I hate to add onto a popular essay. It doesn’t seem like the best use of column writing, which is a discipline unto itself. But, the story in my column last week on the Schuchart family wanted to extend itself.
First Walter Arnette was not sure which Mrs. Schuchart he placed storm windows for in the large house at Osage and Columbus streets. Several people called to tell me it was Anna Schuchart, who, with her husband, raised their three daughters in the house. She lived there after her husband Robert died and left lasting memories.
The Schuchart story is much more than dates and burials. Robert and Anna Schuchart were grand neighbors who have close friends 40 years after Anna’s demise and 60 years after Robert’s.
“She was a very in-control person,” said Ruth Muehler who remembered Anna well. “When Art (her late husband) and I used to go to Liberty, Mo., she would ride along with us and visit her daughter Helen. Helen’s husband was a minister at the prison there. He was a wonderful man.”
Anna had one slight quirk, Ruth said. She was a backseat driver of intense determination.
“She would tell Art every single turn to make,” Ruth said. “Of course Art drove the way he wanted to.”
After the Schuchart family moved out of the house at Osage and Columbus it was remodeled into two apartments one on the first floor and one on the second. Carol Johnson rented the second floor apartment.
“My son Michael was born there,” Carol said.
Billy Murphy, a storyteller far beyond my simple skill, read my column and called to say Robert Schuchart was a grand fellow, as square a man as you’d ever want to meet, someone you could totally trust and a man who trusted other people.
“He was so intelligent,” Billy said. “He had the process that used a salt brine to freeze block ice. He was the one to build individual lockers inside the ice plant. You could rent them. I think the fee was $1 a month and $10 a year.”
The invention changed the lifestyles of Pacific residents.
“There were no refrigerators back then,” Billy said. “There was no electricity. People had fresh meat in the winter, but after that there was no more fresh meat. Mr. Schuchart made it possible for people to have fresh meat year-round.”
Schuchart went beyond renting cold lockers and some cold boxes with no locks, where nothing ever went missing, Billy said. He offered the service of cutting up beefs or pigs, wrapping each cut in its own paper wrapper and writing on the outside what was in the package, and storing it in the individual’s locker.
“We’d figure out what we were going to eat and go there and pick up our meat for the next week,” Billy said. “I think about everybody in town did it.”
After Robert Schuchart’s death the family continued to operate the refrigeration plant for several decades.
Half-a-dozen people called to ask me which daughter was the grandmother of Christopher Harris, the man who first contacted me about the family.
Christopher’s grandmother was Helen Alyce Schuchart, who married the Rev. Dewey C. Hughes, who was pastor at First Baptist Church of Gray Summit from 1944-1950. Helen was the first daughter born in 1908 in Mount Olive, Ill. She died in Liberty in 1979.
The couple had two more daughters, both born in Pacific. All three daughters grew up in Pacific.
Bertha Shuchart, who married Edward Horneker, was born in 1909. She died in Perryville, Mo., in 1999. Florence, who married John Hart Highsmith, was born in 1914. She died in Lubbock, Texas, in 2000.
Among his collection of studio photographs, dating back to 1859, Christopher has the beautiful formal photograph of Robert and Anna’s wedding. He is sitting in a chair with a high carved back. She is standing in a white dress holding a bouquet. She is an erect, beautiful woman with my favorite Gibson Girl hairdo.
In the collection, Christopher also has the formal photograph of his grandmother Helen’s marriage to Dewey Hughes in the family home at Osage and Columbus on June 14, 1942.
The bride is preparing to cut a three-tiered wedding cake. Behind the couple is a window with criss-crossed voile curtains and a huge bouquet of flowers.
In one photo, the seven sons of John and Theresa Schuchart — Joseph, William Henry, John, Robert Bartholomew, Emil Jacob, Rudolph Peter and Phillip — stand in front of the home of Robert and Anna Bruns Schuchart at Osage and Columbus streets.
In a second photo, almost certainly taken the same day, the seven Schuchart brothers stand in front of the same house with their spouses. The men in both of the photographs are dressed in dark suits and white shirts. The ladies are dressed in flowered dresses that don’t quite reach to their dark town shoes.
This family reached into Franklin County. The old Schuchart farmhouse once stood at River Round Farm, now River Round Conservation area, near Mill Hill Road in the Cove community. Emil Schuchart’s house still stands on Prairie Dell Road south of Union.
There is much more in this family album that captured my fancy. But I visited it again because it touched so many people in Pacific.
Pauline Masson can be reached at 324-805-9800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.