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So I Married a Traitor

Updated: May 7, 2020

Some people are just unlucky in love. Take for example Anna Maria Schoener. She was the daughter of Johann Melcher (John Melchoir) Schoener (1711-1778) who had arrived in Philadelphia on 21 September 1742 abroad the "Francis and Elizabeth". She was born on 22 May 1753 in what is now Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County, PA.

Below is how we are related.

(My direct line is on the left. Johann Wilhelm is my 5x great grandfather.)

Anna Marie would meet a young man named George Spangler (Spengler). He was born in 1745 and there is some question whether he was the biological son of Hans George Spangler who died in 1744 or if he was an orphan adopted by Hans George's wife, Catherine Spangler (nee Laub). George used the last names Spangler and Laub interchangeably according to various records.

On 17 April 1775, Anna Maria married George in the St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA. Two days after their wedding, the Battles of Lexington and Concord occurred; the first armed conflicts of the American Revolution.

When the British marched into Philadelphia on 26 September 1777 following the Battle of Brandywine on 11 September, Anna Maria and George already had a daughter, Mary Catharine (Catherine), born on 22 March 1776 and another child on the way.

On 4 October 1777, General Washington and his forces tried to dislodge General Howe and the British troops from Philadelphia during the Battle of Germantown. They did not succeed.

Following a three day campaign around Whitemarsh, the Continental forces moved to Valley Forge and established their winter encampment while the British settled into Philadelphia. They would not leave until June the next year when news of the American alliance with France caused them to worry about being blockaded in the city. They slipped out of Philadelphia and headed back to New York.

When Philadelphia was reclaimed by the Americans, a number of people were rounded up on suspicion of providing aid to the British occupiers. One of these men was George Spangler. He was arrested, "loaded with irons" and thrown in prison.

In the Saturday, 15 August 1778 edition of The Pennsylvania Packet, news of the execution appeared:

"Yesterday morning George Spangler was executed on the commons near this city (Philadelphia), pursuant to the sentence of a General Court Martial which sat here last week. He was found guilty of serving the enemy last winter as a spy and guide through the country."

It is ironic to note that the person who presided over the trial that found him guilty of treason was the military commander of Philadelphia: General Benedict Arnold.

After the execution of her husband, Anna Maria and her children took the last name of "Leaf", the English translation of "Laub", the maiden name of George's mother. She was left destitute since all of the family's possessions had been seized and sold at auction. She requested and received permission to leave Philadelphia and move to New York which was still held by the British. To support herself, her children and her mother-in-law she received aid from the government there.

Anna Maria would marry two more times. She married Englebert Mintzer in 1781 after returning to Philadelphia and had four more children. After he died in 1791, she married Amos Jones in 1798 and had another daughter.

Her third husband would desert her and go to Baltimore. When he returned to Pottstown, he started and failed at another business, eventually going broke.

Anna Maria, however, became a successful and prosperous woman and was considered "a woman of affairs and business ability". She went on to own property in Pottstown that included her residence, a tavern that also served as a stage coach stop, and a dry goods store. That was in addition to her second husband's farm that she had inherited.

When she died on 3 November 1813, her will included a request for about half an acre of land to be donated to create the first Catholic cemetery in Pottstown.


Snyder, Michael, "Anna Maria Jones was ahead of her time — owned her own business more than 200 years ago", The Mercury, 12/06/2015


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