stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina doing picket duty at Port Royal Ferry and garrisoning the nearby fortifications. He resigned on 1 July 1863 on account of disability.


Mahanoy City, originally a part of Mahanoy township, was settled in 1859 and incorporated as a borough by decree of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Schuylkill County on December 16, 1863. It was served by branches of the Lehigh Valley and the Philadelphia and Reading railways. Mahanoy City lies in a valley in the Pennsylvania Coal Region and was a major center of anthracite production. This may have seemed like a new and promising area to raise a family. After all, a new city could benefit from the services of a skilled builder.


He relocated the family to Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. By 1870 he was engaged in the building and contracting business. Charles and his family had moved from Womelsdorf as well.


He constructed a row of homes that are still standing today.


John began the city's first company of National Guard in 1876, acting as captain for ten years and then resigned to become major of the Seventh Regiment.


On Christmas 1887, he was gifted a cane from his children. It was engraved on one end with "1887", "Christmas" on the other and "Presented to Jno. F. Schoener by his Children." He was 53 years old and may have needed the cane due to the disability which caused him to resign from the army during the Civil War.

His wife, Mary, passed away on 9 January 1892,a month after her 56th birthday.


A lifelong Republican, he was elected as the borough's Tax Receiver and held the office successively for over twelve years. He was described in an article about his re-election that appeared in the 25 February 1903 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer as a "popular" candidate and that he held his office "notwithstanding the almost continual change annually in the political complexion of the town. Republican and Democratic victory alike, Mr. Schoener is always found riding on the breast of the tidal wave."


In 1913 he returned to Womelsdorf where he lived with his widowed daughter, Mary. She had married Martin S. Filbert on 28 September 1887, a prominent grain, lumber and coal merchant. He died on 9 July 1911 at the age of 46.


John died almost exactly 8 years later on 6 July 1919 at the age of 85. His younger brother, Charles, had died 3 months earlier on 5 April 1919.


At the time of his death, there was only one other survivor of his company of the 55th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.


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